Philosophy and Apologetics with a 6-year Old

Have you ever wondered why words carry meaning?  Why is it when we see a word printed on the page, we instantly know the message it carries?  Is this the result of an intelligent mind or is it merely the result of nature, time, and randomness?

One of the more intriguing arguments used in the defense of the Christian faith is the Teleological Argument.  This is basically the argument from design.  The argument in its simplest form posits that a designer must exist since the universe and living things exhibit marks of design in their order, consistency, unity, and pattern.

William Paley made an analogy that communicates this argument well.  It is called the Watchmaker Argument.  Suppose that you found a watch in an empty field-you would logically conclude that it was designed and not the product of a mindless unguided process of chemicals over time. Likewise, when we look at life and the universe, it is natural to conclude there is a designer since we see how perfectly the universe and life forms operate. The eye is typically used as an example of design. It is a marvelous development. In order for it to work, there must be many different convergent parts that individually have no function but have value only in a designed whole. It is only in the combined total that they exhibit their total function. This function is by design.

Another example is the bacterial flagellum.  This tiny propeller driven craft has all the things you would expect of a boat; a hull, a drive shaft, a rotor, an engine, and a propeller.  None of its individual parts are viable or useful on their own.  Therefore, they are not Darwinian.  It is difficult to look at this amazing machine and conclude that it came about from randomness.

I want to look at this argument in a more basic way.  As my 6-year old daughter, Ava and I were discussing God, I posed a question to her:  I said, “Ava, if you walked onto a beach and saw the letters AVA IS BEAUTIFUL written there-in huge letters constructed from rocks and seaweed-what would you think?”  Her reply was intriguing.  She said, “That someone wrote it for me.”  I asked her, “What if you looked up and down the beach and saw no people?  What if the island was completely empty?”  She reiterated, “I’d think that someone wrote it.”  I pressed further:  “Ava, how could words appear on a beach if no person was there?”

She said, and I quote:  “Someone was there.  Someone wrote it.”

someonewrote it.  someonewroteit.

s o m e o n e w r o t e i t

 

Why is it I could go into a cave and see a scratch on the wall and conclude, erosion; yet a trained archaeologist would assume an ancient Chinese marking? Intelligence is assumed when we see the evidence of intelligence.

I love the story that John Lennox tells about having dinner at Oxford, and finding himself sitting across from one of the more eminent biochemistry academics in the world.  John expressed that he was looking forward to the evening, to which the other man asked what he did for a living.  John replied that he was a mathematician and a Christian, the other man replied that it would not be a fun night and that they had nothing to talk about.  Lennox, being the engaging type didn’t let this ruin his evening.  He engaged the man, and their conversation had its apex when they began talking about words. Lennox asked the man if he was a reductionist (a person who reduces everything down to natural events), to which the man answered in the affirmative.  Lennox began to ask him about the menu he was holding.  The words “roast chicken” were among many that were found on the menu.  Lennox honed in on that.  He asked the man if he could explain the power that the words

R O A S T C H I C K E N carried in terms of material forces:

“You can’t explain the semiotics of the words “roast chicken” in terms of paper and ink.  You need intelligence. The explanatory power of chemistry and physics doesn’t extend to semiotics.”

The man conceded:  I have spent years trying to figure out how semiotic power exists, materially speaking.  I can find no way.

Lennox noted, “Whenever you see language you infer intelligence.” ‘You see “roast” in English and you infer intelligence. Then you see the 3.7 billion letters of DNA and you don’t? What’s wrong there?’

“Information itself is not material. Information is not reducible to physics and chemistry.”

Lennox even goes on to say that matter is derivative of mind.  The Bible says “In the beginning was the Word.”  From a Christian perspective this is accurate.  Mind came before matter.  In fact, it was Mind that spoke matter into existence.

We see the evidence of design every day.  We govern our lives to look for it.  Why should we  pause that intuition when it comes to DNA?

In the beginning was the Word.  From that Word came everything else.

 

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