Blazars and God's caring


(Matthew Origer) #1

Hi everyone

New guy here. This is mainly directed at believers.

Have any of you ever watched a documentary about the cosmos. Like, maybe the one with Tyson in it. Have you seen the stars and the blazars and thought about how a tiny fraction of that energy would obliterate Earth? Then, how a tiny fraction of that energy could make all the sound waves ever needed by all of humanity to speak audibly with our Creator?

When I think of these things: 1) The pain and suffering we through. 2) The Bible’s proclamation of God’s love for us 3) The energy God put into seemingly pointless things (Really: I’m thinking most of the Universe here guys – it’s a lot of pointless junk out there) – I start to have doubts and struggle. I’m a software engineer, and so much of the ‘science’ I do is about practicality. It frustrates me that God would put so much into all that… but, unlike an Earthly father, does not do so much as speak to us openly.

I think it would be so easy to tolerate God’s mum MO if the medieval view were correct: the Universe is kind of small. It all revolves around Earth, all that stuff. But when God has put so much energy into what I sometimes call “Dinking Around in the Cosmos” it makes it harder to cope with His silence. I mean, even the Bible: a few bits, here and there, over thousands of years. and then… 2,000 years of silence.

Do any of you have those kinds of thoughts? Have you ever struggled with them? How do you cope or deal with them?

If you don’t feel like you have some profound thing that really knocks this out of the park … I am certainly fine with that. Even just “I feel like that sometimes” is OK.


(jason patterson) #2

When I think of God I think of a maximally great being who exists outside of time and matter. When I think maximally great being I don’t think there is such a thing as waste of energy, time or matter.


(Matthew Origer) #3

I see what you mean about God and it not being a waste in the sense of “i need this, can’t waste it”. So in that sense, no waste.

I mean in the sense of “What’s the point?”. It seems kind of pointless. “Look. big balls of gas”.


(Jon) #4

It’s not pointless, it needs to be there. The more we learn about gravity the more we understand why the universe has to be at least the size it is, and need quite a bit of stuff in it (though given the size of the universe it’s still pretty empty relatively speaking). There are physical constraints in operation here. I’ll need to explain this bit by bit.

God intended the earth to be filled with life; Isaiah 45:18 says He ‘formed it to be inhabited’. In Genesis 1:11-26, having filled the earth with plant and non-human animal life, God had not yet completed His work. It was only when man and woman were formed that God declared creation ‘very good’ (verse 31), and ceased.

Most importantly, Genesis 1:26 tells us God formed a highly specific kind of life, a man and woman in His own image and likeness. The Hebrew here is typically understood as a reference to God deliberately creating individuals as His counterparts in some way; they correspond to Him at least in terms of their ability to reflect His thoughts and emotions, and communicate effectively with Him.

Many passages of Scripture (especially Hebrews 12:71-11), indicate God desired a parent-child relationship with these individuals, involving them learning through the natural process of hardships and discipline a father permits and exercises in order to develop optimally his children’s character. Adam and Eve’s testing in Genesis 3 supports this, also demonstrating God wished His children to be free moral agents developing their own consciences, as they chose to obey or disobey His commandments.

These passages identify the constraints operating on God’s choice of creation: a universe capable not only of supporting simple life, but of supporting complex, intelligent life; independent moral agents able to reflect His character, comprehend and communicate with Him, and develop their own conscience; children whose character would be developed by the challenge of struggle and discipline.

Such a form of life requires extremely specific environmental conditions, not only on a terrestrial scale, but on a cosmic scale. It has been argued by a number of scientists that intelligent life actually requires a universe with at least three dimensions, ordered as our universe is.

‘It seems clear that life, at least as we know it, can exist only in regions of space-time in which three space and one time dimension are not curled up small.’, Hawking, ‘A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes’ (1988), 182.

The argument is restated here.

‘Hence intelligent life can arise only if gravity has the l/r or l/r2 form, and so, if gravity and dimensionality connect as Kant claimed, intelligent life can exist only if space has two or three dimensions.’, Hugget, Everywhere and Everywhen: Adventures in Physics and Philosophy (2010), 54; Hugget disputes this argument, which he cites from cosmologist Gerald Whitrow and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.

