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gods universeI remember watching Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series as a child and being awestruck by it, yet also wondering… Where does God fit in this? How does he figure into the universes, galaxies, super novas, and life? I even remember asking if it could be possible that God created evolution (a suggestion quickly brushed away by both my science and Sunday School teachers). I didn’t understand. Why couldn’t science and religion just get along?

In God’s Universe, author and astronomer Owen Gingerich doesn’t go so far as to claim proof of a Creator; however, he does assert that the universe seems to make more sense with that as a foundational belief. Quite convincingly, he reiterates that the existence of a Creator does not mean that the world works according to a preordained pattern. For Gingerich—and myself—there is room for a combination of contingency and natural selection along with the presence of a design. “There may be no architect with a plan for the final product, but there is a designer of the set of little interlocking parts…crying out for something to be built with it.”

Gingerich makes a compelling case for such an architect by pointing out how closely the Earth and its inhabitants came to not existing at all. Had the original energy of the Big Bang explosion been less, the universe would have fallen back in on itself long before there was time to build the elements required for life. On the other hand, had the original Big Bang energy been greater, it is likely the gravitational pull of matter would have diminished too quickly for stars and galaxies to form.

It had to be extraordinarily exact.

There are, however, many vocal evolutionists who say the exactitude required for the creation of the universe (and the beings who inhabit it) is simply an example of nature spinning the cosmic roulette wheel and winning. At the same time, there are metaphysicists who won’t make room for the explanations of science, which results in religious believers appearing completely unreasonable.

Just as spouting off scientific facts and statistics does not disprove the existence of a divine being, neither does quoting scriptures from Genesis prove his or her existence. “A philosopher will seek after truth, but an astronomer will just take what is simplest. And neither will find truth unless it has been divinely revealed to him.” Both sides, says Gingerich, are arguing far outside of their abilities.

Personally, I choose to see the universe much in the same way Gingerich does… as the creation of a loving God, comprised of scientific and natural laws, with just enough freedom that conscience and responsibility, contingency and natural selection, are all part of the mix. Of course, neither science nor religion can prove any of this.

I’m okay with that. You?