We tend to view the wings of a butterfly as we do our fingernails or hair. We think of them as lifeless, rigid structures that serve as airfoils only useful for flying. Researchers at Columbia University led by Dr. Nanfang Yu have discovered that butterfly wings are more than inert tissue. The wings are equipped with living tissues that serve other critical factors for the butterflies. The design of butterfly wings is more than beautiful.
Using thermal imaging, the scientists measured the emissivity of the wings. That means the ability of the wings to emit thermal energy. Butterfly wings have veins that carry hemolymph (insect blood). Male butterflies also have scent patches that release pheromones for attracting mates. The researchers found that the emissivity of the veins and patches was very high. That means the wings of butterflies are engineered to emit thermal energy to prevent the insect from overheating in the hot sun.
The veins of the butterfly wings are covered with a thick layer of chitin, which is the material that makes up the insect’s exoskeleton. The patches on the wings have tube-shaped nanostructures and extra chitin. Thick and hollow materials are better at radiating heat than thin, solid materials. Butterflies are designed to handle high temperatures, and science is just beginning to understand how the design of butterfly wings works to cool the insects.
The study included more than 50 different butterfly species. The conclusion the scientists reached is that butterfly wings are “living structures” not inert material. The design of butterfly wings prevents the insect from overheating as well as allowing it to fly.
That butterfly in your garden is not only beautiful but a creature with a highly complex design. We are still learning about the fantastic transformation that takes place when a caterpillar changes into a butterfly. The study of the butterfly’s wings adds another layer of design and intelligence to what God has done with these incredible insects.
Scientific articles mention the fine-tuning of the cosmos with increasing frequency. The basic concept is that the conditions of the universe are precisely set for human life.
The variables that affect the presence and sustainability of life are so precise that even slight variations would result in an inhospitable world. In his new book, Introduction to Intelligent Design, Dr. Timothy Gordon explains the concept very well by giving three examples of the fine-tuning of the cosmos.
“1. If the force of gravity were slightly larger, stars would be too hot and burn too rapidly making conditions for life inhospitable. If too small, no heavy elements would be produced. 2. The initial expansion of the Big Bang had to be fine-tuned to a precision of 1 in 10^55 to form planets, stars, solar systems, and galaxies. 3. There are 19 universal constants that must be perfectly tuned to make the universe habitable. Assigning a probability to the fine-tuning of these constants would be larger than the number of elementary particles in the universe.” (page 43).
You will see many secular writers talking about the fine-tuning of the cosmos without explaining how this fine-tuning would come about without intelligence to do the tuning. This is another powerful argument for the existence of God as the creator.
Skeptics claim that Intelligent Design destroys science. This claim shows how badly the skeptics misunderstand Intelligent Design.
The dictionary defines science as knowledge. When we do scientific experiments and make observations, we are trying to gain knowledge. We apply that knowledge to those situations where we can gain more knowledge. We never just say “God did it” and stop investigating. We continue experimenting because we want to understand how and why God did it. Believing that there is design in all aspects of the creation never stops us from looking for a deeper understanding. Naturalism is frequently just the opposite. A classic example of this is Junk DNA.
As naturalists examined the DNA in various animals, they found that there was DNA that didn’t seem to be necessary. They called it “Junk DNA” assuming that it was a byproduct left over from the evolutionary process. For many researchers, that was the end of the story. No further experiments were designed to find a purpose for junk DNA. In this case, a naturalistic view and assumption stopped the scientific investigation, or at least slowed it down.
A biology professor chastised me for referring to junk DNA as a dead-end street. His exact words were “God doesn’t make any junk.” The assumption that junk DNA wasn’t junk led to further investigation. That research now tells us the so-called “junk” has a purpose and plays a vital role in life processes. Believing that everything we see was created with a purpose and a design, and wanting to understand that design is a great catalyst for scientific investigation.
Historically, most of the significant discoveries of science over the past 1000 years have been made by scientists who recognized purpose and design in the cosmos. They were striving to understand that design. In our quarterly journal (which you can read on doesgodexist.org), we have a column titled “Scientists and God.” We present statements by leading scientists about their faith and their recognition of purpose and design in the creation. Does Intelligent Design destroy science? No, it supports science.
“We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written the books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books, but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human beings toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.”
