How Did We Get to the Notion of Intelligent Design?
A hundred years ago things were much different. No massive telescopes existed that allow us to peer back into the dawn of time.
- No theory of relativity.
- No satellites.
- Not even TV existed!
But a lot has changed since 1905. Today is like no other time in history. At no other time in history do we have more evidence from science concerning the “fine-tuning” of our universe. Let’s consider some recent scientific discoveries that point to evidence for intelligent design in the universe…
- 1919: Bending Star Light Supports General Theory of Relativity. During a solar eclipse, Sir Arthur Eddington observed the bending of starlight passing by the sun, matching the effect predicted by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Although Einstein’s theory had predicted that either the universe was either expanding or contracting, he initially modified his theory to support the prevailing scientific notion that the universe had always existed, and was therefore in a “steady state”. This fudge factor, which he called a “cosmological constant”, was later withdrawn by Einstein after he had examined the evidence put forth by Sir Edmond Hubble (see below), Soviet Aleksandr Friedmann, and others. Einstein admitted that the universe must have had a beginning. He later referred to the employment of this cosmological constant as the “greatest blunder” of his career. Photo by JESHOOTS.com on Pexels.com
1927: That the Galaxies Are All Retreating From Us. While peering through the 100 inch Hooker telescope at the Mt. Wilson observatory in California, American astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that the spectra of many nebulae tended to be “shifted” toward the longer wavelength, red end of the electromagnetic spectrum (as compared to the Sun and other nearby stars). By combining the red shift data with distance measurements, he discovered that the more distant a nebulae (or star), the greater its red shift.
Essentially Hubble had discovered that the galaxies are all retreating from us. The farther galaxies are retreating faster than the nearer ones (now known to occur only out to a distance of about 7 billion light years), as if space itself is stretching. Although many scientists still wanted to cling to the “steady state” theory of the past, the evidence pointed to a rapidly expanding universe that of necessity had finite past.
- 1965: Cosmic Background Radiation Detected – Remnant of the Big Bang. Arno Penzias and Robert
Wilson discovered cosmic background radiation coming from every point in the sky, precisely the sort of
remnant evidence predicted by Big Bang theorists. What’s more, the precise matching of the radiation with a “black body” spectrum at all frequencies is difficult to reconcile with anything other than a creation event involving the entire universe. For more information visit the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) web site: http://lambda.gsfc.nasa.gov/product/cobe/
- 1970s: Astronomers Discover That Galaxies are Distributed More Densely and are Less Well Formed as They Look Farther out into Space. Due to the ability of the Hubble and other advanced telescopes to look further into space than ever before (and thus look further back in time), astronomers have discovered that galaxies are more dense, and quasars are more abundant, the farther they peer into space. The more distant elliptical galaxies are apparently only about one-third to one-half the size of nearby galaxies. They also appear in pairs about one-third of the time, in contrast to nearby galaxies which appear in pairs just 7 percent of the time. Clearly astronomical evidence supports the notion that the universe has changed with time, and argues against an eternal or “steady state” cosmos.
- 1992: Nasa’s COBE satellite team discovered the predicted “ripples” in the cosmic background radiation. The Big Bang theory had predicted that the background radiation should be very slightly “rippled” (showing fluctuations of at least one part in 100,000) if it is to account for the slight inhomogeneity that had to be present at the beginning of the universe. Rationale: given that galaxies today are organized in clusters rather than evenly distributed throughout the universe, this same sort of unevenness had to be present at the beginning as well. View the left over background radiation images from the COBE satellite at: http://aether.lbl.gov/www/projects/cobe/COBE_Home/DMR_Images.html
- On April 24, 1992, astrophysicist George Smoot announced that the COBE satellite had measured the expected “ripples” in the microwave background radiation. Fluctuations measured were about 1 part in 90,000; or to be precise, 11 +/- 3 parts per million. They were clearly distinguishable from noise, and newspapers all over the world carried Smoot’s quote: “If you’re religious, it’s like looking at God.”
