The Four Great Discoveries of Modern Science That Prove God Exists/Program 2
|By: Dr. Stephen Meyer; ©2011|
|If the universe had a definite beginning, then a second related significant discovery also becomes clear—space and time had a beginning. Rather than an eternal past or indefinite period of time, the universe was created within a definite space and within a certain time period—all by the same being who designed the universe itself. Dr. Stephen Meyer joins Dr. John Ankerberg.|
Announcer: Today what are the four great discoveries of modern science that prove God exists? The first great discovery of modern science is that the universe had a beginning. Where did it come from? Historian of science Fred Burnham has written, “The God Hypothesis is now a more persuasive and respectable hypothesis than at any time in the last 100 years.” The second great scientific discovery is that space and time also had a beginning. This discovery demands an explanation. It calls for a transcendent cause beyond the universe itself. The third great discovery of modern science is that the laws and constants of the universe have been fine tuned for human life to exist. As physicist Fred Hoyle has written, “A commonsense interpretation of the evidence suggests a super intellect has monkeyed with physics and chemistry as well as biology to make life possible.” The fourth great discovery of modern science is the digital code embedded in the DNA molecule in every human cell. The 3 billion characters of precise information in the digital code instruct the cell how build complex molecules to do the work so the cell can stay alive. Where did this specified information come from? It is compelling evidence of an intelligent designer for the origin of human life. My guest today who will explain these four great scientific discoveries is Dr. Stephen Meyer, who received his PhD in the Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University. He is co-founder of the intelligent design movement in the world and a Senior fellow at the Discovery Institute. We invite you to join us for this special edition of the John Ankerberg Show.
- Ankerberg: Welcome to our program, we’re talking with Dr. Stephen Meyer, philosopher of science, who got his PhD at Cambridge, in England. He’s written a bestselling book “Signature in the Cell” that we’ve been looking at in past programs, “DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design.” And he is talking about where did everything come from; where did the universe come from? What is the latest scientific evidence and why is this refuting the new atheists and the materialistic/naturalistic world-view? Stephen, for folks that missed last week, kind of summarize that, and then we’re going to move on.
- Meyer: Well, the stunning discovery of early 20th century cosmology was that the universe has a definite beginning. And this discovery was made as a result of an observation that was first made by Edwin Hubble, an astronomer who was working in southern California. And he began to work in the early 1920s, using these great new dome telescopes that were being built then. This is the 200-inch dome telescope at the Palomar Observatory on Mt Wilson. Hubble was using a telescope like this that was able to capture large amounts of light in the night sky, and therefore able to resolve little tiny pinpricks of light and show that those pinpricks had structure. What he discovered was that in every direction of the night sky there were galaxies. Galaxies galore. There were spindle nebulae, and spiral nebulae, and in fact if you zeroed in on any small quadrant of the night sky and then magnified that, you would find that there were galaxies just loaded in any little window that you might want to look at. And so that was the first discovery.
- But what was even more mind-blowing is the realization that these galaxies are moving away from us. The further away they are, the faster they are receding, and the only way to make sense of that observation was to posit that the universe is expanding, something like a balloon, in what’s called a spherical expansion. So I have a little visual aid to review what we discussed last time – that basically, as you go forward in time the universe is getting bigger and bigger and bigger, like this. Now that raises an interesting question. This was where it got really interesting. What happens … if the universe is expanding as we go forward in time, what was it like at any point in the past?
- Ankerberg: Go back in time.
- Meyer: As you go back in time. It’s like those old cartoons, you know when suddenly the cartoon character would start backing up as the film was being rolled backwards. Well, you roll the timeline backwards of the cosmos, you eventually get back to the point where all the matter begins to congeal into one place and you get the beginning of the expansion and in fact the beginning of the universe. Now, this observation or this conclusion was eventually reinforced by Einstein himself. Now Einstein didn’t like the conclusion at first. Oddly, he’d come to it independently because of the development of his theory of general relativity – a theory of gravitation that implied that the universe must be expanding and decelerating, much like the shrapnel from a firecracker as it blows out. But of course, a firecracker begins with a “bang;” there is a beginning point. And Einstein initially didn’t like this conclusion. He attempted to “fudge” it by introducing an arbitrary value for one of the terms in his equation describing the gravitational field of the universe. But he eventually came to realize he was wrong when he was invited out to southern California by Edwin Hubble and he was brought to the observatory in Pasadena and was shown what Hubble was himself seeing through the telescope. He came out after a kind of staged demonstration in the telescope and announced to the media, “I now see ze necessity of a beginnink,” in his heavy German accent. He later said that missing this conclusion was the greatest mistake of his scientific career. In fact, he anticipated it in his great theory but he ended up trying to fudge it by adding this arbitrary mathematical value. That, he said, was the greatest mistake.
