Scientists on the Damascus Road
The celebrated scientist, astronomer Fred Hoyle has found God by means of mathematical calculations as reported some years ago in the daily Press. That may seem to some a strange way to find God, yet in a world of so many kinds of minds, must it not be that there are different avenues of approach to the One who is the Creator of that variety? Formerly an agnostic, Mr. Hoyle has now found, by means of elaborate mathematical calculations that the probability of life coming into being from non-living matter is so fantastically remote that he has to conclude that life could not possibly have arisen in such fashion. This is in spite of so many claims to the contrary by so many scientists for so many years. The only possible alternative, he and his fellow-researchers suggest, is God. "Once we see that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly miniscule as to make it absurd" they say "it becomes sensible to think that the favourable properties of physics on which life depends, are in every respect deliberate. It is almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect higher intelligence, even to the limit of God". In other words, the admirable fitness of the earth for human habitation is itself evidence of planning and designing by an intelligent Creator.
This is just what the Bible says "God formed the earth and made it; he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited." "The heavens are the Lord's, but the earth hath he given to the children of men" (Isa. 45.18; Psa. 115, 16). And just to elaborate the joint testimony of Hoyle, Isaiah and David, it may be pertinent to refer back to another well-known astronomer, Isaac Asimov, who drew attention in his book "Planets for man" (1965) to this same admirable adaptability. It would appear that human life requires an average daily temperature not outside the limits of 14 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit; 95% of earth's population live in lands where the average is between 40 and 80 degrees, comfortably inside. The intensity of sunlight that can be tolerated must lie between certain limits; our eyes are exactly attuned to the middle point of that intensity. If our earth was half its present size gravity would be insufficient to prevent bouncing about, as witness the experiences of astronauts on the moon. If it was twice its present size we would be too heavy to move about at all. If the earth was as little as 10% nearer to the sun than it is, only one fifth of its surface would be habitable, which would mean mainly Canada and Northern Europe and virtually nothing in the Southern Hemisphere. If on the other hand it was 10% farther away from the sun, men could live only in the tropical and sub-tropical regions.
Way back early in the twentieth century, another then well-known astronomer, Sir James Jeans, onetime Astronomer-Royal, had said "the stream of knowledge is leading towards a non-material reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine". Upon another occasion he wrote"atoms are thoughts in the mind of God". A man more familiar to the present generation, Dr. Einstein, famous for his "Relativity Theory", has said "the conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the comprehensible universe, forms my idea of God. My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds". Another thoughtful comment comes from the pen of Gatland in "The Inhabited Universe" (1957) "The question we must strive to answer is whether the universe is purposive, that is to say, man emerged from the shapeless dust clouds of interstellar space merely as the result of blind throws of chance, or is there some special kind of direction behind him … The inevitable question …must now be faced 'Is the purposefulness revealed in the universe an attribute of God'. What is God? At best, we can only think of an infinite Consciousness which is beyond our powers of understanding.. We can only interpret the effects of creation, we cannot investigate the Creator".
One often hears of the "conflict between science and religion". It is not always fair comment; in some spheres there is no conflict at all. An increasing number of scientific researchers are coming to the conclusion that the existence of the universe, and of life in the universe, can only be explained by the fact that all was brought into existence by an intelligent Creator. That conclusion does not of itself make the scientist a Christian; neither does it answer all his questions. But it is at least a start. Later on, perhaps, such an investigator will come a little closer to understanding that "this is eternal life, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent" (John 17, 3). In the meantime, it may be worth reflecting that David of old, may, in his youthful shepherding days, have come near to God by much the same route. One of his more famous sayings gives a clue; "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto day utters speech and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no sound; there are no words; their voice is not heard, but their measure is gone out through all the earth, and their message to the end of the world" (Psa. 19.1-3).
Three thousand years ago that simple shepherd boy looked up into the heavens and saw God; is it to be wondered at that in our own day and time some of the much wiser and more intellectual of this world are able to look up and do the same.