Reasons to Believe

Does Nature Today Reveal More or Less about God? Part 1

I get a lot of questions about how effectively science reveals God. One of the most common is, does science reveal more about God today than it did a century ago? Another question I receive is, if science reveals much more about God than it did in the past, why are there so many more atheists today than in the past?

My quick answer to these questions is that in one context, science indeed reveals much more about God, his attributes, and his plans than it did a century ago. In another context, however, science reveals much less about God, his attributes, and his plans than it did a century ago. In this blog article I will explain and describe how science reveals much more. In my next blog article I will explain and describe how science reveals much less, and why, consequently, in some parts of the world atheists and agnostics today make up a larger percentage of the population.

God’s Two Books
The Bible declares that God has revealed himself through two books. One is the book of Scripture; the other is the book of nature. Theologians often refer to these books, respectively, as special revelation and general revelation. Psalm 119 and 2 Timothy 3:15–16 are two of several biblical texts declaring the value, trustworthiness, and power of Scripture in revealing and establishing God’s existence, his attributes, and his plan for humanity. Psalm 19:1–4, Psalm 97:6, and Romans 1:18–20, likewise, are three of several Bible passages proclaiming the value, trustworthiness, and power of the realm of nature in revealing and establishing God’s existence, attributes, and plan and purpose for creating everything, and us human beings in particular.

In one context, the database of the book of Scripture has remained static for more than 19 centuries. The last of the 66 books of the Bible was penned sometime during the last decade of the first century AD.1 In another context, it is far from static. Scholars from each successive generation of church history, in researching biblical texts, gleaned additional insight and understanding. This progression of biblical insight and understanding is in keeping with 1 Peter 1:12:

It was revealed to them [Old Testament prophets] that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (NIV)

The book of nature’s database has changed and continues to change in all contexts. Every day, scientists and others make new discoveries that add to humanity’s knowledge and understanding of the realm of nature. Daniel 12:4 prophetically declares that at the time of the end,

many will go here and there to increase knowledge. (NIV)

Most Bible scholars interpret this text as implying that in the epoch before the return of Jesus Christ, humanity will experience both a travel explosion and a knowledge explosion and that much of the travel will be motivated by the quest to expand knowledge.

Nature Revealing More
It is hard to deny that we are presently in the epoch Daniel spoke of. In my lifetime the published scientific research literature has expanded exponentially. For example, I started my subscription to the Astrophysical Journal when I was in my late teens. At that time, the page count for that journal was about 2,400 pages per year. Today, the pages for the journal are twice the size, and the page count runs about 36,000 pages per year.

That 30-fold expansion (15 times as many pages, times pages twice as large) is very conservative. When I was a teenager there were 15 major journals publishing research papers in astronomy and astrophysics. Today, there are more than 60.

Astronomy and astrophysics are not exceptional among the scientific disciplines. Every discipline of science has seen similar exponential increases in research findings. Furthermore, the number of scientific disciplines has greatly expanded.

What does this scientific information explosion say about nature’s revelation of God, his attributes, and his plans? It means that where several decades ago scientific discoveries that added to the weight of evidence for the Christian faith occurred on average about once a month, today they occur at a rate averaging several per day.

Just by myself, I post an average of four tweets per day alerting our constituents and others to recently published research papers that add to the body of evidence for the Christian faith and the Reasons to Believe biblical creation model. If you are not already a follower, I encourage you to check out my Twitter page. In each tweet I attempt to describe the discovery in 140 characters or less and always include a link to the actual research paper. That link gives you free access to the paper abstract, and most research paper abstracts give you the bottom line result of the research study in language that laypeople can understand. In some cases the entire paper is made available for free.

I am not alone. All of the scientist-evangelists on staff at Reasons to Believe regularly tweet about scientific discoveries adding to the weight of evidence for the Christian faith, and, like me, they write blog articles on the more significant of these discoveries.

Another dramatic demonstration of exponential growth in revelation about God from nature’s book is the increase in evidence for fine-tuning in the universe, solar system, and Earth that is needed to make possible the existence of life and of human beings (or their functional equivalent). In the first, second, and third editions of my book The Creator and the Cosmos—dated 1993, 1995, and 2001, respectively—I presented tables where I estimated the probability for attaining the necessary physical characteristics to make the existence of life possible somewhere in the universe without invoking divinely activated miracles. In 2006, I also updated a table on our website. A comparison of the four tables shows that the evidence for supernatural intervention to explain the fine-tuning needed to make life possible rises by more than a factor of 1,000 times per month. In other words, the measurable degree of fine-tuning design necessary to make long-lasting life possible increases by an average of more than a thousand times per month. For skeptics who struggle to believe in the Christian faith, we can challenge them to wait one month and observe how the fine-tuning evidence for God multiplies.

So, yes, today the book of nature is revealing much, much more about God, his nature, and his plan than in previous decades and centuries. That dramatically increased revelation from nature is what fuels the ministry of evangelism here at Reasons to Believe, in our chapters across the nation, and with all our volunteers and constituents. That exponential increase is what personally gives me hope that we may be able to complete the commission that Christ gave us to make disciples of all people groups within a few decades rather than several centuries.

Endnotes

  1. Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 758.

Subjects: God's Existence