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Open Letter 3-6

Unpublished letter

On the Existence of God


# “Why do scientists believe in God?,” Ichiro Mita (Publisher, Kodansha)

(Author’s bio: Professor at the Faculty of Science, Nagoya University since 1992, Professor Emeritus at Nagoya University since April 2006, and Professor at the Faculty of Engineering, Kanagawa University; concurrently Program Officer at the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, University of Tokyo since 2007. He is a deacon in the Catholic Church and his baptismal name is Anthony.)

# “What Prigogine Thought” Kazuo Kitahara (Publisher, Iwanami Shoten)

# “Etsuro Sotoo, Challenging Gaudi” by Masumi Hoshino (Publisher: NHK Publishing Co., Ltd.)

The existence of “God,” long considered by mankind to be the Creator of all things, is being denied. What had been regarded as the domain of God, beyond the reach of human knowledge, is being explained by scientific theories one after another, and many people now believe that it is possible to create this world without relying on the existence of God. In fact, however, not a few scientists believe in the existence of God. Many eminent scientists, whose names are known to many people, speak passionately about God and faith. Even theoretical physicists who deal with cosmology and particle theory, which seem to be encroaching on the realm of the divine, do so.

According to a United Nations survey, 80% to 90% of the world’s 300 scientists who have made significant achievements in the past 300 years believed in God. When we use the term “God” here, we are specifically referring to the God of Christianity, which many Westerners believe in, and its predecessor, Judaism. Japanese people, many of whom do not have a specific religion, seem to find it odd that scientists believe in God, even more so than Westerners. I believe that learning how Western scientists think about God will help us to understand the thoughts and ideas of Westerners, and will be meaningful for Japanese people as they become more internationalized.

Now, in the “God” section of ‘Kojien’, it is written as follows. (He is the omnipotent and omniscient Absolute who created the universe and mankind and controls the operation of the world in monotheistic religions such as Christianity and Islam.)

# “Kojien” is a medium-sized Japanese-language dictionary published by Iwanami Shoten.

A search for “God” in the Kojien dictionary is followed by words such as “universe,” “mankind,” and “operation of the world,” which are used when talking theoretically. When such words are listed in a row, one suddenly feels a sense of tension. The majority of Japanese, who are only aware of God’s existence when they “ask God for help,” will feel a gap in their thinking, saying that they are not thinking that strictly.

But as we see here, this is really how it is thought, or at least has been thought, in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. For those who believe in these religions, God is not just a “ask God for help”. Religion is what we think the world we live in is like, or in other words, what creates our worldview, and God is at the center of that worldview. In this sense, many Japanese may still be said to be non-religious.

Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have the Bible or Holy Bible, which is a written record of what God is. Believers read and study them from an early age and confirm the existence of God by going to church or cathedral with their families. Such activities have continued for more than 2,000 years. For many Japanese, this must be a wonder.

Today, students are taught in school that the universe began with the Big Bang and that humans evolved from primitive organisms. Under such circumstances, how can they seriously believe in the existence of God as Creator? What is even more puzzling is that many of those who try to use “science” to explain what until now could only be attributed to “God’s work” also believe in God. They are physicists who study the universe and the beginning of matter, and life scientists who study the beginning of life. Ordinary Japanese people may think this is nothing but a contradiction when they hear such things.

At a time when many in the intelligentsia were studying theology, many natural scientists were also clergy. There, the relationship between scientists and God was generally simple. What advanced science was a genuine urge to know more about a loving God. However, as a result, a brilliant scientist like Copernicus, who would find himself in contradiction with the Bible and the Church’s decrees, was also conflicted between faith and research.

“The universe is a second Bible, and the words of this book are mathematics.”

This is a well-known quote from Galileo, but it is actually an abridged version; he actually said.

“Philosophy is written in this magnificent book called the universe. This book is always open to us. But we cannot understand this book unless we first learn its language and learn to read the letters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and its letters are triangles, circles, and other geometric figures. Without these, man cannot understand any part of it. Without them, man wanders in a dark labyrinth.”

