Thomas Aquinas said that the Universe expresses an “underlying intention”.
He wrote
“An orderliness of action to an end is observed in all bodies obeying natural laws, even when they lack awareness. For their behaviour hardly ever varies, and will practically always turn out well, which shows that they truly tend to a goal and do not hit it by accident. Nothing, however, that lacks awareness tends to a goal, except under the direction of someone with awareness and with understanding….Everything in nature, therefore, is directed to its goal by someone with understanding and this we call “God”.

If everything is “random” and “by chance” why do the laws of nature remain the same? Why do they do not also keep changing if they came into existence by mere chance?

Williams writes: “If the universe really is the product of purposeless chance, then why should nature obey elegant mathematical laws? If you think that the universe has its origins in chance, doesn’t it make sense to think that its existence and form of existence will be equally chancy?”

The Revd Garth Barber, Anglican Chaplain at the University of East Anglia, is a member of the Society of Ordained Scientists. He wrote a letter to New Scientist magazine that read
“If a complete explanation for the origin of the Universe in terms of natural laws and mathematical equations is ever found then the question could still be raised: “Who is the author and guarantor of those laws?” Or as Stephen Hawking himself vividly asks: “What breathed fire into the equations?””

Theologian Keith Ward wrote this
“The continuing conformity of physical particles to precise mathematical relationships is something that is much more likely to exist if there is an ordering cosmic mathematician who sets up the correlation in the requisite way. The existence of laws of physics…strongly implies that there is a God who formulates such laws and ensures that the physical realm conforms to them.”

NB A full list of well known scientists who were also believers in God, or are believers in God, can be found here

Does evolution challenge the theory of intelligent design?

Williams is not anti-evolutionist in his argument. He says that the theory of evolution is not a threat to belief in God. I would agree.

Williams writes
“Evolution may account for the existence of complex arrangements of matter such as eye-balls; but evolution is itself a complicated process involving raw material being worked upon by the laws of natural selection (the mutation of genes, survival of the fittest, and so on). Evolution does not destroy the analogical design argument, it merely pushes it back a step, from the objects that make up the world, to the substances and processes that make the objects that make up the world. Evolution cannot account for ultimate origins or the existence of order, because its operation requires the existence of entities with certain possible behaviours in an environment that works upon those entities in an ordered way”

It's rather like the argument from last week's course in this respect:

“Any sort of evolution of order of any kind will always presuppose pre-existing order and pre-existing entities governed by it. It follows as a simple matter of logic that not all order evolved. Given the physical world – how much of evolution it may or may not contain – there is or was some order in it which did not evolve….We come here upon a logically insurpassable limit to what evolution, however it may be understood, can accomplish.”
Dallas Willard “Does God Exist?”

People are quick to say that science explains things that God once used to explain, but it is not as simple as that. Science cannot answer certain questions:

For example - Why is the water boiling?

A scientific answer will include lots of chemistry and physics, talk of thermodynamics and so on. What it will not mention is that the water is boiling because I want a cup of tea.

The Greek Philosopher Aristotle and the Four Causes

Material cause
Formal cause
Efficient cause
Final Cause

What causes a house to be built?

Material cause – the bricks that make up the house
Formal cause - the way the materials are arranged to make up the house
Efficient cause – who puts the bricks in place – the builders
Final cause – the purpose behind why the house was built in the first place

The scientific and religious explanation are both true – just on different levels or in different spheres of understanding. They do not rival one another.

Williams writes this:“If I asked a scientist why anything exists at all, could she give me a scientific answer? No. She might say that “there is no reason” but that wouldn’t be a scientific answer. That would be her metaphysical interpretation upon the existence of the universe; that it lacks explanation. Science cannot rule out the opposite interpretation because science is a discipline that works by excluding personal explanations in the first place (her personal view that there is no reason is just a person point of view and cannot be proven).”


Williams is not a literalist when it comes to Genesis 1, showing that Augustine and other Christian thinkers saw it as symbolism with a deeper meaning.

Williams argues that there is quite a lot of evidence to suggest evolution has been at work in the planet, but that there are still clear signs of God’s hand at work in creation.

