Saturday, January 29, 2011

It Ain't So, If I Say It Ain't So

Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal ran a book review on physicist Brian Greene’s new book, The Hidden Reality. The book describes the likelihood of multiple universes. Here is an excerpt:

“So why should gravity, and the other properties of our universe, be ‘just right’ for us to exist? There are two possibilities, often expressed in terms of an analogy with a man who buys a suit that is a perfect fit. Either the suit has been specifically tailored for the client --- made to measure --- or he has visited a large store with an array of suits in all possible sizes, choosing the right one for him off the peg. The best interpretation of the laws of physics, as we understand them, is that we live in an off-the-peg universe. A vast array of universes exist in the multiverse, many (perhaps most) of them sterile, but since life forms like us can only exist in universes like ours, it is no surprise that we live in such a universe.”

I laughed when I read that. The universe can’t be tailored to us (because I can’t measure a God who would create such a universe so I have determined He doesn’t exist), therefore there must be an infinite number of universes (to fit my brain’s understanding of things), and so of course by chance one exists just like ours. Mr. Green’s logic is that of the people who state that “in an infinite number of universes exist an infinite number of monkeys and at least one of them must at this moment be typing out the entire works of Shakespeare.” (And, of course, there must be an almost infinite number of monkeys almost typing out those works, but making many typos. : - ) ) I’m sorry, but that is utter nonsense. That is creating your own idea of reality to fit your own nonsense ideas ---- lesser known people with such ideas have been put into institutions.

And it was with further laughter that this morning that I read John Henry Newman’s sermon on this very subject, probably written fifty years ago. This particular sermon sat unread in my front room for over a month, until just this right time. I like how God does that, giving us what we need when we need it. I imagine He was laughing with me this morning. As I read, I was kind of like the little child who desperately wanted something for Christmas but kept it a secret, and then was amazed when on Christmas morning there was the exact thing of his wishes. “But how did you know?” he might ask of Santa. And Santa would then bend over, smile, and softly whisper into his ear: “It’s magic!” I imagine God as that Santa-like character looking at me this morning, as I read words I needed to see just then, “It’s magic,” and then me reacting wide-eyed to His whispered explanation: “Woooooooooow!”

Here’s what John Henry wrote:

Thus we are enabled to enjoy God’s gifts; and let us thank Him for the knowledge which enables us to do so, and honor those who are His instruments in communicating it. But if such a one proceeds to imagine that, because he knows something of the world’s wonderful order, he therefore knows HOW things really go on, if he treats the miracles of Nature (so to call them) as mere mechanical processes, continuing their course by themselves, --- as works of man’s contriving (a clock, for instance) are set in motion, and go on, as it were, of themselves, --- if in consequence he is, what may be called irreverent in his conduct towards Nature, thinking (if I may so speak) that it does not hear him, and see how he is bearing himself towards it; and if, moreover, he conceives that the Order of Nature, which he partially discerns, will stand in the place of the God who made it, and that all things continue and move on, not by His will and power, and the agency of the thousands and ten thousands of His unseen Servants, but by fixed laws, self-caused and self-sustained, what a poor weak worm and miserable sinner he becomes! Yet such, I fear, is the condition of many men nowadays, who talk loudly, and appear to themselves and others to be oracles of science, and, as far as the detail of facts goes, do know much more about the operations of Nature than any of us.
Parochial and Plain Sermons (Sermon 29), by John Henry Newman

The pomposity of Mr. Greene and others like him are funny to behold. “If I cannot conceive of any other reason than this, then there must be none!” And rather than extend the beliefs of billions of people of faith to fit these facts I have found, I will instead search for new evidence to back up MY BELIEFS --- for I obviously know more than all the other people of the world. For people who believe there is no God, they sure try to act like one. Mr. Greene’s words reminded me of those of an ignorant backwoods hillbilly, hence the title of this post.

I read many books of faith, many books of science, and many, many books of fiction. I won’t waste my money buying this one, however, because I never really liked science-fiction.

P.S. I have an undergraduate degree in Physics, and know a bit of what I speak, from a scientific point of view.


  1. One of the things F. J. Sheed points out is that atheism is a recent development...that the whole course of human history is a testimony to the belief in God, retained knowledge of that intimate association our first parents had with Him. The best explanation I have ever heard for the consonance of religions, but one that is given such short shrift....a scientist can be drawn ever closer to God by what he sees and discovers, or he can lose himself in the vanities of his own mind. Two choice, man, are set before you.....
    It seems education of the mind without accompanying education of the heart just makes us stupid!

  2. I'm glad you're enjoying my friend Frank's writings. I go back to them every now and again, to read the soft truths he so easily speaks. It's like he's telling me something I already knew, but yet it seems new.

    Right now I'm reading ever so slowly two wonderful books with my morning meditation time. I just don't want them to end, yet I am sure there is ever more beauty that He has given to men to write, and me to read. I so love when my heart strings vibrate, and I hear His music.