Truth That Matters

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" - Jesus Christ

Nature as Evidence for the existence of God

The universe around us points to a Creator. That is, there are various features of the universe that strongly suggest that this universe was created by an intelligent, powerful, good Creator with a purpose. This article lists these features. Discussions of related issues are linked to at the end.

Property # 1: Design

Living things in nature appear to be designed. We have no hesitation in attributing a designer to other things with the appearance of design such as watches and computers. Since the appearance of these design features in living things cannot be explained by evolution theory, they force us to posit the existence of a Creator. See the details here.

Property # 2: Beauty

We all love natural surroundings. Because we’re born into a beautiful world, it’s easy to take it for granted. Many people move to cities in search of employment. Despite the efforts of thousands of people involved in maintaining cities, many of them are living hells. What if everything was left to natural selection? Random strokes of a paint brush on a canvas don’t produce a beautiful painting – it’s more reasonable to conclude that an artist was responsible. In the same way, isn’t it strange to say that a universe built by random natural processes is pleasing to our senses? Is it not more sensible to agree with the Bible, which says that God did it all for us?! The beauty of the universe is not proof for creation, but it is not proof for evolution either. The point is, it makes more sense in the light of creation than evolution.

“Wait a minute,” you say, “There’s plenty of pain, cruelty and suffering in nature as well, not just beauty – how does the concept of God fit in with that? and Why is suffering lopsided?

Property # 3: Mathematical laws within human grasp

Note the following features of the universe:-

First: We find that the universe follows precise laws - discovering and applying these laws makes up the subject matter of chemistry and physics. If the universe formed by itself, then there is no reason to expect it to follow precise laws - let alone laws that the human mind can grasp. Thus, the existence of the laws of physics is strong evidence that there must be a Law-giver and Law-enforcer who made humans to understand the universe just as the Bible claims (Genesis 1:26-28, Hebrews 1:3).

“The ability of human beings to discover the laws of nature is beyond human understanding” – Erwin Schroedinger, What is Life? The Physical Aspects of the Living Cell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1945), p31

"The enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious and…there is no rational explanation for it….it is not at all natural that ‘laws of nature’ exist, much less that man is able to discern them….[Newton’s Law of Gravitation} has proved accurate beyond all reasonable expectations.” – Eugene Wigner, Symmetries and Reflections: Scientific Essays (Cambridge and London: The MIT Press, 1970), p223, 227, 231. Eugene Wigner is the 1963 physics Nobel laureate (quantum mechanics)

"The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility" - Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years, p. 61.

"You find it surprising that I think of the comprehensibility of the world . . . as a miracle or an eternal mystery. But surely, a priori, one should expect the world to be chaotic, not to be grasped by thought in any way....the success of [Newton's gravitational theory] supposes in the objective world a high degree of order which we are in no way entitled to expect a priori. Therein lies the “miracle” which becomes more and more evident as our knowledge develops. . ." - Albert Einstein, Letters to Maurice Solovine (Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1956) pp. 114-115 and cited in Stanley Jaki, The Road of Science and The Ways to God, p. 193.

Second: Expressing the laws of chemistry and physics requires precise and sophisticated mathematics. Now mathematics is based on logic and consistency; in other words, the laws governing the universe are highly logical - suggesting that there is a Person (not a mere Force) with a great, consistent Mind behind them.

"One cannot escape the feeling that these mathematical formulas have an independent existence and an intelligence of their own, that they are wiser than we are, wiser even than their discoverers, that we get more out of them than was originally put into them.” Heinrich Hertz, shortly after verifying Maxwell’s Theory of Electromagnetism, Cited in Bell, Men of Mathematics, p. 16

Third: A lot of mathematics is a construct of the human mind. Mathematicians think of abstract entities (such as complex numbers or matrices) and then develop a consistent structure of operations on these entities, their properties, etc. There is no reason why such constructs of the human mind should have any relevance in describing nature, but they do! A few decades after a branch of math is developed, someone notices that this branch is helpful to study some aspect of nature! Why on earth should a system created by human minds correspond to nature? It makes no sense unless we assume that the same God who created nature also created humans and endowed them with a mind because He wanted them to investigate nature.

