God is not a magician


A recent pop news article claimed physicists have proved God didn’t create the universe. In response, I explained why you can’t trust the pop media to report on science accurately. In a follow-up post, I discussed why the universe isn’t “nothing,” as the article implied. In this, the third part, we’ll talk about what the Bible says about the creation of the universe and compare this with the current state of scientific thinking.

Let’s first summarize the problem as presented in the pop news article:

The supposed biblical claim: God created the universe from absolute nothing (creatio ex nihilo). Only God could create something from absolute nothing.

The atheist counterclaim: Physicists have discovered a way to create a universe from nothing using only the laws of physics. Therefore, God is irrelevant.

I’ve already explained why the atheist claim is bogus. But is creatio ex nihilo what the Bible says? It’s unclear, because there is nothing in scripture that explicitly says this. Those who believe creatio ex nihilo infer it from Genesis 1:1: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. It’s not an unreasonable inference—the Hebrew word for “create” means to bring something into existence that did not exist before—and it is probably for this reason that the great biblical commentator Nahmanides believed the universe was brought forth by God “from total and absolute nothing.” From my reading of Nahmanides (and my non-expertise in theology), the total and absolute nothing refers to something corporeal. More on this in a moment.

When dealing with argumentative atheists who want to debate science and God, what matters most is not whether science lines up with their particular ideas about God, but whether science is consistent with what we know from scripture. You have to be persistent about this, because atheists almost always present their arguments against a God that resembles nothing like the God of the Bible:

Asked if the remarkable findings and the convincing if complex solution removed the need for a God figure to kick start the universe Dr Mir said: “If by God you mean a supernatural super man who breaks his own laws then yes he’s done for, you just don’t need him.”

I doubt this is the exact question posed to Dr. Mir; and I believe the atheist we’re dealing with is not the physicist, but the reporter and/or his editor. Nevertheless, my interpretation of Mir’s response is, now that we have a plausible physical model for how the universe could arise from nothing but physical laws, we do not need the sort of God who waves his arms and magically conjures up a universe from nothing. In other words, the theory knocks down a strawman God. But it also supports the biblical God who operates in a way that we can relate to on at least a rudimentary level.

Have you ever watched a skilled magician performing tricks? Most people find it enjoyable to watch someone perform something that seems impossible. But it’s only fun, because everyone except for really little kids understands that the tricks are just illusions and the magician isn’t really defying the laws of nature. If we genuinely believed he was defying the laws of nature, the magic show would be more horrifying than entertaining*.

And yet, for reasons I don’t quite understand, a lot of people—including believers—regard God as the ultimate magician who really is defying the laws of nature. Personally, I find this notion of God repellant, because it contradicts what the Bible tells us about his character—he is knowable through nature, he is consistent, and he is reliable. But we needn’t worry, because the biblical account of the creation of the universe doesn’t describe something magical, it describes something miraculous.

It is tempting to think of magical and miraculous as synonymous, but there’s an important distinction between the two. For the purpose of this argument, magical refers to something that lacks a knowable mechanism, something that defies the laws of nature or does the impossible. Contrary to popular misconception, miraculous means none of those things. Rather, a miracle is something that is accomplished through divinely supernatural means; in other words, something that is accomplished by God through means that exist beyond the universe. As Israeli physicist and theologian, Gerald Schroeder, points out, this is exactly what modern science implies for the creation of the universe.

Prof. Mir – who also works on the Large Hardron (sic) Collider at CERN in Switzerland – further explained that by “nothing” he only meant absence of energy, and not the absence of laws of physics.

Schroeder says this is what Genesis has been telling us all along. In his book, The Science of God, he provides what he considers to be the most faithful translation of Genesis 1:1, which is known as the Jerusalem translation: With wisdom as the first cause, God created the universe. In other words, Genesis implies the laws of physics predate the universe, just as physicists claim. It is the supernaturally existing laws of physics—wisdom, the first cause—God uses to create the universe.

Let’s summarize what we’ve discussed:

  • The Bible implies the universe was created from nothing except the laws of physics. Science agrees.
  • The Bible says the laws of physics predate the universe. Science agrees.
  • The Bible says God used the pre-existing laws of physics to create the universe. This is consistent with science.

Logically, we know the universe can’t create itself; it requires something above and beyond. This is what the Bible has been saying all along, and science is finally catching up.


* If you don’t believe me, watch a movie called The Prestige. Even though the ultimate trick in the movie isn’t strictly magic—in the sense that it breaks no laws of nature—the magician goes well beyond simple illusion, and it’s pretty disturbing.

