God’s Toe?

Those of you who follow the latest in particle physics have probably seen today’s news from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) detailing how scientists have made a significant discovery that might shed some light as to how the universe originated.

The discovery centers around the question of how — after the Big Bang — matter came into being. According to accepted relativistic and quantum theory, when the universe exploded into existence an equal amount of both matter and antimatter should have been created and, simultaneously, canceled each other out, leaving nothing left from which stars and planets could have been formed. As I understand it, the recent particle collisions at Fermilab have shown that when particles called B-mesons decay into muons they produce more matter than antimatter about 1% of the time. In other words, these tests appear to provide one possible explanation for how matter came into being. Theorists feverishly searching for science’s definitive answer to the universe’s true origins — otherwise known as “the face of God” — have referred to this discovery as possibly “the toe of God.” Exciting indeed.

I am fascinated by the promise of particle physics in helping us understand how the universe works. But I am equally certain that particle physics can never ultimately answer the question of how the universe came into being, or why. Amazingly, ten billion dollars and seven trillion electronvolts cannot produce the answers that a $15 purchase at your local bookstore can provide. While it’s not a scientific manual or collection of technical papers, the Bible is the definitive key to understanding both where the universe came from and why. These words speak for themselves:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

The simple truth of this single sentence is that God is the Almighty Creator of all that is. Furthermore, the New Testament reveals both how and why:

(Jesus Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)

Jesus, who is both the agent of creation and the one by whom the universe is sustained, is also the purpose of creation. All things have been made by and for him. He is both the means and the end.

I’m not trying to cultivate an anti-science attitude. I love science and embrace it. But I also recognize its inherent shortcomings. Through science we can observe, with incredible precision and complexity, how the universe operates on both the largest and smallest scales. But those who are truly intellectually honest must ultimately confess that, in the end, the best science can do is point beyond itself in its search for answers.

Fermilab’s physicists may have revealed God’s toe. But Jesus Christ — and he alone — reveals God’s face.

See in that infant’s face
The depths of Deity,
And labour while ye gaze,
To sound the mystery;
In vain: ye angels gaze no more,
But fall and silently adore.

-Charles Wesley, Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord, 5:3.

Black Holes and the Infinite

Over the last year or so I have grown incredibly interested in the world of astronomy and theoretical physics. I’ll watch or read anything that has to do with space, time, theories of relativity, quantum mechanics, etc. Nerdy? Perhaps. But I came across something fascinating the other night that even the most unnerdy of my visitors might enjoy.

There are two scientific realms of study that seek to understand the universe. Einstein’s theory of General Relativity (GR) helps us to understand the universe on a macro level, like when it comes to gravity and motion. Quantum mechanics (QM), on the other hand, explains the universe at atomic and sub-atomic levels. Independent of the other, each realm of physics is completely adequate, predictable, and precise in its own right, but once physicists attempt to combine the two they run into some serious problems. Nowhere else in the cosmos is this illustrated more perfectly than at the center of a black hole.

The theoretical existence of black holes literally fell out of Einstein’s GR decades ago. But it has only been in the last 20 years or so that their existence has been proven. In fact, it is now believed that at the center of every galaxy in the universe exists a supermassive black hole. Furthermore, the presence of these supermassive black holes is not accidental to the formation of their galaxies, but rather essential to it. In fact, the size of any given galaxy’s supermassive black hole at its galactic center is directly proportionate to the overall mass contained in the galaxy. Fascinating? Indeed. The cosmos just oozes of order and design.

But check this out.

It is believed that at the core of any given black hole is what is called a gravitational singularity, covered by an event horizon (the point beyond which nothing can escape the black hole’s immense gravitational pull, not even light itself). It is in this singularity where all our theories of physics completely break down. A singularity is a point in space and time of infinite gravity. Infinite. That is very interesting. Put in mathematical terms, when you plug GR and QM into one single equation, the result you get is ∞ (infinity), or, more accurately, ∞ + ∞ + ∞ +∞…for infinity! While these results boggle the mind of the physicist, to the theologian it couldn’t make more sense. I’m not suggesting that God lives in the center of a black hole. What I am suggesting is that, despite our best efforts to understand the universe from a strictly naturalistic perspective, the fact that the universe was created by something (or Someone) beyond itself is an unavoidable reality.

I bring all this up simply because I find it interesting. I’m sure there are flaws somewhere in my understanding of these complicated disciplines. But my point is justified. The universe points to its Creator. This is by design. The Bible reveals that the heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). He built into its very structure, from the most massive galactic cluster to the tiniest sub-atomic particle, signals of His existence. Everything we see in the universe has intrinsic beauty and order and screams for us to acknowledge that we are not here without a purpose. No, instead the universe had a specific moment in which it began, and everything in it is being pulled foward by a future defined by purpose and fulfillment. Our job, then, is to acknowledge this reality with how we live every moment of our lives.

