Seeing the Architect Behind the House

C.S. Lewis, possibly the best of the popular apologists to ever grace the planet, made the point that it is not possible to directly discover God through science. In Mere Christianity he uses an illustration of a house and an architect to demonstrate the limits of science.

We want to know whether the universe simply happens to be what it is for no reason or whether there is a power behind it that makes it what it is. Since that power, if it exists, would be not one of the observed facts but a reality which makes them, no mere observation of the facts can find it. * * * If there was a controlling power outside the universe, it could not show itself to us as one of the facts of the universe – no more than the architect of a house could be a wall or a staircase or fireplace in that house.

While Lewis used this illustration to point out that it is within ourselves that we find evidence for God (using the moral argument for God’s existence), it is equally applicable in the area of whether science is the be-all, end-all of knowledge in the area of origins. Using the analogy of the architect and the building, it is most certainly true that (unless you ascribe to some form of pantheism or panentheism that is heavily pantheistic) the designer of a building does not build himself into the building itself. Thus, we would not expect to find direct evidence of the designer by studying the building. However, if there is a designer, there is a probability that we would be able to look at the building and see evidence of an architect behind the building from the way things in the building work together.

For example, looking at the walls of the building alone, it certainly would not lead someone to conclude that a designer exists merely because the walls exist. One could argue that walls of various sorts are common in nature and even suggest processes by which the walls may have arisen naturally. But the fact that it is possible for walls to come into place naturally leaves us far short of understanding how the walls came into place in just the right configuration to form a box shape with a roof on top and windows and doors. Moreover, how are we going to account for the wiring and the plumbing that are also built into the building?

By the same token, it is certainly true that we can explain some diversity in the population based upon evolutionary processes. We are able to see where animals have become better adapted to their particular environmental demands through minor adjustments by survival of the fittest. But pointing out that a seagull's beak may have become more suited to catching and eating fish does not come close to explaining the existence of the seagull and the various biological aids that help it survive in its particular environment. Birds, as a whole, show high evidence of design in their feathers, bones, circulatory systems, and other features. Now even if one or more of these features can be explained in terms of evolutionary processes, how did they all come together? (For more on the evidence of design in birds, see, e.g., The Design in Nature: CHAPTER 2 -- Flawless Flying Machines: Birds. While I certainly don't subscribe to the entire viewpoint held on the site which is more creationist in nature, I do find this discussion about the specialization of birds to be fascinating.)

ID, which is not creationism in a white lab coat, simply studies these types of questions and points out that various processes were so remotely unlikely to come together as the result of natural processes that we have a high confidence that it could not have happened. Keep in mind that all science is similar to this approach -– we don’t know for certain that any scientific theory is "true," all we can say is that evidence is such that we are confident that it is true to a certain degrees of strength. In the case of ID, the scientists who are studying various aspects of origins believe as the result of their studies that standard evolutionary theories cannot explain the universe that we see.

Looking at the universe and biological systems and deducing that the architect exists is, contrary to claims of Darwinian evolutionists, a growing enterprise. Recently, the Discovery Institute has published an updated "Scientific Dissent from Darwinism" where scientists from many major universities sign in agreement with the following statement:

"We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian evolution ought to be encouraged."

While this statement is not a direct endorsement of ID, it does suggest that there must be more to our diversity and complexity than can be explained in the standard, reigning Darwinian paradigm. And this doubt about the explanatory power of Darwinian evolution is growing. The last such "Statement" published by the Discovery Institute had only 100 signatures. That number has increased four-fold, and I suggest that it will continue to grow stronger as more and more scientists are disabused of the notion being advocated by the Darwinianism believers that ID is merely "creationism in a white lab coat." These scientists have seen the evidence first-hand and understand the arguments and think that there may be something to ID.

In other words, they are able to see that there may be an architect behind the house.


Good post, BK.

The design paradigm has one significant advantage -- it is tremendously intuitive. So much so, that biologists have to be reminded that it only has the "appearance" of design.

My background is in I.T. When I see processors (ribosomes), an uninterruptible power supply (mitochondria), a database (DNA), and network protocols (protein transcription) ... it is quite intuitive to infer that this fully functioning system was in fact beautifully engineered.

It is far more intricate than mere house -- but the house / architect analogy is a strong one. It gets the point across clearly. I like it.

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