Seeking the Message of the Universe
Seeking the Message of the Universe
More than 1,000 people from 17 countries poured tens of millions of hours and $10 billion over a 25-year span into creating the most elaborate scientific instrument in history. After launching from a rocket on Dec. 25, 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope undertook a 30-day journey to a point in space a million miles from Earth, during which time it unfolded its solar panel, antenna, five hair-breadth polyimide membranes for its tennis-court-size sunshield, secondary mirror and enormous 21-foot beryllium primary mirror. Dozens of complex operations—any one of which, if it failed, would have doomed the project—executed flawlessly. If remaining operations all go right, the telescope will begin sending scientific images back to Earth in late March and become fully operational in June, showing us infrared light that originated billions of light-years away, exoplanets and other images and data, revealing more about the universe and its history.
The people who created this engineering marvel had to intensively study and precisely obey the laws of physics and other scientific laws. They know that the better they follow those laws in exacting, minute detail, the more successful their efforts will be. They have spent a generation building this instrument for the purpose of studying more closely the laws and facts of the universe.
Yet astonishingly, many of these scientists are among the strongest believers that there is no Lawgiver, no Creator, no God! Many believe that science and religion are at odds with one another. This belief—this intellectual faith—is illogical, unscientific and false.
In truth, without God, there would be no science!
An Orderly Universe
“At the heart of all science lies the conviction that the universe is orderly.” “Science arose only because the doctrine of the rational creator of a rational universe made scientific inquiry plausible.” “Men became scientific because they expected law in nature, and they expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver.” “This absolutely fundamental insight came not from the Greeks but thousands of years previously in the Hebrew Bible, with its proposition that the universe was governed by a single God rather than the whims of many gods. Western science grew from the novel idea that the universe was rational; and that belief was given to us by Genesis, which set out the revolutionary proposition that the universe had a rational Creator.” “The fact that there are rules at all is a kind of miracle.”
These statements by mathematician John Lennox, historian Rodney Stark, authors C.S. Lewis and Melanie Phillips, and Nobel Prize-winner for quantum electrodynamics Richard Feynman are rational, logical and irrefutable.
We take it for granted that the universe operates in a grand, celestial clockwork of inexorable, perfect laws. That is why we build things like space telescopes, for example. That is how we build them. This would not be the case if not for God—the God of the Bible.
Because of the Bible, we recognize God as a Creator with incomprehensibly vast and exquisite creative power, yet interested in and loving toward human beings. We understand God as a rational Being of constancy, reason, order and law. James 4:12 characterizes Him as the “one lawgiver.” The Bible shows that He is the source of moral and spiritual law as well as the physical laws of conservation, mechanics, gravitation, relativity, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, photonics, quantum mechanics and radiation.
Without God, and without the Bible, our very idea of a Creator would be totally different.
“The God I believe in—the God that I know exists, because I can prove it!—is the God who created all things,” Plain Truth founder Herbert W. Armstrong wrote. “He is the Creator not only of matter, but also of force, of energy, of all the laws that exist: the laws of chemistry, the laws of physics—spiritual laws as well as physical laws to regulate man’s life and man’s happiness” (Plain Truth, February 1986).
Most people throughout ancient history were pagan. They believed in numerous gods living in a spiritual world. They saw lights moving across the heavens and believed they were gods. They believed that everything on Earth was controlled by the power and often capricious, inconsistent, conflicting wills of the gods and was therefore inherently irrational. Even Muslims, who believe in one overall god, believe that Allah does whatever he wants whenever he wants at the moment, and therefore the universe is inherently irrational. Stark writes that many Muslim scholars “held that all efforts to formulate natural laws are blasphemy because they would seem to deny Allah’s freedom to act. Thus did the Chinese, Greek and Muslim images of God and the universe deflect scientific efforts.”
The patriarch Abraham saw the heavens much differently. Because of his relationship with the Creator, he learned that those lights men saw in the night sky moved according to a perfect, set, unchanging order. The movement of the sun, moon, planets, stars and events like eclipses all followed laws, laws so precise that they could be scientifically recorded and predicted. He reasoned with Babylonian observers that those lights therefore could not be gods exerting their own wills but rather lights created and controlled by the will of one true, lawful, ordered, perfect God! Every time you look at the night sky, you are seeing this inescapable fact.
Modern scientists in the West are infamous for denying God even as they study scientific laws that all come from one source; even as they base all their thinking about the history, present and future of everything in the universe on the fact that the universe is filled with perfect, finely tuned laws; even as they build their discoveries on the discoveries of scientists who knew scientific laws came from the one Lawgiver.
“Sir Roger Penrose, professor of mathematics at Oxford, says that the balance of nature’s laws is so perfect and so unlikely to have occurred by chance that an intelligent Creator must have chosen them. The philosopher Anthony Flew progressed from being Britain’s most renowned atheist to a religious believer through a ‘pilgrimage of reason.’ … What he found particularly compelling was evidence of the fine-tuning of the universe. From this he concluded that the laws governing the universe had been crafted to move it toward the sustenance of life, and that all the arguments seeking to explain this away were hopelessly flawed” (Melanie Phillips, The World Turned Upside Down).
Scientist Stephen Meyer describes the universe as consisting of a “degree of initial fine-tuning that really is not adequately reflected by the word ‘exquisite.’ I’m not aware of a word in English that does justice to the kind of precision we are discussing” (Return of the God Hypothesis).
Think of an office, and all that is in it: furniture, file drawers, books, papers, equipment, binder clips, staples and so on. There is an infinite number of ways all those objects could be crammed into that room disorderly, even chaotically—only a tiny few that would represent functional order. And the latter would take deliberate effort from someone intelligent. This is true of just about everything: Of all the possibilities out there, almost all are chaos. Very, very, very few possibilities are ordered.
