The Summit Lecture Series: Intelligent Design with Sean McDowell, part 5

The Summit Lecture Series: Intelligent Design with Sean McDowell, part 5 October 7, 2014

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In recent years, scientists have found approximately 30 different parameters that each must be fine tuned in order for life to be possible and each must be perfectly set at such an amazingly specific point that if even one of them were a tiny bit off, the universe would collapse upon itself.

As Roger Penrose said:

“If we combined all the laws that must be fine-tuned, we couldn’t even write down that number in full, since it would require more zeros than the number of elementary particles in the universe.”

I simply can’t believe that this happened by chance. When I see so many things that are so specifically fine-tuned, I must believe that a fine-tuner is at work. In other words, the fine-tuning in physics points to a fine-tuner.

But let’s transition from the big (universal physics) to the small (biochemistry). Starting with Darwin, himself in the Origin of Species:

“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organism existed which could not possible have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications my theory would absolutely break down.”

In other words, Darwin gave a criteria of falsification. To put it in another light, the criteria of falsification for Christianity is if Christ actually did not rise from the dead. Even Paul wrote that if Jesus was not resurrected, then our faith would be in vain.

Getting back to Darwin, he said that if there existed a complex system that could not be built in a step-by-step manner, then his theory would be false and belief in it would be in vain.

This would falsify his idea because Darwinism is based on the premise that all the diversity and complexity of life is the result of an incremental, step-by-step, minute process that over time adds up to significant change. So, as Darwin said, if man should discover something complex at the end of the process that couldn’t be built in his theorized manner, then his theory would be absolutely broken down.

He wrote Origin of Species around 150 years ago, but a little over a decade ago, Michael Behe wrote Darwin’s Black Box, named after something (a black box) that is very interesting, but we have no idea how it works. You see, during Darwin’s day, his contemporary scientists looked at the cell, which appeared very simple. It was a black box to them. But, with the advent of the electron microscope and as technology continues to increase, we can peer into the cell and we see technology within it that blows away anything that humans could create even today. So, Behe described something called “irreducible complexity” and described it as:

“An irreducibly complex system is one that requires several closely matched parts in order to function and where removal of one of the components effectively causes the system to cease functioning.”

This sounds like a complicated definition, but it’s actually pretty simple. Just think about something that is complex, but it can’t be reduced. It has multiple parts, but if you take just one of those parts out, the whole thing doesn’t work. The example Behe gave – which has become the “poster child” for intelligent design – is the mousetrap. A mousetrap is irreducibly complex. It has multiple parts (wooden base, spring, hammer, catch, and the hold bar), each of which make the mousetrap function. Now, what would happen if just one of those parts (say, the spring) is missing? It would completely cease to function. Additionally, it simply cannot be built in a step-by-step manner (in Darwinian fashion) because any simpler precursor to the ultimate mousetrap would have no function and would therefore be rooted out of existence before it could “evolve”.

Additionally, the mousetrap couldn’t just show up all at once, fully constructed, because it’s too complex. By Darwin’s own statement, Darwinism is an incremental process. So, a mousetrap – in principle – seems to provide a challenge to Darwin’s theory of a complex system that couldn’t be built in a step-by-step manner.

Now, the obvious problem with a mousetrap is that it’s made by man. You don’t find them simply existing in nature, so the question is: Is there something like a mousetrap that is also irreducibly complex that exists within nature?

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