Dumb Luck or Design?

I just read in the news an interesting story. It seems that a tornado recently went through junk yard. As you can imagine there was a horrible amount of junk whirling around in the air. But here’s where the story really gets interesting. It seems that the tornado swirled that junk together just right because as the wind died down all those banana peals, cans, broken pieces of pottery, stuffing from old mattresses springs, car parts etc all swirled together into a fully functioning 747 jumbo jet airliner with a filled fuel tank and fully equipped cockpit. There was even a logo emblazoned on the tail fin: “Tall Tales Airlines.”

“Ah,” you say, ” The story’s touching but it sounds like a lie!” And sure enough it is a tall tale. But how different is it really from what some atheists, and also certain evolutionists want us to believe about creation? I say some evolutionists because there are some forms of evolution that a Catholic may accept. For example a mitigated form of evolution that holds that things have evolved but God has guided the process. But what most atheists and evolutionists want you to believe is that evolution, in fact everything that happened after the big bang is a chance happening. that evolution is blind, nothing guides it. It just happened by accident, a chance coming together of certain forces and processes that has produced everything we see including ourselves. Again, they insist that the process is blind, it is guided by no outside intelligence. It all just happened on its own. Now if you believe that, then I have a 747 to sell you.

Now this world, even our own bodies are far more complex than a 747 Jumbo liner. And just as a mindless tornado can’t likely whip out a fully functioning 747  neither would a mindless explosion produce a fully functioning and orderly universe or even a fully functioning human person. The existence of these orderly and complex systems surely bespeaks an intelligent designer. If you landed on a planet in some distant galaxy and found in the sand a functioning watch it is not “unscientific” to conclude that some one with intelligence designed and made this for a purpose. You may not see any life on the planet now, but at some point there was intelligent life either living here or that visited here. But the point is that you would be on good scientific grounds to conclude that the watch pointed to an intelligent designer. Now I know that Science can’t formally call this designer “God.” We who believe do that. But science is on reasonable ground within its own discipline to conclude that an intelligence, a designer is indicated by the evidence. The stubborn refusal by many to do this seems more ideological than scientific. And they hold it with the kind of “religious” zeal they claim to be above. They call us the fanatics but I wonder who really is more fanatical.  Who really is ignoring the evidence here?  To a large extent I think that it takes more “faith” to “believe” that all this happened by chance or due to blind evolution than simply to believe that an intelligent designer set all this forth.

I’d like to give two examples from creation to illustrate just how intricate and multi-layered creation is and then pose the ask the question “Dumb Luck or Design?”

MAGNIFICENCE OF LIFE– Consider the awesomeness of the human body. Its chemistry is just as extraordinarily well tuned as is the physics of the cosmos. Our world on both sides of the divide that separates life from lifelessness is filled with wonder. Each human cell has a double helix library of three billion base pairs providing fifty thousand genes. These three billion base pairs and fifty thousand genes somehow engineer 100 trillion neural connections in the brain—-enough points of information to store all the data and information contained in a fifty-million-volume encyclopedia. And then after that, these fifty thousand genes set forth a million fibers in the optic nerves, retinae having ten million pixels per centimeter, some ten billion in all, ten thousand taste buds, ten million nerve endings for smell, cells that exude a chemical come-on to lure an embryo’s lengthening neurons from spinal cord to target cell, each one of the millions of target cells attracting the proper nerve from the particular needed function. And all this three-dimensional structure arises somehow from the linear, one-dimensional information contained along the DNA helix. Dumb Luck or Design?

RARE EARTH ! The earth on which we live and which, by God’s grace sustains our life is surely miraculous. Consider the following facts. The life support system we call the solar system has just the correct distribution of large and medium sized planets to have swept clean most of the space through which Earth must travel. There are thus few asteroids anywhere near our path! Further, large gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn, “catch” comets in their gravitational fields and keep these comets from targeting earth. Our star, the Sun, is just the right size to consume its supply of hydrogen and produce energy at a rate that provided the time and conditions for life to form. Our orbit through space, at 93 million miles from the Sun, departs from a true circle by only 3 percent. Were it as elliptical as is the orbit of Mars, the next planet out, we would alternate between baking when closer to the Sun and freezing when distant. Earth contains just enough internal radioactivity to maintain its iron core in a molten state. This produces the magnetic umbrella that deflects an otherwise lethal dose of solar radiation. The volcanic activity driven by this internal heating is just adequate to have released previously stored subterranean waters into our biosphere, making them available for life processes, but not so much volcanism as to shroud our planet in dust. Earth’s gravity is strong enough to hold the needed gases of our atmosphere but weak enough to allow lighter noxious gases to escape into space. All this is balanced at just the correct distance from our star so that our biosphere is warm enough to maintain water in its liquid, life-supporting, state, but not so warm that it evaporates away into space. A just-right Earth with just the needed gravity, radioactivity, magnetic field, and volcanic activity to support life is located at just the correct distance from the Sun to nurture the inception and development of life…all the ingredients come together in just the way. Dumb Luck or Design?

