txt la mucha ciencia

Too much science gives back to God

Author: Ignacio Sols, Full Professor Mathematics, Universidad Complutense, Madrid
Published in: Temes d'Avui, núm. 57, vol 1, 2018, pp. 23-29.
Publication date: 2018

"Too little science leads away from God, while too much science leads back to Him". So said Louis Pasteur. The purpose of this paper is to explain in what sense these words have been fulfilled, and in what sense they are being fulfilled today, to the letter. In explaining it, I hope to answer also the question, so often heard in the media of speech: "Has the advance of science made God unnecessary?" I will refer essentially to physics, since it is the science I have more at hand, and where the subject of knowledge dissemination has been made, which has led to this question.

In its less advanced stages, classical physics presented an eternal image of the world and a deterministic behaviour of the subject that might seem incompatible with the philosophical idea of God - the cause of the world - and with the philosophical idea of human freedom. In reality, this was not the case, for the theistic Philosophy presents God as the "ontologically", not "chronologically", first cause, i.e. not the cause of the world at its beginning but at all times (and there is no dogma in religion that says that the universe had a temporal origin, although this certainly seems to be suggested by the biblical account of Creation). internship And as it would take a long time to go into the multi-secular philosophical discussion of determinism and freedom, I will limit myself to point out that it came to be understood, already at the dawn of the 20th century, that even classical physics did not assign a deterministic behaviour to subject. Although the most cultivated spirits could understand this distinction, the most ignorant were disturbed by this scientific image of eternity and determinism that some enlightened person (Simon de Laplace) presented as opposed to religion.

But already in the 20th century, on both "macroscopic" (astrophysical) and "microscopic" (subatomic) scales, the image of the world provided by classical mechanics has been replaced by that provided by Albert Einstein's relativistic mechanics (general relativity) and quantum mechanics, as definitively formulated in 1925-1927, culminating a period of gestation that began with the audacious hypothesis of the quantum, proposal by Max Planck (1900). In this new image, the current subject appears as coming from a primitive explosion (Big-Bang, about 13.76 billion years ago, with an error of less than 0.11 billion years); and in many contexts it presents an indeterministic behaviour by which the result of an observation is random following a certain probability distribution that can be calculated beforehand.

It was George Lemaître who first proposed the model of an expanding universe: in 1927 he pointed out that Einstein's equations for the dynamics of the universe admit the solution of an expanding universe where galaxies are moving away from each other at a relative velocity proportional to their distance, which is consistent with Hubble's 1929 observation that galaxies emit light with a redshift proportional to their distance. The prediction and observation of the expansion suggested that the universe had a beginning that George Lemaître called the "primeval atom" and is now called the "Big-Bang". In the realm of the small, it was Louis de Broglie who, in his 1925 doctoral thesis , associated a wave with the electron, the perimeter it travels in the atom being an integer multiple of its wavelength; Schrödinger's wave mechanics and Heisenberg's matrix mechanics were then developed in parallel, unified in 1927 in a quantum mechanics in which all material and radiation particles carry an associated probability wave that contains information about the randomness of the results of the observations we can carry out on it.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, both disciplines converged in research on the first instants of the universe: the rate of expansion of the universe determines its size at each moment in its history and it is so small at the beginning that the macroscopic (cosmological) and microscopic (elementary particles) levels are confused. From the study of elementary particles in the early universe, and their interactions, the prediction of a background radiation with the frequency distribution of the black body, corresponding to a temperature of 2.7 Degrees Kelvin, arises. Such radiation was found in 1965 as a brilliant confirmation of the theory.

These two physical theories, which have at their origin an important contribution from a priest, George Lemaître, and a Catholic intellectual, Louis de Broglie, will end up breaking, on a cosmic scale, the macroscopic image of an eternal world, and on a subatomic scale, the image of a subject with deterministic behaviour. But they have not been presented as confirmation of religion by this new physical image of the world, because believing scientists have been able to distinguish experimental science from religion and from Philosophy. Lemaître refused to call his physical theory "Creation", as it would seem to make reference letter the religious idea of a Creator (or the corresponding philosophical idea of First Cause). He understood well that the idea of God (as well as the idea of freedom) is not necessary for the present physics, nor for the previous one, since they are philosophical ideas, and physics only requires experimental measurement and mathematical deduction.

But the fact that God is not present in science - just as the idea of justice is not present in science - does not mean that He is not present in the thinking of scientists, as the creators of these theories, already mentioned, themselves attest:

"There can never be a true opposition between science and religion. Any serious and thoughtful person realises, I believe, the necessity of recognising and cultivating the religious aspect present in his own nature, if all the forces of the human soul are to work together in perfect balance and harmony. And it is really no accident that the greatest thinkers of all ages were deeply religious souls, even if they did not show their feelings in this respect in public". Max Planck.

"Can I formulate your question [about the existence of God] in another way? -I would prefer to put it this way: Can we, or can anyone, reach the central reason for things or events, of whose non-existence there seems to be no doubt, as directly as we can reach the soul of another human being? I use the term "soul" deliberately, so that what I mean is understood. So posed, my answer would be "yes". And since my own experience does not matter much, I would like to remind you of Pascal's famous text, the one he had sewn inside his jacket: "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, and not the God of the philosophers and the wise men". Werner Heisenberg.

