I just watched a debate between Peter Ward and Stephen Myer. The debate was over intelligent design.
Myer proposes that the way DNA works seems to suggest that it was designed. Just as a computer code can be studied for what it is and how it does what it does and therefore can be reasonably attributed to a designer. By studying a computer code, inferences can be made to the very nature of the designer. The same type of analysis can be done on DNA, he says.
Ward was arguing from the point of view of abiogenesis. That it is conceivable that chemicals could have come together in such a way that they would form self-replicating compounds, and that those would become more and more complex, until we have what we see today. A bunch of different life forms that are built of the same building blocks as were every life form previous: DNA.
The argument boiled down to this: Can science prove the existence of a creator? Ward says no. In fact, he says, “What we cannot do is go to the supernatural, because every aspect of science can only deal with the natural. Supernatural is required for intelligent design”.
Is it? Certainly, great intelligence is required. But supernatural? What is supernatural? If there was an intelligent being that designed the universe and life on earth, then that being would have had access to what we know as nature. That being would be as much a part of nature as anything we can detect with only our five senses.
In the debate, Stephen Myer explained that we regularly detect intelligent design. We do not assume that a piece of pottery found in an archeological dig, for example, was the effect of geologic forces. We know that it was designed. We may not be able to name the designer, but he existed. The existence of the pottery in its extra-natural state proves its creator’s existence.
The problem with stories about the creation of the universe and life is that they come with their tellers; other-worldly beings who imparted knowledge and imposed rules on primitive societies (allegedly). Today’s atheists (the science worshiping variety) don’t trust these accounts. They say that the stories of the deities’ feats are just too fantastic. And that’s fine. It would be as difficult to prove that Jesus walked on water a couple of thousand years ago as it would be to prove that I ate eggs for breakfast on July 19, 2002, even though it is entirely possible that I did. But they’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater when they also dismiss the one claim for which evidence still exists today; the product of the alleged creation: life.
Who invented the wheel? What if I told you that I had discovered an ancient text that names the inventor? What if it also claims that the inventor walked on water and rose from the dead? Knowing that the inventor was said to be a man, these feats would likely be seen as pure fiction. The entire account might be suspect. The very claim that he invented the wheel may very well come into question.
But we’re still left with the wheel. Must one crazy account, or a thousand crazy accounts of its creator’s antics negate its having been intelligently designed? Of course not. Though wheels are made up of natural elements, they cannot spontaneously occur in nature without input from an intelligent, natural agent. The wheel itself, in its form and function, is evidence of its creator’s existence, whether or not his name is in a book.
Peter Ward is wrong when he says that science can’t deal with the supernatural. Mainly because he’s attempting to equate it to intelligence. If he was right, we’d be left to assume that all intelligently designed objects and machines just occurred. Science must be able to detect intelligence and/or design, even without the intelligent designer being available for comment.
Intelligent design is not supernatural. To varying degrees, you and I do it every day… in nature. It doesn’t take magic, as one might call the supernatural. Intelligence and design are natural. The first thing needed to detect them is the desire to detect them. It is unreasonable and a sign of closed mindedness not to be willing to apply a test that may determine an object’s status as having come to be by either chance or design to anything found in the natural realm, including life.
The question is not whether or not science is the alternative to supernatural in explaining the origin of life on earth. The question is whether or not anything at all can be inferred to have been designed, using a scientific method. If so, then scientists should welcome the opportunity to apply it to life, if only to gain a little more knowledge either way.