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MATTER AND CHANCE

The argument we have so far brought forward against the view that natural laws and causes are self-existent, self-sustaining, even, in some sense, eternal, holds true for related views which attribute creativity to chance and matter.

Matter is obviously changeable and susceptible to external interventions; it cannot be eternal or capable of origination. Also, matter is deaf, blind, lifeless, ignorant, powerless, and unconscious; how can it be the origin of sensible life, knowledge, power and consciousness? It is evident that something cannot impart to others what it does not possess.

When there is in the universe such abundant evidence of purposive arrangement, organization and harmony, it is irrational to speak of chance or coincidence as its cause.

Whether defined according to the principles of classical physics or new physics, matter is obviously changeable and susceptible to external interventions; it cannot be eternal or capable of origination. Also, matter is deaf, blind, lifeless, ignorant, powerless, and unconscious; how can it be the origin of sensible life, knowledge, power and consciousness? It is evident that something cannot impart to others what it does not possess.

When there is in the universe such abundant evidence of purposive arrangement, organization and harmony, it is irrational to speak of chance or coincidence as its cause. There are 60 million million cells in a human body and a single cell contains about one million proteins. The possibility of a protein occurring by chance are infinitesimally small. Without One who has the power of choice to prefer its existence and the absolute power to create, it who has an absolute, all-comprehensive knowledge to pre-arrange its relations with other proteins, with the cell and all parts of the body and place it just where it must be, the existence of a single protein is not possible. It is when they admit this One-God, the Creator of all things-that the sciences will find their true course. (One day they will have to do so).

The following simple scientific experiment, reported in Discover, 20 August 1993, will help in understanding this significant argument:

Overbeck and his co-workers at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston were trying to practice some gene therapy techniques by seeing if they could convert albino mice into colored ones. The researcher injected a gene essential to the production of the pigment melanin into the single-cell embryo of an albino mouse. Later they bread that mouse’s offspring, half of which carried the gene on one chromosome of a chromosome pair. Classic Mendelian genetics told them that roughly a quarter of the grandchildren should carry the gene on both chromosomes- should be ‘homozygous’, in the language of genetics- and should therefore be colored.

But the mice never got a chance to acquire color. ‘The first thing we noticed,’ says Overbeck, ‘was that we were losing about 25 % of the grandchildren within a week after they were born.’ The explanation:

The melanin-related gene that his group injected into the albino mouse embryo had inserted itself into a completely unrelated gene. An unfamiliar stretch of DNA in the middle of a gene wrecks that gene’s ability to get its message read. So in the mice, it seems whatever protein the gene coded for went unproduced, whatever function the protein had went undone, and the stomach, heart, liver, and spleen all wound up in the wrong place. Somehow, too, the kidneys and pancreas were damaged, and that damage is apparently what killed the mice.

Overbeck and his colleagues have already located the gene on a particular mouse chromosome and are now trying to pin down its structure. That will tell them something about the structure of the protein the gene encodes, how the protein works, and when and where it is produced as the gene gets ‘expressed’, or turned on, ‘Is the gene expressed everywhere, or just on the left side of the embryo or just on the right side?’ Overbeck wonders, ‘And when does it get expressed?’

These questions will take Overbeck far from the gene-transfer experiment. ‘We think there are at least 100,000 genes,’ he points out, ‘so the chances of this happening were literally one in 100,000.’

There is no trial and error in creation

It will take many thousands of tests therefore, and cost the lives of many thousands of mice, for this type of experiment to be carried out with success. However, there is no trial and error in nature, and any seed under earth, unless some impediment like lack of enough moisture intervenes, germinates and ultimately becomes a tree. Likewise, an embryo in the mother’s womb grows into a living, conscious being equipped with intellectual and spiritual faculties.

