In the Beginning…

                One has probably heard the philosophical question “Why is there something rather than nothing?” I find it interesting that most answers I hear conjecture a something to begin everything else. From the theistic to naturalistic worldviews, a shared hypothesis is always that there was something at the beginning of the universe and time itself rather than nothing. For a theistic worldview, the “something” that started it all was God, as the implications of a theistic worldview entail. There have been several attempts at a naturalistic explanation as to how it all began, and most of these theories have their own set of problems.
                In Stephen Hawking’s The Grand Design, the world renowned physicist attempts to set up the law of gravity as the reason the universe “fell” into existence, if you will excuse my pun. Besides all the other philosophical problems in this book, why would a human-made description of a natural phenomenon, a “natural law”, bring anything into existence? To quote Professor John Lennox of Oxford, “The laws of mathematics state that two plus two is equal to four, but that never put four pounds into my pocket!” The misconception that people have with the set of natural laws is that they are the human description of the phenomenon we observe in the universe. They are the correlation between the events in the universe, not the causation.
                Lawrence Krauss has also thrown his hat into the field by writing out his book, A Universe from Nothing? This book has some interesting implications from the title, where the philosophical ideal of nothing comes to mind, the literal nothing, meaning no thing! The nothing that Krauss attempts to pass off in his book, is actually a quantum fluctuation, which for particle and quantum physicists is certainly something. There would appear that many of these contemporaries are ignoring some of the implications of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which they use to make this argument in the first place. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is a correlation between the precision in which energy and time can be related in a quantum state. This is set up as an inverse relation to where the product of the certainty in time and the certainty in energy of a quantum state must be greater than or equals half the constant h-bar. H-bar is Planck’s constant divided by the value two pi. So if one assumes the universe is a large energy system, then the uncertainty principle would dictate that the lifetime of this universe would be almost zero. Some physicists have supposedly found an answer to this dilemma. If the total energy content of the universe as we know it were to be exactly zero, then there is no conflict with the uncertainty principle and this theory of quantum fluctuation. As of right now there are still a few problems with this “zero energy” conjecture. This whole argument hinges on the assumption that the total content of the universe is exactly zero, which cannot be proven as of yet so this whole theory is unscientific until we can measure the energy content of the universe. The claim of a zero energy universe came from inflation theory, which was a band-aid solution to the original big bang model to help cover up some serious flaws in the original model.
                So while there are many seemingly elegant theories to try and come up with a natural explanation to the beginning of our universe, we still have quite a ways to go before there is any solid evidence in support of any of these theories. Before someone would jump on me and say that I am making an appeal of ignorance when I claim that God “just did it”, I certainly am, but that does not mean that I wouldn’t be interested in possible mechanisms in which God created the universe. If you claim God to be a person, not just a force in the universe, then God can be allowed to act on the level of an agent, not a mechanism. When someone walks into the kitchen and asks me how the meal came to be on the table, I could describe or the natural processes that had to take place in order for the food to come onto the table prepared for consumption, or I could simply say that I made the meal and that person would probably be content with either answer. This is the difference between an agent and a mechanism. I can use an agent to give a broad answer to a question and the questioner would be just as satisfied with this answer than if I gave every mechanistic step that leads up to the answer.


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