Return of the God Hypothesis, Stephen C. Meyer

Many Scientific Discoveries Point To Intelligent Design.

Stephen C. Meyer
Mar 13, 2022    56m
Do you find yourself struggling to believe in God in the face of science? In this message, guest speaker Dr. Stephen Meyer shares several important scientific discoveries that point to intelligent design and the Intelligent Designer. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Tim Lundy: [00:00:01] Let's pray together, Father, we celebrate you. You are the God of creation and you're the God of redemption, and we are thankful that we are your people. And so, Lord, even now as we come and we want to worship you, as you call us, you call us to love you and worship you with our heart, soul, mind and strength. And so even now, I pray, in this next time, would you show us how to worship you well with our minds? You've given us the ability to understand unbelievable things that reveal you in this universe. And so as your people, we come as an act of worship now, and we pray this in Christ's name, Amen.

Tim Lundy: [00:00:48] You can find your seat. Well, as I said, I'm excited today, and especially, as I got to hear in the first service, that we have Dr. Stephen Meyer with us. And Dr. Meyer is the Director of Culture and Science at the Discovery Institute. He's an author of a number of New York Times Bestsellers. The first book I ever picked up years ago, was a book called Darwin's Doubt, and then he's got another one The Signature In The Cell, and then his newest one, and he'll be addressing today, The Return of the God Hypothesis.

Tim Lundy: [00:01:18] And I really want to encourage you, just over this time, you know, we talk about worshiping God with our mind, this is a great time to do this. And I really want, and if I can get the attention of all of our high schoolers, our middle schoolers, our college students, the next generation, I want you to pay attention. There's a prevailing cultural narrative that is all around us, and that you're going to hit if you're not hitting it now, you're going to hit it head on as you go to school, and frankly, it's not true. And it's easy as a pastor for me to say that, because you go, well, Tim, obviously you say that because it disagrees with the Bible. Here's what you need to hear today, it disagrees with science, it disagrees with the truth of our universe. That's one thing for me to say, it's another thing to have somebody like Dr. Meyer, who has both been trained in it and has the expertise to be able to point out how our universe agrees with our Scripture. And I really want you to pay attention because I think the tide's going to change with this generation, you're the generation, I think with both the intellectual curiosity and the intellectual capacity to change the tide. And so there's somebody sitting in here, there's a young person in this room, I believe this, God has uniquely created you with the mind that you have, with the passion that you have, that he's going to use you to be one of those voices that change the tide. And you need people like Dr. Meyer who are speaking in your life and addressing all of us. So let's all pay attention, and let's welcome Dr. Stephen Meyer as he comes to the stage.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:03:09] It's lovely to be with you all this morning. I was very touched by the professions of faith in baptism, especially by the younger people who are doing that. I've worked as a college professor, and one of the things that's happening in our culture today is that young people are being profoundly challenged in their faith. If they have faith when they head off to college, oftentimes, it's a really tough time for them because there's a dominant narrative, a worldview, or a way of thinking that is inimical to to faith in God.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:03:44] I want to start with a story of a person who was affected by that kind of a feature of our culture today, and I won't say her name, but she was a camera woman who was filming an interview that I did. I filmed a live interview I did with radio talk show host at a conference, and we happened to notice that stage right as we were filming the interview, she began to weep visibly, and she was kind of embarrassed by this. And we were talking, as I'll be talking about this morning, about some of the extraordinary scientific discoveries that have been made, that point to the reality of God. And she found this very moving, apparently, and she later wrote a letter to the producer who had hired her to work on this film shoot, explaining why. She said, throughout my college career, professors would constantly lecture that based on the evidence they had provided, there should be no way that anyone in the class could believe in God. It turns out that this young woman was a biology major, they'd argue that the science was proven, and God was hence, a myth. I was not equipped, she said, to present a valid opposition in debate, I was desperate to find commonality between my scientific education and my beliefs. But she went on in a letter to say she could find none, and she'd lived in a state of kind of cognitive dissonance since graduating from college. She had been apparently very good at science and was intending to go on to do a graduate degree, but the conflict she felt internally just dissuaded her from that, and she went into film production instead, it's a happy ending to that story.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:05:20] But, for now, I want to just amplify why she, and many other young people, might feel this way. It Happens that there are many powerful voices in our culture today, who are popularizing for the culture what science means. These are established scientists, or philosophers, or academics, who are now part of a group of scholars and writers who are sometimes called the New Atheists or the scientific atheists. The most famous of which is Oxford evolutionary biologist named Richard Dawkins, you may have heard of him, he has a wonderful, high British accent. And he's written a book called The God Delusion, and he argues that up until the 19th century, we had good Public evidence for belief in God, there were good reasons to believe in God. But he said, since the time of Darwin, we now know that there's no such good evidence because whereas before biology, and even today, biologists look at life and they say it gives the appearance of having been designed for a purpose. He actually says that biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:06:29] But the keyword for him is appearance, or illusion, because he says once Darwin came along, we learned that that appearance of design was an illusion. And the reason that we learned that was that Darwin realized that there was an undirected unguided mechanism called natural selection, acting on random variations, and we now talk about mutations as well, natural selection, acting on random mutations, an unguided mechanism that produces the appearance of design in living organisms without there being any guidance or design behind the mechanism. So it's an unguided mechanism that produces the illusion of design, we have design, in other words, without a designer, a mechanism that can mimic the powers of a designing intelligence, without itself being designed or guided in any way. And since that's now our understanding of how life came to be, there is no public evidence of design or a designer, not actual design. And therefore, since there's no designer belief in God as the designer is, as he puts it, delusional, there's no evidence for that. Believe it if you want to, but you should be aware that it's a purely subjective and ungrounded belief.