Atheists and Epitaphs
In Defense of the Faith
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
You may have missed it, but the hot topic within the global community of cosmologists lately has been,--of all things--the shape of the universe. Anybody in this audience losing sleep over this burning issue? Probably not. But maybe we should be. In fact, our very lives depend on it.
A cosmologist studies the nature of the universe itself, and any cosmologist will tell you that the shape of the universe turns out to be a contest not unlike a cosmic Superbowl, a titanic struggle between the momentum of expansion on one end of the field and the pull of gravity on the other. The battle between the two ultimately defines a critical parameter of the universe: its density.
Which ends up being a infinitesimally large version of Goldilocks. If the density of the universe is TOO BIG (bigger than the critical density), the universe will be round. Like a big rubber ball.
If it is TOO SMALL (smaller than the critical density), the universe will be shaped like a saddle. (Think English saddle) .
But if the density is JUST RIGHT, the universe will be flat.
Only in the last five years have scientists known that the density of the university is, in fact, very close to the critical density. The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, a spacecraft that measures radiant heat throughout the universe, confirmed it in 2008.
The universe is, indeed, flat. “Flat, like a piece of paper”, according to the NASA website.
With that in mind, verses like Isaiah 34:4 really start to get your attention:
"All the stars in the sky will be dissolved and the heavens rolled up like a scroll;" Isaiah 34:4 NIV
Isaiah, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, described a flat universe that will someday -- the perishable being replaced by the imperishable--be rolled up like a scroll, just as the flat papyrus he wrote on.
And Isaiah wrote that down on papyrus 2700 years before modern science—in the form of the Microwave Anistotropy Probe, confirmed what he had said all along.
But why is the universe flat? Ostensibly God could have made it any shape he wanted.
Actually God gives us a clue:
"For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord, and there is no other." Isaiah. 45:18 NKJV
God created the universe for one purpose: to be inhabited.
He designed it specifically for us to live in.
And that, as it turns out, depends on gravity. If the strength of gravity were only one out of one trillion trillion trillion parts weaker, the more rapidly expanding universe would have be devoid of either planets or galaxies. And you and I wouldn't be here.
And if it was only one out of one trillion trillion trillion parts stronger, the universe would have long ago collapsed back in upon itself. And you and I wouldn't be here.
One out of a trillion trillion trillion parts means happening upon that one part by chance is would be rather—to be the master of understatement-- unlikely.
Well, maybe that's a coincidence.
The problem for the scientists is that as data on the structure of the universe has accumulated, so has the list of these ridiculously improbable parameters that are nonetheless prerequisites for life. Dozens of parameters, in fact, have proven to be so incredibly fine-tuned for life that the slightest change would render life impossible.
So it’s kind of interesting to hear their take on this unsolved mystery.
Stephen Hawking, champion of atheism, said,
"The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers do seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life."
Fred Hoyle, British astrophysicist, said that,
"A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question."
Carl Sagan, astrophysicist at Harvard and Cornell said,
"The origin of life on suitable planets seems written into the chemistry of the universe.. a very restricted range of laws of nature are consistent with the existence of galaxies and stars planets."
George Ellis, a British astrophysicist, said,
"Amazing fine tuning occurs in the laws that make this [complexity] possible… very difficult not to use the word 'miraculous' "
Paul Davies (British astrophysicist):
"There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all....It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers....The impression of design is overwhelming". "The laws [of physics] ... seem to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design... The universe must have a purpose".
George Greenstein (U Mass astronomer):
"As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency - or, rather, Agency - must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who … so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?"
Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate physicist at Harvard and MIT said,
“Life as we know it would be impossible if any one of several physical quantities had slightly different values.”
Michael Turner,astrophysicist at Chicago’s Fermi Lab, summed it up this way,
“The precision is as if one could throw a dart across the entire universe and hit a bulls eye one millimeter in diameter on the other side.”
The heavens do indeed declare the glory of God.
But only a few of these intelligent and highly educated men have had the intellectual integrity to deal spiritually with what the science told them.
Anthony Flew, Oxford professor, for decades was one of atheistic humanism’s leading voices and go-to guy for debates. In 2006 he announced that this kind of scientific evidence (evidence of intelligent design) had convinced him that the finely-tuned parameters of the universe demanded a creator. This world-famous atheist shocked the world by admitting, “There must be a God."
His comrades, as you may imagine, were not amused. But Flew said, "I had to go where the evidence leads."
Frank Tipler, cosmologist at Tulane University, was an atheist when he wrote “The Physics of Immortality", which showed mathematically that the Biblical idea of resurrection was theoretically possible. Thirteen years later he wrote the “Physics of Christianity", explaining that,
“I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true … I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics."
The other scientists quoted, despite admitting the overwhelming evidence of a personal creator, have ostensibly chosen to ignore Him.
Which reminds me of one of my favorite jokes: What does it say on the atheist’s tombstone?
"All dressed up and nowhere to go."
About Wendy Wippel
Last week: Lord in the Wings
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