A good day for wimps
If the universe is held together by gravity, then there must be something out there that we cannot see, because there is not sufficient mass in what of the universe we we can see to hold things together. The velocity at which some galaxies turn should cause stars and planets to go shooting off into space, if the only gravity holding them together is matter that can be seen. For our theories of the universe to work, something more must be present in galaxies, something that we cannot see must be exerting gravitational pull—there must be some form of dark matter; invisible stuff without which our universe just would not be the way it is.
The physicists’ answer to the riddle of why the universe does not fly apart are WIMPs – weakly interacting massive particles; particles that have properties of neutrinos, except far more massive. WIMPs are theoretically troublesome, neutrinos may have become practically so. The BBC this evening reported that neutrinos may have travelled faster than the speed of light in an experiment between Switzerland and Italy.
The identification and explanation of WIMPS will open up extraordinary new avenues of knowledge. Each step forward in the search for dark matter presents further problems with the Standard Model of the universe. If neutrinos have exceeded the speed of light, even greater questions arise. If sub-atomic articles can move faster than light, what prevented their escape from the grip of gravity at the Big Bang?
Each development presents even deeper problems for conventional Christian explanations of the universe; fundamentalism is driven into a tighter corner and mainstream Christians are left to ponder where they might find God in the cosmos.
A scientist friend talks of how religion and science run on parallel lines, lines that should not converge; neither should tread on the ground of the other. Yet, if the lines should not converge, neither should they diverge. If the religious account of reality is at odds with the actual reality that people experience, then all but the hard-liners and eccentrics will eventually dismiss religion as no more than primitive superstition. If Christian cosmology cannot come to terms with a universe of dark matter, with neutrinos that can break the light barrier, and with a string of other difficult concepts, then Christianity itself will eventually become as elusive as the WIMPs.
While the world takes a further step forward in understanding the nature of the universe we inhabit, bishops argue about what consenting adults may and may not do in the privacy of their own homes.
As a scientist (with a Ph.D. in one of the applied biological sciences, not in physics or math or studies of life origins), I have always been fascinated by the intersections of science and Christian faith. If both are, in their barest essence, a search for truth, then faith and science must eventually intersect if both theologians and scientists are open to new truths. Unfortunately, scientists and theologians rarely speak the same language. Theologians have always believed in parallel universes (physical vs spiritual; that which is seen vs. that which will be revealed, etc.), but they frequently bristle when string theorists arrive at similar conclusions after attacking the problem from a secular angle. In fact, I believe that the Holy Scriptures suggest at least three parallel universes: the physical one we experience as humans, the divine universe where God, Christ, and the God-fearing angels exist, and the universe of evil to which Satan and his legions have been expelled. The interesting part is that, if one believes the Bible, then all three of those universes co-exist right now here on earth.
Scientists (and all humans who deny their spirituality) are limited to working only in the physical universe. However, right now scientists in various disciplines are recognizing that the physical universe (at least as we currently know it) accounts for less than 10 percent of the energy that had to be present at the Big Bang. Isn’t it possible that the other 90-plus percent represents the spiritual aspects of existence that we cannot access as humans (at least during this lifetime)? If that might be true, then I find it ironic that scientists who deny God or any options for spiritual beings have voluntarily limited themselves to exploring less than 10 percent of all that was created at the Big Bang.
Admittedly, science does not have the tools needed to explore the spirit world, but theology does have those tools. Only those who can appreciate both science and theology are likely to glimpse the limitless creativity and love of the Creator God who came as Christ to inhabit our limited physical universe and point us to the larger realities that await those who believe in him. How ironic that American astrophysicists are attempting to communicate with other forms of life in the universe by sending out radio signals when some of those life forms have already come to communicate with us!
To sum up, most attributes of God can be expressed as light (the physical universe) and love (the spiritual universe). Unless someone suddenly discovers and explains dark matter and energy, it seems likely that physical matter may be limited to less than 10 percent of all that exists whereas love or spiritual aspects of creation probably make up most of the rest. Admittedly, if I am correct in assuming from Scripture that God and Satan no longer inhabit the same spiritual universe, then some small portion of the total creation is undoubtedly required to account for Satan and his minions, but I suspect that it is a quite small proportion in comparison with the proportion required for LOVE!
Thanks for the comment – the thought of the three sphere universe is intriguing!