Tag Archives: faith

Apollo XI and the physics of God

Forty-five years ago this month, Neil Armstrong uttered perhaps the most unforgettable words ever spoken, as he stepped off the ladder of the Lunar Excursion Module and became the first human being to set foot on the Moon.

As he said, it was “… one small step for a man”; though in fact, of course, many thousands, if not millions, of steps had already been taken in the long and winding road that led to Apollo XI‘s landing. So many technological achievements, arguably dating back to the invention of the wheel and beyond, had fuelled that jaw-dropping expedition.

On the one hand, as Armstrong put it, it was as though our species had taken a “giant leap” in its evolutionary journey; on the other hand, the landing can be characterised as simply the product of the cold, level headed application of scientific knowledge, technological advances and computer power.

As an atheist, I’ve always been fascinated by the part played by God in all of this. When John F. Kennedy made his “We choose to go to the moon” speech, he was careful to ask for God’s blessing for the “adventure”. And when the Apollo VIII astronauts entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, December 24th, 1968, they took turns in reading from the book of Genesis.

It seems to me that these statements of faith were probably a lot to do with pandering to assumed public sentiment in the US. (buzz_aldrin_EVA_selfieThough not entirely: it’s interesting that Buzz Aldrin‘s personal communion service on the surface of the Moon was held in secret – see Buzz Aldrin selfie, right, taken during his EVA). But having in mind the experiences of Galileo, Darwin and others throughout history who’d made giant leaps previously, the finance department at NASA knew that offending religious sensibilities via revolutionary discoveries would not necessarily stimulate increased budgets for future missions.

Nonetheless … with all the analytical and computational power at their disposal, I’m surprised that true believers at NASA and other scientific bodies have never sought to establish the physical nature of God. If they’re as convinced of his existence as the statements of the astronauts and certain space scientists suggest, it would surely be worthwhile undertaking some kind of work to buttress their belief with empirical evidence? To my mind, there is a very curious contradiction in the way they can spend so much of their lives rigorously searching after solutions to the most difficult problems in physics, harnessing cutting edge knowledge and equipment to chase down fine details which may produce further giant leaps, whilst at the same time blocking out of their mind any thoughts of questioning the nature of this supposed all-powerful, all-seeing super being.

That’s not to say that there isn’t an extensive body of scientific, metaphysical and/or philosophical literature exploring ideas around the physics of God. For instance, James Redford, in his 2012 book The Physics of God and the Quantum Gravity Theory of Everything, available via links here, seeks to use theories about the ultimate collapse of the universe into a final cosmological singularity – the “Omega Point” – as a proof for the existence of God.

Rather than try to explain the origins of the Big Bang, of which “The Omega Point is a different aspect”, Redford places his trust in a projection of generally-accepted quantum gravity theory into the most distant imaginable future, to describe God as a state of being which will come about following the development of infinite computational resources. (So for “God”, read “Science”; or “If you can’t beat them, join them”). We can all take comfort in knowing that scientists will one day be able to explain absolutely every aspect of the “multiverse”; but, with a nagging worry that, as the state of singularity approaches, scientists may have other things on their minds than increasing computer power (and also that scientific theories themselves evolve), I find very little of value here.

Darwin's_finchesThe truth of the matter is that, just like Darwin’s finches, religious beliefs tend to be modified to respond to changes in their habitat. With each new “giant leap” made by Man, some of the bonds that hold together the DNA of religious beliefs are broken and re-form to adapt to the changing climate of opinion and the social and scientific environment.

For absolutely explicable reasons, many people (some astronauts included) need to hold onto a religious belief as they take their all-too-short, wondrous, worrying ride on and around this planet, as it processes through the inexplicable heavens.

To that extent, the scientific basis for the existence of God is to be found not in physics, but in psychology.

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Scientists hail discovery of a new human species in Britain

The discovery of a completely new type of human being living within Britain has been hailed by scientists as a breakthrough which could have profound implications for Mankind.

testtubesThe announcement, made early yesterday morning, was quickly followed by a series of developments during the day in areas such as politics, religion and sport. The new hominid, provisionally known as ‘Woman’, is believed to have been living unnoticed in many parts of the UK for a comparatively long period, though Professor Patrick Obvious insisted that considerably more research would be required before investigations were completed.

“More work is needed to establish the nature of this new species and how it fits into our overall understanding of the human race”, insisted Professor Obvious. “Without additional funding to provide our laboratory with the kind of equipment we need – for instance a new PlayStation, one of those George Foreman grill thingies where the fat just rolls into a tray underneath and one of those electric whirry-whirry things for scraping dead skin off one’s heels – we may never be able to deduce the precise significance of these quite revolutionary new insights”.

The Church of England was amongst the first to react to the discovery, immediately voting to allow any “women” found amongst their number to be ordained as bishops. “Clearly if there is this other form of human being moving among us we will want them to have equal rights without delay”, said the Right Reverend H. O’Lierthanthou. “I haven’t noticed them myself, but that is not to say that they don’t exist. I have enormous faith in their existence and indeed I look forward to meeting one of them one day”. By the end of the day a vote had been passed in the Church’s General Synod which will allow the new humans to become fully-fledged bishops.

brylcreemMeanwhile at Westminster Prime Minister David Cameron took charge of a hastily-convened meeting of SlowWorm, the special committee formed to deal with matters of pressing national importance. “The opportunity to divert attention away from the child abuse scandal is clearly in our own national interest”, he told our reporter. “I shall be insisting that we stand firm and react with appropriate restraint in the light of this enormously troubling but positive development. Sorry, what was the question again?” Mr Cameron later sacked half his Cabinet, promising to replace any male ministers not wearing Brylcreem with female alternatives.

As the day wore on, further repercussions were felt. In sport, for instance, Kia Motors agreed the first sponsorship deal with the England Women’s cricket team after it was discovered that “women” cricketers had been playing matches at various cricket grounds up and down the country.

The Kia Motors marketing department were quoted as being happy to support the newly-evolved species. “Supporting the hugely successful England women’s team cherylcoleis the next evolution for Kia in cricket”, said Paul Philpott, President and CEO of Kia Motors (UK) Ltd.

And in showbiz well-known entertainer Cheryl Cole yesterday revealed that he himself is, in fact, a “woman”, and indeed was taking the opportunity to announce his (apologies … her) upcoming engagement to French restaurant entrepreneur Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini.

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