By Ian McKerracher
I have a spider living in my truck. I noticed it the other day when I went out to run the kind of random errand that seems to occupy a major portion of my life. As I got comfortable in the saddle, there it was, walking across the inside of my windshield at eye level, hanging three-quarters of the way upside down!
I like to think of myself as an amateur scientist, approaching the things I see around me with intense focus and an enquiring mind. So, I looked at this spider, whom I called Boris (if you know who, then you know why) and tried to figure out how he could walk upside down across a sheet of near-vertical glass. Boris didn’t seem to have suction cups on his legs like an octopus, although he did share the same number of legs. My second idea was that spiders have claw-feet and can hook their claws on the minute particles of dust clinging to the inside of my windshield. But not wanting to believe that my lack of good housekeeping contributed to Boris’ climbing abilities, I went to the font of all knowledge, Dr. Google. He told me that spiders can spin a small amount of sticky silk out of their feet! WOW! (You can find the article here) That astounded me and I was once again awestruck by the world in which we live.
But this led me to ponder another puzzle. Many, if not most scientists believe in what they call the natural world, and they continually affirm that despite its complexity our universe came about by nothing more than natural means. No divine assistance was needed or wanted. This all started in the 19th century with Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell, Thomas Huxley, and a few others, but thanks to the wide acceptance of their ideas, naturalism has dominated the world of science to the point that today it has become a Shibboleth.
For Big Science the matter is settled. No proof is needed, and no argument is allowed. If you are a naturalist…you’re IN! But if you express the slightest deviation from strict naturalistic orthodoxy or appear to give the slightest credence to intelligent design theory…you’re OUT! In the world’s major universities scientists have lost tenure or been denied tenure over this business! No matter how knowledgeable or skilled in research these men and women may be, they are not allowed to pursue their calling unless they confess their faith in materialism and naturalism. Naturalistic scientists might as well compose a confession of faith in the power of the material world and call it a religion.
If they did it would be a false religion. The easily observable truth is that there are things in this world, like spiders producing web material with their feet, that defy all attempts at naturalistic explanation. Sure, a scientist can suggest possible pathways by which a lesser bug might develop the amazing ability to exude sticky web juice from its feet, but all you would have is a story, a narrative based on nothing more than the empty premise “it could have happened like this.” No matter how blindingly white the scientist’s lab coat, nor how thick the lenses of his spectacles, whatever he says is still a fictional account; fictional because it’s made up. His explanation will never be observable or testable. It can only be made up, and its only plausibility is derived from the supposed authority of the speaker and the desire of the listener to believe. Materialistic, naturalistic scientists have studied the fruit fly for more than a century, and over many thousands of generations, yet they cannot say a word about how those flies came to be. Nor can they explain the origins of anything else.
Our world is too complex to be explained bit-by-bit and item-by-item. That’s the problem with naturalist fiction. The real world is complexity piled on complexity! Look at your hand. The intricacies of functionality through the manipulation of joints and bones is a miracle of engineering. Moreover, for motion to take place those bones and joints need to be supplied with nerves, muscles and flexible connective tendons that allow the fingers and thumb to bend a certain way, but to not bend in other ways. The hand needs to be supplied with blood carrying necessary fuel to the muscles and the whole thing needs a flexible glove of skin to protect it from outside forces. That skin has to be tougher on the palm than the back, and to maintain a workable temperature it needs the ability to sweat while remaining watertight to protect the body from invading viruses and bacteria. And don’t forget, the fingers need nails to help you scratch where it itches. All of this is at least as amazing as a spider’s ability to spin webs with its feet, and none of it can be explained by natural means.
Of course, the hand is just one tiny part in a vast operating theatre of machines and systems, and systems of systems in the human body. Moving from there, we have inconceivable intricacies in ever-widening ripples extending beyond our selves to the outer edge of the universe, each with systems, and systems of systems within themselves, including the symbiotic relationships found throughout the animal and plant kingdoms. We also have the physics of existence, including earth’s perfectly balanced atmosphere, temperature, pressure and chemical make-up. Ultimately, a naturalistic explanation of life, the universe and everything else must account for the existence of the great wells of gravity in the four planets known as the gas giants that protect earth from space junk bombing us from everywhere. And there’s the fine-tuning of the universe (124 constants, and counting) to account for the manifold precise settings that are necessary for the physics of existence.
To the naturalist mind, all of this was accomplished by the random collisions of electrons, protons, and neutrons following the Big Bang. But even these sub-atomic particles are subject to the same mystery. Why do they even exist? And why do they exist as they do? The advances of chemistry and micro-biology bode ill for the naturalist’s fictions, it seems to me.
But that is supposed to be how science works, right? Aren’t we supposed to examine things and rely on what we see and let go of premises that, with added information become increasingly improbable? Properly and honestly pursued, science is supposed to be suspicious of things that don’t add up, isn’t it? Presuppositions are supposed to be lightly held. Right? –Right?
All this from a little spider named Boris, who lives in my truck.