Intelligent Design

They would have believed in CREATION?! – if it wasn’t in the Bible?

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Now and then someone has written to me to claim that it’s just not true that mid-twentieth century physicists disliked the Big Bang because of the religious implications of the idea of a beginning to the universe. A contact, however, quotes Simon Singh’s Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe:

The British physicist William Bonner, for example, suggested that the Big Bang theory was part of a conspiracy aimed at shoring up Christianity: ‘The underlying motive is, of course, to bring in God as creator. It seems like the opportunity Christian theology has been waiting for ever since science began to depose religion from the minds of rational men in the seventeenth century’

Fred Hoyle was equally scathing when it came to the Big Bang’s association with religion, condemning it as a model built on Judeo-Christian foundations. His views were shared by his Steady State collaborator, Thomas Gold. When Gold heard that Pius XII had backed the Big Bang, his response was short and to the point: ‘Well, the Pope also endorsed the stationary Earth.’
Scientists had been wary of the Vatican’

However, this wariness sometimes bordered on paranoia, as noted by the English Nobel Laureate George Thomson: ‘Probably every physicist would believe in a creation if the Bible had not unfortunately said something about it many years ago and made it seem old-fashioned.’ (pp. 361-62

So Singh has apparently noticed some of the same kind of stuff as I have.

Also, new at The Mindful Hack,

Religion profs who don’t know much religion?

The Winnipeg Free Press review of The Spiritual Brain and my posted reply

What does Turkey’s new, more religious prime minister portend? Maybe not what you think.

Iszatso? Liberal versus conservative brains in Greenwich Village

Mark Steyn punctures secularism

10 Replies to “They would have believed in CREATION?! – if it wasn’t in the Bible?

  1. 1
    dacook says:

    Fred Hoyle was equally scathing when it came to the Big Bang’s association with religion, condemning it as a model built on Judeo-Christian foundations.

    Interestingly, Fred Hoyle was also intellectually honest enough to reject Darwinism on mathematic grounds. (See his “Mathematics of Evolution.”)
    He was in a quandary, though; he remained an atheist who didn’t believe in the Big Bang (he was actually the coiner of that term, initially one of derision) AND didn’t believe in the Darwinian paradigm of life either.
    His resolution was the steady state universe, which, having had no beginning, escaped the mathematically demonstrable impossibility of life’s arising and developing de novo.
    His books make very interesting reading, and his Cosmology text makes a quite plausible case for his version of steady-state, and a good case against Big Bang.
    See http://www.panspermia.org/index.htm

  2. 2
    Janice says:

    I cannot understand why anyone as smart as Fred Hoyle would champion a steady state universe with an infinite past. AFIK, given the current state of the universe, the 2nd law of thermodynamics forbids that scenario. That is, if the universe had an infinite past it should now be in a state of heat death. But it isn’t. Therefore it hasn’t had an infinite past but had a beginning.

    Am I missing something that doesn’t fit neatly under the heading, “Magical Thinking”?

  3. 3
    dacook says:

    Janice:
    It’s a lot more complicated than you seem to think. Wade through Hoyle’s Cosmology text if you can. I personally know a Physicist and of an Astrophysicist who have, and who both stated that Hoyle’s model is “plausible.” The Physicist especially was convinced by the book that the current model of the universe is at best incomplete, and that at least some of the evidence supporting the Big Bang and constant expansion has been mis-interpreted.
    Fred Hoyle was a very smart man. I thought a lot of his ideas were wacko until I read some of his books. Now I think he was onto something.

  4. 4
    russ says:

    One of the cable channels just did a show on the Big Bang, that talked about Hoyle and others. I think this might have been it…

    http://www.history.com/shows.d.....ion=detail

  5. 5
    Robo says:

    Hoyle really disliked Christians.

    That aside, as I understand it, a steady state model also requires the universe to be infinitely large to stop it collapsing in on itself.

