Faith & Science Icon Faith & Science

Meyer: “Twilight of the Godless Universe”

David Klinghoffer
Image: Max Brückner (1836-1919), printed by Otto Henning (18..-19..)Restoration by Adam Cuerden, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

There is something in the air — and it’s not wildfire smoke anymore. Stephen Meyer’s argument for what he calls the “God hypothesis” is very of the moment. Jordan Peterson tweeted that he is reading Meyer’s new book, Return of the God Hypothesis, and finds that, “Meyer makes the case very carefully. It’s not often that I encounter a book that contains so much that I did not know…” From Peterson, that is some praise.

Confused Scientists

Meanwhile in an essay in the New York Times, columnist Ross Douthat significantly, perhaps, uses the phrase from the title of the book (while not referencing the book itself). He notes some “confusion…among scientists”:

Because their discipline advances by assuming that consistent laws rather than miracles explain most features of reality, they regard the process through which the universe gets explained and understood as perpetually diminishing the importance of the God hypothesis.

But the God hypothesis is constantly vindicated by the comprehensibility of the universe, and the capacity of our reason to unlock its many secrets. 

Notwithstanding what some atheist scientists may say, “the God hypothesis is constantly vindicated” — and I am reading that in the New York Times of all places?

Wotan and Company

Meyer himself, in the Jerusalem Post, wrote a reflection on a great and recently deceased physicist and atheist, with an ironic reference to Wagner in the headline:  “Steven Weinberg and the twilight of the godless universe.” It’s ironic because Richard Wagner’s opera, Twilight of the Gods — while ostensibly about ancient Norse deities and culminating in the destruction by fire of their home, Valhalla — expressed his own modern ideology. The “Gods” were not Wotan and the rest but the traditional Western idea of a personal God. It was for that reason that historian Jacques Barzun titled his important 1941 book Darwin, Marx, Wagner, arguing that the three were heralds of the dominant “scientism” and “mechanist materialism” of the day. In his book, Meyer shows that the scientific atheism of Steven Weinberg and others has itself become outdated. Weinberg’s death

marks the twilight of an increasingly dated view of the relationship between science and religion. Though Weinberg was a friend to the State of Israel, he was not sympathetic to Judaism or any theistic belief. Weinberg wrote many popular books about physics in which he often asserted that scientific advance had undermined belief in God — and, consequently, any ultimate meaning for human existence. The First Three Minutes, his most popular book, published in 1977, famously concluded: “the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless.”

Weinberg’s aggressive science-based atheism now seems an increasingly spent force. 

Please Alert Scientific American

Not all prominent media voices have received this news:

Scientific American’s tribute to Weinberg described how scientifically literate people need to learn “to live in Steven Weinberg’s pointless universe.” Yet Weinberg’s own research built upon, or helped to make, two key scientific discoveries — the universe had a beginning and has been finely-tuned from the beginning — that do not imply a purposeless cosmos. Arguably, they point, instead, to a purposeful creator behind it all.

But Meyer finds meaning in the fact that some prominent atheists — the “New New Atheists” — are changing their thinking:

Figures such as historian Tom Holland, social critic Douglas Murray, psychologist Jordan Peterson and social scientist Charles Murray now openly lament the loss of a religious mooring in culture, though they personally find themselves unable to believe. These “New New Atheists,” as distinct from the “Old New Atheists,” do not regard science’s alleged support for unbelief as one of its “great achievements,” as Weinberg described it.

Nevertheless, many such religious skeptics have yet to recognize the most important reason to reject science-based atheistic polemics: The most relevant scientific discoveries of the last century simply do not support atheism or materialism. Instead, they point in a decidedly different direction.

Read the rest at the Jerusalem Post. What is that “different direction” that Steve Meyer refers to? It looks less like a twilight and more like a dawn.