Part I: The Universe: Made for Man?
|POSITION OF NEBULAE||
DISTANCE IN LIGHT-YEARS
The spectrum is composed of light separated according to its wavelength, running from the longer wavelengths of red at one end to the shorter wavelengths of violet at the other. Each element produces light of certain definite wavelengths, which appear in the spectrum unless the source of light is, relatively, moving toward or away from the observer. If the source is approaching, the pattern of lines for any element will appear farther toward the violet. If the source is receding, the lines will appear farther toward the red than they would if the source were stationary with respect to the observer. This shifting of the spectral lines is used extensively to determine the velocities of planets and stars with respect to the earth. Practically all spectra of island universes have their lines shifted toward the red. These shifts are very great for the more distant universes and less for the closer ones. This shift has become commonly known as the "red shift."
It may be stated with confidence that red shifts either are velocity shifts or they must be referred to some hitherto unrecognized principle in nature . . . . The present distribution of red shifts could be adequately described on the assumption that all the nebulae were once jammed together in a small volume of space. Then, at a certain instant . . . an explosion occurred, the nebulae rushing outward in all directions and with all velocities.
In a BBC broadcast,
C. A. Coulson (8)
pointed out that "if the matter in the Universe was really
so greatly concentrated at that time, it is hard to avoid calling
it the moment of creation." The European astronomer,
C. F. von Weizsacker, picking up the concept of this opening phrase, speaks of it as being analogous to an explosion. It is as though God began everything with a tremendous concentration of energy. Thus von Weizsacker wrote: (9)
The famous red-shift of the spectral lines of galaxies is most naturally explained by the assumption that they are all receding from each other ‹ not unlike the pieces of an exploding bomb shell . . . .
Physics, as we know it today, does not offer any other natural explanation of this red shift than the assumed expanding motion . . . .
There is one additional argument for considering the expanding motion as real, and in my view this argument is very strong. If there is a real motion it defines a time-scale. Assume the comparison with an exploding bombshell as correct: then, if you can measure the distances and the velocities of the fragments in a given moment, you can calculate at which moment of time the explosion took place. Now the distances of galaxies are roughly known, and
the red shift, if interpreted as indicating a velocity, gives you the numeric value of the velocity: hence we can calculate the time of the first explosion. It turns out to be roughly 15,000,000,000 years ago" [emphasis mine].
We now have, therefore, a picture of all the matter in the universe concentrated in one mass at some finite time ago. However, we can say something more regarding this original "lump" of matter which Lemaitre envisioned long ago and termed the "primeval atom." In the first place, according to Lovell, (10) it contained the entire material of the universe and had a density which was inconceivably great ‹ "at least a hundred million tons per cubic centimeter." This original lump with its tremendous density has led astronomers to refer to the concept as the "superdense state" theory of the origin of the universe. George Schweitzer observed: (11)
This lump had a temperature that was extremely hot and underwent a explosion which hurled the matter and radiation outward. The matter, which was initially neutrons, interacted at the superhot temperature to produce atoms. As the expansion continued outward, the temperature decreased and the atoms cooled to form clouds of gas. Some of these clouds, under the action of local turbulence, then condensed to form the planets, stars, galaxies and galaxial clusters. The galaxial clusters are still expanding from the force of the explosion. . . .
The superdense state theory is one theory which explains in a fairly adequate way the things we know about the universe. It does not violate any presently accepted physical law. It accounts for the recession of the galaxial clusters; is fairly successful in predicting the abundances of the elements; and it provides a date for the universe which agrees with the age of the earth, our galaxy and the universe as determined by other methods.
In the second place, we know that the total available energy in the universe is being dissipated as the universe expands until, presumably, the whole vast system will "die a heat death." This steady loss of organization is referred to as an increase in entropy ‹ one might almost term it an increase in disorganization. If this process has been operative since the creation, we must assume that at first the initial primeval mass was totally organized. Referring to this, Eddington said: (12)
Traveling backwards into the past we find a world with more and more organization. If there is no barrier to stop us earlier, we must reach a moment when the energy of the world was wholly organized with none of the random element in it. It is impossible to go back any further under the present system of natural law. I do not think the phrase "wholly organized" begs the question.
