The 12th century physician philosopher theologian, Moses Maimonides, wrote that if you want to find God, the first place to look is in nature. He writes in The Guide for the Perplexed, published in 1190: Study the science of nature (in Hebrew: madah teva) if you want to comprehend the science of God (madah Elokoot). Science has indeed discovered God and it did so as it unraveled the secrets of nature.

Until the late 1960’s, the majority opinion of the scientific community was that the universe was eternal; no beginning and perhaps no ending. That opinion was so strongly embedded in the scientific psyche that even Albert Einstein changed his famous cosmological equation from a dynamic model (expanding or contracting universe) to a static unchanging model. The work of Edwin Hubble and Henrietta Levitt corrected that misconception.

Based on the stretching of light-waves emitted from distance galaxies, they discovered that the universe was expanding, that space was actually stretching. However, the idea of an eternal universe remained. That an eternal universe totally contradicted the opening sentences of the Bible did not seem to bother the scientific community. The Bible has crucial ethical teachings but certainly it is not a source for discovering our cosmic history.

And then in the late 1960’s came the discovery by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson of the “echo” of the big bang creation, the residual energy of the original energy of creation that today fills all space. The theory was that  if the universe had had a creation, it would have been a burst of super-powerful radiation (essentially super-powerful “light beams”).

Overnight the picture of an eternal universe evaporated. There was a beginning: a phenomenally important paradigm change.

Over eons of time, as the universe expanded and enlarged, the initial energy would have become ever more dilute in the increasing volume of the universe. Based on the current distribution of matter in the universe, the estimated energy density remaining from the initial creating burst and filling all space would be in the range of 2 to 5 degrees above what is known as absolute zero (about minus 273 degrees centigrade or minus 460 degrees Fahrenheit). The universally distributed 3-degree C micro-wave background energy that Penzias and Wilson discovered matched exactly the prediction of what that energy would be if there actually had been a beginning, a creation of our magnificent universe (cf., Genesis 1:1). Indeed, that radiation accounts for about 1% of the snow-like static you see on your TV screen if you happen to tune to a channel on which there is no current transmission.

The pair was awarded the Nobel Prize for their discovery. Overnight the picture of an eternal universe evaporated. There was a beginning: a phenomenally important paradigm change. The Bible Genesis 1:1 had gotten it correct after all. There had been a creation. Now the only question remaining was that creation orchestrated by God or was it some kind of bizarre fluke?

Robert Jastrow, one of the founding members of NASA, described his relationship with religion as follows: When a scientist writes about God, his colleagues assume he is either over the hill or going bonkers. In my case it should be understood from the start that I am an agnostic in religious matters. My views on this question are close to those of Darwin who wrote, "My theology is a simple muddle. I cannot look at the Universe as the result of blind chance, yet I see no evidence of beneficent design in the details" (God and the Astronomers).

With Jastrow’s “agnostic” approach to theology, his evaluation of the discoveries made in astronomy is a bit of a surprise:

"Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover. That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”

“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

That our universe had a beginning, a creation, seems to be “a scientifically proven fact.” (God and the Astronomers, by Robert Jastrow)

The brilliant realization that this creation of our physical life-rich universe could have been created from nothing physical via a quantum fluctuation, that is by the laws of nature, was first conceived by Professor Ed Tryon.

Prof Tryon recently summarized his insight. “In 1973, it occurred to me that relativity and quantum theory might imply the spontaneous creation of universes from nothing. If so, matter and energy would not be fundamental but manifestations of underlying laws. Ultimate reality would be the laws themselves – the mind of Einstein’s God.”

He first published this work in the prestigious peer reviewed journal Nature, one of the world’s two leading peer reviewed scientific journals with the title: “Is the universe a vacuum fluctuation?” (Nature, December 1973). Information currently on the NASA web site attributes the creation of our universe to a “quantum fluctuation.” All that you needed to have a big bang creation of a universe are the laws of nature – that “all that you need” is a huge “need.” From where do such creative laws of nature originate? Seems according to Professor Jastrow, we might ask the theologians.

