The Lion, the Witch and the Physicist

I am a C. S. Lewis fanatic. I’ve read all his works, been to his home in England, and even written a book about one of his stories. For an expert, it can be humbling when an amateur points out something you’ve missed. The book was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first of Lewis’s classic Chronicles of Narnia. The hidden lesson was pointed out by my father-in-law who saw it the first time he read the book. That lesson still speaks to us today.

Lord, Liar or Lunatic:
Early in LWW, Peter and Susan go to the old professor at whose house they’re staying because they’re troubled over their youngest sibling, Lucy, who claims to have walked through a wardrobe into a magical land called Narnia. They fear Lucy might be going mad. What they expect is that the professor will assume what they already have: that Narnia isn’t real and Lucy is either lying or disturbed. But the old professor doesn’t assume that at all. He first asks them whether or not Lucy is truthful. They reply that Lucy is very honest. Then they ask about madness. The professor replies that Lucy is clearly not mad. But the children don’t understand. How could a magical land through a wardrobe be real, especially when they looked at the wardrobe and found nothing? There couldn’t be a doorway there one minute and gone the next; it’s impossible. The professor disagrees completely, questioning the logic of their assumption. He concludes, on the contrary, that if Lucy is not lying, and not insane, then she must be telling the truth!

This is a very old argument applied in a new way. Josh McDowell called it the “Trilemma,” but it’s as old as Augustine, and it’s about the divinity of Christ. You cannot say that Christ was just a good teacher (something even skeptics acknowledge about Him). He claimed to be God. The things He said about Himself could only be said by a liar, a lunatic, or a man who was telling the truth. Christ is indeed God. Lewis uses the same argument in LWW to attack the assumptions of scientific materialism which claims there is no God, there’s nothing supernatural, and miracles don’t happen. But these are indeed assumptions. They cannot be proven, and honest thinkers will not assume them.

Hawking’s Latest Cause:
Unfortunately, the greatest physicist alive today, Stephen Hawking, is sticking to his assumptions. Hawking is today’s Einstein, but in his recent book, The Grand Design, he has turned science into fantasy. A discovery in science called the Anthropic Principle is raising questions about God. Science has learned that there are several numbers in physics (such as the gravitational constant) which seem particularly calibrated for life. If any of these numbers were off by just a little, life would be impossible in our universe. The odds of all these numbers being lined up exactly the way they are so that life could result are one in 10 to the 229th (a number that big I usually just refer to as a gazillion). In other words, our universe looks like it was designed for us.

In his book, Hawking explains that there is no need for us to believe in a God who designed the universe. He explains how the perfect alignment of the numbers for life in our universe can be entirely accidental by arguing that numerous universes exist and come into existence all the time. All these universes are different—their physical properties are random. Ours just happens to be a universe in which the numbers worked out in favor of life.

There is no way of proving Hawking’s theory—science can only see things within our own universe. Hawking’s conclusion is based in the logic of his math. Similarly, the old professor in LWW uses logic to argue the same thing: that there are universes outside our own. He does it to prove supernatural possibilities. Hawking does it to disprove any super-nature by arguing that it’s all only sideways-nature.

Science makes use of an idea called Occam’s razor. It says that the simplest explanation of a question is usually the best. I remember over a decade ago seeing Occam’s razor used in a movie called Contact to try to prove that God doesn’t exist. Let’s use it here: What’s a simpler way to explain the Anthropic Principle: a single universe which shows evidence of design because it was created by a Designer, or millions of improvable universes outside our own needed to explain the mere appearance of design in this universe? Lewis at least acknowledged that he was writing fantasies. All we need now is for Hawking to theorize a magical doorway to enter one of these sideways universes and he’ll have found a way into Narnia.

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