I regularly listed to a radio program called “Renewing Your Mind” from Legonier Ministries. Most commonly, a gentleman named R. C. Sproul speaks. He is referred to as ‘Doctor’, a Doctor of Philosophy – not Medical. He is a Reformed theologian, a Calvinist. He is remarkable erudite, well read, well spoken and deliberate in his thought and belief. I really like the guy as a theologian and Christian. He seldom refers to himself as ‘Doctor’, even in the authorship of a number of books. I think I would like him as a conversationalist or coffee drinking friend.
Which is why what I heard today is so depressing and disgusting. Today being Tuesday, 16th December 2014.
For background, the lecture today was not a diatribe on the evils of science. Dr. Sproul was discussing the nature of God in the Lord’s revelation of His Name to Moses in Exodus. The exceptional comments were made tangential to that subject. In the course of his lecture – his talks take on more of ‘information transfer mode’ than the ’emotional, swaying’ feeling of a ‘sermon’ – Dr. Spoul was recounting a conversation he had with the late Dr. Carl Sagan. I recount Dr. Sproul’s recantation here, in my own words from memory. I hereby submit the meanings of statements are not changed from what I heard on the program.
Dr. Sagan: We [scientists in the field of astronomy] can trace the Universe back to the first ‘instant’ of existence.
Dr. Sproul: Why did you stop there?
Dr. Sagan: Because we don’t see any need to go further.
Doctor Sproul’s reported statement of Dr. Sagan in response is an outright lie.
Here’s how I make such a sweeping statement with confidence. I will warn the reader a knowledge of the Lemaitre Theory of the origin and expansion of the Universe (derogatorily nick-named the “Big Bang” by detractors who finally had to withdraw their objections due to evidence) is needed – I am not going to write an entire book here to explain all the terms and concepts required.
The first quantity of time is what is known as a ‘Planck Time’ unit. It is the smallest amount of time possible to measure. By theoretical standards, it is the smallest amount of time possible to measure. Just for fun, a Planck Time is 10 to the negative 43 seconds in length. Written out, that is 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 seconds. The length of time to hold a red-hot horse shoe is much longer.
The first of these units following the initial expansion of the ‘singularity’ is the ‘unknown’ period. What exactly happened in that period of time is unknown; not because scientists are not interested or curious about it; not because they see no need to go further; but because science cannot determine the ways the laws of nature work during that period. And all the astronomers, physicists, cosmologists, and all the King’s Horses and all the King’s men know it and admit it, publicly.
Specifically, Dr. Sagan knew it. I’ve know about it for some twenty years, based on my reading on the subject. My reading of various astronomers, physicists and cosmologists tell me this as ‘old news’. This information was ‘old news’ twenty years ago. That Dr. Sagan was unaware of the problem and concluded ‘no one cares to find out’ or ‘we don’t see any need’ is simply absurd. The statement uttered by Dr. Sproul is both false and indefensible.
Another rather sweeping falsehood Dr. Sproul advanced – and this may just be ignorance – was a comment on the ‘singularity’, the Universe prior to being the Universe. Dr. Sproul reported cosmologists claim the singularity existed for ‘eternity’ prior to expanding. This is not just incorrect, it is false. Again, I explain:
‘Time’ is a function of our Universe as it currently operates. ‘Time’ is coexistent with ‘space’; the ‘Space-time’ of Albert Einstein and Relativity. (Over simplified, time cannot exist without space and space cannot exist without time.) Time is functionally associated with ‘change’, perhaps entropy at the bottom of things. Without something to change, ‘time’ is meaningless as a concept.
In the singularity, nothing moves or changes. (That is part of why it is called a ‘singularity’; it is most ‘singular’ in nature.) Without movement or change, there is no time. So, the singularity could have been in place for ‘gazillions’ (a technical term meaning a whole lot) of years or for a Planck Time – prior to beginning to expand. No astronomer or cosmologist would assert the singularity being in place for eternity. Eternity in this specific case is far too hard to define.
As I mentioned when I began this essay, I am a fan of Dr. Sproul. His knowledge and ability to explain Biblical concepts is amazing. I’ve listened to him for years and never had occasion for more than a quibble. Nor do I remember the substance of any of those quibbles. Further, he goes out of his way to be fair to any who disagree. He admits there are those who disagree, and he is generous to them in disagreement. He has explained – on occasion – the theories of those who disagree. He is not dismissive to any who have a rational explanation for disagreement.
So I am truly concerned and puzzled about his statements today.
Prior to writing this essay, I did attempt to contact Legonier Ministries by email and pointed out my concerns. According to their website, they may or may not even notice the message in the vast quantity they receive constantly. No answer is guaranteed. Nor does Dr. Sproul read the email as a matter of course. I would be happy to hear from them. When they respond I shall update this posting.
Update as of Wednesday, 17 December 2014. No return message in any form.
I listened to the Legonier/R. C. Sproul broadcast today. It was a continuation of yesterday’s broadcast.
Dr. Sproul today made it clearer, but without going ‘whole-hog’, he takes the traditional (not orthodox, but traditional) view of Creation; aka the Young Earth Creationist (YEC) doctrine as normative. In order to do this, one must ignore the nature of God and also believe – or at least accept without discussion – that God is too stupid to fully think out the Universe, AND is too lazy to spend much time in the process of Creation.
It does, however, play well to those who cling to a ‘conform to tradition’ based view of Christianity.
I do not condemn anyone for such a view, other than it does not glorify God in any fashion. What I do condemn is the denigration of God required for such a view and the assumption one can lie without qualm about others as a result.