Sunday, October 22, 2006

Immaculate Deception

The AP news flash on my ISP homepage caught my eye yesterday:

"Melissa Etheridge, Partner Have Twins."

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Melissa Etheridge and her partner, Tammy Lynn Michaels, are the new parents of twins, the couple announced Friday. Michaels gave birth to a boy and girl Tuesday: son Miller Steven and daughter Johnnie Rose.

Knowing that Etheridge is a lesbian, the wording of the piece is bizarre. Was this some kind of miraculous conception ... two women have somehow found a way to become "the new parents of twins"? A quick look at Etheridge's website didn't help.

"Tammy and the babies are in excellent health," Etheridge said ... "The creation of life brings about immeasurable love, and pours hope into the future. The joy will help carry us through our upcoming sleepless nights," the couple said in a statement.

In my (albeit horribly out-of-date) 1977 vintage dictionary, a "parent" is defined specifically as "one who begets or brings forth offspring; to ORIGINATE, PRODUCE." Apparently things have changed since 1977. Way back then, you probably would not have imagined a description of the the "couple" like this one either:

Etheridge, 45, and Michaels, 31, held a commitment ceremony in 2003. The
Grammy-winning singer has two children from her relationship with former partner
Julie Cypher: daughter Bailey Jean and son Beckett.

Way back then, your average person understood a "couple" to be a man and a woman, boy and girl. There was no such thing as a "commitment ceremony," and everyone would have assumed that describing someone as "having two children from a previous relationship" would entail the death or divorce of either the man or the woman who was the parent of those children.

Not so in the modern, enlightened, progressive present.

I must admit that buried deep in the story was the fact that all the proud couples' children were the result of sperm donations. But the headline and gist of the story was, either consciously or unconsciously, meant to portray the lesbian relationship of the proud "parents" as perfectly normal. It was meant to cast the artificially-produced children in this "family" as being the offspring of their natural parents.

Those who influence our culture are shrewd and deceptive in their efforts to pass off the aberrant, unnatural corruptions of our God-given humanity as being perfectly normal. It has been that way for thousands of years (Read Romans 1) and it will continue to be that way for those who choose to condone such actions.

I don't.

The hope is that, hearing about such perversity long enough will numb us to it; make it seem that "that's just the way things are now," and eventually wear us down enough that we will accept it.

I won't.

As a follower of Christ, I will love these women and their children. I will pray for them each to come to know the Truth. I will treat them with kindness and respect. I will attempt to help them see the difference between parents and caretakers. But bad ideas are just bad ideas ... no matter how new or old your dictionary happens to be. Corruption of the creation is what it is ... and what it is, is something we should never condone ... no matter how "intolerant" we are accused of being for doing so.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pushing Strings

While some skeptical scientists have had the temerity to question the speculative “Science of the Gaps” inherent in Superstring Theory and its Multiple Universe progeny, they have not abandoned the notion of a GUT. The August, 2006 issue of Scientific American reports that Alain Connes of the Coll├Ęge of France in Paris, wants to expel Rube Goldberg from the discussion altogether. In place of the physical reconciliation of the macro/micro paradoxes of general relativity and quantum mechanics, Connes’ proposes a mathematical solution. By use of what he calls “noncommutative geometry,” Connes aims to replace the Cartesian definition of space with an altered geometry that recognizes the peculiarities of quantum theory and the spacetime implications of general relativity.

Unlike its Superstring predecessor, Connes’ mathematical model removes the requirement for actual infinities that have dogged its Superstring alternatives. Where “[Super]string theory cannot be tested directly … noncommutative geometry makes testable predictions.” According to Connes, his approach not only better “reflects reality,” it allows physicists to “peer into the complexity” of physics to reveal the “hidden jewels” behind it.

The physics and mathematics behind both Superstring Theory and noncommutative geometry are literally beyond the ability of most of us to comprehend. Superstring Theory may be headed for the ash heap of history. Connes’ new geometry may be its replacement. Time will tell. But the implications of each are the same.

