Jan 28, 2007

Editorial: Intelligent Design: Dembski > Darwin

With all our technology, our understanding, our progress, our super-computers and lifetimes of work, we cannot even come close to creating anything anywhere near as complex as an earthworm. Yet these super complex organisms, with more complex parts than any super-computer, supposedly came together by chance, without anything intelligent guiding their way.

When that giant, Charles Darwin, roamed the earth so long ago, most scientists held the view that the universe was infinite and eternal. However, in the middle of the twentieth century, the universe, according to science, got much cozier.

As evidence mounted for the Big Bang hypothesis, the specter of a beginning of the universe, and thus, a finite universe, the limits of time and space ruled out the possibility for infinite chance events. Without infinite chance events, the highly improbable events associated with the theory of evolution stretch the boundaries of probability, and the imagination, past the breaking point. In light of a finite universe, in light of the impending collapse of purely naturalistic explanations, how should science come to view life?

Enter, Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design is the theory that all biological organisms are far too well ordered, or, too complex, to have been created by any simple, unintelligent chance event, or, series of chance events.The Intelligent Design hypothesis is premised on what is called specified complexity. Specified complexity uses reason, science, and math to detect design in highly improbable, complex, independent patterns.

For example, we detect design at the cellular basis for life because cells are extremely complex, and molecules are extremely independent. "Cells are machines of stunning complexity. A single cell is like an entire assembly line of molecules, operating in perfect harmony."

Another indicator that the "universe might have some sort of design was the gradual discovery, starting in the 1950's of dozens of 'fine-tuned' parameters in physics and cosmology, that were seemingly arbitrary values; yet, if those values were varied by even the tiniest amount, the universe simply wouldn't 'work' in anyway that it actually does."

One example of such a parameter is the "strong nuclear force," which allows for "heavy atoms" such as carbon to form, which in turn, enables the formation of atomic bonds, thus enabling the formation of complex molecular and cellular structures, both necassary for life. Similarly, if the weak nuclear force varied by even the tiniest amount, the universe, again, would cease to exist in any way that it actually does. Further, if the Big Bang were not immediately followed by a Big Crunch, and the universe wasn't moving in the way that it has been as a result, then this would have caused other finely tuned parameters to vary, which, according to cosmologists, would mean that molecules, galaxies, stars, and planets could not have formed.

What most people don't know is that there is a long and growing list of finely tuned parameters that have been identified. If evolutionary models for intelligent life were correct, the probability for evolution should continually increase as scientists learn more about the universe. On the other hand, if the creation explanation for physical intelligent life is correct, that probablility should continually decrease. In 1995, 41 fine-tuned characteristics had been identified, by 2000 the number of them had more than trippled to 128, by 2002, scientists had discovered more than 200, and by 2004, 323. With each new specific, fine-tuned parameter, the probablity for getting the right values, for all the parameters, increases exponentially.

Today, assuming that the universe contains ten billion trillion planets and one trillion trillion moons, (the most optimistic estimates) the probablilty of getting all the perfect parameters, so as to enable life is 10 to the negative 282 power!

If any one of these finely-tuned parameters, varied, even slightly, then life as we know it would not be possible. The probability of getting the "right" values for all of these parameters (each of which could have been any number between one and infinity) by blind chance, so as to enable life on our planet, is so astronomically high, that is raises some obvious and weighty questions about whether the cosmos bears the mark of design.

Interestingly, in response to the scientific case for cosmic design most working cosmologists have accepted an ad hoc escape valve called the 'multi-verse.' The idea behind this multi-verse is that there must be an infinite number of universes, each with a random set of physical laws, constants, constraints, etc. in order for ours to just so happen to have all the correct values necassary for life. Supposedly, we just happen to have "won the universe lottery!"
According to multi-versers, we're sitting in what is possibly, the single universe, out of infinite universes, that just so happens to have all the right conditions to make life possible. Well, it looks to me like it would take an awful lot of "faith" for "scientists" to believe in a far-out theory like the "multi-verse," given it's own statistical probability, and our complete lack of evidence for any such thing.

Basically, even is trillions of years went by, I don't believe that any super-computer, or a pencil for that matter, or an earthworm, or, indeed, a self-conscious, life and blood, breathing human being, could come into existence without an intelligent designer. Do you?

If one observes nature, if one practices the scientific method, Intelligent Design offers a far more plausible explanation for the universe, and for life.

Ryan Sorba

-All text in quotes was taken from either page 396 or 397, of Senator Rick Santorum’s book “It Takes a Family.”