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Pius XII
The proofs for the existence of God in the light of modern natural science

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E. THE STATE AND QUALITY OF ORIGINAL MATTER

41. In addition to the question of the age of the cosmos, scholars have, with similar earnestness and liberty of research and verification, turned their daring genius to the other problem which has already been mentioned and which is certainly more difficult, concerning the state and quality of primitive matter.

42. According to the theories serving as their basis, the relative calculations differ in no small degree from one another. Nevertheless, scientists agree in holding that not only the mass but also the density, pressure, and temperature of matter must have reached absolutely enormous proportions as can be seen from the recent work of A. Unsold, director of the Observatory of Kiel (Kernphysik und Kosmologie, in the Zeitschrift fur Astrophysik, 24, B. 1948, pag. 278 306). Only under such conditions can we explain the formation of heavy nuclei and their relative frequency in the periodic system of the elements.

43. Rightly, on the other hand, does the mind in its eagerness for truth insist on asking how matter reached this state, which is so unlike anything found in our own everyday experience, and it also wants to know what went before it. In vain would we seek an answer in natural science, which declares honestly that it finds itself face to face with an insoluble enigma. It is true that such a question would demand too much of natural science as such. But it is also certain that the human mind trained in philosophical meditation penetrates more deeply into this problem.

44. It is undeniable that when a mind enlightened and enriched with modern scientific knowledge weighs this problem calmly, it feels drawn to break through the circle of completely independent or autochthonous matter, whether uncreated or self-created, and to ascend to a creating Spirit. With the same clear and critical look with which it examines and passes judgment on facts, it perceives and recognizes the work of creative omnipotence, whose power, set in motion by the mighty "Fiat" pronounced billions of years ago by the Creating Spirit, spread out over the universe, calling into existence with a gesture of generous love matter busting with energy. In fact, it would seem that present-day science, with one sweeping step back across millions of centuries, has succeeded in bearing witness to that primordial "Fiat lux" uttered at the moment when, along with matter, there burst forth from nothing a sea of light and radiation, while the particles of chemical elements split and formed into millions of galaxies.

45. It is quite true that the facts established up to the present time are not an absolute proof of creation in time, as are the proofs drawn from metaphysics and Revelation in what concerns simple creation or those founded on Revelation if there be question of creation in time. The pertinent facts of the natural sciences, to which We have referred, are awaiting still further research and confirmation, and the theories founded on them are in need of further development and proof before they can provide a sure foundation for arguments which, of themselves, are outside the proper sphere of the natural sciences.

46. This notwithstanding, it is worthy of note that modern scholars in these fields regard the idea of the creation of the universe as entirely compatible with their scientific conceptions and that they are even led spontaneously to this conclusion by their scientific research. Just a few decades ago, any such "hypothesis" was rejected as entirely irreconcilable with the present state of science.

47. As late as 1911, the celebrated physicist Svante Arhenius declared that "the opinion that something can come from nothing is at variance with the present-day state of science, according to which matter is immutable." (Die Vorstellung vom Weltgebaude im Wandel der Zeiten, 1911, pag. 362). In this same vein we find the statement of Plato: "Matter exists. Nothing can come from nothing, hence matter is eternal. We cannot admit the creation of matter." (Ultramontane Weltanschauung und Moderne Lebenskunde, 1907, pag. 55).

48. On the other hand, how different and much more faithful a reflection of limitless visions is the language of an outstanding modern scientist, Sir Edmund Whittaker, member of the Pontifical Academy of Science, when he speaks of the above-mentioned inquiries into the age of the world: "These different calculations point to the conclusion that there was a time, some nine or ten billion years ago, prior to which the cosmos, if it existed, existed in a form totally different from anything we know, and this form constitutes the very last limit of science. We refer to it perhaps not improperly as creation. It provides a unifying background, suggested by geological evidence, for that explanation of the world according to which every organism existing on the earth had a beginning in time. Were this conclusion to be confirmed by future research, it might well be considered as the most outstanding discovery of our times, since it represents a fundamental change in the scientific conception of the universe, similar to the one brought about four centuries ago by Copernicus." (Space and Spirit, 1946, pag. 118- 119).




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