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:07:39] Now, there are many other authors who have been writing books like this since 2007, 2008, right up to the present time. One of them is the philosopher Daniel Dennett, I just point him out because of the title of his book Breaking the Spell. Can you guess what the spell is? Anyone? Yeah, belief in God, right, what breaks the spell? Science. Exactly. Okay, so that's the idea, science, properly understood, undermines belief in God.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:08:11] Now, Dawkins has also stated, in a very provocative way, something that's really contrary to what we were just hearing in that beautiful hymn about how the heavens declare and all these different ways. He says, instead, "The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if at the bottom there's no purpose, no design, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.". In other words, just materialistic forces, atoms, and molecules knocking into each other, producing everything we see, but no guiding hand behind it, no mind, no intention, no intelligence, just blind, pitiless processes. That's another way of talking about something we'll talk about a bit, called materialism or the materialistic worldview. So the question I want to ask today is, is Dawkins, right? Is the universe the kind of thing, does it have the properties that we should expect if there's no guiding hand, if it's blind, pitiless indifference, or is there evidence of design?

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:09:13] Now it's interesting before we get into talking about some of that evidence, that obviously the Dawkins perspective and the perspective of the new atheist is contrary to that of the Biblical writers. We read in Psalm 19, in the Hebrew Bible, the idea that there's something about nature that does Lead us to believe in God. It's a famous passage, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands."

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:09:42] We get a similar concept in the New Testament, in the Book of Romans, it says, "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature.". Divine nature, that term there, sometimes in older translations, was rendered wisdom. So, "God's eternal power and wisdom have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made." In other words, the properties of the universe seem to reveal the wisdom and the power of a creator. So that's obviously a diametrically opposed position to that of the new atheists, or the scientific atheists, of today. And that's, I suppose, not surprising, that modern scientific atheists and the Bible writers disagree. But what might surprise you is to learn that the founders of what we now call modern science were themselves deeply devout, believers in God, mostly Christian, and that belief in God was actually the inspiration for their study of the natural world, for what historians and science now call the rise of modern science, in a period called the Scientific Revolution. I'm thinking of figures like Johannes Kepler, the great astronomer. Robert Boyle, the great chemist. Sir Isaac Newton, the great physicist, and a biologist, John Ray, he had a book titled The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of Creation. And that phrasing might ring a bell, it's a paraphrase of that passage from the Book of Romans that we just talked about.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:11:27] And there's a famous work of the history of science written by a historian of science named Rodney Stark, published with the Princeton University Press, called The Glory of God. And Stark's argument was that modern science arose for very specifically Biblical Judeo-Christian reasons. That the early scientists were attempting, in studying the order, and the rationality, and the design of nature, were attempting to reveal to the world the glory of God and that God's handiwork was evident in nature. And they had a really crucial concept, the early scientists, it was called intelligibility. They believe that it was possible that nature had a secret to reveal, and that if we studied it carefully, that we could discern in nature its rationality, its order, its design. Why? Because nature had been, in their view, created by a rational intellect, namely the mind of God, and that that same rational intellect had made our minds as well, so that there was a principle of correlation, that the reason, or the rationality, the order, the design built into nature could be understood by us because we were endowed with the same rationality from the common God who made both the world and made our minds, and that made science possible. And that was just one of many presuppositions coming out of a biblical worldview that gave rise to modern science.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:12:54] This way of thinking reached an almost majestic quality in the writings of Sir Isaac Newton, one of my personal heroes, Newton wrote, as you may remember from science and school, that he was the author of The Theory of Universal Gravitation. He published that work in 1687 under the title of The Principia, The Principles of Mathematics. And later he wrote a theological epilog to the book called The General Scholium, where he not only applied the presupposition of intelligibility, he actually made an argument for design based on the balance of the planets. He said my law of gravity explains why the planets stay in their orbits, but it doesn't explain how all the planets were positioned so perfectly that we would have a stable solar system. And this is what he wrote in The General Scholium, he said, "Though these bodies may indeed continue in their orbits by the mere laws of gravity, yet they could by no means have first derived the regular position of the orbits themselves from those laws. Thus, this most beautiful system of sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the council and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being." That's not something...this is arguably one of the greatest works of physics ever written, and right built into that work is this theological reflection and indeed an argument based on the evidence of the Solar System for the reality of a designing intelligence of an intelligent and powerful Being, an intelligent design.