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Paul Davies on the Overwhelming Impression of Design

Paul Davies, reviewing The Way the World Is: The Christian Perspective of a Scientist, by John Polkinghorne, New Scientist, Vol. 98: 638-639 (June 2, 1983).

The temptation to believe that the Universe is the product of some sort of design, a manifestation of subtle aesthetic and mathematical judgment, is overwhelming. ¶ The belief that there is “something behind it all” is one that I personally share with, I suspect, a majority of physicists. This rather diffuse feeling could, I suppose, be termed theism in its widest sense. Nevertheless there is a long way to go from the feeling that nature is extraordinarily “clever” and harmonious to the idea of Jesus as the Son of God. ¶ In the Western world, Christianity is so much a part of our culture that it is easy to miss just how remarkably audacious the Christian claim is. We are asked to believe that God somehow became Man and lived out his destiny in a backwater of the Roman Empire at a time of relatively minor cultural and political activity 2000 years ago. How are we to square this cosy association between God and mankind on planet Earth with the vast majesty of the cosmos? Can mankind really occupy a position so astonishingly privileged amid the great scheme of things?