Editor´s Note: This article is the first half of a two-part work written in collaboration by, Carlos Bussot, Mario Ariet and Helio J. Gonzalez. It is a well-articulated effort to present a coherent vision of reality which integrates the scientific and the theological discourses. Obviously, science is an independent discipline with its own methodology and ends and so is theology. This article does not pretend to blur the differences or to subordinate one to the other. Its object is to achieve a view that, in the concrete order of life, allows the reader to develop a personal spirituality illuminated, indeed enlightened, by what is best of both disciplines.
Fire, Complexity … and The Trinity.
By Carlos Bussot, Mario Ariet, and Helio J. Gonzalez.
Engineering Thermodynamics is an accurate phenomenological science that must contend with the arrow of time. We are engineers not mathematicians or physicists and and are herein presenting our perspective. We would like to quote Siegfried Wiedenhofer´s Belief in Creation and the Theory of Evolution: Distinction and Point of Intersection: “The objective truth value of experiential statements (whether scientific, religious, ethical, or aesthetic) is proved precisely in the dialogue between subjects who are determined by different horizons of experience or forms of reasoning.”
“Creation and Evolution,” © 2008 by Ignatius Press, ISBN 978-1-58617-234-3.
Part I. The Issue as Presented in the History of Science.
I. Introduction: Fire.
In late 1224, Francis of Assisi celebrated Brother Fire, … through whom the Lord lights the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
In 1824 a French engineer and fifteen years later a German physicist reflected upon the ‘robust strength’ of Brother Fire:
- “On the Motive Power of Fire and on the machines needed for the exploitation of such power.” Sadi Carnot, 1824.
- “On the Motive Power of Heat and on the Laws, which can be deduced from it for The Theory of Heat.” Rudolf Clausius, 1839.
More than six hundred years later Clausius laid the foundation for the second Law of Thermodynamics that stated:
W/Q = 1 – (Tcold/Thot)
In the above equation Q represents the heat about to flow spontaneously from a high temperature, Thot, towards a low temperature, Tcold and W represents the power available. Power to build, to organize to promote complexity.
Notice that W would be less than the heat in the fire...
… except for the Primordial Fire where W/Q = 1, when Thot ≈ ∞ and Tcold ≈ 0
At the beginning there was fire beautiful and playful and robust and strong. Wherefrom sprung mass and energy and the pantheon of Mathematical Physics.
Saint Francis metaphor and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics resonate with Gamow’s view that at the beginning there was a primordial hot radiation of such ‘quality’ that from it sprung mass and energy. Indeed, the higher the temperature the more options for the use of energy and the faster all chemical transformations proceed.
II. Eternal and The Standard Models of Cosmology and the ‘Big Bang’ … our Quest begins.
Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity Theory, GTR, published in 1915, is a mathematical formulation of momentum that would be valid everywhere and at any time in the Universe. This means that given a ‘local’ mass distribution or gravity field, the solution of the GTR resulting equations would yield the trajectory of an object moving free of any external agent; that is, along a geodesic, an inertial trajectory.
2George Gamow (1904-1968), was best known for his work on quantum physics. He also provided the physical interpretation of the Big Bang and predicted its corroboration via the cosmic microwave background, discovered by Wilson and Penzias in 1964.
3“Stephen Hawking vs. la Humildad de Dios” and “Teilhard de Chardin: una visión cristiana para el hombre de hoy” by coauthor Helio J. Gonzalez provide a converging road to our Quest.
4A condition imposed on a transformation of spacetime coordinates called symmetry.
A total eclipse provides the conditions for testing the predictions of GTR. The theory predicts that the light from a distant star should be deflected as it passes near the sun on its way to us. The comparison between photographs taken during and before or after the eclipse would reveal the angle of deflection. Such observations were attempted early after Einstein’s publication. On May 29, 1919, Stanley Eddington finally succeeded in conducting such an ‘experiment’. The results strongly corroborated Einstein’s predictions and were accepted and published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 1920. The success of the Eddington experiment gave some credibility to Einstein’s belief on a temporally infinite (eternal), but spatially finite universe. It must be noted that Einstein had introduced a fudge factor called the ‘cosmological constant’ to counteract the effect of gravity that otherwise would collapse his spatially finite universe. This was questioned later on by several mathematicians, the first among them was Georges Henri Joseph Edouard Lemaitre S.J.
