In the 2009 BCS National Championship Game, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow inscribed John 3:16 on his eyeblack, inspiring some 90 million people to search the verse—evidently for the first time.1 This is a remarkable contrast to the early days of our nation, when cultural literacy would have included at least a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible and verses like John 3:16 would have been familiar, if not memorized. In that era, belief in a God who created the universe, the earth, and every living thing on it was the norm. Clearly there has been a huge cultural shift.
Both then and now, John’s words are an ageless call for personal reflection. Yet it would seem that the message of eternal life and deliverance from a perishing world is not vital today. Priority for a seemingly distant God has fallen well below the “urgencies” of daily living. And who would honestly place themselves in spiritual peril? For some, their unpracticed faith has gone cold. Others stress that they have no need for religion, or for God. Spiritually tone-deaf, they may find a refuge in Nietzsche’s lament: “God is dead.”
Science and Secularism
Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was one of several powerful voices in the nineteenth century responsible for the cultural shift. His oft-quoted mantra was hardly a boast. It was a statement of despair, rooted in his observation that a world reduced and compartmentalized through empirical science, enlightened thinking, and modern philosophy had eliminated the need for a sovereign transcendent creator. He also predicted the consequential emergence of a nihilistic worldview absent of meaning or purpose—trending to social and civic tyranny.2 Does this seem prophetic?
How did we get here? Is there a counter to a godless worldview: a path to refresh lost faith? It appears Nietzsche had it right. The march of science and increasingly secular ideas from the mid-nineteenth century forward has framed a mainstream worldview absent of God, where religious belief has been marginalized to myth.
Adding to Nietzsche’s views, it’s been said that Charles Darwin gifted atheism with a scientific foundation. If natural, random processes can account for the diversity of life and all speciation, then what intellectual space remains for a creator?
Soon after Darwin’s ideas went public, astronomers3 discovered a breathtaking, expansive universe, with countless galaxies far beyond our Milky Way. Did these findings reinvigorate belief in supernatural creation? No. Intellectuals characterized Earth as an insignificant, accidental dust speck in the immensity of space. With these presumptions it is understandable that twentieth-century writers and philosophers would consider humanity as just another species thrown into an uncaring, godless universe with no hope beyond the grave.
In a complimentary vein, renowned scientists such as Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, and Richard Dawkins leveraged their platforms to argue that the universe is all there is, all there ever was, and all we need to know. It appears that secular science—“all there is to know”—has displaced theology. God has been deemed unnecessary; John 3:16 is irrelevant.
These subjective, lingering narratives are pervasive in our culture, and one could argue that they have fostered religious doubt and apathy, cast a shadow over individual meaning and purpose, spawned nihilism, seeded agnosticism, and promoted atheism. The normalization of secular science within our education systems may well account for the lack of self worth expressed by many young people.
Perhaps the “death” or irrelevance of God (to man) has been an off-ramp to our polarized culture. Instead of a God human beings will answer to, it seems that a godless universe and behavior without ultimate consequences are reflected in spiking crime rates, disrespect for tradition, silencing of opposing beliefs, shaming, bullying, runaway drug-related deaths, human trafficking, gender confusion, corrupt and weak leadership, increased depression, escalating suicide rates, and school massacres. It’s all evidence of a deeply fallen and menacing world.
Science in Transformation
I believe we have reached a major turning point. In recent decades, discoveries in both the life and physical sciences have radically transformed our understanding of the universe’s origin and its purpose: a world designed for advanced civilization. The implications of these discoveries counter the atheistic premises of scientists, philosophers, and intellectuals bounded within a naturalist worldview. In a kind of scientific coup, Darwinism has been neutered and Sagan dethroned.
Darwin’s core theories, built on random natural mechanisms and extensive time, struggle to account for:
The (geologically) sudden appearance of new, complex fossils exhibiting advanced body structures in the Cambrian geological era.4
Examples of extreme biological complexity; for example, biological coding and information processing.
In DNA replication, an ensemble of proteins unwinds DNA strands (lengthy, four-bit coded sequences), then reads, replicates, error checks, corrects, and generates new DNA code and winds up a copy strand.5 In a Darwinian world, the codependence of the DNA strands and the protein ensembles would require their independent, concurrent evolution, including their mutual functionality—hardly the signature of an unguided process.
General relativity (1915) predicted the hot big bang origin of matter, energy, space and time, and the physical laws governing the universe.6 This prediction was validated empirically by cosmic microwave background measurements in the mid 1960s. Soon after, physicists Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose published theorems that affirmed the notion that the universe had an origin.7 Though some people retain doubt due to the lack of a quantum theory of gravity, that singular moment in which everything natural came into existence from nothing is, by definition, a transcendent event, implying a cause apart from our universe.
Other discoveries have revealed that advanced human life depends on hundreds of extremely fined-tuned physical properties of the cosmos. Examples include the detailed external and internal structures of the universe, such as (1) its size, mass, and age; (2) the size, shape, and stability of the Milky Way Galaxy (MWG); (3) the location of our solar system in the MWG; (4) a multitude of unique solar system features such as our sun’s structure, material content, stability; and (5) the precise number, types, and orbits of the planets.8
This growing aggregation of staggeringly precise, life-critical, physical properties strongly points to this: the universe appears to be singularly intended for human habitation.9
Science and Belief
I contend that 170-plus years of atheistic bias built on a limited understanding of the cosmos and the life sciences has lost its rational foundation. Moreover, the evidence of pervasive intentional design suggests a designer apart from this universe. In our time, scientific rigor is providing reasons to believe in a transcendent Creator of all that is and all that ever was.
Over 3,000 years ago, before telescopes, spectroscopes, interferometers, and other advanced technology, when cloudless nights would reveal a breathtaking panoply of stars and galaxies, David, the Jewish king and psalmist, wrote these inspired words:10
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
Yet for many today, the cloud of secular science has been an intimidating barrier, and a source of doubt to belief in God. But now, we can confidently push aside its spiritually suffocating tenets. A search for spiritual meaning and purpose in a deeply fallen world can start with understanding that the natural world we depend on has supernatural meaning and purpose. That knowledge can open a fresh perspective and provide a solid foundation on which to build personal faith in a loving Creator who grants everlasting life to all who trust in him.
Patrick Pinak, “Relive Tim Tebow’s John 3:16 ‘Coincidence’ That Creeped Everyone Out,” Fanbuzz, August 12, 2022.
Jordan B. Peterson, Beyond Order (New York: Penguin Portfolio, 2021), Rule VI, 162.
For example, Edwin Hubble, Henrietta Leavit, Georges LeMaître, and Vespo Sipher, circa 1910–1927.
Stephen C. Meyer, Darwin’s Doubt (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2013), Kindle Edition. During this explosion of fauna, representatives of about 20 of the roughly 26 total phyla present in the known fossil record made their first appearance on Earth.
Fazale R. Rana with Kenneth R. Samples, Humans 2.0 (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2019).
Jeff Zweerink, “Did the Universe Have a Beginning?”, RTB publication, July 1, 2016.
Jeff Zweerink, “Hawking’s Final Word on the Beginning,” Impact Events (blog), Reasons to Believe, May 11, 2018.
Hugh Ross, Designed to the Core (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2022).
Ross, Designed to the Core.
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