Orthodox Jews and Christians are commemorating special acts of God throughout history this week. Despite this, polling data now shows that a growing number of young people, including those raised in religious homes, are skeptical of God’s presence.
Furthermore, surveys of such young “religiously unaffiliated agnostics and atheists” have shown that science — or at least the arguments of so-called “science spokesmen” — has played an outsized role in cementing disaffection with religious belief. In one, more than two-thirds of atheists and a third of agnostics believe that “scientific studies make the presence of God less likely.”
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It’s easy to imagine how many people would have formed this opinion. Richard Dawkins, Victor Stenger, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Stephen Hawking, Bill Nye, and Lawrence Krauss have written a series of best-selling books arguing that science makes religious belief implausible since 2006. Darwinian evolution, in particular, establishes, according to Dawkins and others, that “the universe we observe has precisely the properties we might expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no meaning… nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”
Is science, on the other hand, in favor of this purely materialistic view of reality? Three major scientific discoveries in the last century, in fact, contradict scientific atheists’ (or materialists’) assumptions and point in a distinctly theistic direction.
To begin with, cosmologists have discovered that the real world had a beginning, contrary to scientific materialists’ beliefs that the material universe was infinite and self-existent (and, therefore, in no need of an external creator).
In the 1920s, scientists found that light from distant galaxies was being spread out or “red-shifted,” as though the galaxies were moving away from us. This was the first proof of a cosmic beginning. Soon after, Belgian priest and physicist Georges Lemaître and Caltech astronomer Edwin Hubble independently demonstrated that galaxies far away from Earth were receding faster than galaxies closer to Earth. That suggested the universe (and space) expanding spherically, like a balloon inflating from a single explosive beginning — a “big bang.”
Despite Einstein’s initial attempt to gerrymander his own equations to represent the universe as eternally existing and static — that is, neither contracting nor expanding — Lemaître demonstrated that Einstein’s equations explaining gravity most naturally suggested a complex, evolving universe. Einstein paid a visit to Hubble at the Mt. Wilson observatory in California in 1931 to see for himself the red-shift facts. Later, he admitted that dismissing the evidence for a beginning was his “greatest blunder” in science.
This proof of a beginning, which was later verified by other advances in observational astronomy and theoretical physics, not only defied scientific materialist standards, but also confirmed those of conventional theists. “The best data we have [concerning a beginning] are exactly what I would have expected if I had nothing to go on but the first five books of Moses, the Psalms, and the Bible as a whole,” said physicist and Nobel Laureate Arno Penzias.
Second, scientists have found that we exist in a “Goldilocks universe.” Indeed, physicists have known since the 1960s that our universe’s fundamental physical laws and parameters have been finely tuned.
Existence would have been unlikely if the qualities of several independent variables — such as the frequency of gravitational and electromagnetic attraction, the masses of elementary particles, and the original arrangement of matter and energy in the universe — had been slightly altered.
Many scientists have argued that this improbable fine-tuning for life indicates the existence of a celestial “fine-tuner.” “A common-sense interpretation of the evidence indicates that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics” to make life possible, as former Cambridge astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle claimed.