Stephen Hawking, Science And God: Author Rodrigues dos Santos Asks Did Science Find God?

09/04/2010 06:59 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Scientists and theologians are often at odds about whether or not God exists. But, is it possible to find God using science? Two books coming out this fall address this crucial philosophical question from different perspectives. One is physicist Stephen Hawkings' "The Grand Design" and the other is my novel "The Einstein Enigma."

When we search for the scientific proof of God's existence, we first need to establish one crucial thing: what is God?

Some people imagine God as an old patriarch with a white beard who looks down at the world, listens to our prayers, and protects us.

But, if you look through the end of a telescope on a starry night, no such entity will be visible. So, the question becomes, is there a different form of God out there and how does science uncover Him?

First, science deals with God not as a supernatural entity, but as something natural. Remember: the supernatural is only the natural we do not understand.

Second, it looks at the universe and searches for two things: intelligence and intention. Is the universe intelligent? Just look around - there are clever things everywhere. See the extremely intelligent way a cell divides in two, and then in four, and so on, in a process that ends up with a human being. Isn't that intelligent? But what if this intelligence is merely accidental?

If the universe is accidental, there is no God and life has no meaning - it's just an accident. But if the universe is intentional, then there is God and, yes, life has a meaning. That's why we also need to find intention. How do we do that?

Let us suppose I find a flower lying on the ground. I will think: well, this is a flower, a natural thing, and that's it. But let us suppose that, instead of a flower, I find a pen. I know a pen has a purpose and someone invented it with an intention: to write. I may not know personally who that inventor is, but I know someone invented the pen with an intention.

Now, if I can say this about something as simple as a pen, why can't I say the same about a flower? Why do I accept that a pen is an intelligent device created by someone with an intention and I cannot say the same about people, life, the universe? Aren't the trees, and the clouds, and the rain, and the planets, and the stars much more complex and intelligent creations than... a pen?

Or for example, suppose I ask an engineer: "What is television?" He's going to open up a TV set and say: "Well, television is a device with chips and wires and electrical stuff". He's right, of course. But it's much more than that, isn't it? Television is also about news programs, sports, soap-operas, reality-shows, game-shows, movies.

But, if you ask a scientist: "What is the universe?" He will say: "Well, the universe is quarks, electrons, protons, neutrons, atoms, planets, stars, constellations, galaxies, clusters". He's right, of course. That's the hardware of the universe, but scientists do not examine the software. What is the program that is playing? What is behind the hardware?

The problem is, perhaps, perspective. Imagine there's a small ant on top of a Persian rug. If I told the ant that she's walking on a beautiful rug, she would say: "What rug? What are you talking about? This is just the ground." So, if I want the ant to see how beautiful the rug is, I have to lift her from the ground and show her the rug from a vantage point, giving her the full view.

"The Einstein Enigma" is a novel that, through a love and spy story involving a hitherto unknown manuscript by Albert Einstein, addresses God from science's perspective. And it shows, using recent scientific data, that the universe is fine-tuned for life, a discovery with tremendous philosophical implications because it means there is intention in its creation. Because the book is fiction, I get to play with some of these ideas in a way that scientists cannot.

So, where does Stephen Hawkings' "The Grand Design" fit in? He deals with these same disturbing scientific discoveries explained in detail in "The Einstein Enigma." He admits they are "odd" and "difficult to explain" without accepting God exists, but he tries anyway. How? He comes up with a theory that explains the strange fine tuning of the universe as something accidental. He says: there are zillions of universes and, out of zillions, one was bound to come up fine-tuned for life.

The evidence for this? An interpretation by Richard Feynman on a quantic experiment called The Buckyball Experiment, which involves projecting particles against a double-slit barrier. Feynman states that at every moment the universe is splitting in two in such a way that a particle goes through the left slit on Universe 1 and the same particle goes through the right slit on Universe 2 and the same particle goes back to the left slit on Universe 3 and the same particle goes back to the left slit on Universe 4 and so on and so on.

Hawking discusses Feynman's interpretation of its results by saying that out of these endless possibilities, it was inevitable that a universe fine-tuned for life would emerge - it's just a statistical accident.

Convincing? You decide. Hawking's extravagant theory is all there is to explain the discoveries in a way that does not link the universe to an intentional intelligence. What I say to you, as the author of "The Einstein Enigma," is that the universe is a strange place. In fact, quantum theory tells us that things are so bizarre that particles only decide in which place they are when we look at them. If we accept these weird concepts, why don't we accept a simpler evidence: that the universe is intentional?

Remember, we are really ants walking on top of a rug. What I try to do in my novel is to give you a new perspective to see the universe. A vantage point. The solution to Einstein's last enigma.

José Rodrigues dos Santos' new book, "The Einstein Enigma," can be ordered here.