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:14:39] Now, that raises an obvious question, how did we get from Sir Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle and John Wray, and all the others in this period of the Scientific Revolution, to where we are today, to Richard Dawkin and the other scientific atheists, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and others that you may have encountered? Well, there's an interesting story that I tell at much greater length in the book, but there's a shift, an intellectual shift, that starts to happen in the 19th century, in the 1800s. And it starts with a scientist, a physicist, who attempts to do what Newton said could not be done, which is to explain how the Solar System originated by the law of gravity itself. And his name was Pierre Laplace, he was a French Physicist, and he wrote a book called The Celestial Mechanics. And in it, he claimed to explain the origin of the system just as the outworking of the law of gravity, with no role for a designing intelligence of any kind. And he was later given a commendation for his work by no less a personage than the Emperor Napoleon, he was called to the Palace of Versailles, and Napoleon thanked him for writing a book that would showcase French science. But then he asked him, I noticed that you don't mention God in your work, whereas Sir Isaac Newton mentioned Him frequently. Basically, he asked, what gives? And Laplace is said to have kind of puffed himself up and said, Sir, I have no need of that hypothesis. That's my French accent, in case you're wondering what just happened. This response of Laplace, we don't know for sure if this was verbatim, but it captured the spirit of his work and the spirit of the 19th century.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:16:32] Throughout the rest of the century, there were a series of theories that were formulated about the origin of things. LaPlace attempted to explain the origin of the Solar System, there were other scientists who came along who explained the great geologic features, the mountains, the canyons, the river deltas on planet Earth. Again, by slow, gradual, but purely undirected material processes. And then, of course, we get Darwin, later in the century, who writes The Origin of Species.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:17:03] And one of the popular college-level textbooks that is in currency today, by Douglas Fatuma, summarizes what was important about Darwin's work. He said, "By coupling the undirected, purposeless variations to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made spiritual explanations of life superfluous." In other words, unnecessary. He had, also, no need of a design hypothesis or of the God hypothesis.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:17:33] And so, by the end of the 19th century, there was a kind of seamless narrative that could be told about the origin of all things, the origin of the Solar System, the origin of Planet Earth and its great geological features, the origin of new forms of life, including the origin of human life, and that was part of an extension of Darwin's theory that he published in a book called The Descent of Man. And all of this without reference to any guiding hand, without any designing intelligence, he said, just pure, blind, undirected, material processes.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:18:07] And that, in turn, gave rise to not just a new scientific theory, or a series of theories, but to a worldview known as Materialism. Now, how many are familiar with the idea of a worldview, by the way, is that a common thing? Many, OKAY. A worldview is a way of thinking about, it's a kind of a default way of thinking about the big questions, it's a personal philosophy. And one of the things about worldviews, is most of us have one, whether we know it or not. And another important thing about worldviews, is they address fundamental questions like the nature of human nature, or the nature of the external physical world, but also the most fundamental question they address is the question of what one writer calls the prime reality. What is the thing, or the entity, or the process from which everything came? Now, when I was in college, I was very interested in philosophy, but the problem was my dad was an engineer. And when I was setting off to college, he said, now I know you're not cut out to be an engineer because I used to help him when he was fixing the engines and stuff in the cars, and I had no mechanical aptitude, and I always had my head in the clouds. And so he asked me to hand him the wrench, and I'd hand him the wrench thinking about something else, and I'd drop it in the most remote part of the engine. And he'd just kind of try to hold his frustration, but I could always tell I wasn't going to be an engineer. And so before I went off to college, he said, you know, son, I know you're not going to be an engineer, but that's, Okay, you can major in anything you want. But just let me give you a little piece of advice, before you choose a major, make sure you take at least two years of math in college because if you don't have the math, you're going to be limited in what you're going to be able to choose. I said, OKAY, dad, that sounds like good advice, so I took the two years of college math. And when I got done, I was at a small, liberal arts college, and about all you could major in after spending two years of college classes on math was either math or physics, and physics was about as close to engineering as you could get, and I think that's what my dad wanted.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:20:12] So, there I was a physics major, but I still was thinking about all these big questions. And so my junior year in college, I snuck over to the other side of campus signed up for a class called Atheistic Existentialism. And this is one of those classes where you know where you're thinking Nietzsche, and Sartre, and the continental European philosophers, who are wallowing in existential despair. And man, was I good at that, and I got an A in wallowing in existential despair. And so the grade slip came home at Christmas time, and we have this kind of Germanic work ethic thing in our family, and my dad has this kind of long nose, and he got the grade slip out at dinner, and the glasses slid down the nose and I knew I was in serious trouble. And he starts reading the grades, and he says, atheistic eczema, eczema, what in the blank is this? And he mispronounced the word on purpose to make clear his disapproval of such a class, and then he read the grade, and it was an A, and that was not a good thing. And then he read the next grade, and it was theoretical mechanics, my most important physics class that term, and it said B. And then I got this look, which in our family means it's now time for offspring to give an account of offspring's behavior. So I got real defensive, and I said, Dad, Dad, Dad, look, I know these philosophy classes don't mean anything to you, but I said they're important too, because that's where you learn about worldviews. And everybody has a worldview, Dad, I said, you have a worldview, I have a worldview. And worldviews are important because that's like these fundamental systems of thought that we all kind of carry around and help us make sense of things, and if you don't understand other people's worldviews, you don't understand why they use the terms they use, and worldviews affect your thinking about everything. He cut me off, he said, son, you don't need a worldview, you need a job. Now, I tried to say that that was a worldview called Materialism, and well, I was working on the resume before the end of Christmas break for the job world, but I ended up kind of getting my revenge, I ended up later getting a job teaching philosophy, so I got to teach about worldviews. Anyway, my dad loves this story, by the way. I've told it, and he's been in the front, where he just cracks up, he now appreciates what I do.