18 Replies to “Dumb Luck or Design?”

  1. Which atheists are saying that evolution is just random? If you’d check out people like Richard Dawkins (particularly his book “The Blind Watchmaker”), they frequently show that evolution DOESN’T function the way this tornado analogy describes. Fred Hoyle, the guy who came up with this tornado argument, did not understand how evolution works. Citing Hoyle as an authority on biology makes as much sense as citing Martin Luther or Jack Chick as authorities on Catholicism.

    Hoyle’s Fallacy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoyle's_fallacy
    Problems with “It’s so improbable” calculations: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html
    What “chance” means in science: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/chance/chance-theistic.html ;

    Basing theology on a poor understanding of science and making strawmen of what atheists believe is not going to win over anyone from the opposition. Learn what the other side ACTUALLY thinks because spreading misconceptions will only cause more frustration. I hope this comment helps.

    For those who don’t have the time to read all the links above, at least read this one, “Why Intellectuals don’t take Religious Believers Seriously.” This article was written by a fellow believer, not an atheist: http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUDOSC/WhyIntNoRB.HTM

    1. Yes, I guess the “strawman” concern also comes from the other side. Folks like Richard Dawkins et al. lump believer into “simplistic” categories. I would prefer if you might respond to my point, youself rather than to refer me to lots of sites. I checked out a few of the sites to which you refer and most of them seem to be talking in a needlessly opaque style that comes across as either haughty or gibberish. For example one of the sites is entitled: “Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics,and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations.” I guess I would prefer if you might work with what I have set forth here in your way. I will admit that my post could not cover all things in this debate. I was already too long. What a blog post is meant to do is to spur discussion not to be the be all and end all article. That the “tornado” image or the Watchmaker image persist may indicate to your side that you have not adeqautely answered your critcs not simply that we are less intelligent or are setting up straw men, no?

      1. I remember siting in on a protestant prayer meeting and even they acknowledged that the common understanding is that Creationism and Evolutionism are two extremes. Who’s to say that there isn’t truth in both of them? Some middle ground?

        To say that the universe came to be by chance or is a series of actions and reactions logically extends to you and me since we are part of this universe. But that means that I am a reaction or that I am bound to my human nature, to hate, the be jealous, to have greed and even to stop functioning…in short I am no more than the sum of my physical parts. Yet, who really believes that? And if I considered someone else that way, we’ll that is just insulting.

        I know that before I was conceived I didn’t exist, and I dare say I don’t know how I continue to exist save a power beyond my own. I am more than my cells and hormones, because I love and I know, who can say that about a plant or a dog? And therefore who can say that there isn’t Someone Greater than me who made and holds all things in existence and order?

  2. Good luck finding out what “the other side” means. There area as many scientific explanations as there are Protestants, all with slightly different tweaks. The simplest and best argument I have seen that gives lie to random generation of life is this: DNA is really nothing more than information sent from one generation to another. Can you provide even a single example of information–other than genetic information, which is the point–that does NOT have a collator and creator of that information? All information has an intelligent source. DNA is information, in fact, very arcane and detailed information. Difficult to believe it is truly random. I am reminded that what appears random to the eye may simply be something we have not yet found the pattern for. Folks like Dawkins would have us believe–on faith in science and on the assertion of his authority that it is so–that there is nothing to find. As a scientist, I find that rather…un-scientific.

  3. Your Excellency,

    “I just read in the news an interesting story. It seems that a tornado recently went through junk yard. As you can imagine there was a horrible amount of junk whirling around in the air. But here’s where the story really gets interesting. It seems that the tornado swirled that junk together just right because as the wind died down all those banana peals, cans, broken pieces of pottery, stuffing from old mattresses springs, car parts etc all swirled together into a fully functioning 747 jumbo jet airliner with a filled fuel tank and fully equipped cockpit. There was even a logo emblazoned on the tail fin: ‘Tall Tales Airlines.'”

