This is why scientists are able to mock the claims of religions but have never been able to deal a knock-out blow: The most famous atheist scientist of our times is the fearless Richard Dawkins, whose God Delusion set out to discredit religion once and for all. For him, it was Darwin's theory of evolution that dealt the fatal blow to religious belief. Powerful and eloquent though it was, religion continues to flourish, and scientists albeit a minority continue to go to church, just as Galileo, Newton, Faraday and others have done in the past.
I suspect that none of them would have abandoned their respective faiths after reading Dawkins admittedly, not a scientific statement. Religions will survive so long as they steer clear of making statements that can be shown to be factually wrong. The kind of science done by Stephen Hawking, one of the leading theoretical physicists of modern times, has an almost religious ring to it. He and his colleagues are trying to find the patterns in the basic fabric of reality — the mathematical laws that govern the workings of nature at its finest level.
There is plenty of evidence that these laws hold good all the way back to the beginning of time, which is how scientists have put together an extremely detailed and well-tested theory of the Big Bang, the first few minutes of the universe. The Large Hadron Collider will soon be reproducing, at will, the conditions in the universe within a billionth of a second of the beginning of time. This has led writers to invest these experiments with a theological significance. The distinguished experimenter Leon Lederman labelled the Higgs particle, being sought at the Collider, as the God Particle, with no good reason except as a hook to promote his book, which he named after it.
Yet these experiments will tell us nothing about God. They will simply steer us towards an improved theoretical understanding of our material universe, ultimately in terms of principles set out in mathematics. Yet this is where religion can sneak back into the picture. Einstein, to the frustration of many of his colleagues, was fond of referring to God when he was talking about the laws expressing the fundamental harmonies of the universe. As Dawkins rightly stresses, it is quite clear that Einstein did not think of God as a white-bearded benefactor capable of interfering with the functioning of the universe.
Rather, Einstein followed closely the views of the philosopher Spinoza, for whom the concept of God is an expression of the underlying unity of the universe, something so wondrous that it can command a spiritual awe. Einstein's views were largely shared by his acquaintance Paul Dirac, the greatest English theoretician since Newton. For Dirac, the greatest mystery of the universe was that its most fundamental laws can be expressed in terms of beautiful mathematical equations. Towards the end of his life, in the s and early s, Dirac often said that mathematical beauty "is almost a religion to me".
These motivations, this initial logic, will have been dictating God's thoughts from the moment of God's inception. If there was no logic and no motivation, God did not create anything on purpose.
In that case, you might as well admit that the Universe created itself randomly, and that no creator God was required. If god created anything according to a thought-out logical plan, or, if God had a desire to create anything that wasn't pure random chaos, then, god's thoughts must have been framed around logic. This logic allowed god to think and create, and, gave motivation to God. Some theists will make assertions that god is "outside of outside", "beyond logic", "transcends logic", "not subject to logical limitations" or that "human logic is limited" and other similar argument-stoppers.
Although this at first appears to throw all intellectualizing out the window, kick all theology out the front door and firmly garrison the houses of religion from debate, it actually opens up the theist to some further criticisms. If "Human logic" is insufficient for metaphysics then debating for the existence of God is pointless.
Because it is by Human logic, thought and mentality that we arrive at the concept of God in the first place. If God behaves according to logic that we don't understand i. Human logic is limited then God is still behaving according to logic, even if it is logic we don't understand. To say that god doesn't obey logical rules, to say that God could create a round square, for example, is to say that the abilities of god are abilities that cannot logically exist, making God into fantasy.
It seems to be! It is not enough to say that "God exists" as the explanation as to why the Universe exists. If a God created the Universe, then, why did it do so? God must have had thoughts - a creative impulse - to create the space-time continuum. Therefore it is the properties and thoughts of God that explain the Universe, not the mere fact that God exists. God could easily exist for all of its eternity, existing in perfection in a perfect world, without creating the Universe. So saying that God explains the existence of the Universe is not the whole story. Or better still create it with the plan achieved?
Unfortunately there have been no comprehensive or compelling arguments as to why God created the Universe. Sages from all these religions have tried to explained why existence is the way it is, complete with suffering and death, but none have given a straight answer as to why any of it needed to exist at all.
The phrase ' anthropic coincidences ' refers to the theory that the Universe is so delicately fine-tuned for life that it must have been designed with that purpose in mind, by an intelligent creator-god The main argument is that if you fiddle with the universal constants of physics such as the strengths of the weak and strong nuclear forces and change their values even by a little bit, then the Universe would be completely unsuitable for life as we know it.
Therefore, God created the Universe for life, and in particular, created it for mankind here on Earth. Some scientists subscribe to this idea, and use it to justify and promote belief in God But there are a number of convincing logical and evidential arguments against this idea. Also, it took nine billion years to make the Earth, and then another four billion before Humankind appeared The timetable makes no sense: If the Universe was designed for life, it ought to have simply started with life.
