HOW DID THE UNIVERSE & LIFE ORIGINATE?

“Science without religion is lame,
Religion without science is blind.”
–Albert Einstein.

OURS are times of astonishment on a scale previously unknown. New discoveries from space are forcing astronomers to revise their views of the origin of our own universe. many people are fascinated with the cosmos and are asking the ancient questions that are raised by our existence in it. How did the universe and life come about and why?

Even if we look in the other direction----within ourselves----the recent mapping of the human genetic code raises the questions: How were the multitudes of life-forms created? And who, if anyone created them? The sheer complexity of our genetic blueprint moved a U.S. president to say that “we are learning the language in which God created life.” One of the chief scientists involved in the genetic decoding humbly remarked: “We have caught the first glimpse of our own instruction book, previously known only to God.” But the questions persist—how and why?

“TWO WINDOWS”

Some scientists claim that all the workings of the universe can be explained by rational analysis, leaving no room for divine wisdom. But many people, including scientists, are not comfortable with that view. They attempt to comprehend reality by looking to both science and religion. They feel that science deals with the how of our existence and of the cosmos around us, while religion deals principally with the why.

Explaining this dual approach, physicist Freeman Dyson said: “Science and religion are two windows that people look through trying to understand the big universe out-side.”

“Science deals with the measurable, religion deals with the unmeasurable,” suggested author William Rees-Mogg. He said: “Science can neither prove nor disapprove the existence of God, any more than it can prove or disapprove any moral or aesthetic proposition. There is no scientific reason to love one’s neighbor or to respect human life.....to argue that nothing exists which cannot be proved scientifically is the crudest of errors, which would eliminate almost everything we value in life, not only God or the human spirit, but love and poetry and music.”

The “RELIGION OF SCIENCE”

Scientists’ theories often seem to rely on premises that require their own kind of faith. For example, when it comes to the origin of life, most evolutionists adhere to ideas that require faith in certain “doctrines.” Facts are mixed with theories .And when scientists use the weight of their authority to impose blind belief in evolution, they are in reality implying: :you are not responsible for your morality because you are merely the result of your biology, chemistry, and physics.’ Biologist Richard Dawkins says that in the universe ‘there is no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pointless indifference.’

To uphold such beliefs, some scientists choose to ignore the extensive research of other scientists who contradict the theoretical foundations for their theories on the origin of life. Even if we allow for billions of years of time, the accidental forming of the complex molecules required to form a functional living cell has been shown to be a mathematical impossibility.

Thus, the dogmatic theories on the origin of life that appear in many textbooks must be considered invalid.

Belief that life originated by blind chance demands more faith than belief in creation does .Astronomer David Block observed: “A man who does not believe in a Creator would have to have more faith than one who does. In declaring that God does not exist, a person makes a sweeping unsubstantiated statement----a postulate based on faith.”

Scientific discoveries can induce a reverential attitude in some scientists. Albert Einstein admitted: “You will hardly find one among the profounder sort of scientific minds without a religious feeling of his own....Religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.” Yet, this does not necessarily lead scientists to believe in a Creator, a personal God.

The LIMITS of SCIENCE

It is fitting to have proper respect for scientific knowledge and achievements. However, many will agree that while science involves a way of knowing, it is not the only source of knowledge.

The purpose of science is to describe phenomena in the natural world and to assist in answering how these phenomena occur.

Science provides us with insight into the physical universe, meaning everything that is observable. But no matter how far scientists investigation goes, it can never answer the question of purpose----why the universe exists in the first place.

“There some questions the scientists can never answer,” remarks author Tom Utely.

It may be that the Big Bang happened 12 billion years ago. But why did it happed. How did the particles get there in the first place? What was there before? Utley concludes: “It seems........ clearer than ever that science will never satisfy the human hunger for answers.”

Scientific knowledge gained through such inquisitiveness, far from disproving the need for a God, has only served to confirm what a fantastically complex, intricate, and awe-inspiring world we live in. Many thinking people find it plausible to conclude that the physical laws and chemical reactions as well as DNA and the amazing diversity of life all points to a Creator.

There is no irrefutable proof to the contrary.

“FAITH HAS REALITY”

If there is a Creator behind the universe, we cannot expect to comprehend him or his purposes by using telecopier, microscopes, or other scientific instruments. Think of a potter and a vase that he has formed. No amount of examination of the vase itself can give an answer to why it was made. For that we must ask the potter himself.

