Hang on. Before you lose your minds, just give me a few minutes.
This morning, I woke up and meandered through my early morning Sunday routines, to find myself where I inevitably end up – here in the office scrolling through my Facebook feed. Mark Zuckerberg’s algorithms decided I should see what someone else I respect highly had “liked” earlier on. So I clicked on it. It was all futuristic-spacey looking and if I’m not a sucker for that stuff, I’m nothing.
It was a teaser video for a podcast for a man named Sam Harris. Who argued that creation was magnificent enough for us to believe in miracles. That we no longer needed the “myths and fictions” of the past. If only we rejected the “tribalism” of the world – we could solve all our own problems and live in a Harris-topia…a new age of secular cum-bye-ahhhhh.
The distinct implication drawn from the imagery and carefully recorded commentary, was that to believe in an ancient God, was somehow in direct opposition to reason. Or science. And that’s just not true.
According to the Washington Times, 84 percent of the modern world, has a professed faith. A third of those people are card carrying Christians. 23 percent of those people are Muslims. Even in the era of common core math, one can see that over half of the people walking around today believe in the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. Believe that there was nothing, and then everything.
According to researchers who study such things, “the world is more educated than ever before“.
According to OurWorldInData.org, this rise in education can be attributed to, “… the result of increased appreciation of the benefits of education to the individual and society, as well as and increased government provision.”
People are more intelligent than they’ve ever been before. And they still believe in “ancient myths and fictions”.
Is belief in a God – a supreme being, mutually exclusive from advanced intelligence and reasoning? The evidence seems to bear out the contrary.
Gregor Johann Mendel, the father of modern Genetics was a card-carrying Monk.
German mathematician and Protestant Johannes Kepler is the father or modern Astrophysics. He discovered and formulated the laws that govern how every body in space moves in relation to each other’s mass and distance. Historians today believe that his discoveries, “led him to believe that he had uncovered God’s geometrical plan for the universe”.
Kepler would write in his later years,
“Purposely I break off the dream and the very vast speculation, merely crying out with the royal Psalmist: Great is our Lord and great His virtue and of His wisdom there is no number: praise Him, ye heavens, praise Him, ye sun, moon, and planets, use every sense for perceiving, every tongue for declaring your Creator…to Him be praise, honour, and glory, world without end. Amen.” ( – “Epilogue Concerning the Sun, By Way of Conjecture,” ibid.)
For Kepler, the very thing Harris says steers us from God – steers us TO a God. His laws, in fact, allow us to understand exactly what the Biblical “star of Bethlehem” was, thousands of years after the event- confirming what was written in the New Testament.
Hundreds of years later, research astronomer and Nobel Prize winner George Smoot – the leader on a team of scientists that was able to image the universe in its infancy – speaks about the discovery of another Christian scientist and NASA COBE satellite team member, Robert Wilson. Wilson and his partner Arno Penzias discovered “cosmic background radiation”. (The background radiation was the cornerstone of the “Big Bang”…the evidence left behind from that massive instantaneous explosion from nothingness into something-ness._)
Smoot says of Wilson’s discovery,
“…”there is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event
and the Christian notion of creation from nothing.”
He called the predicted ripples in the cosmic background radiation “fingerprints from the master”.
Modern day researcher Steven Hawking observed of Smoot,
““If the rate of expansion one second after the big bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million, the universe would have re-collapsed before it ever reached it present state.” Slightly faster than the critical rate and matter would have dispersed too rapidly to allow stars and galaxies to form. George Smoot describes the creation even[t] as “finely orchestrated.”
These do not sound like ignorant, myth and fiction followers to me. There are in fact, increasing numbers of people who stood with Harris, who are defecting from a pure materialistic view (the Universe is all there is, and we all random biological happenstance) to one that is more divine.
Paul Davies, atheistic apologist seems to conceed,
““the laws [of physics] … seem themselves to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design.” (Davies, “Superforce”, p 243)
“There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all … it seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe … The impression of design is overwhelming.” (Davies, “The Cosmic Blueprint”, p. 203)
Einsten, while having no belief in a personal God, had this to say on the matter of it all,
““The scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation … His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.” (Albert Einstein)
As astrophysicists like Hubble and mathematicians like Friedman continued to make discoveries in Einstein’s lifetime – those discoveries forced him to re-examine his own mathematical theories (like the “cosmological constant”), as well as his own personal theories regarding an “impersonal” God. He wrote after these discoveries were made not only of the necessity for a beginning, but of his desire
“…“to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thought, the rest are details.”
(cited by Nick Herbert, Quantum Reality–Beyond the New Physics, Garden City, New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1985, p. 177)
I wonder if there’s room in Harris’ world for Einstein’s questions and realizations. What the one man would say to the other if they could debate, or speak.
The science of modern astrophysics in fact, creates an “imbalance” of faith. It requires less faith and mysticism to believe in a divine creator – than it does to believe in accidental chance creation.
Compared to the alternative of supposing that matter and energy somehow always existed, British physicist Edmund Whittaker says,
“It is simple to postulate creation ex nihilo–Divine will constituting Nature from nothingness.” (Edmund Whittaker cited in Fred Heeren Show Me God: What the Message from Space Is Telling Us About God Day Star Publications, 2000, pp. 121)
Author Barry Parker of “Creation – the Story of the Origin and the Universe” points out,
“We do, of course, have an alternative. We could say that there was no creation, and that the universe has always been here. But this is even more difficult to accept than creation.”
In the simplest of terms, people much smarter than you or I – smarter than Harris – the men and women who have peered down through the formulas, telescopes and microscopes far deeper than 99% of the modern population has peered, is peering, or will peer, walk away assured in their faith – or even swayed to have what was not possessed earlier. The calculus and statistics of it all rolling past and overwhelming them like an intellectual avalanche.
This was not an accident.
Something….someone did this.
I would normally be angered by a “Mr. Harris” video. But lately, at 46 years old, I’m grateful to him, and in a way, I pity him. Videos like his drive me deeper in my faith to answer questions that demand an examination. To follow Christ implies a demand that I hold Him accountable – all of it- and search for the evidence His claims require I find. Those stones….those breadcrumbs…are all around us and above us. The fact that Harris misses it…saddens me.
So chin up. Whatever your faith. You’re walking in the footsteps of giants who are hardly ignorant…..least of all dumb. In any sense.