The Role of Faith

Some look to their faith in God in their happiest or awe-struck moments, or some lean on their faith in their lowest or darkest times. Some turn to faith just in case it’s true, and some long for a relationship with a loving God. Some “know or feel” that He is real, and others have found facts to undergird their faith. Often the evidence found reflects one’s personal preference.

For those that look for evidence, philosophy, science and history are examined. What is the best explanation for:

  • The beginning and fine tuning of the universe, laws of nature and mathematics
  • The source and complexity of the beginning of life, a genetic code to create life from non-life
  • The origin of mind, free will, objective morality and evil

The beginning and fine tuning of the universe, laws of nature and mathematics

If space, time and matter had a beginning, then the cause cannot be space, time or matter. The cause had to be powerful to create the universe out of nothing. The cause had to choose to create because it cannot be automatic according to the laws of nature since the laws of nature had a beginning. It’s impossible in principle for nature to create itself.

Eric Metaxas, in his book Is Atheism Dead?, presents scientific discoveries and mathematical challenges they provide. For example, atheist physicist Stephen Hawking makes the case that if the overall density of the universe were changed by even 0.0000000000001 percent, no stars or galaxies could be formed. If the rate of expansion 1 second after the Big bang had been smaller than even one part in 100,000 million million, the universe would have recollapsed before it reached its present size.

According to physicist Paul Davies, gravity, nuclear force and electromagnetic force was determined less than 1 millionth of a second and has not changed one iota. If the ratio between strong nuclear force and the electromagnetic force were different by one part in 10 to the 16th power, life could not exist. That’s like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. An alteration in the ratio of the expansion and contraction forces as little by one part and 10 to the 55 at Planck time (just 10 to the -43 seconds after the origin of the universe) would have led to too rapid an expansion of the universe with no galaxies forming or too slow an expansion with consequent rapid collapse. If the energy density of the universe or different by just one part in 10 to the 120th power, life could not exist. This is one followed by 120 zeros.

The ratio between the gravitational force and the electromagnetic force must be exact, down to one part and 10 to the 40th power. That number is like comparing 1 inch to the rest of the entire known universe. That is the kind of accuracy a marksman would need to hit a coin on the far side of the observable universe, 20 billion light years away. Or, cover America with coins and a column reach into the moon, and then do the same for a billion other continents of the same size. Paint one coin red and put it somewhere in one of the billion piles. Blindfold a friend and ask her to pick it out. The odds are about one in 10 to the power of 40 that she will.

In order to start off the universe in a state of low entropy – so that there will indeed be a second law of thermodynamics . . . the ‘Creator’s aim’ must have been accurate to 1 part in 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123, that is 1 followed by 10 to the power of 123 zeros, a ‘number which it would be impossible to write out in a usual decimal way, because even if you were able to put a zero on every particle in the universe there would not be enough particles to do the job’.

Astronomer Hugh Ross presents that the universe’s mass density requires one part in 10 to the 60th power to allow for the existence of physical life. Someone could have destroyed the possibility of life by subtracting a single dime’s mass from the whole of the observable universe or adding a single dime’s mass to it at the beginning of the universe. By natural processes could life be sustained with exactly the right surface gravity, surface temperature, atmospheric composition, atmospheric pressure, crustal iron abundance, tectonics, volcanism, rotation rate, rotation rate decline, stable rotation axis and degree of tilt? These outlandish numbers must be multiplied by all the others to get the full picture.

The source and complexity of the beginning of life, a genetic code to create life from non-life

The chance of a even a small virus to develop after a billion years is worked out at one chance in over 10 to the 2 millionth power, a mind-numbing number, which put more simply would be harder to achieve than just happening to flip heads on a coin 6 million times in a row. Since physicist Paul Davies made that statement, the time in which we know life to have come into being has shrunk tenfold, from roughly a billion years down to 100 million. So whatever difficulty he is talking about must now be multiplied by 10.

All of the 3 billion characters of your genome must be right, except a rare error, for you to survive. No physical or chemical reaction mandates the arrangement of these genetic letters. Can natural forces determine codes? Athiest evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins says that the amount of information in a one-celled life, like an amoeba, has as much information in its DNA as 1,000 Encyclopedia Britannica’s. Information from DNA is so dense that if you transfered all of the books in all of the world’s libraries into the language of DNA it would fit into a volume equivalent to 1% of the head of a pin. Can this occur naturally? Could an entire bookstore created by an explosion in a print shop?

