(The following article by a major American scientist, A. Kressm Morrison, former chairman of the New York Academy of Sciences, was written to encourage faith in those who venerate science and require scientific proofs of God’s existence, but at the same time it is worthwhile for all Orthodox Christians to become acquainted with it.)
We are all still at the dawn of scientific knowledge. The closer to daybreak and the brighter our morning, – the greater the clarity with which the Intelligent Creator’s creation appears before us. Now, in a spirit of scientific humility, in a spirit of faith based upon knowledge, we approach even nearer to an unshakeable belief in the existence of God.
Personally I count seven circumstances that determine my belief in God. They are as follows:
First: A perfectly precise mathematical law proves that the universe was created by a Supreme Intelligence.
Imagine that you are throwing ten coins into a bag. The coins range from one cent to ten cents in order of value. Then we shake up the bag. Now try to draw out the coins one after another in order of their value, but putting each coin back after every draw and shaking up the bag again. Mathematics tells us that we have one chance out of ten to draw out the one-cent coin on the first attempt. To draw out the one-cent coin and immediately afterwards the two-cent coin – our chances turn out to be one in a hundred. In order to draw out three correct coins in a row – we have one chance in a thousand, etc. Our chances of drawing out all ten coins in the desired order are one in ten billion.
The same mathematical reasoning tells us that such an incredible number of interactions and interconnections was necessary for the emergence and development of life on Earth that these could never have been achieved without rational direction, simply by chance. The surface speed of the Earth’s revolution has been determined at one thousand miles per hour. If the Earth were to revolve with a speed of one hundred miles per hour, our days and nights would be ten times longer. During a long day the sun would burn out all living things, while during a long night all living things would freeze.
And another point. The temperature of the sun is equal to 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The Earth is set at just such a distance from the sun as is necessary for this “eternal fire” to warm us appropriately, neither more, nor less! If the sun were to give off half its present heat, we would freeze. If it were to give off twice as much, we would perish from extreme heat.
The Earth’s tilt is equal to 23°. This gives rise to the seasons of the year. If the Earth were tilted at a different angle, the evaporation from the oceans would move forward and backward, southward and northward, piling up whole continents of ice. If the moon, instead of its present distance, were to be 50,000 miles away from us, the ebb and flow of our tides would be on such a grand scale that all the continents would find themselves under water twice a day. As a result, very soon even the highest mountains would be washed away. If the crust of the Earth were thicker than it is now, there would not be enough oxygen on the surface, and all living things would be doomed to destruction. If the oceans were deeper, the carbon dioxide would engulf all the oxygen and, again, all living things would perish. If the atmosphere surrounding the Earth were thinner, the millions of meteors that daily disintegrate in it and fall down to Earth would be falling whole and would be causing countless fires everywhere.
These and a host of other examples attest to the fact that the odds for random emergence of life on Earth are not even one in a great many million.
Second: The abundance of sources from which life gets its strength to fulfill its mission is in itself proof of the existence of an independent and omnipotent Intelligence.
Not a single person has as yet been able to comprehend what life is precisely. It has neither weight, nor dimensions, but it truly has strength. A growing root can destroy a cliff. Life dominates over water, earth, and air, and has taken possession of these elements, forcing them to dilute and transform the components of which they are composed.
Life is a sculptor, giving form to all living things, an artist who shapes the form of each leaf on a tree, who determines the color of each flower. Life is a musician who has taught birds to sing, who has taught insects to produce a myriad of sounds and use them to call to each other. Life is a most sensitive chemist, giving taste to fruit, fragrance to flowers, changing water and carbon dioxide into sugar and xylem, and in return obtaining the oxygen that is necessary to all living things.
Here before us is a drop of protoplasm, an almost invisible drop, transparent, looking like jelly, which is capable of moving and extracting energy from the sun. This cell, this transparent mote of dust is the germ of life and has the power within itself to give life to all things great and small. The power of this drop, this mote is greater than the power of our existence, stronger than animals and people, for it is the f o u n d a t i o n of all living things. It is not nature that created life. The cliffs that were fissured by fire and the fresh-water seas were incapable of fulfilling the requirements demanded by life for its emergence.
So who instilled life into this mote of protoplasm?
Third: The intelligence of animals irrefutably attests to a wise Creator, Who imbued creatures with an instinct without which they would be absolutely helpless.
The young salmon spends his early years in the sea, then returns to his native river and swims in it on the very side along which traveled the roe from which he was produced. What leads him with such accuracy? If he is placed in a different environment, he will immediately feel himself off course, and he will search for the main stream and will then follow the current to fulfill his destiny with absolute precision.