The existence and emergence of the entire ensemble of forces and particles that comprise our universe does not in itself explain the synergy with which the different components of the system operate. This nature, a nature described so well by the language of GUT mathematics, is, says Max Tegmark in the same article noted above, “an abstract, immutable entity existing outside space and time” that allows for the orderliness and invariant properties we observe in nature. It is “something bordering on the mysterious” that has “an eerily real feel” to it and satisfies “a central criterion of objective existence.” Stephen Hawking asks where such characteristics as mathematics, and the laws of physics and chemistry, could have originated. Even the supreme atheist Bertrand Russell once remarked that mathematics holds both truth and supreme beauty.

The astounding implications of these cosmological theories have driven naturalistic scientists to infinite ends in their many and varied attempts to explain them away. But they are not going away. Theories come and go but the implications of those theories remain steadfastly in place.

Monday, October 9, 2006

All Strung Out

Theoretical physics has confirmed agreement between the predictions of General Relativity Theory and its correlation to the physical world to within a trillionth of a percent precision – a precision that cannot be written off to chance. On the macro-scale, where general relativity predominates, this makes nature quite predictable. It also offers implications, the most profound of which is the suggestion that the universe must have had its beginning in a “singularity” of infinite density where all matter, energy, space and time were condensed.

At the same time, Quantum Mechanics has proven to be an extremely fruitful scientific discipline for predicting and understanding the micro-level workings of our universe. At the quantum level, indeterminacy reigns. But the probabilities describing unpredictable events succeed in some way to end in a predictable array of outcomes. Quantum mechanics offers its own view of the origins of the universe that also includes issues regarding the singularity. General relativity and quantum mechanics do well at describing their separate realms but they do not seem to be compatible with one another.

For many years the search has been on for some way of quantifying and describing this micro-level/macro-level paradox. Science believes the answers lay in some kind of Grand Unified Theory (GUT) that is capable of offering an integrated view for how the universe operates in its current fashion, and to understand the singularity from which it appears the entire universe emanated. The most promising version of a GUT, which first emerged in the late '70s, has been Superstring Theory, a theory that explains all the known forces and observed particles as having been produced by vibrations in tiny “loops of energy” called strings.

The theory is esoteric but the most comprehensive form of it requires the universe to have originated in ten dimensions, six of which quickly “rolled up” into a compact, invisible coil that exists everywhere within the four observable dimensions. Physicist Hugh Ross summarizes Superstring Theory as follows:
"It is the only theory that self-consistently explains all the known
properties of the known fundamental particles (now numbering 58), all the
properties and principles of quantum mechanics, all the properties and
principles of both special and general relativity, the operation of all four
forces of physics, and all the known details of the creation event."
Sounds like a winner ... or at least it did. Recently, doubters (and there have always been some) have become more vocal about the fact that they believe Supersrting Theory may be unraveling. Critics claim that Supersting Theory has become "a Rube Goldberg contraption" in its most recent, complex iterations. Interestingly, the reason for their skepticism lies in the fact that, to reconcile the complex implications of the theory, naturalistic scientists have been driven to postulate that an infinite number of universes exist and that they are all different . We just happen to be in the one that has all the parameters just right to allow for life to exist.

Notice that the theory, put forth by a plethora of scientists who demand that all scientific proposals must be empirically measurable and falsifiable, proposes a solution (an infinite number of external and therefore undetectable universes) that is both unverifiable and unobservable.

The hypothesis originally devised by Princeton graduate student Hugh Everett was at one time described as an “outrageous” interpretation of quantum mechanics because, as Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton explain in their 1994 book, The Soul of Science, “…the idea of innumerable, unobservable universes co-existing alongside the one we see at any instant is too extravagant to be widely accept.”

