Last week I was on a university panel formed to debate the issue of science and religion. My argument was the same one IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been making for years: given the known laws of physics Ã¢â‚¬â€ in particular, general relativity (EinsteinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s theory of gravity) and quantum mechanics Ã¢â‚¬â€ we have no choice but to conclude that God exists.
I defined Ã¢â‚¬Å“GodÃ¢â‚¬Â as the Ã¢â‚¬Å“uncaused first cause,Ã¢â‚¬Â which is the definition used by St. Thomas Aquinas in his Ã¢â‚¬Å“second wayÃ¢â‚¬Â (AquinasÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ second of five proofs of GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s existence). Aquinas took his proof from Moses Maimonides, who in turn took it from the Kalam Muslim theologians. That is, these leading theologians of the three leading monotheist religions all defined Ã¢â‚¬Å“GodÃ¢â‚¬Â the same way, so I thought this would be an acceptable definition. Knowing what is meant by the word Ã¢â‚¬Å“God,Ã¢â‚¬Â we can now use physics to see if there is indeed Ã¢â‚¬Å“GodÃ¢â‚¬Â out there.
There is. The laws of physics tell us that the universe began about 14 billion years ago at the initial (or big bang) singularity. What is this Ã¢â‚¬Å“singularityÃ¢â‚¬Â? Looking at its properties, one sees that it is the uncaused first cause. Something that is the cause of all causes, but Himself without a cause. Given the laws of physics, the existence of the initial singularity follows necessarily from the mathematics. Now of course we cannot be certain that the laws of physics are correct. We learn about nature via experiment, and new experiments may tell us tomorrow that general relativity and quantum mechanics are just limits of more fundamental laws, which do not possess an initial singularity.
I doubt this, since general relativity and quantum mechanics can themselves be shown mathematically to be special cases of the classical mechanics as developed in the nineteenth century. So there is no evidence, experimental or theoretical, that there are any laws of physics more fundamental than general relativity or quantum mechanics. But I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t rule it out. In science we can only say that the truth of these two theories is highly probable, not certain.
But given these laws of physics, the singularity is certain. It is certain because His existence follows of necessity, from the mathematical analysis of the equations of relativity and quantum mechanics. Given the laws of physics, the existence of the singularity is as certain as 2 + 2 = 4.
I made this point on the panel. No one challenged the laws. No one challenged my calculations. What they challenged was my statement that 2 + 2 = 4!
I was told that 2 + 2 = 4 is merely a matter of opinion. I was told that GÃƒÂ¶del showed mathematics could be inconsistent, so anything goes. (Actually, 2 + 2 = 4 is a theorem of Presburger arithmetic, which is arithmetic with addition and subtraction only, and Presburger arithmetic is, and has been proven to be, decidable, complete, and consistent.)
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had this experience several times now. University faculties now teach that truth is whatever the consensus of the faculty says it is (this was made explicit is the Berkeley faculty handbook a few years ago). This idea that the ruling group of faculty can establish truth by authority, even over the truths of mathematics like 2 + 2 = 4, has a chilling Orwellian flavor.
George OrwellÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s classic 1984 ends with the hero Winston, who believes that truth is something external to mankind and unalterable by any human agency, being tortured by OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Brien, the head of the ruling partyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s secret police. In OrwellÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s own words:
OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Brien held up his left hand, its back toward Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“How many fingers am I holding up, Winston.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“And if the Party says it is not four but five Ã¢â‚¬â€ then how many?Ã¢â‚¬Â
The word ended in a gasp of pain [as OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Brien sent a strong electric current through Winston]. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦
Ã¢â‚¬Å“How many fingers, Winston?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Four.Ã¢â‚¬Â [Again OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Brien applied the current] Ã¢â‚¬Â¦
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You are a slow learner, Winston,Ã¢â‚¬Â said OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Brien gently.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“How can I help it?Ã¢â‚¬Â he blubbered. Ã¢â‚¬Å“How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Party Ã¢â‚¬â€ the political class of the world Ã¢â‚¬â€ does not want God to exist. Therefore, if the laws of physics and the laws of mathematics say He does, then the laws of physics and the laws of mathematics must be changed to whatever the Party wants.
Therefore, God does not exist. He must not be mentioned, must not be prayed to in class.
The Party wants the Earth to be warming, so that its members can establish their power over every aspect of our lives. The Earth has not warmed in a decade, in fact it has gotten colder. But the Party says warmer, and further, says that the warming is due to human addition of CO2 to the atmosphere.
For years, as we have learned from Climategate, climate Ã¢â‚¬Å“scientistsÃ¢â‚¬Â have been fudging the data to obtain the result wanted by the Party. Today, following the decree of the Party, the EPA announces that the Earth is indeed getting warmer, and that indeed, CO2 is responsible for the warming.
God help us.
Frank J. Tipler is Professor of Mathematical Physics at Tulane University. He is the co-author of The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford University Press) and the author of The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead and The Physics of Christianity both published by Doubleday.