10. Lovell, A. C. B., The Individual and the
Universe, (BBC Reith Lectures, 1958) Oxford University Press,
11. Schweitzer, George K., "The Origin of the Universe" in Evolution and Christian Thought Today, edited by Russell L. Mixter, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1959, p.42, 43.
12. Eddington, Sir Arthur, The Nature of the Physical World, Cambridge University Press, 1930, p.84.
The organization we are concerned with is exactly definable, and there is a limit at which it becomes perfect. There is not an infinite series of states of higher and still higher organization; nor, I think, is the limit one which is ultimately approached more and more slowly. . . .
There is no doubt that the scheme of physics as it has stood for the last three-quarters of a century postulates a date at which either the entities of the Universe were created in a state of high organization, or pre-existing entities were endowed with that organization which they have been squandering ever since. Moreover, this organization is admittedly the antithesis of chance. It is something which could not occur fortuitously.
I think it is
important to note that Eddington then added, "It has been
quoted as scientific proof of the intervention of the Creator
at a time not infinitely remote from today." (13) And then he said, with
complete honesty, "It is one of those conclusions from which
we can see no logical escape ‹ only it suffers
from the drawback that it is incredible."
George Gamow has written illuminatingly of the initial stages of this "explosion" which seems to have started off the present expansion of the universe. In 1948 he wrote: (14)
According to our calculations, the formation of elements must have started five minutes after the maximum compression of the Universe. It was fully accomplished, in all essentials, about 10 minutes later, by the time that the destiny of matter had dropped below the minimum necessary for nuclear-building processes. All the elements were created in that critical ten minutes, and their relative abundance in the Universe has remained essentially constant throughout the billions of years of subsequent expansion.
In 1954 Gamow expanded this precise statement as follows: (15)
During the first few minutes of the Universe's existence, matter must have consisted only of protons, neutrons and electrons, for any group of particles that combined momentarily into a composite nucleus would immediately have dissociated into its components at the extremely high temperature. One can call the mixture of particles ylem (pronounced eelem)--the name that Aristotle gave to primordial matter. As the Universe went on expanding and the temperature of ylem dropped, protons and neutrons began to stick together, forming deuterons (nuclei of heavy hydrogen), tritons (still heavier hydrogen), helium and heavier elements.
On the basis of what we know about the behavior of nuclear particles and of the assumptions about the rate of temperature and density changes in the expanding Universe, one can calculate the net result of all the possible
nuclear reactions that must have taken place during those early minutes of the Universe's history. The time available for the formation of the elements must have been very short, for two reasons: (I) the free neutrons in the original ylem would have decayed rapidly, and (2) the temperature quickly dropped below the level at which nuclear reactions could take place. The mean life of a neutron is known to be only about 12 minutes; hence half an hour after expansion had started there would have been practically no neutrons left if they had not been combined in atomic nuclei. Favorable temperature conditions lasted about the same length of time. Thus all the chemical elements must have been formed in that half-hour.
The temperature of this superdense primordial mass must have been in the neighbourhood of a few billion degrees, and at such a heat the mass itself could be more precisely conceived of as a source of pure energy rather than material substance. (16) One cannot speak of the energy as being located somewhere in the universe, for it was the universe. Furthermore, when we are dealing with energy, it is quite meaningless to speak of "dimensions." Years ago, when Jeans wrote his classic little work, The Mysterious Universe, he pointed out that even now the material substance which we touch and weigh is least substantial than appears to common sense, since it is not at all certain that electrons, for example, are actually 'particles' in spite of the fact that we refer to them as such. They are more accurately described, perhaps, as locations of energy. Jeans in his characteristically eloquent way stated that (17)
. . . the tendency of modern physics is to resolve the whole material universe into waves, and nothing but waves. These waves are of two kinds: bottled-up waves, which we call matter, and unbottled waves, which we call radiation or light. If annihilation of matter occurs, the process is merely that of unbottling imprisoned wave-energy and setting it free to travel through space. These concepts reduce the whole Universe to a world of light, potential or existent . . . .
