CUSTOM UNIVERSE and the scope of science

CUSTOM UNIVERSE – FINE-TUNED FOR US?

A Comment on the Scope of Science

Prof Brian V. Hill

On Thursday 29 August the ABC ran a Catalyst program entitled “Custom Universe – Finetuned for Us?”[i] Clear and informative, it was also a classic example of the epistemological arroganceof atheistic scientism. It canvassed the latest thinking among physicists (students of the physical world) about the origin of the visible universe. It built its story-line around the thesis, popularised by (but not originating with) Stephen Hawking in his 1988 book A Brief History of Time, that in many essential respects our universe is uniquely fine-tuned for the evolu­tion of intelligence – and human habitation.

Quote: Narration (Dr Graham Phillips)
 Some take fine-tuning as evidence that God created the universe. You can imagine physicists’ horror at the thought. But what other explanation could there be? Well, we’ve hit the road to find some answers from some of the top physicists in the world.

Why “horror”? If God were non-physical and therefore unseen, it would be a category mistake to make him a subject of hypothesising in physics. Or perhaps the mood of the program was to avoid implying that physicists (or anyone else) might reasonably believe in God on grounds other than physical data. Certainly the program featured no physicists in that category!

Instead, the program flashed up occasional images of religious icons to imply how dated and unscientific the God idea is. That was sheer propaganda. There was no engagement with the question of the limitations of science when it comes to dealing with non-physical matters, no encouragement to look seriously at the God-hypothesis for other reasons. The program assumed that “top physicists” were the appropriate people to consult for answers to this question.

In Hawking’s History of Time, some ambivalent references were made to God. Whether or not that was out of deference to his first wife, a committed Christian, Hawking has since become more radical­ised in his thinking to the point of saying in 2011 that concepts of God and an afterlife are a "fairy story for people afraid of the dark."

In this reflection, I offer some comment on a few quotes from the transcript of the program in question, and conclude with a few further comments on the significance of “what is not seen.”

Accounting for Fine Tunings

Quote: Professor Leonard Susskind 
There’s all sorts of fine-tunings that have to be matched in order for us to be here.



Quote: Susskind
 The only explanation that I know… and – I think it’s fair to say – the only explanation that’s out there is that there are many, many possibilities . . . 

 I have not the vaguest idea of whether the universe was created by an intelligence.



Susskind’s more measured response to the problem of fine-tuning is to endorse the speculation that there is an infinite number of universes, leading to the conclusion that there had to be at least one that evolved like ours. There’s nothing illogical about this claim, but, if “universe” means all there is, the claim is entirely made-up and so far as we would ever be able to tell, unprovable. In postulating such unseen entities – other universes – Susskind and Hawking are embracing an article of faith popular among people who do not want to admit another unseen – God – into their thinking.

Is it unfair of me to suggest that this eminent scientist and this eminent mathematician have smuggled in a faith statement to avoid the God-hypothesis? Isn’t Susskind just being a good physicist? No. He’s also qualifying to be, at the leasr, an agnostic. Hawking for his part purported to buttress the multiple universe hypothesis with mathematical deductions, but the Catalyst program is honest enough to admit that many find his mathematical line of argument flawed.

Brief mention is made early in the program of Fred Hoyle’s reluctant comment that “’It looks like a superintellect has monkeyed with physics.” That came after he had made efforts to discount the hypothesis advanced by Edwin Hubble in 1925 that our universe was expanding outwards. The implication of Hubble’s thesis was that, extrapolating backwards, there must have been a begin­ning to this expansion.

Theists have sometimes näively welcomed this as scientific confirmation of the belief that God did the creating, but whether he did or not is beyond scientific probing. Such a belief requires a different kind of epistemological probe. God, if he exists, being unseen, would actually have to tell us himself.

Hoyle’s “steady state” theory was driven more by a desire to avoid this conclusion than any prior evidence, but he eventually had to concede both that his theory had been disproved by the fact discovered by Hubble, and that the additional evidence of fine-tuning increased the likelihood of an intelligence behind it all. Hoyle ceased to be an atheist, but his new theism appears to have been very grudging – conceding intelligent design but denying any belief in the Christian God.

Quote: Professor Lawrence Krauss 
It’s certainly fine-tuned so we can exist. It’s also incredibly inhospit­able. If you were designing a universe for life, I suspect you might design it differently. There is no evidence of design or purpose to our universe.



Now it’s out in the open. Krauss is a leading atheist who might even have been able to correct God, had God existed. It’s not enough to imply that “intelligent design” theorists have not made a strong enough case. He declares as fact what can only be a matter of faith. He is determined not to read an “intelligent mind” into the proven fine-tuning of our universe.

Krauss, that is, is committed to a world-view that excludes the God-hypothesis. In the circum­stances, that’s an act of faith. Krauss has crossed the line and come out as a man of atheist faith reading his faith back into his physics.

Quote: Professor John Webb
 The physical equations that we’ve been using for many years now all make the assumption that physics is the same everywhere and always has been the same, but it is an assumption.


This lets the cat out of the bag. All the amazing discoveries in physics so far, including in astronomy, have been based on the assumption that the laws of physics apply uniformly through the universe. The engine of the scientific revolution of the 17th century was the Judaeo-Christian conviction that God created an ordered world. This assumption has stood the test of time, implicitly undergirding the confidence with which physicists and other scholars assume that these laws remain constant and are therefore worth our efforts to discover them because they will not suddenly change when we get up tomorrow.

But Webb’s purpose in making this statement is to preface his claim that his research is finding that physical laws can vary from place to place, from which he deduces that there are other universes out there operating on different physical principles. That’s a big jump. He doesn’t call them “galaxies’, which would give the game away, but insists that they could all be universes co-existing in the same infinitely vast “space.”

The Catalyst program went on at this point to acknowledge that there are continuing difficulties with the idea of a multiple universes – when it comes to seeing how such a claim could be verified.. And the program then suggests instead – wait for it – that the solution might lie with the phenomenon of minds.

Phillips 
Instead of trying to explain away the fine-tuning with a multiverse, Paul Davies says we could accept that the universe has been fine-tuned to produce intelligent minds. After all, there is reason to think our brains are special, he says.

 
. . . Maybe minds play a big role in the universe, even having a hand in designing it.

How interesting. Minds are unseen. Brains are visible, minds are detected only through the personal experience of being an entity with mind. Is Davies drawing us towards the conclusion that an original Great Mind lies behind the universe we see? Well, no. According to the Catalyst program, Davies is postulating that minds in the future may have learnt to loop back in time to influence the original Big Bang, resulting in the evolution of intelligent minds.

