PHYSICAL EVIDENCES OF GOD (C. 1958)

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Excerpted from The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, edited by John Clover Monsma. New York: G.P. Putman’s Sons, 1958

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By Paul Clarence Aebersold, Biophysicist

A.B. cum laude, Stanford University, M.A., Ph.D., University of California. Formerly Radiation Specialist and Roentgenol­ogist with Finney-Howell Research Foundation; Research Liaison Aide, Manhattan Project, U.S. Bureau of Standards; Director of Isotopes Division, Oak Ridge Operations, Atomic Energy Commission; presently Director for Isotopes and Radiation, Division of Civilian Application, A.E.C., Wash­ington, D.C. Member of Committee on Nuclear Science, National Research Council, and of various national biological and radiological organizations. Specialist in nuclear physics, biophysics, properties of neutron radiation, isotopes.

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Francis Bacon, English philosopher and statesman, said more than three centuries ago, “A little philosophy inclines man to atheism; a depth of philosophy brings him to religion.” Bacon was unquestionably right.

Millions upon millions of thinking, searching individuals throughout human existence have faced the following most profound questions: What superior Intelligence, what enormous Force, governs man and the universe at large? What underlies or is beyond life and human experience?

Each of the billions of persons in future generations of men—if present earth life continues—will repeat these ques­tions. In view of the deep and multitudinous soul searching devoted to these questions we necessarily approach them humbly, without expectation of an answer that is in any way complete.

One thing is certain: even as greatly resourceful and in­telligent as man is, he has never felt complete within himself. Men of different religions, races and continents have inde­pendently and universally throughout history recognized man’s severe limitations in understanding and explaining the vast universe, including the most difficult question of the role and purpose of life within it.

Whether by means of intellect or spirit, the fact is that man has almost universally recognized a greater all-encom­passing intelligence and order in the universe than could possibly be conceived from chance, haphazard events in­volving inanimate, unguided matter. That man universally accepts the need of extrapolation beyond his own intellect is in itself strong evidence for a superior Intelligence.

Unequivocal acceptance of God cannot be gained through “absolute scientific proof.” Each person will finally forge his answer—the accord between his own life and God—from a molding together of his knowledge of the material and the spiritual. It will come from combining his comprehension of the infinitely expansive and complicated material universe and his inner personal responsiveness to the greatly various experiences of intellect, emotion and spirit. A census of the reasons and experiences which demonstrate God to millions of intelligent persons around the world would be infinite in variety—but also overwhelming in total affirmation.

Scientists soon learn that science is limited to explaining in greater and greater detail the “how” of things. But neither science nor man can explain the “why.”

Early in my scientific studies I was so enamored of human reasoning and the power of scientific methods that I felt certain that scientists could eventually explain everything in the universe—perhaps the origin of life, the derivation of the intellect, and even the meaning of everything. But as I learned more and more about everything—from atoms to galaxies, microbes to man—more and more remained unex­plained. Science can go on victoriously for millennia and details of the atom, the universe as a whole, life, man and mind will still remain to be discovered. Scientists soon learn that science is limited to explaining in greater and greater detail the “how” of things. But neither science nor man can explain the “why.” Science, human reasoning alone, will never explain why there are atoms, stars, galaxies, life and man with all his marvelous capacities. Although science can develop very plausible theories of a cataclysmic birth of the universe resulting in galaxies, stars, worlds and atoms, it cannot explain where all this matter and energy came from and why the universe is so constituted and ordered. Straight thinking, clear reasoning demand the concept of God.

Is God a “personal” God, as many conceive Him to be? From a viewpoint of science, I do not think of Him as “personal” in the sense that He sits on a throne somewhere like a human king¹. The sacred writings, in describing God and His nature, made ample use of figures of speech derived from human life and human history. God, being a spiritual Being, could not be described in purely spiritual terms, be­cause man as a dichotomous, earthbound being would not have been able to employ such terms or comprehend them.

On the other hand, God in His spirituality and transcend­ence has moral virtues, the capacity for thought, volition and feeling, and in that sense He is an objective, personal Being. In fact, He is the Divine Prototype of which our human personalities are faint and finite copies. That is what is meant by the statement that man is the “image of God.”

God is in no sense physical. For that reason He is beyond our human capacity to describe or explain Him in a physical sense. At the same time there are abundant physical evi­dences of His existence, and His works prove Him to be infinite in wisdom, knowledge and power. But God being unfathomable, man cannot fathom the ultimate purpose of himself or the great universe of which he—physically—is such a microscopically small and insignificant part.

The one thing we all certainly realize is that man and the universe did not spring forth spontaneously from absolutely nothing. They had a beginning, and there was a Beginner. We also realize that the marvelous and intricate physical order of the universe follows laws not dictated by man, and that the miracle of life itself has an origin and a guidance beyond man—a Divine origin and a Divine guidance.

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¹ Obviously I disagree with this statement based on the text “… Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them…” (Revelation 20: 11 et alii). Jesus Christ is the King of kings (Revelation 19:16 et alii) and kings have thrones.

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