"The essential fact is simply that all the pictures which science now draws of nature, and which alone seem capable of according with observational fact, are mathematical pictures . . . Nature seems very conversant with the rules of pure mathematics. . . . In any event it can hardly be disputed that nature and our conscious mathematical minds work according to the same laws." - James Jeans, The Mysterious Universe (New York: Macmillan, 1930) p. 1217

"Finally , a study of mathematics and its contributions to the sciences exposes a deep question. Mathematics is man-made. Yet with this product of his fallible mind man has surveyed spaces too vast for his imagination to encompass; he has predicted and shown how to control radio waves which none of our senses can perceive; and he has discovered particles too small to be seen with the most powerful microscope. Cold symbols and formulas completely at the disposition of man have enabled him to secure a portentous grip on the universe. Some explanation of this marvelous power is called for." - Morris Kline, Mathematics and the Physical World, p. ix.

“How can the manipulation of symbols which we have invented, according to rules which we alone make, reveal that which lies beyond our senses?... , [this question] is one which is unlikely to receive a satisfactory answer. . . .” - Sutton, Oliver G. Mathematics in Action. New York: Dover Publications, 1948. p. 3, 4

"How a mathematical structure can correspond to nature is a mystery. One way out is just to say that the language in which nature speaks is the language of mathematics. This begs the question. Often we are both shocked and surprised by the correspondence between nature and mathematics, especially when the experiment confirms that our mathematical model describes nature perfectly." - Remo J. Ruffini, “The Princeton Galaxy,” interview by Florence Heltizer, Intellectual Digest, 3 (1973), 27. Remo Ruffini was a physicist at Princeton University. He was reacting to men landing on the moon.

“From all of this I am forced to conclude both that mathematics is unreasonably effective and that all of the explanations I have given when added together simply are not enough to explain what I set out to account for.” Richard Hamming, The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics, American Mathematical Monthly, 87 (1980), 90

The scientists quoted above express surprise and disbelief because what they're finding does not fit with their worldview (atheism). However, the connection between math and nature is only to be expected from a Biblical theistic viewpoint, and thus constitutes strong evidence for the existence of a personal God who created human beings with the intention that they should investigate the universe.

Property # 4:The Universe is fine-tuned for life

The Anthropic Principle refers to the observation that (to borrow from Patrick Glynn) "the seemingly arbitrary and unrelated constants in physics have one strange thing in common - these are precisely the values you need if you want to have a universe capable of producing life".

In a BBC science documentary, "The Anthropic Principle," some of the greatest scientific minds of our day describe the recent findings which compel this conclusion.

Dr. Dennis Scania, the distinguished head of Cambridge University Observatories:

"If you change a little bit the laws of nature, or you change a little bit the constants of nature -- like the charge on the electron -- then the way the universe develops is so changed, it is very likely that intelligent life would not have been able to develop."

Dr. David D. Deutsch, Institute of Mathematics, Oxford University:

"If we nudge one of these constants just a few percent in one direction, stars burn out within a million years of their formation, and there is no time for evolution. If we nudge it a few percent in the other direction, then no elements heavier than helium form. No carbon, no life. Not even any chemistry. No complexity at all."

Dr. Paul Davies, noted author and professor of theoretical physics at Adelaide University:

"The really amazing thing is not that life on Earth is balanced on a knife-edge, but that the entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge, and would be total chaos if any of the natural 'constants' were off even slightly. You see," Davies adds, "even if you dismiss man as a chance happening, the fact remains that the universe seems unreasonably suited to the existence of life -- almost contrived -- you might say a 'put-up job.'"

Fred Hoyle:

"A COMMON SENSE INTERPRETATION OF THE FACTS SUGGESTS THAT A SUPERINTENDENT HAS MONKEYED WITH THE PHYSICS, AS WELL AS CHEMISTRY AND BIOLOGY, AND THAT THERE ARE NO BLIND FORCES WORTH SPEAKING ABOUT IN NATURE. I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT ANY PHYSICIST WHO EXAMINED THE EVIDENCE COULD FAIL TO DRAW THE INFERENCE THAT THE LAWS OF NUCLEAR PHYSICS HAVE BEEN DELIBERATELY DESIGNED WITH REGARD TO THE CONSEQUENCES THEY PRODUCE WITHIN STARS."