When it comes to the sun, which religionists are sure was created to warm us, "of all the energy [it emits], only two photos in a billion are used to warm Earth, the rest radiating uselessly into space" The theory that God done it this way on purpose simply doesn't make sense. Evolution does a much better job of explaining why and how life evolved, and is a theory based on evidence, unlike the "God designed life" theory, which is based on pure speculation.
Not only that, but it simply reeks of egotistical and prideful wishful-thinking to imagine that the creator of a billion galaxies made all of it with our particular species in mind. If we did change the Universal constants, then, for all we know, even more intelligent life could have evolved in even more different ways. In other words we have no knowledge at all to indicate that the current set-up is optimal for life.
For these reasons, the anthropic coincidences argument has been abandoned philosophically and even used to argue against the idea of a God, although in its simpler forms it is still vocalized by many laypeople as being a reason for their belief in God For a full discussion, see: Is the Universe Fine-Tuned for Life?
The "law of conservation of energy" holds that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only changed in form. This means that although everything in the Universe may be destroyed, the total energy stays the same. This fundamental law of thermodynamics is one of the most important laws in physics, and is applicable at all scales, from the quantum, to the large scale sciences of engineering and chemistry.
It is so important that most physics think that this law can simply never be broken. If energy cannot be created nor destroyed, they say, then this is proof that the entire spectacle of reality has to be the exercise of a creator God. He reflected on the energy needed to produce large quantities of carbon, and wrote this:.
Some supercalculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question. There are many examples of the physical laws being fine-tuned for life: If the expansion of the universe had been more even, stars and planets would not have formed.
If the forces in the atomic nuclei were weaker, the universe would be made of hydrogen; if stronger, then oxygen would be the base element. If the strength of the strong nuclear force was changed by as small a figure as 0. But by two scientific discoveries had changed his mind. First, the Big Bang theory showed the universe began at a particular point in time. This raises the question, what caused the universe to begin? And second, the universe appears to have been fine-tuned for life. Not merely are there are regularities in nature, but they are mathematically precise, universal and 'tied together'.
How did nature come packaged in this fashion? Paul Davies explores these ideas in his book The Goldilocks Enigma. He argues that the universe, like the porridge Goldilocks ate, is 'just right' for life.
The evidence for design lies in the laws of the universe. According to Davies, science is based on the assumption that the universe is thoroughly rational and logical. Atheists claim the laws of nature exist reasonlessly and the universe is ultimately absurd. As a scientist, I find this hard to accept. There must be an unchanging rational ground in which the logical, orderly nature of the universe is rooted.
He argues that the physical laws of the universe have been fine tuned to produce life and consciousness:. The emergence of life and consciousness is written into the laws of the universe in a very basic way. This does not mean designed to produce the planet Earth and human beings. If the Big Bang were re-run, it would not produce Earth and homo sapiens , but according to Davies, there would be life and consciousness. I belong to a group of scientists, who do not subscribe to a conventional religion, but nevertheless deny that the universe is a purposeless accident….
There must be a deeper level of explanation. Whether one wishes to call that deeper level 'God' is a matter of taste. He rejects the multiverse theory, according to which there are billions of other universes, because there is no scientific evidence whatsoever for it, calling it "The last refuge of the atheist. There is a certain sense in which I would say the universe has a purpose. It's not there by chance. Some people take the view that we happen by accident.
I think that there is something much deeper, of which we have very little inkling at the moment. In addition, many of the pioneers of quantum physics rejected atheism: Ken Wilber's book Quantum Questions explores their religious writings. Wilber argues that all these groundbreaking physicists believed that spirituality and physics were needed for a full understanding of reality. Wilber poses this question to modern atheists and scientists:. To those who bow to physics as a religion, I ask, what does it mean to you, that the founders of modern science, the theorists who pioneered the very concepts you now worship, were every one of them mystics.
I have repeatedly pondered on the relationship of science and religion, for I have never been able to deny the reality to which they point. Every serious and reflective person realizes, I think, that the religious element in his nature must be recognised and cultivated if all the powers of the human soul are to act together in perfect harmony. And indeed it is not an accident that the greatest thinkers of all ages were also deeply religious souls. Some sense a divine presence irradiating the soul as one of the most obvious things of experience. Is atheism harming individuals and society?
One of the twentieth century's leading humanists and atheists, H. Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and beliefs are but the outcome of the accidental collocations of atoms; no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling can preserve an individual beyond the grave; all the labour of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noon-day brightness of human genius are destined for extinction in the vast death of the solar system.
The astrophysicist Paul Davies maintains atheism is not merely mistaken, but also damaging to society and individuals. Our secular age has led many people to feel demoralised and disillusioned, alienated from nature, regarding their existence as a pointless charade in an indifferent, even hostile and meaningless universe. Many of our social ills can be traced to the bleak worldview, that years of mechanistic thought have imposed; a worldview in which human beings are presented as irrelevant observers.
