Thursday, September 12, 2013

Talking Space and Time with Yahweh

By Gary Berg-Cross

I noted in an earlier blog on cosmic views that one of the ironies of modern life is to live simultaneously in a rich culture alive with scientific advance while also stewing in a conservative, religious culture denying much of that science and limiting its sights to old visions. 

For example, there was a recent story called “The Oldest Star in the Universe? --A Primeval Dwarf Galaxy Sucked into the Emerging Milky Way") which has an age close to the universe's calculated age of about 13.8 billion years.  

That got me thinking about the contrast of views of the universe that science gives compared to religious view such the Genesis story (well there are really 2 conflicting stories) of the Hebrew Bible. Those storied adopted from Sumerian tales in effect are the cosmic image Yahweh supposedly dictated to humans about the Universe. This is what you need to know. There we have no deep spacer or time which is so awe-inspiring to many of us.  So I thought “What if we might supply some very simple math to see how the Yahweh-religion view compares to the contemporary scientific view?  How much revelation do we get?

Time is a simple way to start. We have all heard of the creation story days of creation. One religious source by Dr. Jason Lisle debunks the most widely accepted teachings about an old universe and summarizes the Biblical view this way:


 The Bible teaches that the entire universe was created in six earth-rotation days (Exodus 20:11 ). Furthermore, the Bible provides the age differences between parents and descendants1 when listing certain genealogies. From these kinds of biblical references, we know that the elapsed time between Adam and the birth of Christ was roughly 4,000 years. From other historical records, we know that Christ was born roughly 2,000 years ago. Since Adam was created on the sixth day of the creation week, we can conclude that the earth, the entire universe, and everything in it were created approximately 6,000 years

OK, so the universe is about 6000 years old, let’s call it 104 ,this is closer to the upper range found in The Bible and Science give very different Ages for the Universe. This contrast with the 1.38 x 1010  modern science concludes from data, principles  and models. So the portion of the now known universe and the Old Testament version of about one millionth of the time (10-6).

Space provides an even larger discrepancy.  The old world the Hebrews 
wrote about covered perhaps 10% of the earth’s surface. Let’s be generous and say it applied to 10% of the spatial volume of the earth. A NASA earth fact sheet lists its volume as (1010 km3). So the biblical account, 
throwing the Garden of Eden and such in, would be (109 km3).  
Compare that to the volume of the solar system.
The radius of the Solar System is perhaps a million times that of the earth. This is the point where the Solar Wind (from the Sun) meets the Interstellar Wind. And thanks to Voyager 1 we have that distance to the heliopause. ( and see for a measure of where Voyager 1 is right now. 
This gives a volume 4/3 times the cube of 1 million or about 1018 bigger than earth.  Volumes grow large quite fast with the cube power. We could stop there and say that Yahweh was holding back a bit of info from the ancient Hebrews.  Multiplying space and time we have Yahweh’s biblical coverage as 10-6 x  10-18 or about 10-24th of the solar system.  That is a million, million, million, million times too small. Of course this is still only a small part of the spatial story.  There are star systems to consider. Yahweh held out on much of the beauty of the galaxy.
The volume of the Milky Way is 
estimated at about ~3.3×1061 m3. That’s 1051 bigger than the Earth (and over 1024 of the solar system. 
And we might note in passing that the approximate volume of the 
observable universe (see Orders of Magnitude) is 3.4 ×1080 m3 or
 bigger by a factor of 1030 or so. 
Putting it all together we would have to imagine that our cosmic engineer 
Yahweh who would have designed electrons,quarks and black holes saw
fit to pass on a non-quantum and very local bronze age message covering only 10-100 or so of the potential story.  And here I am leaving out all of 
the great objects and such we might discuss in this volume over time. 
Yahweh left out dinosaurs too along with the simple idea of atomic theory or the quantum realm of the natural order! Just a hint about the speed of 
light or a Plank length would have been so enlightening.

One may go a bit farther considering that we seem to live in an expanding universe (Bang) so the size of the universe or is observable part expands over time, something it would have been nice to know back in 1400 BCE.  Then there is the even more interesting ideas that may be true such as this universe being part of a much larger system, as Brian Greene elucidates in his Hidden Reality. There are many possible universes that modern Physics suggests are possible.  Yahweh might have outlined these, but instead we've had to do it ourselves:
  • Quilted Multiverse - Space is infinite, therefore somewhere there are regions of space that will exactly mimic our own region of space. There is another world "out there" somewhere in which everything is unfolding exactly as it unfolds on Earth.

  • Inflationary Multiverse - Inflationary theory in cosmology predicts an expansive universe filled with "bubble universes," of which our universe is just one.

  • Brane Multiverse - String theory leaves open the possibility that our universe is on just one 3-dimensional brane, while other branes of other number of dimensions could have whole other universes on them.

  • Cyclic Multiverse - One possible result from string theory is that branes could collide with each other, resulting in universe-spawningbig bangs that not only created our universe, but possibly other ones.

  • Landscape Multiverse - String theory leaves open a lot of different fundamental properties of the universe which, combined with the inflationary multiverse, means there could be many bubble universes out there which have fundamentally different physical laws than the universe we inhabit.

  • Quantum Multiverse - This is essentially the Many Worlds Intepretation (MWI) of quantum mechanics: anything that can happen does ... in some universe.

  • Holographic Multiverse - According to the holographic principle, there is a physically-equivalent parallel universe that would exist on a distant bounding surface (the edge of the universe), in which everything about our universe is precisely mirrored.

  • Simulated Multiverse - Technology will possibly advance to the point where computers could simulate each and every detail of the universe, thus creating a simulated multiverse whose reality is nearly as complex as our own.

  • Ultimate Multiverse - In the most extreme version of looking at parallel universes, every single theory which could possibly exist would have to exist in some form somewhere. (from  a review of The Hidden Reality by  Andrew Zimmerman Jones)

    We think of the Big Bang as creating our universe, but as we have studied the Big Bang in more and more detail, the math is suggesting that the Big Bang may not have been a unique event. There may be many Big Bangs that happened at various and far-flung locations, each creating its own swelling, spatial expanse, each creating a universe -our universe being the result of only one of those Big Bangs....

    For instance, in the multiple Big Bang version that gives rise to different universes, it's possible that the different universes, as they expand, could collide with one another, sort of like - think of a bubble bath. Each of the Big Bangs gives rise to one expanding bubble in the cosmic bubble bath. Those bubbles can smash into each other.

    And if they did, if our universe got hit by another, had a fender-bender with another universe, that would send ripples going through the cosmic microwave background radiation - heat left over from the Big Bang. And astronomers are now looking for patterns in the microwave background radiation that might suggest that we did have that encounter in the past with another universe. That'd be a very direct way of establishing that other universes are out there.
     From a NPR interview

You can interpret this discrepancy between the Hebrew stories and modern science views many ways, but to it me it provides astonishing odds that the Yahweh story is just that, a local, home grown Middle Eastern creation story. People may admire the Genesis prose, but I’ll take the poetry of the scientific view of the Univserse by a factor or 10100 or so.

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