God, Design, and Natural Selection
In a September 2016 New Scientist article titled “Can We Ever Know If God Exists?”1 Executive Editor Graham Lawton insisted that “the only coherent and rational position is agnosticism.”2 Allegedly, there is not enough legitimate evidence to come to the rational conclusion that “God exists.” For example, Lawton called the design argument for God’s existence a “superficially persuasive argument” that is “very refutable.”3 And how is it supposedly refuted? What evidence did Lawton offer in contradiction to the design argument? He presented only one statement: “Evolution by natural selection, working over vast lengths of time, is all you need.”4
Sadly, many people will naively take Lawton at his word and assume, “He must be right. I guess we can’t prove that God exists.” The simple fact is, however, his “refutation” of the design argument is nothing of the sort. First, the design argument for God’s existence is an actual logical argument.
Premise 1: Anything that exhibits complex, functional design demands an intelligent designer.
Premise 2: The Universe exhibits complex, functional design.
Conclusion: Therefore, the Universe must have an intelligent Designer.
This argument for God is logically sound and observationally true. Even atheists frequently testify to the “design” in nature. For example, Australian atheistic astrophysicist Paul Davies has admitted that the Universe is “uniquely hospitable,” “remarkable,” and “ordered in an intelligible way.” He even confessed to the “fine-tuned properties” of the Universe.5 The simple fact is, to deny either premise of the design argument is to deny reality, while to deny the conclusion is to deny logic.
Second, “Evolution by natural selection, working over vast lengths of time, is [not!]6 all you need.” Certainly the fit adapt and survive, and pass along their advantageous genetic traits [example: longer legs in some animals] to their offspring, but such processes (1) cannot create complex, functional design from nothing, (2) cannot change non-design into design, and (3) do not (and cannot) change one kind of animal into another. The simple fact is, natural selection does not design anything. As evolutionist Hugo de Vries admitted long ago, “Natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest.”7 It cannot explain the arrival of the perfectly designed “bomb-producing” bombardier beetle anymore than it can rationally explain the communication skills of the “sophisticated,” “intelligent,” “tailor-made,” color-changing Cuttlefish.8
Atheistic evolution is simply inept to deal with the reasonable arguments for the existence of God, including the logically sound design argument. To say that the design argument has “turned out to be very refutable” is simply false. And to act as if natural selection over long periods of time is the answer to the design observed in nature is equally fallacious. Such talk may sound nice in theoretical circles, but the evidence on a real observational and philosophically sound level still points to design that demands a designer. In truth, regardless of what Lawton and New Scientist say, we can know that God exists.9
1 Graham Lawton (2016), “Can We Ever Know If God Exists?” New Scientist, 231:39, September 3.
2 An agnostic is “a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable”—Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary (2016), http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agnostic, emp. added.
3 Lawton, p. 39, emp. added.
5 Paul Davies (2007), “Laying Down the Laws,” New Scientist, 194:30,34, June 30.
6 Parenthetical comment added.
7 Hugo De Vries (1905), Species and Varieties: Their Origin by Mutation, ed. Daniel Trembly MacDougal (Chicago, IL: Open Court), pp. 825-826, emp. added.
8 Eric Lyons (2008), “The Cause of the Cuttlefish,” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=2505&topic=328.
9 See the Existence of God section of ApologeticsPress.org for a plethora of articles on this subject: http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12.