Thursday, December 24, 2009

To the Jew First: An Introduction

Many Christians anticipate the opportunity to witness to their family, friends and others coming from a variety of backgrounds. They study competing world views--atheism, Islam, Buddhism--and Christian counterfeits--Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Unitarianism--in an effort to be better prepared to "exhort in sound doctrine, and to refute those who contradict" (Titus 1:9). It sometimes seems, however, that few Christians make a comparable effort to be similarly prepared to evangelize to Jewish unbelievers (myself included).

My hope in starting this series is primarily to be better prepared myself to witness to, and defend Christianity from, unbelieving Jews. Secondarily, however, I hope to make it possible for other Christians to do the same, and to encourage us all to reach out to Jewish people, families and communities with the truth that Jesus is their Messiah. He is their hope, the fulfillment of their history.

But first, in introducing this series I wish to explain its name:

TO THE JEW FIRST

Paul, near the beginning of his letter to the Romans, repeats a peculiar phrase:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 2:9-10)

What does Paul mean when he writes that salvation and tribulation are "to the Jew first?" Some have viewed this phrase as being rather innocuous, as being merely a list in which "the Jew" happens to be mentioned first. According to this view, Paul is merely saying that salvation is to everyone, both Jews and Gentiles, and nothing more should be read into the text. This, however, seems unlikely since the Greek word Paul used, here rendered "first", is prĊton and does not mean merely "first in a list in no particular order." Instead, it refers to chronological order, or to preeminence in rank or in honor. Paul's use of the word suggests something more.

Recognizing this, others view this as teaching simply that salvation was offered first to Israel, and upon being rejected was offered next to Gentiles (though without rescinding the offer to Jews). In his commentaries, Matthew Henry wrote in the early 18th century, "The lost sheep of the house of Israel had the first offer made them, both by Christ and his apostles.You first (Acts 3:26), but upon their refusal the apostles turned to the Gentiles, Acts 13:46." The implication is that the apostles began their ministry witnessing to Jews, but at a definite point in history, after continuous rejection from the Jewish people, the apostles moved on, shifting their focus to the Gentiles. David Guzik, director of Calvary Chapel Bible College, Germany, puts it this way in his Study Guide for Romans 1:

The message of the gospel came for the Jew first and also for the Greek (the non-Jew). This was demonstrated both by the ministry of Jesus (Matthew 15:24) and the initial ministry of the disciples (Matthew 10:5-6)...This means that the gospel was meant to go first to the ethnic and cultural Jew, and then to the cultural Greek.

That Jesus came to reach out to the lost sheep of Israel, rather than to Gentiles, is true. Also true is that the ministry of the apostles was at first virtually exclusively directed toward Jews, whereas later God revealed to Peter that he and the Church was to reach out to Gentiles, too. However, once this point was reached, once the Lord revealed to the Church that they were to evangelize to the Gentiles, what was the pattern of their evangelism?

BEHOLD, WE ARE TURNING TO THE GENTILES

Matthew Henry, as quoted above, pointed to the following passage in Acts as evidence that there came a point in time at which the apostles shifted focus, no longer witnessing to Jews with special emphasis:

But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles...When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. (Acts 13:45-51)

This passage is often used as evidence that the apostles "moved on" from the Jews, that they had been given a host of opportunities to accept their message, but finally the apostles "shook off the dust of their feet" and turned to the Gentiles. But is this really what happened? Were Paul and Barnabas finally shifting their focus to the Gentiles?

We find our answer a mere two verses later: "In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together" (Acts 14:1). Yes, in Pisidian Antioch, Paul and Barnabas first witnessed to the Jews (Acts 13:14), and upon being rejected turned to the Gentiles. But then, upon traveling to Iconium, they again first witnessed to the Jews. Later, "they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures" (Acts 17:1-2). Next, "The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews" (Acts 17:10). While waiting for his escorts in Athens, Paul "was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles" (Acts 17:17). Then, upon arriving at Corinth, "he found a Jew" and "stayed with them" and "was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath" (Acts 18:1-4). Next he "came to Ephesus, and...he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews" (Acts 18:19).

