Once Again: Cosmology – The Big Bang – And God

Recently, Stephen Hawking announced that there is no need for God, in terms of winding up the universe. The Big Bang [1] is a demonstrable result of M-theory. I won’t bore you about M-theory, except to say that It’s not complete and it’s not a sure bet yet. But even if it or one of its competitors turns out to match the data, be complete and self-consistent then great: such a thing might even have everyday consequences.

But does a complete field theory make for a universe without God? Have we really chased God into the dark corners of physics already?

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us?
—Nietzsche (John Lennon?)

While not exactly what Nietzche had in mind, modern science has taken some of the blame here, and cosmology most of that. In the 1960s the theothanatology movement proscribed God – neither transcendent nor an inhabitant of the “three-story-universe.”[2] The late science popularizer and flamboyant atheist Carl Sagan went on to paint religion as more or less a moral evil and at the very least in the role of blinders on humanity.[3]

One might take Joseph Smith as teaching of a God who is an inhabitant of the physical universe. At the same time a number of his revelations suggest a form of transcendence.[4] Whatever theological position you take, I think the current view of LDS Church leaders is fairly represented by the following.

I give you Neal Maxwell:

This magnificent, far-reaching telescope[5] is deliberately situated above the smog so this powerful instrument can better probe the galaxies. So it is with life and seeing by the lens of faith. If we are to see things more clearly, we too must lift ourselves above the secular smog. Then, in the words of the hymn, we can “in awesome wonder consider all the worlds [God’s] hands have made,” and “see God’s pow’r throughout the universe displayed.”[6] Otherwise, we will be kept from probing Jesus’ Universal Gospel and from seeing “things as they really are.”[7]

Nevertheless, by viewing the stretching cosmos, we can humbly contemplate the vastness of divine handiwork. Long before he was born in Bethlehem, and became known as Jesus of Nazareth, our Savior was Jehovah. Way back then, under the direction of the Father, Christ was the Lord of the Universe who created worlds without number, of which ours is only one. How many planets are there in the universe with people on them? We don’t know, but we are not alone in the universe! God is not the God of only one planet![8]

I testify that Jesus is truly the Lord of the Universe, “that by [Christ], and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.”[9] Having purchased us with His atoning blood in the great and marvelous Atonement, Jesus thereby became our lawgiver. It is by obedience to His laws and His commandments that we may return one day to His presence and that of our Heavenly Father.

The foregoing cosmic facts should bring us to our knees even now, long before that later judgment day, when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ. I testify that Jesus fulfilled these great roles as creator and lawgiver out of His desire to immortalize all of Heavenly Father’s children, with the most valiant to live in His Father’s house which has many mansions.

When Christ comes again, it will not be to the meekness of the manger. It will be as the recognized Redeemer and the Lord of the Universe! Then, in a great solar display, stars will fall from their places in a witnessing way with much more drama than at His birth when “the stars in the heavens looked down where he lay.”[10] Yet in the vastness of His creations, the Lord of the Universe, who notices the fall of every sparrow, is our personal Savior, of which I give apostolic testimony in the holy name of Jesus Christ, amen!

Maxwell does not argue that theory cannot explain the universe. Instead he argues in faith that God is the author of all. Poetic to be sure, but there is more than poetry here. I don’t believe that Maxwell is somehow advocating that we should consider cosmology a worthless enterprise. Quite the contrary. Instead, I think he presses forward with a perspective of compatibility. While God cannot be perceived in the equations of GR, those equations don’t proscribe a loving Father who can wend his way through the universe, or perhaps outside of it, to intervene in the lives of his children. How he does that without leaving smoking guns all over the place is an interesting question, but one GR or M-theory can’t really answer. This is the religion of Joseph Smith, and it’s mine too.

—————–
[1] If you don’t watch and laugh at The Big Bang Theory you’re one sorry bag of bones. You think guys like that are Comedic Constructs. I tell you, they are real.

[2] Hell, earth, heaven.

[3] See his The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. Ballantine, 1996.

[4] Many Saints have interpreted passages regarding God observing past, present and future as suggesting a God outside of the universe, in a timeless domain. I think that is naive Mormonism, but there you go.

[5] The 200 incher at Palomar Observatory.

[6] Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “How Great Thou Art.”

[7] The Book of Mormon, Jacob 4:13.

[8] Sagan pokes a little fun at the Mormons over this idea.

[9] Doctrine and Covenants 76.

[10] Hymns, “Away in a Manger.”

One Response to Once Again: Cosmology – The Big Bang – And God

  1. Tod Robbins says:

    We _love_ The Big Bang Theory, both iterations. ;-)

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