Back in 2014, I went to university to pursue a degree in ministry. As part of my course, I had to take an elective titled “Issues in Physical Science and Religion”, which, to be honest, made me pretty nervous. We were studying renowned atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens—some of the most well regarded scholars in the field. Part of me worried they would demolish any belief I had in God and I’d have to rethink my career! But on the other hand, I was excited to finally go toe-to-toe with concepts from the great thinkers of the age. These thinkers had good reasons behind their belief and I was keen to see if the evidence they cited fit with my thinking. And while I can’t recount every detail of that journey, there were two prime moments that—far from destroying my faith—expanded it.
Before the grandeur of the multiverse
One of the most memorable moments came from a conversation about the origins of the universe. The theist position at the time had come to rely heavily on the notion of a finely tuned universe. The fine-tuning argument went something like this: imagine a large football stadium covered entirely in analogue sound boards with millions of knobs. Now imagine that for life to exist each of those knobs would have to be turned to the right number all at the same time. If you adjusted one knob just a little too much or too little, life would no longer exist.
With a mental picture like this, the theist would go on to suggest that the universe operates in a similar fashion. There are an incredible number of variables that need to be in place for life to exist and if any one of those variables is wrong, life is no longer possible. This theory suggests that the universe is finely tuned for life to exist. The best explanation for this is not blind evolutionary processes but the existence of a fine tuner—namely God.
When I learned atheism’s response, it shocked me. The universe, they argued, is finely tuned for life because it is a part of a multiverse with many other parallel universes that do not contain life. Our universe does and because we can observe it, we can discuss it. But this is not evidence of a fine tuner. It is simply evidence of a much grander natural process than we had previously imagined. There isn’t just one universe but multiple, each with the knobs at different settings. Ours is one of the unique ones in which the knobs emerged randomly tuned to the proper settings for life to evolve. Once again, they found a way to explain this as an entirely natural process, with no reference to God.
As I pondered this, I marvelled at how far the atheist had to go to avoid the God option. A multiverse seemed like quite the outlandish leap to me, something I reasoned was a desperate attempt to discredit the notion of God. Even to this day, there remains disagreement in the scientific community regarding just how science-based the multiverse theory is.
But apart from this, I found the multiverse idea—if true—merely adds to God’s majesty. He is a Being so incredible that He sustains, not merely our observable universe, but a host of other universes. And maybe He designed it this way because He wants life to be an endless adventure —that through science, innovation and technology we would engineer marvels that could take us not only through our own universe, but beyond. This God who designed a labyrinth of wonder among the stars invites us into eternal adventure of discovery because He Himself is an adventurous being.
The singularity and utter boredom
But while the multiverse theory deepened my belief in God and gave me a glimpse into who He is, I was quickly challenged by another atheist, the late scientific historian Dr William Provine. In an interview, Dr Provine stated the following thought-provoking idea: “Can you imagine anything more boring? The boredom attached to [intelligent design] is supreme. It is so boring that I can’t even be bothered to think about it for a second. It’s just utterly boring.”
I found this idea of boredom at the prospect of God really bizarre. For starters, a standard atheistic argument about the evolution of life is that complexity arose from non-complexity. The Big Bang could then be traced back to a moment of singularity—a moment of utter simplicity in which time and space were crunched into one singular phenomenon. I imagined that if Dr Provine went back to that moment in time and attempted to study it, he would drain it of all its mystery and wonder within a few short years. And then what?
Another way I like to think about this is using the example of a video game character exploring the origins of its reality. Suppose that character was Dr Provine who was able to trace the origins of his reality down to a singular moment in which he discovered the binary code that is at the foundation of his virtual world (basically a bunch of ones and zeros). How long until our video game version of Dr Provine became utterly bored with pondering that basic binary?
But suppose that a video game character discovered that binary code was but the language of a programmer who inhabited a dimension infinitely more complex and beautiful than a video game. Additionally, what if Dr Provine could speak to that programmer and learn from him? And what if it was possible for Dr Provine to actually leave that plane and enter the programmer’s dimension? To bring this back to reality, what if the singularity at the start of our universe is but the basic coding of God’s creative language? What if that singularity is not the end but really, the portal into a new and unexplored dimension above our own? And what if Dr Provine could actually meet with God and learn from Him? How long until Dr Provine got bored? Would he ever?
This experience also expanded my view of God. I came to see God as the source of endless discovery. In Him, the learning and the expanding never cease. He welcomes us into an infinity of knowing and being known, a cosmic uncovering that transcends our own finite universe and eternal relationship with the very mind behind it all.
On mystery, wonder and the beyond
While these are far from the only (or even the best) arguments atheism raises against God, they stood out to me nonetheless because they encapsulate a common theme among atheists—that in a universe in which God is real, mankind is restrained, coerced, controlled, repressed and held back. But in a universe in which there is no God, mankind is liberated to carve its own path and engineer its own significance. Who is God then? For many people He is a tyrant we need to escape.
But what if this weren’t true? What if God’s existence embodies the height of liberation? What if God has engineered reality to be an endless falling in love, an endless growing in knowledge, an endless innovation and excavation into the natural world and beyond? And what if man has lost this capacity due to sin and its decaying effects? And what if God’s plan offers humanity the antidote to this virus, so that we can once again step into the infinity He has in mind for us? What if God is not a tyrant but a creator whose eternal longing is to see us attain our highest possible selves—fully manifested in a multiverse of adventure that awaits those who trust in Him?
As the semester reached its end, I realised my fears had been unfounded. Not only did I still believe in God, my belief in God and the Christian faith had actually grown. God, I had found, was not merely the best foundation for the beginning, He was likewise the best explanation for the end. In Him, life and cosmos, being and consciousness, breath and meaning coalesced into one grand symphony. The best part is that this end that I speak of is merely the end of an age. No-one can imagine what follows after. All I know is that it will be an eternal adventure filled with discovery and awe because that is who the Creator really is—a God of endless awe.
Marcos Torres is a Seventh-day Adventist pastor in Cockburn and Joondalup churches in Perth, where he lives with his wife and children. He also writes for his own blog, thestoryproject.com.