Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Reports of the Death of String Theory may be Greatly Exaggerated

In a recent podcast, Dr. William Lane Craig discusses my blog post about the book The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow. In his remarks, Dr. Craig says that he is surprised by Hawking's reference to String Theory because String Theory seems to have some fatal flaws. I have heard from others that String Theory has not lived up to the promise it seemed to show about 10 or 20 years ago. In this post, I will describe what String Theory is, why some people think it may be in trouble, and some theological implications of String Theory.

String Theory is a theoretical idea in physics that proposes that the most fundamental objects in the universe are one-dimensional objects called strings. In String Theory, the fundamental particles that we currently know make up the structure of the universe including leptons, quarks, and bosons, are composed of one-dimensional objects that are described as vibrating strings. Just as different vibrational modes of a guitar string will give different musical tones, so the different vibrating modes of the strings give rise to different particles.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

One Year Anniversary

Exactly one year ago today I posted my first blog entry. On this anniversary, I want to thank those who encouraged me to write a blog and those who have read my blog over the last year. I have had about 66,000 page views during that time. Certainly this is a modest number given the scope of the worldwide internet. Nevertheless, I have appreciated my readers from all over the globe including people from Ukraine, Italy, Canada, Russia, Israel, Brazil, India, Germany, France, Australia, the U.K., Georgia, Indonesia, and of course the U.S.A., and other places. I appreciate those who have commented about the blog both publicly in the comments section and privately to me in email and other contacts. Please feel free to contact me in the future with questions, thoughts, and ideas. The worldwide reach of the internet is remarkable and given the nature of my job with worldwide collaborations at CERN, I so much appreciate the global nature of science and Christianity.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Transcendent God: Part 2

It is difficult to even begin to comprehend a God who is truly transcendent. We humans are constrained by the three dimensions of space and one dimension of time that we inhabit, so we tend to greatly underestimate the capabilities of a being who is not bound by these dimensions. In "A Transcendent God: Part 1" I used the book Flatland by Edwin Abbott as an illlustration to help us understand God's transcendence. The book describes a universe that is flat like a piece of paper and has only two dimensions, and the attempts made by a three-dimensional being to communicate with the Flatlanders. This analogy demonstrated that (1) it would be impossible for us to fully understand any being outside of our dimensions, and (2) we could only be aware of a transcendent being if he chose to reveal himself to us. These two conclusions definitely apply to God.

Let's look at a few other characteristics of God that are elucidated by the Flatland analogy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Transcendent God: Part 1

Scientific observations have led to the conclusion that the space, time, matter, and energy of our universe came into existence about 13.8 billion years ago. Thus, the cause of our universe must be transcendent, not a part of this physical universe, as I have stated several times in this blog such as here, here, and here. Therefore, these scientific discoveries give corroborating evidence for a transcendent God as described in the Bible.

Although Christians believe in a transcendent God and the existence of a transcendent God is supported by the scientific evidence, I find that most people, both believers and unbelievers, have a very poor understanding of the characteristics of a transcendent being. Many of the questions I hear from atheists about God are framed in a context that completely ignore his transcendence. Many of the problems that people have about how God interacts or doesn't interact in our world arise apart from an acknowledgement or understanding of the ramifications of God's transcendence. As a scientist I may have some insight into some of the characteristics of a transcendent being and how that might affect our understanding of God's interaction with us finite beings.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Should We Be Here?

Why are we here? That question could be answered from many perspectives including philosophical, theological, and scientific. From a scientific perspective we are here partly because the early universe had an excess of matter over antimatter. If the amount of matter and antimatter had been identical, their interactions would have annihilated both, resulting in a universe with energy but no matter, so we would not be here. Physicists have been investigating why there is excess matter in the universe, and in particular, if there is a discernible difference between matter and antimatter. When a recent very precise measurement at CERN found no difference in a certain property of matter and antimatter, the headlines across the globe, such as in Cosmos,, and The New York Post, proclaimed "The Universe Shouldn't Exist."

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Reconciling Biblical Interpretation and Scientific Inquiry

In my previous post I pointed out some similarities between good scientific inquiry and good biblical interpretation. I suggested that certain scientific ideas and certain biblical ideas are so well established that, as more information is acquired, they may be modified but will not be overturned. I claimed that the Big Bang was such an idea and that the evidence for it is so compelling that the details of the origin of our universe may be revised, (particularly what happened in the first 10-35 seconds or so), but that the theory itself was so well established it will not be overturned.

Some readers have asked me if I would give an example of a biblical conclusion that is so well established that it will not be overturned even with further observations and evidence. I would suggest one such idea is that the Bible is basically a reliable historical document. For nearly 200 years, critics have claimed that various historical places, events, and people mentioned in the Bible have not been discovered in archaeological excavations and this lack of confirmation shows the Bible is unreliable. Time and time again further archaeological findings have overturned the prevailing view and shown the Bible to be accurate. Some examples include the existence of a Hittite civilization, the existence and governorship of Pilate, the existence of King David, and the fact that people crucified could be buried in private tombs. Further discoveries should continue this trend and I expect that other events in the Bible that currently have little archaeological corroboration will eventually be confirmed.