For centuries secularists have declared that not only is God dead, but in due course we will see religion’s death as well, that is when the hoi palloi figure out this whole religion thing is a waste of time and science has discarded the need for a supreme being. But a funny thing happened on the way to the funeral: God and religion never made it all the way to the grave, let alone needed to be resurrected. The irony is that what initially was offered in chraracterizing God as increasingly implausible, science, is now leading to the opposite.
Sure, many popular science writers and atheists either assert or assume in their work that religion or God and science are incompatible, but that view is becoming increasingly implausible as our knowledge of the universe increases. As the cliché goes, the more we know the more we realize we don’t know. I was reminded of this by an article I read recently by Dennis Prager, “Why Some Scientists Embrace the ‘Multiverse’,” and a book I’ve been reading, “Without God, Without Creed: The Origins of Unbelief in America” by James Turner.
In the heady days of the 18th and 19th Centuries when Newtonian physics dominated Western thought, it seemed that the universe was a finely tuned machine that could be managed in a predictable pursuit of never-ending progress. A personal God who upheld nature seemed less necessary and increasingly less plausible, especially to the intellectual classes. Certainly most scientists, as was Newton himself, were fervent Christians, and although science sprang from religious belief, specifically the Jewish and Christian scriptures and worldview, some polemicists began to use science to undermine that belief even as scientific knowledge grew.
Then came the 20th century, and scientific and human progress failed to match the advance its admirers had predicted. Not only did 100-plus million people die from human atrocities, but science hadn’t provided all the answers its proponents had predicted—human nature proved intractable and often sadly predictable. Meanwhile, the deeper scientists dug into the universe the less it could be explained as a random process of chance happenings. It appears that the universe is more fine-tuned for us carbon-based life forms than the opponents of religion imagined a hundred or two years ago.
Thus Prager points out that some atheists have resorted to explaining this exceedingly fine-tuned universe as merely one of an infinite number of universes, or what is called the multiverse. I’m not sure precisely how many universes it takes to make seeing life as the mere result of chance any more plausible, but it is instructive that in the 21st century atheists have to grasp at such slender straws to explain away what Richard Dawkins calls “apparent design.” In fact it is just common sense that if something appears to be designed, such as your shoe or the foot in it, it probably is.
But if you need more compelling arguments, “A Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature” can provide them. Or you could be left holding the bag, as I heard Ken Boa put it recently, vainly asserting that chaos produces order, lifeless matter produces life, chance produces intelligence, and accidents produce purpose. And they say we religious folks live by faith!