“things that have been made” Point to God: The Teleological Argument

“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” Romans 1:20

So far, we have discussed how objective truth points to God (the Moral Argument) and the creation of the universe points to God (the Cosmological Argument).  This week we look at the Teleological Argument; the argument from design. 

The word teleology comes from the Greek word teleo means “to perform, execute, or complete” and is where we get our word teleology; the study of evidences of design in nature.

Constants Required for Life (the Anthropomorphic Principle)

Scientists agree that certain constants in physics must be extremely precise in order for this universe to exist.  If any one of these constants is off by even the smallest fraction, the universe wouldn’t exist.  Carl Sagan initially proposed two, but today there are well over 200 accepted constants.  Astrophysicist Hugh Ross calculated that 122 constants required for life would mean only one chance in 10138 the universe could sustain life. 

By comparison, the chance of drawing a royal flush on the initial deal in poker is 1 in 649,739.  Are you a betting person?  Need another comparison?  How about scientists estimate that there are only 1070 atoms in the universe.

An example of how precise these constants must be; if gravity was different by the most minute amount, one part in a thousand million million according to Stephen Hawking, the universe would either collapse on itself or expand so rapidly that planets and stars wouldn’t form.  Oh, and all these constants had to be there within milliseconds of the Big Bang or we wouldn’t be here, also according to Hawking.

The placement of cosmic bodies also seems designed to allow life on Earth.  The distance of the Earth from the Sun is referred to as the “Goldilocks Zone”; any closer and we would burn up and any farther away and we would freeze.  If Jupiter wasn’t where it is and the size it is the Earth would be bombarded by comets and meteors to the point of destruction.  Jupiter acts as a “cosmic vacuum cleaner” according to Frank Turek.  The list goes on.

Fibonacci Sequence (or Golden Ratio)

Italian mathematician, Leonardo Fibonacci, developed a mathematical formula to explain the curves found in the Golden Ratio.  His formula is Fn = Fn-1 + Fn-2 so that a sequence beginning with 1 gives us 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, …  The interesting part concerning the design argument is that this creates a spiral that we see repeated in nature; in the curve of a snail shell, the seeds in a sunflower, the seeds of a pine cone, rose petals, the spiral of galaxies, etc.  This ratio has been used by Da Vinci in his art and inventions and Johannes Kepler in his planetary orbits study; to name just two.

Fibonacci Sequence
Nautilus shell

It’s in Your DNA

It is estimated that the DNA of an amoeba contains the same amount of information as 1,000 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica.  Human DNA has been found to contain three billion letters of information in a specific sequence.  DNA governs protein formation in cells which regulate cellular functions; including creation of new DNA.

This is a vast amount of information contained in every cell of every living thing in the universe.  Where did this information come from?  Our observations show us that information only comes from an intelligence.  If we see “John loves Mary” on a beach, we don’t say “Gee, that must have been some strange tidal action that caused that.”  We know intuitively it originated from an intelligent source.

These three areas (cosmic constants, Fibonacci, and DNA) all point to a designer at work in the creation of the universe. 

The Teleological Argument

All this design and information brings us to the Teleological Argument as stated by Dr. William Lane Craig: Premise 1 – The universe is either the product of chance, necessity, or design, Premise 2 – The universe is not the product of chance, Premise 3 – The universe is not the product of necessity, Conclusion – The universe is the product of design.

Let’s look at each premise to see if Dr. Craig’s argument holds.  Premise 1 – The universe is either the product of chance, necessity, or design.  This is self-evident to the point that critics won’t even argue this point.  They accept that these are the only three logical choices.

What about Premise 2?  The universe is not the product of chance.  As we said earlier just, 122 constants required for life to exist make it statistically impossible for our universe to have developed from chance.  The numbers for all this to have been just a big game of chances are mind boggling.

Is the universe a product of necessity?  Premise 3 of Dr. Craig’s argument says no.  In order for the universe to be a product of necessity would mean that there is something intrinsic within the universe that meant that it HAD to exist.  But, if there was no space, time, or matter, or even natural laws (constants), what would have constituted this need to exist?  Natural laws couldn’t have created themselves before they existed.  Natural laws are also impersonal and can’t choose to create.  Gravity always does what it does, unless acted on by another force.

University of Arizona professor and theoretical physicist, Lawrence Krauss, claims that something came from nothing.  In his book, A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing, Krauss claims that the universe began with fluctuations in the cosmic vacuum which he defines as nothing.  Notice what Krauss does to make his case; he changes the definition of “nothing”.  When most scientist use the word “nothing” they mean “no thing”.  Krauss attempts to slip this slight of hand past his readers.  Nothing, as Aristotle said, is what rocks dream about.

So, if the three premises of Dr. Craig’s argument hold true, the most likely conclusion is the one he defines; The universe is the product of design. 

If we honestly look at the design found throughout the universe we must ask, how did it come to be?  The appearance of design is obvious.  Obvious to the point that atheist biology professor, Richard Dawkins, defines his field of study as “the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”  And Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA and an atheist, said “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”

The Apostle Paul addressed this attitude.  Again, from Romans 1: “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made… but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools”.

Once more, these blog posts aren’t meant to be an all-inclusive discussion of these topics.  That would (and has) fill multiple books on each subject.  We encourage you to research these topics and those from previous post to build your case for Christianity.  See our Resource Page for some ideas of where to start.

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