Can a rational, intelligent person believe in God? Or is the better question, “How can a rational, intelligent person not believe in God?”
If God exists, then He is stunningly powerful. He is the Author, Creator and Ruler of the universe.
But the late physicist Stephen Hawking said that science has made God “unnecessary.”
He said, “The laws of physics can explain the universe without the need for a Creator.”
Is that true?
Examining the evidence
The laws of physics explain how the cosmos works, but physics doesn’t explain how the cosmos came to be, or who wrote the laws of physics.
The great physicist Albert Einstein acknowledged that “everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe—a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.”
Now, Einstein may not have believed in a God who is active in personal lives, as described in the Bible. But he recognized there is a spirit, superior to man, that animated the cosmos.
Scientists of all stripes are recognizing there is incredible, complex design throughout the universe—and in even the most basic of cells and molecules. It’s design that defies explanations that it all came about by random chance. Design that points to an intelligent Designer.
Scientific materialists like Richard Dawkins tell us that they can explain the appearance of design by purely naturalistic means—by random chance and natural selection. But do their elaborate theories fall apart under scrutiny?
The more scientists have studied, the more obvious the evidence for design is. From the discovery of the complex coding of information written into the DNA of every living cell, to the fine-tuning of the laws that govern the cosmos, the evidence of forethought, planning and design is clearly there.
Einstein is credited with having said:
“In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views.”
This echoes the words of the Bible in Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (New International Version).
Let’s look more closely at three things that give us evidence that God exists.
1. Creation requires a Creator
First, let’s look at the very existence of the physical universe itself. How did it come to be?
Frankly, the materialistic ideas that have been proposed to explain how this cosmos came to be require some major theoretical leaps. The idea is that there must be natural laws explaining it all, but that they simply haven’t been proven or perhaps even discovered yet.
But the physics and cosmology that we do know describe a universe coming into existence in a “big bang”—a cosmic explosion of everything, out of nothing—about 13.8 billion years ago.
The common idea in science before the 1920s was that matter had simply always existed.
But all the scientific disciplines soon came to acknowledge the clear evidence that the universe was expanding, and that meant the universe had a beginning.
The theory was strongly confirmed in 1965 with the discovery of the cosmic microwave background—a faint radiation that represents the afterglow of the big bang.
Scientists have tried to reverse engineer the expanding universe to a point about 13.8 billion years ago, when the known laws of physics wouldn’t have worked—when gravity and light and time would have, in a sense, all been collapsed into an infinitesimally small, immensely hot and infinitely dense singularity. According to Big-Bang-Theory.com, “Singularities are zones which defy our current understanding of physics . . . Where did it come from? We don’t know. Why did it appear? We don’t know.”
And for some unexplained reason, 13.8 billion years ago that singularity exploded, giving us the origin of the universe—the big bang.
Now, logically, if the universe had a beginning, then it had to have a Beginner—an Originator—no matter how long ago that may have been. Genesis 1:1 simply says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Scripture doesn’t put a time limit on that. Our article “The Gap Theory” explains this verse that is often misunderstood.
The mere existence of matter, energy and time, with all our current understanding of physics and cosmology, points to a creation, and so, a Creator.
Now to be fair, the most recent images being received by the James Webb Space Telescope seem to be challenging some of the assumptions made in the big bang theory, finding galaxies that seem to be too old to fit the model of the big bang.
One idea to explain this is that there have been repeated pulses of a cosmic big bang, followed by collapse, and another big bang.
Another idea is that there are actually multiverses—not one, but many universes.
Such materialistic explanations of how we can have a creation without a Creator don’t answer the fundamental problem. If you can’t explain the origin of even one universe, how do you explain the origin of many?
If we have matter, time and energy that at some point didn’t exist, then we need something (or Someone) that is not limited by matter, time and energy to bring them into existence.
2. Design is evidence of an intelligent Designer
But let’s assume that somehow everything did explode into existence out of nothing. Where did the order and structure that we see in the universe come from?
When’s the last time you witnessed an explosion that generated order instead of chaos? If you blow up a bridge, you don’t end up with a skyscraper.
To create order requires intelligence, forethought and design. And our universe is incredibly fine-tuned in its design.
So, what caused all the stuff in the big bang to organize?
That takes a mind to design.
And we see functional design throughout the universe, from flower petals to planets.
Scientists well understand that when you have a functional pattern, it indicates an intelligence that made it. An entire field of research is based on this.
As part of the SETI project—the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence—27 large radio antennas are spread out over the high desert near Socorro, New Mexico. These antennas are scanning the sky 24/7, looking for some pattern to emerge from the random background radiation waves in the cosmos.
Why? Because the researchers know that if they identify such a pattern, they will have found evidence of intelligence in the universe.
Our ability to reason is a testimony to the Author of life. It is evidence of the existence of an intelligent Creator.It is ironic that, on the one hand, scientists are looking for any indication of a recognizable pattern in the radio waves of space to show that there is intelligent life out there. And yet, faced with an incredibly complex code that we now understand is written into the DNA of every living cell, scientists believe it all could have happened by accident, without the guidance of an intelligent Being to write the code.
When you see order, when you see functional design, the rational conclusion is that it was put together by an intelligent being.
Design found in nature is far more complex than any design man has come up with.
The design of a bird is far more complex than the design of a plane. But materialists say that the plane was designed by aeronautical engineers, while the bird happened by chance.
Physics, the fine-tuning of gravity, the laws of chemistry and biology, the incredible digital code found in DNA—all these reveal patterns and design that could not happen without an intelligent Designer.
3. Our minds are evidence of a greater mind
In this short article, we can’t examine all the other evidence for the Creator who made life with all its wonders and irreducible complexity. But let’s consider one more rational proof of a rational Creator, and that’s the very ability we have to reason.
Creation requires a Creator, and design requires a Designer.
And even though rational, intelligent human beings can disagree, as I know some will, we can still reason together on the arguments—we can think.
How could chemicals randomly develop consciousness?
In a TED Talk, brain researcher V.S. Ramachandran mused:
“Think for a minute about what this entails. Here is this . . . three-pound mass of jelly you can hold in the palm of your hand, and it can contemplate the vastness of the interstellar space. It can contemplate the meaning of infinity and it can contemplate itself, contemplating on the meaning of infinity. And this peculiar recursive quality that we call self-awareness, which I think is the holy grail of neuroscience, of neurology, and hopefully, someday, we’ll understand how that happens.”
The Bible provides a rational explanation of the mystery of the human mind. God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).
Part of being like God is the ability to think, reason and have the capacity for intelligence.
Our ability to reason is a testimony to the Author of life. It is evidence of the existence of an intelligent Creator.
Without that ability to reason, we would not be able to have a relationship with God—and God desires to have a relationship with us.
So He gave you a mind that is—at least in a small way—like His. And He asks you to use it—to reason together with Him, to get to know Him and to have a relationship with Him.
You can know that God exists. Download our study guide Does God Exist?