Monthly Archives: March 2022

The Biological Case for God

In 2014, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece by Eric Metaxas, titled “Science Increasingly Points to God.” It received almost 400,000 “likes” on Facebook. Others challenged Metaxas’s arguments that Earth is special, and that the universe is fine-tuned for life. But those disturbed by a scientific challenge to atheism face a greater problem. New discoveries in biology, mostly in the last decade, make an even stronger case for the existence of God.

These new discoveries contradict Darwin’s theory of unguided evolution, that you can explain the origin of every species, and all of the wondrous systems and abilities of those species, by random mutations and the gradual process of natural selection. To be sure, many Darwinists are prepared to fight to the death, and they have circled the wagons, both by proclaiming ever louder that “all the evidence” supports their theory, and by attacking colleagues who dissent. But the cracks are beginning to show. Noted atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel subtitled his 2012 book “Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False.”

“Orphan genes” may be the most stunning contradiction. A gene is a section of DNA coding that life uses to build a functional protein, a biological machine part. Orphan genes, and their associated proteins, have no recognizable ancestors. They have now been found in every species on Earth. They typically make up 10-20% of a genome, and play a key role in making that species unique, such as creating toxins in jellyfish or preventing freezing in polar cod. Leaf-cutter ants have 9,361 unique proteins; next to human beings they create the largest and most complex societies.

You don’t need a PhD in mathematics or biology to realize that coding is information, and that you can’t get information by chance. Put together 100 English letters/spaces/punctuation selected at random, and ask what the odds are that you will get anything meaningful. Sure, there are billions times billions of possible coherent sequences, but the probability of getting a meaningful sequence by chance is less than one in a number with 100 zeros. You have a better chance of picking a marked marble out of a pile as big as the known universe.

The same reasoning applies to biology. DNA coding is processed by biological 3D printers that read the code three “letters” at a time, and use that information to select, snap together, and fold specified sequences of amino acids to build proteins, the machine parts of life. There are about 500 different types of amino acids, but all life uses an alphabet of the same 20 amino acids to build proteins. Functional proteins are astonishingly rare. If you randomly link together 150 of the amino acids of life, the odds that they will form a functional protein of any type are about 1 in a number with 74 zeros. You have a better chance of reaching into a pile of marbles as big as our galaxy and picking out that marked marble.

You might think that, over “billions and billions” of years, those odds could be overcome. But the math doesn’t work. The number of living organisms that have ever existed has about 40 digits. Even with that many tries your odds of picking that marked marble are about one in a number with 34 (74 minus 40) zeros, about the probability of reaching into a pile of marbles as big as the Sun and picking out the right one. Mutations at random can’t realistically “find” a new functional protein. And this greatly oversimplifies the problem; you need multiple proteins working together exactly right to create new technology.

If I had to give a single date for the death of Darwinian theory I would pick September 6, 2012. On that date newspapers around the world reported that most “and likely all” of human DNA serves a purpose. This was announced by the ENCODE project, a world-wide coalition of 440 top scientists. Three months later ENCODE reported human DNA contains more than one layer of information. Yes, we have 3.2 billion letters of coding with two layers of information. Despite attacks by Darwinists, the ENCODE scientists have stood their ground.

These findings contradict Darwin’s theory. There is no way that fully functional, or almost fully functional, DNA with two layers of information could have been created by chance. Darwinists try to argue that excess DNA makes an organism less likely to survive and reproduce, and so by the magical “power” of natural selection we end up with an efficient code. Sorry, but there is no evidence for that, and there are many organisms with dozens of times as much DNA as a human being. And even that fantasy can’t explain two layers of information.

Here’s a third new realization. Contrary to what you may have read, there is no mildly plausible non-theistic explanation for the origin of life. In 2006 Harvard launched an “Origins of Life Initiative,” but the consensus of their 2009 conference was “we just don’t know.” The problem is that, as we learn more about life and how it works, the complexity is too much to say it just arose by chance. We now know all life works off the same digital operating system. Digital technology has transformed our world – smartphones, computers, and more. Life began with digital technology. Today we have printers that build 3-dimensional objects. Life began with 3D printers. And here’s the clincher – life began with the exact correct digital code so that those 3D printers could build copies of themselves and all of the other machinery of life. This cannot be explained by chance, the resources of a trillion trillion universes would be laughingly inadequate.

The way it all works is highly optimized, such as in the chemical structure of DNA and in the selection of the particular 20 amino acids used to build proteins. This operating system was there at the beginning, it didn’t “evolve,” and there is no known way one operating system can transform into another. You can kick your windows PC all you want; it won’t turn into an iMac.

We have found information in orphan genes, human DNA, and the origin of life. We know, from all of science and all of human history, that only intelligence can create information. The new evidence points to – actually, demands the existence of – a transcendent intelligence, an intelligence that has created every species on Earth. Chance, you say? Get real.