So many evidences have come from so many directions and have converged with such remarkable unanimity upon the conclusion that the material Universe came into existence all at once in a great creative act some billions of years ago that it would require either a lot of new evidence or a special prejudice to hold any other opinion. All that we know now about the recession of the spiral nebulae, the dispersion of star clusters, the separation of binary stars, . . . the relation of radioactive isotopes to their stable daughters in meteorites and in the crust of the earth, and the relative abundance of the different elements throughout the Universe, tells the same story. If today we do not believe in creation, it is in spite of, not on account of the testimony of Science. And I mean creation by supernatural means ‹ that is, by processes quite literally outside the laws of nature.
I do not think that Sir Richard Tute meant any more by his statement above than that the agencies which produce physical reality were at present beyond definition. But I believe that McCrady was being much more forthright and was really admitting that we must go outside of nature as we know it into the spiritual order to find the Creator. Both men agree in this, as would Jeans also, namely, that physical reality is not the ultimate reality: that which lies behind is some kind of non-physical Power or Agency. In the Epistle to the Hebrews this truth was recorded quite precisely almost two thousand years ago in these words (Hebrews 11:3):
Through faith we understand that the worlds were formed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
The extent to which the solid substance of reality is now being recognized as far less substantial than a gross materialism would like to think it is, is pointed up by a remark by von Weizsacker made in Switzerland, in which he said: (20)
The concept of the particle is itself just a description of a connection which exists between phenomena, and if I may jump from a very cautious and skilled language into strict metaphysical expression. I see no reason why what we call matter should not be 'spirit.' If I put it in terms of traditional metaphysics, matter is spirit. . . . [my emphasis]
incomprehensible to the scientific mind. Its rejection as a useful concept accounts in large measure for the popularity of the Theory of Evolution, which seems to postpone the need for it. It is of course only a postponement, because even a perfectly unbroken chain of minute evolutionary stages must still have a beginning somewhere, and pushing it further and further back into the past doesn't really provide an alternative explanation. Curiously enough, even Thomas Huxley himself ‹ Darwin's watchdog and chief defender ‹ recognized the propriety of retaining the concept of creation. He said: (21)
It seemed to me then (as it does now) that 'creation' in the ordinary sense of the word, is perfectly conceivable. I find no difficulty in conceiving that, at some former period, this universe was not in existence and that it made its appearance . . . instantaneously . . . in consequence of the will of a pre-existing Being. Then, as now, the so-called a priori arguments against Theism, and, given a Deity, against the possibility of creative acts, appeared to me to be devoid of reasonable foundation. I had not then and I have not now, the smallest a priori objection to raise against the account of the creation of animals and plants given in Paradise Lost, in which Milton so vividly embodies the natural sense of Genesis. Far be it from me to say that it is untrue because it is [scientifically considered] impossible.
Huxley's remarks show that the intellectual climate of his day was not as strongly materialistic and anti-supernaturalistic as it is today. But the pure materialist, who will accept as reasonable only what he can conceive, still finds himself on the horns of a dilemma when it comes to a question of origins. As Sir Theodore Fox put it: (22)
To contemplate the Universe is to stand even more abashed. For somehow, at sometime, all that we see and touch and hear must have emerged from nothing. To us this transformation of nothing into something is contrary to reason; and the creation of the Universe is a mystery that man may never be able to understand.
the only two alternatives
there are by which to describe the origin of the universe.
Even in the less all-embracing question of the supposed evolutionary origin of living forms, earlier writers like Thomas Huxley appear to me to have been more honest with themselves than most of today's authorities. Thus Herbert Spencer, in his Principles of Biology (23), in grappling with the problem of how a peacock's tail came to acquire its elaborate pattern, made an attempt to estimate what today would be called the amount of 'information' that must be present in the peahens's egg in order to produce the pattern of just one single feather of the adult tail. He admitted frankly that this "organizing process transcends conception. It is not enough to say we cannot know it; we must say we cannot even conceive it." [emphasis mine]
It is hard to know whether Professor Hoyle evolved his Steady State theory of the Universe in a conscious or unconscious attempt to escape from the dilemma of a beginning and therefore of a Creation, or whether it was the result of a brilliant mind seeking objectively to understand and to structure the data of astronomy. Observing that the retreating galaxies were accelerating to such speeds as they fled from the original point of explosion that they must soon pass entirely out of range of any detecting instrument man can make, and must have been doing this for countless eons: and observing at the same time that in spite of this flight into oblivion the apparent density of the universe has remained more or less constant ‹ or so it seemed ‹ he proposed that hydrogen atoms attenuated extremely thinly through space were for some reason being constantly coagulated here and there into fresh "lumps." These congealings led to the continuous formation of new galaxies which made up for those at the outer rim of space which were simply disappearing. So that the observable Universe was really in a steady state.
