The Rolex in The Woods: A Universe by Design or Accident?

Imagine you go out to the woods for a hike one evening. On your way through the trail you notice something shiny on the ground. Because most of us like shiny things you veer off the path to pick it up. You soon discover that the object is a diamond studded watch.

Naturally you might begin to wonder how it got there. You would probably wonder who lost it and if you’re a nice person, you might hope to return it to its owner. But you would assume (at least if you are rational) that it had not always been there.

Hopefully, you wouldn’t think that it was produced by natural forces. You would not assume that the elements, the soil, the rain, and erosion produced such complex machine. You would attribute this watch to having been designed - Each gear inside the watch designed to perform a certain function, the diamonds carefully cut and placed around the outside, and the band designed to fit around someones wrist.

Because the object has so many important and specific functions, we would assume it has a designer. This is sometimes called the “Teleological Argument” for God’s existence and it was first made famous by philosopher William Paley (1743-1805).

What about the universe? It is made up of the most the most functional material we could possibly imagine, and yet believers in intelligent design have recently come under fire from the new-atheists as being unscientific.

Would you say it takes more faith to believe that the watch came together by natural forces or to say it is a product of design? For this reason, I would say atheists claiming the universe is a product of blind forces have an immense amount of faith. In fact, famed atheist Richard

Dawkins wrote an entire book titled The Blind Watchmaker, in which he makes a case for a universe created by blind natural forces.

But the universe is ripe with evidence of fine tuning. There are plenty examples of these signs of design: The shape of the Milky Way galaxy is unique and favorable to life, the Earth’s distance from the sun is life permitting, Jupiter defends Earth from asteroids and comets that would wipe us out, the distance from the Earth to the moon is life-permitting, the size of our universe permits life, etc.

There are also universal constants that if altered by the smallest fraction would eliminate the possibility of our existence: gravity, electromagnetic force, weak and strong nuclear forces, etc.

Cosmologist Ed Harrison wrote, “Here is the cosmological proof of the existence of God-the fine design argument of Paley-updated and refurbished. The fine-thing of the universe provides prima facie evidence of deistic design.”1

I think it is appropriate to point out that belief in God’s design of the universe is a far cry from irrational.

No, I’d say the burden of proof is much heavier for those suggesting that our extremely complex and intricate universe is here by a cosmic accident. As someone once said, Michelangelo didn’t create the Sistine Chapel by throwing a bucket of paint at the ceiling.


1. Norman Geisler and Paul Hoffman, eds., Why I am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe (Grand Rapids, MI:Baker, 2001), 142.

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