It wasn’t too long ago that the atom’s protons, neutrons and electrons were considered the smallest building blocks of the universe. But discoveries in quantum physics have revealed innumerable different kinds of sub-atomic particles. In fact, the tiniest particles can appear like a wave of energy and then reappear like matter again. The boundary between energy and matter can be blurred at these levels (which sounds closer to theology than science). Likewise, cells in Darwin’s time were thought initially to be simple jello-like structures with no significant complexity. But over the last century biologists have discovered a world of complex molecular machines in common cells. It would be naïve to believe this is as complex as it gets.
The universe is fundamentally an uncertain and strange place. In 1927, Werner Heisenberg introduced the uncertainty principle and shocked the scientific world. The uncertainty principle, along with the field of quantum physics, reveals a universe that is unknowable and unpredictable in its elementary foundations. Heisenberg’s colleague, Niels Bohr said, If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you have not understood quantum mechanics. Therefore, if you think you understand reality, you have not understood reality. Quantum theory suggests that all matter is in motion and is not absolutely predictable at these small scales. Therefore, since reality is made up of particles and waves it goes to say that reality is not fixed. Einstein (who understood such matters better than most) reacted to Heisenberg’s findings with disbelief and said, God does not play dice with the universe. Heisenberg responded saying, Einstein, don’t tell God what to do. Complexity and uncertainty is a fact of life. We must become comfortable with mystery and paradox if we desire to be intellectually honest with ourselves and others.
Biochemists may or may not ever be able to create new life in a test tube. This prospect is still science fiction even with 21st century technology. But if scientists do create new life in a lab, atheists will claim that this finally destroys intelligent design theory. This is because scientists believe that if they can create life in a lab, then it could have happened by itself in nature. However, keep in mind there were no biochemists on the earth 4 billion years ago.
Energy and the Eternal Questions
Even if scientists are able to create new life, it still will not answer any of the big questions. Why do unintelligent atoms organize themselves in these special ways? Why is there a universe instead of nothing? Why should the physical laws of the universe be calibrated in such a way to produce life? How did the universe come into existence? If everything is in flux and transient, what then is really real? And one of the biggest questions: Where did energy come from?
According to Einstein, the universe is basically energy. But what is energy? Energy is the intangible but perceptible force in the universe that is behind all causes. Proportionally speaking, an atom is more than 99 percent empty space but holds vast amounts of energy. Einstein believed that atoms are mostly energy and that when an atom’s nucleus is split, the energy which was holding it together will be released (energy = mass multiplied by the speed of light constant squared). The nuclear bomb dramatically proved he was right.
Furthermore, since humans are made up of atoms, one can say that we are mostly energy. We cannot move a muscle or think a thought without the power of electrical energy coursing through our nervous system. Without the presence of electrical energy we are brain dead; no organs can function, and we begin to disintegrate. It is energy that gives us life and it is energy that holds us together. We, along with all other life forms, represent a segment of the energy spectrum that is living energy.
The famous scientific mantra known as Occam’s Razor says, All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one. In other words, the solution that makes the least amount of assumptions tends to be the correct one. Using Occam’s Razor, atheists say: What’s more plausible, that an omnipotent and eternal being created the universe and then left us to search for his existence, or that he doesn’t exist, and that we made him up to explain nature and to give meaning to our lives? However, isn’t it also highly implausible that life could come to exist under its own volition in a universe made up of non-living components? But we know that energy is behind everything and that intelligent life is a peculiar yet intrinsic attribute of energy. Therefore, we can ask: why does energy exhibit intelligence? With this in mind, evidence for God could be life itself. Deductive reasoning tells us that we are intelligent life made up of and controlled by energy. Therefore, it makes sense that we would not be greater than the power which made us. I am not saying that God is energy. But what is it behind energy that is greater than our life: intelligence or consciousness?
Atheists say that life exists due to statistical probability. The universe has trillions of planets among its billions of galaxies. Sooner or later nature would have created the right environment and catalysts for life somewhere. Therefore, we were an inevitable accident. But with these probabilities anything might be possible. There may be life on a world where telepathy is the mode of communication or where living beings can modify their atomic structure and walk through walls like ghosts, much in the same way chameleons can change their skin color to imitate their environment. But this kind of thinking seems closer to theology than science.
And even if statistical probability can explain life, there is a philosophical question that will always persist. Does it make more sense to you that everything came to be on the power of its own volition or by the influence of an intelligent power? Because of the infinite uncertainties and complexities of the universe, no amount of science will ever dispense of the human need to pose such a question. The fact is, most of the people who ever lived on the earth (including most of those who live now) have an intuitive belief in a divine explanation.
Science or Philosophy?
It’s easy to be confused by the ongoing scientific debate between atheists and theists over God’s existence. The debate is confusing since both sides use science to argue about something that is a philosophical interpretation of the data. This does not mean that atheists and theists cannot debate about God using scientific language. Surely, the fields of scientific study are our highest means of understanding physical reality. But does this mean that scientific findings are the sole means of determining the existence of God?
The atheist worldview is that evolutionary biology and physics has provided enough evidence to demonstrate how everything came to be, without the agency of intelligent design. But this is like saying that the process of photosynthesis (the process by which plants and bacteria convert light energy into chemical energy) shows that God doesn’t exist. Who’s able to say that one physical process or mechanism is evidence for God’s existence and the other is evidence against it?
Intelligent design proponents argue for a God of the Gaps (whatever cannot be presently explained must be God’s supernatural work). In other words, the sheer complexity of cellular life, the presence of information (DNA/RNA) at the molecular level and the perfect calibration of the universe’s physics (without which life would not be possible) is evidence enough for an intelligent designer. But the God of the Gaps argument assumes too much. As soon as science explains another mystery, God is out of another job. This all serves to demonstrate that the debate is a philosophical endeavor based upon one’s interpretation of the data. And since there will never be an end of scientific data, there will never be an end to the debate.
I understand how someone could not believe that God exists due to scientific evidence and/or the lack thereof. Just don’t tell me that to believe otherwise is absurd. Let’s not be fooled by those with an atheistic agenda who use philosophy shrouded in scientific rhetoric to say that God is an unreasonable belief. The origins of the universe will always be a mystery because the universe at its most elementary level is an uncertain place. Paradoxes and questions will always exist. Our finite, three-pound brains are most assuredly unable to grasp it all even if it all could even be grasped. But where does that leave us? I think it leaves us where we started and with all the same wonderful questions.