Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Assuming a Can Opener

Author Eric Metaxis recounts the old story of a chemist, a physicist, and an economist stranded on a desert island with nothing to eat but a can of soup:
Puzzling over how to open the can, the chemist says, “Let’s heat the can until it swells and bursts from the buildup of gases.” “No, no,” says the physicist, “let’s throw it off that cliff with just enough kinetic energy to split it open on the rocks below.” The economist, after thinking a moment says, “Assume a can opener.”
The humor of the story lies in the absurdity of the assumption. Of course, if there's a can opener then there's no problem getting the can opened, but what justifies the assumption that a can opener exists?

Metaxis compares this story with its convenient assumption of the existence of a can opener to the controversy surrounding the origin of life. He writes:
The way Darwinists approach the origin of life is a lot like that economist’s idea for opening the can. The Darwinian mechanism of mutation and natural selection explains everything about life, we’re told—except how it began. “Assume a self-replicating cell containing information in the form of genetic code,” Darwinists are forced to say. Well, fine. But where did that little miracle come from?

Dr. Stephen Meyer explains in his book “Signature in the Cell” why this may be Darwinism’s Achilles heel. In order to begin evolution by natural selection, you need a self-replicating unit. But the cell and its DNA blueprint are too complicated by far to have arisen through chance chemical reactions. The odds of even a single protein forming by accident are astronomical. So Meyer and other Intelligent Design theorists conclude that Someone must have designed and created the structures necessary for life.
Darwinian naturalists, however, simply assume a can opener. They assume, despite the complete and utter lack of empirical evidence, that something existed somewhere that somehow organized the first replicating cell.

When someone believes something despite the lack of supporting evidence we sometimes derisively call that blind faith. It's ironic that those who believe that the extraordinary complexity and functionality of life are evidence of an intelligent agent are accused of having "blind faith" by the same people who believe that nature waved a magic wand and fortuitously brought living things into being by accident from a chemical soup even though no evidence has ever been adduced that would support the claim that this is even possible.

Those who direct the pejorative of blind faith at those who posit an intelligent agent behind the origin of living things would do well to first examine a few of their own beliefs before they find themselves embarrassingly hoist with their own petard.