Blast and darn, and great snakes! I feel like a character in a Tintin movie. I head off on an expedition to look for evidence, only to find that it is subject to interpretation of events . What about getting some solid proof from the facts? Maybe the scientists have got it right and there is no actual evidence for God at all? Hope this isn’t upsetting you.
Not upset, honest. Questions all welcome. I have zoned out the kind of evidence that you are talking about. I can’t say it is going to give you your small frame and your ‘proof from facts’. Such certainty only exists within a frame of assumptions – step outside and it is all floating again. You did say you were doing a Tintin sea-voyage?
ZONE 2: EVIDENCE FROM THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE FOR A COSMIC CREATOR
What is the evidence for God from the physical universe?
I have run this section past four local research scientists but my mistakes are all my work.
As a biochemistry undergraduate, I was in a lecture on an intricate mechanism within the human cell. With each step unveiling I was awestruck at the nano-technology of God’s Creation, AND awestruck that humans could devise ways to understand such sub-cellular pathways. I was worshipping God in the back row. But the lecturer took the opportunity to say at the very end: ”Sorry to any Christians here. I have just explained away your faith.” (not sorry really). I was shocked. How could two responses be so different to the same facts? (And what university would allow a lecturer to proselytise for atheism like this?)
To my mind, the Cosmos presents us with four kinds of evidence: Cause, Precision, Wonder, Dimension.
Firstly, where did we come from? We know that things that are have had a cause. Why is there something instead of nothing? There is much more chance of nothing happening than something. What was the ‘nothing’ that caused the Big Bang? Was there a place or a time when there is no cause?
What happens to science if we say that there are no causes sometimes? Or is it all a fluke, a mammoth shake of the dice of chance? You have heard this said: “If there are a billion billion planets and a billion possible universes then we had to come into existence sometime”. Notice that no actual calculations are being done here. It is like the story that says a billion monkeys typing randomly on typewriters will produce Encyclopaedia Britannica. Let us not play with infinity again. I just don’t believe that there is a Britannica on a planet out there in the universe somewhere that has been thus generated. What we do know is that we are the billion monkeys that generated it, and it was not random, it was conscious and intelligent. This argument says more for a personal creator than the opposite. Playing random games with infinite numbers is not mathematical, it is a game of sleight of hand.
There is a time-free First Cause, that Christians call an eternal non-physical God.
Second, Why does it all work? How it works is interesting enough to some. They tell us there are only four forces that hold everything, yes all the galaxies and all their matter and energy, in balance.
Gravity the weakest force works with mass over very long range, holds all the universes in motion, makes apples fall, and causes all my motorcycle accidents.
The strong and weak atomic forces are both short range, holding neutrons and protons in place in the nucleus despite magnetic repulsion(strong force), and lots of particles and particle change are made through the weak force.
The fourth is electromagnetic force, which is light, magnetism and interaction between charged particles. That’s big and small, long range and small range, both in wave form and particle form.
The genius of the equation E=mc2 is that it points to all of these forces. We know it works because we can blow things up with it. It indicates the radical leap of imagination that mass and energy are interchangeable. The logical boundaries between material and non-material are porous.
What is more, these four forces are held in place by only ten universal constants.
If any one of them were slightly stronger or slightly weaker than their constant value, the universe would have done something entirely different and we would not be here. Something else would be, but the point I am making would still be valid.
These forces and constants underline all the Laws of Physics and Quantum mechanics. Out of these laws come the chemistry that builds your DNA, responds to random mutations, structures biochemistry and medicine and so on. So simple, the wonder of it all is that these Laws were in place within nano-seconds of the beginning of Big Bang. They did not evolve.
The complexity of this is also interesting. It is still hard to imagine how some complex proteins could have had any advantage when only quarter or half-way to complete, since even minor mutations to them cause major problems, like sickle cell anaemia. It is hard to imagine how biological life could have begun from chemicals alone and, as if one living cell wasn’t hard enough, the process then became predominantly sexual reproduction, and had to find two organisms the same. Too hard – unguided, the chemistry alone would take too long.
