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DOES GOD EXIST?
Yes, Here Is the Evidence
By HENDRICK PARK
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Hendrick Park
All rights reserved.
The Existence of God – Argument from the Beauty of Nature
How pleasant it is to see the blue sky and the white clouds above our head! Usually we take it for granted that the sky is blue and the clouds are white. But we should not take it for granted. Why do we have the blue sky and the white clouds rather than, say, the scarlet sky and the black clouds? The sky which is scarlet like the human blood and the clouds which are black like the black coal would be horrifying to see. Please, use your imagination and think about it. The scarlet sky and the black clouds above our heads could happen.
Also, think about what it would be like if there were total darkness in the night and there were no moon and stars in the sky. I am inclined to think that the sky is blue and the clouds are white during the daytime and there are the moon and the beautiful stars in the night, and there is no total darkness during the long night because the God the Creator of nature cared for us, the human beings. Therefore, the beautiful and pleasant scenes of nature can be regarded as an evidence of the existence of God.
Nature is saturated with beauty and beauty is intrinsic in nature. The beauty of the white clouds in the blue sky, the beauty of high loft y mountains with white snow on the top, the beauty of the rising sun in the morning, the glorious sunset at the close of a day, the beautiful rising moon and the stars in the night, and the exquisite delight that comes to one who looks at them!
I have stated above that nature is saturated with beauty and that beauty is intrinsic in nature. We observe that not only nature in a large scale is beautiful such as the starry sky, the blue sky and the white clouds, and the high loft y mountains, nature is beautiful in a small scale as well. Consider, for example, the leaves of trees, the colour and fragrance of flowers, the shape of birds and butterflies, the new sprouts of plants that appear fresh out of the black soil.
Unlike the products of nature, man's productions are – except the fine works of arts – aesthetically unattractive. For examples, machines produced by men for utility, and the factories where machines are manufactured. Compare the hammering noises and unsightly scene inside the factory with the way nature works silently and unnoticeably. Compare the disagreeable stinks of chemical works with nature's fragrant distillation. Nature is comparable with music which is a harmony of many melodies. Nature's beauty is universal.
But, for what purpose and for whom is nature beautiful? If there were no human beings that can appreciate beauty, what is the beauty of nature for? Do the beasts, birds, insects, fish and germs appreciate the beauty of nature? When we consider the fact that nature's beauty and man's aesthetic sense match and that man alone in the world, so it seems, can admire and enjoy nature's beauty, we are inclined to think that the beauty of nature is there for human beings.
Since beauty is one of the three major values – together with truth and goodness –, it implies that nature's beauty is not merely for the sensual pleasure of the human eyes; it has a spiritual significance as well. The fact that the three values of truth, goodness and beauty are in correspondence with the intellect, the will and the emotion of man respectively suggests that the universe exists for a spiritual purpose. This fact, together with another fact that nature is instrumental for the moral and religious education of the human beings, strongly suggests that the universe has a spiritual purpose which, in turn, implies that there is a Mind behind the universe. This Mind is called God by the theists.
The God who designed the organs of the human body for the practical purpose such as survival and prosperity, and designed the fitness of the natural environment – and of the universe – for living things, also designed the beautiful natural environment for the human beings. In other words, God designed not just for survival and prosperity, but also for pleasure and happiness of the human beings and for their moral and spiritual (religious) education.
These facts reveal that God is not merely a mighty Creator of heaven and earth, but also a personal, loving and moral Deity. These facts match the Biblical testimony about the compassionate, gracious and saving God. (e.g. Exodus 34:6 and John 3:16) So we, humans who are forgiven sinners, are very grateful and love God with our hearts.
The Existence of God – Argument from the Evidences of Design
Here we turn to our main concern, the question of God's existence. There are over 20 different kinds of argument, known so far, to prove the existence of God. The argument which has the longest history is the Argument from the Evidences of Design, also known as the Teleological Argument. This argument is very simple and easy for people to understand and is the most popular argument among ordinary people. When people observed the phenomena of nature carefully, especially the organs of the body of human beings, animals and birds, they noticed that the phenomena appeared as if they were "designed" for a certain purpose. And people considered this fact as an evidence of the existence of God. In this case those scholars who paid attention to the apparent design in nature's phenomena – including human beings – named their argument the Argument from the Evidences of Design whereas those who paid more attention to the apparent purpose called it the Teleological Argument. I will give concrete examples of apparent design and of apparent purpose shortly.
