Our God—He Is Alive [ Part I ]
I suspect that many Christians—whether young or old—know quite well the beautiful and stirring hymn, “Our God—He is Alive,” by A.W. Dicus. And I suspect that most of those same people know the beautiful and stirring refrain with which the song begins: “There is, beyond the azure blue, a God, concealed from human sight. He tinted skies with heav’nly hue, and framed the worlds with His great might.”
But while the hymn itself is well known to most of us, sadly, its famous author is not. Aaron Wesley Dicus was born on May 30, 1888 in Festus, Missouri. When he was just a small child, his family moved to Swayzee, Indiana, where he was reared and later graduated from high school. In that same small, north central Indiana town, he met and married his first wife, Bertha Jane, in 1908—the same year he was baptized. It was that year, on the occasion of his baptism, that he made a vow: “If the Lord will allow me to get an education,” he said, “I will use it in service to Him.” The Lord would indeed allow him to obtain an education. And he would spend the rest of his life remaining true to that vow.
In fact, it was shortly after his baptism that he began to prepare himself to preach and to obtain the education he wanted so badly. He started his teaching career in a one-room rural schoolhouse, but left that position to become an inventor. I suspect that few people, in or out of the church, are aware of the fact that A.W. Dicus is the man who, shortly prior to the Great Depression, invented the automobile turn signal!
He began preaching full time for the church in Bloomington, Indiana, and around 1925 was offered a student instructor scholarship at the University of Indiana, which helped pay for some of his school expenses. He continued to preach whenever possible, in order to help pay for things the scholarship did not cover. Eventually, even though he had to drop out of college on more than one occasion to earn money to continue his schooling, he graduated with B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees. In 1929, he was offered the job of chairman of the department of physics at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, Tennessee—a position he held for a number of years. In the mid-1940s, Dr. Dicus became heavily involved in training graduates for nuclear studies in connection with the Oak Ridge National Laboratories. One of his former students, atomic scientist Ray Kinslow, was hired to work at Oak Ridge, and later observed that A.W. Dicus “probably had more of his students at Oak Ridge than any other physics professor. I was one of those. After doing atomic research at Columbia University in New York, I came to Oak Ridge and hired probably more than half of his former students there, including one of his sons.”
Even though he could have stayed on for many more years at Tennessee Tech, he chose to leave his prestigious position at the University and move to Temple Terrace, Florida, to become academic dean of Florida College, where he worked until his retirement in 1954. [His first wife, Bertha Jane, had died, and in 1953 he married a sweet Christian lady by the name of Flora, who was instrumental in encouraging him in his song writing.] Due in large part to his reputation and untiring efforts, Florida College was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
During his retirement, Dr. Dicus remained active in the Lord’s work, preaching full time for congregations in Winter Haven and Miami, Florida. He also wrote three books: Sermon Outlines, A Commentary on Hebrews and Romans, and Church Leadership. In addition, he wrote more than thirty-five songs, among which was “Our God—He is Alive.” Eventually, his health began to fail and he was afflicted with cataracts and glaucoma, which left him almost completely blind. Even then, however, he continued to compose songs, including the beautiful, “Lord, I Believe.” Dr. Dicus died on September 2, 1978 in Tampa, Florida. Although he long ago quit these earthly walks, it truly may be said of A.W. Dicus that he, “being dead, yet speaketh” (Hebrews 11:4). As a result of his dogged determination to remain true to his vow to use his hard-earned education (and considerable speaking and song-writing talents) for the Lord, even today he reminds us—each and every time we sing the song he composed— of the fact that
OUR GOD—HE IS ALIVE!
One of the most basic, and most fundamental, issues that can be considered by the human mind is the question, “Does God exist?” In the field of logic, there are principles—or as they are called more often, laws—that govern human thought processes and that are accepted as analytically true. One of these is the law of the excluded middle. When applied to objects, this law states that an object cannot both possess and not possess a certain trait or characteristic at the same time and in the same fashion. When applied to propositions, this law states that all precisely stated propositions are either true or false; they cannot be both true and false at the same time and in the same fashion.
