Sunday, November 17, 2019

Four Reasons To Believe in God From Science

As a scientist who studies the most fundamental particles and forces in the universe, I tend to only accept something as true if it is supported by abundant objective evidence. You might think that a person like me, who wants testable reasons for everything, could never be a Christian since Christianity is based on faith in God. However, real Christian faith as described in the Bible is always based on evidence and is more accurately defined as “trusting God based on the evidence that he is trustworthy.” Since I am an experimental particle physicist who needs facts to back up my beliefs, I have studied many of the objective reasons to believe and trust in God from history, science, philosophy, sociology, and other academic disciplines. Perhaps some of my findings will give you additional tangible reasons to believe in God.

Here are Four Reasons to Believe in God from Science:

1. The Universe Had A Beginning. Over the last 100 years scientists have discovered that the universe had a beginning about 14 billion years ago in which space, time, matter, and energy came into existence. Although this beginning is usually referred to as the “big bang” that name is misleading. The big bang was not an explosion from pre-existing material but the origin, or creation, of our universe. When the big bang was first proposed, scientists were reluctant to accept it as fact, primarily because of its philosophical and theological implications. If this universe had a beginning, then the cause of the universe must not be a part of the universe. The cause must be transcendent, which is one of the characteristics of God. But despite these objections, the observational evidence for the big bang, including the expansion of the universe and the cosmic microwave background radiation, is so convincing that scientists now affirm that the universe seems to have had an actual origin. One of the most obvious ways that a transcendent God could demonstrate his existence to us would be to make the origin of our universe knowable and to have the origin require a necessary transcendent cause. That is the case for the universe we live in. It’s really remarkable that we as humans have the ability to understand the very origin of our universe and to see objective evidence for God.

2. The Universe Appears Designed. There are many characteristics of the universe that are finely-tuned to allow complex life to exist. If any of these were changed just slightly there would be either no universe or a universe that is inhospitable to life. For instance, if the strength of the strong nuclear force were increased by 2% there would be little or no hydrogen in the universe, resulting in no water (H2O) and no stars like our sun that use hydrogen as fuel. If the strength of the strong nuclear force were decreased by 5% there would only be hydrogen in the universe, making life impossible. Scientific journals are filled with articles that document hundreds of such parameters in the universe that are balanced on a razor’s edge to allow the existence of our universe and life. Scientists sometimes call this phenomenon the “Anthropic Principle” which comes from the Greek work “anthropos” meaning human. It’s as if the universe seems to be perfectly designed to allow humans to exist. Such design is objective evidence that points to the existence of a real intelligent designer who created the universe.

3. The Earth Seems To Be Special. There are about one hundred billion trillion planets in the visible universe, but it is highly unlikely that there are any other planets quite like the earth that are capable of supporting complex life forms for billions of years. This “rare earth” hypothesis has been noted by scientists because of the many ingredients needed for a planet to support complex life. Some of those ingredients include the type of star the planet orbits, the size and density of the planet, the rate of rotation of the planet, the location of the planet in the galaxy, the size and number of moons the planet has, and the amount of water on the planet. When all of the factors are taken into account it seems that very few planets can support complex life. The more we learn about the uniqueness of our planet earth, the more it seems that we are not just an ordinary planet. It certainly appears that there is something special about the earth, which implies that there may be something special about humans. The Bible claims that humanity is special, that humans were created by God in his image and that God meticulously prepared our planet so we could have a cosmic home. Scientific findings seem to support that conclusion, and therefore give evidence for human significance and a human creator.

4. Mathematics Describes Nature. When an engineer is designing something, say a building or an aircraft wing, the engineer will write mathematical equations that describe the object’s operation to be sure that it will perform adequately. When scientists study the universe, we find that there are a few fundamental mathematical equations that describe all of nature. Physicists develop and use these equations to understand the universe and predict its operation. In general, physicists will only claim they really understand something when they have a well-defined mathematical description of the phenomena. The equations are magnificent and elegant descriptions of the world we experience. How is it that math describes the universe just as an engineer uses math to design a building or an aircraft? In a paper titled “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences” (1960) the theoretical physicist and mathematician Eugene Wigner writes, “The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve.” The mathematical equations that describe the universe seem to indicate that the universe was designed and created by an intelligent agent.

Faith in God, as described in the Bible, is not a belief based on the lack of evidence but rather trusting God based on the evidence that he is trustworthy. There are many objective reasons to believe in God based on the discoveries of modern science. Just as a painting reveals the soul of the painter, so God’s creation reveals his soul. Studying nature through the scientific inquiry does not provide reasons to dismiss the existence of God but reveals God’s character and gives powerful evidence for belief in God.

18 comments:

  1. It seems science is the recovery of existing information and comprehanding the processes that generate same from the Big Bang to the present and predicted. The discovery of information whether quantized/digital or analogue requires intelligent gifted beings to make it compregensible and at the most fundamental level to bring a degree of certainty out of uncertainty simply by careful observation. Information requires a source, a channel and a receiver. The scriptures declare God as the source of everything created, the universe is His channel of transmission and we are the receivers.

