Re: Hawking's Universe #6

Massie (
Tue, 16 Feb 1999 08:20:13 -0800

Keenan Dungey wrote:
> Dear list,
> Here's some cosmology to add to our discussion of grapenuts. This is
> the FINAL review (finally) from the Hawking series shown on PBS over a year
> ago. I've seen the videos in the PBS catalogue, so this review may still
> be useful for people considering buying the videos. Also, this episode
> raises questions that many of us may have thoughts about. For example,
> yesterday Bert Massie wrote that science can't see beyond the Big Bang.
> Although I agree, some scientists don't. According to this episode,
> cosmologists are trying to explain the Big Bang naturalistically.
> I welcome any responses you have to this review.
> God bless,
> Keenan
> Hawking's Universe #6
> An Answer to Everything
> This last episode of the series is perhaps the best one. Although
> overdramaticized and overconfident in current theories, it presents the
> pros and cons of various theories of everything (TOE). Like the other
> episodes, hoaky music and special effects detract from fascinating
> interviews with the actual scientists working on the theories. TOEs are
> the attempt of modern physics to answer the simple question, "How did the
> Big Bang begin?" Perhaps, by discovering the physical laws which determine
> how the Big Bang works, we can explain the entire Universe (refer to
> Episode 2 on the development of the Big Bang theory).
> Right now, physics can explain the macro world and the micro world.
> Quantum mechanics and general relativity give good but incomplete pictures
> of universe, since they're incompatible. Einstein's instinct was that
> there should be a unifying theory: "I shall never believe that God plays
> dice with the world." No one else at the time shared his view, and he died
> with his work unfinished.
> The current TOEs are described non-mathematically: inflationary
> theory, quantum gravity, evolutionary theory and Superstring theory. Their
> major proponents are interviewed: Alan Guth, Andrei Linde, Hawking (of
> course), Lee Smolin from Pennsylvania State and Edward Witten from the
> Institute for Advanced Study. It's hard to judge the TOEs presented in
> this episode (I guess that's good, Hawking doesn't bias the presentation
> toward his pet theory) due to the reliance on analogies and the lack of
> experimental evidence.
> For example, one of the theories I hadn't heard of before was the
> evolutionary model of Universe formation. Since Darwinism explains the
> complexity of the biological world so well (according to Smolin) maybe
> similar mechanisms of random mutation and natural selection have produced
> the complex universe we observe. A slightly different version of this is
> Linde's proposal of self-reproducing Universes. But whether Darwinism has
> the power to truly explain biological complexity, much less the entire
> universe, is still under debate.[1] This theory just sounds like a fancy
> rephrasing of what any naturalistic theory is: a mixture of chance and
> determinism (lower case).[2]
> Now that we're talking about current science and meeting real people,
> human stories emerge. Linde struggled with depression from Soviet
> political pressure to silence his science. Also, ethical questions arise.
> When is a theory ready to be published. For Linde, he wouldn't publish his
> version of inflationary theory until all the details were worked out. And
> so Guth published first, despite the fact that he knew inflation didn't
> predict the universe as we know it.
> According to this show, we may soon know which TOE is most correct.
> Neil Turok from Cambridge University is in charge of The Planck Explorer, a
> satellite which will make a high resolution map of the primeval radiation
> from the Big Bang within the next ten years. Supposedly, this level of
> detail will provide experimental evidence to differentiate between the
> possible theories.
> The narrator states, "The time may soon be at hand to know the
> Ultimate Truth." Hawking finishes the episode (and series) with the
> following observation: We could have the complete theory in a few
> years..."perhaps the ultimate triumph of science. But knowing how the
> Universe works is not enough to tell us why it exists. To find the answer
> to that question would be to know the mind of God."
> Even knowing the how can give us theological implications. For
> example, Guth points out that the expansion rate of the universe is tuned
> just right to balance between flying apart and collapsing back together
> (refer to Episode 4 on the dark matter problem). Hugh Ross uses this fine
> tuning in his argument for an intelligent designer.[3]
> This episode presents many questions for us to ponder: how did the Big
> Bang begin, have there been other Big Bangs, how can we understand the
> complex universe we find ourselves in, will we ever have a complete picture
> of the universe, if we have a completely "natural" picture is God really
> out of the picture, when is it ethical for us to publish our scientific
> results, etc? If you don't watch any other episode of this series, I
> recommend this one.
> 1. _Darwin's Black Box_ 1996 Michael Behe, Touchstone.
> 2. _Putting it All Together: Seven Patterns for Relating Science and
> Theology_ 1994 Richard Bube, Academic Press
> 3. _The Fingerprint of God_ 1991 Hugh Ross, Promise Publishing Co.

Science is about observables. To have a science you must obserse
something. In a strick definition of science, you must have a testable
theory. However, those of "forensic science" or "natural history",
frequently want to cloat their evaluation of the emperical evidence in
the same level of certainly that tests of natural laws such as gavity
can have and this is an unreasonable conclusion.

There is no potential to look outside of the Big Bang event. Even those
who are the greatest propoents of these theories agree that they cannot
be experimentally observed. For example, the Big Bang gets credits for
a theory which leaves the right ramains, i.e., microwave radiation.

What are the remains of a bouncing universe that we are to observe?

Imaginary time?

Worm holes?

Some physics theories allow certain phenomena which we have not observed
and IF they are true, then perhaps some of these exotic cosmologies may
indeed be possible, but still not testable.

Bert Massie