In multiple books and articles, I’ve endeavored to demonstrate that science is possible and comprehensible only in light of God’s existence.1 However, I hope my writings have made clear that not just any God will do, as many people today would seem to suggest. I’ve come to believe, with confidence, only one does. Discovering the God who fits all the facts revealed via scientific investigation—a body of facts that continually grows—dramatically altered the trajectory of my life. Here is a brief account of how I came to this conclusion.
Problems with Polytheism
Polytheism posits the existence of multiple deities, each distinct from the others. In one sense, animism may be considered the earliest form of polytheism. This diverse array of ancient cultural beliefs (still held by some people today) attributes soul, spirit, and sentience to animals, plants, rocks, and other elements of the natural realm. Each entity is thought to possess at least some unique characteristic, power, and/or responsibility, but none explains the existence of the whole realm of nature, nor does any possess an identifiable capacity for agency.
Later, more fully organized and articulated belief systems, from Hinduism and paganism to the Greek and Roman pantheon, among others, posited distinct ways in which various gods interact with humans and the rest of nature. Each of the multiplicity of gods is said to exhibit a distinct mind, purpose, and agenda with respect to the world and people. Polytheism, thus, predicts that science may reveal evidence of design in nature; however, any apparent designs will lack evidence of a unified, coordinated, and/or integrated effort. Distinct agendas inevitably will produce some compromises, suboptimizations, and oversights in the designs.
A few millennia ago, even as recently as a few centuries ago, scientific advance was insufficient in most fields to determine with much certainty whether incongruities, compromises, oversights, suboptimizations, and/or a lack of coordination did or did not characterize the record of nature. Such is no longer the case. While the scientific record does reveal examples of design trade-offs, even the trade-offs appear optimized to achieve multiple purposes simultaneously.
Rather than reflecting the agency of multiple independent minds with distinct purposes and goals, everywhere scientists survey nature’s realm, they see evidence of design that indicates planning, development, and implementation by a single Being with an integrated set of purposes.
If the natural realm owes its existence and operation to multiple distinct gods, science will lead to inevitable clashes. Findings would be inconsistent and incongruous. Science disciplines would collide. Researchers would find it nearly impossible to reconcile scientific data and interpretations. Given the hierarchical nature of polytheism with the gods possessing different levels of authority that sometimes overlap and conflict, moral and ethical chaos would also be inevitable.
Problems with Strict Monotheism
Strict monotheism—religions and belief systems with one and only one God manifested in a single Person, such as Judaism and Islam—would seem to account readily for the harmony and consistency of designs and processes in the realm of nature, including the appearance of optimized templates in living creatures. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are often listed together as prime examples of monotheistic religions, but these three “Abrahamic” religious traditions identify the one God and define the term monotheism in distinctly different ways.
Many Jewish scholars distinguish their version of monotheism from the Christian version by calling theirs “ethical monotheism.” These scholars emphasize the moral and ethical aspects of belief in a single God whose law applies to all of humanity and whose priority is that humans behave decently toward one another. Some Jews, like many Muslims, believe God demands adherence to a specific and narrow set of outward practices, including diet, dress, and grooming. However, Judaism does not demand the conversion of non-Jews as a condition of God’s mercy in judgment, whereas Islam considers non-Muslims as subject to condemnation by Allah, the Islamic name for God.
The most glaring problem with both forms of strict monotheism is the lack of any satisfying answer to the origin of love. If God is a solitary Being, then before creating anything or anyone, this God has no concept of love. This God has no one to express love to or to receive love from. Herein lies a dilemma: how can a Being who has no basis for conceiving of or experiencing love create beings who can and do manifest love? In strict monotheism, love does not exist until the one God creates other beings and endows them with a capacity that he lacks. In strict monotheism, God is compelled to create in order to know and experience what love is.
Islam declares that Allah (God) is greater than everyone/everything and has no need of anything. The dilemma of love’s origin contradicts this declaration. Those Jewish and Islamic apologists who are aware of the dilemma respond by appealing to God’s transcendence (beyond the physics and dimensions of the universe and, therefore, beyond human experience). They claim that God expressed and experienced love in his transcendent state in a manner totally different from the love that humans express and experience. However, this claim still fails to address the origin of the love that humans express and experience.
Problems with Atheism
In the words of the popular twentieth-century astronomer Carl Sagan, “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”2 Atheists claim that all the designs scientists and others detect in nature are “apparent” designs, only. They assert that these so-called designs represent accidents of nature, with no intended purposes or goals behind them. They assert the nonexistence of mind, person(s), or intelligence behind nature’s realm, including the origin and design of space-time, matter, and energy.
The problem with their assertions is that they fail to address why things in the natural realm are as they are. They fail to explain why anything exists at all. They face the challenge that strictly naturalistic explanations for the origin of the universe, life, and humanity are becoming more problematic, not less, with advancing scientific research.
Atheism fails to provide any rational explanation for the exponentially increasing evidence of fine-tuning at all size and time scales within the universe that makes possible not only the existence of humans and our global high-technology civilization but also that of bacteria and molecules. That fine-tuning includes the universe’s mass, age, geometry, expansion rate, rate of decay, laws of physics, and space-time dimensions.3
How the Trinity Comports with Science
The doctrine of a triune God, which is both unique and central to Christianity, encounters none of the intractable problems associated with animism, polytheism, strict monotheism, and atheism. A God who exists as one Being in three coequal, coeternal, consubstantial divine persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) with identical and indissoluble character attributes, intents, goals, and purposes perfectly matches and explains what the scientific investigation of the natural realm reveals: ubiquitous coherence, consistency, congruity, harmony, efficiency, coordination, and optimization. It explains why the natural realm provides increasing evidence of having been designed and created by a single Being with a single set of purposes.
