Psalm 14 - Part 2
Last year I took Liz, my children and grandchildren to Disneyland in Anaheim. I love that place. Liz loves it because her grandfather and grandmother used to manage a hotel basically down the proverbial street. As a young girl, she and her brothers basically lived at the park when they visited their family. I
love it because my parents took us kids there many times as we grew up in the 1960s and 1970s. We even had our senior high graduation party at the park in 1976. Talk about fun. Seniors from all over Southern California flooded the place for an all-night adventure . . . and it happened to pour rain the entire time too. I will never forget that “special” evening.
While a student at Azusa Pacific
University, I had several side jobs to help my
parents out with my schools. Wanting, at
one point, to switch from being a night
janitor for the university and a local Christian high school (Western Christian located on our hilltop campus), I heard that Disneyland was hiring gardeners. Oh man, talk about my DREAM job! Cutting all that perfect turf, trimming all those magnificent flowers, and keeping all those topiaries at a place like It’s A Small World just got me . . . to use ancient California slang . . . completely stoked (I think the word is etymologically wedded to an ancient Hebrew word meaning “excited beyond possible measure . . . just kidding).
I ended up not taking the great paying job because I found out the groundskeepers worked a graveyard shift. Being a logical man, I knew there was no way I could attend college and work all night, so I took an additional job as a daytime (afternoons and early evening) gardener for the school. Ah, I came so close to gardening Nirvana, but alas I await heaven now. I hear the pay is better.
I did walk away with some insights into the question of the existence of God, though. How so? For your analysis I submit a familiar picture of the topiaries at the ride in question. Observation: Every time I have seen these works of pure gardening art, from the early 1960s (when they still had the covet E-ticket books) to 2019, they are ALWAYS manicured. I do not think I have ever seen a leaf out of place, but I have NEVER seen a gardener . . . NEVER, EVER. Nope. I have never seen a gardener keeping those animal and fish figures looking as such. Question: Is there a gardener?
This question naturally gives birth to additional metaphysical questions (I know, it is hard for me to relax, even on vacation). Just because I have never seen a gardener, does not mean a highly skilled and creative one does not exist. As a sidelight, I now know (because of additional revelatory information from the Disney hiring office) there is a gardener who comes late at night when no one is in the park. Additionally, the presence of all of these intricate topiaries, which are neatly and perfectly placed at strategic points, does seem to suggest someone with high, creative intelligence, coupled with a skilled eye for extreme beauty, is personally and perpetually responsible for them. It would, in my view, then, be incredulous and illogical to tell my family, Take it all in family. These wonderful, highly detailed topiaries only have the appearance of a master designer. Are we not so fortunate to behold the outcome of years of random gardening chance as exhibited in this part of the park?”
No person in their right mind would ever say that, right? Why? Because we all innately know that design of this nature naturally and logically points to an intelligent designer who knew, at the beginning, how to wrap wire to form these figurines around the proper plants suited to be continually trimmed to fill out the sculpture in question. To look at all of this topiary evidence and to deduce otherwise is unsound, because all the evidence before your critical eyes informs you there is a designer and a gardener responsible for all of this landscape wonder.
Surely, the wonder, complexity, beauty, and mind-numbing intricacy of every facet of our expansive cosmos makes Disney topiaries pale into insignificance. I am sure this is why King David made these astute observations three thousand years ago,
O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth, who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens (Ps. 8)!
The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. 2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
All of this perfect and predictable star and planet placement and movement could not just be chance. In David’s thinking mind, this intricacy and complexity pointed him to the Master Designer, the Gardener behind the scene. His name? The eternal LORD, Yahweh.
Because the design above his head so logically spoke to him of a divine Designer, David gives us all a word of warning in Psalm 14.
For the choir director. A Psalm of David. 1 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
To look at the off-the-gird design of the world around you and to conclude there is no Designer, no Gardner responsible for the spectacular “topiaries” is to be utterly intellectually and spiritually dishonest and, well, foolish. And once a thinking person allows this to occur a lifestyle of immorality naturally flows forth because man can now become his own ever-shifting, ever- morphing standard of measurement for what he is convinced constitutes truth where morality is concerned. As I said in our last study, this is THE issue for our battered, tattered, and weary land. Whether there is a God or not is no tempest in the proverbial teapot. It is the issue which not only brings peace and true wisdom, purpose and meaning to one’s life (Ecc. 12:1ff), it brings the same foundation forming concepts to a sin-stained, morally rudderless world.
