Scientific Evidence for God

From our earliest days, we have perceived God through His creation.  From the majesty of the Universe to the delicacy of a hummingbird, or the simple beauty of an Orchid, we have equated the exquisite wonder of creation with its even more majestic Creator[1].

Today, however, the evidence science finds in God’s “Second Book” – Nature – for the creative signature of God himself is overwhelming.  It is virtually beyond dispute today that the Universe had a beginning, and came from nothing (ex nihilo).  This makes the Biblical story unique among all religions’ stories of the beginning.

Perhaps because I am an engineer, I was drawn into the whole science-of-creation area.  Initially, I did this because I was embarrassed by my lack of ability to respond to challenges to the biblical stories like creation and the flood.  Most people (well, at least most secularists) snicker or worse whenever you address Creation, and dismiss it as a kind of pseudo-science.  Those that do, do so either out of ignorance, or outright prejudice.  The study of the science of creation simply represents the analysis of the physics and biology of the universe to assess if they are consistent, or inconsistent, with having been created by a Creator.

This subject can also draw wrath from Christians.  I don’t want to impugn or detract in any way from their belief.  Defenders of the literal interpretation of the Bible make the case that it’s clear and understandable to the common person, and therefore should not require any science, which, as we know, is the domain not of “common people” but of the intellectually advanced.  It’s a reasonable point.  The Bible is, in the hands of a believer, wholly adequate to communicate God’s message. They go on to claim that scientific truth bears no relationship with Christian belief, which some, perhaps even most, believe.  My response is simply this: Both the Bible and God’s Creation are His work and His testament; within the limits of our understanding, they should say the same thing.

However, as the Bible itself attests, it is “foolishness” to those who don’t believe in God.  So we have a dilemma.  Should we try to remove artificial excuses seized upon by unbelievers for dismissing the whole Bible as fantasy because of some literally interpreted verses?  Or, should we examine, given what we know factually today, how this knowledge and the Bible itself are both representations of the same truth?  I’m certainly not trying here to claim that the general revelation available to us today exceeds the special revelation of the Bible.  But, if both are true, where’s the complaint?  Certainly some on both sides will, nonetheless. (Some of my Christian brothers and sisters can take some pretty myopic positions on such things.  Just because the Bible doesn’t say anything about cosmic microwave background radiation, or cellular microbiology, doesn’t mean these subjects can just be ignored. I think modern Christians need to heed St. Augustine of Hippo from 415 AD.[2])

Cosmological Evidence

In this area the author who has been most helpful to me, and one that I recommend to you, is Gerald L. Schroeder.  (Others, like Hugh Ross, have also done extensive, excellent work in this area.)  Mr. Schroeder is a PhD in physics from MIT, with a strong interest in and understanding of molecular biology.  He’s also a scholar of the early Jewish thinkers responsible for the Talmud and other early rabbinical writings including those of the Jewish spiritualists known as the Kabbalists.  Schroeder’s insights into molecular biology have been particularly important for me, as it was an area in which I had absolutely no prior knowledge.

Schroeder presents three principle arguments for the universe being the creation of God the Creator.  First he (and many others in the last 25 years) argues that the universe is “fine-tuned” through its physical properties to result in sentient life.  Second, he examines the history of life (from the fossil record) and the nearly miraculous processes of life itself and concludes that these are statistically impossible in the time they have had available to develop, without external assistance.  And third, to substantiate the case for God being this outside influencer, he reexamines the text of the Torah, along with rabbinical sources, to see what more they have to say about creation.  Without taking the time to completely restate all his arguments, I’ll try to summarize the key points.