Thus, after turning to the Gentiles in Pisidian Antioch, he arrives in Iconium and goes to the Jews first. He repeats this pattern in Thessalonica, and again in Berea, later in Athens, and in Corinth, and in Ephesus. Shaking the dust off his feet and "turning to the Gentiles," therefore, was not a distinct event in time, but rather was his pattern everywhere he went. "To the Jew first" appears to have been, not just a claim that salvation was intended for the Jews first but then was expanded to include the Gentiles, but was Paul's very mode of evangelism.

Does this have any relevance to Gentile Christians today? Should we, like Paul apparently did, make a special effort to evangelize to Jewish unbelievers, regardless of which other groups of people we feel called to reach?

GOD IS NOT ONE TO SHOW PARTIALITY

One might object at this point, quoting Paul himself who said, "God is not one to show partiality" (Acts 10:34). In fact, he said this in the very passage where he wrote "to the Jew first", saying, "glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God" (Romans 2:10-11). Peter said God "made no distinction between us [Jews] and them [Gentiles], cleansing their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:9). If God does not show partiality, and if there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, wouldn't an emphasis on Jewish evangelism be a showing of partiality where God shows none? The making of a distinction where no such distinction exists?

Paul gives us a clue in his letter to the Galatians where he wrote, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). Here Paul says that in the same way "there is neither Jew nor Greek...there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus," teaching this same concept of there being no distinctions between people when it comes to salvation. Yet, Paul also wrote to the Corinthians saying, "the man is the head of a woman" (1 Corinthians 11:3). He wrote the same to the Ephesians saying, "the husband is the head of the wife" (Ephesians 5:23). Stranger still, perhaps, are these words from Paul:

The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)

If Paul's having said "there is neither male nor female" means that there is no distinction whatsoever between men and women, then why does he say "the husband is the head of the wife," and "let [women] ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church?" Paul himself is making a distinction between men and women. What does this mean?

The passages that speak of there being no distinction between peoples teach that there is no difference in salvation, no excluding one group in favor of the other. Both men and women find salvation in Christ. Both slave and free. And yes, both Jew and Gentile. However, that does not mean that they are completely without distinction. As men and women serve different roles in the household and in the Church, so, too, might Jews and Gentiles serve different roles in the Church as well.

What distinction might there be, then, between Jews and Gentiles? Why is it that Paul's pattern appears to have been to witness "to the Jew first" in every town to which he traveled? Why might we have a similar calling to place special emphasis on Jewish evangelism?

TO MAKE THEM JEALOUS

Paul, the very apostle who repeatedly wrote that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, wrote this in his epistle to the Romans: "What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened...by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous" (Romans 11:7,11). Certainly there are several noteworthy reasons God expanded the recipients of the gospel to include Gentiles, but here we see that at least one specific reason Gentiles were granted salvation is "to make [Jews] jealous."

However, it is not without purpose that God intends to use Gentiles to move Jews to jealousy. Paul also wrote, "I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them" (Romans 11:13-14). Christians, arguably Gentile Christians in particular, have a purpose, one major one (among several, perhaps) being moving Jews to return to their God. If we have a role to fill, one of moving Jews to repentance, to embracing their Messiah, then it stands to reason that preparedness to witness to Jewish unbelievers ought to be a priority. And this purpose would also explain Paul's pattern of evangelism.

It is for this reason that I begin this series. My analysis may be flawed, but it certainly seems to me that when Christians reach out with passion to atheists, to Muslims, to Buddhists, and to Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and to Unitarians, if we're not making a comparable effort to witess to Jews, we're neglecting part of the very reason we Gentiles were saved to begin with. "Salvation is from the Jews," (John 4:22) Jesus said. As Gentiles, we've been "cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree," (Romans 11:24) which is Israel. And if we put forth the effort, we can have a huge impact, because "how much more will [Jews] who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?"

