Catholic Priest Causes Revolution in Physics


Article #310

by Bill Nugent


It was the Autumn of 1926 in a pub near Cambridge University in southern England. Two students sat at a table late in the evening. As the astronomy major sipped his grog he said to the theology student “If you could prove to me scientifically, that the universe had a beginning, I’d go to church with you every Sunday and I dare say the entire scientific community would gladly embrace faith in God as Creator!”


Our young astronomy major didn’t have to wait long for scientific proof of the fact that the universe had a beginning. The following year, 1927, was the year a brilliant Belgian scientist published a paper detailing how he calculated, from Einstein’s theory of general relativity, that the universe is expanding. From this fact it is inferred that the universe expanded from something. It had to have a starting point from which it expanded.


Up until 1927 the universe was thought to be eternal in time and stable in size. The cosmology of the time was of a “static” or “static infinite” universe that was neither expanding nor contracting. Albert Einstein published a paper in 1917 detailing his support for the static universe. Einstein would later call it his biggest blunder.


Along came a man who flipped the table over. This brilliant scientific mind, Georges Lemaitre (1894-1966) was an unlikely hero. He was a Roman Catholic priest in an age of advancing secularism. He was an accomplished astronomer, algebraicist, astrophysicist and professor of physics at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. His seminal paper was published in 1927, two years before that of Edwin Hubble. Lemaitre calculated Hubble’s Law and Hubble’s constant two years before Hubble. Hubble got credit for the breakthrough because Hubble’s work, published in English, was wider known.


Lemaitre went on to publish an early version of a “Big Bang” theory, called the “Primeval Atom Hypothesis” in 1931. George Gamow refined it and published his own famous big bang theory in 1947. The essence of the big bang theory is that all matter and energy in our present universe was, in the distant past, concentrated into a small space and then exploded and expanded and formed stars, planets and galaxies. (Wikipedia)


Lemaitre’s breakthrough discredited the old static universe theory and made the way for the newer, big bang theories. More importantly, Lemaitre’s proof of an expanding universe forced cosmologists to acknowledge that the universe had a beginning. By the early 1950s Pope Pius XII publicly claimed that Lemaitre’s theories provided scientific support for Catholicism. Ironically, atheists also seized upon big bang theories to promote materialist explanations for existence.


However, despite the fact that the big bang lends support to the claim that the universe had a beginning, it doesn’t answer ultimate questions regarding existence. The big bang certainly fails to describe a materialist, atheistic beginning of the universe. The big bang doesn’t explain how the matter that existed before the big bang came into existence. Big bang theory claims that energy and matter were concentrated and exploded. Where did all that material come from? The big bang and all secular, materialist cosmologies collide with the first two laws of thermodynamics when they attempt to explain a matrerialistic origin of energy and matter.


Let me briefly explain the laws of thermodynamics. The physicist and inventor, William Thomson, First Baron Kelvin (Lord Kelvin) (1824-1907) articulated the laws of thermodynamics succinctly. The laws of thermodynamics are well established in science as acknowledged by Einstein and all physicists. They govern physics, chemistry, biology and all science. They are laws, not hypotheses or theories.


The first law of thermodynamics is the law of conservation of energy.


1) In any isolated system, energy is neither created nor destroyed but is merely transformed from one energy state to another.


The second law is the law of entropy (entropy is a measure of the unavailability of heat in a system to be converted into mechanical work).


2) In any isolated system, entropy steadily increases until all energy is evenly spread out in the system and no energy is available for work.


The third law is an explanation of heat death.


3) In any isolated system, entropy approaches its extreme value as temperature approaches but does not reach absolute zero.


The second law, the law of entropy, is devastating to the old “static” universe theory. If the universe was static, eternal, i.e. infinite in age, all of the energy would have evenly spread out in the universe in such a way as to be unavailable for work. The universe would have become full of dead things like black holes and black dwarfs. An “eternal” universe would have died a heat death trillions of years ago! No life would be possible.


The first law of thermodynamics is devastating to those cosmologists who attempt to use the big bang theory to explain the ultimate origin of the universe. This is because the first law states that energy is neither created nor destroyed in any isolated system. Remember, in the big bang theory, scientists say that all energy and matter were concentrated in one little spot. We know from Einstein that matter and energy are different forms of the same thing. Matter can be seen as concentrated energy as explained in Einstein’s E = mc2. Energy is released from matter during nuclear fission but even then, energy is not created, just released from one form to another.


