Faith or Reason

 

There is no real distinction. In Christianity faith is paramount. However St Paul says we are without excuse because nature provides compelling reasons to believe. We are instructed to live by faith, and in the scriptures reason is less treasured, but it is far from ignored. Jesus told the sceptical to believe in the signs: miracles proving his divine power and authority. These were seen sometimes by just a few people at others by thousands. They had good reasons to believe and few to disbelieve, which is no doubt why huge crowds followed him.  The apostle Thomas was a sceptic, and said he would not believe Jesus had risen from the dead until he saw and touched the wounds of crucifixion. Jesus permitted these to be examined, but said, ‘better are those who have not seen and yet believed.’

Paul argued that both nature and the cosmos bear witness to God as Creator. You may argue that his audience knew nothing about science. I contend that science is a marvel which works within limits. It may explain many aspects of how the cosmos works, but it does not explain the appearance of a planet like earth in a universe like ours. Paul Davies, a physicist and professor at Arizona State University who definitely does not believe in a Creator God, wrote a book titled and subtitled: The Goldilocks Enigma / Why is the Universe Just Right for Life? It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, and its forces act together in a way that maintains the balance between forces that would otherwise opt for chaos and destruction. Paul Davies, himself a scientist and one of the world’s most acclaimed science writers, shows how everything from the infinitesimally tiny humble carbon atom, to the speed of light and the laws of physics interact as they do, with fine tuned precision. Fine tuned means precisely adjusted to the highest levels of performance, efficiency, or effectiveness. And that is how things must be for life on earth to exist. The chances of this occurring by chance are incalculable.

The rest of this is mostly about science and cosmology, but if you read on it comes apparent just how much of science is founded on faith. The avoidance of a God as an explanation for anything that touches on science has become a surprisingly strong motive to structure all explanations in terms of random chance and meaninglessness. This goes so far and so deep that even cosmology has to be seen in terms which ensure both humanity and our place in the universe are represented as insignificant. The very fact of human existence seems to be perceived as a weird irritant which rather spoils any enjoyment in being the only viewer capable of studying the phenomena. We cannot, must not be seen to as important, or occupy any position in the universe that might tempt us to think we are important. The problem with this position is that we do have reasons to think exactly that. This fact explains the panic you will hear in some of the voices being quoted below, especially from Edwin Hubble and Stephen Hawking.  Why? Because there are many reasons even for atheist physicists to think we are the creation of intelligence, and do occupy a position of significance. And in this article I am just giving a small indication of just how significant we appear to be. If you want to see more evidence please make contact and I will send the further information to you.

Fred Hoyle: Cambridge University astrophysicist and mathematician was responsible for one the greatest intuitive discoveries in science. The large amount of carbon in the universe, which makes it possible for carbon based life forms like us and all animal life to exist, demonstrated to Hoyle that this nuclear reaction must work. Based on this notion, Hoyle therefore predicted the values of the energy, the nuclear spin and the parity of the compound state in the carbon nucleus formed by three alpha particles (helium nuclei). This prediction was later borne out by experiment. 

He later wrote.

“Would you not say to yourself, “Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. 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.”

On the earth there is a system of unbelievable complexity, including a vast array of creatures, plants and bacteria which cannot exist independently. A male and female cannot reproduce offspring without amazingly complimentary physical systems which must be perfectly aligned to each other. The flora and fauna of nature can only exist within an ecosystem, and yet the ecosystem is dependant on the flora and fauna, bacteria, plants, animal life, photosynthesis etc. DNA is made of proteins but proteins receive their instructions via DNA. The chicken and egg and which came first applies throughout nature. Laws of physics before physics, or physics before the laws which seem to rule over otherwise blind forces. This all speaks of a Designer and a Designer speaks of God. The universe seems to be at the service of planet Earth. These are some of the reasons for the title of Paul Davies’s  book. For Goldilocks just about everything was just about perfect. This is not good news for those who dispute the God Did It version of Creation. Maybe as a consequence of this there is a theoretical principle in science called the Copernican Principle. It states that humans, on the Earth or in the Solar System are not privileged observers of the universe. That there is no centre in which to be located, and our position is one of mediocrity at best, only of interest because we have given birth to that strange anomaly called life. This is the fixed view of modern science. It was not however a view echoed by Einstein who throws a spanner in the works by saying the following.

The struggle, so violent in the early days of science,
between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then
be quite meaningless. Either CS [Coordinate System]
could be used with equal justification.
The two sentences, ‘the sun is at rest and the earth moves’ or ‘the sun moves and the earth is at rest,’
would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different co-ordinate systems.

What happens when more than one possible co-ordinate system can be applied to a theoretical problem in science? The answer! Trouble with a capital T. The following quotes are from the website Harmonia Philosophica.

People used to think the Earth as the centre of the solar system. That model is called “geocentric”. It was supported by Aristotle and first widely promoted by Ptolemy. That was the story until the 16th century “revolution”. It was then that Copernicus, actually copying and promoting an old idea of an ancient Greek astronomer (Aristarchus), proposed that the Sun should be promoted to the centre of the solar system. Since then most people think that the Sun being at the centre of the solar system is the “truth”. That couldn’t be more far from the truth, since as I am going to show in “Chapter II – Nothing wrong with Changing Coordinate Systems”, it is completely valid to use any coordinate system you want in order to formulate physical laws. What is more, not many people know that even though scientific data showed that the Earth is at a privileged centric position in the universe, cosmologists in the days of Hubble chose simply not to “accept” that data based on philosophical grounds, see “Chapter III – Heliocentric system is based on dogmas and not data”.’

