By Harold Roellig
He has made the earth by His power,
He has established the world by His wisdom,
And has stretched out the heavens at His discretion.
Jeremiah 10:12 NKJV
A Scientific Revolution
Over three thousand years ago, God revealed through His prophet that the universe is not eternal; but that it had a distinct and singular beginning. The Bible begins with the words:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light (Genesis 1:1-3 NKJV).
Until relatively recently, however, many disputed the idea that the universe was created and had a beginning. The view of the universe among many scientists before the 1920s was that it was a static universe, composed of fixed stars and wandering planets; and there was no evidence for either a beginning or an end of the universe. If God was eternal, so was the universe. The mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell argued this point in a lecture against Christianity disputing the First Cause argument:
There is no reason why the world could not have come into existence without a cause; nor, on the other hand, is there any reason why it should not have always existed. There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all.1
Russell’s argument was a common one for those who were agnostic or atheistic in their outlook, and who therefore rejected the revelation of God in His Holy Scriptures.
The New Cosmology of the Twentieth Century
During the Twentieth Century, a tremendous scientific and theological revolution took place. It was a paradigm that completely changed our view of the universe and how scientists studied it. Cosmologists studying the universe came to understand that the universe is not eternal. It had an origin or creation at a definite point in time. There have been many attempts to disprove this new understanding of how the universe began and evolved over the past many billions of years. The term the “Big Bang” theory was a name attached to the new theory by its scientific detractors. There also have been prodigious attempts to find astronomical evidence that would allow a return to the view that the universe is eternal. Many non-religious scientists are disgruntled because of the loss of the argument that the universe is as eternal as God; and, therefore, there is no need to consider the concept of a Creator God. For clearly, if one admits that the present universe came into being at a definite point in time, the next obvious question is: What or who caused it to come into being?
The Major Evidence that Supports the High Probability of the Big Bang Theory of the Origin of the Universe Approximating Reality
Between 1912 and 1925, Vesto Slipher at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona was studying nebulae with a spectroscope. Nebulae at that time were thought to be merely faint masses of tiny stars within the Milky Way Galaxy. A spectroscope is an instrument that sends light through a glass prism and diffracts it into the familiar rainbow or spectrum of colors.
Our own star cluster, the Milky Way Galaxy, is a typical star cluster of the spiral disk variety. It is so large that it takes light traveling at 186,282 miles a second around 100,000 years to pass from one side of the galaxy to the other. In our disk or wheel-shaped galaxy, there are estimated to be around four hundred billion stars. Our sun lies about two-thirds of the distance from the center of the Milky Way galaxy in one of its spiral arms. At night, as we view it from within, the Milky Way is that great white band of stars arching through the sky.
Since 1861, it has been known that if incandescing gas contains a certain element, the presence of that element gives rise to characteristic bright spectral lines found in the spectrum of colors generated by passing the light through a glass prism. Various elements have their own spectral lines found in the spectrum of colors at specific wavelengths and therefore at given positions in the spectrum. Since 1878, it has been routine for mineralogists to use spectroscopes in the analysis of minerals. Heating a mineral specimen until it incandesces, and then passing its light through a prism allows the mineralogist quickly to identify the elements that are in the specimen. The elements are identified by matching the spectral lines of the specimen with a standardized chart showing the spectral lines for the various elements.
When the light, however, first passes through a cool gas, like our atmosphere, and then through a glass prism, the same given element will be represented by dark rather than bright lines at the same wavelengths and positions in the spectrum as were the bright spectral lines.2 These dark lines are called Fraunhofer lines. The astronomer Vesto Slipher in his study of the spectra from the faint nebulae noted that the Fraunhofer lines for the various elements were not in their proper places on the spectrum. The Fraunhofer lines were all shifted toward the red end of the spectrum where the longer wavelengths of light are found.
