Religion's opponents like to claim that science and religion must be hostile to each other and that religion is old-fashioned and dying out. Neither misunderstanding is true.
The number of people in the world belonging to the four biggest religious traditions is increasing in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the world's growing population. In 1900 about 69 per cent of the world's population belonged to the four largest religious traditions. In 2005 this had risen to 73 per cent and might be 80 per cent in 2050.
The fantastic advances in science have actually strengthened the rational case for believers. Anthony Flew used to be billed as the world's best known atheist. He now claims that "of all the great discoveries of modern science, the greatest was God."
He was particularly impressed by the coding and information processing in all life forms and the determining genetic message in DNA. The unbelievable complexity and subtlety of the huge number of elements which combine together require Intelligence.
The universe was either created or evolved by chance. The odds against the random production of a human brain or eye are impossibly high like producing a card house in a gale and by chance!
Most scientists believe the universe began with the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. Some scientists, e.g., Einstein, were reluctant to accept this because it was compatible with the idea of Godly creation. If the explosion was one millionth of one per cent faster the universe would have exploded into a spray - no stars or planets. If it diminished by a similar tiny amount the universe would have collapsed. A 2 per cent change in our distance from the sun would destroy human life. Life is only possible through a succession of unbelievably fine balances.
Every animal in the world has the same body plan, except the jelly fish! The speed of light, the gravitational constant, the mass of a proton or electron are the same throughout the universe. These patterns, this order are not an illusion. The fantastic spiritual Intelligence outside space and time responsible for this fine, minute calibration is what we call God. (Editor: See pages 10-11).
From Cardinal George Pell's Sydney Sunday Telegraph column.