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Science and Circumstantial Evidence for the Existence of God

Whittaker Chambers was an American who spied on behalf of the Soviet Union during the 1920s and 30s. He stunned the world after he abandoned communism and outed Alger Hiss, a high-level U.S. government official who was a communist agent.

What made Whittaker Chambers abandon Communism? It was a newfound belief in God, given that Soviet Communism prohibited religion. What made him start believing in God? His daughter’s ear.

He wrote in his book Witness,

“My daughter was in her high chair….My eyes came to rest on the delicate convolutions of her ear – those intricate, perfect ears. The thought passed through my mind: ‘No, those ears were not created by any chance coming together of atoms in nature (the Communist view). They could have been created only by immense design.’ The thought was involuntary and unwanted. I crowded it out of my mind. But I never wholly forgot it or the occasion.”

To Whittaker Chambers, his daughter’s ear was evidence of God’s handiwork, such compelling evidence that it prompted him to believe in God, become a Christian, and abandon Communism.

I’m not so easily convinced that the human ear was directly designed by God. I’ve always assumed that evolution designed it. That’s the consensus in this day and age. Everything can be explained by science, or so it seems. Back in pre-modern times, people attributed unexplainable or seemingly miraculous things to God or gods. They didn’t have the concept of evolution or chemistry to explain life and the origin of life. Then beginning around age of the Enlightenment in the 1700s, people frequently questioned the Church and the Bible in terms of explaining the natural world, and instead use science to do so.

So now science explains everything. Or does it? Actually things are coming full circle. Science is has progressed so much that we’re finding out extraordinary things about the natural world that science can’t seem to explain. It’s really intriguing stuff; the deeper you delve into the science of it, the more it seems that a super-intellect was involved in not only the creation of the universe, but of biological life.

To be sure, these sorts of scientific discoveries, or more accurately scientific inferences, aren’t required to form the basis of one’s faith in God; after all, billions of people are and have been strong believers even though they’ve never heard of such scientific developments. And should scientists sometime down the road produce convincing evidence that the universe and/or biological life originated through purely physical processes – which is highly unlikely – then that should by no means shake one’s faith in God. But still, for believers and nonbelievers alike, these developments in the world of science are very, very intriguing.

Custom-Designed Big Bang

One of those developments involves what they’re finding out about the Big Bang and how exquisitely fine-tuned it had to be in order to produce a physical universe that can support life.

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To be sure, let me put to rest the notion that the Big Bang is “just a theory”. Physicists, astronomers and cosmologists now almost universally agree that the universe started about 13.8 billion years ago with the Big Bang. There’s plenty of evidence to support that, including Edwin Hubble’s discovery 90 years ago that the universe is expanding and Penzias and Wilson’s discovery 50 years ago of the cosmic microwave background radiation or CMBR, which scientists think only could have come from the Big Bang.

Prior to the Big Bang theory, scientists from Newton to Einstein accepted the so-called steady state theory in which they thought the universe always existed and was infinite. That theory clashed with the biblical account that the universe had a beginning.

But with the confirmation of the Big Bang, evidence was overwhelming that the universe actually did have a beginning – just as was stated in the Bible.

Robert Jastrow was a renown astrophysicist who called himself an agnostic but who struggled with his agnosticism. Here are some quotes from him:

“Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”

“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

“That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”

But what is most extraordinary about the Big Bang is the incredible fine-tuning that went on. Scientists discovered that the rate of expansion during the first seconds of the Big Bang was so finely tuned that had that rate been even one quintillionth of a second slower or faster, the universe either would have collapsed in on itself into a black hole, or expanded too rapidly for stars and planets to form.

And the rate of expansion was just one of many factors that had to be exquisitely exact in order for the universe to develop and life to eventually form.

Physics expert and Catholic priest Robert Spitzer, in a talk titled “Science, the Origin of the Universe, and God”, discusses some of these factors.Robert Spitzer

One is that you need a so-called low-entropy universe. The odds of this happening as a result of the Big Bang is on the order of one in 10 raised to the 10 raised to the 123, which is for all practical purposes infinitely remote. Other factors that had to be finely tuned include our physical constants or laws of physics. They include the force of gravity, the speed of light, the strong and weak nuclear forces, and the electromagnetic force. The value of these constants could have been anything as a result of the Big Bang. But they just happened to be the exact amount in order for life to develop.

It’s truly extraordinary that all of these laws of physics happened to be exactly right for life to develop. That this happened by chance is, to take an oft-used analogy, like saying a monkey can type the entire corpus of Shakespeare in two weeks just by randomly tapping the keys. Of course that’s highly, highly unlikely – essentially impossible. The obvious conclusion is that there had to have been a superintellect, i.e. God, who designed the Big Bang.