That God may have used a quantum fluctuation that is the laws of nature to create the universe poses no theological problem. Throughout the Bible, God consistently uses nature when nature can get the job done. If you create the laws you might as well use them! God used a wind to open the sea at the Exodus (Exodus 14:21) and a wind to bring the biblical plague of locusts. So as with winds of nature, a quantum fluctuation can be a tool used by the biblical God.

The term big bang was coined by Professor of Astronomy Fred Hoyle as a term of derision, even mockery. Originally, Hoyle was in that group that favored the eternal universe. In the early 1950’s, during a radio interview on the BBC, the person interviewing Prof Hoyle asked what Hoyle thought of those scientists who said there was a creation. He answered, Oh they think there was a big bang. The press picked up the big bang term and that has remained the secular way of saying creation without having to say “creation” which for a secular person has the unwelcome implications of a Creator. (Hoyle’s later research into the generation of the elements between hydrogen {#1} and uranium {#92} within the cores of exploding stars convinced Hoyle not only that there had been a creation, but more so, that there had been an Intelligence behind the entire enterprise.) The term, big bang, does not say what made the big bang go bang.

Four scientific statements describe the nature of the creation:

  1. our universe was created from absolutely nothing physical;
  2. it was created via pre-existing laws of nature;
  3. this was the only creation of physical matter (in this case in the form of energy); and,
  4. conscious life emerged from the burst of chaotic energy that marked the big bang creation, even though there is no hint of life or consciousness in that initial burst of chaotic energy or in the atoms and molecules of matter that formed from the energy of creation.

The Bible, 3500 years ago, discussed the beginning of our universe. It took a few thousand years, but science has caught up to the Bible. Equally significant is that both science and Bible agree that there was only one physical creation. Everything in the universe, from the stars of the galaxies to the molecules of your body, is made from that initial burst of energy.

This is not poetry or new age. It is reality. When you look in the mirror in the morning, you are literally looking at the energy of creation in a very special form, you. It is as literally true as the unquestionable fact that when you drink water you are drinking hydrogen and oxygen in a very special form called water.

But how did this stunning flow of inanimate matter develop into the intricately balanced complexity of life? What drove it? The light beams of the big bang creation literally became alive, conscious of being alive. Light beams learned to love, feel joy, wonder about their being. The wonder of life is not how long it took, 6 days or 14 billion years. The wonder is that it happened and essentially all science agrees with this scenario.

The laws of nature are not physical. They created the physical.

Consider the phenomenal implications of this scientific statement. If the laws of nature created the universe, they must predate the universe. They predate the physical world. They predate our concept of time. The laws of nature are not physical. They created the physical.

Put this together.

A force, not physical but able to interact with the physical, outside and pre-dating our understanding of time, and outside and predating our universe, created our universe from absolutely nothing physical.

Does that sound familiar?

You might note that that is also the Bible’s description of the creating God of the Bible.

In response, atheists have said to me: "If you want to call that God, call it God." But these skeptics would insist that the God that science has discovered would not be a God who might interact with its creation. The God of science is a deist God, a God that wound up the universe, inserted the laws of nature and then let it run itself. The Bible however claims that the God of creation is interested and active in the creation It brought into being.

So how do we determine if the God of creation is the God of the Bible, a God that is active in Its creation?

Moses teaches in Deuteronomy 32:7 that there are two sources of information that reveal a God active in this world. There Moses states that if you seek evidence of an active God, “Remember the days of old” – study the stream of events during the six days of creation, or "consider the flow from generation to generation” – look for hints of divine intervention within the passage of history.

An example of a hint of divine intervention is when statistical data show that a series of events is so unlikely that the best answer is “luck.” In the first Gulf War, Iraq shot 39 Scud missiles into the densely populated parts of Israel in and around Tel Aviv. In those 39 hits, there was only one fatality directly from the bombs’ explosions or collapsing buildings. The science journal Nature, one of the two most highly esteemed science journals world-wide, published a statistical analysis for the expected number of fatalities in accord with the population densities and building types of the bombed sites. The statistically expected number of fatalities was vastly higher than what actually occurred. The journal’s written conclusion for the thank God low kill rate was “luck.” Location after location was “lucky.” It could be luck, but then one asks why the luck time after time?

