The simplest living things exhibit an extraordinary amount of complexity. The highly ordered system by which DNA, with the assistance of proteins, is replicated and is transcribed into mRNA which is then translated into proteins; the elaborate motor-like ATP synthase mechanism that is an absolutely essential component to all known organisms; and the many other elegant biochemical systems and structures that make up even the simplest prokaryotic cells: all these challenge the contemporary doctrine that living things spontaneously derived from non-living material with no input of intelligence. Attempts to suggest a cogent manner whereby the first living things may have spontaneously generated have been unconvincing at best.
In virtually any other field of inquiry - such as when examining an archaeological artifact - specificity and complexity are seen as compelling evidence of the input of intelligence. It is true that Darwin suggested a method - natural selection - whereby it is thought possible for the random processes of nature to mimic intelligence, but natural selection requires the preexistence of living, self-replicating entities. In Darwin's day, it was easy to suppose that the simplest living things, bacteria, could arise spontaneously, and so the question of the bio-genesis of life wasn't a major issue. Most scientists of his day assumed that bacteria, and even eukaryotic cells, were quite simple after all. Today, we know that the simplest forms of life are anything but simple. Yet evolutionary doctrine and naturalistic thinking have so permeated modern thought and become accepted as axiomatic and inseparable to scientific endeavor, that the difficulty of explaining the origin of the first life apart from the input of intelligence is generally glossed over as a minor trifle in the confidence that an answer to this enigma must certainly be forthcoming.
The ATP synthase mechanism is clearly such a mechanism, especially since life is not known to exist apart from this structure. Natural selection only works on self-replicating bodies. Therefore, it is necessary to imagine a self-replicating precursor to ATP synthase bearing living things to suppose that the ATP synthase mechanism evolved through natural selection. I know of no evidence of such precursors.
Natural selection only selects for present advantages and makes no provision for anticipated future advantages. There are elegant systems in living things that continue to evade a sensible step-by-step explanation in which each step has a selective advantage over the preceding step. The bacterial flagella is one such example. A number of components need to be put together properly before the flagellum can function at all. The argument that the flagellum evolved through co-option of a simpler structure that had a different function has major difficulties.
Many seem to consider it naive to look out into the incomprehensible depth of outer space, or even to just fondle a stone and marvel at the fact of existence. Or, maybe it's o.k. to marvel just so long as we never think something so "naive" as, "There must be a God." I will always be among those who marvel!
Some consider it easier to suppose that the physical universe somehow just self-exists than it is to suppose that a Creator God made it. After all, a Creator God would have to be much more complicated than the universe He created, and so we would then be stuck with the greater problem of how it is possible for a God who is orders of magnitude more complicated than the physical universe could self-exist. The supposition here, however, appears to be that a universe-creating God must be some kind of complicated machine.
Though perhaps forever beyond the reach of rigorous proof, there are compelling reasons to consider that mathematics may possibly have an existence that transcends the existence of human mind, perhaps even the existence of space-time itself. Any mathematician knows that mathematics is anything but simple - indeed, unimagined complexities lurk in some of the most unexpected places in the mathematical world. At the same time, mathematics is not a sort of machine made of many parts that may wear down with overuse. ("Uh, class, the Pythagorean theorem is undergoing some routine maintenance just now, so today we are going to study how to extract square roots"). May I suggest that God may have a similar kind of existence? While I believe that God is infinitely complex, I believe it is a mistake to assume that God is like a machine made up of many parts. And while the self-existence of a giant machine such as our universe, or of an even more elegant machine-like creator God seems problematic to human sensibilities, the self-existence of mathematics, or even of a non-machine-like Creator, seems much more in-line with reason, if not possibly even compelling to some degree. While universes can be imagined that have different geometries (Euclidean geometry doesn't even perfectly describe our universe), some facts of mathematics seem a necessary component of any reality populated by discrete entities (such as, "5 is a prime number"), suggesting then that mathematics transcends even the existence of our physical universe. (To be fair with the facts, I say these things recognizing the frailty, the lack of complete reliability, and even the lack of complete unanimity, of "human sensibilities". The reader, of course, will have to determine for himself or herself whether or not I may have a point).
My suggestion is that God self-exists in the same way it seems intuitive to many that mathematics may self-exist. (I like to think of mathematics existing in the mind of God, whatever exactly God's mind is).
