Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Garden is Beautiful: No evidence of god

Published: March 7, 2008
Section: Opinions

For as long as I can remember, the mysteries of the natural universe have held a great fascination for me. As a child, I would forgo the typical juvenile fiction stories for science books, and I became enamored by the vastness of space and the incredible worlds that we were just beginning to explore. As I grew older, my mother introduced me to the works of men like Carl Sagan and Richard Feynman, scientists who were not only brilliant thinkers but who also had the rare gift of explaining the most abstract concepts in terms that even a middle school student like myself could understand. Through them, I developed a more nuanced appreciation of astronomy and physics, one based not only on awe at the incredible discoveries humanity had made but also on an intellectual respect for the almost boundless number of questions we had yet to answer. It is fair to say that my feelings toward the universe have transcended mere interest and come closer to admiration and even reverence.

These terms are almost religious in their scope and connotation; however, one concept that has never been a part of my worldview is the idea of a god. This confuses many people. If I find so much to admire in the natural world, why do I fail to embrace and worship its Creator? After all, how could a universe grand enough to inspire such marvel come from anywhere but a benevolent and omnipresent Lord?

It is actually because of the majesty of the natural world that I have never found the need for divinity within it. Douglas Adams, the great author and self-described ‘radical atheist’, was quoted as saying, “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” If the natural world is so incredible and beautiful, then why must I search for the supernatural beyond it? Why wouldn’t the universe enough for me?

I doubt that even the most fervent believer would deny that the claims made for their deity are extraordinary in their scope; this is, after all, what makes a being divine. Just look at the Judeo-Christian conception of God for an example. He is all-powerful and all knowing, grand enough to call the universe into being at His word but loving enough to form a personal relationship with every human being who has ever existed. This is by far greater in magnitude than any claim science has ever put forth; it deals with nothing less than the infinite, encompassing our creation, our present, and our eternity. It tells us not only how we came to be but also why we exist and how we should live our lives.

Carl Sagan was fond of saying that “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” when discussing standards of scientific proof, and again, I have not met a believer who has presented me with evidence extraordinary enough to defend such an amazing claim. Indeed, it is rare to find someone who believes that such evidence actually exists or can be comprehended by human minds. After all, the idea of ‘proving’ God’s existence sounds rather absurd. In fact, many religions teach that God has intentionally withheld such evidence to preserve humanity’s freedom to choose to believe in Him or not. It is on faith and not evidence that a relationship with God is formed, and your faith is your test of belief and love.

It is outside the scope of this article to enter a debate on faith. It can be a truly beautiful thing, serving as a foundation for the most powerful acts of morality in the world and guiding those who have it through the most trying personal challenges. It has also led to some of the greatest atrocities in history and can serve as a justification for the most harmful ideas. The only positive statement I will make is that I do not have this personal faith, and I have never found my conception of the universe lacking for it. This garden that we live in is indeed beautiful, and while I strongly respect those who choose to search for something greater beyond it, I am quite happy to enjoy it for what it is on its own.