The origin of life from non-living, seemingly inert rocks and water and a variety of elements and then the development of complex life from the first forms of life are two puzzles for which even the famous avowed atheist Richard Dawkins calls upon luck, or if not luck, then the dream of a never observed, never proven, eternal realm of existence populated with a near infinite number of universes, each with its unique set of laws of nature. Here are the words from Dawkins’ own The God Delusion concerning the origin of life and its development:

“We can deal with the unique origin of life by postulating a [never proven and never observed and never even scientifically hinted at] very large number of planetary opportunities. Once that initial stroke of luck has been granted … it may be that the origin of life is not the only major gap in the evolutionary story that is bridged by sheer luck … The origin of the eukaryotic cell (our kind of cell with a nucleus and various other complicated features such as mitochondria, which are not present in bacteria) was an even more difficult and statistically improbable step than the origin of life. The origin of consciousness might be another major gap whose bridging was of the same order of improbability” (emphasis added) (archived full text version – search “of luck” – page numbers are absent in the archived version).

Francis Crick, one of the scientists who received the Nobel Prize for discovering the structure and role of our DNA genetic code, and who described his theological belief as agnostic with a prejudice toward atheism, struggled to account for the appearance of life on Earth: “An honest man armed with all the knowledge available to us now could only state that in some sense the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.”

And yet for all its complexity, life started surprisingly rapidly on Earth. The oldest rocks that can bear fossils already have fossils of microbes, some undergoing cell division. The fact that the DNA genetic code and the system for reading the information held within the DNA code are identical across all life forms, indicates that when DNA was first derived, the system got it right, right at the start!

Equally intriguing, there is no evidence of evolutionary change or modification within the DNA, yet one might have expected an evolutional or developmental change for improvement or novelty over the billions of years that the system has been operating. Other basic systems of information storage and transfer, such as language and writing, have undergone vast and fundamental developmental changes over time and over location. One is led to wonder whether an unguided nature could have produced such genetic perfection in one burst.

So how does the secular scientific community account for the life-supporting success of our universe? By invoking the speculation of there being a near infinite number of other universes, each with its own unique laws of nature formed by the random roll of the cosmic dice. An infinite number of universes means an infinite number of chances to get by randomness exactly the laws of nature needed to form complex life. We of course live in that lucky universe. There are no direct data that reveal an infinite number of universes, or any number of universes other than our one.

On these imagined but never observed unique places in space, atoms randomly couple and de-couple, trial after trial a near infinite number of times, until life emerged by chance, or similarly, random coupling of molecules and then of cells for the emergence of eukaryotic cells and then consciousness within a cluster of cells. If this guessed vast number of universes or planets does not exist, then the only explanation is “luck,” just like the luck of the Scud hits.

As Bernard Carr, professor of mathematics and astronomy of Queen Mary University, London wrote: “If you don’t want God, you better have a multi-verse” (quoted in Discover Magazine, December 2008). Carr’s logical conclusion derives from the reality that there are many physical constants that must work seamlessly together. Changing any one of them or all of them could preclude the possibility of complex life.

But could we really have all those matched physical constants by lucky chance on one roll of the cosmic dice?

According to the most widely read scientific journal, Scientific American, this would be statistically just about impossible on one roll of the cosmic dice, since the properties of atomic and sub-atomic particles conducive to forming life are so specific.

Just a few of the many examples of our life-supporting “luck”:

  1. For complex life in any form, there must be three spatial dimensions (length, width, height), and one-time dimension (time only moves forward, never backward.

  2. The electric charge of the proton (the particles in the center of atoms that give the atoms, and hence give matter, much of its mass) must be exactly equal and opposite to the electric charge of an electron (the particles that surround the proton-rich center of atoms), even though the proton has a mass 1,837 times that of an electron (It is the sharing of these ultra-light electrons among atoms that allows molecules to form – no molecules, no life).

  3. The force that holds atoms together, the strong nuclear force, is balanced on a knife edge for allowing hydrogen atoms to be super-abundant in the universe. No hydrogen, no stars. Stars make their shining light and energy by fusing hydrogen, the lightest of all the elements, into helium, the second lightest of all the elements. In that fusion, energy is released. This is the energy of the sunlight we see. If this did not occur, there would be no heavier elements such as carbon and oxygen. No heavier elements means no life. As with all elements heavier than hydrogen, carbon, the one element able to form the complex chains required for life, is built from lighter elements within the cores of stars. But the process involves a complex, exquisitely-tuned series of reactions.

