Alone in a dark room, unmolested by people, there sat a puzzle. It appeared to be an ordinary puzzle, but if this puzzle could piece itself together, I must admit, that would be extraordinary. Out of their box and dumped unceremoniously onto an otherwise empty table, it was time for the puzzle pieces to act–and time was the puzzle’s only ally. Certainly it would have no external help, for no human knew this puzzle existed. It would not be worked on or even contemplated. As such, there was no reason to believe that this puzzle, all alone in its dark room, isolated from people and intelligent intervention, would ever find its way to finality.
Perhaps if a window blew open, the pieces might find themselves in a torrent and if nature acted precisely enough, they would be blown into their proper order. But that seemed unlikely. Surely the pieces would be scattered if wind were to hit them. Perhaps an earthquake then; perhaps an earthquake would strike and in doing so, rumble the pieces properly together. But that seemed unlikely, too. Surely the pieces would simply fall to the ground in an unpredictable and inharmonious manner, bringing the puzzle no closer to its completed form.
Did any circumstance in nature exist whereby the puzzle pieces would shake themselves into place? What would it take for a puzzle, all alone in a room to be pieced together? Is it possible or even logical for a puzzle to be pieced together by itself? Without a human agent acting upon the puzzle, how could a natural event ever produce a completed puzzle? Harmony, uniformity, and seeming intentionality out of chaos, randomness, and accident? It seemed not just unlikely, but impossible.
What about time? Would the amount of time make any difference? If given an infinite amount of time for nature to act upon the pieces, would a scenario ever arise that eventually drove the pieces together into their proper configuration? Again, I couldn’t think of any way that even an infinite amount of time would change anything. It was just a puzzle. How could it ever put itself together?
If nature and time could not connect and complete this puzzle, and it was indeed to be pieced together, I was left with two options: The first possibility was that the puzzle contained some supernatural ability that would allow it to move its pieces into place. However, since it was just a puzzle, this first option seemed absurd. Who could believe such a fanciful and unlikely theory? If I couldn’t believe that, then there was only one other option I could think of—human intervention. It seemed clear to me that the puzzle was destined to remain in pieces until a person decided to put it together.
And then I considered the many puzzles existent in all humans. Our eyes, our vocal chords, our DNA, and so on. If a simple puzzle could not be put together by nature or time, how could we? With no intelligent force acting upon my arms and legs, how and why would they ever develop? How could my bones have stretched out and my muscles, tendons, and skin stretched to match, allowing me to walk, run, and jump? How could my hands have developed, thumbs in opposition, fingers that bend, allowing me to grip and grab the vast variety of things in this world? They evolved? How could they possibly have been pieced together so intelligently and precisely, and then duplicated to virtually all humans throughout history? By accident? How could my eyes have developed with their inimitable contrivances, enabling motion and motion tracking, adjustment to light and darkness, the ability to see colors on the spectrum and more? How could nature have pieced together such a complex and glorious puzzle? That likelihood seemed absurd to the highest degree. And even if it were all possible, why would it have happened? Legs, arms, eyes, and the rest of us have no reason to piece together.
I was left with this thought: if an ordinary puzzle could not piece itself together, how could an extraordinary one like us? Who could believe such a fanciful thing?
“I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.” – Psalm 139:14
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species: Complete and Fully Illustrated (Gramercy Books, New York, 1979), 217.
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