Is There a God?
In 1986 a famous visitor made a brief tour of the inner solar system. A luminous body with a long, faint tail hurried on its journey around the sun and returned to the recesses of space. The British astronomer Edmond Halley observed this phenomenon in 1682 and, based on the times of similar sightings in the past, correctly predicted it would return in 1758. He was quite correct, and this body, which circles the sun about every seventy-five years in its highly elongated orbit, became known as Halley's comet. In the eighteenth century astronomers worked out a complex formula, based on Newton's theory of gravity, to accurately predict the orbits of comets.
So, what's the point? The Hebrew king and poet David asserted that the universe itself declares the glory of God. "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And the firmament is declaring the work of His hands" (Psalm 19:1).
The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that the existence and predictable operation of the physical universe, comets included, will lead an honest, intelligent inquirer to believe in the existence of God.
It Is a Matter of Faith
The scientific method of study, called the "empirical method"" is observation and experimentation. For something to be truly a matter of science, it must be measurably observed and the event must be repeatable under the same essential circumstances at different times and places. If scientists cannot "see" something happen and set up a situation (experiment) at another time and place so that the same thing happens again, it is not a scientific matter.
For example, who was the first European to discover the Americas? This question is historical, not scientific. We cannot observe the discovery of America, nor can we experimentally repeat it. Scientific evidence, such as that gained by archaeologists, may be studied, but essentially the inquiry is historical rather than scientific.
The God revealed in the Bible is spirit (John 4:24) and has no material existence (Luke 24:39). He is invisible to man (l Timothy 6:16). God cannot be put into a test tube. I cannot demonstrate by observation and experimentation that God exists, but neither can the atheist prove He does not. To do so, the atheist would have to be able to observe all portions of the universe at the same time in both the material and spiritual realm. In other words, to prove by observation that there is no God, one would have to be God. The existence of God is not a question of science but of faith.
This does not mean it is unreasonable to believe in God. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). The word "conviction" is translated "evidence" by the New King James Version. "Faith" is conviction about something we do not see based on evidence.
I believe that Christopher Columbus saw one of the islands of the West Indies on October 12, 1492. I did not and cannot see this happen, and I cannot repeat this in an experiment. But my faith rests on clear, compelling historical evidence. It is a reasonable faith. I believe the same is true of my faith in God.
Please consider with me three principles of natural science that provide powerful, logical evidence for our faith in the existence of God.
Law of Causality
The first principle of science is the Law of Causality (Buffaloe 6). In essence, it states there must be an adequate cause for every effect. This principle is the basis of scientific inquiry. Natural science deals with the material universe and correctly looks for natural causes to natural events. Scientists properly attribute an earthquake to the movement of tectonic plates. Whether the hand of God is behind it is not their business as scientists.
But natural causes can only explain so much. Eventually, one is forced back to the uncaused First Cause. It is the ageless question, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" The backward chain of events must come to rest somewhere.
First Law of Thermodynamics
Perhaps the most basic principle of physics is The First Law of Thermodynamics. This law "states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed but can be changed in form" (Buffaloe 76). High school chemistry students learn to balance chemical equations. Everything that goes into the chemical process must be accounted for in the product. Nothing comes out of a chemical process that was not put into it, and whatever is put into the process comes out in one form or another.
The First Law precludes the reasonable possibility that energy came into being by natural causes; since, in the natural world, "energy can neither be created nor destroyed."
Second Law of Thermodynamics
This important principle of physics holds that energy tends to dissipate itself ... In other words, the second law relates energy changes in a system to the organization of that system. Placed in this context, it states that there is an increase in entropy (disorder or randomness) - that is, a decrease in organization. Since useful energy is organized energy, an increase in entropy means a decrease in useful energy (Buffaloe 77).
According to the Second Law, usable energy in a closed system tends to decrease. Things tend to disorder, not to order. As we drive our cars down the highway, we don't stop to let gasoline (the energy source) out; rather, we must stop to put more in. The usable energy is converted to motion and heat.
Now, please think with me. Either the material universe does exist, or it does not. Of course, to be rational, we must accept its real existence. Otherwise, there is no such thing as science, the study of the material universe; and our senses, upon which we depend to gain all accurate information, are totally untrustworthy.
