But I do have T-shirts that advertise my second novel, “The Stuff of Life.” (You can read more about that on the home page.)
These T-shirts read, “You are the product of 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution,” and point to this web site.
Recently, I was in a waiting room at the hospital. A fellow who saw me come in, and who had read the message on the shirt, asked, “What does that mean?” Before I could answer, he said, “You don’t believe that, do you?” Apparently in the microsecond between his first and second questions he had deciphered the meaning of the words and decided he disagreed with them.
I tried to answer his questions as briefly as possible.
“It means that about thirteen point seven billion years ago, nothing became something when a burst of energy flared into existence. It’s sort of like, ‘Earth was without form, and void, and God said, “Let there be light.”’ I call it the Big Bang.
“The Big Bang didn’t explode into space, it created space and time. That’s why I said, ‘nothing became something.’
“Over millions of years, the stuff created at the Big Bang became stars, planets, and moons. Sort of like, ‘Two great lights were made; one to rule the day and one to rule the night.’
“There are trillions of stars and probably trillions of planets. On this planet—and maybe others—chemicals, molecules, started hooking up and eventually became living things. They grew and evolved, becoming all the life we see around us, including ourselves. It’s like ‘…grass, herbs, fruit trees…cattle creeping things, and man, male and female.’”
“Yeah,” he said. “But do you believe that?”
To this, I gave my stock answer. “It’s not really a matter of belief. It’s a matter of science. I know just enough about science, the scientific method, and the sciences of cosmology, astronomy, biology, embryology, geology, paleontology, and half-a-dozen others to accept that the story I told you is the best, and probably the only explanation for our existence.”
That didn’t go over very well. He accused me of being an atheist. True, but not something to be denigrated by the way he said it, and his use of the F-bomb was entirely uncalled for.
A year ago or so, I bought a couple of T-shirts with the Christian fish symbol so often seen on the backs of automobiles *. Mine had legs and the word, “Darwin” inside the fish. I’ve stopped wearing these. Why? Because I don’t want people to think that I worship Darwin (or evolution). As I have said elsewhere, “Religion is based on faith, and faith is desperately wanting to believe something that you want to be true, but you cannot prove.”
* (These images of the fish seem to violate the Second Commandment, which prohibits graven images, and Deuteronomy, 4:15-26 which specifically prohibits “the likeness of any fish.”)
I’d rather stick to science, and accept only those things that can be demonstrated, seen, or proven or—especially in cosmology—hypothesized through mathematical models.
If this little essay has piqued your interest (whether in agreement or disagreement), please do two things:
(1) Order a copy of “The Stuff of Life” from Amazon.com at this link:
[That’s a heck of a link. Try searching at Amazon.com at “Paul Lentz author.” Might be easier.]
(2) Read one of the following books. You can find them all at Amazon.com in the Kindle store.
The Oxford King James Version of the Bible (which is in the public domain and which should be free).
For a discussion of the Big Bang and evolution, I recommend the following, most of which I read in Kindle editions:
Coyne, Jerry. “Why Evolution is True.”
Gould, Stephen J. Virtually anything he’s written. Check Amazon.com.
Hawking, Stephen and Leonard Milodinow, “The Grand Design.”
Krauss, Lawrence. “A Universe from Nothing: Why there is Something Rather than Nothing.”
Rees, Martin. “Just Six Numbers: “The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe.”
Tyson, Neil deGrasse. “Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution.
If you can find it, I also recommend Carl Sagan’s original “Cosmos” and, more easily found, Neil Tyson’s remake of that series.
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.