His classic example is to do with DNA.

He writes “How are we to account for the coming together of nucleotides and amino acids in the precise arrangement of proteins, DNA and RNA? Sir Fred Hoyle notoriously argued that the emergence of life from the random shuffling of molecules is “as ridiculous and improbable as the proposition that a tornado blowing through a junk yard may assemble a Boeing 747.” Hoyle calculated the likelihood of life beginning through the “chance” combination of twenty component amino acids into two thousand enzyme molecules as one in ten to the power of forty thousand.”

Paul Davies comments: “The main reason why the origin of life is a puzzle is because the spontaneous appearance of such elaborate and organized complexity seems so improbable. If I shuffle a pack of cards and then deal them to four players and find that each player has received an exact suit in correct numerical sequence, am I to suppose a miracle has occurred to interfere with the physical process of shuffling? It is certainly possible that ordinary “natural” shuffling will produce an exactly ordered sequence of cards, but because the odds are so small, the occurrence of such an event would arouse deep suspicion that something had happened to interfere with the randomness of the process.”

So the intelligent complexity of it all speaks of the possible existence of God.

Freeman Dyson writes “I do not feel like an alien in this universe. The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming.”

Quote about DNA
Williams writes “The crucial thing about DNA is that it has to exist before there are intelligent creatures, and yet it has the character of encoded information which can only be produced by an intelligence.”

Just consider how complex creation is!
A single cell of the human body contains as much information as all thirty volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannia – three or four times over!

Williams writes
“At the present time, the appeal to some as yet unknown physical process which will account for DNA is just as much an act of faith as the suggestion that “God did it”. The fact that science has sometimes managed to explain things that once seemed scientifically inexplicable does not mean that everything must be scientifically explicable.”
Also what cannot be explained scientifically is the origin of the information encoded in DNA, even if we arrive at understanding the physical make up of DNA.

Williams writes
“The “primeval soup” is like a bag of randomly shuffled scrabble pieces (nucleotides). To spell out words (codons or triplets), sentences (genes), paragraphs (operons), chapters (chromosomes), and books (living organisms), they must not merely be “drawn from the bag” in a repetitive order (NONONO) but in an order which encodes information (AN ELEPHANT NEVER FORGETS); and this requires the existence of information which can be encoded. Information, although it can be encoded in matter, can only originate within a mind that has some connection with the system of “symbols” which encodes it. The computer programme “tells” the computer what to do, but only because it is the encoding of the programmer’s intentions according to a system established by the computer’s designer.
The physical and chemical hardware involved in DNA can be explained scientifically, but the arrangement of parts involved can be likened to the arrangements of scrabble pieces or of magnetic fields on a computer disc to encode information, and the original information must come from the mind. Experience tells us that objects with high information content, such as books and musical scores, are products of intelligence. It is reasonable to conclude by analogy that DNA is also the product of intelligence.”


Keith Ward has quite an argument with Richard Dawkins and Peter Atkins about Evolution/Creationism and other matters.
Richard Dawkins

Williams writes
“Ward says that it is no harder to suppose that God brought life into existence through a long process of evolution than to think that creation happened over a short period of time. Indeed, the evolutionary path might be seen as the more impressive. According to Ward, there is every reason to regard the evolutionary account and belief in God as mutually reinforcing, for “evolution from a state where no values are apprehended to states in which values can be both created and enjoyed gives an overwhelming impression of purpose and design.”

So you can believe in evolution and believe in God…indeed Ward argues that evolution is a sign of there being an intelligence at work.

Dawkins has a history of picking on the most fundamentalist forms of religion and criticising them, without realising that many of the most famous Christians in history were believers

Look at these scientists for example:

Nicholas Copernicus (1473 – 1543) laid the foundations of modern astronomy and the scientific revolution by suggesting on mathematical grounds that the earth travelled round the sun. He held office in the Polish Church as a Canon of Freuenburg Cathedral and described God as the “Best and Most Orderly Workman of All”

Galileo Galilei, physicist and astronomer, (1564-1642) was the founder of modern mechanics and experimental physics – argued that the earth was not the centre of the universe. Although he was persecuted by the Church he argued “there are two big books, the book of nature and the book of supernature, the Bible”

The founder of modern optics was the brilliant early astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630) best known for his discovery of the three principles of planetary motion. He was a deeply sincere Lutheran and said that he was “thinking God’s thoughts after him”.

