Teleological Argument and Scientists

QUESTION: Teleological Argument – Quotes from Noted Scientists

ANSWER:

Take a look at the assessments of some noted scientists regarding the fine-tuning inherent in the Teleological Argument:

Fred Hoyle (British astrophysicist): "A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question."1

George Ellis (British astrophysicist and collaborator on the Hawking-Penrose Singularity Theorems): "Amazing fine tuning occurs in the laws that make this [complexity] possible. Realization of the complexity of what is accomplished makes it very difficult not to use the word 'miraculous' without taking a stand as to the ontological status of the word."2

“God is the creator and sustainer of the universe and of humankind, transcending the universe but immanent in it;
“God's nature embodies justice and holiness, but is also a personal and loving God who cares for each creature (so the name "father" is indeed appropriate);
“God's nature is revealed most perfectly in the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as recorded in the New Testament of the Bible, who was sent by God to reveal the divine nature, summarized in "God is Love;"
“God has an active presence in the world that still touches the lives of the faithful today.”3

Paul Davies (British astrophysicist): "There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all....It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe....The impression of design is overwhelming".4

"The laws [of physics]...seem to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design... The universe must have a purpose".5

Alan Sandage (winner of the Crawford prize in astronomy): "I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing."6

John O'Keefe (astronomer at NASA): "We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cosseted, cherished group of creatures.. .. If the Universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in."7

Tony Rothman (physicist): "When confronted with the order and beauty of the universe and the strange coincidences of nature, it's very tempting to take the leap of faith from science into religion. I am sure many physicists want to. I only wish they would admit it."8

Vera Kistiakowsky (MIT physicist): "The exquisite order displayed by our scientific understanding of the physical world calls for the divine."9

Ed Harrison (cosmologist): "Here is the cosmological proof of the existence of God – the design argument of Paley – updated and refurbished. The fine tuning of the universe provides prima facie evidence of deistic design. Take your choice: blind chance that requires multitudes of universes or design that requires only one.... Many scientists, when they admit their views, incline toward the teleological or design argument."10

Barry Parker (cosmologist): "Who created these laws? There is no question but that a God will always be needed."11

Drs. Idit Zehavi, and Avishai Dekel (cosmologists): "This type of universe, however, seems to require a degree of fine tuning of the initial conditions that is in apparent conflict with 'common wisdom'."12

Henry "Fritz" Schaefer (Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry and director of the Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry at the University of Georgia): "The significance and joy in my science comes in those occasional moments of discovering something new and saying to myself, 'So that's how God did it.' My goal is to understand a little corner of God's plan."13

Carl Woese (microbiologist from the University of Illinois) "Life in Universe - rare or unique? I walk both sides of that street. One day I can say that given the 100 billion stars in our galaxy and the 100 billion or more galaxies, there have to be some planets that formed and evolved in ways very, very like the Earth has, and so would contain microbial life at least. There are other days when I say that the anthropic principal, which makes this universe a special one out of an uncountably large number of universes, may not apply only to that aspect of nature we define in the realm of physics, but may extend to chemistry and biology. In that case life on Earth could be entirely unique."14

Arno Penzias (Nobel prize in physics, co-discoverer of the background microwave radiation in the universe proving the Big Bang model): “The best data we have [concerning the Big Bang] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole.”15

In a subsequent radio interview, Penzias was asked what there was before the Big Bang: “We don’t know, but we can reasonably say that there was nothing.” An upset listener called immediately, accusing Penzias of being an atheist. He wisely replied: “Madame, I believe you are not aware of the consequences of what I just said. Before the Big Bang there was nothing of what now exists. Had there been something, the question could be: where did it come from?” He continued commenting that if there was nothing and suddenly things began to appear, that was sign that Somebody had taken them from nothing, and concluded saying that his discovery could bring about the overcoming of the historic enmity between science and religion.

NOTES
Compliments of Steve J. Williams. Rendered with permission from the book, The Skeptics’ Guide to Eternal Bliss (2nd ed), Steve J. Williams, Lulu Press, 2009. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Hoyle, F. 1982. The Universe: Past and Present Reflections. Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics: 20:16.

2 Ellis, G.F.R. 1993. The Anthropic Principle: Laws and Environments. The Anthropic Principle, F. Bertola and U.Curi, ed. New York, Cambridge University Press, p. 30.

3 Schaefer, Henry F., Science and Christianity. P. 71

4 Davies, P. 1988. The Cosmic Blueprint: New Discoveries in Nature's Creative Ability To Order the Universe. New York: Simon and Schuster, p.203.

5 Davies, P. 1984. Superforce: The Search for a Grand Unified Theory of Nature. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984), p. 243.

6 Willford, J.N. March 12, 1991. Sizing up the Cosmos: An Astronomers Quest. New York Times, p. B9.

7 Heeren, F. 1995. Show Me God. Wheeling, IL, Searchlight Publications, p. 200.

8 Casti, J.L. 1989. Paradigms Lost. New York, Avon Books, p.482-483.

9 Margenau, H and R.A. Varghese, ed. 1992. Cosmos, Bios, and Theos. La Salle, IL, Open Court, p. 52.

10 Harrison, E. 1985. Masks of the Universe. New York, Collier Books, Macmillan, pp. 252, 263.

11 Heeren, F. 1995. Show Me God. Wheeling, IL, Searchlight Publications, p. 223.

12 Zehavi, I, and A. Dekel. 1999. Evidence for a positive cosmological constant from flows of galaxies and distant supernovae Nature 401: 252-254.

13 Sheler, J. L. and J.M. Schrof, "The Creation", U.S. News & World Report (December 23, 1991):56-64.

14 Mullen, L. 2001. The Three Domains of Life from SpaceDaily.com

15 Schaefer, Henry F., Science and Christianity. P. 49

Teleological Argument - Learn More!