- UPDATE! March 17, 2014 – Scientists discover further evidence of ‘cosmic background radiation’ from an initial ‘creation event’. From a story today in the “Washington Post”: “In the beginning, the universe got very big very fast, transforming itself in a fraction of an instant from something almost infinitesimally small to something imponderably vast, a cosmos so huge that no one will ever be able to see it all. This is the premise of an idea called cosmic inflation — a powerful twist on the big-bang theory — and Monday it received a major boost from an experiment at the South Pole called BICEP2. A team of astronomers led by John Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced that it had detected ripples from gravitational waves created in a violent inflationary event at the dawn of time.” Although it has to be confirmed with additional tests and peer reviews, this is an exciting confirmation of evidence uncovered by the earlier COBE satellite: that even today there is evidence of an initial “creation event” (popularly called the Big Bang). The one big problem I have in the quote is the term “violent inflationary event”. The term “violence” connotes disorder. All evidence up to this point indicates that the initial singularity was not a violent event or some sort of “explosion” – but rather an extremely organized initial creation event of all space, time and matter (including dark matter and dark energy).In any event, its exciting to see that scientific investigation continues to confirm that “In the the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth (ie., the Cosmos).
So, What Does This Have To Do With the Bible?
Among all the ancient peoples of the world, only the Hebrews wrote of a God outside of space and time, a transcendent all-powerful creator God. Other peoples believed in a magical, eternal universe that gave birth to gods. Many confused the universe and the gods, attributing to the universe and nature god-lie characteristics (this sort of philosophy continues even today with new age thought and eastern mysticism). In contrast, the Hebrews wrote of an eternal, transcendent creator outside of space and time who gave the universe its beginning. This is precisely the world view science now confirms to us.
- The Bible records in Gen 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” out of nothing. Note: the Hebrew language has several words for “create”. One form means to “make something out of something already in existence”; while another means to “make something out of nothing”. The word used in Genesis 1:1 in the original Hebrew text is “bara”, which means to create out of nothing. Precisely what science is telling us — that during the Big Bang, the entire universe came into being out of nothing.
- The Bible also records in numerous places that the Creator is eternal – outside of space and time: Isa: 57:15 “the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity”. God also refers to His timeless self-existence when He replies to Moses as to His identity: Ex 3:14 “Tell them I AM THAT I AM has sent you”. Consistent with science, the Bible teaches that the Creator God operates outside of space and time, and existed before the universe He created.
- Like the Bible, the consensus of modern science is that the universe – and time itself – had a beginning. And like every cause the Cause of the universe must be independent of its effect, Thus, according to scientific principles, the First Cause must be separate from the universe, not a part of it. The Bible also records that God is a Spirit and non-physical being, and that the heavens cannot contain Him.
Evidence of Chance, or Intelligent Design?
Clearly we see that modern scientific evidence points to the fact that the universe did not always exist, but must have had a beginning. The evidence also shows that a high degree of intelligent design and fine-tuning – not only with respect to the earth, the solar system, and our galaxy, but in the construction and maintenance of the universe itself. However, some still insist that the design and fine-tuning we see in is a product of nature itself — and that such design does not necessarily require a Designer. Is this a reasonable position? Lets consider what some world renowned scientists have to say about chance vs. the delicate fine-tuning that the see in the world and universe around us:
- The fine-tuning of the rate of universal expansion. Steven Hawking wrote: “If the rate of expansion one second after the big bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have re-collapsed before it ever reached its present state.” Slightly faster than the critical rate, and matter would have dispersed too rapidly to allow stars and galaxies to form. According to astrophysicist George Smoot the creation event was “finely orchestrated”.
- The critical ratio of the masses of the proton to the electron is finely adjusted. Says Hawking: “The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life.”
- The highly ordered initial state of the universe could not have come by chance. According to the calculation of Steve Hawking’s associate, Roger Penrose, the highly ordered (low entropy) initial state of the universe is not something that could have occurred by even the wildest chance.
- The balance and fine-tuning of the four fundamental forces in nature. Physicists speak of the the four fundamental forces in nature: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Physicist Richard Morris writes: “Every one of these forces must have just the right strength if there is to be any possibility of life.”
- What are the chances that all the functional proteins necessary for life might form in one place? Hoyle and Wickramasinghe calculated the odds at 1 in 10 40,000, a number far removed from the realm of finite possibilities.
- Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson writes, “The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming.” NASA astronomer John O’Keefe says, “It is my view that these circumstances indicate that the universe was created for man to live in.”
