Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: 'Is the universe friendly?'’

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Published: Thursday, Jan. 9 2014 5:00 a.m. MST

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Great column, Dr. Peterson.

I've always scratched my head over this aspect of many scientists (and believers in scientism) today: as we learn, we begin with the Laws of Thermodynamics, but eventually reach a point of sophistication that requires us to abandon them. Does this make any sense at all? (Of course one does not abandon the Laws of Thermodynamics willy-nilly; one must come up with some sufficiently convoluted explanation as to why it only _appears_ that the Laws of Thermodynamics are being violated.)

But, to be blunt, they HAVE been abandoned. Any fool knows that a smart phone is created by intelligent action. Any fool ought to know that galaxies, solar systems, planets, and life itself can only be the result of intelligent action, as they are many orders of magnitude more complex and beautiful than any smart phone could ever hope to be. Go figure.

Thid Barker
Victor, ID

“This is an exceedingly strange development,” wrote the late NASA astronomer Robert Jastrow, “unexpected by all but the theologians. They have always accepted the word of the Bible: In the beginning God created heaven and earth ... (But) for the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; (and) as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
Another excellent article Dr. Peterson. Thank you!

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

With the dearth of information on what all is out there, the 'friendliness' of the universe will for now have to remain as relative as Einstein labeled time and space. We've only scratched the surface in human knowledge of that from which we sprang, guided or unattended.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

“As we look out into the universe and identify the many accidents of physics and astronomy that have worked together to our benefit, it almost seems as if the universe must in some sense have known that we were coming.”
-Freeman Dyson

That sounds almost like a prayer.

I trust that God will indulge us in a hubris or two down here in what might be an obscure out of the way outpost of creation. The Creator must have billions of magnificent projects going on across the vast reaches of the cosmos. How consequential we are in the big picture is a question of proportions for us sleepy passengers on this tiny little ball we call home.

Church member
North Salt Lake, UT

To Pops:

You say "any fool knows that the iphone was created by intelligent action. So any fool knows that our planet is made by intelligent action".

So if all "complicated" things are made by intelligent action, then who created God"? Who created the first God? Did he evolve to be God or was he created by someone?

Please don't say that he has always existed. Because that is more unlikely than evolution explaining everything.

Aunt Sue

It is nice (comforting, strengthening, wonderful, amazing) to know that we are His work and glory.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

I believe the Universe is friendly in the same way a fish would think the ocean is friendly – i.e., the ocean is not adapted to the fish but the fish to the ocean.

Weber State Graduate
Clearfield, UT

"I'm not surprised, therefore, that essentially the same story is repeated, beyond Genesis, in the books of Moses and Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price..."

Precisely what essentially "same story" can one find, aside from in the LDS Book of Abraham, that our Sun is a planet and "borrows its light from Kolob" and also receives its power from two other stars, which in turn receive their light from Kolob?

I'm curious as to where that can be found? Of course, modern science agrees that our Sun gets its light and power from an internal process called thermonuclear fusion, not from an outside source such as from another star.

Westland, MI

There is a very logical theory that has much credibility among many Christian scientists that God created the heaven and the earth 12.7 +/- 0.5 billion years ago per Genesis 1:1-2 and Isaiah 45;18, but completely "renewed the face of the earth" slightly over 6000 years ago per Psalm 104:30, the vast intervening period allowing for the rebellion in heaven and the dinosaur periods.

Westland, MI

Forgot to add a very important data point: The Universe was created 12.7 +/- 0.5 billion years ago, while the earth was created 4.4-4.5 billion years ago.

Brother Dave
Livermore, CA

I like this story, Especially the Last Paragraph!!

Thank You Daniel Peterson for your weekly thoughts!!!

S. Jordan, UT

I think the Lord has summed it up nicely when he said:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord."

I think the eternities will offer us many opportunities to evolve our understandings.

My favorite part of this article is the line:

"I’m confident that our understanding of both scripture and science will need to have improved a very great deal before we can say fully and precisely how they relate to each other."


