A tale of two fleas
Imagine a colony of fleas living inside a motor car, the only home they have ever known. Two of them—let’s call them C and E—begin to scientifically investigate this world of theirs. By studying the processes going on in the car, they discover all the basic laws of chemistry and physics—motion, gravity, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and so on.
Everything they have learned can be proved by repeatable experiments, so they eventually agree on every conclusion. Finally a young flea asks them a fateful question: ‘How did this car come about in the first place?’
C: ‘That’s obvious—it has been built at some time in the past by an intelligent designer.’
E: ‘Whaaat? I never heard you talk like that before. Oh, I know, you’re one of those religious cranks who believes in that book in the glove compartment, the manual, supposedly written by this designer. Don’t you know that our best Fleabrew scholars now agree that it is a bunch of myths written by pre-scientific nomadic desert fleas?’
C: ‘How do you account for the car, then, without a maker?’
E: ‘Please don’t get me wrong—you can believe in a maker if you wish, but you have to realize we can’t teach that to young fleas in science classes. Obviously, the scientific processes and laws which we have been studying are and have been slowly and gradually building this car up from simpler substances.’
C: ‘You must be aware of some of the tremendous scientific difficulties with such an idea.’
E: ‘All scientific ideas have difficulties, and I’m working on these. But I’m open-minded enough to change my ideas on how this car evolved as further research results come in.’
C: ‘Would you change your ideas on whether it evolved?’
E: ‘How could I? The only alternative to evolution of this car is its creation, and that would be a religious idea, not a scientific one. It would mean relying on a process (creation) which we can no longer observe, and a maker whom we cannot see. I’m surprised at a scientist like you holding to such mystical ideas.’
C: ‘Actually, it’s my science that’s helped me to conclude that there must be a maker. You must realize that you can’t run an experiment to prove your ideas either.’
E: ‘Now that’s unfair. You know how slowly iron filings are deposited into the crankcase—it would take hundreds of millions of years for them to coalesce into a new crankshaft. But at least we can see something happening.’
C: ‘Your philosophy seems to stop you from even considering the possibility that there really is a car-maker. If there were, would you expect to be able to study the (past) processes of car-making, or the maker? Actually, I think the idea that there was a maker is much more scientifically valid than yours.’
E:‘What do you mean?’
C: ‘Well, the things we observe happening in the car fit better with the idea that it was once made and is now wearing out. Do you remember that second law of thermodynamics we discovered? Overall, everything in this car is wearing out, running down. None of the scientific processes that we have studied has the ability to make this car. I think this is very good evidence for creation. And this evidence is consistent with the book that claims to be the maker’s manual, so it makes good sense to believe what it says.
‘Another important evidence for creation is the organization of the components of this car—that is, the relationship between its parts. You see, a coil has no natural tendency to line up with a distributor and a spark plug in such a way as to make a spark—when these three parts work together, they are all obeying the laws of science—no mysterious processes are at work.
‘Yet everything we know about them forces us to the conclusion that they must have had that order, that relationship, that purpose if you like [E shudders at this point] imposed upon them from outside originally. This is positive evidence for creation. You yourself recognize evidence for creation—if you see a beautiful painting, say a Van Fleagh, you recognize it as the result of creative intelligence. You know this because you know that canvas and oils have no natural tendency to come together in that way. You recognize creation although you may never see the creator or the act of creation.’
E: ‘I can see the point you’re making, but … I refuse to believe there’s anybody out there …’.