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The Sacred Cosmos: Christian Faith and the Challenge of Naturalism. 2. Origins: Creation and the Big Bang. Sunday, January 10, 2010 10 to 10:50 am, in the Parlor Presenter: David Monyak. Primary Reference.

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The Sacred Cosmos: Christian Faith and the Challenge of Naturalism


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    1. The Sacred Cosmos:Christian Faith and the Challenge of Naturalism 2. Origins: Creation and the Big Bang Sunday, January 10, 2010 10 to 10:50 am, in the Parlor Presenter: David Monyak

    2. Primary Reference • The Sacred Cosmos: Christian Faith and the Challenge of Naturalism, Terrence L. Nichols, Brazos Press, 2003. (Reissued Jan 2009 by Wipf and Stock)

    3. Primary Reference • The Sacred Cosmos: Christian Faith and the Challenge of Naturalism, Terrence L. Nichols, Brazos Press, 2003. (Reissued Jan 2009 by Wipf and Stock)

    4. Dr. Terrence Nicholsis Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul Academic History Ph.D. - Marquette University B.A. - University of Minnesota

    5. The Sacred CosmosChristian Faith and the Challenge of Naturalism • Jan 3. God and Nature • Jan 10: Origins: Creation and Big Bang • Jan 24: Evolution: The Journey into God • Jan 31: Human Nature: Embodied Self and Transcendent Soul, Part 1 • Feb 7: Human Nature: Embodied Self and Transcendent Soul, Part 2. Conclusion: A Sacred Cosmos

    6. Almighty and everlasting God, you made the universe with all its marvelous order, its atoms, worlds, and galaxies, and the infinite complexity of living creatures: Grant that, as we probe the mysteries of your creation, we may come to know you more truly, and more surely fulfill our role in your eternal purpose; in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. For Knowledge of God’s Creation, Book of Common Prayer, p. 827

    7. This Week:2. Origins: Creation and the Big Bang

    8. Introduction

    9. IntroductionThe Challenge of Naturalism “The cosmos is all that ever was, is, or shall be.” • With these words, Carl Sagan in the popular Cosmos television series, proclaimed naturalism: the view that the natural world is all that exists, echoing the “opposing” Christian doxology: “Glory be to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as it was, is, and ever shall be, world without end ...”

    10. IntroductionThe Challenge of Naturalism • Naturalism is the philosophical theory about reality that declares: • nature is all that exists, • there is no reality that is greater than and independent of nature, • there cannot be any hope of an afterlife, nor any means to really transcend our natural condition.

    11. IntroductionThe Challenge of Naturalism • Nichols believes Naturalism is probably the most serious challenge facing Western Christianity. • A recent survey in Scientific American revealed: • 90 percent of the members of the National Academy of Sciences consider themselves agnostics or atheists. • Among biologists: 95 percent.

    12. IntroductionCan Naturalism Explain the World? • How well can Naturalism actually explain the world and humanity? • Over the next few weeks, we will consider naturalistic and Christian explanations for: • the origin of the universe (today) • evolution (Jan 24) • human nature (Jan 31).

    13. IntroductionWhere Did the Universe Come From? • “Where did the universe come from?” • Traditionally, the answer was: God created the universe. • More recently, the answer sometimes is the “Big Bang,” as if the Big Bang had replaced God

    14. IntroductionWhere Did the Universe Come From? • The “Big Bang” describes the evolution of the universe from about the first 10-43 seconds on, but gives no explanation for what actually caused the initial explosion. • However, some naturalists have put forth highly speculative theories claiming to show the universe, in effect, created itself and requires no further explanation. 10-43 seconds = 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 seconds

    15. IntroductionWhere Did the Universe Come From? • Today we: • Explore what the Big Bang theory says • Look at the various theories of origins • Consider why the universe seems so finely “tuned” to produce life (the “Anthropic Principle”) • Show that naturalism has no ultimate explanation for the origin and existence of the universe, • but that theism can provide a rational and satisfying answer to this ultimate question.