More than three dimensions, and gravitational forces would be inadequate for the solar systems necessary to support intelligent life.

‘If the universe were to hold more than three space dimensions, the gravitational force would not be such as to allow stable orbits of planets about a sun and the constant temperature required for life.’, Adair, The Great Design: Particles, Fields, and Creation (1989), 367.

Less than three dimensions, and the neural and circulatory systems necessary specifically for human life, could not exist.

‘The end result of this complex network is a nervous system that is sufficiently complex to support the existence of intelligent life. However, had space possessed only two spatial dimensions, these complex neural connections would have been impossible, because any two non-parallel connections would have automatically crossed each other, thereby ruining the connection.’. Corey, God and the New Cosmology: The Anthropic Design Argument (1993), 94.

From the same author.

‘Three dimensions are also required for proper blood flow, for had space possessed only two dimensions, venous blood would invariably have become intermingled with arterial blood, with catastrophic results for the body. It is clear, then, that the existence of three spatial dimensions is absolutely mandatory for the proper functioning of both our minds and our bodies.’, Corey, God and the New Cosmology: The Anthropic Design Argument (1993), 94.

Moving from the cosmological to the terrestrial scale, we find a significant range of additional factors necessary for the kind of intelligent life required by God’s purpose.

‘Complex, multicellular life relies on too many planetary factors – even after clearing all the chemical roadblocks – to be common. (For example, a large moon to stabilize the planetary axis tilt and hence the seasons, a magnetic field to shield off radiation, plate tectonics to remix surface and ocean chemistry that helps regulate CO2 levels, etc.)’, Gleiser, From Cosmos to Intelligent Life: The Four Ages of Astrobiology’ (2 March, 2012), 5.

From another author.

‘The Earth benefits from the presence of plate tectonics, a process that acts like a global thermostat by reprocessing greenhouse gasses. Life on Earth benefits dramatically from a single large moon that produces exceptional tides and helps to stabilize the tilt of the Earth and the length of its days.’, McCurdy, Space and the American Imagination (2nd ed. 2011), 146.

And another.

‘We must look beyond the mere presence of water to the presence of volcanoes, plate tectonics and oxygen.’, Lane, Oxygen: The Molecule That Made the World (2002), 73.

Note in particular the following requirements for complex multi-cellular life; a single large moon, a magnetic field, volcanoes, and plate tectonics. All of them are necessary for the specific form of life required by God’s purpose, and yet all of them are significantly responsible for the earth’s natural disasters. This is the foundation of the “cost of creation” argument in response to “natural evil”.


(Matthew Origer) #5

Wow. This is a lot of stuff. You really took your time and I’m thankful for you writing this. This kind of level of thought is what I’d hoped for but never found on the web. It gives me hope that I’ll find some answers. Although, a lot if it is over my head and I’ll have to spend some time reading and re reading it. I wonder in what kind of circles this is more common knowledge. It all seems so exotic to me!
Well, I’m kind of dealing with a breakdown today and very exhausted so it’s bed time, but I’ll be sure to read and re-read this. It’s like Fabric of the Cosmos but only in direct response to my very own question. Wow! I guess this is the level of discourse you’d expect in a forum established by Dr Francis Collins himself.


(jason patterson) #6

I am new myself. When I started using the search bar is when I realized there is a LOT of information here. Reading old threads and blogs I have had that same “wow” reaction over and over.


(Jay Johnson) #7

Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Once I start talking, the average level of discourse starts to come back down to earth. Hang around long enough, and we’ll be back down there wallowing in the mud.

Welcome!


(Phil) #8

Love all the “stuff” there Jon, thanks for pulling that together. On the philosophic side of the coin, I think that God is interested in the process also. While our concept of God is that he could have created it all in an instant, at the danger of presuming the mind of God, I think he takes pleasure in watching the universe unfold, and Genesis indicates he continues that process in creation through the narrative, and most of us here feel he continues though evolution. He also used process in forming the nation of Israel, which from the standpoint of Abraham, took some real twists and turns. In our personal lives, we too are formed through time and trial, and I hope that perhaps God takes some joy in the progress we make through life.


