Back in 1997 I got a Tattoo in Birmingham. I’ve got a red celtic knot on my right shoulder. Back then hardly anyone had a tattoo, it was a bit edgy, which is why I had one done. When I started work there were only two of us with tattoos. Now everyone has tattoos much to my irritation. But recently I’ve been thinking about having another one done. I wanted it to have some meaning and I have always been fascinated by maths and science. So the one I’m getting designed reflects how maths, science and Christianity interact.
A look on the net shows that lots of people have a similar idea. The picture below is of the Fibonacci Spiral which is a graphic representation of the Fibonacci sequence. This sequence is repeated throughout nature, everything from the spiral of a snail shell to the arms of our galaxy. I’ve done a full explanation of this ration in my online Christianity course. Click here to visit the page.
The Fibonacci sequence is just one example of the inherent order within our universe. This order can be thought of as the Word of God that brings life. The Word of God is the logic or logos of God that brings life. Without order we cannot have life and the strange thing is that we live in a universe of astounding order. The video below is 6 min long and takes you through just a few examples of how the universe is fine tuned for life. The fabric of the universe is set by various constants. If any of these constants were even the tiniest bit different life could not exist. The gravitational constant has been calculated as 6.67384 × 10-11
or 0.0000000000667384, which is a tiny number. So if the constant was 0.000000000006673839 instead no life, in fact no stars could exist at all. So because I’m a geek I may have these numbers in the tattoo.
Here is a quick video explaining this idea:
The philosopher Michael Rea says that the discovery of the fine tuning of the universe over the last few decades is like discovering a huge biosphere. If we went to Mars and found a Biosphere like the eden project in Cornwall, we would naturally infer that some alien race built that biosphere. Given the fine tuning of the universe the comparison seems fair.
In the film The Theory of Everything, Stephen Hawking describes cosmology as religion for intelligent physicists. I think when we look at the history of cosmology in the 20th century we see there is more than a grain of truth in this statement.
Back in the 1920s George Lemaître a physicist and Catholic Priest first proposed the Big Bang hypothesis. If you’ve never heard of George Lemaitre ask yourself why? Lemaitre’s work was done on the back of Hubble’s observations of galaxies moving away for each other. This idea of the primordial atom was ridiculed by cosmologists. Why? because at the time physicists said that there was no God because the Universe was static and eternal without a beginning so no need of a creator. In fact the name ‘Big Bang’ was given by the astronomer Hoyle in a BBC Radio interview in 1949. So back in the 1950s it was thought by many intelligent physicists that modern science had proved that God did not exist because the universe was static.
All this changed in the 1960s when the cosmic background radiation was discovered. This can be thought of as an echo of the Big Bang. So now intelligent physicists could prove that God did not exist because the universe was created in the Big Bang. Even though it was proposed by a priest and endorsed by the pope in 1951.
Fast forward to the 1980s and Hawking’s Brief History in Time. Here it is proposed that the universe may collapse back into itself in a Big Crunch. It was then proposed that this universe is the product of billions of universes that have been created via billions of big bangs and crunches. So intelligent physicists declared that there is no God because we are just one of billions of universes that have been made within eternity. This idea is very important as this gets round the fine tuning problem.
In the Video it talks about how unlikely it would be for the laws of the universe to bring forth life. If our universe was just one of billions that were made and then collapsed in big crunches, eventually over eternity one would emerge with just the right conditions for life.
Fast forward another 20 years and we find that something called cosmic inflation has been found that shows there will be no Big Crunch. Now it is thought that there are quadrillions of undetectable universes out there, each with different laws of physics. These are either located just past the observable universe or within our own, but we can’t detect them. It isn’t even that we could detect them in the future, because the laws of physics are different in these universes we can never detect them in principle. This has led many people to reject this idea as unscientific because in science we need to detect something in order to apply the scientific method.
Here lies the strange contradiction at the heart of it all. Today many people say that they cannot believe in God in principle because he cannot be detected through the scientific method. Someone said on the news once that they could see Pluto for the first time, but they still couldn’t see God. In a way I understand this approach, but you can’t have your cake and eat it. Today intelligent physicists say that there is no God for two reasons. 1: Because we can’t detect God through science and 2: Because we live in one universe made up of quadrillions of undetectable universes all with different laws that we can’t measure. It seems that being a Christian requires me to believe in the existence on one undetectable entity we call God. But perhaps that’s just because I’m a bit thick and should be like those intelligent physicists and believe in quadrillions of undetectable universes instead.
It seems that physics over the last 90 years or so has consistently shown that God does not exist especially when it contradicts the theory that came before. The truth is that God like those other universes is a question outside of science. Science tells us of the glories of God, science is as Kepler said, ‘Thinking God’s thoughts after him’. Looking back at the history of 20th and 21st century physics perhaps it tells us as much about the men themselves as it does about the heavens.
My Tattoo will remind me that we live in finely tuned universe, built for life just like a cosmic biosphere. A Universe of law and of order which brings life. Perhaps the tattoo will encourage me to be a bit more law abiding also.