Uniformity and Creation:A Response to Edwords and Thwaites
EDITOR'S NOTE: What follows is a continuation of a debate from last issue on the design argument for special creation. In the last issue, Norman Geisler presented his basic case. Frederick Edwords responded, and William Thwaites expanded upon the whole question with an article that covered issues such as the probability of evolution and the evidence for natural selection. What follows below is Norman Geisler's rebuttal to both Edwords and Thwaites, followed by Edwords' counter-rebuttal. The "Letters to the Editor" section of this issue contains additional comment on this debate.
Suppose that upon meeting some evolutionist friends at Mount Rushmore we inform them of our conclusion that uniform experience points to an intelligent cause of the information conveyed on the mountain side. And suppose in response that they point out that not all who posit an intelligent cause for this phenomenon agree on how long it took to produce these faces. Will this uncertainty about the time involved in their production minimize our conviction that they had an intelligent cause?
Or suppose further that one evolutionist suggests that even some round stones, such as the one found in the stream, may have been deliberately smoothed by an intelligent being. Will this diminish in the least the evidence in favor of an intelligent creator of the faces on Mount Rushmore?
Then suppose that our friends offer the unusual argument that the information reflected in these faces does not need an intelligent cause any more than a round stone needs a round cause. Would we not upon further scrutiny recognize this to be the logical fallacy of emphasizing the accidental?
In addition, would we not be puzzled if our evolutionist friends implied that since stratified stones or crystals have redundant patterns in them, then we can expect that when a river deposits enough of them it will eventually produce its own Mount Rushmore, faces and all?
Further, suppose that one of our evolutionist friends suggests that because thousands of replicas of Mount Rushmore have been mechanically reproduced as souvenirs that this redundancy somehow eliminates the need for an intelligent cause of the original faces on the mountain. Would this in any way affect our conviction about the need for an intelligent creator of these faces?
Suppose further that it is argued that nature has many formations in rocks which show vague resemblance to human or animal forms. Would the existence of these indistinct forms with probable natural causes take away our firm conviction that the distinct faces on Mount Rushmore had an intelligent cause?
And what would we think if one of our friends objected to an intelligent creator of Mount Rushmore saying, "I have never seen it sculpted, nor a sculptor of it"? Would he also reject an architect of the Great Pyramid because he had never seen such a pyramid built, nor such a pyramid builder? Or rather should he not be content with the principle of uniformity which calls only for a similar cause for similar effects to those observed in the present.
Further, knowing that sculptors were not sculpted by sculptors but that only sculptures need a sculptor, would we not be amused if our friend rejected a sculptor of Mount Rushmore on the fascinating, but irrelevant, premise that "every sculptor needs a sculptor." Surely he would not also insist that every painter was painted because every painting has a painter.
And what if one of our evolutionist friends admits that uniform experience confirms that watches have watchmakers. But he insists, nevertheless, that similar experience does not indicate that information, such as that on Mount Rushmore or in a living cell, had an information giver. Would a natural observer view this as consistent reasoning?
Further, noting that there is a "mathematically identical"1 relationship between information conveyed by human intelligence and information in the DNA of a living cell, are we likely to be impressed by the evolutionist's claim that this is "a weak analogy"?
And no doubt we would even be perplexed if our evolutionist friends suggested that natural selection could account for the origin of the first living cell. For did not even the great evolutionist, Dobzhansky, declare that "prebiological natural selection is a contradiction in terms.2 Surely everyone is aware that natural selection could work only after there are living things to select among.
Also, what if our friends declare that natural selection has "creative" powers which replace watchmakers and which operate the way an intelligent being forms words from Scrabble letters? Would we not wonder how a non-intelligent blind force like natural selection possessed the characteristics of an intelligent creator? And would not our suspicion be further confirmed when we hear other evolutionists declare that evolution has "arranged," "designed,"3 or "composed"4 things helpful to the continuance of human life?
And what if the evolutionists were to suggest that the intelligence which caused first life was human intelligence. Would we not be dumbfounded, knowing that he believes human beings did not emerge until millions of years later?
Further, is it not doubtful whether any person would give up his belief that the 20 million volumes of genetic information found in the human brain had an intelligent creator simply because we did not know just how intelligent such a creator of the brain is? How would ignorance about the degree of intelligence it had negate the knowledge that the evidence pointed to a very intelligent creator of life?
And what surprise would greet us were our evolutionist friend to proclaim that a process involving random mistakes on Mary Had a Little Lamb over long periods would be more likely to produce the likes of Hamlet, providing that this was not its ultimate goal. How would having no goal to reach a higher level of complexity in information be of assistance in achieving it? Does not repeated experience indicate that information becomes more garbled, not more complex, by introducing random mistakes undirected by any intelligence?
And in view of uniform experience in favor of an intelligent cause of information, we would surely be surprised to discover that one of our friends had declared that "evolution is inevitable." And to hear others insist that "evolution is a fact, not a theory"5 should be shocking to all who, like our friends, claim that science is never "air-tight" but always tentative in nature.
But what then would we think if our friends should subsequently inform us that an appeal to a supernatural intelligence for the information in first life is "an impossibility"? Would we not surely wonder what had become of their profession that science is tentative in view of such an air-tight claim?
Especially would their claim that there is no such intelligent cause of life be surprising in view of the admission by our evolutionist friends that there are two known causes for information, one of which is intelligence. For if intelligence is a known cause of information, could not a creationist rightly inquire why it is unscientific to posit an intelligent cause for the tremendous volumes of information found in living things?
And what if our evolutionist friends declare that a scientist should never appeal to an intelligent creator of information as opposed to a purely natural law? Would we not wonder how productive their study of geology would be if they had to examine Mount Rushmore until they found some non-intelligent natural law of erosion to explain the faces formed there.6
Finally, in view of the fact that the father of modern evolution, Charles Darwin, called natural selection "my deity," 7 might not some creationists be concerned about the religious implications of such a claim? This may be of special concern when they realized that one of our evolutionist friends said that all school children should be taught how Darwin, in view of evolution, gave up his former belief in a creator. And if in addition they discovered that this same evolutionist friend believed that the evolutionary view is the only one that should be taught in public schools, they may even be inclined to agree with the ACLU attorney, Clarence Darrow, who said at the Scopes trial, it is "bigotry for public schools to teach only one theory of origins."8
1. See H. P. Yockey, "Self Organization Origin of Life Scenarios and Information Theory" in The Journal of Theoretical Biology (1981) 91:16.
2. Theodosius Dobzhansky, in The Origins of Prebiological Systems and Their Molecular Matrices. Edited by S. W. Fox, New York: Academic Press, 1965, p. 310.
3. See Carl Sagan, Cosmos, New York: Random House, 1980, p. xiii, and Sagan, Broca's Brain, New York: Random House, 1979, p. 11.
4. Theodosius Dobzhansky, as cited by T. Bethell, Harper's Magazine, Feb., 1976, p. 70.
5. Carl Sagan, Cosmos, p. 27 (emphasis added).
6. This methodological naturalism is contrary both to the origin and nature of science. See N. L. Geisler, Is Man the Measure: An Evaluation of Contemporary Humanism, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, ch. 11, and Miracles and Modem Thought, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982, ch. 4.
7. Letter to Lyell (Oct. 20, 1859), cited by James Moore, The Post-Darwinian Controversies, Cambridge University Press, 1979, p. 322.
8. R. O'Bannon, Creation, Evolution and Public Education 5, Dayton Symposium on Tennessee's Evolution Laws, May 18, 1974.