Re: Accelerating Expansion of the Universe

George Murphy (
Sun, 27 Dec 1998 12:26:33 -0500 wrote:
> Most of you have undoubtedly read the newly discovered finding that the
> expansion of the universe is accelerating. The report "Cosmic Motion
> Revealed" in _Science_ (18 Dec., 1998, p. 2156-7) states, "not only is there
> too little matter in the universe to ever halt the expansion on its own, but
> the outward motion appears to be speeding up, not slowing down" (p. 2156).
> The article goes on to say, "The implications are so profound and unsettling
> that astronomers around the world are still trying to disprove the finding, to
> uncover anything that could create a false impression of cosmic acceleration.
> To date they have been unsuccessful" (p. 2156).
> _Science News_ (Dec. 19 & 26, 1998, pp. 392-4) states, "The expansion of the
> universe accelerates rather than slows down" (p. 394).
> Assuming that these findings hold up over time, what are we as Christians to
> make of them? What are their theological implications, if any? Do they have
> any special meanings for us?

1st, as to _scientific_ implications, I've always felt that the "unsettling"
character of such a result - if it holds up - is due to unjustified prejudice against
the cosmological constant. Yes, Einstein renounced it & called it his "greatest
blunder" - but we don't do physics on Einstein's authority. The fact that he introduced
the cosmological term for a reason later seen to be unsound shouldn't make it out of
bounds for all future work.
Theologically, this doesn't produce an eschatological scenario fundamentally
different from a model whose expansion slows down but never stops. My paper on physics
& eschatology in _dialog_ next year will deal with some of these issues.
> Does any one have any thoughts on these matters? George

George L. Murphy