We continue to hear about the rise of “religiously unaffiliated agnostics and atheists” from sources like Pew Research. Polls also show that these groups are younger and well-informed regarding religion and the reasons for rejecting the existence of God. They argue that they have science on their side.
This should not surprise us. Over the last twenty years, most public high schools and all but a few religious colleges have taken, at best, an agnostic view toward God in their curriculum. They leave out that most of the great scientists over the last 500 years were deep believers, men like German astronomer Johannes Kepler, the founder of modern biology John Ray, and Sir Isaac Newton. Like the Apostle Paul, they believed God could be understood “from what has been made” (Rom 1:20).
Today, our culture turns a blind eye toward the past. It embraces New Atheist writers like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Stephen Hawking, Victor Stenger, Bill Nye, and Lawrence Krauss, who have all written numerous best-selling books that argue that science makes belief in religion unbelievable. As Dawkins puts it in River Out of Eden, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose … nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” In their view, science replaces God.
Given the rise of people who hold to this view of the world, odds are high that more and more of our coworkers or our neighbors will be part of this group. How can we provide thoughtful answers and fulfill our calling to always be prepared to answer any questions about our reasons for the hope that is within us (1 Pet 3:15)? A new book by Stephen Meyer is a great starting place.
Scientific Evidence of God
In his new book, Return of the God Hypothesis: Scientific Discoveries Reveal the Mind of God Behind the Universe, Myer looks at arguments like those of the New Atheists and asks, “But does the science actually support this strictly materialistic vision of reality?” His short answer is “NO.” Instead, he suggests three significant scientific discoveries during the last century that contradict the New Atheists and point instead in a distinctly theistic direction.
First, scientists have concluded that the universe had a beginning and that there was nothing before that. They call this theory the Big Bang Theory. In Neil deGrasse Tyson’s little book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, he devotes the first chapter to the universe’s beginning. He and other scientists hate the Big Bang Theory because it violates all the rules of physics. The problem is they have no better theory to explain what happened.
Enter the argument for intelligent design. Meyer argues the universe was created, and quotes physicist and Nobel Laureate Arno Penzias: “The best data we have [concerning a beginning] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the first five books of Moses, the Psalms, and the Bible as a whole.”
The second scientific discovery Meyer discusses is what physicists call the “Goldilocks universe.” From the 1960s on, physicists have concluded that, against all odds, we live in a finely tuned universe. If any of the values of many independent factors were to change, life as we know it could not exist.
Again, Meyer does an excellent job showing how this points to a creator and ends with a quote from former Cambridge astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle: “A common-sense interpretation of the data suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics” to make life possible.
The last and perhaps most significant discovery came in 1953 by molecular biologists, who discovered the presence of a digital code called DNA. This DNA molecule is found in every living cell and serves as a complex information storage and transmission system that makes all life possible.
While Dawkins noted that “the machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like,” Meyer also quotes Bill Gates: “DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.” The discovery of DNA points toward a creator and puts a knife in the heart of the theory of evolution, which is the cornerstone of the modern atheist’s worldview.
Science and Religion: Not So Incompatible After All
Meyer quotes historian of science Fredrick Burnham who writes: “the idea that God created the universe [is] a more respectable hypothesis today than at any time in the last 100 years.” Meyer writes in an article:
In my book “Return of the God Hypothesis,” I concur and argue that recent scientific discoveries about biological and cosmological origins have decidedly theistic implications, suggesting that popular scientific reports of the death of God may have been — to adapt Mark Twain’s famous quip — greatly exaggerated.
This Amazon bestseller is a must-read for any Christian who wants to have a significant discussion with one of the new atheists in your workplace, your neighbor who is contemplating the origins of the universe, or your daughter’s science teacher. Return of the God Hypothesis is indeed reassuring news for those of us who labor every day at the work for which our Maker has called us.