In the history of philosophy, Greek philosophers are known to be the first who devised the theistic argument from design and the most famous of them is Socrates (469-399. B.C.) The argument of Socrates is mentioned in the writings of Plato who was his disciple, but I will introduce here the argument as reported by Xenophon who was a contemporary of Socrates. The following is the theistic argument of Socrates.
On learning that Aristodemus the dwarf, as he was called, was not known to sacrifice or pray or use divination, and actually mocked those who did so, Socrates brought him into conversation with him and said:
"Tell me, Aristodemus, do you admire any human beings for wisdom?"
"I do," he answered.
"Tell us their names."
"In epic poetry Homer comes first, in my opinion; in dithyramb, Melanippides; in tragedy, Sophocles; in sculpture, Polycleitus; in painting, Zeuxis."
"Which, think you, deserve the greater admiration, the creators of phantoms without sense and motion, or the creators of living, intelligent, and active beings?"
"Oh, of living beings, by far, provided only they are created by design and not mere chance."
"Suppose that it is impossible to guess the purpose of one creature's existence, and obvious that another's serves a useful end, which, in your judgment, is the work of chance, and which of design?"
"Presumably the creature that serves some useful end is the work of design."
"Do you not think then that he who created man from the beginning had some useful end in view when he endowed him with his several sense, giving eyes to see visible objects, ears to hear sounds?
Would odours again be of any use to us had we not been endowed with nostrils? What perception should we have of sweet and bitter and all things pleasant to the palate had we no tongue in our mouth to discriminate between them? Besides these, are there not other contrivances that look like the results of forethought? Thus the eyeballs, being weak, are set behind eyelids that open like doors when we want to see, and close when we sleep; on the lids grow lashes through which the very winds filter harmlessly; above the eyes is a coping of brows that lets no drop of sweat from the head hurt them. The ears catch all sounds, but are never choked with them. Again, the incisors of all creatures are adapted for cutting, the morals for receiving food from them and grinding it. And again, the mouth, through which the food they want goes in, is set near the eyes and nostrils; but since what goes out is unpleasant, the ducts through which it passes are turned away and removed as far as possible from the organs of sense. With such signs of forethought in these arrangements, can you doubt whether they are the works of chance or design?"
"No, of course not. When I regard them in this light they do look very like the handiwork of a wise and loving creator"
"What of the natural desire to beget children, the mother's desire to rear her babe, the child's strong will to live and strong fear of death?"
"Undoubtedly these, too, look like the contrivances of one who deliberately willed the existence of living creatures."
Socrates drew the attention of his listener to the most familiar phenomena, namely the human body and its organs and tried to find the evidence of design in them; and he argued from it to the divine Creator. Clearly this is Socrates' version of "the argument from design" and of "the teleological argument." Apparently the eyes were designed for seeing visible objects, the ears for hearing sounds, the eyes brows for preventing sweat and rain from flowing down into the eyes, the incisors for cutting food, and the molars for grinding it. The structure and function of each of these are adapted purposively to serve a useful end, and all of them are seemingly intended to preserve the life and well - being of the body. "Means – to – end purposiveness" can be perceived here. As Socrates says, it will be difficult to consider the organ of the human body (and of any animal body) with such purposiveness as the work of chance. The human organs appear as if they were "designed" by an intelligent mind with forethought; hence many careful observers regarded them as evidence of the Divine Designer. Phenomena of such apparent design are not confined in the human and animal body, but seem pervasive throughout nature.
The essence of this argument is so plain and simple that the argument would have come into the mind of many individuals in all generations who had an interest in the question of God's existence. A man examined closely his 10 fingers and considered how handy and effective they are in performing various functions which are vital to his life and how intelligently and purposively they are structured, and also how the fingers work in perfect coordination. He also noticed the suppleness of the joints of his fingers, their bending only one way, the four fingers' counter balance with the thumb and the soft flesh of the palm. And the fact that there are 10 fingers, and not 9 or 11 fingers, is extremely significant. And he said:
"I cannot imagine that these amazing fingers came to exist in my hands by accident without any participation or influence of a mind. I am convinced of the existence of God simply by examining my ten fingers. I do not need any more evidence!
Another man is impressed with the fact that man's two eye-balls are placed inside the deep holes (eye-sockets) dug in the skull and the brain is placed in the middle of the skull. It makes sense that two of the most important organs of the human body are safely protected in the skull which is really as hard as a rock. That the human skull is a hard solid structure can be seen in the fact that the skull usually remains intact many years after the decomposition of a dead body. It is also sensible that other vital organs like the heart and lungs also are protected inside the ribs of the chest.
