Universe will end with a bang, or a whimper, says Vatican astronomer

Guy Consolmagno of the Vatican Observatory waxes poetic about the nature of the universe and God.
Guy Consolmagno of the Vatican Observatory waxes poetic about the nature of the universe and God.

While some pit science against faith, a Vatican astronomer contends that science is, in fact, a very Christian pursuit, but that it alone cannot answer all of life's big questions.

Guy Consolmagno of the Vatican Observatory visited the University of Alberta campus on Wednesday to speak about the challenges of reconciling the scientific evidence that predicts a gloomy end to the universe with God's love of the world and the immortality of the soul.

Consolmagno explained the evidence for the Big Bang theory, which is generally accepted as the cause of the universe's creation, to a capacity crowd in the Education Building. The theory generally conceptualizes a universe that began, 10-20 billion years ago from a single point of extremely compressed matter and space that expanded outward. The theory also explains present scientific evidence of an expanding universe, which is being pushed apart by 'dark energy' at an ever-quickening pace.

"Not only does the Big Bang give us an idea of the beginning of the universe, but an ultimate fate," said Consolmagno.

It is hard to say precisely what the universe's end will look like, he added, but "either it will end with a bang, or it'll end with a whimper."

What's more, the Laws of Thermodynamics predict a sudden "heat death" of the universe, when all stars have died and an ever-expanding empty universe fills with expanding radiation.

While the universe may be slated for destruction billions of years from now, Consolmagno doesn't believe this suggests the physical world lacks eternal meaning. Physics cannot explain a great deal about nature, including the existence of the soul, and the world's splendour, he noted.

Van Gogh's work Starry Night is such an example, said Consolmagno.

"I can scientifically tell you all sorts of interesting scientific facts about every dab of paint in the painting. I can tell you the chemicals present, I can tell you why it reflects light in those particular colours, I can measure the wavelengths. Science isn't going to tell you why this is a gorgeous painting," he said.

"That requires the human intellect to interpret those dabs of paint and say, 'Those are stars, this is Van Gogh.' And Van Gogh's paintings are not photographs, it's up to us to take those dabs of colours, those bits of paint, and add our own imagination to complete the picture. In that way, the picture and the painter enter into our soul."

He emphasized that paradoxes exist in the physical world, and that while reconciling God and the universe's end in a single theory cannot be easily done, it doesn't negate the idea of eternal physical life, as indicated in the Bible.

"The best we can do is to speak in poetry. The best we can do is to talk about paradoxes of body that are, at the same time, the same but different from the bodies that we know now," he said.

"It is a paradox, but that doesn't mean that it's unreal, or even unfamiliar. We can understand that, in some sense, the centre of human identity - call it if you want the soul - can maintain a hypothetical existence even in the absence of a particular physical manifestation, in the same way that the idea of a song or a poem can live on even after every copy of it has been destroyed."

While some argue that there's a divide between science and religion, and that good Christians shouldn't pursue science, Consolmagno argues that contemplating the big questions is an inherently Christian activity, since "God loves the world."

"God made this universe, and made us a part of it, and what's more, Christianity says that God so loved the world that he actually incarnated himself into it to become a part of it. If nothing else, that means that this physical world means something to this God. And that's one reason why doing science is a Christian thing to do."

He added that it's also a Jewish and an Islamic thing to do. "Any book that believes in the creation of the universe by a good God is what gives you the motivation to do science."

Source: University of Alberta (By Caitlin Crawshaw)

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Apr 06, 2009
I hope you will not mind if I offer a universal methodology that complements traditional approaches to the sciences. It is a method of delineating all possible structural varieties of phenomenal experience in a way that is not itself dependent on language but from which the meaning in language derives. It is a bridge between right brain intuitive insight and the language-bound left brain rational intellect. I see it as the dynamic picture on the cover of the puzzle box that is needed to guide the meaningful integration of the empirical jigsaw pieces accumulated by the sciences. Otherwise we are left to the ever increasing number of arbitrary linguistic interpretations of the same factual evidence about how the cosmic order works.

In a letter to a friend Einstein questioned the spacetime continuum basis of his GR theory late in life, in which case, quote: ...my castle in the sky amounts to nothing, but so does the rest of modern physics.

In a discontinuous universe a very different perspective of relativity, quantum mechanics, cosmology and astrophysics necessarily emerges. Spacetime concepts derived a posterior from creation are not arbitrarily raised to a priori status to explain creation.

Like Einstein I doubt that anyone really believes in probability waves. Matter waves indicate a fundamental discontinuity in space and time. Light comes to us as a series of pulses consistent with the Planck constant, the Planck-Einstein relation and the de Broglie wave equation. This is powerful evidence that space and time are discontinuous, oscillating between atomic space frames and timeless and spatially indeterminate quantum frames that constitute a boundless quantum energy field that is orthogonal to the integrated fabric of space-time as we know it. Atoms are projected as a very rapid series of space frames linked up by light in a cosmic movie. Atoms are particles and waves at the same time because one oscillation defines one primary interval of time. Light can only travel a limited distance with respect to each atom in each space frame so its speed is universal. It defines external space with respect to the internal spherical space of an atom. There is no other universal measuring rod out there. All relative particulate motion occurs as jumps between successive space frames so position and momentum can not possibly be known at the same time. This requires that there are both universal and particular aspects to atomic matter as indicated by de Broglie%u2019s pilot wave and Bohm%u2019s quantum potential.

There are articles freely available at http://www.cosmic...each.com that may interest you. An article entitled Unified Theories, Fantasy, & Cosmic Order was published in the ANPA proceedings held at Cambridge UK in August 2008. It introduces the methodology, the relationship between ontology and epistemology, and illustrates how the cosmic order elaborates in discrete subsumed levels within itself. Another entitled Gravity, Quantum Relativity & System 3 employs historic coordinates associated with the methodology to derive the Lorentz Transformations directly and simply. A new approach to cosmology necessarily follows as outlined in another article. The methodology is based on the sole presumption that there is a transcending basis to universal truth that can be known. This fundamental element of faith is at the foundation of both science and religion. This work originated unexpectedly from a series of direct revelatory cosmic insights that came in response to a prolonged intensive quest into the nature of organization structure when I found myself a key management figure in a company takeover some 40 years ago. Although explicitly orchestrated by Supreme Intelligence the insights focused on the cosmic order as it relates to social, physical and biological sciences.

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