“And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only. But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true.”
– The Book of Mormon, Alma 30:40-41
If you check the comments on my Science of Resurrection post my friend James, who I have known since time immemorial, is having a long-running discussion with his atheist brother who, for purposes of discussion, we’ll refer to as “Josh,” because that’s his name. The discussion uses lots of big words and is somewhat hard to follow, but the bottom line is that Josh believes there is no God, because there is no material evidence of His existence.
To which my response is, “Sez who?”
Like Alma, I see “all things as a testimony” that there is a divine creator. Reasonably speaking, the mathematical likelihood of life accidentally arising in all of its various permutations is so close to zero that it’s not even worth considering. Evolution’s inability to offer a plausible alternative also ought to be put in the “plus” column as evidence in God’s favor.
Consider, for instance, that Darwin himself provided a standard for whether or not his theory could adequately explain life.
“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications,” he said, “my theory would absolutely break down.”
In Darwin’s age, nothing was known about molecular biology and the inner workings of the cell. Today, Intelligent Design proponents* have pointed out several different biological constructs that are irreducibly complex. Michael Behe points to the flagellum, which provides the cell’s “tiny outboard motor.” The flagellum is constructed of 46 moving parts. If you only have 45 of the 46, you don’t have a slightly-less-useful flagellum; you’ve got nothing but genetic junk that doesn’t do anything. In order for natural selection to produce something like this by accident, each of those 46 components have to come together perfectly, because even 45 out of 46 provide no genetic advantage and therefore are completely useless in natural selection.
The eye. The ear. DNA. The central nervous system. The taste bud. Each of these things have millions, if not billions, of tiny, microscopic, moving parts that they face the same challenge as the flagellum on a far greater scale. Darwinian evolution can’t explain them. To objectively examine this data and conclude that there is no design behind them requires deliberate rejection of the most likely logical conclusion.
Now this hasn’t “disproven” Darwinian biology, because Darwinian biology provides workable explanations for many observable facts in the natural world – adaptation of species to fit their surroundings, for instance, even it gives no insight into how the basic building blocks of life began. When asked those questions, an honest biologist should answer, “we don’t know.” Which, of course, is a perfectly valid response. Science rarely “knows,” since it never reaches final conclusions. It’s always subject to change based on new data, and if the data don’t exist, science stays mum.
So have I proved God exists? Not at all. I think I’ve effectively demonstrated gaps in Darwinian theory to explain the origins of life, and I’ve offered a suggestion that biological constructs are designed by intelligence. But the theories to explain that intelligence are endless, and only a few of them would include a God who sent His only son to die for our sins. Some have proposed the idea of aliens seeding the earth with life in a theory called “panspermia.” There’s the theory of the Flying Spaghetti Monster who made us for fun and then used his noodly appendages to plant fake dinosaur bones to freak out paleontologists. There’s Scientology, which says the evil galactic emperor Xenu trapped billions of spirits on here on Earth – or Teegeeack, as they say it in Scientologese – with Hawaiian volcanic explosions.
The best evidence for God’s existence is internal, not external.
We are born with an innate understanding of eternal moral standards. That’s why you will not find a civilization that applauds murder for material gain, that teaches children that dishonesty is the best policy, that recommends adultery as a course to lasting happiness. As C.S. Lewis states in Mere Christianity:
I know that some people say the idea of a [Moral] Law of Nature or decent behaviour known to all men is unsound, because different civilisations and different ages have had quite different moralities. But this is not true… Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five.
This provides internal guidance suggesting we ought to behave in a certain way, and we are always unhappy when we ignore that guidance. Psychologists call it “conscience” and try to explain it away as an evolutionary fluke, despite any lack of scientific evidence to back them up. The Book of Mormon calls this “the light of Christ,” and it offers it up as the best evidence yet there is a divine being who has a very specific moral definition for what a good human being is.
To truly find God, one should spend less time studying science and more time searching their own soul.
I quoted this story in the comments section of my resurrection post, but it bears repeating. These discussions remind me of the old story of the guy who lost his keys at night and looks for them under the light of a streetlamp.
Another guy comes along. “What are you doing?” he asks.
“I’m looking for my keys,” answers Guy #1.
“Did you lose them over there?” asks Guy #2.
“No, I lost them by the curb.”
“So why are you looking for them over there by the streetlamp?”
“Because this is where the light is.”
People looking for God in science are essentially looking in the wrong place. They think they’re seeing things clearly and that the way is illuminated, but they’re actually stumbling in darkness. If you’re only willing to look where the light is, you’re going to miss the only light that matters.
*Intelligent Design folks have raised some very interesting questions, but they haven’t offered a workable scientific theory to replace evolution, and, therefore, they shouldn’t be interjected into science classrooms. Just saying “it was designed!” offers no useful scientific information. Imagine walking into a GM plant and trying to find out how cars are made and having the plant manager say “they were designed!” and nothing else. Good luck replicating their manufacturing processes.