Physics and the Uncaused First Cause

Christian physicist Frank Tipler, via Stephen Hawking, offers an update on St. Thomas Aquinas:

In 1966, Stephen Hawking published his first — completely valid — proof for the existence of God. Over the next seven years, he followed this with even more powerful valid theorems proving God’s existence.

So how did Hawking, who successfully proved God’s existence, remain an atheist? Simple. He simply denied that the assumptions he used in his proofs were true. As a matter of logic, if the assumptions in a proof are not true, then the conclusions need not be true. What assumptions did the young Hawking make? He assumed that the laws of physics, mainly Einstein’s theory of gravity, were true. In the summary of his early research, namely his book The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time, Hawking wrote:  “It seems to be a good principle that the prediction of [God] by a physical theory indicates that the theory has broken down, i.e. it no longer provides a correct description of observations.”

Hawking then began working on quantum gravity, in hopes that God would be at last eliminated from the equations. Alas, it was not to be: God was even more prominent — and unavoidable — in quantum gravity than in Einstein’s theory of gravity. In his latest book, The Grand Design, Hawking has pinned his hope of eliminating God on M-theory, a theory with no experimental support whatsoever, hence not a theory of physics at all. Nor has it been proven that M-theory is mathematically consistent. Nor has it been proven that God has been eliminated from M-theory. There are disquieting signs (for Hawking and company) that He is also unavoidable in M-theory, as He is in Einstein’s gravity, and in quantum gravity. . . .

The alert reader will have noticed that in the above quote, Hawking did not actually use the word “God.” But this is what he really meant. To see this, let us recall just what the word “God” means.

Consider the opening words of the (original) Nicene Creed: “We believe in one God, the omnipotent Father, Maker of all things visible and invisible.” These words give the basic definition of “God” used by Christians and Jews: God is the Cause of everything, but He Himself has no cause. God is the Uncaused First Cause. In his Second Way, Thomas Aquinas proves the existence of the Uncaused First (efficient) Cause, and Aquinas concludes, “to which all give the name ‘God’ (quam omnes Deum nominant).”

So now let us return to the theorems of the young Hawking. By following the history of the universe back into time — in other words, by following the causes of the current universe back into time — Hawking proved that all of these causes had a common cause; a common cause that did not itself have a cause. This common cause was an Uncaused Cause that was beyond the control of the laws of physics, beyond the control of any possible laws of physics. Rather, the entire universe began at this Uncaused First Cause.

In exactly the same way that Aquinas used the word “create,” we can say that the Uncaused First Cause, whose existence was proven decades ago by Hawking, “created” the universe.

Hawking called this Uncaused First Cause a “singularity.”

But given the properties of this “singularity,” it is God.

via Pajamas Media » Proving the Existence of God.

Teaching worship

Last Sunday our Pastor, Rev. James Douthwaite, did something he does once a year or so: He teaches us the significance and why-we-do-what-we-do in the liturgy. He uses an adaptation of The Narrative Commentary on the Divine Service by Prof. John Pless, who gave permission to post it on the church website and to thus make it available to others. (You can find the version we used here as a .pdf file. You can also find it online here.)

The way it worked was that an elder read the commentary before each part, and then we did it. One would expect this to be intrusive, but it really wasn’t. I learned a lot. I would recommend that Lutheran pastors make use of this resource so that their parishioners know what they are doing and develop an appreciation for the richness of liturgical worship. Non-Lutherans too would benefit from knowing this stuff. It would disabuse them of the notion that liturgical worship is “just Catholic” and would show them just how Biblical and evangelical the historic worship of the church really is.

For our edification and discussion, I’m going to post portions of it over the next few days. Here, for example, is the opening, setting forth succinctly the Lutheran theology of worship:

The high and holy worship of God is faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Such faith is created and sustained by God’s Service to us. In the Divine Service, the Lord comes to us in His Word and Sacrament to bless and enliven us with His gifts. This Service is not something we do for God, but His service to us to be received in faith. The “liturgy” is God’s work. He gives, we receive.

Here is the significance of the Invocation (“In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”):

From God’s Word, we know that wherever God puts His Name, there He is to bless. In the Old Testament, the Temple was the place where God graciously caused His Name to be present.

God has put His Name-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit on you in Holy Baptism. The Divine Service begins “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Every Divine Service is for the hallowing of the Lord’s Name, which the Small Catechism reminds us is done “When the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity and we as the children of God, also lead a holy life according to it.”

Koran burning update

Well, the Florida preacher who threatened to burn the Koran decided not to.  But some other people took his idea and ran with it.  Iranian television has been broadcasting this information throughout the Muslim world.  Rioting has erupted.  Christian schools and churches are being attacked.  The death toll so far:  15.

Notice how burning the Koran, far from striking back at the jihadists, is actually playing right into their hands.

Iranian-backed TV broadcasts US Koran desecrations, inflames deadly Kashmir riots; 15 dead.

Preachers and singers fighting for wireless mics

The Federal Communication Commission is planning to release more broadcast channels, but the prospect of improved cell phone reception and WiFi on steroids has provoked opposition from preachers, singers, and others dependent on wireless mics:

Two decades ago, the FCC released similar airwaves to the public, but no one thought doing so would have much impact for consumers. They were wrong: That band of short-range radio waves spawned baby monitors, garage-door openers and thousands of WiFi hot spots at Starbucks, New York’s Times Square and homes across the nation.

Now, the FCC is betting that another batch of unlicensed and better-quality airwaves will enable engineers to turn those frequencies into WiFi networks on steroids. The airwaves would connect longer distances and penetrate through concrete walls – allowing for stronger connections.

