It so happens that I read most of this wonderfully eye opening and soul enriching book around a visit to North Carolina for the funeral of one of my cousins. I’m grateful I did. All of us doubt the existence of God at times, but when you are burying someone you grew up with who means a lot in your life the time for doubt is not then. To me the greatest “argument” for the existence of God is nature. It simply strains credulity to the breaking point to think that the majesty, beauty, and immensity of the universe and all that is in it are a product of blind chance.
The Apostle Paul says in the first chapter of the book of Romans:
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
The Psalms in the Old Testament are replete with verses about the magnificence of God’s creation. Yet I really had no clue about the amazing awe inspiring depth of the magnificence (one runs out of superlatives) until I read this book. It is simply staggering. But why do some people deny what is so obvious? It has absolutely nothing to do with science.
American culture is steeped in materialist reductionism, or what some call scientism. That is, that objective knowledge can only be attained through the scientific method. Everything else is faith, and thus not quite legitimate. Those who embrace this mentality believe they are rational, and anyone who disagrees with them is not. This is not to say that most Americans buy this, but the assumptions, insinuations and allusions they get every day in school and popular culture and the media are all scientism all the time.
The authors, Benjamin Wiker and Jonathan Witt, are advocates of Intelligent Design, and as such are treated by the scientific establishment as those whose faith is perverting their science. In fact, it is just the opposite. It is the scientific establishment’s unarticulated and non-empirical assumptions grounded in their faith that perverts the science of origins. The king has no clothes. What is utterly fascinating and told superbly by the authors is how science once viewed as inevitably dethroning God is increasingly revealing that the universe is simply inexplicable without a supreme being.
There are so many powerful arguments for that in this book (the chapter on the periodic table was ridiculous–too many superlatives to choose from), but what they call anthropism is revolutionary.
I always thought of what the authors call disanthropism, that the world and the universe were not “created” with us in mind, started with Copernicus. The Christian West believed that God made the earth especially for man, and thus put the earth at the center of the universe. Once it was believed, even in spite of the lack of any empirical evidence for several hundred years after Copernicus, that the earth was just an insignificant little ball in space among an infinite number of little balls, the earth and man in it were no longer so special. The philosophers of “the Enlightenment” ran with this and ended up running headlong into Nietzsche and Nihilism; the death of meaning in a godless universe.
In fact, disanthropism started with the ancient materialist cosmology developed by Epicurus 400 years before Christ. But it wasn’t until after Copernicus that this really caught on in the West, and in due course became the default position of Western culture. But something very surprising is happening in science that instead of dethroning God and man, it is in fact dethroning the materialist assumptions that drive our cultural and scientific elites. As the authors put it:
A materialist would say we are guilty of anthropomorphism, of projecting our all too human needs on a blank and indifferent canvas, of seeing purpose in a pointless universe. Actually we are guilty of anthropism, not anthropomorphism, a guilt shared with an increasing number of scientists, for the universe and our place in the universe are guilty of anthropism as well. Indeed, during the last several decades, evidence has been accumulating that the universe is finely tuned not only for our existence, but also to allow us to discover the genius of the universe, including the discovery that it is seemingly designed for discovery. . . .
One of the greatest [surprises of nature] is that disanthropism assiduously applied has ended in reviving an anthropism that stretches back to the origin of modern science and, further still, to the origin of the universe. No amount of philosophical wrangling or dispute could have established the importance of humans in the universe more certainly than the dedicated attempt by so many scientists to cast our race beyond the pale of ultimate meaning and purpose.
This has to be the ultimate irony. Materialists going on their merry way thinking the more they discover about our world and the universe the more belief in God will prove untenable. Exactly the opposite is happening.
“Finely tuned” doesn’t do justice to just how amazing nature is. Atheists assure us that it all only looks like the universe has been designed with human beings in mind. But as the evidence of the intricately complex workings of nature becomes more known these atheists are looking increasingly desperate and silly. From the genius of Shakespeare and geometry, to the periodical table and a universe designed for discovery, from the genius of the elements needed for life, to the mind blowing nature of the living cell, the authors tell the amazing tale of a Creator revealing himself through his creation.