Time Magazine has also approached the subject:

"There is more to this universe than meets the eye, something authentically divine about how it all fits together. One intriguing observation…is that the universe seems calibrated for life's existence…If, at the Big Bang, some basic numbers - the "initial conditions" had been jiggled, matter and energy would never have coagulated to form galaxies, stars, planets or any other platforms stable enough for life as we know it." – Dr. Robert Wright, Time Magazine, Dec 28, 1992 

The August '97 issue of "Science" (the most prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journal in the United States) featured an article entitled "Science and God: A Warming Trend?" Here is an excerpt:

"The fact that the universe exhibits many features that foster organic life -- such as precisely those physical constants that result in planets and long-lived stars -- also has led some scientists to speculate that some divine influence may be present."

In his best-selling book, A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking (perhaps the world's most famous cosmologist) refers to the phenomenon as "remarkable."

"The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers (i.e. the constants of physics) seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life. For example, if the electric charge of the electron had been only slightly different, stars would have been unable to burn hydrogen and helium, or else they would not have exploded... It seems clear that there are relatively few ranges of values for the numbers (for the constants) that would allow for development of any form of intelligent life. Most sets of values would give rise to universes that, although they might be very beautiful, would contain no one able to wonder at that beauty." (p.125)

Hawking then goes on to say that he can appreciate taking this as possible evidence of "a divine purpose in Creation and the choice of the laws of science (by God)" (ibid. p. 125).

Gerald Schroeder, former professor of physics at MIT, writes to The 2001 Principle:-

1. Nobel laureate, high energy physicist (a field of science that deals with the very early universe), Professor Steven Weinberg, in the journal Scientific American, reflects on "how surprising it is that the laws of nature and the initial conditions of the universe should allow for the existence of beings who could observe it. Life as we know it would be impossible if any one of several physical quantities had slightly different values." Although Weinberg is a self described agnostic, he cannot but be astounded by the extent of the fine-tuning. He goes on to describe how a beryllium isotope having the minuscule half life of 0.0000000000000001 seconds must find and absorb a helium nucleus in that split of time before decaying. This occurs only because of a totally unexpected, exquisitely precise, energy match between the two nuclei. If this did not occur there would be none of the heavier elements. No carbon, no nitrogen, no life. Our universe would be composed of hydrogen and helium. But this is not the end of Professor Weinberg's wonder at our well tuned universe. He continues: "One constant does seem to require an incredible fine-tuning... The existence of life of any kind seems to require a cancellation between different contributions to the vacuum energy, accurate to about 120 decimal places."
 
The existence of life of any kind seems to require a cancellation between different contributions to the vacuum energy, accurate to about 120 decimal places. This means that if the energies of the big bang were, in arbitrary units, not:

1000000000000000000000000
0000000000000000000000000
0000000000000000000000000
0000000000000000000000000
00000000000000000000,

but instead:

1000000000000000000000000
0000000000000000000000000
0000000000000000000000000
0000000000000000000000000
00000000000000000001,

there would be no life of any sort in the entire universe because as Weinberg states: "the universe either would go through a complete cycle of expansion and contraction before life could arise or would expand so rapidly that no galaxies or stars could form."

2. Michael Turner, the widely quoted astrophysicist at the University of Chicago and Fermilab, describes the fine-tuning of the universe with a simile: "The precision is as if one could throw a dart across the entire universe and hit a bullseye one millimeter in diameter on the other side."
 
3. Roger Penrose, the Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, discovers that the likelihood of the universe having usable energy (low entropy) at the creation is even more astounding, "namely, an accuracy of one part out of ten to the power of ten to the power of 123. This is an extraordinary figure. One could not possibly even write the number down in full, in our ordinary denary (power of ten) notation: it would be one followed by ten to the power of 123 successive zeros!" That is a million billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion zeros. Penrose continues, "Even if we were to write a zero on each separate proton and on each separate neutron in the entire universe -- and we could throw in all the other particles as well for good measure -- we should fall far short of writing down the figure needed. The precision needed to set the universe on its course is to be in no way inferior to all that extraordinary precision that we have already become accustomed to in the superb dynamical equations (Newton's, Maxwell's, Einstein's) which govern the behavior of things from moment to moment."

Saturn's position and orbital inclination is just right for our survival. Details

Read about the uniqueness of planet Earth or more on fine tuning

The following are some atheist responses to the fine tuning argument and my counter-responses

"It is not the environment of earth that conforms to the needs of life, rather it is the function of life to conform to the features of the available environment."