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:22:30] But anyway, the worldview that dominates our culture today has a name, it's called Materialism. And that's because it answers that prime reality question in the following way, it says the thing from which everything else came is matter and energy. Now, it's the opposite of the Theistic worldview, in a Theistic worldview, what's the prime reality? What's the thing from which everything else comes? God, right? And God is conceived of as a personal agent, with the mind and intentions and wisdom and power, and a person who can affect things and cause things to happen. In the Materialistic worldview, the thing that is eternal and self-existent in the same way that God is in a Theistic worldview is matter and energy. Therefore, there's no beginning to the Universe, rather, it's from eternity past were the particles and the energy.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:23:22] So remember that John prologue in the first chapter of the Book of John, it says, "In the beginning was the Word." Which is an expression of the idea that God, in his mind, in his intentions, and then he thought, and he created the universe. But the materialistic worldview, it's different, it's not, in the beginning was the word, in the beginning was God, no, it's from eternity past were the particles and the energy. And the particles arrange themselves into more complex atoms, and those atoms arrange themselves into molecules, and the atoms and molecules arrange themselves into the first living cell, and that living cell then began to evolve by Darwinian Processes, and eventually produced all the forms of life we see on planet Earth today, including eventually, human beings, and then we conceived of the idea of God.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:24:11] Anyone ever take any psychology? Remember Sigmund Freud? Freud said, "God did not create man, man created the idea of God." That's pure materialistic philosophy right there, that's the idea, we're just the outcome of this long, materialistic process. So God doesn't exist as a reality, only as a concept in the mind of man. And can you see how these two worldviews are just inverted versions of each other, their exact opposites? And so in the 19th century, in addition to the whole story of naturalistic creation, you had other figures. Darwin, who told us where we came from. But also Marx, who had a utopian, materialistic vision of where we were going. Freud, who told us about what to do about our guilt. And between those three great figures you had materialistic answers to the big questions that Judeo-Christian Religion had always answered.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:25:04] And so this worldview came to dominate intellectual circles in the West, and today, even today we have, I think, the materialistic worldview sometimes called naturalism, the idea that nature is the whole show, nature made up of matter and energy as the whole show. But scientific materialism, or scientific naturalism, is kind of the default or dominant worldview in what many scholars call the knowledge culture. The universities, the science labs, the law schools, the courts, the permanent bureaucracy in the government, and certainly in the media. And yet, there is still a significant portion of our Western culture, especially in the United States, of people who still hold to a theistic worldview. And those two world views are in conflict, in tension, in competition, within our culture, but the dominant worldview among elites, in the knowledge culture, is very definitely this naturalistic or materialistic worldview. And so for people of faith, to recognize that is a kind of recognition of some bad news, but it's also helpful to know what the thinking patterns are, the thought-forms are, that are driving the decisions that are made in our culture. If we think about an issue like the sanctity of life, the two different concepts of an unborn baby, a collection of tissue or cells versus a person. Those reflect a materialistic versus a theistic concept of reality, so understanding those underlying worldviews is helpful and important.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:26:38] The good news I have to report today, though, is that the materialistic worldview is now in retreat. This concept of the physical universe with nothing beyond it, the physical universe represented by the blue circle, nothing beyond it is the materialistic worldview. That worldview is now in retreat, and ironically, it's in retreat because of discoveries in science itself. Many scholars refer to materialism as scientific materialism, or scientific naturalism because, allegedly, science supports that worldview. My argument today, and in the book that I've written, is that's no longer the case, and here's why, there have been three major discoveries that are beginning to reverse that materialistic conception of reality, and they're coming out of the natural sciences.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:27:23] The first of those discoveries is that the material universe had a beginning, and the first inklings of this came with the work of Edwin Hubble. One of the fun things, for me, about giving this talk today in California is each of the three stories of discoveries I'm about to tell you involves scientists who are working here in California, and Hubble was working in the 1920s. He came into astronomy from law, and he came into the field of astronomy at a very propitious time. Because, at that time, the astronomers were first building these great domed telescopes, and these telescopes were able to resolve little, tiny pinpoints of light to a much greater degree than ever before, and they were also using new photographic technology, photographic plates, that collect light over a long exposure. And as a result of that, Hubble was able to take some fantastic pictures of little, tiny points of light. There he is at his observational station, there we go, this is one of his original photographic plates. And what he was able to discover was that little points of light that had been termed Nebula, because we didn't really know what they were, were actually galaxies. And one idea about the little points of light was that they were stars with some gas around them, and another idea was, well, maybe there are galaxies separate from our own Milky Way, and up to the 1920s we didn't know that, Hubble was able to resolve that controversy. And here's another one of his beautiful...this is a picture of a spiral nebula that he took.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:28:56] And in addition to the photographic evidence, he was able to use some new techniques for measuring astronomical distances to objects in the night sky. And one of the nearest nebulae was a nebula known as the Andromeda Nebula. And using these new techniques for measuring distance, he was able to determine that the Andromeda Nebula was at least 900,000 light-years away, and yet our Milky Way was only 300,000 light-years across. That's still an enormous structure, but it wasn't big enough to encompass the distance to the Andromeda Nebula, which proved that the Andromeda Nebula was actually a galaxy, it was separate from our own. And since then, astronomers and astrophysicists have discovered many, many more galaxies, they now think that the visible universe contains about 200 billion galaxies. Although when I showed this slide at a lecture recently, an astronomer friend of mine came up and said, actually you're a little out of date, it's now thought that it's two trillion, ten times more, which is, you know, stunning

