Can We Know Whether There Is a God?
THERE is one outstanding clue to the existence of a Creator that we all carry around with us. We use it daily to a lesser or greater degree and yet tend to take it for granted. It weighs about three pounds (1.4 kg), is about the size of a grapefruit, looks somewhat like a shelled walnut, and lies protected in the cranium. Yes, it is the human brain.
Yet that simple description in no way does justice to this marvel of design. French neurobiologist Dr. Jean-Pierre Changeux described it thus: “The human brain makes one think of a gigantic assembly of tens of billions of interlacing neuronal spider’s webs, in which myriads of electrical impulses flash by, relayed from time to time by a rich array of chemical signals. The anatomical and chemical organization of this machine is fantastically complicated.”—Neuronal Man.
According to neurologist Dr. Richard Restak, each one of the brain’s up to 100 billion neurons, or nerve cells, “may have over a thousand synapses—points of contact between nerve cells. With some cells within the cerebral cortex, the numbers may approach two hundred thousand connections.”
Dr. Changeux calculates that there are “something like 600 million [synapses] per cubic millimeter.” A cubic millimeter is about the size of a small pinhead! So how many synapses, or connecting gaps, does that make in one brain? Dr. Restak answers: “There may be from ten trillion to one hundred trillion synapses in the brain, and each one operates as a tiny calculator that tallies signals arriving as electrical impulses.” What does that mean? As Restak says: “The total number of connections within the vast network of the brain’s neuronal system is truly astronomical.”
How Is Information Transmitted?
But this is not the end of the story. The brain’s neurons make connections by means of branching fibers called dendrites. Dr. Restak states: “Estimates of the total length of dendrites within the human brain exceed several hundred thousand miles.” And all that within the compact mass of the brain inside your skull!
But how is information transmitted within the fascinating universe of the brain? How is the synaptic cleft, a millionth of an inch (0.000025 mm) wide, bridged from cell to cell? By the “simple” conversion of an electrical impulse into a chemical signal that bridges the gap as a neurotransmitter. There are dozens of different chemicals that act as neurotransmitters, several of which also “play completely different roles elsewhere in the organism.”—Neuronal Man.
Stop and ponder on what you have just read. Could such vast complexity compressed into so small a cranial space really be the result of blind nature or of an unguided process of trial and error? Or is it rather the brilliant design of a Creator?
“The Most Remarkable Phenomenon”
The human brain is responsible for the yawning abyss that exists between even the most intelligent animal and an average human. As professors of human biology Drs. Ornstein and Thompson wrote in The Amazing Brain: “The ability of the human mind to learn—to store and recall information—is the most remarkable phenomenon in the biological universe. Everything that makes us human—language, thought, knowledge, culture—is the result of this extraordinary capability.”
Now, if this insight into the brain truly impresses you, should you not at least consider the possibility that an intelligent Designer and Creator is responsible for this complex organ? The Bible writer and lawyer Paul reasoned this way: “For all that may be known of God by men lies plain before their eyes . . . His invisible attributes, that is to say his everlasting power and deity, have been visible, ever since the world began, to the eye of reason, in the things he has made.”—Romans 1:19, 20, The New English Bible.
The Miracle in the Womb
Let’s consider perhaps an even more intriguing question: How did the complex brain develop from a single fertilized cell in a mother’s womb? Evolutionist Dr. Restak comments: “Some flippantly respond that it is all genetically programmed, forgetting for the moment that a program is a meaningless term without a programmer.” However, since evolutionists generally do not believe in the existence of a superior “programmer,” they search for an alternative explanation. Well, what do we find when we study the brain’s development from that minuscule fertilized egg cell implanted in a mother’s womb?
Says Dr. Restak: “Nothing very brainlike can be found in the human embryo until about three weeks of age. [At that point the embryo measures less than a quarter of an inch (6 mm).] After that, the brain, along with the rest of the central nervous system, starts unfolding from a sheet of cells surrounding the embryo.” That is easy to state, but remember, we started off with just one fertilized cell. Then that cell triggers an incredible series of multiplications that will race along for nine months at the rate of 250,000 new neurons per minute until a fully formed human brain is produced with up to 100 billion cells!
Little wonder that some scientists take a humble stance when they study the brain! Dr. Miles Herkenham, a neuroscientist, says: “There will always be something to astound us, to amaze us, to keep us humble . . . The human brain is simply the most marvelous organ in the known universe.”
Such humility should lead us to recognize the superlative intelligence behind the human brain, the matchless mind behind the human mind. As the Creator himself stated: “For the thoughts of you people are not my thoughts, nor are my ways your ways . . . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”—Isaiah 55:8, 9.
Clues by the Thousands
There are countless more clues to indicate that something greater than blind chance has been responsible for the enormous variety and complexity of life on earth. For example, the built-in migration instinct of birds and fish leaves scientists baffled. How did that instinctive ability originate?
The New York Times recently reported: “Each spring and fall millions of storks, pelicans, buzzards, eagles and other large birds fly over Israel as they migrate between Europe and Western Asia and Africa, seeking the shortest route around the Mediterranean.” Why don’t they just fly across that sea? The report continues: “Unlike smaller birds that can flap their way across the water in one day, the bigger and heavier birds must soar and glide on columns of hot air that rise from the land. . . . The birds glide down from the top of one thermal to the bottom of the next one and repeat the process all the way down to Africa and back.” And this with no map or compass and, in many cases, no previous experience!
The timing of the migration is also impressive. The same source stated: “Each species was coming at almost the same time and through the same air corridor every year. For instance, on Sept. 4, 1984, and on Sept. 4, 1985, the honey buzzards began their parade over Israel, an estimated 220,000 of them in two days.” Who programmed this instinctive ability into the genes of these birds? Nobody? Or was it an intelligent Creator?a
A Major Stumbling Block to Belief in God
In face of this circumstantial evidence of the existence of an intelligent Creator, how is it that so many sincere and educated people still do not believe in God? Several factors could have influenced their thinking.
For example, religion down through the ages has painted God as a mysterious three-in-one Trinity who destines souls to everlasting torture in a hellfire. Also, religion has projected a perverted image of a selfish God who allows loved ones to die so that he can populate his heaven. Others have noted how often religions preach one thing and do another. Little wonder that many people have turned away from God.
Yet another reason why many doubt God’s existence is human suffering. How could a just God allow so much suffering during man’s recorded history? If he is Almighty, why does he not bring war and suffering to an end?
a For further detailed information on the origin of life, see Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?, a 256-page, illustrated book published in 1985 by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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The brain has up to 100 billion neurons like this, with thousands of miles of dendrites and trillions of synapses
“The ability of the human mind to learn . . . is the most remarkable phenomenon in the biological universe.”—The Amazing Brain
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In nine months one fertilized cell becomes a baby with a brain of up to 100 billion cells
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The migration instinct is another evidence of a higher intelligence behind creation
European white stork