In Einstein´s initial view, the size and appearance of the universe would be the same in the distant past as it is in the present, or as it would be in the distant future. In other words, it didn’t have a beginning and would never have an end. Thus, the so-called Steady State Universe hypothesis became the established Theory of Cosmology. That the universe was Eternal … was the extrapolation made.
In the late 1920’s Lemaitre wrote to Einstein about his Steady State. hypothesis and its concomitant cosmological constant. He contended that by lifting this constraint of Einstein’s formulation, it could be shown that the Universe may indeed have had a beginning, a sort of day without a yesterday. Einstein is said to have answered, ‘Father your mathematics are excellent but your physical insight is abominable’.
Just about the same time Edwin Hubble, an American astrophysicist discovered evidence that the Universe was expanding. In the face of this Einstein changed his mind. He accepted that his assumption about the ‘cosmological constant’ was his worst blunder ever. Later on, in attendance to a seminar delivered by Lemaitre, Einstein is said to have stood up applauding and saying something about ‘this being the most rational explanation of creation ever’.
5A good story to read, ‘Eddington Experiment’ in Wikipedia.
6See Georges Lemaitre, Wikipedia.
7… it was eternal. Imagine the extrapolation by philosophers, religious fundamentalist and politicians … materialism ‘became’ a scientific fact. Not helping was the amalgamation of materialism and evolutionism leading into amoral ethics, e.g., National Socialism.
In the 1940’s George Gamow used Lemaitre’s mathematics and extended it into physics with the assumption that the early cosmos was dominated by radiation. Gamow provided the basis to explain the subsequent evolution toward complexity. The name Big Bang was given to Gamow’s hypothesis by Fred Hoyle in 1949, somewhat in jest, thus the Hot Big Bang.
You may think that after Hubble’s discovery and Einstein’s acknowledgement the Steady State hypothesis would be dead. However, the scholarly dispute between Gamow and the proponents of the Steady State hypothesis led by Hoyle ‘heated’ up. Hoyle died in 2001 still holding to his view that the Universe was eternal.
The Steady State suffered a ‘knockout’ in 1964 with the discovery of the cosmic microwave background by Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias. The headline on the New York Times in May of 1965 “Signals Imply a ‘Big Bang’ Universe” cemented the term Big Bang. However, the supporters of materialism, among them Stephen Hawking, did not give up until much later. After all, their god was not eternal.
By the end of the 20th century, the Hot Big Bang hypothesis had become the Standard Model of cosmology. The ‘temporal physical reality’ had a beginning. Eternal, ceased to mean without beginning or end.
The scientific conclusion that matter is not eternal eliminated a god-like icon of 20th century atheism.
We follow a road in our quest to reach a convergence of Physical Science and our Faith, the a-temporal ‘singularity’ revealed by General Relativity points to a beginning. The Standard Model of particle physics demonstrates a spontaneous path toward complexity. We continue with the confidence that everything shall converge under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
PART 2. Evolution Toward Complexity, i.e., Cohesive Structures.
After the Singularity a primordial fire emerged. With fire (Q,Thot) came power; and according to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, almost pure ‘godly’ power. From here we start.
8We prefer ‘primordial fireball’ used by Dicke et. al., authors of the paper in 1965 interpreting the background radiation discovered by Wilson and Penzias. Let’s insist there was no noise, no explosion, no bang.
9Primordial energy was an unstable form of energy, whose nature is not yet known. According to the "inflationary universe" theory primordial energy is what powered the "day without a yesterday". https://www.google.com/search?q=primordial%20energy.
