Learn some cosmology

Sombrero nebula

I’ve always been interested in astronomy and cosmology, and sometimes wish I’d studied it. I find the universe fascinating and amazing to look at, think about and learn about.

Cosmology has also always been of interest to theists, as it seems to point to the existence of a creator God. The cosmological argument and, in particular, the teleological argument (see The universe points to God) have evolved over centuries based on the discoveries of cosmology. And therefore, of course, it is of interest to atheists, who wish to combat the arguments.

I want to introduce you to one atheist physicist with expertise in cosmology who I think you ought to know – an Aussie, Luke Barnes.

Luke Barnes and Letters to Nature

Luke studied at Sydney University and has a PhD in physics, and has undertaken postdoctoral research in Switzerland. He and some fellow physicists started a blog, Letters to Nature, though it seems he is the main contributor these days.

Why am I telling you this?

Luke is interested in the ‘fine-tuning’ of the universe – the fact that many of the physical constants which describe or determine the shape and character of our universe are within amazingly small limits which allow life. Vary these very much and life wouldn’t be possible. (Or, as he would put it, of all the possible universes, only a very small number would permit life.) As an atheist (at least, I think I remember him saying that, but I may be wrong), he doesn’t agree that this is an indication of creation by God, but he is also honest and open-minded enough to disagree with atheists who use bad science to dismiss the teleological argument.

Worth reading, and watching

The following are a few references to places where Luke has crossed swords with evangelical atheists or christians on fine-tuning, or just given out good information. I recommend them to you – if you are not a physicist, don’t be put of by the occasional symbols and mathematics – I find I can just skip over them and still understand the point.

Letters to Nature blog

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  1. Thanks for referring to the Cosmos in regards to theism and atheism. I find it to be one of the most under used subjects by creationists and atheists alike when it comes to the discussion of whether or not God exists, and furthermore, whether the Cosmos provides answers for either side. Well put.

  2. Is Barnes an atheist? I’ve read his blog a bit before, and I thought he was a sort of agnostic with sympathies for Christianity. Maybe I have him confused with someone else.

  3. UnkleE, if you want I can recommend a good textbook on cosmology to you.

  4. “Is Barnes an atheist? I’ve read his blog a bit before, and I thought he was a sort of agnostic with sympathies for Christianity.”
    I thought I could remember his saying that somewhere, but I have searched his blog and didn’t find anything definitive. I would think he was at the agnostic end of atheism, though of course he may have modified his views more recently. I think he has some christian sympathies from his upbringing. Just to be sure, I have added a note to the post. Thanks.
    “if you want I can recommend a good textbook on cosmology to you”
    Why not?

  5. Hi Jonathan, thanks for taking interest.
    I would be pleased to know that Luke is a christian, but I have read pretty much all his blog and I have never seen any statements to that effect.
    Do you have any definitive statement from him, or are you surmising?

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