- So by the early 1930s there are two powerful strains of evidence and theory that were confirming a definite beginning to the universe. And that was very upsetting to a lot of scientists.
- Ankerberg: Why was it upsetting?
- Meyer: Well, one of the first scientists to react to what was soon called – well, later called the “Big Bang Theory” was a man named Arthur Eddington. He was a leading astrophysicist in Britain at the time, and he just flat out didn’t like the idea that there was a beginning to the universe. This is what he said, “Philosophically,” he said, “the notion of a beginning of the present order is repugnant to me. I should like to find a genuine loophole. I simply do not believe the present order of things started off with a bang. The expanding universe is preposterous.” Then he said, “It leaves me cold.” And I love this quotation because Eddington, right out of the chute, tells you what’s bothering him, you know, it’s not… Sometimes I joke when I’m giving public presentations on this. I’ll say that Eddington’s theory was what we call – – the theory in Psychology that we call “denial,” you know. He didn’t really have any good scientific reason, it was just philosophically offensive. He was wedded to this 19th Century world-view that we call scientific materialism, that posits that the universe is eternal and self-existent and it has no beginning. And the scientific evidence was showing exactly the opposite thing and it was upsetting to him.
- Another physicist explained a little bit more about why this was upsetting. This was Robert Dicke of Princeton, in the 1960s. He says, “An infinitely old universe would relieve us of the necessity of understanding the origin of matter in any finite time in the past.” That’s what’s at stake. If we have an infinite universe we don’t have to think about the universe beginning at a point in time and therefore we don’t have to think about what caused everything to come into existence. We can just assume that it was eternal and self-existent. But if there is a definite beginning, then we have established the need to explain the universe by reference to something beyond it. And that seems to point to a need for a transcendent cause, which was uncomfortably like the notion of God for many scientists who were of this kind of materialistic or atheistic mindset. So that’s the rub.
- Ankerberg: Stephen, define what a transcendent cause is, of the universe.
- Meyer: Well, just simply, we’re talking about a cause that is beyond the universe itself. If the universe is characterized by space and time, and then matter and energy within that space and time, a transcendent cause is something that is beyond those domains that we experience in the universe. So what we’re talking about is unlike any other event. It’s the origin of everything we know. It’s the origin of the physical world itself. So if it comes into existence suddenly from nothing physical, then we have to either say it happened for no reason at all – it has no cause, which is kind of nonsensical – or else the cause of the universe comes from beyond it, from the transcendent realm.
- Ankerberg: Well, and obviously the naturalistic, materialistic scientists didn’t like that and so they didn’t like this thing of a beginning point.
- Meyer: Well, this is very troubling. I had the opportunity to attend a conference in 1985 where I heard Allen Sandidge speak. Sandidge was first the student of Edwin Hubble and later a very prominent cosmologist and astronomer in his own right. He was deeply involved in verifying the expansion of the universe by showing that each of the galaxies in all different quadrants of the sky were in fact receding – were moving away. And when I heard him speak he was describing the evidence for the big bang, for the definite origin of the universe in time, and he said this: “Here is evidence” – he looked into the camera [with this] very gritty kind of determination. He wasn’t exactly happy about this when he was first discovering it, apparently. And he says, “Here is evidence for what can only be described as a supernatural event.” What he meant was this event could … points to a cause </nowiki>that lies beyond nature, because nature is what we’re talking about here. Nature is what has been brought into existence. And he goes onto say, “There is no way this could have been predicted or explained from within the realm of Physics as we know it. It’s pointing beyond Physics.” And that’s …
- Ankerberg: That’s quite a statement right there.
- Meyer: It’s an incredible statement. And it rocked my world when I first heard him talk about this. He actually was a long-time agnostic who had come to belief in God because of, not in spite of, this scientific evidence.
- Ankerberg: Talk about Robert Jastrow.
