(ORDO NEWS) — If we want to get answers to questions about the size, structure and age of the Universe, then we have two options: either to talk for a long time, while the imagination allows, or to engage in scientific research. Could “God” be the only answer?
Where did all things come from? Perhaps this is the only secret of the universe, which makes a person constantly be in amazement and encourages with bated breath to seek an answer, putting forward various hypotheses.
Everything that we see here on Earth, everything that can be observed on other planets, in clusters of stars and galaxies – all this is so immense and limitless that it can inspire awe. And yet, the answer to the question of the origin of all things is hidden from man.
If, nevertheless, we want to get answers to questions that interest us, for example, about the size, structure and age of the Universe, then we have two options: either to argue for a long time as long as the imagination allows, or to engage in scientific research and strive to the search for an answer, based on the data obtained in the study of the Universe.
What is now called “scientific research” in the past for quite a long time was by and large limited and primitive, and the answers received to the most important philosophical questions were not analyzed with the necessary thoroughness.
Sometimes the answers were built on the basis of unsubstantiated statements and fictions. However, in our time, it is the scientific approach that allows us to get closer to understanding reality. But aren’t we depriving ourselves by underestimating the results obtained by science?
What exactly did Dan Petkunas mean when he asked the following question: “Why do astrophysicists ignore the very possibility of the existence of God? Do they have any evidence that excludes the existence of God?”
The answer to the second question, of course, is: “there is no evidence.” What about the first question? It’s more difficult with him. Let’s figure it out.
We sometimes have questions, the answers to which are by no means obvious. The list of such questions is almost endless. This also includes some of the most fateful questions over which mankind puzzles, for example:
– Where did people come from?
– What does a person consist of, what primary elements?
– How big is the planet Earth and how did it originate?
– Are the Earth and the Sun the same age, or is one of them older?
– Are there “other planets like the Earth” in the Universe, orbiting “other Suns”?
– How far does cosmic space extend: is it infinite or finite, or does it completely close, go in cycles, on itself?
– Did the Universe exist forever or was there a certain moment in world history when the planet Earth suddenly arose from non-existence?
And so on and so forth. Humanity will continue to ask fateful questions as long as it is able to ask them at all. At first glance, there are many answers to each of the questions – quite possible and convincing. However, a person believes that for each of them a certain single “correct” answer can still be given.
It is precisely this feature (i.e., the desire to get the only correct answer to a question like the above) that distinguishes scientific research.
True, we can talk about the greater or lesser plausibility of answers, put forward hypotheses in support of them, argue, or vice versa – be skeptical about them, disapprove of them, encouraging others to believe the same way we do. This is how mankind has acted for thousands of years, from time immemorial.
However, as it is considered in the scientific field, finding the answer to the question by putting forward hypotheses is just the beginning.
How to determine that a certain issue is being investigated with the help of a scientific approach? When using a scientific approach, one must first find out what the observable, measurable consequences will be obtained as a result of using this particular hypothesis, and then put them to the test.
The idea of verifiability is when Nature itself undertakes to solve a question that implies the existence of many possible outcomes. It is verifiability that distinguishes science from non-science.
For example, if we state that a body falls to the Earth, then we should be able to do this experiment with a body falling in absolutely any place on our planet, i.e. let go of the body and watch it fall to the ground.
However, once we are far enough away from the Earth (far enough – that means far enough that our planet’s gravitational force is not the dominant force acting on the body), then we will see that the body behaves quite differently.
Therefore, from a scientific point of view, we need to draw the following conclusion: the statement that “the Earth is the “natural” home for physical bodies” should not be considered as a valid scientific interpretation of the data. Through experiments, observations and measurements, we can refute or “falsify”
However, if we say that physical bodies fall due to the fact that in general all objects in the Universe that have mass act on each other through some invisible, attractive, gravitational force, then this hypothesis will turn out to be much more fruitful in the scientific sense. Why?
Because it gives us the opportunity to experiment with objects of different masses and calculate the change in distances between bodies, as well as their speed and acceleration, depending on time. In a word, now we can measure the force with which they act on each other for arbitrary bodies located at different points in space.
That is, from now on we get the opportunity to conduct various kinds of research, including – to arrange ground-based experiments on Earth, to observe various objects of the Universe. For almost all of them predictions
Does this mean that we can now make an unambiguous conclusion that “all bodies fall due to the fact that all large objects gravitationally affect each other?”
Not certainly in that way. Science is, of course, a very powerful tool, but from the point of view of science, no hypothesis can be said to be true or false in an absolute sense. Instead, the scientific approach says the following: one can speak about the truth or falsity of a hypothesis only when it is considered not in absolute, but in relative, specific physical conditions.
The statement that all massive bodies have a gravitational effect on each other is the cornerstone of Newton’s theory of gravity, which explains very well a variety of physical phenomena, for example: the fall of a body on the earth’s surface, the movement of celestial bodies in the solar system and beyond, and etc.
However, Newton’s theory of universal gravitation does not work everywhere. There are many physical phenomena where Newton’s theory gives incorrect answers that are inconsistent with observations. If the Newtonian theory were always and everywhere true, then the orbit of the planet Mercury would not experience the precessional motion observed by astronomers.
If Newton’s theory of universal gravitation were correct in the absolute sense, then in this case the clocks set at different heights would not show different times. If Newton’s theory would always be true, then in this case objects that do not have mass (for example, light waves) would not begin to “curve” near bodies with gigantic mass.