Further, the supposition that has gained popularity in recent years that the physical universe was created by some sort of universe generator, begs the question, "Where did the universe generator come from?" And if the concept of a self-existent creator God is unthinkable because God would have to be more complicated than the universe, what about the existence of a universe generator? The theist is often ridiculed to scorn by the atheist for believing in something as "far flung" as the existence of a Creator. But, the same atheist, imagining to have solved the problem how our universe is "just right" for life, may have no problem proposing a scenario that produces scazillions of universes even though there is not a hint of empirical evidence to back the theory.
It is commonly asserted that there is no empirical evidence for God. Sometimes it is even asserted that if God did exist, we would have no means by which we could know about His existence. While it is true that we cannot place God in the test tube, God can place Himself in the test tube, that is, He can reveal Himself to us as He does in answered prayer. While we are free to question the agency by which a prayer may be answered, or question whether an answer was really an answer at all or rather just circumstance, such is always the case in science whatever is being studied. Many apparent answers to prayer, however, seem most readily explained by the intervention of an unseen intelligence, which lends strong support to the "God hypothesis."
The Biblical story of Elijah and the showdown on Mt. Carmel serve as an excellent illustration of a sort of scientific experiment that demonstrated the existence and power of God to those who witnessed the event. Taking a little imaginative liberty, we view Elijah setting down his clipboard while he removes his mantle for a moment and dons a lab coat. Elijah glances at his experiment design and explains that they will build two alters, one for Baal, and the other for the God of Israel. The priests of Baal build their alter and dance around it for hours, crying to Baal, and lashing themselves with knives, and nothing happens. After they have wearied themselves out, Elijah proceeds to rebuild the long neglected alter to the God of Israel, and after a simple prayer, fire falls from the sky and consumes the sacrifice and even the stones of the alter.It is true that we cannot repeat this experiment at will. But, it is extremely doubtful that anyone who witnessed the event attributed what happened to mere happenstance, and for good reason. It is also true that this event was recorded many years ago, and with the passage of time, its historical accuracy can be easily called into question by those of us living in the 21st century.
The life and work of George Mueller in the 1800's is a remarkable, and much more recent example of answered prayer that is difficult to waive aside as a string of mere coincidences, or of dishonest (or misguided) reporting. George Mueller established several orphanages in Bristol, England through faith, apparently never asking for a dime for the work. Mueller was a man of devout and fervent prayer, who looked to God to provide for the needs of the children under his care in the orphanages. Many are the examples of how Mueller had urgent needs and no knowledge where the finances would come from to provide for the needs of the immediate future; and yet the finances would come just when they were needed. The orphans never missed a meal or lacked clothing due to lack of means. The money to pay for bills would always come just when needed. If the orphanages always had an abundance, the supply of means could easily be chalked up to the generosity of the human spirit. While certainly human generosity played an important role, it does not explain how the needs were often provided just when needed when Mueller didn't express the needs to anyone but those closest to him.
People may question Mueller's decision to never reveal the needs of the orphanages to the public, nor to appeal for financial support. Mueller didn't encourage Christians to follow this practice in general, and apparently never considered this practice in any way obligatory to Christians. Rather, early on, before even starting the orphanages, Mueller prayerfully made a decision to function in this manner in order to give encouragement to other Christians who were afraid to step out in faith in service to God and to those in need because they didn't know how they would be provided for. The take home message Mueller wanted people to receive was that if God can provide for the orphans even when their needs - due to a personal choice - were not publicized, God can provide in other situations as well.
Many faith ministries, including contemporary ones, as well as individuals who have ventured out in faith, have similar stories to tell. Stories of God's continuing providence and repeatedly coming through in time of need can be told about Holbrook Indian School where I currently work. In the experience of my own family, we can tell of how God came through time and again when faced with what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles in the process of adopting a 5 year old girl from an orphanage in Russia, whom we brought home in December of 2011.
3ABN, a global 24 hour Christian satellite TV and radio network, has very exceptional stories of how their ministry got started and continues to operate which provide powerful evidence of something, or Someone, behind the scenes beyond mere human instrumentality. Gospel Ministries International also has fascinating stories of God's providential care. I recently read a book, Those Who Trust in the Lord Shall Not Be Disappointed by Peggy Joyce Ruth about how she and her husband ventured out in faith to begin a home ministry, and how God repeatedly wrought mightily in answer to prayer when going forward seemed impossible.
Note that I will be adding to this list as I have opportunity.
Page added: 2012.03.23
Last modified: 2017.10.15