    16. The “Big Bang”:Historical Background

    17. Big Bang: Historical BackgroundOld Views • The “Big Bang” theory is recent, only going back to about 1930. • Before then, the most prevalent scientific view was that the universe had always existed: • Aristotle’s View • Thomas Aquinas suggested human reason could not prove that the universe was either eternal or created. • That the universe had been created by God could be known only through revelation. Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC)

    18. Big Bang: Historical BackgroundOld Views • Newtonian mechanics seemed to imply a static, unchanging universe. • During the nineteenth century, this Newtonian static view was gradually replaced with the idea of a universe that had evolved from previous states; • however the universe was still usually thought of as having always existed. Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727)

    19. Big Bang: Historical BackgroundEinstein’s New Theory of Gravity • In the Early 20th century Albert Einstein proposed a new theory of gravity, the General Theory of Relativity, which replaced Newton’s old theory of gravity. • His theory implied the universe should be expanding or contracting, and Einstein, who favored a static, eternal universe, added a term – the “Cosmological Constant” – to the theory to keep the universe static, perfectly “balanced” between expansion and contraction. Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

    20. Big Bang: Historical BackgroundEinstein’s New Theory of Gravity • In 1927, the young Belgian astronomer and Catholic Priest Georges Lemaitre used Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity to propose the universe should be expanding, and suggested the universe had begun from the explosion of a giant “Primordial Atom” Georges Lemaître (1894 – 1966)

    21. Big Bang: Historical BackgroundEinstein’s New Theory of Gravity • Einstein, still favoring a static universe, reportedly told Lemaitre “Your math is correct, but your physics is abominable.” Georges Lemaître (1894 – 1966) and Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

    22. Big Bang: Historical BackgroundAn Expanding Universe • Meanwhile, in 1923 Edwin Hubble had shown the Great Nebula in Andromeda was in fact an external galaxy, another “island universe” like our own Milky Way galaxy. Great Nebula in Andromeda, Messier 31

    23. Big Bang: Historical BackgroundAn Expanding Universe • In 1929 Hubble published definitive evidence the universe was expanding: external galaxies were receding from us with a velocity that increased with their distance from us (“The Hubble Law”) Edwin Hubble at Mount Wilson Observatory

    24. Big Bang: Historical BackgroundAn Expanding Universe Edwin Hubble at Mount Wilson Observatory The “matrix” of space itself is expanding, causing the distance between the “raisins” (galaxies) within it to increase

    25. Big Bang: Historical BackgroundAn Expanding Universe • Einstein, who could have predicted the expansion of the universe from his General Theory of Relativity, was later to call his addition of the “Cosmological Constant” the greatest blunder of his career. Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

    26. Big Bang: Historical BackgroundSteady State Theory • The appeal of a static, eternal universe was strong however, and from 1930 to the 1960’s, Big Bang models of the universe were opposed by the “Steady State Theory” • This theory held that the universe had always been expanding from eternity, that new matter was continuously being created as space expanded, so that the density and distribution of matter in the universe remained approximately the same.

    27. Big Bang: Historical BackgroundSteady State Theory • Defenders of the Steady State Theory included the English astronomer Fred Hoyle, an atheist, who derisively coined the term “the Big Bang” to ridicule the idea of an evolving, expanding universe, which he said looked too much like a creation from nothing. Sir Fred Hoyle (1915 – 2001)

    28. Big Bang: Historical BackgroundCosmic Microwave Background • 1965: The American radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson detected a very faint radiation in the microwave range: 7.35 centimeters, corresponding to black body radiation at a temperature of 3.5 degrees above absolute zero Arno Penzias (b. 1933) and Robert Wilson (b. 1936) in front of the microwave horn antenna they used to discover the Cosmic Microwave Background

    29. Big Bang: Historical BackgroundCosmic Microwave Background • It was soon realized that this was “relic radiation” left over from the Big Bang itself: radiation from the Big Bang that had continued to saturate the universe, but which had expanded along with the universe and cooled, so that it is now about 1,000 times cooler than it was originally. • The Steady State Theory could not explain this and became untenable.

    30. The “Big Bang”

    31. The Big BangInitial Singularity • The universe began 13.7 billion years ago. • At time = 0 seconds, presumably the universe consisted of a “singularity” in which all the energy of the universe was concentrated in a point of infinite density, pressure, and temperature. • We in fact have no theory of physics able to predict conditions before 10-43 seconds. • Currently, our best theory of Gravity, the General Theory of Relativity, is incompatible with Quantum Theory, our best theory of the subatomic realm. • A Quantum Theory of Gravity is needed and has not yet been discovered.

