The Thief on the Cross 1

            The Bible is based upon historical people and events.  The cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is defended on the basis of an appeal to the reliability of factual evidence.

            If truth in the world devolves into the relativism of conspiracy theories and outright lies, if truth is perceived as a malleable reality that can be shaped into whatever narrative we choose to believe despite whatever the factual evidence says, then the Christian’s appeal to an independent, historical standard of universal truth in sharing the gospel message…disappears.

            In the 2009 debate at Oxford between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins on the topic of Has Science Buried God[1], part-way into the discussion Richard Dawkins appeals to the all-purpose generalization that the Darwinian model of genetic mutations and natural selection explains the origin of the complexity of DNA and the molecular machinery inside living cells.

            Richard Dawkins at this point in the debate regarding the question of how DNA came into being, asserts in the most general terms that Darwinian evolution has already answered this question.

            The problem here is that Darwinian evolution has not answered this question at all.

            Simply stating that it has in the form of an assertion, does not make it so.

            The jump from zero bits of information before the existence of life, to the roughly 3.0 to 3.5 billion bits of information needed to support the architectural body-plan of the first living single-cell bacteria that can both survive and reproduce itself, cannot be explained through small, gradually incremental steps no matter how long science ponders this origin-of-life dilemma.

            From the vantage point of 2022 now looking back in hindsight, the accumulation of factual evidence regarding the phenomena in the natural world has turned the centuries-long science and God debate 180-degrees around.

            The difficulty in arguing for or against Darwinian evolution in 2022, is that mechanics is easily confused with agency.

            On the surface, mechanics appears to be interchangeable with agency.

            For scientific materialists like Richard Dawkins, mechanics is agency.

            There is complex, organized molecular biochemical mechanics in action inside living cells, observed and studied by modern science.

            But for scientific materialists, genetic mutation producing variant physical traits chosen by natural selection for enhanced survival and reproduction, is a naturalistic process of agency that is integral within the mechanics itself, combining mechanics and agency together as one…without the need for any independent source of guiding intelligence.

            We know from logic that the mechanics comprising an airplane cannot be assembled to achieve function while the airplane is in flight.

            The airplane must be filled-up with gasoline or jet-fuel, all of its parts lubricated, and a thorough pre-flight check made before the airplane takes-off and becomes airborne.

            The gradual development of an airplane to become air-worthy does not overlap into a final assembly phase of necessary parts while in flight.

            The logical inconsistency in biology utilizing Darwinian evolution is the question of at what point in development over time is the living organism airborne and in flight.

            Is “flight” achieved gradually lifting-off the ground while microscopic molecular machines and the blueprint information in DNA are crafting different cells-types to create an elephant or a giraffe?  Is embryonic development analogous to the jetliner being assembled pre-flight, piece-by-piece on the assembly-line inside a hangar?

            Or is “flight” defined for living organisms at the moment they are fully assembled to successfully function in the outside world, prepared ahead of time to blend immediately into the fast-lane of predator/prey relationships in their particular biodiverse environment and ecological niche?

            For human beings created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), the process of producing a flight-worthy airplane first occurs on the conceptual drawing-board within the imagination of the aeronautical engineer.

            I can speak from personal experience that a new house is never built on-the-fly, making it up as we go.

            The general assertion that Darwinian evolution can account for the origin of DNA and the molecular machinery inside living cells, and that this can then coordinate to produce the ten-million varied living species on earth, is in essence cutting-out the conceptual thought-process of the aeronautical engineer, and replacing it with the mechanical process of the airplane assembly taking place in the hangar…self-assembly mechanics and agency being one and the same thing.   

            The idea that DNA is needed to produce proteins, and proteins are needed to produce DNA, without the guidance of intelligent agency, is a simultaneous chicken-and-egg, who is the lead dancer in a two-person dance, that would be as nonsensical as assembling an airplane in flight.

            The idea that Darwinian evolution can gradually produce incremental function spread-out over the entire process pre-birth and post-birth is not supported by a logical interpretation of the evidentiary facts, requiring too many sequentially coordinated assemblies.

            But the idea that function is acquired immediately in a moment of time somewhere along the process of development is not allowed in naturalistic materialism, being a single-point of realizing the future defining outcome of the thing being assembled far in advance of that defining outcome being realized…in essence injecting foresight into gradual development having a definite outcome “in mind” before the thing reaches a final outcome.

            The quality of personal oversight that creates a flight-worthy airplane that gradually approaches function part-by-part, occurs step-by-step in the manufacturing assembly-line hangar.

            But real flight is only actualized after the completed and fuel-up airplane is rolled-out onto the runway for take-off.

            The assembly of an airplane is never completed in flight.

            This reality appears to identify clearly differentiated lines between conception, assembly, and actualized flight for an airplane.

            The dilemma for scientific materialism is that it has to identify where and when their version of impersonal agency can be pinpointed in the sequential mechanics of the embryonic development of living organisms that approximate foresight, of when each organism begins to home-in on its uniquely defined and completed essence to be capable of taking-off and becoming “airborne” as an elephant, lion, salmon, or human being.  

            The materialistic process must be chopped-up into small enough individual activities to incorporate some measure of chance-produced self-assembly, but this methodology also chops-up foresight that can get an assembly of body-parts to coalesce into functional body-plans capable of survival and reproduction.

            If I am seeing this rightly, the scientific materialist is saying here that Mother Nature through the mechanics of the process itself is the identifiable agent, that impersonal mechanics, agency, and function are all synonymous.

            This is nonsensical.

            I think this is what Richard Dawkins is inferring in this 2009 debate when he says that Darwinian evolution explains DNA and the molecular machinery inside the living cell…the mechanism of evolution itself being the designing agent.

            A scientific materialist cannot go beyond mechanics to include the foresight of well-aimed trajectories towards preconceived outcomes, because this invokes the need for an extremely intelligent designer in the complex theater of biological life.

            As said previously in another essay, some scientists for decades have been telling us that God is dead, and that science alone is the only reliable path to discover genuine truth.

            But today the strange and counterintuitive realization is surfacing that the mere possession of a mass of raw data alone does not automatically or naturally lead to a true verdict.

            Facts can be manipulated and interpreted into various competing spins containing half-truths that are difficult to conclusively adjudicate.

            If some scientists today are falsely spinning the narrative to fit within a materialistic worldview, then the reliably objective nature of the scientific enterprise has been corrupted to the point of calling into question the capacity of science to discover real truth.

            If scientific materialists are telling us one thing, but the facts-on-the-ground are telling us something else, then we have reached a new fork-in-the-road that I believe was not anticipated at the start of the Scientific Revolution.

            I do not think that scientific materialists in the mid-twentieth century thought that the database of complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information in the natural living and non-living world could reach the point where the empirical, fact-based character of the scientific enterprise would compellingly point towards the absolute need for intelligent agency as the best explanation for the origin and structure of our universe.

            If the huge advances through scientific research have reached the conclusion that human nature on its own has the proclivity towards the divisions, factions, and schisms of competing ideologies despite a full plate of the facts…I believe this would be an unexpected realization.


[1] Has Science Buried God debate at Oxford 2009 between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins, hosted by the Fixed Point Foundation, on You Tube.

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 eight 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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