Is God Real? The Evidence for God's Existence
This is a follow-up to Are Your Beliefs Consistent With Your Worldview?
Part 1 of the introduction for non-believers showed that strong atheism contradicts its own worldview by believing the universe has a natural cause despite the lack of observational evidence for such a belief. However, since there is no direct observational evidence regarding the origin of the universe, why should one believe the equally unobserved hypothesis that God created the universe?
Although there is no direct evidence for the cause of the universe, we now have a fair amount of knowledge about the early history of the universe and the laws that govern it, which provide us with indirect evidence that a super-intelligent Agent designed the universe. In order to keep this essay brief, much of the supporting information will not be included. However, you can see the other articles on 'Common Atheist Myths' page.
Detecting the non-physical
Atheists tend to fall into one of two camps. First, are the atheists who say that science cannot have anything to say about the existence of God. However, recently, the "new atheists" think that they can prove the non-existence of God through science.
Although science cannot directly detect God, it can examine Gods creation. Consider the non-physical concept of love. We all accept that love exists, although it cannot be directly measured by science. However, if we observe those who love each other, we can indirectly measure the affect of love on these individuals' actions. For example, we might notice that they spend a lot of time together, they are constantly helping each other in various ways, and they come to each other's defense when the other is threatened in some way.
Although we cannot measure love directly, we can measure the indirect effects of love. Likewise, although we cannot measure God directly, we can examine the universe to detect God's imprint on the physical world.
Evidence for design?
The best evidence for design can be seen in the nature of the universe and how it came to be. The process of discovery continues, since one of the fundamental properties of the universe, dark energy (or the cosmological constant), was discovered late in the last century. New studies continue to add to our knowledge about the universe and its extremely unlikely makeup.
The Big Bang
The Big Bang theory states that the universe arose from a singularity of virtually no size, which gave rise to the dimensions of space and time, in addition to all matter and energy. At the beginning of the Big Bang, the four fundamental forces began to separate from each other. Early in its history (10-36 to 10-32 seconds), the universe underwent a period of short, but dramatic, hyper-inflationary expansion. The cause of this inflation is unknown, but was required for life to be possible in the universe.
Quarks and antiquarks combined to annihilate each other. Originally, it was expected that the ratio of quarks and antiquarks to be exactly equal to one, since neither would be expected to have been produced in preference to the other. If the ratio were exactly equal to one, the universe would have consisted solely of energy - not very conducive to the existence of life. However, recent research showed that the charge parity violation could have resulted naturally given the three known masses of quark families. However, this just pushes fine tuning a level down to ask why quarks display the masses they have. Those masses must be fine tuned in order to achieve a universe that contains any matter at all.
Large, just right-sized universe
Even so, the universe is enormous compared to the size of our Solar System. Isn't the immense size of the universe evidence that humans are really insignificant, contradicting the idea that a God concerned with humanity created the universe? It turns out that the universe could not have been much smaller than it is in order for nuclear fusion to have occurred during the first 3 minutes after the Big Bang.
Without this brief period of nucleosynthesis, the early universe would have consisted entirely of hydrogen. Likewise, the universe could not have been much larger than it is, or life would not have been possible. If the universe were just one part in 1059 larger, the universe would have collapsed before life was possible. Since there are only 1080 baryons in the universe, this means that an addition of just 1021 baryons (about the mass of a grain of sand) would have made life impossible. The universe is exactly the size it must be for life to exist at all.
Early evolution of the universe
Cosmologists assume that the universe could have evolved in any of a number of ways, and that the process is entirely random. Based upon this assumption, nearly all possible universes would consist solely of thermal radiation (no matter). Of the tiny subset of universes that would contain matter, a small subset would be similar to ours. A very small subset of those would have originated through inflationary conditions. Therefore, universes that are conducive to life "are almost always created by fluctuations into the[se] 'miraculous' states," according to atheist cosmologist Dr. L. Dyson.
Just right laws of physics
The laws of physics must have values very close to those observed or the universe does not work "well enough" to support life. What happens when we vary the constants?
The strong nuclear force (which holds atoms together) has a value such that when the two hydrogen atoms fuse, 0.7% of the mass is converted into energy. If the value were 0.6% then a proton could not bond to a neutron, and the universe would consist only of hydrogen. If the value were 0.8%, then fusion would happen so readily that no hydrogen would have survived from the Big Bang.
Other constants must be fine-tuned to an even more stringent degree. The cosmic microwave background varies by one part in 100,000. If this factor were slightly smaller, the universe would exist only as a collection of diffuse gas, since no stars or galaxies could ever form. If this factor were slightly larger, the universe would consist solely of large black holes.
Likewise, the ratio of electrons to protons cannot vary by more than 1 part in 1037 or else electromagnetic interactions would prevent chemical reactions. In addition, if the ratio of the electromagnetic force constant to the gravitational constant were greater by more than 1 part in 1040, then electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing the formation of stars and galaxies.
If the expansion rate of universe were 1 part in 1055 less than what it is, then the universe would have already collapsed. The most recently discovered physical law, the cosmological constant or dark energy, is the closest to zero of all the physical constants. In fact, a change of only 1 part in 10120 would completely negate the effect.
The physical constants required to produce carbon and oxygen in stars is also narrowly fine tuned. A value for Hoyle state 2% higher than the measured value would prevent the formation of carbon. A value 2% lower than the measured value would produce lots of carbon, but no oxygen. Both are essential atoms for life.