Sir Fred Hoyle is a famous scientist who went from atheism to theism after finding that something called resonance levels in chemistry had to be an exact amount in order to have carbon bonding. Achieving that amount was highly improbable through random chance.

Boeing 747

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Hoyle compared the development of life in the universe by pure chance to a tornado sweeping through a junkyard assembling a Boeing 747 ready for flight, and I may add, complete with the Boeing logo painted on.

Most scientists acknowledge this fine-tuning of the universe, and to come up with a natural, as opposed to supernatural explanation, they’ve proposed the multiverse hypothesis, in which ours is one of zillions of universes. Their reasoning is that if you have enough universes popping into existence, then there’s a chance that among quadrillions and quadrillions of bubble universes, each with different laws of physics, then one of them may just happen to have the right laws of physics suitable for life. But that theory is speculative, and as physicist Paul Davies quipped, “To invoke an infinity of other universes to explain one is surely carrying excess baggage to cosmic extremes.” And besides, a multiverse would need a creator, too.

Bio-Engineering the Primordial Soup

So the field of cosmology reveals strong circumstantial evidence of God. There’s strong circumstantial evidence of God in the field of biology as well.

factory automation

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I’m no scientist. I was a history major and studied economics after that. But I’ve been delving into biology a lot lately. And the more I learn about it, the more fascinated I become with the amazing biological processes that go on within the cell. It’s truly stunning, especially with regard to DNA and cell replication. To get a flavor for what I’m talking about, you can see a great 5-minute animation at www.unlockingthemysteryoflife.com

Think of a factory, such as a snack cake factory or a bubble gum factory, and the complex automated processes used to mass produce those products. Human ingenuity is truly amazing.

Well those complex automated processes that humans set up pale in comparison to the complex automated processes that go on inside the cell, especially with regard to DNA and cell replication. You mean to tell me that no one conceived of or set up all of that sophisticated engineering? That everything randomly fell into place over the course of millions of years? That’s what Darwinists believe. To be sure I’ve always been a strong believer in evolution and still am, but I’m finding out that there are limits to evolution. It doesn’t explain everything, such as how DNA and protein production originated. It’s like saying all the components of that snack cake factory gradually and randomly just fell into the right place over time.

The way DNA creates new proteins is remarkably similar to CAD-CAM processes – computer-aided design and manufacturing. A 3-D model of a part, for example an automobile part, is created on a computer screen, and that information is stored with binary code. Then another computer program translates that binary code into a machine code. That in turn directs the machinery such as a robotic arm to make the part. It takes a lot of intelligence to set up a process like that, wouldn’t you agree? Well the similarities between that process, and the process by which DNA makes parts for the cell (i.e. proteins), are striking.

Doug Axe of the Biologic Institute recounted a story where in college and grad school he first studied engineering and then switched to biology. He remembers a professor in a lecture hall describing an elaborate control circuit on how the cell turns on and off a chemical called tryptophan. In a very clever way it switches a suite of genes on if it doesn’t have enough and off if it has enough. Having studied control systems theory at engineering school, he remembers sitting there and being blown away. “I realized I was looking at the product of engineering – remarkable engineering.” While things like this were given a Darwinian explanation, he didn’t find that at all compelling.

DNA double helix

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Scientists have attempted to explain what gave rise to such biological processes from a scientific perspective. But based on what I’ve been reading, their explanations fall woefully short. Just as the Big Bang needed a designer, so did life on earth. Biologists including Michael Behe of Lehigh University and Stephen C. Meyer of the Discovery Institute are putting out some very compelling stuff on intelligent design. For a good overview of the ideas here, watch The Case for a Creator or other DVDs available at Illustra Media. If you’re willing to get into the nitty-gritty of cell biology, read Stephen Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell.

And then there’s question of how life originated in the first place. One of the most famous scientific experiments was the Miller-Urey experiment in 1953, in which Stanley Miller and Harold Urey tried to recreate the primordial soup of the early Earth to see if it would lead to life. It didn’t – it only lead to some amino acids, which are among the building blocks of life but by themselves are woefully inadequate to lead to life. Statistically, as detailed in Signature in the Cell and elsewhere, the odds of amino acids coming together to form functional proteins are infinitely remote.

Even Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA and a committed atheist his whole life, recognized this. He wrote in his book Life Itself,

“An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears to be a miracle, so many are the conditions which have had to have been satisfied to get it going.”

