The case for God is not a case of the God of the gaps

Posted on October 9, 2017 By

the god of the gaps

We don’t know how life came to exist, so let’s just give up and assume that God did it!” Atheists are fond of portraying theism as the God of the gaps,  or a means of filling in gaps in current scientific knowledge. But, quite to the contrary, what we currently know about biology leads inexorably to the conclusion that life was created by a mind (read: God). Geneticist Francis Collins, the leader of the Human Genome Project and currently the director of the National Institutes of Health in the United States, put it best:

There are good reasons to believe in God, including the existence of mathematical principles and order in creation. They are positive reasons, based on knowledge, rather than default assumptions based on a temporary lack of knowledge.

What is one of these positive reasons which is based on knowledge (rather than a lack of knowledge)? A good place to start would be the fact that the genetic code, the language of life, conveys meaning through symbolic representation, in a very similar manner to human language. And meaning is something which can only exist in the mind of a conscious and intelligent agent.

Atheism is grounded in the philosophy known as materialism, which suggests that all that exists is various arrangements of matter and energy. But if it were true that nothing exists except matter and energy, living things would be completely specified by their physical and chemical properties. Nowhere among such properties will you find a property known as meaning. Put another way, material things such as rocks, thunderstorms, or the chair you are sitting in cannot be about anything. Meaning is not a property of mindless matter and energy, and can only be assigned by a conscious and intelligent agent, period.

Many of the principles of human language apply to DNA, the language of life.

In the primary text on the application of algorithmic information theory to the question of the origin of life, titled Information Theory, Evolution, and The Origin of Lifephysicist and information scientist Hubert Yockey explains how many of the principles of human language are also applicable to the genetic code, the language of life:

“Information, transcription, translation, code, redundancy, synonymous, messenger, editing, and proofreading are all appropriate terms in biology. They take their meaning from information theory (Shannon, 1948) and are not synonyms, metaphors, or analogies.” [1]

Symbolic representation is necessarily the product of a mind.

Symbolic representation, such as the complex set of instructions symbolically communicated by the genetic code, requires a conscious and intelligent agent. Such is the case because the meaning which symbols convey is entirely arbitrary, and cannot be a property of the symbols themselves. For example, the letters C-A-T serve as a symbolic representation of a furry animal that purrs and meows only because the intelligent agents who created the English language arbitrarily assigned this meaning to this set of symbols. There is no physical or chemical relationship between these symbols and what they serve to represent, only a mental relationship.

This is further illustrated by the fact that a set of symbols can have entirely different meanings in different languages. Yockey (in Information Theory, Evolution, and The Origin of Life) eloquently explains this crucial point:

The messages conveyed by sequences of symbols sent through a communication system generally have meaning (otherwise, why are we sending them?). It often is overlooked that the meaning of a sequence of letters, if any, is arbitrary. It is determined by the natural language and is not a property of the letters or their arrangement. For example, the English word “hell” means “bright” in German, “fern” means “far,” “gift” means “poison,” “bald” means “soon,” “boot” means “boat,” and “singe” means “sing.” In French “pain” means “bread,” “ballot” means a “bundle,” “coin” means a “corner or a wedge,” “chair” means “flesh,” “cent” means “hundred,” “son” means “his,” “tire” means a “pull,” and “ton” means “your.”

In French, the English word “main” means “hand,” “sale” means “dirty.” French-speaking visitors to English-speaking countries will be astonished at department stores having a “sale” and especially if it is the “main sale.” This confusion of meaning goes as far as sentences. For example, “0 singe fort” has no meaning in English, although each is an English word, yet in German it means “0 sing on,” and in French it means “0 strong monkey.” [2]

The genetic code is a literally like a human language. This is no metaphor.

At this point, one can almost hear atheists shouting, “Suggesting that the genetic code is a language is only a metaphor, or a figure of speech! It is not literally true!” But, an entire school of thought in biology called biosemiotics considers language to be a primary lens through which living things must be understood, as Perry Marshall points out in his book Evolution 2.0. Marshall elaborates on the scientific reasons why the genetic code is a language in the most literal, not metaphorical, sense:

Rutgers University professor Sungchul Ji’s excellent paper The Linguistics of DNA: Words, Sentences, Grammar, Phonetics, and Semantics starts off, “Biologic systems and processes cannot be fully accounted for in terms of the principles and laws of physics and chemistry alone, but they require in addition the principles of semiotics— the science of symbols and signs, including linguistics.”

Ji identifies 13 characteristics of human language. DNA shares 10 of them. Cells edit DNA. They also communicate with each other and literally speak a language he called “cellese,” described as “a self-organizing system of molecules, some of which encode, act as signs for, or trigger, gene-directed cell processes.”

This comparison between cell language and human language is not a loosey-goosey analogy; it’s formal and literal. Human language and cell language both employ multilayered symbols. Dr. Ji explains this similarity in his paper: “Bacterial chemical conversations also include assignment of contextual meaning to words and sentences (semantic) and conduction of dialogue (pragmatic)— the fundamental aspects of linguistic communication.” This is true of genetic material. Signals between cells do this as well. [3]

It is a case of the God of what we know, not the God of the gaps.

The arrangement of symbols (such as letters) according to a language is not something that can be accomplished, even in principle, by unintelligent physical or chemical processes. Werner Gitt is a former Director and Professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Braunschweig) and former head of the Department of Information Technology. In his book Without Excuse, he discusses the substitutive function of what he terms “Universal Information “(UI), as it relates to the genetic code, the language of life:

Universal Information is always an abstract representation of some other existing entity. Universal Information is never the item (object) or the fact (event, idea) itself but rather the coded symbols serve as a substitute for the entities that are being represented. Different languages often use different sets of symbols and usually different symbol sequences to represent the same material object or concept. Consider the following examples:

-The words in a newspaper, consisting of a sequence of letters, substitute for an event that happened at an earlier time and in some other place,

-The words in a novel, consisting of sequences of letters, substitute for characters and their actions,

-The notes of a musical score substitute for music that will be played later on musical instruments,

-The chemical formula for benzene substitutes for the toxic liquid that is kept in a flask in a chemistry laboratory,

-The genetic codons (three-letter words) of the DNA molecule substitute for specific amino acids that are bonded together in a specific sequence to form a protein. [4]

The substitutive function of the the symbols in a code or language is something that can only be set up by the activity of a conscious and intelligent mind because, again, what a set of symbols serve to substitute for is entirely arbitrary and cannot be a property of the symbols themselves. Symbolic representation is by necessity a mental process. As information scientist Henry Quastler put it, “The creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity.” Biologists with less rigid ideological commitments to atheism (or at least more intellectual integrity) have been frank enough to admit the necessity of mind (a conscious and intelligent agent) in the origin of life. The Nobel Prize-winning, Harvard University biologist George Wald, although certainly not an ideological ally of theism, admitted the following in his address to the Quantum Biology Symposium titled Life and Mind in the Universe:

