Hugh Ross is an excellent writer on General Relativity and Astronomy. He explains the science so well. But Hugh is just expressing his personal opinions and beliefs when he says GR and an expanding universe points to an outside agent - God. GR and expanding universe are SILENT on whether this is (was) an outside agent (creating) starting the universe out of nothing. But I am always impressed on how Hugh explains the science to his mainly Christian audience.
Fascinating article, Patrick.
However, I don’t think I’m understanding the first sentence of Ross’ article:
It may be surprising to learn that a star orbiting the Milky Way Galaxy’s black hole has produced evidence for one of the most tested and implication-laden theories of science—general relativity—but that’s what’s happened.
Why might this be surprising? The methodologies reflected new levels of precision and amazing instrumentation. But I didn’t notice anything in the article which seemed entirely unexpected in terms of relativity theory. Am I missing something?
Meanwhile, it is always interesting to read Dr. Ross when he is addressing his primary field of training and expertise. I’m a big fan of Hugh Ross as a Christ-follower who appears to consistently pursue peaceful-science-type values. He’s so courteous and respectful of his critics. I don’t share all of his “Reasons to Believe” positions but I greatly appreciate him.
As a physical scientist myself I appreciate Hugh’s discussion of uncertainty in measurements. It is one of the hardest things to discuss with lay audiences. When speaking to each other scientists are often very cautious and speak mostly in terms of measurement + uncertainty but when it comes to talking to the general public it gets tough because they aren’t used to thinking about things that way.
So here’s a question for @Patrick and the other atheists here. I want to start with a few quotes (bolding what I want to focus on):
An international team of astronomers, equipped with sophisticated measuring instruments, has analyzed data they’ve captured from recent measurements of the star’s orbit and provided evidence buttressing the idea of a cosmic beginning and, hence, a causal agent. I’ll explain the findings in this post and will discuss the philosophical implications in next week’s entry.
Early twentieth century astronomers recognized that this cosmic expansion implied a cosmic beginning with consequent philosophical inferences. The most fundamental of these inferences was that a cosmic beginning implies that something or Someone caused it.
These theorems establish that even space and time are created entities, implying that a Causal Agent beyond space and time created our universe. Hence, increasing evidence for the veracity, reliability, and generality (ubiquitous applicability) of general relativity (including weak, strong, and extremely strong gravitational field tests) also provides increasing evidence for the God of the Bible and for a biblical cosmic creation model.
I am noting here where it seems like Hugh is being pretty careful to separate science from philosophy. He’s using words like “buttressing”, “philosophical inference”, “implying”, and “increasing evidence”. He puts all of that in the preamble to the science, but once you get to the 4th paragraph it’s pretty much straight science for the rest of the article.
So the question to my atheist friends is this, does that sort of style make writing about science for a Christian audience more palatable? How do you interpret Hugh’s words like “buttressing”, “implying”, and “increasing evidence” here? I’m not asking for if you think he’s right or wrong, per se but rather is the separation between the science and the philosophical argument, based on the results of science, fairly clear?
I too am interesting in the questions you posed.
I’m especially drawn to these sentences among the excerpts you posted:
Early twentieth century astronomers recognized that this cosmic expansion implied a cosmic beginning with consequent philosophical inferences .
This brings to mind the criticisms some atheists hurled at George Lemaitre when he published what eventually was called The Big Bang Theory. They considered the philosophical inferences to also have obvious theological implications—and accused the Jesuit priest and professor of physics of letting his Roman Catholicism infiltrate his science.
The most fundamental of these inferences was that a cosmic beginning implies that something or Someone caused it.
If William Lane Craig joined this thread, he would remind us that this falls under the Kalam Cosmological Argument label.
The sentence is provisionally true up until the word hence. How does the data show “hence a casual agent”?
words like implying and philosophical inferences were not in the scientific paper. And certainly the results do not “provide increasing evidence for the God of the Bible”. There is no such evidence and science CAN’T provide such evidence.
