Turning a Page

Dr. Don Page is a renowned physicist who has contributed much to, among other things, the understanding of black hole physics. He has made significant contributions to the theory underlying black hole physics, so much so as to have an aspect of the theory named after him, the Page Time. This is the time it would take for a black hole to evaporate (i.e. it’s half life)  from  Hawking radiation.

He is also unique in proclaiming his faith, especially given that many others in the physics community, e.g. Stephen Hawking, proclaim their atheism.

I first encountered this information in a paper: Cosmological Ontology and Epistemology, (arXiv.org: 1412.7544v.1). In this paper Page provides a discussion based on probabilities for an “Optimal Argument for the Existence of God.”

In his introduction , p. 2, he states, “I am a Christian…”. He believes in a “personalized God who exists outside it (the universe) but who relates to it as His creation.” In that 2nd paragraph he seems to imply that possibly the fact of life and consciousness may need the concept of creation by…God. However for the most part of the paper he focuses on “our universe as a separate entity.”

I was intrigued enough by this paper to write Dr. Page and to save some of the references in his paper. I plan to review these and comment more on Dr. Page’s ideas and those of the references.

In the meantime, I  will pass on the letter I wrote to him, to which he replied very quickly. Included in his reply was reference to another blog ,

http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2015/03/20/guest-post-don-page-on-god-and-cosmology.   

What impressed me on reading some of the content of that blog was the vehemence of the attacks  that some of the respondents showed to his beliefs. It was this almost livid opposition to an academic and physicist proclaiming belief in God that gave me the idea that this theme needed to be proclaimed more often. In my letter of May14, 2015 I said:

Dear Dr. Page,

I recently read (Cosmological Ontology and Epistemology,( arXiv.org: 1412.7544v.1)   I was very encouraged (delighted really) to see you proclaim “I am a Christian”…

I suspect from what I have read from other physicists that this is a lonely position in your academic world , but one that needs proclaiming from those who do believe.

You also stated that you believe in a “personal God who exists outside (the universe) but who relates to it as his creation”.

It seems to me that from reading on the life and words of Jesus there is room to assert that God lives in the world as well – not only in the person of Jesus, but through us.

I feel that just as our knowledge of ourselves and our universe is constantly evolving, our knowledge of God is also evolving and changing. More precisely perhaps, the way we think and speak of God ( and all that goes with that, such as the nature of our own existence ) and the paradigms within which we deal with the belief in God are changing as well.

For example, there is evidence from the New Testament that Jesus himself evolves and changes in his own thinking – consider the encounter with the Canaanite woman (Matthew, 15. 21-28) where he begins by referring to her and her people as dogs and ends up being amazed at her faith. He is taught by her, really.

Likewise in his interaction with the Roman centurion ( Matthew, 8. 5-13)  seeking help for his slave, he ends up saying he has not seen that kind of faith in all Israel.

So too, when we see the various paradigms in which traditional religious beliefs are framed are forced to change, as we grow in our own understanding (e.g. Galileo and the Church, Darwinian evolution, Big Bang and creation from nothing, etc.) , we face the challenge of what really is our faith.

If Jesus was subject to renewal, insight and change, then so is our faith in what his life and message means.

I am looking forward to reading other titles you referenced in this paper.  In closing, I want to thank you and encourage you for proclaiming your faith. I am also a Christian.

I am a retired teacher with an M.Sc. In particle physics and my hobby is trying to keep abreast of developments in high energy physics and cosmology.  I also find very it interesting to read and think about how advances in these fields contribute to our understanding of our own existence and what it can mean.

Thank you for the work that you do and the ideas you express.

Sincerely,
Gregory MacNevin

  

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