Another man is amazed to see that the human body prepares itself for the future need. For instance, when a woman approaches the marriageable age, her breast and pelvis develop and prepare to bear a baby. And when she gives birth to a baby the milk is ready to feed it. This arrangement is called by scholars "the prospective adaptation". This wonderful arrangement suggests that there is an intelligent designer behind it. Only an intelligent mind can make such an arrangement.
In addition to the instances of apparent design in the human body which Socrates mentioned, I gave three more, namely, the 10 fingers, the solid skull which protects the eye-balls and the brain, and the preparation of milk for the new-born baby. In each of the three cases, there was an involvement of intelligence. It appears that there was an intelligent plan and design for a purpose, rather than being the result of blind and random accident. The intervention of a mind seems especially evident in the preparation to meet the anticipated need in the future (e.g. the mother's milk for a new born baby). Since the body of woman who gives birth to a baby is a mindless organism which does not have capability to think, the mind which is involved here must be a mind other than that of the woman. This mind which is outside and beyond the woman would be the divine Mind. The ability to foresee and prepare for the anticipated need in the future calls for a special attention, therefore we will discuss the subject again and give more examples of it.
There are more examples of apparent design in the human body besides the ones which Socrates and I have given. If we add the internal organs of the human body, the number will increase. All the organs, internal and external, are to realize and maintain the life of a body, and also to enable a high qualitative life of an individual person. Shirwin B. Nuland, a professor of the medical college, Yale University, wrote a book entitled "The Wisdom of the Body" (published in 1997). In the introduction to the book Nuland says that he was inspired to write the book "awestruck with the amazement" at the wonder of the human body – the mystery of the body's internal machinery. The miraculous intricacies of organs and tissues, the infinite variety of processes by which the body maintains its life and the multicoloured, multitextured fabric of tangible, pulsating organ that represents to him "nature's most exquisite artistry". Nuland says that he is not the first person who uses the expression "the wisdom of the body" and he gave the names of several scientists who had discussed "the wisdom of the body" before him. We understand what they meant by "the wisdom of the body." If there is a manifestation of wisdom (or intelligence) in the human body, it would not be the wisdom of the body itself because the body is a mindless living thing (organism) which cannot think. It must be the wisdom of a Being that is other than and beyond the human body.
We will explain the point by an analogy. Many people are impressed with marvelous functions of a machine called 'computer' which performs seemingly ever increasing important roles nowadays. If the computer's function shows any cleverness or intelligence, it is not the cleverness or intelligence of the computer itself, but of a human being or human beings who designed and made it. And we do not think that the computer came to exist by accident; we know that it was brought into existence by intelligent human beings. Likewise the fingers, teeth and eyes of the human body would not have come to exist by accident. Is this analogy valid? The opinion is divided on whether the theistic argument based on the analogy between the artifacts and the human body is valid. What is your own opinion?
Examples of apparent design are not restricted in the biological phenomena like the bodies of the humans and the animals. They are found in the physical realm of nature as well. The great physicist of the 17th century, Isaac Newton (1642-1727) believed that the solar system appeared too contrived to have arisen solely from the action of blind forces. He said,
The most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.
For many scientists it was absurd to think that the subtle and harmonious organization of nature is the result of mere chance. This point of view was expressed by another 17th century physicist Robert Boyle (1627-91):
The excellent contrivance of that great system of the world, and especially the curious fabric of the bodies of the animals and the uses of their sensors and other parts, have been made the great motives that in all ages and nations induced philosophers to acknowledge a Deity as the author of these admirable structures.
Boyle introduced the famous comparison between the universe and a clockwork mechanism. Boyle's remark as well as Newton's express the belief that the order and harmony of nature could not have come by accident, but have come into existence by God's creation. This line of thinking was wide-spread in Britain in the 18th and the 19th century. Obviously it is based on the assumption that the mechanistic aspect of the universe resembles man-made artifacts such as a clock. Some scientists collected the evidences of design in nature and published them in eight volumes of Bridgewater Treatises in 1830. The intellectual attempt to prove the existence of God (and sometimes the human immortality as well) from premises provided by the observation of nature is called "natural theology". Natural theology prospered greatly in the 18th and 19th century Britain.
Excerpted from DOES GOD EXIST? by HENDRICK PARK. Copyright © 2013 by Hendrick Park. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc..
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