Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Canton Repository of Canton, Ohio. Wikipedia says: “The city lies on the edge of Ohio’s extensive Amish country.” The letter is titled Is the Big Bang Theory ‘science’ or ‘religion’?, and the newspaper has a comments section.
Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. His first name is Eric. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, some bold font for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Here we go!
The astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, in his book “A Brief History of Time,” wrote that the pope told him and his colleagues, “We should not inquire into the big bang.” As for the possibility the universe had “no beginning, no moment of Creation, I had no desire to share the fate of Galileo,” he wrote. So is the Big Bang Theory “science” or is it “religion”?
Is the big bang theory science or religion? That’s Eric’s big question. It may help if we give you the actual quote from: Full text of “Stephen Hawking A Brief History Of Time”:
At the end of the conference [a cosmology conference at the Vatican] the participants were granted an audience with the Pope. He told us that it was all right to study the evolution of the universe after the big bang, but we should not inquire into the big bang itself because that was the moment of Creation and therefore the work of God. I was glad then that he did not know the subject of the talk I had just given at the conference – the possibility that space-time was finite but had no boundary, which means that it had no beginning, no moment of Creation. I had no desire to share the fate of Galileo, with whom I feel a strong sense of identity, partly because of the coincidence of having been born exactly 300 years after his death!
That won’t help you to answer the question, so we’ll just move on. Eric says:
The theme song to the TV show [What?] states our universe began “nearly 14 billion years ago.” This sounds to me like “false precision.” I might say, sarcastically, the universe began in the year 13.8 billion B.C. on the Fourth of July, at high noon.
Eric’s gone from Hawking to the TV show The Big Bang Theory. Neither will help you to answer his question. After quote-mining Hawking and then the theme song of a TV comedy show, he tells us:
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity has been described correctly in one sentence: “It discards the concept of time and space as absolute entities and views them as relative to moving frames of reference.”
That sentence is true, but is it a complete description of Einstein’s theory? Maybe for Eric. Anyway, his letter continues:
The speed of light is the same for all observers, while time and space are sort of “in the eye of the beholder.” Besides relative motion, differences in gravity also cause time and space to be variable. So when we turn our telescopes to look across the universe, what appears to be a billion years ago might just as well be a trillion years or an eternity.
What’s he saying? Astronomers don’t know what they’re looking at? It doesn’t matter. He suddenly changes topics again:
The formula for escape velocity was used by a man named Karl Schwarzschild to calculate the size of a “black hole,” using the speed of light as the highest possible escape velocity.
Aaaargh!! Now what’s he saying, and why is he saying it? The Schwarzschild radius of a black hole describes the distance from its center to its event horizon, beyond which light cannot escape. So what?
Eric finishes his brilliant letter with this:
The way the formula works, the larger the mass or amount of substance, the lower the average density. Suppose our universe is on the inside of a very large black hole. There should be an “expansion of space,” just as astronomers are observing. We might call it the “Black Whole Universe.”
There is some fanciful speculation that the observable universe may be within a black hole — see Black hole cosmology. But we fail to understand how that helps to answer his question about whether the big bang theory is science or religion.
We also fail to understand Eric. Is he a creationist? A Time Cube enthusiast? Something else? Can you figure it out, dear reader?
Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.