How great it is when Jewish people turn from their disbelief and embrace the Jewish Savior, "For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?" (Romans 11:15)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Darwin's Dilemmas: Essence Precedes Existence--Conclusion

Evolutionary theory, and its existentialist nature, are refuted by the fossil record and by new insights into the development of growing organisms, which demonstrate that "essence precedes existence." Critics of intelligent design theory charge that it is "bad science," and demand that any attempt to explain the origins of life and its diversity be testable through laboratory experimentation. Yet scientists in their own fields, and in "historical" sciences like geology, archaeology and paleontology, have posited legitimate scientific hypotheses that are not testable in the same way as in experimental sciences like chemistry and physics. Their theories are tested by comparing their explanatory power to that of competing theories attempting to explain what we see today by theorizing past events or conditions.

How can this legimiately scientific approach and its test of the explanatory power of competing theories be used to determine the cause of the diversity of biological life we see today?

INFERENCE TO THE BEST EXPLANATION

In 1991, philosopher of science Peter Lipton wrote Inference to the Best Explanation, in which he systematically explained and defended this way of reasoning. He wrote that, "beginning with the evidence available to us," we "infer what would, if true, best explain that evidence." Recognizing a known problem with this sort of abductive reasoning (affirming the consequent), he noted that when more than one cause can explain present evidence, scientists use a process of elimination to evaluate competing theories, rejecting those which don't adequately explain the evidence.

Thus, there are legitimately scientific theories which are not testable in the way intelligent design critics demand. As Stephen Meyer wrote in Signature in the Cell:

Clearly, this method of testing scientific ideas is different from that used by experimental scientists, who test their theories by making predictions about what will happen under controlled laboratory conditions. Even so, historical scientists are not the only scientists to use it. Arguably, Watson and Crick used this method to test their ideas about the structure of DNA against competing models. And many scientists--theoretical physicists, biochemists, psychologists, astronomers, pathologists, medical diagnosticians--as well historians, detectives, and thinking people everywhere use this method of reasoning every day to make sense of their experiences. (p. 170)

What, then, is the alternative scientific theory to modern evolutionary theory? In the future, I will blog about this topic at a greater depth as part of this series, but for now a simple summary serves to demonstrate how intelligent design serves as a legitimate scientific theory.

INFORMATION FROM INTELLIGENCE

The DNA molecule is an amazing source of information, not just informational capacity, but of specified information, complex digital code specifying proteins necessary to build life. Outside of DNA exists another source of specified information that directs the cell to properly assemble the parts defined by DNA. We know from experience that information and information-processing systems come from only one source: intelligence.

Consider the faces of U.S. Presidents of Mount Rushmore. These sculptures are no more complex or unlikely than the random configurations of rock in the surrounding hills. Yet nobody, unaware of the history of Mount Rushmore, would look at their faces and suspect that wind and erosion caused them. We naturally infer to the best explanation and conclude--instantaneously--that an intelligent agent created them. Why? Because unlike the equally complex and equally improbable configurations of atoms and molecules surrounding them, the faces we see specify something, they conform to a pattern recognizable to us: human faces, specifically those of former U.S. Presidents.

But it's not just information itself that we know intuitively comes from intelligent agents. We also know that information-processing systems are the products of intelligence. Consider CAD-CAM processes for designing and manufacturing parts. A human with an intelligent mind uses software to design parts, and this information is processed (translated) into information of another sort understood by machines, which interpret that information and assemble parts based on those instructions. Or consider software engineering. A human with an intelligent mind writes code in a programming language similar in certain ways to our human languages, and this information is processed (translated) by compilers into information of another sort understood by computers, which interpret that information and perform functions based on those instructions.

Thus we know that intelligence is "causally adequate" for producing information and information-processing systems--that is intelligence can create these things--and we know that it is "causally existent"--that is intelligent agents are in operation today. In order, however, to determine if intelligence is the best explanation, a third factory must be considered: the adequacy of competing theories.

THE CHANCE OF CHANCE

The theory of life's origins that competes with intelligent design is, of course, evolutionary theory. Evolutionary biologists posit that mutations occur during the transcription and translation of DNA during reproduction, and that these mutations occur at random times and in random locations and in random ways within the DNA molecule. Yes, once produced, the process of natural selection preserves some mutations. But the origin and nature of the mutations to begin with are the products of chance. What is the chance that "chance" could produce the information in DNA?