    Don’t use lies to teach the truth, for if you do you have already lost your audience and your credibility. And if you are using an analogy, than make sure to say so, lest anyone believe you are luring people in with a lie.

    “But how different is it really from what some atheists, and also certain evolutionists want us to believe about creation? I say some evolutionists because there are some forms of evolution that a Catholic may accept. For example a mitigated form of evolution that holds that things have evolved but God has guided the process.”

    Science teaches that evolution is the calculated adaptation of organisms over time. The Catholic Church teaches that God is the Creator of all good things and all love. Since what science teaches is not contrary to religion, all Catholics are free to believe in evolution. If science taught a heresy, no Catholic would be free to believe it. Indeed, heresy is the denial of a saving truth, and one cannot both believe and deny all at once.

    “I’d like to give two examples from creation to illustrate just how intricate and multi-layered creation is and then pose the ask the question ‘Dumb Luck or Design?'”

    What is interesting about the atheistic thought is that God is not in the picture. It is simply a thought about the world. This thought is as extreme as the theistic thought in that the theistic cannot picture a world without God. Now obviously both thoughts are reaching for the truth, the one stopping at nature and the other ascending to the supernatural, yet neither thought is equal. The theistic has religion to complete the data of reason, while the atheist has only incomplete data. This isn’t because the atheist is dumber than the theistic but because of the goodness of Creation, which, created by its Creator, bears a resemblance to Him in its perfections and in its very design. (I am not advocating for intelligent design) No one can deny the fact that the Universe is so complex, and yet so simple, that to simply attempt to think about it, to put all the facts together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, would not only boggle the mind but make many a man go insane. Indeed, our intelligence is great, amazing great, yet we are unable to think of the Universe. Some would say there are extraterrestrials with greater intelligence in the world, but I refuse to believe that because the belief in aliens is not grounded in science but in lies – for example, the first person who swore to have seen an UFO admitted that it was a lie all along, the first people to have a crop circle admitted that it was they themselves who created the crop circle, and the first person who swore to have been abducted by aliens changes her story and gives contradictory details every year. So, putting aside aliens, human intelligence is the greatest intelligence in the Universe – yet man cannot think of the Universe. So than, what created creation? It had to be something greater than the laws and creatures of the Universe, indeed, than the Universe itself, and because we in this continuum have such values as love and glory and such good things as thought and imagination, than it follows that what we have must be had in a greater way by that which created all things, because there is no good that comes out of nothingness on its own: that is what science teaches, albeit I am putting a philosophical wording to it. So if we piece together all the evidence for the Creator, however daunting that task might be, we get a picture of who He is: a good Creator, an omnipotent Creator, and an infinite Creator. But like I said, faith is needed to complete the data of reason. Faith teaches that the Creator is Love, Holiness, Justice – in a word, Goodness. But is Christianity the true faith? That is where the journey which many atheists dare not go on begins: the tiring journey through philosophy, history, archeology, scriptures, traditions, etc. And if we look at everything truthfully and honestly, we see that God came to man first through Israel, and than, because He in Jesus was rejected, He now comes to us through the Catholic Church, which is the New Israel.

  4. Oh, GuineaPigDan

    It’s true that evolution doeas not occur as easy as the “747 out of a tornado” example, yet is does happen by stochastic means: mutations are one of them and they are a basic necessity for evolution.
    Certainly it depends not only on mutations, but on environment, selection, etc… but there is always a stochastic factor involved in it, no matter hou you turn it around.

    Dawkins makes sometimes some valid points, but his reasoning, especially outside biology itself, is far from being without error. Do not get me wrong, I think he’s a great biologist, but sometimes he steps outside his field of competence.

    Anyway it’s not my purpose here to advocate creationism, since I am not at all an advocate for creationism.

    I believe that the theory of evolution is a valid theory, since it has many proofs in its favor and I think it can be easily reconciled with religious beliefs. The Catholic Church does not bash evolution. It only says that evolution explains part of the picture, the material, physical side of it.

    Perhaps you never heard of Pius XII’s ‘Humani Generis’, written in the 50’s when evolution was not backed up by genetic research as it is since the 70’s. Pius XII asserts that evolution is NOT in contrast with the Catholic faith.

