In recent centuries, philosophers have tried to answer the major questions about mankind's existence and place in the universe. What approach have they taken?
Their fundamental premise has been that there cannot be a God, a divine Creator. Leaving no room for anything we cannot see, hear or feel, or measure through scientific methods, they have believed the answers can be found through human reason. Using man's ability to reason, with its natural prejudice against God (see "Man's Natural Hostility Toward God" on page 58), they concluded that the universe came from nothing, life evolved from lifeless matter and human reason itself is our best guide to finding our way.
In his book A Quest for God, historian Paul Johnson observes: "The existence or non-existence of God is the most important question we humans are ever asked to answer. If God does exist, and if in consequence we are called to another life when this one ends, a momentous set of consequences follows, which should affect every day, every moment almost, of our earthly existence. Our life then becomes a mere preparation for eternity and must be conducted throughout with our future in view" (1996, p. 1, emphasis added).
Can we really understand the answers to the most important questions of life without at least being willing to examine the question of the existence of God, who is described in the Bible as having given us life and having created us in His own image? (Genesis 1:26-27). With the utter disregard for God that so many have shown have come many unforeseen—and tragic—consequences.
Can we find solid evidence of God's existence? If so, where do we look for it, and what is the nature of that evidence? What is our attitude toward the evidence, and how does that influence the way we live?
How does the evidence/or God's existence measure up to the evidence presented against it? How we weigh and evaluate any evidence is critical to the validity of any conclusions we reach on this crucial matter. We must look at arguments for and against God's existence without resorting to prejudiced premises or illogical conclusions.
Prejudice works both ways. Many people who believe in God's existence feel compelled to defend their point of view in irrational ways. They hurt their cause by doing so. In like manner, many who believe there is no God refuse to give the evidence of His existence a fair hearing. In both instances, shallow prejudice is the real enemy.
Richard Dawkins, professor of zoology at Oxford University and an aggressive proponent of the theory of evolution, wrote The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design. He sums up
Evidence All Around Us 7
Evidence All Around Us 7
the atheistic view toward human origins and existence:
"Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind's eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, nor foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker" (1986, p. 5, emphasis in original).
However, to avoid accepting uncomfortable evidence of God's existence, he reasons, "Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose" (p. 1, emphasis added).
While admitting that living things give the appearance of purposeful design, Professor Dawkins does not consider the obvious—that, if they appear to have been designed, maybe they actually were designed!
Denying the obvious?
Dawkins' backhanded acknowledgment that living organisms "overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design as if by a master watchmaker," as he put it (p. 21), is not dismissed so lightly by many other scientists. They see the overwhelming presence of intricate design in the universe as a powerful indicator of an intelligent Designer.
A growing trend among researchers in biology, physics, astronomy, botany, chemistry and other major disciplines is study and debate over the complexity and orderliness they find at every level throughout the universe. Writers and scientists use the tenn cmthropic principle to describe what, from all observations and appearances, are a universe and planet finely tuned for life—human life in particular.
Paul Davies, professor of mathematical physics at Australia's University of Adelaide, summarizes the growing findings of scientists from many fields: "A long list of additional 'lucky accidents' and 'coincidences' has been compiled ... Taken together, they provide impressive evidence that life as we know it depends very sensitively on the form of the laws of physics, and on some seemingly fortuitous accidents in the actual values that nature has chosen for various particle masses, force strengths, and so on...
"Suffice it to say that, if we could play God, and select values for these quan-^ tities at whim by twiddling a set of knobs, we would find that almost all knob i settings would render the universe uninhabitable. In some cases it seems as if : the different knobs have to be fine-tuned to enormous precision if the universe is
Why do we live in a universe of such precision and order? Why is the universe not random, chaotic and unpredictable, as we would expect to find if we are nothing more than the result of blind chance and lucky accidents?
to be such that life will flourish " (The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World, 1992, pp. 199-200, emphasis added).
Is our complex universe really the work of a blind watchmaker, as some contend? Is that what we see around us every day? Is life on earth simply the product of chance, with no purpose and planning, no control or consequences?
A growing body of evidence to the contrary is leading more and more scientists to question assumptions popular in scientific circles for years. Although few among them are willing to admit compelling evidence of God's existence, an increasing number are admitting that everywhere they look they see evidence of a world that gives the appearance of intricate design down to the tiniest details.
The Bible acknowledges the obvious when it presents us with an explanation of life quite different from that espoused by Professor Dawkins and others. It presents the universe as the handiwork of a Creator.
"Whence arises all the order and beauty we see in the world?" asked Sir Isaac Newton. The question is natural, and it was asked by a believing scientist who recognized the necessity of a cause for every effect. Actions have consequences. An intricately crafted universe points to an intelligent Designer.