Consider that a protein defined by a gene in DNA is comprised of a chain of amino acids. There are some 20 amino acids that form proteins, and on average a working protein is made up of some 150 amino acids. Further consider that only certain arrangements of amino acids will link and fold into a working protein. This means we can determine the odds of random processes producing such a working protein, by calculating the ratio of the number of working proteins to the number of possible sequences. The chance of such a protein occuring at random is 1 out of 10 to the 74th power.

What does that number mean? Ten to the seventy-fourth power is a 1 followed by 74 zeroes. So for every working protein 150 amino acids long, there are 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (I had to insert a space just so the number would fit in the blog) other possible amino acid sequences. That's one hundred trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion possible combinations. The odds are staggering.

To help illustrate the gravity of this number, it helps to consider that astronomers estimate that there are only 10 to the 65th total atoms in our galaxy. This is an exponentially smaller number than the number of possible combinations of 150 amino acids. What this means is, you would have an exponentially better chance of selecting a desired atom out of the entire Milky Way, than you would have at producing an average protein by random. And proponents of evolutionary theory would have us believed this lottery has been won over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.

THE SCIENCE AND THEOLOGY OF INTELLIGENT DESIGN

Thus, intelligent design theory meets the qualifications of scientific explanation. It is testable in that it offers an inference to the best explanation, and indeed intelligence is "best". It is causally adequate, meaning we know intelligent agents can produce information. It is causally existent, meaning we see intelligence in operation. And its competing theory, unguided (supernaturally) evolution, doesn't adequately explain the evidence we see.

This is consistent with the Bible which teaches us that an intelligent creator designed the universe, the earth and its life, and then implemented that design by creating that which He conceived beforehand. As it is written:

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:26-27).

Scripture teaches that God decided to create man, and naturally the creation of man reflects God's conception of what man is. God conceived of man as being a creature similar to Him in certain ways, and so, the essence of mankind thus having been conceived by God, He created man. Contrary to the claims of existentialism, "essence precedes existence."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Darwin's Dilemmas: Essence Precedes Existence--Part 5

As we've seen in this series, evolutionary theory and its existential nature is refuted by the fossil record and by our newfound insight into the development of an organism. Whereas evolutionary biologists illustrate the history of life using a "tree of life", the fossil record--if viewed in the way evolutionary biologists view it--illustrates the history of life instead as a "forest of life", a great many kinds of animals leaping into existence all at once with no common ancestry. Whereas random mutations during the copying of DNA are proposed as the mechanism by which genetic information increases over time, we now know that a second, mutually dependent source of information exists containing the instructions for assembling the protein parts defined by DNA, and this information is not in the DNA itself. These discoveries demonstrate that, unlike existentialism's "existence precedes essence," when it comes to life, "essence precedes existence."

How, then, do we "put the pieces together?" Can legitimate science point us to an alternative explanation? Is any appeal to a supernatural cause by definition unscientific?

NOT DOING SCIENCE

Critics of intelligent design often accuse its advocates as "not doing science." In Stephen Meyer's book, Signature in the Cell, he recounts that "reporters kept repeating the same criticism, namely, 'ID advocates aren't really scientists, because they don't do any experiments of their own'" (p. 138). In a recent debate between intelligent design advocates (including Meyer) and its critics (listen here), one of the design opponents said he was not aware of any intelligent design scientists who have labs and do experiments, implying that laboratory experimentation is the only way to properly "do science."

In the debate, evolutionary proponent Michael Shermer argued, "There's only two explanations...to answer the question of what's the origins of life or the diversity of life: one, science; two, everything else." He continued:

The problem is that by invoking something that is by definition not testable, there's no experiment we can run. You're now off the page of science. So, by invoking some kind of extranatural, supernatural, supranatural, paranatural--something beyond the natural, there's nothing we can do with that.

His partner, Donald Prothero, continued:

As Michael just said, we're talking about testable hypotheses...We cannot resort to supernatural explanations. It's not because we're antireligious...It's because religious ideas are simply not testable. There's no way to say, "God did it," and then find a test that works.

So, evolutionary scientists demand that the only way to address the question of the origins of life in a scientific manner is through a) laboratory experimentation, and b) testable hypotheses. Because, they claim, appeals to supernatural causes are by definition untestable, they are not scientific.

