GodsBigsBlog: Geoff Machin — We Go Looking for God, When We Could Be Having a Beer

Geoff Machin takes The Sombrero Galaxy seriously. He's a scientist. He wonders about God, NASA. NASA & STScI photo. copyright@stsci.edu

Geoff Machin: Looking for evidence of God’s existence. The Sombrero Galaxy. NASA & STScI. c @stsci.edu


By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Geoff Machin: “Human beings are the only living things that know they exist and ask why. We’d probably have more fun if we didn’t ask so many questions, just go to the beach and have a beer.

Well, some of us do bother about these things, we live with the questions. That is God in us, I think. That is the extent to which we are made in God’s image.

The very fact that so many people push toward a meaningful basis for their lives is, to me, evidence of God’s existence.” 

Scientists like Geoff Machin believe in phenomena like the Pinwheel Galaxy. Not so sure about God. Hubble Image, European Space Agency and NASA.

Pinwheel Galaxy. Happenstance or a creation? Hubble Image, European Space Agency and NASA.

I like what Geoff Machin says here. I like to believe that the sacred is at work in the world. And I don’t mean in extravagant, show-offy ways (miraculous deathbed cures, multi-million-dollar wins at the lottery, elevator doors that open before one has had a chance to press the up-button).

I’m thinking of a leading force that invites us to be our generous, compassionate selves. A spirit that assures us that we matter and that therefore, by golly, our choices matter.

I think that’s what Geoff means when he talks about “a meaningful basis” for our lives. And I like the fact that Geoff thinks this way. He’s a hard-headed scientific type — a retired neonatal pathologist, born in England, who grew up in the Church of England and studied at Oxford.

He’s a realist who believes that Alfred Lord Tennyson got it right when he suggested that nature is “red in tooth and claw” — bloody and competitive — and that most creatures walking (swimming, swarming, floating, flying) around on this planet are not much interested in anything beyond where the next meal is coming from.

Yet Geoff also believes that we human beings are capable of a selflessness and a desire for meaning that belie our animal nature — and  these qualities originate in the sacred.

Geoff is one of the people I’ve interviewed for my book-in-progress, “Wrestling With God: True Stories of Religion and Spirituality in America, As Told to a Hopeful Skeptic.” I know him to be a no-nonsense guy. Which gives me — that skeptical, no-nonsense part of me, that is — permission to give way to my long-held and much-treasured hunch that Something is going on out there ( in here?). Something Big.

Which is how my other website,  “God’s Big Blog,” got its name, btw. God Is Big. Of that much, I’m pretty sure.

What do you think? Does the sacred express itself in the material world? Or are we mortals pretty much on our own here in this humongous universe? What do you think of Geoff Machin’s “evidence of God?” Is he on to something, or is he grasping for straws?



  1. Judith Fleming says:

    Yes, I agree with Geoff and knew him when he lived in California. I saw him in action being the thoughtful, compassionate interesting person I will never forget. I want to think we all have some” meaningful basis” and act on that compassionate force as we live our lives to the fullest.

    • Geoff is a really special guy. He thinks in a way that is completely his own, which is probably what makes him so interesting. That fact that he takes a rigorous scientific approach to things is what made my conversations with him so helpful to me.

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