The statement, “God exists,” is a precisely stated proposition. Thus, it is either true or false. The simple fact is, either God exists or He does not. There is no middle ground. One cannot affirm logically both the existence and nonexistence of God. The atheist boldly states that God does not exist; the theist affirms just as boldly that God does exist; the agnostic laments that there is not enough evidence to make a decision on the matter; and the skeptic doubts that God’s existence can be proven with certainty. Who is correct? Does God exist or not?
The only way to answer this question, of course, is to seek out and examine the evidence. It certainly is reasonable to suggest that if there is a God, He would make available to us evidence adequate to the task of proving His existence. But does such evidence exist? And if it does, what is the nature of that evidence?
The theist advocates the view that evidence is available to prove conclusively that God does exist and that this evidence is adequate to establish beyond reasonable doubt the existence of God. However, when we employ the word “prove,” we do not mean that God’s existence can be demonstrated scientifically in the same fashion that one might prove that a sack of potatoes weighs ten pounds or that a human heart has four distinct chambers within it. Such matters as the weight of a sack of vegetables, or the divisions within a muscle, are matters that may be verified empirically using the five senses. And while empirical evidence often is quite useful in establishing the validity of a case, it is not the sole means of arriving at proof. For example, legal authorities recognize the validity of a prima facie case, which is acknowledged to exist when adequate evidence is available to establish the presumption of a fact that, unless such fact can be refuted, legally stands proven. It is the contention of the theist that there is a vast body of evidence that makes an impregnable prima facie case for the existence of God—a case that simply cannot be refuted. I would like to present here the prima facie case for the existence of God, along with a small portion of the evidence upon which that case is based.
CAUSE AND EFFECT—THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
Throughout human history, one of the most effective arguments for the existence of God has been the cosmological argument, which addresses the fact that the Universe (Cosmos) is here and therefore must be explained in some fashion. In his book, Not A Chance, R.C. Sproul observed:
Traditional philosophy argued for the existence of God on the foundation of the law of causality. The cosmological argument went from the presence of a cosmos back to a creator of the cosmos. It sought a rational answer to the question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” It sought a sufficient reason for a real world (1994, p. 169).
The Universe exists and is real. Atheists and agnostics not only acknowledge its existence, but also admit that it is a grand effect (1977, pp. 19-21). If an entity cannot account for its own being (i.e., it is not sufficient to have caused itself), then it is said to be “contingent” because it is dependent upon something outside of itself to explain its existence. The Universe is a contingent entity since it is inadequate to cause, or explain, its own existence. Sproul has noted: “Logic requires that if something exists contingently, it must have a cause. That is merely to say, if it is an effect it must have an antecedent cause” (p. 172). Thus, since the Universe is a contingent effect, the obvious question becomes, “What caused the Universe?”
It is here that the law of cause and effect (also known as the law of causality) is tied firmly to the cosmological argument. Scientists, and philosophers of science, recognize laws as “reflecting actual regularities in nature” (Hull, 1974, p. 3). So far as scientific knowledge can attest, laws know no exceptions. This certainly is true of the law of cause and effect. It is, indisputably, the most universal, and most certain, of all scientific laws. Simply put, the law of causality states that every material effect must have an adequate antecedent cause. Just as the law of the excluded middle is true analytically, so the law of cause and effect is true analytically as well. Sproul addressed this when he wrote:
The statement “Every effect has an antecedent cause” is analytically true. To say that it is analytically or formally true is to say that it is true by definition or analysis. There is nothing in the predicate that is not already contained by resistless logic in the subject. It is like the statement, “A bachelor is an unmarried man” or “A triangle has three sides” or “Two plus two are four....” Cause and effect, though distinct ideas, are inseparably bound together in rational discourse. It is meaningless to say that something is a cause if it yields no effect. It is likewise meaningless to say that something is an effect if it has no cause. A cause, by definition, must have an effect, or it is not a cause. An effect, by definition, must have a cause, or it is not an effect (p. 169).
Effects without adequate causes are unknown. Further, causes never occur subsequent to the effect. It is meaningless to speak of a cause following an effect, or an effect preceding a cause. In addition, the effect never is qualitatively superior to, or quantitatively greater than, the cause. This knowledge is responsible for our formulation of the law of causality in these words: Every material effect must have an adequate antecedent cause. The river did not turn muddy because the frog jumped in; the book did not fall from the table because the fly lighted on it. These are not adequate causes. For whatever effects we observe, we must postulate adequate antecedent causes—which brings us back to the original question: What caused the Universe?
