Science and belief in God
Solely on the basis of science, belief in a personal God (i.e., a God that knows us and cares about us ) is very reasonable. Not since 1859 has it been this easy to believe in a personal God. I’d like to give you a few brief reasons why this is so.
Many of you have grown up thinking that science and belief in a personal God are at odds. People with a strong faith in a personal God (a Theist- which would include practicing Christians, Jews, and Muslims) are supposed to mistrust, be ignorant of, or ignore, the findings of science; and “real scientists” are supposed to be atheists or, at best, agnostics. Their rational minds have made them discount the notion of God being the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. God is seen by them as an unnecessary addition to science. All that’s here can be fully explained by natural processes.
This view has been unraveling for several years now. And it’s been doing so, not on the basis of religious ideas, but on the basis of the discoveries of science. I’d like to provide a few of the many ways that science has provided support for the idea that the universe is designed- and that the Designer had us in the mind. I’ll start with the subatomic particles, and work up to the structure of the universe. Along the way I’ll give you some further references.
I. The constants of nature produce a “just right” universe: There are four important forces in nature, that affect the way matter holds together, the way atoms bond to each other, and the way planets, stars, and galaxies form. These are the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, the electromagnetic force, and gravity. Physicists (who are not like the rest of us) have asked questions such as, “what would happen if the values of these constants were altered? Well, it turns out that very bad things happen if you raise or lower the values of these forces by more than a few percent. Things like a universe in which there is only hydrogen, or one in which there is no hydrogen (both bad). Also, the ratio of these forces to each other have to be finely balanced. For instance, the ratio of the electromagnetic force to gravity is critical to one part in 1040 !! Hugh Ross, an astrophysicist who’s a lot smarter than me, has come up with a list of 35 physical constants that must all have values within narrow ranges for even the possibility of life to exist. As one astrophysicist, Paul Davies, has said, “the laws of [physics] …seem themselves to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design…[there] is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all…It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe…The impression of design is overwhelming. “ (quoted by Ross in Creator and the Cosmos, p. 157). For a summary article on this fine-tuning, see Ross’s article in Origins Research, "Cosmology Confronts the Creator"
II. The complexity of life’s molecular machines: The more we know about cell biology, the more complicated the cell has become. Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences, has compared the cell a factory, with a series of interacting molecular machines that all work together to allow the cell to function. The bulk of these machines, such as cilia, ribosomes, electron transport systems, and the Golgi apparatus, are irreducibly complex: they consist of interlocking parts that work together. Not only do they work together, but the loss of any one component will result in the complete loss of the function of the machine as a whole. For instance, the cilia in your lungs are composed of over 200 different proteins of at least a half-dozen different types. If any one of these is missing or non-functional, there is no functioning cilia at all. These systems are like a mousetrap. If you remove any part of a mousetrap, you don’t have a poorly working mousetrap; you have no mousetrap at all. Evolution, through mutation and selection, is poorly equipped to produce irreducibly complex machines. Evolution can improve a protein that already has a function. However, irreducibly complex machines have no function until they are fully assembled. Thus, there is nothing for evolution to “work on”. Random processes are required to simultaneously produce proteins which, individually, have no function, and then, somehow, they assemble to make a functioning protein complex. This, basically, is asking a lot of chance processes. Michael Behe’s book, Darwin’s Black Box gives further details; an article summarizing his work on irreducible complexity is found in " Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference"
III. The size and age of the universe: One of the most amazing findings of science is that the Universe is not eternal; it had a beginning, some 15-20 billion years ago, in an immense explosion (the “Big Bang”). Science has no answers to what was before the Big Bang (indeed, not only matter and energy, but space and time started with the Big Bang), or what caused it to occur. In addition, the explosion produced an outward expansion that was amazingly balanced to the mass of the universe; if the initial rate of expansion had varied by more than one part in 1050, the universe would have either collapsed with a thud, or expanded too rapidly to allow the formation of galaxies and stars. In addition, a finite age to the universe means that chance processes do not have an infinite amount of time to work. And, knowing the complexity that has to be produced, the universe is far too young to have produced life by chance alone. Again, Hugh Ross has done a fine job in presenting these ideas.
The most reasonable conclusion is that the universe was created by Someone Who meant for it to be inhabited. And this same Creator has produced inhabitants (us) with a built-in longing to know, and be known, by their Creator.
Of course, not all scientists find the evidence for a creator to be compelling; there are still plenty of atheists and agnostic scientists. However, the alternative, naturalistic explanations that are provided for the findings of science tend to be leaps of faith. Some scientists believe that our universe is one of billions of universes, and ours just happened to be the one that has the conditions that support life. Others use their imaginations to propose naturalistic ways in which irreducibly complex molecular machines can be produced. In the end, all of these explanations are statements of faith, not statements of science.
References: Creator and the Cosmos, by Hugh Ross.
Darwin’s Black Box, by Michael Behe.