Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Beyond Theory

When a repair or service technician comes to my home, I have the habit of lingering nearby to ask questions. Of course, I ask permission for the privilege. The knowledge I acquire is theoretical, not practical, rather like the knowledge of an enthusiastic baseball fan who never really played the game.

Simple understanding that every physical trait of the millions of species present on earth is stored in information contained in the DNA molecule may be regarded as true, but theoretical knowledge. Knowing information contained in DNA is present and transmitted in four-digit code form is also theoretical, but we may begin to feel more pride in our knowledge. Discovering that codes are always the product of an intelligent mind enhances our sense of pride and wonder even further. But our sense of cognition may be diminished as we realize we do not really know the first thing about how the system works. We only know the systems works, and that it works marvelously.

Probing the world of operating living systems serves to increase our intuitive sense that living things are intelligently designed. For the believer familiar with Christian theology, it is not difficult to conclude that the designer is the God of the Bible. Even the most basic knowledge of the functionality of living things and the transmission of genetic traits from one generation to another serves to trigger our exclamation that these events do not “just happen.”

Many scientists married to the naturalistic worldview, however, have no problem dismissing God from the picture. They loudly proclaim the irrationality of such a belief. This proclamation flies in the face of abundant evidence for design. The design indicators mentioned in this post do not consist of detailed, ironclad proof for the truth of intelligent design. There is no “proof level” verification for intelligent design in the scientific sense, but inferential evidence is beyond plentiful.

Questions I pose to my service or repair technician as he labors over our water heater or air conditioner help me grasp the sequence of events in a properly functioning system. For the most part I do not understand the precise workings of the unit he repaired or installed. In the world of living things we may know that DNA transmits the coded information necessary for proper system function, but it is in discovering more profound details about how the code operates and how its instructions are carried out that our deeper senses of awe and wonder fully engage. As a result, we may plan better instructional strategies using science as an apologetic tool in the church to help us think more deeply about the reality of God.