The Religion in Science
If current Big Bang cosmology is correct (and the evidence is very good that it is) then the entire space-time universe exploded into being out of nothing.Therefore, the Cause of the universe would seem to have these attributes:
spaceless because it created space
timeless because it created time
immaterial because it created matter
powerful because it created out of nothing
intelligent because the creation event and the universe was precisely designed
personal because it made a choice to convert a state of nothing into something (impersonal forces don’t make choices).
These are the same attributes of the God of the Bible (which is one reason I believe in a the God of the Bible and not a god of mythology like Zeus). When I’ve posed this conclusion to atheists, many of them responded by claiming that I was speculating—that we really don’t know what caused the universe (see comments on the posts above). This is exactly the kind of response that Agnostic Astronomer Robert Jastrow said is common for atheists who have their own religion—the religion of science. Jastrow, who once sat in Edwin Hubble’s chair at the Mount Wilson Observatory, wrote this:
There is a kind of religion in science . . . every effect must have its cause; there is no First Cause. . . . 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.
The implication of the creation of the universe out of nothing is that there is a Cause outside the universe with the attributes listed above.That’s not speculation, but following the evidence where it leads.
Who Made God?
The following is from I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, pages 92-93: In light of all the evidence for a beginning of the space-time universe,the Beginner must be outside the space-time universe. When God is suggested as the Beginner, atheists are quick to ask the age-old question, “Then who made God? If everything needs a cause, then God needs a cause too!“
As we have seen, the Law of Causality is the very foundation of science.Science is a search for causes, and that search is based on our consistent observation that everything that has a beginning has a cause. In fact, the question “Who made God?” points out how seriously we take the Law of Causality. It‘s taken for granted that virtually everything needs a cause.
So why then doesn‘t God need a cause? Because the atheist’s contention misunderstands the Law of Causality. The Law of Causality does not say that everything needs a cause. It says that everything that comes to be needs a cause. God did not come to be. No one made God. He is unmade. As an eternal being, God did not have a beginning,so he didn’t need a cause.
“But wait,” the atheist will protest, “if you can have an eternal God, then I can have an eternal universe! After all, if the universe is eternal, then it did not have a cause.“ Yes, it is logically possible that the universe is eternal and therefore didn’t have a cause. In fact, it is one of only two possibilities: either the universe, or something outside the universe, is eternal. (Since something undeniably exists today, then something must have always existed; we have only two choices: the universe, or something that caused the universe.)
The problem for the atheist is that while it is logically possible that the universe is eternal, it does not seem to be actually possible. For all the scientific and philosophical evidence (SURGE– Second Law, Universe is expanding, Radiation Afterglow, Great galaxy seeds, Einstein’s GR–radioactive decay, and the Kalam Cosmological Argument) tells us the universe cannot be eternal. So by ruling out one of the two options, we are left with the only other option–something outside the universe is eternal.
When you get right down to it, there are only two possibilities for anything that exists: either 1) it has always existed and is therefore uncaused, or 2) it had a beginning and was caused by something else (it can’t be self-caused, because it would have had to exist already in order to cause anything). According to overwhelming evidence, the universe had a beginning, so it must be caused by something else– by something outside itself. Notice that this conclusion is consistent with theistic religions, but it is not based on those religions– it is based on good reason and evidence.
So what is this First Cause like? One might think you need to rely on a Bible or some other so-called religious revelation to answer that question, but, again, we don’t need anyone‘s scripture to figure that out. Einstein was right when he said, “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.“Religion can be informed and confirmed by science, as it is by the Cosmological Argument. Namely, we can discover some characteristics of the First Cause just from the evidence we‘ve discussed in this chapter. From that evidence alone, we know the First Cause must be:
self-existent,timeless, nonspatial, and immaterial (since the First Cause created time, space, and matter, the First Cause must be outside of time,space, and matter). In other words, he is without limits, or infinite;
unimaginably powerful, to create the entire universe out of nothing;
supremely intelligent, to design the universe with such incredible precision (we=ll see more of this in the next chapter);
personal,in order to choose to convert a state of nothingness into the time-space-material universe (an impersonal force has no ability to make choices).
