Some further thoughts regarding yesterday’s post —
[This will not be on the final. Just to illustrate how very complex a single proton is. You don’t have to watch the whole thing.]
- There is no obvious reason why nature — science — should be describable mathematically. I mean, why would a universe created at random choose for its laws to be expressed as mathematical equations? It’s not as though all true things must be expressed in math! Indeed, until the publication of Isaac Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687 no one had even attempted to use math to describe the behavior of the universe.
- The point is subtler and deeper and harder to express. Let me try to explain. We tend to assume that the reason the force of gravity, for example, can be described using a fairly simple equation is that gravity somehow follows the math. But in reality, gravity just happens, and math describes it but doesn’t cause it. The universe couldn’t hold enough computers to do the gravitational math for the entire universe, much less the energy math, the momentum math, the electromagnetism math, etc.
- This is not immediately obvious, but it’s true. Consider the contents of a single hydrogen atom — the simplest atom. It has a proton and an electron and that’s all. The proton is made up of three quarks. The three quarks are in constant flux, shifting as each reacts with the other. The electron is not a particle — not really — but more of a wave constantly in flux around the proton.
- The mathematics of the quarks and electrons are understood pretty well by the experts but extremely complex. To compute the velocity and position of a quark or electron exactly is impossible, because they exist as (believe it or not) probability waves. That is, the existence of each is smeared out in the shape of a constantly shifting wave — which represents the probability of the particle being at point X or moving at velocity V (and even this is a simplification).
- And so, in addition to all the complexities of interactions among the quarks and the movement of the electron, you have to do statistics just to calculate the waves that are moving. Obviously, a computer capable of doing this math (which is well understood) would require much more than a single proton and electron. Even the theoretically smallest computer — a quantum computer — would require many millions of atoms to do the math.
- And all these atoms built into the smallest theoretically possible computer would only do the math for the behavior of a single atom. Imagine the size of a computer that could run the entire universe!
- So the math doesn’t make gravity happen. Gravity happens — but always in strict accord with the math. And so the math is a result of what the universe does — not the reason.
- Science offers not even a hypothesis for why this is so. It just is. For an answer, you might turn to philosophy. Which has no answers. You don’t find answers until you get to Christianity — as we considered in yesterday’s post.
- (Which means that science is a subset of philosophy, which is a subset of Christianity — quite the opposite of the usual approach. Scientists want to reduce Christianity to a product of evolution and hence a subset of science. It just isn’t true.)
- There’s even less reason for the universe to be comprehensible to the human mind. What is it about the need to spear a woolly mammoth that requires a brain that can comprehend the General Theory of Relativity or gravity waves?
- It seems that evolution has grossly over-equipped us in our ability to think. But there is the law of diminishing returns. Being smart would be an evolutionary advantage because smart people are better able to kill woolly mammoths. But you only have to be so smart to outsmart a mammoth. And all that extra brain matter requires energy and the consumption of food and water to operate — an obvious evolutionary disadvantage.
- Beyond that, well, no one has demonstrated that the ability to do higher math or talk theoretical physics helps one find a mate, reproduce, and feed a family. If that were the case, university math and physics departments would be turning away applicants!
- And then there are the tools. It’s often been suggested that it’s man ability to build tools that separates him from the animals. I’m not sure that’s exactly the answer, but it’s certainly an important difference.
- Now, what is it about the need to build spears and traps and such to catch, butcher, and eat a mammoth that requires us to have the ability to measure a gravity wave?
- Remember: we measured a gravity wave from over 1 billion light-years away that perturbed time-space by less than 1 thousandth of the width of a proton!
- Why should evolution have given us the ability to do that — if we don’t have to be that incredibly clever to survive, mate, and pass our genes to the next generation?
- Again, we seem to be grossly over-qualified for the job of hunter-gatherer — which is what we were when most hominid evolution presumably occurred.
It seems that God has gone out of his way to make the universe understandable by us higher hominids — and to give us the ability to understand what he’s telling us about himself through his creation.
And perhaps the message is as simple as “I am here” or, as the scriptures say,
(1 Chr. 28:9b ESV) If you seek him, he will be found by you …
(Heb. 11:6b ESV) … whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.