Image credit: ESO.

Is the universe nothing?


Last time, we learned you can’t trust the pop media to report on science accurately. The article in question concerned physicists ‘PROVING’ God DIDN’T create the universe. The headline was, of course, a total lie.

Today we’ll discuss why the article’s claim was bogus. In the third part of this series, we’ll talk about why none of the science involved is a problem for biblical belief, anyway. 

The science in the article involves two things: cosmic inflation and something called doubly special relativity. It’s really just an interesting bit of mathematics to figure out what’s going on in the early universe, since plain old relativity tells us nothing.

Our current understanding of physics allows us to describe the history of the universe back to an early time, when the universe was small in scale; but it doesn’t allow us to describe the universe at the very beginning, when things were extremely small in scale. That irritates physicists, who want to know exactly how the universe began. But what can be done about it?

Since the universe probably began at the quantum scale, we need a better understanding of relativity at the quantum level. It turns out to be a difficult thing to do. But every now and then a bunch of physicists, like the professors at the Canadian university, find a mathematical solution that seems to work.

So far, this isn’t anything terribly controversial, right?

And the findings are so conclusive they even challenge the need for religion, or at least an omnipotent creator – the basis of all world religions.


Only that doesn’t seem to be what the physicists were intending at all. I emailed one of them to ask about the news article, and he seemed dismayed by the way the discussion had turned from science to God.

So, why the insanely provocative headline and the silly claim in the article? As we discussed last time, it generates a lot of clicks and more ad revenue. What better way to provoke people than to say that scientists have given God the heave-ho?

Now, only an utterly stupid person would claim there’s such a thing as proof of God’s nonexistence, and since most people (excluding tabloid editors) aren’t that stupid, the next best thing is to make God irrelevant. That’s why we have articles claiming the universe never had a beginning, implying that God isn’t necessary to create it.

Another way to make God irrelevant is to say there is nothing that needs explaining in the first place. The prevailing belief in Christianity is that God created the universe from nothing, what’s referred to as creatio ex nihilo. Whether or not that’s precisely what the Bible says, we’ll discuss next time. But for now, the point is, a universe from nothing requires the miraculous intervention of God. Or does it?

According to the extraordinary findings, the question is irrelevant because the universe STILL is nothing. … the negative gravitational energy of the universe and the positive matter energy of the universe basically balanced out and created a zero sum.

Stephen Hawking has used this argument before, and there has yet to be a word invented to describe how silly it is. It’s like your child asking you where money comes from, and you answer by claiming that because your income balances your debts, there is no money. Most children would recognize that answer as a pathetic cop-out.

Nevertheless, I’ve heard quite a few materialist atheists parrot it as a rebuttal to the idea that God is necessary to explain a universe from nothing.

It’s kind of astounding to behold a supposedly rational materialist so pretzel-bent by his philosophy that he denies the existence of the ONE THING he’s supposed to believe exists. I don’t much respect the philosophy of Ayn Rand anymore, but one thing I do respect about Objectivism is its first tenet: existence exists. As a teenager enamored with Rand’s philosophy, I couldn’t understand the need to state this, but apparently there are people who believe the universe is effectively nothing. Hence, the need to establish the existence of existence as the beginning of all materialist wisdom.

Anyway, what’s going on here is that Hawking and others like him are playing fast and loose with the definition of nothing. The great mathematician Gottfried Leibniz once asked, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” He meant, why is there anything at all (the universe) rather than nothing at all? By nothing, he meant NOTHING. No space, no matter, no positive or negative energy. Zilch. Nada. Zip. The complete and total absence of anything. Yet, quite clearly, Hawking and the Canadian physicists are spending a lot of time studying something—the universe—therefore, “How can it exist?” requires a better answer than the one we’re getting.

Next time, we’ll conclude this discussion and talk about how these new findings are, in fact, consistent with biblical wisdom.

Planck’s logical argument for God


Modern atheists like to paint a picture of Christianity as inherently anti-intellectual. It’s a powerful way to dissuade people from faith, particularly young people, and I’m sorry to say it worked on me when I was a young atheist. However, once I started to emerge from the intellectual fog of atheism, all it took was a little research to discover that this view of Christianity simply isn’t true. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

The list of Christian intellectuals throughout history is impressively long and populated by people who were giants in their respective fields. For instance, it was Isaac Newton, and his predecessor Galileo, who transformed the field of physics from a quasi-scientific undertaking into a powerful evidence-based enterprise that depends on observation and experiment.

