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The Divine Programmer

How science proves the existence of God.

My childhood in a southeastern Pennsylvania suburb during the ‘80s and early ‘90s was largely based upon the familiar Judeo-Christian values that underscore our society: Respect your parents. Treat others as you would have them treat you. Don’t lie, cheat or steal. You know, the usual. My parents were both loving and encouraging, providing me a stable home environment for my emotional and mental development, but it was specifically my mother’s faith that helped shape my love for and belief in God. I was baptized and confirmed, received communion, attended Catholic church services with her, and even went to Catechism class one night a week.

My father was a different story. To be sure, he was a good man – a family man who took care of his wife and son. He was also an aerospace engineer and rocket scientist working for General Electric (which later became Lockheed Martin). He was one of those people who had put his full faith in science, and as such, there was no room left for God. He was a devout atheist. According to a Pew Research poll taken in 2009, scientists are half as likely as the general public to believe in the existence of God. My father was no different. I never really understood that because I always thought science offered plenty of proof for the existence of God – from the elegance of the growing cycle in nature to the sophistication of atomic particles to the complex interdependence of human anatomy – but he always seemed to have a comeback for every argument I advanced.

“How was the universe created?” I would ask him. “Scientists believe in something called the Big Bang Theory,” he stated before proceeding to explain to me how at some point, all the matter in the universe condensed into this tiny ball no bigger than my fingertip (or was it a sewing needle?) and finally exploded, creating the universe. “And who created all that energy?” I asked. “It was always there.” In my eyes, this argument seemed to be getting more and more illogical. “I think God created it.” “Well then, who created God?” I explained that “God is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He always existed.” My father would then retort that if no one created God, it was feasible that no one created the universe. It was a losing argument, and by the time I was 12 or 13, I’d given up fighting with him about it.

By 1998, I was enrolled in college at UC Santa Barbara and soon after had established permanent residency in Southern California. I would visit my parents in PA every Christmas and maybe once every other spring. Christmas was the most special though. I had always believed in miracles happening at Christmas; I just never thought I would witness one. It was probably around 2007. I was in my late 20s and, having just arrived in town, was catching up with my parents over a bottle of Pinot and some brie. My father made an offhanded comment about how God would view this matter or that, and I casually replied, “Is that a hypothetical? Because you don’t believe in God.” My father smirked, shrugged and said, “Well. . . I’ve changed my view on some things. . .” Wait, what? Did Hell just freeze over? Seriously? I looked at my mother, who smiled and nodded, confirming that I wasn’t imagining things. It seemed my father had an epiphany.

While I was indeed happy that my father had set himself on the path to salvation, I still couldn’t quite believe it was real. I stepped into the role of devil’s advocate, grilling him with questions like, “Who created God?” and “What physical proof is there?” I wanted to test his commitment to his faith and possibly expose this newfound conviction as a hoax, if indeed it was. My mother, still a bit trepidatious herself, asked me to ease up. And I did. 

I desperately needed to know what prompted my dad’s sudden transformation. He explained that he had started reading books by a few noted luminaries like evangelist Hal Lindsey and atheist-turned-believer Antony Flew. Their arguments persuaded him. The biggest piece of evidence? The existence of DNA. A sort of human programming that dictates how life manifests. As an engineer, my father understood that to have programming, you must have a programmer. The human genome couldn’t have just manifested itself into existence. It was an elegant, organized, coded language that required a coder. In my eyes, he was finally acting like a true scientist when it came to the question of God – reading about and studying both sides of the argument, then making a determination based on logic, reasoning and evidence – the fundamental underpinning of the scientific method. He then came to the best determination that a review of the facts could warrant.

Antony Flew was a renowned atheist revered across the world by other like-minded individuals until his own conversion, which he detailed in the book There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed his Mind. In it, he details how discoveries about the human genome through DNA mapping over the last several decades led him to the inescapable conclusion that only a sort of “super-intelligence” could explain “the origin of life and the complexity of nature.” And my father decided he was right.

Our DNA is comprised of four chemical bases: adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine, abbreviated A, G, C and T. Okay, don’t lose me here. Just like 1’s and 0’s in a computer program, combinations of these chemicals are arranged in living cells like so: TGACCTGGCATGCTC. It is this precise arrangement that instructs the cell’s actions. Moreover, the code in each cell is some 3.1 billion letters long, which, according to Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project, would take a person reading it at a rate of three letters per second more than 31 years to finish. The level of complexity is not only astonishing, but multi-layered, free of extraneity, and far beyond the creative capability of human minds.

Stephen C. Meyer, Director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, sums it all up nicely in his book, Signature in the Cell, when he says, “The DNA molecule is literally encoding information into alphabetic or digital form. And that’s a hugely significant discovery, because what we know from experience is that information always comes from an intelligence, whether we’re talking about hieroglyphic inscription or a paragraph in a book or a headline in a newspaper. If we trace information back to its source, we always come to a mind, not a material process. So, the discovery that DNA codes information in a digital form points decisively back to a prior intelligence.”

Since my father’s conversion, we’ve had many lucid conversations about God’s existence and his evidence in nature. We marvel at how naysayers still choose to ignore the tenets of Occam’s razor, which states that when trying to solve a problem, the simplest solution that requires the fewest assumptions is invariably the correct one. His former atheist buddies put forth what I would call ludicrous postulations that lend more to science fiction than science fact (much like he used to), such as that DNA could have occurred randomly, been designed by humans or been created by aliens. Randomness doesn’t explain the origin of the chemical bases or how the genome is able to systematically repeat. Human design ignores our own obvious limitations, but would have to suppose without a shred of evidence that we not only grew super-intelligent in the future, but were also able to invent time travel. And being the product of aliens also ignores the fact that someone, on the same principle, would have to have designed them.

Moreover, my father with his engineering background, and me with my love of the arts have since observed how the various elements of design have played into God’s genetic creations. Designers create with certain features in mind such as form, function, aesthetic, purpose, movement, harmony and unity. These do not all happen by chance. Our bodies, for instance, have a specific form that is integral to our daily existence, with an ability to move through time and space, and features like eyes and fingers and lungs and vertebrae that each have a specific and necessary function. The functionality of these components goes beyond basic ontology to reveal true purpose. For instance, when we grab a banana and begin to consume it, it’s not functionality for its own sake, but rather the act is triggered by a signal in our brain that’s intent on keeping the body healthy and energized. Aesthetic is evidenced by the symmetry, colours, texture and beauty of the human form, not to mention variety. Moreover, all of these features function together in a harmonious and unified whole, working to perpetuate the health of the entire body. These same principles of design can be seen throughout other areas of nature as well.

It slowly becomes obvious to those truly considering the evidence that God’s hand is at work throughout every step. According to Flew, “What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce [life], that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together.” His sentiments were echoed by Collins, also a former atheist, who adds that, “As a believer, I see DNA, the information molecule of all living things, as God’s language, and the elegance and complexity of our own bodies and the rest of nature as a reflection of God’s plan.” As for my father, well, he would tend to agree with both of them. And me? Well, I actually enjoy discussing it with him now. It’s sure a far cry from when I was 12.


  • Mark has been writing professionally for about 10 years, with over 1,200 articles appearing in a variety of publications, including USA Today, LA Examiner, and WritersWeekly. He is also an independent filmmaker living in Los Angeles, Calif., with his wife, Erika.

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