2016-07-27
Excerpted from "The Case for a Creator" by Lee Strobel. Copyright 2004 by Zondervan. Used by permission of The Zondervan Corporation.

As I reviewed the avalanche of information from my investigation, I found the evidence for an intelligent designer to be credible, cogent, and compelling. Actually, in my opinion the combination of the findings from cosmology and physics by themselves were sufficient to support the design hypothesis. All of the other data simply built an even more powerful cumulative case that ended up overwhelming my objections.

But who or what is this master Designer? Like playing a game of connect-the-dots, each one of the six scientific disciplines I investigated contributed clues to unmasking the identity of the Creator.

The evidence of cosmology demonstrates that the cause of the universe must be an uncaused, beginningless, timeless, immaterial, personal being endowed with freedom of will and enormous power. In the area of physics, Collins established that the Creator is intelligent and has continued to be involved with his creation after the Big Bang.

The evidence of astronomy, showing that the Creator was incredibly precise in creating a livable habitat for the creatures he designed, logically implies that he has care and concern for them. Also, Gonzales and Richards presented evidence that the Creator has built at least one purpose into his creatures-to explore the world he has designed, and therefore to perhaps discover him through it.

Not only do biochemistry and the existence of biological information affirm the Creator's activity after the Big Bang, but they also show he's incredibly creative. Evidence for consciousness, as Moreland said, helps establish that the Creator is rational, gives us a basis for understanding his omnipresence, and even suggests that life after death is credible.

This is not a picture of the god of deism, who supposedly formed the universe but then abandoned it. The abundant evidence for the Creator's continued activity in the universe after the initial creation event discredits deism as a credible possibility.

Pantheism, the idea that the Creator and universe are co-existent, also falls short of accounting for the evidence, because it cannot explain how the universe came into existence. After all, if the pantheistic god didn't exist prior to the physical universe, then it would not be capable of bringing the universe into being.

Also, Craig explained how the scientific principle of Ockham's razor shaves away the multiple gods of polytheism, leaving us with a single Creator. In addition, the personal nature of the Creator argues against the impersonal divine force that's at the center of some New Age religions.

In contrast, however, the portrait of the Creator that emerges from the scientific data is uncannily consistent with the description of the God whose identity is spelled out in the pages of the Bible.

  • Creator? "In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands."
  • Unique? "You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other."
  • Uncaused and timeless? "Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God."
  • Immaterial? "God is spirit."
  • Personal? "I am God Almighty."
  • Freedom of will? "And God said, `Let there be light,' and there was light."
  • Intelligent and rational? "How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures."
  • Enormously powerful? "The Lord is.great in power."
  • Creative? "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I that full well."
  • Caring? "The earth is full of his unfailing love."
  • Omnipresent? "The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you."
  • Has given humankind purpose? "For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisibible.everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him."
  • Provides for life after death? "He will swallow up death forever."
  • As the apostle Paul wrote two millennia ago: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made [that is, his creation], so that men are without excuse."

    The question of whether these qualities might also describe the deities of any other world religions became moot once I added the evidence that I discovered through the study of ancient history and archeology.

    As I described in my book The Case for Christ, the convincing evidence establishes the essential reliability of the New Testament, demonstrates the fulfillment of ancient prophecies in the life of Jesus of Nazareth against all odds, and supports Jesus' resurrection as being an actual event that occurred in time and space. Indeed , his return from the dead is an unprecedented and supernatural feat that authenticated his claim to being the one-and-only Son of God.

    To me, the range, the variety, the depth, and breathtaking persuasive power of the evidence from both science and history affirmed the credibility of Christianity to the degree that my doubts were simply washed away.

    Unlike Darwinism, where my faith would have to swim upstream against the strong current of evidence flowing the other way, putting my trust in the God of the Bible was nothing less than the most rational and natural decision I could make. I was merely permitting the torrent of facts to carry me along to their most logical conclusion.

    Unfortunately, there's a lot of misunderstanding about faith. Some believe faith actually contradicts facts. "The whole point of faith," scoffed Michael Shermer, editor of The Skeptical Inquirer, "is to believe regardless of the evidence, which is the very antithesis of science."

    However, that's certainly not my understanding. I see faith as being a reasonable step in the same direction that the evidence is pointing. In other words, faith goes beyond merely acknowledging that the facts of science and history pont toward God. It's responding to those facts by investing trust in God-a step that's fully warranted due to the supporting evidence.

    Oxford's Alister McGrath pointed out that all worldviews require faith. "The truth claims of atheism simply cannot be proved," he said. "How do we know that there is no God? The simple fact of the matter is that atheism is a faith, which draws conclusions that go beyond the available evidence."

    On the other hand, the available evidence from the latest scientific research is convincing more and more scientists that facts support faith as never before. "The age-old notion that there is more to existence than meets the eye suddenly looks like fresh thinking again," said journalist Gregg Easterbrook. "We are entering the greatest era of science-religion fusion since the Enlightenment last attempted to reconcile the two."