Pontificating about "the function of life" does not make life exist in any kind of environment. As far as observations (not speculations) go, life only exists in a highly specialized, fine tuned, environment.

Moreover, this evolutionist retort fails to grasp the seriousness of the problem: it assumes that if the physical constants were different, a different life would have arisen, perhaps based on silicon instead of carbon! The reality is that if the physical constants were slightly different, no atoms or planets would have arisen at all!

Perhaps there are infinitely many universes, and ours just happens to have the right parameters for life! Well, perhaps ours has the feature that all thought in it is deception! Would you buy that? Don't you see a hint of desperation here? The die-hard atheist would rather invoke multiple universes (for which there is no basis) than a single Creator [in violation of Occam's Razor]!

If we didn't exist, we wouldn't be here to notice the fine tuning, so the fine tuning is just an artifact associated with our existence, not anything remarkable. This is just playing with words. If you faced a firing squad and they fired, and you found yourself alive and well, the fact that you are still alive does not mean that you shouldn't be surprised! In the same way, the fact that we exist and observe the universe does not mean that the universe is not remarkable.

There are so many possible states of affairs, and so any given possibility is improbable, and thus, a "miracle". The fallacy in this line of thinking is that it does not group and count possibilities appropriately. The number of meaningful possibilities (possible universes fitted for life) is vanishingly small. The number of meaningless possibilities (that would lead to a 'dead' universe) is extremely large. And yet, the meaningful possibility has actually occurred. This is remarkable. Something like: a chimp is made to type on a computer. If the output is gibberish, no explanation is called for. But if the outcome is "I love human beings", it would be considered strange. Also see Cheating with chance

Face it: The extreme fine tuning of our universe doesn't just point to a Creator; it points to Someone extremely wise and powerful, worthy of our highest regard.

Property # 5: Observability

Atheistic scientists believe that the nature and positions of the earth and nearby objects are not special. But there are several things about the earth's position and nature that make it special. Some of these have to do with how the earth is a convenient vantage point for making scientific observations:

  • Our sun is located on the inner edge of the Orion Spur, a branch between two main spiral arms of the Milky Way Galaxy. If we were in one of the main spiral arms or near the galactic centre, dust clouds would obscure our view of outer space.
  • What does the night sky look like from Venus and Jupiter? Boring. All we would see is a cloudy sky. Earth's atmosphere is transparent. This enables us to observe the universe.
  • The moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, but it is 400 times closer. This enables the moon to completely block the sun in a complete solar eclipse. But this gives us a rare opportunity to examine the radiation from the sun's atmosphere (which is normally eclipsed by the glare of the sun's body). This enabled scientists to study the spectra of the sun's atmosphere (see image). This proved to be invaluable in the study of stars and distant galaxies. All of this would not be possible if the moon's size and distance were not precisely matched with that of the sun.
This subject is treated in detail in Gonzalez, Guillermo and Jay Wesley Richards. The Privileged Planet. Washington, DC: Regnery, 2004. These facts strongly suggest that an intelligent Creator made earth and man with the intention that man should observe the universe.

Property # 6: Over-engineering

If natural selection acting on mutations has gradually given rise to all organisms and their features, we can predict the following:-
  • Unnecessary features should not be developed. If I'm an animal, my genes should be using my resources to prescribe organs that I really need, not "luxuries", which would be an unnecessary waste.
  • No provision should be made for organisms who have defects. Nature's job is to select the fit organisms and discard the unfit.
However, we often observe the opposite. Some organisms have organs that are "luxurious", that is, hardly necessary or beneficial except under special circumstances. The existence of such "luxurious" features is called over-engineering. Let's consider examples.

Example # 1: Evolutionists claim that reptiles evolved into birds. The reptile lung is like a bellow that expands to draw in the air; stale air is then exhaled the same way it came in. The avian lung on the other hand, consists of a complicated system of air sacs, even involving hollow bones. Air and blood flow in opposite directions, resulting in excellent oxygen intake.

First of all, no one has ever found an animal whose lung was something in between a reptile lung and an avian lung.

Secondly, there was no need for nature to select changes in the reptile lung leading to the avian lung as the super-efficiency of the avian lung is necessary only at very high altitudes at which the oxygen content in the air is small (not to mention the severe problems that the transitional form would have breathing!). Birds could have managed with "ordinary" reptile lungs just like bats do. Thus, the avian lung is an example of over-engineering. This over-engineering suggests that design, and not natural selection was responsible for the avian lung. God just chose to give birds much more than they really need!