These characteristics of the First Cause are exactly the characteristics theists ascribe to God. Again, these characteristics are not based on someone’s religion or subjective experience. They are drawn from the scientific evidence we have just reviewed, and they help us see a critically important section of the box top to this puzzle we call life. (The book then goes on to build the case that this is the God of Christianity.)
Who Really Commits the ‘God of the Gaps’ Fallacy?
The God-of-the-Gaps fallacy occurs when someone falsely believes that God caused the event when it really was caused by undiscovered natural phenomena. For example, people used to believe that lightning was caused directly by God. There was a gap in our knowledge of nature, so we attributed the effect to God. Darwinists assert that theists are doing the same thing by claiming that God created the universe and life. Are they correct? No, for a number of reasons.
First, when we conclude that intelligence created the first cell or the human brain, it’s not simply because we lack evidence of a natural explanation; it’s also because we have positive, empirically detectable evidence for an intelligent cause. A message (specified complexity) is empirically detectable. When we detect a message, like “Take out the garbage, Mom” or 1,000 encyclopedias, we know that it must come from an intelligent being because all of our observational experience tells us that messages come only from intelligent beings. Every time we observe a message, it comes from an intelligent being. We couple this data with the fact that we never observe natural laws creating messages, and we know an intelligent being must be the cause. That’s a valid scientific conclusion based on observation and repetition. It’s not an argument from ignorance, nor is it based on any “gap” in our knowledge.
Second, Intelligent Design scientists are open to both natural and intelligent causes. They are not opposed to continued research into a natural explanation for the first life. They’re simply observing that all known natural explanations fail, and all empirically detectable evidence points to an intelligent Designer.
Now, one can question the wisdom of continuing to look for a natural cause of life. William Dembski, who has published extensive research on Intelligent Design, asks, “When does determination [to find a natural cause] become pigheadedness? . .. How long are we to continue a search before we have the right to give up the search and declare not only that continuing the search is vain but also that the very object of the search is nonexistent?” Consider the implications of Dembski’s question. Should we keep looking for a natural cause for phenomena like Mount Rushmore or messages like “Take out the garbage, Mom”? When is the case closed?
Walter Bradley, a coauthor of the seminal work The Mystery of Life’s Origin, believes “there doesn’t seem to be the potential of finding a [natural explanation]” for the origin of life. He added, “I think people who believe that life emerged naturalistically need to have a great deal more faith than people who reasonably infer that there’s an Intelligent Designer.” Regardless of whether or not you think we should keep looking for a natural explanation, the main point is that ID scientists are open to both natural and intelligent causes. It just so happens that an intelligent cause best fits the evidence.
Third, the Intelligent Design conclusion is falsifiable. In other words, ID could be disproven if natural laws were some day discovered to create specified complexity. However, the same cannot be said about the Darwinist position. Darwinists don’t allow falsification of their “creation story” because, as we have described, they don’t allow any other creation story to be considered. Their “science” is not tentative or open to correction; it’s more closed-minded than the most dogmatic church doctrine the Darwinists are so apt to criticize.
Finally, it’s actually the Darwinists who are committing a kind of God-of the-Gaps fallacy. Darwin himself was once accused of considering natural selection “an active power or Deity” (see chapter 4 of Origin of Species). But it seems that natural selection actually is the deity or “God of the Gaps”for the Darwinists of today. When they are totally at a loss for how irreducibly complex, information-rich biological systems came into existence, they simply cover their gap in knowledge by claiming that natural selection, time, and chance did it.
