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If you ever come over to my house, remind me to show you my sock drawer. It’s a chaotic mess. It takes me way too long every morning to find the socks I need. If I’d only take some time to organize it properly, to give it some order, I could save myself a lot of grief. Maybe this weekend….
Which, improbably, leads me to the biggest and most important question science has ever tried to answer: Does the universe have order, or is it chaotic? If it’s like my sock drawer, we’re in trouble.
Ancient societies often tried to explain what they perceived as random or unknown or chaotic – earthquakes, eclipses, droughts – as the work of angry deities. But modern science, by its very nature, searches for rules. The laws that govern the physical universe – gravity, thermodynamics, evolution, etc. – all represent scientific attempts to understand our vast and complex existence. Today, the overwhelming majority of scientists agree with Carl Sagan’s summary: “The order of the universe is not an assumption: it is an observed fact.”
That’s why we call our universe the cosmos, which is a Greek word that means order, and implies the deep interconnectedness of all things. Sagan said he used the title “Cosmos” for his book and television series because “It conveys awe for the intricate and subtle way in which the universe is put together.”
So if the universe is ordered, who ordered it?
Philosophers, scientists and theologians all say that question has two possible answers: either God, or nothing.
Some believe that nothing ordered the universe – that it simply developed by itself in a naturally-ordered state, a product of time and chance. Others say that’s impossible – pointing out that order and organization never comes from nothing; instead, it always comes from an organizer with intelligence.
This basic question, I finally came to understand in my own search for the meaning of life, represents the inner core of all faith and philosophy.
The Baha’i teachings say that an ordered universe requires a transcendent foundation; a greater force outside space and time; an ultimate source of the magnificent web of life. In fact, the Baha’i writings repeatedly stress that the universe itself confirms the existence of a Universal Creator:
Likewise, look into this endless universe: a universal power inevitably existeth, which encompasseth all, directing and regulating all the parts of this infinite creation; and were it not for this Director, this Co-ordinator, the universe would be flawed and deficient. It would be even as a madman; whereas ye can see that this endless creation carrieth out its functions in perfect order, every separate part of it performing its own task with complete reliability, nor is there any flaw to be found in all its workings. Thus it is clear that a Universal Power existeth, directing and regulating this infinite universe. Every rational mind can grasp this fact. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 48-49.
This scientifically-sound, logical and rational argument for the existence of God was the one that ultimately convinced me. Along with all of the philosophical and theological points of view already cited in this series, the argument that said our ordered universe came from an intelligent and bountiful and merciful Supreme Being seemed to make the most logical sense.
After much reading, investigating, searching, pondering and questioning, I finally began to understand what I believed. I accepted that my being had a source, a first cause, a reality beyond my physical existence. I could feel that I had a soul, and I started to figure out who made that soul and where its journey would take me.