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  2. Always enjoy getting your thoughts on these things!

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  3. Dr. Strauss, thank you for your excellent summary of four compelling reasons to believe in God.

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  4. it is a baseless assumption that the earth is special. That is an argument from your personal ignorance.

    math and the laws of physics could just be, no god needed.

    the universe had a beginning, maybe, maybe not. we don't know for sure, and we do know that what we see evidence of has nothing to do with the claims in Genesis.

    the universe only looks designed to someone who needs a job for their god. this argument is the arrogance of the puddle declaring that the universe was made for it, when it is what fits in the universe.

    vel at blog club schadenfreude.

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    1. Wow, your comments are so insightful that you had to basically repeat the same comments twice in different posts. Maybe if you say something enough times it will start to sound more true despite the fact that your rhetoric has no facts to back up anything you say. Your puddle analogy is so easily refutable that I'm surprised anyone would ever use it. Water will fit in any shaped puddle but life is not possible in almost any universe. The water analogy is only used by people who don't seem to be able to follow simple logical reasoning. Please read something about how to make a logical argument and reasonable analogies. Also please read A Fortunate Universe by Lewis and Barnes, both are astrophysicists and one is an atheist and one is a Christian. Yet they both agree that the universe clearly appears designed and that all of the parameters of design are written about in peer-reviewed scientific articles. Your arguments, on the other hand, are simply statements with no data or facts to back them up. I'll believe the peer-reviewed scientific articles rather than the claims of an "unknown" person who has no data to back up his rhetoric.

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    2. Based on what comparable criteria do you judge that, ''The Earth Seems To Be Special''.

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    3. Based on the so-far discovered extra solar planets and the research on what is needed for a habitable planet. See the book, for instance, Rare Earth by Brownlee and Ward.

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  5. I am a Theist because Theism answers 2 small simple questions
    1. How do you get Something from Nothing?
    2. How do you get Life from Non-Life?

    I am a Christian because Christianity answers a small simple question
    What Happened To The Body of Jesus?

    Been asking these questions of our Materialist Friends for quite a few years/decades. So Far I have yet to get a reasonable answer.

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  6. @Arkenaten
    The earth sustains complex, sentient, human life!
    The number, variation and complexity of factors required to achieve this is simply staggering. Conservatively, stated as a probability, the odds that everything we see came about by random chance (i.e. evolution) are one in ten to the power two million!

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  7. You seem to be referring to the "anthropic principle" as a shorthand for the fine-tuning of the universe such that life can eventually emerge. However, it seems to me that the common use of this term is to describe the fact that a human observer (or perhaps a Martian) is required to study the existing universe, and deduce the fine-tuning that is present. Therefore, there is a "survivorship bias", and so it should not be surprising that the fine-tuning exists. If it didn't, we wouldn't be around to discern it! I'm sure you're more than familiar with discussions of this type in books such as Kruass' "A Universe From Nothing".

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    1. There is not survivorship bias. It would be possible to exist in a universe where the fundamental parameter could have broad values and life could still be possible. That is not the case in our universe. The fundamental parameters of the universe have extremely narrow values that allow life to exist. They seem to be finely-tuned. Of course there are many "anthropic principles." The book by Barrow and Tipler called The Anthropic Cosmological Principle lists four of them. I am using a strong anthropic principle. See my post on fine-tuning and the anthropic principle at https://www.michaelgstrauss.com/2017/04/an-introduction-to-anthropic-principle.html

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  8. As a physicist myself I’m surprised you find any of these four reasons compelling. For a start, you seem to have a layman’s understanding of what the Big Bang Theory says. It does not say that the universe had a beginning, only that there’s a special period in our universe’s history. We have no idea whether the Big Bang can be considered a “first moment” because we have no idea how time behaves in an environment as extreme as that. There are also plenty of theories which would insinuate that the Big Bang was not a unique beginning. Research is being done into the possibility of oscillating universes, whether our universe was born from a black hole in a connected universe, whether our universe is part of a higher multiverse, and other more exotic ideas. To say that the Big Bang is a beginning is jumping to conclusions, we don’t know what the Big Bang is yet. There’s also no evidence to suggest that the cause of the Big Bang must be transcendent. There’s not even evidence to suggest that the cause of the Big Bang has to exist outside of the universe.
    The universe may look designed, but that’s because most of these parameters are a result of not having a fundamental theory of where they come from. The fundamental constants that appear so often in popular literature may not be fundamental at all. They’re just the values of things we’ve determined experimentally but can’t yet generate from theory itself. There’s nothing to suggest that these parameters won’t turn out like the speed of light and the gravitational constant - they may not really exist at all, they’re just conversion factors that are a consequence of us using our made up units of measurement.
    You’ve got this the wrong way round. Earth conditions may well be special, but that’s because there are billions of planets and so the probability that one of those billions has rare conditions is not surprising. If Earth were one of only a few planets and we knew earth conditions were rare then you would have a point, but there are so many planets that it’s not unlikely earth conditions exist on some of them.
    Finally yes the power of mathematics is mysterious, but by no necessity divine. Personally I think mathematics is our codification of the underlying logic of the universe and so it isn’t a wonder that physics uses mathematics. But that’s just my personal opinion, as of yet there’s no evidence to determine what the relationship between maths and the world is. Don’t start claiming it’s to do with a deity.
    Far from these being reasons backed by evidence for god, these are speculations based on incomplete evidence to arrive at conclusions you presupposed.