According to scientists, it is impossible that the fine-tuning and delicate balance we see around us could be the product of nature itself, or of chance. When you consider the many, purposeful choices that were made to bring this universe into existence, you begin to realize thatintelligent design is the only rational conclusion one can come to based on the latest scientific evidence. Think about it. All eternity has been anticipating these few moments you and I are now experiencing. Indeed our lives are an incredibly rare gift!
The Bible Encourages Us To Look for Evidence of Design
The Bible – in both the Old and New Testaments – declares that we should expect to see evidence of God’s intelligent design all throughout nature. Some passages to consider:
- Psalm 19: 1-4 “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” (KJV) Note that David declares that the firmament (the stars) shouts to us about God’s glory and creative handiwork. We have no need for people to tell us about the Creator – the creation itself speaks to us (utters speech) continually (night unto night) about the God’s creation, revealing knowledge about Him. And there is no where on the earth where this “creative word” of God has not reached.
- Romans 1:20 “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. “In the New Testament, Paul in Romans makes the point that evidence of His “eternal power and Godhead” are “clearly seen”, so that man is “without excuse”: one cannot exist in God’s magnificent creation and reasonably deny the existence of the Creator. There simply is no excuse. Photo by Sam Willis on Pexels.com
Based on the Evidence for Intelligent Design, What Can We Conclude?
Given that there is a tremendous amount of evidence for intelligent design in the universe, we can reasonably conclude …
- That an all-powerful, all-knowing, Designer is responsible –certainly NOT chance, and certainly not the universe itself.
- That He made the Universe, and all that is within it, for the purpose of creating and sustaining this jewel of a planet we call Earth – and us, the apex of His creation.
- That He continues to sustain His creation in accordance with the laws of physics He has established.
- That He is actively engaged with His creation, and that He has a plan and purpose for it
Why Would a Creator Let Us Get Into Such a Mess?
You might say ‘well, if He made all this, why is the world in such a mess!’ Why is there evil in the world? The most important implication of an intelligently designed and tuned universe is that a perfect Designer would DO something about the problem of evil in our world.
So what might a super-intelligent, caring Creator do? Certainly He would not make creatures that have no free wills of their own, so they would be without the ability to bring evil into His universe. Such creatures would be no more than robots. Without free will and choice love is impossible, and clearly the Creator God desired to have a relationship with a people that could return His love. Love requires the possibility of rejection.
The Bible declares that God is just and must punish evil doers, but that He is also love. He cannot tolerate sin, just turn His back on it. Yet He loves His creation. What might be God’s options, after His race of free-willed creatures broke the harmony of His universe? He could …
1) Exterminate them – but that would not be a viable option, since that would be consistent with His loving nature, and His merciful nature.
2) Overlook their disobedience – but again, that would be not be an option, since it would be action that would be incompatible with His requirement for justice.
3) Leave them alone to let them try and straighten out their own mess – but that would not be compatible with a compassionate and loving God either.
None of these options show the forethought of a perfect, super-intelligent, caring Creator. The Bible, the same book that gives us a true picture of God since ancient times, also gives us the one solution that show great care and forethought (though we might never have thought of it ourselves).
What did He do? He became one of us and took the penalty for disobedience on our behalf. He died in our place. By doing so He showed both perfect justice and unbounded mercy. By doing so, He gave those who wanted to be reconciled to Him the chance to be forever changed, to be eventually made into fit company for Him throughout eternity. This was His plan “before time began” (1 Corinthians 2:7).
God Becoming Man? Isn’t this a Primitive Concept?
If the Creator of the universe wanted to communicate to us (moderns and ancients) what He is like, how could He show us more clearly than by becoming one of us? If He wanted to communicate to us the seriousness of breaking His moral law, how could He show us more forcefully than by demanding that the most valuable thing in the universe be forfeited as a penalty? And if He wanted to tell us how much He loves us, how could He do it more dramatically than by dying for us? Consider John 3:16 …
“For God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son, that
who so ever would believe in Him should
not perish, but have
Do you have a personal relationship with the Creator? If you do, then you have everything to look forward to – in this life, and in the life to come. You were made for a purpose, and receiving the Lord into your heart and walking daily with Him will help you come to realize His purpose in your life and fulfill it. If you don’t have a relationship with your Creator, you can! Don’t put it off! Here is a link to Billy Graham’s web site that can show you how…
Invite JESUS in! Steps to Peace with God ==> http://www.billygraham.org/SH_StepsToPeace.asp
- Privileged Planet, by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards. Regnery Publishing.