Is a Solely Material Universe Plausible?

            From the beginning of our lives as babies and small children, we are conditioned internally and by our surroundings to take things for granted.

            We put our faith and trust in the parenting skills of our parents.  We accept as truth what we are taught in elementary school.  We live our lives in functioning bodies that at a basic level automatically and without thought takes-in breathes into our lungs, digests food in our stomachs, and engineers physical and intellectual growth from childbirth to adulthood. 

            And for the most part we assimilate into the local, cultural standards and mores of the historical era and geographical region we are born into.

            These and a thousand other things we take for granted.

            If we are fortunate enough to be exposed to the concept of critical-thinking, this begins in the home through enlightened parents, or introduced through an exceptional teacher in high school, or encountered in college courses of study, or modeled through a Spirit-led, apologetics-minded Christian church pastor or teacher.

            But many people in a number of different fields are naturally inquisitive and analytical enough to question the conventional wisdom of the things that many of us take for granted.

            This comes from an innate sense of independence of thought and will, that is unique to human beings.

            The dynamic between the free-thinking of questioning the currently accepted wisdom and the opposite imperative to fit-in and “not make waves,” is the fascinating region of creative innovation and invention that produces ever-improving governments, literary genres, styles of music, new clothing fashions, new and different recipes for cooking foods, the variety of sports, a free-and-fair journalistic press, and innovative scientific investigations to name a few.   

            This brings to mind the humorous saying: “The definition of a pioneer is someone who gets shot in the back with arrows.” 

            At its best and highest ideal, the modern Scientific Revolution is a fact-based exploration of the many questions inquisitive human beings have about the origin and function of the organized complexity we observe in the natural living and non-living world.

            The mandate of scientific investigation is to take everything apart, to be free to question every phenomenon in existence in the reality of this universe, to explore through the scientific method the real truths that underlie the operation of the things we sometimes erroneously take for granted.

            This began with the extraordinary revelation by Copernicus in the 1500’s that our planet earth revolves around the sun, extending all the way to our modern times of the discovery by Watson and Crick in 1953 and 1957 of the complexity of the genetic information contained within DNA, accurately called the language of life.

            As mentioned in an earlier essay, if we watch on You Tube on the Internet the lecture “The Origin of the Elements”[1] by Dr. Edward Murphy, then follow this up by watching “Gunter Bechly Explains What The Fossil Evidence Really Says,”[2] then take a short tea or coffee-break and come back to watch “The Return of the God Hypothesis: Interview with Stephen Meyer”[3] in which he describes the quantum physics occurring at the Big Bang beginning of the universe, the legitimate question then arises as to whether a purely materialistic universe is factually or even theoretically plausible anymore?

            This fundamental question can now be asked and answered by a more informed modern man, comprised of scientists and laymen alike, of what is a universe and how and why did our particular universe attain its remarkably organized complexity?

            At the most fundamental level of analytical thinking, how would the initial conditions at the first split-seconds of the universe generate such exquisite realities as light, gravity, the expansion rate of the cosmos, and the elements of the Periodic Table into complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information to produce function…a phrase I have borrowed throughout this book first coined by Dr. William A. Dembski.[4]

            It is hopelessly difficult now to connect all of the dots from the first introduction of hydrogen, helium, and lithium at the time of the Big Bang extending all the way through 13.7-billion years to the sophisticated architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits of human beings supported by 215 different cell-types…using the materialistic model of blind, mindless, indifferent, trial-and-error, accidental, and undirected processes.

            The complex, highly specified, and coherently integrated systems of information in the natural world have too much targeted detail to organize by accident in small steps from previously nothing physical to the coordinated function we observe and take for granted today.

            Modern science has uncovered evidence that reveals purpose-filled trajectories towards well-defined outcomes in a dizzying number of coordinated realities in the natural world, that always trend towards mature function.

            It is inconceivable at the Big Bang that matter and energy on their own could coalesce into well-ordered essences that are saturated with clearly discernable purpose, that by definition must exclude a near infinity of other options that would lead to trial-and-error failures.

            We can follow at the atomic level first the creation of hydrogen, helium, and lithium to the incredibly fine-tuned formation of oxygen and carbon inside super-hot stars, that must collapse and explode as supernovas to spread the full array of the other elements of the Periodic Table out into the cosmos to become part of planets like our earth, and living physical bodies like our own.

            To credit these past events to mere random and undirected processes is logically absurd in this new Age of Information.

            We can follow the dots that connect the formation of our planet earth through the near infinity of individual events that have a progressive theme running through all of the past geological eras to achieve the finalized and completed outcomes we observe today.

            The idea that matter and energy could self-assemble all of this into realizable function must be rejected as hopelessly untenable.


[1] The Origin of the Elements, by Jefferson Lab, November 20, 2012 with Dr. Edward Murphy, University of Virginia.

[2] Gunter Bechly Explains What The Fossil Evidence Really Says, published by Discovery Science, November 23, 2021.

[3] The Return of the God Hypothesis: Interview with Stephen Meyer, streamed live on May 13, 2020 on Dr. Sean McDowell.

[4] William A. Dembski, Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science & Theology (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999).

Author: Barton Jahn

I worked in building construction as a field superintendent and project manager. I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction (1995-98) under Bart Jahn, and have eight Christian books self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I have a bachelor of science degree in construction management from California State University Long Beach. I grew up in Southern California, was an avid surfer, and am fortunate enough to have always lived within one mile of the ocean. I discovered writing at the age of 30, and it is now one of my favorite activities. I am currently working on more books on building construction.

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