More recently however, in the cover story for the May, 2003 issue of Scientific American titled, “Infinite Earths in Parallel Universes Really Exist,” physicist and astronomer Max Tegmark stated that, "The idea … seems strange and implausible, but it looks as if we will just have to live with it, because it is supported by astronomical observations."

Whoa!

Let's think about that one for a second. Notice that Superstring Theory does not attempt to explain the level of complexity (design?) that exists in our universe. It recognizes these astronomical observations and accepst them. Then, in order to impose a naturalistic explanation for this complexity on those observations, the existence of an infinite number other universes has been inferred.

In other words, naturalistic scientists have unwittingly admitted that the complexity exhibited by our universe can only be explained as having emanated from a potentially infinite source.

Now isn't that interesting? And isn't it also interesting that some skeptical scientists have actually exhibited some backbone by questioning such an explanation. Don't get me wrong. I'm no physicist and could not begin to explain the details of Superstring Theory to anyone. I don't know if Superstring theory is flawed or just in a slump. But I can recognize its implications.

And in this case, the implications are Divine.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Bang?! (Part II)

It would take a larger space than I have (or could fill for that matter) to chronicle the many views of the universe's origins that have existed through history. Suffice it to say that, because there was no scientific way to analyze or verify any of them, they stood as philosophical speculations. Plato thought that experimental science was unworthy of the attention of great intellects (like himself). Aristotle, Plato's student, thought it self-evidentially obvious that the Earth could not move because it had already found its way to the center of the universe.

Newton, who tried to apply scientific evidence to the issue, determined that gravity, because it entails the attraction of all particles toward one another, would have caused the edges of the universe to collapse toward the center. Because this obviously was not going on the universe could not be finite. He therefore deduced that the universe must be infinitely large and matter evenly distributed within it. In the mid 18th century Kant's cosmology added that, for various reasons, the universe had to have no beginning in time and be infinite in extent.

For a couple of centuries there were no scientific cosmological developments that could unseat these dogmatic views. So, as Hugh Ross points out in The Fingerprint of God, Newton's static, eternal, infinite universe was "cast in concrete" and readily accepted by all thinking people, most notably those who saw this fact as removing any need for a cosmological First Cause -- or what some of us might call, "God."

That's when Einstein came along and upset the apple cart. Struggling to put forth a theory to explain gravity, Einstein published his Theory of General Relativity in 1915. Part of his struggle was with the rascally, inconvenient implication his equations kept bringing up. No matter how many times he recalculated things, he continued to be bothered by the fact that, if he was correct, the universe had to be expanding. Scientific dogma disallowed such an implication so, in an effort to maintain professional respectability, Einstein inserted a cosmological constant into his equations to cancel out the expansion.

The key point in all this is that Einstein (and others) rejected the idea of an expanding universe not for scientific reasons, but for philosophical reasons! You see, if the universe is expanding as time goes on, running the clock backward tells us that, at some point (now referred to as the "singularity"), the universe must have begun to expand from a single point -- the point at which a universe-sized Cause must have set the expansion in motion.

Einstein's theory had divine implications.

By 1929, Edwin Hubble published his finding that, not only was the universe around us expanding in every direction, but the farther out he looked, the faster it was expanding. This data fit perfectly with Einstein's equations and forced him (Einstein) to admit that his cosmological constant was uncalled for. He later described his insistence on including it the "biggest mistake of his life."

The upshot of all this is to point out that atheist scientists hate the idea of the Big Bang, not for scientific reasons, but for philosophical ones! Sir Arthur Eddington called the idea that the universe had a beginning "repugnant." Fred Hoyle was prompted to sarcasm and was the originator of the term "Big Bang." Hoyle meant the name to be a derogatory label for a concept he could not bring himself to stomach. The problem is that today, scientists have verified the accuracy of the Big Bang so extensively that many refer to it as a “law” instead of a theory. Christian Theists need to realize that the Big Bang is not something we should fear.

Cosmologically and scientifically speaking, The Big Bang may be our greatest ally.