by Nancy Pearcey
Cicero: "You see not the Deity, yet … you are led to acknowledge a God.”
In every age, people have realized that an intelligible universe must be the product of intelligence
"The origin of life is equally difficult to explain by any naturalistic scenario. Every cell in our bodies contains a complex coded message. Today the origin of life has been reframed as the origin of biological information.
The central role of information explains why scientists have failed “to cook up life in the chemistry lab,” says Davies. “Chemistry is about substances and how they react, whereas biology appeals to concepts such as information”—which is clearly not chemical. Genetic information can be described only by using terminology borrowed from the mental world of language and communication: DNA is “a genetic ‘database,’ containing ‘instructions’ on how to build an organism. The genetic ‘code’ has to be ‘transcribed’ and ‘translated’ before it can act.”
Biologists’ favorite analogy for DNA is a computer: The molecule itself (the physical chain of chemicals) is the hardware. The DNA (the encoded information) is the software. In origin-of-life research, the focus is on building the hardware. “Attempts at chemical synthesis focus exclusively on the hardware—the chemical substrate of life,” Davies writes; they “ignore the software—the informational aspect.” Yet any twelve-year-old kid with a laptop knows that building an electronic device out of copper, plastic, and silicone has nothing to do with writing code to create a software program.
The surprising implication is that even if scientists succeeded in coaxing all the right chemicals to link up and form a DNA molecule in a test tube, that would do nothing to explain where the encoded genetic information came from. In all of human experience (and science is supposed to be based on experience), the source of encoded information is an intelligent agent. Therefore, it is reasonable to infer that an intelligent agent was necessary at the origin of life.
Yet we don’t really need the latest findings from science to recognize that a mind is needed to explain the universe. In every age, people have realized that an intelligible universe must be the product of intelligence. In ancient Rome, the Stoic philosophers offered an argument from design that sounds very familiar to modern ears. In the century before Christ, the great Roman orator Cicero wrote, “When we see something moved by machinery, like an orrery [model of the planetary system] or clock or many other such things, we do not doubt that these contrivances are the work of reason.”
He then drew the logical conclusion: “When therefore we behold the whole compass of the heaven moving with revolutions of marvelous velocity and … perfect regularity …, how can we doubt that all this is effected not merely by reason, but by a reason that is transcendent and divine?” Sounding almost biblical in his language, Cicero wrote, “You see not the Deity, yet … by the contemplation of his works you are led to acknowledge a God.”
Clearly, people in the ancient world were capable of “reading” the message of general revelation in nature. The opening theme in Romans 1 is that anyone can conclude that the created order is the product of an intelligent being. Created things speak of God: “Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Ps. 19:4).
Source: Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes by Nancy Pearcey