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Atheists often pride themselves on being “scientific” as opposed to believers in God who are not. Because pride is inherent in atheism, most atheists are open to a challenge. Second Exodus is useful for evangelizing atheists because it shows that science supports faith. It is rigorous because Second Exodus always aims for the most secure defense of the Catholic faith, but a slow and careful perusal shows that it is actually quite readable.
The entire Second Exodus book is needed for evangelizing atheists because it leads the reader all the way from ground zero to Christ. The reader who begins to accept the existence of God should have readily at hand a full explanation of the implications of what he has learned.
Second Exodus chapter 2, “Why We are Catholic,” covers why it is reasonable to believe that God is living spirit, that Jesus of Nazareth was His Messiah, and that the Catholic Church teaches by Jesus’ divine authority. For atheists, the key issue is understanding that revelation is a more real and true source of light than science. The following, all the rest of this page, is an excerpt from that chapter, starting on page 5:
God created the spiritual and physical realms, so true faith and true science will always be consistent. Let us briefly visit the domain of science to observe how a living Creator designed the whole universe to teach and sustain us.
Perhaps 15 billion years ago the universe was much smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. Then, suddenly, it exploded into life. For a fleeting instant all four basic forces of nature - gravity, the strong atomic force, the weak atomic force and electromagnetism - were one. Matter at inconceivably high temperatures and pressures flew apart in the cosmic explosion, open space appeared, and gravity became a separate entity. As the universe expanded and cooled the other forces separated from one another. The strong atomic force inside nuclei bound protons to neutrons, while the weak force enabled radioactive decay. Electromagnetic forces held electrons in orbit around atomic nuclei and electromagnetic waves carried energy across vast reaches of empty space.
The atom, an unimaginably small central sphere with even smaller orbiting spheres, is the basic building block of all matter. Yet we look up and see its design replicated in the earth and its moon, and in the sun and its planets, as if our Creator had gently made visible to us the design of the entire Creation: Himself at the center, ourselves much smaller and invisibly bound to Him.
Some people believe only the evidence of their senses, what they can see or hear. They look at a table and see a solid object. However, when we look closely we see it is not solid but mostly empty space. Physicists say a truly solid substance, a magnetar or black hole, is so dense that a teaspoonful would weigh a billion tons on earth. If a teaspoonful of table substance weighs one ounce, the table is one part solid for every ten trillion parts empty space. At close range, every “solid” substance on earth more closely resembles outer space than a solid object.
Quantum physics, now generally accepted by science, says that everything in the universe is made of protons, neutrons, electrons, and many other sub-atomic particles that do not behave as classical physics said they would. For instance, all matter is said to have mass and occupy space. Electrons, however, have mass but occupy no space. Physicists say that quantum behavior can be described only in mathematical equations, not in pictures or words. The entire universe looks to physicists like a great thought.
A great thought! Atheists once said that evidence of intelligent design is religion, not science, since a pre-existing intelligence cannot be observed. But even they acknowledge that scientists infer the existence of such unobservable entities as quarks, forces, fields, even the big bang, from their observable effects. We can properly infer the existence of a Creator from intelligent design.
The universe as a great thought, rather than as inanimate matter and energy, leads the neutral observer straight to living spirit, as if our Creator had designed the universe itself to show us that we too are in some sense living spirit.
Let us see how an awesome intellect engineered the universe with extreme precision to support human life:
Deuterium, the substance necessary to produce all elements heavier than hydrogen, has one proton and one neutron. Its nucleus barely holds together. If the strong atomic force were only ten percent weaker its proton and neutron would not stick together. Without deuterium the only element in the universe would be hydrogen. There could be no nuclear fusion, no stars. But if the strong atomic force were only a few percent stronger all the hydrogen nuclei in the universe would have paired together into nuclei made of two protons called helium-2. With no remaining hydrogen there would be no stars. Stars supply the warmth and energy we need to live only because the forces of nature are in exactly the right proportion.