Another revolutionary in science, German physicist, Max Planck, is widely regarded as the father of quantum mechanics. Planck was also a committed and passionate Christian who commented on his faith in the context of his scientific work. Some of his better known quotes have graced the pages of this blog, but some of the lesser known quotes remain obscured from the English-speaking world. The following quote, from a lecture delivered to his fellow scientists, is inexplicably one of the latter.

Gentlemen, as a physicist, the whole of whose life is one of sober science, the dedicated research of matter, surely I am free from any suspicion of holding any illusions.

And so I say this after my explorations of the atom: there is no matter as such.

All matter evolves and there is only one force, which causes everything from the oscillation of atoms, up to the smallest solar system of the universe [the atom] to hold together. Since there exists in the whole universe neither an intelligent force nor an eternal force, and humanity has not succeeded in discovering any long-awaited cause of perpetual motion—so we must hypothesize a deliberate intelligent spirit behind this force. This spirit is the foundation of all matter. A visible but not corruptible matter is real, true, authentic, because matter without the spirit cannot be—but the invisible, immortal Spirit is the reality! Also since a spirit cannot exist by itself, but every spirit belongs to an entity, we are forced to assume that there exist spiritual beings. However, since spirit beings cannot come into being by themselves, but must be created, so I am not shy to designate this mysterious creator, as him, whom all civilizations of the earth have called in earlier millennia: God! In this, the physicist, in dealing with the subject matter of the will, must travel from the kingdom of the substance to the realm of the Spirit. And so that is our task in the end, and we must place our research in the hands of philosophy.

Planck methodically deduced from his work on the nature of matter that God exists. Decades later, scientists realized that the logical inference from the big bang is that the realm of the supernatural must exist. It is not the Christian who believes, but the atheist who denies this, who is anti-intellectual.

The original quote can be found in the journal, Lebendige Erde, No 3/84 p 133. I gratefully acknowledge G.P. Orris, who translated this passage by request.

Image credit: Jonas Schmöle, Vienna Quantum Group.

Newton’s magic vs. Hawking’s science

Stephen Hawking is back in the news making a fool out of himself. In an interview with a Spanish newspaper, Hawking is quoted as saying, “The laws of science are sufficient to explain the origin of the universe. It is not necessary to invoke God.”

Hawking could only be referring to the multiverse as this explanation, as there are no other “scientific” explanations for the origin of the universe. The problem is, as eminent physicist George F. R. Ellis puts it, the multiverse is just “scientifically based philosophical speculation.” Or, as I like to say, the multiverse isn’t science, it’s merely science flavored.

Surak dismantled Hawking’s specious argument the last time he claimed science had usurped God, so I won’t rehash that. What I want to do, is take this opportunity to contrast the modern, secular scientism so evident in Hawking’s claim with the classical, Newtonian view of science. Consider the following, written by John Maynard Keynes in his essay, “Newton, the Man”:

Because he [Isaac Newton] looked on the whole universe and all that is in it as a riddle, as a secret which could be read by applying pure thought to certain evidence, certain mystic clues which God had laid about the world to allow a sort of philosopher’s treasure hunt to the esoteric brotherhood. He believed that these clues were to be found partly in the evidence of the heavens and in the constitution of elements … but also partly in certain papers and traditions handed down by the brethren in an unbroken chain back to the original cryptic revelation in Babylonia. He regarded the universe as a cryptogram set by the Almighty—just as he himself wrapt the discovery of the calculus in a cryptogram when he communicated with Leibniz. By pure thought, by concentration of mind, the riddle, he believed, would be revealed to the initiate.

In his biography of Newton, Mitch Stokes commented further:

Most modern scientists pride themselves on having purged themselves of thoughts of mystery and magic, while unwittingly using theories that are as mystical as they are “scientific.” Newton, believing that the world is full of magic, found that it *is* full of magic. He, in turn, revealed some of his discoveries to us.

If you take the particular atheistic view of the universe that there is no God and that only science can reveal the true nature of the universe, then it is one of the great ironies of the world that a classical mystic who thought he was working magic ended up being the greatest practitioner of science who ever lived, while a modern secular hero of science who thinks he’s practicing science is really just working magic.

Fire Back: Where the Readers Respond

In which we discuss inflation, the multiverse, and fine-tuning.

I had the following exchange with a reader in the comments of a previous post:

jlafan2001: What is your take on the discovery of cosmic inflation? Isn’t inflation evidence of a multiverse and doesn’t that refute the fine-tuning argument?

