I was traveling most of the day yesterday, and only got to see this video of Stanford physicist Andrei Linde being told that his 30-year-old theory about inflation and the Big Bang has been confirmed. It’s a beautiful thing.
Dennis Overbye in the NYT has a really helpful article on what this means, along with a great graphic explainer. From the report:
Confirming inflation would mean that the universe we see, extending 14 billion light-years in space with its hundreds of billions of galaxies, is only an infinitesimal patch in a larger cosmos whose extent, architecture and fate are unknowable. Moreover, beyond our own universe there might be an endless number of other universes bubbling into frothy eternity, like a pot of pasta water boiling over.
When I noted the new finding yesterday in a blog entry before I got on a plane, I made a short quip about God, mostly to troll the atheists who read this blog, and who freak out anytime the G word is used in the same sentence as the word “science.” In all seriousness, though, I wonder if this discovery has any theological and/or philosophical implications. Anybody care to speculate?
The first philosophical thought that comes to my mind is how uncanny it is that a phenomenon as big as the universe is being comprehended by the indescribably small specks that are human beings. My second thought is that we can comprehend that, but our own selves remain a mystery to us. My third thought, a theological one, is that as indescribably vast as the universe is, it is still nothing to the immensity of the One who made it.
That’s all the thoughts I can have before my second cup of coffee. Your turn.