Choose Your Theory: Science or God
Janet Kuypers Editorial, 11/28/06
I’m an addict to science shows and astronomy shows on the Science channel and the Discovery channel — so it makes sense that we had Scars Publications title the 2005 collection book “Chaos Theory:”
Chaos Theory: Also referred to as non-linear dynamics, chaos theory is a mathematical concept explaining that it is possible to get random results from normal equations — small occurrences can significantly affect the outcomes of seemingly unrelated events.
...and the 2005 collection audio CD “String Theory:”
String Theory: Physics. a mathematical entity used to represent elementary particles in terms of a small but finite string-like object existing in the four dimensions of space-time and in additional, hypothetical, space-like dimensions.
And the thing is, these are only theories. Are they something we’re supposed to believe as real? Well, maybe not — or at least, maybe not yet. The Big Bang has always been considered only a a theory, because knowing how the universe started is really only a theory, because no one was there to know how the universe started and we have no real evidence to help support the theory of the Big Bang. But discoveries (that even startled Einstein) that all matter was not sitting still in the Universe but moving away (albeit at different rates) from a central location, seems to support the theory that the universe had a starting point — like the point that started the Big Bang. And recently, scientists and astronomers have recently noted radiation emanating in all directions in outer space, and they believe these are very dim remnants of radiation are leftovers from the original Big Bang. Granted, they only believe this very dim remnants of radiation from the original Big Bang, but if this is more credible, then this means that scientists may have found evidence to support the Big Bang. As scientists reveal theories to explain key question in the history of the universe, they gain more and more knowledge to possibly help them discover what the truth may be.
I mentioned the Big Bang only as an example of how theories (like String Theory) might be valid, but we haven’t learned enough about them yet to be able to explain exactly why these theories are true.
Now, I’m not suggesting that String Theory has to be true, I’m just stating that this is a theory that scientists and astronomers are thinking about, and working on trying to validate with empirical data.
But even still... Do you want to believe that the theory of having strings ties everything in the universe together is actually valid? I mean, do you want to believe that we’re all somehow tied together, that we’re somehow all literally connected to other things in the universe? I mean, other than our own bodies, it’s hard to imagine that we’re actually literally “tied” to anything else.
And if you think that’s strange, I even heard that Steven Hawking talked about the possibility of black holes being doorways to other universes... and Richard Dawkins (an Oxford professor, Darwinist and atheist) has explained the the theory of the “multiverse.”
What on earth is a multiverse? Well, we’re in a universe. But the theory is that there may be more than one universe, and having more than one universe makes the whole prefix of “uni” seem pointless (you know, if there are a multiple number of universes... because then the way to think of everything would be to think of multiverses). That theory says that, according to Dawkins (in an article In Time, 11/12/06), “maybe the universe we are in is one of a very large number of universes. The vast majority will not contain life... But as the number of universes climbs, the odds mount” that one universe — ours — would contain life.
Now, that’s a fascinating theory, And who the Hell knows, it might be valid. But without any empirical data to support this theory, is anyone going to believe that it is true?
I ask you this question not to convince you of astronomical and scientific theories related to physics, but to pose the stretch that some theories may have until we know better or have any evidence to support them.
This is the same way with religion. People who don’t have explanations for some otherwise currently unexplainable events to people, often rely on God, a supernatural creation that defies explanation in any human form to explain away what we see as “miracles.”
Granted, in ancient times, people relied on the Sun God, the Rain God, the Wind God, so they could pray to the right Gods to help their weather so their crops would grow the next season. And as we’ve learned and understood how things work in nature, we have dismissed these Gods. The current Gods that people on this planet support may be the same thing — people looking to rely on a mythical supernatural being to explain what they see as unexplainable.
But the again, that’s just a theory.
Just like the idea of God may be a theory, because there is never any scientific evidence to support a God — yes, you have to rely on “faith,” and not evidence. Religious people will say they believe in something, but they’re unwilling to call it a theory (even though there is no evidence to prove their God to the world).
Sorry about my digression... getting back to my discussion of scientific theories... I was thinking about science, and how there is often a rift between the strict science community and the more religious-inclined, because there is no proof in God, and even relying on a God for an explanation of what we can’t understand flies in the face of using science and logic and reason to understand the world. In fact, I was reading a debate between Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins (a genome pioneer and supporter of God), where each person relied on theory to support their arguments. And actually, Collins heard Dawkins’ multiverse theory (you know, having many universes, and we’re just in one), and thought the idea of believing in a God was less of a leap of faith. So it made me start to wonder: which theories do people choose to believe in to live their lives on? Because before enough research is done, more scientific facts start off as theories, and we have to make a “leap of faith” to support any topic before it can ever be supported and proven.
