I rediscovered some old posts last week. I have already mentioned the very silly Bicycle police and the dangers of bike riding. The other post was more fascinating. I was reminded of it when a facebook-friend recently shared a newspaper article from 2013 about Robert Lanza and his biocentric universe theory. I wrote about this the previous year, in 2012.
This newspaper article covered the same topic I did three years ago, but after reading it I started thinking about some of the places my mind has gone to since I wrote my original post. It was especially interesting that I came across biocentricism right now because it has some relevance to a conversation I had with my ten year old daughter a couple of weeks ago. I encourage her to ask questions, write and to think big, and we talk a lot about space. She came up with an interesting theory one day during dinner when we talked about the definition of infinity. “I think space ends.” When I asked her a few question to get her to elaborate, she explained that she believes the universe has an end, and that’s where heaven begins.
It’s widely believed that the universe is infinite, and that it keeps expanding, which means that there are other universes (or more universe) outside the visible universe. Now we are approaching the multiverse theory, and the universes within a multiverse are often referred to as parallel universes or alternate universes. According to this theory universes exists inside bubbles, in a way, so they are separated. An astrophysicist probably wouldn’t vouch for the speculation around our kitchen table, but it is fascinating imagining that there is something beyond our own universe, a universe we don’t have direct access to because there is a barrier. In a ten year old’s thinking it is quite possible that this second bubble/universe is heaven. I am not convinced myself that heaven is a physical place, but it is still an appealing thought.
This brings me to creation. It never ceases to surprise me how some scientists, particularly in astronomy, seem to be desperate in their search for life elsewhere. I find that search fascinating myself, but my reasoning behind is different. Some of these scientists talk about how there has to be life on other planets. Anything else would be a waste because there are so many stars and planets. It would be strange if we were completely alone, and to some that’s a scary thought. The nearest star, if we disregard the Sun, is Proxima Centauri 4,2 light years away, but we are not going there for a while. When the NASA-probe Voyager (launched 1977) left our solar system, which is believed to have happened the same year I wrote my original post about Robert Lanza, it had the impressive speed of 37 000 miles/hour. This is probably the fastest man made object, and if we could travel at that speed, it would still take us 80 000 years to reach Proxima Centauri. This is a three star system, so we wouldn’t find any life there. I have loved astronomy and the search for aliens since I was a child, and I am even fascinated by UFO’s, but what that presence tells us more than anything is that we don’t know squat.
One can speculate as to why there is life here and so few, if any other places. I am not of the opinion that finding life on other planets would kill religion. I do not see a conflict between the idea that God created us on Earth, and that He created other life forms on other planets, even in other universes. When I think of Earth I think of the fine tuning-theory, which is perhaps just another version of the intelligent designer theory.
Astronomers frequently refer to the goldilocks zone or goldilocks planets (the name is taken from the story about Goldilocks and the three bears), which is a planet in the habitable zone. It’s neither too close or too far from the sun. Some use this as evidence that Earth is fine tuned. If we had been a little farther from the Sun, it would be too cold here for liquid water to exist. If we had been just a little closer, all the water would have evaporated and life would have been impossible.
We have a fine-tuned gravity as well. There are many blogs and sites that offer precise calculations of how likely it was that we would end up with the weak (but yet strong enough) gravitation we have, but I am not going to pretend that I understand any of it. I do understand, however, that it’s very weak on Earth, even if we experience it has strong. Gravity keeps us firmly grounded after all, and it keeps the Moon and the planets on a steady course, which of course makes life a lot easier. Imagine if gravity had been stronger. It depends on how much stronger it had been in this thought experiment, but there’s a good chance that living beings would have to be smaller. Perhaps it would not be possible for anything larger than a mouse to live, and gravity would simply have crushed something as big as a human.
A universe like this would also have been unstable and stars had probably burned up much faster, maybe only in 10 000 years. That’s not enough time for intelligent life to evolve, and probably not enough time for planets to be created either. Another ting is that we may have ended up with only gas giants such as Jupiter, Neptune and Saturn. With a weak gravitation the planets may have been too far apart. But we had perfect conditions for creating Earth, and eventually us.
These are just some of the factors of life. They had to be combined with numerous others, such as electromagnetism, there had to be enough carbon and oxygen to create life, the universe needed a balance between electrons and protons etc. I don’t have a problem with people coming to the conclusion that there were a number of unlikely accidents that created the universe and life together, but I wish the atheists would be less emotional about it. That’s one of the things I liked in the Norwegian newspaper article. The critics were a bit patronizing, but it wasn’t exactly on the level with Richard Dawkins and Stephen Fry.
Most people would agree that the big bang theory makes sense. Imagine if the force that started it all had been stronger or weaker. I suppose it would have affected the gravity if the young universe had expanded too fast for the gravity to collect matter in stars. If the universe had expanded more slowly we could have ended up with a black hole. Some might say that with so many opportunities nature would sooner or later get lucky enough for an ordered universe to be the result. I guess there is some sense in this argument. If our universe is just one of many it is not inconceivable that someone else won the lottery.
Nevertheless most people agree that our universe is fine-tuned. What may be debated is whether God created/designed it or whether we are an accident. There are plenty of more or less well-meaning atheists (and neutral scientists) that wholeheartedly debunk the fine-tuning theory, and they are not all as objective as they pretend to be, but I would still argue that the odds for us being accidental are too high.
The fine-tuning and intelligent designer theories are certainly not proof. I agree with some of the critics that it’s more philosophy than science, but it strengthens the feeling I have that religion is more than a fairy tale. I can for the most part do without the people representing the church, but I still think the content of the philosophy is worth my attention. I find it comforting thinking that I’m not a mistake, that the rock I’m living on is not a mistake. I believe it was meant to exist. So was I.