This is a continuation from the previous post of this series, where I consider the trends in scientific discoveries as evidence and show that they support Christianity over atheism. It is a part of a series of posts where I show that all of science, taken as a whole, supports Christianity over atheism.
The question under discussion is "Why should it be that the world is so awesome?" Using science, we humans have studied the universe and and perpetually found it to be magnificent beyond our wildest expectations. Why should that be? Which worldview - Christianity or atheism - best explains this and other similar long-term trends in science?
Consider the depth of science; every scientific advancement has lead to further discoveries in unexpected directions, requiring new creative thoughts. The universe turns out to be not just bigger than anything we've ever imagined, but also deeper. In physics, at the beginning of the 20th century, it was thought that everything was basically figured out and that future advancements could only come from increasing the precision of our measurements - and then we discovered relativity and quantum mechanics. In science as a whole, we have entire new fields that were unimaginable a few centuries ago, such as molecular genetics, psychology, or computer science.
Now, why should understanding the universe require such depth of thought? Atheism, as usual, provides no answer. Christianity, on the other hand, says that the universe was constructed by God's wisdom, knowledge, and understanding - so it is only expected that the universe reflect the depth of God's thoughts. Therefore, every continuation of this trend - every new advancement, every new field of science that opens up, every discovery that shows the universe to be deeper and more intricate than we previously understood - is evidence for Christianity and against atheism.
The depth of science is all the more surprising given that the foundations of nature - the laws of physics - are actually simple. We do not generally expect complex results from simple laws, and yet here we are in a complex universe made from simple laws. Every time we've delved deeper into physics, we've found that nature is governed by a few simple, elegant laws which explains many phenomena. At the frontier of physics is the push to discover even simpler, more elegant laws, culminating in a "theory of everything". This trend towards more succinct, more unified laws of physics is so strong that we believe that this "theory of everything" MUST exist - that, for example, quantum mechanics and general relativity must be expressible in a single, coherent, underlying system. This theory would presumably be built on some immensely complex mathematical structure, but it would be a simple statement in that mathematical structure.
Again, why should this be? Atheism offers no explanation. But Christianity expects this result, because the elegance in the laws of nature are just a reflection of the elegance in God's perfection. God is infinitely simple, and therefore appears as infinitely complex to finite minds - this is a Thomistic idea that I've mentioned before. God's perfection has the same kind of elegance - that same melding of infinity and simplicity - that is found in the laws of nature. Well before modern physics started to unify the variety of physical laws it had discovered, Christianity stated that the Creator of these laws had this property of infinite simplicity. So Christianity expects the universe to reflect this aspect of its Creator, and anticipates this trend towards greater simplicity and elegance in discovering more fundamental physical laws. Therefore, all the discoveries that make up this trend - from Newton's Laws explaining Kepler's Laws, to the Standard Model explaining certain fundamental forces - are evidence for Christianity and against atheism.
At this point atheists may offer arguments about how they, too, could predict the same trends in science. They may cite the principle of parsimony or some reductionist or positivist philosophical principle or some form of empiricism - it doesn't matter. The important point is that they are not citing atheism itself as the principle by which they predict things. It may be that some of those principles can make accurate predictions, but that would be evidence for those principles, not for atheism. Atheism would then be a tacked-on, parasitic postulate attached to the principle that's actually doing the predicting. So it must be cut off and considered on its own. Then we would see that atheism by itself is a statement about the non-existence of certain entities with no explanatory power, because nothing can come from nothing.
Let's go back to considering the trends in science: One amazing trend is just how much we humans have achieved by doing science. We are capable of some amazing scientific and technological feats. We have been to an astronomical body. We can transmute lead into gold. We can read the molecular blueprints for life itself. We have knowledge at our fingertips that characters like Faust is said to have sold his soul for. We are gods.
Which world view better explains all that? Atheism is silent on our powers as humans. As far as atheism is concerned, humans may run into a wall in our pursuit of knowledge, simply because we're too dumb. Or we may merely be components of an experiment conducted by hyper-intelligent mice, who are the real rulers of the planet. Or we may live in a Lovecraftian universe where scientific advancements would only make us go mad from the revelation. Atheism makes no distinction between these or any other answers to the question of what humans can learn and do. Why should a particular species of hominids be so lucky as to achieve all that we have? What are the chances of that?
On the other hand, Christianity says that we humans are made in the image of God. That the universe itself was made to be understood so that we can see God's glory. That we are to fill the earth, subdue it, and rule over it. That we are gods. From this perspective, it was inevitable that we humans learn of the secrets of the universe, advance in our knowledge and power, and master our environment. Therefore, every new technological achievement, and every degree of control we gain over our environment, is evidence for Christianity and against atheism.
To summarize: There are many large-scale, long-term trends in science. These include: our ever-increasing understanding of the tremendous size of the universe; our continually deepening understanding of the complexities and intricacies of our world; the march towards simpler and more elegant formulations of the fundamental laws of nature, and humanity's perpetually growing power in understanding and manipulating our environment. Christianity predicts all of these things, while atheism predicts none of them. Therefore these trends in science counts as very strong evidence for Christianity, and against atheism.
In the next post of this series, I will consider the limits of science, and show that not only does Christianity explain science, it explains other things that science cannot.
You may next want to read:
The limits of science as evidence for Christianity (Next post of this series)
The Gospel: the central message of Christianity (part 1)
How physics fits within Christianity (part 2)
Another post, from the table of contents