It was a conundrum. Why should the Fraunhofer lines for iron, for example, be found at longer wavelengths than those for iron on our planet. And why should all the other Fraunhofer lines for the various elements be shifted over to the same degree. To account for shift of the Fraunhofer lines, Slipher was forced to conclude that the cause of the shifting was because the nebulae were receding from the earth at high velocities. This would lengthen the wavelengths coming from the nebulae. The shift of the Fraunhofer lines to the longer wavelengths at the red end of the spectrum was considered at that time to be the Doppler effect. It was the only explanation for the shifts to the red end of the spectrum that made sense. This discovery by Slipher destroyed the previous picture of the universe being composed of fixed stars and moving planets. Major portions of the universe were obviously in motion. Their relative speeds of the various nebulae receding from the earth could be determined by the amount of their red shift.
In 1924, the astronomer Edwin Hubble found very faint Cepheid variable stars within the nebulae. Cepheid variable stars have an intensity of radiation that pulsates or fluctuates over time. In our Milky Way Galaxy, it had been found that the brighter and larger Cepheid variable stars had longer periods of pulsation than did the smaller and dimmer ones. Hubble discovered that some of the Cepheid variable stars in the faint nebulae had pulsation periods that indicated that they were actually very bright, large stars. If this were true, it meant that the nebulae were not composed of masses of small, faint stars within the Milky Way Galaxy. Rather, the nebulae containing the faint variable stars were obviously extremely distant. In other words, the nebulae were actually galaxies or star clusters of their own, far outside our own star cluster. By calculating the apparent size of the Cepheid variable stars in various nebulae, Hubble could arrange the nebulae according to whether they were nearer to or more distant from our own galaxy.
Having worked out the rough distances for the galaxies containing Cepheid variable stars, Hubble next observed that in any galaxy there were stars of a similar maximum luminosity or brightness. He used Cepheid variable stars in nearby galaxies to make this determination. This now allowed him to calculate the approximate distances of distant galaxies that were too far away to observe Cepheid variable stars, but in which he could see the brightest stars. Thus by this method he roughly determined the distances of many more distant galaxies.3
In 1929, Hubble found that the velocity of the recession of the galaxies was proportional to their distances. That is, the farther the galaxy was from earth, the greater the rate of speed that it was receding from earth. When plotted on a graph, it turned out to be a straight-line progression. This ratio of distance and the rate of recession is called the Hubble constant and is revised as the distance estimates to the galaxies are refined. A recent determination of Hubble’s Constant, which measures the expansion rate of the universe, is around 24 km per second per one million light years or around 72 km per second per mega parsec. Thus, the more distant galaxies are receding from the earth faster than the closer galaxies.
Think of the expansion of the universe as analogous to the rising of raisin bread dough. When yeast is added to the dough, the mass of dough slowly expands due to the release of gases by the yeast. As the dough expands, the distance between the each raisin grows proportionally. Thus, if the raisin bread dough doubles in size, a raisin a ½ an inch from a central raisin will now be an inch apart; a raisin 2 inches from the central raisin will now be four inches apart. The more distant raisins from the central raisin during the expansion of the dough are thus also moving away at proportionally greater speeds. So also with the galaxies or star clusters of the universe, as the universe expands, the speeds of the galaxies receding from the earth increase proportionally to their distance from the earth.4 This also accounts for the red shift found by the spectroscopic study of the light from distant galaxies. The wavelengths of the photons of light traveling through the universe lengthen due to the expansion of the universe.5
The result of Hubble’s work resulted in once again a great paradigmatic change in our view of the universe. Not only was the universe no longer viewed as one of fixed stars and wandering planets, it was now shown to be composed of a great number of immense star clusters receding from the Milky Way Galaxy. The universe is estimated to contain around 100 billion galaxies, each with many billions of stars.6
Having an idea of the speed of expansion of the galaxies and their distances allows the calculation back through time to when the galaxies of the present universe merged together to form one mass. The present consensus among astrophysicists is that this took place about 13.7 billion years ago, plus or minus 200 million years.
