ur quest must begin somewhere, and I believe that the best place to start is with a question that divides our twenty-first century pattern of thinking fairly down the middle. There are those who believe passionately that the universe in which we live was created by an intelligence and power immeasurably greater than our own; and there are those who believe, with equal passion, that there is no such thing as a creator, but that the universe has come into being by a purely mechanical process that can be explained in terms of natural science. Which of these two positions are we to adopt? Which one is the more reasonable?
The terms that would normally be used to identify the two camps, if you like, are creation and evolution. These are the terms that I will use throughout this essay. Within each camp there may be many shades and degrees of opinion. I am not concerned with that. My interest is purely to establish, by the exercise of reason and logic, whether it is more appropriate to believe that the universe and all that it contains, including ourselves, was created or whether it came into being by some other means and that life as we know it has evolved in some way.
Let us begin by examining the most popular scientific paradigm for the origin of all things - the event that is commonly referred to as the Big Bang.
My understanding of this idea is that, in the beginning all of the matter of which the universe is composed was concentrated in a single compact space. However, the pressure that existed within this lump of compressed matter and energy was so great that eventually it exploded with such force that everything was flung at enormous speed in every direction. As the matter hurtled through space, it began to gather into clumps, which eventually, through the force of gravity and other physical forces, became organised into stars, and the stars came together to form galaxies, and around the stars developed planets, so that solar systems such as our own were born. Our own planet earth went through a series of transformations over millions of years until it developed into an environment that was suitable for the inception and nurture of life as we know it.
The greatest breakthrough in the evolutionary process was the origin of life. Out of the primaeval soup arose, by means that are still a matter of conjecture among scientists, a simple, single-celled organism that was to be the father, or mother, of all living things upon the earth. All flora, all fauna, and, of course, all of mankind can look back to the generation of that single cell and find their roots.
Before we go on to think more deeply about the origin of life, let us pause here for a moment and ask ourselves whether, in all honesty, we are able to accept the idea that is being proposed so far. Is it reasonable, is it logical, to believe that the universe that we see around us, in which we live, has been generated through an explosion and that subsequently the matter that was thrust into space as the result of that explosion organised itself into a fully functioning cosmos? In other words, is it possible for order to come out of disorder without the intervention of an organiser?
If I stand on the beach and take a handful of sand and throw it into the air, each grain of sand will take its own course and come to rest in an apparently random distribution. Should I take another handful and repeat the experiment, I will again end up with what is to all intents and purposes a random distribution, and one that is quite different from the first. I say "apparently random" because if one had the instruments and the skill it would be possible to predict the trajectory of each grain of sand, assuming that all of the parameters were known, such as the force and direction of the throw, the strength and direction of the wind, the size, weight, and shape of the grain of sand, and so forth. What I will never get with my experiment with the sand is what we might call a discernable pattern.
Knowledge and understanding are predicated on the existence of discernable patterns. I see a photograph and I either recognise that it is so-and-so, or I confess that I have no idea who it is. I may recognise the general pattern of a human face, but I am unable to tie it up with any person that I know - the pattern of whose features I recognise because they have a unique discernable pattern. When we think about order as distinct from chaos or disorder we mean that we are able to recognise patterns. Where we can find a pattern, we put a label on it by using a word to represent it. If we cannot discern a pattern, we have no words for it except perhaps "mess" or "chaos" or "shambles", and our desire is to find some way to bring order out of it, and we are not satisfied until it is either organised or destroyed, or at any rate removed from our attention.
Going back to the sand; let's now consider what will happen if I place a stick of dynamite in a pile of sand and detonate it. I will get a similar outcome to the first experiment, except this time the grains of sand will be flung far and wide and probably no two will be left together. Let's assume that I have built myself a sand castle - an ordered entity to which I am able to give a name. After the explosion, there is no evidence of there ever having been a sand castle. There is a hole in the ground and a lot of sand spread all over the place. Any semblance of order is gone.
Is it possible for an ordered universe to be generated out of a massive explosion, given that the forces at work are driving all of the particles at vast speeds in all different directions? This is very difficult to imagine. All of the experiential evidence that we have in our everyday lives leads us to conclude that such a thing is inconceivable. We all know that where we see order, we expect to find that somewhere along the line there has been an organiser. For instance, no-one believes for a moment that the pyramids of Egypt are natural formations. We look at them and intuitively we conclude that someone at some time has designed and built them.
There is a story told about Isaac Newton, who had acquired a working model of the solar system. When the handle was turned, the planets would revolve about the sun, each in its prescribed orbit. One of Newton's acquaintances was greatly taken by this model and asked Newton how he had come by it. "Why", said Newton, "it came about by itself." "Come now, Newton", objected his friend, "you are not a man given to flippancy. Tell me, who constructed this wonderful machine?" "Well", said Newton, "is it not remarkable that you know full well that this model must have been made by the hand of man, yet you happily believe that the wonderful creation, of which this is but a poor representation, came into being of itself."
n examination of what scientists say about the Big Bang (refer to the links on the left) indicate very clearly that far from this primal event causing chaos or disorder, it was in fact a massive ordering of both energy and matter into the complex and highly organised universe in which we live. The conclusion to which we are forced, unless we have already made up our minds on the subject before the evidence has been considered, is that the universe is the product not of a chance event that "just happened", but of a carefully planned and skillfully executed procedure that was born of a definite purpose in the unimaginably brilliant mind of a sentient creator. The Big Bang could not possibly have been an explosion, as we normally think of an explosion, since its outcome was not disintegration, but an ordered distribution that resulted in a cosmos of great intricacy and careful balance. We see today, as we face the issue of global warming, that the conditions necessary for the development and maintenance of life are very finely balanced indeed. We must therefore ask the vital question that takes us to the next stage of our journey: is there a god?