But people used to say this about the human eye – ‘too complex, no advantage in half an eye, etc’ – but a scientific survey by Dawkins has settled the logic on that one. However, he was not convincing on the time that random mutations only would have needed. Maybe science will answer this, maybe not. For that reason, biological and biochemical complexity by itself is not an argument, in my view, though it is wondrous. I want to focus behind the complexity to the great simplicity of the Laws, the Symmetries.
I am trying to make two points. My softer point is this: we believe that these constants are set by design to bring us into being. It is called ‘the anthropic principle’, and some scholars say that the ‘fine tuning’ for humanity is so great that ‘the universe knew we were coming’.
Here is the harder point. In fact, the Laws and constants are not just there, the universe falls back to them after an instability occurs (this property is called ‘Symmetry’). The Laws did not evolve – they are the foundations and the sustaining forces for all physical reality. Doesn’t that make you wonder? An ordered instant dynamic predictable universe? Paul Davies and other scientists have concluded that the evidence warrants a great Mind. Christians call him the Word, the Creator.
NOTE: Christians can no longer employ the Argument from Design as we naively did, that is: ‘Look at the design of that fish. It is perfectly suited for the water, so it must have been directly designed by God.’ Science says that its shape evolved to suit the conditions it was evolving in. But that still does not remove the Designer. It just moves the argument to the next logical shelf. The ‘process of evolution’ is now the design, and not the designer. The Laws and constants are its tools. The time involved may be his workbench.
The third layer of physical evidence for God is : why do we wonder about these things? My dog doesn’t. Clara just wants to be patted, play soccer, patted again, fed and (did I say patted?) and walked. And again tomorrow. BUT even if she did, I, human, wonder – why is it so. I wonder where is it going and whence has it come, and so on. My point in this zone (I will return to the consciousness aspect later) is that it appears that this planet is ideally positioned for such a human creature. If our solar system were situated in the centre of our galaxy’s spinning arm in the Milky Way, we would have no darkness. There would be so many stars, 2000 times as bright as the moon, in our near vicinity that the night sky would be bright objects set in milk. But we are a planet drifting out into open galactic space, able to see past the immediate stars towards the very ends of the universe. And so we gaze, we earthling humans, positioned to wonder why we are here and where did we come from.
Christians say we were made for this, in fact the whole Universe sings his praise.
Fourthly, where is God – a matter of perspective? God is not only non-material and non-time, outside our usual four dimensions in other words, he walks in some other dimension (s) from which we are materially excluded. This is recalled in the story of the young couple who were excluded from walking in God’s garden (Genesis). It may be a fifth dimension or even a sixth or an eleventh. The way between dimensions is to some degree porous. It requires a different way of looking at our material existence. Am I speaking theologically or scientifically now? Both! I am certainly not the first to make this observation (there is hardly an original thought in this entire talk).
That new perspective is pressed upon us by the science of the subatomic particles, quantum mechanics. This perspective is so important, for instance, international consortia have spent billions of Euros on a subterranean atomic collider in Europe in order to investigate this very perspective and properties. For another instance, the fact that we cannot see Gravity but can measure it by other means is analogous to the way that we cannot see God but can know Him by other means. If you want to find God, use the right instruments, obviously not the four-dimensional ones.
So that’s what we believe – what’s your explanation for Something in existence, for the constancy of laws, and why do we wonder why? We say a personal non-material Creator.
NOTE: I am not trying to find a God who fills in the Gaps of our knowledge. We don’t want to hook up our whole understanding of faith to the ‘truths of science’ as it stands at the moment – terrible things have been done through that heresy. The grounds of science change all the time. If they find a Little Whimper that preceded the Big Bang, so what for our Faith?
NOTE also that I am not arguing for the kind of extreme truth that condemns all others to hell. I am asserting a permanently open enquiry into what we know which also leaves room for what we do not yet know and what we can never know. The Bible repeatedly says: ‘the mystery is revealed, so obey what you do know.’