Reasons to Believe

Purpose in the Universe: Do People "See" What They Want to See?

Why is it that believers in God see unmistakable evidence for a Creator’s involvement in the natural realm, while skeptics find no such warrant? Believers take it even a step further, asserting that the Creator has imbued the universe with purpose. Well-known theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, when asked whether he thought the universe had a purpose, stated that it was “unlikely,” and added:

Of course, nothing would stop science from uncovering positive evidence of divine guidance and purpose if it were attainable. For example, tomorrow night if we look up at the stars and they have been rearranged into a pattern that reads, "I am here," I think even the most hard-nosed scientific skeptic would suspect something was up.

But no such unambiguous signs have been uncovered among the millions and millions of pieces of data we have gleaned about the natural world over centuries of exploration. And this is precisely why a scientist can conclude that it is very unlikely that there is any divine purpose. If a creator had such a purpose, she could choose to demonstrate it a little more clearly to the inhabitants of her creation.

How about it? If God were to arrange the stellar pattern Krauss describes to announce “I am here,” would that do the trick? Christians might be quick to respond that the hard-nosed skeptic would find another way to explain the messagea prank, perhaps, or some other naturalistic explanationso why bother? After all, the Christian might reason, skeptics did the same thing 2,000 years ago when God (in the person of Christ) came and hung out for thirty years. In fact, he even used similar words (“before Abraham was born, I am!”) to what Krauss suggests when asked to identify himself. Obviously, RTB scholars affirm that the “unambiguous signs” of “millions and millions of pieces of data” in fact exist, and the universe displays purpose. Hugh Ross has written a book (due to be released later this year) describing multiple purposeseven destinyin detail. Presumably, scientists of nontheistic and theistic stripes have access to the same data. And, barring unusual interpretations of the evidence stemming from immovable presuppositions, doesn’t the best science eventually emerge? But, unless one is willing to allow the "immovable presuppositions" to be put to the test, skeptics and believers alike will say that no amount of evidence will convince someone that God does/does not exist. Is purpose in the eye of the beholder?

Subjects: Universe Design, Worldviews