THE SCIENCE AND GOD
This paper reflects on the content and scope of science. Likewise, also reflects on whether science is able to show some scenarios that may suggest to some people the existence of God or its absence. Regarding the first question we analyse three possible scenarios: the anthropic principle, the problem of the existence of the human individual, and finally the emergence of the universe.
SCIENCE AND GOD. By J. L. CHANCHO. ABSTRACT. This paper reflects on the content and scope of science. Likewise, also reflects on whether science is able to show some scenarios that may suggest to some people the existence of God or its absence. Regarding the first question we analyse three possible scenarios: the anthropic principle, the problem of the existence of the human individual, and finally the emergence of the universe. INTRODUCTION The evolution of science in recent centuries has been formulating various paradigms concerning the reality of our universe, and they all raised a certain dialectical tension between science and the concept of God. The reflections that take place may raise a number of issues that might be of interest to the reader. CONTENT Science in the last four hundred years has experienced extraordinary growth and success, which is evident to us all, but this should not lead us to the point of view that science is able to explain everything. The truth is that today there are many more things than unexplained explained. As science moves forward and explains something, new questions arise immediately. On the other hand we must recognize that science is a set of partial theories which every scientist considers “true, in the present state of our knowledge, but is willing to consider false if new knowledge demostred it”. We see that all scientific theories are not only partial but also fallible. This raises the question of whether this is because of the limitations of our mind and senses, or because the manifestations of reality, are themselves partial and probabilistic. We shall indicate now that the fact that a theory is proven false and replaced by another, does not mean that we stop using it, as it is useful to us, since the accuracy of its predictions are sufficient for our specific needs. For example the fact that we consider false classical mechanics based on Newton’s laws and quantum mechanic correct, the fact remains that in many cases we continue using classical mechanics. After these comments, we will make some reflections on science and the mystery of God. The first question before us is the existence of God (we shall not consider what we human beings have understood for this word). In relation to this crucial issue Kant, said that was impossible for reason to prove God’s existence or nonexistence. Failure to demonstrate some things, does not occur only in philosophy and methaphisical issues, but also occurs in science as well, for example, as in mathematics, which are the most certain of all sciences, exists the Göedel’s theorem which shows that there are some propositions that are undecidable, meaning that we can not prove them to be true, but we can not prove neither they are false. We therefore consider that science as an expression of human reason is facing an issue that can never be proven. But, can science give us something at this respect? Well, maybe, as science itself raises points that may be suggestive for some people. Here are two possible positions: 1) First we ask if science produces cases that suggest the inexistence of God. History of science shows us that what has done with remarkable success, is to show that certain phenomena of nature can be explained by perfectly natural causes, supernatural causes need not be causing them, as was often thought in antiquity, so storms, epidemics, disasters, etc… where attributed to the action of gods, and today can be explained by natural causes. But the fact that many natural phenomena can be explained without recourse to divine intervention, does not in any way presuppose the inexistence of God, it simply shows that he does not need to intervene directly in this events. Consider a case I think illustrative: Stephen Hawking, renowned scientist and popularizer, who is a proclaimed atheist. Considerer the explanation given in his book “The Grand Design” which incidentally I think is clear and interesting, but in my opinion, his ideological position is manifested in some of its approaches. Other issues in the book express the so-called “anthropic principle”, which we shall show at length late. The author explains that in order for us to be here have to occur a series of coincidences, each one of them very improbable in itself and practically impossible in a whole, which could lead many people to think about the need for divine intervention. But Hawking said, in what I think is an ideological position, that the answer lies in M theory or theory of everything, with which it is not necessary the intervention of God. But it happens that this theory is not so, it is a mere hypothesis, for there is no experimental evidence of it. Besides is not a theory that explains everything, it is a partial theory that refers only to the unification of the four fundamental physical forces and does not cover all aspects of reality, for instance they are not integrated into its construction magnitudes as information, now considered by some to be as important as the concept of energy. Moreover, it appears, this theory is based on Feynman’s interpretation of quantum mechanics, but it happens that quantum mechanics is a mathematical formulation that seems certain, in the above sense, since its predictions are all correct, so far, but the problem is interpreting the meaning of these equations. It is a particularly enigmatic theory, and there are over ten different main interpretations and many other secondary, Feynman’s being not exactly the most generally accepted. To conclude this section we pause to comment on the fact that many scientists are ideologically agnostic, meaning they do not know if God exist or not, which is perfectly understandable given that science has always been opposed to supernatural interventions, trying to explain the phenomena of nature on basis of the natural causes. 