Monday, December 6, 2010

The Big Bang-Cosmic view

Think about “infinity” for a moment. Sorry, that was a cheap trick because if you truly consider “infinity,” you can never stop. The concept of infinity, however, is another matter. In other words, the definition or the concept of infinity is easier to grasp than is the reality. We humans do have a distinct advantage over other species because of our cognitive and communication skills. For example, I asked my dog, Frosty, what he thought about “infinity,” and he telepathically asked me where his treat was….very limited cognitive capacity. This examination of the “Big Bang Theory” will necessarily be rather amateurish for two reasons: I am NOT a physicist, and the topic gives me a headache.

My understanding of the “Big Bang Theory” is that the universe is the result of an explosion of an extremely dense sub-atomic particle. In other words, a tiny little spot of cosmic dust was compacted to its maximum capacity, and the resultant release of compressed energy caused the particle to explode and create millions of stars, planets, moons, asteroids and other bodies in the vacuum we know as space. Some theorists insist that the explosion is continuing because they calculate that the universe is continuing to expand. Others suspect that the expansion phase has ended, and the contraction has begun….leading to another power-laden particle in the distant future. Picture stretching a rubber band as far as possible without breaking it, then when it reaches its maximum, the energy is converted into the rubber band’s contraction to its original state.

So, my untrained astrophysicist’s mind questions how the maximum density level for the particle was determined. If we look at the universe with its 70 sextillion galaxies and 300 sextillion planets plus moons and other bodies, then the particle, the tiny little subatomic particle, clearly weighed many, many trillions of tons before it reached its “no mas” and blew up. What was the law or the rule of physics that informed the particle that it could become no denser? And, didn’t that law or rule predate the particle? Clearly, for scientists to predict outcomes or to identify pre-historic beginnings, they must have reliable systems of predictable and consistent rules. It seems, therefore, that the existence of rules would minimize the occurrence of randomness, or at least, limit randomness to predictable limits.

Now along comes Roger Penrose, an eminent British mathematician. He postulates (from the Toledo Blade) that physical evidence exists that predates the Big Bang. Holy Firecracker, Batman, we seem to be approaching eternity here…the time-based version of infinity. He suspects that there may have been a massive collision of two super big black holes preceding the Big Bang. He and his partner, Dr. V. G. Gurzadyan, speculate that our present universe is just one of a series of universes that continue forward and backward through infinite time. Thanks, gents, but we still don’t know when or how it started.

Deism is the belief that God exists, but is not involved in His handiwork. The deistic approach is similar to the Prime Mover view of cosmic origins wherein a creator initiated the process for the development of the universe but plays no active role in the subsequent outcomes or permutations of the universe. Theism is the metaphysical point of view that God pre-existed before the universe, that God created the universe, and that God remains actively engaged in the universe…particularly with people.

Some time ago I heard an author or physicist (don’t recall who it was or his qualifications) remark that metaphysics (the philosophy or science of the principles and causes of all existing things) fills in the gaps of physics and science. He also stated that over time, metaphysic’s domain would shrink as the discoveries of science expanded. I believe that he was mistaken. I am thankful for scientific inquiry and discovery. As our scientists and researchers seek to unlock the mysteries of the universe and our planet, they have uncovered the keys to elements that have phenomenal potential for making our lives better. Wisdom has been defined as knowing what one does not know. It seems to me that the closer astrophysicists get to the “ultimate source,” the more elusive the answer becomes. For years we heard the mantra of the Big Bang, based in large part on computer modeling, but if Drs. Penrose’s and Gurzadyan’s hypothesis is correct, then the greater universe is eternal. I’m aware that what I’ve written so far is mind-numbingly unsophisticated. Let me add, too, that many of our more talented and competent scientists are challenged by what they do not know.

The idea of a perpetual universe that periodically expands into many sextillion galaxies and contracts back into a cosmic pebble is beyond my comprehension. Think back to an earlier analogy---will not the rubber band eventually snap? Unless, of course, the expansion and contraction follow immutable laws. Can unbreakable laws exist in a vacuum? What is the source of the laws? My limited knowledge leads me to discern that laws can only exist within a relationship or environment. If “One” existed alone with no “Other” and no interaction, then laws are superfluous.

Bottom line for me is that I find it less fantastic to recognize and believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and interactive God and Creator than I do in an eternally expanding and contracting scheme for the universe that has no beginning and no end. My internal sense tells me that God is too big for science to discover or to measure. For me my knowledge and awareness of God far exceeds the believability and the understandability of the astrophysical and mathematical explanations of who we are, why we are and how we got here. I am not against scientific inquiry. I embrace it when I can, but the search for “the beginning” has illustrated that the answer appears too big for us to grasp without faith. It’s the Law Giver and Creator who is too big for telescope, microscope or computer. My tools for now begin with Joshua 24:15 and Psalm 23:6. To me they represent the alpha and omega.

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