by John Lennox
Although science with all of its power cannot address some of the fundamental questions that we ask, nevertheless the universe contains certain clues as to our relationship to it, clues that are scientifically accessible. The rational intelligibility of the universe, for instance, points to the existence of a Mind that was responsible both for the universe and for our minds. It is for this reason that we are able to do science and to discover the beautiful mathematical structures that underlie the phenomena we can observe. Not only that, but our increasing insight into the fine-tuning of the universe in general, and of planet earth in particular, is consistent with the widespread awareness that we are meant to be here. This earth is our home.
But if there is a Mind behind the universe, and if that Mind intends us to be here, the really big question is: What is the purpose of our existence? It is this question above all that exercises the human heart. Scientific analysis of the universe cannot give us the answer. But true science is not embarrassed by its inability at this point — it simply recognizes that it is not equipped to answer such questions. Therefore, it would be a serious logical error in methodology to look only within the ingredients of the universe — its material, structures, and processes — to find out what its purpose is and why we are here. The ultimate answer, if there is one, will have to come from outside the universe.
But how shall we find this out? I have spent much time over the years arguing that there is evidence of a Mind behind the universe, a Mind that intended us to be here. We too have minds. It is, therefore, not illogical that one of the major reasons why we have been given minds is not only that we should be able to explore our fascinating universe home but also that we should be able to understand the Mind that has given us the home.
Long before Aristotle, the book of Genesis was penned. It starts with the words: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This statement stands in complete contrast with the other mythical cosmogonies of the time — like the Babylonian, in which the gods were part of the stuff of the universe, and in which the world was made out of a god. Genesis claims that there is a creator God who exists independently of the universe, a claim that is foundational to Christianity. The apostle John puts it this way in his gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1–4).
In Greek, the term translated “Word” is logos, which was often used by Greek philosophers for the rational principle that governs the universe. Here we have the theological explanation for the rational intelligibility of the universe, for the fine-tuning of its physical constants as well as its biological complexity. It is the product of a Mind, that of the divine Logos. For what lies behind the universe is much more than a rational principle. It is God, the Creator Himself. It is no abstraction, or even impersonal force, that lies behind the universe. God, the Creator, is a person, and He is not part of the stuff of His universe.
Now, if the ultimate reality behind the universe is a personal God, this has far-reaching implications for the human search for truth, since it opens up new possibilities for knowing ultimate reality other than through the (scientific) study of things. For people communicate in a way that things do not. People can reveal themselves in speech and thereby communicate information about themselves that the most sophisticated scanner applied to their brains could not reveal. Being people ourselves, we can get to know other people. Therefore, the next logical question to ask is: If the Creator is personal, has He spoken directly, as distinct from what we can learn of Him indirectly through the structures of the universe? Has He revealed Himself? For if there is a God, and He has spoken, then what He has said will be of utmost importance in our search for truth. Here we once again encounter the biblical claim that God has spoken in the most profound and direct way possible. He, the Word who is a person, has become human, to demonstrate fully that the ultimate truth behind the universe is personal. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (v. 14).
This statement is highly specific. It asserts that at a certain time and place, God the Creator encoded Himself in humanity. It is, of course, a staggering claim to supernatural activity of the highest order. Yet, science has not and cannot eliminate the supernatural.
I submit that, far from science having buried God, not only do the results of science point toward His existence, but the scientific enterprise itself is validated by His existence. Inevitably, of course, not only those of us who do science but all of us have to choose the presuppositions with which we start. There are not many options — essentially, just two. Either human intelligence ultimately owes its origin to mindless matter or there is a Creator. It is strange that some people claim that it is their intelligence that leads them to prefer the first to the second.