I recently enjoyed a You Tube video of a John Lennox lecture at Harvard on the subject of Miracles.
One of his arguments on the evidence for a supernatural intelligence and the limitations of scientific explanation is, I think, particularly powerful.
He tells the story of a conversation over dinner with a Biologist. The scientist had identified himself to Lennox as a reductionist and an atheist as a means of defending himself from any extended discussion on “the really big questions”. Taking him up on his own ground Lennox asked him if by ‘reductionist’ he meant that by breaking the big, difficult problems down into smaller components, he believed that everything could ultimately be explained by physics and chemistry. His companion confirmed that, yes, this was his position. Lennox then suggested a brief experiment. Lifting the dinner menu he noted that ‘Roast Chicken’ was on offer. Could his friend please explain how the meaning communicated to both of them by the symbols R-O-A-S-T C-H-I-C-K-E-N was achieved, solely by reference to physics and chemistry.
Of course, no such explanation was forthcoming! There was nothing inherent in the chemistry of the paper and ink that could explain how a concept, an idea of something totally ‘other’ than paper and ink could be communicated by a series of symbols. A symbol stands for something other than itself and can only be created by an intelligent author, it is literally immaterial, it is ‘information’.
Lennox goes on to contrast the inconsistency of many in the scientific community. On seeing the three strokes of a crudely drawn letter A in wet sand by the seashore no-one would suggest that they had developed there as a random chance. We are immediately informed that someone has been that way before us; that an intelligent author created that symbol. Yet every cell in our body contains a library of information containing billions of individual chemical symbols that communicate all of the information needed to make us who we are, our DNA, and many would claim that this has arisen from ‘chance and necessity’.
Having recently watched the Lennox video I was forceably struck when watching the recent BBC programme on the cell with how many references there were to ‘design’ and to how the cell works to a ‘masterplan’. Yet this, so far as the programme was concerned, is a design without a designer and a master plan without an organising intelligence.
Surely the current scientific mainstream position can only be maintained because of an a priori determination that, “there is no God”. The evidence points to a designer, even Richard Dawkins has to admit to “an appearance of design”. For the truly open-minded seeker after truth, does the evidence not vindicate the 3000 year-old words of the Bible, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well”.