From the stars above us to the evolution of life from an amoeba to the 21st century human, all of it begs the age-old question: just how did we get here? Was it simply a giant stroke of cosmic luck or perhaps the work of a conscious designer?
The latest high-profile reply was from Professor Richard Dawkins in his internationally best-selling book “The God Delusion.” In it he claims to ‘comes close to proving that God almost certainly does not exist,’. You can boil his argument down into 3 simple steps:
- Step 1: The universe is a tapestry of incredible order, complexity and harmony. Just the Earth itself is filled with highly ordered and therefore highly improbable lifeforms.
- Step 2: We could say that this is all the product of a designer, such as God, but then we must ask: who designed the designer? So invoking God simply won’t solve anything.
- Step 3: We probably don’t need a designer anyway: biologists have shown that natural selection created the highly complex life we know on Earth. Now we just wait for physicists to discover some kind of natural law that tells us how the universe came to be so complex in the first place, and voila- goodbye God!
Dawkins’ argument hinges around Step 2. In step 2 suggests that everything that is ordered requires a previous designer. But this isn’t true. After all, atheists themselves believe that the universe doesn’t need a designer, but claim that God does. Whereas theists say that the universe needs a designer but God doesn’t. So where should we stop? Is the universe undesigned, or is God undesigned?
To untangle this, we have to ask: when is a designer needed for anything?
We require a designer when we find something highly improbable has occurred, which we cannot simply put down to chance. This happens when something develops from a state of lesser organisation to a state of greater organisation. This journey, from a lower state of order to a much higher state of order is always very unlikely to have happened by itself.
For instance, if you shook a box of lego and the pieces tumbled out in the shape of the solar system, you’d be very surprised. It’s just too unlikely for so many separate and disordered pieces of lego to somehow re-arrange themselves into the highly ordered shape of the solar system purely by chance. And needless to say. the real solar system is a lot more complex than a lego one.
However, if there is something exists that does not move from relative disorder to order, but has rather always existed in the same state, then why would it need a previous designer? Such an entity would simply be.
Now that we’ve understood that his second step is fundamentally not true, we realise that what Dawkins calls the ‘Ultimate 747 Gambit’ is in reality the ‘Ultimate 747 fallacy.’ In Step 1 he admits that the universe is highly ordered, and that humanity evolved from a much lower state of order to a much higher state of order. Chance, he agrees, is no explanation. But if we rule out chance, then design should be the only other alternative. And design needs a designer. But Dawkins can’t accept this, because his 2nd step wrongly asserts that any Designer-God must also be designed. So how can we explain evident design without a designer? It is here that Dawkins brings us to his illogical conclusion. Step 3: natural laws are responsible for the order in the universe! The creator is none other than the creation.
Dawkins proposes that physical processes like natural selection can explain the high degree of organisation found in the evolution of life, and in the universe as whole. But the delusion here is entirely of his own making. Let’s take Dawkins’ own example- natural selection. It describes the interaction between the system of genetic mutation and the system of environmental change. If there is no designer, then both these two systems themselves could only have arisen from chance and can only operate by chance. They have no will of their own, no consciousness, and no direction they want to head in. The outcome of two systems that arise and are governed by chance is chance multiplied by itself.
This means that Dawkins is wrong to offer natural selection as an alternative to chance- because for an atheist, it can only be a product of chance. But hasn’t Dawkins already agreed in Step 1 that chance cannot account for the immense order we find around us? Isn’t the whole idea to get rid of chance as an explanation.
Unfortunately for Dawkins, what applies for natural selection, applies for anything in Step 3. Any physical processes that seem to turn disorder into order are themselves highly unlikely, and demand an explanation. Natural laws cannot explain order in the universe, because they are a part of the universe’s order! And a question mark cannot answer itself.
The only rational explanation for the immense organisation in the universe is a conscious designer outside of the universe. This designer is outside of our dimensions of space and time. As such, this being is eternal- one who has always existed, and always will. Unlike the universe, this creator did not begin to exist, and unlike the universe, this creator did not gradually become more ordered and more complex over time. So the question of who designed THIS designer simply doesn’t arise.
Get rid of such an eternal, conscious designer and you are left with only one alternative: that the universe with all of its order spontaneously came into existence. That life gave birth to itself, and then evolved over 4 billion of years into conscious human beings, purely as a result of chance. An irrational, and unsatisfying position indeed.
The only true solution is to find an Ever- Living and Unchanging Designer. Call this being whatever you want – Yahweh, Allah, Bhagwan, or simply “God”. This is the creator to whom both reason and revelation call.
“Glorify the name of Thy Lord, the Most High, Who creates and perfects, who designs and guides. (87:2-4)