The Awesome Universe
‘Something Is Missing’—What?
AFTER gazing at the stars on a clear, dark night, we come inside, chilly and blinking, our minds spinning with vast beauty and a multitude of queries. Why is the universe here? Where did it come from? Where is it going? These are the questions that many try to answer.
After five years of research into cosmology, which carried him to scientific conferences and research centers all over the globe, science writer Dennis Overbye described a conversation with world-famous physicist Stephen Hawking: “In the end what I wanted to know from Hawking is what I have always wanted to know from Hawking: Where we go when we die.”
Although tinged with irony, these words reveal much about our age. The queries are not so much on the stars themselves and the theories and conflicting views of the cosmologists that study them. People today still hunger for answers to the basic questions that have haunted mankind for millenniums: Why are we here? Is there a God? Where do we go when we die? Where are the answers to these questions? Are they to be found in the stars?
Another science writer, John Boslough, observed that as people have left religion, scientists such as cosmologists have become “the perfect priesthood for a secular age. They, not religious leaders, were the ones who would now reveal all the secrets of the universe bit by precious bit, not in the guise of spiritual epiphany but in the form of equations obscure to all but the anointed.” But will they reveal all the secrets of the universe and answer all the questions that have haunted mankind for ages?
What are the cosmologists revealing now? Most espouse some version of the big bang “theology,” which has become the secular religion of our time, even as they quibble incessantly over the details. “Yet,” Boslough noted, “in the context of new and contradictory observations, the big bang theory begins to appear more and more like an overly simplistic model in search of a creation event. By the early 1990s the big bang model was. . . increasingly unable to answer the most fundamental questions.” He added that “more than a few theorists have expressed the opinion that it would not even last out the 1990s.”
Perhaps some of the current cosmological guesswork will turn out to be correct, perhaps not—just as perhaps there really are planets coalescing in the ghostly glow of Orion’s nebula, perhaps not. The undeniable fact is that no one on this earth really knows for sure. Theories abound, but honest observers echo Margaret Geller’s astute observation that despite the glib talk, something fundamental seems to be missing in science’s current understanding of the cosmos.
Missing—The Willingness to Face Unpalatable Facts
Most scientists—and this includes most cosmologists—subscribe to the theory of evolution. They find talk unpalatable that gives intelligence and purpose a role in creation, and they shudder at the mere mention of God as Creator. They refuse even to consider such heresy. Psalm 10:4 speaks disparagingly of the supercilious person who “makes no search; all his ideas are: ‘There is no God.’” His creative deity is Chance. But as knowledge increases and chance and also coincidence collapse under the growing load, the scientist begins to turn more and more to such no-no’s as intelligence and design. Consider the following examples:
“A component has evidently been missing from cosmological studies. The origin of the Universe, like the solution of the Rubik cube, requires an intelligence,” wrote astrophysicist Fred Hoyle in his book The Intelligent Universe, page 189.
“The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known that we were coming.”—Disturbing the Universe, by Freeman Dyson, page 250.
“What features of the Universe were essential for the emergence of creatures such as ourselves, and is it through coincidence, or for some deeper reason, that our Universe has these features? . . . Is there some deeper plan that ensures that the Universe is tailor-made for humankind?”—Cosmic Coincidences, by John Gribbin and Martin Rees, pages xiv, 4.
Fred Hoyle also comments on these properties, on page 220 of his book quoted above: “Such properties seem to run through the fabric of the natural world like a thread of happy accidents. But there are so many of these odd coincidences essential to life that some explanation seems required to account for them.”
“It is not only that man is adapted to the universe. The universe is adapted to man. Imagine a universe in which one or another of the fundamental dimensionless constants of physics is altered by a few percent one way or the other? Man could never come into being in such a universe. That is the central point of the anthropic principle. According to this principle, a life-giving factor lies at the centre of the whole machinery and design of the world.”—The Anthropic Cosmological Principle,” by John Barrow and Frank Tipler, page vii.
God, Design, and the Constants of Physics
What are some of these fundamental constants of physics that are essential for life to exist in the universe? A report in The Orange County Register of January 8, 1995, listed a few of these constants. It stressed how fine-tuned these features must be, stating: “The quantitative values of many basic physical constants defining the universe—for example, the charge of an electron, or the fixed velocity of light, or the ratio of the strengths of fundamental forces in nature—are ravishingly precise, some to 120 decimal places. The development of a life-breeding universe is exceedingly sensitive to these specifications. Any tiny variation—a nanosecond here, an angstrom there—and the universe might well have been dead and barren.”
The author of this report then mentioned the usually unmentionable: “It seems more reasonable to assume that some mysterious bias lurks within the process, perhaps in the action of an intelligent and intentional power who fine-tuned the universe in preparation for our arrival.”
George Greenstein, professor of astronomy and cosmology, gave a longer list of these physical constants in his book The Symbiotic Universe. Among those listed were constants so fine-tuned that if they were off to the very slightest degree, no atoms, no stars, no universe, would have ever been possible. The details of these relationships are listed in the accompanying box. They must exist for physical life to be possible. They are complex and may not be understood by all readers, but they are recognized, along with many others, by astrophysicists trained in these areas.
