6-Week Series: Against All Odds

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Allen Rex Sandage, the greatest observational cosmologist in the world--who has deciphered the secrets of the stars, plumbed the mysteries of quasars, revealed the age of globular clusters, pinpointed the distances of remote galaxies, and quantified the universe’s expansion through his work at the Mount Wilson and Palomar observatories--prepared to step onto the platform at a conference in Dallas.

Few scientists are as widely respected as this one-time protégé to legendary astronomer Edwin Hubble. Sandage has been showered with prestigious honors from the American Astronomical Society, the Swiss Physical Society, the Royal Astronomical Society, and the Swedish Academy of Sciences, receiving astronomy’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. The New York Times dubbed him the "Grand Old Man of Cosmology."

As he approached the stage at this 1985 conference on science and religion, there seemed to be little doubt where he would sit. The discussion would be about the origin of the universe, and the panel would be divided among those scientists who believed in God and those who didn’t, with each viewpoint having it’s own side of the stage.

Many of the attendees probably knew that the ethnically Jewish Sandage had been a virtual theist even as a child. Many others undoubtedly believed that a scientist of his stature must surely be skeptical about God. As Newsweek put it, "The more deeply scientists see into the secrets of the universe, you’d expect, the more God would fade away from their hearts and minds." So Sandage’s seat among the doubters was a given.

Then the unexpected happened. Sandage set the room abuzz by turnig and taking a chair among the theists. Even more shocking, during his talk he revealed that he had become a Christian at age 50.

He would later tell a reporter, "It was my science that drove me to the conclusion that the world is much more complicated than can be explained by science. It was only through the supernatural that I can understand the mystery of existence."

(Source: Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004)

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