It has occurred to me lately—I must confess with some shock at first to my scientific sensibilities—that both questions [the origin of mind and the origin of life from nonliving matter] might be brought into some degree of congruence. This is with the assumption that mind, rather than emerging as a late outgrowth in the evolution of life, has existed always as the matrix, the source and condition of physical reality—the stuff of which physical reality is composed is mind-stuff. It is mind that has composed a physical universe that breeds life and so eventually evolves creatures that know and create: science-, art-, and technology-making animals.[5]

The genetic code is a language (because it utilizes abstract, substitutive, symbolic representation) that is very similar to a computer language. Microsoft founder Bill Gates writes, “Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any we’ve ever created.” Natural processes do not create anything even vaguely resembling a computer program. Gitt makes this point clear in his book In the Beginning Was Information:

…According to a frequently quoted statement by the American mathematician Norbert Wiener (1894-1964) information cannot be a physical entity: “Information is information, neither matter nor energy. Any materialism which disregards this will not survive one day.” Werner Strombach, a German information scientist of Dortmund, emphasizes the non-material nature of information by defining it as an “enfolding of order at the level of contemplative cognition.” Hans-Joachim Flechtner, a German cyberneticist, referred to the fact that information is of a mental nature, both because of its contents and because of the encoding process. This aspect is, however, frequently underrated:

“When a message is composed, it involves the coding of its mental content, but the message itself is not concerned about whether the contents are important or unimportant, valuable, useful, or meaningless. Only the recipient can evaluate the message after decoding it.”

It should now be clear that information, being a fundamental entity, cannot be a property of matter, and its origin cannot be explained in terms of material processes. We therefore formulate the following theorem. Theorem 1: The fundamental quantity of information is a non-material (mental) entity. It is not a property of matter, so that purely material processes are fundamentally precluded as sources of information. [6]

Atheism relies on mindless material processes to explain life. But the insurmountable problem for atheism is that such mindless processes can never account for the fact that the genetic code is a language which utilizes arrangements of symbols with arbitrarily assigned meanings…just like a human language. Much as the chemistry of the ink and paper that constitute a newspaper cannot explain the arrangement of the letters in the words of a newspaper, the chemistry of a DNA molecule cannot explain the arrangement of letters in a DNA molecule. Michael Polanyi, a former Chairman of Physical Chemistry at the University of Manchester (UK), who was famous for his important theoretical contributions to physical chemistry, emphasizes this point:

As the arrangement of a printed page is extraneous to the chemistry of the printed page, so is the base sequence in a DNA molecule extraneous to the chemical forces at work in the DNA molecule. It is this physical indeterminacy of the sequence that produces the improbability of occurrence of any particular sequence and thereby enables it to have meaning–a meaning that has a mathematically determinate information content. [7]

Like a game of whack-a-mole, mind re-emerges as the source for life among atheists

Indeed, it would be just as absurd to assert that mindless physical or chemical processes could write a newspaper article as it would be to assert that such processes could produce a DNA sequence. Ultra-elite atheist biologists such as Richard Dawkins, from Oxford University, (author of The God Delusion) and Francis Crick (famous as co-discoverer of the DNA double-helix) surely know this, which is why they hypothesize that life was brought to Earth by aliens in their spaceship. (Click here to watch a video of Richard Dawkins endorsing this hypothesis in an interview, and click here to read an article about how Crick endorsed this hypothesis in his book Life Itself). So, much like a game of whack-a-mole, mind re-emerges as the source for life even among the biologists most ideologically committed to denying that one mind in particular (God) created life. As David Berlinski sardonically points out, this is what Sigmund Freud was referring to when he spoke of “the return of the repressed.”


1. Hubert P. Yockey. Information Theory, Evolution, and The Origin of Life (Kindle Locations 128-129). Kindle Edition

2. Hubert P. Yockey. Information Theory, Evolution, and The Origin of Life (Kindle Locations 137-138). Kindle Edition

3. Marshall, Perry. Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design (p. 167). Kindle edition

4. Gitt, Werner. Without Excuse, p. 73

5. Wald, George. Life and Mind in the Universe. Source: International Journal of Quantum Chemistry, Volume 26, Issue Supplement 11, 16 APR 2008

6. Gitt, Werner. In the Beginning Was Information (Kindle Locations 427-428). Kindle Edition

7. Michael Polanyi, Life’s Irreducible Structure. Source: Science, Jun. 21, 1968, pp. 1308-1312

 

 


  1. ResidentAtheist says:

    LOL. Love the cartoon. Sarcasm can be hilarious, don’t you think? It’s obviously sarcasm as we all know that miracles/supernatural doesn’t exist.

    Life was created by the mind of a god? That would imply that this god has a brain and this god has a body to contain said brain. I suppose we should establish what god this is before we start assigning attributes to it. Zeus, Odin, Thor or one of the many many other gods that man has created.

    It also assumes life had a start. Where is it written that life “started”? Where is it written that the universe had a start? Why couldn’t life have always existed as a natural by-product of an eternal/infinite natural universe? We know the Big Bang was not the beginning of the universe. Where would the original singularity have come from? You can’t get something from nothing. When I say nothing I literally mean nothing. We know there wasn’t any god(s) that created it. It is absurd to think that man could create a god that actually exists. The supernatural couldn’t exist in a natural universe. Looks to me like the only possibility is an eternal universe. Even an expanding/contracting universe would be eternal. Perhaps the expanding/contracting universe is the correct answer but unlikely. What would it expand into?

    Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. – Arthur Conan Doyle

    Resident Atheist

    • God Evidence says:

      Resident Atheist,

      Suggesting that consciousness requires a brain stems from the philosophical stance known as materialism, and not a science. A better description of the human brain (metaphorically speaking) would be to compare it to a TV set. Just as a TV set does not actually produce TV shows, but only receives them, the human brain is a receiver of consciousness. Please go to about 2 min 30 sec into the BBC documentary titled The Day I Died to watch Dutch consciousness researcher Dr. Pim Van Lommel describe the brain in such terms.

      Frank Turek comments on how materialism (in which atheism is rooted) refutes itself by declaring that there are no immaterial conscious entities such as God or human souls, because consciousness is really nothing more than the activity of atoms in the brain:

      Atheist evolutionary biologist J. B. S. Haldane put it well. He wrote, “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true . . . and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” He also has no reason to trust anything he believes, including atheism or evolution.

      Atheist Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA, affirmed Haldane’s material view of reality. In what he called “an astonishing hypothesis,” Crick wrote, “The Astonishing Hypothesis is that ‘You,’ your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”

      If atheism is true, he’s exactly right. But he didn’t see the problem Haldane saw. Perhaps Crick would have seen that problem if he had applied his hypothesis to his own work. Imagine if Dr. Crick had written this: “The Astonishing Hypothesis is that my scientific conclusions that I write in this book are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”

      Physicist Stephen Barr reflects Turek’s above point about the self-refuting nature of materialism in Modern Physics and Ancient Faith. If humans are nothing but material brains with no soul, then human thoughts are nothing but patterns of nerve impulses in the brain. But how could a pattern of nerve impulses in the brain contain truth (or falsehood)? Nerve impulses can no more be true or false than the chair you are sitting in:

      “Cognitive scientists talk about neurons, for example. But “neuron” itself is an abstract concept that arose from the researches of biologists. For the materialist, then, even this concept of ‘neuron’ is nothing but a neurological creation; it also is a pattern of neurons firing in someone’s brain. If this sounds like a vicious circle, it is. We explain certain biological phenomena using the abstract concept “neuron,” and then we proceed to explain the abstract concept “neuron” as a biological phenomenon—indeed, a biological phenomenon produced by the activity of neurons. What we are observing here is the snake eating its own tail, or rather its own head. The very theory which says that theories are neurons firing is itself naught but neurons firing.