SS: Inflation is a compelling idea that answers some big cosmological questions, and, personally I think it’s correct. One flavor of multiverse — the bubble universe idea — is an outgrowth of the inflationary big bang model. The problem for a multiverse based on inflation is that inflation is also consistent with non-multiverse models. There is currently no way to distinguish between them based on the evidence. There is, to my knowledge, nothing that can be confidently stated about the multiverse based on evidence, therefore it would be beyond foolishness to say that the multiverse constitutes a genuine refutation of the fine-tuning argument.

jlafan2001: Thank you for your input, Dr. Salviander. Why would scientists then use the inflation model as evidence for the multiverse if it can go either way?

A not unreasonable question. The answer is, inflation is one of the very few (ambiguous) lines of evidence atheist scientists have for the multiverse, and there is considerable philosophical motivation to support the multiverse no matter how weak the evidence.

There are two main problems in physics for the atheist scientist:

  1. The big bang. A universe with a beginning logically implies a supernatural creative force for the universe.
  2. The fine-tuning of the universe, for which there are only three explanations: a) necessity; b) chance; c) design.

Contrary to what Young Earth Creationists believe, atheist scientists have never been happy with the big bang. To understand why, all you have to do is go back to February of 1961 when striking evidence in favor of the big bang was presented at a meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society in London. That evidence would later turn out to be flawed, but at the time it inspired some notable headlines in London newspapers. The Evening Standard published an article with the headline “‘How it all began’ fits in with Bible story” (Peter Fairley, 10 February 1961), and the Evening News and Star featured an article headlined, “The Bible was right” (Evening News Science Reporter, 10 February 1961).

These headlines reflected the big bang’s astounding confirmation of the first three words of the Bible. To understand the significance, consider that for millennia prior to this, the scientific consensus was that the universe was eternal. Obviously, this was a big problem for the Bible-believers, but not for atheists, who rested assured that the universe required no explanation. That all started to change in the 1920s with solutions to Einstein’s general relativity equations showing the universe could be dynamic, as well as Hubble’s evidence that the universe is expanding. Things finally changed in a big way in the 1960s with the discovery of the cosmic microwave background, which pretty much sealed the deal for the big bang.

To their credit, the vast majority of physicists accepted the big bang theory once there was sufficient evidence, even if a lot of them didn’t like it. However, there were a few notable holdouts, like renowned astrophysicist and atheist, Geoffrey Burbidge. It’s not a stretch to suggest that his steadfast support for an eternal universe in spite of the evidence was philosophically motivated, especially considering he famously accused many of his colleagues of “rushing off to join the First Church of Christ of the Big Bang.”

The evidence for the big bang is by now so overwhelming that few physicists doubt it. That leaves atheist physicists with a big problem, which is how to offer an alternative to God as the supernatural creative force behind the universe. Thus, we have the multiverse.

Now, it’s important to point out that, contra what some skeptical Christians believe, physicists did not metaphorically pull the multiverse out of a magician’s hat. There are different types of multiverse (or “levels” as physicist Max Tegmark calls them), each with a basis in physics and mathematics that makes the idea conceptually somewhat compelling. One level of multiverse is the bubble universe model. This model says that inflation — a period of extremely rapid expansion of the universe shortly after the big bang — leads to regions of localized inflation, which form like bubbles in a cosmic sea of foam. Each of these bubbles expands at such a rate that they are all causally cut off from each other, and each effectively forms its own universe. This is one type of inflationary universe; there are others that do not lead to multiverses. However, as I pointed out to jlafan2001, there is no way I’m aware of that you can observationally distinguish between an inflationary bubble universe and an inflationary non-bubble universe.

So, how does this tie into fine-tuning?

The fine-tuning argument says this: the many observable parameters of the universe that permit human life to exist are so finely-tuned as to strongly imply the universe was designed by a personal being. Physicists have ruled out necessity as an explanation for fine-tuning; this means there is nothing in any physical theory or any extension of physical theory that requires the various physical parameters describing our universe to be the way they are. That leaves chance and design. For an atheist physicist, design is obviously out, which leaves chance as the only explanation. It turns out physicists aren’t very happy about this — they would have preferred necessity as the explanation — but, they’re philosophically stuck with chance. Since there is already a theoretical basis in physics for the multiverse, and chance is built into its framework, atheist physicists latch onto it as a means to explain away the appearance of fine-tuning. It also has the virtue of addressing point #1 above by providing an alternative to God as the creative force behind the universe.

