They say the Universe is constantly expanding. But if it is, what is it expanding into?
- Ferb Fletcher
Yes, that is a (reasonably accurate) quote from a cartoon character. And yes, too, it was said for the joke value. But as the best jokes have some truth to them, the idea behind the quip seems too good to leave alone.
What is one of the primary criticisms of the existence of God? Simply put, that the agnostic or atheist cannot accept that some being has just been around for all eternity. They cannot get a grasp on the infinite. Yet here we find a twofold example of science expecting that the believer accept pretty much the same thing, don't you think?
To begin away from young Mr. Fletcher's witticism, popular science (which we wonder might actually and only be a straw man used by atheists and Stephen Hawking to support their worldview) denies God by asking what was there before Him? Yet the corollary question, what was there before the ball of matter from which we had the Big Bang, appears unfair. It was just there, of course. But in those same minds, God could not have been 'just there' as philosophy (not religion, we feel compelled to add) may dictate.
Now Ferb's inquiry comes directly into play. If that ball of matter was just there, merely hanging around, what was it hanging around in? And if the Universe is constantly expanding, what is being displaced by the expansion? The scientific answer is that it isn't displacing anything, which seems contradictory to an awful lot of physics. So then, where is space expanding, and how?
We did find the scientific answer, by the way, and it's almost quaint: it's just expanding. You can read a bit about that here: http://www.universetoday.com/1455/podcast-what-is-the-universe-expanding... But we will say, at the risk of prejudicing you, that we think that author's rationale little but a mind game. The balloon/raisin bread analogy strikes us as weak; there is still something outside of the balloon or the bread which the areas of the balloon and the bread are displacing. Even the idea of understanding the expanding universe better if we were 4 dimensional beings seems lame. It sounds rather like attempting to justify a preexisting belief, quite frankly. And it profoundly fails to address the question of eternal being anyway.
However you view it, we are wont to believe that quite a lot of modern science is predicated upon exactly the same philosophic ideas as those behind the existence of God. When coming from purveyors of science, we're supposed to accept that things just are. When those same folks aim those same ideas at philosophy or religion, they're childish delusions.
We can't help wonder who is truly delusional.