Therefore, the big bang doesn’t really explain the actual origin of energy and matter, just the transformation of energy and matter during an explosion. There are many other scientific problems with big bang I won’t go into now.


This brings us to the biggest problem in cosmology: How do you explain, in materialistic terms, the origin of energy and matter? Answer: you can’t explain the origin materialistically because of the first law of thermodynamics. The origin of matter and energy had to come about nonmaterialistically. That’s what it all boils down to: the first and second laws of thermodynamics cry out for the necessity of a Creator God!


So why isn’t the scientific community, at least the cosmologists, beating a path to the church door? Truth is, many in the scientific community have become believers in the Creator God. Sadly, many other cosmologists have concocted strange, unscientific, philosophical theories of the origin of matter and energy.


Some promote the scientifically unfounded philosophical notion that matter and energy could create itself from nothing. This flies in the face of the first law of thermodynamics. If you abandon the laws of thermodynamics, you have abandoned science itself. You have become a speculative philosopher engaged in the art of storytelling even if you use scientific jargon to make your point.


The claim that matter could create itself from nothing is called “spontaneous generation.” It not only violates the first law of thermodynamics but also violates the laws of logic because for something to create anything it first has to exist. If we go back to a time when matter did not exist, matter could not create matter. Matter would have to exist and not exist at the same time if it were to spontaneously generate itself. This is illogical in the extreme!


Prominent theologian R.C. Sproul has said that “according to the laws of logic, if anything exists now, something has always existed.” That something which always existed could not be matter or energy because of the first and second laws of thermodynamics. There is no physical explanation for the origin of matter, so there must be a metaphysical explanation. Metaphysics means “other than physics.”


The One who resides outside the realm of physics is God. God resides in the realm of spirit. The scientific evidence that points to the fact that the universe had a beginning is evidence that cries out for the creator.


The universe is immensely complex. If God is creator of the universe, He must be intelligent enough to design and build such a beautiful and interdependant universe. If God is intelligent, He must be a person. Only a person can be intelligent. Therefore, God is not a Star Wars “force.” If God is creator, He must know all about His creation. Therefore, He is omniscient. If God is creator, He must have all power over creation. Therefore, He is omnipotent. If God is creator, He must own His creation and therefore He has the right to declare what is right and wrong in His creation. God is, therefore, the supreme lawgiver. God is the giver of moral absolutes. God is also the forgiver of those who break His laws. God is the redeemer of people through Christ who died for our sins.


Back at the pub near Cambridge in 1926, the students get up and get ready to walk back to the dorm. The theology student says to the budding astronomer: “Jesus Christ came in fulfillment of over 300 prophecies, which were written in the Old Testament centuries before He was born. The prophecies predicted Christ would suffer and die and take the punishment of our sins upon Himself. Therefore, there is forgiveness of sins for those who repent and turn to God through Christ. Turn to Christ today to receive forgiveness of sins!” The astronomer got down on his knees right there and received Christ as Savior!


(Some material contained in this article is from the article: Physics’ Unsolved Energy Crisis by Dr. Danny Faulkner, Answers magazine, May-June 2017 vol. 12 no. 3, pp. 38-39.)

Steps to salvation:

Jesus said “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).

  • 1) Believe that God created you and loves you and sent the Messiah (Messiah is Hebrew for Christ) to redeem you.
  • 2) Believe that Jesus Christ came in fulfillment of over 300 Bible prophecies to die for you, to take upon Himself the penalty of your sins (Isaiah 53:5-6, John 6:29, Romans 4:5, First Peter 3:18).
  • 3) Turn from sin and call on the name of Jesus to receive forgiveness of sins (Romans 10:13).
  • 4) Receive Jesus as Savior and experience the new birth (John 1:12, Acts 2:38).
  • 5) Follow Jesus Christ as Lord (John 14:21).

Prayer to receive salvation:

“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for us at the terrible cost of His suffering and death on our behalf I invite you to pray this simple prayer:

“Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

If you prayed this prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!

(C) 2016 William P. Nugent, permission granted to email or republish for Christian outreach.

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