- Meyer: Well, he’s another guy in the field of astronomy and cosmology that saw the theistic implications of these new discoveries. He wrote a book called “God and the Astronomers.” There’s a famous passage at the end of his book where he kind of sums up the dilemma that many scientists felt as a result of the evidence for a definite beginning. He said, “This is an exceedingly strange development, unexpected by all but the theologians,” he says. “They have always accepted the word of the Bible – ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’. It is so unexpected because science has had such extraordinary success in tracing the chain of cause and effect back in time.” But then you get to this beginning point. And there he says, you know, it’s like a bad dream. He says, “The story ends like a bad dream. The scientist has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak, and as he pulls himself up over the final rock he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been waiting there for centuries.” So there’s this kind of ironic twist to the end of it – the theologians anticipating what the scientist in the end discovered; that the universe had a definite beginning. And it was very upsetting to many, many scientists.
- Ankerberg: Alright. We’re going to take a break. When we come back, we’re going to talk about more of the scientific evidence. We’re going to talk about Steven Hawking and his amazing discoveries, that even lays this in cement even further. So stick with us – we’ll be right back.
- Ankerberg: All right, we’re back. We’re talking to Dr. Stephen Meyer, Philosopher of Science. We’re talking about what scientists have discovered about the origin of the universe. And we’ve talked about the fact that the universe had a beginning. It’s been laid in cement, almost, by the scientific discoveries coming up to our time. Then, there is another fellow by the name of Steven Hawking. He was at Cambridge as well, and he came out with some more evidence. What did he say?
- Meyer: Well, in 1968, Steven Hawking solved what are called the “field equations of general relativity,” Einstein’s famous equations. I popped them on the screen here. There’s Einstein next to his famous equation. What Hawking showed is that as you go back in time, you eventually reach a point where what’s called the curvature of space – or the curvature of “space-time” as the physicists refer to it – gets so tight that it is infinitely tight. Okay? So if you think of the mass of the universe congealing as you are closer and closer to the beginning, then you have space curving tighter and tighter as a result of that mass. That’s the theory of general relativity. Now, what Hawking showed is that at some point in the finite past you reach a point where the curvature of space is so tight it’s infinitely tight. That’s a circle so tight it has no volume. Now ask yourself a question: (I used to ask my students this question.) How much stuff can you put in zero spatial volume? Well, obviously, no stuff goes in no space. You can see therefore, that the “Big Bang Theory” as it’s conjoined with general relativity to be a description of the universe as a whole, implies not only that there’s a beginning in time but there is also a beginning to space itself. And with that a point where there is no matter, no energy; where everything from that point forward comes into existence from literally nothing physical. So what you have in the modern scientific description of the origin of the universe is remarkably similar to an old medieval doctrine – an old idea that the universe was created ex nihilo; out of nothing physical. The universe literally pops into existence out of nothing physical. That’s the implication of Hawking’s solution to these key equations of general relativity.
- Ankerberg: All right, Stephen, these were mind-blowing conclusions. What were the big implications of what Steven Hawking was talking about?
- Meyer: Well, Steven Hawking and the whole revolution in cosmology that has taken place, with all the different evidences that have pointed to a definite beginning for the universe, I think point to the need for a transcendent cause of some kind – again, a cause beyond the universe itself. And this is what most of the physicists have sensed – this is what has made them incensed about the discoveries in the new cosmology pointing to a definite beginning. But every great world-view has to answer … the most important question it has to answer is, “What is the thing or the entity from which everything else comes?” As you look at the “Big Bang Singularity,” as it’s called – the beginning point of time and space and matter and energy, and you ask yourself which of the great systems of thought (the great world-views) can explain that, you realize right away there’s a huge problem for the materialistic world-view – the one we’ve inherited from 19th Century science – because materialism first of all affirms that the universe is infinite in time. Right away, the Big Bang refutes that. But beyond that, it affirms that matter is the thing from which everything else comes. Yet if you take Steven Hawking’s discovery seriously, you realize that if you go back far enough in time you have an infinitely tight curvature to space, which corresponds to no spatial volume, and therefore there’s nowhere to put any stuff. There is no matter in the early phase of the universe. It comes into existence suddenly from nothing physical. And therefore the materialistic world-view can’t refer to anything as a cause that can account for the origin of the universe. The materialistic world-view says that matter is the end-all and be-all, the thing from which everything else comes. But matter comes into existence. It’s the first effect, but it is not the cause of the origin of the universe itself. So that’s a big problem. Pantheism, the Eastern world-view, also has a problem explaining the origin of the universe from nothing physical, because pantheism affirms that god is not a person. God is kind of the mystical unity that binds all of the material universe together, and god and matter are linked – they are co-extensive. God is in the flowers and in the trees; he’s in our bodies; he’s in the mountains; god and matter are … “co-extensive” is the philosophical word.
