“When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars which thou hast established;
what is man that thou art mindful of him,
Yet though hast made him little less than God…
You hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands.”
(From the Eighth Psalm)
Why did God make a huge vast universe, (that I personally doubt is empty of other civilizations) only to put a bunch of humans in some tiny insignificant planet?…Why make a huge universe, assuming that god made that universe somehow?…I am not about to answer these questions with faith. I need facts. Facts come only from science—although science cannot answer the above questions either… (FC)
By your admission, science cannot prove that God exists or that He created the universe or answer why He would place us humans on this planet and for what purpose. Besides the questions you raised, there are many other questions for which science is in no position to provide answers, such as the existence of souls, resurrection, life after death, etc.
Since questions such as these cannot be answered by science, why can’t we rely upon the answers provided by the Church, which are based on divine revelation, which do not contradict science—as they should not, if both scientific and faith answers are true? Why can’t we let science continue to make advances, explaining to us the mysteries of the universe and of life, particularly as they pertain to human beings?
Our “whys” have no end. Our minds are programmed to require proof, evidence, verification, which often are not to be had. So we inquire, we probe, we test, and we search until we arrive at answers that satisfy our brains.
Most questions that start with “why” are more philosophical than scientific in nature. Why does the world exist, why this way, this size, this shape; why is it composed the way it is, why is there life, intelligence, feelings, etc. etc. Some “whys” are answerable: why is life so brief? It’s a relativistic question, but answerable, and in fact it was in the news this past week that the lifespan of humans can be extended. Why we are born this or that way is also answerable.
Science is more equipped to answer questions that start with “how.” How did the world come about? How did life emerge? How were the elements surfaced? Although science has not answered these basic questions in a definitive way yet, it is making great advances.
The “what” questions are also hard to answer: what is the purpose of the world? Does it need to have a purpose? What is the purpose of humans? Do we have a purpose? What is it? What happens after humans die? Is there another form of existence? We have no “scientific” answers to such questions. That’s why some people believe and others don’t. Neither is right or wrong, scientifically speaking.
Is the universe infinite? Is there an end to it? What’s beyond it? I have answers that a non-believer doesn’t have. I say, the universe is finite, because only God is infinite, and God is not identified with the universe. You may believe it’s infinite, but you cannot prove it scientifically.
Also, as a believer I have an unshakable faith that the world had a beginning. Nearly all non-believers accept the same thing. The scientists call it “Big Bang,” while we call it a creative act of God. Personally, I believe that the two coincide. Recently, certain scientists advanced the theory of self-creation. This is not science. It’s a cop-out.
Job’s reflections on man
When I read your “whys” I thought of Job (his story is narrated in a book of the Bible carrying his name, which comes before the book of Psalms). Although his questions were moral in nature—Why is there suffering? Why does God act the way He does? How is man justified before God? Does it make any difference whether or not one believes in God? What good is there to believe in God? etc.—his reflections are also pertinent to your “scientific” queries. He says of man:
- “His days are but “a breath”
- His days are “few, and full of trouble”
- “We are but of yesterday, and know nothing”
- “He comes forth like a flower, and withers”
- His days are “swifter than a weaver’s shuttle”
Yet we think we are capable of knowing everything, and that everything should make sense to our small and pretentious brain. In our own conceit we think we are wise.
Our attitude before God
As with Job, God addresses the same words to us: “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?…Will you put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be justified?” Certainly we were not His counselors when God created the world; He did not consult us about the way He should create it; He did not confide to us His inscrutable purposes.
We too, like Job, who considered himself to be righteous and therefore thought he deserved to be treated better by God, raise our minds high, challenging God to reveal Himself to us, to prove His existence. In absence of proof we taunt God, and declare our self-sufficiency.
We’d better have the wisdom to realize our limitations and say with Job:
That’s what we, Christians, do—or are supposed to do. At least we are expected to exhibit some humility.
Why I believe
There is an erroneous notion, on part of many (believers and unbelievers alike) that one believes in God out of fear, or to gain benefits. Both views miss the point. What is the point? That God alone exists, and everything else perishes. He alone is perfect, and good, and loving; and we want to know Him, as much as we can know Him, and thus love Him, and be with Him, to praise Him and glorify Him for His love, His wisdom, His beauty, His glory—and obey Him and serve Him, without asking any recompense.
God revealed Himself to us not in a vision, but in a human being, Jesus Christ, the second person of the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In full honesty, were it not for my firm and unshakable belief in Jesus Christ, and in His resurrection from the dead, like you I would not have enough proof to believe in God. I would be a skeptic, or even an agnostic, despite Rom. 1:18-20, Psalms 14:1, 19:1 and 53:1, Isaiah ch. 41 and ch.42, and Wisdom of Solomon, ch. 13, which I suggest you study with an open mind.
* Photo in post heading by Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis.
Article graphics and editing: Tony Hatzidakis