THE GUMSHOE DETECTIVES OF BIOLOGY


In April of 1953, J. D. Watson and F. H. C. Crick revolutionized biology when their article, "Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid," appeared in the journal Nature. In their article, the pair revealed the molecular structure of DNA, winning a scientific race that had been going on for years. Yet, their work was not primarily the result of their own laboratory experiments. As Meyer put it in Signature, "While others approached the problem methodically, steadily gathering data in their labs, Watson and Crick behaved more like gumshoe detectives, heading from one place to another looking for clues to help them weigh the merits of competing hypotheses" (p. 72).

This approach is not unique among scientists throughout history. As Meyer notes in Signature:

Many of the great discoveries in science were achieved not just by experimentalists who produced new factual knowledge, but by theoreticians who taught us to think differently about what we already know. Examples of this kind of scientific work leaped to mind: Copernicus's De Revolutionibus orbium coelestrium, Newton's Principia, and the papers Einstein produced in his annus mirabilis...Charles Darwin also did little experimental science...his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, contains neither a single mathematical equation nor any report of original experimental research. Yet he formulated a great scientific theory. He did this by drawing together disparate lines of observational evidence and presenting an argument for a novel interpretation of that evidence. (p. 139)

Proper science does not by necessity include one's own, personal laboratory experimentation. Instead, legitimate science often involves reasoning like a detective, considering multiple suspects, weighing clues and excluding suspects that could not have committed the crime, eventually narrowing in on the one suspect whose involvement is pointed to by the weight of the evidence.

HISTORICAL VS. EXPERIMENTAL SCIENCES

One can see a distinction between these two scientific approaches when one looks at what might be called "historical sciences" versus what might be called "experimental sciences." Experimental scientists, such as chemists and physicists, hypothesize about how things work now, and then test those hypotheses through laboratory experimentation. Historical scientists, on the other hand, such as geologists, archaeologists, paleontologists, cosmologists, and yes, evolutionary biologists, look at multiple competing attempts to explain the past, weighing the merits of each, excluding those explanations which do not fit the evidence, and narrowing in those explanations that do fit the evidence.

In History of the Inductive Sciences (1837) and The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1840), scientist and philosopher William Whewell explained the distinctions between these two kinds of sciences. Instead of trying to establish universal laws by which nature operates, the objective of historical scientists is to determine ancient conditions or past causes. Rather than studying "forces that are permanent causes of motion, such as gravitation attraction," historical scientists study "causes that have worked their effects in temporal succession." And in attempting to reconstruct those "ancient conditions," historical scientists "calculate backwards" and determine what has occurred in the past based on known cause-and-effect relationships in operation in the present.

No chemist, physicist or biologist claims that historical scientists are "not doing science." The dictionary defines geology as "the science that deals with the dynamics and physical history of the earth;" archaeology as "the scientific study of historic or prehistoric peoples and their cultures;" and paleontology as "the science of the forms of life existing in former geologic periods" (emphasis mine in each case). But scientists in these fields do not make hypotheses that can be tested through laboratory experimentation. Instead, they look at the present effects of past causes; they weigh competing attempts to explain what happened in the past based on what we see today.

The hypotheses of geologists, archaeologists and paleontologists, despite being untestable through laboratory experimentation, are not untestable altogether. They're merely tested in a different manner. Historical scientists look for the best attempt at explaining what occurred in the past resulting in what we see today. Given the effects of some event or condition in the past, they look at what causes, known to produce similar effects, could have occurred in the past, and exclude causes that cannot account for those effects.

THE TESTABILITY OF EXPLANATORY POWER

So while experimental scientists test their theories by predicting what will happen and validating or invalidating their hypotheses in the lab, historical scientists test their theories by comparing the explanatory power of competing theories. The claim made by critics of intelligent design theory, that it is untestable and thus not science, is refuted by some of the very heroes of evolutionary science like Watson, Crick, and Darwin himself, as well as by historical scientists like geologists, archaeologists and paleontologists.