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:30:09] Just to get a sense of how vast the universe is, post Hubble, and post his discoveries, look at that little square with the arrow inside it, and I'm going to blow it up, I'm going to amplify it, this is what's called the Hubble Deep Field, and you can see that even in that tiny little quadrant of space, once you amplify it enough, it's full of galaxies in every direction. I like to say galaxies galore, so that's pretty awesome, and that was mentioned in the praise song before I started, about all the galaxies.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:30:38] But Hubble discovered something else, something even more significant, and that is that the light coming from those galaxies, is being stretched out so that it is what the astronomers say is redshifted. You may know that if you shine light through a prism, it will separate into different colors, red to violet. The violet light has very short wavelengths, compared to the red light which has very long wavelengths. So if the light that's being emitted from specific chemicals in a distant object in the night sky is coming to us, and it's gets shifted towards the red end of the electric violet spectrum, if it's longer than it should otherwise look, that indicates that the light has been stretched, which suggests that the object from which it's coming is moving away from us.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:31:35] Do you remember from high school science, the Doppler Shift, did you ever study that with your science teacher? So if you've got a train and it's moving away from you, and it emits a sound from the whistle, what happens to the sound of the whistle? It goes down, right? Okay. So that's because the sound waves can also be stretched out by an object receding away. So the same thing happens with light, if the object of the night sky is moving away, the light waves are stretched out, they look redder than they otherwise should look.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:32:06] And as Hubble, and his graduate students, and successors at Caltech, and other places began to study the light coming from the different galaxies in all the different quadrants of the night sky, they discovered that it was almost universally red-shifted, suggesting that the universe was stretching out. They also discovered that the further out the galaxies were, the faster it was being stretched out, which suggested what they called a spherical symmetric expansion, like a balloon being blown up.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:32:35] So let me illustrate, using all these big words, let's put it down to down to earth here. So if you're going in the forward direction of time, if the galaxies are moving away from us, that implies that the universe is in a sense blowing up, it's getting bigger and bigger. So you go a hundred years, a thousand years, a million years, a billion years, Okay, it's getting bigger and bigger. But now, here's where the rub comes, let's think about what happens to the universe if you wind the clock backward. Remember the Saturday morning cartoons where you know, suddenly they'd make Bugs Bunny and wind him backwards? Okay, so let's wind the clock backwards, let's go one hundred years ago, the universe has got to be smaller, right? It's expanding now, but some are smaller. Well, a thousand years smaller, still, a million years, a billion years, 10 billion years, however far back, however old do you think the universe is, you eventually get to a limiting case where you can't back extrapolate any further. We're all that galactic material in the reverse direction of time would have had to congeal to a point, past which you can't extrapolate any further because everything is condensed, it's all smashed together, okay? Marking the beginning of the expansion of the universe, that's the beginning point where the universe begins to expand in the forward direction of time, but it also arguably marks the beginning of the universe itself because you can't extrapolate back any further. What, the universe that might have had a beginning. All right, so this is really the kind of mind-blowing implication of this evidence from observational astronomy.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:34:14] Now, there was a famous guy with bad hair who came over from Germany to get away from Hitler, went to Princeton University, Einstein. And Einstein tumbled to this same idea in 1917ish. He published a theory of gravity, a new theory of gravity, a kind of modification of Newton's ideas called General Relativity, and his idea was that massive bodies actually curve space. To get an idea of this in your mind, think of putting a bowling ball on a trampoline, and what it does to the surface of the trampoline. And so that was his concept, and it was confirmed by lots of cool experiments and observations, the idea, then, is that you've got one massive body like our galaxy, and another massive body like the Andromeda galaxy, they're going to be pulling towards each other. And Einstein realized that if the only force in the universe was gravitational attraction, eventually all the matter of the universe would have clumped together, and the space around it would get curved so tightly that we'd live in a minuscule black hole with no empty space between anything. But hey, there's empty space between stuff, between our planet, and the next planet, and the next galaxies. So he reasoned, there must therefore be an outward pushing force, that's operating in opposition to gravity, to create the space. But if there's an outward push in force, then that implies an expanding universe outward from a beginning. And Einstein didn't like that idea, he was at this time in his career, a committed scientific materialist. He thought, in fact, the beginning smacked of Christian theology in the Book of Genesis. So what he did was very clever, he simply gerrymandered his own equations, and he assigned specific values to the outward pushing force and the inward pulling force, such that they perfectly balanced. And then he was able to portray the universe as what he calls a static steady state, neither expanding nor contracting, in a kind of eternal balance and got rid of the beginning.