Laws of physics? Pshf!

I love articles like this: Scientists break the speed of light. Apparently, a couple of German physicists claim to have broken the speed of light, which is 186,282.397 miles per second (that’s 670,616,628 MPH for you lay people out there, and 1,079,252,848.8 km/h for my metric friends). Actually I love any new article or report that claims to have impossibly broken some law of the physical universe. (I have been following the Steorn Orbo experiment from the beginning.)

The pair say they have conducted an experiment in which microwave photons – energetic packets of light – traveled “instantaneously” between a pair of prisms that had been moved up to 3ft apart. I’m sure such a claim has the scientific community scratching their heads thinking about the physical and theoretical ramifications for the very structure of the known universe. But I can’t help but wonder how on earth you measure that type of speed. Never mind that being able to travel faster than the speed of light would lead to a wide variety of bizarre consequences, such as an astronaut moving faster than it would theoretically arrive at a destination before leaving. I wanna’ get my hands on that stopwatch.

Seriously though, does anyone else out there keep track of stories like this? What difference does it make whether or not new discoveries claim to break known laws? I mean, until now the only one who could travel fast enough to turn back time was Superman. Are we living in a day when comic book fiction becomes scientific fact?

Did God use Evolution?

*Update: This topic has been moved up due to the number of comments and level of interest. -SS 6/05/2005

The recent case concerning theories of origin in the Kansas State Board of Education’s science curriculum raises many different questions. But one inevitable question is this: Could God have used evolution? The reason this inevitably becomes a question is because in the evolution vs. creation debate the two sides are always categorized as atheist vs. theist, and anytime that this happens there is always someone from the evolution side who says, “Hey, I’m a Christian, and I still believe in evolution.” Hence the question: Could God have used evolution to create?

Of all of the many issues that are debated in our time, this particular one absolutely astonishes me. You see, I can tolerate a lot of debate and a lot of healthy skepticism and doubt. I can tolerate and accept differing opinions, suggestions, perspectives, etc. But there is one issue that I cannot figure out, and that is how someone who – A.) believes in special revelation; B.) believes in the supreme authority of God’s Word (divinely inspired without error or defect in the autographs/inerrant/infallible); and C.) believes in the fundamental picture of God as painted by Scripture that He is all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), and all-good (omnibenevolent) – could possibly believe that God used evolution to create. The two (evolution and Christian creation) are about as compatible as oil and water. And yet there are those who even claim to be evangelical who believe in the evolutionary system. Why?

There is a story written by John Woodmorappe titled The horse and the tractor that appears on Answers in Genesis’ website here. The story illustrates how ridiculous it would be to mingle God with evolution. The story and it’s moral are as follows:

Once upon a time, a salesman met a farmer, contentedly using a horse-drawn plough. The salesman, referring to the just-invented diesel tractor, said, ‘I’m here to tell you about a machine that will knock your socks off.’

After learning how the tractor worked, the farmer remarked, ‘So, the tractor is a new means by which the horse pulls the plough, right?’

‘Not at all,’ said the salesman. ‘The tractor does not work with the horse. The tractor replaces the horse.’ The salesman then explained to the farmer how the tractor is self-propelling and simply does not require a horse.

‘I see now,’ mused the farmer. ‘Still, I can combine the horse and the tractor by placing the tractor in neutral, and then letting the horse pull it and the plough as well.’

‘Wait a minute,’ said the salesman. ‘That doesn’t make sense. Why have the horse pull the tractor and the plough? If you’re going to use the tractor, let it run on its own power. If you want to use the horse, however, let it plough by itself. Don’t make the poor animal pull a heavy machine for no reason.’

‘In that case,’ replied the farmer, ‘I’ll drive the tractor, and just use the horse for recreation. But whenever I drive my tractor, I will tell everyone that my horse is really pulling it.’

Shaking his head in bewilderment, the salesman replied, ‘You can say whatever you want that makes you comfortable. But remember, the tractor is self-propelled. The horse has nothing to do with it.’

‘Oh, but now you’re wrong,’ said the farmer, with conviction. ‘Just because we can’t see the horse anywhere around the tractor doesn’t mean that the horse isn’t there anyway, pulling invisibly.’

The salesman sighed and put on his coat. ‘Yeah, right,’ he muttered, heading for the door. ‘I can’t get through to you. The horse has only an imaginary presence in the propulsion and operation of the tractor. In fact, sir, there is absolutely no difference, other than your saying so, between a tractor running by itself and a tractor being pulled by an invisible horse.’ And off he went to look for other customers.

The moral: the folly of combining a horse and a tractor is equivalent to combining God and evolution in so-called theistic evolution. A naturalistic, evolutionary explanation (for the origin of life, for instance, or the origin of the first animals) doesn’t need God acting to move things along. God, like the horse, is quite irrelevant. If the tractor is working properly, the horse can wander in the pasture.