But contrary to Newton’s theory, all the above-mentioned phenomena are just observed: the orbit of Mercury does indeed precess, and by a much greater amount than Newton’s theory of universal gravitation predicts; clocks do run at different speeds at different altitudes, and the difference between the speeds they run cannot be explained solely by special relativity and the relative speeds of the two clocks.
And light, which has no mass, is bent by bodies that have a gigantic mass and are located in the solar system or in outer space beyond its limits.
Newton’s theory of universal gravitation very well explains a wide range of phenomena. However, at the same time, in some experiments, we do not see agreement between the observed phenomena and the predictions made by Newton’s theory. What does it mean?
From a scientific point of view, this news is actually remarkable, as it gives us a great opportunity to move forward.
If we see that any scientific theory (especially one that was considered successful) is not able to make predictions that would be consistent with both observation and experiment, then this serves as a signal to scientists that this theory has reached its ceiling – the limit. its applicability.
And here we go beyond the applicability of this scientific theory – now we need some more recent, more effective and more universal theory, which will replace the previous one.
Let us return, for example, to Newton’s theory of gravitation. Quite a few competing hypotheses were ready to replace it as potential successors. And this is good, since each new hypothesis put forward by scientists gave theoretical predictions that made it possible to check and analyze the essence of various physical phenomena.
As a result, scientists adopted the general theory of relativity (GR) of Albert Einstein. It replaced the Newtonian ideas about the universalism of the gravitational force acting between all sufficiently massive bodies.
According to general relativity, space and time represent a certain material structure (the so-called space-time), and an indispensable element of this structure is not only mass, but also energy of all possible types. In addition, all objects (both with and without mass) will move in this curved space-time, and the movement of these objects is determined by the curvature of space-time.
And this approach has stood the test of time: it was confirmed in the course of experiments with atomic clocks that measure time to the nearest attosecond [attosecond – one billionth of a billionth of a second – approx. transl.], astronomical observations of pulsars and gravitational waves that carry away energy from merging black holes, as well as in many other observations. With all the experimental tests, when it comes to gravity, Einstein’s theory remains true.
All scientific theories are based on the same approach that we have illustrated with the example of gravity: we can create a model of the reality around us, but this model is only as good as the experimental verification that confirms the correctness of this model.
This theory is considered reliable as long as its predictions are consistent with the results of experiments/observations. If the results of experiments/observations diverge from the theoretical data, then this theory ceases to be reliable, and therefore, we need to create a new, more advanced theory.
What will this new, improved theory look like?
In order for an old theory that no longer gives correct results to be replaced by a new theory, this new theory must meet the following three requirements.
- The new theory must reproduce all the positive results of the old one; in cases where the old theory gave correct predictions, the new theory should give no less satisfactory predictions.
- The new theory should also explain those phenomena that the previous theory could not explain. This is not a prediction, but rather an explanation after the fact. However, the observational data that baffled the old theory (because it failed to explain it) should be well explained by the new theory.
- And, perhaps most importantly, the new theory must make new predictions that have never been made before, yet they must be quantitatively different from the old theory.
And only if the proposed new theory satisfies all three of the aforementioned very significant obstacles at once, we can hope that a scientific consensus will develop around it and it will be approved by the scientific world – in this case, this theory will become the “default starting point” for all future scientific research. research.
This is how science works, these are its foundations, whether we are talking about the study of the smallest subatomic particles or the gigantic structures located in the observable Universe. It is for this reason that the question of the existence of God is not raised in the scientific discussion, since this fundamentally contradicts the scientific process.
At the heart of the scientific approach is the following idea: true ideas about the universe – or at least those approximations to “truth” that we can achieve – are best revealed in the process of scientific research of the universe; the answers we receive in the course of our scientific research should help us paint a picture of the true reality.
Turning to God (or, in a more general sense, turning to the Supernatural) is tantamount to rejecting the natural explanation of the phenomena observed in the Universe. The fact that the laws of nature seem so stable:
– At any time
– In any point of the Universe
– At any temperatures and energy intervals
– No matter how we set up our experiments
shows us that scientific research never reaches its absolute limit under any circumstances.
If you are into astrophysics, then it would be wrong to say that astrophysicists do not consider the possibility of the existence of God. In fact, it is wrong to even say that astrophysicists do not consider the possibility that God plays an active role in the creation of the universe.
However, in astrophysics, as in science in general, we try to explain the universe using the laws of nature – through laws, relationships, relationships, theories, models, and also by comparing the predictions that the theory offers with the data of experiments, measurements and observations.
The reason why God is practically not mentioned in the scientific literature is this: if we need to explain those phenomena that we can observe and measure, then it is quite enough for us to get, so to speak, “materialistic” explanations, i.e. explanations referring to the material world.
But if we found evidence of some kind of supernatural interference with our experimental apparatus, or any observational data (the only thing that we can quantify), then such a discovery would be revolutionary.
However, at the moment, the notorious “materialistic” explanations are doing their job well – they are good at explaining all sorts of phenomena that not only preceded the Big Bang, but also happened and continue to happen after it up to this day.
The question of the existence of God remains one that has not yet been verified by astrophysical methods. However, all astrophysicists who are trying to give a “materialistic” explanation for every physical phenomenon observed in the universe must recognize that all these attempts may fail.
But so far the scientific approach is working. And we’re doing ourselves a disservice if we drop it. It is for this reason that astrophysicists do not consider God as the key to understanding the observed phenomena – no, no, not at all because it is impossible,
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