Revisiting Barrow’s Prize

As we near the raw, imperfect perfection of the Christmas story reclaimed once again, I’m drawn to some ideas that I’ll be sharing in our community tomorrow on Christmas Eve morning. I’ll try to post the whole devotional (it will be short; the kids have the run of the morning!) tomorrow, but for now, I’m reminded of this post and its exquisite idea, the anthropic principle, and how it seems to lace everything that God does with us here on earth.


John Barrow, a cosmologist and mathematician at Cambridge University in Britain who believes that science reveals the reality of God as the sole Author of Creation, is this year’s winner of the prestigious Templeton Prize, according to the Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada Newspaper).

The award – this year worth $1.6 million dollars – is presented annually to scholars whose research or discoveries advance the human understanding of spiritual realities.

Barrow is a leading proponent of the anthropic cosmological principle. This is essentially the belief that the universe is the way it is because it was God’s plan that there be life on Earth – and that this would not have been possible if the universe had been fashioned in any other way.

Barrow is director of Cambridge’s Millennium Mathematics Project and professor of astronomy at London’s Gresham College. The author of 17 books, his most recent book is The Infinite Book: A Short Guide to the Boundless, Timeless and Endless. The Ottawa Citizen called it “an elegant discussion of our concept of infinity throughout history: as an expression of God, as an expression of mathematics, or as an idea about the unimaginable vastness of the universe.”

Barrow credits recent discoveries in astronomy with “[transforming] the simple-minded, life-averse, meaningless universe of the skeptical philosophers,” he told the Globe and Mail.

“It breathes new life into so many religious questions of ultimate concern and never-ending fascination. Many of the deepest and most engaging questions that we grapple with still about the nature of the universe have their origins in our purely religious quest for meaning.

“We see now how it is possible for a universe that displays unending complexity and exquisite structure to be governed by a few simple laws that are symmetrical and intelligible, laws which govern the most remarkable things in our universe – populations of elementary ‘particles’ that are everywhere perfectly identical.”

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