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Three Major Scientific Discoveries In The Past Century That Point To God

The Federalist Originally published at The Federalist

This week, traditional Jews and Christians celebrate special acts of God in human history. Yet, polling data now show that an increasing number of young people, including those from religious homes, doubt even the existence of God.

Moreover, polls probing such young “religiously unaffiliated agnostics and atheists” have found that science — or at least the claims of putative spokesmen for science — have played an outsized sole in cementing disaffection with religious belief. In one, more than two-thirds of self-described atheists, and one-third of agnostics, affirm “the findings of science make the existence of God less probable.”

It’s not hard to see how many people might have acquired this impression. Since 2006 popular “new atheist” writers — Richard Dawkins, Victor Stenger, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Stephen Hawking, Bill Nye, and Lawrence Krauss — have published a series of best-selling books arguing that science renders religious belief implausible. According to Dawkins and others, Darwinian evolution, in particular, establishes that “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose … nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”

But does science actually support this strictly materialistic vision of reality? In fact, three major scientific discoveries during the last century contradict the expectations of scientific atheists (or materialists) and point instead in a distinctly theistic direction.

First, cosmologists have discovered that the physical universe likely had a beginning, contrary to the expectations of scientific materialists who had long portrayed the material universe as eternal and self-existent (and, therefore, in no need of an external creator).

The first evidence of a cosmic beginning came in the 1920s when astronomers discovered that light coming from distant galaxies was being stretched out or “red-shifted” as if the galaxies were moving away from us. Soon after, Belgian priest and physicist Georges Lemaître and Caltech astronomer Edwin Hubble independently showed that galaxies farther away from Earth were receding faster than those close at hand. That suggested a spherical expansion of the universe (and space) like a balloon inflating from a singular explosive beginning — from a “big bang.”

Lemaître also showed that Einstein’s equations describing gravity most naturally implied a dynamic, evolving universe, despite Einstein’s initial attempt to gerrymander his own equations to depict the universe as eternally existing and static — i.e., neither contracting nor expanding. In 1931, Einstein visited Hubble at the Mt. Wilson observatory in California to view the red-shift evidence for himself. He later announced that denying the evidence of a beginning was “the greatest blunder” of his scientific career.

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Stephen C. Meyer

Director, Center for Science and Culture
Dr. Stephen C. Meyer received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in the philosophy of science. A former geophysicist and college professor, he now directs the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle. He is author of the New York Times-bestseller Darwin’s Doubt (2013) as well as the book Signature in the Cell (2009) and Return of the God Hypothesis (2021). In 2004, Meyer ignited a firestorm of media and scientific controversy when a biology journal at the Smithsonian Institution published his peer-reviewed scientific article advancing intelligent design. Meyer has been featured on national television and radio programs, including The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CBS's Sunday Morning, NBC's Nightly News, ABC's World News, Good Morning America, Nightline, FOX News Live, and the Tavis Smiley show on PBS. He has also been featured in two New York Times front-page stories and has garnered attention in other top-national media.