Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Universe and God

(A nebula that serves as a cradle for the creation of stars. This particular one is called the Eagle nebula for it's shape. In essense this is a picture back in time as we can only see the light that took thousands of years to get here.)

Philosophy has danced around one particular subject more than anything else. I touched upon it in my last post but I’d like to touch on another aspect of it and create a type of series.

The topic as you might have guessed is God and how philosophy deals with the question of His existence. It would be impossible to call this a blog on philosophy if we don’t deal with the most important philosophical question of all.

There are other mini topics though that directly leads to our main one. These topics have at one time or another crossed everyone’s mind but now I’d like to periodically answer them all as I deem correctly. Today’s topic will deal with the universe and how a philosopher looks at it when dealing with the question of God’s existence.

The previous post mentioned how evil is allowed to coexist while God’s mercy is also manifest.

This post will speak on the universe and how its footprint helps answer the question of God’s existence.

Future posts will touch on morality and where to get it’s construct (The mystery post) along with a range of other topics.


Absolute knowledge of the Universe

Though no one can absolutely know the future, it seems that as of now science has hit a brick wall when it comes to studying the universe.

The wall is known as Plank time. It’s 1.0 x 10^-47 seconds after the universe was created.
That’s basically a very small decimal with 46 zeroes. So it’s tremendously less than a millisecond.

All current models of our universe end there. Why? The best theory is because that’s when all the Universe’s laws came into existence and a moment before that there was absolutely nothing governing the universe.

So if the laws of your construct, or system, fall apart it’s like trying to explore a home that’s so weak its foundations threaten to drop the whole thing and when your reach the second floor everything collapses before you can get a look.

This wall is important to understand because all the constants of the universe were created right then and at one interval. To think that such an ordered universe with such self sustaining properties could roll the dice so quickly and decide so effortlessly on its future and end up winning on every gamble; is mind boggling. This will be discussed in more detail later because first we need to prove there was a beginning to the universe in the first place.


The Steady State Theory

A friend of mine centralized his world on this theory. He wasn’t necessarily a science whiz but the world made sense to him when this theory took hold. It was something he picked not because of science but because it helped order his world.

Maybe that’s why it’s so popular today, even if it’s completely abhorred by the vast majority of scientists. Science has totally and utterly destroyed this concept even though it keeps lingering in our minds.

So what did my friend’s world revolve around? He felt, as the steady state theory tells us, that the universe didn’t have a beginning and it had always been around. He felt it that in an infinite amount of time life eventually developed.

See if the universe had no beginning there was no need for a creator to create it. It doesn’t need creating because it was always there, he’d think to himself. My friend was still open to other opinions and ready to listen so I used a well known proof against his theory to shake up his world.

I simply told him to consider Hydrogen. Hydrogen as you probably know is the most abundant element in the Universe. When it clumps together and the gravity is strong enough it creates Helium inside Stars. This is known as nuclear fusion and it’s what powers our sun.

I then mentioned the law of conservation of matter and energy. It simply states that Matter and Energy are neither created nor destroyed but always converted from one to the other. Even in a Nuclear bomb, the atom that is split releases a set amount of Energy that can be measured by E=MC^2.

I then asked him what would happen if for an infinite span of time Hydrogen continued bonding with hydrogen. Or another way I put it, “How much hydrogen would there be in the universe if for an Infinite amount of years before your birth, hydrogen became helium. How much hydrogen would be left after your birth?”

After a few seconds he realized that with an INFINITE span of time, there would be no hydrogen left and the fact that Hydrogen is the most abundant element currently stands as a clear testament to the Universe’s creation.

He quickly asked me, “But if the universe was created, what was there before the universe?” I simply told him what scientists say, nothing. By nothing I mean there was no matter, space, or time. As scientists put it, according to the Big Bang theory, matter, space, and time were created when the universe was created.

“But how could there be nothing, especially no time or space?” he seemed to say pleadingly.

I simply told him to ponder on those thoughts and now wake up to his new world. He would have to re-mold his thinking and ideas around new principles and new concepts. One new concept he’d now have to take very seriously was God and how a universe this great simply came from nothing.


Self Sustaining

As you can probably tell the universe takes care of everything it needs on its own. The water cycle on the earth is a great example and many other great examples can be given.

As one scientist put it once, “The universe is self sustaining, what would God need to do anyway?”

He was looking at the question the wrong way. He should have asked himself, “How did the Universe become self sustaining in the first place? Where did these laws and qualities come from?”

What makes the universe self sustaining in the first place are the laws that guide it. There is a set mathematical number for the strength of gravity, the inner molecular forces, the amount of matter in this universe, and hundreds of other laws.

Because these laws were fine tuned correctly, we live in a universe that functions well and has these self sustaining qualities.

Regardless of the actual decision that went into picking each law, there are interactions with the laws themselves that help produce stability.

For example there was the choice of how much matter to put in the world and the choice for the strength of gravity. Imagine two knobs and a dial underneath which could choose from an infinite span of numbers. Remember that you must be correct by mere fractions or the whole universe is no longer self sustaining.

Like if gravity was 2% weaker and the amount of matter in this world was correctly picked, we’d never form stars because Gravity would not have enough force to cause nuclear fusion.

Or if the earth was just 5% further or closer to the sun, that life would be impossible. Besides distance, you must take into account the size of the earth which determines its gravitational pull. There is also the problem of the moon, without which we could not exist. Should the moon disappear we would have 2 extreme sides to the earth, one with extreme heat and one with extreme cold.

Just these small details alone pale in comparison to the constants you must pick which have dire consequences if picked wrong.

Thus as you can see the mere fact our universe is self sustaining in the first place is a marvel.

The probability for this to happen by chance works like this:

We have lets say 1,000 or so set constants that need to be picked + details that were required to make life for us self sustaining.
____________________________________ Divided by

An infinite amount of possible chances and numbers to choose from.

So what do you get when you divide a finite number by an infinite amount of chances? You get infinity which means it’s completely impossible that these choices could have come out correct on their own by mere random chance, every single time. How can this be done especially when the margin of error is so small? How can this be done when you have to consider all the interactions of the constants themselves with each other?

The universe is self sustaining but never forgot that obtaining these properties is a miracle in its own right.


Final Thoughts

What we can gather from this discussion is simple and yet very thought provoking.

1) At one time nothing existed; no time, space, or matter.
2) A self sustaining universe was then created from nothing.
3) Plank time occurred and after it all the constants were chosen instantly.
4) Life formed and asked how all this took place.

Whether God exists or not is for you to ponder on. But what remains clear is a myriad of astonishing events took place before the advent of our creation. How they took place is a question that remains central to the question of God itself. Also what constitutes nothing?

Are we truly the final descendants of a void; of nothing; of a vacuum more empty than that of space?

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