An atheist once said, “We are as much a product of blind forces as is the falling of a stone to earth or the ebb and flow of the tides. We have just happened, and man was made flesh by a long series of singularly beneficial accidents.” The other view is that we are the result of design and planning. Do you consider yourself the result of intelligent design or beneficial accidents?
C. S. Lewis, an atheist who became a believer, wrote, “If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our thought processes are mere accidents—the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the materialists’ and astronomers’ as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts—i.e., of Materialism and Astronomy—are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident would be able to give correct account of all the other accidents.”
We suggest that you ask yourself this question: “Can I rationally believe that the incredible complexity of my body is the result of mindless forces, or does it indicate design?” If our thoughts are merely accidental byproducts of the movement of atoms in a brain that accidentally assembled itself, then nothing has any real meaning.
In attempting to discredit all evidence that God created the universe, many atheist periodicals try to paint all religious claims with the same brush. In truth, believers cover a wide range of viewpoints. There are those who reject science altogether, others who accept “theistic evolution,” and still others who see that science shows intelligent design in the universe and living things. It is not a question of intelligent design or science. Science shows intelligent design.
Some creationists vilify science and make God an illusionist who does magic tricks to produce what we see in the world around us. In their minds “God spoke it into existence” puts God in the role of not using natural processes. It also makes God deliberately deceptive. Both of those views conflict with the Bible. Genesis 2:8 says, “The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden.” Don’t you think that God used processes to plant the garden? He didn’t run a rototiller or spade up the ground, but he “planted” using a process. When Genesis 1:3 tells us “God said Let there be light, and there was light,” is the light coming from his voice as He speaks or did He use a process? In Proverbs 8, wisdom speaks calling us to have an understanding heart (verse 5) and saying that wisdom was with God in His creative processes (verses 22-30).
The Bible maintains that God in all of His creative activity did so with wisdom and purpose. Webster’s Dictionary defines science as “systematic knowledge.” Scientists seek to gain information about the world in which we live. This information is not just data, but it is also information about processes. None of this precludes God from “speaking it into existence.” We are simply learning how what God spoke became a reality. That is why we see passages like Psalms 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork.” The creation process is an apologetic evidence for the existence of God as Romans 1:20 tells us, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”
Quantum mechanics is showing us a whole new concept of science. We now understand that the sub-microscopic world of atoms and electrons, quarks and mesons does not operate by the same rules as our world of planets and moons and animals. Quantum concepts such as simultaneity and duality tell us that the creation is more complex and amazing than we ever imagined. Concepts like string theory propose as many as eleven spacial dimensions involved in the production of the physical world. The definition of God requires an entity that is outside of space and time—in other words, in a dimension higher than our own. To believe that there is an intelligence involved in all of this is a faith issue, but believing that somehow it all happened by chance is also a faith issue.
What do you see in this picture? Look closely, and you will see evidence of letters in the sand.
Notice the waves that were caused by wind blowing across the desert. Then notice the really surprising thing the wind has done! The wind has created some lines in a very interesting pattern. The lines seem to spell out the name of the world’s largest hot desert—SAHARA. Yes, the Sahara Desert covers most of northern Africa and to find something this amazing that the natural forces have “written” on the sand is truly unusual.
Wait a minute! Are you suggesting that those letters are not the effect of the wind and natural forces? Are you thinking that maybe an intelligent being actually wrote in the sand? Consider carefully the fact that the Sahara is huge and there are vast areas of sand. Given enough time and the proper wind directions why couldn’t this word show up by natural forces alone? Surely somewhere in that desert there must be a naturally formed letter—maybe an “S.” Surely in all of that area it is possible that natural forces could have formed the other letters. Given the billions of grains of sand and enough time they could just happen to line up in the proper order to spell a word. Couldn’t they?
Okay, you are not buying my story. Perhaps an intelligent being was involved in the formation of this word in the sand. But if you won’t believe me concerning the six letters in the sand, would you believe three-billion letters? That’s how many letters came together in the proper order to form the DNA strands in every cell of your body. That DNA code gives the complete blueprint for YOU. You can read S-A-H-A-R-A in seconds. If you were to read the three-billion letters of the DNA from one of your cells at the rate of one per second, every second of every hour of every day, it would take 31 years. Do you believe that the DNA code came into existence in a completely natural and unguided way?