Re: Re: Accelerating Expansion of the Universe

RDehaan237@aol.com
Tue, 29 Dec 1998 05:54:20 EST

In a message dated 12/28/98 3:21:14 PM, qraal@hotmail.com (Adam Crowl) wrote:

<<Hi Group,

Oops I sent a reply to Bob DeHaan but not to the list. Can you post it
Bob?
>>

Yes. Here it is:

"Hi Group,
Hope you all had a Merry Christmas...
and didn't eat too much [an Australian Christmas tradition, with
ancillary New Year's resolution being to not eat so much next year...]"

>From: RDehaan237@aol.com
>Date: Sun, 27 Dec 1998 07:23:56 EST
>To: asa@calvin.edu
>Subject: Accelerating Expansion of the Universe
>
>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).
>
"A positive cosmological constant it seems, though this finding is in
conflict with other lines of evidence. Frank Tipler pointed me to
studies which suggest that until we measure distances accurately out to
~ z = 3, then local motions will probably distort the apparent value of
Hubble's "constant". That'll take some doing yet."

>_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 does it mean for the Universe, is more to the point? Never ending
expansion and separation of all non-bound systems... a very lonely
Universe in the distant future. All non-bound masses will disappear over
each other's c-boundary. Maybe. That's if the lambda factor is
well-behaved. In the far future it may reverse and bring it all back to
a Big Crunch. There's no theoretical way of knowing what the long term
behaviour of lambda will be. It's a vacuum energy phenomenon and that's
something physics still has a poor grasp on."

>What are their theological implications, if any?

"Several. The Universe is doomed, hence matter is no refuge and there can
be no physical immortality in this cosmos. Eventually our Galaxy, or
Local Group, will be alone and suffer the Heat Death, coalescing into a
Black Hole. So to seek immortality in this world is a fool's quest.

"Maybe. The death of life could also be a challenge for our distant
descendents to oppose, if God doesn't stage a cosmos transforming
Parousia sometime soon."

Do they have
>any special meanings for us?
>
"Matter is but dust and nothing to rely on. Maybe. It's a prospect that
our Bible writers never imagined. They spoke of a dissolving cosmos [or
Peter did] but did that refer to more than the end of the Old Covenant?
The heavens would dissolve in fire in the Big Crunch, but that's not
going to happen in the "Big Chill".

>Does any one have any thoughts on these matters?
>
"Personal thoughts? I'd rather a Big Crunch to the loneliness of watching
the Universe disappear over the aeons. I think we don't know enough
about the vacuum to be able to guess at its long term behaviour, and I
also think our knowledge of the Universe's topology is still
rudimentary.

"The other issue is the theological meaning of cosmic scale processes. No
one has done any real work on the issue. Usually cosmic pessimism breeds
an attitude of "there must be more than this" which leads to speculation
about higher dimensionalities or whatever. Do I agree? I'm an optimist
and I think God meant us to be here. I think one day we'll transform the
Universe in unimaginable ways."

>Thanks for your responses.
>
>Best wishes for a blessed New Year to all.
>
>Bob
>
"And you Bob..."