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Creation 33(3):32–34, July 2011

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It’s supernatural (naturally)


©iStockPhoto/borcheeAutom leaves

We all know about the law of gravity, don’t we? It’s what helps the moon slosh tides around the earth, stops galaxies from drifting apart, and holds your soup in the bowl.

We can express it in general terms as the force of attraction that exists between any two bodies, or we can get more specific and express it as an equation that includes the masses of the bodies, their distance apart, gravitational constants and such like, and then use that equation to help launch satellites and build bridges. The law of gravity is what we call a ‘natural law’, or a ‘law of nature’, because it is not derived from any theoretical proofs, but is simply the result of countless observations of what actually happens continually around us. That is, laws are descriptive, not prescriptive—they don’t cause anything to happen but describe what happens, just as a map doesn’t cause the outline of a coastline, but describes what exists.

However, we use the ‘law of gravity’ unthinkingly every time we serve a tennis ball or hang some washing on the line. No one has ever observed an exception to it—it is a law, unbroken and unchallenged at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances, far out in space or in our own bodies.

But it is not the only natural law. Most of us have at least heard of the laws of thermodynamics, the gas laws, the laws of electromagnetic induction, laws of chemical reaction, the law of biogenesis and many more. These are built into the fabric and operation of the universe by its amazing Designer. Some are expressed scientifically as theorems, such as Bernoulli’s theorem that helps us understand how carburettors work.1 These laws cannot be bypassed, and they are not suspended or modified in living things.

Who would want to bypass natural laws? Well, as it turns out, anyone who wants to try to explain the origin of the universe and of life without God must try to tell a story that bypasses at least one, and usually several, natural laws. It is interesting that such a person would insist that everything must be explained in terms of natural laws without supernatural intervention, when really this is self-refuting—it can’t be done.

Let’s look at some general cases

The origin of the universe is popularly believed to have happened in ‘the big bang’. However, it is interesting to note that few serious cosmologists2 will actually talk about the moment of the big bang, but will only talk about the moment after the big bang. The reason for this is that the theory actually calls for us to believe that everything in the universe suddenly appeared, not from a point, but from nothing. Otherwise it is not an explanation for the origin of anything at all. Many people don’t realize that the point that everything supposedly expanded from in this theory has, itself, no explanation, because the idea defies the most basic natural law—the law of conservation of matter/energy: matter/energy cannot be created nor destroyed. Most other theories of the ‘origin’ of the universe assume something pre-existing.3 Thus only supernatural creation can account for the sudden appearance of this universe from ‘nothing’,4 and only supernatural creation can account for the fact that this natural law exists at all. Otherwise universes could just pop up at random any old time.

Atheistic attempts to explain the origin of life from lifeless chemicals collapse on natural law also. This is because the laws of chemical reaction govern the way substances combine chemically. Even if the often-quoted experiments by Miller, Urey and others demonstrated anything realistic about ‘the early earth’, the idea that the resulting amino acids would form proteins in the ocean or lakes and ponds defies these chemical laws.5 This is because the reaction forming a protein from amino acids gives water as a by-product, but a chemical law dealing with concentrations of reactants makes the protein break down again if there is excess water around.6,7 Proteins therefore could never accumulate in these watery environments, certainly not long enough to accidentally form a living structure—no ‘primordial soup’ could give rise to life ‘naturally’.

iStockPhoto.com/LjupcoSuper natural

The laws of probability combined with these chemical laws also work against the idea that even one usable protein could form by accident. Each protein is a very specific arrangement of many amino acids8 not only in their order, but they must also be all ‘left-handed’. No chemical law connects specific amino acids in any particular order, so their arrangement in any protein in a living thing is determined solely by carefully measured processes, like threading beads on a string to make a desired pattern rather than a random, unsatisfying jumble. Therefore only a Creator could have put amino acids into the order and configuration required for the proteins for the first living things. Natural law says that it could not happen ‘naturally’.

Not only this, but there is the ‘law of biogenesis’. This states that life comes only from life. Have you (or anyone you have ever heard of) ever seen any living thing that didn’t have a ‘mother’? You came from a mother, the vegetables you had for dinner grew from seeds, and the bacteria in your large bowel came from the division of other bacteria. There has never been any exception observed. The assumption that the law of biogenesis can be defied has no scientific support. Yet naturalists insist that life began by itself ‘naturally’, without a ‘mother’, and without God. How can this be?

Among many other natural laws we could examine, one of the most telling areas is that of information.9 Information theorems (easily discoverable natural laws) tell us unequivocally that information cannot arise from the action of time and chance on matter. Information requires a mental source with not only intelligence, but also volition. Yet every cell of our bodies contains the equivalent of 1,000 books of information, packed in a density that cannot be exceeded because it is already at the molecular level. Where did it come from? It could only have been devised supernaturally.

But then, does the supernaturalist (creationist) have the same problem, since miracles also ‘violate natural law’? Not at all. Miracles are really additions to natural law.10 For example, Archimedes’ law of buoyancy states that the buoyant force of a fluid (i.e. liquid or gas) is equal and opposite to the weight of the displaced volume of this fluid. Thus if the object is denser than the fluid, the downward force of its weight will overbalance the upward force of its buoyancy, and it will sink. Some skeptics consequently assert that Jesus could not have walked on water because of this law.

However, does this mean that a helicopter rescuing someone from the sea also violates this law? No, the helicopter provides an additional force to the system of the person’s weight and the sea’s buoyancy. Jesus as the Creator (John 1:1–3) likewise could have exerted an additional force.

Materialistic objections to miracles are therefore irrelevant, because, once God is admitted, the universe is not a closed system. His supernatural intervention is obviously necessary for creation and other ‘miracles’. Normally, though, God upholds His universe by natural laws like those we have discussed. In fact, it was the notion of a lawmaking God that led to the idea of natural laws in the first place—the birth of modern science.11

The Bible says “For since the creation of the world [God’s] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20). It is in “the things that are made” that we see the natural laws we have discussed in operation. Those who try to explain the universe without God are faced with the insurmountable problem that these laws, easily observable by theist and atheist alike, themselves deny any ‘natural’ explanation for the origin of the universe and life. They tell us unequivocally: our origins are supernatural, naturally.

Posted on homepage: 15 October 2012

References and notes

  1. Bernoulli’s theorem is a special case of the law of conservation of energy, the First Law of Thermodynamics. Return to text.
  2. Notably the famous physicist and mathematician Stephen Hawking, who admits that the equations he works with collapse as his theoretical musings approach the actual point of ‘beginning’. Return to text.
  3. For example the ‘brane’ theory assumes the existence of two-dimensional ‘branes’ (an extension of ‘string’ theory), while the ‘landscape’ theory assumes a pre-existing universe so huge that our observable universe is only a tiny corner of it, and the ‘quasi steady state’ theory assumes an oscillating universe of infinite age. Return to text.
  4. That is, nothing physical. Return to text.
  5. See creation.com/urey. Return to text.
  6. See creation.com/polymer. Return to text.
  7. This is why you soak your dishes in water before washing up—it breaks down the proteins. Return to text.
  8. Selected from an ‘alphabet’ of about 20. Return to text.
  9. See Gitt, W., In the Beginning was Information, CLV, 1997 [or sequel Without Excuse, Creation Book Publishers 2011]. Return to text.
  10. See also creation.com/miracles. Return to text.
  11. Sarfati, J., Why does science work at all? Creation 31(3):12–14, 2009; Biblical roots of science, Creation 32(4):32–36, 2010. Return to text.