Thanks for reading,
Doug Ell

Outside the Fishbowl

This January I went to a Sunday service at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York City. The French Gothic design is incredible. The huge stone carving behind the High Altar, called the “Great Reredos,” must have taken lifetimes to carve. This link will give you a 360-degree virtual tour of the church: I was told Saint Thomas is one of only two churches in the world to have a boys’ choir composed of students at the Church’s school, and the other is Westminster Cathedral.

More than the building and music, I was struck by the sermon. The priest spoke about a “lack of theological imagination.” It struck me that he hit upon one of the key reasons why we, as a society, resist God. We are not able to imagine existence outside our fishbowl.

Imagine you are a fish in a fishbowl, and you wonder what it’s like outside your fishbowl. You probably can see out, and although images are blurred, and there is a huge difference between air and water, you sense there are creatures out there who move around like you do. Now imagine a heavy blanket over your fishbowl that blocks all light. Now you don’t know what’s out there. You do realize that periodically food is being added, so you acknowledge an existence of some type out there, although you are literally in the dark. But you would most likely assume it is some sort of creature composed of the same stuff as you – cells and DNA and a circulation system and so on.

For us, the fishbowl is our universe. We cannot see outside our fishbowl. We do know, if we’re honest about it – which admittedly most people are not – that both our universe (fishbowl) and all life were designed. We know this because chance is a pathetically inadequate explanation for the amazingly perfect design of the laws and constants of physics, and the beyond understanding complexity of life (think of the human brain). Let’s call this mind outside our universe “God.” We then ask, what does science tell us about God? Let’s put aside history and the Bible for now. Based solely on science, what can we know about God?

The answer is, not much. We know this mind out there, this God, is immensely powerful and intelligent. A being capable of creating our four-dimensional space-time universe is vastly different from the human minds we encounter in our fishbowl.

If you think along these lines, it becomes easier to see through the so-called “scientific” obstacles our culture throws up against the existence of God. Let’s start with the question “who created God”? Creation is a concept that exists in our fishbowl, where one event precedes in time another event and causes the second event to happen. But the question “who created God” incorrectly assumes that the concept of causation in time applies outside our fishbowl. Remember, God created time (and space), and created our fishbowl. God is outside of time. To ask a question that assumes our concept of time and our concept of causation apply outside of our fishbowl shows a lack of theological imagination.

Another typical, although often unspoken, barrier for many is that they literally cannot imagine a mind powerful enough to do all this – to create our universe and design all life. Again, this shows a lack of theological imagination. Just because the minds we encounter in our fishbowl – minds made up of atoms that exist in time – can’t do these things is no reason to suggest that the mind outside our fishbowl can’t do them. We cannot transfer the restrictions we see in our fishbowl to a mind outside our fishbowl. I think God has absolute control over every quantum phase state in our universe (see Chapter 14 of Counting To God). A being with that attribute could (and in my view has) done things – performed “miracles” – beyond our comprehension (like the resurrection of Jesus, which is by far the best documented event of the ancient world). How can that be? I don’t know, but to say that God can’t perform miracles shows an obvious lack of theological imagination, an incorrect assumption that what we see in our fishbowl applies outside our fishbowl.

One analogy that occurs to me is that the relationship between God and us could be similar in some ways to the relationship between us and a virtual character in a gaming program. We can create such characters and give them characteristics, but these characters, no matter how intelligent we might make them (think of powerful artificial intelligence, powerful AI), cannot appreciate us and our universe except to the extent we create them in our image – just as the Bible tells us we are created in the image of God. Yes we could give our AI characters some capacity to appreciate music and colors, but they can never experience the music and colors in our world. I use this analogy because many people who have had near death experiences, who have had a glimpse of what lies outside our fishbowl, will tell you that the colors and music outside our fishbowl are far superior and far more wonderful than what we experience.

If we make these AI characters smart enough, and give them enough ways to gain information (like our human senses) to learn about their world, they might be able to detect that we exist based on characteristics of their virtual world. But other than that, all they can know about us is what we tell them. In history, and in the Bible, God has taught us a great deal about the nature of God and how we are supposed to live our lives. The Bible is like an operating manual for life. To the extent you can follow it, your life is likely to be easier and less stressful.

Many reject the Trinity, the Christian three-in-one God, because they cannot imagine that kind of being. This betrays a lack of theological imagination, the false assumption that just because something doesn’t exist in our fishbowl it can’t exist outside the fishbowl. Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that God has built into different kinds of animals the capacity to adapt, to “evolve,” into different species, many (most?) hang on desperately to a Darwinian fable of the “magic” and “power” of natural selection. This inability to conceive of a being powerful enough to build this fantastic technology into all life again reveals a lack of theological imagination.

God is outside our universe, outside our fishbowl, not limited by human concepts of intelligence and power. If we are honest, we know from science that God exists. Let us expand our minds and our theological imaginations to appreciate the wonder of God.

Thanks for reading,

Doug Ell