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IDEA Center Response to "Got Proof?" in the San Diego Union Tribune (5/3/02)

In "Got proof?" (4/26/02, San Diego Union Tribune), Mark Sauer reports that Dr. Victor Stenger has demonstrated that the existence of, "the personal God of Christianity, Judaism and Islam can be ruled out scientifically with high probability." However, a closer examination of the evidence suggests that design by a personal God is a highly probable scenario.

When asked the simple question, "What color is the sky?," a statistician could accurately reply that: "In Norway, 50% of the time the sky is black, and that another 48% of the time the sky is gray, meaning that, contrary to observations under normal conditions, the statement that 'the sky is blue' is improbable." While the statistician may be technically correct, the obvious answer that 'the sky is blue' has been obscured through statistical manipulation. One could also ask, "Why does our universe support complex life?"

Our universe, solar system, and home planet sustain life because of the improbable "fine-tuning" of physical laws, constants, and architecture of nature. For example, if the forces inside the atom were only slightly different, most elements of matter could not exist. If our solar system was not in a specific zone of our galaxy and was not strangely positioned within the "galactic co-rotation radius," Earth would receive deadly dosages of radiation.

Carbon and oxygen based life would be impossible without a precise and improbable match between their stable energy levels and the energy levels of the atoms that combine to create them during nuclear fusion. In addition, if ice sank rather than strangely float, icebergs would sink, freezing the oceans from the bottom up, killing most life. None of this mentions the fact that the universe is expanding, indicating a "beginning of time" which many physicists have compared to a "creation event." And there are many more such examples.

Stenger believes that these improbable events that allow for life are just "coincidences" in our "purely material, self-contained, uncreated universe." However, the fact remains that our universe seems carefully "fine tuned" to support life, strongly supporting the notion that it was designed by a Creator outside of space and time, such as the God of the Bible. (The Bible does not say the universe is young, and allows a very old or a very young universe.)

Stenger implies that religious faith inhibits reason and is dangerous to society. Yet, the U.S. was founded by religious people, most of whom were Christians employing Biblical principles of societal fairness and justice to create our democracy. Even the modern scientific enterprise itself was borne out of the Christian worldview--Kepler, Morse, Pasteur, Galileo, Newton, Pascal, Maxwell, Faraday, and Bacon were all Christians who saw God through their scientific work. If God gave us our faculties of reason in the first place, why should faith inhibit the pursuit of scientific knowledge and truth?

San Diegans deserve an unbiased and accurate account of issues related to science and religion. It is interesting that Mark Sauer gave an uncritical article on Stenger's viewpoint, as Sauer himself has previously spoken at the skeptics group that hosted Stenger's lecture. We invite those seeking objective presentation of the scientific evidence for the existence of God to visit some of our creation-evolution resources. May San Diego continue to prosper through the faith and reason granted to us all by God.