(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 5)
They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and this week Geisler and Turek continue their attempt to “enlighten” us about a subject they apparently know dangerously little about: biology.
While our space observations have yielded the Anthropic Principle of physics (which we discussed in the last chapter), our life observations are yielding an equally impressive Anthropic Principle of biology.
To show you what we mean, let’s consider so-called “simple” life—a one-celled animal known as an amoeba. Naturalistic evolutionists claim that this one-celled amoeba (or something like it) came together by spontaneous generation (i.e. without intelligent intervention) in a warm little pond somewhere on the very early earth. According to their theory, all biological life has evolved from that first amoeba without any intelligent guidance at all. This, of course, is the theory of macroevolution: from the infantile, to the reptile, to the Gentile; or, from the goo to you via the zoo.
Clever, isn’t it? I mean, the way they got those words to rhyme like that. I bet if real scientists used more rhymes in their research papers, we’d get better scientific results, don’t you think?
Needless to say, Geisler and Turek’s description of abiogenesis describes actual scientific thinking about as well as “The Stork Theory” describes embryology. Real scientists don’t assume that a completely functional, modern-day amoeba just suddenly poofed into existence in a warm pond somewhere via pre-Pasteurian “spontaneous generation.” Real scientists are studying the way natural biochemical laws and processes actually function, looking for real-world sequences of events which might have constrained the “random” interaction of molecules in ways that would produce actual precursors to cellular life.
That’s “precursors,” as in “cells don’t just suddenly poof into existence out of a pool of warm water.” The “poof” method is the creationist method. Real scientists are currently exploring the precursors to cellular life precisely because they do not believe that the first one-celled organism spontaneously poofed itself into existence, and they’re making progress (slow progress, but progress) precisely because the laws of nature do allow for the spontaneous development of biochemical structures that could serve as precursors to cellular life.
Of course, the real boogeyman that has Geisler and Turek so alarmed is evolution (or as they call it, “macroevolution”). It’s so scary that they have to label it a “belief” and assign a special label to people who acknowledge its existence. Notice that they skip over “scientists,” “educated persons” and other accurate labels:
Believers in this theory of origin are called by many names: naturalistic evolutionists, materialists, humanists, atheists, and Darwinists (in the remainder of this chapter and the next, we’ll refer to believers in this atheistic evolutionary theory as Darwinists or atheists. This does not include those who believe in theistic evolution—i.e., that evolution was guided by God). Regardless of what we call the true believers in this theory, the key question for us is this: “Is their theory true?” It appears not.
Oops. We don’t need to read any further to know that Geisler and Turek have already exposed their own lie. If evolutionary theory were not true, then why would they need to make a special disclaimer saying they don’t mean to include theistic evolutionists? Why would there even be theistic evolutionists? And why would they need to make a distinction between “macro” evolution and “micro” evolution (and then try to link abiogenesis with macroevolution)?
The theory of evolution is simply a study of causes and effects. When X happens, we can determine both by analysis and by observation that Y is the result. In the case of abiogenesis, the X and the Y are chemical reactions: when chemical A and chemical B interact in the presence of catalyist C, molecule D is the result. We’re not dealing with a theory that is either theistic or atheistic: either the chemicals react the way science describes, or they don’t. Human belief has nothing to do with it. Even if you want to adopt a theistic worldview that says God is behind it all in some ineffable (and unmeasurable) way, the theory deals with the objective, real-world facts of how molecules interact chemically. The theistic version of evolutionary theory is identical to the non-theistic version, with the exception of adding a supernaturalist context above and exterior to the actual scientific work being done.
Geisler and Turek are certainly welcome to suppose, if they wish, that there is some kind of deity behind the naturalistic processes that science works with. Such suppositions are not needed (or supported) by the data, however, which is why Geisler and Turek take the extra misstep of declaring that the theory itself must be wrong. And why? Because of a simple argument from incredulity.
The incredible specified complexity of life becomes obvious when one considers the message found in the DNA of a one-celled amoeba (a creature so small, several hundred could be lined up in an inch). Staunch Darwinist Richard Dawkins, professor of zoology at Oxford University, admits that the message found in just the cell nucleus of a tiny amoeba is more than all thirty volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica combined, and the entire amoeba has as much information in its DNA as 1,000 complete sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica!
Oops again. Creationists have (reluctantly) conceded that microevolution does happen. In fact you’ll often hear them cry, “Yes, that’s a new species of mosquito (or bacteria, or what-have-you), but it’s still a mosquito/bacteria/etc! That’s microevolution, not macroevolution!” Creationists know, in other words, that evolution within a species is quite possible. And given that the first organisms to arise would have been single-celled organisms, it stands to reason that the modern amoeba is the product of more evolution than any multicellular organism would be.
Geisler and Turek are guilty of making the rather silly assumption that those creatures which have been evolving the longest have evolved the least, i.e., that the amoeba we see today is genetically pure and identical to the first single-celled organism to have evolved. That’s a very foolish assumption, because in order for that to happen, it would have to be impossible for the first single-celled organism to evolve in any microevolutionary way. Yet we know that one-celled organisms are particularly prone to evolutionary changes, which is why creationists find themselves forced to make the micro/macro distinction in order to avoid admitting that Darwin was right. There’s no reason to suppose that the most primitive life forms necessarily had the same amount of DNA “information” as the modern amoeba, and in fact it’s rather unlikely.
What’s more, Geisler and Turek are guilty of assuming that God is a moron. God is, after all, supposed to be the Intelligent Designer of all the laws of nature. But His intelligence is fairly limited, so limited in fact that we can tell, via a very simple test, whether or not a given system could have been designed by God. If a person of average intelligence, with no more than a 6th-grade education, cannot look at a given natural process and immediately discern how it works, then God could not possibly have designed that system. In other words, if Average Joe can’t look at a DNA molecule and immediately discern how natural biochemical processes could produce it, then that’s proof beyond all possible doubt that God could not have designed natural processes capable of producing DNA.
Geisler and Turek went out of their way to make it clear that their remarks on evolution were not intended to disparage theistic evolutionists, which means that they’ve allowed for the possibility that God might be simply the Intelligent Designer of a set of natural laws that were sophisticated and powerful enough to produce living creatures out of the earth (as it says in Genesis 1). But by making the argument that there’s a whole lot of “information” in a DNA molecule, they’re implying that we ought to find it incredible that an omniscient God could have designed a set of natural laws and processes whose workings would be difficult for laymen to understand. Instead of trying to understand the laws of nature, and instead of acknowledging the understanding we already have of those laws, Geisler and Turek simply balk. God is too stupid, you see, to have intelligently designed anything whose inner workings are not immediately obvious.
No doubt Geisler and Turek would deny thinking that God is a moron, but that’s the implication of their argument. You can’t assume that the upper limit of Nature’s reach is limited to what man can effortlessly fathom unless you can assume that God’s mental powers are inferior to your own. Either God is smarter than you are (and thus could design an evolutionary system you couldn’t immediately figure out), or God is a moron, and you can safely conclude that if you don’t understand something, God couldn’t have designed it.
Either way, it’s not a problem with atheism. Geisler and Turek can refuse to explore the implications of the natural world if they like, but that blindered ignorance is hardly proof that there must be a god.