Universal probability bounds
"Unlikely things happen all the time." This is the mantra of the anti-design movement. However, there is an absolute physical limit for improbable events to happen in our universe. The universe contains only 1080 baryons and has only been around for 13.8 billion years (1018 sec). Since the smallest unit of time is Planck time (10-45 sec), the lowest probability event that can ever happen in the history of the universe is:
1/1080 x 1/1018 x 1/1045 =1/10143
So, although it would be possible that one or two constants might require unusual fine-tuning by chance, it would be virtually impossible that all of them would require such fine-tuning. Some physicists have indicated that any of a number of different physical laws would be compatible with our present universe. However, it is not just the current state of the universe that must be compatible with the physical laws. Even more stringent are the initial conditions of the universe, since even minor deviations would have completely disrupted the process. For example, adding a grain of sand to the weight of the universe now would have no effect. However, adding even this small amount of weight at the beginning of the universe would have resulted in its collapse early in its history.
What do cosmologists say?
Even though many atheists would like to dismiss such evidence of design, cosmologists know better, and have made statements such as the following, which reveal the depth of the problem for the atheistic worldview:
• "This type of universe, however, seems to require a degree of fine-tuning of the initial conditions that is in apparent conflict with 'common wisdom'."
• "Polarization is predicted. It's been detected and it's in line with theoretical predictions. We're stuck with this preposterous universe."
• "In all of these worlds statistically miraculous (but not impossible) events would be necessary to assemble and preserve the fragile nuclei that would ordinarily be destroyed by the higher temperatures. However, although each of the corresponding histories is extremely unlikely, there are so many more of them than those that evolve without "miracles," that they would vastly dominate the livable universes that would be created by Poincare recurrences. We are forced to conclude that in a recurrent world like de Sitter space our universe would be extraordinarily unlikely."
Speculative "solutions" to the design "problem"
The newest "solution" to design in the universe is a belief in the multi-universe theory. This theory requires one to believe that there are more universes in existence than the number of all the subatomic particles that exist in our universe. Our universe just happened to be one of the few that is able to support life. Here is what a recent article from Science says about this hypothetical "multiverse" spinning off an "infinity" of other universes:
"Uncomfortable with the idea that physical parameters like lambda [cosmological constant] are simply lucky accidents, some cosmologists, including Hawking, have suggested that there have been an infinity of big bangs going off in a larger 'multiverse,' each with different values for these parameters. Only those values that are compatible with life could be observed by beings such as ourselves."
What scientific evidence exists to support the multiverse model? None! Not only is there no evidence, the physics of our own universe requires that we will never be able to obtain any evidence about any other universe (even if it does exist). Even secular websites admit that such ideas amount to nothing more than unfalsifiable metaphysics:
"Appeals to multiple or "parallel" cosmoses or to an infinite number of cosmic "Big Bang/Crunch" oscillations as essential elements of proposed mechanisms are not acceptable in submissions due to a lack of empirical correlation and testability. Such beliefs are without hard physical evidence and must therefore be considered unfalsifiable, currently outside the methodology of scientific investigation to confirm or disprove, and therefore more mathematically theoretical and metaphysical than scientific in nature. Recent cosmological evidence also suggests insufficient mass for gravity to reverse continuing cosmic expansion. The best cosmological evidence thus far suggests the cosmos is finite rather than infinite in age."
According to Paul Davies:
"Whether it is God, or man, who tosses the dice, turns out to depend on whether multiple universes really exist or not. If instead, the other universes are relegated to ghost worlds, we must regard our existence as a miracle of such improbability that it is scarcely credible."
Theistic solution - measurable design
On the other hand, the deist or theist says that God designed the universe with just the right laws of physics. Note that neither the multiverse nor the "God hypothesis" is testable. However, the "God hypothesis" is much simpler.
The naturalistic explanation requires the presence of a complicated, unproved super universe that has the capacity to randomly spew out an infinite number of universes with different laws of physics. How does this hypothetical super universe know how to do this? Why would it even want to do this?
Ultimately, why should there be any universe at all? None of these questions are logically explained by naturalism. Only an intelligent Being would be motivated and expected to produce any kind of universe such as what we see.
If we use Occam's razor, which states that one should use the simplest logical explanation for any phenomenon, we would eliminate the super universe/multi-universe explanation in favor of the simpler God-designed universe model.
The evidence for design in the universe and biology is so strong that Antony Flew, a long-time proponent of atheism, renounced his atheism in 2004 and now believes that the existence of a Creator is required to explain the universe and life in it. Likewise, Frank Tipler, Professor of the Department of Mathematics at Tulane University, and a former atheist, became a theist because of the laws of physics.
Who created God?
A common objection to the "God hypothesis" is the problem of how God came to be. If everything has a cause, why does God get an exception? The problem with such reasoning is that it assumes that time has always existed. In reality, time is a construct of this universe and began at the initiation of the Big Bang. A God who exists outside the time constraints of the universe is not subject to cause and effect.
So, the idea that God has always existed and is not caused follows logically from the fact that the universe and time itself was created at the Big Bang. God has always existed and that God created time, along with the entire universe, being described as an expanding universe. Why can't the universe be uncaused? Of course, it is possible that the universe is uncaused. However, there is a tremendous amount of evidence that contradicts that idea (see part 1). So, an atheist who claims to live by logic and evidence cannot arbitrarily assign eternity to a universe that is clearly temporal.
God has not left God's name etched onto the surface of planets. However, there is abundant evidence that the universe was designed by super intelligent Agent, who purposed that the universe should exist and be capable of supporting advanced life. The design of the universe is just one line of evidence that tells us that God is real and created the universe. The design of the earth and solar system is also quite impressive. Likewise, chemistry and physics preclude the possibility that life evolved on earth. In addition, human beings are remarkably different from every other animal on earth, suggesting a departure from naturalistic processes.
Does God Exist? The reality of God's existence is the most important question, since it has eternal consequences. The evidence for God's existence comes primarily from the design of the universe. It is virtually impossible that all the physical laws would just happen to be tightly constrained by chance in order for stars and galaxies to exist.