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:36:28] But they haven't talked back, and they talked back to Hubble. And Einstein later learned about Hubble's discovery from a French scientist named George Lemaitre, and he learned about this in the back of a taxicab when the two physicists were going to a famous science conference in Belgium. And Lemaitre encouraged him to learn about this and how it challenged his idea of the static universe. So eventually, Einstein goes out to California, and he meets with Edwin Hubble, and in some famous newsreel footage from 1931, this is a still image of that, Hubble's standing there with the pipe, Einstein is looking through the telescope, and two weeks later, Einstein gives an interview to the New York Times, telling about his experience out in California. And he says, I now realize that the universe is not static, it had a beginning, it's a dynamic expanding universe, and Hubble and his colleague Humason at Caltech proved it. And so Einstein later said that his attempt to fiddle with his own equations to obscure the implication of a beginning was the greatest blunder, I used to say of his scientific career, the actual quote is, he said, it was the greatest blunder of my life. And he then said the three hardest words to say in the English language, I was wrong.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:37:52] So these two strains of thought theoretical physics, general relativity, observational astronomy by the end of the 20th century pretty much established that the universe has a beginning. But all through the 20th century, many leading astrophysicists tried to avoid that conclusion and chafed against it. This is a quotation from a famous British astrophysicist named Sir Arthur Eddington, who also gave Einstein a heads up about the redshift evidence. But Eddington didn't like it either, he said, "Philosophically, the notion of the beginning of the present order is repugnant to me. I should like to find a genuine loophole. I simply do not believe the present order of things started off with a bang. The expanding Universe is preposterous, it leaves me cold." He was British, so I'm having a little fun with the accent there, okay. This is a really well-established theory in psychology known as denial. Do you notice the evidence that he cited for his repugnance? No, he doesn't give you any evidence. What is his reason for this idea being repugnant? If philosophically he doesn't like it, what's the philosophy that would make the beginning of the universe unexpected? It's materialism, this is the default way of thinking coming into the 20th century.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:39:18] Now, there's another physicist who explained why this was so upsetting, his name was Robert Dicke at Princeton. He said, "An infinitely old universe would relieve us of the necessity of explaining the origin of matter at any finite time in the past." See if matter and energy, space, and time themselves, have a beginning, which is actually an implication of Einstein's theory of general relativity, which Stephen Hawking later proved, then it's really hard to explain the origin of the universe materialistically because before the origin of matter, there's no matter to do the causing.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:39:57] Now, this point was brought home to me in a really poignant way by another scientist from California, his name was Allan Sandage. And early in my scientific career, I got to attend a conference about the origin of the universe and the origin of life, the big questions in science. And the conference was organized around scientists who are scientific materialists, and theists, on two sides in panels discussing these big issues. Sandage was a long-time and well-known agnostic Jew, and he attended, he was coming to the conference, but people expected that he would climb the podium and sit with scientific materialists. But instead, he shocked people in the audience by sitting with the theists. And in the conference, he announced that he had had a religious conversion, that he had now come to believe in God, not in spite of the science, but because of the science. And then he proceeded to give a lecture on all the different evidence that supported what is now known as the Big Bang Theory and its affirmation that the universe had a beginning. And I remember I got to look at the footage of his lecture afterward, I rewound it several times, it was so moving. He was looking into the camera kind of very grave and gritty, like this was not something I wanted to believe. But he said, "Here is evidence for what can only be called a supernatural event. There's no way this could have been predicted within the realm of physics as we know it." Why? Well, because the physical universe is the thing that begins. You can't explain the origin of the universe from physics, because physics describes what's going on in the physical universe, and before the physical universe begins there's no physics to do the causing or to do the explaining. And so Sandage explained to us how this to him suggested the need for a transcendent kind of cause, a cause that's not bound by space and time, that is not material and has sounded to many, many scientists like God. And in fact, it also confirms the very first words of Scripture, the Genesis words, "In the beginning." So a very strange, interesting convergence between modern science and the Bible.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:42:20] But also, this discovery has underwritten an ancient argument for the existence of God called The Cosmological Argument. It goes like this, whatever begins to exist must have a cause. the universe began to exist, therefore, the universe must have a cause, and since causes are separate from the effects they cause, the cause of the universe can't be matter, energy, space, or time, it must transcend those dimensions and yet also have the ability to change states of things from nothing to something, from nothing to everything that exists. Very powerful new developments in science, underscoring these new arguments for God's existence.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:42:59] Okay, that's thing number one. At the very least, this is...Oh yeah, before we move on, remember the Dawkins quote I started with? "The universe we observed has precisely the properties we should expect if there is nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.". If materialism is true. Arno Penzias, a scientist who lives in San Francisco today, was one of the scientists who helped discover the evidence for the beginning, he got a Nobel Prize. He says, "The best data we have are exactly what I would have predicted or expected, had I nothing to go on for the first five books of Moses, the Psalms, and the Bible as a whole." So precisely not what we'd expect on the materialistic view of blind, pitiless indifference. This is a major discovery in science, and it contradicts not confirms the materialistic view of the modern scientific atheists.