‘Heliocentric system is based on dogmas and not data.

Exact sciences like physics have many limitations, often disregarded by their “followers” (i.e. people who think that measuring, evidence-based exact science is all, then we forget the basis of our science. When we forget that we use axioms (and that if we use other axioms we will reach completely different conclusions) then those axioms turn into dogmas. And dogmatism, in any form, is not a good thing…’

What follows is a quote from Edwin Hubble.

“…Such a condition would imply that we occupy a unique position in the universe, analogous, in a sense, to the ancient conception of a central Earth…This hypothesis cannot be disproved, but it is unwelcome and would only be accepted as a last resort in order to save the phenomena. Therefore we disregard this possibility…. the unwelcome position of a favoured location must be avoided at all costs…. such a favoured position is intolerable…Therefore, in order to restore homogeneity, and to escape the horror of a unique position…must be compensated by spatial curvature. There seems to be no other escape” (Hubble, The Observational Approach to Cosmology)

The famous astronomer Edwin Hubble published on 1937 a study on the cosmological model of the universe, under the title “The Observational Approach to Cosmology”. In the data published in that study it was evident that Earth appeared like having a “unique” position in the cosmos, i.e. that it was in the centre or very close to it. However Hubble chose not to accept that unique position based on philosophical propositions (principles) that be believed in.

In particular and even though the nebula distribution showed that Earth should be in a centre position, he discarded that idea based on the “principle” that we are not unique (so it is illogical to say that we are in a privileged centre position in the Universe). In order to accommodate that “principle” he added some corrective factors to his equations! As simple as that! No hard data, no scientific analysis – a plain philosophical choice was the basis of the choice of heliocentricity over geocentricity!’

Stephen Hawking also prefers this co-ordinate system.

‘Stephen Hawking says about these principles that “…all this evidence that the universe looks the same whichever direction we look in might seem to suggest there is something special about our place in the universe. In particular, it might seem that if we observe all other galaxies to be moving away from us, then we must be at the centre of the universe.” 
He does provide and alternative view, though, as he continues: “There is, however, an alternate explanation: the universe might look the same in every direction as seen from any other galaxy, too. This, as we have seen, was Friedmann’s second assumption. We have no scientific evidence for, or against, this assumption.

We believe it only on grounds of modesty: it would be most remarkable if the universe looked the same in every direction around us, but not around other points in the universe.”

We always keep in mind that the now used heliocentric model is not based purely on scientific data but also on philosophical propositions. That is not something “wrong” on its own. Everyone uses such assumptions when talking, thinking, writing scientific papers. What is “wrong” is trying to persuade people that what you say is the “only truth” that is acceptable by science…’

From Harmonia Philosophica.

So, two of the greatest names in science were prepared to place their primary axiom, the Copernican Principle before the data they had themselves observed. How did they save the it all? The Big Bang theory with all its unproved fudge factors: hyper inflation caused by they know not what, which necessarily ceased its expansion almost immediately, halted by a power unknown. Put that conjecture together with an unseen 97% of the universe, the blacked out twins of cosmology: dark matter and dark energy and you have the theory accepted today. That is how far they will go to protect their theory from one that could explain things much more easily. One proposed by George Ellis, the co-author with Stephen Hawking of the 1973 book The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time.

The following is also from the website Harmonia Philosophica.

‘Ellis has argued ‘that the geocentric model removes the need to “invent” terms like “dark energy” or “dark matter” to explain how galaxies in the cosmos move. He has proposed that we live on a planet that is near one of the two centres the universe has and, according to his calculations , the more geocentric model he advocates removes the need to “invent” terms like “dark energy” or “dark matter” to explain how galaxies in the cosmos move. He has said:

People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations,” […] “For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its centre, and you cannot disprove it based on observations.” […] “You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds. In my view there is absolutely nothing wrong in that. What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that.”’

All of the above should cause a few who would ridicule the geocentric model of the universe to bite their lip. George Ellis is no idiot. Two more quotes just to nail his opinion to the wall.

“If the Earth were at the centre of the universe, the attraction of the surrounding mass of stars would also produce red-shifts wherever we looked! [This] theory seems quite consistent with our astronomical observations

George Ellis has also said:

“I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its centre, and you cannot disprove it[…] A lot of cosmology tries to hide that.”

The video below is well worth your time, although it is very long and its subject matter difficult. It stretched my comprehension to the limits. This lecture opened up to me a view of what must have existed prior to the existence of the universe. His speculation is astonishing and God does not figure in it at all.

George Ellis is a world renowned scientist who co-authored a book with Stephen Hawking. In this video below he is speaking to an invited audience of scientists and students. Both the lecture and the following Q & A session are fascinating. He is not a Christian, he may well be a theist or an agnostic. Half way through his lecture he begins opening up on a subject entirely new to me. Things that physics, chemistry and biology cannot explain. He argues from a philosophical mindset that before the universe existed there had to be aspects of this world already in existence. Here are just three of them: mathematics, ethics and beauty. He begins his list with mathematics because physics is based in mathematics. His argument is entirely novel as far as I know and he speaks it out to an audience of his peers. He has a big reputation to cherish but chose to trespass into areas far beyond empirical science. It seemed to me when I first heard his talk, that he risked almost everything. Did he speak of God? No he did not. But I have the feeling God must have been hovering somewhere in the ether. In his quiet, understated way Ellis also trashed the multiverse, quantum, string and other speculative theories as being beyond the possibility of scientific proof. Which means they are close to pseudo science.

He is a man well worth listening to, even though it is a very long session.

 

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