And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie…Part 1

A murder mystery fiction novel has an exact combination of letters comprising words, spaces between the words, paragraph indentations, commas, semi-colons, periods, good grammar, and artistic and imaginative compliance with the general rules for characterization, pace, and suspense…for the literary genre of a murder mystery novel.

Any final editing and revisions that occur during the writing of a murder mystery fiction novel…are done through the precise work of intelligent agency…through the artistic creative good-sense and judgment of the book author and the book publishing editors…and not through some accidental, random-chance, mindless process.

These minor editing changes that are made may involve spelling error corrections…or the replacement of a few words here and there with other words that are better…or some improvements in sentence structure in a few locations.

But major changes to the plotline that alter the essence of the story…such as a new plot-twist added to the end of the story…or a new ending altogether to the book as to who committed the murder(s)…requires a wholesale rewrite of the text that involves new paragraphs, entire new pages, and possibly the replacement and addition of whole new chapters…that then require the input of intelligence at the highest level of literary creative design…equal in quality to the rest of the book.

The nonsensical idea of introducing blind, unguided, trial-and-error, accidental changes to the text in the form of random individual letters and words inserted within the final three chapters…chapters in-progress or in the completed, rough first-draft stage…of an Agatha Christie murder mystery novel…as a substitute method to intelligent literary creative design…to arrive at the best possible story ending…is not feasible in terms of the required long-term time investment or the potential failure to reach the optimum outcome.

Any purely mechanical approach of blind editing using individual letters and words…one at a time…in an unguided series of random-chance, accidental changes…would introduce a near infinite possible combinatorial space of nonsensical gibberish…a sea of meaningless letters and spaces…of failed attempts…surrounding the one best island of meaningfully arranged words and punctuation comprising a functional ending to the story…lost in this sea of chaos.

The absurdity of Agatha Christie sitting down at her laptop computer (or typewriter) with eyes closed…randomly hitting keys for several hours each day in the hope of producing an ending to one of her books…is immediately apparent to us as a fruitless and poorly thought-out search strategy that would never result in a brilliant ending to a murder mystery fiction novel…not in her lifetime or the combined lifetimes of a team of writers randomly pounding-out accidental keystrokes to help her find the perfect story ending.

The artistic and financial goal is to create highly specified information that comprises…in this example…a murder mystery book with an unanticipated and suspense-filled climax to the end of the story…of who committed the crime.

Book writers…who must earn a living from writing…do not use a mindless and unguided approach to producing their literary works…for the obvious reason that their own literary creative design and imagination is “at their fingertips” and within reach…in-the- moment with numerous ideas swirling around inside their heads…and do not have the time or the economic motivation to waste decades utilizing a random-chance search strategy in pursuit of their next great book.

What is instantly clear to us in this example…is that nothing replaces human intelligence in creatively writing a murder mystery book.

What is instantly clear to us is that the ending to a murder mystery fiction novel…has an extremely narrow target…in both the storyline itself, but also in the high skill level the book author utilizes in their arrangement of words and sentences…that tells the optimum story using pace, characterization, and most of all…suspense…that will keep us up late at night reading their book.

No matter how well-crafted are the first completed three-quarters or four-fifths of the murder mystery book…an accidental, random-chance, trial-and-error search strategy will never produce the final two to three chapters of the story ending…to create a spell-binding, New York Times best-selling novel and a lucrative, movie deal spin-off.

What is also apparent after reflection…is that a purely random search strategy of blindly hitting computer keystrokes…is that along the way toward finding the final two chapters to the murder mystery book…what might instead pop-out is an unwanted comedic story ending…or the ending to an American western with the good cowboys chasing after the bad cowboys…or the ending to a romance, or a historical biography, or a cold-war spy novel.

A search strategy based upon random-chance by definition has no pre-determined or premeditated end-point goal…and cannot use foresight to direct the process to get there.

This has a huge and fundamental application to an understanding of a popular defense of the Bible and Christianity today.

