Last week I introduced the topic Is There Evidence for God? with this 3-minute YouTube video clip from a Creation vs. Evolution debate at Portland State University. A sixth-grade atheist asked for evidence that God exists, but the answer was neither clear nor compelling.
How would I answer the student’s question in the video? What would I say if asked, “What is your evidence for God?” or “How do you know God exists?”
The best approach with children (and maybe even with adults) uses concrete examples and stories to grab attention and engage interest. Use questions to stimulate thinking and engage the listener’s rational mind. In this case, I would have used a contemporary variant of the “Watch requires a Watchmaker” example of Robert Boyle and William Paley as outlined below.
If I were asked these questions, I would give this 2-point response, and illustrate each point with examples or stories:
1. Argument from Design
2. Argument from Personal Experience
Argument from Design
The idea of the Argument from Design is that complex designs require a Designer to produce them. The kind of information the designs contain can only come from an intelligent Agent. Design arguments for the existence of God are sound and convincing. They are the best arguments to use with a rational, open-minded person.
I would ask the student questions like these to build the Argument from Design for him:
– Do you have a cell phone or an iPod?
– Did your device assemble itself?
– Did the device come together by chance as compounds washed up on the seashore or washed down from the hills?
– Was there an inventor, designer, or manufacturer for the device?
– What makes you think the device had a designer?
Even living cells, the tiny building blocks of plants and animals, are far more complex than any of man’s devices. Man cannot build a single living cell. After decades of intensive research, man still does not fully understand the cell’s structure and processes! Is it reasonable to think that such a complex organism had no designer?
I would continue with the student by asking him these questions:
– Have you ever seen a snowman?
– Do you think the snowman evolved as a random accumulation of snowflakes, or do you think it had a designer?
– Why do you think real humans, who are far more complex than snowmen, evolved?
– Have you seen Mount Rushmore or pictures of it?
– If someone claimed that natural forces of erosion, wind, and rain shaped the rocky mountainside to resemble presidential faces, would you believe it?
– You recognize intelligent, purposeful design when you see it on Rushmore. But those stone faces memorialize real men who are far more complex. How can you believe the humans developed by chance, when the stone faces obviously required a sculptor? How can you think the incredibly complex men did not require a Creator, but the stone faces did?
I would argue that the many examples of complex design we see in nature are strong evidence for a Creator. Just as human constructions shout “Designer!” so also the marvels of nature shout the glory of their Designer. The argument is that “design implies a designer.”
In all of human experience, complex information-loaded designs never happen by accident. Therefore it is more reasonable to conclude that there is a Creator for the universe than to conclude that no Creator exists.
Some ask why an all-powerful Creator would produce “imperfect” designs. They argue that examples in nature of presumed “bad design” or suboptimal design prove no designer exists.
This argument is flawed. Even “imperfect” designs do not mean “No Creator.” Many human constructions have errors and mistakes, but we recognize they were designed nevertheless.
Additionally, designs do not need to be maximal. They only need to be functional according to the designer’s purpose for the organism. Nature has many examples of eyes, each designed for the owner’s needs. Just because the human eye does not see as far as an eagle’s eye, that does not mean it was not designed.
How utterly presumptuous of humans to conclude any design is faulty! None of the designs in nature are fully understood, so it’s presumptuous to conclude a design is faulty. Mitigating factors may have influenced the design, factors as yet unknown. Also, it is almost certain that the original design has degenerated since the Fall.
Some evolutionists say that if a designer exists, then designs should exhibit simplicity instead of complexity. This is ludicrous! — Is life is too complex for it to have been designed?
All admit that the universe exhibits profound complexity at all levels. While some say complex designs are not evidence of a designer because they are not simple enough, others say “imperfect” designs are not evidence of a designer because they are not advanced enough. These are not good arguments. They are not logic-driven arguments; they are worldview-driven, necessitated by a philosophical agenda.
The “imperfect design” argument does not disprove a designer. The very use of the word design to name the argument is an admission of design and therefore of a designer. (See the article Claims of Bad Design for refutations of standard specific examples of claimed “imperfect design.”)
This Argument from Design is an argument that a 6th-grader such as the student in the video above could understand. He might even find it of such compelling interest that he would think about it in the days, months, and years to come. Later posts in this Evidence for God series will explain why I think the Argument from Design is the best argument for the existence of God.
For the second point of my answer, the Argument from Personal Experience, see next week’s sequel, 3. Evidence for God – Experience.
Questions to Ponder
- Do you think the Argument from Design is persuasive evidence (but not proof) for the existence of God? Why or why not?
- If you don’t believe God exists, how do you answer the Argument from Design?
- How do you explain designs that seem imperfect? Could you or anyone you know have done better?
Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.
Soli Deo Gloria.
This is the second post in the Evidence for God series that discusses the question,
“Is There Evidence for God?”
Read the prequel:
1. Evidence for God – Can You Answer a 6th-Grader?
Read the sequel:
3. Evidence for God – Experience
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Wednesday June 26, 2013 A.D.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:18-23)