Reasonable Origins Accounts
By: Jim Virkler
When debates occur between supernaturalists and naturalists on the origin of life and the complexity of the cell, both sides search for reasonable explanations. Theistic supernaturalists collect evidence that the intelligent actions of a Deity seem reasonable to explain events surrounding origins of life as well as the explanation of cell complexity. This conclusion is based on an analogy. In the human realm, working intelligence results in ordered outcomes. For example, overview of a building project yields plentiful examples of intelligent input. The architectural plan for the structure, selection of a building location, preparation of the site, construction material choice, hiring of specialized laborers, coordination of the building sequences, foreman supervision, and mitigation of errors…these are just a few identifiable ordered outcomes of intelligence acting within a human-designed system.
Inspection of the first cells on Earth completes our building analogy. The production of complete cells with inherent complexity is virtually impossible to attribute to a chance event or a sequence of chance events. The appearance and achievement of functional cells, the launching of life on this planet, is a “building” phenomenon surpassing the reasonable expectations of even the most ardent naturalist. Naturalists cannot account for the origin of life and the design of the cell. They do not acknowledge the reasonableness of a supernatural designer. To their chagrin, the work of an intelligent agent suffuses cell origin events. But to a supernaturalist, the activity of a supernatural designer, an intelligent agent, is completely reasonable. Unlike many intelligent design advocates who fail to name the designer, we do not hesitate to name the God of Judeo-Christian Scripture as the Intelligent Designer.
Many naturalists claim the existence of a supernatural being is not reasonable. Therefore, the origin and function of an ordered physical object such as the cell is reasonable only as a happenstance of naturalism. Almost all scientists are indoctrinated with the firm principle that science is a completely naturalistic enterprise, investigating only naturalistic phenomena. Today’s scientists operate under the control of the doctrine of methodological naturalism (MN). This control virtually forbids acknowledging the possibility that an intelligent agent could be responsible for either the origin of cells or the exquisite design of the cell. It is an easy transition to the skeptical position that the Designer does not exist. This position is known as philosophical or ontological naturalism. Among the faith community in our churches, methodological and philosophical/ontological naturalism in science sometimes deters church members from appreciating the apologetic value of science.
Debates such as the Ruse/Rana event at Biola in 2013 generate diverse statements from the participants. Some are confident in the principles of scientific naturalism. Others endorse supernatural design based on evidence. Science is a discipline with high confidence in evidence but an exception to this principle sometimes occurs if the evidence points to a supernatural intelligent agent in the cause and effect chain. If the workings of the God of Scripture are highlighted in our study of the history of earth life, some voice the criticism that “religion” has captured the day. God as Designer and Creator does not seem reasonable to them. Dr. Fazale Rana presented a strong evidential case that cell origin and design is the product of an intelligent agent—the God of the Bible. Click “older post” below for the first coverage of the Ruse/Rana debate.
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Jim Virkler, a retired New Jersey public school science educator, now devotes his time investigating the harmony of scientific discoveries and Christian faith. He and his wife, Eleanor, now reside in the mid-west near their children and grandchildren.