Friday, February 22, 2013

Cosmic Fairy Tales: Who are the True Believers?

Several times a week, I am accused of believing in fairy tales, because I believe in a God who created the entire universe. In contrast, my detractors believe that everything came about naturally, even before there was even “natural” laws - natural causation. In other words, given enough time – and where did that come from? - the universe will jump into existence uncaused. And it must be uncaused, since there was nothing prior to the universe to cause it.

Well, which is the fairy tale – Intelligent Design (ID) or a non-existent naturalism? Perhaps I seem to unfairly be stacking the deck against naturalism, even from the get-go, but I really don’t want to do that. I’d prefer that rationality carry-the-day rather than an alleged misrepresentation of naturalism.

So let’s do this – Let’s look at different features in our universe and see if we can determine which belief system better accounts for them. However, I won’t cite those features that IDers always cite – the fine-tuning of the universe, the elegance and immutability of our laws of science, and the origins of life, the cell, and DNA - to slam-dunk the ID case. Instead, let’s set our sites on something much closer – on the human being.

While many of our characteristics enable us to survive and pass on our genes, we have many other characteristics that seem to transcend this narrow struggle for survival. There are characteristics that seem to merely enrich life and to not aid in procreation. These, therefore, would be difficult to account for from an evolutionary/naturalistic perspective:

Music Appreciation: We not only enjoy music but are often elevated by it. Although a naturalistic explanation can be forced to account for such a trait, it could just as easily be argued that music might take the human being away from his more primary task of survival.

In addition to this, it is often noted that our appreciation of music is strongly associated with precise and elegant mathematical relationships between the notes and chords, suggesting a transcendent design. It is almost as if God had been saying, “I want to share with you something that delights Me!”

Visual Aesthetics Appreciation: How can naturalism explain our appreciation of the visual world? As with our enjoyment of music, this seems to be a gratuitous add-on, a survival non-essential, something that might simply take our attention away from killing a monkey to feed our family. From a Biblical point of view, we were created, not only to survive, but to partake in something higher – God Himself.

Sense of Humor: This sense delights in the paradoxes of life - the things that don’t fit neatly together and perhaps should. This too seems like a distraction from the all-important struggle to survive and procreation. However, it clearly is another gracious add-on – a survival non-essential.

Contemplation and Consciousness: This allows us to become self-aware. While many regard our higher thinking as a bane, something that can render us inactive and morbidly self-conscious in a world where we need to be very active to survive and to pass on our genes, there is also little doubt that contemplation enriches and deepens our lives. It offers us the potential to be truly human.

Nor does this mental work simply concern catching more food. It pursues moral, legal, and epistemological questions.

Moral Sensitivity: Also consistent with the ID paradigm of being created in the image of God, all humanity has sexual taboos. We do not (or should not) sex mother and father, brother and sister, son and daughter. The evolutionist might argue that these taboos served to preserve the genetic integrity of the tribe by limiting the spread of genetic defects. However, a stronger case could be made that inbreeding, such as we find among animals, can maximize the linkage among beneficial genes – a possible aid to evolution.

Also, from an evolutionary point of view, taboos minimize the availability of reproductive partners.

Monogamy: Instead, we find monogamy deeply entrenched in human society. This is an institution that minimizes the ability of the “fittest” from passing on their genes, thereby slowing the engine of evolution.

Similarly, we restrict the “fittest” from passing on their “desirable” genes through our human taboo against rape and the dominant, fittest male controlling all of the females. Besides, why should evolution implant within us a sense of guilt regarding those behaviors – rape and selfishly creating a harem for ones exclusive pleasures – which promote evolution!

Instead, sexual faithfulness is extolled, and this is consistent with the nature of our moral God and the fact that we alone are created in His image.

Altruism: Our God is altruistic. He sacrificed Himself for us, and we are like Him in this sense. Consequently, those who are most admired are not those who pass on their seed with greater frequency but those who think of others first. However, altruism seems to run counter to the evolutionary paradigm. It puts others’ needs before our own to pass on our “superior” seed. It puts sharing above controlling.

Meaning and Purpose: An animal’s purpose is to control scarce resources, whether sexual or material. However, it is a well-accepted fact that humans require a higher moral purpose in life, something that transcends reproductive pursuits. Such an esoteric concern will necessarily detract from attention to survival and reproduction. How then can we explain the basic human need if it not only lacks survival value but actually militates against reproductive fecundity?

However, the Bible provides a perfect explanation for this trait. We have been so designed so that we will not be totally consumed with the material cares of life and will seek after ultimate truth.

Lack of Ultimate Fulfillment: As successful as we might become in our corner of the world, we never find ultimate satisfaction here. We always have a longing for something else – the property of the Transcendent. Why this oddity, this distraction, this restless longing? This trait often leads people into the contemplative life – into the monk’s life – and away from maximizing genetic exchange. Of what procreative value could this reality possibly contain?

Instead, this trait is easily explained from a Biblical perspective. We are simply not meant to be fulfilled here. Our hope is to be invested in the return of our Savior and in His future kingdom.

Deterioration of the Human Genome: If we were ideally created, as the Bible maintains, ID would predict de-evolution - the increasing accumulation of genetic defects, and this is just what we find.

I think that all of these human considerations/realities are better explained by ID than by a naturalistic hypothesis. And which human traits cannot be explained by ID? Which aren’t congruent with the ID hypothesis? I don’t see any.

If these considerations are so, then who is it that believes in fairy tales?

No comments:

Post a Comment