There have been many studies by physicists and cosmologists concerning the original state of the universe at the time of its origin. The consensus is that the universe started out resembling a thermonuclear explosion (the Big Bang singularity) of an extremely small, hot, dense spark of pure energy. Some cosmologists calculate that early within the first second of its existence, the universe also flashed into an instantaneous inflation, expanding to ten times the size of a beach ball.7 After the first second, it continued to expand at a much more moderate rate.8 Also in the first second, neutrons and protons formed from their quark constituents as some of the initial energy converted into matter or mass thereby forming the quarks. Over the next several hundred thousand years, the expanding, seething plasma of sub-atomic particles slowly cooled and began to form atomic nuclei of the elements hydrogen, deuterium, helium, and lithium. The plasma was yet too hot to allow electrons to link up with the atomic nuclei to form atoms.9
About three hundred thousand years after the Big Bang, the expanding universe cooled sufficiently for the atomic nuclei to combine with electrons to form the first atoms of the simple elements. This occurred when the temperature had dropped to around 3000 degrees Kelvin or 2,727 degrees Celsius. The current abundance of these elements in the universe is Hydrogen almost 92%, Helium around 8%, and all the rest of the elements make up less than 1%. These abundances coincide quite closely to the theoretically predicted abundance that would have come into being at the time and temperature indicated above. The combination of electrons with the atomic nuclei also reduced the number of free electrons. The abundance of free electrons had previously collided, interfered with, and scattered the movement of the much more abundant photons in the hot plasma.
The capture of electrons by the atomic nuclei thus freed the photons to evolve independently from matter and allowed them to travel unimpeded through space. The radiating photons were released at the high temperature of 3000 degrees Kelvin.10
With the formation of atoms from the constituents of the hot plasma, the fireball faded; and the universe became dark and stayed dark until the first stars formed. During this dark period, the universe was composed of clouds of hydrogen and helium gas and a transparent material called “dark matter.” It is called “dark” because its nature and constituency is completely unknown except that it has a gravitational effect on other matter. Gravitational attraction pulled together and compacted some of the clouds of hydrogen, helium, lithium, and dark matter to form the first generation of stars when the universe was several hundred million years old.11 The stars formed star clusters or galaxies when the universe was around a billion years old.
Some of the heavier elements in the universe appear to have been made by the thermonuclear fusion of simpler elements in the hot interiors of early, massive stars. Other of the heavier elements were synthesized when the massive stars at the end their relatively short lifetimes exploded as supernova. In these great explosions the stars disintegrated and flung their contents into space. Some of this material later was gathered through gravitational attraction and coalesced to form new stars and their planets. These later stars differ from the earlier stars, which were composed of the lighter elements, in that gaseous clouds from which the later stars were formed contained heavier elements such as oxygen, iron, lead, gold, and uranium. Our sun and its planets are examples of this later generation of stars.
Over the past thirteen billion years, the radiation of the photons at the initial temperature of 3000 degrees Kelvin has subsequently cooled to 2.7 degrees above absolute zero. The cooling was due to the expansion and rarefaction of the universe that also lengthened the wavelength of the photons. This radiation, released at the time of the formation of atoms when the universe was about three hundred thousand years old, is called the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. In 1946, the cosmologist George Gamow predicted that this radiation would exist and would fill the universe and still be present today at a temperature of about 5 degrees Kelvin. In 1964, the Bell Laboratory scientists Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered this radiation; and its temperature was found to have cooled to 2.7 degrees Kelvin.12 The two scientists received the Nobel Prize for this achievement that so strongly supported the Big Bang theory of the expansion of the universe.
The universe is thought not to expand into an infinite space, but rather space expands as the universe expands. That is, the universe is finite but unbounded as it expands. It is a concept hard to imagine from a strictly common-sense point of view despite the various analogies that strive to illustrate the phenomenon.
