Editor’s note: Today Discovery Institute Press releases the newly revised and expanded edition of Michael Aeschliman’s classic work The Restoration of Man: C.S. Lewis and the Continuing Case Against Scientism. The new edition includes this Foreword by James Le Fanu, physician and author of Why Us?: How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves. …
Modern science may imply that the world (and ourselves) are organized “strictly in accordance with mechanistic principles,” but it can scarcely be said to have demonstrated this to be so. On the contrary, impressed — dazzled even — by that overarching historical narrative, it is easy to overlook that its intellectual legacy is almost precisely the reverse of that which is commonly supposed. Those major landmarks — the scientific understanding of the origins of the universe, the creation of the chemical elements, the formation of our solar system and planet and so on — cannot by definition be rediscovered, so the major challenge for science in more recent times has been to refine and elaborate on what is already known. And that has proved surprisingly tricky. For while the broad outline still holds, the practicalities of how (or why) those major events came about in the way they did has proved impervious to scientific scrutiny.
The evidence for the origin of the universe at the moment of the Big Bang 14 billion years ago (or thereabouts) and its sudden dramatic expansion seems compelling enough but only serves to emphasize the inscrutable perplexity of this most influential of scientific theories. The proposition that the universe sprang into existence a finite time ago from nothing (or, at least, from nothing physical) places a heavy (insupportable) demand on any causal explanation that must — by necessity — transcend time, space, matter, and energy.
So, the scientific community has been compelled to acknowledge that the universe must have sprung into existence ab nihilo. It has subsequently emerged that the physical laws of the universe — e.g., gravity, electromagnetism, the strong and weak nuclear forces, the speed of light — are so finely tuned that the slightest alteration in their values would have rendered impossible the subsequent emergence of life on earth. It is very difficult to convey just how precise the values of those forces had to be, but physicist John Polkinghorne estimates their fine-tuning had to be accurate to within one part in a trillion trillion (and several trillion more), a figure greater by far than all the particles in the universe.4 James Le Fanu, “Between Sapientia and Scientia — Michael Aeschliman’s Profound Interpretation” at Evolution News and Science Today:
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