Albert Einstein also marveled at the order and harmony he and his fellow scientists observed throughout the universe. He noted that the religious feeling of the scientist "takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection" (quoted in The Quotable Einstein, Alice Calaprice, editor, 1996, p. 151).
Cambridge University astronomy professor Martin Rees and science writer John Gribbin, discussing how finely tuned scientists have found the universe to be, noted that "the conditions in our Universe really do seem to be uniquely suitable for life forms like ourselves, and perhaps even for any form of organic complexity .. .Is the Universe tailor-made for man?" (Cosmic Coincidences: Dark Matter, Mankind, andAnthropic Cosmology, 1989, p. 269, emphasis in original).
Professor Davies expressed it this way: "Through my scientific work I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as brute fact. There must, it seems to me, be a deeper level of explanation. Whether one wishes to call that deeper level 'God' is a matter of taste and definition... [I]
Is life on earth the product of chance? Evolutionists would have us believe that the beauty and orderliness we see all around us are unplanned and accidental.
Evidence All Around Us 9
Evidence All Around Us 9
believe that we human beings are built into the scheme of things in a very basic way" (The Mind of God, p. 16).
No wonder the late renowned British astrophysicist and mathematician Sir Fred Hoyle, after examining the different settings that regulate our planet and the rest of the universe, marveled: "A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as the chemistry and biology [of the universe], and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature... The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so over-whelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question " ("The Universe: Past and Present Reflections," Engineering and Science, November 1981, emphasis added).
Yet the belief stubbornly persists that God is not needed. The late Harvard University paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould summarized his atheistic viewpoint: "No intervening spirit watches lovingly over the affairs [of mankind]. No vital forces propel evolutionary change. And whatever we think of God, his existence is not manifest in the products of nature" (quoted in Darwin's Legacy, Charles Hamrum, editor, 1983, pp. 6-7).
Some scientists acknowledge that they simply refuse to allow the existence of a divine Creator to enter their thinking. They argue that the discipline of science is limited to material or naturalistic explanations—that is, ones that deny even the possibility of the supernatural. "Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer," immunologist Dr. Scott Todd once admitted, "such a hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic " (Nature, Sept. 30,1999, p. 423, emphasis added).
Biologist Richard Lewontin was similarly candid: "We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism... we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door" ("Billions and Billions of Demons," New York Review of Books, Jan. 9,1997, p. 31, emphasis added).
Supporters of evolution like to point out that acceptance of the idea of a divine Creator requires faith in someone or something we cannot see. Yet they are far from comfortable admitting that all who believe that life evolved from inert matter also have faith in a theory that cannot be proven—and is founded on far more fragile evidence than that which supports the faith of believers in a Creator.
Evolutionists' faith assumes that our unimaginably complex universe created itself or somehow came to exist from nothing. As occasionally admitted in statements such as those above, they firmly believe in a chain of circumstances that defies not only logic, but also fundamental laws of physics and biology. (For a closer look at the creation-evolution controversy, be sure to download or request our free booklet Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe ?)
Evolution has become, in a real sense, another religion. The faith of its followers is rooted in an unsubstantiated belief that the incredible universe, including the world around us teeming with an intricate variety of life, is the result of blind, random chance. It can offer no rational explanation for where the matter came from that made possible the universe and the supposed evolution of life.
Conveniently sidestepping the issue of where matter and the universe originated, proponents of evolution begin with an existing universe operating according to precise and predictable laws. They recognize that those laws exist and function flawlessly. Yet they haven't the slightest idea of their origin. They choose to ignore the overwhelming evidence that a great intelligence is behind these orderly and harmonious laws.
Our universe works like a giant watch, vast in scale and complexity yet precise in its mechanics. Several decades of space exploration have shown the precision of the universe. It is because of this predictability that NASA can rely on split-second timing when launching men into space and sending spacecraft to explore planets so far away that it sometimes takes years to reach them even at speeds of thousands of miles per hour.
Scientists understand that astonishingly precise physical laws govern the universe. As Einstein put it: "My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God" (quoted in The Quotable Einstein, p. 161).
Astronomers can predict with amazing exactness when a comet will return to our sky. Scientists can send spacecraft to land on other planets or orbit bodies millions of miles away. The heavenly bodies move in a thoroughly predictable fashion.
On earth we can chart the position of stars and planets for any given day, month and year, forward or backward, with incredible accuracy. Our calendars are useful only because of the universe's immutable laws. We can rely on the timing and position of the heavenly bodies because of the laws that govern their relationship. In a sense, the story of mankind is a story of our discovery of more and more of the laws that govern the cosmos.