If evolution is the mechanism by which living organisms develop advantageous mutations, would they have immediately developed the means of replicating or the coding mechanism like DNA to facilitate that? That life came from non-life is amazing—that it could emerge with the mechanisms necessary to create a second generation of life makes already-slim probabilities even slimmer. For example, single cell organisms are found in the oldest rocks. Is there enough time in the universe for this to happen? Stephen Meyer in his book Darwin’s Doubt writes that the chance of producing a single functional protein in a prebiotic environment stands no better than a vanishingly small chance in 10 to the 164th power. The odd against producing the hundreds of thousands of proteins required for life by chance is more than 10 to 40,000th power. The standard mechanism of mutation and natural selection also wouldn’t have “enough opportunities to produce the genetic information necessary to build even one single novel gene or protein, let alone all the new genes and proteins needed to produce new animal forms.” He adds, “Even in a best case scenario – one that ignores the immense improbability of generating new genes by mutation and selection – mutations in DNA sequence would merely produce new genetic information. But building a new body plan requires more than just genetic information. It requires both genetic and epigenetic information – information by definition that is not stored in DNA and thus cannot be generated by mutations of the DNA. It follows that the mechanism of natural selection acting on random mutations in the DNA cannot by itself generate novel body plans, such as those that first arose in the Cambrian explosion.”

The origin of mind, free will, objective morality and evil

Are we completely determined by the laws of physics according to science? Or do we have free will? Mind, reason and free will cannot be explained by science because it is immaterial. Atheist evolutionary biologist J. B. S. Haldane put it well. He wrote, “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to believe that my beliefs are true… and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” He then has no reason to trust anything he believes, including his beliefs on atheism and evolution.

Can science give you objective morality? How could a mutating genetic code have the moral authority to tell you how you ought to behave? “It’s pretty hard to get objective morality without religion,” said Richard Dawkins. The very critiques of those who condemn Christianity for various injustices are rooted in Christian precepts. The existence of morality and suffering though, is not debated. Who is responsible for it, though, is debated.

Evidence from history

Of course the Bible, having far better manuscripts and supporting evidence than any other ancient documents, is used as evidence. It is bolstered by archeological finds and appears impossible that any or all of the Bible’s specific, detailed prophecies could have been fulfilled through chance or deceit. Another example would be the resurrection of Jesus. Without resurrection, there is no Christian faith. Because the initial followers witnessed the resurrection it removed their fear of their own deaths based on their beliefs. What would be the best way to account for the rapid rise in Christianity?

Challenging Questions

  1. Space, time and matter had a beginning, therefore cannot be the cause of space, time and matter. What was the cause?
  2. What cause would be a powerful designer and self-determined (because it cannot operate on the laws of nature, which also had a clear beginning)?
  3. Existence is so fine-tuned for life, what are the chances it happened by accident?
  4. Existence of DNA is so detailed, what are the chances it happened by accident?
  5. Do we have free will? Do I have reason to believe that my beliefs are true since they are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain?
  6. Where does morality come from? How could a mutating genetic code have the moral authority to tell you how you ought to behave?
  7. Does the Bible have far better manuscripts and supporting evidence than any other ancient document?
  8. Is the Bible bolstered by archeological finds? Could any or all of the Bible’s specific, detailed prophecies have been fulfilled through chance?
  9. What is the chance that a collection of books written over a 1,500 year period with forty different authors would be so unified in its message and story?
  10. How does a person have only a public life of 3 years and have more literary impact than any other person in all of history? How did his disciples turn from fear to those who are willing to die for their beliefs so quickly? Why is he the most inspirational figure for art in the history of the world? Or universally appear in the lyrics of popular music? Who is better represented historically in science? Or in the founding charters of university buildings and bylaws?
    Today, from countless paintings, statues, and buildings, from literature and history, from personality and institution, from profanity, popular song and entertainment media, from confession and controversy, from legend and ritual – Jesus stands quietly at the center of the contemporary world, as he himself predicted.
    Dallas Willard
    Could this be the most successful scam in history? Pascal wrote, “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” Faith will continue to be a source of comfort, joy and peace. It is hard to argue with that. Benefits exist for believing in God, and for not believing in God (like no accountability).


Is Atheism Dead? by Eric Metaxas

God’s Undertaker by John C. Lennox

Navigating Genesis by Hugh Ross

There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind by Antony Flew

Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World by Tom Holland. Tom Holland is not a Christian, but his book is one of the most ambitious historical defenses of Christianity.

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