Imagine you were browsing the internet for places to visit when in the United States on holiday and you come across 2 beautiful pictures one of the Grand Canyon and the other Mount Rushmore. Which one would you instinctively say was formed by an intelligent being and which one was formed by natural processes? Think about that for a moment and we’ll come back to that scenario.
The word teleology comes from telos, which means “purpose” or “goal.” The teleological argument utilizes the fact that the best explanation for things that appear designed is a Designer. The teleological argument uses evidence from the fine-tuning of the universe to show that the universe appears designed and at the very least should make us consider a designer. During the last 35 years or so, scientists have discovered that the existence of intelligent life is balanced and depends on a very delicate and complex balance of initial conditions. For example, Stephen Hawking has estimated that if the rate of the universe’s expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have collapsed into a hot fireball due to gravitational attraction. Physicist P.C.W. Davies has calculated that the odds against the initial conditions being suitable for star formation (without which planets could not exist) is one in a thousand billion billion! Davies also calculates that a change in the strength of gravity or of the weak force by merely one part in 10 raised to the 100th power(!) would have prevented a life-permitting universe. There are dozens and dozens of such constants and quantities present in the Big Bang which are exquisitely fine-tuned in this way allowing the universe is to permit life.
Not only constants appear to be fine-tuned, our solar system appears to be designed with us in mind. If we were a little bit closer to the sun, we burn and if we were a little bit too far we freeze. We are in what scientists call the “Goldilock Zone”. It’s not too hot and not too cold, but just right. What is the function of Jupiter to the earth? Jupiter is the earth’s big brother; its gravitational force is so strong that it attracts many of the meteors in space that would rather obliterate earth (Thank God for Jupiter). In fact, there have been so many predictions of meteors hitting earth in the far future, guess what? My money’s on Jupiter. There are about 10 billion galaxies in the observable universe! There is on average 100 billion stars per galaxy meaning that there are about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s 1 billion trillion) stars in the observable universe! Even more startling is that no 2 stars are the same, this might seem like guesswork considering we haven’t examined all the star. But a star has so many variables in its makeup that the probability of two identical stars is as close as you can get to zero. These variables include the total number of atoms, exact chemical composition, size, temperature, and motion. My God, the heavens are indeed awesome! The prophet Isaiah in the bible wrote, quoting God;
“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. – Isaiah 40 verse 25-26
Now let’s go back to browsing the internet and stumbling on a picture of the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore while browsing the internet. If you were allowed to examine both pictures and then asked the question; Which one is designed by an intelligent being? Instinctively your answer would be Mount Rushmore. In order for you to arrive at a logical and rational answer, your brain goes through all the possible explanations and analyses their plausibility. These are the 3 explanations you go through before arriving at your answer.
- Necessity (It must be that way),
- Chance or
Let’s start with necessity which basically means ‘it has to be that way’. But when you look at mount Rushmore you know there is no physical law that necessitates it to be that way because from experience you know that mountains don’t tend to be carved into faces of recognizable people by natural processes e.g. erosion. So immediately the necessity explanation is thrown out the window.
Reflecting on this, the once-agnostic physicist P.C.W. Davies comments;
“Through my scientific work I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact.”
So if no physical law necessitates it, how about chance. We go back to the Mount Rushmore scenario. What are the chances that mount Rushmore was created by water erosion or an earthquake, infinitesimally small! Thus, just like the necessity explanation you decide that the chance explanation is extremely improbable, hence, irrational.
So we’re left with design. After you’ve considered necessity and chance as possible explanations and find them to be irrational explanations for Mount Rushmore. You turn to design (and rightly so) and conclude that it had to have been carved by an intelligent being (a designer).
Now let’s apply this same thought process in examining the universe;
- We now know that our universe is incredibly fine-tuned with awe-inspiring precision. So can necessity explain this precise fine-tuning? The answer is no. Just like Mount Rushmore we don’t see this kind of precision anywhere else. The figures are astronomical. Hence, the necessity explanation is not sufficient for the Universe just as it isn’t for Mount Rushmore.
- What about chance? Couldn’t the fine-tuning of the universe have arisen by shear chance? The answer is; it is infinitesimally improbable but not impossible. However, it seems to me that to hold this view requires a colossal amount of faith when the numbers are considered. It’s even worse than saying Mount Rushmore arose by water erosion over time. Therefore, the chance explanation doesn’t wash.
- So just like with Mount Rushmore we are left with Design. That the universe was designed by an intelligent being to have the astronomical precision we observe.
British Astrophysicist Sir Frederick Hoyle remarks;
“A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics…and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question”
Robert Jastrow, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, refers to this as;
“the most powerful evidence for the existence of God ever to come out of science.”
Once-agnostic physicist P.C.W. Davies comments;
“There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all… it seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the universe. The impression of design is overwhelming”.
Not just when we look up to the heavens can we see evidence for God. When you look down through a microscope you see evidence of design. Take an amoeba for example, a so-called simple form of life which Darwinists say we evolved from. You know the whole “from goo to you via the zoo” or “from the infantile to the reptile then the crocodile to the gentile”. Well the amoeba is the ‘goo’ or ‘infantile’. Well we now know that an amoeba has 670 billion units of DNA or base pairs. That is over 200 times more than that of humans, and in this unicellular organism is evidence of unmistakable signs of intelligence.
Say you come downstairs one morning and you see the scrabble box open on the dining table and in the middle of the table is spelt out- “wash the dishes-Mom”. What would you assume? That a gust of wind blew open up the box and arranged the letters, or that the cat knocked the box over and arranged it. No! You will say the message is from an intelligent being, MOM! Let’s assume that you’re walking on a beach and you see on the sand ‘Jack loves Rose’, what would you assume? That crabs came out of the sea and scribbled it in the sand or that the laws of tides and waves wrote it. No! You will say the message is from an intelligent being, JACK! However possible the insane explanations, you’re very aware of their gob-smacking improbability, because you know from previous experiences that messages only come from minds. You know that messages can’t be formed by natural forces. Gravity, electromagnetism, strong and weak nuclear forces can’t write ‘Jack loves Rose’ in the sand. The same way the laws of paper and ink can’t explain the letters in a book. Therefore, if a message always requires a mind then where does the message ‘DNA’ come from. The 4 letters of the genetic alphabet (A, T, C, G) that every living thing possesses. Inside you is a genome approximately 3 billion letters long, all in the right order. A always goes with T and C with G, this looks very much like a program to me, in fact it’s called the ‘Genetic code’. From my experience every program has a programmer. Well I suppose you might say, Yinka, it started really simple and evolved by random mutations to become complex. But let’s say I took the Microsoft program I used to type this up and randomly mutated it, the chances of me getting the exact code that works is infinitesimally small. Hence, to believe that the immense complexity and diversity of life arose by chance requires a colossal amount of faith. How I wish more Christians had that kind of faith!