MadSci Network: Other

Re: Where do things come from?

Date: Sat May 27 22:24:56 2000
Posted By: John Link, Physics
Area of science: Other
ID: 958841186.Ot

The question is:

Before you over-simplify my question, let me please explain myself.

I love science. I like math, even though I am not very good at it. I am also religious. So I must know both sides of the argument. The scientific view, and the religious view, because at present they are not the same as they once were.

So my question is; where do things come from? Things like gravity, light (or any other energy), relativity, oxygen, elements, chemicals, stars, suns, moons, planets, etc. It is a wide range, and I can probably guess on some things, such as planets and moons, but what about the others?

I cannot reason to believe that all these things created themselves or simply were always there. That is my question.

Okay, this is going to be a difficult question to answer on the MadSci Network. It would actually be better to ask it at a site such as Reasons to Believe which is an organization that specializes in reconciling science with "religion". However, I am going to make a stab at the answer for the MadSci Network. This is my own personal opinion, but I hope it is relevant to MadSci.

So, in my opinion, the "religion" that makes the most sense when it comes to science is Christianity. The Bible, interpreted from the viewpoint of an old-universe creationist, is entirely consistent with what we know about the whole universe from science. The Web site mentioned in the previous paragraph does a very good job of explaining the old-universe creationist view.

As to where things come from, it all started at the big bang. And if you are willing to accept the notion of an intelligent designer (which many famous astrophysicists have been discussing in the past 5 years or so) then it is not too hard to understand that this "intelligent designer" put all the physical laws into the universe at the very start. The most modern view of the universe is that there are four basic physical forces, being gravity, electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force. You may know that the "theory of everything" based on the concept of strings is an attempt to combine all four of these forces into one theory. This theory is making progress, but there's a long way to go yet!

All the things that we now have around us, including stars, planets, oxygen, etc., are a result of the operation of the four basic physical forces. The current concensus is that electromagnetism and the two nuclear forces are responsible for the preponderance of hydrogen in the universe, and also for most of the roughly 27% (by mass) that is helium. Most of the hydrogen and helium we have with us today was formed roughly within the first four minutes of the beginning of the universe. All the other elements were formed in stars, for which gravity is also a major player. The stars, galaxies, and planets have formed primarily through gravity, but, especially in stars, the balance of the strengths and ranges of all four of the forces determines how fast they form, how big, and how hot the stars become.

The area where you will find the most controvery is in the area of the origin of life. As you are aware, I am sure, many many scientists believe that life originated by chance. There are those scientists, however, who are not willing to accept the vanishingly small probability of spontaneous life, who rather believe that the "intelligent designer" who put together the universe in the first place also had a part in making life and its various forms, throughout the history of the earth. These scientists believe that there have been too many things operating against spontaneous life (such as repeated cataclysmic meteor impacts and the recently established finding that the earth's atmosphere has been oxidizing since the very earliest stages of the planet's history, for a small sample of reasons) to have allowed life to have originated spontaneously.

Well, I hope this helps. Write back if you want to ask more questions!!

John Link, MadSci Physicist

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