The Tribune - Spectrum

, January 13, 2002

Does science point to the existence of God?
P. Lal

"DO you believe in God, Sir?", Naren asked Sri Ramakrishna the question which he had been asking others till then.

"Yes, my son," replied Sri Ramakrishna emphatically.

"How can you say so, Sir?" countered Naren.

"Because I see Him just as I see you here," declared the saint of the Dakshineswar. That cast off the mental block of Naren. He undertook sadhana at the Master’s feet, with complete surrender. In the course of time, he, too, was able to attain God-realisation. And thereupon Naren came to be known as Swami Vivekananda.

Greatest minds of the world, scientists not excluded, have, through all ages, dwelled on the question whether God exists. Thus, Lord Kelvin, one of the world’s greatest physicists, made the following statement: "If you think strongly enough, you will be forced by science to believe in God."

In fact, the laws of science — simple as well as complicated — could not have been in place, in the first instance, without there being somebody to put them together, for order could not have come out of disorder without an intervention. The follows from the second law of thermodynamics (heat), universally valid and accepted, which unequivocally declares that the entropy which is a measure of disorderliness in the universe, always increases. Thus, the broken legs of a chair would not jump back to attach to the chair unless a carpenter mends and fixes them.


This leads to a dilemma if the universe is a place that is like a watch slowly running down, how, in the face of this natural tendency, did it get wound up in the first place? In defiance of the law of increasing entropy, order has risen out of chaos, be it the orbital movement of electrons round the nucleus in an atom or of planets round the sun, or the complex structure of a DNA double helix.

Cosmologists tell us that the minutest variation in the value of a series of fundamental properties of the universe at the time of the Big Bang, the single powerful explosion of matter and energy 15 billion years ago which, in the course of time, resulted in the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets, would have led to no universe at all and consequently no life, or at least a very different world. Thus, if gravity were even a little less powerful than it is, matter would not have congealed into stars and galaxies, and the universe would have been cold and empty of the matter as we know it. If the strong nuclear force had been even slightly weaker, the universe would have been composed of hydrogen only, the lightest element; slightly stronger, and all the hydrogen would have been converted to helium, No hydrogen, no sun, no stars and no water. Had the expansion rate of the universe one second after the Big Bang been smaller by one part in a hundred thousand trillion, the universe would have collapsed and contracted long ago. An explosion more rapid by one part in a million would have excluded the formation of stars and planets.

This fine-tuning of the various properties of the universe at the moment of creation i.e. the Big Bang, required super-intelligence and a cosmic will. The list of cosmic coincidences required for our existence in the universe is long indeed. No wonder, therefore, Stephen Hawking, the author of A Brief History of Time remarked. "The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous." Hawking recognised the limitations of science when he said: "Even if we have the Theory of Everything, it would only tell us how the universe works and why it is the way it is; it won’t tell us why it exists at all. It would be just a set of rules and equations. It won’t tell us as to what is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe." He poses the question, "Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?" and goes on to reply, "If we knew that, we would know the mind of God."

A partial and incomplete answer to the "why" of the universe is provided by what is known as the Anthropic Principle which says that things are as they are because we are there to observe them and to ask questions about them. Thus, the existence of universe is observer-dependent. This is akin to the eastern philosophy of world being an illusion (maya), because the world is only man’s creation in his mind fed by the five senses; actually there is none!

That the creation of universe and our existence in it cannot be chance-events as amply evident by the application of scientific principles, including the law of increasing entropy, can also be said to be implicit in Einstein’s oft-quoted statement: "God does not play dice", though the statement was made in a different context when Einstein was faced with the uncertainty principle of Quantum Mechanics. Thus, there is a need, scientifically speaking, reason to believe the existence of a creator or a designer who should, by all accounts, be omnipotent, though His existence cannot be proved like a theorem of the Euclidean geometry, for if it could be proved that way, the belief in God would be compulsory.

Chance is also excluded in the formation of living cells. It is well known that proteins are essential constituents of such cells. Proteins consist of five elements namely carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and sulpher, with possibly 40,000 atoms in the monstruous molecules. A Swiss mathematician, Charles Eugene Guye, had computed (1948) the probability of 40,000 atoms of the five elements out of 92 occurring naturally in nature to form a molecule of protein, by chance, as 10160 to 1, a far too small probability, almost negligible. For such a protein-molecule to form on earth, it would require billions (10243) of years!

Chance in, fact, can be excluded, from most of the ‘ordered’ worldy things, living or inanimate.

If God is responsible for creation, it stands to reason to conclude that He would be equally responsible for our sustenance and even eventual destruction, for destruction has also to be in an ordered way and not chaotic. The three processes are, after all, governed by equations into which someone has to breathe fire. Thus, the three facets of God, the Creator, the Preserver and the Destroyer represented in Hindu philosophy by Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, become scientific necessities, though most scientists won’t admit it for fear of ridicule and deviating from the traditional path.

Thus, if God exists, why is it that only persons of the ilk of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda are able to get a glimpse of Him? The answer lies in what Paramhansa Yogananda (1893-1952), a disciple of Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri of Serampore, said about man’s limited mortal consciousness which required the employment of yoga to bring him up into God-consciousness. And the three-way path of yoga, for the union with God was illumined by Sri Krishna, in the Bhagavadgita. All the three, the Karma yoga (yoga of action), the Bhakti yoga (yoga of devotion) and the Jnana yoga (yoga of knowledge) singly and jointly lead one to God Who is Sat-Chit-Anand (existence-knowledge-bliss).