In his book, Why I left, Why I Stayed, coauthored with his atheist son Bart, evangelical Christian evangelist Tony Campolo uses Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity to support his very convoluted argument that Christianity should not be viewed solely from the perspective of a bloody human sacrifice for atonement of sins. I don’t buy his argument. However, while reading his argument, something stood out to me: His argument is excellent scientific evidence for why it is possible that the universe originated from nothing! Maybe something CAN come from nothing!
“Nonsense!” Christians respond. “Everything we know of had a beginning. Something never comes from nothing. It defies common sense to believe otherwise.”
Well, when it comes to common sense, humans have often been wrong. Long ago, the ancients believed that the earth was flat. It looks flat, so it must be flat. That common sense view was proven wrong. For millennia, the entire population of the earth believed that the sun revolves around the earth, until Copernicus proved that it doesn’t in the sixteenth century. After all, we all watch the sun “move” across the sky, “rising” in the east, and “setting” in the west, only to circle the earth and “rise” again in the east the next morning. Right? But our eyes deceive us, don’t they? The earth revolves around the sun.
So what about the concept that “Something can come from Nothing”? I agree with Christians, it sounds preposterous, but as I demonstrated above, just because something is preposterous, just because something defies common sense, doesn’t mean it is impossible. Let’s look at a recent scientific discovery that disproved this common sense belief: Time passes at the same speed everywhere.
Whether I am in Boston, Berlin, or Borneo, the seconds, minutes, hours, and days will pass at the same speed. Whether I live in Chicago or Calcutta, I will age at the same speed. People in one part of the world do not age at half the speed as people in another part of the world. And common sense tells you that if you took a rocket ship to another galaxy, time would pass at the same speed as it does here on earth. Right? Wrong!
Here is what Einstein’s Theory of Relativity says, in part:
From Space.com: Albert Einstein, in his theory of special relativity, determined that the laws of physics are the same for all non-accelerating observers, and he showed that the speed of light within a vacuum is the same no matter the speed at which an observer travels. As a result, he found that space and time were interwoven into a single continuum known as space-time. Events that occur at the same time for one observer could occur at different times for another.
Evangelical Christian evangelist, Tony Campolo: “The new physics of Einstein challenges us to understand that time is relative to motion. The faster I travel relative to you, the more slowly time will pass relative to you. If I were to get into a rocket ship and travel into space at the speed of 130,000 miles per second relative to the people on this planet, with instructions to travel for ten years before returning, I would, upon coming back to earth, find that I had aged ten years, while everyone and everything on earth had aged twenty years. With me traveling at that speed, twenty years of your time would transpire in ten years of mine.” p. 99
Gary: Isn’t that a mind-blowing scientific discovery? Doesn’t that seem impossible based on common sense and what we humans experience in every day life here on earth? Answer to both questions: YES! But science has proven common sense, once again, WRONG! And I suggest that before we write off the possibility that the universe came into existence from nothing…we let the scientists continue to research this issue.