No need in this closed loop for God. Reality just is this way. But there is no scientific way of proving the idea is anything other than a science-fiction-style fairy-tale. But at least it keeps the personal God at bay. Why do they struggle so hard?

From the Seen to the Unseen

Phillips (at the end of the program) For the moment, the fine-tuning question remains unresolved.

“For the moment . . .”! Implicit in this way of signing off on the discussion is the assumption that in principle it is only a matter of time before physics will get it right. No mention of the possibility that one must step outside the bounded discourse of physics to answer some crucial questions about Creation and human existence.

What philosophers call “the fallacy of reductionism” is at play here. Clearly everything visible is composed of matter affected by energy transformations. Animals are made up of cells, and cells of quanta. So ultimately, a reductionist might say, biology is “nothing but”[ii] a subset of physics, the discipline which deals with matter and energy at quantum level (why stop there – maybe it only stops at “string theory”!).

The appropriate response to this claim is to say that as levels of organisation in an individual (plant or animal) or group become more complex, more levels of explanation have to be developed, accommodating more complex forms of organisation, ultimately including factors of free choice that have to be fed into the equation as well.

Another example of reductionism is where some social scientists claim that all human behaviour is ultimately explained by genetics and culturally conditioning, requiring us to view the experience of free will, whether in humans or other parts of the animal kingdom, as an illusion. Human choice is re-interpreted as a deterministic inevitability. This is a rather illogical leap of faith, but presumably also pre-determined!

The final nail in the coffin of reductionism is indeed mind: the capacity to comprehend the laws of physics, to create novel structures, to choose how we shall live. Neuroscientists tell us that the neural pathways and connections available in the brain dwarf in number the stars we can see in the sky. Even if true, this fact neither describes nor explains mind.

To repeat, mind is unseen. So is “the self” – the organising function which gives us a sense of enduring identity. The lifework of an enduring identity labelled “Daniel Dennett” has been devoted to arguing that there is no such entity as himself, only a lively electonic web of diverse binary connections in which sub-routines compete with each other to rise to the executive top end of the program controlling the human animal! [iii]

This too is science fiction masquerading as philosophy. We need kinds of explanation that stand above the laws of physics, or even of computer programming: explanatory theories which help us us to understand what is happening on the level of mind and self-consciousness.

It is at this level too that the question arises whether there is a Great Mind that is responsible for all the levels of organisation previously mentioned. It is quite reasonable to ask this question – even though it’s not one that Physics is equipped to answer. Not surprisingly, it is human minds that tend naturally to raise this question and to develop speculations about the likelihood of God’s existence. In the end, the best they can do unaided is make a reasonable bet. Everyone bets on the answer, one way or another.

It’s a cop-out to claim agnosticism, as do Professors Susskind (“I have not the vaguest idea of whether the universe was created by an intelligence”), and Greene (“I’m just going to live it as if it were real, and in some sense it doesn’t matter where it came from”).

 For belief or unbelief in an unseen personal God has direct effects on our world-view and chosen lifestyle. To claim to be an agnostic is to live as though, for all practical purposes, God does not exist. That position is therefore, for all practical purposes, atheism.

In the meantime, the fine-tuning of the universe does, as the Catalyst program admitted, suggest to some scientists that ultimately Mind is and has been at work. Hence the “intelligent design” argument which some theistic scientists put forward. But this ultimately remains a hypothesis beyond the scope of scientific verification. As noted earlier, firm proof of a scientific kind could only come if the cosmic Mind communicated information of its existence intelligibly to our minds, bounded as they are by space-time.

That is, it is something that would have to occur in our history.[iv] And we would have to process such data using forms of disciplined thinking other than physics (though not less rigorous in their demands for logical reasoning and visible evidence): typically history, philosophy and theology.

Religions (including atheism) have various ways of addressing this problem. But Christianity claims that a certain sequence of historical events, strongly confirmed by triangulating several pieces of data, points to the conclusion that there is a personal God, and that he has indeed communicated to us information about himself. Christianity is not based on superstition frozen in stained-glass windows, but on a reasonable bet that this is what in fact has happened.

Most physicists currently see the Big Bang of Creation as a “singularity” outside the uniformity of nature. If one’s personal bet is that God was behind this event, the probability of his being behind the Resurrection of Jesus is then also quite reasonable. But it is still a bet – a faith-presupposition; and some, like the scientists appearing in the Catalyst program, have put their faith in the alternative belief that God does not exist or does not account for anything “seen.”

In short, the tone of the program was to suggest that physical science edges out superstition and is the only valid source of true knowledge. Is it beyond Catalyst’s scope to take seriously the possibility that there are highly intelligent scholars, using different epistemological tools, who can offer grounds for taking the God-hypothesis seriously? And to admit that physicists are probably not the people to look to for answers at this level?

August 2013.

CUSTOM UNIVERSE – FINETUNED FOR US

CUSTOM UNIVERSE – FINETUNED FOR US[1]

Script of ABC Program “Catalyst” on 29 August 2013, unedited.

See Professor Brian Hill’s response in the next post.

NARRATION It seems like scientific blasphemy to even ask, but has the universe been set up for us?



Dr Graham Phillips
 Here’s the thing. When scientists look far into the heavens or deeply down into the forces of nature, they see some­thing deeply mysterious. If some of the laws that govern our cosmos were only slightly diff­erent, intelligent life simply couldn’t exist. It appears that the universe has been fine-tuned so that intelligent beings like you and me can be here.



Professor Leonard Susskind 
There’s all sorts of fine-tunings that have to be matched in order for us to be here.



Dr Sean Carroll
 It’s absolutely a huge issue for modern physics and astronomy.



NARRATION
 Eminent 20th-century astrophys­icist Fred Hoyle was blunt.



Professor Paul Davies
 ‘It looks like a superintellect has monkeyed with physics’ was the way he put it. He was very strong about this.



NARRATION
 The problem is – to write the fine-tuning off as merely coincidences seems far-fetched.



Professor Brian Greene Look, if I see my kid eating a chocolate-chip cookie and my kid said, ‘Oh, the cookie jar fell over, and the cookie fell into my hand,’ will I believe that, or do I believe he stuck his hand in and grabbed the cookie? I believe the latter because the former explanation is so fine-tuned. The cookie jar would have to fall over at the right moment, his hand would have to be there just to catch it. That just seems unbelievable.