    32. The Big BangRapid Cooling and Expansion • As the universe expands, it cools rapidly:

    33. The Big BangDuring First Millisecond • First millisecond (thousandth of a second): • Forces of nature — strong, electromagnetism, weak, and gravity — take on their current forms. • The Universe is filled with an incredibly hot, dense gas of quarks, light particles (photons), electrons, and neutrinos. • Near 10 microseconds, it cools enough for quarks to combine to make protons, antiprotons, neutrons, and antineutrons. • Near 100 microseconds, the protons and antiprotons, and the neutrons and antineutrons, almost all annihilate. • Fortunately, a one-in-a-billion excess of protons over antiprotons leave the matter from which you and I are now made.

    34. The Big BangAt a Few Seconds • At a few seconds: • Electrons and antielectrons annihilate, leaving light particles (photons) as the dominant constituent of the Universe.

    35. The Big BangAt 1 to 3 Minutes • At about 1 to 3 minutes: • Conditions everywhere similar to those at the centers of present-day stars: ripe for hydrogen fusion. • Big Bang theory correctly predicts that a quarter of the cosmic hydrogen is converted into helium before temperatures become too cool for this fusion.

    36. The Big BangNext Few Hundred Thousand Years • During the next few hundred thousand years: • The universe is a hot “foggy” glowing gas • Foggy because roaming free electrons are scattering all photons (light particles) every which way • The brilliance is unimaginable – like a sky filled with noon day suns • Color changes from blue to orange as the universe continues to expand and the gas cools

    37. The Big BangAt 380,000 Years • At 380,000 years, the Universe cools past 3000 K • It is now cool enough for electrons to combine with protons; atoms form for the first time. • The formation of atoms causes the universe to become transparent. Light particles (photons) now can continue on their way without being scattered or otherwise interrupted • We see these primeval, uninterrupted light particles from the glowing 3000 K universe today as the Cosmic Microwave Background • The red light particles from the hot, glowing 3000 K gas have been stretched by a thousand fold cosmic expansion, so they are now microwaves to us.

    38. The Big BangAt 380,000 Years • The Cosmic Microwave background is markedly uniform, with a very slight patchiness (1 part in 100,000):

    39. The Big BangAt a Few Million Years • At a Few Million Years: • At 6 million years, the universe has cooled enough that the “sky” glow falls below the range of visible light; for the first time, the universe is pitch black to the human eye. • After 17 million years, the temperature dips below 32 degree F, and we enter a long, frigid night called the “dark age.”

    40. The Big Bang Next ~200 million years • The slight “lumpiness” seen in the Cosmic Microwave Background is growing. • After about 100 million years, the densest regions begin collapsing.

    41. The Big BangAt 200 Million Years • A “web-like” pattern of lumpiness has formed:

    42. The Big BangAt 200 Million Years • At 200 Million Years: first stars are born

    43. The Big BangAt 200 Million Years • At 200 Million Years: • These first stars are huge, live short lives, and die in supernova explosions. • The new stars make new chemical elements: carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and heavier elements, which appear for the first time in the universe. • The supernova explosions release these newly made chemical elements into the interstellar medium. • Successive generations of stars continue to enrich their surroundings with heavy elements.

    44. The Big BangAt 400 Million Years • At 400 Million Years • Stars cluster to form small infant galaxies:

    45. Small detail of the Hubble GOODS Survey field, released Jan 5, 2010, showing infant galaxies down to 650 million years after the Big Bang

    46. The Big BangAt 5 Billion Years • At Five Billion Years: • Infant galaxies have merged into the kind of galaxies we see around us today. • Galaxies have been clustering, forming filamentary structures, refining the “galaxy web” we see today.

    47. The Big BangAt 5 Billion Years Galaxy “Web”

    48. 1 Gpc/h = ~4.35 billion light years; 1 Mpc/h = ~4.35 million light years

    49. The Big BangAt 5 Billion Years • Also at Five Billion Years: • The expansion of the universe begins to accelerate

    50. Death by Fire Death by Ice