The Wall Street Journal recently published an excerpt from a book called “The Grand Design” by physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow. Both appear to be atheists. The title of the article is “Why God Did Not Create the Universe” The purpose of the article was to “demonstrate” that science can explain the origins of the universe without resorting to God. Yet, after reading the article, I was more convinced than ever that our wonderful universe must have been designed by an intelligent Creator. And it’s all based on atheist science!
The article starts with stereotypical triumphalist remarks about the sovereignty of reason:
Ignorance of nature’s ways led people in ancient times to postulate many myths in an effort to make sense of their world. But eventually, people turned to philosophy, that is, to the use of reason—with a good dose of intuition—to decipher their universe. Today we use reason, mathematics and experimental test—in other words, modern science. (Source)
There are two problems I’d like to highlight here before we move on to the good stuff. First, the Jewish people didn’t invent God “in an effort to make sense of their world”, as claimed above. Quite the opposite. God popped out of nowhere and revealed himself to them. Many times. In very powerful and supernatural ways. Were they supposed to pretend that they didn’t see it or hear it? So the authors’ basic hypothesis is false. The causality runs in the other direction: from God to man, not from man to God. Second, it was the belief in God that formed the impetus for the first “scientists” to try and understand the laws of nature. The belief in a rational and all-knowing Creator led people to believe that the universe could not be pure chaos and that there had to exist consistent laws that ordered the natural realm. This drove the search for general principles through experiment and observation.
The authors then state the essence of their thesis, which is where they accidentally start making an incredible case for God:
The discovery recently of the extreme fine-tuning of so many laws of nature could lead some back to the idea that this grand design is the work of some grand Designer. Yet the latest advances in cosmology explain why the laws of the universe seem tailor-made for humans, without the need for a benevolent creator.
In other words, science has allowed us to discover many new features of the universe that scream of an intelligent design (what they call “extreme fine-tuning of so many laws of nature”) that further solidify the case for an intelligent Creator. Their attempts to explain this through cosmology fall flat and are unpersuasive, as we’ll see later.
The authors then start conceding that there are many “coincidences” behind our universe:
The idea arose because it is not only the peculiar characteristics of our solar system that seem oddly conducive to the development of human life, but also the characteristics of our entire universe—and its laws. They appear to have a design that is both tailor-made to support us and, if we are to exist, leaves little room for alteration. That is much more difficult to explain.
So it’s not just Earth or our solar system that are special. The whole universe (including it’s basic laws like physics, chemistry, etc) appear tweaked to support our existence. Give them credit for admitting that this is hard to explain. Sounds like a steep hill to climb. Let’s read their explanation of recent scientific discoveries so you can marvel at the wonders of Creation.
The forces of nature had to be such that heavier elements—especially carbon—could be produced from the primordial elements, and remain stable for at least billions of years. Those heavy elements were formed in the furnaces we call stars, so the forces first had to allow stars and galaxies to form. Those in turn grew from the seeds of tiny inhomogeneities in the early universe.
This is a complex concurrence of circumstances. The chemical properties of the universe needed to be just right. What’s more, the timing of the events was also crucial. It’s like baking a cake: not only do you need all the right ingredients, but the order in which you mix them is key. You don’t just throw the icing and batter together into the mold. Can something as simple as a cake make itself? Let’s read on:
Even all that is not enough: The dynamics of the stars had to be such that some would eventually explode, precisely in a way that could disperse the heavier elements through space. In addition, the laws of nature had to dictate that those remnants could recondense into a new generation of stars, these surrounded by planets incorporating the newly formed heavy elements.
Quite the fluke, eh? Boy we humans are so lucky everything worked out by chance. Must be the luck of the Irish ;-). But there’s much more:
By examining the model universes we generate when the theories of physics are altered in certain ways, one can study the effect of changes to physical law in a methodical manner. Such calculations show that a change of as little as 0.5% in the strength of the strong nuclear force, or 4% in the electric force, would destroy either nearly all carbon or all oxygen in every star, and hence the possibility of life as we know it.
The universe is a fine-tuned piece of extremely delicate engineering. That was a shocker to me. Read on:
Also, most of the fundamental constants appearing in our theories appear fine-tuned in the sense that if they were altered by only modest amounts, the universe would be qualitatively different, and in many cases unsuitable for the development of life. For example, if protons were 0.2% heavier, they would decay into neutrons, destabilizing atoms.
So even the atom, the very building block of all matter, appears to also be carefully tweaked like a Swiss watch. But the authors aren’t not done. The orbit of the planets around the Sun is also dependent on the nature of our universe:
If one assumes that a few hundred million years in stable orbit is necessary for planetary life to evolve, the number of space dimensions is also fixed by our existence. That is because, according to the laws of gravity, it is only in three dimensions that stable elliptical orbits are possible. In any but three dimensions even a small disturbance, such as that produced by the pull of the other planets, would send a planet off its circular orbit, and cause it to spiral either into or away from the sun.
Praise God for these wonder of Creation!!
So how do the authors explain all this without God? They’ve placed blind faith in unproven theories that have not been empirically proven.
As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.
Did you catch the subversion of language? Notice the word-smithing: cosmology “suggests”. It hasn’t “observed”. It hasn’t “proven”. It hasn’t “demonstrated”. It just “suggests” because it’s explanations for the origins of the universe are only elaborate and unproven theories.
Likewise, quantum theory “allows”. It “allows” for universes to appear spontaneously (I tried really hard not to laugh when I first read that!). It “allows”. In other words, it’s a framework of thinking in which such things can happen. Hardly overwhelming evidence. Actually, it’s not evidence at all. Merely theory. And as economists know, just because you can invent a theory to match a limited set of facts, doesn’t mean the theory is correct. That’s exactly the kind of speculation they denounced at the beginning of their article, which I quoted above, about people inventing unproven stories “in an effort to make sense of their world”.
They have no proof that universes appear spontaneously. They’ve never observed it. In fact, they’ve never observed any other universe than our own. Of course, the authors of these theories have more PhD’s than you can shake a stick at, and they wrap their theories in complex scientific jargon to obfuscate the bottom line that it’s all just an unproven theory in which they’ve placed their faith “in an effort to make sense of their world”. And by the way, these scientists use up billions of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars. But I digress.
Cosmology has become their religion. These authors are smart people. Brilliant, in fact. But sadly, they don’t realize that their storytelling exhibits the same irrationality that they rebuke at the beginning of their article. They’ve become avid practitioners of the myth-making they denounce.
If they want to believe in the unseen and unproven, they’re free to do so. But they should stop the hypocrisy of calling it a “scientific” explanation.
And never forget that the Judeo-Christian tradition didn’t make up the story of Creation “in an effort to make sense of their world”. A Supernatural Being revealed Himself to humans in tangible ways. Humans did indeed “observe” God through their senses. They heard Him speak. They saw Him in various ways. Over a period of thousands of years, millions of people witnessed God with their senses. And they left us a credible account of their testimony. So in a sense, the Judeo-Christian tradition is based on more observable evidence than many of these “scientific” theories.