Tom Waits, the American singer wrote: “Like all great things in the world, women and religion and the sky…you wonder about it, and you don’t stop wondering about it.”
I think I have a curious mind, but it wasn’t always that way. My younger me resonated more with another American singer Sam Cooke who sung: “Don't know much about history. Don't know much biology. Don't know much about a science book. Don't know much about the French I took. But I do know that I love you.”
Yet, now science fascinates me. I mean, where to start? It turns out that the universe is still expanding much like Pound stores. The edge of the universe is estimated to be some ninety billion trillion miles away.
The solar system we live in fills less than a trillionth of available space. It is part of the Milky Way and takes some 200 and 250 years to orbit just once.
Apparently before everything was anything, there was a point, called singularity and then there was a bang involving inconceivably high temperatures, loaded with enough energy and potential and possibility to eventually create what you and I know to be life, the universe and everything in it.
Let’s now talk about time. I know this is going to sound like a script from Doctor Who, but time is not consistent. It bends, and warps, and curves.
And if you stand outside on a clear night and see stars, the light you see from the stars is as they were when the light left them. You are looking literally into the past.
Coming a bit closer to home, on a summer’s day you are enjoying the sun as it was eight minutes ago. And techno geeks talk about real time!
Now science does a brilliant job of telling me why I don’t have fins or fur, but what about the soul?
One of the problems science faces is that theories turn into assumptions. And we are often none the wiser when they do. The universe is complex, wonderful and, let’s be honest, just a little scary.
Friends have said to me: you are an intelligent man, how can you believe in the concept of God? (Okay, I made up the ‘intelligent’ bit!) Surely once we have enough knowledge of the universe the notion of God will be redundant and it will have to reside in the history book?
But that belief rests on a very deep faith indeed. One mathematic physicist (not a Christian) deduced that God has to exist because singularity comes down to such a knife-edge you are forced to fall one way or the other. His conclusions led him to believe in God.
Some talk simplistically, and even derogatively, about God being a ‘friend in the sky’, or a cosmic-mythical story for the weak and uneducated, but that attitude betrays all sorts of problems. We have to adopt the same open-mindedness as we do with the pursuit of science and be willing to engage with the possibility of an omnipotent divine being.
So when I talk about God I am talking about the source of all truth, the foundation of all life, the mystery of the soul and the universe, the one who instils the desire to create art, music, dance, poetry, to show compassion and inspire others to greatness.
I just can’t believe that this is all there is and that we are simply collections of neurons and atoms. In fact, the possibility that there is more - a supernatural power - makes life even more awe-inspiring.
Of course, the problem scientists have is this ‘crazy little thing called love’. It is just plain irrational and really should not have a place in our rational, reductionist modern life. And yet, incredibly, it does!
To believe in a God of love who sent his only son into the world is an outrageous thing to suggest. But is it any less believable than some of the grand theories of science. What’s my proof? After all, God can’t be seen. True. But then I haven’t seen a gamma ray. Have you?
I find myself pondering the lyrics of Sam Cooke: “And I know that if you love me too. What a wonderful world this would be.”