I am fascinated by the universe, so quite naturally, I am drawn to anything concerning it. Unfortunately, most of the materials available for study seem to have been written by those whose sincere wish it is to deny the existence of God. Many of them believing that science and religion contradict one another. I do not share that opinion.
Stephen Hawking has said that a ‘cosmologist’s duty is to work out where the universe came from.’ As such it has been his quest to find, in his words, ‘one simple, elegant equation to explain everything.’ From the religious standpoint, Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias says, 'At the heart of every religion is an uncompromising commitment to a particular way of defining who God is or is not and accordingly, of defining life's purpose.‘ In my opinion, science and religion are merely different sides of the same coin and are both, at their heart, the study of God. I see science as basically the study of the non-relational attributes of God and religion more as the study of the relational attributes of God. When compared, it is stunning how many of the Laws of Nature mirror those attributes.
For instance, science says the Laws of Nature are universal, unchangeable, and powerful. Scientists say there was never a moment when those laws came into existence. For them to say otherwise would imply the laws are creations, thereby implying a creator. Instead, they insist the Laws of Nature are merely discoveries and that the laws ‘just are’, or as one of their proponents so aptly described their view, ‘it just is what it is’. While he and others justify their beliefs by saying that they ‘just are’, they easily dismiss the right of those with religious faith the same prerogative.
Religion says that the Laws of Nature, the physical laws, were created by God. They also express some of the attributes of God. Like the Laws of Nature, God is universal (omnipresent, present everywhere at the same time), unchangeable (immutable, fixed), powerful (omnipotent). Religion goes further stating that God is also eternal (having no beginning or end), self-existent (existing independently of other beings or causes), sovereign (the supreme ruler), transcendent (beyond the range of normal human experience), and immanent (existing or operating within, permanently present and apparent throughout, sustaining, spread through and perceived in every part).
In my opinion, science itself appears to have become more of a religion than a study of facts. You will notice that Hawking often uses such phrases as, ‘if you accept as I do’, ‘I think’, ‘it’s my view’, or ‘for me this means’. Such phrases seem to indicate statements of belief more than statements of fact.
At any rate, in his so-called ‘cosmic cookbook’ Hawking says, ‘it’s not difficult to make a universe, you just need three ingredients: matter, energy and space. He then goes on to say that since Einstein’s theory e=mc2 proves that mass and energy are basically the same thing, you really need only two ingredients, energy and space. Simple.
I am no scientist and certainly no great thinker, but I still see at least three things that are necessary to create a universe. First, there must be the Laws of Nature as well as the space and mass (energy) for the Laws of Nature to act upon. That, of course, still begs answers to where energy and space came from and what could have caused the spontaneous appearance of a universe in the first place? Hawking takes care of the question of cause quite swiftly. There was none. According to him, we have finally found something that doesn’t have a cause. The universe simply created itself.
‘The great mystery at the heart of the Big Bang,’ Hawking says, ‘is to explain how an entire fantastically enormous universe of space and energy can materialize out of nothing’ and that while ‘everyday experience teaches us that things don’t just materialize out of the blue’, energy and space spontaneously came into existence through one of the Laws of Nature called quantum mechanics. He goes on to say that the universe was once smaller than a proton. ‘It was in effect a single infinitesimally small, infinitesimally dense, black hole’. Since according to quantum mechanics particles and protons can simply appear at random, vanish and then reappear somewhere else, it is entirely possible the universe ‘could have simply popped into existence and required nothing in terms of energy’
According to NASA, ‘a black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light cannot get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying’. So, if a black hole is a formed from a collapsed star as scientists propose, where did the star that collapsed come from if there was no universe as yet? What was the mass that created such a gravitational pull from inside that infinitesimally small, infinitesimally dense, black hole? This feels to me like we going around in circles, arguing which came first the chicken or the egg.
Hawking also states that at the exact moment of the Big Bang, both positive and negative energy and space came into existence. Since positive and negative in the universe always adds up to zero, he says, there is no god. He goes on to say that the role played by time at the beginning of the universe is the final key to removing the need for a grand designer. Since, in theory, time cannot exist in a black hole, time couldn’t have begun until the moment of the Big Bang. So there could have been no time for a cause, or a creator, to have existed in. Religion disputes that argument saying that God is eternal and exists outside of time. It says that the universe did have a cause. That God created all things, both visible and invisible, including the Laws of Nature. God spoke and everything, energy and space, protons and particles, positive and negative energy all came into existence in that moment.
Hawking’s conclusion is that ‘all this just happened unbidden and controlled by laws that we cannot understand and analyze. We have discovered how the Laws of Nature acting on the mass and energy of the universe started a process that would eventually produce us, sitting here on our planet pretty pleased with ourselves for having worked it all out.’ He goes on to say, ‘We are each free to believe what we want, but it’s my view, no one created the universe, and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization there is probably no heaven and no afterlife either.’
Are we really the products of time plus matter plus chance? I have a few questions of my own for the scientific community. Is it possible that in your search to disprove God’s existence, you are actually in essence really looking for him? What is it that makes you so afraid to consider the concept that God exists? Are you mad at God because your life isn’t what you wanted it to be? Did He do something you don’t like? Or, is it the fear that if you admit that someone created you then you must necessarily accept his authority over you? Just what is it, in the face of so much evidence that points to a grand design and therefore a Grand Designer, that makes you so willingly choose to ignore, or attempt to explain Him away?*
I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I can suppose. My answer to Hawking’s quest to find that ‘one simple, elegant equation that explains everything in the universe’ however is a simple one - God. Pure, elegant and simple. Then again, maybe not so simple after all, for we shall never be able to plumb the depths of God. – Copyright © 2015 Rachel Whelan
*Comment by Harvard University geneticist Richard C. Lewontin in a 1997 debate, in reference to defending Darwinism: “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our prior adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”