Reasoning By Analogy

The analogical method was described in the nineteenth century by astronomer John F W Herschel, who wrote: "If the analogy of two phenomena be very close and striking, while, at the same time, the cause of one is very obvious, it becomes scarcely possible to refuse to admit the action of an analogous cause in the other, though not so obvious in itself."58

"How does this apply to the origin-of-life issue?" I asked Bradley.

"If the only time we see written information-whether it's a painting on a cave wall or a novel from Amazon.com-is when there's an intelligence behind it, then wouldn't that also be true of nature itself?" Bradley said in responding.

"In other words, what is encoded on the DNA inside every cell of every living creature is purely and simply written information. We use a twenty-six-letter alphabet in English; in DNA, there is a four-letter chemical alphabet, whose letters combine in various sequences to form words, sentences, and paragraphs. These comprise all the instructions needed to guide the functioning of the cell. They spell out in coded form the instructions for how a cell makes proteins. It works just the way alphabetical letter sequences do in our language.

"Now, when we see written language, we can infer, based on our experience, that it has an intelligent cause. And we can legitimately use analogical reasoning to conclude that the remarkable information sequences in DNA also had an intelligent cause. Therefore, this means life on earth came from a 'who' instead of a 'what'."

Undeniably, it was a powerful and persuasive argument. Bradley seemed to reflect on it for a few moments before offering an illustration that would clinch his point.

"Did you see the movie Contact?"

"Sure," I said. "It was based on Carl Sagan's book."

"That's right," he replied. "In the movie, scientists are scanning the skies for signs of intelligent life in space. Their radio-telescopes just receive static-random sounds from space. It's reasonable to assume there's no intelligence behind that. Then one day they begin receiving a transmission of prime numbers, which are numbers divisible only by themselves and one.

"The scientists reason that it's too improbable that there would be a natural cause behind a string of numbers like that. This wasn't merely unorganized static; it was information, a message with content. From that, they concluded there was an intelligent cause behind it. As Sagan himself once said, 'The receipt of a single message from space' would be enough to know there's an intelligence out there. 59 That's reasoning by analogy-we know that where there's intelligent communication, there's an intelligent cause."

Bradley's eyes bored in on me as he delivered his conclusion. "And if a single message from space is enough for us to conclude there's an intelligence behind it, then what about the vast amounts of information contained in the DNA of every living plant and animal?" he said, his voice rising in emphasis.

"Each cell in the human body contains more information than in all thirty volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It's certainly reasonable to make the inference that this isn't the random product of unguided nature, but it's the unmistakable sign of an Intelligent Designer."

It was an argument without an answer. "Then," I said, "the origin of life is the Achilles heel of evolution."

"That's right. As Phillip Johnson said, 'If Darwinists are to keep the Creator out of the picture, they have to provide a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life.'60

"Lee, they haven't been able to do it. Despite all their efforts, they haven't even come up with a single possibility that even remotely makes sense. And there's no prospect they will. In fact, everything is pointing the other way-in the unmistakable direction of God. Today it takes a great deal of faith to be an honest scientist who is an atheist."

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