Michael Denton Defends Design

It is written:

Job 12:7-10-But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; 8  Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; And the fish of the sea will explain to you. 9  Who among all these does not know That the hand of the LORD has done this, 10  In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind?

The Creation sings of the existence of God, and more and more scientists are recognizing this.

Enter proclaimed agnostic scientist, Michael Denton.

Years ago, Denton wrote the fascinating book, Evolution: A Theory In Crisis. This book was light-years ahead of its’ time, pointing out many of the problems of Darwinian evolution when doing such could land a scientist in some real hot water. However, his work proved to be a great blessing to many, as have his continued writings.

In a recent study on the fine-tuning of the universe, Denton provides more evidence that the universe is designed specifically for mankind to exist (i.e., the Anthropic principle). The chapters include detailed discussion of evidence from several fields which point undeniably to the existence of some kind of Creator.

For example, consider Denton’s words regarding the remarkable characteristics of water:

“ALTHOUGH THE main aim of this book is to review the environmental fitness of nature for beings of our biology, and not to argue for design, it is hard to imagine any ensemble of fitness more indicative of design than the way the many diverse properties of water work together in the hydrological cycle to enable terrestrial life. It is indeed astounding that several completely distinct physical and chemical properties of water—e.g., its existing in three states in Earth’s ambient temperature range, its low viscosity and high mobility, its solvation powers, its expansion on freezing, and its high surface tension—should work together so beautifully in the vital task of watering the land, breaking down rocks, weathering life-essential minerals, and creating and widely distributing water-retaining soil, essential to plant life. Moreover, heaping wonder on wonder, one of the properties which assists in the weathering and erosion of the rocks and hence in the making of soil—water’s unusually high surface tension—is also the very property which holds the water in the micropores in the soil, retaining it for utilization by plants.” (Michael Denton, The Miracle of Man: The Fine Tuning of Nature for Human Existence, 47-48 (Kindle Edition); Seattle, Washington; Discovery Institute Press).

Later in his discussion of oxygen and air, Denton writes:

“IN LIGHT of the evidence reviewed thus far in this book, can there remain any reasonable doubt that the basic order of nature anticipates terrestrial air breathers like ourselves? That nature was, in a sense, expecting us? The facts speak for themselves. There is (1) the enormous quantities of energy released when oxygen combines with reduced carbon compounds, supplying advanced complex life forms like ourselves with copious quantities of metabolic energy, as well as the gift of fire and the means to send rockets into space. There is (2) oxygen’s gaseous nature, essential for land-based life forms, allowing them to extract it from the atmosphere via lungs in the case of vertebrates, or via trachea in the case of insects. There is (3) the low solubility of oxygen, which prevents its loss to the oceans and preserves most of it in the atmosphere for the benefit of terrestrial life. There is (4) the light of the sun, which is just right for photochemistry, (5) the transparency of the atmosphere to visual light, and at the same time, (6) its absorption of a significant fraction of infrared radiation to warm the Earth into the ambient temperature range. There is (7) the attenuation of oxygen’s chemical vigor (the kinetic barrier) at ambient temperatures, which together with (8) the carbon atom’s relatively low reactivity, prevents spontaneous combustion of reduced carbon compounds. There is (9) the fire-retarding influence of nitrogen—the only viable candidate gas for this role—which greatly slows down the spread of fire, rendering it controllable by fire makers like ourselves. There is the fact (10) that nitrogen and oxygen are not greenhouse gases and so do not directly affect the atmospheric temperature despite constituting 99 percent of the atmosphere. There is the fact (11) that because the atmosphere plays a very different role in sustaining respiration than in supporting fire, the presence of a fire retardant (nitrogen) in the atmosphere, which renders fire controllable, does not undermine the uptake of oxygen in the lungs. There is (12) the fact that only trace amounts of ozone suffice to absorb dangerous ultraviolet radiation. And there are (13) the various absorption windows in the infrared region (including the crucial window between 8 and 14 nm), which prevent our atmosphere from turning our planet into a searing oven hostile to carbon-based life. And finally (14) there has been the maintenance of an oxygen partial pressure of about the current level, a level sufficient to support the energy demands of ourselves and other advanced terrestrial aerobes. And this is by no means the only ensemble of fitness for aerobic terrestrial life. As we saw in Chapter 2, there is the ensemble of fitness that enables the hydrological cycle to deliver water and the essential elements of life for land-based life. As we saw in Chapter 3, there is the ensemble of fitness that enables the vital mechanism of photosynthesis, which provides us with the copious quantities of oxygen we need. And as we will see in future chapters, there are additional ensembles of fitness for advanced terrestrial organism like ourselves. Clearly nature went to great lengths to prepare for our arrival.” (Michael Denton, The Miracle of Man: The Fine Tuning of Nature for Human Existence, 92-94 (Kindle Edition); Seattle, Washington; Discovery Institute Press).

