Tuesday, December 06, 2011

String Theory and Theology

A facebook friend turned me onto this video from Brian Greene, a string theory physicist. It's interesting. mind-blowing stuff. Brian Greene is obviously a smart guy. His understanding of physics is way beyond mine, no doubt about it. His ideas about string theory are very interesting and may turn out to be true. I kind of hope they are: it's very cool, and it explains a number of physical mysteries we still have. It may turn out to be true, or, if not, surely something more complicated will. However, I have two questions.

First, I understand why we should respect somebody like Brian Greene as a professional physicist; I don't understand why we should listen to him as an amateur theologian. He speaks elsewhere of his veganism, or his ideas that there must be a copy of you and me out there in the multiverse, because somewhere along the way there's an infinite number of collections of atoms just like us. But whence does he get the idea that we are merely the atoms we are made of? That's Greene the amateur metaphysician and theologian stating his philosophy of reductionist materialism, not Greene the professional physicist talking about the science he's spent years studying and teaching. I'd rather give credence on that subject to those who have been in touch with the Creator of this universe, the authors of the Bible.

And second, why do we think that string theory has anything to do with the truth explained by God in the Bible, "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth" or its companion "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God"? String theory, if true, will turn out to be yet one more amazing demonstration of God's power and creative ability.

God is beyond any theory in physics, because He created the reality that physics attempts to describe. Now, I'm all for science (and have studied a lot of it over the years); but let's not let speculations about what COULD BE wipe out our innate knowledge of who we are and who God is. Science is a wonderful tool for understanding God's creation: I believe God gave us minds to understand the mysteries of His handiwork and give Him the praise He deserves. And, of course, nothing I could say says it better than this: "since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."

We know we're sinful; we know we are accountable to a holy God for the sins we continue to commit every day. No amount of physics, no amount of speculations that distract our minds from what we know to be true, will overcome that. Have you, having been handed the map that shows you how to get to the correct destination, let yourself become so distracted by speculations of what kind of ink the map is printed with, that you disregard the actual directions written on the map? I love the map, I love to explore the details, and I praise the Mapmaker for them; but it seems to me that the wise man does not let himself be distracted by those things so much that they do not reach the proper destination.


A Future Metaphysician said...

Chapter 11 of Brian Greene's book, "The Elegant Universe," is titled "Tearing the Fabric of Space." He and his group worked out the math and physics of a puncture in space/time, and concluded that instead of ripping the universe to bits, every particle in the universe would encircle the tear to hold space/time together. It's fun physics, but even better theology. Here's why...

The Bible says that "every eye shall look on Him whom they have pierced." (Zech 12:10, quoted in Rev. 1:7.) Brian Greene's hypothetical rip in space/time makes it possible to turn the universe inside out, like poking a hole in a balloon, pushing all the rubber through the hole, and sealing up the hole again. Christ's death has turned the moral universe inside out--in the cosmos after the Cross, every moral agent is on one side of the Great Divide or the other. We who have trusted Christ are now "outside" the fallen world. Those who reject Him are trapped "inside."

Gary Bisaga (aka fool4jesus) said...

Scott, Greene's results are interesting, but do you really think they have anything to do with Zech 12:10? It seems to me that the context of that verse is pretty clear: regarding God's judgment on Israel's enemy. I am not sure I see warrant for connecting Zechariah with Greene. It seems to me that we've seen the result of pulling verses out of context in Harold Camping; perhaps I'm overly sensitive, but I would want a good exegetical argument that this is what Zechariah was referring to. Don't misunderstand me: it may well be there; but I'm not seeing it.