Theories of Creation
Lead: Sarah Lowe, Sung Hee Yun
Summary by Andrew Case:
The discussion was lead by students Sarah Lowe and Sung Hee Yun, and focused on the various theories of creation which present themselves in the study of cosmology. After reviewing various world cultures and the creation myths which have shaped their beliefs, the discussion turned to the different "isms" by which belief can be divided. The discussion would then turn to various topics involving modern beliefs and the nature of myths.
One of the prevalent theories of cosmology involves one an evolving God. Professor Brockelman suggests that in adopting an evolving God theory, we are allowed to view reality in a progressive state. The evolving God theory is one in which God becomes gradually more and more powerful, spreading throughout the cosmos until its manipulation of matter and energy is so refined that this intelligence is no longer distinguishable from nature itself. This theory bares the marks of human evolution theory, which became popular in the late 19th Century. An evolving God theory is a stark contrast to many other views, which hold God and reality itself to be static. Viewing God in terms of evolution also coincides with the progressive view of modern science. However, Prof. Moebius feels that the evolving theory of God holds that science and reality itself will someday consume all of nature, thus the theory does not hold up upon closer examination.
Myths and Questions
The discussion then turns to various questions raised in Paul Davies' The Mind of God. These topics ranged from who created the Creator, the emergence of the Big Bang as Something out of Nothing, and examples of the theory of an evolving God. Our discussion then wanders to questions and thoughts that participants have regarding the topics brought up. A few of these questions are:
How do we know the universe is of finite age?
Prof. Moebius reviews the redshift method and how it can be used to deduce the age of the universe. Furthermore, if the universe had an infinite age, then the night sky would be infinitely bright.
Is space all there is?
The universe is all there is, and space has a shape. How we conceive the shape of space and its curvature depends on how we define space and the geometry we apply to it. Thus the properties of space define space. It is difficult to quantify space because space is within our universe, which is all we have to observe. In other aspects of science, the observer has the ability to separate him/herself from the observation. This leads to an interesting paradox, namely the fact that all observations of the universe must be made from within the universe, which we are a part of. Because we can not "stick our heads out" of the universe, we must consider the fact that our perceptions may be limited.
Prof. Brockelman suggests that because we are limited, our perceptions and our definitions must be based on that which we can experience. This experience comes from our normal, daily lives, and this is the root of the various theories of creation, which appear around the world. One of the student leaders then demonstrates various Chinese characters and how the meaning of each part relates to a story of creation similar to the Bible. This demonstrates the unison of many of the myths of creation, which exist around the world. Yet Prof. Brockelman asserts that to refer to "myth" does not signify a lack of truth. Myths are what gives significance, meaning and value to the world which we experience. It is from myths which we a draw a basis of how we should live and shape what it means to be part of humanity.
Our discussion then turns to how we might effectively reconcile what we believe about scientific origins of the universe and the myths, which give that creation meaning. This, in essence, is what it is all about. And in our modern era in which religion is no longer considered the Absolute Truth, and science has revealed that it is limited in the meaning which it can provide our lives, we must now try to strike a personal balance between the two. The session ends with a broad discussion regarding how self-discovery and the nature of religion affects our world-view. Furthermore, when religion becomes a matter of doctrine, it tends to obscure the lines of truth, and we lose touch with the mystery of God. And without a notion of the mystery of God, we loose sight of the mystery, and the fascination of life.
March 20, 2000