The Inflationary hypothesis is the ‘best’ explanation to transition from a very hot vacuum to the universe governed by the same Physical Laws of today. https://amp.space.com/42261-how-did-inflation-happen-anyway.html.
Within 1/100000000000000000000000000000000000th of a second, the gods of the Universe were in action. Fire became radiation, energy and matter; soon after, there were quarks and leptons; hydrogen and helium atoms formed and radiation was freed to travel, and there was light, a mere 300,000 years later. Stars and galaxies followed soon (within a couple of million years).
The march of complexity had started under the rules (the symmetry laws and corresponding conserved entities) of the Standard Model. Quarks and leptons were enabled by the weak forces and structured into positively charged protons and neutrons by the strong nuclear forces overwhelming the repulsion of the positively charged protons. Electrons and nuclei were brought close by electromagnetic forces and the more complex atoms formed. Physical Chemistry followed with the electromagnetic forces joining the strong forces to eventually fill the Periodic Table of Elements.
The evolution toward complexity was not linear. On the contrary, there is evidence that while hydrogen was present within minutes of the hot big bang many elements formed after stars had been shinning for millions of years. Some substances like water and methane, precursors of life, are known to exist elsewhere in the Universe. Life and reason have evolved in our planet but perhaps nowhere else. About thirteen thousand and seven hundred million years later, here we are, Homo sapiens.
Time is the number of ticks between two significant events. However, history, biblical or otherwise, is the significant events within the two arbitrary ticks of a clock, an irreversible time.
Ours is a history of evolving complexity enabled by the gods of nature and an a-temporal reality.
PART 3. The Gods of Nature.
Boson and god are used interchangeably to mean the natural agent enabling the specific force or interaction; where natural is synonymous with spontaneous, meaning happening without the intervention of an outside agent.
There are six gods in the Pantheon of the natural sciences. They are tiny gods, however, powerful. They enable the four forces of Physical reality: the ‘weak’, the ‘strong or nuclear’, the ‘electromagnetic’ force and ‘gravity’. Of the six gods, it takes three to deal with the ‘weak’ interactions behind the evolution of the elementary particles: Z Boson, W Boson, and Higgs Boson. The ‘strong/nuclear’ interactions are managed by the Gluon. The Photon enables electromagnetism and the Graviton, yet to be found, is postulated to foster gravity.
10 “When was the first light in the universe?” You may read on ‘phys.org’ and get an idea how long in physical time does each day in Genesis last. https://phys.org/news/2016-11-universe.amp.
The agencies of the Z, W and Higgs bosons brought forth all elementary particles, quarks and leptons. The Higgs boson makes possible the transformation of energy into mass, enabling light quarks and leptons to become more stable heavier ones. Unfortunately, it became notoriously known as the god particle; not because of a higher rank in the Pantheon of Science but because it was ‘god-darn difficult’ to prove it existed. As it stands, all matter can be traced to the primordial fire and the agency of the gods of nature.
I. The gods of the gaps. Hyperinflation, life and reason.
Do we have an explanation for most of the temporal physical reality? Yes. Do we still have gaps where the rigors of the scientific paradigm have not and may never allow an answer? Yes; however, science is about facing those gaps and attempting hypotheses that could be proven false.
In the path toward our complex universe, the very first gap is the ‘jump’ to an enormous universe; thus ‘hyperinflation’, a metaphysical hypothesis with a new agent, the inflaton, which via a magnetic particle with a single pole provided the impetus for the ‘puff’. Trillions of trillions of monopoles never to be detected. Cosmologists will keep looking; until then, the inflaton will have to wait to be enshrined as another natural god. Meanwhile it is just a ‘gap’ god.
The evolution of life and the presence of Homo Sapient present some gaps in the scientific theory of evolution. As with any other gap, science will keep trying. However, in these cases it is theologians who have proposed a direct intervention of the Creator, thus earning the characterization of gap-god.
Part 4. A-temporal Reality becomes Eternal Presence.