The human body is a miracle of symmetry, as well as of asymmetry. Scientists know how an embryo develops in the womb to form this symmetry and asymmetry, but they are completely ignorant of how the particles - the particles that reach the embryo through the mother and function as building blocks in the formation of the body - can distinguish between right and left, how they are able to determine the place of each organ, how each goes and inserts itself in the exact place of a certain organ, and how they understand the extremely complicated relations among cells and organs, and their requirements. This is so complicated a process that if a single particle which should be placed in, for example, the pupil of the right eye, were to go to the ear, it could lead to malfunction or even death. Another point concerning this is that all animate beings are made from the same elements coming from earth, air and water, and similar to one another with respect to the members and organs of their bodies, yet they are almost completely different from one another with respect to bodily features, visage, character, desires and ambitions. This uniqueness of the individual is so reliable that one can be identified absolutely by one’s finger prints.

Whatever exists gives the message: “Either each ‘particle’ possesses almost infinite knowledge, will and power or One who has such knowledge, power and will creates and administers each particle.”

How do we explain this? There are the two alternatives we mentioned at the beginning: either each particle possesses almost infinite knowledge, will and power or One who has such knowledge, power and will creates and administers each particle. However far back we go in an attempt to ascribe this to cause and effect and heredity, these two alternatives remain valid.

Even if the existence of the universe is attributed o some entity other than God-to evolution or causality or nature or matter or coincidences and necessity-no one can deny that everything displays, though its coming into existence, its subsistence and death, an all-comprehensive knowledge, and an absolute power and determination. As we saw in the experiment referred to above, a single misplaced or misdirected gene, may suffice to ruin or prevent life. The interconnectedness of everything, from galaxies to atoms, is a reality into which every new entity enters and wherein it must know its unique place and function. And is there not a further demonstration of the existence and free operation of an all-comprehensive knowledge, and absolute power and will, that particles made up of the same bio-chemical constituents should be able to produce through the subtlest adjustments in their pattern of mutual relationships, entities and organisms which are unique? Is it satisfactory to explain this as heredity or coincidence, seeing that all such explanations again rest upon the same all-encompassing knowledge, absolute power and will?

We must not be misled by the apparent fact that everything happens according to a certain program or plan o process of causes. This process of causes is a veil spread over the flux of the universe, the ever-moving stream of events.

We must not be misled by the apparent fact that everything happens according to a certain program or plan or process of causes. This process of causes is a veil spread over the flux of the universe, the ever-moving stream of events. The ‘laws of nature’ which may be inferred from this process of causes have a nominal, not a real and concrete existence. Unless we attribute to nature the attributes we would normally attribute to the Creator of nature, we must accept that it is, in essence and reality, a printing mechanism, not a printer, a design, not a designer, a passive recipient, not an agent, an order, not an orderer, a collection of nominal laws, not a power. The same argument holds if, in place of ‘nature’, we choose the terms ‘matter’ or (the preference of French biologist Jacques Monod) ‘coincidence and necessity’.*

*Suppose you take ten pennies and mark them from 1 to 10. Put them in your pocket and give them a good shake. Now try to draw them out in sequence from 1 to 10, putting each coin back in your pocket after each draw. Your chance of drawing No. 1 is 1 in 10. Your chance of drawing 1 and 2 in succession would be 1 in 100. Your chance of drawing 1, 2, and 3 in succession would be 1 in a thousand. Your chance of drawing 1, 2, 3, and 4 in succession would be 1 in 10,000 and so on, until your chance of drawing from No. 1 to No. 10 in succession would reach the unbelievable figure of one chance in 10 billion.

The object in dealing with so simple a problem is to show how enormously figures multiply against chance.

So many essential conditions are necessary for life on our earth that it is mathematically impossible that all of them could exist in proper relationship by chance on any one earth at one time. Therefore, there must be in nature some form of intelligent direction. If this be true, then there must be a purpose. (Morrison, op. cit., p. 13)

The purpose, harmony and interrelatedness in existence

In order to understand better why blind, deaf, inert, unconscious, and ignorant chance, nature and causes cannot have any part in existence, we had better see more closely the purpose, harmony and interrelatedness in creation and therefore observe some plain facts. Again, Morrison draws our attentions to some of these facts:

The bulk of the earth in now reduced to very permanent dimensions and its mass has been determined. Its speed in its orbit around the sun is extremely constant. It rotation on its axis is determined so accurately that a variation of a second in a century would upset astronomical calculations. Had the bulk of the earth greater or less, or had its speed been different, it would have been farther from or nearer to the sun, and this different condition would have profoundly affected life of all kinds, including man.

