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Thursday, March 4

I Know Sciency Stuff

Ripped wholesale from a post at RAGE, in answer to a longish thread on the existence of (a) God. Someone by the name of Antz had posted this big copy&paste job supposedly showing scientific reasons why God exists. I couldnít resist destroying his arguments. Arguments that he probably didnít understand anyway. Here it is. Itís a bit boring, but it makes me look well clever.

firstly, Iíd just like to point that I am a complete and utter atheist. I went to a Church of England school, so I know the bible pretty well, but have chosen to reject it completely. I happen to believe in science (no, not scientology), and I am certain that science will explain everything at some time. it is not now, it will not be in 100 years time, it may not even be in 1000 years time, but it will.

WARNING: this is a very, very long post. I explain a number of scientific theories to counter some other arguments here. if physics bores you, don't bother reading on. all this post shows is that so many of the "scientific" arguments advanced earlier in this thread are complete and utter codswallop.

In reply to Antz:
Ultimately, where must all the galaxies have been? At a point! At the beginning! At what scientists call a singularity.

and that proves the existence of a God because...? all it proves is that the universe expanded from a, as you say, singularity. where did this singularity come from? did it always exist as a singularity? was God this singularity, and he "exploded" (to use the wrong word, but you get the point) into existence. in fact, did he explode as "existence" itself?

I think not. the current theory finding most accord in scientific circles is the big bang theory, as you say, but it is not just this. there are two theories behind the big bang as to why it happened. the first is the "cyclic universe" argument. in this theory, the universe runs in cycles where it expands, slows its expansion and eventually contracts back to a singularity, at which time another big bang occurs, hence the cyclic effect.

the first thing the believers say when they read the above is to point out that there must have been a point before this cycle began. true. the explanation for this is the same as for a non-cyclic universe (i.e. the one with the big bang that just keeps expanding). there was a "potentiality" that existed (which is 100% the wrong word, about which I will explain now) prior (again, a misleading word) to the big bang. in (wrong word) this potentiality, there was no such thing as existence. there were no dimensions, there was no time, there was just potential to exist. this is difficult to explain because it is difficult to understand the concept of time NOT existing. all that the potentiality was was exactly that: a potential to exist. it did not at some point "decide" to exist, mainly because there was no "point" due to there being no time. there was merely this potentiality.

if you can comprehend this, well done. if not, it is very difficult, and Iím not exactly a physics professor so can't explain it properly. also, the English language just doesn't have the words to describe the concept.

In reply to Antz:
If everywhere in the cosmos hydrogen is being consumed and if the process has been going on forever, how much hydrogen should be left?

*sigh* before you c+p, try examining the arguments being made for scientific value. after all, these are supposedly 3 "scientific" reasons which show that (a) God exists.

if you understood the transaction / process that occurs in a star, you would know that nuclear fusion occurs when two superheated hydrogen atoms fuse together (hence "fusion") to form a helium atom. the energy given out by this fusion (from the incomprehensibly large amounts of energy holding each atom's nucleus together) usually comes in the form of heat and light. the heat prompts other atoms to continue this process, and the light is given out (hence we can see it)

so, you ask, if this is how fusion works, why is there still hydrogen in the sun, and it isn't all helium? the answer is that in the sun (and every star in the universe) nuclear fission also occurs. "fission" means the splitting of an atom / nucleus. here, it is a helium atom / nucleus splitting into 2 hydrogen atoms / nuclei, as well as some spare neutrons (I think). this again requires a lot of energy to break the nucleonic bonds, but also gives out a loss of energy as it occurs. the hydrogen atoms then become part of the fusion process once more. this is how a star keeps burning.

of course, the process is not perfect, and there is always a certain amount of energy lost to the surrounding area. why else are the inner planets warmer than the outer planets in the solar system? we receive a greater amount of heat energy from the sun because less is lost to the coldness of space over the distance it travels to us. the surface of the sun also loses heat to the space directly surrounding it, often violently in "solar flares".

due to the process being imperfect, the sun will eventually die out, as too much helium is produced without returning to a hydrogen state. the current estimate for our sun is that it will last about another 5 billion years. that's a long time.

new stars are created from the death of old stars, and the matter thrown out by their violent end. for a better description of how the birth of stars works, go type "life cycle of a star" into google / similar.

in conclusion on this point, Iíve only done physics up to a-level, but I know this and can explain it coherently. I have written all of this myself, and without referencing a textbook. it just happens to be knowledge that I have, and I suggest that next time you want to use scientific sources, make sure they are correct first.

In reply to Antz:
Everywhere we look in space we can see the hydrogen 21 cm line in the spectrum_a piece of light only given off by hydrogen. This could not be unless we had a beginning!

why is hydrogen the most abundant element in the universe? because it is the simplest! one proton, one electron. to become other elements, fusion must occur, many, many times. hydrogen was the most abundant element after the big bang, and in those ultra-hot times, it was able to fuse relatively easily anywhere in space, now it is confined to stars and nuclear reactors here on earth... it does point to a big bang, but the above arguments explain (or try to) the big bang theory.

In reply to Antz:
If an automobile is driven for years and years without repair, for example, it will become so disordered that it would not run any more.

that is due to imperfect design, not thermodynamics. thermodynamics concerns heat (from "therm") and the way in which that works. the basic law of thermodynamics is that eventually equilibrium will be reached. take as a basic example a glass of cold water in a normal room. given enough time and no interference, the glass of water will be warmed by the room. the room will cool very slightly as some of its overall heat energy is transferred to the water. eventually, the water will be the exact same temperature as the room, and equilibrium will be attained.

if an automobile were perfectly designed to correspond with the outside world, and the outside world did not change, then equilibrium would exist and the car would never deteriorate. unfortunately we don't live in a perfect world. you'd think we would if (a) God created it...

once again, understand the science, then try to use scientific theories.

In reply to Antz:
Even a universe that expands and collapses and expands again forever would die because it would lose light and heat each time it expanded and rebounded.

how? where would it lose the energy to? the universe is indeed everything ever, so how can it lose energy to something that doesn't exist? it is difficult to comprehend how a universe can expand if it is expanding into non-existence, but the theory has been very well explained by a number of different people. for a layman's explanation (well, ish...) try A Brief History Of Time by Hawking (also, read about String Theory in there. sooooo cool).

the universe will contract back to a point (a "singularity" from above) and then the big bang will occur again. that is the basic concept of the cyclic theory. see above for a better explanation. the singularity is everything that ever (well, "ever" except for the lack of time...) existed, and when it becomes matter again (post-big bang) it is still everything that ever existed. it can be argued (and I think it has been) that this "new" universe will have less energy than the "previous" one (quote marks because the terminology is very iffy and not a perfect fit. layman's terms?), but this is because the singularity has become matter in a particular manner. between singularities, the universe neither gains nor loses matter. as Newton so succinctly put it, "every action has an equal and opposite reaction". as energy is transferred to one place, it must be transferred from another place. it cannot be created itself.

once again, the "scientific" argument falls apart when it is examined. yay for proper science.


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