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Can We Trust Science or God More to Give Us the Truth About the Origins of the Universe?
If the choice we have is to believe in the blank nothingness of space or a father in the sky, which should we choose? I think many people today would say: “I’ll trust science.” But what do we do when the science keeps changing, is unsubstantiated or contradictory and no two scientists agree?
There are dozens of possible scientific theories about how the universe began. Not all of them can be right, but the most popular one is known as The Big Bang. To describe what this entails, I’ll use an analogy: imagine a bomb explodes in an empty field and the falling debris produces a mansion. What are the possibilities? A math genius somewhere determined the probability of this happening. It’s a huge number. In fact, the big bang as an explanation for creation is less likely than the same person winning the lottery five times in a row! However, this is the default position of science on creation. This is not as surprising as it sounds; it is perfectly possible to produce correct mathematical equations that do not correspond precisely to reality; just look at Zeno’s paradoxes. We must distrust theories based on pure mathematical structures.
If then we do not have the definitive scientific data to give us the answers we seek, what can we do? Perhaps we can use our senses and emotions to guide us. What It’s heard right? There is nothing wrong with this method. Our instincts can be surprisingly accurate. For example, we can all agree on beautiful things, on wonderful things, and equally on things that scare or puzzle us. When the sun rises every morning and sets at night; when we look at the stars; when we study the perfection of nature around and the endless cycle of death and rebirth; when we stand by the sea and watch the waves crash on the beach with a constant and repeated rhythm, their soothing sound soothes our nerves; when we see birds and animals going about their days, living a life that somehow seems preordained, knowing exactly what they must do to survive and enjoy themselves, in silent obedience to secret laws, what does it tell us our instinct? Are we to believe that all this, laws and codes hardwired into the core of living things, has somehow arisen by chance? Or is it like something that has been carefully designed? It does feel right that from nothing, from the void, the universe became the wonder we know today? On the contrary, if we look at our planet and think, “this is really nice” then this judgment suggests a carefully crafted aesthetic.
The Big Bang theory is just one option among many and happens to be the most popular, supported by high-profile scientists. But it contradicts several laws of physics, including that you can’t produce energy from scratch. It also assumes that nature can, of its own volition, invoke order out of chaos, as in the example I gave of the bomb in the field. Indeed, in all matters relating to nature, law seems to be the opposite, in which order descends disorder; things decay. Is called entropy. Once a piece of fruit is cut from its branch, the decomposition process begins. It would be surprising if it happened the other way around. The main enabler of decay is time. Age corrupts and destroys. Only if we could take time out of the equation could the process be stopped. Traveling back along this trajectory of self-annihilation suggests that there was a time when everything was good and at its best and that the earth started from a point of perfection. Believing in a universe that simultaneously expands in a unique and logical way while decaying into rot is strangely inconsistent.
So what other options do we have in the face of the mysteries of creation? As children we were taught to pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven…” This is the simple first line of the Lord’s Prayer that has inspired devotion, self-confidence and belief in adults and children alike for thousands of years. But these days it is rarely heard outside the church, dismissed as at best a religious trope, at worst offensive to rational-minded people. However, if we let our feelings guide us, it doesn’t seem so strange and maybe a better way to explain the origins of the universe. I can easily imagine somewhere beyond the processes of earthly Time, in which things are removed and made and allowed to grow. After all, each night we enter a dream state, a mysterious place full of characters and action over which we still have no control that seems as real as life.
The first line of the Lord’s Prayer in six words can contain everything we need to know about this supernatural place and the being who lives there. As always with the Bible, the words have been carefully chosen to give real meaning and significance. “father” it tells us that the creative force behind the universe is more than a mathematical equation; he is as real as we are and is full of love for us, like a very good father. “art” it is present, which means that it is not something we can consign to the dim and distant past, or something to wait for in the future, but lives now and is ever present. I “The sky” it describes another plane of existence, one we can only imagine, full of hope, light and joy at the father’s side. How comforting to know that the problems that life presents us are only obstacles to test our capacity for endurance and determination on the way to heaven, to know that at the end of life there is no non-existence of nothingness, but a real and happy coexistence. existence in eternity with friends and family.
The fact is, whether we choose science or the Bible when it comes to the question of our origins, a leap of faith is required. It is not a choice between reality and fiction, but between what seems right and what doesn’t. In other words, it is up to us to trust our hearts and minds and not be swayed by false words and abstract theory. For me personally, God as the designer of our universe remains powerfully compelling and a pillar of my faith. What tranquility there is in this; your father on earth may leave you and you may never hear from him again, but you have a father in heaven who never leaves you.
While science has its place in helping us understand the physical nature of our world, it may be a long time before it can explain the mysteries of life itself. Until then, faith is required. A miracle is something that does not obey the normal way things work and the big bang theory, if it were true, would have to be classified as such an unusual event. Science as it stands cannot fully explain things outside of our physical realm. E=mc² it only works within a recognizable space-time continuum, and it may still need to be adjusted to account for the surprising new properties that are being discovered all the time in particles many millions of times smaller than an electron, elements which Einstein could hardly have foreseen.
Science changes and adapts over time, but truth does not. when we say “Our Father who art in heaven” We are expressing something that has no beginning and no end, but is timeless. As far as theories go, this has as much credibility as any.
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