THE ANSWER TO THE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS (C. 1958)

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Excerpted from The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, edited by John Clover Monsma. New York: G.P. Putman’s Sons, 1958

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THE ANSWER TO THE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

By Donald Henry Porter, Mathematician and Physicist

B.Sc, Marion College, Ph.D., University of Indiana; formerly Teaching Fellow at University of Indiana; Professor of Math­ematics and Physics at Marion College. Specialist in contact transformations, two-dimensional bounded variation and ab­solute continuity.

The Pythagorean Proof
Image Credit: William B. Faulk

If one could prove that there is a God in the same sense that one proves the Theorem of Pythagoras in geometry then belief in God would be compulsory. That kind of proof, I believe, does not exist. On the other hand, science is com­posed in the main of unproved laws or principles. This lack of proof does not prohibit one from using these laws as they might apply to various situations. It is not reasonable to expect proofs in the realm of the supernatural when proofs in the natural are lacking.

The questions in physics that can be answered best begin with the word “How.” The present level of achievement in ginning with the word “Why.” The answers to “How” ques­tions are probably only approximations to the truth. How two bodies attract each other is well described in Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation. An explanation of why two bodies attract each other does not exist. The force of gravity holds us to the earth and our earth in its orbit about the sun. But then guesswork begins. One theory of the universe re­quires the law of gravitation to reverse itself and the force to become one of repulsion if the distance between bodies is great enough.

There is an accepted law governing the forces between electrically charged bodies. Such charges are known as posi­tive or negative. The law states that the force is one of attrac­tion if the charges are of opposite sign, and of repulsion if of the same sign, the force in any case being directly pro­portional to the product of the charges and inversely propor­tional to the square of the distance between them. We believe the nucleus of an atom to contain positively charged particles called protons. But when we get into the small confines of the nucleus of an atom the law fails, and we must assume a new law of force. This law is called the “nuclear force.” So even man’s attempt to describe Nature falls short when he is dealing with the very large or the very small.

It seems that the majority of scientists feel compelled to describe physical phenomena and origins without a God in the picture. Bertrand Russell, the noted British mathema­tician and philosopher, decided there was no God because he could not answer the question “Who made God?” There is no doubt that Russell’s thought processes went deep and far, but is it reasonable to demand an answer to this question when almost every scientific theory leads to unanswered questions? As for myself, I place God in the picture. Reason and logic demand it.

Speaking of unanswered questions, there are two theories of the universe that are receiving wide acclaim at the pres­ent. But before we take a look at them let us make some preliminary remarks.

Cosmology is the study of the general features of our universe, its extension in space and its duration in time. With the great 200-inch telescope on Mount Palomar man is able to look more than a billion light-years into space and see nearly a billion galaxies. The light-year as a unit of dis­tance means the distance fight travels in a year at 186,000 miles each second. A photograph of the heavens taken today shows the way the stars looked when the light left them, perhaps millions of years ago.

Image Credit: NASA
(Public Domain)

An idea that has become firmly established is that our universe is expanding. The rainbow colors one sees when looking through a glass prism are called a continuous spec­trum if the colors merge together to form a continuous spread of colors. The science of spectroscopy is based on the fact that elements can be identified by their characteristic spectra. The spectrum of an element is formed by the refraction of fight associated with the element into separated colors whose distribution and intensity become the fingerprints of the element. In this way an element was discovered on the sun before it was detected here on earth, and was named helium, after the Greek word helios (Hλιος), meaning sun. The shift of the spectrum toward its red end is called the red-shift and indi­cates that the source of the light is moving away from the observer. Observation of distant galaxies has led to the theory that the universe is expanding, that the galaxies are moving outward.

And now the two prominent theories referred to here-above. One is the evolving universe theory of Alpher and Gamow, the other is the steady-state theory of Hoyle.

According to the first theory the universe was formed by an explosion from a state of high density and temperature. It proposes that the cosmos evolved from the original, highly compressed, extremely hot gas to stars, galaxies, and back­ground material. The present outward motion of the galaxies is a result of this explosion.

This Alpher and Gamow theory postulates that when our universe was five minutes old its temperature was a billion degrees. Before that, matter consisted only of protons, neu­trons and electrons that were dissociated because of the high temperature and pressure. After the explosion, which marked the beginning of our universe, all the chemical elements were formed within thirty minutes. The theory would require the heavier elements to be combinations in successive steps of the lighter elements. There was a special time when the galaxies were formed, perhaps a million years or so after the explosion. Gravitational forces were the causative factor in the formation of the galaxies.

What about the state of affairs before the very first begin­ning of the universe? It is suggested that we consider the operation thus wise: that our universe came out of the maxi­mum contraction of a previous universe that had been collapsing for an eternity of time from a state of infinite rarefaction (thinness or porousness; opposite of density).

If I should adopt the theory that our universe came from a highly compressed, very hot beginning it would be to place God as the Creator of the original particles and the Source of the energy which brought the pressure and the heat. God would be in the picture.

The Bondi-Gold-Hoyle theory is called the steady-state theory, or the theory of continuous creation. It is based on the assumption that the universe is homogeneous both in space and time, but not static. Its authors agree that the universe is expanding, that the galaxies are moving out­ward. To compensate for the dispersal of the galaxies and still retain the same general appearance of the universe, they postulate that matter is being created continuously and form­ing into new galaxies to replace those moving away and out of our limit of vision by telescope. We see by light, and if a body were moving away from us with a velocity greater than the velocity of light, then light would not come toward us and vision of such a body would be impossible even with a perfect telescope. It is estimated that a galaxy two billion light-years away would have that velocity and so pass for­ever from our view. This is about twice the distance now expected of the giant telescope on Mount Palomar. If the universe expanded at the computed rate for about one-fifth of the estimated lifetime of the sun, the universe would be­come essentially empty to our observation.

The continuous creation theory would constantly replace the background material of the universe as it condensed into galaxies. Thus the general appearance of the universe would not change. The newly created material would pro­duce an outward pressure that leads to the steady expansion. Concerning creation, Hoyle indicates that the material does not come from anywhere. It simply appears!

As for me, if I should favor the continuous creation theory, I certainly would recognize God as the Creator. Again God would be in the picture.

Whatever process of Nature is considered, or whatever question of origins is studied, as a scientist I derive satis­faction only by placing God in the leading role. God is the central figure in every picture. He alone is the answer to the unanswered questions.

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