God: Invented, or Discovered?


God used beautiful mathematics in creating the world.” Paul Dirac

Modern mathematicians sometimes debate whether the rules of mathematics are invented or discovered. The consensus seems to be that the rules are not invented, because they are seen to work when applied to the physical world. That is, we do not bend the world to behave according to the rules of mathematics we have discovered. Rather, the world bends our minds, through mathematics, to discover how the world works. Mathematics is an operation of the mind and therefore is not an empirical science. Mathematical insight can be likened to religious insight in that there is direct intuition of its rules, just as God can be known intuitively absent empirical proof. Those who do not intuit mathematical rules do not do so because they lack the intuition powers required to do so. This does not mean they cannot learn mathematics, but it also means they cannot dismiss mathematics because they do not have the usual skill of the mathematician. By the same token, because much of our awareness of God is intuitive, those who lack intuitive skills cannot dismiss God for that reason.

Mathematical rules were embedded in the nature of reality before humans ever came to exist. When Einstein’s discovered his famous equation, E = mc2, the equation reflected an aspect of reality long before it was discovered. At first it was thought to be an invention of nonsense, mostly because the profound nature of the equation was difficult to fathom. But the difficulty of fathoming something does not mean that it is not true, and Einstein was ultimately vindicated.

All of the profound searches to explain the nature of reality end with the most profoundly unnerving and unanswerable question in both physics and philosophy: Why is there something rather than nothing? Yet Bible revelation gives an answer in Genesis 1:3 (the Big Bang of “Let there be light!”) that scientists cannot consider because, since the time of Darwin, there has been a powerful tradition among them of ceasing to allow God as an explanation for anything.

Invention vs Discovery

Sometimes it is objected that numbers are human inventions, and the case is very plain that numbers as symbols are certainly invented, just as the alphabets of different languages throughout the world are differently invented from one population to another. But the things that these alphabets signify when their letters are combined seem to have a universally objective significance. For example, the phrase I love is rendered as Amo in Latin, but clearly the two represent one and the same objective reality. Yet we do not invent love. We discover it already exists, and so we have to invent the word-symbols that signify it.

Now there are some who say that gods must be invented, rather than discovered. Yes, it is true that some gods seem to have been invented to explain certain aspects of nature. But these gods (such as Zeus, the Greek god of thunder) were dis-invented as soon as it became clear that they were mere metaphors for certain aspects of nature. Yet disproving the existence of certain gods that were invented is not proof that there is no true God who can be discovered, rather than invented.

Inventing a Multiverse

Some people believe, without proof, that if you cannot scientifically verify the existence of  God, then God must be an invention. But there is a conviction held by many philosophers and scientists that the universe appears to have been designed. The fine tuning of elements created at the time of the Big Bang made possible not only the later existence of life, but also of human life and consciousness. This has sparked a great debate among scientists, some of whom see no reason to believe the universe has a Designer, even though they might concede it appears to have been designed.

Some of these scientists assert the existence of a Multiverse, an infinite set of universes, of which our universe is but one. This hypothesis they adopt to explain away the fine tuning of our universe to produce the inevitable appearance of life sooner or later, which suggests the existence of a Designer. If there are infinite universes, they reason, clearly the fine tuning of our own universe would  be only one of the infinite number of universes that have come into existence by sheer chance, not by design. In other words, the odds are that sooner or later a universe would accidentally come into existence that looked as if it had been designed.

But why is the theory of the Multiverse itself not an invention, rather than a discovery? No other universe than our own has been proven to exist, and the possibility of such proof seems infinitely remote, which makes the invention of Multiverse more likely than the discovery of it. More and more, such imaginative but illogical attempts to pull God out of all equations and replace him with Nogod resemble the modern joke about the futility of medieval monks disputing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Clearly, Multiverse is not a profound discovery, but rather a useless  invention that is absent proof and goes nowhere. There are just too many universes invented to dance on the head of that pin.

Discovering God

Throughout human history the same dispute has applied to the question: Do we invent God, or do we discover God? Now let me repeat an earlier sentence. The difficulty of fathoming something does not mean that it is not true. Some mathematicians and scientists have suggested that God is the ultimate and eternal mathematician who sets all the laws of nature according a divine but unfathomable intelligence and will. If one might despair of understanding Einstein’s theory of relativity, consider how much more difficult it would be to understand the mind of God. This difficulty of understanding God makes some people believe that what they cannot understand cannot be real. But that is precisely the matter to be resolved by each of us when it is our turn to leave time and enter eternity. Will we give up on God now because we cannot fully know God face-to-face while we live? Or will we begin the journey to discover God that can really only end when we have shed time for eternity? Will we some day discover God by meeting God face-to-face because we earned the right by way of true diligence and holiness … or will we prefer in our prideful disbelief to discover the malice of hell in all its hideous variety?

Beauty and Truth

There was a time when mathematicians celebrated the beauty of mathematical truths, and a time when they were dissatisfied with a mathematical proposition that left questions unanswered. They recognized that beauty was an essential element of truth, and they affirmed the insight of the poet Keats, that “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” This could also be said of philosophical and theological questions. The answers to such questions reveal themselves as beautiful or ugly – depending on whether they are wholly, partly, or falsely answered. Atheism is hardly a beautiful alternative to God. There are no beautiful poems or hymns to the mythical Nogod. Music lovers universally can admire the supremacy of religious music over the secular type, which surely points to a Being beyond this world who inspires this music, and to Whom we should bend the faithful knee.

Atheistic scientism gives no answers at all that please or satisfy, but rather provokes more mysteries than it can answer, and seems wholly dissatisfied with the possibility of a God who has designed the universe we inhabit. Now the belief in God does not guarantee fully answered questions. The history of religion shows there to have been many gods that, in the course of time, fell away from human worship because they were recognized to be false and invented gods. But one god, the God of Abraham, has survived the test of time. Is it because this God is true, and therefore beautiful, that our hearts cannot rest until they rest in Him? And is that because we did not invent Him, but rather discovered Him, and must discover Him with continued devotion all the days of our lives?