[by Earl Blacklock] In two earlier articles, I discussed how the “science only” crowd was forced into irrational assumptions by their conviction that there is no God, no Creator. I equated their irrationality to the mental patient who believed the world rested on the back of a giant turtle, with that turtle resting on a large turtle, and so on, the result being “turtles all the way down”.
I was, of course, referring to the assumption from those who would say that science can be pursued to the exclusion of faith – that all of life, all of the universe, came out of nothing without any involvement from an omnipotent God.
I’m sure the vast majority of scientists would smile, bemused, at the comparison. It is, after all, only Christians whose faith causes them to be irrational – isn’t it? Surely science is based, as Dragnet of old, on “just the facts”?
Well, there’s a new theory on the nature of the universe, and it’s one that is so ludicrous that other scientists are having trouble taking it seriously.
Part of the theory is old news. Scientists have for years realized that there is a discrepancy between the sum of all the visible sources of energy and what they estimate should be out there. They call the “missing” energy dark energy, which comprises about three quarters of the universe and that is thought to be accelerating its expansion.
The other part of the theory relates to “the quantum effect”, which one article called “a truly weird aspect of physics that says whenever we observe or measure something, we reset its clock.” Another explanation of the quantum effect is that the nature of reality is affected by whether or not there is an observer. The observer, by becoming part of the reality being observed, changes it. Some speculate that, by extension, the universe only exists when it is being observed.
So what happens when you put these two seemingly unrelated ideas together? Apparently, the end of the world, and the universe, as we know it. As stated by physicist Lawrence Krauss: “If we attempt to apply quantum mechanics to the universe as a whole, and if our present state is unstable, then what sets the clock that governs decay? Once we determine our current state by observations, have we reset the clock? If so, as incredible as it may seem, our detection of dark energy may have reduced the life expectancy of our universe.”
Krauss explains that a universe composed of such a large quantity of dark matter is not yet fully stable, and is subject to sudden decay. The energy shift from such a decay would destroy everything in the universe. Thankfully, he suggests, the longer the universe survives, the more likely it will mature to a stable state, and we are likely beyond the switching point at which decay is the more likely outcome.
Here’s the kicker, however. According to Krauss and his colleague James Dent, since evidence for dark matter was discovered approximately 10 years ago, the quantum effect created by that observation and measurement may well have had the effect of causing a shift in the state of the universe from stable to decay. But not necessarily. There is just no way of knowing for sure.
In other words, the universe and everything in it is going to die, someday, maybe – all because scientists on an insignificant, accidental rock called Earth observed and measured something that exists in theory which presumably comprises most of the universe.
Now, quantum theory is a well-established and accepted branch of physics that has as its starting point the need to explain the otherwise unexplainable – how does an atom stay together? According to Isaac Newton’s laws of motion, the electrons of the atom should travel toward and collide with the nucleus. Newtonian mechanics being inadequate to understand a little thing like how matter stays together, quantum mechanics was born. And so far, the explanation has helped scientists predict a great deal about our incredible universe, including the quantum effect.
Unfortunately, quantum theory has a basic flaw. It cannot be unified. That is, there is no single explanation which explains quantum mechanics while taking into account other accepted theories and laws such as Einstein’s theory of relativity, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, Newton’s laws of motion, and Maxwell’s laws of classical electromagnetism. In other words, no one can fully explain the nature of the universe without running afoul of another scientific theory or law.
From the Christian perspective, that is a small problem. A unified theory awaits – if one only accepts the possibility that God did indeed create the universe, and that He sustains it still. Hebrews 1:3 says Jesus holds the universe together. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”
Lawrence Krauss is professor of physics and astronomy at Case Western Reserve University. He is also the bestselling author of a number of books, including The Physics of Star Trek. He is cited in Wikipedia as being “most famous for his advocacy against intelligent design”.
Wikipedia also observes that he “serves on the advisory board of the Campaign to Defend the Constitution, an organization dedicated to opposing the religious right”. As a world-renowned physicist, he is uniquely qualified to demonstrate this truth: once you reject the possibility that God is the Creator and sustainer of the universe, you are forced into believing almost anything – even if it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Read more in this series:
- I. It’s turtles all the way down
- II. More turtles all the way down
- III. Honey I shrunk the universe
- IV. Science continues to advance – sort of
- V. Why I’m a Climate Change Skeptic