Creation science makes sense, but . . . .

Creation  science makes sense, but . . . .

Many Christians, and almost all adamant atheists, see creation science as a backdoor to sneaking God into school curricula, and public life generally.  Among most educated people, creation science lacks respect.  Wikipedia defines creation science as “a pseudoscientific form of . . . creationism, which claims to offer scientific arguments for certain literalist and inerrantist interpretations of the Bible.”  But what if we think about creationism more generally, as the claim that mind created the universe?  Then it makes perfect sense, especially when you consider the alternatives: that the universe created itself, or that it has existed forever.  “Perfect sense” doesn’t mean automatically true.  It just means that it rests on a good argument.

The Odds

One argument for creationism is that the conditions under which the universe could form, including planets on which people could live, are so unlikely as to be virtually impossible.  Roger Penrose estimates it as 1 in 10 10123 . That is, 1 in 1 + 23 zeros.  It’s a big number.  Physicists have estimated that the entire universe contains “only” 1080 elementary particles (Moyer, p. 238).*  

The only alternative is God, or so some creationists conclude.  But that puts it too narrowly.  What if instead of God we say “mind”?   We’ll see.  But couldn’t life have formed itself, lightening setting off a chain reaction in a pre-biotic chemical soup?  It’s possible, but again unlikely in the extreme, perhaps impossible.  As John Walton wrote in the Times Literary Supplement, “intense laboratory research has failed to produce even one nucleotide (RNA component) under geologically plausible conditions.”  Scientists have faced “insuperable problems” in explaining the origin of the information that would need to be present in “the chains of nucleotides required for the RNA world.”  RNA is the first genetic molecule capable of reproducing itself. 

The big bang . . . and then what? 

Today most scientists agree that the universe began with the big bang.  The universe has not always existed.  It came into existence about 14 billion years ago, is continuously expanding, and will end in about 100 trillion years when it finally collapses into itself.  But what turned this tremendous explosion of energy into the form of galaxies which contain solar systems, at least one of which includes a planet capable of supporting human life?  What organizes all this energy? 

Mind is a good answer, and one upon which many scientists, as well as philosophers like Alfred North Whitehead, agree.  Intelligent design, a term which has also fallen into disrepute, is just another way of talking about mind.  If, that is, we don’t cheat, assuming that mind must mean God. 

Fine tuning

“Fine tuning” in physics refers to the fact that many properties of the universe fall within a narrow and unlikely range that is essential for complex forms of life to exist (Meyer, p 207).

A number of physicists believe that mind is the best, and certainly the simplest, explanation for “fine tuning.”  Occam’s razor (among competing explanations, always prefer the simpler one that adequately explains the phenomenon) supports mind. 

Cambridge physicist John Polkinghorne said that although he did not think that the fine-tuning evidence proved the existence of God, he did think that a theistic designer provided a much better explanation of the fine tuning than any materialistic hypothesis. As he put it, “Well, I don’t say that the atheist is stupid. I just say that theism provides a more satisfying explanation.” (Meyer, p 229)

Another Cambridge physicist, Nobel laureate Brian Josephson, explained why mind is the best explanation for fine tuning.

It could have been [that there was] some mind around before the kind of universe we know came into being. And if that were right, that mind could, as it were, have intentions for the universe and been able to set it up so that the end result came out right.

In an interview for PBS television, Josephson estimated that his confidence in intelligent design as the best explanation for the emergence of life as about 80 percent (Meyer, p 229). 

I could continue to quote physicists, but it would add little to the discussion.  The main point is that it is a thoroughly respectable position among many scientists that the universe, and particularly human life, is the result of a process directed by mind.

Mind is not God

But what’s mind?  An intelligence that we can hardly imagine.  Mind is not God.  None of the attributes of God, as depicted in the Old or New Testaments, is implied by the claim that mind guided the creation of the universe.  They are two separate claims.  Not only that, but the claim that mind guided the universe adds nothing that the claim that the Judeo-Christian God exists. (I don’t know enough about Buddhism to venture an opinion; some amateurs find Buddhism and quantum physics compatible, but this seems to be a popular misconception.**)

Think about it?  God created the universe, but that was only the beginning.  He made man and woman in his own image, so that humans could worship God and know right from wrong.  God loves us, and taught us to be kind and generous with each other.  Love God, and love one another as God has loved you.  It’s a good summary of the Lord’s teaching.  And none of it has anything to do with the likelihood that mind created the universe.  It has nothing to do with “mind” as a general term for a supervising intelligence, which is how I have employed the term.  “Mind” doesn’t even have anything to do with theism, if we define theism as belief in a Supreme Being. 

Most who write about creationism assume that this supervising intelligence must stand outside the universe it has ordered into being, but there is no reason it must be transcendent.  Why couldn’t mind be a property of the universe itself?  Only, I think, because the tendency to equate mind with God is so attractive.  Just consider the title of the book that stimulated my comments, Return of the God Hypothesis.  Science, it argues, has made it possible for us to believe in God again.  In fact, science has made God no more, or less believable, than before.  Science has nothing to do with it.

God is a way of talking about our supreme values, and the meaning of life generally.  God- talk usually takes the form of stories that illustrate these values, and the cost of ignoring them.  God-talk is often concerned with the afterlife (heaven), but not always.  Jews seem far less interested in the afterlife than Christians.  As Søren Kierkegaard argues, belief in God rests on a leap to faith, a subjective choice that rests on no evidence but one’s own subjectivity.