The earth rotates on its axis in twenty-four hours or at the rate of about one thousand miles an hour. Suppose it turned at the rate of a hundred miles an hour. Why not? Our days and nights would then be ten times as long as now. The hot sun of summer would then burn up our vegetation each long day and every sprout would freeze in such a night. The sun, the source of all life, has a surface temperature of 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and our earth is just far enough away so that this “eternal fire” warms us just enough and not too much. If the temperature on earth had changed so much as fifty degrees on the average for a single year, all vegetation would be dead and man with it, roasted or frozen. The earth travels around the sun at the rate of eighteen miles each second. If the rate of revolution had been, say, six miles or forty miles each second, we would be too far from or too close to the sun for our form of life to exist.

The earth is tilted at an angle of twenty-three degrees. This gives us our seasons. If it had not been tilted, the poles would be in eternal twilight. The water vapor from the ocean would move north and south, piling up continents of ice and leaving possibly a desert between the equator and the ice.

The moon is 240,000 miles away, and the tides twice a day are usually a gentle reminder of its presence. Tides of the ocean run as high as fifty feet in some places, and even the crust of the earth is twice a day bent outward several inches by the moon’s attraction. If our moon was, say, fifty thousand miles away instead of its present respectable distance, our tides would be so enormous that twice a day all the lowland of all the continents would be submerged by a rush of water so enormous that even the mountains would soon be eroded away, and probably no continent could have risen from the depths fast enough to exist today. The earth would crack with the turmoil and the tides in the air would create daily hurricanes.

Had the crust of the earth been ten feet thicker, there would be no oxygen, without which animal life is impossible; and had the ocean been a few feet deeper, carbon dioxide and oxygen would have been absorbed and vegetable life on the surface of the land could not exist. If the atmosphere had been much thinner, some of the meteors which are now burned in the outer atmosphere by the millions every day would strike all parts of the earth.

Oxygen is commonly placed at 21 per cent [in the atmosphere]. The atmosphere as a whole presses upon the earth at approximately fifteen pounds on each square inch of surface at sea level. The oxygen which exists in the atmosphere is a part of this pressure, being about three pounds per square inch. All the rest of the oxygen is locked up in the form of compounds in the crust of the earth and makes up 8/10 of all the waters in the world. Oxygen is the breath of life for all land animals and is for this purpose utterly unobtainable except from the atmosphere.

The question arises how this extremely active chemical element escaped combination and was left it the atmosphere in the almost exact proportion necessary for practically all living things. If, for instance, instead of 21 per cent oxygen were 50 per cent or more of the atmosphere, all combustible substances in the world would become inflammable to such an extent that the first stroke of lightning to hit a tree would ignite the forest, which would almost explode... If free oxygen, this one part in many millions of the earth’s substance, should be absorbed, all animal life would cease.

When a man breathes, he draws in oxygen, which is taken up by the blood and distributed through his body. This oxygen burns his food in every cell very slowly at a comparatively low temperature, but the result is carbon dioxide and water vapor, so when a man is said to sigh like a furnace, there is a touch of reality about it. The carbon dioxide escapes into his lungs and is not breathable except in small quantities. It sets his lungs in action and he takes his next breath throwing into the atmosphere carbon dioxide. All animal life is thus absorbing oxygen and throwing off carbon dioxide. Oxygen is further essential to life because of its action upon other elements in the blood as well as elsewhere in the body, without which life processes would cease.

