Monday, March 31, 2014

Reflections on God, Universe, and Science

Reflections on God, Universe, and Science

Current-day knowledge of our universe is probably extremely limited. For all we know, our entire universe, everything we can observe, may be nothing but a single atom inside a much larger universe. Alongside our Big Bang universe, but out of sight, there may be an infinite number of other Big Bangs. And our expanding universe may really be a pulsating universe, that expands and contracts, and we, at this moment in time, are only observing the expansion phase.

Perhaps the biggest mystery of all is how it all began. Saying that the universe began with the Big Bang is hardly sufficient. Where did the Big Bang come from? Since ancient times, philosophers have argued that there has to be a "prime mover," a primordial being - all powerful and eternal - who created the universe. And from there comes a rational justification for certain religious beliefs. But, in reality, such arguments may not be much better than simply saying we live in a pulsating universe that expands and contracts for all eternity.

But one thing seems certain about our universe and that is that it has a propensity to produce intelligent life. Everything from the Big Bang onwards, the coalescence and compounding of elements, the supernovas, the formation of solar systems, the collision of planets, collisions with comets, all combine to produce water, life, evolution of life, and, finally, intelligent life.

Though intelligent life may be rare in the universe (more than fifty years of searches for extraterrestrial intelligence have so far found nothing), some scientists -- especially now with the discovery of thousands of extraterrestrial planets -- continue to believe that life has likely occurred in several places throughout our galaxy not to mention the billions of other galaxies. For reasons just noted, it is also arguable that intelligent life may be the final objective of all existence. This is not a philosophical conclusion. It is a derivative of our scientific knowledge of a universe that strives for ever-increasing complexity. But why? Perhaps the concept of nothing implies material existence, but why does this existence have to include intelligent life?

There is clearly something out there, invisible, undetectable, that plays a pivotal role in the creation and sustenance of the material universe. Whether that something is a being outside and distinct from the material universe, or merely part of the cosmic fabric, remains to be determined. But, contrary to popular opinion, that "something" may not be all-powerful. It seems unable to create intelligent life point blank. To the contrary, it has to proceed in a hit or miss manner, absorbing perhaps trillions of mishaps (gamma rays, cosmic rays, asteroid collisions, a countless diversity of life extinguishers) for each time it registers a success. The enormous vastness of the observable universe can therefore be considered an absolute necessity, to increase the odds of reaching the intelligent-life objectives.

Year after year our knowledge of the universe increases, so there is reason to believe that, one day, our scientists will come up with all the answers regarding the origin of the universe. We may get those answers even sooner in the event of contact with extraterrestrials whose scientific progress is already millenniums more advanced than ours.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

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