Thursday, November 07, 2002

God in the Details

One of the amazing facts about science is that it reveals God at all levels. I am thinking mostly of my own discipline, physics.

Physics is highly reductionist. Matter is reduced to its fundamental constituents-- first to atoms, then to electrons, protons and neutrons. The protons and neutrons are further reduced into quarks and gluons.

You might expect to find nothing that points to God at this level. After all, are not great architects revealed by their finished product, and not the building blocks? The most beautiful and the most hideous buildings start from identical piles of bricks.

Of course, God is revealed on the macroscopic scale, so much so that all men are without excuse (Rom. 1:20). One can of course claim that the miracles of creation that are everywhere in evidence are results of the random actions of impersonal forces. But God will apparently not accept a clear presentation of evolutionary theory as an excuse for the denial of His handiwork.

There are of course great unanswered questions even at the macroscopic level. Where does consciousness arise from? Can self-awareness be understood as a function of the basic constituents comprising a person, or is there more to it than that? If not, then it is only a matter of technology before a computer can be self-aware.

Still it’s the mundane physical science that amazes me. The life-saving and nontrivial fact that ice floats. The necessary and precise balance between the charge on the electron and on the proton. The need for the large outer planets to act as shields. The Earth’s magnetic field protecting us from the solar wind (but not excessively so). The smaller than expected fluctuations in the Sun’s radiance. The privileged and sensitive position of Earth within the solar system, and that of the solar system within the galaxy. The very type of galaxy we live in. The age of Earth, formed at the right time to capture a necessary soup of isotopes from interstellar dust. The precise values of unrelated physical constants. The list is endless. And that is just to appreciate the improbability that Earth enjoys the conditions for life.

There are hundreds if not thousands of amazing facts that point to intelligent design. Most, as isolated scientific truths, are beyond dispute. It is when they are viewed together that controversy abounds and intelligent design arises as the Occam’s Razor explanation. The only counter explanation is that there are infinite parallel universes, the vast majority of which are sterile, and we are incredibly lucky to be in this one—which is the only reason we are here to discuss it. That’s the explanation that sounds like mythology to me.

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