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The Ideas Behind Black Holes — 4 Comments

  1. Very nicely done; thank you!

    One of my challenges to non-believers regarding the existence of God is to ask, “Why are the laws of physics?” The question is posed just so; there is no word missing. Why are the laws of physics what they are and not some other set of laws or variants of the constants we know? How did they get to be what they are? “Well, it just is,” does not provide sufficient justification. The conversation goes nowhere, of course, but it plants the seed that perhaps, just perhaps, there is some intelligent creative force behind these laws.

    I also ask what was there before the Big Bang. And what is the universe expanding into (nothing does not compute) and why is it accelerating (is it a “push” from some unseen force at the center of the universe or is it a “pull” from some unseen attraction outside the universe). The only answer that accommodates these observations is God, although that is not a quantifiable explanation for an empiricist.

    But, if the laws of physics do not apply in a black hole, my initial question now has to be prepared to deal with the following:

    Since the laws of physics are a product of God’s intelligence and His creation, does that mean that God does not exist inside a black hole?

    I think I need to observe that God’s laws of physics are used to explain why those same laws cease to exist in the holes. Lack of those laws in a given locus does not invalidate them elsewhere, nor does that disprove the existence of the One who created them. However, this is something of a Mobius Band of logic and does not really get at the heart of the issue.

    Several years ago I worked for the University of Texas. Although a marine scientist, I was asked to assist McDonald Observatory with a few issues not related to astronomy. In comparing notes between those of us who “look down there” with those who “look out there,” we agreed that:
    – We think we both understand about 10% of what is going on in both worlds;
    – The 10% appears to be a constant because each discovery highlights more of what we don’t know;
    – We really have no idea of what we don’t know;
    – This is why we keep looking;
    – Nothing we have discovered is incompatible with the existence of God.

    Any affirmation or refutation is welcome.

    Steven M. Lanoux, Ph.D.

    • I would not put too much weight on ideas about what might be inside a black hole. Note that I said “space and time, and hence the laws of physics, as we know them, do not exist in a black hole”. I suppose if no laws of physics at all existed inside a black hole then anything could happen involving black holes at any time — you know, all the sudden a black hole turns into a jack-o-lantern or something.

  2. Interesting fun fact regarding the photographs from the workshop. The one on the right, labeled “an intense side discussion” is between Penrose and Francesco Cecchetti, the son of the farmer who lives next door. (He was doing videography for the workshop.) I took the photo, and it is one of my favorites from the meeting. It illustrates how these gatherings at the Vatican Observatory bring diverse worlds together.

  3. Thank you! I get it. As a marine scientist, we refer to “life as we know it” recognizing that that is merely a time stamp until the next bizarre discovery. Physics seems to be more rational–until time and space no longer are relevant.

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