Ordained by the Universe
Is this really Intelligent Design?
Have you ever wondered why the universe is so hostile toward life? It seems like a cold vacuum devoid of any life-sustaining gasses such as oxygen. If anything approaches a star, it encounters a deadly furnace emitting all kinds of dangerous radiation and searing heat that will vaporize anything in its vicinity. It is certainly not a welcoming place to live. If this is true, why would a benevolent, intelligent Designer create an empty universe with so much wasted space? What about the planet we live on? Is this really a great place to live? According to the Smithsonian Institute, there have been 1,511 volcanic eruptions in the last 10,000 years. In 1980, the Mount Saint Helens eruption demonstrated the massive explosive forces equivalent to 33,000 atomic bombs. These volcanoes spew hot lava that scorches the earth, resulting in tremendous mudflows and other catastrophic effects which consume property and take millions of lives over the years. In January 2010, an earthquake measuring a 7.3 magnitude struck Haiti. It killed 220,000 people and injured 300,000 more, leaving 1.5 million people homeless and creating a humanitarian crisis.
Along with the destruction of volcanoes and earthquakes, let us not forget about tsunamis. They show mercy toward no one, taking lives and destroying property with tremendous force. We witnessed this fury on March 11, 2011 when a tsunami struck Japan. An offshore earthquake formed giant waves and a colossal force that killed more than 15,000 and left 2,600 missing. In addition to the initial impact, this tsunami caused a nuclear disaster, leaving the country in shock. In addition to volcanoes and earthquakes, weather patterns can also be treacherous, causing flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, and lighting strikes. Droughts and climate shifts can also be horrifyingly deadly. Is this planet an example of the work of a great Designer or a masterpiece destined for a disastrous finish?
What about the human body? Why does it seem so susceptible to disease? Aggressive childhood leukemia, hemophilia, sickle cell anemia, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, ALS, Alzheimer’s, prostate cancer, and so many other cancers and debilitating conditions are all examples of just how fragile human life really is. Not only are our human bodies susceptible to all kinds of diseases, but we are also dependent on energy. We are warm-blooded, so we need a fresh oxygen supply at all times. Without it, we would die within a matter of minutes. The energy demands our bodies have require us to eat constantly while our reptilian friend, the crocodile, can be satisfied by eating one chicken per month. Was this seemingly fragile and needy human body designed in the best way possible?
In addition, if there is a benevolent, intelligent Designer, why are there birth defects? In the United States, we average 150,000 birth defect cases per year with most of them having no known explanation. This leaves us with a big question. Is this intelligent design or is it stupid design? Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and Director of the Hayden Planetarium, attempts to make the case against intelligent design. He sees birth defects as tragic and dramatically emphasized this with shocking images of stillborn fetuses with distorted body parts. He calls this the antithesis of intelligent design and arrogantly states this is evidence of “stupid design.”
At the Beyond Belief: Science, Reason and Survival seminar, held at the Salk Institute on November 5-7, 2006, Neil de Grasse Tyson gave a presentation speaking against intelligent design and religion. Towards the end of his speech, he gave a tirade on “stupid design” that appears on YouTube.
He aggressively posed controversial questions that are covered in the introductory paragraph of this letter. This rant challenging intelligent design and creation has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of YouTube viewers. Tyson’s presentation concludes that Americans who believe in God are inhibiting progress and will bring our culture down the ladder of intellectual descent. He is left pondering why only 15% of scientists believe in God. He surprisingly asks the question: why so many? He does not understand how God can fit into his reality of science at all, even if only 15%. Tyson calls this a travesty. In his secular worldview, all scientists must do away with God. According to Tyson, the fact there are those who will not agree with his atheism is the real problem.
Tyson-Sagan: A Cosmic Connection
At the end of the three-day conference, after Tyson gave his tirade on intelligent design, he presented his final comments on a cosmic perspective. Many secularists in attendance termed it the “greatest sermon ever.” The pilgrimage of the cosmos, from earth to the outer edge, should make us feel insignificant as it stretches into empty space approaching trillions upon trillions of miles. Tyson believes that man is not special, nor was the universe designed for him. In his own words he said, “Sorry folks, the universe was not designed for us. Accept it, we’re nothing special.” Tyson passionately believes he was called by the universe to be the apostle of spreading the message that we are integrally connected to the cosmos.
He points to molecules and elements that hold our bodies together as all traceable to the cosmos. This connection is a religious experience for him as he states,
“It s quite literally true that we are stardust in the highest exulted way one can use that phrase. And so I feel and I use words and I bask in the majesty of the cosmos. I use words, compose sentences that sound like the sentences I hear from people who had revelations of Jesus.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson was well-received at this meeting. He embodied the same eloquence and passion that the late Carl Sagan had exhibited in the original production of the mini-series Cosmos. It was apparent that Tyson considers himself to be called by the universe to be the evangelical apostle of Sagan’s cosmological bible. All of this is based on the union of “sacred cosmic dust” that Tyson claims humans evolved from. Carl Sagan’s life was cut short in 1996 after he contracted a bone marrow disease. It was the 1980 production Cosmos: A Personal Voyage that made Sagan a household name. This highly entertaining, 13-episode series changed the nature of science education. Its multimedia approach replaced the lecture format on the universe with a dynamic cosmos that came alive with extensive stage settings, high-impact graphics, and mystifying scenery, costing 8 million dollars to produce. This attractive state-of-the-art production filled with poetic pseudo-science embraced the theme of cosmological evolution. It became the most popular science program of all time, reaching 500 million viewers in 60 countries.
