Last weekend, Christian apologist William Lane Craig debated cosmologist Sean Carroll on the beginning of the universe and the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Though I was unable to watch all of the debate, I noted two objections Carroll raised, which I think are important for Christians to know how to respond to. This will involve a little physics, but it should be simple enough, so stay with me.
In arguing for the Kalam, Craig has often used the Borde Guth Vilenkin (or BVG) theorem to argue that the universe had a beginning. In response, Carroll pointed out that the BVG theorem only works within relativity but does not take quantum effects into account. Given a lack of a complete theory of quantum gravity, he argued that Craig can not claim that the universe began to exist.
Though this is partly true, it turns out we are not completely in the dark. One thing known for certain about quantum gravity is something called the holographic principle. Precisely put, the holographic principle tells us that the entropy of a region of space (measured in terms of information) is directly proportional to a quarter of its surface area. The volume of this region is then actually a hologram of this information on its surface.
Except this tells us something interesting about the universe as well. Entropy, or the amount of disorder present, always increases with time. In fact not only is this law inviolate, it is also how the flow of time is defined. Without entropy, there is no way to discern forwards and backwards in time.
But if the holographic principle links the universe’s entropy and its horizon area then going back in time, all of space-time eventually vanishes to nothing at zero entropy. Thus Carroll’s argument is unsound. We already have enough knowledge about what happens beyond the BVG theorem that Craig cites. The universe is not eternal but created.
It is interesting to note that this also undermines claims made by atheists like Hawking and Krauss that the universe could have fluctuated into existence from nothing. Their argument rests on the assumption that there was a pre-existent zero-point field or ZPF. The only trouble is that the physics of a ZPF requires a space-time to exist in. No space-time means no zero-point field, and without a zero-point field, the universe can not spontaneously fluctuate into existence.
The second point of Carroll’s that I wanted to address was his view that regardless of the physics discovered, the sort of supernatural explanation Craig gave could no longer be considered valid. Carroll, being a physicist, naturally believes that whatever the final answer is it will come in physical terms. Afterall it is not everyday that scientists speak of God or supernatural agents. Instead they expect explanations to come in material terms with equations.
But Carroll may be ruling something out too quickly. A holographic universe entails a world made of information. And information requires a mind to know it. But as I pointed out in my last blog this fits perfectly with the many scriptural references referring to the universe being created and upheld by God’s word. No dichotomy exists at all.
And in closing, it turns out, that though extra-Biblical, this exact same idea is elaborated upon in an esoteric tradition within Judaism. Interestingly, I stumbled across a clip a while back of the famous theoretical physicist Michio Kaku saying that parallels exist between this and superstring theory! If you are curious, I included this in the video below. If true, the same source of these parallels reveals the identity of the Programmer!
“With thirty-two mystical paths of wisdom, engraved Jah, Lord of Hosts…”