A Fine-Tuned Universe

In order for life as we know it to ultimately appear and be sustained in a universe, that universe has to possess several physical properties whose values are in a near-perfect balance with one another.  These include:

  • The amount/abundance of hydrogen (the source of stars’ energy)
  • The amount of helium (key to the formation of heavier elements within stars that everything solid is made of)
  • The strength of each of the primary forces of nature: Gravity, the electrostatic force, the weak nuclear force and the strong nuclear force
  • The rate of expansion (inflation) of the universe shortly (10-30 seconds) after the Big Bang (BB)
  • The resulting amount of visible matter in the universe (representing about 4% of the initial energy of the BB) – not more, not less.
  • The fact that if the amount of dark energy in the universe, which makes up 75% of the ‘stuff’ in the universe, were different by no more than 1 part in 10122, there would be no possibility of life[3].
  • The ratio of gravitational energy exerted in a mass system to the total energy of that mass system
  • The fact that we have three spatial dimensions

This isn’t an exhaustive list.  There are many other sub-properties that just so happen to be precisely valued to support this or that essential process.  Martin Rees[4] makes the case that the values of just six numbers that characterize our universe represent an exceptionally finely tuned system for life, though he makes no claim as to the “why”, and that minute changes in any one of them would rule us out.   Nearly all leading physicists today agree with the conclusion that the universe appears contrived/designed/rigged for life, but most aren’t willing to conclude that this precision is due to the design of a Creator.

One of these, physicist Steven Weinberg, has estimated that life in the universe represents an outcome whose probability is 1 in 10120.  To get some idea of this number, there are only approximately 1080 subatomic particles in the entire universe.  One physicist[5] has likened the odds of “us” to the prospect of throwing a dart across the entire universe and hitting a one-millimeter bulls-eye on the other side.  If our universe is the only universe, there is essentially zero “chance” we can exist.  But, here you sit reading this, and I writing it.

When you learn that the likelihood of this universe having the properties it does, including those that are necessary for us to exist and survive, are “vanishingly improbable” (sic) (the phrase used by famed atheist Richard Dawkins[6] to define the chance of two independent evolutionary developments [e.g. the visual system of a squid and a human] producing the same result), there are only a few conclusions you can come to:

  • God (an “other” intelligence) created the universe for the purpose of creating and sustaining life. Most believers seem to think the purpose of creation is exclusively human life.  Critics call such people “carbon chauvinists”, upset that they disallow other possible forms of life elsewhere in the universe.  The Bible doesn’t say we’re exclusive.  So why should it bother anyone to learn that other intelligent beings exist on other worlds?  How would that bear on our relationship with God or his with us?  In addition, it doesn’t diminish the fundamental conclusion that the universe was designed for life, and within it, us as the purposeful intent of God.
  • Our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes (that we can’t see or detect) each potentially having different properties. Ours just happens to be the one with the properties that support us, so here we are.  This one is kind of fun.  Of course, it can never be proven or disproven, but this just makes it that much more convenient for those trying to erase the need for God (or perhaps create the need for another research grant).  There’s no need for God since all these universes, with their varying physical properties, have just always been.  It further explains the unimaginably improbable characteristics of our universe as the natural result of there being an infinite number of different universes.  If there are an infinite number, then there is a 100% probability that ours will be one of them.[7]
  • Our universe is in a never-ending cycle of creation (Big Bang), expansion, contraction, and implosion (the “Big Crunch”) that has been going on forever. It wasn’t created; it is and has always been. (This is an argument made simply to do away with the uniqueness of the Big Bang – the singularity – that otherwise poses unsolvable problems for physicists.  It’s popular among atheists since it also does away with the need for a Creator.  Our current cycle of the universe just so happened to produce the right physical properties for life.)  Unfortunately for proponents of this model, our universe is still accelerating its expansion (due to “dark energy” physicists now say), 14 billion years after it began, so that gravity is exerting increasingly less stopping force, not more. Therefore, it’s hard to see how it will slow down and turn around in a contraction.

The secularists (atheists, etc.) of course choose (2) or (3), depending on their physics[8].  I chose (1).  What is now overwhelmingly accepted is that there was a beginning from nothing – the Universe was created.  A proof of this was developed by three physicists/mathematicians: Arvind Bord, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin, eponymously named the BGV (or BVG) theorem.  It holds that any expanding universe that satisfies certain conditions must have a beginning (irrespective of how it started), and ours does.

In the middle ages, philosophers developed something called the Kalam Cosmological Argument.  It consists of three sequential logical propositions:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause (i.e. is caused to exist)
  2. The Universe began to exist (as is now accepted)
  3. Therefore, the Universe has a cause of its existence.

