General Relativity Is Proof of God

This is an argument we’ve never seen before. We found it at the website of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), founded by televangelist Pat Robertson. Their headline is: How Einstein Helped Prove God is the Creator. It was written by Paul Strand, described as: “senior correspondent in CBN’s Washington bureau.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Einstein figured out his famous Theory of General Relativity in the early 1900s and put out a paper on it in 1916.

Okay, but what does that have to do with creationism? Strand says:

Hugh Ross is a pastor/astronomer with the faith-and-science group Reasons to Believe. He told CBN News, “The famed British mathematical physicist Sir Arthur Eddington saw the paper and recognized that there was an opportunity with the 1919 total solar eclipse in Brazil to put the Theory of General Relativity to the test.”

Hugh Ross is an old-Earth creationist. We’ve written about him before — see Hugh Ross: Creationist Oddity. Strand interviewed him for this article, and gives us several quotes from the creationist astronomer-preacher:

“It’s that Theory of General Relativity that predicts there’s a beginning to the universe. Until Albert Einstein’s theory came along, astronomers and physicists thought the universe was infinitely old,” Ross explained. “The Theory of General Relativity now said, ‘No, it’s finite in time. It has a beginning,’ which implies there must be a Beginner who was responsible for bringing the universe into existence.”

As you’re undoubtedly aware, dear reader, that claim about “a beginning implies a Beginner” comes from Ross, not Einstein. Let’s read on:

This said to the inquisitive and searching young Hugh Ross that of all the gods of all the religions, the One True God was most likely the God of the Bible.

A brilliant conclusion! Strand says:

Many is the doubter who’d like to do away with Einstein’s famed Theory and its surrounding theorems and implications, but to no avail.

That’s a bit fuzzy. We’re given the impression that those “doubters” are probably atheists, but we’ve never seen any evidence that atheists are opposed to relativity. Strand continues with another Ross quote:

We have about 30 of these theorems. And basically, the conclusion is we indeed are stuck with the implications of those space/time theorems,” Ross explained. “In fact, today, General Relativity ranks as the most exhaustively tested and best proven principle in all of physics.”

[*Groan*] More fuzziness. “Theorem” is a mathematical term, not to be confused with a scientific theory; and although theories can be tested and falsified, they are never literally proven.

Why is Strand so obsessed with the notion that relativity is “proven”? That becomes apparent in his final quote from Ross:

The astronomer/pastor concluded, “There’s nothing we can be more confident of than the reliability of the Theory of General Relativity. Which means that likewise we have confidence that there must be a God beyond space and time who created our universe.”

[*Sigh*] General Relativity is — so far — a successful theory, but it is not without challenges. As for the “confident” result that God created the universe, Einstein somehow never noticed it — but we’ll you decide, dear reader.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “General Relativity Is Proof of God

  1. Michael Fugate

    I am sure Ross’s belief in Christianity came before any revelations from physics – post-hocism at its finest.

  2. Someone (Ross, or Strand, or both) is not very informed about general relativity. Physicists in the late 19th and early 20th century thought the universe was static, but I don’t think that has anything to do with the origin of it. Indeed, Einstein added a “cosmological constant” to his the general relativity equations to keep the universe static. He later called that the greatest mistake he ever made.

    Moreover, the data from the total eclipse, mentioned by Ross, showed that light followed gravitational gradients. It had nothing to do with whether the universe was expanding, contracting or static. And the major evidence for an expanding universe is the cosmic microwave background radiation. As is usual with creationist arguments, neither the general theory of relativity nor the CMB has anything to do with whether Ross’s sky fairy is any more likely than any other.

  3. “Einstein figured out his famous Theory of General Relativity in the early 1900s and put out a paper on it in 1916.”
    This one is already a winner. Lorentz and Poincare already contributed to Relativity well before 1900. Einstein published on Special Relativity in 1905. Only then (and he was not the only one) he started to work on General Relativity.
    Of course after such a false start it’s very unlikely that thing still will turn out correct.

    “that claim about “a beginning implies a Beginner”
    I’m also aware that the first one to derive a Beginning from General Relativity was atheist commie Alexander Friedmann. Plus the second one was catholic priest Georges Lemaitre, who explicitly warned against this fallacy.

    “More fuzziness.”
    Not really. There’s a lot of math involved with General Relativity and Friedmann’s/Lemaitre’s work. It’s sloppy though.

    “There’s nothing we can be more confident of than the reliability of the Theory of General Relativity.”
    Yup – and we can be equally confident that the TGR fails to be universal. It doesn’t work at subatomic level.
    Way to go, Hugh!

  4. Actually, general relativity does work at the subatomic level. If it weren’t for time dilation, a key prediction of the theory, many of the subatomic particles detectable in the laboratory wouldn’t last long enough to be seen. And if it weren’t for the related phenomenon of mass increase at relativistic speeds, adding more energy to a particle would increase its velocity just as Newtonian physics predicted, which would mean faster-than-light particles would be detected routinely.

    But that misses the point, which is that general relativity is in fact a thoroughly tested theory–and does not, in any way, “prove” the existence of God. Even if the universe we observe is of finite age (and there are respectable theorists who argue otherwise based on the possibility that the Big Bang may not, in fact, represent the ultimate beginning of all things), that does not establish the reality of an all-powerful, all-knowing sentient Creator.

  5. Mark Germano

    “This said to the… Hugh Ross that of all the gods of all the religions, the One True God was most likely the God of the Bible.”

    Whoa. Huge shocker, that. I thought it was going to be Apollo or Dwayne Johnson’s character in Moana.

  6. Ironically another Creationist (Andrew Schlafly) is a relativity denier who think it’s all a liberal conspiracy.

  7. @Lipps: time dilation is already a prediction of special relativity.

  8. @EricL: you’re good at cherrypicking.

    http://www.krauselabs.net/writings/unifying-general-relativity-and-the-standard-model/

    “Although general relatively is very effective at explaining the universe on a large scale (planets, stars, even down to humans and grains of sand) it runs into some serious problems when attempting to explain subatomic mechanics.”