"Let me mention in passing the notorious avowed atheism of science, which belongs of course to the topic we are dealing with. Time and again this reproach is levelled at science, albeit unjustly. In a world model that becomes accessible only at the cost of eliminating everything from it staff, there can be no room for a god staff. When we experience God, we know that he is as real as an immediate sensible perception, or as one's own personality. There is no room for it, any more than for them, in a time-space image. Every honest scientist will tell us: no meeting God anywhere in space and time. But, in saying so, he is deserving of the reproach of those in whose catechism it is written: God is spirit". Erwin Schrödinger.

"But science can only be created by those who are deeply imbued with a yearning for truth and understanding. The source of these feelings comes, however, from the religious sphere. To it belongs also the faith in the possibility that the rules governing the world of existence are rational, that is, accessible by means of reason. I cannot conceive of a true scientist who lacks this deep faith. All this can be expressed in an image: science without religion is lame, and religion without science is blind. Albert Einstein.

"God wanted us to recognise them by creating us in his own image, so that we could participate in his very thoughts". In the light of this and similar quotations of the time, one can understand A. N. Whitehead's well-known statement: "Faith in the possibility of science derives from medieval theological thought".

That does not mean that belief in God was necessary for the birth of physics, but only that it has been an inspiration for it in its beginnings. And science and religion - Big-Bang and creation, for example - have remained carefully distinguished even when the picture of the world offered by science today seems a confirmation of the picture offered earlier by religion.

Where does it come from, then, that now - precisely now - religion has to be asking for forgiveness for existing and as if in retreat? Where does the idea, spread in newspapers and non-scientific media, that God, with the advance of science, is no longer necessary?

The answer is clear: unnecessary for what, for science? Of course it is unnecessary for science, and not only now, it always has been (although some theism may have been convenient for its inception). Science proposes and verifies hypotheses and for that it does not need faith. However, life is much more than science. I do not need God to do science, but that does not mean that I do not need God for the salvation of my soul. "The Sacred Scripture teaches us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go" said Galileo Galilei, heard by Cardinal Baronius. But this distinction, for which he fought so hard, has again become blurred in a certain recent knowledge dissemination of science, since Hawking popularised his misplaced question, "What role now, for the Creator?" In his "A Brief History of Time", Stephen Hawking recalls how finely tuned the initial rate of expansion of the universe is: with one hundred billionth more, galaxies would not form, with one hundred billionth less it would immediately implode again. He says that this and other equally astonishing facts make one think (who?) that the universe is the work of a Creator who has adjusted these parameters so well. He then proposes a universe in imaginary time that would have no initial singularity or Big-Bang, which would make the problem disappear. And he wonders "what role will the Creator have then". In other words, he makes us believers in God for a reason we have never believed in (although science has made it "easy" for us to adduce it); he makes a theory proposal that the reader without scientific culture easily confuses with an already established scientific theory, and on the basis of such promised science, but without remembering that it is promised, he says that physics will no longer need the Creator - which it has never needed - but he says it in such a way that it seems that science has now made it unnecessary.

It is an improper use of science precisely by those who say that the Church has used it "by appropriating the Big Bang theory as its own thing", which it certainly could have done, but has not done. quotation In this book on the Big Bang, which anecdotes every finding, not once is the name of George Lemaître mentioned, being the one who proposed the theory and also the one who first predicted the expansion of the universe (the Soviet Friedmann made a similar prediction which was ignored in the West partly because of his early death). This was known to the academic community, but has recently been recalled in a article by Mario Livio in the journal Nature (10 Nov. 2012) which echoes the latest historical research on this topic.

In the subsequent knowledge dissemination Hawking does not make accredited specialization of this scientific proposal which he has not been able to fulfil, but any seriously proposal theory (such as the conjectural string theory), or simple "promised science", such as multiverses (or multitude of universes of Hugh Everett), is presented as science that will definitely make God unnecessary.

Scientists do not like this subject of knowledge dissemination in which no clear distinction is made between established science and conjectural or merely promised science, and in which what is nothing but the materialist's own Philosophy conclusion, which many others do not share, is presented as little more than a scientific conclusion.

But this unease about Hawking's knowledge dissemination among scientists is not matched by his celebration in the non-scientist media. The subject of knowledge dissemination that he has fostered is no obstacle to faith for those who have a first-hand knowledge of science knowledge , but it is for those who only know about it through the media. It is not those with a lot of science, but those with little science, who are losing faith because of that little science.

The effect is especially devastating among people of little culture. I used to go on an annual visit to a Marian shrine with a man who didn't even have a school where he could learn to read, but ended up teaching him life and his desire to know, a desire he has not yet lost in his eighties. But now we are just going on a hike, because "Hawking said that...". How many cases like this I could tell: a school teacher told me that science has shown that this universe is the result of the implosion of a previous one, so God is no longer necessary: another of the statements I had read in a Hawking who does not clarify that everything that happened before 10 raised to minus 43 seconds is unapproachable for current physics until it reaches its unification, and even if it does address it, it will not remove or add anything to the strictly philosophical question of the existence of God. And I agreement of that English teacher who, having just finished listening to a lecture on who knows what she might have understood about Everett's "multiverses", said that she finally knew why he existed! And that one, and another, and another, and another. It's not the scientists. It is the weaker ones, "the little science", who are being seriously damaged. In the meantime, where are our intellectuals? Is nobody going to do anything? I leave the reader with the pain and unease of this question.