The so-far insurmountable problem with the multiverse is that there is no way to test it. One of the features of the multiverse is that each of the universes within it is causally separated from all of the other universes, which means there is no way we an observe any of them, directly or indirectly. There’s just no way we can peek outside of our universe to see if there are any others. So, we’re left with ambiguous evidence like inflation and “shadow particles” (ugh). Until physicists find a way to get around this problem, which is unlikely, the multiverse remains nothing more than a science-flavored idea.

Earth-like planet kills God dead!

The big news last week was that astronomers (incidentally, some of them colleagues of mine) discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting a Sun-like star. The exoplanet, dubbed Kepler-452b, was discovered by the Kepler space telescope and recently announced by its discoverers. It is 1,400 light-years away from Earth and appears in the constellation Cygnus.

It’s exciting news, and probably had more than a few nerds thinking we’re one step closer to the United Federation of Planets, but apparently the really big news is that the discovery of this planet was the death-knell for religious tradition.

In what I suppose is a serious commentary on the discovery Kepler-452b and not satire, Jeff Schweitzer, a scientist and former White House analyst, declares that Earth 2.0 is “bad news for God.” Why? Because Genesis doesn’t mention alien worlds. Of course, Genesis also doesn’t mention bananas, but to my knowledge no one has argued that the existence of bananas rocks religious tradition to its core.

Schweitzer’s first mistake was referring to Kepler-452b as “Earth 2.0.” This newly discovered exoplanet is believed to be Earth-like in terms of its size and proximity to its Sun-like star, and that’s sort of big news, because the majority of known exoplanets are Jupiter-sized or larger and very close to non-Sun-like stars. Kepler-452b is at just the right distance to its Sun-like star to permit liquid water on its surface (a necessary component for life). All this means is that we can’t rule out the existence of liquid water on its surface; it doesn’t mean there is water. And there are known differences between Kepler-452b and Earth: it’s estimated to be 60% larger than Earth (so it’s more like a “Super-Earth”), it’s about 1.5 billion years older than the Earth, it receives 10% more light from its sun than the Earth does from its Sun, its gravity could be anywhere from 80% to 300% of the Earth’s gravity, etc. We don’t know its composition. Is it rocky? Does it have a fluid core that would lead to a dynamo effect? Does it have an atmosphere? Plate tectonics? We currently don’t know the answers to these questions. We therefore have no idea exactly how Earth-like Kepler-452b is or whether it’s suitable for life. And it’s not the only known Earth-like exoplanet, nor is it even the most Earth-like. All good reasons why it’s absurd to call this particular exoplanet “Earth 2.0.”

Nevertheless, Schweitzer goes on to declare that we are coming “ever closer to the idea that life is common in the universe.” That’s quite a leap from the discovery of an exoplanet about which we know very little. But never mind. His point here is to preemptively declare that the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe would be a big problem for “the world’s major religions.” And by “the world’s major religions” he seems to mean Judaism and Christianity (and probably just the latter), since the Bible is the sole focus of his critique.

He begins his theological discussion thusly: “Let us be clear that the Bible is unambiguous about creation:”

Let’s look at what the Bible unambiguously claims about creation, according to Schweitzer:

1. “the earth is the center of the universe”

He doesn’t mention which verse says this. Probably because there is no verse, that I’m aware of, that says this. Ancient Greek philosophy held that the Earth is the center of the universe, and this view was eventually adopted by the Church, whose philosophy was heavily influenced by Aristotle.

2. “only humans were made in the image of god”

Of all the creatures mentioned in Genesis, yes, only humans were made in the image of God. This doesn’t preclude other creatures, not mentioned in Genesis, being made in the image of God. This doesn’t preclude other creatures, not mentioned in Genesis, not being made in the image of God.

3. “and all life was created in six days”

No, all life was created in four days. Plant life appeared on Day 3, animal life appeared on Day 5, and human life appeared on Day 6.

4. “All life in all the heavens. In six days.”

No, all life on Earth. In four days. (See here for why six creation days are fully compatible with a billions-year-old universe.)

Notice that he does not support any of these claims with the biblical verses that supposedly “unambiguously” say these things. Instead, later in his piece, he quotes the Pope during the trial of Galileo on what the Church believed the Bible claimed at the time.