The ability of such a mechanism to create information-rich biological systems runs counter to the observational evidence. Mutations that aren’t neutral are nearly always harmful, and time and chance do the Darwinists no good, as we explained in chapter 5. At best, natural selection may be responsible for minor changes in living species, but it cannot explain the origin of the basic forms of life. You need a living thing to start with for any natural selection to take place.Yet, despite the obvious problems with their mechanism, Darwinists insist that Natural Selection covers any gap in their knowledge.Moreover, they willfully ignore the positive, empirically detectable evidence for an intelligent being. This is not science but the dogma of a secular religion. One could say that Darwinists, like the opponents of Galileo, are letting their religion (or at least their philosophy) overrule scientific observations.
Big Bang Evidence for God
When I debated atheist Christopher Hitchens, one of the eight arguments I offered for God’s existence was the creation of this supremely fine-tuned universe out of nothing. I spoke of the five main lines of scientific evidence—denoted by the acronym SURGE—that point to the definite beginning of the space-time continuum. They are: The Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Expanding Universe, the Radiation Afterglow from the Big Bang Explosion, the Great galaxy seeds in the Radiation Afterglow, and Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.
While I don’t have space to unpack this evidence here (see I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist), it all points to the fact that the universe began from literally nothing physical or temporal. Once there was no time, no space, and no matter and then it all banged into existence out of nothing with great precision.
The evidence led astronomer Dr. Robert Jastrow—who until his recent death was the director of the Mount Wilson observatory once led by Edwin Hubble—to author a book called God and the Astronomers. Despite revealing in the first line of chapter 1 that he was personally agnostic about ‘religious matters,” Jastrow reviewed some of the SURGE evidence and concluded, “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 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.”
In an interview, Jastrow went even further, admitting that “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover. . . . That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”
Jastrow was not alone in evoking the supernatural to explain the beginning. Athough he found it personally “repugnant,” General Relativity expert Arthur Eddington admitted the same when he said, “The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural.”
Now why would scientists such as Jastrow and Eddington admit, despite their personal misgivings, that there are “supernatural” forces at work? Why couldn’t natural forces have produced the universe? Because there was no nature and there were no natural forces ontologically prior to the Big Bang—nature itself was created at the Big Bang. That means the cause of the universe must be something beyond nature—something we would call supernatural. It also means that the supernatural cause of the universe must at least be:
· spaceless because it created space
· timeless because it created time
· immaterial because it created matter
· powerful because it created out of nothing
· intelligent because the creation event and the universe was precisely designed
· personal because it made a choice to convert a state of nothing into something (impersonal forces don’t make choices).
Those are the same attributes of the God of the Bible (which is one reason I believe in a the God of the Bible and not a god of mythology like Zeus).
I mentioned in the debate that other scientists who made Big-Bang-related discoveries also conclude that the evidence is consistent with the Biblical account. Robert Wilson—co-discoverer of the Radiation Afterglow, which won him a Noble Prize in Physics— observed, “Certainly there was something that set it off. Certainly, if you’re religious, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match with Genesis.” George Smoot—co-discoverer of the Great Galaxy Seeds which won him a Nobel Prize as well—echoed Wilson’s assessment by saying, “There is no doubt that a parallel exists between the Big Bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing.”
How did Hitchens respond to this evidence? Predictably, he said that I was “speculating”—that no one can get behind the Big Bang event. I say “predictably” because that’s exactly the response Dr. Jastrow said is common for atheists who have their own religion—the religion of science.
Jastrow wrote, “There is a kind of religion in science . . . every effect must have its cause; there is no First Cause. . . . 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.”
Hitchens admits the evidence but ignores its implications in order to blindly maintain his own religious faith (watch the entire debate at CrossExamined.org here). How is it speculation to say that since all space, time, and matter were created that the cause must be spaceless, timeless and immaterial? That’s not speculation, but following the evidence where it leads.
Dr. Jastrow, despite his agnosticism, told us where the evidence leads. He ended his book this way: “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.”