Sunday, September 13, 2015
My simple belief in God and the creation of the universe
My 7th grade science teacher taught me the best way to look at science and religion. Science will tell you “how” something happened, religion will tell you “why”. That has always stuck with me. If science begins to take over the “why”, then we are all in trouble.
According to Aristotle, religion depends upon deductive logic. It begins with a first principle, i.e. God, and deduces the structure of reality by his teachings.
Science depends upon inductive logic. It begins with data collection, data analysis, rigorous scientific analysis, theory generation, and theory testing, to arrive at truth.
The Higgs-Boson particle is seen by scientists as a crucial piece of the puzzle in understanding our or universe was formed. Pushing the limits of science and engineering is always a good thing. The benefits may be direct (e.g., the Higgs Boson helps create new technology) or indirect (the process of figuring out how to do it creates new engineering capabilities), but there will surely be benefits.
I continue to be fascinated by this whole area because, like Newton and Einstein before it, the Standard model accurately describes the universe but does not explain it.
It is amazing that such "intuitive" concepts as space, time, mass, and gravity are well "understood" by each of us and define the way we interact with our world, yet science cannot really describe what they are. Are we on the verge of figuring it out, or is there some constraint that prevents us from knowing (e.g., the "you can't kill your mother before you were born" problem with time travel somehow applied to knowledge)?
I am in awe of those who can so free their minds from reality to invent string theory, SUSY, and all sorts of multi-verse models. Maybe one of them will explain the universe, maybe not.
When Darwin published his thoughts on the development of life, he didn't comprehend molecular biology, genetics or particle physics. But, he did see the power that could be gained by linking naturalism to science.
With the Higgs-Boson, we've seen this countless times, most notably the sensationalistic reference to this particle as the God particle, and general references to this particle as a key towards discovering the cause of the presumed naturalistic origin of the universe.
And, what a fantastic discovery that would be! Something from nothing. No where in our existence do we observe the spontaneous creation of anything, yet physicists like Hawking believe that is exactly what happened at the start of the universe.
It is much more likely that the universe and life were purposefully created by an intelligent agency whose existence transcends our universe and its dimensions of space and time.
At the same time that Darwin published his unsupported hypothesis that life originated spontaneously in a warm pond, and evolved gradually over eons, other scientists were more tentative and empirical. For example, Gregor Mendel, experimented with plants to discover the way traits are preserved and passed down by parents to their children. He is credited with starting the practical branch of science known as Genetics.
Since then, science has uncovered much of the inner workings of the cell, which is an amazing machine exhibiting the following characteristics - self assembly, error detection and correction, reproduction, adaptation, data storage and retrieval, information processing.
Darwin had no idea that life was composed of such intricate machinery that exceeds anything that the engineers of his day, let alone ours could design and construct. To Darwin, the cell was nothing but a blob of protoplasm.
Interestingly, Darwin, in what might be his greatest scientific blunder, stated that if it could be shown that the eye did not evolve via successive gradual steps, his theory would break down. Actually, it was up to Darwin to show how a complex organ like the eye could have evolved gradually to elevate his hypothesis to a working model of how evolution occurs. If that working model was successfully used over a long enough period of time, it would have become a theory and perhaps even scientific law.
But, as we all know, there is no scientific evidence for the gradual development of complex organs such as the eye. Darwin's hypothesis of a completely naturalistic evolution only explains minor adaptions and change.
Something else is going on - and since naturalistic scientists can no longer credibly assert that the cell is the product of spontaneous origin, they are now focused on matter. And the irony here is breathtaking. Just like the cell, matter is turning out to be phenomenally complex.
The atom is no mere blob of jelly. Instead, we're finding that there is an underlying design and specificity in the way the individual sub-atomic particles behave and interact. The masses or energies of these particles are fine tuned. Change the parameters very slightly and the cohesiveness of the atom is lost.
But, rather than acknowledge that the atom was designed, scientists now assert that there are an infinite number of universes, each with matter tuned in some random way. Our universe, just happens to be the one where the parameters were just right.
Again, this could very well be, but it's not looking good. The evidence for creation is overwhelming the evidence for spontaneous origins.