      …Why should anyone believe the materialist, then? If ideas are just patterns of nerve impulses, then how can one say that any idea (including the idea of materialism itself) is superior to any other? One pattern of nerve impulses cannot be truer or less true than any other pattern, any more than a toothache can be truer or less true than another toothache.”

      You write, “Where is it written that the universe had a start?

      Janna Levin, from the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University writes:

      “The universe had a beginning. There was once nothing and now there is something.”

      A universe with a finite past requires a beginning, which in turn requires a transcendent (or supernatural) cause. This is why our universe must be eternal for atheism to be valid. But Big Bang cosmology has shown that the universe is NOT eternal. In New Proofs for the Existence of God, Robert J. Spitzer (who was assisted by Dr. Stephen Barr of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware) reveals that:

      “Prior to Einstein’s publication of the General Theory of Relativity, one could have thought that supernatural design was completely unnecessary because it was believed (in accordance with Newton’s postulates) that the universe existed for an infinite amount of time with an infinite amount of space and an infinite amount of interacting content. Therefore, there would have been an infinite number of ‘tries’ [for randomness to produce an orderly universe] to bring about virtually any degree of complexity.”

      “Standard Big Bang cosmology totally changed these postulates, and reduced the total number of ‘tries’ in the observable universe to a very finite number…..This comparatively small number of ‘total possible mass energy interactions in the universe for all time’ revealed the extreme improbability of high degrees of complexity arising out of the universe by pure chance.”

      Further, this book also states that “David Hilbert (the father of finite mathematics) has given new probative force and depth to the argument for the intrinsic finitude of past time (implying a timeless creator) in his article On The Infinite.”

      Hilbert (among the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century) said:

      “The infinite [as in infinite past time] is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought. The role that remains for the infinite…is solely that of an idea.”

      Many other contemporary mathematicians (such as mathematicians Frankel, Rotman, Kneebone, Zermelo, and Robinson) draw the same conclusion. Mathematicians Rotman and Kneebone state in The Theory of Sets and Transfinite Numbers:

      “The conception of an infinite sequence of choices (or any other acts)…is a mathematical fiction—an idealization of what is imaginable only in finite cases.”

      But rather than just taking some highly prominent mathematicians at their word, wouldn’t it be nice to understand for oneself just why infinite past time is mathematically impossible? Fortunately, the mathematical concepts herein are easily accessible to non-mathematicians. Below is an excerpt from The Case for the Creator by Lee Strobel and features an interview the author conducted with William Lane Craig:

      “Let’s use an example involving marbles,” he said. “Imagine I had an infinite number of marbles in my possession, and that I wanted to give you some. In fact, suppose I wanted to give you an infinite number of marbles. One way I could do that would be to give you the entire pile of marbles. In that case I would have zero marbles left for myself.”

      “However, another way to do it would be to give you all of the odd numbered marbles. Then I would still have an infinity left over for myself, and you would have an infinity too. You’d have just as many as I would–and, in fact, each of us would have just as many as I originally had before we divided into odd and even! Or another approach would be for me to give you all of the marbles numbered four and higher. That way, you would have an infinity of marbles, but I would only have three marbles left.”

      “What these illustrations demonstrate is that the notion of an actual infinite number of things leads to contradictory results. In the first case in which I gave you all the marbles, infinity minus infinity is zero; in the second case in which I gave you all the odd-numbered marbles, infinity minus infinity is infinity; and in the third case in which I gave you all the marbles numbered four and greater, infinity minus infinity is three. In each case, we have subtracted the identical number from the identical number, but we have come up with nonidentical results.”

      “For that reason, mathematicians are forbidden from doing subtraction and division in transfinite arithmetic, because this would lead to contradictions. You see, the idea of an actual infinity is just conceptual; it exists only in our minds.”

      And lastly, in 2003, physicists Borde, Vilenkin and Guth corroborated to formulate a proof that demonstrates that an eternal universe is not possible. It is known as the BVG theorem. Alexander Vilenkin is very blunt in regard to the implications of this proof:

      “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.” (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176).

      It should be noted that this proof applies to any proposed “multiverse” or “oscillating universe,” etc. in which our universe may be situated. Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow (the founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) echoes Vilenkin’s above comments:

      “The lingering decline predicted by astronomers for the end of the world differs from the explosive conditions they have calculated for its birth, but the impact is the same: modern science denies an eternal existence to the Universe, either in the past or in the future.“

      To explore this subject matter in more detail, please read this article.

      • Taylor says:

        “A universe with a finite past requires a beginning, which in turn requires a transcendent (or supernatural) cause. This is why our universe must be eternal for atheism to be valid.”

        Can you please explain why a universe must be eternal for atheism to be valid?

        Also, aren’t scientists actively looking for an explanation for how the universe started? So if they discover that—if they discover a way that all this happening naturally is plausible and way less unlikely than we’ve thought—then that kind of wrecks your ideology, no?

        • Can you please explain why a universe must be eternal for atheism to be valid?

          Because an intelligent agent has causal properties, and nothingness does not. Nothing cannot cause the universe because nothing cannot cause anything to happen or to exist…otherwise it wouldn’t be nothing.

          The cause of the universe must be timeless or changeless, because it created time.

          Because it also created space, it must transcend space, and therefore be immaterial.

          It must also be personal, for if the changeless impersonal conditions for the existence of the universe existed eternally, then the cause could never exist without its effect. If the changeless impersonal conditions for an effect are timelessly present, then the effect must be timelessly present as well.

          To illustrate, the cause of water freezing is the temperature being below zero degrees centigrade. If the temperature were below zero from eternity, then any water around would be frozen from eternity. It would be impossible for the water to begin to freeze a finite time ago.

          The only way for the cause to be timeless, and the effect to begin a finite time ago, is for the cause to be a personal agent who freely chooses to create an effect in time without any prior determining conditions. For example, a man sitting from eternity could will to stand up, and thus, we are brought, not only to a transcendent cause of the universe, but to its personal creator.

          Physicist George Stanciu and philosopher Robert Augros provide an excellent nutshell explanation in their book The New Story of Science:

          “In the New Story of science the whole universe–including matter, energy, space, and time–is a one-time event and had a definite beginning. But something must have always existed; for if ever absolutely nothing existed, then nothing would exist now, since nothing comes from nothing. The material universe cannot be the thing that always existed because matter had a beginning. It is 12 to 20 billion years old. This means that whatever has always existed is non-material. The only non-material reality seems to be mind. If mind is what has always existed, then matter must have been brought into existence by a mind that always was. This points to an intelligent, eternal being who created all things. Such a being is what we mean by the term God.”

