Many years ago, Lisa Miller––Newsweek magazine’s religion editor––wrote an interesting piece titled “Let’s Talk About God.” A new book redefining the faith debate had inspired her article. Her introduction began as follows:
“The atheist writers Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have presented us with a choice: either you don’t believe in God or you’re a dope.” She went on to write: “Their brilliance, wit and (general) good humor have made the new generation of atheists celebrities among people who like to consider themselves smart. We enjoy their books and their telegenic bombast so much that we don’t mind their low opinion of us. Dopey or not, 90 percent of Americans continue to say they believe in God.”
She continued. “This iteration of the faith-versus-reason debate has gone on for years, with no real resolution. Yet despite the proliferation of viewpoints, I’m guessing few readers have ever closed one of these volumes and honestly declared themselves changed.”
Her last statement was both good and bad news. It’s good that God-believing people can’t be dissuaded by the secular sleight of hand that strives to cut them off at the knees but it isn’t so good that persuasive arguments and critiques pointing to God are oftentimes met with belligerent close-mindedness.
Sadly, God takes a beating in today’s world especially when so-called smart people devilishly lampoon faith arguments. If one’s faith is precariously perched on church walls, the impressionable among us might be fooled into changing their minds, and off they tumble––into the back slapping arms of humanists.
God doesn’t exist? Really!? So I guess I should get a tee time for Sunday.
Nevertheless, there are a multitude of truly profound ways to buttress both the marginally faithful and the true believers. Thankfully.
The concept of intelligent design (I.D.) is one of them. It’s the proposition that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.” The intellectuals advocating this put forward I.D. as “an evidence-based scientific theory about life’s origins” rather than “a religious-based idea.”
And I think their position is brilliant. I’ve gone through life processing the world with my head versus my heart, so the transcendent underpinning of intelligent design is riveting stuff. As I reasoned through the evidence as a questioning man, I was able to become much more comfortable with the idea of a Creator. And in time, I became a Catholic.
So, I guess it’s time to confess.
Occasionally, I should give myself failing marks in terms of the exercise of my religion. Just maybe, this is the legacy of having been an atheist––old thoughts sneak in and rattle my extraordinarily diminutive pellet-brain. You see, I believe in God, love Jesus, and I’m blessed to have been given the gift of the Catholic Church. But, my confidence and trust in God sometimes wavers like candlelight in a mineshaft.
So how do I combat my vacillating faith? By, among many things, rereading books highlighting the scientific data that spectacularly points to God’s fingerprints whether it’s ribosomes––amazing cellular factories––or the anthropic cosmological principle.
Let me elaborate a bit more. Ribosomes, cellular factories that synthesize polypeptides and proteins, are mind-boggling in their intricacy and can’t be explained by evolutionary processes. They have been characterized as irreducibly complex machines, and the only force known to create such is intelligent design.
On a grander scale, the anthropic principle seeks to explain the construction of the universe as if man was specifically intended. Was the universe created for man? This principle, a philosophical argument, suggests perhaps.
These are just two of the unbelievable array of examples that intimate an external mastermind. Revisiting such compelling evidence for God is always reassuring for me.
As to the idea of an intelligent creator and man’s possible “restoration to the ancient pedestal of favored son” as in geocentric pre-Copernican times, in Dinesh D’Souza’s book What’s So Great About Christianity he wrote:
“Astronomer Lee Smolin imagines God as a kind of master technician who is sitting at a control panel with a set of dials in front of Him. One dial sets the mass of the proton, another the charge of the electron, a third the gravitational constant, and so on. God spins the dials randomly. What, Smolin asks, is the probability that this random spinning would result in a universe with stars and planets and life? ‘The probability,’ he answers, ‘is incredibly small.’
How small? Smolin’s estimate is one chance in ten to the power of 229. Smolin’s point is reinforced by a single example from physicist Stephen Hawking: ‘If the rate of expansion one-second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have recollapsed before it even reached its present size.’ The odds against us being here are, well, astronomical. Yet, we are here. Who is responsible for this?”
Science, to the chagrin of atheists, can be absolutely faith affirming.
Smolin’s estimate above requires perspective. Twenty to thirty dials most likely “set” the universe as we know it. The likelihood of them all being set randomly with the universe resulting is one chance in ten to the power of 229. Fine tuning to an unimaginable degree. Amazingly, if he had said the probability was only one chance in ten to the power of twelve that the universe was a random event, that in itself is a one in a trillion chance.
Ergo, we have the Big Bang event, which creates something from nothing. That is either impossible or miraculous. On top of that, we have the extreme unlikelihood of a resultant universe with stars and planets and life. The odds are about a bazillion quadrillion schmillion against this reality. Ipso facto, as a rational man and from these two examples only, talk of a Designer is not unthinkable but reasonable.
And Truth was revealed in time.
In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
“For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible,
and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.” (Luke 8:17)