We can’t perform experiments in a lab to prove that either evolution or intelligent design is either true or false. So how can we know? Ultimately, I believe that whether you choose evolution, intelligent design, or special creation, it comes down to faith. But faith doesn’t need to stumble around blindly. We can look at all the stuff we see lying around (or walking, flying, swimming around, etc.) Whose fingerprints will we find? I’ve got no hidden agendas–my motives are right out there in the open. I’m not going to be plugging evolution here, but that’s okay. Evolution has its proponents and it doesn’t need me.
Scientists avoid dealing with God. God just isn’t quantifiable. I suppose this is the reason non-evolutionary scientists have turned to “Intelligent Design” as an alternative to “Creationism”. Of course this begs the question of who the designer might be. IDers decline to speculate on this. Creationists believe in intelligent design, obviously, but you can believe in ID without speculating on the identity of the designer. Thus we have IDers who decline the label of “Creationist”.
If God created the universe, He isn’t part of it, any more than I am a part of a house I might build (though I would likely enter the house). The only way we can surmise God’s (or any intelligent designer’s) involvement is by studying His fingerprints. There are many, but to me the most compelling is the wealth of information in our world. DNA is a case in point, but if you want to get geological or cosmic, there’s plenty more besides that.
A Brief Explanation of Terms
I’m going to be referring to DNA, RNA, genetic code, protein sequences, and other stuff. Most of you know these things, but in case you need a refresher, DNA is the stuff in the nucleus (control center) of cells that tells the cells what to do and become and how to build proteins that are needed by the cell itself or by any other cells in the organism. RNA is like a notepad on which the DNA code is written to be transported to protein manufacturing organelles (little organs or factories) within the cell. The DNA copies itself to RNA, then the RNA copies itself back to DNA at its destination. DNA is also key to cell reproduction. All this together often gets referred to as genetic code or genes, chromosomes, and probably other names that aren’t coming to mind just now. DNA is made of amino acids, which are made of strings of proteins. The proteins have to be the correct proteins, not just any old proteins, and in the correct sequence to make up a specific amino acid. Then, the amino acids have to be strung together in just the right order to say what the DNA needs to say in order to create a workable place for life to live.
So How Did Life Begin?
Evolutionists like to believe that the first life came out of nothing and inhabited a bit of slime turned into a cell by a lightning strike (or whatever). This is an oversimplification, but explaining it out doesn’t make it sound a lot better. When this is too embarassing a hypothesis, some scientists try hiring aliens to seed the life (Do I have to ask where the aliens got their seeds?) But we won’t get anywhere if we get hung up here, so let’s cede this point to the evolutionists.
Okay, given that life somehow got a start by spontaneous generation (or if you prefer, abiogenesis), this life had to start with virtually no information (genetic code). Where did all the code come from? Mutations? Of what? Okay, so there was some sort of natural substance (crystals?) that somehow strung together enough proteins (where did it get them?) in perfect sequence to form the world’s simplist amino acid. I can see why the world needs to be kazillions of years old already. Eventually, we get a cell, arguably among the most intricate creations available to us for study in all the world. This lonesome little cell is swimming around in an inhospitable bath of something nasty, but it survives and “learns” how to reproduce. It has to do this all at one go, mind, or it dies without making more cells and nature has to start over again from nothing. So this amazing sequence has to happen who knows how many zillions of times before it results in daughter cells.
And Who Wrote all that Code?
So now we have a population of bacteria merrily reproducing (with no food, because they are themselves the only organic matter in the world–maybe they eat the protiens that didn’t link up). One of them encounters a radioactive spider or something and suffers a mutation. It dies. This happens again and again and again and . . . until there is that rarest of treasures, a beneficial mutation. Ocassionally a mutation helps an organism survive, like sickle cell anemia in a malaria epidemic or antibiotic resistant bacteria, but as soon as the threat or special circumstance goes away, and normal living returns, the mutated varieties are quickly crowded out by their more healthy brethren. This is like the runt of the litter surviving his brothers and sisters because the mountain lion didn’t think he was worth eating. As soon as he gets around bigger, healthier dogs, he will once again be unable to compete for food or mates.
No mutation has ever been known (though scientists have tried) to turn a fruit fly into any other species. You just get uglier fruit flies. Likewise, bacteria not only don’t turn from cocci (spherical bacteria) to bacilli (capsule-shaped bacteria). They don’t even maintain the “beneficial” mutation once they leave the rarified environment of the sterile hospital corridors. They die out, and other bacteria don’t even want to canabalize their DNA (as bacteria are capable of doing) because it’s no good to them. They may pass around their plasmids (little loops of beneficial DNA imparted from one bacterium to another) in the hospital, but the other bacteria are not impressed in neighborhoods without antibiotics.
Mutations are caused by either corruption of the original code by, say, radioactive agents, or by simple errors in copying the code to RNA and back to DNA. As they are the result of errors, mutations represent a loss of information. They don’t make things work better any more than banging on your television set with a wrench will make it display a clearer picture. This is why computers need so much maintenance. Computers are always copying stuff back and forth, and they do make mistakes from time to time. Pretty soon all those errors start to pile up and the computer doesn’t work right any more. It’s the same for living organisms as for computer files, except the living organisms are better at culling bad code than computers are. Mutations are either injuries or errors, and they just don’t work as producers of the information needed to create new species.
I’ve seen people point to the many different varieties of dogs and cats. The impressive differences between breeds might lead you to think, “Hey, evolution is a no-brainer. Look at that chihuahua! Look at that Irish wolfhound!” Variations within a kind, however, have never been argued against by anyone resembling an intelligent IDer. The code (DNA) for the wildly divergent traits we see in modern dogs was all there in the original dog. The poodle got the general dog code, plus curly, non-shedding genes, hyperactive genes, and real smart pup genes. Labradors got staring, chasing, swimming genes, chow-hound genes (well, maybe they all got those), good boy genes, and an unfortunate dose of hip displaysia genes. But neither the poodle nor the lab has all the genes the original dog had. This represents a net loss of information for any individual dog and probably a net loss for all dogs since some of those gene-bearers have died out. The original information, had to come from somewhere. God is not allowed to add it in along the way, and information has never been known to simply pop into existence out of nowhere. So where did it come from? I definitely see this information as an example of God’s fingerprints.
We don’t expect computer programs to write themselves. When we see a book with tens of thousands of words in it, we believe there is an author somewhere. That isn’t even really a matter of faith. It’s just common sense. Human genetic code alone is so intense that it took brilliant scientists working with the best in computing power decades just to read it, let alone understand it (which we don’t, yet). Can we really dismiss out of hand that it may have been written by someone really smart? And if so, who? IDers won’t speculate at the lab, but I’ll bet you know to whom I credit the authorship.