Since we’re talking about the Universe – all of the time, matter and space that exists – obviously, then, its cause cannot be associated with time, matter or space.  It must be outside this realm. We call this cause God.

The Bible teaches that God made creation for his glory.  When you see the nearly impossible design and tuned parameters he specified to yield this universe, you can clearly and unmistakably see his glory all through it, not just in some twinkling stars in the night sky.   This, in fact, is General Revelation in the 21st century; that is, divine revelation available to all who will just look at it.

The History and Machinery of Sentient Life

Inexplicably, we’re still teaching Darwinian evolution in public schools, and it’s widely believed at large.  This despite the overwhelming quantity of fossil and mathematical evidence now available that proves it wrong – that is, its broad concept of the development of all species (morphology) from single-celled life.  No credible biological scientist still defends this theory, since there is no data, no concrete evidence to support it.  Somehow, the secular public school system is happily undeterred.

Schroeder documents the failure of Darwinism in his books through several compelling facts:

  • It has been shown that there has been insufficient time to allow random processes to produce life. Scientists estimate that the universe won’t survive long enough for even single-celled life to randomly organize itself.  And, of course, this time limit applies to life as we know it on any life-friendly planet anywhere in our universe, a disappointment to ancient alien enthusiasts.
  • The Darwinian Theory calls for a gradual evolution of simple life into increasingly more complex life over eons. The fossil record, however, shows something quite different.  As soon as water formed on the earth some 3.5 billion years ago[9], single-celled life appeared.  It remained microscopic until about 530 million years ago – the so-called Cambrian “explosion”.  During approximately five million years, every multi-celled animal phylum that exists appeared (as documented in the fossil record).
  • All life shares some striking commonalities. “Portions of the proteins in our bodies are near replicas of those found in single-celled bacteria and oak trees, not to mention monkeys and mosquitoes.  Some of these proteins are chains of over one hundred amino acids, all in the same sequence.  Since there are twenty types of amino acids, the likelihood of chance reproducing the same hundred-long sequence is one in 20100 or 10130.  In other words, the probability of this similarity having happened by unrelated chance is approximately zero.”[10]  The point is that there is a shared design across all life which, had there been sufficient time pass for random chance to produce, would argue for the gradual evolution from a single common ancestor.  Since there hasn’t been sufficient time (by many orders of magnitude), this commonality argues for a single common designer of all life.
  • The complexity and intricacy of the structures and processes of life are, to me, their own testament to the influence of an external, creative and superior intelligence – for me, God. I recommend to you any of Schroeder’s books to get an appreciation of this complexity and intricacy, but particularly Appendices A (“DNA/RNA: The Making of a Protein”) and B (“Mitosis and the Making of a Cell”) in “The Hidden Face of God” from which I have included here an excerpt[i].  Just the latter’s description of the functioning of the motor protein myosin in the final mitosis phase of the process of simple cell division is close to a spiritual experience, and demands an explanation from those who blithely parrot the explanation “evolution”.  I’m sorry, but I know engineering when I see it.

The Universe as an Expression of the Wisdom of God

Increasingly lately, science is uncovering aspects of our universe and biology that seem to imply the influence of an underlying design or pattern – some “other” intelligence embedded in what they observe in nature.  We’ve already discussed the apparent “fine-tuning” of the universe’s physical properties.  Cell biology also begs the question of encoded information likely born of external intelligence.

Consider the case of ancient algae and protozoa, and assume (based on the similarities between the shape and size of their modern-day descendants to their fossils) that their genomes were similar to those we find today.  These genomes contain unused genetic information in abundance, perhaps 100 times more than is present in any mammal.  What’s all this information (which Schroeder labels a “latent library”) doing there?  Might it have been positioned in pre-Cambrian life waiting to be “turned on” when it was needed and the environmental conditions were right?  This seems likely when we look at the occurrence of molecularly similar genes that control the development of eyes in five of the 34 animal phyla.  Suddenly, in the Cambrian era, these creatures with fully developed eyes just appear.  These phyla couldn’t have developed these genetics separately (it’s statistically impossible) – it had to have been programmed into them (perhaps, with sufficient time, via a genetic predecessor) so it was there when they needed it.

