Canada is a constitutional monarchy based on the British parliamentary system. The Head of State of Canada is not Prime Minister Justin Tudeau but Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented in Canada by the Governor General. Since October 2017, Julie Payette has served as Canada's Governor General. A NASA astronaut who speaks several languages and holds many university degrees, Julie Payette should have sound judgment.
On November 1, 2017, Governor General Payette gave a speech before hundreds of scientists who were meeting in Ottawa at the Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC). Her speech provoked many negative reactions in English Canada and cast doubts on the soundness of her judgment.
In her speech, Mrs. Payette theatrically and in a patronizing tone declared that believing that God created the world is as laughable as believing in the horoscope. Her words upset many Canadians:
"Can you believe that still today in learned society, in houses of government… we are still debating and still questioning whether life was by divine intervention or whether it was coming out of a natural process, let alone, oh my goodness, a random process. And so many people — I'm sure you know many of them — still believe, want to believe, that maybe taking a sugar pill will cure cancer, if you will it! And your future and every single one of the people here's personalities can be determined by looking at planets coming in front of invented constellations."
There is nothing wrong in questioning people's belief in astrology. But intimating that believers in God and divine intervention as the source of life are idiots or fools is insulting to Catholics and other Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and others who believe in the existence of God.
When asked to comment on Mrs. Payette's words, Prime Minister Trudeau defended the Governor General by saying: "We are a government grounded in science… I applaud the firmness with which she (Payette) stands in support of science and the truth."
Does believing in God necessarily mean that one is against science and truth? Is it more scientific or logical to believe that all things were created haphazardly and without cause? Is this not, in itself, a belief system?
Is it logical to believe that nothing forms the basis of life; that an absence of intelligence has created an extremely intelligent, diversified and ordered world? The Church and philosophy teach that by observing creation we can discover who is its cause and author. According to both Church and philosophy, God's existence can be proven through reason. Saint Thomas Aquinas gave five proofs of God's existence. The first argument is the fact of motion. Anything that moves has its momentum from something or someone. A stick will move only by the person wielding it. When we work our way back to the initial mover, we recognize God.
Some scientists believe that the universe began with a huge explosion of energy and light which is called the 'Big Bang'. Catholic priest, Georges Lemaître, first proposed the idea. Nobel Prize winner, Steven Weinberg, hypothesized that, during this explosion, the universe reached a temperature of millions of degrees and was filled with light. Again, we ask what was the cause of this explosion? Where did this energy come from? What caused this initial movement other than the first mover, God?
Even with this explosion, how could inanimate stones and particles lead to life and intelligence? If the world was created haphazardly, how can one explain the order found in nature and the laws of the universe? And we must point to the human brain, DNA, atomic structure, etc. and ask for the source of such complexity.
Faith and reason are not opposed. They both are required in the search for truth. Pope Saint John Paul II said it well in his 1988 encyclical, Fides et Ratio: "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth".
In concluding, we present the testimony of 25 renowned scientists who, unlike Julie Payette, recognize that God is at the origin of creation. There are six Nobel Prize winners among them and all bear witness to the fact that God exists. (Taken from an article by Javier Ordovas published on aleteia.org):
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), one of the greatest astronomers: "God is great. Great is his power, infinite his wisdom. Praise him, heaven and earth, sun, moon, and stars in your own language. My Lord and my Creator! I would like to proclaim the magnificence of your works to men to the extent that my limited intelligence can understand."
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), astronomer and the first proponent of heliocentrism: "Who could live in close contact with the most consummate order and divine wisdom and not feel drawn to the loftiest aspirations? Who could not adore the architect of all these things?"
Isaac Newton (1643-1727), founder of classical theoretical physics: "What we know is a drop, what we do not know is a vast ocean. The admirable arrangement and harmony of the universe could only have come from the plan of an omniscient and omnipotent Being."
Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), founder of systematic botany: "I have seen the eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipotent God pass close by, and I knelt prostrate in adoration."
Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), discovered the basic notions of electricity: "I confess the holy, apostolic, and Roman Catholic faith. I thank God who has given me this faith, in which I have the firm intention to live and die."
Andre-Marie Ampere (1775-1836), discovered the fundamental laws of electricity: "How great is God, and our science is just a trifle!"
