In the past couple weeks, the scientific community has informed us that absolute zero is not as absolute as we once thought it was and the size of the universe may need to be reconsidered – radically reconsidered!
So what do these two discoveries mean? Should we concerned about the future of science or become skeptical of the other absolute claims science makes? Of course not! All it means is people need to understand what science truly gives to humanity. It doesn’t give us absolute answers; it only gives us a snapshot of what we know right now. Properly understood, the things science claims as “true” only mean “true” for right now. Additional evidence may be uncovered that will force us to adjust or altogether abandon the notions we currently hold as sacrosanct.
That is not a bad thing. As a believer, I am not moved, positively or negatively, when I hear our best scientific theories have been shown to need a “tweak” or two. After all, many scientific theories are just that – theories! They are man’s best guess at answering questions we have no way of really answering (e.g. how big is the universe?). I am excited for where this new knowledge will take us and what we’ll learn as a result of it 10, 50, or a 100 years from now.
In light of these two scientific breakthroughs, I offer you the beginning of the article, Intelligible Design and Darwin’s Black Box. I really appreciate the way the author addresses the issues of scientific claims vis-à-vis religious claims.
The one thing that modern science should be able to do is to explain to us how things happen. The one thing it cannot do is tell us that things happen by chance. Things may well happen by chance, but then there is no chance of a scientific explanation. “Chance” is the methodology of Darwinian account of evolution, which can only mean that it doesn’t actually account for anything. A convinced Darwinist might respond, “It is not just chance, but chance mutations measured against their survival value; it is the struggle for survival which makes chance mutations work.” But this merely introduces a factor which Darwinists make no attempt to explain, namely, the will of the organism to live. That organisms have such a will is self-evident, but can such a will really be the result of chance mutations? After all, we never speak of the rock’s struggle for survival, but if rocks and plants are just different configurations of matter, where does such a will come from? Here we see the biological form of Heidegger’s great question, “Why should things want to be rather than not be?”
This self-evident “will to live” introduces an insurmountable problem for the Darwinist, for such a will must be present at the very beginning of life for the theory to work at all. Without it, no species has any reason to adapt, or any individual any reason to survive. But this “will” must precede evolution, and hence cannot be explained by it. It might have been plausible, in the naïve days of the 19th century, to speak of the ascent of higher forms of life from lower forms, of a movement from the simple to the complex. But that is no longer possible for the simple reason that we cannot find a “simple” form of life. The smallest one-celled animal is irreducibly and unimaginably complex. The single-cell already contains an information storage and retrieval system which cannot, as yet, be duplicated by human means. And it also contains a construction system of astounding complexity, able to translate information into acids and complex structures, and the cell itself is a collection of complex and cooperating structures. The scale of information is astounding; an amoeba dubia has 670 billion base-pairs (bits) in its genetic material; the human, by comparison, has 2.9 billion.
But this is just the beginning of the complexity, since not only is each cell complex in itself, but lives in a complex set of relationships with other cells and other species. There are simply no “simple” life forms with which we may locate a simple “beginning.” Indeed, the distance between “nothing” and amoeba is far greater than the distance between amoeba and man. This is to say, evolution is mostly complete by the time it starts. The heroic efforts to explain all this within the “black-box” of chance mutations seems more like an act of faith than a conclusion of science.
If the Darwinists cannot provide us with a scientific answer, should we turn to the theory of “Intelligent Design”? For the one thing that everybody can agree on is that the design is very intelligent indeed. But does it really do us any good, for our understanding of God’s universe, to replace the black box of chance with one marked “miracles”? The whole point of having a rational God—a god who is also logos—is that His universe is not only intelligent but intelligible; man, made in the image and likeness of this logos-God, is always able to understand more and more of God’s work. Indeed, coming to an understanding of this is man’s work; our task is not merely to put the right label on the black box, but to open the box and see what’s inside. What is needed is a theory not of intelligent design, but intelligible design. We already know that, as final cause, God did it; the trick is to see how he does it.