On the other hand, as is well known, all vegetable life is dependent upon the almost infinitesimal quantity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which, so to speak, it breathes. To express this complicated photo-synthetic chemical reaction in the simplest possible way, the leaves of the trees are lungs and they have the power when in the sunlight to separate this obstinate carbon dioxide into carbon and oxygen. In other words, the oxygen is given off and the carbon retained and combined with the hydrogen of the water brought up by the plant from its roots. By magical chemistry, out of these elements “nature” makes sugar, cellulose and numerous other chemicals, fruits and flowers [all in different smell, taste, color and shape according to the kind of plant or tree. Can this infinite difference or variation be attributed to tiny seeds, blind, ignorant and unconscious?]. The plant feeds itself and produces enough more to feed every animal on earth. At the same time, the plant releases the oxygen we breathe and without which life would end in five minutes. So all the plants, the forests, the grasses, every bit of moss, and all else of vegetable life, build their structure principally out of carbon and water. Animals give off carbon dioxide and plants give off oxygen. If this interchange did not take place, either the animal or vegetable life would ultimately use up practically all of the oxygen or all of the carbon dioxide, and the balance being completely upset, one would wilt or die and the other would quickly follow.

Hydrogen must be included, although we do not breathe it. Without hydrogen water would not exist, and the water content of animal and vegetable matter is surprisingly great and absolutely essential. Oxygen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and carbon, singly and in their various relations to each other, are the principal biological elements. They are the very basis on which life rests.

We pour infinite variety of substances into this chemical laboratory-the digestive system, which is the greatest laboratory of the world- with almost total disregard of what we take in, depending on what we consider the automatic process to keep us alive. When these foods have been broken down and are again prepared, they are delivered constantly to each of our billions of cells, a greater number than all the human beings on earth. The delivery to each individual cell must be constant, and only those substances which the particular cell needs to transform them into bones, nails, flesh, hair, eyes, and teeth are taken up by the proper cell. Here is a chemical laboratory producing more substances than any laboratory which human ingenuity has devised. Here is a delivery system greater than any method of transportation or distribution the world has ever known, all being conducted in perfect order. From childhood until, say, a man is fifty years of age, this laboratory makes no serious mistakes, though the very substances with which it deals could literally form over a million different kinds of molecules-many of them deadly. When the channels of distribution become somewhat sluggish from long use we find weakened ability and ultimate old age.

When the proper food is absorbed by each cell, it is still only the proper food. The process in each cell now becomes a form of combustion, which accounts for the heat of the whole body. You cannot have combustion without ignition. Fire must be lighted, and so [you are provided with] a little chemical combination which ignites a controlled fire for the oxygen, hydrogen, and the carbon in the food in each cell, thus producing the necessary warmth and, as from any fire, the result is water vapor and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is carried away by the blood to the lungs, and there it is the one thing that makes you draw in your breath of life. A person produces about two pounds of carbon dioxide in a day, but by wonderful processes gets rid of it. Every animal digests food, and each must have the special chemicals it individually needs. Even in minute detail the chemical constituents of the blood, for instance, differ in each species. There is, therefore, a special formative process for each.

In case of infection by hostile germs, the system also continuously maintains a standing army to meet, and usually overcome, invaders and save the entire structure of the man from premature death. No such combination of marvels does or can take place under any circumstances in the absence of life. And all this is done in perfect order, and order is absolutely contrary to chance’ (Morrison, 14, 16-9, 22, 24-7, 76-7).

Does all this require and point to One Who knows man thoroughly, with all his needs, environment, and the mechanism of his body, One Who is the All-Knowing and able to do whatever He wishes? As, again, Morrison puts it (p.65), ‘purpose seems fundamental in all things, from the laws that govern the universe to the combinations of atoms which sustain our lives. Atoms and molecules in living creatures do marvelous things and build wonderful mechanisms, but such machines are useless unless intelligence sets them in objective motion. There is the directive Intelligence which science does not explain, nor does science dare say it is material.’


Recommended Reading:
The Reason Why God Created Natural Laws and Causes

Last Updated on August 07, 2000

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