Augustin Louis Cauchy (1789-1857), a distinguished mathematician and founder of complex analysis: "I am a Christian, that is, I believe in the divinity of Christ, like all the great astronomers and all the great mathematicians of the past."
Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855), dubbed the "Prince of Mathematicians," because his insights contributed to many fields of mathematics and science: "When our last hour sounds, we will have the great and ineffable joy of seeing the one whom we could only glimpse in all our work."
Justus von Liebig (1803-1873), a celebrated chemist: "The greatness and infinite wisdom of the Creator will be recognized only by those who really endeavor to draw their ideas from the great book we call nature."
Robert Mayer (1814-1878), natural scientist who articulated the Law of the Conservation of Energy: "I am ending my life with a conviction that comes from the depths of my heart: true science and true philosophy can not be anything but an introductory study of the Christian religion."
Angelo Secchi (1803-1895), famous astronomer: "From contemplating the heavens to God, there is only a short distance."
Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931), the prolific inventor who held 1200 patents: "My utmost respect and admiration to all the engineers, especially the greatest of them all: God."
Carl Ludwig Schleich (1859-1922), famous surgeon, pioneered 'local anesthesia': "I became a believer in my own way through the microscope and observation of nature, and I want to contribute, insofar as I can, to the full harmony between science and religion."
Charles Darwin (1809-1882), Theory of Evolution: "I have never denied the existence of God. I think the theory of evolution is fully compatible with faith in God. I think the greatest argument for the existence of God is the impossibility of demonstrating and understanding that the immense universe, sublime above all measure, and man were the result of chance."
Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937), inventor of wireless telegraphy, Nobel Prize, 1909: "I declare it proudly: I am a believer. I believe in the power of prayer, and I believe not only as a Catholic, but also as a scientist."
Robert Millikan (1868-1953), great American physicist, Nobel Prize, 1923: "I can assert most definitely that the denial of faith lacks any scientific basis. In my view, there will never be a true contradiction between faith and science."
Arthur Eddington (1882-1946), British astronomer, mathematician and astrophysicist: "None of the inventors of atheism was a naturalist. All of them were very mediocre philosophers."
Albert Einstein (1879-1955), founder of modern physics and the Theory of Relativity, Nobel Prize,1921: "Everyone who is seriously committed to the cultivation of science becomes convinced that in all the laws of the universe is manifest a spirit vastly superior to man, and to which we, with our powers, must feel humble."
Max Planck (1858–1947), founder of quantum physics, Nobel Prize, 1918: "Nothing prevents us, and the momentum of our knowledge requires it… to interrelate the order of the universe and the God of religion. For the believer, God stands at the beginning of their speeches; for the physicist, at the end of them."
Erwin Schrödinger (1887-1961), discoverer of wave mechanics, Nobel Prize, 1933: "The finest masterpiece is the one made by God, according to the principles of quantum mechanics."
Howard H. Aiken (1900-1973), computer pioneer: "Modern physics teaches me that nature is not capable of ordering itself. The universe presupposes a huge mass of order. It therefore requires a great 'First Cause' that is not subject to the second law of transformation of energy and that is therefore Supernatural."
Wernher von Braun (1912-1977), German-American, foremost rocket engineer and space architect: "Above everything is the glory of God, who created the great universe, which man and science discover and research day after day in profound adoration."
Charles Townes (1915-2015), physicist who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize for discovering the principles of the laser: "As a religious man, I feel the presence and intervention of a Creator beyond myself, but who is always nearby. Intelligence had something to do with the creation of the laws of the universe."
Allan Sandage (1926-2010), American astronomer, calculated the rate at which the universe expands and its age by observing distant stars: "I was practically an atheist in my childhood. Science was what led me to the conclusion that the world is much more complex than we can explain. I can only explain the mystery of existence to myself by the Supernatural."
A young college student was traveling in the same railway compartment as an elderly man who was praying his Rosary. The young man dared to confront him: "Instead of praying the Rosary, why don't you take the time to learn and educate yourself a little more? I can send you a book." The old man replied:
"Please send me the book at this address, and he handed the young man his card. The card read: "Louis Pasteur, Paris Institute of Science". The college student felt ashamed. He had planned to give advice to the most famous and esteemed scholar of his time, the inventor of vaccines, and a devotee of our Lady's Rosary.