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The Mystery Behind the Mystery

Creation Evolution Journal
Title: 
The Mystery Behind the Mystery
Author(s): 
Frederick Edwords
Volume: 
6
Number: 
1
Quarter: 
Winter
Page(s): 
41–42
Year: 
1986

In his latest response, Dr. Norman Geisler seems to want to focus upon information content alone and to ignore other features of the biological systems and human artifacts that he compares. My point is that he cannot legitimately do this. That is the largest part of the "apples and oranges" problem to which I alluded earlier.

Geisler also seems to be overly enamored with the present information content of DNA and RNA, not considering the possibility that they probably were not always so complex. DNA or RNA is most likely the product of simpler forms having more repetitive messages—and Geisler seems to have nothing against the natural origin of repetitive messages. This is part of what current origin of life research is about.

To this, Geisler will want to reiterate his point that "it is our regular, uniform experience that specified complexity results from an intelligent cause." But this statement is not complete. We also know that specified complexity results without intelligent intervention. For example, micro-evolutionary changes, such as speciation (which most creationists admit occurs entirely by natural means), involve alterations in the DNA code. I have yet to hear a creationist posit a divine hand fine-tuning the DNA at every speciation event. Since speciation can increase complexity (Futuyma, 1983), then we have an increase in the complexity of the DNA coming about naturally. If evolution can make DNA more complex today, is it far-fetched to suggest that the present complexity found in DNA is the product of the same process?

- page 42 -

Now, for the first time, Geisler comes forward and posits that the intelligence behind life must necessarily be superhuman and supernatural, and he hints that it may also be the cause of the whole natural universe. What a tremendous intelligence this must be (or must have been-Geisler's deistic argument gives nothing for this intelligence to do in the present)! And one cannot imagine such a tremendous intelligence simply coming about by chance—at least not if Geisler is right that intelligence cannot originate that way. Therefore, this intelligence, like human intelligence, must have been created! And from this we get a series of creators reaching back through an infinity of time. Is that a supportable position?

Actually, the only reason Geisler had to resort to a supernatural designer-creator is because he is faced with a mystery he cannot solve—the mystery of life's origin. Since unsolved mysteries are unpleasant to some, he has felt the need to solve it before enough data are in. But he solves the mystery by positing another mystery—namely, the mystery of the supernatural. As a result, we get two mysteries for the price of one.

And just to make sure that his supernatural designer-creator is not put out of work by some new scientific discovery (as often happens with gods-of-the-gaps like Geisler's), he declares that, whatever "natural causes may yet be found capable of producing specified complexity in the first living cell," these will in no way diminish his argument that a supernatural designer-creator can do it, too, and was therefore the real cause.

Is he afraid that evolutionary scientists are on the verge of such a discovery, a specific and workable origin of life scenario? If so, this is a feeble way to render his natural theology immune from the effects of it. He has not provided a reason why we should opt for intelligent design in spite of a discovery showing it not to be necessary. In the case of Mount Rushmore, we have direct historical knowledge of the sculptor. What direct knowledge outside of observation of information content do we have for positing a designer of life? Without such knowledge, why should we favor Geisler's position?

Given two explanations for the same phenomena, Occam's razor requires that we pick the simplest one. The naturalistic explanation is simpler because it deals with the natural world we know and does not require the adding on of another level of complexity—the mysterious world of the supernatural.

Reference

Futuyma, Douglas J. 1983. Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution (New York: Pantheon), pp. 114-160.

About the Author(s): 
Fred Edwords, editor of Creation/Evolution, is on the board of directors of the National Center for Science Education and is executive director of the American Humanist Association.
© 1986 by Frederick Edwords
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.