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:43:49] All right, let's look at another, I've got two more discoveries to share, these won't take quite as long. There's a California angle on this story, too, it's really interesting. Sir Fred Hoyle is a famous Cambridge astrophysicist. He was a strident, ardent scientific atheist early in his career, he opposes the idea of the Big Bang because he thinks it's too much like the theological idea of creation, but he eventually does some research that causes him to change his worldview. Initially, he says, "Religion is but a desperate attempt to find an escape from the truly dreadful situation in which we find ourselves. No wonder, then, that people feel the need for some belief that gives them a sense of security and get very angry at people like me who say that this is all illusory." He's clearly an atheist, but then he makes a discovery, it's called The Fine Tuning.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:44:45] Do you remember the Goldilocks story from the three bears? Not too hot, not too cold, just right? Okay. What Hoyle and other physicists have been discovering over the last 60 years is that the fundamental parameters of the universe, the strength Of gravitational attraction, the strength of the force that causes the universe to expand, which is known as the cosmological constant, the mass of the elementary particles, the speed of light, all of these things are just right. They're not too strong, not too weak, not too fast, not too slow, not too heavy, not too light, and the actual values of all these fundamental forces fall within very narrow tolerances or parameters. If they were just a little bit bigger, or a little bit smaller, by a smidge, then life in the universe would be impossible. In fact, even basic chemistry in many cases would be impossible, you couldn't get beyond hydrogen atoms. And this was a mind-blowing discovery, and Hoyle was the first astrophysicist to discover some of these key fine-tuning parameters.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:45:49] He was trying to explain why there could be so much carbon in the universe, and he got some guys at Caltech to do some experiments that revealed that there was, in fact, this fine-tuning that was involved in the building of carbon. And so later, despite his earlier atheistic proclamations, Hoyle said this, he said, "A common-sense interpretation of the data suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, to make life possible." In other words, the fine-tuning suggests a fine tuner, and there's a major change of mind.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:46:29] One other Cambridge astrophysicist had a way of getting this across, he used a visual illustration of what he called a...He asked his audience to imagine a universe creating machine, and you walk into the space station that contains the universe creating machine, and you see there's all these dials and knobs and sliders, each one for one of the fundamental parameters of physics, and each one is set in a very particular way. And then since you're a physics geek, you start doing some calculations, well, what would happen if I turned this one click that way? Oops, the universe collapses. What would happen if I turned that one that way? Oh, boom, it dissipates, and you have a heat death. There's an adverse consequence to even slight variations in these fundamental parameters of physics, and Polkinghorne used to ask his student audiences, well, what do you make of that, to get them to think. And I later had a chance to interview him, and I said, well, Sir John, what do you make of the fine-tuning? And he said, well, I don't say that the atheists are stupid, he said, I just say that theism provides a more satisfying explanation. Fine-tuning points to a cosmic fine tuner. So that's discovery number two, a fascinating thing.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:47:36] If you've heard about the atheistic counterargument of the multiverse, I'll be very happy to address that tonight in the Q&A. There's a very, very, I think, formidable refutation of that idea.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:47:49] All right, last big discovery. This is the evidence, the discovery of the complexity of life at the molecular level, inside cells, and with that, the evidence of actual design, not the illusion of design in living organisms. This is an animation still of something called the bacterial flagellar motor, it's a little tiny motor that sits in the cell membrane of a one-celled organism, a bacterium. It's got a rotor, a stator, a u joint, a driveshaft, bushings and bearings, a little whip Like tail that functions like a propeller.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:48:26] My colleague, Michael Behe, wrote a book called Darwin's Black Box, which has made famous numerous of these miniature machines, its nanoscale machinery inside even the simplest living organisms on the planet. I like to call it high-tech and low life. Now, these miniature machines are made of subunits, of parts, called proteins. And the different proteins have different shapes, the driveshaft, the u joint, the bearings, they're all shaped differently, made of different kinds of proteins. And the proteins are made of smaller subunits called amino acids, and if the amino acids are linked together in the right way, they fold up and make specific three-dimensional shapes that allow them to perform jobs inside cells. Some proteins are enzymes catalysts, and they catalyze reactions that we need to keep our metabolism going, others form structural parts of these molecular machines, still, others process information.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:49:25] Now, the key thing about the amino acids and the proteins to understand, is that the amino acids have to be arranged just right, like letters in an alphabet. If you get the letters wrong, you don't spell anything. If you get the amino acids arranged improperly, then the chain won't fold, and it won't perform a function. And so the key question in biology is, well, how do these amino acids get arranged right, so they fold right, so they can do jobs in the cells? And the big discovery in biology in the 1950s and 60s, the period that scientists now called the molecular biological revolution, is that there's another big molecule inside cells that stores the instructions for building these proteins that are necessary to do all the jobs that keep us and our cells alive, and by instructions, we're talking literally digital code.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:50:17] This was first realized by Francis Crick; he and Watson discovered the structure of DNA in 1953 and they developed their model. But Crick developed something later called the sequence hypothesis, and if you look down the middle of that DNA molecule, you can see that the chemical subunits of the DNA on the inside are labeled with letters A, C, G, and T. And Crick's idea, known as The Sequence Hypothesis, was that those chemical subunits are functioning like alphabetic characters in a written language, or the digital zeros and ones we use in software today. And we're right near Silicon Valley, right, so people around here understand the importance of digital information and what it can do. And this was the huge discovery, was that the foundation of life and even the simplest living cells, there's a molecule chock full of digital information and that digital code provides the instructions for building the proteins that keep us alive.