Mighty Mouse
Salt Lake City, Utah

If you want to read an interesting analysis of religion and science written by a devote Mormon who has quietly worked behind the scenes as one of the leading nuclear physicists of our time you can look on Amazon for the book Religion and Science in the Last Days.

layton, UT

RE: We are here by a deliberate plan. Why?

The Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Sanctification is making us into people who glorify God and imitate Him in all things.

How we might glorify God. Genesis, 1:26–27,all human beings are made in God’s image. This may be hard to conceptualize, for God does not have a physical body like we do, and He also lacks our limitations as created beings.

Nevertheless, like our Creator, we are rational beings who are able to communicate in words. We possess minds, wills, and hearts, all of which are analogous to God’s own inner life,unlike Him our knowledge is finite and we are not laws unto ourselves.

We bring the Lord the most glory when we reflect His character. His goodness, love and holiness. Our ability to do this is hampered by sin, but our Savior, by His Spirit, restores our ability to reflect God’s image truly over the course of our lives (2 Cor. 3:18).

Christians will reflect the divine image to the fullest extent, glorifying Him forever in the new heaven and earth (Rev. 21).

The Skeptical Chymist

The laws of thermodynamics have never been violated in any verified experiment. They are still obeyed even when an intelligence is involved. The production of your smart phone did not violate the laws of thermodynamics. Likewise, no laws of thermodynamics are violated if sunlight shining on a primordial soup causes some chemicals to reproduce themselves, and eventually something is formed that we call life.

The idea that life developing from a primordial soup violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics is an error in the understanding of thermodynamics that is propagated by creationists. No such violation is required.

Richland, WA

Tyler, you don't understand what the Strong Anthropic Principle means. The characteristics of the universe are determined by both a combination of certain laws with certain initial conditions, involving things like mass, electric charge, and the strength of various forces. It turns out that the laws of physics do NOT dictate the numbers, and scientists have no idea what determines the numbers. BUT they have figured out that if any of those dozen or so numbers was different by a small amount (in some cases 10%, in others by less than 1%), then the universe would be so different that LIFE could not exist. Somehow, all the important numbers, which appear to be arbitrary as far asphysics is concerned, have been set at precise values that are all essential to LIFE coming into existence and being sustained long enough for mankind to have evolved. The chance of all these numbers having the right values by accident is incredibly small. When a forensic scientist finds facts that are highly unlikely to occur by chance, he suspects that the facts were created intentionally. That kind of deduction is the essence of the investigative science we see in the CSI TV shows.

Titusville, fl

The ancients told stories to communicate truths, not history. For me, the creation story in Genesis is not history.

Also, according to the latest science, an infinite number of universes are being created and destroyed all the time. Some of these universes have the right physics laws that life like we have is possible; laws which are fine tuned enough to permit us to exist. I don't know how God is involved in this, but I believe He is.

The more we learn, the more we learn the less we know. We have gone from a geocentric universe to heliocentric, then to a universe composed of a galaxy to one of many galaxies, and now we are to the point of we exist in a universe within an infinite number of universes and most of this change came within the last 100 years. What will we know in another 100 years.

Again, I don't know how God made us, but I'm sure glad He did.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

The Universe isn't friendly to life. Investigate the fate of the Earth. Life will die out.
Of course if you believe the myth that the Earth will become smooth as glass like the U & T then there is no discussion.

Orem, UT

Ernest T. Bass:

I expect that Drs. Jastrow, Dyson, and Hoyle were aware that things in the universe die. That wasn't their point. And that wasn't what Professor Haeckel's question was about.


@Church Member: you didn't have to make the leap to God as the intelligent force of creation. Richard Dawkins is apparently more comfortable with "extraterrestrials" as the answer. I'm not going to pretend to know the answers to your questions, because I don't.

@Skeptical Chymist - thanks for trying to provide one of the "sophisticated" explanations I mentioned in my comment, although all you did was make an assertion backed by argumentum ad hominem. I suppose what you meant to say was that in the long run the Second Law wins. The problem with that explanation is that by observation the Second Law also wins in the short run - the very short run. Maybe you assume the sunlight in the soup and theoretical result of intelligent life is the evidence supporting your position, but then that would make your argument rather circular.

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