In 1927, the Abbe Lemaitre, a Belgian Roman Catholic priest as well as a physicist and astronomer, pulled all the various strands of evidence together in order to present an overall picture of the expanding universe and its origin. In his publications, he was very careful to do this on purely scientific grounds with no reference to his theological beliefs.13
A few cosmologists, however, viewed the Big Bang as the possible original time of creation, for example, Pollard and Milne. Victor Weisskopf, the former head of the Physics Dept. at MIT, described these views as follows:
The origin of the universe can be talked about not only in scientific terms, but also in poetic and spiritual language, an approach that is complementary to the scientific one. Indeed, the Judeo-Christian tradition describes the beginning of the world in a way that is surprisingly similar to the scientific model. Previously, it seemed scientifically unsound to have light created before the sun. The present scientific view does indeed assume the early universe to be filled with various kinds of radiation long before the sun was created. The Bible says about the beginning: “And God said, Let there be light and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good.”14
The Big Bang theory was unacceptable to many astronomers. The problem was that it posited a beginning, a singularity, with no possibility of investigating what occurred before the singularity. The hot plasma of billions degrees Celsius would have destroyed all evidence of what had preceded the plasma. Singularities give scientists a problem in that they cannot be studied scientifically. The Big Bang theory also destroyed the view of the universe as eternal, as eternal as any supposed Creator God.15
Albert Einstein had struggled with the theological implications of the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe. Already in 1917 in his work on Special Relativity, he realized that the expanding nature of the universe implied its creation at a singular point in time. To the astronomer DeSitter, he wrote: “This circumstance of an expanding universe is irritating.” and in another letter, “To admit such possibilities seems senseless to me.”16
Walter Sullivan, the science editor of the New York Times, in 1974 wrote concerning those who espoused the alternative Oscillating theory (to be discussed shortly) and were uncomfortable with the Big Bang theory:
Proponents of this view noted that it was distasteful to many cosmologists on philosophical or even “religious” grounds. It would leave uncertain what preceded the “Big Bang” and also would, in their view, imply for the universe an ignoble destiny.”17
Why does the concept of a Creator cause uneasiness among so many in the contemporary world? From a Christian perspective, the answer is evident. No one wishes to be held to account before a just God for the actions in his life. We all know that there are things in our lives of which we are heartily ashamed. If we pretend otherwise, we are deceiving ourselves and not admitting the truth. But how do we handle that guilt? How do we overcome our uneasiness in knowing that we have sinned against God’s will for us? Christianity calls us to humble ourselves before God and confess our guilt. Our God promises to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness; for our faith in the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, who suffered as our substitute cleanses us from all sin.18 He calls us to turn to a new life of living within his will. A will that was summed up in Jesus’ words to his disciples that we are to unselfishly and self-denyingly serve the good of one another as he served us in giving up his life for us.19
But that does not sit well with prideful humans. They resent humbling themselves and answering to any higher authority for their lives. They wish to live as they see fit. They prefer to rationalize to themselves the selfish acts in their lives. They would stifle the conscience that bothers them by trying to convince themselves that any idea of sin against God’s will for our lives is an obsolete concept. They would go as far in the attempt to escape their sense of guilt before God by denying the very concept of deity. Nonetheless, they know in the depth of their consciousness the truth of the psalmist words: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none that does good.”20 Or as Jesus said, “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”21 For this reason, the concept of a singularity that brought this universe into existence is anathema to many; it destroys their argument that an eternal universe obviates the need for a Creator.
But if you take exception to the above, for who can say what is the mind of those who seek evidence for an eternal universe, it is worth noting that Stephen Hawking had to answer the same charge. The following is an excerpt from a letter objecting to part of an article by Stephen Hawking in theAmerican Scientist and Hawking’s reply:
Norris S. Hetheringtron of U. of California Berkeley wrote in a Letter to the Editor:
Particularly interesting is Dr. Hawking’s statement (American Scientist 72, July-August 1984, pp. 355-59) that abhorrence of the idea of divine intervention led Plato and Aristotle to believe in the eternal existence of the world and also motivated Bondi, Gold, Hoyle to propose the steady state universe. . . . If Dr. Hawking has evidence that a religious concern played a significant role . . . , he has a duty to cite evidence.
Dr. Hawking replied:
It is difficult to produce proof of people’s reasons for wanting to believe that the universe has existed forever, because they are normally reluctant to state them explicitly, but I think such a belief is a reasonable assumption.22
It is also well to keep in mind that belief in a creator does not have to mean belief in Theism and a theistic god that holds humans to account. It may mean only belief in Deism. A deistic god is defined as one who has no further concern for or interaction with the universe he created and thus is not concerned with humans and their lives. So what is the problem? The idea of a creator god does not necessarily mean a personal god who judges the lives of humans. Obviously, many believe that the safest approach is to get rid of any concept of God whatsoever.
