Monday, November 28, 2016

Hugh Ross: Purposeful Cambrian Explosion Argues for God's Existence

Introduction

I love watching illusionists. They perform feats that seem to defy the very laws of physics- cutting people in half (who live to tell about it), disappearing and reappearing, escapes, and many, many others. It is interesting that we see all these things "magically" happen, but we know that they could not happen unless the illusionist was involved. The illusionist has a purpose for making something "appear" or "disappear." They wish to impress and entertain their audience. They usually pick an object with a certain level of complexity that is easily recognizable- a ball, a playing card, or dove or rabbit for instance. They carefully prepare the environment for the illusion; often the audience is a witness to this setup. Now, if any of those objects just appeared on stage (or in the street for that matter), we would not think for a moment that it "just happened" with no explanation. We would immediately look for a cause, a purposeful agent who designed and orchestrated the stunt.

Appearing Acts in Nature

The Cambrian and Avalon explosions are quite analogous to the appearance of an object by an illusionist. These acts were complete with the setup of the environment and everything. In his book "Navigating Genesis" Dr. Hugh Ross explains what has been discovered in nature and how it argues for a purposeful agent behind the setup and execution of the appearances:
"Only through billions of years of photosynthetic activity could Earth's atmosphere and oceans build up sufficient oxygen to support animal life. The very moment oxygen reached appropriate levels, the Avalon and Cambrian explosions occurred. The lack of any appreciable gap between the time of oxygen's rise to minimum life-sustaining levels and the appearance of animals argues strongly for the involvement of a purposeful Creator."

"Only through billions of years of photosynthetic activity could Earth's atmosphere and oceans build up sufficient oxygen to support animal life. The very moment oxygen reached appropriate levels, the Avalon and Cambrian explosions occurred. The lack of any appreciable gap between the time of oxygen's rise to minimum life-sustaining levels and the appearance of animals argues strongly for the involvement of a purposeful Creator."- Dr. Hugh Ross- "Navigating Genesis: A Scientist's Journey Through Genesis 1-11"


Scientific Models Compete 

Creation Model

The theistic creationary model holds that the Creator had purposes for creating animals. In order for the planet to be prepared for animal life, the planet and its atmosphere had to be transformed. The fact that we have a necessary physical condition to be first met and a purpose for animals naturally leads to the prediction that we will discover that as soon as the planet was ready for life that it appeared. Creation models go even further to predict that we will discover that a marked increase in complexity of the new animals would appear suddenly with no step-by-step increase in complexity.

Naturalistic Model

The naturalistic model holds that there is no creator or designer behind anything that happens. The fact that an environment exists that can support a particular type of life does not guarantee that that type of life will emerge or in any particular time frame. In fact, the naturalistic model predicts we will discover that there would be many attempts to get any life forms, more advanced than was already present, going would take millions upon millions of years of "false starts" and "trial and error." Further we should discover that the complexity of the animals that did survive would increase gradually with time (alongside with the numerous other "trial and error" species).


The Results

According to the record of nature, it did not take millions upon millions of years for animal life to appear once the planet could sustain them. Rather the Avalon and Cambrian explosions shortly after the planet could sustain life confirm both predictions of the theistic creation model and falsify both predictions of the naturalistic model. Indeed, these events that we have discovered took place roughly 550 million years ago bear the hallmark of an intelligent and purposeful Creator. Just like the witnessing of a setup and the appearance of an animal or object on a stage (even if an illusionist remains hidden from sight), is powerful evidence that there is, in fact, an illusionist; the setup of the planet and the immediate Avalon and Cambrian explosions following the "setting of the stage" are powerful pieces of evidence that a purposeful agent was behind these "stunts". In our everyday lives, we would react to this situation by concluding an agent was behind it, so why are we not allowed to be consistent with our reasoning and conclude from the setup and the execution of numerous appearances that they were, in fact, the work of the purposeful Creator God of the Bible?

God-of-the-Gaps

But isn't this just a "God-of-the-gaps" argument? A "God-of-the-gaps" argument depends upon the process of elimination (removing all other options from the table before concluding the last remaining one is the correct one). While this process is a valid way to reason (see my post "Validity of the Process of Elimination"), this particular argument does not use the process of elimination but provides positive evidence by arguing that if it is sound to argue from certain observations to a cause today, then it is also reasonable to argue from similar observations to a cause in the past (unless the laws of logic have changed between then and now).

Conclusion

The discoveries of modern science have provided a powerful argument for the work of a creator. Not only have we discovered that life suddenly appeared, but it appeared as soon as the stage was set for that life. If the laws of logic have not changed, and if it is sound to reason from sudden appearances (preceeded by apparent preparation for the appearance) to a purposeful cause (agent) of the appearance, then it is also sound to reason from the preparation of earth for animal life and subsequent Avalon and Cambrian explosions that they too are the result of an Agent.

Recommended Books for Further Investigation:



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