NARRATION
 Some take fine-tuning as evidence that God created the universe. You can imagine physicists’ horror at the thought. But what other explanation could there be? Well, we’ve hit the road to find some answers from some of the top physicists in the world.



Dr Graham Phillips 
And let me warn you – we encounter some pretty mind-boggling ideas.



NARRATION
 Everything from black holes to the God particle – the Higgs boson – to some really bizarre ideas, like the possibility of twin ‘me’s living in parallel worlds.



Professor Lawrence Krauss
 There could be an infinite number of Graham Phillips. There could be an infinite number of me. There could be a universe in which I’m interviewing you.



NARRATION
 And our universe may not even be real.



Dr Sean Carroll
 It’s true. Aliens could have created our universe.



Professor Brian Greene
 Yeah, there’s a real possibility that we are living inside some elaborate computer simulation that perhaps some futuristic kid has set up in his garage.



NARRATION
 But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. To see some of these fine-tuning, let’s start at the beginning, with the birth of the universe. It was here in LA that the first strong evidence for the Big Bang was found. Surfing was just taking off here back in the 1920s when astronomer Edwin Hubble noticed all the galaxies in the sky were rushing away from us.



Associate Professor Charley Lineweaver 
And… Well, we think, ‘If they’re moving away from us now, earlier they were closer to us and closer to us and closer to us. And so we extrapolate that back to a time in which everything was on top of everything else, and that’s what we call the Big Bang.



NARRATION
 Modern astrophysicists, like LA’s Sean Carroll, now know that our entire world was once packed into a space smaller than a grape.



Dr Sean Carroll
 And the amazing thing is we’re talking about not only was the whole Earth squeezed into that size, but 100 billion stars in our galaxy and 100 billion galaxies were all squeezed into a little region of space that big.



Professor Lawrence Krauss
 So it’s hard to imagine, with a straight face that we can talk about every­thing being contained in a region that small, but we can.



Dr Graham Phillips
 We’ve come to Seattle to catch up with Professor Brian Greene, who’s on a confer­ence here.



NARRATION
 He’s a mathematical physicist who’s devoted his career to trying to understand the cosmos and those earliest moments after the Big Bang. In reality, the universe began much more smoothly than with a chaotic bang.



Professor Brian Greene
 It began to swell. People often think of it as an explosion. That’s a little bit of a misnomer. It’s really the Big Swell.



NARRATION 
Indeed, the Big Swell was almost perfectly smooth, but not quite. And that’s one of the fine-tuning mysteries.



Dr Sean Carroll
 If the Big Bang had been comp­letely smooth, it would just stay completely smooth, and the history of the universe would be very, very boring. It would get more and more dilute, but you would never make stars, you would never make galaxies or clusters of galaxies. So the potential for interesting, complex creatures like you and me would be there, but it would never actually come to pass. So we’re very glad that there was at least some fluctuation in the early universe.



NARRATION 
You can see the importance of some fluctuation by thinking about cloud seeding. When tiny crystals of silver iodide are released into a rain­less cloud, they form centres for the cloud’s vapour to condense around. These centres grow bigger and bigger, eventually falling as rain. The early universe also needed seeds for galaxies to grow around, and that’s one of the fine-tuning. Those imperfections in the smoothness had to be just right.



Professor Paul Davies
 And they’re absolutely crucial. If those variations weren’t there, we would­n’t be here discussing it.



NARRATION 
George Smoot, who won the Nobel prize for finding the imperfections, said, ‘If you’re religious, it’s like seeing God. We don’t have original sin – we have original imperfection.’ To find out more, we went to the Parkes telescope – made fam­ous at the movies, where, sacrilegiously, cricket was supposedly played in this dish. John Sarkissian is operations scientist, and he’s offered to let us hear the echo of the Big Bang itself. It’s called the cosmic microwave background radiation.



Dr Graham Phillips 
This is the way to travel.



John Sarkissian 
Yeah, it is great.



NARRATION
 The early universe was very hot, and so was radiating heat like any other hot thing. Now, the heat has cooled a lot since the Big Bang, but we can still detect it, and that’s the cosmic micro­wave background radiation. It’s the same radiation we use to heat food, only much, much weaker. The dish can pick up microwaves from space.



Dr Graham Phillips
 Hey, what’s this? It’s true! You do play cricket up here.



John Sarkissian 
Shh. We don’t talk about that. But this is the centre of the dish. Here you can see it’s 26 metres to the focus from here.



NARRATION 
That focus is currently detecting the radiation we’re here for.



John Sarkissian
 Here on this spectrum analyser, we can actually see the range of wavelengths that we’re detecting at the moment. It’s centred on about 10cm, which is in the microwave region. It’s about this long, the wavelength.



NARRATION 
Now, the telescope is picking up microwave radiation from all sorts of places, but part of that is cosmic background radiation – photons from the Big Bang. John converts all the photons into sound, creating this eerie hiss.



Dr Graham Phillips
 So we’re actually hearing the photons left over from the Big Bang itself?



John Sarkissian
 That’s right. It’s taken 13 billion years for the photons to arrive here in Parkes and for us to be able to put it through our system and for us to hear it.



Dr Graham Phillips
 That’s incredible, yeah.



NARRATION 
If we could see microwaves, the sky would have a uniform glow from the background radiation. Look at that glow in detail, and you can actually see those original imperfections. We’ve launched telescopes into orbit to observe the back­ground radiation right across the entire sky.



Professor Lawrence Krauss
 And what they’ve done is mapped the entire surface out 13.8 billion years ago, look at that surface and take a picture of that radiation and looked for changes in temperature, microscopic changes in temperature across the sky, which we think were imprinted at the Big Bang itself.



NARRATION
 Up close, the smoothness of the radiation gives way to blotchiness. These are the tiny imperfections that allow us to exist. We travel to blistering hot Arizona, where the great physicist, philosopher and writer Paul Davies now lives. He’s particularly impressed by the imperfections. Even their size seems to be fine-tuned.



Professor Paul Davies
 Now it turns out that the level of those fluctuations is really rather crucial so that everything works out as we see it. If the vari­ations had been a bit bigger, then instead of produc­ing nice clusters of galaxies, it would be more likely to produce monster black holes.



NARRATION 
That’s because bigger fluctuations mean stronger gravity. Stronger gravity would cause matter to clump together so quickly, it would end up in its densest state – a black hole. A universe filled with only these monsters could not give birth to intelligent life. But smaller imperfections would have been a problem too. They’d mean weaker grav­ity. Matter would have trouble clumping at all.