The Trinity explains the origin of love. Before the Trinity creates anything, God is experiencing and expressing love. As a triune Being, God is complete and totally fulfilled before creating anything or anyone. Such a God has no need to create.
The perfect love experienced and expressed by the triune God explains the symmetry, elegance, and beauty evident throughout the natural realm—as well as in the mathematics that describe the operation of the natural realm. The triune God provides a complete and consistent explanation for morality, accountability, justice, and mercy.
Christianity’s triune God explains why design is so ubiquitous, optimal, complex, and integrated throughout nature. It explains why scientists observe these characteristics on all size scales from the largest down to the smallest subatomic, even subparticle, level.
Why a Triunity?
Christian theologians and others have long pondered why God is not a duality or quaternity, rather than a Trinity. One conclusion to this mystery is that God, as a Trinity, best explains the perfection of his love.
Research psychologists have demonstrated that where love is expressed always and only between two persons, its perfection cannot be observed because it remains untested. A third person in a relationship becomes challenging in human (less-than-perfectly-loving) relationships where “triangulation,” or two v. one, presents a temptation. Nevertheless, as many couples have experienced, the birth of children not only adds but also multiplies love, rather than diminishing it.
In some sects of Christianity, an angel or a saint is elevated to the status of Godhead, which makes God a quaternity. As Christian scholars have observed, however, people within these sects struggle in attempts to worship each of the four “persons” equally, given that they possess unequal qualities. Worshippers tend to experience confusion over the roles, or division of labor, among the persons comprising the Godhead.
In the first chapter of his first epistle, the apostle John declares that God is light, and this light has been made visible to the heart of every human being. John goes on to explain in the chapters that follow the three primary components of this light: life, love, and truth. He points out that all three persons of the Godhead shower life, love, and truth upon God’s creation, upon human beings, in particular. In doing so, God the Son takes the primary role in bestowing life, God the Father takes the primary role in showing love, and God the Holy Spirit takes the primary role in communicating truth. This elaboration on what God’s “light” means explains how humans best receive God’s light and eliminates confusion about a divine “hierarchy.”
The Trinity Demonstrates Divine Inspiration
The Trinity transcends the ability of humans to fully describe, accurately picture, or completely comprehend. As demonstrated in my book, Beyond the Cosmos, the Trinity transcends the limits of the physical laws and space-time dimensions of the cosmos.4 Since humans are confined to the dimensions and physical laws, our capacity to visualize is limited by them.
Something I observed in studying the (non-Christian) major religions of the world during my late teens is that each presented God in a manner that can be visualized by humans. This observation led me to consider that these religions might be merely human constructions rather than divine revelations. When the space-time theorems established that the universe’s space-time dimensions came into existence at the origin of the universe,5 I realized that God, the Creator, must possess powers and attributes that transcend these cosmic space-time dimensions. A revelation from this God could and would describe real phenomena that go beyond the ability of humans to visualize.
I saw the Bible standing alone in this respect. The Bible revealed God in a manner that is impossible for humans to conceive through their own reason and imagination. The Bible alone bears the signature of a Being whose message comes to us from beyond the cosmos.
The triune God repeatedly and consistently revealed in both the Old and New Testaments is clearly and uniquely distinct from the gods of all other religious writings and teachings. Nothing like a triune Creator, Redeemer, and Empowerer can be found within the foundational books on which the world’s religions, other than Christianity, stake their claims.
While Jews and Muslims describe the Old Testament as the true and trustworthy Word of God, they deny a doctrine made especially clear in the Old Testament, particularly in the book of Isaiah. In conversation with both Jews and Muslims, I’ve found that most are either unaware of or have given little attention to the many OT passages showing that God is triune, one essence manifested in three persons.
Given that Isaiah is highly esteemed by both Jews and Muslims, I believe it was more than a mere “stroke of luck” that the only complete book of the Old Testament found among the Dead Sea Scrolls was Isaiah. Three years ago, I assembled a list of verses from Isaiah that express God’s simultaneous singularity and triunity. (See my post, “Does the Book of Isaiah Teach the Trinity?) I encourage readers of this blog to share this scientific perspective on the Trinity not only with fellow Christians but also with Jews, Muslims, participants in cults, and all who struggle to believe that God can be one and three. God’s triune nature makes possible our redemption from sin and an eternal loving relationship with the Creator.
Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2018); Hugh Ross, Designed to the Core (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2022); Hugh Ross, Improbable Planet (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2016); Hugh Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008).
Carl Sagan, Cosmos (New York: Ballantine Books, 1985), 1. Sagan previously made this declaration in his Public Broadcasting Service television documentary series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which has been seen by over 500 million people and worldwide ranks as the most widely watched series in the history of American public television.
Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos; Ross, Designed to the Core; Ross, Improbable Planet; Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is.
Hugh Ross, Beyond the Cosmos, 3rd ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2017), 81–99.
Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 100–129.