The Repeated Attempts to Return to an Eternal Universe
The Steady State Theory of the Universe
Fred Hoyle, Herman Bondi, and Thomas Gold in 1948 proposed the Steady State theory of the universe as an alternative to the Big Bang theory. The Steady State theory was based on their Perfect Cosmological Principle that stated: “The universe is the same everywhere and at all times.” As it was the same throughout all time, it was therefore eternal.
The steady state theorists had to admit that the universe was expanding. As this meant that the galaxies would be moving apart and the matter in the universe would come to be rarefied and therefore not everywhere the same, they had a problem. They solved their problem by postulating that throughout all time there was a continual, spatially distributed creation of hydrogen atoms out of nothing. They even used the old theological Latinism,creatio ex nihilo. They estimated that the hydrogen atoms would have to come into existence at the rate of one atom per cubic kilometer per year in order to make up for the apparent expansion of the universe.
This was a major theory of the nature of the universe in the late 1950s and in the 1960s. I remember, for example, hearing the astronomers at Hayden Planetarium of the American Museum of Natural History in New York literally scoffing at the Big Bang theory during their sky shows as they expounded on the virtues of the Steady State theory.
The Steady State theory came to be discarded about 1968 when Fred Hoyle found that radio sources are not evenly distributed over space. More distant radio sources were observed to be much more numerous than nearby sources; and, therefore, the universe was not everywhere the same. Unlike the Big Bang theory, the Steady State theory of the Universe was also unable to account for the observed cosmic microwave background radiation discovered by Penzias and Wilson. The theory of an eternal steady-state universe became no longer tenable.
The Theory of the Oscillating Universe
The oscillating theory of the universe was discussed by W.B. Bonnor in the 1950s. At the time, it was roundly rejected by both Big Bang and Steady State cosmologists. Bonnor argued that gravitational force would slow up the expansion of the universe, stop it, and then cause it to fall back on itself. The Big Bang, therefore, would be followed by the Big Crunch, although Bonnor did not use the latter term.
After the demise of the theory of an eternal steady-state universe, the hypothesis of an eternally oscillating universe was revived and became the subject of a great deal of research during the 1970s through the 1990s. The Oscillating theory of the universe was based on the idea that the universe would expand until the force of gravity overcame the inertial energy of expansion causing the expansion to slow and finally stop. Then gravitational attraction between all the entities of the universe would cause it to be drawn back to collapse upon itself. Such a collapse might finally cause such great pressures that another cycle of explosion, expansion, and collapse would ensue, and this cyclical process could continue infinitely and therefore eternally. The annoying question of what caused the singular event of the Big Bang origin of our universe would be irrelevant as the event would be just one of an eternal series of expansions and contractions of the universe. For this to be possible, however, the mass of the universe has to be great enough (over three hydrogen atoms per cubic meter) to cause sufficient gravitational attraction to keep the rate of the expansion from exceeding the escape velocity. To give an example of escape velocity: A rocket must have an escape velocity of more than 7 miles per second in order to escape the earth’s gravitational attraction. If it is less than this, it will fall back to earth.