So did that shake Crick out of his atheism? No. He proposed that the seeds of life were sent here on a spaceship by some alien civilization.

Scientifically Unexplainable Phenomena

Apart from cosmology and biology, yet more proof of the existence of God, of an afterlife, and of higher dimensions are near death experiences (NDEs), which we’ll only lightly touch on here but of which there is vast literature including many peer-reviewed academic papers. Whereas the other categories can be viewed as circumstantial evidence, NDEs and other such accounts can be viewed as eyewitness evidence.

Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences by Jeffery Long examines NDEs from a scholarly/scientific perspective. The book lays out nine lines of evidence of the afterlife, based on evaluating NDEs from thousands of people. They are:

  1. It is medically inexplicable to have a highly organized and lucid experience while one is unconscious or clinically dead. Blood doesn’t flow to brain, and brain activity stops.
  2. NDEs may involve seeing and hearing actual earthly events in an out-of-body state, and what they perceive is nearly always accurate.
  3. NDEs often occur during anesthesia when no form of consciousness should be taking place.
  4. Blind persons who’ve had NDEs described actual visual objects and colors in earthly physical locations.
  5. Life reviews are often associated with NDEs, in which the person recalls events completely forgotten.
  6. Virtually all beings encountered during NDEs are deceased, and most are relatives.
  7. The striking similarity of children’s and adults’ NDEs strongly suggests the content of NDEs is not due to preexisting beliefs.
  8. There’s a remarkable consistency of NDEs around the world.
  9. Those who’ve had NDEs often are transformed in many ways for life.

In addition to NDEs, there are many reports of other types of mystical experiences, such as seeing apparitions of the Virgin Mary or seeing Jesus in a dream. Former Clinton administration official Kirsten Powers claims that she saw Jesus in a dream, in which he said, “Here I am.” That helped prompt her to go from being an atheist to a Christian. She describes her experience in an article in Christianity Today.

You Won’t Believe What People Believe

So what does the atheist comedian Bill Maher say about these miraculous or extraordinary phenomena? You may have heard of the website Beliefnet. He has a website called Disbeliefnet where he mocks believers. The website has the tagline, “You won’t believe what people believe.”

Here are some extraordinary things that people believe.

Some physical entities can:

  • go through solid walls,
  • be invisible,
  • travel through time,
  • communicate instantaneously with other things that are a billion light years away,
  • exist in many more dimensions beyond our own, and
  • a single entity can be in multiple locations at the same time.

Sounds like what we associate with angels and the supernatural, right? Yes, but that also describes quantum physics, which looks at how subatomic particles behave. So if hot-shot Ivy League scientists verify that such things happen in the quantum physics world (and they admit they can’t explain how it happens), then it’s not a stretch to believe that such things happen involving the spiritual world.

In fact, given the similarities between quantum physics and supernatural experiences, much has been published on the convergence of science and religion. See YouTube videos such as Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism or The Simulation Hypothesis. Also see YouTube lectures by Professor Keith Ward on quantum physics, as well as “Does Quantum Physics Make it Easier to Believe in God?” by Stephen Barr.

So in a sense, science has come full circle. Previously, science explained away popular religious conceptions, such as what causes the sun to travel across the sky or what causes differences in species. Now, as our knowledge of science becomes even deeper, science is leading many to religion, such as those scientists shaken from their atheism or agnosticism, referred to above.

Let me conclude by recounting a mystical experience described by Whittaker Chambers, which took place in his Baltimore home after coming down his stairs. Here’s how he described it in Witness.Whittaker Chambers Witness

“Then there came a moment so personal, so singular and final, that I have attempted to relate it to only one other human being, a priest, and had thought to reveal it to my children only at the end of my life…One day…I found myself stopped. A voice said with perfect distinctness: ‘If you will fight for freedom, all will be well with you.’ What was there was the sense that, like me, time and the world stood still, an awareness of God as an envelopment, holding me in silent assurance and untroubled peace.”

And later he writes,

“Henceforth, in the depth of my being there was peace and a strength that nothing could shake. It was the strength that carried me out of the Communist Party, that carried me back into the life of men. It was the strength that carried me at last though the ordeal of the Hiss Case. It never left me because I no longer groped for God; I felt God. The experience was absolute.”

 

Further Reading:

New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy

Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution

Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design

Videos:

Information Enigma

The Privileged Planet

Unlocking the Mystery of Life (trailer)

Atheism and Religion In The Quantum World

Websites:

Evolutionnews.org

CDs/MP3s:

Science, the Origin of the Universe, and God

Answering Atheism

Audio booklet:

Why There Is Almost Certainly a God

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