Of Mice and Men – Pondering the Strange Loss of Faith in an Age of Science

One of the more perplexing claims of the growing number of agnostics and atheists among us is that there is no evidence of an intelligent creator of the universe. Clearly, the created universe manifests intelligibility and order from the farthest reaches of outer space down to our small planet and further down into the “inner space” of cells, atoms, and molecules. Science affirms the existence of a creator by uncovering the inner order and intelligibility of created things. Strangely, though, this age of science seems to be fostering an increasing denial of that evidence.

Indeed, creation is a veritable symphony of billions of notes working together in an extraordinary harmony that seems to shout, “I was composed and carefully thought out; my master composer is also the great conductor of my symphony, so painstakingly laid out.”

That the created world is intelligible is the very basis of the sciences. The world manifests meaning that we can discover and it moves along in predictable ways; it does not randomly change from one thing to the next from one moment to the next. Because there is order and intelligibility, a scientist can predict, propose, and test theories, and can replicate results. Without order and intelligibility there could be no scientific method.

Yet many of these same scientists who use this scientific method deny the very Intelligence who provides the intelligibility that their science presumes. If the created world is intelligible, then clearly an intelligence imposed this intelligibility upon it. That the created world manifests order demonstrates that someone so ordered it.

If all of this intricate order had happened just by accident at one moment in time, it would then require something to maintain that order and keep it from breaking down the very next instant into something completely different—yet this does not happen. Reality does not suddenly and randomly mutate into something else. It follows predictable laws; changes are orderly and exhibit continuity with what went before. Order is present not just at one point in time; rather, it is sustained over time and becomes demonstrably more organized as complex life forms develop. Clearly, creation tends toward a certain end in an orderly and progressive way.

That there is order and intelligibility to the created world is demonstrably true and denying this would seem to be the reaction of a madman. The universe shouts out, “I was planned and carefully executed; I have been intricately designed by an intelligent cause moving me in an intelligible direction!”

I would understand if physical scientists were to say that they are not equipped to opine on who or what this intelligence is. Indeed, the physical sciences are not equipped to measure the metaphysical. For so many scientists to claim the ability to deny that there is an intelligence (whom we believers call God) is for them to step outside of their field of expertise—unreasonably so.

The claim that there is no God is not a scientific one; it is philosophical in nature. Those who maintain that there is only the physical and not the metaphysical are actually making a metaphysical claim. They refute their own assertion in the very act of declaring it! The contention that physical science wholly explains all of reality is not one that can be demonstrated scientifically. The claim is proven false the very moment it is declared.

Many will say that there is no evidence of God’s existence because He cannot be seen under a microscope or through a telescope. But of course God is not a physical being; He does not register on our scales. He cannot be physically measured any more than can justice, mercy, beauty, or any other metaphysical concept. None of these can be seen with the tools of physical science—but they are no less real.

Yes, there is a great deal of evidence of a creator. The entire created world is steeped in intelligibility and order. There is a magnificent interplay between material, efficient, formal, and final causality. By its intelligibility, the created world shouts of the intelligence that made it so. By its order, it sings of the one who so ordered it.

Existence itself provides the answer to the questions: “Why is there something rather than nothing? Why is there anything at all?” The only reasonable answer that can come back from the existing cosmos is this: “I was caused!” Something cannot cause itself any more than you and I can cause ourselves. We, and the entire cosmos, were caused by someone other than ourselves and outside of ourselves. The cosmos says, “Someone outside of me caused me. That is why I exist. That is why anything exists at all.”

We moderns have become obtuse and inwardly focused. If anything, we should be more convinced than ever that God exists, as our sciences have revealed such incredible complexity and intricate order in every layer and at every level of creation. We should be singing of the incredible wisdom of the Creator who has so perfectly ordered every level of His creation. Sadly, though, just the opposite seems to be happening: agnosticism and atheism are growing.

Far too many scientists, who should know better (for there would not be science at all without the intelligibility built into creation), make unfounded denials of God, a pronouncement that is clearly outside their field of expertise. And because so many of us idolize the sciences, we give great weight to the claims of scientists, even when those claims are nonscientific.

Contemplating this tragic turn of events brings to mind a parable told by Venerable Fulton Sheen many decades ago:

Those who refuse to unify the cosmos in terms of Pure Intelligence but content themselves with secondary causes may be likened to an all-wise mouse living in a grand piano who … explained the music by the play of hammers on the strings, the action of which could be seen in his own narrow little world. Scientists catch the tune, but miss the player (Old Errors and New Labels, Fulton J. Sheen 1931, p. 27).

Yes, we have become mousy in our thinking. We prefer to live inside the piano and explain the music of the spheres only internally, never thinking of the great artist outside, who gives and causes the magnificent, understandable, beautiful, and intricate melody we hear.

Sadly, the great debate over the existence of God seems only to grow, even as the evidence of intelligibility, order, and design increases. It is a great debate of mice and men.

Are you a mouse or are you a man?

In this video, hear the song of the cosmos: