Sunday, September 11, 2011

Catholic String Theory

After hearing about the fellow from Peter Robinson, I'm now reading David Berlinski's The Devil's Delusion.

I'm enjoying the book more than any other I have read in a long time. It's a polemic, whacking away at scientific atheism and Mr. Berlinski is a good polemicist. There's lots of juicy red meat in there to gnaw on. Rather than reproduce raw meat, here is my first take on what I'm learning, something that makes me smile.

I need to do some more research, but here are two things that seem to relate. First, Catholic theology says that science and theology cannot contradict one another. If science proves theology wrong, then the theology must change. Second, string theory gives equations for the behavior of the Universe, but far fewer than there are unknowns.

This last bit might need some explanation. This equation has an infinite number of solutions:

x + y = 7.

For any value of x, you can find a y what will make the equation work. There isn't one solution, there's an infinite number of them. In what little research I've done, that's the way it is with string theory. There are lots more unknowns than there are equations. The unknowns are our physical constants, the ones that govern gravity, molecular bonding, chemical reaction rates and so forth. Yes, string theory describes the Universe, but it would work equally well for an infinite number of other possible values for these constants.

So what?

Well, if you change the values of those constants, you pretty much get death. Dead Universes, dead planets, dead dust, dead light radiating out from the Big Bang, dead everything. Those constants have to be very precisely tuned in order to get an Earth where we can watch Newcastle on

We have the right values for our constants! Yay!

In short, those constants look like Someone fiddled with them, deliberately making a world just right for Maximum Leaders and Momma Daisies. They look like the Universe was planned from the start.

Is that cool or what?


Ohioan@Heart said...

The other possibility is that there are in fact an infinite number of universes. So in some of those universes (one can argue that there would be an infinite number of these) the constants hit those wonderful values. Since we can only exist in one of those, we see what looks like fine tuned constants.

I'd recommend for those interested to get a better description read Brian Greene's latest book "The Hidden Reality".

K T Cat said...

I've read this. It's in Hawking's A Brief History of Time and is one of the reasons that book falls apart for me. There is no evidence of any other Universe. As soon as someone makes the claim that there are lots of other Universes, you've thrown out science and are just grasping at straws.

"There are lots of other Universes out there, you just can't see them because they're invisible!"

Uh huh.

Secular Apostate said...

You might enjoy this book: Just Six Numbers by Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal.

K T Cat said...

Thanks, SA! I read the blurb on Amazon and liked it. The book just went on my wish list.