The God Hypothesis

April 9, 2021 The God Hypothesis by Rabbi Benjamin Sendrow
My friends, I heard about a book this week that really grabbed my attention. I think you might enjoy hearing about it.  In fact, it might be so good that it could become the basis for a holiday sermon. On the other hand, there is no guarantee of that.  Either way, I had better start reading—this book runs almost 1,000 pages.

So what is the name of the book already?  It is The Return of the God Hypothesis, by astrophysicist Stephen Meyer, and this is the culmination of his writing (he has written two prior books) about God from the point of view of a believing scientist.

My understanding is that the book does not try to use science to prove God’s existence.  I hope that is an accurate assessment. I am leery of the idea of empirically proving that God exists.  I don’t believe the Torah would want us to prove that God exists.  The Torah is very clear that we cannot fully experience God in this lifetime.  But I loved what I heard Dr. Meyer say in an interview, “There are scientific discoveries that have implications that support a theistic world view…there are good reasons for believing things even beyond a reasonable doubt without being able to attain the standard of proof.”

Dr. Meyer’s book seems to be the other side of a favorite coin of mine, a quote from Charles Krauthammer, who was Jewish but fairly secular, and who said, “Atheism is the least plausible of all theologies.”  Dr. Meyer believes that theism is the best explanation of all competing explanations for information we have on the origin of the universe and the origin of life.  In fact, this concept is the basis of the book’s subtitle:  Three Scientific Discoveries That Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe.  That is intriguing in and of itself, given the hostility of religion toward science for much of human history.

Do we get a preview of what these discoveries are?  Indeed we do.  The first is that the universe had a beginning, both in time and in space.  It did not always exist. It began to exist a finite amount of time ago.  This means that there was no matter to cause the creation of matter.  In scientific terms, that means the end of trying to discover a material cause for the existence of the universe.  

The second is that the laws of physics have been fine-tuned to allow for the possibility of the existence of life, what some physicists call a Goldiloks universe.  If some natural forces were only slightly stronger or slightly weaker, life, among other things like chemistry, would be impossible.  But they are just right.

The third is the discovery of great repositories of digital information at the foundation of life of every cell, particularly the DNA molecule, in which the genetic information it contains is expressed digitally Scientists have found that when traced to its source, digital information always comes from a mind, not a material source Information is the product of intelligence.  What provided the information necessary for the existence of the very first cell? Science has no answer.

When I say that, please do not think I am disparaging science.  I have always said that I do not believe there is a conflict between science and religion, that it is not an either/or choice between the two.  And obviously, given its length, the book has much more to say than I heard in an interview on the radio.  Whether I will speak about it again from the pulpit I do not know, but I am eager to see what this book has to offer.  Would it not be ironic to see the day when people believe in God because of, not in spite of, following the science?

© 2021 by Rabbi Benjamin Sendrow