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Physics and Cosmology News Updates

Please Read On for Physics and Cosmology News
  • Can Science Prove the Existence of God? A recent New York Times article, "Can Science Prove the Existence of God?," has discussed the fine-tuning of the universe as a possible argument for the existence of God. The article noted that, "Almost any book or conference on science and religion inevitably includes what has become a metaphysical set piece: The various parameters of the universe, the charge of the electron, the strength of gravity, and so forth appear to be finely tuned to support the existence of stars and atoms and molecules and life ... So we are the lucky benefactors of blind chance, or life was planned all along either by a Great Intender or by some physical or mathematical or logical law or process." The article notes that one objection to this idea is the "multiverse theory" where, "the Big Bang actually spawned a plenitude of universes each randomly endowed with different physical conditions" and human observers inevitabely must exist "in one that is capable of supporting life." However, the article comments that, "Whether the multiverse theory is more comforting than believing that human existence results from a senseless crapshoot or a holy decree is a matter of taste, not science," affirming the philosophical nature of the multiverse hypothesis. The article notes that we almost cannot escape taking some things on faith, for in the end, "the answer is either "just because" or "for God made it so." The question for us should be which answer requires less faith: believing in an undetectable number of infinite universes, or recognizing the same type of specified complexity inherent in objects created by intelligent beings on earth in the fine-tuning of the architecture of the universe to allow for life. (11/11/03)
  • Did We Win the Cosmic Lottery? A recent New York Times article, "Zillions of Universes? Or Did Ours Get Lucky?," discussed various views scientists have over the "anthropic principle." The principle essentially states that, "certain otherwise baffling features of the universe can only be understood by including ourselves in the equation. The universe must be suitable for life, otherwise we would not be here to wonder about it." Though one scientist says, "I hate it" and another calls it a "virus" he can't stop thinking about, one prominent atheist physicist, Steven Weinberg, actually accepts it because it made good predictions about the cosmological constant. The cosmological constant, "is a number that measures the amount of cosmic repulsion caused by the energy in empty space" and is important because it controls the rate of expansion of the universe. Weinberg, based upon the anthropic principle, predicted that the cosmological constant, "could not be too big or the repulsive force would have prevented the formation of galaxies, stars and us. Since we are here, the constant should be small." Dr. David Gross "hate[s] it" because anthropic reasoning "smells of religion and intelligent design" and Dr. Lawrence Krauss called it "a way of killing time" when physicists didn't have a better idea." Dr. Weinberg compared the anthropic principle to a person who is dealt a royal flush in a poker tournament, which "may be chance" or "the organizer of the tournament our friend." Controversy clearly among physicists exists over this question, but some seem to be at least open to the possibility of design.

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