Sunday, April 1, 2012

Big Bang

Again the lines of science and religion are crossing in this post.  But since this is my blog I can do whatever I want. :)  It's who I am, in reality I'm a gospel nerd as much as I am a science nerd. And they go together quite beautifully in my opinion.  So that is my disclaimer, choose to read or not, and I do invite you to comment.

"Anyone who has studied the inner workings of the human body has seen God moving in His majesty and power.  ..Some think such marvelous things happened by chance or resulted from a big bang somewhere.  Ask yourself - could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary?"
-Russell M. Nelson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

I define myself as an open-minded skeptic.  (Those two adjectives are not antagonists, I promise.)  I don't personally believe in the Big Bang Theory.  I must admit I need to learn more about it.  But I am a big believer that truth is logical.  The things I believe - both in science and in religion - make sense.  To allow us to learn, grow, and do many good things by our free will, God gave us many tools - most notably our brain.  The Big Bang theory doesn't make sense to me.  Mostly, the evidences that they have found and attributed to this theory don't seem very conclusive at all to me- there are many many ways these things could be interpreted, but sometimes scientists take the observances and try to assimilate it into a theory that they already have.  Naturally that's the most logical thing for them to do.  I just keep in mind that science doesn't have all the answers.  We keep learning more and more, and if at any time someone states that we know it all about any particular thing, I would think them a fool.  Even with something like our own bodies - we know a ton about them and how they work.  But we still don't know or understand it all.

Internationally renown Astrophysicist George F. R. Ellis explains: "People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations….For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations….You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds. In my view there is absolutely nothing wrong in that. What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that."
From another leader - the Prophet on the earth today (literally today, April 1, 2012, President Thomas S. Monson:
"Where did we come from?  Why are we here?  Where do we go?  Answers to these are not discovered in academia's textbooks or on the internet.  They embrace eternity.  Where do we come from?  This query is inevitably thought if not spoken by every human being."
He told a story of a man who became convinced that death was the end.  But then all that crumbled and he came back to his faith.  What made the difference?  President Monson explains:
"His wife died.  With a broken heart, he went to the room where lay all that was mortal of her.  He looked again at the face he loved so well.  Coming out he said to a friend - 'it is she, and yet it is not she.  Everything is changed.  Something that was there before is taken away.  She is not the same.  What could be gone, if it be not the soul?'  Later he wrote - 'Death is not what some people imagine. It is only like going into another room.  In that other room we shall find the dear women and men and children we have loved and lost.' "

So I guess it comes down to this.  The science attempts to explain how things happen.  The gospel tells us why.  I think that is the point that the Church leaders have been trying to get across.  Don't try to turn to science to answer the why questions.


  1. You do need to learn more about te big bang theory and so does anyone who wishes to comment intelligently on it, including Nelson. Steven Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan each have good tv series and books that explain the preponderance of evidence for it. Once you understand hubble expansion and the evidence of wmap data you get to comment on the big bang with a tiny bit of authority.

  2. I don't believe I made any claim to speak with any sort of authority, hence my disclaimer at the beginning, and I am speaking my own thoughts, opinions, and beliefs. I'm sure I will be learning more about it in the future, so thank you for the recommendation. From what I have heard so far, there are a handful of evidences, none of which are conclusive in my skeptical mind. I'm sure the explanation works. And I'm also sure there are others that could work just as well, as the quote from Ellis explains. None of these explanations will ever be conclusive because we simply don't know, we are making our best inferences, which is all we can do. But I do look forward to learning this proponderance of evidence you speak of. If you care to share some specific sources I'd be happy to check them out when I have time.

    As for President Nelson, he was speaking to an audience of church members, not scientists. And I am not speaking to an audience of scientists either, but rather to common people who are interested in science or nature, which is why I speak my opinions, inferences, and hypotheses as I go through my journey of learning. I fully expect to find the evidence that disproves half of the things I make hypotheses about on this blog.

    Thank you for visiting, and I hope all other viewers recognize the clarification that I am speaking my own opinion as still an infant in the world of scientific knowledge, and I speak from a worldview of faith which obviously gives me a particular bias that will naturally differ from everyone else who doesn't share my faith.

  3. When apostles speak, they do not always speak for the church or for God. Truth is from God and we have nothing to fear of it. The truth does not deserve our glib rejection, and to do so only shields us from God's light and knowledge.

    Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking - The Story of Everything

    Carl Sagan's Cosmos

    Neil Degrasse Tyson Evidence for the Big Bang Theory

  4. "The Religion that is afraid of science dishonours God and commits suicide. It acknowledges that it is not equal to the whole of truth, that it legislates, tyrannizes over a village of God’s empires but is not the immutable universal law." -Emerson

    "In these respects we differ from the Christian world, for our religion will not clash with or contradict the facts of science in any particular. You may take geology, for instance, and it is a true science; not that I would say for a moment that all the conclusions and deductions of its professors are true, but its leading principles are; they are facts--they are eternal; and to assert that the Lord made this earth out of nothing is preposterous and impossible. God never made something out of nothing; it is not in the economy or law by which the worlds were, are, or will exist. There is an eternity before us, and it is full of matter; and if we but understand enough of the Lord and his ways, we would say that he took of this matter and organized this earth from it. How long it has been organized it is not for me to say, and I do not care anything about it. As for the Bible account of the creation we may say that the Lord gave it to Moses, or rather Moses obtained the history and traditions of the fathers, and from these picked out what he considered necessary, and that account has been handed down from age to age, and we have got it, no matter whether it is correct or not, and whether the Lord found the earth empty and void, whether he made it out of nothing or out of the rude elements; or whether he made it in six days or in as many millions of years, is and will remain a matter of speculation in the minds of men unless he give revelation on the subject. If we understood the process of creation there would be no mystery about it, it would be all reasonable and plain, for there is no mystery except to the ignorant." [Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 14, pg. 116, 14 May 1871].

    "Our religion embraces chemistry; it embraces all the knowledge of the geologist, and then it goes a little further than their systems of argument, for the Lord almighty, its author, is the greatest chemist there is." [Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 15, pg. 127, 11 Aug 1872].

    "Among the popular errors of modern times, an opinion prevails that miracles are events which transpire contrary to the laws of nature, that they are effects without a cause. If such is the fact, then, there never has been a miracle, and there never will be one. The laws of nature are the laws of truth. Truth is unchangeable, and independent in its own sphere. A law of nature never has been broken. And it is an absolute impossibility that such law ever should be broken." [Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, 1891, pg. 102].

    "There is a perpetual design permeating all purposes of creation. On this thought, science again leads a student up to a certain point and sometimes leaves him with his soul unanchored...For example, evolution's beautiful theory of the creation of the world offers many perplexing problems to the inquiring mind. Inevitably, a teacher who denies divine agency in creation, who insists there is no intelligent purpose in it, will impress the student with the thought that all may be chance. I say, that no youth should be so led without a counterbalancing thought ... God is at the helm. God is the Creator of the earth. He is the Father of our souls and spirits. No question about it. You have your testimony—if you haven't you shouldn't be on the faculty—that God lives and Jesus is the Christ, and the purpose of creation is theirs."
    David O. McKay, "A Message for L.D.S. College Youth", 1952-10-08, printed in 1952 BYU Speeches of the Year (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University) pp. 5–6.

    FYI, I'm Mormon

  5. Thank you for adding those quotes anonymous #2. I quoted some of that on a different post I did.
    Anonymous #1 I agree completely with what you said: "Truth is from God and we have nothing to fear of it. The truth does not deserve our glib rejection, and to do so only shields us from God's light and knowledge."
    Thanks for the references I will check those out.
    I invite you to check this other post for further insight:

  6. already read your post on evolution. all comments were from me. thou you'd like the mckay quote. a good book on evolution, geology and religion: finding darwin's god

  7. Back to Russell M Nelson's comment.

    For me it was out of line. I do understand the Big Bang and it is a very robust theory that has many avenues of evidence. I respect that Nelson has outstanding expertise in cardiothorasic surgery but he is not a cosmologist. We do no know how god created the universe... Why not a large quantum explosion of energy that distilled into matter and through the law of gravity created galaxies and stars. Did god start this off and rely on his natural laws to do the rest or did here order every quark and neutrino by hand? We don't know Nelson included. I was offended by his ill considered comment but was even more offended by the laugh from the congregation. I wouldn't want a bus driver to perform heart surgery on me, buy the same token I don't want a heart surgeon lecturing me on cosmology.

  8. Apologies for the typos above but I'm using my phone and the auto correct causes typos! Great idea!

  9. That is a good point. We don't know how God made the universe, so we should be open to all ideas, if we even need to concern ourselves with it at all. I think Elder Nelson was probably pointing out the people who use the Big Bang as a reason to be atheist and use that to explain how the universe came to be on its own. I should probably clarify that I think the idea that the universe came to be on its own with this mechanism - is ludicrous to me.
    Did you also notice that one of the other leaders quoted a leader from another religion about how a big problem is "atheist scientists" or something like that? I wondered why science was a topic brought up so much this Conference. And right after I attended a seminar given by LDS professors on how science fits nicely into their beliefs.