Whatever may have prompted Hoyle to formulate a theory which, because it evaded the concept of a point in time at which the Universe began, was very widely accepted, the fact remains that he has now abandoned it. With an integrity that one might always hope for among scientists, yet which one all too infrequently encounters, Hoyle finally admitted: (24) "From the data I have presented here [i.e., Cambridge] it seems likely that the idea will now have to be discarded at any rate in the form that it has become
widely known as "the
Steady State Universe." In The New Scientist a
report was published of a Congress of Astronomers held in
Florence, Italy, in 1969 in which the Steady State concept was
"officially" discarded. (25)
No humanly conceived cosmology has survived unchallenged for very long, and it has been noted on several occasions that such cosmologies of more recent centuries survive for a shorter and shorter period of time. So it seems possible that the Expanding Universe concept will ultimately be replaced in due course also. But at the present time it is rather widely accepted as the most likely account, and it certainly accords with Scripture to this extent at least, that it requires a very specific initial moment of creation, and it suggests that there must be an end one day.
At the moment, the concept of an expanding universe based on the Red Shift phenomenon seems to have "emerged as a front runner." (26)
The recent discovery of microwaves, short radio-like waves from outer space, seems also to confirm the present Expanding Universe cosmology, since the best current explanation of them is that they represent radiation left over from the initial "explosion." (27)
The British astronomer, Dennis W. Sciama, in his Modern Cosmology has provided a very useful survey of the evidence pro and con of both the Steady State and Expanding Universe concepts. He believes from the present evidence that "there is no longer any difficulty in supposing that the Universe was once very dense" and he essentially supports Gamow's Big Bang hypothesis. (28) It appear that the evidence as a whole has now been judged by the great majority of European astronomers as clearly favouring the Big Bang cosmology as against the Steady State theory of Hoyle. Dr. Peter Stubbs, science editor of the New Scientist, reported the findings of the European Physical Society's Inaugural Conference held in Florence in May,1969, by saying: (29)
25. Congress of Astronomers: New Scientist,
22 May, 1969, p.431. See Hoyle's own statement, "Recent
developments in Cosmology", Nature, 9 Oct., 1965,
26. "The Most Distant Object Ever Seen" in New Scientist, 12 April, 1973, p.73.
27. Townes, Charles H., "How and Why Did It All Begin?" in Journal of American Scientific Affiliation, vol.24, no.1, 1972, p.2. See also Robert C. Newman, "Hierarchical Cosmologies: New Trend?" on pages 4-7 of the same issue of this journal.
28. Sciama, Dennis W., Modern Cosmology, Cambridge University Press, 1971, pp.46, 156-7. Stanley L. Jaki in his Relevance of Physics (University of Chicago Press, 1966, pp.210-235) especially has some thoroughly worthwhile and salutary observations to make regarding the shifts in opinion which have occurred over the past couple of centuries and more especially over the past fifty years on the question of a finite versus an infinite universe.
29. Stubbs, Peter "Physics in Florence" in New Scientist, 24 April, 1969, p.173.
The sum total of work on radio source counts and quasars now argues strongly against the steady state theory of Hoyle, Bondi, and Gold, and attractive as this may be from a philosophical angle, it now looks as if it must give place to a version of the Big Bang model of the Universe.
The only other
concept that has seriously challenged the Big Bang concept is
known as the Cyclic theory, which proposes that the universe
has expanded and contracted successively any number of times,
and that we are living at this moment in a cycle of expansion.
This theory is discussed in one of the Harvard books on Astronomy
entitled Galaxies, written by H. Shapley in 1943. (30) It is found to be so seriously
contradicted by the experimental data of astrophysics that it
is no longer accepted by astronomers as a whole.
At the present moment the concept of an initial creation followed by an explosive expansion holds the field.
30. Shapley, H., Galaxies, Blakiston, Philadelphia, 1943, pp. 207-19