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) – one of the most towering scientific intellects in history.
Well-known for his formulation of the laws of gravity and an expert in the field of optics, astronomy, differential calculus and responsible for the first correct analysis of white light. He believed in the inspiration of Scripture and wrote theological books as well as scientific books, regarding his theological books as more important. He believed that no sciences were better attested than the religion of the Bible.

Michael Faraday (1791 – 1867), who appears of the back of our old £20 notes, was one of the greatest scientists of the nineteenth century. He discovered the phenomenon of electro-magnetic induction. He was the first to produce an electric current from a magnetic field. He invented the first electric motor and dynamo. Again, the Christian faith was he single most important influence upon him.

Joseph Lister pioneered antiseptic surgery
Louis Pasteur originated pasteurisation
Gregor Mendel helped form the basis for genetics
Lord Kelvin was a leading light in the foundation of modern physics
James Maxwell formulated electro-magnetic theory.
All these leading Christians were scientists.
Professor James Simpson, who paved the way for painless surgery through anaesthetics was asked “What do you think is the most important discovery of your life?”
He replied “The most important discovery I ever made was when I discovered Jesus Christ.”

Christians in Science has 700 members in the UK
Christians in Science has 7000 members in the USA

Revd Dr John Polkinghorne, President of Queens’ College, Cambridge, Fellow of the Royal Society, who was professor of mathematical physics before his ordination in 1983, wrote:

“The physical world’s deep mathematical intelligibility (signs of the Mind behind it) and finely tuned fruitfulness (expressive of divine purpose) are reflections of the fact that it is a creation.”

Let's go back to the question of evolution. There are arguments against it of course.


I am quite happy to believe that evolution may have happened but we are still left asking difficult questions. Namely, how did cells evolve if they needed all their component parts in order to survive?

Williams writes
“Consider just one of the irreducibly complex molecular machines. Behe mentions in his book the cilium. Cilia are tiny hair-like structures on the outside of cells that help to move fluids over stationary cells (for example in your lungs) or are used by the cell to swim (as in the single-celled paramecium). Without going into details, cilia are molecular paddling units. Any system that swims needs a paddle to make contact with the liquid, a motor or energy source to power the paddle, and something to transfer energy from the motor to the paddle. This complexity is inherent to the task of swimming, and no system that lacked on of these components could swim. The cilium is a swimming machine with microtubals for paddles, dynein arms for motors and nexin arms for connectors:
The complexity of the cilium and other swimming systems is inherent in the task itself. It does not depend on how large or small the system is, whether it has to move a cell or a ship; in order to paddle, several components are required. The question is, how did the cilium arise?”

The cilium must have arrived on the scene as a package deal as a motor on its own or a paddle on its own is totally ineffectual.

Behe writes “To say that Darwinian evolution cannot explain everything in nature is not to say that evolution, random mutation, and natural selection do not occur; they have been observed (at least in the case of micro-evolution) many different times…I believe the evidence strongly supports common descent. But the root question remains unanswered; what has caused complex systems to form?”

Nobody has answered this question. An atheist would say “nothing” to this answer, but that is just as much a step of faith as believing in God.

As I have said several times in this course already, this course is not about proving that there is a God, but showing that there are good arguments in favour of the existence of there being a God. Ultimately it does come down to faith, as if God proved himself to us beyond doubt we would no longer be able to choose to freely follow him, but would become his prisoners.

For the atheist – no proof has been found as to how the process started in the first place.

Williams writes
“The Journal of Molecular Evolution was established in 1971, and is dedicated to explaining how life came to be at the molecular level. None of the papers published in JME has ever proposed a possible route for a single complex biochemical system to arise in a gradual, step-by-step Darwinian process.”

So it is still an open question . I would argue that the intelligence and complexity present in the world strongly points towards the existence of an intelligent creator – God.


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