July 16, 2014

In Their Own Words X: There's A “Deeper” Explanation

[An ongoing series about the profoundly ironic theological / philosophical quotes that scientists or those in academia make.]

Allan Sandage was the successor of Edwin Hubble's at the Mt. Wilson and Mt. Palomar Observatory in California. Edwin Hubble was the astronomer who played a major role in establishing the field of study called extra-galactic astronomy. He is also known for theorizing and observing the expanding universe theory that leads back to the Big Bang. The Big Bang theory of course aligns with Biblical narrative. 

He is also the namesake of the Hubble Telescope that has produced some of the most beautiful pictures of deep space that we have ever seen. Sandage having followed in Hubble’s footsteps is famous for determining the first reasonably accurate value for the Hubble constant (expanding universe) and therefore the age of the known universe. Sandage following similar lines of reasoning postulated the following.
"I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God, to me, is the explanation of the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing. If God did not exist, science would have to invent Him to explain what it is discovering at its core." ~Allan Sandage [New York Times, 12 March, 1991, p. B9]

These types of statements were not new to Sandage when he made them in 1991 either. He had made similar comments years earlier such as the following.
“The world is too complicated in all its parts and interconnections to be due to chance alone. I am convinced that the existence of life with all its order in each of its organisms is simply too well put together. Each part of a living thing depends on all its other parts to function. How does each part know? How is each part specified at conception? The more one learns about biochemistry the more unbelievable it becomes unless there is some type of organizing principle - an architect ~ Allan Sandage [Truth, Vol. 1, Dallas: Texas, Truth Incorporated, 1985, p. 54].

I guess, having the observational tools that he had at his disposal had a dramatic effect on Sandage's thinking. He would become a Christian later in life. I am guessing God’s eternal power and divine nature were clearly perceived by Sandage in the things that weraade in the universe. Having seen them in such diversity and beauty through his telescopes, there was no longer any way for him to deny the obvious.

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Moving on we have Paul Davies who is an English physicist. His field of study has involved him in inquiries concerning theoretical physics, cosmology, and astrobiology. His research has been mainly in the area of quantum field theory in curved space-time. Although he has not explicitly stated that he is a theist, evidence from his statements and quotes in books could build a strong case for thinking that he does in fact believe in an amazing creating God. Such as the following.
“I belong to a group of scientists who do not subscribe to a conventional religion but nevertheless deny that the universe is a purposeless accident. Through my scientific work I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact.  There must, it seems to me, be a deeper level of explanation. Whether one wishes to call that deeper level ‘God’ is a matter of taste and definition.” ~ Paul Davies [The Cosmic Blueprint: New Discoveries in Nature's Creative Ability to Order the Universe. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988. p.203]

“There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all.... It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe.... The impression of design is overwhelming” ~ Paul Davies [The Cosmic Blueprint: New Discoveries in Nature's Creative Ability to Order the Universe. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988. p.203]

Davies’ comments are as deliberate in their wordage as they are interesting. He doesn’t deny God outright but neither does he adhere to a religion either. This could just mean he doesn’t believe in organized religion like the Roman Catholic Church (theoretically, neither do I). I am guessing he was either agnostic when he made the first statement or he was being theologically disingenuous about what he really believed. It is clear that he did not buy into the sheer numbers game of probability that says the Creation was just a cosmic accident. 

Actually, he says he believed in something “deeper”. By this statement he begins to leave behind the empirical and flirt with a theological source. The term "deeper" here has to mean metaphysical or outside the physically provable or empirical. He has already made a scientific statement that said through his scientific work he could not account for the ingenuity of the physical universe. Ingenuity implies an act of creation. Ingenuity implies new ways in an ongoing process to meet or solve problems. As a matter of fact, by definition etymologically, ingenuity comes from the word ingenium which just happens to be the root Latin word for engineering. Because he believed something deeper was involved and he was willing to endeavor into the non-physical to find it...he was taking a leap of faith. In other words, Davies believed there had to have been a super-intelligence driving the things he saw in the physical universe.

If one takes Davies’ comments at face value from his 1992 book The Mind of God it is probable that Davies theological comments are laced with doublespeak in a whimsical manner. In the aforementioned book Davies briefly explores the nature of reason, belief, and metaphysics. He also examines the origin of the universe and even a few arguments for the existence of God. In so doing he includes the possibility that the universe shows evidence of intelligent design.

So what we have in Allan Sandage and Paul Davies are two men who studied the the physical universe and the natural world scientifically and ended up in the realm of the supernatural to explain their findings. They came to similar conclusions a generation apart. In their opinion, the complexity and intricacy of the physical universe could not be a statistical accident. Furthermore, they believed the obviousness of design was implicit in the visible universe also. Paul Davies said it best in the conclusion to his book The Mind of God.
"…the existence of mind in some organism on some planet in the universe [referring to Earth] is surely a fact of fundamental significance. Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor byproduct of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here."

Other than the fact that Paul attributes the generation of self-awareness to the universe, he pretty much nails the fact that these are not purposeless forces. They are deliberate and meaningful. They are rooted in intelligence. They are rooted in design.

Therefore the big answers are foundational to existence and they are profound...and according to Davies...they are not of naturalistic origin or based in the physical universe.

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