Back in the year 2000, I sent the following question to “Ask a NASA Scientist:”
Cosmologists seem to think of the big bang as a purely natural event. If that is indeed the assumption in cosmology, is it unreasonable to assume (from a purely scientific point of view) that the big bang had a purely natural context, that we will someday come to understand that context thoroughly, and that we may choose to engineer another big bang, if we find it in our interest to do so?
Theoretically, it could be possible. We think that the technology and resources needed exceed all that we could do today or in the foreseeable future.
The return email (Date: Fri, 7 Jul 2000 16:52:59 -0400) was signed:
Enectali Figueroa and Ilana Harrus
for 'Ask a NASA Scientist'
Since this was an official reply from an agency of the U.S. Government, it seems fair to say that this puts the U.S. Government on record in the matter – and that's good enough for me.
So, if science does eventually solve this puzzle and the Big Bang turns out to be a purely natural, repeatable event with even a hint that we may someday develop the necessary technology, then the whole human adventure takes on a completely new character with compelling appeal to young minds, and the end of religious fundamentalism will be in sight.
The logic is simple: No god required to create a universe, no appeal at all in religious fundamentalist beliefs. And while the end of religious fundamentalism would not happen immediately, it would happen in time because we would know everything we need to know about what's going on here and what our role is in the big scheme of things.
Everyone with mental equipment worth bothering with would have better, more profoundly interesting issues to think about than god-things.
It wouldn't matter, of course, how such a system of self-reproducing universes came into existence. Figuring that out would be an interesting exercise, but the answer would simply not be relevant to our basic human concerns.
The bottom line: We just may be one major scientific discovery away from seeing the end of religious fundamentalism as a resource-consuming enterprise.
Is there anyone around who won't drink to that?