God, the Universe, and EverythingOctober 20, 2015
Science and religion don’t typically go hand in hand. In fact, Pope Francis only recently declared the Big Bang and the theory of evolution “real,” arguing that the former does not contradict the existence of a divine creator, “but rather requires it.”
As it turns out, this sentiment is shared in certain scientific circles as well. Dr. Michael G. Strauss, experimental particle physicist at CERN and a professor of physics at the University of Oklahoma offered his own interpretation of scientific discoveries in favor of a Biblical God during his lecture on Oct. 13. The event, organized by the Logos club, was titled “God, particles and the cosmos: how new discoveries from science provide evidence for God.” It attracted a large, albeit skeptical, audience at the Delchev Auditorium.
Up until recently, scientific theories about the creation of the universe had been purely atheistic. However, recent discoveries have since rendered the steady state and oscillating models unfeasible, Strauss said. Instead, the physicist said, scientists today who subscribe to the Big Bang model must also consider the existence of an intelligent creator.
“The Big Bang is kind of a misnomer,” Strauss said, “It gives the idea of something exploding, but it’s an origin, a beginning of everything we know in the universe: space, time, matter and energy.”
This prompts a simple question: What was there before the Big Bang? The answer, according to Strauss, is that it must be a transcendent being, not part of this universe, but rather outside of it.
“Science has stumbled on some things that the Bible declared long ago,” Strauss said.
One, that the universe had a beginning (Genesis 1:1). Two, that the makings of the universe did not exist at one time (Hebrews 11:3). And that whoever created this universe, must not be bound by space or time.
Strauss’ second point was concerned with the design of the universe itself. Particularly that so many of the parameters in the universe seem to be precisely attuned to allow humans to exist. Scientists observe that there’s just the right amount of matter in the universe, a phenomenon they refer to as cosmic inflation. There’s enough of it for galaxies to form, but not too much, so the universe does not collapse too quickly.
“The carbon in your and my body came from dying stars, through precisely tuned nuclear resonance states,” Strauss said. Without it, life on earth would not be possible.
Strauss went on to describe the “Rare Earth,” his third point in favor of a divine creator. He spoke about a series of improbable reasons that allow the Earth to be habitable. It’s located in a spiral galaxy, the only type of galaxy that produces enough heavy elements and has the right amount of radiation to support a planet like the Earth. It’s located in what he calls the “habitable zone,” not too close to the center of the galaxy, where the radiation levels are too high, and not too far on the outskirts of it, where carbon and heavy elements start to become scarce. It revolves around a bachelor, class G, third generation star – the Sun, which is the only kind of star that is able to burn long enough and bright enough to support stable planet orbits in the right locations and at right temperature to make intelligent life forms feasible.
The Earth has the right gravitational field, he says, and that keeps the oxygen in the atmosphere, but allows other gases to escape. It has the right tilt, for even heating, stabilized by a single moon, and tectonic activity for formation of intelligent life, among other factors.
Strauss allowed for three possible explanations for this. The first, paradoxical one that at some point humans developed enough to reach back in time and create the universe for themselves – which he promptly dismissed as ridiculous. The second – the multiverse theory, favored by the likes of Stephen Hawking, which Strauss also discarded for lacking evidence. Lastly, the only feasible explanation in Strauss’s opinion, is a Biblical, personal, God.
“But why a Christian God?” asked Alina Apine, during the Q&A session that followed. Strauss’ response was that the Bible is the only holy book that has no contradictions to the facts that scientists have presented, whereas other holy books conflict with the known facts.
Dr. Markus Wien, professor of History and Civilizations at AUBG, was curious whether the discovery of another habitable planet would change Strauss’ mind on the subject. Strauss stated that the odds of finding such a planet were negligible and that he does not concern himself with hypothetical situations that have such a slim chance of becoming reality.
Although science and faith have started to align more in recent years, the debate on the topic still remains heated. As demonstrated by the fact that the Q&A session contained very few actual questions and even fewer direct answers.
Story by Ana Devdariani
Photography by Dimitar Bratovanov