Point of Reference
by Fred Price
Robert Wright asserts in his book, ‘What Does Science Tell Us About God?’, that new discoveries in physics, cosmology and biology make the universe more explainable as well as revealing it to be vastly more intricate than previously thought. The question then being: Does this undermine religious faith or reinforce it? The controversial aspects of this debate represented by two divergent comments contained in his research. One being, “…the works of modern science, taken one by one, seem enough to dampen a person’s hopes for higher meaning.” However, “The deeper our insight, the more baffling things become.”1
One interesting result of 20th century science has been the fertile ground it has provided for bonafide theological speculation concerning the universe. Inadvertently posing questions such as: Are we in any sense meant to be here? For instance, there was a time when the emergence of life wasn’t thought of as all that complicated. It was presumed that given enough time, simple molecules could randomly re-arrange themselves in such a way as to create compatibilities with other molecules, making a more complex, viable structure; finally ending up with something like DNA – a stable, self-replicating molecule that just happens to be the building block of life as we know it. Today’s scientific research actually rendering this assumption virtually impossible; as even the most simple molecules have proven to be quite complex and highly unlikely to randomly form. So where did life come from?
The possibility that there is more to our universe than is evident at first glance, and something – or someone – has fitted it all together for our benefit, is gaining ground among the various scientific disciplines today. One consistently intriguing observation from the field of physics being that the universe seems calibrated specifically for life on earth. Prompting Ralph Muncaster, among others, to assert that “A recent shift of thinking toward God has been caused by an increasing amount of “hard” evidence for the existence of God.”2 “Soft-science” hypothesis based on anthropology, general biology and geology being superseded by the discoveries and corroborative findings in the “hard-science” fields of physics, applied mathematics and chemistry.
A universe pre-disposed to creating and sustaining life would seem to bolster the claims for intelligent design. And in fact, there are more than 152specific parameters that are crucial to the existence of life on earth; so finely balanced that a deviation of less then a percentage point would be catastrophic. From continental distribution to the size of our moon, from the earth’s “tilt” to it’s precise spin; these and many more all allow for – and even encourage – life to flourish.
Yet we might want to give Darwin a break, since he lacked the tools and knowledge we possess today. Proposing a theory based on what was observable at the time had to involve some guess work, as evidenced by his own acknowledgement of weaknesses in his suppositions. For example, today we know that single cells, typically one one-thousandth the size of the period at the end of this sentence, perform all the functions of a modern factory. In Darwin’s day they were viewed as nothing more than blobs of protoplasm. Modern technology revealing a cell’s ability to generate power, manufacture functionally exact component parts, distributing them to the proper place at the right time for optimal utilization while enhancing the possibility and quality of life by designing defenses throughout its structure to contain and destroy defective molecules as well as germs and viruses – disposing of waste as it reproduces and replicates itself continuously. The human body being made up of approximately 75 trillion of these cells performing these functions, for the most part, perfectly.
Physicist Paul Davies, with views more reminiscent of Deism – still maintains that, “The very fact that the universe is creative, and that the laws have permitted complex structures to emerge and develop to the point of consciousness – in other words that the universe organized its own self-awareness – is for me powerful evidence that there is “something going on” behind it all. The impression of design is overwhelming.”3 In fact, one of the more intriguing books addressing these issues was produced not by theologians but by 60 world-class scientists.4The co-editor, Yale Physicist Henry Morgenthau concluding that there really is only one convincing answer for the intricate laws existing in nature – creation by an omnipotent, omniscient God.5
But beyond the question of simple life forms gradually developing into complex creatures is the proposition of meaningful life, which again the universe seems favorable to. With survival of the fittest there is no room or need for mercy, compassion, heroism or love; all of life being predicated on self-determination, self-preservation and self-actualization – selfishness. (The basis of our sin-nature.) Un-believing biologists propose that all behavior, however complex, is governed by bio-chemistry; the sensations produced – fear, wonder, love – being the result of chemical responses which evolved to enhance our existence yet technically not vital to our survival. But if feelings have no real purpose, why do they exist at all? Evolution implies that only those things that enhance a species ability to survive are passed on, becoming central to their being; which is no trivial point, the fact that we experience the world and respond to it being essential to our very existence.
Evolutionary Biologist William Hamilton of Oxford University concedes that science can’t answer all the questions inherent in evolution nor legitimately debunk the theory of intelligent design, yet can serve as an aid in the discussion. I would assert that a design leads to a designer. As Mr. Wright so poignantly asks, “If you admit that we can’t peer behind the curtain, how can you be sure there’s nothing there?”
1Robert Wright, senior editor of New Republic
2Ralph Muncaster’s “Examine The Evidence” Series; Why Scientists are Turning to God – Harvest House publishing
3Author of God and the New Physics, The Cosmic Blueprint, and The Mind of God
4 Cosmos, Bios, Theos – 24Nobel Prize winners among them
5 Mr. Morgenthau’s beliefs and credentials, as well as those of others, included in Richard Ostling’s
book, Galileo and Other Faithful Scientists .
Note: See also Lehigh University’s Michael Behe’s excellent – though somewhat technical book, Darwin’s Black Box; Simon & Schuster Publishing
"Point of Reference" from
Evidence Of Faith, Proof Of SalvationRead Article »
Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
Receive the newest devotional each week in your inbox by joining the "Point of Reference" subscription list. Enter your email address below, click "Go!" and we will send you a confirmation email. Follow the instructions in the email to confirm your addition to this list.