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Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Impossibility of Creation

A chapter from:

The Ascent of Science by Brian Silver
Solomon Press (OUP) 1998

I've posted it as it provides a not unique view of the materialist view and the dilemma it poses for existential questions. Worth noting, I think, that this type of atheistic natural atheology is not uncommon, and in the popular mind is often the unexpressed view of life and the world.

It suggests to me, consistently with the Bible, that natural apologetics is a valuable part of our proclamation of the gospel . . . as Paul teaches!

“ “As a ten-year old child I lay in bed and sweated out my nightly terror of death. It was not hell that worried me, but oblivion. I didn’t believe in life after death. My reason refused to be humiliated by a cowardly compromise with my fears. But in the Slough of Despond I found hope: the complete inexplicability of the Creation. I asked John Donne’s question: How can something appear out of nothing? For if that was possible, which it appeared to be, then anything was possible—even life after death. The fear of death faded, but I remain, as most of us do, mystified by the fact of the Creation. The Bible didn’t help me. In my search for a more convincing story I discarded the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Hindus, although in my wanderings I was attracted to the Gnostics, an early Christian sect whose origins actually predate Christ and who recognized a secondary God, the Demiurge, who was responsible for the creation of evil. The Demiurge answers some every awkward questions. But not how being emerged from nonbeing.

What preceded the Creation, or has that statement no meaning? Like “How high is green?” Was time born at the Creation? And space: Aristotle said that time was created with the cosmos, and so there was no “before.” Modern theories of the Creation tend to agree with him, but no one has provided a readily comprehensible solution to Donne’s question: What was nothing and how does something emerge from it? To which Locke replied: “But you will say, it is now impossible to admit of the making of any thing out of nothing, since we cannot possibly conceive it? I answer, No: Because it is not reasonable to deny the power of an Infinite Being, because we cannot comprehend its operations.”

And once we have a universe, can we understand its physical limits? Not in everyday three-dimensional imagery. General relativity allows us to create forms of space-time that resemble the surface of an orange, thus ensuring a space-time that has no boundaries but is finite. There is no edge to this surface, no end or beginning. With a little goodwill you can feel yourself walking on the surface. It is a picture that anyone can construct, but which in the end doesn’t really squash our childish(?) question: What’s outside the orange, Dad?

The easiest way out is to accept our limitations. The explanations of the cosmologists—and there is a choice—may be convincing mathematically, but we will never be comfortable with them because they are not constructed within the kind of (separate) space and time that we experience. Our, quite unjustified, gut feelings that space and time are absolute Newtonian playing fields does not encourage friendly feelings toward professors with incomprehensible equations assuring us that we live in a warped space-time that started from a fluctuation in a vacuum.

None of the present theories pretends to give a commonsense answer to the problem of nothing and its emergence into something. The concept of fluctuations in a vacuum is, to most people, totally unacceptable as an explanation of the Creation. I am also aware of the stories that begin, “A wedding ring has no beginning. There are objects which exist which have not beginning so why not the universe?” Once again, the mind can swallow it, but not the instincts. It has been suggested that a model for the appearance of matter is to make a video of a black hole swallowing and destroying matter, and then run the cassette in reverse. This is the so-called white hole, an entity predicted by Einstein’s general relativity. It makes a good subject for an animated cartoon, but do you believe it? Where did the white hole come from?

Sir Arthur Eddington wrote, “The beginning seems to represent insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural. We may have to let it go at that.” Not very satisfactory, but I defy any cosmologist to explain the moment of Creation in the language of HMS [this reference escapes me].

Those scientists concerned with the origins of the physical universe begin their investigations just after the Creation, not just before. The story that they have to tell will unquestionably be modified as we learn more and think deeper, but in its essentials it seems at present to give a good rough explanation of the way that this universe developed. As we saw, there may be others. Let’s see what our tribe’s creation myth says [then follows an explanation of a conventional materialist ‘big bang’]

[Author then discusses the ‘anthropic’ principle.]

My own feeling, for what it is worth, is that the anthropic principle is fascinating, unprovable, and unlikely. The principle always seems to me to be a substitute for the religious belief in the special creation of man. It is a theory that allows the hard-bitten materialist with the soft centre to lead God back on the stage, and to use the value of physical constants to hint that our advent had been predicted in handwritten (Hebrew, of course) holy script, slightly before the Big Bang.

...I am not suggesting that there was a guiding hand…we have no answer to these questions, and finding a solution will tell us something about the structure of the cosmos. It must be admitted, even by all those with whom I share disbelief, that at present by far and away the most likely hypothesis is that Zeus rules." "

[Then follows an interesting chapter entitled “the Tree of Death”, but I’ll leave that for you to read...]

2 comments:

John said...

Brilliant chapter.

The Anthropic Principle says that if the fine tuning of the universe were different we wouldn't be here to observe the universe and so we should not be surprised to note that the universe is so "conducive" to life because everything is just right for causing life to arise. It seems to smack of circularity.

I prefer to point out to evolutionists the existing biochemical and information laws that preclude life's arising by chance chemistry yet life has "overcome" these to produce life. In other words, the materialists set aside the natural operative laws of the universe to allow a huge number of unobservable miracles to occur so that there evolutionary myth can occur.

This is why the the brief 6 days of creation are so important because on these days, and only on these days, God the Grand Biochemist and Information Scientist, manipulated chemistry and produced optically pure amino acids that life consists of, and injected biological information from His mind, according to instructions which obey the genetic code, to matter. After the 6th day, what we experience today as normal biochemistry, began. That is, no new biological information was created and only racemates are formed in stochastic chemistry.

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