Changing gears…changing the subject for the moment…when some people…who were friends and acquaintances of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary living in the small village-town of Bethany near to Jerusalem…went to report to the Pharisees and scribes after witnessing Jesus raise the dead Lazarus back to life after being four days in a stone covered cave tomb (Jn. 11:1-46)…the worldview philosophy of the Pharisees and scribes of self-sovereignty was surprisingly so strong and overpowering…it completely overwhelmed and nullified the otherwise startling news that a real person…Lazarus…that many people in Jerusalem knew…had been dead four days and brought back to life…by the mere calling out of His clearly heard loud voice toward Lazarus in the rock tomb to come forth…by the preacher and miracle-worker Jesus of Nazareth (Jn. 11:4).

If this incredibly earth-shattering news…of truly monumental and paramount importance above all other imaginable considerations…of the bringing back to life from the dead of a well-known person in a town close to Jerusalem…that could not have been otherwise falsely staged or fabricated…if this one final event did not create some amount of inquisitive faith in…some positive, questioning curiosity about Jesus amongst the Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and lawyers of the law (Mt. 3:7-12)…then nothing would (Jn. 12:9-11).

If people can look straight at the evidence of the supernatural power to raise people from the dead…an occurrence and a capacity commonly unknown and unseen in all of human history…fantastic in relation to everyday normalcy…and not recognize in Jesus a divine quality they had previously missed…then what would it take in the form of further evidence…to let go of their complete self-reliance…to re-think their lives (Mt. 9:12-13)…and become open to engaging honestly with Jesus Christ as to His true identity…and to transfer faith in themselves alone over to placing some faith in Jesus Christ (Jn 3:1-21, 19:38-40)…as all beginning, newly born-again Christians do?

The stubbornly blind, knee-jerk adherence to their worldview philosophy of self-sovereignty…of being completely in-charge of their lives…of mistakenly thinking they could save themselves independently of God through the works of the law (Gal. 2:16, 3:5-14, 4:5, 5:4)…amazingly prevented these religious elites and political rulers in Jerusalem of being able to see the clearly divine capacity of Jesus in raising Lazarus from the dead…or at the very least acknowledging Jesus as a great prophet worthy of their serious consideration (Lk. 24:19).

Changing gears again…because Charles Darwin proposed an entirely naturalistic, non-theistic program for the origin of species and the vast diversity of life…having no guidance, foresight, or premeditated end-point targets coming by way of the aid of an intelligent designer God…a God outside of nature…by choosing this route Darwin created an extremely narrow tightrope to walk for the theoretical extrapolation of microevolution to macroevolution.

In the theory of macroevolution, Darwin said that the genetic changes that produced variant traits that could be chosen by natural selection…to enhance reproduction and survivability…and to explain the origin of species and the diversity of life…had to be very small and numerous genetic changes…accumulated and coherently integrated through the power of natural selection…over long periods of time.

The changes that generated the origin of new species and created the vast diversity of life…according to Darwinism…had to be small and numerous…because large physical changes…single big leaps forward in development…called saltations…would be tantamount to miracles…thus inviting an intelligent designer God back into the mix…the opposite of the purely naturalistic explanation for the origin of new species that Darwin was proposing.

To have a purely naturalistic explanation for the origin of new species and the diversity of life…to bring the field of biology into the realm of empirically accessible, modern scientific study…the theory of macroevolution must walk the narrow tightrope between small enough changes…micro bite-sized so that some naturalistic mechanism could produce them through chance or necessity rather than theistic creation…yet not so large in noticeably physical variant traits being put out for natural selection to choose from…that would require miraculous assemblages of differing genetic variations…that would fall outside of chance or some other chance-necessity based mechanism to produce…thus invoking the need for intelligent design.

