There’s no question that life is complex, but few (if any) other natural, non-living objects exhibit the same level of complexity. Why?
If God has no problem creating complex living things, then he should have no difficulty creating complex non-living things, like churches, buildings, roads, statues, machines, books, art, etc.
But if we strip away all the living and man-made objects from earth, we’re left with little more than gasses, water, dirt, rocks, magma, etc. It’s a very natural landscape that void of any clearly designed complex objects.
What might an intelligently designed world look like?
God could’ve created any number of non-living objects to convey intelligent design…
- God could’ve constructed a few complex structures such as homes, churches, streets or buildings.
- God could’ve written his own book, rather than inspiring others to write it for him (and God could’ve given copies to every nation in every language).
- God could’ve created a few boats or bridges to help us cross seas and rivers.
- God could’ve constructed a temple for the Jews, rather than instructing them on how it should be designed. He could’ve used rare materials such as crystal or diamond, or even some unknown element.
- God could’ve carved out the Panama Canal in advance, and constructed a bridge spanning the top of it (surely God knew people would eventually want to cross through Panama).
- God could’ve left large cubes of highly refined raw materials dispersed throughout the earth, so we wouldn’t have to sift through billions of tons of soil just to find them.
- God could’ve carved faces in the mountains, or formed the continents into recognizable shapes, or used the stars to draw images that convey an important message.
- God could’ve designed rocks to be shaped like Lego’s, in order to accommodate the easy construction of walls and homes.
- Or God could’ve provided us with a magical portal to travel from one habitable planet to another, instead of constructing billions of worlds and then making them all off-limits.
Signs of intelligent design in space?
Looking beyond earth, we see a very natural Universe that also lacks clear signs of advanced complexity.
We see things like spherical stars and planets, but spherical shapes emerge naturally whenever gravity applies equal pressure to all sides of an object. And we see spiral galaxies, but these can also form naturally.
The landscapes of planets and moons also appear random and natural. Take our moon for example; if God directs the trajectory of every meteor that impacts its surface, he could’ve had them form a recognizable pattern (such as a smiley face).
Why would a designer even want to leave debris floating in space? Where it can crash into moons and planets at seemingly random times?
And why design entire galaxies that collide with one another? Wouldn’t a designer want to place enough distance between them so that this never happened? Such events give us the impression that nature is chaotic and random, not carefully designed.
Some believers might say that natural laws (e.g. gravity) exhibit intelligent design, but these laws are much more abstract. Is the speed of light or gravity really complex? Or does the our Universe just exist because these natural laws just happen to be what they are? (At least in this particular incarnation of our Universe.) Even if it’s true that God designed all natural laws, and all life, there is still an awkward gap where God does not design any large-scale objects that could also demonstrate complexity.
Would we even know design if we saw it?
In 1967, when Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish first discovered pulsating radio signals from space, they were open to the possibility that it could’ve come from an intelligent source. Astrophysicist Peter A. Sturrock writes:
“…when the first regular radio signals from pulsars were discovered, the Cambridge scientists seriously considered that they might have come from an extraterrestrial civilization.”
And in 1976, mankind discovered another potentially designed object, a face on Mars. And while it turned out to be nothing more than a few rocks and shadows, man had no problem recognizing that such a complex structure would require a designer.
When complexity presents itself, mankind seems ready to accept the possibility of an outside influence.
Big design vs. small design
Intelligent design proponents often point to large man-made objects such as cars, planes, buildings, computers, Mount Rushmore, etc. and say, “We can look at these complex objects and infer they were intelligently designed. If we can infer design with these object, then we can also infer it with complex living objects.” But this is an unfair comparison for a couple reasons.
What the intelligent design proponent should be doing is pointing to another like object, and saying, “And so this large, inorganic object that was not man-made was clearly designed by an intelligent designer!” But no such objects exist.
The laws are completely different between objects that form on a molecular level verses those that form at a macro-level. While it’s true that even single-celled organisms are complex, their complexity begins at a microscopic level, where complex repeating bonds and patterns are much more common than with objects on a larger scale.
Similarly, microscopic RNA can form patterns that are able to self-replicate. We do not see any kind of self-replication occurring on a larger scale.
Getting back to the point, while it would be impossible for natural forces to design something like a large car or a building, God has no such limitations. It’s just as easy for God to design a temple as a man, so why didn’t he? Why not design lots of large, inorganic objects that display creativity? It’s odd that we don’t see advanced complexity in large-scale inorganic objects, we only see complexity stemming from life.
When I look around, the only real complexity I observe stems from living things, which may owe their existence to their roots in the microscopic world. Earth’s landscape — and the entire Universe — seems void of any inanimate God-made objects that might clue us into his existence.
The idea that God would not want to design such objects almost runs counter to his creative nature. We have a God who says, “I’m the creative type; I’ll design countless numbers of complex life-forms that demonstrate my creativity and intelligence, but I absolutely refuse to design a single non-living things.” Odd.