          Some readers may be inclined to think that a mind which exists independent of time, space, matter, and energy is just an ad hoc explanation, arbitrarily cooked up in the heads of religious folks. But such readers would be greatly mistaken. An immaterial conscious mind is required to explain the famous observer effect in physics. The observer effect refers to the conclusion of modern physics that, prior to observation by a conscious observer, particles exist only in an immaterial form known as a possibility wave (or probability wave). It is only after an observation is made by a conscious observer that these possibilities “collapse into actuality,” thereby taking on material form. Readers who find this bizarre or difficult to understand are in good company. Even the world’s most elite physicists are amazed and puzzled by the observer effect. But it has been repeatedly scientifically verified. (Please read Johns Hopkins University physicist Richard Conn Henry’s article The Mental Universe, and University of California, Berkeley physicist Henry Stapp’s book Mindful Universe for a more thorough exploration of this subject). Physicist Richard Conn Henry explains how people with atheistic leanings recoil at the clear theistic implications of modern physics :

          “Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the illusion of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism.” [“Solipsism” is defined as “the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist.”]

          Indeed, the founder of quantum physics himself, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Planck, was referring to a mind which exists independent of (and serves as the cause for) space, time, matter, and energy, when he wrote:

          “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

          Planck also wrote:

          “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”

          Next, you write, “Also, aren’t scientists actively looking for an explanation for how the universe started? So if they discover that—if they discover a way that all this happening naturally is plausible and way less unlikely than we’ve thought—then that kind of wrecks your ideology, no?

          Suggesting that natural causes could be responsible for causing the natural universe is like suggesting that a person gave birth to himself. The natural properties of time, space, matter, and energy originated at the cosmological event known as the Big Bang. Therefore, the cause of the universe must necessarily be timeless, spaceless, immaterial, and energy-less.

          Further, science deals only with the material level of causation. Atheist thought very frequently confuses material causes with an explanation of ultimate causation. This is known in philosophy as a category error because material causes do not belong to a category of things which can be said to provide an explanation of ultimate causation. The two following statements commit the same category error:

          “The universe was not caused by God, but rather, by natural processes.”

          “Automobiles are not caused by people, but rather, by manufacturing processes.”

          Natural processes and manufacturing processes address the material level of causation. But to suggest that a description of natural processes provides an explanation of ultimate causation would be a non-sequitur (does not follow). Just think about it: If we were able to describe in exacting detail every single aspect of how the Chevrolet Corvette is manufactured, would this rule out the need for humans (automotive engineers, automotive designers, etc.) as the ultimate cause for this car? To suggest as such would be a non-sequitur in exactly the same way that suggesting that a complete description of natural causes does away with the need for God.

          • Scott “Can you please explain why a universe must be eternal for atheism to be valid?”

            It doesn’t. Atheism is valid because theism is not. Can you please explain how your man made god came into existence?

            The universe is eternal because the supernatural doesn’t exist and couldn’t possibly exist in NATURAL universe. Once you remove supernatural from the equation an eternal universe is the only option.

            • Can I explain how God came into existence? What would be the necessity of that? Atheists allege that if one cannot explain where God came from, theism cannot be viewed as a legitimate explanation for such things as the origin of life and the origin of the universe.

              The more time one spends debating atheists online, the more one will realize that this is likely the most prominent argument in favor of atheism present on the internet today. It is also the self-described “central argument” of atheist Richard Dawkins’ now famous book The God Delusion.

              ***If every explanation required an explanation, science would be impossible.***

              But, unfortunately for atheists, this is a particularly weak argument. If every explanation required an explanation of its own, we would immediately be caught in an infinite regress of explanations, and science would be impossible.

              Imagine the following dialogue between two scientists:

              Scientist 1: “Traits are passed down from a parent to its offspring through genes.”

              Scientist 2: “Ah ha!! But where do genes come from?”

              Scientist 1: “I don’t know.”

              Scientist 2: “Gotcha!! Your genetic explanation fails.”

              Please note that, even if scientist #1 could produce an explanation for where genes come from, scientist #2 could then ask for an explanation for that explanation, and an infinite regress of explanations would result, thus rendering science impossible.

              William Lane Craig notes:

              …In order to recognize an explanation as the best, one needn’t have an explanation of the explanation. This is an elementary point concerning inference to the best explanation as practiced in the philosophy of science. If archaeologists digging in the earth were to discover things looking like arrowheads and hatchet heads and pottery shards, they would be justified in inferring that these artifacts are not the chance result of sedimentation and metamorphosis, but products of some unknown group of people, even though they had no explanation of who these people were or where they came from.

              Similarly, if astronauts were to come upon a pile of machinery on the back side of the moon, they would be justified in inferring that it was the product of intelligent, extra-terrestrial agents, even if they had no idea whatsoever who these extra-terrestrial agents were or how they got there. In order to recognize an explanation as the best, one needn’t be able to explain the explanation. In fact, so requiring would lead to an infinite regress of explanations, so that nothing could ever be explained and science would be destroyed. So in the case at hand, in order to recognize that intelligent design is the best explanation of the appearance of design in the universe, one needn’t be able to explain the designer.

              Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, “Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.”

              The natural vs. supernatural dichotomy is an artifact of our language and culture which serves more to muddy the waters of our understanding (“bewitch”) than it does to provide clarity or understanding. If you look at the debate between theism and atheism, it is really a debate about the nature of the natural world. At its core, the debate is not really about whether or not there exists a supernatural. Stephen C. Meyer, author of Signature in the Cell, holds a PhD in the history and philosophy of science from Cambridge University. In this book, Meyer details the historical background of this debate:

              “Since the time of the ancient Greeks, there have been two basic pictures of ultimate reality among Western intellectuals, what Germans call a Weltanschauung, or worldview. According to one worldview, mind is the primary or ultimate reality. On this view, material reality either issues from a preexisting mind, or it is shaped by a preexistent intelligence, or both…This view of reality is often called idealism to indicate that ideas come first and matter comes later. Theism is the version of idealism that holds that God is the source of the ideas that gave rise to and shaped the material world.”

              “The opposite view holds that the physical universe or nature is the ultimate reality. In this view, either matter or energy (or both) are the things from which everything else comes. They are self-existent and do not need to be created or shaped by mind….In this view matter comes first, and conscious mind arrives on the scene much later and only then as a by-product of material processes and undirected evolutionary change. This worldview is called naturalism or materialism.”

              For a little more historical context relevant to this debate, in the Philebus of Plato (429–347 B.C.E.), ancient Greek philosopher Socrates considered this all-important question and laid out the two primary possibilities:

              “Whether we are to affirm that all existing things, and this fair scene which we call the Universe, are governed by the influence of the irrational, the random, and the mere chance; or, on the contrary, as our predecessors affirmed, are kept in their course by the control of mind and a certain wonderful regulating intelligence.”

