Shells in the Sand
Why Is There Order in the Universe?
On the beach, seashells are normally scattered here and there.
But imagine walking on the beach and finding that an area of sand is clear of shells, except for some lined up in particular shapes. Getting closer, we see that the shells form the pattern, 3 x 3 = 9. We would naturally conclude that this order did not happen by chance; someone had picked up the shells and arranged them not only to form symbols we can recognize, but also in a way that makes mathematical sense.
Why is the universe ordered, instead of chaotic?
On the beach, we would expect to find the shells randomly distributed, without any order we could identify. It would have been reasonable to expect the universe to exhibit a similar lack of order. After all, if the universe began in an initial, violent explosion from a single point, might we not expect it to act in a random, unpredictable manner? Thankfully, this is not the case.
The universe operates under recognizable, predictable laws.
All scientific work is based on the assumption that the universe operates under laws that remain constant across time and space. For example, the laws of gravity and motion apply throughout the universe and in all time periods. Thus, we can plan to fly in an airplane, trusting that gravity and motion will function the same tomorrow and in each place we travel.
These laws can even be expressed as mathematical realities.
Amazingly, not only can we recognize the laws of nature, but they can also be expressed with mathematical precision. For example, Einstein’s famous equation describes how energy (“E”) equals mass (“m”) times the speed of light (“c”) squared. It is quite remarkable that important laws of nature can be effectively represented in simple and elegant mathematical formulas, allowing us to put them to practical use.
There is a mystery here, unexplainable by science on its own.
Since science is the study of the material world, it can help us discover and better understand the laws of nature. But science cannot explain why there are these laws to begin with. Why is the universe ordered? Why are nature’s laws such that we can not only recognize them, but also express them mathematically?
The order of the universe calls for an explanation.
In our seashell analogy, it is reasonable to expect that someone with an intellect purposefully arranged the shells in this organized and mathematical manner. Similarly, it is reasonable to observe the order built into our universe and conclude that the laws of nature were arranged by an intellect vastly superior to our own. Christians believe that God created the universe with its order, intending for us to understand the laws of nature and rely upon them. The order and beauty of the universe reflects the majesty of its creator.