Belief in and stories about God are the way humans make sense of this world, something they have done for thousands of years.  Science is another way of  understanding the world, as well as being very good at helping us do things with it.  Neither the idea that science undermines God, or that science supports God, properly understands these two narratives.  They share the capacity for wonder, but only the God narrative tells us why and how to be better people, and perhaps to share in His divinity (for Christians that would be communion).  Finally, the God narrative tells us how to better use science for human welfare.


* The odds would change if there were not one universe, but many (multiverse).  But that is only an imaginative hypothesis.  For now, only one universe is real.



Stephen C. Meyer, Return of the God Hypothesis.  HarperCollins, 2021

John Walton, The Times Literary Supplement 5567 (December 11, 2009), p 6.

Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, edited by David R. Griffin and Donald Sherburne.  The Free Press, 1978, pp. 342-351. 

8 thoughts on “Creation science makes sense, but . . . .”

  1. Expressing things in words must predate Science.But it is not hard to realise how much is left out of any description.No doubt that is one reason for the importance of Art and Music
    But even there not all of us would see the same thing as tlothe others do let alone what the Artist did
    There is always a gap between [ if I have got this right]
    the signified ad the signifier.The world is too rich so we select what matters to us, what our purpose is
    I felt very sorry for Darwin as he suffered a lot of illness as he struggle to express his ideas on Evolution.He finally decided there was no totally good God when his daughter died.I read he still thought there might be A God but not worshiping.Now here in England nobody thinks about it much until the Christians get jealous of the Muslims’ demands for a room for their children to pray in
    Who exactly are these people worshipping?
    Was Jerusalem bulded here in our green and pleasant land?

    1. One might have expected of Darwin, the realisation of the parallel between ‘the Son’ in relation to ‘the Father’ as depicted in the gospels and his own personal loss. People see what they want to see, and believe what they want to believe. It is nigh impossible to treat oneself objectively’ and the other, here ‘God the Father’ – ‘subjectively, as Kierkegaard recommends.
      A perfect illustration of the same is Erhmann’s tedious Youtube rant a propos of “The Bible And Suffering”. (Like Spong, he is still reacting to having been inculcated with fundamentalist and notionally Christian ideas early in life.)
      How can Darwin, or Erhmann for that matter, not see that the primary iconographic focus of faith directs us to the phenomenon of suffering and death – and beyond?
      It is simply that they choose not to.

      1. I don’t know enough about Darwin to say. I think you’re right about Ehrmann. Former true believers (perhaps this is why they were true believers) tend not to be very subtle in their rejection of their previous beliefs.

  2. I agree that we have to be careful to distinguish between the simple ‘creationism’, which represents a denial of evolution, and the various concepts of intelligence as a property of the universe as a whole.

    A lot of recent scientific experiment and theory suggests that ‘intelligence’ may be an intrinsic property of the universe that is conserved, even though processes such as black-hole formation.

    I have a lot of time for Roger Penrose’s ideas that our own intelligence is a (minute) sub-set of the universal intelligence and that a function of our brain is to ‘couple’ in some way to this intelligence.

    I have suggested that Penrose’s ideas can be extended to make the transfer of intelligence a two-way process, in that brains like ours can contribute to the sum total of ‘intelligence’ of the universe.

    When our universe finally ends, it could then spawn a new universe, with its intelligence enhanced by the contribution that intelligent minds have contributed.

    This is wholly speculative, of course, but it does place evolution in a much larger context, in that the purpose of a universe is to develop in ways that can enhance its initial intelligence and pass this on to future universes! By this view, our own ‘purpose’ is, therefore, to support an overall purpose behind our universe.

    1. That is really interesting,Mike.I am all for seeing things in wider context.
      I wonder how the desire to worship something miht link in?
      And Fred has mentioned the dichomy of this Mind and the life & teachings of Jesus.I imagine that if people were able to live without fighting,war, evil in general or if we just moved a bit nearer to that, then the increase of love and charity is in itself an increase inn intelligence.Normally we think of intelligence in a restricted way.But working to make your marriage or relationships better is to me a very intelligent thing to do.Intelligence is not merely a cold,logical way of thought.In mathematics it is patterns which matter and some people discern them more easily than others
      Sadly we rarely think of Intelligence that way.
      I have read Roger Penrose but not recently but I remember some of the diagrams of patterns
      Although at times I have felt I was an atheist.I simply don like the scorn that some well known scientists display to individual believers.Logos and Mythos are different Realms
      .This amuses me because I was talking by phone to someone who began to argue in an unpleasant manner and I came out with the following remark:
      I no longer dwell in that universe of discourse
      I then suggested we talk about something we both like and all was well

  3. ‘None of the attributes of God, as depicted in the Old or New Testaments, is implied by the claim that mind guided the creation of the universe.’

    This is factually incorrect; it is roundly contradicted by the hymn to the logos which ‘begins’ the fourth gospel:

    Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.
    οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν.
    πάντα δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν

    If ‘the Word’ which was ‘in the beginning’ is not mind, what then on earth, pray tell, can it be?

  4. ‘Mind is not God. None of the attributes of God, as depicted in the Old or New Testaments, is implied by the claim that mind guided the creation of the universe.’

    1 Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.
    2 οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν.
    3 πάντα δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν
    (John 1.1-3)

    If ‘the Word’ of the ‘beginning’ of the fourth gospel is not Mind, what then on earth, can it be?

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