The Discoveroids are giving us another “scientific” reason for divine — ooops! — we mean scientific creationism. This time they’re talking about the origin of the universe. Their new post was written by Kirk Durston, whom the Discoveroids introduced in this earlier post by telling us:
Dr. Durston is a scientist, philosopher, and clergyman with a PhD in Biophysics, an MA in Philosophy, a BSc in Mechanical Engineering, and a BSc in Physics.
That’s an impressive résumé! Because we’re told that among his accomplishments, Durston is also a clergyman, we respectfully refer to him as rev Durston. The last time we wrote about one of his posts was Discovery Institute Proves Life Is a Miracle. His latest post at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog is Why Past History Cannot Be Infinite: There Must Be a Beginning. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
The evidence from science points to a beginning for the universe. Some atheists, understanding the possible theological implications of a beginning, prefer to set aside science and assert that the past is infinite either in terms of the number of years this universe has existed, or in terms of a fantasized infinite series of universes in a multiverse.
There’s a bit more to it than atheists opposing the theological implications of a beginning. In News of the Universe, we discussed the, ah, evolution of scientific thinking since just prior to the Big Bang theory (when the universe was generally believed to be of infinite age), through a period when there were versions of a cyclic model of the universe, with an eternal series of oscillations, each beginning with a Big Bang and ending with a Big Crunch.
The oscillating universe was a widely accepted view until recently. It was assumed that if the mass of the universe were sufficient, the expansion that we now see would eventually be halted by gravity. Then there would be a contraction phase ending in the Big Crunch, followed by another Big Bang, then another contraction, ad infinitum.
There are still cyclical models floating around, but the observed acceleration of the universe’s expansion in 1998 has mostly put an end to the oscillating universe (at least for now). We now seem to be living in a universe that began with a Big Bang (how or from what, we don’t yet know), and which is expanding at an accelerated rate. It will come to an end, dissipating into what will essentially be nothingness, in maybe 100 billion years.
So for almost the last 20 years, we’ve been living with the idea that the universe isn’t eternal. It’s what one might call a cosmic one-night stand. The universe began to exist, and it will eventually expand to the point where it’s virtually nothing. Then it’s over.
The multiverse is a whole different thing, and we don’t know why rev Durston even mentioned it in this context. Anyway, being a Discoveroid creationist and a preacher, he likes the idea of a universe with a beginning. He mentions a few current proposals about an infinite universe and then says:
This is certainly no problem with mathematical models, but in the real, physical world, it is impossible to “count down” an infinite number of actual years, one at a time, from minus infinity to the present. Most people find the discussion of infinities somewhat difficult to wrap their minds around, so I will keep this discussion clean and simple.
How very thoughtful of the rev! This is his clean and simple reasoning:
In the real world, an infinite past means that if you were to set the current year as t = 0 and count back into the past, there would never be an end to your counting, for there is no year in the past that was the “beginning.” No matter how long you counted, you would still have an infinite number of years ahead of you to count and, if you were to look back at the set of years you have already counted, it would always be finite.
Everyone knows what “infinite” means. What’s the point of this? Let’s read on:
Why is this a problem for an infinite past? … [I]f the past is infinite, actual history would never, ever make any progress at all in getting closer to the present, or any other arbitrary point in time. There would always be [an infinite number of] years to go before any historical event could occur. Yet here we are. The only way this can be possible is if the past is not actually composed of [an infinite number of] years. The set of years in the past is finite (as opposed to infinite) and there was a beginning, as science also seems to indicate.
[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] If the past were infinite, it would have been impossible for time to get to the present. Brilliant!
The rev goes on for a bit, but that’s pretty much his argument. The universe can’t be infinite. He doesn’t say it, but he certainly implies, that the universe had to have a creator. Impressive, huh?
It doesn’t really matter, but your Curmudgeon still likes the idea of an eternally oscillating universe. Maybe that will come back into prominence, if we can ever figure out how the currently observed accelerating expansion will end with a contracting phase. Yes, there would have been an infinite number of cycles before our own, but that doesn’t matter. For us, time began with the latest Big Bang.
Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.