Cosmic questions

Feb 6th, 2007 | By | Category: Spirituality

Sitting in a car park, waiting as ever, I read Alexander Vilenkin’s contribution to the collection of essays What we believe but Cannot Prove. The physicist is the director of Tufts University‘s Institute of Cosmology and coauthor (with LP.S. Shellard) of Cosmic Strings and Other Topological Defects.

He writes,

“There are good reasons to believe that the universe is infinite.

If so, it contains an infinite number of regions of the same size as our observable region, which is 80 billion light-years across. It follows from quantum mechanics that the number of distinct histories that could occur in any of these finite regions in the finite time since the Big Bang is finite. (By ‘history’, I mean not just the history of civilization but everything that happens, down to the atomic level.) The number of possible histories is fantastically large – it has been estimated as 10 to the power 10150 – but the important point is that it is finite.

Thus, we have an infinite number of regions like ours and. only a finite number of histories that can play out in them. It fol­lows that every possible history will occur in an infinite number of regions. In particular, there should be an infinite number of~ regions with histories identical to ours. So if you are not satisfied with the result of a presidential election, don’t despair: Your can­didate has won on an infinite number of Earths.

This picture of the universe robs our civilization of any claim to uniqueness: Countless identical civilizations are scattered in the infinite expanse of cosmos. I find this rather depressing, but it is probably true”..

Two questions arose in the car park. As a Christian, what is there to which I can point to support our claim that we are a unique people to God, as Scripture suggests? Secondly, why would a scientist whose cosmology seems to admit no place for God, feel depressed that his obscure little corner was not unique?

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