J. Warner Wallace

Author, Cold-Case Christianity

How “Pattern Recognition” Helps Us Demonstrate the Existence of God

The “appearance of design” in biological organisms is undeniable. Famed atheist, Richard Dawkins, once wrote, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” In my book, Gods Crime Scene, I offer a template of eight common characteristics of design. When we observe a number of these attributes in any questionable object, we are reasonable in inferring the existence of a designer. I described one of these attributes as the “Echo of Familiarity.” When an object under question strongly resembles another object we know is designed, this “echo of familiarity” should be considered as we try to determine whether a designer was involved in the object we’re investigating. Let me give you an example.

When my sons were young, they each had a police officer costume. As part of their costume, each had a plastic toy pistol shaped to resemble the old revolvers my dad’s generation of police officers used to carry. They weren’t precisely fashioned, but their shapes certainly echoed the design of real pistols, and my boys used them to effectively recreate a number of imaginary “cop and robber” games. These toy pistols were obviously the product of intelligent design, and even my young sons recognized the pattern similarity when compared to the pistols with which they were familiar (the ones used by their father and grandfather).

In a similar way, we’ve discovered biological micro-machines that resemble other known designed objects. One such machine has become the icon of the Intelligent Design movement. Biochemist Michal Behe wrote about the bacterial flagellum twenty years ago in his famous book, Darwin’s Black Box. The flagellum bears a striking resemblance to the rotary motors created by intelligent designers. University of Utah Biology Professor David Blair describes the amazing similarities: “An ensemble of over forty different kinds of proteins makes up the typical bacterial flagellum. These proteins function in concert as a literal rotary motor. The bacterial flagellum’s components stand as direct analogs to the parts of a man-made motor, including a rotor, stator, drive shaft, bushing, universal joint, and propeller.”

GCS Chapter 04 Illustration 06

Illustration from God's Crime Scene

Humans were building rotary engines for generations before we ever discovered the rotary design of flagella. We recognize the form of this rotary engine when we see it in bacteria; the shapes of flagella echo the designed engines we use in tools and vehicles. If our rotary engines are the product of intelligent design, it’s reasonable to infer a designer is responsible for other similarly shaped and constructed machines, even the micro-machines we find in cellular organisms. As Biochemist Fazale Rana, observes, “The contrast between . . . synthetic molecular motors designed by some of the finest and most creative organic chemists in the world and the elegance and complexity of molecular motors found in cells is striking . . . Is it really reasonable to conclude that these biomotors are the products of blind, undirected physical and chemical processes, when they are far beyond what the best human minds can achieve?”

The “echo of familiarity” demonstrated by the bacterial flagellum is one of eight attributes pointing to the existence of a Designer. By itself, this characteristic of design may not conclusively prove the case, but when coupled with the other seven attributes, the inference is overwhelming. To make matters worse, naturalistic evolutionary processes simply cannot account for the appearance of design we see in biology. For a complete cumulative case related to the bacterial flagellum, please refer to God’s Crime Scene, Chapter Four – Signs of Design: Is There Evidence of An Artist?

J.Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene.

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About J. Warner Wallace

J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective, adjunct professor of apologetics at Biola University, Christian case maker and author. J. Warner was a conscientious and vocal atheist through his undergraduate and graduate work in Design and Architecture (CSULB and UCLA); he always considered himself to be an “evidentialist”. His experience in law enforcement only served to strengthen his conviction that truth is tied directly to evidence. But at the age of thirty-five, J. Warner took a serious and expansive look at the evidence for the Christian Worldview and determined that Christianity was demonstrably true. After becoming a Christ follower in 1996, Jim continued to take an evidential approach to truth as he examined the Christian worldview. He eventually earned a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. J. Warner served as a Youth Pastor for several years, then planted a church in 2006. Along the way, he created and built the Cold-Case Christianity website, blog and podcast as a place to post and talk about what he discovered related to the evidence supporting Christianity. Jim has appeared on television and radio, explaining the role that evidence plays in the Christian definition of “faith” and defending the historicity of Jesus, the reliability of the Bible and the truth of the Christian worldview. Jim also speaks at churches, retreats and camps as he seeks to help people become confident Christian case makers. J. Warner’s first book, Cold-Case Christianity, provides readers with ten principles of cold case investigations and utilizes these principles to examine the reliability of the gospel eyewitness accounts. In his second book, God’s Crime Scene, he investigates eight pieces of evidence in the universe to make the case for God’s existence. J. Warner’s professional investigative work has received national recognition; his cases have been featured more than any other detective on NBC’s Dateline, and his work has also appeared on CourtTV and Fox News. He also appears on television as an investigative consultant and had a role in God’s Not Dead 2, making the case for the historicity of Jesus. J. Warner was awarded the Police and Fire Medal of Valor “Sustained Superiority” Award for his continuing work on cold-case homicides. Relying on over two decades of investigative experience, J. Warner provides his readers and audiences with the tools they will need to investigate the claims of Christianity and make a convincing case for the truth of the Christian worldview. You can follow J. Warner Wallace on Twitter @JWarnerWallace

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