In his discussion of the human brain, Denton strikes a powerful blow to the idea that the brain is just a random assemblage of chemicals coincidentally arrived at over eons of time. Recently, I read a popular novel that claimed the human brain is a “mess.” The book was good fiction (as was this claim that the human brain is a “mess” as Denton demonstrates):

“THE HUMAN brain might be something even more extraordinary still. It may be not just the most complex biological thinking organ possible, but close to the most complex functional organization of matter possible. Many scientists and science writers have waxed lyrical on contemplating the staggering compacted complexity of the human brain. As the author of a Nature News and Views article commented some time ago regarding brain neurons, “The latest work on information processing and storage at the single-cell level reveals previously unimagined complexity and dynamism. We are left with a feeling of awe for the amazing complexity found in nature. Loops within loops across many temporal and spatial scales.” 40 Each cubic millimeter of human cerebral cortex (the thinking part of the brain) contains 15,000 neurons, 41 15,000 glial cells42 (which provide support for the neurons43), some four kilometers of axonal wiring, 500 meters of dendrites, 44 and 400 million synaptic connections (the highest recorded density of synapses in any mammalian brain45). Contrast this with the number of components in a 747 jetliner, which is often cited to be about six million. 46 That’s sixty times less that the synaptic connections in one cubic mm of the brain. Altogether the human brain performs on the order of an unimaginable 1015 synaptic operations per second. My hunch is that it will turn out that the human brain does represent very close to the most complex functional assemblage of matter possible in our universe. Whether or not this does turn out to be the case, the evidence currently available is consistent with such a conclusion. We should be filled with a sense of awe.” (Michael Denton, The Miracle of Man: The Fine Tuning of Nature for Human Existence, 193-194 (Kindle Edition); Seattle, Washington; Discovery Institute Press).

The Psalmist had it right when he wrote by inspiration:

Psalm 139:14-I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

In the conclusion to his book, Denton summarizes:

“From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 Mev energy level in the nucleus of C12 to the 7.12 Mev level in O16. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be…. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.—Fred Hoyle, Engineering and Science2 I CONFESS THAT THE CLAIM DEFENDED HERE—THE ANTHROPOCENTRIC claim that the cosmos is uniquely fit for the existence of beings of our physiological design and biology—will strike many of my contemporaries as outrageous. The claim is indeed extraordinary, and as Carl Sagan has said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” 3 Showing that there is indeed extraordinary evidence in support of the anthropocentric conception of nature has been the aim of this and the previous monographs in this Privileged Species series. No matter how unfashionable the idea, no matter how extraordinary the claim, the facts speak for themselves. The human person as revealed by modern science is no contingent assemblage of elements, an irrelevant afterthought of cosmic evolution. Rather, our destiny was inscribed in the light of stars and the properties of atoms since the beginning. Now we know that all nature sings the song of man. Our seeming exile from nature is over. We now know what the medieval scholars only believed, that the underlying rationality of nature is indeed “manifest in human flesh.” And with this revelation the post-Copernican delusion of humankind’s irrelevance on the cosmic stage has been revoked. As things now stand, the current evidence points irresistibly to a natural order uniquely fine tuned for life on Earth and for beings of our biological design. We are indeed favored “light eaters” and “fire makers” in the grand cosmic scheme. Fourteen billion years before our origin in the Pleistocene, our biological design was prefigured in the order of things at the moment of creation.” (Michael Denton, The Miracle of Man: The Fine Tuning of Nature for Human Existence, 238-239 (Kindle Edition); Seattle, Washington; Discovery Institute Press).

The Creation testifies to the existence of the Creator.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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