Professor Paul Davies 
If the variations had been a little bit less, then the galaxies may never have form­ed in the first place. So there seems to be a sort of Goldilocks zone of density contrast that makes things come out just right.



Professor Lawrence Krauss
 And why they’re just right is a fascinating question.



NARRATION
 And the original imperfections are not the only fascinating fine-tuning. There’s another that’s indeed the mother of all fine-tuning. It’s to do with the energy of empty space itself. Remarkably, if you take all matter and all radiation out of the univ­erse, you’re left with something. It’s called dark energy.



Dr Graham Phillips 
Dark energy is an energy all empty space has. It pushes things apart. It’s kind of like the opposite of gravity, that pulls things togeth­er. Now, we know it’s there because astronomers have seen entire galaxies being pushed apart by it. Now, the thing is – the strength of dark energy is preposterously fine-tuned.



Dr Sean Carroll
 The funny thing is it’s not a sur­prise that there IS dark energy. The surprise is there’s so little.



NARRATION
 The strength of dark energy is un­imaginably tiny, barely above zero. To learn why this is so remarkable, we went about an hour south of San Francisco.



Dr Graham Phillips 
Here at Stanford University is one of the giants of physics – Leonard Susskind, the co-inventor of string theory. Let’s meet him.



Professor Leonard Susskind
 So, the dark energy is not exactly zero, but the first 122 decimal points are zero. That’s crazy. That is really one of the craziest things we’ve ever discovered.



Professor Brian Greene
 The amount of it is bizarre. It’s a number that has basically a decimal point, 122 zeros and something like a 138 at the end. It’s hard for us to imagine starting with a theory, doing calcu­lations, and, after some number of pages of scribbl­ing, having .000… All these zeros and then a one pop out of our equations.



NARRATION 
The size of the dark energy deter­mines how fast the universe expands.



Professor Leonard Susskind
 An important point that’s here – it could have been anything. It could have varied anywhere from some gigantic, explosive tendency to expand to some gigantic, explosive tendency to collapse. Why it came out after every­thing was settled in this very, very tiny range which allows the world to have expanded at not too fast a rate, we honestly don’t know.



NARRATION 
But one thing we do know is that intelligent life probably couldn’t exist in the universe if dark energy wasn’t just how it is. Another fine-tuning is the famous Higgs boson, recently discover­ed in the atom smasher at CERN. It’s dubbed the ‘God particle’ because it gives substance to all nature’s other particles. But it too is just right so that we can exist.



Professor Leonard Susskind
 If the Higgs boson were not also finely balanced in a similar way to the way the dark energy is, that would be very dangerous, because it would in effect mean that gravity was much stronger. So the Earth would probably collapse into a black hole.



NARRATION
 And there are many other fine-tunings, from the value of the speed of light to the charge on the electron. So what do we make of all this?



Dr Graham Phillips
 What do you say to people who say, ‘Look, you’ve found the proof that God created the universe here?’ You know, that…’



Professor Leonard Susskind
 No. No, we haven’t. Well… (Chuckles) I’m not going to argue with people about the existence of God. I have not the vaguest idea of whether the universe was created by an intelligence.



NARRATION 
Lawrence Krauss, who has made a film about atheism called The Unbelievers, gives God very short shrift.



Professor Lawrence Krauss 
It’s certainly fine-tuned so we can exist. It’s also incredibly inhospit­able. If you were designing a universe for life, I suspect you might design it differently. There is no evidence of design or purpose to our universe.



Professor Brian Greene 
I think somebody who looks at the universe and thinks it’s been fine-tuned for us needs a good lesson in humility. We are these entities that the universe I don’t think really cares all that much about. To think about the universe, this massive, enormous expanse of space with an incred­ible number of stars and planets – for us, these little, puny creatures?



Dr Sean Carroll 
Well, the question is – is God the best explanation for the existence of human life or anything else, or do you have some other explan­ation?



NARRATION
 There is another explanation some have suggested. God didn’t create the universe – aliens did. We puny earthlings are only capable of crude virtual reality at present, but alien VR could be much more sophisticated. We might be living in one of their virtual simulations without even knowing it.



Professor Lawrence Krauss
 If we could create a virtual world that was so sophisticated that it could­n’t be differentiated from the real world, what’s the difference? And the answer is – there is no difference. And so it’s possible that we’re a simulation on some­one’s computer.



NARRATION 
It’s possible, but scientists put that one in the too-hard basket.



Professor Brian Greene 
What does it matter? What does it matter if the origin of our universe was infla­tion, the Big Bang or a kid in his garage? We still have life as we know it. I’ve still got my wife and my kids. It’s fun. I’m just going to live it as if it were real, and in some sense it doesn’t matter where it came from.



NARRATION 
Another possibility is we just got lucky.



Professor Brian Greene
 Well, one explanation for the fine-tuning is, ‘That’s just how it is.’ Period. End of story. Accept it.



NARRATION 
Fine-tuning could be nothing more than a coincidence.



Dr Graham Phillips 
The way our human minds naturally work is, when we see a coincidence, we straightaway think something deep is going on. For instance, if four of my Australian friends suddenly turned up here on this Californian beach, I wouldn’t think, ‘Hey, that’s a fluke.’ I’d think, ‘Wait a minute. There’s something going on here. Maybe they’re planning a surprise party for me.’ But that very instinctive way of thinking we all have can be very misleading.



Dr Sean Carroll
 For example, the size of the moon in the sky is exactly the same as the size of the sun in the sky. That’s why solar eclipses are so interesting, ’cause you can see the atmosphere of the sun. Why is that true?



NARRATION 
It’s because of a remarkable match-up. The sun is 400 times wider than the moon, but it’s also 400 times further away, making it appear the same size as the moon.



Professor Leonard Susskind
 So it’s useful for people who study the sun, but the reason that the moon and the sun are the same size in the sky is not so that astronomers could study the sun. It just happens to be a fluke.



Dr Sean Carroll
 That’s a fine-tuning that there’s not going to be any explanation for.



NARRATION 
So, could the other fine-tunings be flukes too? Well, actually, the sun-moon match is not that accurate – only to two decimal places.



Professor Leonard Susskind 
To two decimals is not that crazy. What’s crazy is to think of a thing as a fluke if it’s 123 decimal places.



NARRATION
 That tiny value of the dark energy is a fine-tuning that demands explanation.



Professor Leonard Susskind
 The only explanation that I know, the only explanation I know, and – I think it’s fair to say – the only explanation that’s out there is that there are many, many possibilities for this number.