Why would nature bother to encode unused genetic instructions in pre-Cambrian life that weren’t employed until the Cambrian period?  Does this sound like an evolutionary strategy?  And where did this information come from?  It certainly didn’t benefit the earlier sponge or ameba carriers.  This type of genetic “latent library” can also be seen in humans, whose embryos share a striking similarity to those of fish and chickens, among others.  (Human fetuses even develop a skin fold structure resembling a gill-slit in their early development that, barring disaster, disappears in later term development.)

These and other examples make clear to me that there is a genetic template of information present across broad tracts of life.  This broad genetic endowment makes some fraction of any genome inactive – that part is not sitting in the right species under the right conditions to be useful to that species.  This genetic material in scientific jargon is called “information”.  In metaphysical jargon, it’s called “wisdom”, a term that does a better job of conveying both the purposefulness and the potential of the underlying information.  The Bible actually has something to tell us about the infusion of wisdom into Creation.

Modern translations of the Bible contain the following as its first verse:

Gen 1:1 (ESV) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

However, the ancient Jerusalem Bible presents a slightly different translation:

Gen 1:1 (JB) With first (“Be’reasheet”), God created the heavens and the earth.

Be’reasheet (Hebrew for ‘Genesis’) can be translated roughly as “With first of”, but later translators were bothered by the “of”, and so just dropped it.  To decode what is meant by “first of” we need to find out what preceded creation.  To do this, we can look at Proverbs, where we find wisdom speaking:

Pr 8:22-31 (ESV)
“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old.   Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. 24When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, 26 before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. 27 When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, 28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established£ the fountains of the deep, 29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, 30 then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his£ delight, rejoicing before him always, 31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.

Here the word translated “possessed” is the Hebrew qânâh, which means to erect or create.  In the beginning, God created wisdom.  So the resultant translation of Genesis is something like: “With wisdom, God created the heavens and the earth”, since wisdom was his first creation.  In this context wisdom is not just a tool used in forming creation, it is that from which he made it.  Sometimes it takes the Bible’s poetry to lead us to understand the deeper meaning of the physical revelation we see all around us[11].

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, Ex 20:11 (ESV)

Before unpacking this topic, I should note that Judeo-Christianity is the only religious belief system on earth that ascribes the creation of the Universe to their God.  All the others, and there are many, have no such assertion.  Their gods simply control that which is, but had nothing whatever to do with its creation.

I mentioned earlier that one of the issues that pointed me in the direction of physics and cosmology was the Bible’s six-day creation narrative, and the attendant hand-waving by layman believers when pinned down on the Biblical timeline.  You may see this as a small issue, and it is.  But even people casually familiar with the scientific evidence for the age of the universe and the age of the earth think that if the Bible is “wrong” about how long it took God to make things, believers’ claims that the Bible contains truth (let alone its inerrancy claim) are on weak ground.  In other words, it’s not a big deal to believers: they’re way beyond this kind of issue.  However, it is a stumbling block to those who don’t believe, and so should be removed if at all possible.

Once again, Gerald Schroeder provides the necessary insight.  In “The Science of God”, Schroeder has presented an argument that both the scientifically derived 15 billion years[12], and the Bible’s six days are correct, depending on the timekeeper’s frame of reference.  Without repeating the whole argument here, Einstein showed nearly 100 years ago that time passes at different rates depending on the strength of gravity at the measurement point, and the speed of the observer.   But as Schroeder points out, these effects are local to an observer, and so don’t help us interpret the flow of time associated with the entire universe.  As he (and Einstein) shows, the stretching of space itself also changes the perceived passage of time, as indicated by the stretching of the frequencies of radiation traveling through that expanding universe, compared to the frequencies at which they were produced (Doppler shift).  If one uses the expansion rate of the universe between the moment matter first appeared (0.000001 seconds after the Big Bang) and now, the overall cosmic clock would tick a million, million times slower (as an average, though the expansion rate has varied significantly over time) than it does now.  If you divide 15 billion years by a million, million you get six days; six twenty-four hour days, to get to Adam.  After this time, the time periods referenced in the Bible make use of the earth’s time that we know today.