Galileo believed that to know why God, the Creator of all things, created the universe in this way, one must read “Another Bible” written in the language of “mathematics.

How does the Catholic Church value science?

In 1979, late in the 20th century, at a Roman Catholic Church ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s birth, Pope John Paul II said the following

Einstein and Galileo were two of the greatest scientists of their times. While Einstein is celebrated, Galileo suffered greatly. It was the people inside the Church and the Church institutions that caused this. This gave people the idea that faith and science were in conflict. So the Church self-criticized itself, and theologians, scientists, and historians jointly investigated the “truth of the Galileo case. And it demanded that whichever side was in error, they openly admit that they were wrong.

It was a declaration that the Church would finally admit that the Galileo trial was a mistake, self-criticize itself, and investigate the truth of the Galileo case. 1981 saw the establishment of the Commission to Investigate the Galileo Case, and in 1992, following its report, Pope John Paul II issued a final statement.

Galileo, with his intuition as a brilliant physicist, and his practical devising of various methods, understood why only the sun could serve as the center of the world as it was then known, so to speak, as an astronomical system. The error of the theologians of the time who insisted that the earth was central was to think that our understanding of the structure of the physical world was in some sense determined by the literal meaning of the Bible.

With these words, the Pope apologized to Galileo and restored his honor. At that time, 350 years had passed since Galileo’s death. Some people wondered if an apology made 350 years later would have any meaning. The church itself probably did not think deeply about such a long time ago. However, there were accusations that the Church, which should proclaim the Word of God, should not forever avoid touching the mistakes of the past as if they were a boil, in order to keep up with the development of the science that God created! In fact, without this apology, many scientists would have left the church. It is the same for me. I would be considered a “heretic” because my life, which I have dedicated to science, would be considered a “heretic”.

In his statement, John Paul II acknowledged that the Church’s error was in adhering too closely to the “literal meaning of the Bible. How, then, has the Church, upon reflection, come to think about this now?

Galileo once said the following. “Both Scripture and nature arise from the Word of God, the former being the statement of the Holy Spirit and the latter the faithful executioner of God’s commands. Therefore, the two truths cannot be in conflict with each other. It is the task of the commentator to find the true meaning of the biblical chapters and verses so that they are consistent with the natural scientific conclusions we are convinced of by the inevitable proofs.”

In his statement, John Paul II made it clear that these words of Galileo were correct. In other words, the Pope acknowledged that the way we read the Bible should change with the progress of science.

Since the 20th century, the Catholic Church’s official conferences on “theory of evolution” have included the following

# Pope Pius XII’s proposal issued on August 12, 1950

“The Pope’s statement on the doctrine of evolution does not forbid its study and discussion insofar as it is a theory that explores the origin of the human body as arising from a pre-existing creature. This is because the Catholic faith commands us to believe in the direct creation of the human spirit by a heavenly host.”

Pius XII states that evolution is a theory of the origin of the “body” and that the “spirit” is directly created by a heavenly host. This is because the spirit cannot be understood by science.

# In the words of Pope John Paul II to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on October 22, 1996

“Today, more than half a century after Pius XII’s encyclical was issued, new discoveries have allowed us to accept the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis.”

# Words of Pope Francis at the October 27, 2014 meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences

“When we read the creation account in Genesis, we run the risk of thinking that God is a magician equipped with a magic wand that can do anything. But it is not like that. God created living creatures and, by an inner law which He gave to each, each evolved to be what it truly is.”

The Catholic Church also entered the debate about the Big Bang Theory at an early stage. Moreover, contrary to the intuition of most of you, the Church endorsed the Big Bang theory, and in 1951, then-Pope Pius XII issued a statement that “the Big Bang does not contradict official Catholic doctrine.” On another occasion, Pius XII also stated that “the discoveries of Lemaitre and others are scientific proof of God’s creation.”