So what about it?
What Are The Evidences There Is A Divine Gardener? (Psalm 14)
Review is a wonderful, helpful thing. First, we have . . .
Evidence From Causation
One, the horizontal cosmological argument, per Dr. Norman Geisler, states:
1. 2. 3.
Everything that begins has a cause. The universe had a beginning. Therefore, the universe had a cause.
This, of course, leads to another logical question, Since there was a Big Bang, is there a Big Banger (as suggested by Greg Koukl in his book Tactics), viz., God? This is the second of two options for the original cause of the cosmos: It is either personal or impersonal? I think it is more logically consistent to opt for a personal cosmic cause.
The second aspect of the cosmological argument is the vertical. What or who caused everything which now exists. The syllogistic structure appears in this format:
1. Something exists (I do)
2. Nothing cannot produce something
3. Therefore, something exists eternally and necessarily
4. I am not a necessary and eternal being (since I change)
5. Thus, both God (a Necessary Being) and I (a contingent being) exist (=theism).1
Or in other words, since cause/effect cannot stretch backwards into infinity, there must be One outside of cause/effect who is uncaused and who set it all in motion. I know the argument and proof is not airtight, but it does seem more logical to believe this than to believe otherwise.
In addition to this evidence for God’s existence from causation, as defined by the cosmological argument, we also have . . .
Evidence From Design
Philosophically, the design argument is also called the teleological argument; namely, because this Greek word, telos, denotes the end, aim, or directed goal of something. Hence, the intricate teleology, or design of my head-set on Sunday mornings, is to pick up my voice and project it through speakers so you can hear the sermon. The teleology of the mask you are wearing is, hopefully, to keep you and others safe from the COVID-19 virus.
Applied to the complex cosmos, teleology argues, a posteriori (after the fact), that things appear to be designed by intelligence for a stated purpose. Many well-educated theologians, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians offer their definition of this intriguing term. H. Wayne House and Joseph M. Holden, two Christian apologists, offer this definition which represents the general tenor of the position: “There is observable order or design in the world that cannot be accounted for by the object itself (e.g. inanimate objects); this observable order argues for an intelligent being who established this order; this being is God.”2 Think of those topiaries at Disneyland. Their design does not look like they designed themselves or are a product of countless years of random chance as they happened to grow in the California sunshine. Their mere complex presence causes us to naturally look at their intricate design to an intelligent designer. Dr. Geisler looks at data points like this and then formulates this brief syllogistic format for this argument:
All complex design implies a designer
The universe (especially life) has complex design
Therefore, the universe must have had a designer
This, of course, is all just another version of the law of causality, of cause and effect. When we see complex design, viz., a topiary in the shape of an elephant, we automatically think of a designer. From this observation and conclusion, it is natural to conclude that life and the cosmos around us is far more complex than a topiary at Disneyland. Hence, it seems prudent, natural, and logical to conclude that a designer, viz., God, must have surely designed this high order, complexity, and beauty. Further, as Geisler aptly points out, “the greater the design, the greater the designer.” No kidding. It is one thing to design a topiary, and quite another to produce respiratory, circulatory, digestive, endocrine, integumentary (skin, hair, nails), immune, muscular, nervous, renal and urinary, reproductive, and skeletal systems which are highly complex and work in tandem on their own as you all comfortably sit in your worship chairs.
