29 March 2007


I'll get to the Neanderthals in a bit, but first a quick response to Stacy's most recent entry.

If Genesis is basically a version of the Big Bang, how did whomever it was that wrote Genesis know about the Big Bang? The way I like to think of this as a Christian and a scientist is that Genesis was actually divinely inspired. This, of course, relies on belief that God exists and has influence (to a degree, at least) in the physical world, if only to the extent that He can control the "random" neurons firing during, say, a dream, drug trip, meditation session, or seizure.

Conversely, how do we know that the Big Bang isn’t just a scientific version of Genesis? There are too many similarities to just ignore it, but if the Big Bang is just a scientist explaining Genesis without putting God in there, how can with give it any (objective) credit? I fully agree that this has the potential to go both ways, and it ultimately comes down to personal preference and willingness to believe that God would deceive us by placing "dinosaur bones" and "quasars" that only look old to the infidel scientists ( <-- sarcasm). I (obviously) don't hold that view, and if you actually get into the cosmology of it, the Big Bang makes a huge load of theoretical sense (though it's important to remember that it is only a theory, and also incomplete and mostly untestable, by virtue of the fact that we can't just make a Big Bang and see if that works). The theory was derived primarily from two observations. First, everything in the visible universe is redshifted (via the Doppler effect), and objects that are farther away are redshifted more. This means (take PHYS160 to verify) that everything in the universe is getting farther apart: the universe itself is expanding. This is like if you put a bunch of dots on a balloon and then blew it up -- the balloon expands, and the dots get farther apart.

The second major observation is that the entire sky is emitting radiation in the microwave spectrum (called cosmic microwave background radiation, or CMB). I don't have a good way to explain this to someone who hasn't already learned about it, but you can try Wikipedia (or other sources). But basically, it supports the theory that the universe was born out of a sudden explosion of intense heat, which emitted all the CMB that we can still observe today. Astronomers who feel poetic like to call it things like "the last remnants of the birth of the universe". (pish) It's cool science. (Ask me what I'm doing this summer!)

Also, it's entirely fair to say that a lot of what I wrote is a stretch. It's completely plausible (to me, at any rate) that someone could have just made this up. If I were an omnipotent Creator, I'd have probably done it something like that. Also, as we discussed in class (and I mentioned previously), the details preserve the dominant group's status quo. Which is (for them) a good thing.

There's a lot of goodies in that post if you look. On to something serious.

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