There’s another whole line of argument here that says the word rendered “day” in Genesis 1:2 (יוֹם/yom) has three possible meanings: 1) 24 hours; 2) 12 hours; and 3) an indeterminate period of time.  So it can and has been argued that each of the “days” of creation were of the third meaning.  That’s fine and may, in fact, be the intended meaning.  But according to Schroeder, we don’t really need this crutch.

There’s much more to this “time dilation” effect than I can (or need to) cover here.  The key conclusion, however, is simply that from God’s perspective – a perspective encompassing the overall universe as it expanded over time to its size six thousand years ago, six 24 hour days were required.  Schroeder goes on to show the correlation between the reported activities of each ‘day’ of creation with geological and other data in the context of our earth-clock equivalent.  What emerges is at the very least highly plausible.  I’m convinced of the concept, if not all the details of the calculations (which I have not carried out myself, and don’t see the need to reproduce).

The First Man

We need to take a little harder look at Adam and his timing.  The Bible’s genealogies place Adam approximately 6,000 years ago.  There is a growing record of hominid fossils extending back a million years and more.  150,000 years ago Neanderthal “man” appeared.  Over 100,000 years ago, they started burying their dead.  Forty thousand years ago, Cro-Magnon man had overtaken the Neanderthals.  Ten thousand years ago, they started farming.  Writing was invented some 5,300 years ago, marking the beginning of “history”.  (Earlier is pre-history, or pre-historic.) Genesis, in its geneology, says God created Adam (the first ‘man’) only 6,000 years ago, so the question once again is: “Is the Bible wrong?”

I had quite independently concluded that Adam was the first person that God had endowed with awareness of Himself; the capacity to know and relate to the Creator, thus establishing the first of what we could legitimately think of as a new species.  Schroeder confirmed this belief by giving that which Adam was given its Hebrew name: the “neshama”, Hebrew for human soul.

Gen 2:7 (ESV) then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Here, “breath” is the Hebrew נְשָׁמָה, neshama.  This action created the first “man”, in the “image” of God, distinct from all previous Homo sapiens or other hominids.  Schroeder points out some very interesting observations from the Genesis account.  First, he notes that it says (Gen 1:1) God created (bârâʼ) the heavens and the earth, meaning produced them from nothing.  Later (Gen 1:20-25) He “makes” (ʽâśâh – awsaw) the animals, which presumably included hominids in their time.  In Gen 1:26, he similarly purposes to make man, to have dominion over the other animals.  The idea here is that He is going to build something from the available materials produced in the creation – the same stuff the animals themselves were made from.  But then, in Gen 1:27, we see that man – the Adam – is created (bârâʼ)) from nothing, in the image of God.  Clearly, he (Adam) is unique compared with other products of God. In Hebrew, there are two words for soul:  nephesh(נֶפֶשׁ), which refers to the “soul” of animals (see Gen 1:21), and neshama, meaning the soul given to the created Adam, and thus to mankind.  It’s my belief (and the common Jewish understanding) that this neshama instilled in man awareness of his creator, and was God’s means to enable us (unlike other animals) to connect with and have communion with Him.

The Flood?

As long as we’re talking about evidence for the Biblical account, I suppose we should take on the flood story.  Geologists tell us that they can find no evidence that a worldwide flood of the type described in Genesis ever occurred.  Having dabbled a little in archaeology, I can tell you that its axiom: “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”, is certainly true, but one would have to admit that the likelihood of something of that scale being somehow missing from geological records is remote.  But as I pleaded at the outset; let’s not get sidetracked by details that miss the larger message – the forest, not the trees.