At that time, however, a problem existed in that the observable mass of the universe was calculated to have only from one to ten percent of the mass necessary to slow the expansion and cause it to stop, and then contract. Numerous attempts have been made to find the missing mass ever since the early 1970s. Cosmologists investigated various forms of matter that might make up the unseen mass such as black holes, very low-luminosity stars, and brown dwarfs, i.e., Jupiter-sized stars. Exotic forms of matter such as neutrinos that are produced in the heart of stars also might make up the difference. Recently, it was discovered that neutrinos do possess mass, but the mass is so minor as to be insignificant. Another form of matter that might make up the missing amount of mass to close the universe and bring it to collapse is the previously mentioned dark matter. However, the amount of dark matter that has been determined to exist is of insufficient quantity to cause the universe to slow, stop, and collapse.23
During the 1990s there was an attempt by two separate groups of cosmologists to discover to what degree the expansion of the universe was decelerating. They did this by studying Ia supernovae caused by exploding white dwarf stars. Each supernova of Ia type explodes with approximately the same degree of intrinsic brightness. In relation to the degree of its red-shift, if the supernova appears brighter than it should be, it would mean that the universe was slowing down its speed of expansion. To the surprise of the astronomers studying the supernovae, the supernovae were not brighter, as they expected, but fainter. The conclusion of both the Harvard and Berkeley teams was that the universe was not slowing down but rather was accelerating. This meant that not only is the universe an ever-expanding universe, but it appears to be expanding at an ever-increasing rate. This finding made the idea of our universe being part of an eternally oscillating series of expanding and contracting universes hardly tenable.24
“Dark energy” is the name given to the force that powers the expansion of the universe. The physics and nature of this dark energy is unknown, but its effect is clearly seen in that overpowers the force of gravitational attraction and causes the universe to continually speed up its expansion. Recent research has shown that the universe appears to be composed of around 5% ordinary matter, such as protons and neutrons; 25% dark matter; and 70% dark energy.25 Dark matter and dark energy thus account for about ninety-five percent of the total matter/energy constituents of the universe. But of what they consist, we are completely in the dark.
Just Six Numbers
There is another aspect of the universe that has proved a problem to many cosmologists. In a book published in 1999, Martin Rees, a professor at Cambridge University and also the Astronomer Royal of Great Britain, wrote that just six numbers were basic to the development of the universe.26 The six numbers are: 1. the strength of electromagnetic force; 2. the strength of the strong force; 3. the strength of the gravitational force; 4. the strength of the antigravity force of expansion–dark energy; 5. the degree of “roughness” or texture in the very early universe that controlled the formation of the stars, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies; and 6. the number of spatial dimensions in our universe. Unfortunately, further explanation of the six numbers would enlarge this essay far beyond its allowed length. The major point of Rees’s book is that if strength and characteristics of any of these numbers varied by more than a very slight degree the extremely complex universe, as we know it, could not exist.
Chance, Providence, or the Multiverse
The universe, therefore, appears to be highly and finely tuned, and it raises the question of what could possibly account for such fine-tuning–it is such an unlikely event. As unlikely, in an illustration that Rees uses, as if you were standing before a firing squad of fifty marksmen and, unbelievably, all missed. You would certainly wonder how that could be. Rees wonders also and writes:
If our existence depends on a seemingly special cosmic recipe, how should we react to the apparent fine-tuning? We seem to have three choices: we can dismiss it as happenstance; we can acclaim it as the workings of providence, or (my preference) we can conjecture that our universe is a specially favored domain in a still vaster multiverse.27
Could the fine-tuning of these six numbers be the result of accident or happenstance? That just six simple but finely adjusted numbers could account for the extreme complexity of the universe only by chance or happenstance is beyond belief. Rees as well as other cosmologists cannot accept that answer.
The second possibility is that the six finely tuned numbers were the result of a superior intelligence. Rees cannot bring himself to accept the idea that the universe is the result of a divine creator who did the fine-tuning.
However, for a number of cosmologists there is the third choice. Perhaps ours is not the only universe. Perhaps there are many other universes, maybe even an infinite number of universes in existence. Each coming into existence by means unknown and then after some hundreds of billions of years fading out again. There is no reason to think that the physical laws of these universes have to be similar to our own universe. Perhaps there are billions of ways of structuring the numbers and physical laws that would result in a myriad of universes quite unlike ours. If such is the case, then the likelihood of finding a universe like our own among the billions of universes would be in the realm of possibility. Rees uses the illustration of a man coming into an off-the-rack clothes shop containing thousands of men’s suits. Although the vast majority would not fit, it is likely that one would.28 So also with billions of universes, with so many possibilities it is probable that one like our own universe would exist.