This is why you should never rely on what an anti-theist says about the Bible. Schweitzer is completely wrong. Which means his conclusion is completely wrong, for he goes on to say:

“So when we discover that life exists or existed elsewhere in our solar system or on a planet orbiting another star in the Milky Way, or in a planetary system in another galaxy, we will see a huge effort to square that circle with amazing twists of logic and contorted justifications. But do not buy the inevitable historical edits: life on another planet is completely incompatible with religious tradition. Any other conclusion is nothing but ex-post facto rationalization to preserve the myth.”

Nonsense. What he’s attempting to do is use false assumptions and specious reasoning to justify his leaping out in front of this discovery before anyone’s had a chance to comment thoughtfully on it, and claim it as a victory for atheism. Dibs, everyone!

Is Schweitzer unaware that Christians have already commented on the topic of alien life in the context of Christian theology? C. S. Lewis not only wrote a well-known essay (“Religion and Rocketry“) on the topic, but wrote a science fiction trilogy exploring it in great depth (The Space Trilogy). (Incidentally, I wrote on this topic a few years ago.)

The rest of Schweitzer’s article is filled with theological analysis and reasoning of similar quality. For instance, he quotes Genesis 1:1 and then makes the following claim:

“Nothing in that mentions alien worlds, which of course the ancients knew nothing about. Man was told to rule over the fish on the earth, not on other planets. But god would have known of these alien worlds, so it is curious he did not instruct the authors to include the language.”

One might reasonably ask how man could possibly rule over the fish on other planets, and therefore why it would be of any concern to him that there might be fish on other planets. (I seriously wondered if Schweitzer was having us all on at this point, but since this was The Huffington Post and not The Onion, I had to assume he was sincere.) (Also, what is it with the childish refusal of some atheists to capitalize the ‘G’ in God? Lower-case ‘g’ god denotes a lesser god. God is the supreme being, the God, which is why ‘God’ is capitalized. Spelling it correctly doesn’t mean you agree God exists, it means you understand the concept of a proper noun. It just makes you look like an idiot to refuse to capitalize the name.)

He then goes on some weird tangent about some verses in Genesis that shows he doesn’t understand that Genesis refers to the entire universe for the first two days, and then specifically the Earth for the remaining days. It was all so contorted and confused that it made my head hurt. He amusingly concludes this word-salad passage with “Let us be perfectly clear…”

Schweitzer ends his piece with the statement that, “none of this will matter upon life’s discovery elsewhere. Religious leaders will simply declare that such life is fully compatible with, in fact predicted by, the Bible.” He’s right that this sort of poor understanding of the Bible and lousy reasoning are utterly inconsequential to any possible discovery of life elsewhere in the universe. As for whether the existence of life elsewhere is compatible with, even predicted by, the Bible, consider that the great biblical commentator, Nahmanides, inferred from Genesis that the universe was created with the potential for life built into it. Since he claimed this over 700 years ago, I’d say our side had dibs long before Schweitzer’s.

Fire Back: Where the Readers Respond

In which a Twitter exchange exposes the blind faith of an anti-theist.

Here’s a person I think we can reasonably assume is an anti-theist. Last month, he pinged me on Twitter with the following:

By “FT” he means fine-tuning. What followed was an exchange that was more coherent than the one I had with “OpenMind” (see here and here), but no less demonstrative of the main problem many non-scientist anti-theists have, which is blind faith in their beliefs and unquestioned assumptions.

Before we continue, note that the reasoning I described in my testimony doesn’t really fall under what’s called the fine-tuning argument. This argument says that the improbability of our universe having precisely the right values for the many parameters and constants that permit human life to exist — the strengths of the fundamental forces, the masses of subatomic particles, the number of physical dimensions, etc. — is so high as to strongly imply the universe was designed by a personal being. However, in my testimony, I explained that I logically inferred the existence of a rational, transcendental being (God) who created the universe based on the fact that the universe is comprehensible. Not the same thing as fine-tuning. But no matter, I was game to see how exactly the fine-tuning argument for God constituted faith over reason, so I asked.

I don’t know if Joe’s World (JW) thinks the many, many atheist scientists who’ve embraced the multiverse idea on this basis are fools or what, but I suspected he didn’t understand the implications of fine tuning, so I asked him why he made his assertion.

His response surprised me a little, because it differs from the common anti-theist argument that God is merely superfluous to the workings of the universe. JW, on the other hand, believes that order arises spontaneously only in a godless universe and that a God-created universe would be nonsensical. I pointed out to him that this is the opposite of what Christians and even most atheists believe.