2) Let’s see if science produces cases that might suggest the existence of God. As we shall explain below we rely on to days generally accepted scientific theories. Obviously, like all scientific theories they can be modified or replaced in the future, but we will build on what today is on the table. We believe that if in the future are to be amended, would appear at that time other suggestions based on new approaches. Below are certain approaches that might suggest (not prove) to some people the existence of God. a) Anthropic principle: This scientific principle tells us that the fact that there are human beings imposes restrictions on what is possible not only in our environment but in the form and content of the very laws of Nature. I will try to explain the above in a way which I think will be more clear: The fact that we human beings exists it is due to a long chain of “happy coincidences”. We begin the list with the laws of nature in our universe. These have to be extremely specific, meaning that small changes in them would lead to radically different universes in which life would not be possible, at least as we know it. For example: if we where only to vary just 0.5 percent the intensity of strong force there would be not carbon, a key element in life. If the weak nuclear force were much weaker than it is, all the hydrogen in the early universe would have become helium and the stars will not be as we know; if it were much stronger this force, there would be no supernovae, so necessary to create and expulse the heavy atoms needed to produce the planets life. If protons were 0.2 percent heavier, would decay into neutrons and would destabilize the atoms. If the sum of the masses of the types of quarks that make up a proton were changed in only 10 percent, the abundance of stable nuclei would be much lower. In fact the sum of the masses of these quarks seems optimized for the widest possible existence of stable nuclei. Indeed, according to the law of universal gravitation, stable elliptical orbits, are only possible in three-dimensional spaces, as happens in our universe. The circular orbits are possible with different number of dimensions, but then become unstable. For any number of spatial dimensions but three, small perturbations, such as those produced by the attraction of other planets in the solar system, lead to unstable orbits, and produce the expulsion of our planet from its orbit causing it either to fall spiralling to wards the sun, or escape spiralling away from it. If we now consider the solar system, we also see that it is extremely singular, so that there could be no habitable planets like Earth, if the solar system were binary or have more suns, which is typical in the universe, as the possible orbits in a system with two suns, for example, are basically three and none of them allow a hospitable climate because at some seasons would be too hot or too cold for life. If the orbits of the planets were circular we have seen that they would be unstable, but still being elliptical eccentricity must be small, as is the case of Earth that is only 2 percent, which together with the tilt of the planet allows seasonal weather patterns that are suitable for life. We have also had luck in relation to the Sun’s mass and its distance from Earth as the star’s mass determines the amount of energy released. The masses of the stars are in the range of 100 times larger to 100 times smaller than our Sun and it would determine what is called “the habitable zone” of a solar system which, is the narrow region around the star whose temperature allow liquid water, essential for life. We have also been fortunate because the Earth is precisely in this “habitable zone”. Then the Earth itself is very unique because it has liquid water essential for life, an atmosphere rich in oxygen and suitable composition, has a magnetic field, unlike other planets in the solar system, which protects the life of the solar radiation, is a rocky planet not gas, with a gravity and chemical composition also suitable, and so on. The evolution of life is also full of “happy coincidences”, beginning with how life started, although unknown as it is, we do know that emerged in a relatively rapid way at geological scale. Then there have been some extremely improbable and surprising facts, for instance primordial life was anaerobic, not using oxygen, but at one time life created blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, which in addition to using solar energy for photosynthesis, produces oxygen, and this is really strange because oxygen is toxic to anaerobic life and probably just his appearance caused the greatest biological catastrophe that has existed, since early life almost completely disappeared because of it, and immediately arises a question, how life could produce something, than at least in the short term was fatal to her? The transfer of life from sea to land is another surprising; fact since the land was barren and unfit for life and had to be modified by mutated organisms and marine plant so it could be habitable, especially for animals. This raises another question: Why is life out of a suitable environment for its development, such as the seas, to colonize and transform a barren land? If we study the evolution of life, we see that large extinctions occur, of which 5 are known and probably there were several dozen in the entire existence of life, caused by falling meteorites, volcanic eruptions, changes in solar radiation, etc. and the have played a decisive role, so that we human beings exist on earth, is sufficient to consider for example the extinction of dinosaurs that gave an opportunity to mammals, that probably would not have had otherwise. To cut a longer list we will not go into the details of the evolutionary process of