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:51:13] Bill Gates has said that DNA is like a computer program, but much more complex than any we've ever created. Leroy Hood, a famous biotech specialist up in our area, simply says DNA contains digital code. Richard Dawkins has acknowledged that the machine code of the genes is uncannily computer like. Not exactly what we would expect from blind, pitiless processes, why? What do we know about what it takes to create digital code, to create software? Where does that come from, from a programmer, from a software engineer? That's what we know from our uniform and repeated experience, which is the basis of all scientific reasoning, it takes a mind to generate information.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:51:57] And this was first recognized by scientists who were at that same conference that I mentioned before, this is another California scientist, Dean Kenyon, who was a long-time professor at San Francisco State University. He's written one of the leading books on how you got from the chemicals in the prebiotic soup to the first living cell, it was an evolutionary theory of the origin of life. And at this conference in 1985, he repudiated his own work and said that the information in DNA suggests that we need to, what he said was reopen the natural theological question, what we can know about God from nature. And he later affirmed this idea called intelligent design, he said the information in DNA provides evidence for intelligent purpose in the cosmos or design.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:52:43] Well, why would that make sense? Well, we know that as one information scientist put it, "The creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity." Whenever we see information, whether it's in a hieroglyphic inscription, or a paragraph in a book, or information embedded in a radio signal, or certainly information in a digital form in software, we always can trace that information back to a mind, not an undirected process. And that's the core idea of a book that I've written called, Signature in the Cell, making the case for Intelligent Design based upon the digital information present in living systems. At the foundation of life, we find that code.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:53:27] So what do we have here? Let me summarize, we have three key discoveries that challenge the scientific, materialistic worldview. The first is that the material universe itself had a beginning a finite time ago, suggesting a transcendent cause, a cause beyond the universe. The second is that we have evidence, from the very beginning of the universe, for fine-tuning. That the universe has been fine-tuned, from the beginning, suggesting that the transcendent cause also be intelligent, it must be a fine tuner. Thirdly, we have evidence that since the beginning of the universe, there have been big infusions of information into our planetary biosphere, making possible new forms of life. If you want to give your computer a new function, you've got to give it new code. If you want to build a new form of life, the same thing, you've got to provide the information for building the structures of that organism. So, the universe had a beginning, it's been fine-tuned from the beginning, and there have been infusions of information since the beginning. That, to me, and I argue this in a lot of detail in my new book, suggests not only an intelligent designer, but a designer with the attributes that Jews, and Christians, and other traditional theists have long ascribed to God, transcendence, intelligence or wisdom, the power to create, and a creator who is also active in the creation. Not a deistic creator who only acts at the beginning, not a space alien who does something long after the beginning but couldn't have caused the beginning of the universe itself, but instead the kind of creator who has the attributes that we've long associated with God, and I call that The Return of The God Hypothesis.

Dr. Stephen Meyer: [00:55:06] I'm not the only scholar or scientist seeing this, a very famous historian of science, Frederick Burnham, has stated that "The idea that God created the universe is a more respectable hypothesis today than at any time in the last 100 years." In my book, I go a bit further than that, I say that The God Hypothesis provides the best overall explanation among all the competing scientific theories and worldviews for the big three discoveries Of the 20th century, the last 100 years, that the universe had a beginning, it's been finely tuned from the beginning, and that there have been big infusions of information since the beginning. And that is, I think, a tremendous development in our intellectual history and it challenges this scientific materialism and scientific atheism, that's been robbing so many young people of faith. And I'll leave it there. Thank you very much.

Tim Lundy: [00:56:04] All right, I know there are probably many of you, that you go, I have a lot of questions, I'd love to follow up, come tonight, 6:00 to 7:30, it's mainly going to be Q&A. I really would challenge, especially those of us that have high schoolers, you've got middle schoolers, college students, this is great material. Here's what I'm excited about today, you don't have to be scared of the prevailing narrative. We don't have to be scared of scientific naturalism, even though it's proclaimed everywhere. I'm excited today because you don't have to separate your faith over here and science over there and just kind of live with them in separate worlds, they support each other if you're honest enough with the evidence that's there.

Tim Lundy: [00:56:45] Do you know the third thing I'm excited about today? All these truths came out of California. I've got all these friends, they don't like the thinking that comes out of California, they give me grief from other parts of the country. Now I have something to turn on them, like, yeah, look how we saved you in this realm. So we're definitely excited.

Tim Lundy: [00:57:02] Hey, we've gone a little long, if you've got kids, would you do this as soon as we dismiss, would you go pick them up and thank the people that are watching them because I watched them a little longer today? And so make sure you thank them, if we could do that quickly. And then I think we've got some copies of Dr. Meyer's book for sale back at the hub, but at 6 O’clock will be up in venue two from 6:00 to 7:30, we'd love to see you there. Before we dismiss, can we thank Dr. Meyer one more time for coming today? Yeah. You're dismissed.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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