The Debate – Informal Panel Discussion described by Moderator Neil DeGrasse Tyson as “just assume you are at a bar discussing this topic and expressing your agreements, disagreements, and personal conclusions. The consequence was a very interesting conversation between selected professional experts in their different fields of study and a journalist with sometimes extremelly opposing viewpoints1 This discussion:
is available on Kindle Reader and for a few dollars more if the Kindle book is purchased you can get free from Amazon.com a “listening” audible with Krause reading it enabling you to see and read and listen and have the pages turned automatically at the end of each page! … Exclamation mark to indicate an “old school” latecomer, new to Kindle (I can hear some of you pro’s sniggering unless you too were a latecomer and/or old school and was educated to such new-fangled devices by your son or daughter who acquired such knowledge along with their a,b,c/s or alphabet learning. In my day for me anyhow during college, the nearest thing to a computer was an electric typewriter1 Live and Learn!
“I just got to Chapter 3 of A Universe From Nothing and take my word it is not like reading a comic book. The lady who commented above “Average Person “New to the Subject” described my feelings also! Lawrence Krause is heavy with a thorough knowledge of what he is talking about but he also knows how to communicate to the lay person and the general public. Like her I am going to be doing a second reading to help further assimilate what the book is about@ A great preface to this book is Professor of Astronomy and Physics at the University of California, Berkeley, Joseph Silk, A Short History of the Universe (Scientific American Library, A Division of HPHLP: New York) 1994. And paving the way for a more interesting reading listening to Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Lawrence Krause and other panelists (carefully chosen by Tyson and including professors, expert in their field of study, and a journalist who represent extremely opposing or challening views in what Tyson described as not just a formal panel discussion, but for them to just assume that are at a local bar informally talking to each other and discussing their views, agreements and disagreements! … in the YouTube: … https://youtu.be/XYohZRivNhI
Prehistorical” Times (the period of history prior to “medieval” and “ancient” history) the question still remains, even in the 21st century, as to whether this “biological history,” and “human origins,” are:
(1) only religious, history according to Genesis I, of the Hebrew Old Testament or King James version of the Old Testament
(2) “historical,” according to Greek philosophical speculations based on Ancient Egyptian religious foundations and later Greek philosophical writings, and the early Church and Medieval Age religious associations of Greek reasoning (Aristotle, Plato_ to create a “rational” or “reason” acceptance of early Church dogma that were literalist interpretations of the Bible,
or (3) historical, according to archaeological and biological genetic evidence, and ”scientific” method and empirical (i.e. based on sensual observation) conclusions with regard to nature and events or occurrences in human biological and cultural history that resulted in a a historical record that constitute a “history of civilization.”
Prehistory: Origin of the Universe 20 – 10 billion years ago
“The origin of the universe and the beginning of prehistory began 20 billion to 10 billion years ago. … The Big Bang theory postulates an origin in time, some 20 to10 billion years ago, when the entire observable universe emerged from a singular state of extreme density.” [Silk 1994: ]
Joseph Silk, A Short History of the Universe (Scientific American Library: A Division of HPHLP: New York), 1994
Joseph Silk, professor of astronomy and physics at the University of California, Berkeley and also the author of The Big Bang (Freeman, 1989) and co-author of The Left Hand of Creation (Oxford University Press, 1993),
[Commentaries on Professor Silk’s Book A Short History Of The Universe:
“A Short History of the Universe is a superb book that gives an entertaining and enlightening overview of modern cosmology.”
William J. Kaufmann, III, author of Universe and (with Larry L. Smarr), Supercomputing and the Transformation of Science
“The book is an authoritative view of contemporary cosmology by a respected cosmologist and is a fine addition to the Scientific American Library.”
Jay M. Pasachoff, Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy, Williams College
“Joseph Silk is one of our generation’s most articulate scientists. In A Short History of the Universe, he masterfully weaves the latest and most compelling features of our Big Bang world view into a grand tapestry. The result is a wonderful synopsis of current cosmology. The perspective is huge, the details rich and unassailable, the exposition clear and accessible. I warmly recommend it to lay and professional Cosmologists alike.
Eric J. Chaisson, Director, Wright Center for Science Education and Professor of Physics, Tufts university
Professor Silk in the opening paragraph of the Prologue stated:
“The universe began in a violent explosion that occurred about 15 billion years ago: this is the modern hypothesis that has replaced the myths of classical Greece and Rome, of ancient China and India. We feel certain that our theories have more truth than the beliefs of our ancestors, yet are we so much smarter than they were? Perhaps a thousand years in the future, the big bang theory will itself be regarded as a twentieth century myth. I am an optimist, however, who finds our current paradigm so compelling that I can only imagine it will eventually be subsumed into a greater theory, without losing it essential features. This conviction provides justification enough to describe the archaeology of the universe by probing fossil fluctuations in the distribution of matter on the one hand and fully formed galaxies on the other, the oldest stars and the largest structures, one can reconstruct almost the entire history of cosmic evolution.”
