Scientific Evidence for the Creator
Back in 2012 I wrote an extensive review of Fr. Robert J. Spitzer’s impressive book, New Proofs for the Existence of God (see Proving God). Spitzer examined both scientific and philosophical proofs, and he did a brilliant job, but his book was not targeted at the casual reader. That’s why I was glad to see Steven R. Hemler’s new book from St. Benedict Press, The Reality of God.
One has to beware of “scientific” proofs for the existence of God, for no such thing is possible through the physical sciences, which deliberately confine themselves to the study of material data. But we cannot do science—we cannot discern patterns or theorize—without bringing the whole human mind to bear on the information disclosed by scientific study. Thus this information leads to a greater knowledge of natural things. But the human mind, when it learns of natural things, seeks to intuit not only the immediate material causes within nature, but the final cause of nature as well.
This fundamental aspect of human intelligence explains why St. Paul could write to the Romans:
Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…. [Rom 1:20-22]
If this is true for our ordinary perception of the world around us, how much more is it true in the remarkable intricacy of nature as disclosed through scientific study! Hemler’s book is subtitled “The layman’s guide to scientific evidence for the Creator”, and it explains that the many things we now know about the universe point even more strongly toward a Creator than did our more general observations in the past.
In Part I, the author surveys the discoveries of physics, including what we know about the origin of the universe; the intelligibility of physical laws; the exquisite balance of everything in the universe to hold it together; and the precise calibration of everything on earth to make life possible. Essentially, everything in nature has to be specified within such a narrow band, compared with the total range of possibilities, that awareness of a supremely knowledgeable designer fairly leaps from the data.
Part II covers biology, exploring the remarkable correspondence between our scientific knowledge of emerging life, including evolutionary processes, and the account in Genesis; the obvious need for a teleology built into nature to explain its ability to unfold successfully in ever more complex and sophisticated forms; and the manner in which DNA (genetic information) serves as a sort of blueprint for development—programming code, in effect, which also speaks eloquently of a creative intelligence.
In Part III, Hemler returns to human perception, as I have repeatedly done in my own discussions of how we really “know” things. He rightly finds extraordinarily powerful indications of God in human consciousness, the faculty of conscience, and reason itself. The entire book is divided into brief sections, the evidence is explained clearly and concisely, and the author even provides discussion questions to help focus the reader’s mind on the key issues.
Steven R. Hemler is President of the Catholic Apologetics Institute of North America. He has read widely to present this effective summary, and he does the reader a service by providing footnotes to sources with more extensive presentations, as well as a very useful bibliography.
The Reality of God is well-suited to the general adult reader, and may be used effectively in education for the later high school grades, in either formal classes or home schooling. Teachers can easily prepare lectures from this clearly-presented material, and the book is handily available in a sturdy hardback edition which will also wear very well for repeated student use from year to year.
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