To reiterate the Big Bang theory a little, it is the idea that something incredibly tiny, super-hot, super dense, and microscopic caused a massive explosion at the time of the creation of the universe, which expanded to the scale of the present universe. This first something Lemaitre called the “primordial atom. Later, this something came to be called a “singularity. But what it is and how it came to be cannot be explained by the Big Bang theory. The Church focused on that and tried to find in that first something the final place of God, who had been forced to retreat one after another by science. So unless it is explained, God is immortal.

At that time, Hawking was already on his way to constructing a “Godless Universe. Unaware of this, the Catholic Church paid him the greatest tribute for proving the Singularity and confirming the existence of God, and in 1975 he was awarded a gold medal with the image of Pius XI, founder of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, engraved on it. And in 1981, Hawking was also invited to an international conference organized by the Academy of Sciences, where cosmologists from around the world gathered at the Vatican.

When Pope John Paul II, the head of the Academy, saw Hawking in his wheelchair in the hall, he personally knelt on the floor to welcome him. John Paul II was the Pope who, in 1979, declared the fusion of science and religion by apologizing to Galileo. But according to Hawking’s recollection, the Pope told him during this meeting. “It is all very well to study the evolution of the universe after the Big Bang, but we must not explore the Big Bang itself. It is the moment of creation and the work of God!”

However, Hawking had already spoken at the conference about an “Alternative Proposal To The Big Bang’s Singularity Theory: The Hartle-Hawking State” of affairs. This was published in 1983 and posits that there was no “beginning” to the universe.

Hawking recalls it this way. “I was relieved that the Pope did not know what I had said. I don’t want to suffer the same fate as Galileo.”

In 1979, John Paul II made the following remarks at a conference in which he apologized to Galileo. The Big Bang itself must not be explored. It is the moment of creation, the work of God. But it is perfectly acceptable to study the evolution of the universe since then.”

These words of John Paul II are an obstacle to the “quest for knowledge” of scientists. I also thought it was an unbecoming statement for them to make. It is not hard to imagine that Pope John Paul II would have been upset by Hawking’s “Alternative Proposal To The Big Bang’s Singularity Theory: The Hartle-Hawking State” of the universe, which came out of the blue.

There is no record that tells the story of how the church reacted, but it was like a coup d’etat by a “friend” who had proved the existence of the singularity, and the shock was great. However, from what has happened since then, it seems that the church was not hurt too badly.

At the end of his book “On the Origin of Time: Stephen Hawking’s Final Theory,” he wrote this sentence.

“Why do we and the universe exist? If we can find an answer to that, it will be the ultimate triumph of reason–because then we will know the mind of God.”

Differences in the Treatment of Science in Japan and Europe

It was when Kazuo Kitahara (Prigogine’s Thoughts, author) visited Brussels, Belgium to study abroad. It was an article in the newspaper “Le Monde” that he picked up at that time. In the paper, a philosopher, a lawyer, and a scientist were having a heated discussion over Jacques Monod’s “Coincidence and Inevitability” (Misuzu Shobo publisher), which was published at the time.

In it, I remembered that somehow it seemed rather strange that the molecular biologist Jacques Monod was writing as if he were responding to a theologian and philosopher. Because in Japan, it is generally believed that discoveries in molecular biology, which is pure science, are only made in the laboratory and have no impact on everyday life. Scientists may make new discoveries in the lab, but once they step away from the lab, they return to their daily lives. In short, research and daily life were used separately. This atmosphere is probably the same even today.

So it seemed somewhat odd that in “Coincidence and Inevitability,” Jacques Monod wrote so obsessively about ideological matters outside the realm of natural science. In Europe, however, the new discoveries of science were considered as something that shook the foundations of individual existence. It occurred to me at the time that the motivation for learning, so to speak, may be subtle but qualitatively quite different between Japanese culture and European culture.

Christianity is still in the midst of progress!

