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We Live In A Fully Furnished Universe

August 14, 2019 Featured Today No Comments

By DONALD DeMARCO

Imagine a small spheroid — a baseball — traveling through the air. A group of scientists studies it carefully and determines its velocity, its spin rate, its wind resistance, and it deviations along its trajectory. The scientists do this with scientific precision and are prepared to tell the world all about the whirling adventures of this flying orb.
But what they cannot determine, given their limited field of study, is the baseball’s efficient and final causes. The thin slice of reality they examine is too small for such determinations. Herein lies a problem for scientists. They can examine what they can see and measure, but the purpose of the flight of the baseball remains hidden from them.
If scientists could enlarge their domain of investigation, they would realize that the pitcher hurled the spheroid toward a batter. A dual purpose is involved here: The pitcher intends to get the batter out, while the batter intends to get on base.
Let us now consider Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox pitching to Manny Machado of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He throws a nasty slider and strikes out his opponent. At this moment a multiplicity of purposes all come into play. The pitch is a strike; it is strike three; it is the final out of the game; it is victory for Boston; and it concludes the 2018 World Series. All these purposes are evident to the baseball fan, although not to the empirical scientist.
Taylor Caldwell, in her 1967 novel, Dialogues With the Devil, has a group of highly trained atheistic scientists locked in a room for all eternity studying what their instruments can reveal to them. They have at their disposal every tool of scientific inquiry as well as every reference book. Their life, however, is an icon of unrelieved frustration since the purpose of their work forever eludes them. We are purpose-oriented beings by nature. Without purpose there is no meaning. And we cannot tolerate a meaningless existence. Science cannot reveal to us either the purpose or the meaning of life.
Sir Isaac Newton expressed the limitations of scientific investigation when he likened himself to a small boy playing at the seashore diverting himself by finding a smoother pebble here or a prettier shell there, “while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.” More than a quarter of a millennium has passed from the birth of Sir Isaac Newton (1642) to the birth of Werner Heisenberg (1901). Yet their philosophies are quite similar. “The first cup of natural science makes you an atheist,” Heisenberg once remarked, “But at the bottom of the cup, God is waiting.”
The Book of Proverbs made this known to mankind long before the arrival of these two great physicists: “Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established” (19:21).
Science does not disclose purpose. We need to go beyond the mere motions of matter in order to grasp the purpose that lies beyond the facts. Yet so many scientists insist that purpose is not only undiscoverable but nonexistent. In his book, River Out of Eden, Richard Dawkins states: “The Universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind and pitiless indifference” (p. 133).
We should ask Mr. Dawkins to take a more careful look. The single-cell zygote is no larger than a grain of sugar. Nonetheless, it initiates a development that progresses to form the 30-trillion-cell highly unified organism that is the human adult. The human infant produces 200 neurons in his brain per minute. This prodigious rate slows down a bit until it forms the adult brain which consists of roughly 100 billion neurons.
Here we find a pattern of organization — design, that is — which is more highly integrated than anything that is man-made. The Taj Mahal, for example, is less complex and has less organization that any one of the architects that planned it. To cite Newton once again, “Gravity may put the planets into motion, but without the divine Power, it could never put them into such a circulating motion as they have about the Sun; and therefore, for this as well as other reasons, I am compelled to ascribe the frame of this System to an intelligent Agent.”
We human beings are the beneficiaries of God’s purpose. We were meant to be. We might say that God threw out the first pitch. This brings to mind the ceiling of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel that depicts an eager God the Father reaching out to a reluctant Adam. God may throw out the first pitch, but man is not always willing to catch it. God has granted us our existence. But far more than that, He has given us a home.
Gerard Verschuuren, in his recent book, In the Beginning: A Catholic Scientist Explains How God Made Earth Our Home, came to the conclusion that “the earth was made for us. Everything was indeed fine-tuned for our coming. We live in a purpose-driven universe. Gone are chaos, mere randomness, and utter purposelessness.”
In addition, we can say that our home is fully furnished. We have light and warmth from the sun, and at our disposal are the means for providing food, clothing, and shelter. We find the beauty of nature, and are inclined to seek truth and live a good life. We are equipped with minds that seek knowledge through science, hearts that express themselves in art, and souls that search for wisdom through philosophy and theology.
We are not one-dimensional. We are not mere scientists. Our home is not the laboratory, but a fully furnished universe.

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(Dr. Donald DeMarco is professor emeritus of St. Jerome’s University and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College. He is a regular columnist for St. Austin Review. His latest two books, How to Navigate Through Life and Apostles of the Culture of Life, are posted on Amazon.com.)

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