Likewise, imagining God ‘working through’ naturalistic evolution is as nonsensical as having a horse pull a tractor in neutral. If naturalistic evolution is a truly sufficient explanation, it will run on its own power—that is, account for what we observe solely in terms of natural forces and entities. We may envisage other roles for God (if we still see a need for Him), but creating living things isn’t among them.

On the other hand, if evolution isn’t sufficient (if the tractor doesn’t work) then why hitch God to the explanation? Why encumber God the Creator by asking Him to ‘pull’ a false, not to mention cruel and wasteful, evolutionary process?

Oddest of all, however, is retaining a nominal or strictly rhetorical role for God in a process that has no need of Him. The farmer who claims that, despite all appearances, the tractor runs because his horse is invisibly pulling it, isn’t going to win the confidence of his neighbors. Instead, they will probably pity him for his self-delusion.

‘Theistic’ and naturalistic evolution are functionally identical. The only distinction is the empty theological language attached in the former case—making no more difference than an invisible horse to a tractor.

For more on this topic see:
Biblical problems for theistic evolution and progressive creation
Theistic evolution: what difference does it make?

AIG – "Scientists–are they biased?"

An weekly news e-mail from Answers in Genesis:

Q: Surely scientists want to search for truth; they are supposed to be unbiased … aren’t they?

A: It is time for people to realize that what scientists believe about their origins does determine how they look at the world.

We received a letter from a person who’d been named the editor for a geologic society. He was asked to provide articles of substance for their newsletter. In his first issue he included articles that questioned established evolutionary geologic principles. In less than two weeks, members of the society demanded his resignation and the return of all the materials that he had, even when these actions were in violation of the society’s constitution.

This is not an isolated case. We’ve heard of graduate students being refused entry into schools because they believed in creation, and other scientists being driven out of their fields because of their creation beliefs. Whenever a discovery is made that casts serious doubt on evolution, it’s often quickly hidden and not published in the major journals.

None of this should be surprising to those of us who get our answers in God’s Word—after all, man’s heart is deceitful and rebels against the Truth of the Creator God. That’s why we need ministries like Answers in Genesis to tell The truth to the world.

AIG’s Evolutionist Quote of the Week
“It becomes clear now that the whole justification of Jesus’ life and death is predicated on the existence of Adam and the forbidden fruit he and Eve ate. Without the original sin, who needs to be redeemed? Without Adam’s fall into a life of constant sin terminated by death, what purpose is there to Christianity? None.”
– G. Richard Bozarth, The Meaning of Evolution, American Atheist, p. 30, September 20, 1979.

Kansas Evolution Hearings and Intelligent Design

FOXNews.com – Politics – Scientists Boycott Kansas Evolution Hearings

Scientists in Topeka, Kansas are refusing to share their arguments for evolution during State Board of Education hearings. Proponents of the Intelligent Design theory are arguing that the science curriculum should include alternative theories of origins besides evolution. Those in favor of Intelligent Design argue that the universe is way too complex to exist apart from some form of design. At first glance, Intelligent Design seems appealing to Christians who are tired of aggressive evolutionary indoctrination. Christians seem ready to wholeheartedly accept Intelligent Design as the best alternative to evolution.

However.

Christians need to be very careful with the Intelligent Design model. Most Christians, in their desperation to replace evolution, seem to want to adopt Intelligent Design without really understanding its concepts and what their implications are. As Francis Schaeffer has said, “Ideas have consequences,” so we need to consider the ideas of Intelligent Design and what its logical conclusions are.

While Intelligent Design is a great step up from evolution it has a very long way to go. While some have labeled its major campaigners as ‘creationists in disguise,’ the truth by and large is less than as exciting. Many may be sympathetic to the creation account in Genesis, but Intelligent Design by nature does not seek to point to a personal God who creates and sustains and is actively present. Stopping short of this axiomatic truth is like stepping into the Atlantic Ocean with no intention of actually crossing over to Europe – it’s a big step to get into the water, and it is a drastic change compared to the sandy beach, but it is far short of crossing the ocean. Christians cannot talk of origins without talking of a three-personal God. And while Intelligent Design may be more compatible with creationism it is not the ultimate solution that our culture needs. Acceptance of Intelligent Design thinking en masse could just as easily lead to New-Age or Hindu-like notions of creation, as well as weird alien sci-fi notions, or even more probable, Deism. What’s more, Intelligent Design tactically excludes the Genesis idea of man’s Fall, therefore there is no philosophical answer to the origin of evil. The Fall was a major event in history that changed everything. The world we are looking at now is a world that has been corrupted by sin, not the original world that God designed. Thus, the movement’s success could very likely even be counterproductive, by laying the Biblical God open to ridicule and contempt in new ways.

In the end, the Lie of evolution may have wrought as much or more damage to mankind than any other in history. But Christians need to be guarded and counter with the Truth of God’s Word and not settle for anything else just because it’s not evolution.