Before we even get to the idea of faith, we need to examine how we know what we know about God. Is this all just something that we invented to console ourselves in a lonely universe?
We can easily explain away religion by seeing it as an appeal to our search for personal meaning, our desire to influence some kind of control over the things obviously beyond our control, or the yearning for a unified view of human society. Religion asks the big question, “Why are we here?”
Is there purposefulness in nature?
Even those who deny the idea of any kind of god as Creator in the traditional sense use strange language to reflect the seeming design and purposefulness of nature.
Monroe W. Strickberger, in the textbook Evolution, says this about evolutionary adaptations: “they arise because selection chooses and perfects only what is adaptive. In this scheme a god of design and purpose is not necessary.” Attributing intelligence and purposefulness to selection is akin to describing it as god-by another-name. How can an impersonal universe choose and perfect anything?
“More intricately built…”
Even as the idea of a god-free origin to the universe was being popularized in our culture, many thinkers were reluctant to write off the idea of a Creator so easily.
The late nineteenth century psychologist William James, who authored the seminal text on the psychology of religion, The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature, could not imagine “that the world of sensations, and of scientific laws and objects may be all.” He concluded rather, “the total expression of human experience… invincibly urges me beyond the narrow ‘scientific’ bounds. Assuredly, the world is of a different temperament, – more intricately built than physical science allows.”
This was from a man who had no idea of the complexity of the workings of a single cell, or of the amazingly detailed steps involved in the processing of visual information. Science was much simpler when James lived, as it was when Darwin and Wallace were writing. See Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution for a fascinating description of complex systems in nature.
We make our own choices
Is there, then, a God who started it all in motion? Most of us end where we begin on this question. Ultimately, what people conclude is based more upon the philosophy they bring to the question than an impartial examination of the evidence.
Did God create the universe, and you and me, for a purpose? Some think that signs of purpose and intelligence in the universe suggest this. Each individual must come to his or her own conclusions.
Strickberger quote taken from Francis J. Beckwith, “Science and Religion Twenty Years after McLean V. Arkansas: Evolution, Public Education, and the New Challenge of Intelligent Design,” Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 26.2 (2003), Questia, Web, 28 May 2010.