Two deuterium nuclei easily combine to make helium-4, which has two protons and two neutrons. But those protons and neutrons resist attachment by other protons or neutrons. There would never be elements heavier than helium but for a most remarkable process. Inside stars, helium-4 nuclei constantly bang against one another. When they do they stick together for a hundred millionth of a billionth of a second. During that phenomenally brief interval, if a third helium-4 nucleus hits them, the three helium-4 nuclei fuse together to form a carbon-12 nucleus. That almost non-existent interval would allow only trace amounts of carbon-12 formation but for yet another part of the design. Like the resonance by which opera singers are occasionally said to shatter glass, atoms have resonant frequencies that can enormously enhance weak effects. Helium-4 nuclei resonate at the very frequency needed to produce abundant amounts of carbon-12, the basis of all earthly life.
There is more. The strong atomic force holds a nucleus together while the electromagnetic force makes protons repel one another so the nucleus would disintegrate. The strong atomic force is about one hundred times stronger than the electromagnetic force, which is why there are only one hundred or so natural elements. More protons than that would overpower the strong atomic force and fly away from the nucleus. If the electromagnetic force were much stronger only a few elements with small nuclei could exist. In such a primitive universe only primitive life-forms could exist.
The sun’s ongoing nuclear fusion gives the earth steady and reliable energy. The centrifugal force of the earth’s revolution around the sun is exactly equal to the sun’s gravity, so the earth continues to revolve. Animals breathe in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide, while plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. When plants or animals die, their carbon compounds enter the earth where they nourish living plants that nourish living animals. Male and female, each with half the genetic material needed to reproduce, seek one another to procreate and adapt to change.
There are many hundreds of such anthropic, or life-related, relationships. They do not prove the existence of God, who lives beyond the limits of space and time that constrain science, but they shift the burden of proof. The old evidence that led so many to deny God’s existence is now opposed by new evidence with far more scientific support. The neutral inquirer who limits his observations to space and time now finds overwhelming evidence of a Creator with immense knowledge and power.
During autumn the leaves turn beautiful colors, and then fall to earth. Leaves that fall in the forest decompose, become part of the earth, and nourish the new plants that will grow in the spring. It is the same with Christ’s faithful. When we fall to earth, if we have done what Christ said is necessary to be saved we will be carried to heaven and there ask Christ to bless our covenant family.
Environmentalists try to protect every species, especially those endangered, because they say we cannot anticipate the consequences of allowing the absence of any species from the earth. If that is true of our natural environment, it is also true of our spiritual environment. We Catholics hold fast to Christ’s complete deposit of faith through the Church that He personally instituted. Protestants say we do not need all that Christ gave us, only this or that part and it will be enough.
If someone says these things are true of nature but not of spirit, we ask quietly, “How do you know?” When nature enthusiasts buy vitamins, they always look for natural sources. They want the rose hips, not the chemical synthesis, because we do not know whether the chemists are aware of everything in the rose hips. If we are not sure we always go for what is complete, because only the complete one can assure we will get what we need.
”Survival of the fittest” is natural among animals. The hidden premise Satan whispered to Darwin in the nineteenth century, that men are animals, became visible in the twentieth. If men were animals, superior races killing their inferiors would be natural behavior. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche proposed a master race among humans and suggested it use war and eugenics for the merciless extinction of inferior races. But the theory of evolution became stunningly clear three decades later. Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which sold 11 million copies in 1944, described a struggle between the races. “The Jews formed a subhuman counter race, predestined by their biological heritage to evil, just as the Nordic race was destined for nobility.” Hitler added, “History would culminate in a new millennial empire of unparalleled splendor, based on a new racial hierarchy ordained by nature herself.”
A theory of life that led straight to the death of six million Jews, supported by scientists who claim the evidence for it is invisible, would not get five minutes of serious consideration in a rational world. All that holds it together is the insistent denial that God had anything to do with Creation.
Copyright © 1999-2010 Martin K Barrack. All rights reserved.