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God new evidence

GOD: new evidence

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What can cosmic fine tuning tell us about God?

Cosmic fine tuning points to a God who is not part of the physical universe, not limited by space and time. This God is purposeful, personal, intelligent, wise and powerful. If such a God exists, he might communicate with us. Cosmic fine tuning can start us on a path of investigation to find out whether God has spoken.

We live in a universe that had a definite beginning – a moment of creation, currently believed to be about 13.7 billion years ago. This universe is fine-tuned to make complex life like ours possible. The likelihood of this fine tuning arising by chance is vanishingly small.

The only serious contenders as explanations are either:

  1. that our universe is one of a vast number of universes with different fine tunings, and we happen (by an observer selection effect) to be in the one suitable for life, or...
  2. that the universe is the way it is because it was created by a God who deliberately designed it to make our kind of life possible. There are some good reasons for believing the universe was created by God, while the multiverse idea remains untested, and probably untestable.

If we accept that the fine tuning of the universe is a pointer towards the reality of a creator God, what can we learn about this God from the universe?

By definition, this God cannot be part of the physical universe. If the universe is the whole of space and time, this means that God is not limited by time or space. All points in space, and all moments in time, are equally present to God. (Because God is outside time, he is eternal – he did not have a beginning in time. This immediately voids all questions along the lines of ‘who made God?’)

The universe shows signs of purposeful design. The only kind of thing we know that has intention and purpose is a person. This suggests that this creator God is more like a person than like anything else that we know.

To create the universe, such a God must be supremely intelligent and wise, and supremely powerful. Since the universe is fine tuned to make our lives possible, it is also reasonable to assume that this God is interested in us.

There are some other things that I do not believe we can infer just from the fine tuning of the universe:

Cosmic fine tuning does not prove that there is only one God. For example, we could imagine a whole race of supernatural beings worked together to create the universe.

(I do not believe this is actually the case: I just do not think that fine tuning, in itself, rules it out.)

Cosmic fine tuning does not prove that God is good. Much of what happens appears to be random and meaningless, and very unpleasant things happen to people, seemingly without rhyme or reason.

Cosmic fine tuning does not enable us to choose between different ideas of God – between say, Zeus, or Allah or the God of the Bible. What it can do is to get us started on a path of investigation.

If such a God exists, who is transcendent and personal and interested in us, it is possible that this God might communicate with us in some way – might want us to know something about himself. So it’s worth looking around to see whether there has been any such communication from God.

We might think that once we start looking at claims that God has spoken, there would be thousands, or at least hundreds, of different competing claims to examine. This is not really the case. Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism do not have this idea of God as a transcendent personal creator, or the claim that God has spoken. This claim is only found in the monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These are the claims that seem to be worth investigating.

The central claim of Christianity is that this kind of God does indeed exist, and has indeed spoken to us. Not only has he spoken, he has actually become one of us, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The authenticating evidence for this is that Jesus was raised from the dead.

Of course, it is usual today - especially among the ‘new atheists’ - to dismiss this claim. (It should be pointed out that the dismissal is often attempted through sarcasm rather than through any kind of reasoned argument.) However, if there is a transcendent personal God who is interested in us, there is no good reason why Jesus could not have been raised from the dead. It then becomes a case of investigating the historical evidence with an open mind.

David Couchman MA, M.Sc, M.Min, May 2011

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‘Clearly there are religious implications whenever you start to discuss the origins of the Universe. There must be religious overtones. But I think most scientists prefer to shy away from the religious side of it.’- Professor Stephen Hawking