And while we are talking about your bodies, consider the greatest evidence there is a Master Designer by considering the DNA which forms you into you, and which keeps you living as you while it runs like a computer program to give you life as you know it. DNA, first discovered in the 1950s, “is a super-molecule which stores coded hereditary information. It consists of two long ‘chains’ of chemical ‘building blocks’ paired together. In humans, the strands of DNA are almost yards long, yet less than a trillionth of-an-inch thick.”4 Regarding its helical, ladder-like complex construction, Francis S. Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, observes:
As a chemist, knowing how extraordinary the qualities of DNA really are, and how brilliant its solution is to the problem of coding life’s design, I am in awe of this molecule . . . . the DNA molecule has a number of remarkable features. The outside backbone is made up of a monotonous ribbon of phosphates and sugars, but the interesting stuff lies on the inside. The rungs of the ladder are made up of combinations of four chemical components, called ‘bases.’ Let’s call them (from the actual chemical names of these DNA bases A, C, G, and T. Each of these chemical bases has a particular shape . . . Now imagine that out of these four shapes, the A shape can fit neatly on a ladder rung next to the T shape, and the G shape can fit only next to the C shape. These are ‘base pairs.’ Then you can picture the DNA molecule as a twisting ladder, with each run made up of one base pair. There are four possible rungs: A-T; T-A, C-G, and G-C. If any single base is damaged on anyone strand, it can be easily repaired by reference to the other strand: the only possible replacement for a T (for example) is another T. Perhaps most elegantly, the double helix immediately suggests a means of its self-copying, since each strand can be used as a template for the production of a new one. If you spit all the pairs in half, cutting your ladder down the center of each rung, each half-ladder contains all the information needed to rebuild a complete copy of the original. As a first approximation, one can therefore think of DNA as an instructional script, a software program, sitting in the nucleus of the cell. Its coding language has only four letters (or two bits, in computer terms) in its alphabet. A particular instruction, known as a gene, is made up of hundreds or thousands of letters of code. All of the elaborate functions of the cell, even in as complex an organism as ourselves, have to be directed by the order of the letters in this script. At first, scientists had no idea how the program was actually ‘run.” This puzzle was neatly solved by the identification of ‘messenger RNA.
We will stop here without getting into the complexities of how RNA runs the DNA computer script to cause its pre-determined functions to actually function. Suffice it to say, DNA is, to tap into our opening illustration God’s carefully fashioned topiary of life. Talk about intricate. Talk about complex. Talk about something designed at an almost unseen level with such potency, power, and perfection, we only understand a fraction of its wonder.
The information storage ability is so dense, as Frank Turek points out, “that if we transcribed all the books in all the world’s libraries into the language of DNA, their content would fit within a volume equivalent to one percent of the head of pin!”5 Further, the 40 trillion cells, which house goal-directed DNA chains of your body, each contain a whopping, jaw-dropping 3.5 billion letter programmed message to cause the various systems of your body to effortlessly and autonomously function. And all of this wonder, this well-thought-out and designed script is placed in cells so small you cannot see them with your naked eye. Think about it. It is one thing to use your intelligence and creative ability to create an elephant topiary, but quite another to create a DNA of this amazing, off-the-complexity-grid nature. Where, I ask, did all of this spectacular programming come from, how did it originate if not by a super intelligence and designer, viz., God?
After studying DNA, Anthony Flew ( a former leading atheist and English philosopher, who later in life embraced the deistic notion of God) once quipped, “What I think that DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinary diverse elements to work together.”6 You think? Francis Collins goes one step further when he surmises, “For me, as a believer, the uncovering of the human genome sequence held additional significance. This book was written in the DNA language by which God spoke life into being. I felt an overwhelming sense of awe in surveying the most significant of all biological texts. Yes, it is written in a language we understand very poorly, and it will take decades, if not centuries, to understand its instructions, but we had crossed a one way bridge into profoundly new territory.”7 Indeed, the scientists had. They had opened a book hand-crafted by the intelligence of the Creator himself. All the evidence points this way for how can blind, unseen forces EVER create a script of this size, this complexity, this ordered to cause life as we know it in its various, magnificent forms? Point is, it could not.
Crafting a topiary is one thing and it points to planned intelligence. Crafting a double- helix of DNA is on another design level altogether and, by definition, points to a person, a being who is more than a Gardener. He is, in fact, God.
