This is a long awaited continuation of my debate with the atheist lawyer, Martin. Please read the first parts of this debate before continuing if you would like to understand the context of what is being said.
My Introduction (Martin’s introduction is in the comments)
My First Rebuttal (Martin’s first rebuttal is in the comments)
Are the cosmos an example of specified complexity?
Martin argued that a good deal of the cosmos cannot be shown to be specified complexity; that in fact, they would be unfriendly to intelligent life. I do not dispute this. However I do dispute the idea that therefore, there is no specified complexity at all. I think his basic point is that this part of the universe cannot be shown to be a design.
But why should that matter? If it is being conceded that a small part of the universe is due to design, then I will be pleased. It is my goal to show that there is specified complexity in the universe, but not that every single part of the universe entails specified complexity. If only a fraction of the universe is a design, then it requires a designer.
Martin goes on to say that this universe is equally as improbable as any possible universe, but I would rebut this pointing again to the issue of specified complexity. We can conceive of a universe in which there is no specified complexity. But even if we could not, I cannot see how that matters. It would show only that these possible universes were also the product of design.
So why is the design argument so powerful? It is not merely improbability. It is improbability with a corresponding pattern. I explained this in my introduction by appealing to the example of asteroids crashing into the moon. I agree that improbability does not prove anything, and his example with the lottery shows that.
But let me adopt this lottery example and make an adjustment to it. Suppose there is a giant tub filled with one million black balls, and five white balls. You reach in, and grab a white ball. Written on that white ball you find the message, “Well done, Martin. Now get back to work, the jury has reached a verdict.”
Since that white ball referred to both Martin’s name and his occupation, he would obviously say that this was some sort of trick; that somebody contrived for him to find that particular ball. It would be irrational for him to say “Well any ball is just as improbable!”
Is the DNA molecule an example of specified complexity?
In my introduction, I argued that the DNA must be the product of design because of the information that it contains. But I also argued that this was independent of method which the designer used to bring forth this information; it may be the case that the designer took a very long time, and not a product of special creation. However this argument is not that because it is so complex it therefore must be designer; it is rather that because DNA contains information, it therefore is an example of specified complexity.
This argument can basically be summarized as follows: 1 – Messages only come from minds. 2 – DNA is a message. 3 – Therefore, DNA must be from a mind.
I think the premise that will be contested is premise two, that DNA is a message. But if we look at the nature of DNA, it seems to be a message. The reason I used the example of the library was not to show that DNA must be a product of special creation. In fact, the library was not an example of special creation. It was assembled piece by piece, sentence by sentence and slowly brought together over a long period of time. But because of the content, we know that there is an intelligence behind it.
So the same with the DNA molecule. As a consequence of the content, I argue that we know that there must be an intelligence behind it.
One Thought to “Is The Universe A Design? (Second Rebuttal)”
1. The Cosmos as an example of “specified complexity”.
Richard is claiming that the Universe is an example of “specified complexity”. He has based that claim on improbability. I responded by saying that improbability is NOT evidence of any “specified complexity”; all possible Universes are equally improbable.
He responds that it’s not only improbability that he relies on. But what else? What else has Richard given us, other than improbability? He has already given an example of a painting with lots of blotches and a picture of two people. I responded to that (see previous rounds). He now gives an example of picking up a white ball that contains a particular message.
But that’s a bad example. There’s nothing about this Universe that spells either my (or anyone’s) name or occupation. The Universe is as adapted for the existence of humans as it is for that of rats, bacteria and supernovae. The Universe DOES NOT talk to Martin. Neither does it talk to Richard. It is what it is and because it allows the existence of carbon-based life, carbon-based life has evolved in it. Richard’s argument amounts to saying “look at this hole in the road! Can you see how it’s perfectly designed to match the shape of the puddle that sits in it?” Well no, the puddle forms in the hole because it has no other choice. Life exists because of the Universe, not the other way around.
It’s quite late in the piece that Richard has introduced the above syllogism. Yes, I do disagree that DNA is a message.
Messages are created by minds, to be read by other minds. DNA is a code that functions MECHANICALLY. It’s not a message at all. It’s just a bunch of chemicals that are utilised by natural (and non-sentient) processes in embryology. The result is the generation of proteins. DNA is not a message, it’s not there to be read by minds. Richard has accepted that DNA has evolved by mutation and natural selection and therefore I don’t think he has any standing in proposing a supernatural, intelligent “messenger”. DNA, in its formation, has followed NATURAL PROCESSES. Intelligent designer is redundant as an explanation.
My 3 questions for Richard:
Q1. Would you not agree that a Universe that was NATURALLY UNSUITABLE for life and yet contained life would (being necessarily a miracle) be very powerful evidence of an intelligent and very powerful entity? If not, why not?
Q2. If the answer to Q1 is “yes” then of the two possible Universes (one that’s suited for life and one that isn’t), the one we have is LESSER evidence of a god. Would you agree with that?
Q3. People for millennia have used gods to try to explain everything they didn’t understand (including such simple things as rain!). Through scientific effort, we have learned to understand those things and found them to be natural. Scientists are currently searching for answers as to how the Universe has come to exist (beyond the singularity that started the Big Bang), how many universes there are (or were) etc. Given that you think you already have the answer, do you believe these efforts should be discontinued?