An even greater mystery can be seen in the behavior of the eel. Reaching the age of maturity, these amazing creatures travel from all ponds, rivers, and lakes, even though they be in Europe, and pass through thousands of miles of ocean, in order to reach the sea depths at the Bermuda isles. Here they perform the act of procreation and die. The young eels, who, it would seem, have no understanding of anything, who could easily become lost in the depths of the ocean, follow the paths of their parents back towards the very same rivers, ponds, and lakes from which the former began their journey to the Bermuda isles. Not a single eel has been caught in Europe who belonged in American waters, and not a single European eel has been caught in America. The European eel matures a year later, as a result of which he is able to achieve his journey simultaneously with the American eel. From whence comes this directional impulse?
A wasp, overcoming a grasshopper, stings him in a very precise spot. The grasshopper does not die from this sting. He loses consciousness, but continues to live as a sort of preserved meat. After that the wasp places its larvae in such a way that the newborn wasps are able to feed on the grasshopper without killing it, since dead meat would be toxic food for them. Having performed this job, the mother wasp flies away and dies. She never sees her offspring. It is beyond doubt that each wasp goes through this procedure for the first time in its life and does it exactly as it should be done, otherwise where would wasps come from? This mystic technique cannot be explained by wasps supposedly learning from each other, since it is obviously ingrained in them.
Fourth: Man possesses something greater than animal instinct. He has intelligence.
There is not a single other creature able to count up to ten. Neither can any other creature comprehend the essence of number ten. If instinct can be compared to a single note on the flute, with a most beautiful but limited sound, then it should be said that human intelligence is capable of appreciating not only all the notes of the flute, but also of all other orchestral instruments. And there is another point to be mentioned: thanks to our intelligence we are able to engage in a discussion on who and what we are, and this ability can be defined only because we have been endowed with a spark of the Universal Intelligence.
Fifth: The miracle of the genes – a thing with which we are familiar, but which was unknown to Darwin, – bears witness to the fact that great concern has been shown for all living things.
The size of the genes is so incredibly miniscule that if all these genes, which are responsible for the life of all the people on Earth, were to be gathered together, they would fit into a thimble. And even then the thimble would not be full! Nevertheless, these ultramicroscopic genes and their accompanying chromosomes are present in all the cells of all living things and represent the absolute key to explaining all the characteristics of man, animal, and plant. A thimble! It can fit into itself all the individual characteristics of over two billion human beings. And how does it happen then, that the gene even contains within itself the key to the psychological makeup of each individual, comprising all of this in such a miniscule volume?
Here is where evolution begins! It begins with the unit which is the guardian and carrier of the genes. And thus the fact that the several million atoms contained within the ultramicroscopic gene can be the absolute key to directing life on Earth confirms and proves that great care is being taken of all living things, that someone has thought of them in advance, and that this forethought stems from a Creative Intelligence. No other hypothesis can help unlock the mystery of existence.
Sixth: In observing nature’s economy, we are forced to acknowledge that only an absolutely perfect Intelligence could have foreseen all the interconnections arising in such a complex structure.
Many years ago, several varieties of imported cactus were planted in Australia to create a hedge. Not having any naturally hostile insects, the cactus grew in such incredible amounts that people began to search for means of controlling it. The cactus continued to spread. It reached such proportions that the space it took over was greater than the size of England. It began to crowd people out of cities and villages and began to destroy farms. Entomologists searched all over the world for some means to fight the cactus. Finally they were able to find an insect that fed exclusively on cactus. This insect multiplied very easily and had no natural enemies in Australia. Very soon this insect conquered the cactus. The cactus retreated and diminished in quantity. The number of insects likewise diminished. There were just enough of them left to keep the cactus under constant control.
Such types of controlled interactions can be observed everywhere. Why, in fact, have not insects, who multiply so incredibly quickly, overwhelmed all other living things? Because they breathe with tracheas instead of lungs. If the insect grows, its tracheas do not grow proportionally. For this reason there never were and never can be very large insects. This disparity restrains their growth. If there were no such controlling factor, man would not be able to live on Earth. Just imagine a bumblebee the size of a lion!
Seven: The fact that man is able to comprehend the idea of the existence of God is in itself proof enough.
The concept of God arises from that mysterious ability in man which we call imagination. Only with the help of this force is man (and no other living creature on earth) able to find proof of abstract things. The scope that opens up through this ability is absolutely boundless. In fact, it is through the perfection of man’s imagination that the possibility of spiritual reality becomes apparent, and with all the evidence of his purpose and assignment man can determine the great truth that the Heavens are everywhere and in every thing, the truth that God lives everywhere and in every thing, and that He lives in our hearts as well.
And thus, both from the point of view of science and from the point of view of imagination we find confirmation of the Psalm writer’s words:
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork.”