I spoke once with a skeptical college student who said, “Hey, Marty, I would believe in God if he spoke from heaven directly to me.” What’s the answer to the arrogant, full-of-himself student? God speaks to you most clearly and profoundly in every cell of your densely crafted body. No wonder David says in Psalm 139,
14 I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.
16 Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them
What a wise man. He looked at the construction of his body, looked at its complexity and amazing construction, and drew a logical inference to the best answer to account for his creation: A master designer, more intelligent than he, personally fashioned him in the womb. No wonder in Psalm 14, verse 1, he says a man is a fool if he willfully choses to look at the evidence God has placed in the cosmos and decides to conclude that this intricate effect was caused by a blind, unfeeling force.
How foolish, about as foolish as telling your son or daughter as you float by the topiaries in your boat at Disneyland, “Honey, now you realize those figures are just there by blind, random chance.” Uh, huh. Hey, dad, thinking, creative people, people with brain power create complex things like topiaries, so surely our complex bodies could not have just been a stroke of really good cosmic luck. No, the fearful, wonderful nature of just our bodies, by default, points upward to an unseen God who allows us to see Him most clearly if we just honestly consider the evidence He has so lovingly given to us.
From the DNA code, we should naturally turn and briefly note just how fortunate we are that this finely tuned code appeared in a finely-tuned cosmos. Regarding this, John Lennox, MA, PhD, DPhil, DSc, who is the Professor in Mathematics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, concludes, “For, the remarkable picture that is gradually emerging from modern physics and cosmology is one of a universe whose fundamental forces are amazingly, intricately, and delicately balanced or ‘fine- tuned’ in order for the universe to be able to sustain life.”8 Also called the anthropic principle, it speaks of how precisely our cosmos is tuned for us to be here enjoying life. J. Warner Wallace defines this view/argument well:
The Anthropic Principe
(1) The physical constants and laws of the universe appear to be uniquely and specifically related to one another (fine-tuned), making life possible on earth.
(2) The fine-tuned relationships of these laws and constants appear to be designed (as their existence by natural, unguided means seems improbable and unlikely).
(3) A design requires an intelligent designer; an incredibly vast and complex design requires an incredibly intelligent and powerful designer.
(4) God is the most reasonable explanation for such a vast, universal designer (and fine- tuner).9
Dr. Hugh Ross, a gifted astrophysicist, has written extensively on the presence of fine-tuning, or tinkering, in order for mankind to be able to enjoy life on this planet. Here is one table:
More than two dozen parameters for the universe must have values falling within narrowly defined ranges for life of any kind to exist.
strong nuclear force constant
If larger: no hydrogen; nuclei essential for life would be unstable If smaller: no elements other than hydrogen
Weak nuclear force constant
If larger: too much hydrogen converted to helium in big bang, hence too much heavy element material made by star burning; no expulsion of heavy elements from stars
If smaller: too little helium produced from big bang, hence too little heavy element material made by star burning; no expulsion of heavy elements from stars
Gravitational force constant
If larger: stars would be too hot and would burn up too quickly and too unevenly
If smaller: stars would remain so cool that nuclear fusion would never ignite,
hence no heavy element production
Electromagnetic force constant
If larger: insufficient chemical bonding; elements more massive than boron would be too unstable for fission
If smaller: insufficient chemical bonding
Ratio of electromagnetic force constant to gravitational force constant
If larger: no stars less than 1.4 solar masses hence short stellar life spans and uneven stellar luminosities
If smaller: no stars more than 0.8 solar masses, hence no heavy element production
Ratio of electron to proton mass
If larger: insufficient chemical bonding If smaller: insufficient chemical bonding
Ratio of numbers of protons to electrons
If larger: electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing galaxy, star, and planet formation
If smaller: electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing galaxy, star, and planet formation
Expansion rate of the universe
If larger: no galaxy formation
If smaller: universe would collapse prior to star formation
Entropy level of the universe
If smaller: no proto-galaxy formation
If larger: no star condensation within the proto-galaxies
Mass density of the universe
If larger: too much deuterium from big bang hence stars burn too rapidly If smaller: insufficient helium from big bang, hence too few heavy elements forming
Velocity of light
If faster: stars would be too luminous
If slower: stars would not be luminous enough
Age of the universe
If older: no solar-type stars in a stable burning phase in the right part of the galaxy
If younger: solar-type stars in a stable burning phase would not yet have formed
