Did the universe evolve naturally? Was it created by a god according to an intelligent design? Does god exist and, if so, is there more than one? What is the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything? You will find the answers to these and other big questions within the posts of this blog if you are bold enough to continue. OK, if you must insist, they are just hypotheses, but enough of that wishy-washy scientific stuff. If we’re going to answer the really big questions, we can’t depend on either science or theology alone.
Let’s get started with the first big question. If the universe was made according to an intelligent design, doesn’t that imply that the design has to be somewhat intelligent? And how intelligent should it be? In other words, if you came across something that looked like a shelter made of twigs, leaves and mud that was full of holes and was partly falling down, would you be able to claim it was the product of intelligent design? Clearly, if some kind of intelligent being put it together, I wouldn’t think too much of its designer. In terms of the Earth, its weather, its geologic structure, and the species that inhabit it, let’s just say that I’m not too impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Whoever or whatever built this place could have done a much better job, to say the least.
Let’s limit our analysis to that of the Earth, since we haven’t been able to get very far from it yet and can’t really say too much about the rest of the universe. Is the Earth really an example of good design? We can’t answer that question until we first figure out the purpose for which it was designed. You wouldn’t say a car was well designed if you thought it was supposed to have been made to serve as a mobile sex-lounge for adolescent teenagers. It might do the job, but not very well. So, what is the real purpose of the Earth?
To answer that, let’s start with the species that inhabit it. I might be wrong to assume that rocks, water, air and other inert substances aren’t important in and of themselves, but I’ve got to start somewhere. Sure, the Earth might just be part of some enormous creature’s giant rock collection. But let’s propose that the Earth is a testing ground for living species. If you believe what archeologists and anthropologists tell us, the planet has been around for several billion years and has gone through at least millions of different species. Many of these have gone extinct in due course or as the result of several mass extinctions due to asteroid hits, massive volcanic activity, plagues, and/or other hypothesized calamities. If you believe the scientific evidence, humans have not been around for very long. The pre-human models, like Homo Erectus and Cro-Magnon, didn’t arrive until fairly recently either and didn’t last very long before they went extinct. Many species, like the Dodo bird, appear to have been ill suited to their environments and, consequently, it was no surprise that they eventually went extinct. What the heck was the point of the Dodo anyway?
Were extinct species all just bad mistakes or part of god’s plan? If we accidentally kill off some more, aren’t we just doing gods work for him? If we kill off the elephants for their ivory, the salmon for food, or the species of the rainforest as we harvest the wood are we bad? We’re the big dogs on the block now and, besides, god made them for us anyway, right? And if you don’t believe that, you’ll probably agree another mass extinction will eventually wipe them out anyway, so why fret about it? Do we really need elephants anymore anyway? They did a great job for Hannibal when he crossed the Alps and attacked Rome, but now all we can do is go to the zoo and watch them wander around in their cages. After seeing the large, realistic-looking elephant-like creatures in The Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, I think that, in the future, we’ll probably just use computers to make virtual zoos. Since I really enjoy a good dish of salmon or tuna, I’m hoping we don’t kill off or poison the entire supply of seafood. Of course, maybe we’re just another stupid mistake on our own way towards extinction. Maybe our massive fishing of the shark population will eventually make way for Age of Aquarius, the evolution of dolphin intelligence and society.
Even the continents have been shuffled around, causing untold problems for the species that have inhabited them. Earth apparently began with a single giant landmass known as Pangaea that has drifted apart on top of a shifting, fluid outer crust ever since. There are periodic earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as plates shift and pressure is released. Global weather has alternated between ice ages and hot spells. Water levels have covered landmasses and receded again. Deserts and rainforests have expanded and receded. All these events resulted in consequences, good and bad, for the inhabiting species. Does such a place make for a stable, nurturing, home environment? I’m sure the dinosaurs didn’t think so when a meteor arrived and wiped them all out. I’m sure that the species that have been driven into extinction by competitors would not have thought so. I’m sure the thousands of people who are killed every year by earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, cold, heat or disease don’t think so either. So no, of course it isn’t a stable environment. But it does make for a good test lab if you want to see which species can adapt to and survive catastrophic changes.
Remember that episode in the original Star Trek series where Captain Kirk was being tested by a being with god-like powers? The Squire of Gothos. Well, he eventually turned out to be just an adolescent child of another race of super beings who was just messing around. Now, I’m not saying that god is an idiot for making the Earth the way he did or that we were created as part of an alien experiment, but it is something to think about. Could there be more fact in science fiction than we would like to believe?
If you believe in a god, you probably believe that he/she/it created the world as described in the bible but made it appear, for some deliberate reason, as though it’s been evolving on its own for a few billion years. Even though we can measure the fact that the continents continue to drift apart, species continue to die off, and new species continue to be discovered, maybe this process of environmental change and evolution was all a purposeful illusion up until god created man. Then, he really made it work the way it appears to have worked all along. Why would he do this? It’s one of the big questions, so we don’t want to give it away too early in the blog–and no reading the last post first!
Another possible theory is that he created the world with some built-in evolutionary mechanisms and let it run for a few billion years while he was busy doing something else or resting. Resting for a few billion years? Why not? After all, we really don’t know how many billions of years may make up one god-day. Maybe calculating the length of a god-day would make for a good National Science Foundation sponsored research project for Intelligent Design “scientists.” Wouldn’t that be a great way to combine the hard physical sciences of physics, math, astronomy, and archeology with Intelligent Design theory?
I’m not a real physicist, I just play one in this blog, but I’m guessing that a simplified version of the problem would be something like this. If god made both the universe and the Earth in one god-day, then we must be able to create a variable space-time equation that proves the age of the universe is equal to the age of the Earth in god-days. If we can measure the current accelerating expansion of space-time and trace it back to the big bang, we can solve the equation.
My guess is that the length of a god-day is a variable that decreases as the universe expands. So, he had a lot more time to kill at the time of the big bang than he does today. Hence, he was able to make all the stars in one day. Pretty soon, however, he’ll have a hard time getting to even the most important prayers. But that’s just a wild-ass guess. I could be wrong. I’ll leave it up to the “Intelligent Design scientists” to figure it out.