Ancient literature is full of flood stories.  Nearly every early civilization that had writing, wrote about it.  And to all of them, it was cataclysmic.  So perhaps we can forgive a little hyperbole in its description as earth-wide.  Remember, to the ancients, “all the earth” was a pretty local place (as it is in several other Biblical references that clearly refer to a region smaller than the globe).  So it’s very likely there was some pre-history event, whether ice-age melting, a huge tidal wave caused by the Thera (Santorini) explosion or perhaps a meteor-ocean impact, that was passed down aurally for possibly thousands of years before being written down.  Everybody knew about it.

Of course, the writers of Genesis certainly knew the flood story from their own and others’ cultural traditions.  But in their case, they had to try to reconcile it with their God, and make it clear that their God was distinctive — not like the gods of the other traditions.  In some of those traditions’ versions of the story, humanity is wiped out because men were unruly or “noisy” (the Gilgamesh Epic), or for no reason at all.  The Genesis authors insist on the fundamental point that their God is righteous while people are unrighteous, and frame their flood story in these terms.

This interpretation was important and almost inescapable since the Israelite God was a singular God.  He was responsible for everything, as distinct from the polytheism of the day in neighboring cultures where gods fought with each other or otherwise acted capriciously with their own people.  The Israelites didn’t, therefore, have the luxury of simple blaming, say, a petulant rain god.  They had to explain it in terms of the distinctive character of their one God, and they did so by emphasizing his righteousness.

Unfortunately, they also portrayed Him in the story as experiencing human disappointment, sorrow and grief, not exactly the reaction you would expect from an omniscient Creator simply carrying out His plan.   But they had a tough job — explaining why He would cause such a devastating cataclysm.  And in doing so they made use of the kind of anthropomorphisms commonly used in their day to describe deities.[13]

Determinism, Quantum Uncertainty and Free Will

At the outset here I must confess that I am not wildly enthusiastic about addressing this topic. But it is important to some, and therefore one for which we should have an answer.  But for me, it is only ‘sort of’ interesting, as it does have some bearing on the Calvinist/reformed position of predestination.  And, since my interest is casual, and I am neither a philosopher nor a quantum physicist, I’m only going to approach it from the position of the layman that I am.

The crux of the question here is whether or not humans have the ability (within certain constraints) to freely choose A vs. B.  (The crux of the theological question is whether man can choose to follow God.)  The importance of the question is obvious.  If we do have choice then, among other implications, we assume some sovereignty over the course of our lives and the attendant responsibility for those decisions.  If we don’t, then human existence on a very fundamental level is apparently quite meaningless.  (It’s actually worse than that.  Imagine how tragic and pathetic we become, with our hubris and our egos, running around thinking we’re controlling ourselves and perfecting our world, when in fact we’re just going through pre-programmed motions.)

This is a very long-running debate, going back to the Greeks, but intensifying with the reformation and age of enlightenment.  The original determinism argument arose from observations of the mechanical universe of Newton, which seemed well ordered to a fault.  IF “A” happened, THEN “B” always happened. This led to the theory of causality in which if we see a “B”, that’s because an “A” happened before it, in the above example.  You then can imagine that every occurrence can be traced back through a chain of causality to a First Cause (about which there is another entire [meta-] philosophical debate; i.e. First Cause as the Individual vs. God).  Determinism provides the philosophical foundation for the Calvinist/reformed theology of predestination, and specifically a little later, Luther’s.

There are many flavors of theory between “hard” Determinism and unconstrained Free Will, which we need not get bogged down in here.  Of interest, though, is the influence of Quantum Theory on the debate.  Quantum behavior of atomic and sub-atomic systems is not deterministic but instead stochastic, meaning that the behavior of these systems can only be described statistically (thus their “uncertainty”).  Many argue that such behavior is not limited to these micro-scale systems in principle, so that their indeterminism can apply to our macro scale, too.  The essential argument applicable to the free will debate is that the atomic and sub-atomic systems comprising our neurons, being subject to indeterminism, by definition create indeterminism in the behavior of the neurons they comprise, making our behavior and decisions at the very least indeterminate (i.e. not preprogrammed).