Yet among the general population there is a widespread belief that science and theology are forever at loggerheads. I regard the universe as a coherent, rational, elegant and harmonious expression of a deep and purposeful meaning. It is interesting that just as scientists became mystics, so within Christianity there has been a growing interest in mystical or contemplative Christianity and the rediscovery of the mystics of the past such as the desert fathers and mothers.
Making Sense of Creation: Did God give scientists God particle? - Kindle edition by Clifford Owusu-Gyamfi. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device. Scientists working at the Large Hadron Collider claim to have found the Higgs boson or God particle. The 'God particle', officially the Higgs boson, is one of the no one can accuse particle physicists of not having a sense of humour. These particles make up all the matter (and anti-matter) that we can.
Moreover there is a widespread harmony in the understanding of the divine across widely disparate cultures and times, according to Aldous Huxley. His book, The Perennial Philosophy , is an exploration of mysticism across different religions, periods and civilisations. What is remarkable, he claims, is the degree of unanimity among them.
His book contains an anthology of mystics from a wide variety of times and places. There are similar mystical utterances from widely differing races, religions, periods and places. What do philosophers make of all this? In the last century logical positivists used to attack religious belief on the grounds that it could not be verified; whereas scientific statements were true, because they could be verified. What is puzzling now, is to find scientists claiming that their theories are true, not because they can be verified, but because they are beautiful; as if science had become a subset of aesthetics.
And Karl Popper 's criterion for science was that it must be possible to falsify a theory. Hawking's theory can be neither falsified, nor proved, and so, according to Popper, is not science. Wittgenstein maintained there are truths besides those of science, writing: They make themselves manifest.
They are what is called mystical. I know that this world exists.
That something about it is problematic, which we call its meaning. The meaning does not lie in it, but outside it. The meaning of life, i. The claim that there is a fundamental disagreement between science and religion is known to historians of science as 'The Conflict Myth'. Einstein recognised no such conflict, indeed he thought the opposite, writing:.
After the God of fear, then the God of morality, there is a third stage of religious experience. I call it cosmic religious feeling. It is very difficult to elucidate to anyone who is entirely without it. The beginning of this cosmic religious feeling can be found in the Psalms and in the Prophets [of the Old Testament]. Religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God image conceived in man's image.
John Lennox explains that the conflict myth has become embedded in the popular mind: The common belief that the relations between religion and science over the last four centuries have been marked by a deep and enduring hostility … is historically inaccurate, a caricature so grotesque that it needs explaining, how it could possibly have achieved any degree of respectability.
Professor David Bentley Hart states: John Hedley Brooke, Professor of the History of Science at Oxford, comments on the myth of the victory of science over religion: He calls Huxley a brilliant self-publicist, who made it all up. Overwhelmingly science and religion have been in harmony. The conflict myth has been debunked. Of course none of this is to deny, that some forms of religion have in the past constricted the human spirit, rather than enlightened and inspired it; and some today still do. So we need to distinguish those forms of religion and faith that are life-giving, from those that are life-denying.
Our greedy and selfish society thinks buying goods on credit, to impress people we don't care for, is the road to happiness. We need the message of the great spiritual leaders of the past, who pointed to a life founded on love and the service of others, as the keys to a fulfilled life. So a religious outlook can still provide a valuable yardstick and make it easier to resist the powerful pressures of living in our consumerist societies, driven by social media.
Richard Dawkins maintains science and religion are in conflict, and so he has to misrepresent Einstein and claim Newton was a fake. Did he misunderstand Max Jammer's book, or set out to mislead? Dawkins also thinks evolution and God are incompatible; Charles Darwin thought the opposite. Do we believe the organ grinder or his monkey? Hawking proposes M-theory to explain the origins of the universe. Roger Penrose, Paul Davies and John Lennox and others dismiss this as groundless speculation, for which there is not a shred of evidence. Lennox claims it amounts to a triple self-contradiction.
The facts of science point to the existence of God: The greatest scientific minds, Newton, Darwin and Einstein, all believed that the evidence points to an intelligent mind behind the universe. The suggestion that there are other universes, is, as Paul Davies says, the last refuge of the atheist. It is mere metaphysical speculation: Large parts of physics have become a fact-free zone of mathematical speculation. In some ways it is like a cult, with pressure to conform and become a devotee. It may come as a surprise to some folk, that the case for God is so strong, and the case for atheism so weak.
It is a great shame that the media in general do not give both sides of the argument. Because the overwhelming majority of great scientists have concluded that the most elegant answer to the riddle of this finely tuned universe is God. Also one can't help wondering whether atheists are shrill, aggressive and abusive because their arguments are so weak? We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages.
The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how The child dimly suspects a mysterious order That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. Darwin Correspondence Project, 'Letter no. Victor Gollancz, , p. Princeton University Press, , p. Shambhala, , p. Atlantic Books, , p. Transworld Publishers, , p. Crown, , , p. Viereck, Glimpses of the Great New York: Macauley, , quoted in Jammer, p.