              In essence, the theism vs. atheism debate is a debate about prime reality or ultimate reality which is roughly defined as the something-from-which-everything-else-comes. Theists take the first of the two stances which Meyer references above (mind or spirit is the prime reality), and atheists almost always take the second of the two stances (matter is the prime reality).

              For there to be both a natural and supernatural, we need to first assume that matter is prime reality. In other words, for a supernatural world to exist outside of the natural world, we first need to assume that the natural world is fundamentally material. Conversely, if reality is fundamentally immaterial (mental/spiritual), then there is no reason to reference a spiritual world outside of the material world because ALL of reality is mental/spiritual.

              As I discuss in my essay titled, God Is Real: Why Modern Physics Has Discredited Atheism, the insights of modern physics very strongly suggest that prime reality is mental/spiritual. To this end, Johns Hopkins University physicist Richard Conn Henry concludes his article titled The Mental Universe, “The Universe is immaterial — mental
              and spiritual. Live, and enjoy.”

              I also recommend that you read Mindful Universe by University of California, Berkeley physicist Henry Stapp.

      • [But Big Bang cosmology has shown that the universe is NOT eternal.]

        Wrong again. This assumes the Big Bang was the beginning of the universe. It wasn’t.

        Here is the problem:
        Theists claim that in the beginning there was only god.
        Science claims that in the beginning there was only the singularity.
        Neither of these explain where god or the singularity came from.

        We haver ruled out god considering where god came from but what about the singularity? I don’t doubt there was a very large cosmic event we refer to as the Big Bang however it is more likely this was a common cosmic event that has played out an infinite amount of times in an infinite amount of places in an eternal and infinite universe. Most scientists now claim the Big Bang wasn’t the beginning of the universe. That is what I have been claiming all along.

        Science is science because it doesn’t have the answers. It is in search of the answers.

        Just as an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHWDl52Dndw

        • Whether or not the Big Bang was the actual beginning of the universe is irrelevant. The important thing is that there was a beginning AT SOME POINT, whether it was the Big Bang or some other point. By the way, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of the singularity, as this Space.com article points out. The article features physicist Silva Neves discussing various speculative cosmologies (such as bouncing cosmologies), but admits,

          “There is no empirical evidence for bouncing cosmologies today,” he said. “But there is no evidence for the initial singularity as well.”

          Go ahead and produce any evidence for the initial singularity that you can. Hint: You won’t produce any, because you can’t, because there isn’t any. Period. Game over. Have a nice day. (Yes, that is a challenge).

          But here is my evidence that the universe had a beginning AT SOME POINT (whether or not it was the Big Bang):

          1) In 2003, physicists Borde, Vilenkin and Guth corroborated to formulate a mathematical proof that demonstrates that an eternal universe is not possible. It is known as the BVG theorem. Alexander Vilenkin is very blunt in regard to the implications of this proof:

          “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”
          (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176).

          It should be noted that this proof applies to any proposed “multiverse” or “bouncing universe,” or “oscillating universe,” etc. in which our universe may be situated. Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow (the founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) echoes Vilenkin’s above comments:

          “The lingering decline predicted by astronomers for the end of the world differs from the explosive conditions they have calculated for its birth, but the impact is the same: modern science denies an eternal existence to the Universe, either in the past or in the future.“

          2) The universe is expanding, as demonstrated by the fact that the galaxies are constantly moving further apart from one another. This points to the undeniable fact that the universe began in a giant explosion.

          3) The universe is constantly using usable energy and is therefore “winding down” like a clock. This points to a cosmic beginning when the universe was all “wound up.” Click on the post below to see what I mean:

          http://study.com/academy/lesson/evidence-for-the-big-bang-theory-background-radiation-red-shift-and-expansion.html

          4) The evidence from red shift and cosmic background radiation. Click on the below link to see what I mean:

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/aqa_pre_2011/radiation/originsrev2.shtml

          An excerpt:

          Cosmic Microwave Background radiation

          “Scientists discovered that there are microwaves coming from every direction in space. Big Bang theory says this is energy created at the beginning of the universe, just after the Big Bang, and that has been traveling through space ever since.”

          “A satellite called COBE has mapped the background microwave radiation of the universe as we see it.”

          You write, “None of these explain where God or the singularity came from.”

          But what would be the relevance of where God came from?!

          Atheists allege that if one cannot explain where God came from, theism cannot be viewed as a legitimate explanation for such things as the origin of life and the origin of the universe.

          The more time one spends debating atheists online, the more one will realize that this is likely the most prominent argument in favor of atheism present on the internet today. It is also the self-described “central argument” of atheist Richard Dawkins’ now famous book The God Delusion.

          But, unfortunately for atheists, this is a particularly weak argument. If every explanation required an explanation of its own, we would immediately be caught in an infinite regress of explanations, and science would be impossible.

          Imagine the following dialogue between two scientists:

          Scientist 1: “Traits are passed down from a parent to its offspring through genes.”

          Scientist 2: “Ah ha! But where do genes come from?”

          Scientist 1: “I don’t know.”

          Scientist 2: “Gotcha! Your genetic explanation is fails!”

          Please note that, even if scientist #1 could produce an explanation for where genes come from, scientist #2 could then ask for an explanation for that explanation, and an infinite regress of explanations would result, thus rendering science impossible.

          William Lane Craig notes:

          …In order to recognize an explanation as the best, one needn’t have an explanation of the explanation. This is an elementary point concerning inference to the best explanation as practiced in the philosophy of science. If archaeologists digging in the earth were to discover things looking like arrowheads and hatchet heads and pottery shards, they would be justified in inferring that these artifacts are not the chance result of sedimentation and metamorphosis, but products of some unknown group of people, even though they had no explanation of who these people were or where they came from.

          Similarly, if astronauts were to come upon a pile of machinery on the back side of the moon, they would be justified in inferring that it was the product of intelligent, extra-terrestrial agents, even if they had no idea whatsoever who these extra-terrestrial agents were or how they got there. In order to recognize an explanation as the best, one needn’t be able to explain the explanation. In fact, so requiring would lead to an infinite regress of explanations, so that nothing could ever be explained and science would be destroyed. So in the case at hand, in order to recognize that intelligent design is the best explanation of the appearance of design in the universe, one needn’t be able to explain the designer.

  2. […] basis for the conclusion that life is the result of an intelligence (read: God)? As I discuss in The Case for God is not a Case of the God-of-the-Gaps, DNA, the language of life, conveys meaning through symbolic representation, in a very similar […]

  3. […] natural causes. I explain some of the logical reasons for my disbelief in posts such as The Case for God is not a Case of the God of the Gaps and Why Life Could Not Have Emerged Without […]

  4. […] what is the evidence that evolution is actually the result of an intelligent cause? As I discuss in The case for God is not a case of the God of the gaps, the genetic code is a language in the most literal sense. This is no metaphor. An excerpt from that […]

  5. […] I discuss in The Case for God is not a Case of the God-of-the-Gaps, the genetic code conveys meaning through symbolic representation, in a very similar manner to […]

  6. […] claims that life resulted from unintelligent natural processes, for reasons which I describe in The Case for God is Not a Case of the God of the Gaps and Why Life Could Not Have Emerged Without […]

    • That was just a hypothetical question but you sure do get long winded. It’s as if you try to use enough words to dazzle us into believing in your imaginary friend.