All of this is a vast oversimplification of the nuances of these concepts, but no matter.  To me, the essence of the underlying question is: “What would be the purpose of a universe in which all events were determined by their predecessors?”  You could make an argument, I suppose, that the universe is without purpose – it just “is”, as it were.  But then you would have to explain its uniqueness (see above), and its precision of design to support life.  Why?

If, in fact, God created the Universe, it is inconceivable to me that he would design it in such a way that we had no ability to choose to seek and love him – or not.  We may not understand our role in His glorification.  But to me, the entire concept is without meaning if we are not free agents in this essential way.

Maybe the best way to conclude this particular topic is to say that at this point everybody’s just guessing.

Conclusion

My goal in this edition was to appeal to those of you who may have assumed that there was no credible evidence pointing to God as the creator of the universe and its life, to glimpse a different perspective.  While I would be the first to agree that if we were trying a legal case, the evidence I have presented would be classed “circumstantial”, perhaps we should also agree that there are different degrees of this term.

Once upon a time, the level of evidence brought to this trial was that the sun rose every day, rains made crops grow, and springtime brought new plant and animal life.  Today we know more.  Today our evidence includes the fact that you and I have a 1 in 10120 chance of even existing without external intervention in physical processes, or that pre-Cambrian life were programmed with most of the genetic information that wouldn’t be needed for hundreds of millions of years by the new species that would explode after Cambria.

So we have some food for thought.  The key question is: Why are these things?  And, crucially, do they imply some purpose?  I would suggest that, at the very least, such questions call us to a new humility, and perhaps some introspection concerning what we may harbor as long-held assumptions.  At the end of the day, the question of God is not a physical one, provable or disprovable by physical inquiry, but a metaphysical one, the truth of which is revealed only by His Spirit to yours.

Next we’ll summarize what we’ve covered to this point, and ask a few challenging questions concerning what you believe.  Please, don’t stop now.

 

[1] Psalms 19:1 ( ESV ) 1    The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above£ proclaims his handiwork.

[2] “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the skies, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience.  Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for a non-believer to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.  The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside of the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scriptures are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.” De Genesi Ad Litteram (On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis), Augustine of Hippo

[3] Interview with Hugh Ross, PhD

[4] Martin Rees, “Just Six Numbers

[5] Dr. Michael Turner, University of Chicago/Fermilab

[6] Richard Dawkins, reader in Zoology, Oxford University.  Author of “The God Delusion”.

[7] Martin Rees, “Before the Beginning” presents a typical case for the multiverse argument.

[8] Physicists and cosmologists will continue to invent new theories that obviate the need for a Creator.  I think it’s important to understand that this doesn’t necessarily mean they are committed atheists seeking to do violence to God or faith in God (though certainly some of them are).  Their life’s work is to expand our knowledge of the physical universe.  The singularity of the Big Bang presents an impenetrable barrier to their ability to do so.  So it’s quite natural that they invent theories that either eliminate it, or otherwise explain it away.  In fact, I saw a physics show recently that described yet another theory and mathematics that allows one, in theory, to describe the “before” of the BB.  These people literally cannot not be able to describe the pre-BB reality.

[9] http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/10/141030-starstruck-earth-water-origin-vesta-science/

[10] Gerald L. Schroeder, “The Science of God”, p137

[11]  Schroeder, in “The Science of God”, p41, has a great quote regarding the debate between secularist and believing scientists applicable to use of the Bible in illuminating the subject: “Render unto science that which is science’s: a proven method for investigating our universe.  But render unto the Bible the search for purpose and the poetry that describes the purpose.”

[12] Schroeder’s number

[13] In Craig’s “Time and Eternity”, he makes essentially the same point regarding the practice of humanizing God in the Bible (p248): “In the same way, given the explicit teaching of Scripture that God does foreknow the future, the passages which portray God as ignorant or inquiring are probably just anthropomorphisms characteristic of the genre narrative.”

[i] From “The Hidden Face of God”, Appendix B: “Mitosis and the Making of A Cell”, Gerald L. Schroeder, ©Touchstone , 2001

“Mitosis can now begin.  And once it starts the process is non-stop activity until the end.  In the hour that it takes, it is fantasy brought to life, pure and simple.  Disney could not have done it better.  Forget religion, forget theology; universal consciousness, all the esoteric stuff.  Just immerse your mind in the awesome biological reality of you.

