вторник, 8 февруари 2011 г.

Contemplations regarding the grandeur of "The Grand Design"

Valentin Velchev

Recently I got to know the last bestseller of the famous British cosmologist and science promoter Stephen Hawking, co-written with the American physicist Leonard Mlodinov. This book succeeded to scandalize the religious leaders, already before it was printed out, with the authors' implications that in it they have managed to refute Sir Isaac Newton, who claimed that there is no way the Universe emerged from the chaos, but it is a piece of work of the almighty God's hand. (http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/09/03/hawking.god.universe.criticisms/index.html#fbid=VXQB4-kvyiF&wom=false) Journalists, of course, took immediately advantage of the rising storm, blowing the coals in addition with headings like: "St. Hawking slammed the door right under God's nose", "And Hawking said: there is no God", "Cosmologists have proved that God has not created the Universe", etc.
I have to admit that I was extremely blank, because I did not find enough (not to say almost none) reasons for such statements in the book. The authors' thesis, which is not new at all, is that quantum fluctuations of vacuum spontaneously generate an enormous variety of universes with all sorts of laws, fundamental constants and elementary particles. Thus, the statistical probability for the emergence of worlds with suitable conditions for development of life and intelligence tends to 100%.
I insist to remark, however, that the assumption for a Multi-universe as an explanation of the anthrop principle only peers the result with the theological concept for a Divine providence, because:

1) For a conscious and omnipotent God it is also one hundred percent possible to design the Universe.
2) By definition God is transcendental, but the other universes are also out of the reach of our measuring equipment. I.e. nobody has yet seen or registered them.

We face the following problem - if the possibilities for the fulfillment of a certain event are equally probably (the paradox is that they are both 100%, and not 50%-50% or 63%-37%, etc.), then, which of those is realized in reality? Here indeed there is a certain analogy with R. Feynman's theory mentioned in the book - while things are not known both stories are entirely possible, but when they are defined one of them becomes one hundred, and other one - zero percent. (In this article, however, I am not going to discuss the other topics reviewed in "The Grand Design" any more, since they do not concern the question of the existence of God.)

According to the pagan religions at the beginning the matter was a tempestuous chaos, which, through its elemental action, generates the first gods. They, on their turn, create the cosmos, the earth, the plants, the animals and the human being. Our life often depends on their whims and freaks, therefore our destiny is constantly haunted by unexpected turns, upheavals and falls.
Contemporary naturalistic models assure us that, similarly, in the vacuum, chaotic processes are seething, constantly generating new worlds. In a number of them not only life shoots up, but some of its forms achieve a very high intellectual level. According to this scenario, the technically developed civilizations enter the role of "gods", which create mini universes, as well as biosphere on their uninhabited planets. According to Michael Turner's words (director of the Institute of Cosmo physics in Chicago, "… our creator could be a physics (or biology - author's note V.V.) student in an advanced civilization carrying out a routine lab experiment".
In that case, is there not a conflict between Christianity and the reviving neo-paganism becoming imminent?

Recently, I have completed a study, which examines these problems, but from a diametrically opposed point of view. Actually, let me say in a few words how I came to my own "insights". I have graduated a mathematics and physics high school. My first intent was to study astronomy, but through the force of circumstances I have majored in biology, and recently I graduated theology. I have always been, without reserve, convinced in the rightness of Darwin's doctrine, and, even when after being an atheist I was converted to Christianity, I have never intended to question this doctrine. To me it was not important how exactly God has created the world, since He has an unlimited round of possibilities - even such that we could not imagine. Therefore, I decided to study what are the principles laid down in the foundation of human creative activity and to check whether, by analogue, they are not discovered in the pattern of the Universe and the living creatures. But in the course of my work I came across a few entertaining scientific-popular readings, which described the pretty significant problems before cosmology. They have been written already at the time of communism by scientists working in the former Soviet Union, and nobody could upbraid them for being unloyal to the ideas of the dialectic-materialistic philosophy. This made me examine the questions in more detail, having read all books and textbooks related to the latest achievements and models in physics and cosmology. (In relation to that topic I have not used any creationist literature, since I did not find anything appropriate. Anyway, I have read a few books by such authors, but they were related exclusively to polemics on the biologic evolution and did not present an interest for my present study.) At a certain time, however, I came to some conclusions, which seemed to have crystallized alone from the contemporary scientific picture of the world, and they were too surprising even to me. I have carefully further elaborated, summarized and systematized them in a book that was published in the middle of June 2010, i.e. just a few months before "The Grand Design".
(See here: http://www.pravoslavie.bg/Книжарница/Богословие/Вяра-и-наука)

I have prepared a short excerpt from Chapter VI to make it more clear how I have:
A. Invalidated the argument about the multitude of universes as an explanation of the anthrop principle.
B. Drawn three principles which are antithesis of the Darwin's theory and prohibit evolution in still and living nature.
C. Replied to the question posed by Einstein "did God have a choice when building the Universe?".
(The resume can be seen at:
http://kosmos-21.blogspot.com/2011/01/page-159-167-farewell-darwin-at-time-of.html )

The book also examines a lot of other questions:
1) A new "dynamic aspect" of the anthrop principles is developed.
2) In physics and cosmology time appears as an enemy to evolution. If atoms and celestial systems are not mapped out and balanced in an optimum way, they will be destabilized very quickly.
3) Should science look only for material reasons or its task is to find the objective truth for the existence of matters?
4) Is the doctrine for the theistic evolution compatible with the Christian theology?
5) Did Christianity hinder the progress of human knowledge? Or why modern science has developed in Christian Europe, and not in some of the ancient civilizations - Egypt, Babylon, India, China, Greece.
6) On the grounds of the latest studies of historians and philosophers, science is provided with a new outlook on the Church's attitude towards Copernicus, Bruno, and Galilei.
7) The three classic arguments of Christian apologetics are further elaborated - cosmological, teleological, and ontological - having obtained if not a proof, at least a better testimony on the existence of God.

Obviously, the principles to which I have arrived are creationistic, even though I have not looked for them deliberately. One cannot escape one's own philosophic, religious or atheistic beliefs. Therefore, I think that it is possible for my Christian faith to have influenced my conclusions at a certain stage of my work. But the same is valid also for Hawking and Mlodinov - in the end of "The Grand Design" their predilection for the materialistic explanation of nature is clearly perceived. What is more - with their statements (see internet link at the beginning of the article), they have thrown the gauntlet to "all the Christian men".
Therefore, I intend to benefit from the right of response and to ask those two scientists to an open debate. Thus I hope we can refute reciprocally our erroneous arguments and so to surmount the subjectivism in our position to a great extent. I also hope that the academic society, being an arbitrator in the dispute, will contribute to the formation of a better supported and objective philosophy of science.
As in the movies - when a group of detectives (or profilers) face a very complicated case, initially all versions for the committed crime seem equally probable. But the careful analysis of evidence, step by step leads to the only true story, according to which things happened. Similarly, in science obviously it is necessary to review once again the facts (the "evidence") and their interpretation. Only this will help us understand is there a "Perpetrator" indeed for the existence of the universe or it has emerged as a result of an unpredicted fortuity?!

An Open Letter to Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinov

Dear Mr. Hawking and Mr. Mlodinov!

My name is Valentin Velchev and I live in Bulgaria. As you have understood, I invite you to an open debate! It might be good if we start with the question whether the Universe was born out of "something" or out of "nothing". That is, if you agree to debate, I think it would be most appropriate if we first clarify what vacuum is. But, of course, I am ready to accept any other proposal for the beginning of the dispute.
Yours truly,
Valentin Velchev

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