Everything scientists can observe and measure about the universe asserts that the universe had a beginning—a beginning that implies the creation of matter, energy, space, and time. A moment when all matter, energy, space, and time came into existence implies that a Causal Agent operating beyond (i.e., outside) them must have created the universe. Such a Causal Agent matches the description of the God of the Bible and contradicts the descriptions of the gods of the eastern religions.
Understandably, all this physical evidence for the God of the Bible does not sit well with atheists and agnostics. Therefore, they now appeal to what we cannot observe and measure about the universe to speculate that some exotic physics there operates in a manner that overturns the theistic conclusions implied by all we can observe and measure. A large team of physicists has tested a particular theoretical quantum gravity model, and their results constrain speculations about the universe’s beginning.
Extent of Cosmic Observations
When I first began to seriously study astronomy as a child, astronomers’ observations of the universe encompassed less than 1% of the total extent of the universe that potentially could be observed. Today, astronomers possess the telescopes and the technology to explore 99.9999999999999999999999999999999% of the observable universe.
When astronomers observe the universe, they see the universe of the past. Because of the finite velocity of light, the farther away they observe, the farther back in time they measure the state of the universe. Astronomers can now look so far back in time that they are able to measure the state of the universe and the laws of physics that govern the universe when it is only 10-35 seconds old.1
Astronomers have no instrumentation, however, to directly observe the universe or the laws of physics previous to 10-35 seconds (an extremely brief moment) after the cosmic creation event. MIT physicist Alan Guth calculated that it would take a particle accelerator at least 40 trillion miles long to probe the conditions of the universe and laws of physics previous to 10-35 seconds after the cosmic creation event. At a minimum cost of a half-billion dollars per mile, Guth concluded that the possibility of a 40-trillion-mile-long particle accelerator being funded any time in the near future was relatively remote!
Nontheistic scientists have taken advantage of this brief moment of ignorance to speculate that perhaps the physics and geometry of the universe are so different during that time that the spacetime theorems proving a cosmic beginning2 do not hold—and that maybe there is no cosmic Beginner after all.
The Quantum Gravity Era
All cosmic creation models are built on the presumption that gravity dominates the dynamics of the universe. However, in these models it is known that when the universe is younger than a ten-trillionth of a quadrillionth of a quadrillionth of a second (<10-43 seconds), gravity may possibly be modified to a significant degree by quantum mechanics. Hence, this extremely brief moment is known as the quantum gravity era.
Most nontheistic physicists and astronomers jump to this “era” in their efforts to speculate away the need for a cosmic Beginner. They speculate that during this era quantum modifications of gravity are large enough in certain specified ways to avoid the necessity of a cosmic Creator. These nontheists feel secure in their speculations because no conceivable instrument can be built to directly disprove their speculations.
Indirect Tests of Quantum Gravity Speculations
Though it is not possible to constrain quantum gravity speculations with direct observations and experiments, there are a number of indirect testing methods that unambiguously and indisputably eliminate several proposed quantum gravity theoretical models. A team of 23 physicists led by Ping Xu published the latest such test in the October 4 issue of Science.3
The 23 physicists presented measurements that eliminated the possible operation of a quantum gravity theory known as event formalism. “Event formalism predicts that a pair of entangled particles decorrelate as they pass through different regions of the gravitational well of a planetary object.”4
The team of 23 used entangled photon pairs where they retained one member of each pair on Earth and sent the other to the quantum satellite Micius (see figure). They found no evidence for the predicted decorrelation effects. Thus, they concluded that “Our measurement results are consistent with standard quantum theory and hence do not support the prediction of event formalism.”5
Figure: The Micius Satellite and Associated Earth Laboratories. Image credit: University of Science and Technology of China
This particular constraint on quantum gravity speculations is just one of several that currently exist. I have written about how several other quantum gravity theories predict measurable effects that linger beyond the quantum gravity era, and how current measurements show that such effects are not present. I have also written about how current instrumentation exists to test other quantum gravity theories in six previous blogs and extensively in my book, The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th edition.6
Will scientific advancement eventually be able to eliminate all theoretical cosmic models that posit that the universe has no beginning and, therefore, no need for a Beginner? The answer is no. Such an accomplishment would require that we know everything about the universe. As beings constrained within the spacetime dimensions of the universe, such an achievement is impossible. Hence, we will never arrive at absolute proof that God exists.
The lack of absolute proof for God’s existence does not imply, though, that we lack practical proof of his existence. To date, all the observational and experimental evidence testifies of a cosmic beginning. If the more we continue to expand the observational and experimental evidence the stronger the scientific case becomes for a cosmic beginning, that evidence qualifies as practical proof. And if the predictions of the effects of several non-theistic quantum gravity theories on the current condition of certain phenomena within the observable universe continue to prove incorrect, those results add to the practical proofs for a cosmic beginning—and for the Creator God of the Bible as the cosmic Beginner.
Featured image: Calabi-Yau Manifold Component of Some Quantum Gravity Models
Image credit: Lunch, Leonard Susskind, Creative Commons Attribution
- Hugh Ross, “Cosmic Inflation: It Really Happened,” Today’s New Reason to Believe (blog), August 3, 2015, https://www.reasons.org/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/tnrtb/2015/08/03/cosmic-inflation-it-really-happened.
- Stephen William Hawking and Roger Penrose, “The Singularities of Gravitational Collapse and Cosmology,” Proceedings of the Royal Society A 314, no. 1519 (January 27, 1970): 529–48, doi:10.1098/rspa.1970.0021; Arvind Borde, Alan H. Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin, “Inflationary Spacetimes Are Incomplete in Past Directions,” Physical Review Letters 90, no. 15 (April 18, 2003): id. 151031, doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.90.151031.
- Ping Xu et al., “Satellite Testing of a Gravitationally Induced Quantum Decoherence Model,” Science 366, no. 6461 (October 4, 2019): 132–35, doi:10.1126/science.aay5820.
- Ping et al., “Satellite Testing,” 132.
- Ping et al., “Satellite Testing,” 132.
- Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2018), 101–107, 110–114, 131–139, 148–153, 189–198; Hugh Ross, “General Relativity and Cosmic Creation Pass Another Test, Part 1,” Today’s New Reason to Believe (blog), September 9, 2019, https://www.reasons.org/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/todays-new-reason-to-believe/2019/09/09/general-relativity-and-cosmic-creation-pass-another-test-part-1; Hugh Ross, “General Relativity and Cosmic Creation Pass Another Test, Part 2,” Today’s New Reason to Believe (blog), September 16, 2019, https://www.reasons.org/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/todays-new-reason-to-believe/2019/09/16/general-relativity-and-cosmic-creation-pass-another-test-part-2; Hugh Ross, “Gamma Ray Flares Constrain Beginning-of-Universe Speculations,” Today’s New Reason to Believe (blog), August 12, 2019, https://www.reasons.org/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/todays-new-reason-to-believe/2019/08/12/gamma-ray-flares-constrain-beginning-of-universe-speculations; Hugh Ross, “Does Quantum Gravity Avoid the Need for a Cosmic Creator?” Today’s New Reason to Believe (blog), March 7, 2017, https://www.reasons.org/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/todays-new-reason-to-believe/2017/03/07/does-quantum-gravity-avoid-the-need-for-a-cosmic-creator.