Hugh is a Christian who is well read and knowledgeable about the latest results in cosmology. He explains the cosmology well. But he should state clearly that cosmology can’t find evidence of God.
So he should careful say that it is his opinion that God is behind the Big Bang. He doesn’t serve his Christian readers well if they come up with the impression that God fingerprints were found on a star orbiting SAG A. Because evidence of God can’t be found by science even by devout believing Christians scientists who actually work on these secular scientific programs.
No, I don’t think the separation is clear at all. “These theorems establish that even space and time are created entities”? Which is that, the philosophy part or the science part? I think, on the contrary, that he’s smuggling his philosophy (more correctly, his religion) into the science.
Call our attention to Part 2 when you see it, would you, please, @Patrick? I just sent myself a Gmail “Scheduled send” for next week to look for it, too. (I probably send as many emails to myself to pick up on one of three devices as I do to everyone else combined. )
Neither can evidence against the existence of God be found by science. In any case, big bang cosmology certainly isn’t it!
Science never found evidence that Apollo didn’t move the sun across the sky. Copernicus essential explained why Apollo wasn’t necessary to explain the sun’s movements. All gods including your God were invented for some purpose - to explain things (agent Gods) or to make society work cohesively.
We now live in a world where science, reason, secular humanistic morals, values and ethics are the norm. God is now not necessary to live a comfortable life with meaning and purpose. So, while science doesn’t provide evidence for or against your God, your God is no longer necessary for individual and society to live, progress and grow. The Gods of today are destine for the pantheon of dead Gods - Zeus, Ra, Apollo, and thousands of others - relics of the past.
Your confirmation bias is strong today.
Sal likes to bring up Variable Speed of Light (VSL) theories as a way to dismiss the age of the Universe. However, in reading his most recent addition to the Scholars section, I came across this:
Recent astronomical observations of distant supernovae light-curves have been realized by The Supernovae Cosmology Project and the High-z Supernova Search [1, 2, 3, 4]. These have extended the reach of the Hubble diagram to high redshifts and provided evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating (see Fig. 5).
A first question is how to interpret the Hubble diagram in VSl theories. Among other matters, the link between luminosity distance and look-back time is obviously modified: with a higher c in the past objects with the same look-back time are further away. If, however, one takes into account the fine-structure results of Section 8.1, one finds that any corrections to the construction of the Hubble diagram must be very small [230, 231, 232, 71, 229]. Even in VSL theories it looks as if the universe is accelerating.
It’s mostly over my head, but the impression I got was that time was still deep. Also, It seemed that all the of theories incorporated Relativity, though various constants changed and or became variable.
Sorry this is a bit off the track, but I can’t reply to Sal’s thread and this topic seemed close enough.
As best I can tell, Sal is mostly talking to himself on that thread.
…and talking about himself.
Looking back at part I:
Is this the extent of Ross’s argument? I don’t see anything else besides GR verifying that our universe had a beginning. I don’t see how having a beginning implies the causative agent was a supernatural deity. This seems like a rather massive leap in logic. We can point to all sorts of natural phenomenon that have a beginning, but we no longer jump to the conclusion that God causes them just because they have a beginning. Storms have a beginning. Stars have a beginning. Babies have a beginning. Do we use “God did it” as an explanation for any of these?
If it is simply a matter of faith based belief, then fine. That’s not a problem. However, the moment you start making claims about logical implications it steps outside of those beliefs.
In part II, Ross doesn’t help himself by using a God of the Gaps argument:
I don’t think Ross would agree with the inverse of that argument where quantum theories were assumed to be true unless someone had evidence for a supernatural creator.
Don’t overlook the fact that we are talking about the beginning of nature itself.
I don’t see it that way at all. Nature could include the processes that produce universes in the same way it includes the processes that start galaxies, stars, and solar systems.
But not necessarily. That could be a faith-based statement, not a scientific one.