There are but three possible answers to this question: (1) the Universe is eternal; it always has existed and always will exist; (2) the Universe is not eternal; rather, it created itself out of nothing; (3) the Universe is not eternal, and did not create itself out of nothing; rather, it was created by something (or Someone) anterior, and superior, to itself. These three options merit serious consideration.
Is the Universe Eternal?
The most comfortable position for the person who does not believe in God is the idea that the Universe is eternal, because it avoids the problem of a beginning or ending and thus the need for any “first cause” such as God. In fact, it was to avoid just such a problem that evolutionists Thomas Gold, Hermann Bondi, and Sir Fred Hoyle developed the Steady State Theory. Information had come to light that indicated the Universe was expanding. Dr. Hoyle suggested that the best way to try to explain both an expanding and eternal Universe was to suggest that at points in space called “irtrons” hydrogen was coming into existence from nothing. As hydrogen atoms arrived, they had to “go” somewhere, and as they did, they displaced matter already in existence, causing the Universe to expand. Hoyle believed that the atoms of gaseous hydrogen gradually condensed into clouds of virgin matter, that within these clouds new stars and galaxies formed, etc.
In his book, Until the Sun Dies, astronomer Robert Jastrow noted: “The proposal for the creation of matter out of nothing possesses a strong appeal to the scientist, since it permits him to contemplate a Universe without beginning and without end” (1977, p. 32). Even after evidence began to appear that showed the Steady State theory to be incorrect, Jastrow suggested that “some astronomers still favored it because the notion of a world with a beginning and an end made them feel so uncomfortable” (p. 33). Dr. Jastrow went on to say:
The Universe is the totality of all matter, animate and inanimate, throughout space and time. If there was a beginning, what came before? If there is an end, what will come after? On both scientific and philosophical grounds, the concept of an eternal Universe seems more acceptable than the concept of a transient Universe that springs into being suddenly, and then fades slowly into darkness.
Astronomers try not to be influenced by philosophical considerations. However, the idea of a Universe that has both a beginning and an end is distasteful to the scientific mind. In a desperate effort to avoid it, some astronomers have searched for another interpretation of the measurements that indicate the retreating motion of the galaxies, an interpretation that would not require the Universe to expand. If the evidence for the expanding Universe could be explained away, the need for a moment of creation would be eliminated, and the concept of time without end would return to science. But these attempts have not succeeded, and most astronomers have come to the conclusion that they live in an exploding world (p. 31).
What does Jastrow mean when he says that “these attempts have not succeeded”? In a comment that was an obvious reference to the fact that Hoyle’s “creation of hydrogen out of nothing in irtrons” violates the first law of thermodynamics, Jastrow noted:
But the creation of matter out of nothing would violate a cherished concept in science—the principle of the conservation of matter and energy—which states that matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Matter can be converted into energy, and vice versa, but the total amount of all matter and energy in the Universe must remain unchanged forever. It is difficult to accept a theory that violates such a firmly established scientific fact (p. 32).
In his book, God and the Astronomers, Dr. Jastrow explained why attempts to prove an eternal Universe failed. “Now three lines of evidence—the motions of the galaxies, the laws of thermodynamics, and the life story of the stars—pointed to one conclusion; all indicated that the Universe had a beginning” (1978, p. 111). Jastrow—who is considered by many to be one of the greatest science writers of our time—certainly is no creationist. But as a scientist who is an astrophysicist, he has written often on the inescapable conclusion that the Universe had a beginning. Consider, for example, these statements from his pen:
Now both theory and observation pointed to an expanding Universe and a beginning in time.... About thirty years ago science solved the mystery of the birth and death of stars, and acquired new evidence that the Universe had a beginning (1978, pp. 47,105).
And concurrently there was a great deal of discussion about the fact that the second law of thermodynamics, applied to the Cosmos, indicates the Universe is running down like a clock. If it is running down, there must have been a time when it was fully wound up. Arthur Eddington, the most distinguished British astronomer of his day, wrote, “If our views are right, somewhere between the beginning of time and the present day we must place the winding up of the universe.” When that occurred, and Who or what wound up the Universe, were questions that bemused theologians, physicists and astronomers, particularly in the 1920’s and 1930’s (1978, pp. 48-49).