“ … One of the perennial fascinatinations of the science of cosmology is that people, both lay cosmologist as well as the professionals, view it as having the potential to answer the ‘ultimate questions’ about our place in the universe, the creation and existence of the universe, and indeed the existence of God. It is by no means coincidental that the big bang epic has excited the attention of theologians and philosophers as well as astronomers, mathematicians, and physicists.
“Some of these thinkers have viewed the theory as providing confirmation of religious views of creation. The science historian and mathematical physicist E. T. Whitaker declared in 1942 that ‘when by purely scientific methods we trace the development of the material universe backwards in time, we arrive ultimately at a critical state of affairs beyond which the laws of nature, as we know them, cannot have operated: a Creation in fact. Physics and astronomy can lead us through the paths to the beginning of things, and show that there must have been a Creation.’ In 1951, Pope Pius XII, under the influence of Whitaker, went the additional step. He averred in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that ‘thus with concreteness which is characteristic of physical proofs, it (science) has confirmed … the well-founded deduction as to the epoch some five billion years ago when the cosmos came forth from the hands of the Creator. Hence, creation took place in time. Therefore, there is a Creator. Therefore, God exists!’ 1-2
“On hearing these words, one can well imagine that the President of the Pontifical Academy, eminent cosmologist and cofounder of the big bang theory Abbe Georges Lemaitre, must have stirred uneasily. To compare the primeval explosion from which the universe emerged to the miracle of creation must have seemed to leave him, a proponent of the Primeval Atom phase that preceded the big bang, on somewhat uncertain and heretical ground. Lemaitre insisted that physics would suffice to describe the beginning of the universe:
“Cosmogony is atomic physics on a large scale.’ The big bang was not an easy pill to swallow, for scientists and theologians alike. Eminent astrophysicist and science popularizer Arthur Eddington was ‘unwilling to accept the implied discontinuity in the divine nature.’ Others went further. The pioneering cosmologist E. A. Milner concluded in his magnum opus Relativity, Gratitation and World Structure published in 1935, that ‘the system to which we have likened the universe is an intelligible system. It contains no irrationalities save the one supreme irrationality of creation—an irrationality indeed to physics, but not necessarily to metaphysis. …
“Theoretical cosmology is but the starting point for deeper philosophical enquiries.’ Some scientists conceded the battle for understanding how the universe began to the theologians, who after all had been wrestling with it for centuries. Astronomer Robert Jastrow described the cosmologists’ dilemma thus, in a quote beloved by theologians.
‘It seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries..’
… “In contrast, some eminent scientists have no recourse to any deity in constructing a suitable cosmology. One convenient way out is the assertion that time itself was created at the moment of the Big Bang. This is not a very radical idea, for St. Augustine wrote in the fifth century,
‘The world and time had both one beginning. The world was made, not in time, but simultaneously with time.’
“This was a remarkably prescient notion: to physicist Steven Weinberg: ‘It is at least logically possible that there was a beginning, and that time itself has no meaning before that moment.’
“However, as the mathematical physicist Stephen Hawking points out, a proper formulation of this concept of the beginning of time, as well as that of space, must await a quantum theory of gravity, should it be forthcoming. In this case, ‘there would be no boundary to space-time and so there would be no need to specify the behavior at the boundary. There would be no singularity at which the laws of science broke down and no edge of space-time at which one would have to appeal to God or some new law to set the boundary conditions for space-time. One could say: ‘The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary.’ The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created or destroyed. It would just be.”
“In other words, the universe is the way it is because the universe was the way it was. Eloquent expression of this cosmic agnosticism was prophetically penned in 1920 by , again, Arthur Eddington:
‘We have found that where science has progressed the furthest, the mind has but regained from nature that which the mind has to put into nature. We have found a strange footprint on the shores of the unknown. We have devised profound theories, one after another to account for its origin. At last, we have succeeded in reconstructing the creature that made the footprint. And Lo! It is our own.’
“Discoveries and breakthroughs in cosmology proceed at a breathtaking pace. It is increasingly difficult for the theologians to keep up. At the same time, cosmologists have not been deterred from dabbling in occasional theological metaphors. The shower of images reached a crescendo in 1992 with the epochal discovery of ripples in the cosmic microwave background. Newspapers around the world, less discriminating perhaps than the scientists anticipated, jumped on the cosmic connection. The most notorious examples, 40 years after Pius XII’s endorsement of the new cosmology, compared the long-sought fluctuations to various attributes of God. These vary from ‘His face,’ ‘His handwriting,’ and ‘His mind’ to mere relics such as the ‘Holy Grail.’ To properly appreciate the significance of such statements, it would be helpful to have laid out for one the workings of modern cosmology at an accessible level. This book is devoted to such a goal. I hope that the following chapters will be sufficently transparent to the many lay cosmologists among us that such connections can be more fully appreciated, although, I hasten to add, not necessarily justified.” [Silk 1994: 2- 3]