In light of recent discoveries, many leading scientists have had their materialistic presuppositions challenged. One of those, Sir Fred Hoyle, was a world-renowned astronomer and founder of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge.
Although Hoyle remained an agnostic, the brilliant astronomer remarked, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology.”¹
Hoyle is not alone. Other great scientists have alluded to the compelling evidence for design in the universe, yet have been unwilling to ask the question of who planned it, or to delve into the reason behind the universe. Stephen Hawking admits scientists’ reticence to probe questions of our origins, stating, “There must be religious overtones. But I think most scientists prefer to shy away from the religious side of it.”²
However, there are scientists who are not so shy, and are asking profound questions: Why is the universe so finely-tuned for life? Has a designer left his fingerprints? Why are we here?
Although Hawking tries to avoid religious discussion, he still asks,
What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe.
Up to now, most scientists have been too occupied with the development of new theories that describe what the universe is to ask the question why. On the other hand, the people whose business it is to ask why, the philosophers, have not been able to keep up with the advance of scientific theories.³
Here Hawking opens up new territory for scientists. Since Copernicus, and especially after Darwin, materialism had ruled the day in science. Any reference to God was scoffed at as a “God of the Gaps” argument, another way of saying “God is merely a stop-gap explanation for lack of knowledge, and has no place in our materialistic universe.” But now it is scientists who are actually initiating the discussion about an intelligent designer.
Theoretical astrophysicist George Greenstein, in his book, Symbiotic Universe, asks, “Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon the scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?4
Greenstein is a luminary in his field, being a professor of astronomy at Amherst College and a recipient of the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science. This isn’t Forrest Gump here, scratching his head at the complexity of it all or attributing to God what he simply can’t grasp. Neither are other scientists who, like Greenstein, are looking at the scientific evidence and pondering the reality of God.
If leading scientists like Greenstein are right in their conclusions that a designer exists, are there things that can be deduced about his nature from the observation of the universe? Why did he create us? Has he left any clues about our purpose here on planet Earth? Although these questions move beyond science into the realm of natural theology, they have been provoked by new discoveries in science.
So, if a designer has left clues about himself, where would we look for them? To begin our search, we need to examine the universe to see if he has left his fingerprints. Just as the paintings of The Last Supper and Mona Lisa tell us something about their artist, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony reveals clues about its composer, we should be able to discern clues about a designer by observing his universe.
Although scientific evidence only gives us a partial picture of what a designer is like, the universe does reveal some insightful clues about his nature.
The following characteristics seem to emerge. The designer is a
- purposeful designer
- powerful designer
- superintelligent designer
- personal designer
Once scientists discovered the remarkable fine-tuning of the universe, many reasoned there must be a purpose behind it. Paul Davies, one of the leading theoretical physicists in the world, writes, “If the universe has been designed by God, then it must have a purpose.”5
Mathematician Roger Penrose –who, with Hawking, derived proof for the beginning of time–offers his insight:
There is a certain sense in which I would say the universe has a purpose. It’s not there just somehow by chance. Some people take the view that the universe is simply there and it runs along–it’s a bit as though it just sort of computes, and we happen by accident to find ourselves in this thing. I don’t think that’s a very fruitful or helpful way of looking at the universe. I think that there is something much deeper about it, about its existence, which we have very little inkling of at the moment.6
Penrose deduces that the fine-tuning of physical constants (see “Why Is Only Earth Suitable for Life?”) for man’s existence is so improbable that it must have been intentionally planned. And it follows that whoever intentionally created the universe has a purpose that must include us. In his book, Superforce, Davies writes,
The laws which enable the universe to come into being spontaneously seem themselves to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design. If physics is the product of design, the universe must have a purpose, and the evidence of modern physics suggests strongly to me that the purpose included us.7
¹Fred Hoyle, “Let There Be Light,” Engineering and Science (November 1981).
²Quoted in John Boslough, Stephen Hawking’s Universe (New York: Avon, 1989), 109.
³Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, 174.
4George Greenstein, The Symbiotic Universe (New York: William Morrow, 1988), 27.
5Paul Davies, God and the New Physics (New York: Simon & Schuster, Touchstone, 1984), 199.
6Stephen Hawking, ed., Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time: A Reader’s Companion (New York: Bantam, 1992), 142.
7Paul Davies, Superforce (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984), 243.