Religion is like top-down organization, and science is like bottom-up organization. They both work, but in parallel. Both are true, but only religion offers the opportunity to arrive at ‘ultimate truths’.
I have every respect for Hawkins, and agree that there was probably a Big Bang at the origin of the universe (although Hindu scientists often favor a bang–expansion–contraction–bang–expansion cycle, ad infinitum). The religious question is WHO or WHAT created the Big Bang? Did it represent creation ab nihilo, or was there ‘something’ or ‘someone’ that existed before it?
Science can not answer the latter question. That is and must remain a matter of faith.
These will always be philosophical questions. Is there a God? Does He operate inside this universe or did he only set it in motion? Does He have a plan? Does He care about us?
Our minds naturally look for the cause of things. It seems naive to attribute things to God when we look at the past and remember that people use to think lightning was God’s wrath.
I understand why a scientist would say that this thing “the Big Bang” that we don’t understand can be explained by science. I think the bottom line is we have to ask if our life has meaning. Are we just a long chain of chemical reactions?
I’ve decided to reject the idea that we are meaningless automatons. I choose to believe (with no “scientific” proof, but my own experience evidence ) that there is a God that loves us, wants good things for us, and has a better plan for our lives. I think it is important to have a healthy dose of science and religion. They both search for truth from different directions.
To me the more important question is why as opposed to how. I would ask Hawking why do the laws of physics (such as gravity) exist at all, and where do they originate or how where they created. These laws of physics may be the reason for the Big Bang and everything coming together as it is today, but who is to say that these laws are not actually the guiding hand of a higher being.
If it is the laws of physics that ultimately end up creating something out of nothing and guiding chaos into order, then the reason for their existence and how these laws came to be need to be explained in order to rule out God’s involvement.
Also, looking at the world from a purely physical standpoint is a very narrow and limited viewpoint in my opinion. It’s important to recognize that we are limited in our capabilities as humans.
As physical beings, we see and define the world around us through our limited physical abilities. But it is narrow-minded to assume everything that exists around us is only within our physical world and capabilities to understand.
What is out there that lies beyond our abilities as humans to even comprehend? It is a very arrogant position to assume we are able to see and understand the full picture when by nature we are so very limited.
The leap required not to believe in God is actually greater than the leap required to believe in God. You do not have to choose.
Science is not the antithesis of God! Science is knowledge and/or theory. Albert Einstein, who fancied himself a believer in “a God” recognized that even to come to the conclusion that “things are without meaning,” (spontaneous, chaotic, random), didn’t even make sense. In order to be recognized as “meaningless,” meaning had to be established first.
It is reasonable to assume the concept of God is part of our genetic makeup. Why else would so many people spend so much time thinking about God?
If I eat a vegetarian diet for an extended period of time, my body will no longer produce adequate enzymes to efficiently digest meat. Therefore, if I attempt to eat meat, I’ll likely get sick to my stomach. It’s not that I don’t have the genetics to make the “meat” enzymes, but that I’ve neglected to express these genes. I would assume the God genes work in a similar fashion.
God’s existence seems so obvious it’s hard for me to understand how people don’t believe. The phenomenon of life is simply too elegant and well designed to attribute it to chance or self assembly via the basic laws of physics.
If you are a non believer, it may be worth trying to reactivate the God genes. You may find that it’s even better for you than eating your vegetables.
I now believe these things are all interwoven. The Bible is true as seen through the eyes of its authors and believers. Proven scientific theory is also true, archeology documenting evolution and the creation of our solar system. There is a lot more to learn about the universe’s creation. Our space program has proven that time and time again.
Perhaps God has a good sense of humor. He lets us discover little bits of information here and there. Asks us to put it together and figure it out. It’s a process, not a revelation.
I believe in God and believe I will see him in the afterlife. If I’m wrong, all I can say is that I’ve been privileged to exist. I’ve had great life with the most loving family and wonderful friends.
At times I’ve tried to help others although not as much as I should have. If there are more worlds to be born into, I’d have to say that this one was probably one of the best draws anyone could get.