There are a number of problems with his assertion, the first of which is the origin of a “clockwork” universe in which complexity just arises. He’s begging the question. The problem is underscored by his metaphorical comparison of the universe to a clock — most of us are reasonably certain that precision instruments like clocks don’t just spring into being on their own, but are rather carefully designed and deliberately constructed by conscious beings.

Another problem is that he presupposes that the God of the Bible is a capricious being who would not create a rational universe with unchangeable laws. Sure, a supernatural being could in principle create anything he wants, but that’s not what’s important here. Since JW is talking to a Christian (me), that means we’re talking specifically about the God of the Bible. It doesn’t matter what anyone personally thinks about the God of the Bible, what matters is what scripture says about God and whether that’s contradicted or corroborated by reason and evidence. When we read the Bible, we see that God is not at all a capricious being, but rather a rational being. We are told throughout the Bible that God didn’t just slap together a whimsical universe, but by wisdom created a lawful universe:

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made (Psalm 33:6)

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
by understanding he established the heavens;
(Proverbs 3:19)

Do you know the laws of the heavens? (Job 38:33)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

Note that the Greek word translated in John 1:1 as “word” is logos, which also means logic, intellect, and wisdom. Putting all this together, Gerald Schroeder makes the argument that Genesis 1:1, properly translated, reads as follows: “With a first cause of wisdom, God created the universe.” (See Chapter Two of Schroeder’s book, God According to God.)

The heavens declare his righteousness (Psalm 50:6)

In other words, nature reveals the character of God. We see that nature operates according to knowable laws; God is not capricious.

As for corroboration, there’s a reason the Bible begins with Genesis. It first of all establishes the sovereignty of God as the creator of all things, but it also gives us a testable account of God’s creation. (See here for a discussion of Genesis 1 and modern science.)

What I found even more interesting than the backwards reasoning of JW was the tenacious way in which he clung to one particular belief in spite of the evidence, or rather the lack of it. I reminded him that there are only three options to explain why the universe is the way it is: necessity, luck, or God. I told him there’s no support for necessity, but he really, really wanted to believe it anyway.

It’s not difficult to define chance. The parameters, constants, all the things that make the universe fit for human life, can span a range of values. If there’s no physical theory requiring the universe to have three physical dimensions, the particular strengths of the various fundamental forces, the particular masses of subatomic particles, and so on, and no God to purposefully choose these values, then how did we end up with all of the “right” values? The answer is, a very, very lucky roll of the dice. In the multiverse, there is a mind-bogglingly huge number of universes, all with different parameters, and we just happen to inhabit one that hit the cosmic jackpot. (Incidentally, most physicists don’t seem to delight in this option. I get the impression most atheist physicists would prefer the necessity option, but as there’s no evidence for that, they grudgingly accept the multiverse.)

JW seemed to reject this notion, and he obviously wasn’t big on the God idea, so I challenged him, repeatedly, to show me which physical theories predict / require / necessitate the universe to be the way it is.

After a lot of back and forth, I finally got an answer out of him.

He admits he doesn’t know. The truth is, no one knows, and it’s deeply troubling to a lot of people, because it leaves as the only alternatives luck and God. Yet JW persists in his belief.

JW’s initial statement to me was that the fine-tuning argument was a triumph of faith over reason. But who’s exhibiting faith here? If you accept an explanation for why the universe is the way it is, then you must have evidence in favor of it or at least evidence ruling out the alternatives. Joe’s World has no scientific evidence, no physical theories predicting that the universe must be the way it is. Everything we know about the physical nature of the universe says that its various properties did not arise due to necessity. JW rejects God; I don’t know for certain if he rejects the multiverse, but I suspect he does. If so, then persisting in his belief in necessity is beyond faith — it’s blind faith.

Remember, having faith means holding onto a belief you once accepted through reason in spite of your transitory emotions. Blind faith means holding onto a belief without evidence or in spite of contradictory evidence. If you engage anti-theists long enough, you’ll find that a lot of them are the blind faithful. Christians, on the other hand, have good reasons to believe. If you’re a Christian, just make sure you can articulate what those reasons are.

Zombie science

There’s a simple reason for the corruption of biology and the social sciences: these studies are not based on Christian beliefs and faith the way science originally was and must always be. Modern science developed in only one place—Christian Europe. If you look up the great pioneers of physics and astronomy, you will find that they were almost all devout Christians, from Copernicus to Galileo to Newton to Maxwell to Planck to Lemaître.

