December 29, 2014

The Case for God

It's hard to ignore all the studies.  The latest study by the Austin Institute is yet another study that shows that Religious people are much happier than others.

The study found that people who attend religious services on a weekly basis are nearly twice as likely to describe themselves as “very happy” (45%) than people who never attend (28%). Conversely, those who never worship are twice as likely to say they are “very unhappy” (4%) as those who attend services weekly (2%).    …..Building on prior research, this broad survey of American adults comprised a representative sample of 15,738 Americans between the ages of 18 and 60.

From the study summary. The link between religion and various psychological states has been the subject of many social scientific studies, many of which have found a connection between self-reported happiness and religious practices.  Research has suggested that religious faith may be adept in its ability to offer significance and meaning to life, that religious coping mechanisms can improve physical and emotional health, that faith can be a powerful motivating force, and that congregants may receive emotional support from others in their congregations.

Walter Russell Mead,  Most people believe in God because they feel that life means something.

We are born, we move through life; if we are lucky we grow old and die. As all this happens, we feel things. We feel connections to other people – to family, friends, lovers and spouses, fellow citizens of a nation, fellow members of our species facing a common fate on a single and fragile planet, the animals that share our lives and our world. We see astounding acts of heroism and devotion, especially in everyday life. We see parents sacrificing for the sake of their children, young people caring for aged relatives, firemen rushing into burning buildings to save people they don’t even know, inspiring teachers who earn very little money but seem contented and fulfilled, volunteers giving spare time and money to their communities in many ways, judges who give honest verdicts without favor or fear – and on and on and on.

We also see beauty all around us: sunrise, sunset, the play of light on water, starry nights, the subtle colors of a grassy field, the awesome presence of a mountain range, dazzling tropical fishes, roses in a garden. We often feel there is some kind of connection between the beauty of nature and the beauty of human life well lived; many of us seek to respond to the beauty we see around us by creating beauty (whether as art, in gardens or in our daily lives) of our own.

Moral beauty, physical beauty, feelings of love and devotion to people and causes that take us beyond our selves: for most of us, the part of our life that feels truest, most real and most fully lived revolves around these things.

Our lives in the world point us towards something beyond the facts of our lives.

Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God writes Eric Metaxas in the WSJ.  The odds of life existing on another planet grow ever longer. Intelligent design, anyone?

Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life—every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart. ….In other words, the odds turned against any planet in the universe supporting life, including this one. Probability said that even we shouldn’t be here…..

The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces—gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the “strong” and “weak” nuclear forces—were determined less than one millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction—by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000—then no stars could have ever formed at all.

Add another blessing to the earth, Scientists discover Earth’s ‘Star Trek’-style invisible shield

The shield, which forms a barrier to particle motion, was found in the Van Allen radiation belts…The radiation belts, which are held in place by Earth’s magnetic field, are two doughnut-shaped rings that are packed with high-energy electrons and protons……
“It’s almost like these electrons are running into a glass wall in space,” said Distinguished Professor Daniel Baker, director of CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, who led the study.  “Somewhat like the shields created by force fields on Star Trek that were used to repel alien weapons, we are seeing an invisible shield blocking these electrons. It’s an extremely puzzling phenomenon.”

Msgr Pope's Meditation on the Van Allen belts: The Earth is a Rare Jewel.   

He comments on the Metaxas article in The Rarity of Earth and How Astronomical Are the Odds Against Complex Life in the Universe.

I think today that many who bristle at “intelligent design” do so more from a visceral and perhaps anti-religious stance than from a truly scientific one. As said above, I am not asking scientists to declare that science can prove God exists. That is not the purpose of science. Neither am I asking them to accept the Judeo-Christian concept of God….

The more we learn of the incredible complexity of life and of ecosystems and their irreducible complexity, the more reasonable it seems to posit an intelligent cause to it all, or to theorize that the many necessary elements were intentionally brought together by some outside force that is intelligent or purposeful. I do not ask scientists to suddenly line up to enter RCIA, only that they draw reasonable conclusions even if they are only provisional (as are most scientific conclusions).

Joy Overbeck gathers quotes from scientists

“I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. God to me is a mystery, but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing.” (Astronomer Allan Sandage, celebrated for his exacting measurements of the size and age of the universe)

“To me, the concept of God is a logical outcome of the study of the immense universe that lies around us. God exists as the Supreme Being who started this creation the evidence is all too pervasive for me to think otherwise” (Thomas C. Emmel, who received a doctorate in population biology from Stanford University)

“How such already quite complex structures may have come together, remains a mystery. The possibility of the existence of a Creator, of God, represents to me a satisfactory solution to this problem.” (Professor Werner Arber, Nobel Prize winner in physiology-medicine, on the vast complexity of molecular biology)
Posted by Jill Fallon at December 29, 2014 2:29 PM | Permalink