You might think the topics covered at a retreat for priests and a conference for high school students would be pretty different from each other (they usually are.) But this year they shared a common talk: the proof of the existence of God.
My good friend and colleague Dr. John Bergsma talked to the priests, deacons, and seminarians about the importance of fighting the “new atheism” and rejecting the stereotype that to follow Jesus is to be superstitious instead of scientific.
Sean Forrest gave a simpler but similar talk to the teenagers on Saturday night. “How many of you have been told that science has disproved that God exists?” he asked the audience. Almost every hand went up.
“How many of you worry that they’re right?” he asked. Many hands answered yes.
Sean did a great job of walking the teens through some basic apologetics on proving that God exists. He used the famous analogy of finding a watch on the ground and how foolish it would be to think it just “evolved” that way. Clearly something that complex had to be made by someone. And how much more complex are we?
I knew of that argument and I think it’s a great one. But John’s talk to the priests threw out some crazy things I had never heard before.
Sir Fred Hoyle was a English mathematician who calculated that the chances of a single enzyme to be “randomly” created was one in 1020. That’s a 10 with 20 zeroes after it. He said that the probability of that occurring by chance is as likely as a tornado sweeping through a junkyard and assembling a fully functional jumbo jet.
Many astrophysicists and cosmologists agree on what they call the “fine tuning” of the universe: a group of cosmological constants that are so precise that if there was even the smallest change then there would be no possibility of life in the universe. One of those “cosmological constants” is the perfect ratio of protons to electrons. The universe could not exist if there was a 1037 deviation of that balance. According to Dr. Hugh Ross, the best way to visualize it would be the following:
Cover the entire North American continent in dimes all the way up to the moon, a height of about 239,000 miles (In comparison, the money to pay for the U.S. federal government debt would cover one square mile less than two feet deep with dimes.) Next, pile dimes from here to the moon on a billion other continents the same size as North America. Paint one dime red and mix it into the billions of piles of dimes. Blindfold a friend and ask him to pick out one dime. The odds that he will pick the red dime are one in 1037.
Now, those are just some of the variables. The chances of each one happening individually are unbelievable… but what are the chances of them all occurring?
One astrophysicist suggested the chances would be 1 in 10229. That number is absolutely impossible to visualize, since there are only an estimated 1 in 1088 electrons (the smallest particle of matter in an atom) in the known universe.
It’s not just mathematically improbable. It’s mathematically impossible.
Many of these scientists were atheists who came to believe in the existence of God through their scientific research.
John said, “If you worked in the field of cosmology, or read in the area of cosmic origins, you know that the real problem is not the fact that the universe looks as if there was no God. It’s the fact that the universe, the more we learn about it, is so finely tuned and highly designed to allow us to live that it’s an embarrassing argument for theism.”
It reminded me of something written in the book of Wisdom:
For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to his works. (Wisdom 13:1)
It is obvious that we were created by a divine intellect. And it is Christ who revealed fully to us Who that is.
We are not here by chance. We are here by His choice. Not because of luck, but because of His love.
FOR MORE INFO: You can read more about some of the above statistics by going here. John also suggested the documentary “The Privileged Planet” which has some great insights into “intelligent design.” One other book that some of you might like (it’s written at a high academic level) is Fr. Spitzer’s book, “New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy.“