Scientists have traced the biological chain of causation back with only one remaining frontier: the origin of life. And since they are nowhere near discovering how life could emerge from non-life, it is tempting for Christians to stake a flag of victory in that scientifically barren ground.
But why should we peg our hopes on scientific ignorance, when an entirely different picture is emerging in the field of cosmology? Biologists may be plugging in gaps, but cosmologists are creating a mosaic that is looking a lot like the face of God. Self-described agnostic astrophysicist Robert Jastrow said in God and the Astronomers: "Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements 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."
Compelling scientific evidence supports the Big Bang theory, which says that the universe began approximately 14 billion years ago as an infinitely dense point of pure energy that marked the beginning of time. But the laws of physics break down at this point, so scientists do not know what caused it or what came before, or if it even makes to sense to speak of "before" the beginning of time. According to Jastrow, it looks like they will never know, because "in the searing heat of that first moment, all the evidence needed for a scientific study of the cause of the great explosion was melted down and destroyed."
However, we do know that the laws and constants of the universe had to be very precisely fine-tuned for it to come into existence. Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, said:
When you look from the perspective of a scientist at the universe, it looks as if it knew we were coming. There are 15 constants--the gravitational constant, various constants about the strong and weak nuclear force, etc.--that have precise values. If any of those constants was off by even one part in a million, or in some cases, by one part in a million million, the universe could not actually have come to the point where we see it. Matter would not have been able to coalesce, there would have been no galaxy, stars, planets or people. That's a phenomenally surprising observation. It seems almost impossible that we're here. And that does make you wonder--gosh, who was setting those constants anyway. Scientists have not been able to figure that out.Jastrow confirmed this:
Suppose, for example, that the density one second after the Big Bang had been less than the critical density by one part in a million, then the elements of matter in the Universe would have flown apart too rapidly for galaxies, stars and planets to form. That means we would not be here today. Suppose, on the other hand, that the density of matter at that early time had been greater than the critical density by one part in a million; then the expanding Universe would have come to a halt and collapsed on itself too rapidly for life to evolve on any planets that formed. Again, we would not be here.What we have here is positive scientific evidence for a Creator. This is not a God of the gaps argument, because that depends on a knowledge gap. Stephen Hawking said in A Brief History of Time: "It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us."
However, none of this constitutes proof of the existence of a God. Science cannot prove or disprove God. It is more akin to the following illustration by Canadian philosopher John Leslie: Suppose a man is sentenced to be executed by a firing squad of fifty expert marksmen. All of them fire from less than ten feet away, and yet they all miss. It is technically possible that all fifty of them would miss, but it is far more reasonable to conclude that it was intentional.
Well-known atheist and biologist, Richard Dawkins, agreed in a 2007 video that the cosmological argument for a God is the strongest:
There may be good reasons for believing in a God, and if there are any I would expect them to come from, possibly, modern physics, from cosmology, from the observation that, some people claim, the laws and constants of the universe are too finely tuned to be an accident. That would not be a wholly disreputable reason for believing in some form of supernatural deity. I think there's a very good argument against it and I developed much of my chapter four to, as I think, refuting that argument.So let's examine his arguments in chapter four of The God Delusion.
Dawkins made two major arguments: First, he hypothesizes that there are many universes, which he calls a "multiverse," and we just happen to be in one where the laws and constants were just right. We are like the lottery winner; regardless of the improbability of winning, someone won. Since we are here discussing this, we won. Second, he claimed that God "must be a supremely complex and improbable entity who needs an even bigger explanation than the one he is supposed to provide."
Note that Dawkins hypothesizes the existence of a multiverse. There is no evidence whatsoever that another universe than the one we occupy has ever existed. This is philosophical speculation without a shred of scientific evidence to back it up. (Scientific hypotheses that challenge the Big Bang theory in various ways are likewise merely proposals, unsupported by evidence. Stephen Hawking said of his no boundaries model: "I'd like to emphasize that this idea that time and space should be finite without boundary is just a proposal.")
Dawkins acknowledged this weakness in his multiverse hypothesis: "It is tempting to think (and many have succumbed) that to postulate a plethora of universes is a profligate luxury which should not be allowed. If we are going to permit the extravagance of a multiverse, so the argument runs, we might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb and allow a God."
And this leads him to his second argument, that God would be a complex and therefore improbable explanation. This argument fails for the following reasons: First, the scientific evidence itself points toward a God, and specifically, it is consistent with Genesis 1:1: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." The Bible teaches that God created ex nihilo--out of nothing--and the scientific data supports this. It further teaches that God created the universe at the beginning of time and that he exists outside of time. The data likewise tells us that the big bang marked the beginning of time. Arno Penzias, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who codiscovered the cosmic fireball radiation that provided strong evidence for the Big Bang theory, said: "The best data we have are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five Books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole."
Second, the "complexity" of God has no bearing on the probability of his existence. There is no inherent reason why a complex entity is less likely to exist, unless it requires us to make a lot of complex assumptions, which is what Occam's Razor says. So Dawkins's multiverse hypothesis fails Occam's Razor, because it is not the simplest and most logical explanation for the data supporting the Big Bang theory. However, the biblical explanation passes Occam's Razor because it meshes neatly with the evidence, without requiring speculation or complex assumptions. Unless someone presupposes naturalism, a Creator is the most logical explanation.
Dawkins said that those who "succumb" to the "temptation" of raising the aforementioned objection to his multiverse hypothesis "have not had their consciousness raised by natural selection." That reminds me of the following quote by Jastrow:
There is a kind of religion in science; it is the religion of a person who believes there is order and harmony in the Universe. Every event can be explained in a rational way as the product of some previous event; every effect must have its cause; there is no First Cause. Einstein wrote, "The scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation."
This religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatized. As usual when faced with trauma, the mind reacts by ignoring the implications--in science this is known as "refusing to speculate"--or trivializing the origin of the world by calling it the Big Bang, as if the Universe were a firecracker."Jastrow ends his book on the following note:
At this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. 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 mountains 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.