Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dismissing Design

People of many different belief persuasions dismiss the concept of intelligent design. The discussion is not just a scientific question, but also a philosophical one. Did a super-intelligent agent act supernaturally within our present dimensions of time, space, matter, and energy? Are we able to detect such actions using scientific methods? Or must we explain all phenomena since the beginning of time in terms of natural processes?

Beliefs regarding intelligent design contrast sharply, whether operating in the pre-life universe, at the sudden appearance of complex life, or in its subsequent profusion. Even atheists and agnostics acknowledge the presence of hundreds of apparent design features in the physical cosmos from the beginning until the present. But they offer speculative explanations for these features such as the currently popular multiverse hypothesis.

This purely speculative hypothesis poses the possibility of the generation of an infinite number of universes in addition to our own. The idea of an infinitely large number of universes provides the possibility that at least one of them, just by chance, would manifest all the life-favorable conditions possessed by our universe. This reduces the possibility that the actions of God explain the presence of thousands of apparently ordered design features in our own universe. The multiverse hypothesis titillates the thinking of people leaning toward naturalistic explanations and away from supernaturalism.

Astrophysicist/theologian Hugh Ross discusses cosmic multiverse models in More Than a Theory. Ross’s proposals of a testable creation model based on examination of evidence contrasts sharply with multiverse proposals being advanced today. Multiverse concepts originated in philosophical and fictional writings decades ago. Refined models are now granted currency when proposed and discussed. The distinction between solid, testable science hypotheses and speculative, popular science is often difficult to make.

Ross writes, “When leading proponents of a model use irrelevant evidence and/or arguments, their efforts hinder science and confuse the public.” He continues, “Multiverse models are purely speculative, not based on any measurable or scientifically testable evidence.” There is no hope of demonstrating the truth of the multiverse hypothesis. Design features in our universe are ubiquitous. But so are imaginative proposals to deflect our focus away from considering and demonstrating evidence for the reality of God as the Creator.

Under the heading “All Size Scales Great and Small,” Ross states, “…the more cosmic or galactic details astronomers discover, the more fine-tuning evidence they see. The same outcome occurs for living cells, subatomic particles, and all the rest. If everywhere scientists can measure design they do detect design—and if the degree of detected design consistently increases with their measuring capabilities—it seems irrational to discount all this design evidence by appealing to that which can never be detected or measured.”

As measurements of precise physical constants have been refined and knowledge of fine-tuning features have beome better defined, more creative naysayers have attempted to cast doubt on the reality of the Creator. The side of the discussion one embraces relates more to supporting one’s previously held worldview than to a desire to embrace the best evidence. Human tendency to support our previously existing beliefs often overwhelms our desire to change our beliefs in order to conform to the truth.

The Apostle Paul encourages us to change our thinking when necessary. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2 NIV). This instruction applies not only to doctrinal purity and personal holiness, but also to the discovery of general truth concerning creation.