This is spectacularly true of the state of the universe, because of the many factors necessary to support advanced life. If the charge of an electron were slightly different, stars could not burn hydrogen or helium, or they would not explode at all. Many physical forces and constants—gravitation, electromagnetic force, strong nuclear force, the cosmological constant and others—must likewise be just so, individually and relative to each other, or matter would never have formed properly, or all would be dark and dead, or the universe would collapse on itself. “The really amazing thing is not that life on Earth is balanced on a knife-edge, but that the entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge,” said physicist Paul Davies, “and would be total chaos if any one of the natural ‘constants’ were off even slightly.”
Trying to reduce to a mathematical probability that this ordered, balanced, meaningful, life-supporting universe occurred by chance, Oxford physicist Sir Roger Penrose calculated that it would be 1 in 10 to the 10th power to the 123rd power. That baffling number contains more zeroes (each of which multiplies it by 10) than the number of elementary particles in the entire universe.
That is beyond impossible. This order came from God—the God of the Bible.
Seeing the Invisible
“God left it for Newton to discover and reveal to us the law of gravity,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “Many things man is able to discover for himself. Those things God has left for man himself to find out. But ‘The unknown,’ which man needs to know, God has revealed through the Bible as a foundation for knowledge” (Plain Truth, January-February 1947).
Sir Isaac Newton was one of the greatest, most influential mathematicians and scientists of all time. He studied the Bible? In fact, the “father of physics” wrote more about theology than he did about physics. Newton was struck by scriptures like Romans 1:19-20: “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”
The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen. Looking at the Earth, plants, animals, moon, sun, stars and infrared light from distant galaxies, we can see the invisible. When we view the intricacy, variety, beauty, artistry, power, scope, size, scale and majesty that is creation, we are looking right at “his eternal power and Godhead”!
Creation reveals much about God’s nature, God’s plan, God’s very ambitions.
The men like Newton who fathered modern science approached their studies with this perspective, Bibles in hand. The anti-God bias in modern science only came into fashion as recently as the 1800s. For centuries prior, scientists believed in God, and the most knowledgeable ones believed in the God of Abraham, the God of the Bible. But about 200 years ago, in intellectual vanity some adopted the unprovable premise that nothing exists but matter and energy, that everything in the universe can be explained merely as atoms colliding with atoms. This completely materialistic assumption has come to dominate scientific thought.
Materialistic scientists assumed that matter and energy were eternal, and thus did not feel compelled to try to explain where it all came from. But in the last few generations, as we peer deeper into space, it has become increasingly irrefutable that matter and energy had a definite beginning—a creation event. One after another, atheistic hypotheses have been proved wrong.
Meyer describes a conference of top astronomers in 1985. One “was widely respected as one of the great observational astronomers of the 20th century. … He was also well known as an agnostic with a materialistic philosophy of science …. During his talk, however, he not only described the astronomical evidence for the beginning of the universe; he shocked many of his colleagues by announcing a recent religious conversion and then explaining how the scientific evidence of a ‘creation event’ had contributed to a profound change in his worldview. I recall his looking intently at the audience and gravely stating, ‘Here is evidence for what can only be described as a supernatural event. … I think all scientists, at the deepest level, are so startled by what they see in the miraculousness of the inner connection of things in their field … that they at least have wondered why it is this way’” (op cit; emphasis added).
Some of the more honest, logical, scientific people in the field are making similar admissions. But many emotionally, irrationally refuse. They are like outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins, who loved ridiculing creationists. When asked directly about dna and other evidence of a Creator in the 2008 documentary Expelled, he admitted this might be evidence of “some kind of designer,” but rather than acknowledge God, he proposed—in all seriousness—the “intriguing possibility” that life on Earth was seeded here by a hyper-intelligent alien species. Which, of course, must have come about by an evolutionary process of atoms colliding with atoms.
Right. Such people say they speak for science. And they ridicule you for believing in the Creator!
The Heavens Declare God
After the flawless launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, nasa administrator Bill Nelson described how this extraordinary project continues a quest as old as humanity itself: peering into the heavens and searching for answers. He mentioned a time, millenniums ago, when “a shepherd grazing his sheep would look up at the night sky. He became a poet. And he penned the words, The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament shows his handiwork. That shepherd, that poet, became king. And those immortal words in Psalm 19 encapsulate the expressions that we have today—the handiwork of God—as we peer back in time, over 13 billion years ago, [and] capture the light from the very beginning of the creation.”
nasa’s highest-ranked official recognizes the Creator behind the universe. Psalm 19 has inspired astronomers and other scientists for centuries. Many of them viewed the Bible and the creation as two compatible means by which God speaks to mankind. Anyone studying the heavens should likewise be able to recognize His handiwork. Many astronomers still believe in a Creator.
The heavens are declaring God!
God designed human beings to use our minds to discover many of His laws ourselves. This new space telescope is an exciting example. But the fundamental knowledge, not just of the right way to live and our very purpose, but even of science, had to come by revelation from God. He revealed that knowledge to men like Abraham who believed Him, directly and through the pages of the Bible.
That same Creator made beautiful, constant, life-giving laws of cause and effect for the human body and mind. That same Creator’s laws will bring order, harmony, happiness and full life to your marriage, your family, your purpose.
But the same irrational, anti-God spirit that has infected science has infected morality and even religion, insisting that, though physical law is real, spiritual law is a human construct, and that there is no need to learn and obey the perfect laws of God.
Is it truly unscientific to recognize that the universe declares the glory of its Creator? Or is it unscientific not to?