    If that were the case however, viewing of the night sky would appear bright rather than dark because of the infinite number of stars our there.

  6. 6
    Janice says:

    dacook,

    Thank you.

    I’m sure Hoyle’s cosmology is very complicated and way beyond the level of physics that I can understand. I also know that there are people from various branches of physics who have various, data derived, reasons for doubting the truth of the Big Bang theory. These are interesting details for people who know all the ins and outs to argue over and I hope their arguments will be fruitful, though I doubt it simply because, emotionally, there is a lot at stake. A lot of people refuse even to consider things they don’t want to believe. Too bad for them.

    After years of discussing evolution with thoroughgoing evolutionists I came to the conclusion that trying to bog opponents down in the minutiae of research findings is one of their favourite debating tactics. That way they can hope to establish their credentials as a person who “knows a lot” (argument from authority) and they also, I think, hope to distract their opponents from what might be considered fundamental principles and from the failures of their beloved theory (ordinary sneakiness?).

    The 2nd law of thermodynamics can be considered a fundamental (first?) principle of the way things work in the material world. The material universe, being a closed system, can be expected, as a whole, to obey the 2nd law of thermodynamics. The only argument I’ve read saying that maybe it doesn’t relates to what might (plausibly?, possibly?) happen during a Big Crunch when everything could (plausibly?, possibly?) be up for grabs – or maybe better, for grasping at straws.

    If Hoyle hasn’t got something substantial to say about why the 2nd law doesn’t apply in his cosmology then I can’t help thinking that it would be a waste of the time I have left to wade through whatever else he has to say.

  7. 7
    Borne says:

    A few years back one of the editors of “Science” magazine actually called for new theories about the origin of the universe and said something like that it was because of the religious implications of the Big Bang theory, which he didn’t like. Anyone got the actual quotes?

    Also, Dr. William Lane Craig wrote a short article on the subject here

  8. 8
    magnan says:

    A little off topic, but the popular British magazine New Scientist just advertised their scorn for religion on their front page (Sept. 1-7 issue) “If morality is hard-wired in the brain WHAT’S THE POINT OF RELIGION?”. The article inside is titled What Good is God? This is one of the more blatant examples of the desperate popular media bias to push atheism and materialism.

  9. 9
    magnan says:

    Janice: “I cannot understand why anyone as smart as Fred Hoyle would champion a steady state universe with an infinite past. AFIK, given the current state of the universe, the 2nd law of thermodynamics forbids that scenario. That is, if the universe had an infinite past it should now be in a state of heat death. But it isn’t. Therefore it hasn’t had an infinite past but had a beginning.”

    I think Hoyle proposed that matter and energy continually appear from nothing in “empty” space, at just the rate per volume to balance the expansion. Someone correct me if I have this wrong. This process is supposedly related to the quantum mechanical “zero point energy” of the vacuum.

    Talk about magical thinking. So many questions are begged it is hard to know where to start. It seems strange to me that he would propose such a theory to avoid a (supernatural) beginning while at the same time make some of the strongest arguments for fine tuning in physics and cosmology.

  10. 10
    dacook says:

    There is a brief, interesting, and easy to read overview of the history and current state of orthodox Cosmology and some of its problems here:
    http://www.americanscientist.o.....etid/55839
    The bottom line of the article applies equally well to current orthodox evolutionary theory:

    The historian of science Daniel Boorstin once remarked: “The great obstacle to discovering the shape of the Earth, the continents and the oceans was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. Imagination drew in bold strokes, instantly serving hopes and fears, while knowledge advanced by slow increments and contradictory witnesses.” Acceptance of the current myth, if myth it is, could likewise hold up progress in cosmology for generations to come.

    This is very analagous to what has happened in Biology: Acceptance of Darwinism has held up real progress in origin and development of life studies for many years.
    The illusion of knowledge is the main inhibitor of new discoveries in all fields.

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