NARRATION
 In other words, we live in a multiverse – a vast region made up of many, many universes where ours is just one of them. And each universe has a different value of dark energy.



Dr Sean Carroll
 We think that the universe we see is all there is, but it’s very possible that there’s liter­ally are other universes. They could be disconnected from ours or they could just be very, very far away. And there could be the same laws of physics but different cosmological conditions, or they could be even radically different laws of physics, different numbers of dimensions of space, different kinds of particles and forces.



NARRATION 
So everything that seems fine-tuned in our universe could have different values in the other universes.



Dr Sean Carroll 
And if that’s true, then there’s a selection effect – that we are only ever going to find ourselves in the parts of this multiverse that are hospitable to human beings coming into existence.



NARRATION
 Think of it like this. The Earth seems finely tuned so we can exist. It’s the perfect distance from the sun for mild temperatures and liquid water, it has a protective giant, Jupiter, nearby to keep rogue asteroids from hitting us – all key requirements for intelligent life to evolve. But the Earth is not fine-tuned. The galaxy is teeming with at least 100 billion planets. By chance alone, there will be at least one fit for intelligent life. In a multiverse teeming with universes, there will be at least one that’s suited to us.



Professor Brian Greene
 You know, if you go to the shop and you want to get a nice a suit, are you sur­prised when they have your size? Well, you would be if there was one suit and it just happened to fit. But if they’ve got a rack of every possible size, it’s no surprise that they have one that fits you. If there are many, many universes with many, many different features, then it’s no surprise that there’s one that would fit us.



NARRATION
 But the multiverse has a radical requirement. The laws of physics must be able to vary from universe to universe, and variable laws goes against centuries of astronomical thinking.



Professor John Webb
 The physical equations that we’ve been using for many years now all make the assumption that physics is the same everywhere and always has been the same, but it is an assumption.



NARRATION
 Could the laws vary from place to place? Tantalisingly, John Webb and his colleagues have found clues this could be true. They pointed powerful telescopes at bizarre objects out at the edge of the universe – quasars. They’re massive black holes perhaps a billion times heavier than the sun. They beam out brilliant radiation, like torches pointing at us from the edge of the universe.



Professor John Webb 
They’re very bright point sources of light which we can use as beacons of light, shining through the universe and illuminating anything that gets in the way.



NARRATION
 When a cloud of matter gets in the way, the matter absorbs specific colours of the quas­ar light, causing those missing black bands. Now, if the laws of physics are the same everywhere, the bands should have the same pattern no matter where in the universe the quasar is.



Professor John Webb
 And we found something that we didn’t expect to find. So they change depending upon where you look in the universe.



Dr Graham Phillips
 Yeah, I mean, that’s quite remarkable. I mean, standard physics says that those absorption lines should be the same everywhere.



Professor John Webb
 That’s right. That’s what standard physics says. It doesn’t seem to be what we’re seeing.



Dr Graham Phillips
 That’s pretty exciting stuff.



Professor John Webb 
If it’s right, it’s very exciting, actually, yes.



NARRATION
 Very exciting because it would be the first evidence the laws of physics are not set in stone, and so would at least open the door for the multiverse. But if the multiverse exists, it causes some serious conundrums, because it means there is a lot of space out there.



Associate Professor Charley Lineweaver
 Well, as a matter of fact, the current data is consistent with our universe being spatially infinite, going on forever and ever and ever, and we’re just seeing a small part of it. And over here there’s another universe, and over here there’s another universe.



NARRATION
 And if there’s infinite space, even the most unlikely things are bound to happen somewhere.



Associate Professor Charley Lineweaver Anything that’s possible will happen, right?



NARRATION
 Lawrence Krauss puts it starkly.



Professor Lawrence Krauss
 Once you get to infinity, all sorts of weird things happen, ’cause if there are an infinite number of universes over an infinite amount of time, then it means that there are an infinite number of universes that seem like ours, and in fact there are some universes in which I’m sitting there asking you the questions and you’re sitting there asking me the questions. So they’re almost the same, but there are other universes that are precisely the same, where everything that happens to us now is repeated an infinite number of times. There are also universes where you and I and everything we see pop into existence, via the laws of quantum mechanics, one second ago.



NARRATION
 As well as the bizarre consequences, another criticism of the multiverse is inventing unknowable extra universes is a cop-out.



Professor Paul Davies 
In the beginning was a multiverse with a set of wonderful properties that we’re not going to explain. The big problem with the multiverse is that we’re trying to say, well, we can’t explain this universe, as we see it – we’ll appeal to some bigger system which we really can’t observe.



NARRATION 
Instead of trying to explain away the fine-tuning with a multiverse, Paul Davies says we could accept that the universe has been fine-tuned to produce intelligent minds. After all, there is reason to think our brains are special, he says.



Dr Graham Phillips
 Here’s a great enigma. Evolution seems to have made our brains too good. Like all animals, we evolved through the survival-of-the-fittest laws of the jungle. But our brains are able to do much more than just survive. We can understand complex mathematics, for example, and physics. We can do something so removed from daily survival as study the beginnings of the universe. Why?



NARRATION 
This fact bothered Einstein too. He remarked, ‘The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.’ Maybe minds play a big role in the universe, even having a hand in designing it. Get ready for a truly mind-bending idea.



Dr Graham Phillips 
Paul Davies thinks the universe is indeed fine-tuned for minds like ours. And who fine-tuned it? Not God, but minds from the future, perhaps even our distant descendants, that have reached back through time to the Big Bang and selected the very laws of physics that allow for the existence of minds in the first place. Sounds bizarre, but quantum physics actually allows that kind of thing.



NARRATION 
It’s like a loop through time, stretching from the far future back to the Big Bang, the future selecting the past and the past allowing the future – mind-bogglingly, both causing each other.



Professor Paul Davies
 The universe, its laws and its observers all explain each other in a self-consistent package.



NARRATION
 As wacky as the idea sounds, it was championed by the extremely eminent physicist John Wheeler, famous for naming black holes.



Professor Paul Davies
 He believed – the way he put it, that the laws of physics all came out of ‘higgledy-piggledy’. In other words, back in the Big Bang, the laws hadn’t really sort of congealed – they were still very loose and approximate – and that as the universe expanded and cooled, the laws focused down on the set that we now have, which turns out to be a set that is friendly to life.



NARRATION 
Of course, while this idea is consistent with physics, it is highly speculative. Then again, the existence of a multiverse is fairly speculative too. For the moment, the fine-tuning question remains unresolved.

How Do We Know the Universe Hasn’t Existed Eternally?

