The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalms 19:1, New International Version). Indeed, God created all things, and by His will they exist (Revelation 4:11).
Stephen Meyer, author of the bestseller Darwin’s Doubt, just released his latest book Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries That Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe.
A portion of the dustcover explains the book’s direction:
“Beginning in the late nineteenth century, many intellectuals began to insist that scientific knowledge conflicts with traditional theistic belief—that science and belief in God are ‘at war.’ Philosopher of science and director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute Stephen C. Myers challenges this view by examining three scientific discoveries with decidedly theistic implications . . . Meyer demonstrates how discoveries in cosmology and physics coupled with those in biology help to establish the identity of the designing intelligence behind life and the universe.
“Meyer argues that theism—with its affirmation of a transcendent, intelligent, and active creator—best explains the evidence we have concerning biological and cosmological origins. Previously Meyer refrained from attempting to answer questions about ‘who’ might have designed life. Now he provides an evidence-based answer revealing a stunning conclusion: the data support not just the existence of an intelligent designer of some kind—but the existence of a personal God.”
In his prologue, Meyer mentions his wrap-up in a 2016 debate that led him to write this book:
“I found myself briefly describing three key scientific discoveries that I thought jointly supported theistic belief—what I call ‘the return of the God hypothesis’: (1) evidence from cosmology suggesting that the material universe had a beginning; (2) evidence from physics showing that from the beginning the universe has been ‘finely tuned’ to allow for the possibility of life; and (3) evidence from biology establishing that since the beginning large amounts of new functional genetic information have arisen in our biosphere to make new forms of life possible . . .
“The three scientific discoveries . . . together point not just to a designer, but to an intelligence that religious theists have long ascribed to God . . . Perhaps, I thought, it was time to develop this case.”
Theistic belief and science have fit together well
It took several weeks to complete my reading of this major work with its compelling scientific and mathematical arguments for the existence of a personal God, but it was time well spent.
The book is laid out in five parts.
In Part I, Meyer examines the rise and fall of theistic science, showing that at one time in our not-too-distant past, religion and science were very compatible. It wasn’t until the rise of materialism and naturalism, spurred on by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, that science and religion were seen to be at odds. In fact, the earliest scientists were of Jewish and Christian faith and viewed the Bible and science as supporting each other. They saw the Bible encouraging scientific discovery, whereas materialism does not.
In Part II, Meyer delves further into the three discoveries mentioned above that support the God hypothesis as to why the universe exists. He points out how the light from distant galaxies and the discovery that our universe had a beginning, often explained as the Big Bang theory, point to a cause for this beginning—as does the curvature of space.
In addition, the fine tuning of the fundamental constants of our universe could not be by blind chance. They require an intelligent designer.
Cosmic fine tuning merely “exquisite”?
Continuing in Part II, Meyer writes: “Physicists have determined that if the matter at the beginning of the universe had been configured even slightly differently, there would be either an extreme clumping of matter resulting in a universe in which only black holes would exist or, alternately, a highly diffuse arrangement of matter without any large-scale structures at all” (p. 147).
He goes on to discuss Oxford physicist Sir Roger Penrose mathematically determining “that getting a universe such as ours with highly ordered configurations of matter required an exquisite degree of fine tuning—an incredibly improbable low-entropy [i.e., low movement to disorder] set of initial conditions” (p. 149).
“The number that Penrose calculated—1 in 1010123—provides a quantitative measure of the unimaginably precise fine tuning of the initial conditions of the universe. In other words, his calculated entropy [or disordering tendency] implied that of the many possible ways the available mass and energy of the universe could have been configured at the beginning, only a few configurations would result in a universe like ours” (p. 150).
Physicists have estimated that the whole universe contains “only” 1080 elementary particles (a huge number—1 followed by 80 zeroes). This is nothing next to Penrose’s number of possibilities out of which only one might yield our working universe.
As Meyers writes: “In fact, if we tried to write out this number [1010123, or 10 to the 10 to the 123rd] with a 1 followed by all the zeros that would be needed to represent it accurately without the use of exponents, there would be more zeros in the resulting number than there are elementary particles in the entire universe. Penrose’s calculation thus suggests an incredibly improbable arrangement of mass-energy—a degree of initial fine tuning that really is not adequately reflected by the word ‘exquisite.’ I’m not aware of a word in English that does justice to the kind of precision we are discussing” (p. 151).
Besides such powerful findings, Meyer also discusses the origin of life and the enigma of DNA and RNA—more discoveries that show the need for a designer. We can see in all this the absolute mathematical impossibility for life to have emerged through random chance. Along with that is the immense amount of immaterial information contained within life—distinct from the physical elements in which the information is encoded.
“Inference to the best metaphysical explanation”
Meyer then moves into Part III of his book, titled: “Inference to the Best Metaphysical Explanation.” He shows how to mathematically and scientifically assess a hypothesis—whether it be the theory of evolution or something else. He shows how scientists can rationally evaluate different worldviews as competing metaphysical hypotheses and determine which is most likely to be true. (Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with existence, object properties, causes and possible effects.)
As you may have guessed, by the end of Part III the God hypothesis—of an active and intentional Designer and Creator—is shown through math and reason to be a more probable explanation for the origin of the universe and life than any other competing hypothesis. The real answer is clearly inferred from the facts.
In Part IV, Meyers addresses other attempts to explain the evidence before then affirming His conclusion in Part V.
This is a very technical book. I had to read many paragraphs two or three times to fully inculcate what Meyer is explaining. Just the bibliography and notes at the end of the book cover 115 more pages! Every claim, every formula, every scientist quoted, every chart, every graph, every diagram is carefully documented.
And it all points to the best metaphysical explanation for why we are here—the reality of a personal God, as revealed in creation. And that God is further revealed in His Word, the Bible. No other theory or hypothesis—even belief in other gods or in religions other than what we find in Scripture—is a more reasonable inference as to why we are here.
I would encourage you—if you are up for a fascinating read about the need of a personal Creator to make sense of the universe, the same God revealed in the Bible—to find a copy of Meyer’s book.
Above all, of course, make sure to turn to the ultimate source of truth—the Bible itself. Long before modern science, it announced that God made the universe, including us (Genesis 1:1, 26-27). How plain! What could be more obvious? This is the majesty we see in the heavens and in our own makeup—the handiwork of God. This is what Stephen Meyer points to as the best metaphysical explanation for why we are here!