Friday, July 31, 2009

You can't make something from nothing!

This blog entry is actually prompted by a brief discussion I had with a workmate at drinks after work today. She's a science teacher, and you know me: a religious education (theology) teacher. I've got nothing against science, in fact I'm a big fan of it and I'll often use science in my classes to supplement concepts of faith, God, and this general sense of wonder and awe that human beings have of the world.

Science offers - by means of human reason(ing), plus the examination of physical evidence, plus philosophy - a way for us to discover how things came to be, e.g. how the universe came in to existence, how the human body works, etc. I think we can agree, however, that science can't explain all and so we all tote around our scientific theories. Theists will turn to God for answers when science leaves the proverbial skin bare.

In light of this discussion with my workmate, I decided to dust-off note entry I made on Facebook a while back (March 1, 2009) when a student of mine asked me how the universe was created...

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During the week a student of mine asked me to explain how God could have created the universe, which for me was easy enough given my background in theology and years of study in the area, but the catch was that I had to explain it scientifically! Science is not my area of expertise, but not wanting to disappoint my student, I promised him that I would have an answer for him the next time I saw him. This student was gracious enough to allow me to spend the interim building a case and then present an argument at our next meeting.

I dusted-off my Year 11 Physics text book (I knew it would come in handy one day) and stumbled-upon Isaac Newton's laws of motion. From there, I was able to construct a concise argument:

First law
There exists a set of inertial reference frames relative to which all particles with no net force acting on them will move without change in their velocity. This law is often simplified as "A body persists its state of rest or of uniform motion unless acted upon by an external unbalanced force." Newton's first law is often referred to as the law of inertia.

Second law
Observed from an inertial reference frame, the net force on a particle of constant mass is proportional to the time rate of change of its linear momentum: F = d(mv)/dt. This law is often stated as, "Force equals mass times acceleration (F = ma)": the net force on an object is equal to the mass of the object multiplied by its acceleration.

Third law
Whenever a particle A exerts a force on another particle B, B simultaneously exerts a force on A with the same magnitude in the opposite direction. The strong form of the law further postulates that these two forces act along the same line. This law is often simplified into the sentence, "To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."

In layman's terms...

Nothing can be moved unless something else is moving upon it, i.e. applying a force to it. If we refer to the "big bang", was this a genuine chance event spawning forth all that we now know to naturally exist? It would seem as though fate was rolling lucky sevens at that fateful moment consider all that it set in place for us. It's an interesting theory, but for it to work properly, you first need the ingredients to make such a reaction, and the ingredients need to behave in a certain way in order for the reaction to manifest and dove-tail further reactions. If this were an equation, it would look like this:

Ingredients manifested + correct composition of ingredients + precise impact of ingredients to achieve desired or "chance" effect = creation/universe set in perpetual motion

If I decide to bake a cake, we all know that we need the basic ingredients to do so: milk, flour, eggs, sugar, butter, etc. While I can lay-out all the ingredients on a table in front of me, it's not a cake yet. There is potential cake, but the outcome, of course, depends on the composition of the ingredients, the mixing, the oven, the heat, the baking, etc. Before all this occurs, there needs to be a will (a desire or drive) to bake a cake. In other words: a thought, idea, purpose or reason, this is the initial force that sets things in motion. Without this initial will or drive, the ingredients exist unto themselves; they do not make a cake. Let's not forget also, that there is a method (a step-by-step process) to baking a cake. Throwing the ingredients together nonsensically will not result in a cake, not even if I repeated the process a few hundred times. I might create something edible by doing things this way, and I could call it a cake, but we all know what a cake should look and taste like; I'd just be kidding myself!

Ask yourself this: considering the precision of our planet to others, our distance from the sun (if we were closer, the atmosphere would be too warm to sustain life; if we were further away, the atmosphere would be too cool to sustain life), the distance of our moon and our sun to us creating the perfect and stable gravitational pull, the compostion of elements in the air that we breathe, etc., all this for all manner of life to be sustained and work in a natural symbiosis, could this have possibly been made by "accident"? Or do you think it may have been planned or designed this way?

If your answer is "Yes" to the first question, then you should throw a deck of cards in to the air and see if they fall on the floor to create a house (heck, I'll give you 20 bucks if you can make a teepee this way). The likelihood of that happening is the same as all that we see around us being made and existing by mere "chance". It would be a like a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard and making the Sydney Opera house in its aftermath: it could happen, but chances of it are nonsensically remote!

If your answer is "Yes" to the latter, well, I think we know what made that all possible.

Even if we assume the big bang theory to be factual, it would take a great deal of planning, measuring, weighing, counting, etc., to make sure that all the conditions for the creation of the universe in its perpetual motion, and for earth and its capacity to sustain the most complex to the most basic lifeforms to take place. Even if one of the ingredients for life was miscalculated, or its impact/motion on another ingredient for life, things as we know them would not exist; they would exist differently, and might I add quite dramatically too.

There is logic and order to the world and the universe, and this simply could not have happened by chance. For billions of people around the world and throughout history, the author of this logic, order, precision, and our delicate existence in the vastness of space and the universe, is God.

So what did my student make of all this? He simply nodded his head and said "thank you".

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