Searching for God
Kenneth Silber's ("Is God in the Details?," July) article is a lucid overview of the current state of a somewhat silly debate: Can science prove the existence of God?
However, Silber fails to mention the most important point. Even if God were discovered in the details, it in no way supports conservative (or liberal) religious beliefs and opinions. Proof of an original watchmaker does nothing to tell us the correct time of day. Perhaps that is why everyone involved in this issue refers to the generic "religion" rather than particular church laws and theologies.
I appreciate that Silber debunked the "Science Finds God" argument without resorting to the typical mockery of faith and religion in general. If the other discussants conducted themselves this way, it would be a more interesting--and perhaps more productive--discussion.
Kenneth Silber rightly notes the Christian parallels in relativistic cosmology, a sudden creation from nothing that peters out into a nihilistic nothingness. One parallel that Silber does not touch is that of blasphemy or heresy. A minority of astronomers and physicists are challenging the Big Bang dogma. If the universe is truly infinite (and no observation has disproven this), then all possible configurations must eventually occur. In fact, those configurations must occur an infinite number of times.
The majority view has the advantage that the major media do not report the dissident views of current observational evidence. It is simply a myth that the Big Bang theory is the only model possible. How can one speak intelligently of anthropic principles or the fine-tuning of constants if one cannot speak authoritatively of what is going on inside the sun? Modern physicists are now inventing dark matter, superstrings, and bubble universe theories in endless tiers of unproven hypotheses which they treat as fact. It is always easier to philosophize about something than to go to the telescope and prove it. Perhaps we should leave God out of the discussion until we have learned how to walk.
As a trained physicist, I would like to offer an alternative explanation for the alleged "fine-tuning" of the universe described by Kenneth Silber. Supposedly the "omega" of the early universe had to be correct to within one quadrillionth of 1 percent for the Big Bang to produce the present universe.
Consider an analogy: Suppose you found a ball resting on a narrow ledge high up on a building. You do a calculation and find that someone would have to throw it exactly right or it would never stay on the ledge. Throw it too hard and it would bounce off the ledge; too soft and it wouldn't make it to the ledge. The probability that someone might throw it exactly right is one in a quadrillion. What would you conclude?
Obviously, somebody opened the window. The ball didn't get there because someone threw it, it got there because someone opened the window and placed it there.
The Big Bang didn't happen. That isn't how the present state of the universe came to be. The very idea is self-contradictory to begin with; but the determination that there was only one chance in 100 quadrillion that a Big Bang could result this way is scientific proof that this isn't what happened--proof as good as any scientific proof can be. Modern physics isn't becoming more "anthropic," it is becoming more irrational.
Lewis E. Little
I often ask myself what the likes of Robert Bork, or any other theist who understands rudimentary economics, would say if someone said, "Look, modern industrial economies must be the result of a divine plan, for the odds of that many production and distribution tasks being done in such a complex yet coordinated fashion are too small to believe that the arrangement of these tasks is not the result of conscious design."