The process of forming the essential carbon atom is so tenuous, and none-the-less so abundant, that the knighted astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle, who started his scientific career as a theological skeptic was moved to write in the science journal of the esteemed California Institute of Technology (CalTech):

“Would you not say to yourself, ‘Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom [carbon] through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule?’ Of course you would… A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” (California Institute of Technology Journal Engineering and Science, November 1981, pp 8-112)

Almost incredulously, carbon is the most abundant element in our universe that is solid in the temperature range that water is liquid. Liquid water and carbon, two essentials for life as we know it.

So now we have a universe with physical properties fine-tuned for life. But that does not guarantee that life will arise. We need a life-friendly platform. We call it Earth. It has just the right mass, to have just the right gravity, to hold just the right atmosphere with enough oxygen to allow combustion (for energy production), but with an abundance of “inert” nitrogen in the atmosphere so that there is not spontaneous combustion of organic matter.

Then there is our tilted axis, allowing sunlight to be distributed over much more of the planet’s surface than if the axis were either vertical or horizontal relative to the plane as it circles the sun. All at a distance from the sun that allows for water to be liquid; and not all ice as on Mars, the next planet out from the sun or all steam as on Venus, the next planet in toward the sun (the temperature at the surface of Venus is approximately 460 C; lead is molten at that temperature).

Many persons have pointed out that as we progress out from the sun, each of the 7 inner planets and the asteroid belt (what would have been a planet had not the massive gravity of Jupiter disturbed its formation) is approximately [+/- 10%] twice as far from the sun as the previous planet – with one exception, the earth. In that distribution, there would not be an earth where the earth is. And this “out-of-sequence earthly location puts the earth in the only habitable zone in our solar system (adequate sun energy reaching the earth to keep water liquid, but not so hot as to vaporize the water).

Even with all this fine-tuning, human beings and all other terrestrial forms of life would not exist if not for yet another "chance" quirk of nature: In the very early stages of its formation, the planet earth was molten. Gravity formed the molten earth into a sphere [that is why the moon, the planets, the sun are all spheres and not for example cubes] that had a more or less “smooth” surface – not like the smoothness of a billiard ball but also not with high mountains and deep ridges. As the surface cooled, a solid crust formed on the surface. The crust broke into continent-sized blocks that moved away from each other, a phenomenon known as continental drift.

For example, looking at a globe we see that the bulge of South America’s Brazil, fits into the recess of western Africa. As the blocks moved [at about 30 mm a year], the crust before them piled up, increasing the elevation of the blocks’ surfaces, thus forming the continents. If this shifting (referred to as plate tectonics) and the subsequent rise in elevation had not occurred, the dry land of the continents would not have formed. It sounds benign, until we discover that had there not been continental drift, the earth would have remained relatively smooth, and the amount of water in the oceans would cover the entire earth to a depth of 2.5 km (1.5 miles). Even with the continents, the earth’s surface is approximately 70% covered by water. There are intelligent aquatic species, but none with the achievements of our land-based technologies.

These are just a few of the many examples of what is known as the "anthropic principle." As renowned physicist Freeman Dyson stated, it's as if “the universe knew we were coming.”

Seeking an answer to the beginning of life, Nobel laureate biochemist Christian de Duve was moved to write:

“If you equate the probability of the birth of a bacteria cell to chance assembly of its atoms, eternity will not suffice to produce one... The speed at which evolution started moving once it discovered the right track, so to speak, and the apparently auto-catalytic manner by which it accelerated are truly astonishing... [Yet] chance and chance alone did it all. But it is not, as some would have it, the whole answer, for chance did not operate in a vacuum. It operated in a universe governed by orderly laws and made of matter endowed with special properties. These laws and properties are the constraints that shape evolutionary roulette and restrict the numbers that can turn up. …Faced with the enormous sum of lucky draws behind the success of the evolutionary game, one may legitimately wonder to what extent this success is actually written into the fabric of the universe” (A Guided Tour of a Living Cell, by Christian de Duve).

