You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you. (Augustine 354-430)
I am sure that many of us have come across the above quote by Augustine. We now have scientific evidence to support it. In an article in a recent issue of New Scientist, Justin L Barrett writes:
Whatever some people say, children do not need to be indoctrinated to believe in god. They naturally gravitate towards the idea.
. . . this concept of religion deviates from theological beliefs. Children are born believers not of Christianity, Islam or any other theology but of what I call “natural religion”. They have strong natural tendencies toward religion, but these tendencies do not inevitably propel them towards any one religious belief.
Instead, the way our minds solve problems generates a god-shaped conceptual space waiting to be filled by the details of the culture into which they were born. (“Born Believers,” New Scientist, Special Edition, 17 March 2012, 41)
Reading the article, I immediately thought of Paul’s sermon in Acts 17.
Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship — and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. (Acts 17: 22-23 NIV)
The apostle alludes to both the “god-shaped conceptual space” and the need to fill that space with knowledge of the true God. What excites me is that Barrett’s article was published in the New Scientist, a reputable science magazine, and not in a Christian publication.
I have long believed that if you wait long enough, empirical science will prove what is already in the Bible. Indeed one reason I became a follower of Jesus and continue to be one is because I find that biblical faith makes sense of the observable universe.
I used to enjoy reading the New Scientist when I was in university but I haven’t looked at it for a long time, that is until I saw the following article when I was surfing Google News.
The term “big bang” was famously coined as a term of abuse. During a radio interview in 1949, cosmologist Fred Hoyle was pouring scorn on the idea that the universe simply popped into existence when he unwittingly invented a catchy name for the theory that eventually won out.
The big bang is now part of the furniture of modern cosmology, but Hoyle’s unease has not gone away. Many physicists have been fighting a rearguard action against it for decades, largely because of its theological overtones. If you have an instant of creation, don’t you need a creator?
Cosmologists thought they had a workaround. Over the years, they have tried on several different models of the universe that dodge the need for a beginning while still requiring a big bang. But recent research has shot them full of holes (see “Why physicists can’t avoid a creation event”). It now seems certain that the universe did have a beginning.(“The Genesis problem,” Opinion, New Scientist, 13 January 2012,
Proving that the universe had a beginning does not “prove” that God exists nor does it tell us what He is like if He did exist. But again, here is empirical science that is consistent with the biblical record: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1 NIV).”
No proof can compel belief. We still need to make a decision to believe. The question is — does our belief fly in the face of what we can observe of the universe? Or is it consistent with what is out there? I like the way J.P. Moreland and Tim Muehlhoff put it:
Human eyes are composed of more than two million working parts and can, under the right conditions, discern the light of a candle at a distance of fourteen miles.
The human ear can discriminate among four hundred thousand different sounds within a span of about ten octaves and can make the subtle distinction between music played by a violin and that played by a viola.
The human heart pumps roughly a million barrels of blood during a normal lifetime — a quantity that would fill more than three supertankers. What are we to make of these facts?
If you believe in God, these facts confirm what is obvious — we are the handiwork of a wise Designer. You join the psalmist in declaring that we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps 139:14).
Others read these same facts and attribute our amazing bodies to billions of years of evolutionary refinement. To them, a belief in God is a naive attempt to replace science with faith. (The God Conversation, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007,129-130).
I became a follower of Jesus and continue to do so for a variety of reasons. In particular, I am convinced that Jesus died and rose again, giving unique proof for a unique claim (https://tinyurl.com/6wcmany). But daily I see the evidence accumulating, that the more we know of the observable universe, the more it affirms what is in the Bible.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
(Psalm 19:1-2 NIV)
Have you listened to the heavens recently? Heard what they are saying? Well, at least pick up a copy of New Scientist.