Most remarkable of all is the fact that in science, as in the Bible, the World begins with an act of creation. That view has not always been held by scientists. Only as a result of the most recent discoveries can we say with a fair degree of confidence that the world has not existed forever; that it began abruptly, without apparent cause, in a blinding event that defies scientific explanation (1977, p. 19).
The conclusion to be drawn from the scientific data was inescapable, as Dr. Jastrow himself admitted when he wrote: “The lingering decline predicted by astronomers for the end of the world differs from the explosive conditions they have calculated for its birth, but the impact is the same: modern science denies an eternal existence to the Universe, either in the past or in the future” (1977, p. 30, emp. added). The evidence states that the Universe had a beginning. The second law of thermodynamics, as Dr. Jastrow has indicated, shows this to be true. Henry Morris correctly commented: “The Second Law requires the universe to have had a beginning” (1974, p. 26). Indeed, it does. The Universe is not eternal.
Did the Universe Create Itself Out of Nothing?
In the past, it would have been practically impossible to find any reputable scientist who would be willing to advocate a self-created Universe. George Davis, a prominent physicist of the past generation, explained why when he wrote: “No material thing can create itself.” Further, Dr. Davis affirmed that this statement “cannot be logically attacked on the basis of any knowledge available to us” (1958, p. 71). The Universe is the created, not the creator. And until very recently, it seemed there could be no disagreement about that fact.
However, so strong is the evidence that the Universe had a beginning, and therefore a cause anterior and superior to itself, some evolutionists are suggesting, in order to avoid the implications, that something came from nothing—that is, the Universe literally created itself from nothing! Edward P. Tryon, professor of physics at the City University of New York, wrote: “In 1973, I proposed that our Universe had been created spontaneously from nothing, as a result of established principles of physics. This proposal variously struck people as preposterous, enchanting, or both” (1984, pp. 14-16). This is the same Edward P. Tryon who is on record as stating: “Our universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time” (1973, 246:397). In the May 1984 issue of Scientific American, evolutionists Alan Guth and Paul Steinhardt authored an article on “The Inflationary Universe” in which they suggested:
From a historical point of view probably the most revolutionary aspect of the inflationary model is the notion that all the matter and energy in the observable universe may have emerged from almost nothing.... The inflationary model of the universe provides a possible mechanism by which the observed universe could have evolved from an infinitesimal region. It is then tempting to go one step further and speculate that the entire universe evolved from literally nothing (250:128).
Therefore, even though principles of physics that “cannot be logically attacked on the basis of any knowledge available to us” preclude the creation of something out of nothing, suddenly, in a last-ditch effort to avoid the implications of the Universe having a cause, it is being suggested that indeed, the Universe simply “created itself out of nothing.”
Naturally, such a proposal would seem—to use Dr. Tryon’s words—“preposterous.” Be that as it may, some in the evolutionary camp have been willing to defend it. One such scientist is Victor J. Stenger, professor of physics at the University of Hawaii. In 1987, Dr. Stenger authored an article titled, “Was the Universe Created?,” in which he said:
...the universe is probably the result of a random quantum fluctuation in a spaceless, timeless void.... So what had to happen to start the universe was the formation of an empty bubble of highly curved space-time. How did this bubble form? What caused it? Not everything requires a cause. It could have just happened spontaneously as one of the many linear combinations of universes that has the quantum numbers of the void.... Much is still in the speculative stage, and I must admit that there are yet no empirical or observational tests that can be used to test the idea of an accidental origin. (7:26-30, first emp. in orig., second emp. added).
This is an interesting turn of events. Evolutionists like Tryon, Stenger, Guth, and Steinhardt insist that this marvelously intricate Universe is “simply one of those things which happen from time to time” as the result of a “random quantum fluctuation in a spaceless, timeless void” that caused matter to evolve from “literally nothing.” This suggestion, of course, is in clear violation of the first law of thermodynamics, which states that neither matter nor energy may be created or destroyed in nature. Further, science is based on observation, reproducibility, and empirical data. But when pressed for the empirical data that document the claim that the Universe created itself from nothing, evolutionists are forced to admit, as Dr. Stenger did, that “there are yet no empirical or observational tests that can be used to test the idea....”
