Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Medium is Not the Message

Marshall McCluhan’s familiar phrase “The Medium is the Message” could help us understand the contrast between the metaphysical naturalist and the creationist Christian worldviews. Naturalists claim intelligent design features are not evident. Creationists say such features abound, especially in living things.

McCluhan (1911-1980) is often identified with his famous phrase. His concerns centered on the influence media play in defining us and shaping our outlook. In his day some of the primary media were television and movies. McCluhan worried that intellectual content became secondary to our identification with the medium and the effects generated by our immersion in it. In our day we might add modern technology such as internet and cell phones to the list of media which could define us. Unfortunately, the information provided by these social networking media often becomes secondary. Many people are merely defined as internet or cell phone “junkies.”

Let’s contrast the medium (genetic material in a cell composed of ordinary elements) with the message such ordinary matter is capable of transmitting. Nowhere is intelligent design more obvious than in the DNA molecule found in every body cell. For review, please reference these previous posts:

The incredible amount of information in the DNA molecule amounts to a coded language with rich message content consisting of a lengthy set of detailed instructions. Languages, codes, and messages all originate within a mind. Some intelligent design advocates fail to identify the mind as that of the Judeo-Christian God, possibly to avoid accusations from secular detractors that ID is a religious concept. This blog explicitly acknowledges that mind as the God of the Bible. In John 1:1-2 logos means “agent of reason,” referring to Christ. Christ is God, the Creator and intelligent designer. He created the matter in which we now detect many design characteristics.

Metaphysical naturalists claim matter is all there is. They deny that matter was created by God and that matter has any design characteristics pointing to God. According to them, matter has self-organizing ability--no need for the supernatural. It is not much of a stretch to say they may even appropriate Marshall McCluhan’s maxim: The Medium (matter) is the Message. Matter has ultimate meaning, not the meaning of intentional, informational, and instructional content of the matter. By such logic, inanimate matter would define us as humans, much like cell phones and other networking media, appendage-like, have become such an integral part of many of us in the 21st century.

Are the answers to questions of origins and reality merely the intrinsic ordinary matter of the cell material and in all physical matter? Is matter all there is? Or does the design of living cell matter with its coded language contain the message? Do we find evidence for a mind at work in the “stuff of life?”

Marshall McCluhan was a Christian. Had he studied the contents of the cell and the wonders of DNA, no doubt he would have proclaimed, “The Medium is Not the Message.”