      We already know where god came from. The same place all the other gods come from. Mans imagination. It’s all they had back then (Stories). No tv, radio, internet. Eventually they created writing so the bible was created. To get truth from a book of fiction would be a miracle. And we all know there is no such thing as a miracle. New religious cults are being created all the time. Scientology and AA come to mind. Belief that these man made fictional characters are real just shows how gullible people are.

      • Calling God an “imaginary friend” commits the Appeal to Ridicule fallacy. Because ridicule does not possess logical content, it can only serve as a convenient substitute for a logical argument which is needed by a person who does not have a logically coherent argument. A copy and paste from the preceding post about the Appeal to Ridicule fallacy:

        Appeal to Ridicule

        Latin: reductio ad ridiculum

        (also known as: appeal to mockery, the horse laugh)

        Description: Presenting the argument in such a way that makes the argument look ridiculous, usually by misrepresenting the argument or the use of exaggeration.

        Logical Form:

        Person 1 claims that X is true.

        Person 2 makes X look ridiculous by misrepresenting X.

        Therefore, X is false.

        Example #1:

        It takes faith to believe in God just like it takes faith to believe in the Easter Bunny — but at least the Easter Bunny is based on a creature that actually exists!

        Explanation: Comparing the belief in God to belief in the Easter Bunny is an attempt at ridicule and not a good argument. In fact, this type of fallacy usually shows desperation in the one committing the fallacy.

        Suggesting that where belief in God came from (“man’s imagination,” allegedly) has some relevance to whether or not he exists commits the Genetic Fallacy (also known as the Fallacy of Origins). A copy and paste from the preceding post about this fallacy:

        Genetic:

        You judged something as either good or bad on the basis of where it comes from, or from whom it came.

        This fallacy avoids the argument by shifting focus onto something’s or someone’s origins. It’s similar to an ad hominem fallacy in that it leverages existing negative perceptions to make someone’s argument look bad, without actually presenting a case for why the argument itself lacks merit.

        Example: Accused on the 6 o’clock news of corruption and taking bribes, the senator said that we should all be very wary of the things we hear in the media, because we all know how very unreliable the media can be.

        • [Calling God an “imaginary friend” commits the Appeal to Ridicule fallacy.]

          You got me there. Something imaginary can’t actually be a friend.

          • The more ridicule you use, the deeper the hole you dig yourself in. I assure you that all intelligent third party viewers of this discussion are aware that ridicule has no logical content, and therefore can only be used as a convenient substitute for logic by those who are not able to furnish logically coherent arguments to support their stance.

            Further, you are much like a poker player who has just showed his hand. If you held your atheist views for logical reasons, you would state them in a polite and logical manner. Your use of ridicule demonstrates that you hold your atheist views for emotional and ideological (as opposed to logical) reasons.

            Just think about it: When Albert Einstein was defending his Theory of General Relativity from its many detractors, how much ridicule do you suppose he needed to use? Answer: Zero, because his basis for belief in his theory was logical, NOT emotional or ideological.

            • You can believe what you want but it won’t change the truth no matter how many of your silly fallacies you throw at it. For the record: Belief and truth are mutually exclusive.

              The theist believes but the atheist knows.

              • No. Every disbelief or skeptical stance is really just an alternate belief. For example, one can only doubt that life is the result of intelligent causes from the vantage point of BELIEF that life is the result of unintelligent causes. The more one doubts that life is the result of intelligent causes, the more one by necessity BELIEVES that life is the result of unintelligent causes. There is simply no way around this. Period.

                As a Christian, I am a deeply skeptical non-believer in atheist claims that life resulted from unintelligent natural laws. Why the skepticism? In part, because mathematicians and physicists have been able to mathematically quantify the information bearing capacity of natural laws, and it falls far, far, far, short of being able to produce the information codified in the genetic code in even the simplest organism. In the primary text on the application of information theory to the origin of life titled Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, physicist and information scientist Hubert Yockey explains how the simplicity and regularity of natural laws renders it mathematically impossible for such laws to produce life from non-life:

                “The laws of physics and chemistry are much like the rules of a game such as football. The referees see to it that these laws are obeyed but that does not predict the winner of the Super Bowl. There is not enough information in the rules of the game to make that prediction. That is why we play the game. [Mathematician Gregory] Chaitin has examined the laws of physics by actually programming them. He finds the information content amazingly small.”

                Yockey continues, in Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life:

                “The reason that there are principles of biology that cannot be derived from the laws of physics and chemistry lies simply in the fact that the genetic information content of the genome for constructing even the simplest organisms is much larger than the information content of these laws.”

                Renowned physicist Paul Davies (winner of the Kelvin Medal issued by the Institute of Physics) reflects Yockey’s above comments, and makes clear the distinction between the medium (the material aspect of an organism) and the message (the informational aspect of an organism). As an illustration, a song is an immaterial informational entity which may be stored on various material storage media, such as an iPod, a compact disk, an old vinyl record, or a cassette tape. But the song itself could not have been produced by unintelligent material processes, since it is not a material thing. Similarly, in regards to life, the unintelligent action of natural laws could possibly explain the material aspect of an organism, but not the informational aspect of the organism (the set of immaterial instructions codified in the genetic code). Indeed, it would be no more possible for natural laws to write a song than to produce instructions codified in the genetic code. In The Fifth Miracle, Davies makes this point:

                “The laws of physics, which determine what atoms react with what, and how, are algorithmically very simple; they themselves contain relatively little information. Consequently, they cannot on their own be responsible for creating informational macromolecules [such as even the most simple organism]. Contrary to the oft-repeated claim, then, life cannot be ‘written into’ the laws of physics. Once this essential point is grasped, the real problem of biogenesis [life emerging from unintelligent processes] is clear. Since the heady success of molecular biology, most investigators have sought the secret of life in the physics and chemistry of molecules. But they will look in vain for conventional physics and chemistry to explain life, for that is the classic case of confusing the medium with the message.”

                • [As a Christian, I am a deeply skeptical non-believer in atheist claims that life resulted from unintelligent natural laws.]

                  This ASSUMES life had a beginning. It ASSUMES the universe had a beginning. There is no evidence to support these assumptions as there is no evidence to support your imaginary friend. In fact your imaginary friend was indeed conceived as an imaginary character in a fictional man made story. It’s not a fallacy if it is true. Feel free to surrender now. You lose.

                  • As Janna Levin, from the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University put it:

                    “The universe had a beginning. There was once nothing and now there is something.”