    It’s funny Dan you cite things like “Why Intellectuals don’t take Religious Believers Seriously.”

    Many non-believers believe themselves in myths and not reality about religion (Dawkins himself has shown sometimes this flaw), getting their facts mixed up or having ideas of religion and theology that are far away from reality.
    For example some assume that all believers reject evolution, while it is clearly not so.

    Maybe you should have read the link “Why Religious Believers Don’t Take Intellectuals Seriously” as we;’;)

    The greatest irony of all is that religious fanatics and atheist fanatics suffer from the VERY SAME fallacies!

    Thank God not all people, religious or non-religious, are like that.

    Dawkins himself, in a recent debate, stated that “The idea of Deism is not irrational”
    Sure, Dawkins remains a strongly convinced atheist, but I am glad he’s not too fanatic (anymore) in his atheism as others are in the ‘new atheist wave’.


  5. Touche. Notice how the Monsignor attacked the problem, not the person, unlike ‘GuineaPig Dan’ in his approach. Couldn’t the opposition take a note from this and learn what is MORE IMPORTANT than science.

  6. Excellent analogy, however anyone who has seen “Expelled” knows that doctinaire Darwinists won’t allow logic to shatter their aetheisitic belief system. They fashion elaborate schemes to cover for a 150 year old antiquated theory that even Darwin was ready to jettison at the end of his life.
    My favorite crazy Darwinist in “Expelled” to explain the evolution of man without God, said, “Aliens came to earth and planted ‘human seeds'”.
    So much for clinically proved theories!

  7. Question: What does an atheist say when he falls down a flight of stairs? Answer: “Thank God I didn’t break any bones!”

  8. I find fault with GuineaPigDan’s use of Martin Luther as an analogy of ignorance. Luther was quite well-versed in the doctrine of the 16th-century church and was a well-respected professor before he was dismissed as a crackpot for questioning the abuses surrounding the sale of indulgences, excommunicated and sentenced to death rather than given a fair and respectful hearing.

    Two reforms of Vatican II that permitted parishioners to participate more actively in the Mass – using the local language, and offering Communion in both kinds to the laity – were changes that Luther advocated more than four centuries earlier. I doubt most of those who make snarky comments about Luther have actually read anything he wrote, nor could they concede that Luther was right on some issues.

  9. Raised as good Italian-American in a loving home with attentive parents and by a large extended family in a new middle-class community, and thus doing my duty to help out at church whenever I could, I lost my way in this Church when I asked a simple question about the “mysteries”. Now, some 50 years later I have again found the path to understanding. While Chruch doctrine demands creationism, and evangenical dogma demands intelligent design, and the scientific process demands evolution, we, the eventual offspring of those who came from space and made us in their image demand a new doctrine called Interventionism. The Church understands this, the evangelicals resist it, and the scientists await the final proof but understand the math. Even They, the interventional race who made the Adama knew of the oneness of it all. So, to the Church members not involved in the day-to-day inside game at the Vatican wake up to what the Pope and his science advisors say…the possibility of “others” is too be accepted as just another manifestation of what is.

  10. As guineapig dan alludes, Msgr. Pope’s argument suffers from a major fallacy, that of a false analogy. The Theory of Evolution does not hold that a complete human body was assembled de novo from bits and pieces

  11. I never intended my post to go into whether or not God guided evolution, and I never said what my religious beliefs are either, so stop calling me an atheist. The Church’s beliefs on evolution and God (or my own, for that matter) wasn’t what I was concerned about. I am aware of Pope Pious XII’s statements on evolution in the 50’s, and how he felt it doesn’t conflict with Catholic teaching as long as it included God and that humanity had its origin in two parents that fell from grace. I’m also aware that Pope John Paul II reiterated those points in “Truth Can Not Contradict Truth.” And I have read Steven Dutch’s article on why religious believers don’t take intellectuals seriously many times already. Do you really believe I wouldn’t notice that both pages have bolded words at the beginning that he wrote articles for both sides? I’ll deal with that individual at the more at the end of this post.

    Anyway, what upset me was that a false analogy was made. I never meant this as a personal attack on Msgr. Pope, though I probably did come off as too confrontational. Msgr, if I did insult you in some way, I’m sorry. I just meant to say that most atheists that are informed about evolution do not think of it as just being a random processes. Just because I defend them on this one point does not mean I agree with them on everything else about materialism or other philosophies and ideas they entertain.