In other words, given that the universe seems so exquisitely designed for life, it would be unreasonable to conclude that the complex, hospitable life-friendly universe is a result of an accident.

The late Nobel laureate biochemist George Wald, early in his career, emphatically stated that all life needed to get going was time and lucky random reactions. Yet based on his later discoveries, Wald wrote:

“It has occurred to me lately – I must confess with some shock at first to my scientific sensibilities – that both questions [the origin of life from non-living matter and the origin of consciousness that arose from non-living matter] might be brought into some degree of congruence. This is with the assumption that mind, rather than emerging as a late outgrowth in the evolution of life, has existed always as the matrix, the source and condition of physical reality – that stuff of which physical reality is composed is mind-stuff. It is mind that has composed a physical universe that breeds life and so eventually evolves creatures that know and create: science-, art-, and technology-making animals. In them the universe begins to know itself.” (Life and Mind in the Universe; International Journal of Quantum Chemistry; Quantum biology symposium; 11 [1984])

“Mind” as the fundamental quality of all existence, and “matter” as the expression of an idea that is written into the fabric of the universe – nowhere does this fit with Dr. Hawking’s portrait of an unguided nature.

It is worth noting that the scientific description of our world has consistently moved from a totally physical understanding to one that is steeped in the meta-physical.

For two centuries Isaac Newton was science. Force equals mass times acceleration; the three laws of motion. It was a totally materialist, classically describable, logical world. Then came Albert Einstein and the laws of relativity. The rate of time's passage, we discovered, actually varies from place to place in the universe. Bizarre as it seems, time passes faster in some places relative to other places. Space bends. Energy can change form and become matter. A universe much less logical than that which Newton had described.

And now quantum physics, quantum mechanics, and the solidity we perceived as matter has metamorphosed into what might be called a thought, an idea, even a mind.

Each advance of science has moved our understanding further from a materialist world to one ever closer to the meta-physical. Science has abandoned the myth of materialism.

The first part of Deuteronomy 32:7, “remember the days of old” is in place: the Divine creation of the universe. The second part of that verse, “consider the flow from generation to generation,” claims that we can realize God being active in the flow of events by studying the social flow of history. Does social history shed light on a biblical God, a Force intimately interested in the creation It brought into being as opposed to the deist disinterested version of the Creator?

The Bible claims that there is a marker in history that indicates God’s active involvement in history. That marker according to the explicit statement in the Bible is the Jewish nation. The Bible claims that the Jewish nation will always stand out, for better or for worse, but always be abnormally evident in the flow of history. The word “holy,” in Hebrew kadosh, does not mean better or wonderful. It means separate, apart. This is an exact parallel to the word “Hebrew” which means “from the other side,” “separate.”

God has used the Jewish people as a marker of God’s presence to make this Presence known among the nations. The fact that the Jewish people have survived – even thrived – in the face of exile, dispersion and enduring anti-Semitism testifies to this.

As Leo Tolstoy famously wrote:

What is the Jew?...What kind of unique creature is this whom all the rulers of all the nations of the world have disgraced and crushed and expelled and destroyed; persecuted, burned and drowned, and who, despite their anger and their fury, continues to live and to flourish. What is this Jew whom they have never succeeded in enticing with all the enticements in the world, whose oppressors and persecutors only suggested that he deny (and disown) his religion and cast aside the faithfulness of his ancestors?!

The Jew – is the symbol of eternity. ... He is the one who for so long had guarded the prophetic message and transmitted it to all mankind. A people such as this can never disappear. The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity. What is the Jew? printed in Jewish World periodical, 1908

After discussing some nuances of nuclear physics with Nobel laureate physicist, Leon Lederman, I brought up the subject of spirituality. He said that it was “spooky” that after 2,000 years of exile, the people of Israel have returned to the land of Israel. Spooky, meaning abnormal. Yet the Bible over 3,000 years ago predicted that the Jewish nation would stand out, be different.

In the act of creation, science has discovered God Who is active in the history of the creation that It brought into being. As Maimonides wrote, study nature if you want to comprehend the nature of God.