How Do We Know the Universe Hasn’t Existed Eternally?

Posted: 11 Sep 2013 06:00 AM PDT

Post Author: Bill Pratt

For those of you who look to science to answer every question, cosmologists are pretty unanimous in agreeing that our universe is not eternal, and in fact begun about 14 billion years ago. You may not like this answer, and so go running toward alternative cosmologies to escape the standard big bang model of the universe. Unfortunately, there is no salvation there either.

As summarized nicely on the Wintery Knight blog, “The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin [theorem] shows that every universe that expands must have a space-time boundary in the past. That means that no expanding universe, no matter what the model, can be eternal into the past. Even speculative alternative cosmologies do not escape the need for a beginning.”

So it would appear that science is no help to those who want to desperately cling to an eternal universe. What about philosophy?

The dominant ancient metaphysical traditions have also demonstrated why the physical universe cannot be eternal. Here we quote from Edward Feser in an article he wrote for First Things:

In general, classical philosophical theology argues for the existence of a first cause of the world—a cause that does not merely happen not to have a cause of its own but that (unlike everything else that exists) in principle does not require one. Nothing else can provide an ultimate explanation of the world.

For Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, for example, things in the world can change only if there is something that changes or actualizes everything else without the need (or indeed even the possibility) of its being actualized itself, precisely because it is already “pure actuality.” Change requires an unchangeable changer or unmovable mover.

Feser goes on to consider other great thinkers of the past:

For Neoplatonists, everything made up of parts can be explained only by reference to something that combines the parts. Accordingly, the ultimate explanation of things must be utterly simple and therefore without the need or even the possibility of being assembled into being by something else. Plotinus called this “the One.” For Leibniz, the existence of anything that is in any way contingent can be explained only by its origin in an absolutely necessary being.

But why can’t the first cause, the necessary being, “the One,” be the universe itself instead of God? What is the difference between an eternal Creator and an eternal universe?

The difference, as the reader of Aristotle or Aquinas knows, is that the universe changes while the unmoved mover does not, or, as the Neoplatonist can tell you, that the universe is made up of parts while its source is absolutely one; or, as Leibniz could tell you, that the universe is contingent and God absolutely necessary. There is thus a principled reason for regarding God rather than the universe as the terminus of explanation.

So, positing the universe as an eternally existing thing that is the cause of everything else both collides with modern science and with classical metaphysics. I happen to think the metaphysical arguments are stronger, but maybe you prefer the science. Either way, it don’t look good for an eternal universe.

Related Posts

1. What Explains the Existence of the Physical Universe?

2. How Do We Know Reality?

3. What Explains the Changing of the Universe?

4. Is Hawking’s Theory about the Creation of the Universe New?

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KEEPING AWAKE OVER SCIENCE AND FAITH

KEEPING AWAKE

Rev Dr Ian Robinson, August 2013, Chaplain, University of Western Australia

I just walked past the same biology lab where once the lights went on for me. I was a young Christian and science undergraduate. I was being hammered by the atheistic science-lecturers (yes, they were proselytizing for atheism). On the balcony before the lab opened I was reading the theologian Francis Schaeffer. A superb critical thinker, he was able to describe the integrity of Christian thought within the western tradition. Faith and science were able to interleave very well for me. Just lately, the very opposite is being shouted from the rooftops. Students entering this university have almost all sucked up the vibe from secondary school that science and faith are immiscible liquids. My reading, viewing, public debates, many articles and some corridor conversations on campus have started to keep me awake at night. I want to reach beyond the carp and appeal to the best instincts of church people and science people. I am irritated by the low quality of the debates, but even more, I fear for science if it clears Christianity from its corridors. I fear for the church if it becomes anti-intellectual and anti-science. Here is why.

THE METHODS OF SOME CURRENT ATHEIST SCIENTISTS

Reason without reason

Atheist scientists often claim to be speaking on behalf of “reason” and “humanity” against “belief” and “the church”. In historical perspective, they are simply speaking Humean philosophy (that’s David Hume the Scottish sceptic) in the frame of mid twentieth century Positivism. That is, without realising it, they speak from an identifiable philosophical frame with its own beliefs. For example, one of these oft-stated beliefs is ‘everything can be known by the scientific method’. Can it? Try finding a thought, love, truth, space, value, morality, beauty, etc.. in fact anything that makes life worthwhile really. I respect their choice to hold such a belief but the fact is – a ‘belief’ is all it is. Last night on Catalyst, they spoke of multiverses existing in an infinite time loop, and were able to hold an exciting belief in the intelligence behind the universe, though not of course having anything to do with God. And they have the cheek to say that theists have no evidence! They glory in ‘scientific method’ but they show by this that they themselves do not know what it is. Their take on Rationalism is not an absolute but they act as though it deserves to be. Given that they have heard alternatives from intelligent scientists who hold to faith, the hubris in this is breath-taking.

Probability is not possibility

One particular problem with Humean scepticism is that their definition of Reason deals only with probabilities, the most reasonable probable explanation is the true one. Like a microscope in a macro world, probability can therefore only focus on repeated events, can only look at normality. It means therefore that no singularity or unique event or object is able to be processed. So a singular God or an anomalous event like a miracle simply cannot fit the starting criteria, and so it appears through the Humean microscope like a great blur. In science, say with a supernova, they move to indirect lines of evidence and inductive reasoning, but try to do that in regards to God and they use their microscope to say that the evidence is too indistinct. It does not ‘prove’ that God cannot exist or miracle don’t happen but simply that they have used the wrong intellectual instrument for the task. The many repeated events that show forth an act of God, according to a faith tradition, repeated and shared experiences, are each discounted as a single experience. Science is a mechanics workshop in a street where people know they need also to find what they need in the artist’s studio, the bakery, the kindergarten and the church. The answer to a question for the mechanic can never be “cobalt blue” – he simply wants the right spanner. Next door, the cobalt blue they are using sends peace through everyone who sees it. Meanwhile next door in the bakery, chemistry is being practised by a dob of butter stirred in with love not by spectrometric analysis and algebraic formulae. Christianity addresses the people in their depth and variety, the whole street. Humans are not Humean.