(Matthew Origer) #9

Haven’t processed everything fully. Will take some to do that. @Jonathan_Burke you seem to have really studied this stuff. What are your thoughts about our relationship with God vs all the stuff out in the Universe. I can fathom a little bit what you’re talking about with the gravity vs size stuff from what I’ve seen in documentaries. I mean, fathom JUST a little bit. But, what are your thoughts on the energy spent there by God vs the energy spent relating with us. With Christ having risen (I assume you believe He rose, Nicene Christianity, etc, correct me if I’m wrong), God could take fraction of the sound energy released as asteroids in the Kuiper belt smash together and use that to communicate… that is… RELATE with us on a regular basis. Have you thought much about that? If so, what are your thoughts?

@jpm I can appreciate the growing process that God might be putting us through, and perhaps ponder that maybe that was part of the point of allowing the Fall. However, as growing goes, I wish so much that He would speak to us more directly. I’ve cried my eyes out and called out to Him about this. It’s not easy to say that in public. Some people say God speaks to us through uncanny coincidences in our lives. I’ve definitely experienced things like that, but it’s our skeptical natures can be so strong. It’s like “some doubted” in Matthew 28.


(Jon) #10

I see the energy spent there by God as part of the energy spent relating with us. The universe is one of the way He communicates with us. Of course you’re touching on a broader question, of why God chooses to relate and interact with us the way He does, instead of via other methods which are more direct. But that’s a much bigger question which I think deserves another thread and a lot more thought.


#11

I would say that we need to be cautious about evaluating anything God does (or appears to do) by our human standards. In this case, the sentence above presumes that there is a correlation between “total energy spent by God” versus “energy God expended on communicating with us.” I would say that that is a very natural comparison and concern—but is it valid?

Imagine the young child who reasons “I like it when Dad spends time playing with me and taking me on daily activities. But he leaves me and goes to work every day for many hours. If Dad really cared about me, he wouldn’t be gone so much.” Obviously, the child doesn’t connect his father’s love and his father going to work each day.

I think that we humans are prone to such thinking. Of course, in God’s case, the Bible tells us that he is TRANSCENDENT and his ways are above our ways. We can’t judge what God does by our human standards. God isn’t a human.

While thinking about comparisons, such as those you made in previous posts, consider and compare these two concepts:

(1) The finite era of human existence.

versus:

(2) The eternity of Christ’s reign (“forever and ever”) as we related to our Creator in total intimacy and love.

Thus, the Bible compares this temporary longing to that which will be realized as a final reality forever and ever, Amen. That future really will, eventually, entirely outweigh what troubles us now.

I entirely relate to the feelings you are describing. I deal with aging, disability, pain, and lots of questions. So I don’t want to sound trite or making anything sound simple. It’s not. And it’s hard.

I think that that helps us develop perspective.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #12

Here is another brief summary of why we need everything in the universe:


#13

Why should God be efficient?


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #14

@Matthew_O

I think you are looking in the wrong place for God’s communication with God’s people.

Look to God’s Word, John 1:1-5, 10-14. It app0lies to the human world as well as the physical world.


(jason patterson) #15

Let me share my simple way of looking at things. Many people say they feel insignificant when thinking about the size of the universe. I have never shared that feeling when I actually go look at it.

I am fortunate enough that I live in an area without a lot of light pollution.
Many nights I will go out and look up and watch the universe do what the universe does…crickets kind enough to play some background music for my experience. Everything I see is part of something so large that I can’t even comprehend it. And it all came from something so small I have never seen anything like it with my own eyeballs

I could be told 10,000 times how all that was accomplished naturally. But that doesn’t matter when I am looking at it. I almost feel bad for the crickets, who seem to have nothing else to do but look at that every night. I am blessed with the ability to understand the vastness of it all, and that doesn’t make me feel insignificant at all.

Besides, I don’t think Star Trek would have ever been made if the universe ended just after the orbit of Pluto.