Initial uniformity of radiation
If smoother: stars, star clusters, and galaxies would not have formed
If coarser: universe by now would be mostly black holes and empty space
Fine structure constant (a number used to describe the fine structure splitting of spectral lines)
If larger: DNA would be unable to function; no stars more than 0.7 solar masses
If smaller: DNA would be unable to function; no stars less than 1.8 solar masses
average distance between galaxies
if larger: insufficient gas would be infused into our galaxy to sustain star formation over an adequate time span
if smaller: the sun1s orbit would be too radically disturbed
average distance between stars
if larger: heavy element density too thin for rocky planets to form if smaller: planetary orbits would become destabilized
decay rate of the proton
if greater: life would be exterminated by the release of radiation if smaller: insufficient matter in the universe for life
12Carbon (12C) to 16Oxygen (16O) energy level ratio if larger: insufficient oxygen
if smaller: insufficient carbon
ground state energy level for 4Helium (4He) if larger: insufficient carbon and oxygen
if smaller: insufficient carbon and oxygen
decay rate of 8Beryllium (8Be)
if slower: heavy element fusion would generate catastrophic explosions in all the stars
if faster: no element production beyond beryllium and, hence, no life chemistry possible
mass excess of the neutron over the proton
if greater: neutron decay would leave too few neutrons to form the heavy elements essential for life
if smaller: proton decay would cause all stars to collapse rapidly into neutron stars or black holes
initial excess of nucleons over anti-nucleons
if greater: too much radiation for planets to form
if smaller: not enough matter for galaxies or stars to form
polarity of the water molecule
if greater: heat of fusion and vaporization would be too great for life to exist if smaller: heat of fusion and vaporization would be too small for life1s existence; liquid water would become too inferior a solvent for life chemistry to proceed; ice would not float, leading to a runaway freeze-up
if too close: radiation would exterminate life on the planet
if too far: not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets
if too frequent: life on the planet would be exterminated
if too infrequent: not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets
if too late: life on the planet would be exterminated by radiation
if too soon: not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets
white dwarf binaries
if too few: insufficient fluorine produced for life chemistry to proceed
if too many: disruption of planetary orbits from stellar density; life on the planet would be exterminated
if too soon: not enough heavy elements made for efficient fluorine production if too late: fluorine made too late for incorporation in proto-planet
ratio of exotic to ordinary matter
if smaller: galaxies would not form
if larger: universe would collapse before solar type stars could form10
All of this leads to two possible conclusions: One, the fine-tuned balance of the cosmos is merely a fortunate coincidence for man, or, two, the life-giving, life-ordered balance was designed by a Designer possessing unlimited power and authority to pull it off. For those who chose the first option, David says you are being foolish in your conclusion in light of the evidence to the contrary. For those who chose the divine option, David says you are on the path to wisdom through a relationship with the Designer.
Thinking people who have looked into this evidence, this high, unusual order have come to a noble conclusion.
Physicist Freeman Dyson concluded his treatment of the anthropic principle with, "The problem here is to try to formulate some statement of the ultimate purpose of the universe. In other words, the problem is to read the mind of God." Vera Kistiakowsky, MIT physicist and past president of the Association of Women in Science, commented, "The exquisite order displayed by our scientific understanding of the physical world calls for the divine."23 Arno Penzias, who shared the Nobel Prize for physics for the discovery of the cosmic background radiation, remarked: Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say "supernatural") plan.11
Here are three highly skilled scholars who say what anyone should say when looking at evidence of this nature. It appears the only logical conclusion is to conclude that God has given us evidence pointing to His existence. The question, then, has to be posed: Will you follow the evidence to the Christian God, who is the only God who adequately fits the description and qualifications of God.
In His person He is transcendent yet immanent.
In His Trinitarian, monotheistic person He is highly complex to understand,
which is what you would expect of the One who created our cosmic complexity. The greater the structural complexity, the greater the one responsible for it.
In His person He is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, which makes him more than capable of pulling off a creative event of this order and magnitude.
He has not so disclosed himself so as to destroy our free will, and He is not so removed from us we cannot find Him.
What is my counsel to you based on all of this? The same counsel David gave to his son, Solomon:
9 "As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; (1 Chron. 28).