For example, we experience the effects of the law of gravity. Though gravity is something we can't see, we know it exists. We know it functions consistently. It is one of the fundamental laws of the universe. Similar laws govern every aspect of the universe—laws of energy, motion, mass, matter and life itself.
What about evolution? Evolutionary theory asserts that life originated with a single cell and over countless eons of reproductive change gave rise to the astounding variety of life on earth. But from where did the first cell come? Materialism argues for naturalistic abiogenesis—that life arose from nonliving matter through undirected chemical processes.
But that very concept is contrary to one of the most basic of all natural laws— the law of biogenesis. Throughout nature the law of biogenesis is abundantly evident: Life can come onlyfivm existing life, just as your life was conceived
Evidence All Around Us 11
by living parents. Naturalistic evolutionists argue against the universality of biogenesis but can produce no concrete evidence of natural abiogenesis.
Let's get to the crux of the matter: Why do we find so many dependable, predictable, finely tuned laws governing our existence? What is their origin? Did life arise by chance, or is something larger at work? There must be an explanation for the existence of everything. The number, precision and perfection of natural laws cannot be explained away as an accident. Such reasoning is irrational.
Common sense tells us that the existence of an unimaginably magnificent universe structured on and sustained by innumerable laws of physics requires the existence of a Creator of those laws, a Designer of those structures.
Some of the clearest evidence of God's existence is in the awesome presence of design in the universe. Australian scientist Paul Davies put it well in his book The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World:
"Human beings have always been awestruck by the subtlety, majesty, and intricate organization of the physical world. The march of the heavenly bodies across the sky, the rhythms of the seasons, the pattern of a snowflake, the myriads of living creatures so well adapted to their environment—all these things seem too well arranged to be a mindless accident. There is a natural tendency to attribute the elaborate order of the universe to the purposeful workings of a Deity" (p. 194).
Another writer who saw clear proof of creation all around him was ancient Israel's King David. Looking into the heavens 3,000 years ago, he realized that he was viewing the handiwork of the Creator and that we can discern much about Him by observing that handiwork: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world" (Psalm 19:1-4, New International Version).
The splendor of the night sky still moves us to wonder and awe. What are those tiny specks of light sparkling in the darkness of space? How did they get there? Why are they there? What lies beyond them in the unimaginable reaches of the universe? The grandeur of the shimmering heavens raises questions not just about the universe but about our part in it.
The same is true of the intricate patterns in all things on earth, not just the world
Whether me gaze at the heavens through a telescope, at the unseen world through a microscope or at the natural world around us, everywhere we see beauty and design.
of a great Designer.
Creation reveals the Creator
Theoretical physicist John ,nincaie patterns and design we see in the
Polkinshorne, president of created, ^d around us, whether in the spiral of
"/-ii /- 1.-J 3 nautilus shell or the structure of the Whirlpool Queens College, Cambridge, , , , ., ( ~ . r
^ , Galaxy, are powerful evidence of a Creator.
and a member of Britain s
Royal Society, wrote: "The intellectual beauty of the order discovered by science is consistent with the physical world's having behind it the mind of the divine Creator... The finely tuned balance built into the laws determining the very physical fabric of the universe is consistent with its fruitful history being the expression of divine purpose" (Serious Talk: Science and Religion in Dialogue, 1995, p. viii).
Michael Behe, associate professor of biochemistry at Pennsylvania's Lehigh University, concluded from his intensive study of the cell, the basic building block of life, that such tremendous complexity can be explained only by the existence of an intelligent Designer:
"To a person who does not feel obliged to restrict his search to unintelligent causes, the straightforward conclusion is that many biochemical systems were designed. They were designed not by the laws of nature, not by chance and necessity; rather they were planned. The designer knew what the systems would look like when they were completed, then took steps to bring the systems about" (Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, 1996, p. 193, emphasis in original).
His conclusion: "Life on earth at its most fundamental level, in its most critical components, is the product of intelligent design" (ibid.).
The precision of our universe is not the result of an accident. It is the product of a meticulous Creator and Lawgiver, the universe's Master Watchmaker.
we see around us but the unseen world we can explore only through microscopes.
A thousand years after King David expressed his awe at these marvels, the apostle Paul told Christians in Rome that "since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made ..." (Romans 1:20, NIV).
The writers of the Bible recognized in the creation much evidence of a great, all-wise Creator. They understood that the wonders we see around us shout the same message: Such astonishing design demands a Master Designer! Whether we are moved by the power of the sea, the grandeur of a mountain range, the delicate beauty of the first spring flowers or the birth of a child as we look at the world around us we naturally conclude: This is the handiwork
The Beginning of the Universe 13
The Beginning of the Universe 13
Has the universe always existed? Or at some definite point in time, did it have a beginning? Much of the argument about the existence of a Creator God rests on this question. After all, if the universe has always existed, there would seem to have been no need for a being or outside intelligence to design and create it (though we would still be left with the mystery of why it exists). On the other hand, if the universe came into being at a precise, specific time, something must have caused it to come into being.
