1. Callen Clarke says:

    This is excellent content. Thanks for this post.

    I am familiar with the issues raised regarding the Standard Model and the current cosmological crisis. I have had many of the same thoughts as you: “things are not adding up,” etc. and that there is a degree of double-speak and glossing over of unsaid implications in the popular presentation of current physics and cosmology research.

    Having said that, I am also aware of the annoyance physicists feel (particularly the Atheists) in the response of believers to the problems they encounter in their modeling of the Universe. From their point of view, we are like the kid with an imaginary friend whom we use to answer anything that happens in the neighborhood that is unexplained. Trash can knocked over? Fred did it. Flowers in the flowerbed torn up? It was Fred.

    As non-physicists, we are unqualified to actually judge the veracity of the information they present us with. And it is to their credit that they present their anomalies to the public even knowing how a necessarily ignorant public will misconstrue and run with them. We are dependent on the scientists themselves for these models, contradictions, and anomalies. I can certainly see some of them griping: anything we don’t have an answer for they say comes from God.

    And then, of course, when a physical answer emerges, we have the phenomenon of the ‘retreating God.’ etc. One of the stronger objections Atheists have to resorting to God for causalities, etc.

    None of which invalidates the rather tantalizing possibility that the terms of the debate may someday change; that the physical sciences will continue to answer its own questions, with God retreating and retreating and retreating…until God stops retreating, and there emerges from the latest cosmological theorizing a mathematical model that not only requires God, but demonstrates part of what God does to the Universe, and perhaps why. And I think we should not mistake that this is on everyone’s mind, Believer and Atheist alike. [And not all physicists are Atheists, by any means, btw.]

    What will happen on that day, I wonder.

    Democritus posited that all matter consisted of tiny invisible atoms that were irreducible. For more than two-thousand years his hypothesis was untested and untestable, dismissed by the philosophical and emergent scientific consensus. And then, in the 19th Century, he was proved right.

    This post exemplifies a positive and informed Christian engagement with Science. There is so much noise, ignorance and misconceptions among believers about the nature and methods of Science and Scientific Discovery. I hope to see more posts like this in the future.

    • Travis Perry says:

      Thank you so much for your positive comments. I do disagree with some of what you say, though.

      First, I think not only can I evaluate what physicists say about the universe, I believe I really ought to do so. While that puts me in the position of reading many experts and weighing the opinions of certain ones over others based on things like their consistency and clarity–and also leads to me staring hard at equations whose mathematics goes above any training I’ve had in mathematics in an effort to understand them–I think the effort to understand is inherently valuable. Or to put it another way, I think God rewards the effort put into understanding the nature of reality. Well, God rewards effort as a general rule, no matter what the subject, but I think God has revealed much about the nature of the universe to people who not only had the talent to understand it, who worked at it, but also to those who sought God’s help in understanding, at least in some cases. If God is real, he is indeed able to “give grace to the humble,” as the Scripture says–though a point of view that assumes there is no God of course does not allow for any form of Divine help.

      Second, I think the idea that the understanding of the universe is continually advancing is a false one. If you look at how many pieces of information which puzzled scientists in, say, 1900, there was precious little they felt science had not explained. The precession of the perihelion of Mercury being other than what Newtonian gravity and laws of motion predicted being one of the few things scientists were scratching their heads over. Within 20 years or so, the universe sharply had become much more mysterious with the revelation of the realities of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. These two things, Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, are in fundamental contradiction with one another on some very important levels. And this contradiction has not been solved in the past century or so, not at all.

      Following this up was the discovery of a universe that appears to originate from a single point, the Big Bang. While that’s very cool and interesting, it causes loads of serious problems. The inflation of the universe does not make sense as commonly presented–and it’s not me that said that, it’s Roger Penrose, whom I judge to be be telling the truth about the issue. (He is detailed and specific on his ideas and he shared a lot of math in Cycles of Time–those who disagree with him don’t answer his points very well from what I have read. That’s what leads me to believe he is right and they are wrong.) Plus there are the serious problems stemming from Dark Matter and Dark Energy–substances which were totally unknown in 1900. And other issues.

      Though the precession of the perihelion of Mercury has been figured out (by relativity), far more things are known to be unknown today than in 1900. We could declare that’s a sign of progress, that at least we have a good grasp on what he don’t know now and we perhaps we will soon solve all the problems. Perhaps 1000 years from now (I can say for the sake of argument) science will look back at this time of confusion as a mere blip on the way to ever grasping more and more. But that’s not the situation NOW. The “unknown” column has grown faster than the “known” column in the past 120-so years. That isn’t a matter of my mere unthinking opinion. I say this based on facts, based on things the scientists involved in studying the universe have written. The universe is less and less explained in many key ways over time, not more and more.

      And we may not even have really identified what the actual “unknowns” are. It’s a conceit that presumes scientific progress to assume that we won’t (as a race) continue to find the universe continually more and more inexplicable. As opposed to being able to boil everything down to a few simple principles–which is what scientists hope to do.

      So you could say (and did say) my post represents positive and informed Christian engagement with Science. I would say on the other hand it represents a serious effort to understand Science over decades of reading and thinking (and praying) about what the universe is actually like. Doing so, I have taken science seriously, believing that scientists do valuable work, even if they sharply disagree with a religious view of what the universe is like and what that means.

      What I have learned, I am sharing with others. I’d be happy to engage actual scientists on this topic, though I have not done so thus far. (Unless you are a scientist yourself, Callen.)

      Yes, I will keep writing about what I have learned (God willing) and do so in a way that sees Science as being worthy of respect. Even if I disagree with certain conclusions many scientists draw. 🙂

What do you think?