    To many people, including physicist Paul Davies, this is a shocking and unexpected development. "It may seem bizarre," he said, "but in my opinion science offers a surer path to God than religion."

    Added nanoscientist James Tour of Rice University: "Only a rookie who knows nothing about science would say science takes away from faith. If you really study science, iit will bring you closer to God." Astrophysicist and priest George Coyne put it this way: "Nothing we learn about the universe threatens our faith. It only enriches it."

    "For Polkinghorne, who achieved acclaim as a mathematical physicist at Cambridge before becoming a full-time minister, the same kind of thinking he uses in science has helped him draw life-changing conclusions about God:

    No one has ever seen a quark, and we believe that no one ever will. They are so tightly bound to each other inside the protons and neutrons that nothing can make them break out on their own. Why, then, do I believe in these invisible quarks? . In summary, it's because quarks make sense of a lot of direct physical evidence.I wish to engage in a similar strategy with regard to the unseen reality of God. His existence makes sense of many aspects of our knowledge and experience: the order and fruitfulness of the physical world; the multilayered character of rality; the almost universal human experiences of worship and hope; the phenomenon of Jesus Christ (including his resurrection). I think that very similar thought processes are involved in both cases. I do not believe that I shift in some strange intellectual way when I move from science to religion.In their search for truth, science and faith are intellectual cousins under the skin.

    He added, however, an important distinction. "Religious knowledge is more demanding than scientific knowledge," he said. "While it requires scrupulous attention to matters of truth, it also calls for the response of commitment to the truth discovered."

    According to McGrath, the Hebrew word for "truth" suggests "something which can be relied upon." Thus, he said, truth is more than about simply being right. "It is about trustworthiness," he explained. "It is a relational concept, pointing us to someone who is totally worthy of our trust. We are not being asked to know yet another fact but to enter into a relationship with the one who is able to sustain and comfort us." The facts of science and history, then, can only take us so far. At some point, the truth demands a response. When we decide not merely to ponder the abstract concept of a designer but to embrace him as our own-to make him our "true God"-then we can meet him personally, relate to him daily, and spend eternity with him as he promises.

    And that, as a young medical doctor and his wife learned, changes everything.

    No one was more surprised by the scientific evidence for God than the soft-spoken, silver-haired, 77-year-old physician who was sitting across from me in a booth at a Southern California restaurant.

    His story is yet another testimony to the power of science to point seekers toward God. However, it's something else too-a road map for how you might want to proceed if you're personally interested in seeing whether faith in God is warranted by the facts.

    Viggo Olsen is a brilliant surgeon whose life was steeped in science. Graduating cum laude from medical school, he later became a diplomat of the American Board of Surgery and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. In fact, his name has a whole raft of letters after it-M.S., M.D., Litt.D., D.H., F.A.C.S., F.I.C.S., and D.T.M.&H. He attributes his former spiritual skepticism to his knowledge of the scientific world.

    "I viewed Christianity and the Bible through agnostic eyes," he said. "My wife Joan was a skeptic too. We believed there was no independent proof that any Creator exists. Rather, we believed life came into being through evolutionary processes."

    The problem was Joan's parents, both devout Christians. When Viggo and Joan visited them in 1951 on their way to starting his first internship at a New York City hospital, they got an earful of religious propaganda. In late night discussions, Viggo and Joan would patiently explain why Christianity was inconsistent with contemporary science. Finally, in frustration at two o'clock one morning around the kitchen table, they agreed to examine the Christian faith for themselves.

    Olsen implied his search would be sincere and honest, but inwardly he had already hatched a plan. "My intent was not to do an objective study at all," he recalled. "Just alike a surgeon incises a chest, we were going to slash into the Bible and dissect out all its embarrassing scientific mistakes."

    At their new home, Viggo and Joan labeled a piece of paper: "Scientific Mistakes in the Bible," figuring they could easily fill it. They worked out a system under which they would discuss with each other what they were learning in their investigation. At the end, there would always be more unanswered questions. While Viggo was working at the hospital, Joan would research the issues left hanging. Then, on alternate nights and weekends, when Viggo was off duty, they studied together, analyzed, discussed, and argued.

    Problems quickly emerged-but not the kind they were anticipating. "We were having trouble finding those scientific mistakes," he said. "We'd find something that seemed to be an error, but on further reflection and study, we saw that our understanding had been shallow. That made us sit up and take notice."

    Then a student passed along a 1948 book called Modern Science and Christian Faith. Each of its 13 chapters was written by a different scientist about the evidence in his field that pointed toward God. Even though it was published before many of the eye-popping scientific discoveries that I've described in this book, the evidence was nevertheless sufficient to stun Viggo and Joan.

    "It blew our minds!" Olsen said. "For the first time we began to see there were reasons behind Christianity. Deciding to believe would definitely not be committing intellectual suicide."