The mathematical description of the behavior of the elementary particles in the Standard Model is based on Quantum Mechanics. It began with uncertainty. And to this day it challenges not only physicists but physics itself. The phenomenon called ‘entanglement’ by Schrödinger and ‘spooky action at a distance’ by Einstein implies simply that. Two particles who once shook hands will keep in contact when traveling in different directions; such that if one were to wash its hand so would the other at the same instant. The following quote brings forth its relevance today.
“Austrian quantum theorist Erwin Schrödinger first used the term entanglement, in 1935, to describe the mind-bending phenomenon in which the actions of two distant particles are bound up with each other. Entanglement was the kind of thing that could keep Schrödinger awake at night; like his friend Albert Einstein, he thought it cast doubt on quantum mechanics as a viable description of the world. How could it be real?
11This is a fundamental paradigm, if it cannot be proven false it is not Science, it may be metaphysics.
And yet, evidence keeps accumulating that entanglement exists. Two years ago, MIT Professor David Kaiser and an international team used lasers, single-photon detectors, atomic clocks, and huge telescopes collecting light that had been released by distant quasars 8 billion years ago to further refine tests of quantum entanglement. The researchers thus effectively ruled out a potential objection, that the appearance of entanglement might derive from some correlation between the selection of measurements to perform and the behavior of the particles being tested.”
When the Hot Big Bang hypothesis became The Standard Model of Cosmology, science acknowledged that ‘temporal physical reality’ was not eternal. Furthermore, it seems that those describing the life of the Lilliputians have found that they can be in two different places at the same time, sort of.
Is there another boson enabling entanglement? Omnipresence? Is it the same one?
At this point we are beyond science; any answer would be metaphysical. We are free to speculate. (Wait, before religion is mentioned let’s have fun.)
II. Reasonable Speculation.
The following are somewhat rational positions one could support:
- “Nothing, nada. No more gods.” Certainly, that is an answer, but it also stops the party.
- “Hyperinflation.” With the inflaton and the monopoles, and ignore entanglement for now. Hyperinflation is believable metaphysics and the entanglement may not need a new mini-god.
- “A BOSON”. A timeless reality, and everywhere-present agent, an enabler of universes. We like this one, let’s speculate further.
It is reasonable to suggest that our universe ‘had’ an agent. An agent which enabled time and space, at least once in our time and everywhere ever since.
An agent without ‘before’ and/or ‘after’ or any attribute of a nonexistent ‘time’; which enables time and space, as it did in the beginning and may explain entanglement.
We are not yet into religion territory. We are not endowing the BOSON with any personal interest in us, or vice versa. Even atheists may accept an ever-present agent as undetectable as the inflaton’.
We would like to end with a first step on eternal presence and religion with a quote from a lecture by Joseph Ratzinger to the Christian Academy in Prague, on March 39, 1992:
“Eternal life is not an endless sequence of moments …. Eternal life is a new quality of existence in which everything flows together into the now of love…”
God is LOVE and the purpose of mankind is to share in that love. LOVE provides the WHY of the Universe.
(We are preparing a follow up article that will present how the themes discussed here relate to the works of Teilhard de Chardin S.J.)
Carlos Bussot, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Founder of the Chemical Engineering Department, University of South Florida. Nationally accredited 1973. Chair of Chemical and Mechanical Engineering Department. 1970-1982.
Mario Ariet, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, University of Florida School of Medicine Cardiology Department. Specialized in Computer Technology at the service of Electrocardiographic Analysis Technology.
Helio Gonzalez.* M.S.
CSC Miami Teleport Manager, Corporate Satellite Communications of Florida.
Telecommunication Engineer. Principal Engineer, Advisor in Satellite Communications at Emtelcuba Enterprise, and ETECSA (Cuban Telecommunication Company).
Advisor in Earth Station Antennas at EIC (Cuban Industrial Enterprise).
Instructor Graduate Courses in Satellite Communications and other topics for the engineers of ETECSA. University of Havana, Cuba.