Outside the cell’s nucleus (which now houses a double set of the chromosomes), two organelles referred to as centrioles migrate to opposite sides of the cell.  The membrane surrounding the nucleus starts to disintegrate and at the same time the centrioles begin organizing microtubules, each some 25 billionths of a meter in diameter, into spindle fibers that extend between what is shaping up to be two opposing poles of the cell.  Keep in mind, something has to cue this synchronous dance of the molecules.  Somewhere inside the cell there’s a molecular mind in tune with a molecular clock.

While this is happening, what appeared at first to be a spaghetti-like jumble of the ninety-two chromatin are actually twenty-three pairs of pairs, that is forty-six pairs of ninety-two chromosomes in all.  Each pair is joined at a single point.  Some pairs appear as Xs and some as Vs, depending upon the location of the constricting bond.  Each pair consists of two identical copies of a given DNA/chromosome.  Now that might represent a problem.  Cells don’t want double pairs.  They want single pairs.  And that is what mitosis is all about.  (Figure omitted)

Some thirty-plus minutes have passed since the start of mitosis.

The spindle fibers, extending from the poles of the cell in a manner not totally understood, now draw the chromosomes to the central regions of the cell, setting them in a line perpendicular to the fibers that pass between the poles – something like a map with a central equator made of the chromosomes, laced with fiber lines of longitude running to the north and south poles.  Spindle fibers have bound themselves to each chromosome at the point of constriction.  And then, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, a motor protein associated with each chromosome grasps with its little molecular hands the associated spindle fiber, contracts pulling its particular chromosome pole-wards, re-extends its hand, grasps and contracts again in a manner similar to the functioning of muscle proteins, each stage pulling its burden a bit closer to the pole.  Tugging, straining, reaching out again, and pulling some more until finally the single link at the point of constriction breaks and the sister chromosome pairs move apart, each toward its respective pole.  Five to ten minutes pass as the motor proteins reel in their cargo through the ten or so microns of cytoplasm to reach the pole.  As always, energy-rich ATP is there to power each molecular effort.

About forty minutes have passed since the start of mitosis.

With the chromosomes separated into two identical sets of twenty-three pairs each, one set at each of the poles, the final phase begins.  New nuclear membranes form, individually packaging the two sets of genetic material safely away from the ensuing activity.  The helical chromosomes can now unwind, exposing their genes for reading.  At the equatorial line of the cell, a ring of muscle protein forms.  This, as with all muscles, consists of fibers of actin and the motor protein, myosin, with its hands that grasp, contract, release, extend, and grasp again.  As the myosin pulls the actin ring ever tighter around the cell’s middle, the cell membrane begins to contract at what was formerly the equator.  The cramping continues and ultimately the cell divides in two, with the original cytoplasm and the organelles therein being shared between the two halves.

One hour has passed since the start of mitosis.

Over the next five or so hours, the identical genes in each of the two new cells will produce more organelles (ribosomes, mitochondria, ER, et.), making each of the cells full-fledged and full sized.  The cells now have the choice of continuing toward another round of division or entering the GO phase of non-proliferative metabolic activity.

But there is a bit more to the story.  At two stages, one before and one after the actual mitotic phase, the cell checks itself for overall size and DNA functioning.  Then, during the one-hour mitotic phase, the spindle fiber network is monitored, determining if the fibers have joined properly to the chromatids.  Any malfunctions are repaired.  If not repairable, the cell self-programs for cell death and disintegration.  Its usable parts are recycled into other cells.

That’s how we work, but how did we evolve?  Not through random reactions over billions of years in energy-rich ponds, thermal or otherwise.  The fossil record has laid waste to that false assumption, so popular prior to the discovery of the earlier fossils.  As so many secular scientists active in the search for the origin of life have expounded.  The data indicating the rapid emergence of life on our initially lifeless planet teach that life is inevitable in our universe.  True enough.  Life seems inevitable.  The question is, what made it inevitable?