The universe in which we live demands an explanation outside itself
One of the oldest arguments for the existence of God rests on the fact that the universe itself, like any of its component parts, requires an adequate explanation.
"Look around you", Greek philosophers would say. "The world displays astounding order. The sun, the moon, the stars, plant life, the animals and human beings: all belong together in an intricate pattern of co-existence. It could not be there without a Maker. Neither would it be what it is without a plan".
This spontaneous argument based on order in the world still has its appeal, even for sophisticated thinkers. Some years ago I heard Fred Hoyle, the famous astronomer, give an interview on BBC radio. At the time, Hoyle had retired to the countryside. "I know a Creator exists", he said, "because the world bears the marks of one. When I walk through country lanes here, I see stone walls round the fields. I know the walls did not make themselves. They were constructed by farmers. All the more so when I meet a tractor on the road: it could never assemble itself. In the same way the universe bears the stamp of a Mind."
Both Philo and Hoyle were using two-tier world language here. Today we realise that the image of a Supernatural Architect does not really fit the bill. But they point they were making remains valid. The universe requires a Cause.
The world requires an explanation
Now you might object that evolution explains everything. The point is, it doesn't. Evolution explains connections within the universe, not the universe itself.
Suppose an uneducated tribal head hunter of darkest Papua New Guinea finds himself suddenly in an aeroplane. He might, of course, restrict his attention to individual items he has never seen before: his passenger seat, the overhead lamp, the music-playing earphones, the windows of the cabin, other passengers. He may also, if he is intelligent, begin to ask wider questions - and discover that everything, including himself, is part of one extraordinary artificial bird: the aeroplane. The inner connections inside the plane do not explain how the whole plane came about, or why it can fly in the air.
The same applies to our universe. It is its totality that requires an explanation. The physicist Paul Davies expresses the situation in these words:
Even with all our latest scientific insights, the main question remains.
P.DAVIES also highlights specific features of the universe that demand an explanation: the anthropic principle, for instance, the fact that a universe producing conscious life requires physical laws that do not deviate from ours by an extremely fine balance (to a precision of trillions times trillions times trillions of a degree), ib. p. 171; see his books The Edge of Infinity, and recently The Mind of God (London 1980, 1994) in which he says: "From a study of the universe we can see that "we are truly meant to be here".
Why a universe at all?
The same applies to our inter-connected, evolving universe: it requires an explanation for its totality. Even if we know all causality within the world, we still do not know why all of it exists to begin with. It requires an explanation from beyond the universe.
The text in this lesson is from How to Make Sense of God by John Wijngaards, Sheed & Ward, Kansas City 1995. The Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada awarded the book a prize on 25 May 1996. The video clips are from Journey to the Centre of Love (scriptwriter & executive producer John Wijngaards) which was awarded the GRAND PRIX by the Tenth International Catholic Film Festival held in Warsaw (18-23 May 1995).