How, then, can this legimiately scientific approach and its test of the explanatory power of competing theories be used to determine the cause of the diversity of biological life we see today? Stay tuned.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Darwin's Dilemmas: Essence Precedes Existence--Part 4

So we've seen that the fossil record, as it is understood by evolutionary scientists, appears to give us an illustration of life's increasing diversity that contradicts the "tree of life" of evolutionary theory. Instead, it's a "forest of life" with distinct kinds of creatures coming into existence all at once, contradicting existentialism's "existence precedes essence."

Evolutionary theory also posits that complex biological structures comprised of many parts are the results of the happenstance assembling of the parts which appeared individually over long periods of time, without respect to one another. Bacteria have a moving "tail" called a flagellum, for example, which is comprised of dozens of individual proteins. According to evolutionary theory, there was once an ancestor organism that had none of these proteins. At some point, the first of these proteins appeared as the result of random mutations in DNA. Then, at some point in the distant future, another appeared, and so on and so forth until the bacterial flagellum was what we see today. There is no foresight involved, in this view, no idea of a flagellum that led to its existence. Instead, the random formation of its parts over long periods of time--existence--became the flagellum we see today--essence.

Is this a feasible explanation for the complex structures we see today? When we look at developing organisms closely, does what we see confirm or contradict evolutionary theory and the existential nature of the biological processes it proposes?

STRUCTURE BY SERENDIPITYINSTRUCTION

Evolutionary theory points toward random mutations during the copying of DNA as the mechanism by which a change in an organism is passed on to its descendants. But what biologists have discovered is that while an organism's genetic code defines the parts necessary for the organism to function, it does not contain the instructions for putting those pieces together.

Imagine opening a lego set, and finding the pieces that comprise the creation, as well as an instruction booklet that explains how to put those pieces together. The two are mutually depedent: without the instructions, you don't know how to put the pieces together; and without the pieces, the instructions serve no purpose. But the two are nonetheless separate and distinct from one another.

As it turns out, an organism's DNA is sort of like the lego pieces, in that the processes of gene transcription and translation in the cell create protein parts based on their definitions in the DNA. But the DNA isn't also the lego set's instruction booklet. The information necessary to put the pieces together appears somewhere else. This means that even if random mutations could produce a new part, the assembly instructions would be "unaware" of this part, and would not put it anywhere.

THE OPERATNG SYSTEM OF LIFE

For years, intelligent design advocates have been pointing out that DNA contains an enormous amount of information. We know that information comes only from intelligent sources. We know when we see a heart carved into a tree that a human did it, because it is unlikely, but also because it specifies something. The same is true of the faces of Mount Rushmore, or heiroglyphics carved into pyramid walls. In the same way, any organism's DNA is as unlikely a configuration of the genetic base pairs adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine, and only a very select few of their possible combinations actually specify the chains of amino acids that can be formed into viable proteins.

But now we see that there are two separate sources of biological information within every organism. In a computer, an individual file is actually stored in small chunks scattered throughout the disk. The computer's operating system seeks out and locates those file chunks and assembles them into the file it is asked to work with. DNA is an organism's hard drive, each gene the chunk of a file. But the operating system of life, that seeks out and locates the genes it needs to build a structure, is somewhere else.

So even if random mutations in a creature's DNA during reproduction could account for new parts, it cannot account for the instructions necessary to assemble the parts into a complex structure. Even if we were to believe the impossible--that random processes can produce information--it would seem infinitely more absurd to believe that random processes acting upon two separate processes--the DNA that defines the parts and the instructions for assembling them--could produce new, mutually dependent information. No, the reason that the assembly instructions and the parts list line up so perfectly is because something conceived of the structure--essence--and then put into place the information necessary for the structure to be formed--existence.

PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER

The study of biology actually contradicts evolutionary theory's "tree of life" and "structure by serendipity". Contrary to its existentialist nature, we can see that the "forest of life" illustrated by the fossil record, and the "structure by instruction" seen in an organism's assembly instructions correctly putting together the parts defined by DNA, demonstrate that in life, "essence precedes existence."

So, like the operating system of life, how do we "put the pieces together"? What does all this mean? To what does it point? If, as is obvious, random processes operating upon two separate sources of information cannot produce new, mutually dependent information at exactly the same rate, what could account for complex structures in an organism? Stay tuned.