July 29, 2004

Out of Almost Nothing

I have been reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. It's more of a history of science. As with all of Bryson's books, it is difficult to put down.

Bill starts with things cosmological and works his way down in scale. He devotes his first chapter to the history of universe. Following the accepted Psalm 14:1 wisdom, Bryson expounds upon the Big Bang. I found this to be really interesting stuff, because I wasn't aware of how refined this theory is.

The universe wasn't created out of nothing. No, according to current cosmology it began one of two ways. Either it started with an ounce of matter compacted into a space one billionth the size of a proton or all the matter now existing in the universe was squeezed into "a spot so infinitesimally compact that it had no dimension at all. It is known as a singularity." Seems to me that's about as close to nothing as you can get without actually admitting creation ex nihilo.

And the universe didn't just instantly appear. No, it took time. From a non-dimensional singularity (or billionth of a proton) it took a million million million million millionths (or 10-30 for those of you keeping score at home) of a second to grow to at least a million million million million (1024)miles across - that's the estimated size of the visible universe. It seems to me that basically science needs a universe instantly created out of nothing without a Creator actually doing it.

Bryson goes on to explain how exact the universe, our solar system, and our planet must be to sustain life. He even calls it "miraculous" - a godless miracle. If anything were out of place by such a tiny fraction, we would have never existed. Even the universe wouldn't exist if hydrogen didn't convert to helium in a way that converts exact 0.07% of its mass to energy. As he says, "with the slightest tweaking of the numbers the universe as we know it and need it would not be here."

Whenever I read science literature or watch science programmes on the telly, I am always amazed at how scientists miss God. He is there right under there nose. This demonstrates how much of scientific theory is bound up with philosophical presuppositions.

It really has to be, because there is so little evidence with which scientist can work. As Bryson notes, "Astronomers have sometimes been compelled (or willing) to base conclusions on notably scanty evidence. He quotes journalist Geoffrey Carr opining on cosmology in the Economist that we have "a mountain of theory built on a molehill of evidence."

In contrast there is a mountain - well, a universe, really - of evidence for the Creator.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools...

Posted by david at July 29, 2004 11:17 PM | TrackBack

Sounds interesting.
I really liked "A Walk in the Woods".
I'll have to pick this one up sometime.

Posted by: Josh at July 30, 2004 11:46 PM