Example # 2: Humans have two kidneys. Why? They can make do pretty well with one! Among a population of thousands of humans, a couple of them may have a kidney failure. It does not make sense for nature to select for two kidneys, when it would hardly make a difference for the overwhelming majority of humans. The existence of two kidneys points to a Creator who did not want the small minority of humans having kidney failure to die as a result.

Example # 3: Peacocks have stunningly beautiful feathers, but (contrary to what scientists believed for a long time) recent research  led by Mariko Takahashi of the University of Tokyo suggests that peahens don't care for them. Natural selection has no use for these beautiful feathers. It seems God deliberately wanted birds to be beautiful. See Takahashi, M. et al., Peahens do not prefer peacocks with more elaborate trains, Animal Behavior 75 (4): 1209-1219, April 2008.

Example # 4: The human mind can study calculus and relativity, compose symphonies, conceive of abstract art, and write beautiful poetry. Atheists would have us believe that all these abilities developed several thousands of years ago to equip man for a struggle for survival against beasts of prey and the vagaries of nature. This is ridiculous. The human spirit, the mind, the faculties of speech, art, music, mathematics, humor and morality are far beyond what is necessary for survival (or attracting the opposite sex) - and thus beyond the reach of natural selection. It is far more reasonable to conclude that an intelligent Creator made humans highly intelligent because He wanted them to have fulfilling relationships with others and with Him.
 
Example # 5: A National Geographic article titled "Brittle Star Found Covered With Optically Advanced 'Eyes'" describes a brittle star (a type of starfish) having thousands of tiny eyes - each superior to any optical device that man has made. Needless to say, it is possible for a creature to survive without thousands of eyes covering its entire outer skeleton. Such brittle stars are examples of how reality is inconsistent with evolution theory based on natural selection but consistent with the idea of an intelligent Creator.

"Thanks to evolution, they have beautifully designed crystal lenses…" - Gordon Hendler, a marine biologist at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. [Note the inherent contradiction]
 
This discovery could lead to better-crafted and more efficient telecommunication systems and optical networks. Roy Sambles, a physicist at the University of Exeter in England: "Once again, we find that nature foreshadowed our technical developments."

No my dear. The Creator, who is a Master Designer, foreshadowed our designs.
 
Example # 6: It is well known that the human body contains provision for the greatly enhanced use of some senses when another sense has been lost. For instance, if a person gets blind, he or she develops an acute sense of hearing and touch. This makes perfect sense if we assume that people were created. There is a God who wants to alleviate the suffering of those who become blind. This provision however, makes no sense if evolution were true. Natural selection would eliminate a feature that uses up resources and would be potentially useful only for a small minority of people.
 
 
More examples similar to over-engineering:-
"I...am still at a loss to understand why it is of selective advantage for the eels of Comacchio to travel perilously close to the Sargasso sea, or why Ascaris has to migrate all around the host's body instead of comfortably settling in the intestine where it belongs; or what was the survival value of a multiple stomach for a cow when a hose, also vegetarian and of comparable size, does very well with a simple stomach or why certain insects had to develop those admirable mimicries and protective colorations when the common cabbage butterfly is far more abundant with its conspicuous white wings." [Bertlanffy, L. (1969) "Chance or Law", in Beyond Reductionism, ed A Koestler, Hutchinson Publishing Co, London, pp 55-84, see p65]
 All these examples of over-engineering show us that biological systems were designed - and often, unlike natural selection,the Designer had more than mere survival in mind.

Conclusion

For those willing to accept it, nature shouts out that God exists. The idea that God exists may or may not be "scientific" depending on how one defines scientific, but that is not our concern. Our point is that theism fits the observed facts in nature better than atheism. Be a rational person and come where the facts point - toward God.

When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics.” – Frank Tipler (Professor of Mathematical Physics) Tipler, F.J. 1994. The Physics Of Immortality. New York, Doubleday, Preface.

“When I went to the moon I was a pragmatic test pilot. But when I saw the planet Earth floating in the vastness of space the presence of divinity became almost palpable and I knew that life in the universe was not just an accident.” – Edgar Mitchell (Apollo 14 Astronaut)