- Ankerberg: God is all and all is god.
- Meyer: Exactly. But if you go back far enough and there’s no matter …
- Ankerberg: There’s no god.
- Meyer: There’s no god. … In both cases, with the materialistic world-view and the pantheistic world-view, there is no entity separate from the universe itself that can be invoked to bring the universe into existence – to act as the cause of the universe itself. That’s where I think that some kind of world-view that invokes a transcendent cause, like deism or theism – two world-views that hold that there is a God separate from the universe that brought the universe into existence – are the only kind of world-views that can really account for this evidence. And so Deism is the idea that God created the universe and then has had nothing to do with it ever since. But God is still separate from the universe. Theism is the idea that God created the universe and has been actively involved in the universe ever since. But both of those world-views posit the existence of an entity that is separate from the physical universe, and therefore they have what philosophers call the “causal power” to explain the universe as a whole. They posit an entity which has the capability of bringing the universe into existence out of nothing physical. Pantheism and materialism can’t do that. Therefore, I think the new discoveries of modern cosmology have incredible implications for these big philosophical questions that we have been debating all the way back since the ancient Greeks – Is the universe finite or infinite? and What’s the thing from which everything else came? Mind, a power beyond the universe, or matter?
- Ankerberg: Stephen, this would sound like an iron-clad case. Okay, what’s the main objection that has been raised against this?
- Meyer: Well the main objection comes from a theory called quantum cosmology, and it’s based on the observation that as the universe goes back far enough in time, it eventually would get the point where it was small enough to be described by the equations of quantum mechanics. I often refer to it as the physics of the very weird, where the smallest things act like both waves and particles. There are some mathematical equations that describe very tiny parts of matter and the way they … and the strange properties that they have. And when the universe is small enough, these equations would apply to the universe as a whole. So some people have posited that when we get a theory of how gravity works at that level, it might supplant Einstein’s general relativity and we may get rid of the singularity. Now the first thing you need to know is that we don’t have a theory of quantum gravity; so we have no good reason to think that we will eventually get rid of the singularity – the beginning point. But beyond that, the quantum cosmology posits that in the very tiniest first micro-, micro-, micro-, milliseconds of the universe, that the universe is existing as a kind of oscillating, a-temporal wave function. This is technical physics talk , but it’s a timeless, non-isolating wave function.
- Ankerberg: Like in limbo.
- Meyer: Yeah, like it’s in limbo – something like that. And what the equation of quantum mechanics is describing is the different possible geometries or gravitational fields that might have existed in that early non-time before the universe began in time. It’s a strange way to think of it. But there’s a big problem with trying to use this to get around the singular beginning. First of all, we don’t have a theory of quantum gravity. But secondly, the equation of quantum mechanics that describes this early mysterious state is actually describing multiple possible states of affairs that might exist; multiple possible geometries or gravitational fields. Our universe has one geometry and one type of gravitational field. So to get from that state described by the quantum equation to the universe we have, something has to –what they call “collapse the wave packet[?]” – get rid of all the possibilities and actualize one. And in the standard “Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics,” what collapses the wave packet, the thing that actualizes possibilities into one, is always an observation, which is made by a mind – a person. So even if you invoke this cosmological model, you actually end up positing the need, inadvertently, for a cosmic observer.
- Ankerberg: You still need one.
- Meyer: Which is essentially the same thing as God. I mean, only God has those kinds of capacities. The other option – and if you don’t go with the Copenhagen model – you’ve got other problems which is basically you don’t have any cause that brings the definite universe that we have into existence from an immaterial, a-temporal state involving many possibilities. There’s no explanation for going from the timeless to the temporal; no explanation for going from the immaterial – this is just a mathematical equation, that’s all it is – to a real universe that has matter and energy and stuff; and there’s no explanation for the infusion of information that’s involved in going from all that range of possibilities to an actualized universe. Because you’re in a sense presented with a range of choices and you’re choosing one. That’s an impartation of information and that’s completely unexplained. So this quantum cosmological model either invokes a cosmic observer or it requires an unexplained transition from no time to time, from no matter to matter, and an unexplained infusion of information. That sounds like, again, design.
- Ankerberg: All right, we’re going to continue this, folks. If you find this fascinating, like I do, next week we’re going to talk about the next step of the scientific evidence that we’ve seen through the telescope and that’s the fine-tuning of the universe, and how this plays into the equation. It’s adding evidence on top of evidence for a theistic conclusion of where everything came from. You won’t want to miss that, so please join us next week.