Friday, December 24, 2010
God's Role in the Universe
Let me begin by saying that no one alive today can offer a complete proof as to whether or not God exists. I was once at a talk where a philosophy professor proved the existence of a higher power. Of course, his proof was based on a number of assumptions.
Who is God, and what role does He play in this Universe? It is a philosophical question, and one well worth pondering. As with most other thought-provoking questions to which there are no clear answers, the answer most parents would provide for their children is based on faith. Many parents today will give an equally truthful response: “I don’t know.”
Still, man’s ability to observe the Universe, and make deductions based on what he finds, places him in a unique position. Above all else, it is this unique skill combined with our insatiable curiosity that sets us apart from other animals. Well, that, and we use rolls of soft tissue to clean our butts when we poop.
First, let us examine the things God does not play a role in. The list, as it turns out, is a very long one. God did not create the economy or the businesses that affect it. He did not create the legal system, and God knows He did not create politics. He did not create the education or healthcare systems (although I wish to God He had). Philosophy and language are man-made, as is our recollection of the past, known as history. The moral code is unofficial, but was certainly not created by God. The music we hear, the paintings we see, and the films we watch are all made by human artists (of course, bird's sing beautifully, some elephants can paint, and most monkeys could produce a better film than "The Santa Clause").
God did not create poverty, hunger, or sadness, just as he did not create wealth, prosperity, or happiness. God did not create the Earth; He created neither Adam nor Eve. God did not create religion.
By process of elimination, we can, after some time, narrow down all facets of the Universe, and before long, arrive at a not-so-trivial solution. Not to toot the horn of the scientific realm, but I have racked my brain for a while, and cannot name anything that God created with the exception of the laws of science and an initial state for the Universe. Please let me know if I am missing something.
To be clear, God did not create science itself. Science is man’s construction; it is a rational effort, based on observation and reason, to understand the laws that God created. Science is an ever-evolving field of study that mankind invests itself in.
From my humble point of view, scientific laws and initial conditions form the very short list of what God contributed to the Universe. All aspects of the Universe occur as a natural consequence of the governing laws and a starting point. Thousands upon thousands of physicists are currently hard at work to learn about both.
The governing laws may well be summarized by one unified theory. The holy grail of modern science is to express all of science in one grand equation. Such an equation would predict, well, everything. All physical, chemical, and biological occurrences could be verified, even predicted, by such an equation.
In parallel, scientists explore what we already know, search for new clues (mostly in the cosmos), and collectively scratch their heads to determine the initial state of the Universe. Was the big bang the first instant, when time began to tick? If not, what existed before that? What was the initial state of the big bang? In other words, God created the laws of science, but when did He press the animate button, and what did the Universe consist of at that moment? Professor Stephen Hawking says that God was not required for the big bang to occur, as expansion is inevitable as far as current science tells us. Perhaps the Universe is in perpetual motion, with no beginning or end.
I must admit, that studying science distanced me from God at first, because it made me question religion. Now that I realize that religion is man’s invention, the study of science brings me closer to God. I am studying his creation.
Professor Hawking also says that God does not intervene in the Universe. Although neither Hawking nor I can prove this, I tend to agree with it. God’s current role in the Universe, if any, is as a spectator. I don’t believe that any sea was spontaneously parted for any people, no matter how “chosen” they were.
At first, to dispel the possibility that a single miracle could occur appears pessimistic. But, I urge you to take a closer look.
Upon closer inspection, we see that a “no interference” policy in God’s contract leaves us with a compelling choice. Either nothing is a miracle or everything is a miracle. I choose the latter. I see the delicate balance of Earth as a miracle. I see the evolution of flora and fauna on Earth as a miracle. There are miracles in each of the stellar constellations as there are in my daughter’s eyes.
I will give thanks to God this holiday season. I will thank Him for the beautiful Universe He created, and for my family’s modest place within a tiny blue dot within His creation. I will thank Him for empowering me with the ability to observe and question His creation.
One need not choose between evolution and creation. You can truly have it both ways.