                    Here is my scientific evidence that the universe has not existed forever, and that, therefore, the Big Bang was the beginning:

                    1) In 2003, physicists Borde, Vilenkin and Guth corroborated to formulate a mathematical proof that demonstrates that an eternal universe is not possible. It is known as the BVG theorem. Alexander Vilenkin is very blunt in regard to the implications of this proof:

                    “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”
                    (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176).

                    It should be noted that this proof applies to any proposed “multiverse” or “oscillating universe,” etc. in which our universe may be situated. Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow (the founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) echoes Vilenkin’s above comments:

                    “The lingering decline predicted by astronomers for the end of the world differs from the explosive conditions they have calculated for its birth, but the impact is the same: modern science denies an eternal existence to the Universe, either in the past or in the future.“

                    2) The universe is expanding, as demonstrated by the fact that the galaxies are constantly moving further apart from one another. This points to the undeniable fact that the universe began in a giant explosion.

                    3) The universe is constantly using usable energy and is therefore “winding down” like a clock. This points to a cosmic beginning when the universe was all “wound up.” Click on the post below to see what I mean:

                    http://study.com/academy/lesson/evidence-for-the-big-bang-theory-background-radiation-red-shift-and-expansion.html

                    4) The evidence from red shift and cosmic background radiation. Click on the below link to see what I mean:

                    http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/aqa_pre_2011/radiation/originsrev2.shtml

                    An excerpt:

                    Cosmic Microwave Background radiation

                    “Scientists discovered that there are microwaves coming from every direction in space. Big Bang theory says this is energy created at the beginning of the universe, just after the Big Bang, and that has been traveling through space ever since.”

                    “A satellite called COBE has mapped the background microwave radiation of the universe as we see it.”

                    And here is my evidence that life had a beginning:

                    Astrophysicist Hugh Ross writes:

                    “When it comes to the origin of life, many biologists (and others) have typically assumed that plenty of time is available for natural processes to perform the necessary assembly. But discoveries about the universe and the solar system have shattered that assumption. What we now see is that life must have originated on Earth quickly.”

                    “In early 1992 Christopher Chyba and Carl Sagan published a review paper on the origins of life. Origins is plural for a good reason. Research indicates that life began, was destroyed, and began again many times during that era before it finally took hold.”

                    “…From 3.8 to 3.5 billion years ago the bombardment [of earth by asteroids, comets, meteors, and dust] gradually decreased to its present comparatively low level. But during those 300 million years at least thirty life-exterminating impacts must have occurred. These findings have enormous significance to our theories about the origin of life. They show that life sprang up on Earth (and re-sprang) in what could be called geologic instants, periods of ten-million years or less (between devastating impacts).”

                    “From the perspective of our life span, a ten-million-year window may seem long, but it is impossibly short to those seeking to explain life’s origins without divine input.”

                    MIT physicist Gerald Schroeder makes the same point:

                    “…and then there is the uncontested reality that life started immediately on just-cooled earth and not after billions of years as had been once posited. Elso Barghoorn, while at Harvard University, discovered this fact that changed the entire emphasis in origin of life studies. Barghoorn discovered that the oldest rocks that can bear fossils already have fully formed fossils of one-celled life. And most amazingly, and yet by necessity, those first forms of life already had the ability to reproduce. Reproduction is not something that can gradually evolve. The first cell to survive had to have all the mechanisms for mitosis the first time around since all the attempts at life that came before (if there were other attempts) died without leaving any heritage simply because there was no succeeding generation prior to reproduction.” [italics added]

  7. [one can only doubt that life is the result of intelligent causes from the vantage point of BELIEF that life is the result of unintelligent causes. The more one doubts that life is the result of intelligent causes, the more one]

    You are ignoring the third option “Don’t know”. I don’t know where/how life originated. Assuming it had an origin. I have no belief about it either way. Neither do I have any desire to fabricate a belief about it as your religious cult did. I do know that your imaginary friend didn’t create life because your friend is imaginary. This is not something I believe, it is something I know. In fact it is so painfully obvious I am amazed that any of these religious cults even exist. If one looks to the source of your imaginary friend the truth will be found.

    • “I don’t know” can only be an option by either (1) remaining ignorant of the facts regarding life or (2) pretending to not know things which we do know.

      An excerpt from my essay The Case for God is Not a Case of the God of the Gaps is here pertinent:

      What is one of these positive reasons [for belief in God] which is based on knowledge rather than a lack of knowledge? A good place to start would be the fact that the genetic code, the language of life, conveys meaning through symbolic representation, in a very similar manner to human language. And meaning is something which can only exist in the mind of a conscious and intelligent agent.

      Atheism is grounded in the philosophy known as materialism, which suggests that all that exists is various arrangements of matter and energy. But if it were true that nothing exists except matter and energy, living things would be completely specified by their physical and chemical properties. Nowhere among such properties will you find a property known as meaning. Put another way, material things such as rocks, thunderstorms, or the chair you are sitting in cannot be about anything. Meaning is not a property of mindless matter and energy, and can only be assigned by a conscious and intelligent agent, period.

      Many of the principles of human language apply to DNA, the language of life.

      In the primary text on the application of algorithmic information theory to the question of the origin of life, titled Information Theory, Evolution, and The Origin of Life, physicist and information scientist Hubert Yockey explains how many of the principles of human language are also applicable to the genetic code, the language of life:

      “Information, transcription, translation, code, redundancy, synonymous, messenger, editing, and proofreading are all appropriate terms in biology. They take their meaning from information theory (Shannon, 1948) and are not synonyms, metaphors, or analogies.” [1]

      Symbolic representation is necessarily the product of a mind.

      Symbolic representation, such as the complex set of instructions symbolically communicated by the genetic code, requires a conscious and intelligent agent. Such is the case because the meaning which symbols convey is entirely arbitrary, and cannot be a property of the symbols themselves. For example, the letters C-A-T serve as a symbolic representation of a furry animal that purrs and meows only because the intelligent agents who created the English language arbitrarily assigned this meaning to this set of symbols. There is no physical or chemical relationship between these symbols and what they serve to represent, only a mental relationship.

      This is further illustrated by the fact that a set of symbols can have entirely different meanings in different languages. Yockey (in Information Theory, Evolution, and The Origin of Life) eloquently explains this crucial point:

      The messages conveyed by sequences of symbols sent through a communication system generally have meaning (otherwise, why are we sending them?). It often is overlooked that the meaning of a sequence of letters, if any, is arbitrary. It is determined by the natural language and is not a property of the letters or their arrangement. For example, the English word “hell” means “bright” in German, “fern” means “far,” “gift” means “poison,” “bald” means “soon,” “boot” means “boat,” and “singe” means “sing.” In French “pain” means “bread,” “ballot” means a “bundle,” “coin” means a “corner or a wedge,” “chair” means “flesh,” “cent” means “hundred,” “son” means “his,” “tire” means a “pull,” and “ton” means “your.”

      In French, the English word “main” means “hand,” “sale” means “dirty.” French-speaking visitors to English-speaking countries will be astonished at department stores having a “sale” and especially if it is the “main sale.” This confusion of meaning goes as far as sentences. For example, “0 singe fort” has no meaning in English, although each is an English word, yet in German it means “0 sing on,” and in French it means “0 strong monkey.” [2]

      The genetic code is a literally like a human language. This is no metaphor.

