Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stephen Hawking's Birthday

The physicist Stephen Hawking celebrated his 70th birthday on January 8, 2012. It was a momentous occasion, since he has a disease with which many who have it do not live to this age. He is a distinguished professor and scientist, and his party was more of a symposium by other noted physicists. He wasn’t even there, but had a recording played of his thoughts. Then, as these scientists presented their discoveries, they brought him conclusions which he did not want to hear as noted in “Why physicists can’t avoid a creation event” (New Scientist, January 11, 2012).

Physicists are known to change their minds from meeting to meeting, and the implications of the presenters are bound to be eventually argued. But whatever happens in the future, this was a milestone in the thinking of scientists who either believed or wanted to believe a multi-universe was inevitable, including Stephen Hawking. I understand he said as much on a recent PBS show about the universe (Stephen Hawking's Universe), although I admit I did not see the show.

The reason many physicists want to think or say this is true is because they know the chance for life starting by natural means in this universe are so enormously improbable that multi-verses were their only explanation. If there were infinite universes, at least one could come up with the necessary combinations of molecules to form life.

But now several scientists have published papers that analyze the various means by which multi-verses could exist or come about. A good description is here at Uncommon Descent. All of them need a beginning. According to this new view, there is no infinite universe or multi-verse.

It is significant that one of the physicists present was Alan Guth, well known for his inflationary theory of the universe in which the Big Bang was followed by a period of extremely large inflation. For years, he had been trying to calculate the probability of production of multi-verses from quantum fluctuations. But how can you use probability to figure something that destroys the significance of probability? He was listed as an author on one of the papers which now admits that the universe had a beginning.

Many of our disciplines, including quantum physics, thermodynamics and chemistry (mass action law) rely on probabilities. Max Planck discovered quantum physics by using the probability of energy radiating from various wavelengths of light. If probabilities mean nothing in this universe, then science itself is out the window.

Many are concerned that if we think of life and the universe as created, it will stop science. That is faulty logic. There are many things to be discovered about biology, the Earth, and stars. The more the better! There are enough things to give us awe for the rest of our days, and much work needed to dispel disease, hunger and war. This is plenty to fulfill our scientific quests. But it is not quite enough to fulfill our hearts. Where that emptiness has been, some persons let fear of the lack of total knowledge take over. They don’t realize belief and love of God is the only way to give them true contentment in this life.

There are other reasons for the denial of creation. It goes hand in hand with the denial of God's existence. Many humans stubbornly cling to the desire to be their own rulers, refusing to answer to a higher power. This is not new or restricted to scientists. It's just that scientists as a whole seem to be able to guide culture, especially these days, to accept their conclusions. Scientists must be right, right?

No, Stephen Hawking, a very smart and famous physicist, is being challenged by other very smart physicists. The lesson for others is to not let scientists as a group fool you into thinking they know it all. They often speculate in the way they want things to go, then call it fact.

Think now about origin of life and evolution.

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