The one glaring exception was Einstein, but even he famously said, “I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details.” Even though Einstein was not Christian, he was the product of the Christian European culture that gave birth to science, and he was a willing participant in a process based on Christian principles:

But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. (Albert Einstein, 1941)

The prime motivation of Einstein and so many other great figures in science was to uncover divine truth and know the mind of God. People who feel they are doing God’s work are far less likely to succumb to human frailties and engage in activities that corrupt the search for truth. That tradition remains strong in physics, the original science. That is why the field of astrophysics was able to resist the degenerative effects of an increasingly atheist society. When the devout Lemaître conceived of the primeval atom (aka big bang theory) and demonstrated that the Genesis account of a universe with a beginning was scientifically sound, the stubborn resistance of scientists with a hatred for the idea of God was quickly overcome by the evidence.

The other branches of science have not fared as well. Atheists stole science from Christians in the mid and late 19th century with the false social science of Marx and behavioral science of Freud as well as the misuse of Darwin’s theory of evolution and the gross misrepresentation of Christian scripture. Over the last century and a half, secular humanists have successfully alienated Christians from the scientific method the faithful created and taken over most of its areas of study. Physics still has a substantial minority of Christians (and people with a general belief in God), and much good work is still being done. The social and behavior studies, on the other hand, are the tools of secular humanism and the zombies of the scientific world—active but not alive. Biology was bitten long ago and is gradually succumbing to the humanist infection. There is an easy way to tell a zombie biologist from a true biological scientist; ask him to say the following words, “Darwin was seriously wrong about some important things.” If he can’t bring himself to say this, you are speaking with one of the walking dead. Climate change ‘scientists’ are just garden-variety corrupt hacks who have sold out for money, prestige, and political favors. Bundle up for the coming ice age or thank the polluters for preventing it.

The lesson here is that the further any area of study is from the Christian foundations of true science, the more corrupt it is. The United States has been the source of a great deal of the productive science done in the 20th and early 21st centuries. It is also the most Christian of all developed countries. If atheists succeed in turning the United States into anything similar to what the formerly Christian European nations now are, science will die and humankind will experience a dark age.

Twisted history

Alex Berezow and James Hannam systematically dismantle a post by atheist evolutionary biologist, Jerry Coyne, who manages to get nearly every one of his claims about science and religion wrong. Example:


If you think of science as rational and empirical investigation of the natural world, it originated not with Christianity but with the ancient Greeks, and was also promulgated for a while by Islam.

Berezow and Hannam:

This is only half-true. Science is a lot more than just reason and observation. You need experiments too. For example, the Greeks, following Aristotle, thought that heavy objects must fall faster than light ones. It takes two seconds to disprove that by an experiment that involves dropping a pebble and a rock. But for a thousand years, no one did. There didn’t seem to be much point in testing a theory they already thought to be true. That’s probably why the Greeks were so good at geometry, as Dr. Coyne notes, because progress in mathematics is largely based on reason alone.

I’ll further point out that Aristotle — hero of humanism and champion of reason — was wrong about just about everything in terms of science, and the acceptance of his model of an eternal geocentric universe in particular held back progress in science for nearly two thousand years. Until it was revolutionized by a bunch of Christians.

Read the whole rebuttal.

The authors have not addressed all of Coyne’s claims, as, they have pointed out, there is “an impressive amount of error and misunderstanding [in] a very small space.” He certainly manages to cram a lot of error into the following unaddressed point:

If religion promulgated the search for knowledge, it also gave rise to erroneous, revelation-based “scientific” conclusions that surely impeded progress. Those include creation ex nihilo, the Great Flood, a geocentric universe, and so on.

By all appearances, the universe was created ex nihilo. Physicists have struggled to explain the origin of the universe in a way that avoids an ex nihilo creation event, without success. As this Reasons to Believe article points out, the Bible mentions a worldwide flood, not a global flood. A Great Flood, as described in Genesis, that wiped out all of human and animal life in the Mesopotamian region — the entire known world at the time — is scientifically plausible. And, geocentric theory began with the ancient Greeks. I suppose you could say that since the Greeks were religious, religion is therefore responsible for geocentric theory, but that would be a gross oversimplification. And, anyway, as Coyne is lumping this in with other biblical conclusions, one can reasonably assume he’s pinning this one specifically on Christianity. But, as we all know, Aristotle was responsible for promulgating the idea, which was later elaborated upon by Ptolemy. Yet, the erroneous notion persists that Christians were to blame for this faulty cosmology. As with the Galileo and Bruno affairs, this is the result of atheist myth-making.

The more commentary I read from atheists, the more I’m convinced that these self-styled champions of fact and reason are anything but.