Perhaps another illustration concerning the three options might be helpful. Let’s say you walk in a room in which your friend, a vending machine operator, is counting his coins from the day’s take. You notice that one of the coins on the floor below the table is sitting on its edge in a crack between the floorboards. You mention this unlikely occurrence to your friend. After discussion, you agree with him that perhaps there might be a one in ten chance of that happening to a coin falling on the floor and bouncing edge on into the crack. The next day you visit him, and now two coins are edge down in the crack. Well, ten times ten means that there is now only one chance in a hundred that two coins would end up in such a way. Your friend, however, insists he did not place them there. The following day there are now six coins in the crack between the floorboards. Your friend again insists he did not put them there; obviously, he says, it was only by chance that they landed that way. “Wait a minute,” you say. “10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 equals one million, and there is therefore only one chance in a million that if only six coins fell off the table they all would end up edge down in the crack.” But your friend insists you are wrong in believing that he placed them there, and that he is not testing your gullibility. He points out that in the world’s population of six billion people there is likely to be at least a million vending machine operators counting their coins; and, therefore, there is a one in a million chance of this happening with the six coins to one of them. Therefore, you have to believe him that he did not put them there. — Now to get back to cosmology, there possibly might be a million vending machine operators, but we know of only one universe. That there are another million universes in which this one chance in a million might occur is pure theoretical speculation, unsupported by any evidence. And yet there are those who insist we should take their speculations about a multitude of universes seriously.
The word universe, however, no longer seemed adequate for such a great number of “universes.” The term “multiverse” was coined to fit such a grand collection of varied and multiple universes. In recent years, there has been an outpouring of highly speculative, mathematical theorizing in the attempt to provide a basis for the eternal existence of an indefinite or infinite number of universes besides are own. There are speculations concerning the multiverse based on fractal theory, on extensions of quantum theory, string and superstring theory, membrane theory depicting universes floating in a eleventh dimension, branes colliding to ignite a new universe, universes emerging out of wormholes in black holes, and so forth. The problem with all this speculation is that there typically is not even a theoretical way of testing it.
The speculation concerning the multiverse can go even further. In a somewhat “tongue in cheek” article in Science, the prestigious journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, entitled, “Physics Enters the Twilight Zone,” and among many other ideas, the concept of parallel universes is presented.29 This is an extension of the idea of the multiverse that suggests the possibility that there are parallel universes to each of the universes in the multiverse. A parallel universe also may be a holographic copy of a given universe. The holographic parallel universe would be identical down to the last atom of its mirror image. In addition, it is suggested that there can be an infinite number of such copies. Therefore, at the present moment there might be an infinite number of copies of our own universe in which you, the reader, are also copied as you sit perusing this essay. There is also no way of telling which is the original universe and which is a copy.
Now the problem of such a grand conception as the multiverse is that there is not a scintilla of evidence to support it. It is completely speculative.
Martin Gardner has written over the decades numerous columns on science and mathematics for “Scientific American” and “The Skeptical Inquirer.” He is considered the foremost and most devastating debunker of pseudoscience, as well as a sound teacher of science and mathematics. The author of over seventy books on science and the foibles of pseudoscience, his latest book is called, Are Universes Thicker than Blackberries? In chapter one, titled “Multiverses and Blackberries” he begins with a quote from Cicero: “There is nothing so absurd but that some philosopher [or cosmologist?—M.G.] has said it.” He then proceeds to discuss the complete lack of evidence and the highly speculative theories for the concept of additional universes that have been propounded by various people. He concludes the chapter by writing:
The stark truth is that there is not the slightest shred of reliable evidence that there is any universe other than the one we are in. No multiverse theory has so far provided a prediction that can be tested. In my layman’s opinion they are all frivolous fantasies. As far as we can tell, universes are not as plentiful as even two blackberries. Surely the conjecture that there is just one universe and its Creator is infinitely simpler and easier to believe than that there are countless billions and billions of worlds, constantly increasing in number and created by nobody. I can only marvel at the low state to which today’s philosophy of science has fallen.30
This also is where the search ends in the long attempt to demonstrate that our universe is eternal, having no beginning or end, and thus escaping the need for a Creator. The evidence indicates the high probability that the universe in which we live had a singular beginning some 13.7 billion years ago. Every attempt to find evidence that would show the possibility that our universe is eternal has thus far failed. We only know that our universe will continue its expansion at an accelerating rate. Such is the dilemma of some in cosmology today. Their only solution is the multiverse; and, ironically, what a Deus ex machina that is.