Scientists are not in complete agreement as to whether the universe had a beginning. A few still believe it is possible that it has always existed. But this concept is not the dominant scientific view. Most scientists now accept that the universe began suddenly and at a specific point in time.
In the early 1900s astronomers discovered a phenomenon known as red shift— that light from distant galaxies is shifted toward the red end of the color spectrum. Astronomer Edwin Hubble saw this as evidence that the universe is expanding. He determined that galaxies and clusters of galaxies are moving away from each other in all directions.
To envision this revolutionary idea, imagine dots of ink on the surface of a balloon you are blowing up. As you inflate the balloon, the spots move further from each other in all directions. Hubble and other astronomers concluded that galaxies throughout the universe are speeding away from each other in the same way. They also determined that the farther a galaxy or cluster of galaxies is from us, the faster it is retreating.
As Hubble now saw it, the universe was expanding outward everywhere he looked. The concept was revolutionary, since up until this time most astronomers assumed that any motion by galaxies was simply random drift. Other astronomers and physicists subsequently concurred with Hubble's observations and conclusions. What could this mean?
John Barrow, professor of astronomy at the University of Sussex, England, explored in his book The Origin of the Universe the fascinating question of how space, matter and even time began. Of the expansion of the universe, Barrow wrote: "This was the greatest discovery of twentieth-century science, and it confirmed what Einstein's general theory of relativity had predicted about the universe: that it cannot be static. The gravitational attraction between the galaxies would bring them all together if they were not rushing away from each other. The universe can't stand still.
"If the universe is expanding, then when we reverse the direction of history and look in the past we should find evidence that it emerged from a smaller, denser state—a state that appears to have once had zero size. It is this apparent beginning that has become known as the big bang" (1994, pp. 3-5).
In other words, what astronomers concluded they were seeing was the aftermath of an unimaginably powerful event that hurled matter and energy outward in all directions to form the known universe—thus the name "big bang." This would mean that the universe had to have a beginning.
This determination shook the scientific establishment. Wrote the late Robert Jastrow, founder of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and former professor of astronomy and geology at New York's Columbia University: "Few astronomers could have anticipated that this event—the sudden birth of the Universe—would become a proven scientific fact, but observations of the heavens through telescopes have forced them into that conclusion" (The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe, 1981, p. 15, emphasis added).
He also exclaimed: "The seed of everything that has happened since in the Universe was planted in the first instant... It was literally the moment of creation " (Journey to the Stars: Space Exploration—Tomorrow and Beyond, 1989, p. 47, emphasis added).
Scientists had come to a conclusion in line with what was already recorded in the Bible some 3,500 years ago: The universe was not eternal; it had a beginning.
In fact, they should have already recognized this. Even without the Big Bang model, the scientific laws of thermodynamics still demand that the universe had a beginning. The first law states that the amount of mass-energy in the universe is constant. The second law states that the amount of energy available for work is running out. Taken together, they require that the universe had a beginning with much usable energy from which it is now running down. In any case, the vast majority of scientists did finally come to accept a universe of finite age.
As long as scientists and philosophers assumed the universe had eternally existed—that it had no beginning and thus no need for a Creator to create it—they could easily leave God out of the picture. Today only a few scientists persist in believing in an infinitely old earth and universe. There is simply too much evidence against it. The vast majority have come to acknowledge that we live in a universe that had a beginning.
That admission raises uncomfortable questions for many scientists. What force, power or laws existed before the beginning of the universe to bring it into existence? What was the cause of its existence? Our rational minds tell us the universe could not have come from nothing. That defies not only logic but the laws of physics. What—or who—caused the universe? Why was it brought into being?
At this point science stops in its tracks. As Jastrow explains: "A sound explanation may exist for the explosive birth of our Universe; but if it does, science cannot find out what the explanation is. The scientist's pursuit of the past ends in the moment of creation... We would like to pursue that inquiry farther back in time, but the barrier to further progress seems insurmountable. It is not a matter of another year, another decade of work, another measurement, or another theory; at this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation " (God and the Astronomers, 1992, pp. 106-107, emphasis added).
Professor Jastrow acknowledges that everything scientists know simply breaks down at the moment of creation. The known laws of the universe simply cannot be applied to the point when the universe leapt into existence/row nothing. Science can offer no rational explanation, no means to record, measure or
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