Ultimately, the Guth/Steinhardt inflationary model was shown to be incorrect, and a newer version was suggested. Working independently, Russian physicist Andrei Linde, and American physicists Andreas Albrecht and Paul Steinhardt, developed the “new inflationary model” (see Hawking, 1988, pp. 131-132). However, this model also was shown to be incorrect and was discarded. Renowned British astrophysicist Stephen W. Hawking put the matter in proper perspective when he wrote: “The new inflationary model was a good attempt to explain why the universe is the way it is.... In my personal opinion, the new inflationary model is now dead as a scientific theory, although a lot of people do not seem to have heard of its demise and are still writing papers on it as if it were viable” (Hawking, 1988, p. 1320. Later, Linde himself suggested numerous modifications and is credited with producing what now is known as the “chaotic inflationary model” (see Hawking, pp. 133ff.). Dr. Hawking himself performed additional work on this particular model. But in an interview on June 8, 1994 dealing specifically with inflationary models, Alan Guth conceded: “First of all, I will say that at the purely technical level, inflation itself does not explain how the universe arose from nothing.... Inflation itself takes a very small universe and produces from it a very big universe. But inflation by itself does not explain where that very small universe came from” (as quoted in Heeren, 1995, p. 148).
Science is based on observation and reproducibility. But when pressed for the reproducible, empirical data that document their claim of a self-created Universe, scientists and philosophers are at a loss to produce those data. Perhaps this is why Alan Guth lamented: “In the end, I must admit that questions of plausibility are not logically determinable and depend somewhat on intuition” (1988, 11:76)—which is little more than a fancy way of saying, “I certainly wish this were true, but I could not prove it to you if my life depended on it.” To suggest that the Universe created itself is to posit a self-contradictory position. Sproul addressed this when he wrote that what an atheist or agnostic
...deems possible for the world to do—come into being without a cause—is something no judicious philosopher would grant that even God could do. It is as formally and rationally impossible for God to come into being without a cause as it is for the world to do so.... For something to bring itself into being it must have the power of being within itself. It must at least have enough causal power to cause its own being. If it derives its being from some other source, then it clearly would not be either self-existent or self-created. It would be, plainly and simply, an effect. Of course, the problem is complicated by the other necessity we’ve labored so painstakingly to establish: It would have to have the causal power of being before it was. It would have to have the power of being before it had any being with which to exercise that power (1994, pp. 179-180).
The Universe did not create itself. Such an idea is absurd, both philosophically and scientifically.
Was the Universe Created?
Either the Universe had a beginning, or it did not. But all available evidence indicates that the Universe did, in fact, have a beginning. If the Universe had a beginning, it either had a cause or it did not. One thing we know assuredly, however: it is correct—logically and scientifically—to acknowledge that the Universe had a cause, because the Universe is an effect and requires an adequate antecedent cause. Henry Morris was correct when he suggested that the Law of cause and effect is “universally accepted and followed in every field of science” (1974, p. 19). The cause/effect principle states that wherever there is a material effect, there must be an adequate antecedent cause. Further indicated, however, is the fact that no effect can be qualitatively superior to, or quantitatively greater than, its cause.
Since it is apparent that the Universe it not eternal, and since likewise it is apparent that the Universe could not have created itself, the only remaining alternative is that the Universe was created by something, or Someone, that: (a) existed before it, i.e., some eternal, uncaused First Cause; (b) is superior to it—since the created cannot be superior to the creator; and (c) is of a different nature, since the finite, contingent Universe of matter is unable to explain itself (see Jackson and Carroll, n.d.). As Hoyle and Wickramasinghe have observed: “To be consistent logically, we have to say that the intelligence which assembled the enzymes did not itself contain them” (1981, p. 139).
In connection with this, another fact should be considered. If there ever had been a time when absolutely nothing existed, then there would be nothing now. It is a self-evident truth that nothing produces nothing. In view of this, since something does exist, it must follow logically that something has existed forever! As Sproul observed: “Indeed, reason demands that if something exists, either the world or God (or anything else), then something must be self-existent.... There must be a self-existent being of some sort somewhere, or nothing would or could exist” (1994, pp. 179,185, emp. in orig.).
