An impact wrench is a fine tool for changing brake pads or tires. But it’s completely useless when searching for scientific evidence of God. For that job you need a Large Hadron Collider. Right? (The right tool for the job and all that.)
The recent experimental confirmation of the existence of the Higgs Boson and Higgs Field comprises a major milestone in mankind’s understanding of the universe. After 50 years of mind-numbing, abstract theoretical research, theologians and scientists are lining up to interpret the data. But not everyone is coming to the same conclusion.
Finding the Higgs Boson doesn’t prove the existence of God. On that theologians and scientists are in complete agreement. But some of them are as far apart on their interpretations as the tools they use.
I had breakfast recently with Dr. Ken Petzinger, a retired physics professor who really works at his faith—meaning he is constantly reading, studying, thinking, and sharing. Ken always has books to share. At one point he pulled out a text by Kenneth Samples and I chuckled and said, “Just what is a theologian anyway?” Don’t get me wrong, I think Kenneth Samples’ work is outstanding. I just don’t have a great appreciation of what theologians really do. I haven’t yet met anyone at a party who said they were a theologian. It’s definitely an unusual occupation.
This week I came across several powerful illustrations that turned on a couple of light bulbs and caused me to better appreciate theologians. The following thoughts and quotes are summarized in an updated version of Paul Little’s Know Why You Believe, which Ken caused me to read.
(God in a Test Tube)
It is obvious we cannot examine God in a test tube or prove him by the usual scientific methodology. Furthermore, we can say with equal emphasis that it is not possible to prove Napoleon by the scientific method. The reason lies in the nature of history itself and in the limitations of the scientific method. In order for something to be proved by the scientific method, it must be repeatable. A scientist does not announce a new finding to the world on the basis of a single experiment. History in its very nature is nonrepeatable. No one can rerun the beginning of the universe or bring Napoleon back or repeat the assassination of Lincoln or the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The fact that these events can’t be proved by repetition does not disprove their reality as events. There are many real things outside the scope of verification by the scientific method. The scientific method is useful only with measurable, material things. No one has ever seen three feet of love or two pounds of justice, but one would be foolish indeed to deny their reality.
Paul E. Little, author of “Know Why You Believe”
(On the theory of the Big Bang)
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. Scientists have traditionally rejected the thought of a natural phenomenon which cannot be explained, even with unlimited time and money. There is a kind of religion in science; every event can be explained in a rational way as the product of some previous event; every effect must have its cause. Now science has proven that the universe exploded into existence at a specific moment. It asks, “What cause produced this effect? Who or what put the matter and energy into the universe?” And science does not answer these questions. … 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.
Dr. Robert Jastrow, astronomer, physicist and cosmologist, agnostic
(Infinite Time Plus Chance)
Hoyle then explains that it would be equally as difficult for the accidental formation of only one of the many chains of amino acids in a living cell in which there are about 200,000 such amino acids. Now if you would compute the time required to get all 200,000 amino acids for one human cell to come together by chance, it would be about 293.5 times the estimated age of the earth (set at the standard 4.6 billion years). The odds against this happening would be far greater than a blindfolded person trying to solve the Rubik’s Cube! In another analogy Hoyle bolsters his argument. He likens this to a “junkyard mentality” and asks, “What are the chances that a tornado might blow through a junkyard containing all the parts of a 747, accidentally assemble them into a plane, and leave it ready for takeoff?” Hoyle answers, “The possibilities are so small as to be negligible even if a tornado were to blow through enough junkyards to fill the whole universe!” In his impressive book The Intelligent Universe, Hoyle concludes, “As biochemists discover more and more about the awesome complexity of life, it is apparent that its chances of originating by accident are so minute that they can be completely ruled out. Life cannot have arisen by chance.”
Marie Little on Sir Fred Hoyle, British Astronomer, atheist
If you want to find proof of God, check out this photograph of a father gazing at his newborn son. When it comes right down to it, either people appreciate that baby is a gift from God or they don’t. Take it from an atheist—the odds of that baby being the result of infinite time plus chance are the same odds as a tornado ripping through a junkyard and producing a 747 ready for flight. Take if from an agnostic—theologians figured this out centuries ago.
If you want to search for God, the best tools are the Bible, reason, an objective mind and heart, and an appreciation for the gift that God is revealed all around us. You don’t need a collider for the job. Just ask a theologian.
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
Apostle Paul, Romans 1:19-20 (ESV)