    I will concede that I screwed up on my analogy about Luther and Chick as authorities on Catholicism, since I jumped from Hoyle, an authority who was ignorant, to authorities that are prone to exaggeration. Would you trust the man who started the Reformation and a creepy cartoonist that writes tracts like “The Death Cookie” to be impartial about Catholicism? Unless you’re a radical Protestant, no. These two individuals have records of being dishonest or exaggerating about Catholicism that disqualify them from being reliable authorities on that topic. Hoyle was an astronomer, not a biologist, and he demonstrated poor knowledge of the topic of evolution, so he should be excluded as an authority on that topic as well. That was the analogy I was trying to make, but it didn’t come across straight.

    As for Dawkins, the film Expelled misrepresented him. He was just bringing up aliens as a POSSIBLE explanation, not the real one. Reading Dawkins books shows that he does not really believe that aliens created life. Check out http://www.expelledexposed.com and discover how dishonest the film makers were. And which “recent debate” did Dawkins say that one could make a reasonable case for deism? Who was he debating? What was the debate about? Where did you hear about this debate? Well, you don’t have to bother because I found the debate in question. Far from recent, it was held a year ago on October 21st, 2008, entitled “Has Science Buried God?” It was between Dawkins and John Lennox, and in the debate, Dawkins does indeed say that at one point that a reasonable case can be made for a deistic god, but people seem to forget the second part of the quote. “One could make a reasonable and respectable case for that. NOT A CASE I WOULD ACCEPT, but a serious discussion I think we could have.” And here’s a clip on You Tube from a preview of the DVD this debate appears on.


    Skip to 3:07 and watch until 5:50. The deism quote is around 3:40. I’ll take a guess that you might have heard about this debate from a friend of a friend probably. Or maybe you were relying on Melaine Phillips’ commentary on the debate that appeared in The Spectator on October 23rd, 2008, entitled “Is Richard Dawkins still evolving?” And what a coincidence; when Phillips quotes Dawkins, she neglects the second part of Dawkin’s quote. The video links to her article in the description box, but I’ll link directly to it here also.


    To whoever it was that said that I need to reread Steve Dutch, think again. YOU’RE the one who needs to reread him, especially the parts on incompetence and outright lies. I don’t remember Jesus ever saying that you can bear false witness if it’s done in his name.

    1. Thanks for your reply. I am not calling you an atheist and a quick scan of the other remarks didn’t yield anyone else doing that. However, you may be able to correct my rather hurried re-read of the remarks. Neither did I experience your well-writtn reply to me as personal in any sense. I did ask if you might reply in your own words rather than with lots of post to elsewhere. I guess the heart of my question comes in your second paragraph wherein you state that most atheists do not think of eveolution as just being a random processes. I might be curious what they think does guide the process. Is it an intelligence, is it some sort of internal code, and if so where did that code come from? The usual conclusion when we observe order and purposeful direction is to assume an intelligent director at some level set that purpose and order in place. So I gues the question is, if it is not random or mindless and it is not intelligent design, then what is it and what would an atheist call it? As for science, why is it “unscientific” to many in the scienntific world to observe design and purpose and then conclude to the likelihood of a designer. Science may be able to say little of that designer but it does not seem to be unscientific to conclude a designer from the evident existence of order and design. That’s really the heart of my point. When I get a chance I’ll check the links you have included.

  12. I realize this is an older post but I have just discovered it. I just wanted to point out that about Hoyle’s alleged fallacy. Someone linked to the page about this apparent fallacy on Wikipedia. No where have I found, Wikipedia or otherwise, an explanation as to why Hoyle’s fallacy is a fallacy. It’s simply assumed it’s a fallacy. I believe the person who first labeled it as a fallacy is Dawkins; while he may be knowledgeable about the process of evolution, he is not without his anti-God, anti-religion agenda. Those at TalkOrigins are not impartial observers either. Hoyle, on the other hand, came to the realization that there must be a creator while he was an atheist. While creationists may not be objective in using Hoyle’s analogy,neither are those whom rally against it. Perhaps Hoyle, allowing himself to follow the evidence, discovered something those who automatically discard a creator, and that discovery is evidence of a creator.

  13. I adore B. Walters. How would life be without her! I pray that she is going to be better and better!

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