Everything that humans know to exist can be classified as either matter or mind. There is no third alternative. The argument then, is this:
Everything that exists is either matter or mind.
Something exists now, so something eternal exists.
Therefore, either matter or mind is eternal.
Either matter or mind is eternal.
Matter is not eternal, per the evidence cited above.
Thus, it is mind that is eternal.
Or, to reason somewhat differently:
Everything that is, is either dependent (i.e., contingent) or independent (non-contingent).
If the Universe is not eternal, it is dependent (contingent).
The Universe is not eternal.
Therefore, the Universe is dependent (contingent).
If the Universe is dependent, it must have been caused by something that is independent.
But the Universe is dependent (contingent).
Therefore, the Universe was produced by some eternal, independent (non-contingent) force.
In the past, atheistic evolutionists suggested that the mind is nothing more than a function of the brain, which is matter; thus the mind and the brain are the same, and matter is all that exists. As the late evolutionist of Cornell University, Carl Sagan, said in the opening sentence of his television extravaganza (and book by the same name), Cosmos, “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be” (1980, p. 4). However, that viewpoint no longer is credible scientifically, due in large part to the experiments of Australian physiologist Sir John Eccles. Dr. Eccles, who won the Nobel Prize for his discoveries relating to the neural synapses within the brain, documented that the mind is more than merely physical. He showed that the supplementary motor area of the brain may be fired by mere intention to do something, without the motor cortex (which controls muscle movements) operating. In effect, the mind is to the brain what a librarian is to a library. The former is not reducible to the latter. Eccles explained his methodology and conclusions in The Self and Its Brain, co-authored with the renowned philosopher of science, Sir Karl Popper (1977).
In an article—“Scientists in Search of the Soul”—that examined the groundbreaking work of Dr. Eccles (and other scientists like him who have been studying the mind/brain relationship), science writer John Gliedman wrote:
At age 79, Sir John Eccles is not going “gentle into the night.” Still trim and vigorous, the great physiologist has declared war on the past 300 years of scientific speculation about man’s nature. Winner of the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his pioneering research on the synapse—the point at which nerve cells communicate with the brain—Eccles strongly defends the ancient religious belief that human beings consist of a mysterious compound of physical and intangible spirit.
Each of us embodies a nonmaterial thinking and perceiving self that “entered” our physical brain sometime during embryological development or very early childhood, says the man who helped lay the cornerstones of modern neurophysiology. This “ghost in the machine” is responsible for everything that makes us distinctly human: conscious self-awareness, free will, personal identity, creativity and even emotions such as love, fear, and hate. Our nonmaterial self controls its “liaison brain” the way a driver steers a car or a programmer directs a computer. Man’s ghostly spiritual presence, says Eccles, exerts just the whisper of a physical influence on the computerlike brain, enough to encourage some neurons to fire and others to remain silent. Boldly advancing what for most scientists is the greatest heresy of all, Eccles also asserts that our nonmaterial self survives the death of the physical brain (1982, 90:77).
While discussing the same type of conclusions reached by Dr. Eccles, philosopher Norman Geisler explored the concept of an eternal, all-knowing Mind.
Further, this infinite cause of all that is must be all-knowing. It must be knowing because knowing beings exist. I am a knowing being, and I know it. I cannot meaningfully deny that I can know without engaging in an act of knowledge.... But a cause can communicate to its effect only what it has to communicate. If the effect actually possesses some characteristic, then this characteristic is properly attributed to its cause. The cause cannot give what it does not have to give. If my mind or ability to know is received, then there must be Mind or Knower who gave it to me. The intellectual does not arise from the nonintellectual; something cannot arise from nothing. The cause of knowing, however, is infinite. Therefore it must know infinitely. It is also simple, eternal, and unchanging. Hence, whatever it knows—and it knows anything it is possible to know—it must know simply, eternally, and in an unchanging way (1984, p. 50).