Further, either the physical universe has always existed, or it had a beginning. The cosmos has an immeasurably huge amount of usable energy. Our sun, one small star among numberless stars that compose the Milky Way galaxy, itself one of myriads of galaxies, converts 4,700,000 tons of its own mass into radiant energy each second (Britannica Macropaedia. 17:808). If the universe were infinitely old, all usable energy would have dissipated in the infinite past. Thus, the cosmos had a beginning.
Atheists once looked to matter and energy as the uncaused first causes. Recent research in nuclear physics has further revealed the very essence of matter. Physicists now describe energy particles which compose electrons, protons, and neutrons; which, in turn, are the components of the atom. In other words, behind all matter is energy. Before there was matter, there was energy. The only prime mover atheists can propose is mindless energy.
The question, then, is: Is mindless energy an adequate first cause? Either energy is the uncaused first cause; or there must be a supernatural, i.e., outside and above the realm of the natural, uncaused first cause. But, since energy cannot be infinitely old (Second Law, i.e., entropy), energy cannot be the uncaused first cause. Therefore, we must look for a supernatural origin of the universe.
As our Explorer satellites ranged deeper into space, past Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. Uranus, and their systems, and finally out of the solar system into the unfathomable recesses of the abyss beyond, pictures of incredible varieties of chemical and physical forms hitherto unimagined were sent back to earth. Yet in all this infinite variety is found order. The basic laws of physics and chemistry which have been found operable in our experience on earth apply as well in these remote worlds. The Law of Gravity applies precisely the same on Uranus as it does on Earth. Our universe has amazing order in incomprehensible complexity.
How does one explain such order in diversity? Energy is the only answer available to the atheist. The universe as a whole must be viewed as a closed system, and energy in a closed system tends to disorder, not order (Second Law). Thus, again we are forced to look for a supernatural beginning of the cosmos.
Law of Biogenesis
One of the basic principles of biology is The Law of Biogenesis: "Thus far, life seems to come only from prior life in an unbroken chain, at least under conditions that prevail at present on earth" (Buffaloe 114). The fact is, there is no compelling evidence that life can possibly come from nonlife under any conditions, and the evidence is against the existence in ancient times of the imagined conditions under which life might supposedly have evolved by natural means. The consistent result of hundreds of years of experimentation about the origin of life has been and continues to be that life comes only from prior life.
Either life exists on the earth, or it does not. Again, to be rational, we accept the existence of life on Earth.
Further, either life has always existed on earth, or it had a beginning. Since life and the earth are parts of the universe, which had to have a beginning, life had to have begun here sometime.
Finally, either life came from natural causes or supernatural. The consistent experience of science is that life does not naturally arise from nonlife, nor has any experiment ever been conducted under any conditions, which demonstrates that it can. Thus, if we are reasonable, we must accept a supernatural origin of life on earth.
What Kind of Supernatural First Cause?
In Romans chapter one the apostle Paul shows why the Gentiles needed the gospel. They had rejected the knowledge of God and were inexcusable for so doing. "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20).
We should mentally see (understand) what is behind those things we physically see. There must be an adequate cause (Law of Causality) for the existence of the universe. What do we understand when we see the material universe?
There must be incomprehensible power behind such an awesome expanse, infinite intelligence to bring order to such endless variety, and will to accomplish purpose. There must be eternal existence to qualify as the uncaused First Cause. The attributes of intelligence and will show this Cause to be a Person, i.e., a Being possessing personality. Having eternal existence and infinite power and intelligence, this Person must be supernatural. The Bible calls this Person, who has eternal self-existence, infinite power and intelligence, and will, God.
Imagine, if you will, a print shop containing many reams of paper, gallons of ink, and thousands of sets of type reproducing over and over the twenty-six letters of the alphabet and the numbers zero through nine. Due to a gas leak, one great explosion occurs in this shop. Ink, paper, and type are hurled randomly and violently in all directions. When the dust settles, the smoke clears, and all components come to rest, the result is all thirty volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica in order with no misspelled words or grammatical errors. Incredible?
And yet atheists demand we believe that the universe, infinite in size and complexity, incredibly orderly in function, composed of over one hundred chemical elements in virtually limitless combinations, is the result of a "Big Bang" produced by mindless energy aeons ago. My mind is not capable of such childish, irrational faith.
Incontrovertibly, the existence and predictable operation of the physical universe, in all its parts, will lead an honest, intelligent inquirer to believe in the existence of God. Indeed, "The heavens are telling of the glory of God."
Buffaloe, Neal D., and J.B. Throneberry, Concepts of Biology.
Encyclopaedia Britannica. 15th edition, 1975.