Darwin’s method…his naturalistic mechanism of accidental mutations of genetic variations putting out variant traits chosen by natural selection…to produce the vast diversity we observe in the living world…must in essence remove the intelligent designer element altogether of the murder mystery book author Agatha Christie…and instead place our book writing and editing hopes entirely upon the capacity of blind, unguided, random-chance, trial-and-error, accidental insertions of non-sequenced, incoherent, and meaningless letters and spaces…to eventually over time produce a brilliant and captivating ending to the murder mystery book…my illustrative analogy to the brilliance of nature that we as humans can also read.

One point here is that the immense difficulty in achieving a plausible explanation for the diversity of life…using small enough changes to be able to stay within non-theistic, naturalistic mechanisms…from the origins of the first life on earth around 3.5 billion years ago to the present day…being diligently sought after by scientists now for 160 years without success…all to advance biology as an empirically accessible, scientific field of study…and to avoid altogether the intrusion of the intelligent design factor of theistic creation…is actually equal to or more difficult in terms of mathematical improbability than the nonsensical example of the author Agatha Christie sitting at her computer with eyes closed…randomly hitting keystrokes in the hope of producing an ending to one of her murder mystery fiction novels. [1]

The random alteration of some amino acids around the outside perimeter of a medium-sized protein molecule…performed in controlled scientific experiments in laboratories to determine how difficult it is to produce a new functional protein by chance…results in a finding…that due to the unimaginably complex properties of attraction and repulsion of amino acids that produces the highly specified folding into the correct three-dimensional shapes of functional proteins…this prohibits the easy exchange of one amino acid for another in a medium-sized 150-amino acid protein…an easy exchange crucial to the plausibility of a chemical evolution process in support of the notion of genetic mutations generating the vast diversity of life…of being the engine behind the origin of new species.

This difficulty of producing new functional proteins through the chance substitution of amino acids…in a scientific laboratory…is mathematically equal to or more improbable than Agatha Christie successfully using blind and unguided small revisions to the final two or three chapters in her murder mystery book And Then There Were None…with eyes closed typing random keystrokes on her computer keyboard.

The exceedingly low probability chance of making a random transition from one functional protein to another functional protein…by replacing a few amino acids with other amino acids at the outside perimeter of one successfully folded, functional protein to create a new protein…is one successful chance out of failed attempts.[2]

If the Darwinian program falls apart at the level of the difficulty of protein folding inside living cells…in an area of study that we can empirically test unequivocally in a scientific laboratory…then the entire program of macroevolution falls apart at this crucial lynch-pin of connection…in the sequential explanatory mechanism of how macroevolution supposedly works.

The current origin-of-life scientific research enterprise has also hit a decades-long dead-end…in attempting to come up with some explanation for how life could have made the huge leap from inanimate materials to the simplest life-forms around 3.5 billion years ago…as the earth cooled enough to allow life to begin.

The jump from no life to the “simplest” single cell bacteria would require new genetic information to create at a minimum a large number of DNA, RNA, protein, and amino acid molecules…along with the complex molecular machinery inside the living cell to be able to survive and to reproduce itself…and the ability to evolve over time into higher life-forms…all through the mechanism of mindless, unguided, trial-and-error genetic mutations putting out variant traits chosen by natural selection.

This is comparable to the murder mystery book writer sitting at their laptop computer with eyes closed…randomly hitting keystrokes in the hope of producing a best-selling book through random-chance.

The first important point of this essay is that…when some modern scientists confidently assert that Darwinian evolution is a fact…in their books…they are doing so not as a result of the empirically factual evidence…but as a product of their worldview.

 

[1] Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (New York: HarperOne, 2009): 215-228, esp. 215-219.

[2] Douglas Axe, Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed (New York: HarperOne, 2016): 57-59.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity

Author: Barton Jahn

I worked in building construction as a field superintendent and project manager. I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction (1995-98) under Bart Jahn, and have seven Christian books self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I have a bachelor of science degree in construction management from California State University Long Beach. I grew up in Southern California, was an avid surfer, and am fortunate enough to have always lived within one mile of the ocean. I discovered writing at the age of 30, and it is now one of my favorite activities. I am currently working on more books on building construction.

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