(Phil) #16

I too go out look at the sky, with a little help from the star walk app. It is fun to watch the planets move across the sky in their orbits, visualizing where they are in their orbits in relation to Earth and the sun. It does fill you with wonder.


(Robin) #17

Matthew O. I found your query interesting. I also like the night sky and wondering about the vastness of space and reading about the galaxies and planets and etc

. It was by looking at the night sky — a clear night in the desert away from city lights, with the sky – from horizon to horizon-- filled with stars sparkling like diamonds on black velvet – that first made me wonder whether there was a Creator at all. Blazers Do you mean quasars???

I do not know which particular documentary you refer to. When I consider the cosmos — the work of the Creator’s hands – I suppose I do not think
pointless junk". I think in terms of creativity. An endless creativity and an amazing imagination. Someone who took pleasure in what was being done and in the array of things that came forth…Who would ever think of black holes? For you, perhaps, there is the physics involved. You explain every thing with numbers and make things tidy. And I have heard mathematicians talk about how wondrous and precise things are. But for me, it is just awesome… it represents the Pleasure that some Creative Being felt when the thing was going on, and the pleasure in seeing it still…the Crab Nebula…galaxies with binary stars and all sorts of things…quasars!!..who would ever think of such???..how interesting. And also how immense.

The idea that the Creator then put a population on a specific planet at a specific spot in the Universe – a spot, I am told, that is perfect for observation of the Universe and for wondering about it all — to me that is really intriguing.

As for God’s “silence” — I suppose that is a matter of perspective. I have never been one of those who are into “faith healings” and looking for some grand display on a stage to prove that God is with us still…But I was the only “human” being in the room when my sciatica was healed “just like that.” Does not happen to everyone and not to me all the time …And when no one else was paying me much mind (talk about pain and suffering), God intervened and restored my life in many other ways.

Since that series of events occurred, my life has been much different…

.As for the Bible having “a few bits here and there over thousands of years and then…2000 years of silence” — I see this as a reason for considering the outworking of God’s purposes in what we mostly would call ordinary things. Part of faith is believing in things not seen – though that belief is not based on nothing, but it is based on something.

But even with that — there was the strange moment when my sciatica vanished (in the blink of an eye, literally)…and a number of other things. I hope this helps. Maybe others will have better comments.


#18

As the Psalms declare, “the heavens declare the glory of God.” God’s vast, beautiful creation of the cosmos was created to declare His glory, and indeed this vast space of stars, solar systems, galaxies and more contain fascinations beyond our wildest dreams. This is a declaration of His glory, not a waste.

In order for God to be “wasteful”, His resources have to be limited in some way or fashion. However, since God has infinite resources, He could endlessly create in His magisterial creativity without end and to show us what He can do with His wisdom. Indeed, me knowing about astronomy, I am only in awe of the creation.

Here’s what I want to specifically recommend to you in this comment. Read the book ‘Celebrating the Universe’ by James Mullaney, a professional astronomer and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society of London. I’m just about finished this book, and taking it into consideration and in the light of your question, you have quite something ahead of you when it comes to learning about God’s creation. Read this book and with certainty your questions will lie with their rightful answer, if I have not already provided this for you. Celebrating the Universe by James Mullaney.


(Matthew Origer) #19

You know you have a point about the Earth being a very good place to observe it all. I think part of the frustration of seeing so much is when you’ve gone through recent pain. Before I really felt grief, life was wonderful and I would have said the same thing as you about wonder. When I really felt loss and the pain of death, the engineer in my contrasted that with the functional resources spent on all that wonder. I recently said to friend about the wonder of it all: “After so many galaxies --I get it. Amazing. Powerful. You’ve driven the point home. Now. We’re hurting down here”

You know, I also had a spontaneous healing of sciatica. I did not know that was the name for it. I just had this horrible pain going up and down my nerves. The first time I prayed, it went a way. For good.


(Matthew Origer) #20

Thanks! I’ll look into that book. You know, already people have given me so much to read… I’m afraid to ask any more questions, lest the list grow even longer!