When the Finger of God was First Laid Upon My Forehead
In their book, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, Brand and Yancey cite the Greek poet Sophocles who said that none of the wonders of the world is more wondrous than the human body. Dr. Warren wrote, “When one considers his body he is aware of the fact that it is a marvelous mechanism—a single system which is comprised of sub-systems, all of which must work together in concert if one is to live or even to be very healthy” (We Can Know that God Is 4).
Design is about ends or purposes. Teleology involves reasoning (cf. Greek logos) about endsor purposes (cf. Greek telos). When something manifests that it exists for an end or purpose we say it was designed for that end or purpose. Teleological argumentation for the existence of God involves reasoning from the existence of design to the existence of the designer. Although originally published more than a half century ago (1957), The Resurrection of Theism by the late Stuart C. Hackett remains to this day one of the best treatments of the teleological (design) argument for the existence of God published during the last 100 years, perhaps even longer. Hackett defines the teleological argument as a complex type of theistic argumentation that shows how “the detailed character of the experienced world embodies such adaptations of means to ends and such transcension of the possibilities of a material base, that the whole is explicable only in terms of a personal intelligent will whose nature is goodness and whose ultimate purpose the universe is progressively realizing” (182).
There is found in yet another wonderful volume, Witness—the autobiography of Whittaker Chambers, a powerful illustration of the thrust of the theistic argument from design. Chambers (1901-1961) was a former staunch atheistic communist who engaged in espionage (1935-37), but later defected from communism. He shaped modern conservative political thought and had great influence on the thinking of Ronald Reagan. Witness has been described by George Will as one of the dozen or so indispensable books of the 20th century. In the context of discussing the matter of why men break (defect) from communism, Chambers says, “I date my break from a very casual happening.” He continues:
I was sitting in our apartment on St. Paul Street in Baltimore…My daughter was in her highchair. I was watching her eat. She was the most miraculous thing that had ever happened in my life. I liked to watch her even when she smeared porridge on her face or dropped it meditatively on the floor. My eye came to rest on the delicate convolutions of her ear—those intricate, perfect ears. The thought passed through my mind: “No, those ears where not created by any chance coming together of atoms in nature (the Communist view). They could have been created only by immense design.” The thought was involuntary and unwanted. I crowded it out of my mind. But I never wholly forgot it or the occasion. I had to crowd it out of my mind. If I had completed it, I should have had to say: Design presupposes God. I did not then know that, at that moment, the finger of God was first laid upon my forehead. (16)
The idea of God is so comprehensive (certainly inexhaustible), and it involves many complex issues and questions. However, do not think that believing in God entails the loss of common sense. Such a loss is actually what has happened, according to Thomas Nagel, in the minds of those who believe what Nagel calls “the hard to believe” philosophy of the neo-Darwinian account of the origin and evolution of life. Professor Nagel, himself no theist, has written in his book,Mind and Cosmos:
…[F]or a long time I have found the materialist account of how we and our fellow organisms came to exist hard to believe, including the standard version of how the evolutionary process works. The more details we learn about the chemical basis of life and the intricacy of the genetic code, the more unbelievable the standard historical account becomes . . . . [I]t seems to me that, as it is usually presented, the current orthodoxy about the cosmic order [i.e. naturalism] is the product of governing assumptions that are unsupported, and that it flies in the face of common sense. (5)
The loss of common sense is what happens when people, as did Whittaker Chambers while in his atheistic belief, crowd out the implications of “immense design” evidenced in “the delicate convolutions” of a baby’s ears. In a figure, as Chambers stated, “the finger of God was . . . laid upon [his] forehead.” It is a powerful reminder that, instead of crowding out the implications of design, one needs to open his mind and follow the evidence where it leads. “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both” (Proverbs 20:12).