Molecular biologist Francis Collins explains how faith and spirituality can help fill the void science leaves: I would not expect religion to be the right tool for sequencing the human genome and by the same token would not expect science to be the means to approaching the super- natural.. But on the really interesting larger questions, such as “Why are we here? Or “Why do human beings long for spirituality?” I find science unsatisfactory. Many superstitutions have come into existence and then faded away. Faith has not, which it has reality.”

Explaining Why

True religion, in answering the question of why and in dealing with the purpose of life, also offers standards for values, morals, and ethics as well as guidance in life. Scientist Allan Sandage expressed it this way: “I don’t go to a biology book to learn how to live.”

Millions of people around the globe feel that they have found where to go to learn to live. They also feel that they have found truly satisfying answers regarding the questions: Why are we here? And where are we going? The answers exist. But where? In the oldest and most widely distributed sacred text, the Bible.

The Bible tells us that God prepared the earth especially with humans In mind. Isaiah 45:18 says regarding the earth: “God.....did not create it simply for nothing (but) formed it even to be inhabited.” And he provided the earth with everything that people would need, not just to exist but to enjoy life to the full.

Humans were given stewardship over the earth, “to cultivate it and to take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15) The Bible also explains that knowledge and wisdom are gifts from God and that we are to exercise love and justice toward each other. (Job 28:20, 25, 27; Daniel 2:20-23)

Thus, humans can find purpose and meaning in life only when they discover and embrace God’s purpose for them.

How can a modern thinker bridge the apparent chasm between scientific reason and accomplish that?

RECONCILING
Science and Religion

“Science and religion (are) no longer seen as incompatible”

—The Daily Telegraph, London, M y 26, 1999

BOTH science and religion, in their noblest forms, involve the search for truth.

Science discovers a world of magnificent order, a universe that contains distinctive marks of intelligent design. True religion makes these discoveries meaningful by teaching that the mind of the Creator lies behind the design manifest in the physical world.

I find my appreciation of science is greatly enriched by religion.” Says Francis Collins, a molecular biologist. He continues: When I discover something about the human genome, I experience a sense of awe at the mystery of life, and say to myself, “Wow, only God knew before.’, It is profoundly beautiful and moving sensation, which helps me to appreciate God and makes science even more rewarding for me.”

What will help me to reconcile science and religion?

An Enduring Quest

Accept the limits: No end is in sight in our quest for answers about the infinite universe, space, and time. Biologist Lewis Thomas noted: “There will be no end to this process, being the insatiably curious species that we are, exploring, looking around and trying to understand things.

Let the known facts speak: In the quest for answers , we need to be guided by sound principles.

Unless we stick to the highest standards of evidence, we can easily be misled in our search for scientific and religious truth. Realistically, none of us can begin to evaluate all scientific knowledge and ideas, which today fill huge libraries. On the other hand, the Bible provides a manageable compendium of spiritual teachings for our consideration. The Bible is well supported by known facts.

However, concerning knowledge in general, earnest effort is required to distinguish between fact and speculation, between reality and deception—in both science and religion. As the Bible writer Paul advised, we need to reject “the contradictions of the falsely called ‘knowledge’” (Timothy 6:20) To reconcile science and the Bible, we must let the facts speak for themselves, thereby avoiding conjecture and speculation, and examine how each fats supports and adds tot the other.

For example, when we understand that the Bible uses the term “day” to represent various periods of time, we see that the account of the six creative days in Genesis need not conflict with the scientific conclusion that the age of the earth is about four and as half billion years. According to the Bible, the earth existed for an unstable period before the creative days began.

Even if science cornets itself and suggests a different age for our planet, the statements made in the Bible still hold true. Instead of contradicting the Bible, science in this and many other cases actually provides with voluminous supplemental information about the physical world, both present and past.

Faith, not credulity: The Bible provides us with knowledge of God and his purposes that cannot be gleaned from any other source. Why should we trust it? The Bible itself invites us to test its accuracy. Consider its historical authenticity, its practicality, the candor of its writers, and its integrity. By investigating the accuracy of the Bible, including statements of a scientific nature and, even more convincingly, the unerring fulfillment of hundreds of prophecies throughout the ages and into our present day, one can acquire firm faith in it as the Word of God. Faith in the Bible is not credulity but a proven confidence in the accuracy of Scriptural statements.

Respect science; acknowledge belief: We invite open-minded people, both scientific and religious, to share in a sincere quest for truth in both realms. Some congregations nurture a healthy respect for science and its proven findings as well as a profound belief that religious truth can be found only in the Bible, which forthrightly and with abundant evidence declares itself to be the word of God. The apostle Paul stated: “When you receive God’s word, which you hear from us, you accept it, not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.” (1 Thessalonians 2-13)

Awake!
June 8, 2002

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