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    1. Dear ThePlatonicRealim,
      I'm not sure you seem to understand the big bang theory. The term is not well defined and is used both to mean the origin of the universe (what would be a singularity as defined by general relativity), or a short time later when we know the universe was hot and dense maybe a trillionth of a second after the origin. As stated in wikipedia with references, "This primordial singularity is itself sometimes called "the Big Bang", but the term can also refer to a more generic early hot, dense phase of the universe." In addition the Borde Guth Vilenkin theory says any universe expanding on average can not be past eternal. This theory is valid even in any quantum theory with cause-effect. So all of the observational and theoretical evidence based on known physics indicates an actual beginning. To avoid a beginning, one has to appeal to speculative ideas. Of course the cause must be transcendent since it is not a part of this universe. How can you claim that it doesn't have to be outside of this universe when all the observational and theoretical evidence points to a beginning of space, time, matter, and energy? What are you appealing to that doesn't point to that conclusion?

      Of course the universe looks designed. Even if there is a more fundamental theory that gives rise to the fine-tuning of the fundamental constants, that more basic theory will most likely seem designed since it produces a habitable universe. The design and fine-tuning parameters are found in peer-reviewed physics journals and are not the invention of unscientific theists. I suggest you read A Fortunate Universe by Geraint Lewis and Luke Barnes. You can argue the design is not real, but it certainly looks real.

      It seems you are not keeping up with the research on extra-solar planets. The more we discover them, the more it seems earth and our solar system are rare or even unique. Please read the literature on this.

      Of course, there are always alternative explanations. But to me the most plausible for an apparent origin of the universe, an apparent design in the universe, a rare earth, the beauty and design characteristics of mathematics points to an intelligent, transcendent creator. One hundred years ago, no scientist would have predicted all of these things to converge to seemingly so strongly point to the possibility of such a creator. You are free to postulate some other explanation.

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  9. There is a life after death, and see what the word of God tell us in Rev.20 whether you like it or not, and it says,And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. If you are not born again you can come to Jesus. Tomorrow will be too late. Thanks and God bless you. Bro. Enoch Egberi

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  10. The evidence that you have presented above is certainly good evidence for one to believe in the existence of an intelligent designer/creator. However, would you kindly explain how this evidence supports your belief that an executed first century peasant is that creator?

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  11. "Over the last 100 years scientists have discovered that the universe had a beginning about 14 billion years ago in which space, time, matter, and energy came into existence."

    I assume you also believe the scientific consensus that the first humans existed sometime between five and seven million years ago, millions of years AFTER the first living organisms appeared. If this is true, how do you explain the fact that millions of living organisms were suffering and dying for millions of years PRIOR to Adam's and Eve's fall---the event in history in which God cursed his "good" creation---as taught by most mainstream Christian churches?

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  12. "With at least 200 billion galaxies out there (and possibly even more), we're very likely talking about a Universe filled with around 10 to the 24th power planets, or, for those of you who like it written out, around 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets in our observable Universe." ---Science blog

    If earth is the only hospitable planet for life among these many, many, many planets that to me would be excellent evidence of intelligent design and for the existence of a Creator. The problem is: we have no idea if life exists on any of the other gazillion planets in the universe. It is possible that there are several or even many planets, in other galaxies, that are just the right distance from their suns to allow life. How would we know?? Other planets may exist, somewhere in the universe, which *are* inhabited by living creatures!

    Therefore, it is simply an assumption to believe that just because Earth is the only planet in our solar system which is able to sustain alive, that Earth is the only planet in the universe that is able to sustain life.

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  13. Once again, there certainly may be evidence that suggests an intelligent designer (Creator) as presented in your post. But that evidence in no way confirms the Christian claim as to the identify of that Creator. The million dollar question is: Are the known scientific facts compatible with Christianity's claims?

    The fact is that one can take any ancient culture’s Creation Story and attempt to conform it with the scientific facts now known about our universe…and with enough ingenuity and imaginative ad hoc explanations, one can always achieve success!

    I would suggest, however, that instead of starting with the assumption that an ancient supernatural tale is fact, and then attempt to make science and that ancient tale compatible, we should start with the known scientific facts and then deduce the most probable explanation from those facts.

    Does anyone really believe that in analyzing the known scientific facts about our universe, free of any preconceived biases as to its origin, that any educated, modern person would come to the conclusion that a good and just, all-knowing, all-powerful Creator created the universe, knowing full well that in short order he would curse it, inflicting massive suffering on all living creatures in that creation for millennia. And then, after five to seven million years had passed, decide in the year 3 BCE, that he would send himself in the form of one of his creatures to die in a bloody human sacrifice to appease his anger for the first humans’ crime of eating his forbidden fruit???

    No way.

    Examine the scientific evidence FIRST, then derive an hypothesis!

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