World Magazine has a very neat interview with Stephen Meyer ahead of the March 30 release of his book Return of the God Hypothesis. The book’s thesis in a nutshell, as elicited by interview J. C. Derrick:
What is the God hypothesis? It’s the idea that God exists and theism as a worldview explains some of the key evidence concerning biological and cosmological origins. I’m proposing that hypothesis to explain some of the key discoveries of modern science — the origin and fine-tuning of the universe, the origin of life, and new forms of life on this planet.
Why do you use the word return to describe the God hypothesis? It’s a return because the scientific revolution began roughly in 1300 from a Christian foundation, as more and more scientists thought about nature in Biblical terms. One of the key ideas was that systematic investigation could reveal and help us understand nature. Since we are made in the image of a rational Creator, we could understand the rationality, design, and lawful order God built into nature. Theism provided a framework for doing science, and scientists discovered evidence supporting that framework.
Science moved away from that foundation? During the 19th century that framework dramatically shifted as more and more scientists began to commit themselves to a strictly materialistic approach to science. They became convinced they could explain the origins of the solar system, life, and human beings by reference to purely unguided processes. By the end of the 19th century, the materialistic — or naturalistic — worldview was dominant in Western science. Return of the God Hypothesis is the story of how three great scientific discoveries since the beginning of the 20th century — in physics, biology, and cosmology — have brought back a strong evidential basis for theistic belief.
The Big Bang is at the heart of Meyer’s argument in the book for a personal God. It had not occurred to me that anyone would see the beginning of the universe as a challenge to one’s faith, but evidently some do:
Does that go along with the idea of the Big Bang, which lots of Christians dismiss? A lot of Christians misunderstand the Big Bang theory. I have a lot of conversations with people at conferences and churches and so forth, and many Christians think that the scientists are saying that the Big Bang caused the origin of the universe, as if the Big Bang was the first cause. They think the scientists are positing the Big Bang as an alternative to God as the Creator. In fact, the Big Bang is the first effect, the first event. The picture that we have of the origin of the universe from theoretical physics is one where either there was a beginning to time, or time and space both. Either way, this is exactly what you’d expect on a theistic understanding of the universe, and indeed, on a Biblical understanding. The very first words of Genesis are, after all, “In the beginning.”