Those who cannot believe in a Creator God are in a real quandary today. They cannot believe that the finely-tuned physical laws and parameters that governed the development of our universe could have arisen by mere accident or chance. They cannot bring themselves to accept the idea that the universe was designed and fine-tuned by an all-knowing God. As a result, the only option left is to try to believe in an eternal Multiverse for which there is not a scintilla of evidence. To what absurd lengths people will go as they attempt to flee from their God.31
1. Betrand Russell, 1927, Why I Am Not a Christian (New York: Simon and Schuster), p. 7.
2. George Field “Astronomy of the Twentieth Century,” American Scientist 74,” March‑April, 1986, p. 173.
3. Paul Hodge, “The Cosmic Distance Scale”, American Scientist 72, Sep.‑Oct., 1984, pp. 474‑476.
4. P. James F. Peebles, David N. Schramm, Edwin L. Turner, Richard G. Kron, “The Evolution of the Universe,” Scientific American, Oct. 1994, p. 54.
5. Charles H. Lineweaver and Tamara M. Davis, “Misconceptions about the Big Bang,” Scientific American, March 2005, p. 41.
6. Stephen W. Hawking, 1988, A Brief History of Time, (New York: Bantam Books), p. 37.
7. Ken Croswell, 2001, The Universe at Midnight (New York, N.Y.: The Free Press) pp. 104 ff., 118.
8. M. Mitchell Waldrop, “The New Inflationary Universe,” Science 219, Jan. 28, 1983, pp. 375-377.
9. Peter Coles, “The State of the Universe,” Nature 433, January 26, 2005, p 248.
10. Matthew Hedman, “Polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background,” American Scientist 93, May-June 2005, p. 236.
11. Alan Heavens, “The Star-formation History of the Universe,” American Scientist 93, January-February 2005, pp. 36-41.
12. Stephen G. Brush, “How Cosmology Became a Science” in “Scientific American,” August 1992, pp. 62‑70. The article discusses the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation.
13. Helge Kragh, 1996, Cosmology and Controversy: The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe, 500 pages (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton U. Press), pp. 28‑32.
14. Victor Weisskopf, “The Origin of the Universe,” in the “American Scientist,” Sep.‑Oct., 1983, p. 480.
15. Helge Kragh, 1996, Cosmology and Controversy, pp. 251-256.
16. Robert Jastrow, “Have Astronomers Found God,” New York Times Magazine, June 25, 1978.
17. Walter Sullvan, science writer for the “The New York Times,” Dec. 23, 1974, p. 30.
18. 1 John 1:7-10 RSV.
19. John 13:34-35, 15:12-13,17; Matthew 25:31-46
20. Psalm 14:1-3 RSV.
21. John 3:16-21 RSV.
22. American Scientist 73, January-February 1985, p. 12.
23. Masataka Fukugita, “The Dark Side,” Nature 422, April 3, 2003, p. 490.
24. Robert P. Kirshner, 2002, The Extravagant Universe: exploding stars, dark energy, and the accelerating cosmos (Princeton U. Press: Princeton N.J.) 292 pp. A highly enjoyable and readable account of the study of type Ia supernovas that led to finding that the universe is accelerating rather that decelerating.
25. J. Michael Shull, “Hot Pursuit of Missing Matter,” Nature 433, February 3, 2005, 465. A review article to complement the article “The mass of the missing baryons in the X-ray forest of the warm-hot intergalactic medium,” found also in Nature 433, February 3, 2005, pp.495-498.
26. Martin Rees, 1999, Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces that Shape the Universe (New York: Basic Books), 173 pp.
27. Martin Rees, 2001, Our Cosmic Habitat (Princeton, N.J: Princeton Univ. Press), pp. 161-162.
28. Martin Rees, 2001, Our Cosmic Habitat (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton U. Press), p. 165.
29. Charles Seife, “Physics Enters the Twilight Zone,” Science 305 (July 23, 2003), pp. 464-466.
30. Martin Gardner, 2003, Are Universes Thicker than Blackberries (New York: W. W. Norton & Company), p. 9.
31. Psalm 139:1-12.