      At this point, one can almost hear atheists shouting, “Suggesting that the genetic code is a language is only a metaphor, or a figure of speech! It is not literally true!” But, an entire school of thought in biology called biosemiotics considers language to be a primary lens through which living things must be understood, as Perry Marshall points out in his book Evolution 2.0. Marshall elaborates on the scientific reasons why the genetic code is a language in the most literal, not metaphorical, sense:

      Rutgers University professor Sungchul Ji’s excellent paper The Linguistics of DNA: Words, Sentences, Grammar, Phonetics, and Semantics starts off, “Biologic systems and processes cannot be fully accounted for in terms of the principles and laws of physics and chemistry alone, but they require in addition the principles of semiotics— the science of symbols and signs, including linguistics.”

      Ji identifies 13 characteristics of human language. DNA shares 10 of them. Cells edit DNA. They also communicate with each other and literally speak a language he called “cellese,” described as “a self-organizing system of molecules, some of which encode, act as signs for, or trigger, gene-directed cell processes.”

      This comparison between cell language and human language is not a loosey-goosey analogy; it’s formal and literal. Human language and cell language both employ multilayered symbols. Dr. Ji explains this similarity in his paper: “Bacterial chemical conversations also include assignment of contextual meaning to words and sentences (semantic) and conduction of dialogue (pragmatic)— the fundamental aspects of linguistic communication.” This is true of genetic material. Signals between cells do this as well. [3]

      It is a case of the God of what we know, not the God of the gaps.

      The arrangement of symbols (such as letters) according to a language is not something that can be accomplished, even in principle, by unintelligent physical or chemical processes. Werner Gitt is a former Director and Professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Braunschweig) and former head of the Department of Information Technology. In his book Without Excuse, he discusses the substitutive function of what he terms “Universal Information “(UI), as it relates to the genetic code, the language of life:

      Universal Information is always an abstract representation of some other existing entity. Universal Information is never the item (object) or the fact (event, idea) itself but rather the coded symbols serve as a substitute for the entities that are being represented. Different languages often use different sets of symbols and usually different symbol sequences to represent the same material object or concept. Consider the following examples:

      -The words in a newspaper, consisting of a sequence of letters, substitute for an event that happened at an earlier time and in some other place,

      -The words in a novel, consisting of sequences of letters, substitute for characters and their actions,

      -The notes of a musical score substitute for music that will be played later on musical instruments,

      -The chemical formula for benzene substitutes for the toxic liquid that is kept in a flask in a chemistry laboratory,

      -The genetic codons (three-letter words) of the DNA molecule substitute for specific amino acids that are bonded together in a specific sequence to form a protein. [4]

      The substitutive function of the the symbols in a code or language is something that can only be set up by the activity of a conscious and intelligent mind because, again, what a set of symbols serve to substitute for is entirely arbitrary and cannot be a property of the symbols themselves. Symbolic representation is by necessity a mental process. As information scientist Henry Quastler put it, “The creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity.” Biologists with less rigid ideological commitments to atheism (or at least more intellectual integrity) have been frank enough to admit the necessity of mind (a conscious and intelligent agent) in the origin of life. The Nobel Prize-winning, Harvard University biologist George Wald, although certainly not an ideological ally of theism, admitted the following in his address to the Quantum Biology Symposium titled Life and Mind in the Universe:

      “It has occurred to me lately—I must confess with some shock at first to my scientific sensibilities—that both questions [the origin of mind and the origin of life from nonliving matter] might be brought into some degree of congruence. This is with the assumption that mind, rather than emerging as a late outgrowth in the evolution of life, has existed always as the matrix, the source and condition of physical reality—the stuff of which physical reality is composed is mind-stuff. It is mind that has composed a physical universe that breeds life and so eventually evolves creatures that know and create: science-, art-, and technology-making animals.”[5]

      The genetic code is a language (because it utilizes abstract, substitutive, symbolic representation) that is very similar to a computer language. Microsoft founder Bill Gates writes, “Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any we’ve ever created.” Natural processes do not create anything even vaguely resembling a computer program. Gitt makes this point clear in his book In the Beginning Was Information:


      …According to a frequently quoted statement by the American mathematician Norbert Wiener (1894-1964) information cannot be a physical entity: “Information is information, neither matter nor energy. Any materialism which disregards this will not survive one day.” Werner Strombach, a German information scientist of Dortmund, emphasizes the non-material nature of information by defining it as an “enfolding of order at the level of contemplative cognition.” Hans-Joachim Flechtner, a German cyberneticist, referred to the fact that information is of a mental nature, both because of its contents and because of the encoding process. This aspect is, however, frequently underrated:

      “When a message is composed, it involves the coding of its mental content, but the message itself is not concerned about whether the contents are important or unimportant, valuable, useful, or meaningless. Only the recipient can evaluate the message after decoding it.”

      It should now be clear that information, being a fundamental entity, cannot be a property of matter, and its origin cannot be explained in terms of material processes. We therefore formulate the following theorem. Theorem 1: The fundamental quantity of information is a non-material (mental) entity. It is not a property of matter, so that purely material processes are fundamentally precluded as sources of information. [6]

      Atheism relies on mindless material processes to explain life. But the insurmountable problem for atheism is that such mindless processes can never account for the fact that the genetic code is a language which utilizes arrangements of symbols with arbitrarily assigned meanings…just like a human language. Much as the chemistry of the ink and paper that constitute a newspaper cannot explain the arrangement of the letters in the words of a newspaper, the chemistry of a DNA molecule cannot explain the arrangement of letters in a DNA molecule. Michael Polanyi, a former Chairman of Physical Chemistry at the University of Manchester (UK), who was famous for his important theoretical contributions to physical chemistry, emphasizes this point:

      “As the arrangement of a printed page is extraneous to the chemistry of the printed page, so is the base sequence in a DNA molecule extraneous to the chemical forces at work in the DNA molecule. It is this physical indeterminacy of the sequence that produces the improbability of occurrence of any particular sequence and thereby enables it to have meaning–a meaning that has a mathematically determinate information content.” [7]

      —————–
      1. Hubert P. Yockey. Information Theory, Evolution, and The Origin of Life (Kindle Locations 128-129). Kindle Edition

      2. Hubert P. Yockey. Information Theory, Evolution, and The Origin of Life (Kindle Locations 137-138). Kindle Edition

      3. Marshall, Perry. Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design (p. 167). Kindle edition

      4. Gitt, Werner. Without Excuse, p. 73

      5. Wald, George. Life and Mind in the Universe. Source: International Journal of Quantum Chemistry, Volume 26, Issue Supplement 11, 16 APR 2008

      6. Gitt, Werner. In the Beginning Was Information (Kindle Locations 427-428). Kindle Edition

      7. Michael Polanyi, Life’s Irreducible Structure. Source: Science, Jun. 21, 1968, pp. 1308-1312

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