Granted, the “theory” is that you can never truly prove or support God or religion, but oftentimes you can’t prove a scientific theory instantly. Some scientific theories have been disproved when studied further, and some theories are so hypothetical that we probably have no real way to prove them (like postulating how earth got it’s moon: there’s a theory that a another large planet-like object was circulating the sun in the beginnings of our solar system days — which theorists have even named Orpheus — that actually collided with “earth version one,” destroying Orpheus and knocking enough debris from the two planets into a loose orbit which eventually congealed, forming our moon as we know it). But some “theories” gain more and more evidence that people tend to believe these theories to be true (like the Big Bang... we have no records of what happened back when, but scientists are finding radiation emanating still from the initial theoretical Big Bang, which leads more credibility to the theory).
The main issues between these two scientific icons (one atheist for Darwin, Richard Dawkins, and one genome pioneer Christian who converted from Atheism when he was 27, Francis Collins) sprung up in their Time magazine debate when Dr. Collins mentioned that evolution could exist, and God could have set the entire universe in motion. Dawkins thought that was a bit of a stretch, and believing in a God was a cop-out for any scientist.
Dawkins then postulated the multiverse theory, which made Collins say that believing in a God was less of a leap of faith than believing in the multiverse theory.
Collins eventually said he agrees with practically all of Dawkin’s conclusions about the natural world, but he is also able to “embrace the possibility that there are answers that science isn’t able to provide about the natural world.” Which is where he delves into the concept of a God. Dawkins said he’s open to ideas that as of yet no human can understand, but he doesn’t want to believe that for anything unanswerable, the answer lies in relying on the created concept of a God.
And if Dawkins believes that there are things in the universe that we as human are yet capable of understanding (I mean, thinking of multiple universes, or everything tied to something else with a microscopic string, those seems like a bit of a stretch for the average person’s imagination...), he also states that “if there is a God, it’s going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible that anything that the theologians of any religion has ever proposed” — meaning that if the concept of God is real, it’s probably in form so amazing that our little human minds have yet to imagine in the first place.
I’m going to reference an episode of South Park I recently saw to get to the point of what we as humans need to learn. So in this one episode of South Park, Richard Dawkins was sent to replace Mrs. Garrison (the gay balding man who had a sex change operation to be a woman) and teach evolution to the South Park Elementary fourth grade classroom. The cartoon character of Mr. Dawkins actually asked Mrs. Garrison out of a date (he apparently couldn’t tell Mrs. Garrison was a balding post sex-change transvestite). On a date, Mrs. Garrison said to Mr. Dawkins, “You can’t disprove God.” And Mr. Dawkins said then that you can’t disprove things like... like a “flying spaghetti monster” (yes, the cartoon character Mr. Dawkins on South Park came up with a “flying spaghetti monster”). Now, we discussed this idea while driving across the country, and my husband started saying, “well, if I was having spaghetti for dinner and dropped a piece of spaghetti...”, where I finished by saying “that the spaghetti and pasta on it when falling may destroy items we can’t see on a molecular level.” And that’s when my husband finished by saying, “and those things might consider what I dropped a flying spaghetti monster.”
I can’t believe that this South Park joke about “flying spaghetti monsters” made us come to these scientific understandings, but from out little discussion, I flashed to the fact that the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 was split into fragments and sucked into Jupiter’s orbit before colliding into Jupiter in 1994, and although some telescopes couldn’t capture the collision, research telescopes in Australia were able to record the collision — not in our normal light capabilities but through a different form of radiation. What they found doesn’t show pretty moving pictures of the collision that the average person could watch and understand, but they were able to retrieve a ton of data about the gases and temperatures in the collisions that we would otherwise never be able to detect. And making our little joke story about the feasibility of a flying spaghetti monster made me suddenly realize that there is a lot about our own universe that we have no instantaneous complete grasp over.
Not that this makes me believe in the multiverse theory, but it makes me realize that there’s a lot about our own universe that I’ll never completely understand.
And not that this was the only thing that made me think of not being able to understand everything about the universe... because as we talked about the effect of the flying spaghetti monsters, I brought up dark matter. I think it takes up like ninety percent of the universe as we know it, and we know it contains something — it’s not nothing, but the only way we know that it’s not nothing is because we’ve seen residual traces of microscopic objects after they have moved through dark matter. Now, scientists have been trying to figure out anything about dark matter, but the understanding seems insanely elusive, because we’ve either used the wrong methods to study it or we possibly don’t have the right tools to witness it and study it now. Which makes this another thing about the universe — and this is about ninety percent of the universe — that we need to learn and understand.
So who knows, maybe there is a God that we don’t understand. Maybe there are multiple universes, and life is just in one of them. Who knows, maybe there are multiple universes and God started life in this one. And maybe small events can effect the world in unexpected ways, and maybe there are microscopic “strings” that tie everything together in the universe somehow. And you know what? There are a ton of things about dark matter (about ninety percent of the universe) that we currently have no concept of, and there are parts of the universe that our five senses can’t comprehend (like how we can learn more when studying different levels of radiation from events to learn more about them in the universe), so yeah, there are always things we can learn. There could be things about the concept of a God that we can learn from (though we won’t have evidence of this God, you’ll have to abandon proof to support it), and there are a ton of things about our universe we have yet to learn (if we’ll ever have the tools to learn these things... but we’ll keep trying).
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