For a start, the regulatory move, generally supported by all five commissioners, could help alleviate pressure on overburdened mobile networks that have frustrated some smartphone users who deal with dropped calls and slow Web connections. . . .

Details of the proposed regulatory order haven’t been disclosed, and the move faces some opposition from broadcasters, Broadway performers and ministers. Those critics, who have filed suit against the FCC to prevent the release of white spaces, say users of that spectrum could interfere with television channels and would throw off wireless microphones that operate on those frequencies. . . .

Genachowski’s proposal would reserve two television channels in each local market for wireless microphones. News and sports broadcasters, church ministers and singer Dolly Parton have argued to the FCC that they need some spectrum reserved for their wireless microphones.

via FCC considers release of unused TV channels.

Is this referring to those Garth-Brooks flesh colored mics (pronounced “mikes”) that  hook around the ear and have that long bendable piece of plastic that sticks out in front of your mouth?  I hate those!  I’ve had to wear them when speaking, and I hate them!  And, for some reason, I don’t like  to see other people wearing them!  Or does this relate also to those battery-powered mics that you clip onto your tie or shirt, putting the main unit in your pocket with the antenna hanging out?  I don’t mind those so much.  But maybe squeezing out the bandwith of wireless microphones would be a boon to both church and culture.

Dolly, you know I’m a big fan, but you and your fellow singers do too much dancin’, putting on too big of a show.  Just stand in front of a microphone on a stand, preferably with a bulbous top, like Patsy Cline did and just sing.

Preachers, preach from the pulpit rather than roaming around.  The reason we have pulpits is that it’s easier for the congregation to see you.  It also provides a place for your manuscript or your notes.  Please use a manuscript or notes.  Those wireless mics make it possible for you to stalk around and even go into the congregation, which turns  your sermon into something your are rambling off the top of your head.  Please don’t go into the congregation.

I suppose the leaders of liturgical worship like wireless microphones with all of the turning and moving they have to do outside of the altar.  OK.  But can’t we rig mics at the altar and around the chancel?  What did ministers do before electronic speakers were invented?  I believe that was the original purpose of chanting, to enable the voice to carry farther.

At any rate, I think we should sacrifice wireless mics on the altar of better cell phone reception and wireless internet access.

Witness, mercy, life together

What do you make of the new LCMS President Matthew Harrison’s themes for the church body, taken from the very rich Greek New Testament words   Martyría, Diakonía, and Koinonía?  What do they suggest about the direction he wants to take the church?

via The ABC3s of Miscellany: LCMS Board and Commission Orientation — Day 1.

LCMS President Harrison's banner

The charge of Republican racism

Gerard Alexander disputes a narrative that we keep hearing:

The narrative usually begins with Barry Goldwater opposing provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and with Richard Nixon scheming to win the presidency through a “Southern strategy” — appealing to the racial prejudice of working-class whites in the South to pry them away from the Democratic coalition assembled by Franklin Roosevelt. In this telling, bigoted Southerners were the electoral mountain to which the Republican Moses had to come, the key to the GOP winning the White House. Wooing them entailed much more than shifting the party slightly away from Democrats on racial issues; in return for political power, Republicans had to move their politics and policies to where bigots wanted them to be. This alliance supposedly laid the foundation for a new American politics. . . .

First, Republicans did not decisively depend on white Southerners to create their modern presidential majorities when the race issue was at its most polarizing. The conventional wisdom is that the GOP had little choice in the 1960s but to seek out Southern white voters and tacked hard to the right on civil rights to do it. But Republican presidential candidates pried apart the New Deal coalition in the 1950s, with the performance of Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 and Nixon in 1960. This chronology has big implications. From 1952 through the 1980s, GOP presidential candidates consistently beat or nearly matched their Democratic opponents, with the clear exceptions only of 1964 and 1976. Republicans did this mostly by crafting majority coalitions in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain states, in the industrial Midwest and mid-Atlantic, and ultimately in California — and only partially by realigning several Southern states. Moreover, these were the least “Southern” states, such as Florida, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

This means that the GOP presidential majority and much of the party’s modern policy agenda were forged not in the racial heat of the 1960s South, but first in the 1950s and across the country. . . .

The remainder of the region — the race-obsessed Deep South — repeatedly tried to be a presidential kingmaker in the 1960s but failed. Instead of reforming the GOP in its image, the Deep South’s white electorate was among the last to join an already-winning Republican presidential coalition in the early 1970s. Wallace voters ended up supporting Nixon, Reagan and other Republicans, but much more on the national GOP’s terms than their own. The Republican Party proved to be the mountain to which the Deep South had to come, not the other way around. . . .

This explains why the second assumption is also wrong. Nixon made more symbolic than substantive accommodations to white Southerners. He enforced the Civil Rights Act and extended the Voting Rights Act. On school desegregation, he had to be prodded by the courts in some ways but went further than them in others: He supervised a desegregation of Deep South schools that had eluded his predecessors and then denied tax-exempt status to many private “desegregation academies” to which white Southerners tried to flee. Nixon also institutionalized affirmative action and set-asides for minorities in federal contracting.

Not surprisingly, white Southern leaders such as Strom Thurmond grew bitterly frustrated with Nixon. This explains what Gallup polls detected in 1971-72: A large number of white Southern voters preferred Wallace to Nixon. Only when the Alabaman was shot in May 1972 did Nixon inherit Wallace’s voters — not because of Nixon’s policies on race but despite them.

via Conservatism does not equal racism. So why do many liberals assume it does?.


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