As this list lengthened, Greenstein became overwhelmed. He said: “So many coincidences! The more I read, the more I became convinced that such ‘coincidences’ could hardly have happened by chance. But as this conviction grew, something else grew as well. Even now it is difficult to express this ‘something’ in words. It was an intense revulsion, and at times it was almost physical in nature. I would positively squirm with discomfort. . . . Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?”
Sickened and horrified by the thought, Greenstein quickly recanted, recovered his scientifically religious orthodoxy, and proclaimed: “God is not an explanation.” No reason—it was just so unpalatable that he could not stomach the thought!
A Natural Human Need
None of this is to disparage the hard work of sincere scientists, including cosmologists. Especially do Jehovah’s Witnesses appreciate their many discoveries concerning creation that reveal the power and the wisdom and the love of the true God, Jehovah. Romans 1:20 declares: “His invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable.”
The inquiries and labors of scientists are the natural human response to a need that is as basic to mankind as the need for food, shelter, and clothing. It is the need to know answers to certain questions concerning the future and the purpose of life. God has “set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”—Ecclesiastes 3:11, The Holy Bible—New International Version.
This is not such bad news. It means that mankind will never know it all, but neither will they ever run out of new things to learn: “I saw all the work of the true God, how mankind are not able to find out the work that has been done under the sun; however much mankind keep working hard to seek, yet they do not find out. And even if they should say they are wise enough to know, they would be unable to find out.”—Ecclesiastes 8:17.
Some scientists object that making God the “solution” to a problem kills the incentive for further research. However, a person who recognizes God as the Creator of the heavens and the earth has an abundance of further fascinating details to discover and intriguing mysteries to probe. It’s as though he has a green light to move on into a delightful adventure of discovery and learning!
Who can resist the invitation of Isaiah 40:26? “Raise your eyes high up and see.” We have raised our eyes high up in these few pages, and what we have seen is the ‘something missing’ that has eluded the cosmologists. We have also located the fundamental answers to those recurring questions that have nagged the mind of man throughout the ages.
The Answers Are Found in a Book
The answers have always been there, but like the religionists of Jesus’ day, many people have blinded their eyes, shut their ears, and hardened their hearts to answers that did not match their human theories or their chosen life-style. (Matthew 13:14, 15) Jehovah has told us where the universe came from, how the earth got here, and who will live on it. He has told us that earth’s human inhabitants must cultivate it and lovingly care for the plants and animals that share it with them. He has also told us what happens when people die, that they can come back to life, and what they must do to live upon the earth forever.
If you are interested in having the answers given to you in the language of God’s inspired Word, the Bible, please read the following scriptures: Genesis 1:1, 26-28; 2:15; Proverbs 12:10; Matthew 10:29; Isaiah 11:6-9; 45:18; Genesis 3:19; Psalm 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9:5; Acts 24:15; John 5:28, 29; 17:3; Psalm 37:10, 11; Revelation 21:3-5.
Why not read these scriptures with your family or with a neighbor or with a group of friends in your home some evening? Be assured it will make for an informative and lively discussion!
Are you intrigued by the mysteries of the universe and moved by its beauty? Why not get to know better the One who created it? Our curiosity and wonder mean nothing to the inanimate heavens, but Jehovah God, their Creator, is also our Creator, and he cares for those meek ones who are interested in learning about him and his creations. The invitation is now being given throughout the earth: “‘Come!’ And let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.”—Revelation 22:17.
What a heartwarming invitation this is from Jehovah! Rather than by a mindless, purposeless explosion, the universe was created by a God of infinite intelligence and definite purpose who had you in mind from the beginning. His reserves of unlimited energy are carefully controlled and always available to sustain his servants. (Isaiah 40:28-31) Your reward for getting to know him will be as endless as the majestic universe itself!
“The heavens are declaring the glory of God; and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling.”—Psalm 19:1.
[Box on page 13]
A Listing of Some of the Physical Constants Necessary for Life to Exist
The charges of electron and proton must be equal and opposite; the neutron must outweigh the proton by a tiny percent; a matching must exist between temperature of the sun and the absorptive properties of chlorophyll before photosynthesis can occur; if the strong force were a little weaker, the sun could not generate energy by nuclear reactions, but if it were a little stronger, the fuel needed to generate energy would be violently unstable; without two separate remarkable resonances between nuclei in the cores of red giant stars, no element beyond helium could have been formed; had space been less than three dimensions, the interconnections for blood flow and the nervous system would be impossible; and if space had been more than three dimensions, planets could not orbit the sun stably.—The Symbiotic Universe, pages 256-7.
[Box on page 14]
Has Anybody Seen My Missing Mass?
The Andromeda galaxy, like all spiral galaxies, rotates majestically in space as if it were a giant hurricane. Astronomers can calculate the rate of rotation for many galaxies from the light spectra, and when they do, they discover something puzzling. The rotation rates seem to be impossible! All spiral galaxies seem to rotate too fast. They behave as if the visible stars of the galaxy were embedded in a much larger halo of dark matter, invisible to the telescope. “We do not know the forms of the dark matter,” admits astronomer James Kaler. Cosmologists estimate that 90 percent of the missing mass is unaccounted for. They are frantic to find it, either in the form of massive neutrinos or some unknown but superabundant type of matter.
If you locate the missing mass, be sure to let your local cosmologist know right away!