Myopic scorn

So I am troubled by the lack of self-awareness of their own methods and annoyed at the dismissal of critical lines of evidence that it precipitates. My third worry is the way that tertiary level arguments are levelled against high school perceptions of Christianity. To spin the blame around, it is like intellectual Christians comparing their best message with science as seen in homeopathy or alien abduction or “Popular Science” magazine. I wince when I hear science being described by young-earth creationists as though they own both the theories of science and the doctrine of Creation. Further, I actually struggle to recognise my faith in the cavalier protests of the atheists, though I too have heard the rumours that there are Christians somewhere who say such things as they quote. They routinely show that they know next to nothing about philosophy, church history, or theology, every bit as bad as the Creationists’ ignorance of science. Yet with more impatience than I want to admit, I sit there while they speak with arm-waving authority and school-room humour that they have proved something. Simply, please be fair, or ask yourself instead why you prefer to use scorn. What would happen to science if you employed such myopic dismissals?

Science deserves some mistrust

My fourth criticism is less philosophical. There are reasons why large parts of the population have turned away from science in recent generations. We have watched the lab-coat authority of eugenics otherwise known as genetic modification, the accidental holocaust of DDT, unmitigated pollution, run-away climate change, the use and threat of nuclear weapons and invasion of privacy through technologies. Some science has created fear and destruction. Some science has overturned nature in all its fragility, beauty, balance and restorative power. No scientist meant to do that, but they did. Such destruction is not new to science when stripped from theology. In an earlier generation we saw (not biological evolution, a brilliant conception) the theory of social evolution, wherein one race assumed its superiority over another race, used as an absolute reason to subjugate them or wipe them out – ‘the stronger shall supplant the weaker’, as one white man explorer said, and he even called it a ‘divine fiat’. As a theology it is simply appalling, but it was written as science – the evolution-law of ‘advantage enhancing survival’. See how a scientific description of survivalism became a prescription and prerogative to dominate. As a result we witnessed historically the destruction of peoples, environments, cultures, languages and families, and we now see a legacy which Aboriginal persons still live with daily. Most scientists did not want that to happen, but it did.

The scientific method or the institution of science is no great white angel and lost the trust that all other institutions have lost in the recent generation. No wonder that parts of society revert to creation-science in theology, dubious alternative therapies in medicine, horoscopes in our magazines, New Age in pursuit of social wellbeing, the rejection of immunisation by parents, and so on. You may say that science did its proper thing and went on to correct those erroneous beliefs. Maybe, but it would not have gone there in the first place if science had a way to hold more closely to the humanist values that it now wants to claim. The Humeans burned that bond. The legacy of the scientific method is therefore every bit as flawed as any other historic institution, including the church. A more intellectually-anchored humility such as I have hint at here might reassure the populace that more accidental destruction was not being let loose from behind laboratory doors. Unfettered science is just another fundamentalism.

How will science anchor its humility and secure its gifts? Science needs Christianity. I will come back to the way that Christianity needs science as a bulwark against the anti-intellectual fringe but go with me for now.

SCIENCE NEEDS CHRISTIANITY

Love of the truth

All science values the pursuit of truth just as Christians do. We both reject superstition, syncretism, and anecdotal explanations. But there are three reasons why science should support and not ridicule faith stances – in the fields of ethics, epistemology and wholism.

Where are your ethics from?

Firstly, everyone has ethics. All persons have a conscience except psychopaths and news editors. 😉 The church is not the sole possessor or arbiter of morality, never was, and I apologise for those bishops who try to claim that privilege. However, Christians struggle to see in the lab where scientists get their ethics from. There are new philosophical arguments about this and in a recent trend agnostics have started ‘somethings without borders’ or other NGO’s as though it is a new idea. They deserve every kind of support. But, pardon me, the churches have been doing that sort of thing quite selflessly for two thousand years. – clinics, hospitals, schools, community empowerment, cross cultural communication, and a long list more. Surprisingly long actually, so I wonder if it is embarrassment that has motivated the atheists to get up and be counted at long last. Welcome to the dark side of reality, that is, the coal face. All help appreciated, but please don’t leave early and don’t just do it to get a line on your CV.

How strong are your ethics?

That plea leads me to my main problem. The main problem is that science does not believe their own ethics strongly enough. For example, recently in scientific journals more and more articles are being retracted. Discussion has focussed on a culture of unethical pursuit of research grants. Other examples I have given above. The boldness of science – ‘Follow the evidence wherever it leads’ – has veered towards ‘follow the grant money wherever it leads’. I actually believe that it has always been the compass – the driver for aligning with Humean rationalism rather than other positions that were available at the time, is that it was more God-free and value-free, and allowed imperial colonialism to do its worst without serious question. We are still on that course.

I bring another light to this point. Christians hold similar ethical frameworks as everyone else, as research shows, but they hold it more strongly, generously and with high emphasis on equality, community and restorative justice. That track record is there to see around the globe. Not perfect, not even close to being heaven on earth, so not immune from corruption and hypocrisy. We are also so open to the community that sometimes our God-given compassion is predated upon by manipulative persons. Ask at any neighbourhood church. At another level, ask at some trials of priests and others. I think one of the best arguments for the existence of God may be the continued existence of the church, despite its own internally-directed incompetence. But the church, like science, can reform, renew, heal ourselves and get back out there where angels fear to tread. (I am pleased to say there are stellar examples of atheists who also get out there but my point is still valid.)

Christian faith generally makes persons to be generous, hospitable and committed – beyond reasonable cost and beyond death – to make a difference with their life. The current global challenges require no less. Do you want that source to be stopped?

God does not pull strings

Secondly, science needs faith for their thinking, that is, epistemology. Theism provided historically a view of the world as stable and knowable. God had established the world to run by itself and sustained it by his power. In Theism, God was not pulling the strings. Theism is therefore the bedrock upon which science could be built. If the world was seen as capricious and unstable to the whims of the gods, no thinker would bother investigating. Not only Christianity but also Taoism and Islam provided this stable basis for the growth of science. Without theism or something very like it, there would have been no scientific endeavour.

Hooked up to the fashions of science?

What about the famous periods of history where the well-established church opposed scientific advance – the Galileo effect? A coupler of points should lay that one to rest, First, the academic establishment at the time also opposed Galileo’s new ideas. They were defending, against Galileo’s ‘determination’ (ahem!), Aristotle’s cosmology not the biblical ones. Christians today who hook up their theology to their culture, to the Big Bang, to a God-of-the-gaps, are making the same error. Just as lots of ‘advances’ need to be resisted on humanist or biblical grounds, so too we must resist some cheap alternatives and some third-rate but earnest theologies.