Since the beginning of time, the world’s religions have remained humanity’s most important social norms, guides to civilized societies, and the starting point of our morality and ethics. Should modern religions preserve their traditional traditions, or can they evolve and once again serve as humanity’s guides? And is religion meaningless in this age of overwhelming scientific power?

There is only one way for Christianity to survive in the coming age of science. We must stop rejecting scientific discoveries. We must stop openly condemning verifiable facts. We must draw on our vast experience – millennia of philosophy, personal exploration, meditation, and reflection – to become deeply connected partners with science.

We must do our best to help mankind create a moral framework, so that new technologies can bring unity, enlightenment, and development. We can only hope that science will regain its true form and that science will accept the help of religion. Religion is good for human evolution. Religious societies thrive better than non-religious societies because people cooperate better with each other. This is a scientific fact.

What does the Sagrada Familia symbolize?

The Sagrada Familia may be a turning point in history, just like the Pantheon in Rome. The current Pantheon in Rome was rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian around 120 AD. In 380 A.D., Emperor Theodosius proclaimed Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. In 392 A.D., he banned all religions other than Christianity in the Roman Empire, and the Pantheon, which tolerated polytheism, was positioned as a heretical religious institution that was forbidden. Naturally, religious activities could no longer be conducted in the building, and people began to leave and it fell into disuse.

Belief in the Roman god gradually waned and the object of worship shifted to Christianity. Perhaps because of the splendor of its mystical interior spaces, it was never destroyed. In 609 A.D., it became a Christian temple, a Catholic religious institution, known as Santa Maria Rotunda. And it continues to be used today, nearly 2,000 years after its creation.

The Sagrada Familia is a structure with one foot in the past and the other in the future, a solid bridge between a dying faith and a rising one, and if so, the Sagrada Familia will play an unimaginably important role. The Sagrada Familia is precisely this place where Gaudi combined God, science, and nature. This Sagrada Familia seems to be the cathedral of the future, a cathedral directly connected to nature. The official name of the church is “Sagrada Familia Church of the Atonement” in Japanese. It is dedicated to the “Holy Family” of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Joseph, his adoptive father, and is a church for the poor to atone for their sins.

About Sagrada Familia Church of the Atonement

The World’s Largest Spanish Church Building

# The Sagrada Familia is a massive Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Its official name is The Basílica de la Sagrada Família. Designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi and still under construction, it has already been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

# In November 2010, Benedict XVI (then Pope) visited the church for worship and celebrated a Mass officially recognizing it as a Roman Catholic church. In the 128th year since construction began, it became a “basilica,” a higher level church different from a cathedral.

# Construction of the Sagrada Familia began in 1882, on March 19, 1882, under the direction of architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. However, when Villar resigned in 1883, Gaudí was appointed chief architect and took the construction project in his own direction. After his appointment, Gaudí changed his style to Gothic Modernism, a combination of Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau styles. The appearance is characterized by the absence of straight lines, right angles, and horizontality in the design elements.

# Gaudi was actively involved in the construction project until 1923, in his last days at the age of 76, but it could not be completed during his lifetime; on June 7, 1926, on his way to mass, Gaudi tripped and fell over a step and was hit by a passing tram, resulting in his death. Gaudi’s remains are buried in the Sagrada Familia.

# The construction of the Sagrada Familia, which relied solely on private donations, was delayed and halted by the Spanish Civil War; in July 1936, revolutionaries set fire to the basement and broke into the work area, destroying some of Gaudi’s original drawings, plans, and plaster casts, and it took 16 years to It took 16 years to piece together the fragments of the original blueprints.

# Construction resumed intermittently in the 1950s. Subsequently, advances in computer-aided design, computer numerical control (CNC), and other technologies have allowed faster progress, and half of the building was completed in 2010. The project’s greatest challenge is to construct ten spires. They symbolize important characters from the New Testament.

In the 1980s, it was said that it would take about 300 years to complete the project, but due to advances in information technology and other factors, it is now expected to be completed in 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.

Continue to Open Letter 3-7