From such evidence, Robert Jastrow concluded: “That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact” (1982, p. 18). In an article titled “Modern Biology and the Turn to Belief in God” that he wrote for the book, The Intellectuals Speak Out About God (for which former United States president Ronald Reagan wrote the preface), Dr. Eccles wrote:
Science and religion are very much alike. Both are imaginative and creative aspects of the human mind. The appearance of a conflict is a result of ignorance. We come to exist through a divine act. That divine guidance is a theme throughout our life; at our death the brain goes, but that divine guidance and love continues. Each of us is a unique, conscious being, a divine creation. It is the religious view. It is the only view consistent with all the evidence (1984, p. 50).
Scientifically, the choice is between matter only and more than matter as the fundamental explanation for the existence and orderliness of the Universe. The difference, therefore, between the two models is the difference between: (a) time, chance, and the inherent properties of matter; or (b) design, creation, and the irreducible properties of organization. In fact, when it comes to any particular case, there are again only two scientific explanations for the origin of the order that characterizes the Universe and life in the Universe: either the order was imposed on matter, or it resides within matter.
However, if it is suggested that the order resides within matter, we respond by saying that we certainly have not seen the evidence of such. The evidence that we do possess speaks clearly to the existence of a non-contingent, eternal, self-existent Mind that created this Universe and everything within it. The law of cause and effect, and the cosmological argument based upon that law, have implications in every field of human endeavor. The Universe is here and must have an adequate antecedent cause. In addressing this matter, R.L. Wysong commented:
Everyone concludes naturally and comfortably that highly ordered and designed items (machines, houses, etc.) owe existence to a designer. It is unnatural to conclude otherwise. But evolution asks us to break stride from what is natural to believe and then believe in that which is unnatural, unreasonable, and...unbelievable.... The basis for this departure from what is natural and reasonable to believe is not fact, observation, or experience but rather unreasonable extrapolations from abstract probabilities, mathematics, and philosophy (1976, p. 412, first ellipsis in orig.).
Dr. Wysong then presented an interesting historical case to illustrate his point. Some years ago, scientists were called to Great Britain to study orderly patterns of concentric rocks and holes—a find designated as Stonehenge. As studies progressed, it became apparent that these patterns had been designed specifically to allow certain astronomical predictions. Many questions (e.g., how ancient peoples were able to construct an astronomical observatory, how the data derived from their studies were used, etc.) remain unsolved. But one thing we do know—the cause of Stonehenge was intelligent design.
Now, suggested Dr. Wysong, compare Stonehenge to the situation paralleling the origin of the Universe, and of life itself. We study life, observe its functions, contemplate its complexity (which defies duplication even by intelligent men with the most advanced methodology and technology), and what are we to conclude? Stonehenge might have been produced by the erosion of a mountain, or by catastrophic natural forces working in conjunction with meteorites to produce rock formations and concentric holes. But what scientist or philosopher would ever suggest such an idea?
No one ever could be convinced that Stonehenge “just happened” by accident, yet atheists and agnostics expect us to believe that this highly ordered, well-designed Universe (and the complicated life it contains) “just happened.” To accept such an idea is, to use Dr. Wysong’s words, “to break stride from what is natural to believe” because the conclusion is unreasonable, unwarranted, and unsupported by the facts at hand. The cause simply is not adequate to produce the effect.
The central message of the cosmological argument, and the law of cause and effect upon which it is based, is this: Every material effect must have an adequate antecedent cause. The Universe is here; intelligent life is here; morality is here; love is here. What is their adequate antecedent cause? Since the effect never can precede, or be greater than the cause, it then stands to reason that the Cause of life must be a living Intelligence which Itself is both moral and loving. When the Bible records, “In the beginning, God,” it makes known to us just such a First Cause.
Davis, George E. (1958), “Scientific Revelations Point to a God,” The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, ed. John C. Monsma (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons), pp. 69-72.
Eccles, John C. (1984), “Modern Biology and the Turn to Belief in God,” The Intellectuals Speak Out About God, ed. R.A. Varghese (Chicago, IL: Regnery Gateway).
Geisler, Norman L. (1976), Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Gliedman, John (1982), “Scientists in Search of the Soul,” Science Digest, 90:77-79,105, July.
Guth, Alan (1988), Interview in Omni, 11:75-76,78-79,94,96-99, November.
Guth, Alan and Paul Steinhardt (1984), “The Inflationary Universe,” Scientific American, 250:116-128, May.
Hawking, Stephen W. (1988), A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam).
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[to be continued]