Can we definitively know the global structure of spacetime? This is a good question. It is one that is actively discussed in the area of the philosophy of modern physics.1,2
However it is a question that highlights the fundamental weakness of cosmology and hence of cosmogony. (Cosmology is the study of the structure of the cosmos whereas cosmogony is the study of the origin of the universe.) That weakness is the inherent inability to accurately construct any global cosmological model, i.e. a model that accurately represents the structure of the universe at all times and locations. The reason for this is underdetermination.3
“There seems to be a robust sense in which the global structure of every cosmological model is underdetermined.”1
In the philosophy of science, underdetermination means that the available evidence is insufficient to be able to determine which belief one should hold about that evidence. That means that no matter what cosmological model one might conceive of, in an attempt to describe the structure of the universe, every model will be underdetermined. Or said another way, no matter what amount of observational data one might ever (even in principle) gather, the cosmological evidence does not force one particular model upon us. And this underdetermination has been rigorously proven.1
Update 14/03/2018 Professor Stephen Hawking died today. See his obituary here. From all I have read he remained an ardent atheist his whole life. And he never really understood the worldview issue in cosmology and the origin of the universe. This proves that even very smart people can get it wrong. Nevertheless he gave us much to ponder, debate and learn.
What is imaginary time? I don’t mean the time you spend day-dreaming but the concept in physics, promoted by theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. It is used in some quantum mechanics and special relativity theory. Imaginary time is where the usual time dimension undergoes a Wick rotation (a phase rotation)1 so that its coordinates are multiplied by the imaginary number the square root of -1, represented by the symbol i. In such a situation time theoretically behaves like a spatial dimension.
“One might think this means that imaginary numbers are just a mathematical game having nothing to do with the real world. From the viewpoint of positivist philosophy, however, one cannot determine what is real. All one can do is find which mathematical models describe the universe we live in. It turns out that a mathematical model involving imaginary time predicts not only effects we have already observed but also effects we have not been able to measure yet nevertheless believe in for other reasons. So what is real and what is imaginary? Is the distinction just in our minds?” (emphasis added)
Positivism is the philosophy that we cannot determine what is real, but we can only propose hypotheses and test those against what we observe. Hawking is an atheist—an anti-theist—and has spent some time attempting to show that the Creator is unneeded in the universe.
Hawking claims that imaginary time is as real as real time, only that it is travelling in a different direction.3 He claims that ‘before’ the big bang time was imaginary and thus there was no time. Imaginary time may have “always existed” he said, but because we have no idea of what the laws of physics were ‘before’ the big bang, and there is no way to measure what happened ‘before’ the big bang, hence there is no point including time back then in a discussion of our universe.
Have you ever wondered about this phenomenon of “slaying in the spirit” that you might have seen in some Pentecostal churches? It usually occurs where a “faith healer” lays his hands on a person, gets them to pray or repeat some words, gently pushes them backwards and they fall to the floor. The phenomenon is not confined to the evangelical churches either. It is practiced by some Roman Catholic priests. See below, for example.
The phenomenon does not appear anywhere in the Scriptures. In fact, the Scriptures tell us that “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” 1 Corinthian 14:32 The same applies to all saved servants of the Living God. The Holy Spirit indwells them and they do not yield to another spirit.
Chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians is all about maintaining order in the church in relation to the gifts of the Spirit. But I do not believe that the Apostolic gifts are continuing now because we have the written Scriptures and there is no longer any Apostles writing new Scripture. However I do believe the Holy Spirit speaks to His servants, heals some at His discretion and gives gifts like tongues, but that tongues is not essential to salvation.
On that basis I have always believed that this so-called “slaying in the spirit” is not from the Holy Spirit, and therefore it must be demonic in nature. It was first brought to my attention decades ago with those spreading the false teaching of the Vineyard church, often referred to as the Toronto Blessing and involved “holy laughter”. Well, it was a lot more than just laughter, they would bark like dogs and behave in very uncontrolled ways. People like Rodney Howard Brown was very popular in the 1990’s spreading that in the Pentecostal churches in Australia. Today we see the same stuff coming from Torben Søndergaard–leader of the so-called Last Reformation cult.
What I have learned from the following YouTube video is that Søndergaard and all these other practitioners are using well-known hypnotist techniques. Through prayer they get their subjects to yield their will to them and the rest follows. Please watch!
So this is not just about “slaying in the spirit” but about these so-called faith healers who “heal” people, which turns out to be either only temporary, due to an adrenaline rush or completely faked, like in the example shown with Søndergaard moving a person’s shoe, while faking the lengthening of the person’s leg. Where are those who grow new limbs? Torben Søndergaard is a total charlatan — deceiving gullible people and being deceived.
But evil men and seducers [impostors] shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3:13
I know God can miraculously heal but He heals at His discretion. God is not flipped on like a light switch. He cannot be turned on at a moment by a “healer” or by the prayers of the one who wants to be healed. That is a works religion.
You can pray for healing and if it is within His will He can and does heal. But if there is anything that Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy should teach us is that in the last days there will be deceivers among the church, leading the sinful astray. We are told to resist them and to expect persecutions and afflictions. God’s way is not generally one of health and wealth. But He will eventually deliver us all in the end. Read the whole chapter yourself.
I have previously made the argument that the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, ‘light’ allegedly from the big bang fireball, casts no shadows in the foreground of galaxy clusters.1 If the big bang were true, the light from the fireball should cast a shadow in the foreground of all galaxy clusters. This is because the source of the CMB radiation, in standard big bang cosmology, is what is known as the “last scattering surface“.
The last scattering surface is the stage of the big bang fireball that describes the situation when big bang photons cooled to about 1100 K. At that stage of the story those photons separated from the plasma that had previously kept them bound. Then expansion of the universe is alleged to have further cooled those photons to about 3 K, which brings them into the microwave band. Thus if these CMB photons cast no shadows in front of all galaxy clusters it spells bad news for the big bang hypothesis.
The CMB radiation shadowing effect, or more precisely the cooling effect, by galaxy clusters is understood in terms of the Sunyaev–Zel’dovich Effect (SZE). This is where microwave photons are isotropically scattered by electrons in the hot inter-cluster medium (ICM) (see Fig. 1) via an inverse Compton process leaving a net decrement (or cooling) in the foreground towards the observer in the solar system. Of those CMB photons coming from behind the galaxy cluster less emerge with the same trajectory due to the scattering. Even though the scattered photons pick up energy from the ICM the number of more energetic CMB photons is reduced. After modelling what this new CMB photon energy (hence temperature) should be, a decrement can, in principle, be detected.
Starting around 2003 some published investigations, using this SZE, looked for the expected shadowing/cooling effect in galaxy clusters. No significant cooling effect was found, by multiple studies, including the WMAP satellite data.2 This was considered to be very anomalous, significantly different from what was expected if the CMB radiation was from the big bang fireball. The anomaly was even confirmed by the early Planck satellite survey data in 2011.3