life, which also seems to be oriented in a certain sense, producing a succession of changes that seem to lead to the human being. The impression that may cause the long list of “happy coincidences” is that for this chain of improbable events to occur, is not sufficient just random, and may suggest to some the need to believe in divine intervention. b) The existence of the human individual: A scientific suggestive question arises when science, in its present state of knowledge, seems to show that the probability of occurrence of a particular event is so extremely small that in a limited universe like ours, can be regarded as practically impossible to occur, and yet occur. It is conceivable that new knowledge could explain in the future such an event or that involves something alien to science. Take an example of this, that is the problem of existence of the human individual, a problem that has been exposed by various authors and which we’ll try to explain clearly. The fact of my existence (I beg the reader to forgive the use of first person in search of simplicity) here and now is virtually impossible according to science, and yet here I am. Indeed, biology tells us that for me to be here, it is necessary that a particular egg from my mother has joined a particular sperm of my father, if this does not happen, I can not exist, and if they join any others will come a brother or sister of mine, but not I (we do not consider individual cases such as identical twins, clones, etc..). The science of Statistics allows us to calculate the probability of occurrence of this event and, in the best case, is in the order of millionths. But also for this union to occur there must exists my father and mother, whose probability is in the same order and together the product of both, so quickly, as we go back for generations, we shall reach probabilities of occurrence of the event that are fantastically low. It turns out that against all odds I’m here. How explain this? I do not know, but perhaps a suggestion that may arise is that it involved an infinite Will, that applied to a negligible possibility, has become something real and true. c) Origin of the universe: Another suggestive situation can occur when we investigated the limits of science. Scientists usually define limits in order to study their field of science and believe that what is outside those limits is either being studied in other branches of science or it is philosophy. So when physicists study the reality of our universe, often stop in the so-called laws of physics or nature, which they considered as given and from them is “off limits” of physics. But scientific curiosity pushes some to investigate these limits and even try to go further, raising questions such as: the laws of physics are really permanent, immutable, and so on? Is there a reality behind them? Why the laws of physics of our universe are so specific and because of that so enormously improbable? Etc. For example: Science has tried to investigate which is the origin of our universe, there being several suppositions about (Multi-universe, expansion-contraction, etc.). But they lack experimental verification, to my knowledge, so that at the moment this suppositions continue at the level of mere hypothesis. The generally accepted theory in the scientific community is the one called the Big Bang, with strong experimental evidence. Like the following: a) Moving away of galaxies: in the 1920’s, Hubble telescope observations made at Mount Wilson, founded that the light emitted by galaxies indicated that virtually all of them are moving away from us and concluded that the universe was expanding. If this was so, the universe was smaller in the past and continuing in reverse, all matter and energy had been concentrated, around thirteen million years ago, in a small region of space; if you go back far enough should have been a moment where it all began, this is known today as the Big Bang. b) Radiation background: in 1965 was discovered a faint microwave background that fills all space. This background radiation is the one left over from the early universe, very hot and dense that existed shortly after the Big Bang. c) Other evidence: supporting the Big Bang picture of the early universe, tiny and very hot, which created the atoms of hydrogen and helium by fusion reactions and also traces of lithium and beryllium (all the heavier elements were formed later inside stars). The calculation of the theory is in good agreement with the amounts actually known to exist of hydrogen helium, lithium and beryllium. Obviously, like all scientific theory, It may be modified or replaced by other theory arising out of new knowledge, but today is what we have. What tell us this theory? Exposed very succinctly says that a point we call singularity (we do not know what that is) at one point exploded (for unknown reasons) giving rise to our universe which is expanding ever since. Saying this more clearly, is that out of the blue came in an explosion our universe. This view strongly suggests, in my opinion, a Wagnerian image of a creative act of God. CONCLUSION Based on the foregoing considerations I think it is arrogant and wrong to say that science will eventually rule on the existence of God. It is perfectly understandable the agnostic attitude of many scientists and finally I believe that science itself offers approaches that may suggest to some, like myself, the existence of God. REFERENCES 1- Chancho Neve, Jose Luis (2008) “Reflexiones sobre el mundo y el ser humano” Fierro and Huerga. 2- Davies, Paul and others (2010) “Information and the nature of reality”. Cambridge. University Press. 3- Bryan Greene (2003) “The Elegant Universe”. 4- Guzman, Miguel de (2006) “Math Adventures. A window into the chaos and other episodes”. 5- Stephen Hawking (20110) “The Grand Design”. 6- Immanuel Kant (1996) “Critique of Pure Reason”. 7- Bruce Rosenblum and another (2010) “Quantum Enigma”. 8- Vlatko Vedral (2010) “Decoding Reality” Burdan Library. Spain. Madrid. May 2012