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Does evolution exclude God? Magis Center project seeks to provide an answer

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John Burger - published on 12/14/20

"The Purposeful Universe" explores the many ways there is order in the universe — pointing to a creator.

Ask a young person — a high schooler, for example — about evolution, and chances are, his understanding will include some perception that chance has played a major role in it. More so than a Creator.

It’s a perception the Magis Center would like to change.

The center — which works to “explore the connection of the contemporary world to God and the Christian vision of the human person” — has initiated a video campaign to look at the scientific evidence in such a way that reveals a purpose behind it — purpose that points to a Creator.

“The Purposeful Universe” project aims to “show that what science reveals about the universe is consistent with an idea that there is a creator, that there is a purpose behind everything, and what science has revealed is not a universe that seems unamenable to the idea of purpose and order and a creator,” said Dan Kuebler, Molecular and Cell Biologist and Dean of Applied Science at Franciscan University of Steubenville. 

“When you ask people what word comes to mind when they think of evolution, they often say words like ‘chance’ or ‘randomness,’ but the reality is, none of the products of evolution is the result of pure chance,” Kuebler said. “I’ve spent my entire career asking and answering questions about nature. All of the questions I have been able to answer — in fact all the successes of science — are dependent upon one simple fact: we live in an ordered universe.”

Kuebler believes that an appreciation of the order in the universe is “sorely missing today” and that people’s perceptions of the world would be enriched if they “understood that the universe is filled with order from top to bottom.”

Says Fr. Robert Spitzer, President of the Magis Center, “I have long been pursuing this discussion on order and purpose throughout the universe and working to explain the reality that the universe was created by God for a purpose and with a purpose. ’The Purposeful Universe’ video and campaign gives evidence for order in nature, revealing the order at all levels of physical reality.”

The campaign includes an introductory video featuring Kuebler and a book chapter in which he explains why order is an essential part of nature.

“Without the law and order evident in the chemical and physical regularities of the world around us, evolution via natural selection could never get off the ground,” Kuebler writes. “This order is absolutely essential for the existence of entities like atoms and molecules, the raw material required for evolution via natural selection to work at all. As the physicist Stephen Barr eloquently put it:

“The order which we see in nature at one level has its roots in a more mathematically perfect order that exists at a deeper level.”

“Each layer is dependent upon the layer beneath,” Kuebler says.

Barr, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Delaware and president of the Society of Catholic Scientists, is also part of the Purposeful Universe project. 

“We use a myriad of examples in the Purposeful Universe project to show just how this works,” Fr. Spitzer said in a recent interview with Crux. “We look at things like photosynthesis, the camera like eye, powered flight, etc. to show that these phenomena are “baked” into the system. Chance plays a role in how and when they will arise but because of the orderly foundation of the cosmos renowned scientists like Cambridge’s Simon Conway Morse believe that they will inevitably emerge from the evolutionary process. The system is rigged so to speak based on the underlying physical and chemical structure of the universe.”

A lot of young people struggle with the idea of ‘How does what modern neuroscience has shown about the brain undermine the idea that humans have free will and are rational?’ or ‘Our understanding of the Big Bang negates the need for a creator,’ and that evolution negates the idea that humans are created in the image and likeness of God,” Kuebler said in an interview. The Purposeful Universe seeks to give them the answers they’re looking for.

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