Science hooked up to theistic ethics

Let me take another step. To pursue scientific knowledge like this is ‘to think God s thoughts after him’. Such science is full of genius, gratitude and humility. It is generous in a plentiful universe , creative about the Creator and humble about our achievements. It is wondrous, endlessly curious, and often feels at awe at what we are discovering, privileged with the knowledge with which we are entrusted. People of faith are not the only ones who can feel these things, but we feel them strongly and that experience is widespread. So I wouldn’t go about destroying such a seed bed of excellence. To destroy these is to risk being led by an even greater hubris, power-plays and some other forms of tribalism.

Generous with the gift of technology

And another point was made recently at this University by Vishal Mangalwadi (p99), an Indian Christian and social activist. While great inventions and great science have arisen in other cultures and empires, it is in the Christian West that the technology has spread most widely. The benefits of scientific inventions are spread not by science but by those with a wide view of human dignity and community.

‘In most cultures, the ruling elite patronize technology if it made them stronger than their enemies, internal or external. They welcomed technology for war, pleasure, prestigious monuments and the oppression of their people. Only one culture has promoted technology for general welfare and for liberating and empowering the weak – slaves, women, children, the handicapped and the poor…the humanizing technology that came out of biblical theology.’

He gives many examples and his theory reflects many similar recent works.

More senses more data better outcome

As well as ethics (sense of morality) and epistemology (coherence, congruence), Christianity contributes a wide range of intuitive senses to build wholistic outcomes. Sense of justice, sense of connection, sense of community, sense of beauty and the ring of truth. Because of Jesus’ achievements, we interpret in the machinations of the world that Love matters more than power, Truth is something that is embodied not just thought, and ‘critique’ must result in communitarian action. Since Christianity first emerged from persecution, it has adopted a policy of shared thinking across global cultures and languages , which resulted in a creative knowledge of humanity, counter-intuitive intellectual thought, and occasionally some inter-cultural battles. Chaplains like me work against the silo-mentality of different schools of thought, attempting to find bridges in experience, reason, and history. Christians also work across the silos of the political schools in order to build alliances that will actually pursue justice for all and therefore peace through truth healing and reconciliation. Jesus spoke of ‘life in all its fullness’ and ‘the truth shall you free’ and those two things are definitely our collective experience. A wholistic vision can lead to a thoroughly wholesome life.

If a person is gifted in intellectual analysis to work in one of those myriad, small, like-minded scientific teams which focus like a laser onto specific outcomes for the health of the planet, I rejoice. Perhaps they are not well placed or well suited to look across the courtyard and see what happens to their inventions in a tawdry world. So please don’t tell me that science is all we need for a good life. We all need builders and restorers of wholeness and, I hope this is not just my bias, this is Christianity’s special task. I do hope there are other allies. To put it a little simplistically but to make my point, if the lab finds a cure for malaria, who do you think will take it to the jungles of Africa and stay there long enough at risk to themselves to see through the implementation of the solution? Science needs Christianity.

CHRISTIANITY NEEDS SCIENCE

My last point leads straight on to assert the reverse, Christianity needs science. To bring relief to malaria sufferers we obviously need people who will fund research and build labs, do the research well and manufacture the solution at a reasonable cost. Usually these are not church activities. Church is more likely to be running the clinic that delivers the jab, running the parenting course that empowers the women and men, the playgroup that promotes support systems, and so on.

Against Superstition

Further, a world bent on superstition does dreadful things to human dignity. A world where reason does not matter produces sloppy syncretistic nonsense in the lower registers of common denominators. Let’s all think well, critique well, educate one another to think below surface impressions. Christians have been conspicuous in the education role in both east and west since the idea of education emerged. Judging from the many casualties of some church schools that I have counselled, churches and church agencies have sometimes perverted their own values by an abuse of positional power. So, let me close with how Christianity needs science – for its theology, its structures and its ethics.

Against sloppy thinking

Like science, Theology needs to be able to defend its methods, define its critique and be able to state where it is reading into the data and not reading out from it. We learn thus from the scientific method but are not restricted to it. Data in theology is not simply ‘matter’, as I said above, but it is data nonetheless and subject to the same powers of reason as science. Analysis and critique are not enough because faith means finding a basis of trust in action, usually a creative and constructive exercise. Nevertheless, like building the wall of a house that eventually needs other pictures and patterns to become a home, Theology needs the simple straight edge of scientific method to measure part of their task. In Europe they even call it ‘scientific theology’. Without it, theological thinkers have been captured in the web of the ambiguities and abstractions of language.

Address cultural assumptions

Like science, church life needs to be sure that we are addressing our own cultural assumptions. While science looks globally for its journal referees, and academic theology does the same, local church leaders do not do it enough, despite Jesus’ ‘Great Commission’ that the church addresses all cultural groups.

My participation in a lifelong conversation with science, illustrated by this article, has helped to highlight the captivity of the church to western rationalist assumptions. Such captivity has restricted the church from their proper roles to follow Jesus into living up the kingdom of God – in other words, to be a global community in the service of wonder, wholeness and worship which Jesus defined and achieved.

Keep the big picture

Finally, the church’s ethics need to be challenged by science’s big picture thinking. In the current environment the trend is for faith to be privatised. Therefore, in public life it allows other monsters to dominate and predate. On the flip side the retreat into privatisation fosters judgementalism.

For instance, free enterprise economics can (unexamined) be allowed to run and ruin the world to the advantage of very few but meanwhile some parts of the church treat private sexual behaviours with vehemence. Jesus targeted that sort of hypocrisy for special attention. Mind you, if we swing to neoliberalism we are not going to change anything soon, either. The church needs to escape the traps, in a New Testament typology, of Pharisaism (privately good and endlessly nit picking) and Sadduceeism (publically powerful and bent on accommodation). The public practise of Grace, understood Christianly, is a barrier to both those tendencies. It is Science’s call to remind the church that what they believe must matter more widely than their own bubble, must be transferable to someone else who tries it. Jesus would agree.

Conclusion

If you have a headache by now you know why I have lain awake at night. You might also see what I have seen and what at present I only glimpse – a future in a better partnership, and one that is not tame. Where scientists who believe in Jesus walk with those who don’t, and produce great inventions in the service of humanity which deliver even greater real world outcomes. And Christians will not claim privileges for being the only ones who know anything, and start listening, questioning their assumptions and become the global community that they were always called by Jesus to be. Let’s stay awake to that.

References

Mangalwadi, Vishal (2011) The Book that Made Your World – how the bible created the soul of western civilization, Thomas nelson, Nashville isbn978-1-5955-5322-5

Schmidt, Alvin J (2001,2004) How Christianity changed the World – if Jesus had never lived, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, isbn 978-0-310-26449-1