In high school, I thought my life would take a more creative path. I was content to learn about theater, possibly become a theater manager and work in my community (or beyond) to help run community theater programs. However, many felt I was wasting my potential. I excelled in science and (much to my dismay) math. This meant every teacher aside from my theater teacher was dead set on convincing me to reconsider my career options.
Oddly enough, the one person who convinced me otherwise was my priest at the time. I had a lot of theological questions pertaining to science, having always been made to believe that science and religion were at odds. My high school and college science courses required us to “de-animate” chemical and biological processes, as if the hand of God did not guide each and every one of them. We were taught that evolution was the mechanism behind life as we know it, and that it was definitive and empirical proof that God could not exist.
But, my priest shared this quote with me: “There can never be any real opposition between religion and science; for the one is the complement of the other,” – Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist. I had never considered that science could be a means through which to further my appreciation for God’s creation. With this in mind, I decided to pursue the sciences.
Unfortunately, though I saw science as a path to God, many others did not, and tried to use their belief in it to make Christians, like myself, feel foolish and less than. This surprised me, as the more I learned, the more I found that the intricacies of basic biology and chemistry could not simply have been accidental. Every atom, enzyme and cell had too specific a purpose. And during my time in college, further discoveries continued to prove the concept of “intelligent design”, if not the wholehearted existence of God.
So why did everyone else turn a blind eye to this?
I’m going to take a page out of the book of one of my favorite podcasts, and blame the 19th Century German scholars.
At that time, in Germany, many pursuits of study were turned into “sciences”. These included politics, philosophy, and, worst of all, religion. Complex concepts such as these, with many morally grey areas, were boiled down into boring facts and strict ideologies, which did not take into account any room for basic arguments. In doing so, religion was set on the same playing field as science, not necessarily in opposition to one another, but in approach. With ideologies based solely in sola scriptura, the Bible was dissected, boiled down, and squeezed into a petri dish. This left no room for further interpretation; just facts.
Now, this was not done intentionally to demean Christianity, but it set in place a precedent that everything could be solved scientifically and with minimal room for error. So when scientific discoveries followed that did not align with certain biblical “facts”, people had to choose an area of study in which to believe, since surely the two could not coexist, nor be flexible with one another. This is why, in our secular age, people have become so staunchly divided into the “religious” and the “science-believers”. Because neither side is able to account for the other given their limited worldview.
Still, it is possible to make it over this hurdle. As previously stated, you can shift your outlook on life and grow to understand that the sciences are a way in which we can deepen our spiritual lives. In pursuing the sciences we can truly see how much care was taken into creating us and the world around us. So, in a secular world, which sees God as a variable as opposed to a creator who exists outside all variables, how do we do that?
How do we deconstruct these barriers between science and religion?
The first place I would consider starting is with *heavy sigh* math…
One of the biggest “arguments” against the Christian account of creation is evolution, it’s supposed timeframe and the fact that life could exist on other planets. Because surely the possibility that life exists elsewhere and came up through evolution is a reasonable way to dispute God’s existence. God is not bound by our understanding of the physical world, nor the measurements we have created to order it.
So let us look at the numbers, and see how likely it is that the earth came into being spontaneously.
There are between 1 and 10 trillion planets in the universe. This parameter is too vague to begin with, so I averaged this and approximated that there are roughly 5 trillion planets in the universe, to give us a nice round number to start with. Of these planets, only 6% would have any chance of supporting life.
This leaves us with 300 billion planets that could support life to work with. Now, there are planets that are currently orbiting super massive black holes, some of which could support life (6 billion). Being that these planets will eventually be destroyed by these black holes, making them less suitable for life, it does not warrant taking those 6 billion planets into account. So we will remove them from our calculations. Leaving 294 billion planets that could be Earth. This means that, in our universe, there is a 5.88% chance that Earth or an earth-like planet exists.
Earth would not be what it is without our lovely, oxygen-rich atmosphere, which is granted to us through the process of photosynthesis, and other such mechanisms. The likelihood that complex adaptations such as these developed on our habitable planet is 1:100 trillion. Furthermore, the likelihood that these plants were able to be studied and determined as the source of our oxygen by an intelligent species is 1:10 million. So, the odds that plants and intelligent life exist on any of the 294 billion planets in our universe are 1 to 588 septillion.
In comparison to the 5 trillion planets in our universe, the chance that Earth could have been one of them is so infinitesimally small, that it’s near impossible that it could have come into being randomly. To take this point one step further, the odds that you were born are 1:400 trillion. Meaning that you, sitting here, on this planet, reading this right now only had a 1 in 14.7 undecillion chance of happening. That’s equivalent to winning the lottery 350 octillion times.
Therefore, by this scientific standard, it is not likely we would be here without the intervention of a “creator”.
And you could look through my numbers and find they are inaccurate, or pour through my math and find a fault, but that ultimately does not matter. Earth’s uniqueness in our universe is still not a measure by which we can quantify God.
What modern, secular scientists fail to acknowledge is that there is no “God” variable. He is purely spiritual, existing outside of our physical senses. There’s no way He can be quantified by our physical, scientific means. If it were possible to “prove God”, one would need solid spiritual proof. Unless you’re a pseudoscience-touting ghost hunter, you know that it’s impossible.
God is most wholly described in the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: “ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, ever-existing and eternally the same”. So to approach our Creator as if He can be culled into a beaker is prideful and flat out stupid. He cannot be seen in the traditional sense, but He can be felt in every aspect of the world.
When fruits ripen in the summer, He is there. When children grow and develop in the womb, He is there. When disease is cured, He is there. Gravity, respiration, oxidation, photosynthesis, decomposition, and rebirth are all His works, and should be revered as such. Whether you are scientifically minded or not, the presence of His hands in everything is beautiful and worthy of study.
Authors Note: There is sarcasm in the above piece, which is denoted in italics.
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