Continuing to assume Sagan’s role, Tyson uses the television medium. He makes appearances on talk shows and hosts a variety of educational programs presenting his religious Big Bang evolutionary cosmology. He has now taken on the iconic role of his mentor by hosting the new Cosmos series entitled, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. He gives a reason for this stating, “Science literacy is the key to our future survival on earth, so Cosmos will show science matters.” [Special Edition USA Today, March 24-April 21, 2014. p17]
Is This Stupid Design?
The cosmos, the earth, and everything scientific that Tyson observes as flawed are simply the remnants of a cursed world that began as a creation par excellence. Tyson is blinded by the results of a fallen world. In Tyson’s tirade about stupid design, he fails to understand that what he sees are the consequences of sin in destruction and death.
Neil deGrasse Tyson’s questions are meaningless if, in the beginning of creation, things were “very good.” (Gen. 1:31) Many of the things that Tyson questioned would not have existed at that time. Catastrophic geological episodes would be nonexistent and meteorological events would be mild. In the initial creation, earth gave man the ideal conditions to live long ages. This is indicated in the fifth chapter of Genesis where it was commonplace to live to over 900 years. Without disease and decay, creation would be entirely different. There would be no birth defects and, as commanded, man would reproduce and take dominion over God’s creation, thereby glorifying God. The worldwide flood changed the earth dramatically. It gave us the fossil record and left the earth tortured, scarred, and unsettled, much the way we see it today.
During his tirade against intelligent design, Tyson foolishly brought his conceit to the attention of the audience by pompously poking fun at the human body. He arrogantly attempted to mock the limitations of human design. He described our blindness to dangerous radiations, our insensitivity to poisonous gases, and a list of other notable mockeries. Leonardo Da Vinci, an artist, musician, anatomist, botanist, engineer, architect, and inventor, obsessively and precisely dissected and illustrated the human body with delicate mastery. If he had been asked, he might have agreed that God’s greatest creation was man himself. This great genius never doubted God’s existence; he only lamented, “I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.” How irrational it must be for men like Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson to mock scientists who believe in the Creator, when men like Da Vinci, Newton, Faraday, Curie, and scores of others held a firm and unwavering faith in Jesus Christ as the Creator of the universe and the Savior of mankind (Col. 2:16).
Engineers look for basic efficiency and there is no machine designed by man that even comes close to the superior design of the human body. The ability to handle dangerous radiations and poison gasses would not have been needed on earth before the curse. It is poor engineering to over-design parts that are not needed. Tyson is blinded by the fact that every human is created in the image of the Messiah. God, who created the universe, gave man the highest honor by creating him in His own image. Tyson fails miserably when he attempts to criticize the pinnacle of God’s creation – the human body – that was designed in the likeness of Jesus Christ to be “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)
Suffering, Death, and the Gospel
The curse of sin is over all of creation, not only man. If everything in the whole creation was good, there would be no suffering, wars, or catastrophic acts of nature that would destroy property and take lives. The apostle Paul reminds us of the present bondage of corruption that our current creation endures. In Romans 8:21-22, Paul states, “Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”
The Greek word for “creation” in this passage is ktisis, which means “anything created” and it is used in each of the five verses above starting with Romans 8 verse 19 and ending in verse 22 NKJV. In Romans 8:22, there is an emphasis when it is modified with the adjective “whole,” which includes everything in the cosmos. In this context, Paul speaks not just about man waiting eagerly in hope to be “delivered from the bondage of corruption,” but also the whole creation. Death and suffering are merely temporary. The whole creation, including man, is subject to this bondage until God reveals Himself in the new heaven and new earth. The Apostle Paul continues, “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (II Peter 3:13)
Since the fall of man, there has been death and suffering in the world. God teaches us that man is now part of a world in bondage and decay. All throughout the Scriptures, He demonstrates that we are saved through the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. (John 1:29) That Lamb is Jesus Christ. He gave Himself as our sacrificial Lamb so that we could have forgiveness and eternal life. He defeated death when He rose from the dead so that we too can overcome and receive the promise of a new heaven and a new earth. For Tyson and other atheists of the world, if there is no reason for God then there is no reason for morality. Without the goodness of God, there is no definition for evil. Evil is best defined as the absence of goodness. Without this distinction, morality has no solid ground and this will eventually lead to chaos. It is from a deep sense of pride that you can deny the God who created you and then continue to ridicule Him. This is a very dangerous position. There are consequences for sin. Romans 1:18 explains that, “God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” It is clear that Tyson and others of his ilk have lost their vision of God and, therefore, are without hope in this world. Without the promise of God’s grace found in the gospel of Jesus Christ, how would anyone make sense of suffering and death?