Movie Review: The Principle

Last night I attended the documentary, The Principle, and I’d recommend this movie for anyone interested in science, astronomy, and our current understanding of cosmology. This movie, written and produced by Rick DeLano, tackled some of our basic understandings of science and presented new ideas that caught me by surprise.

The Principle’s recurring theme is specifically the Copernican Principle (or the Cosmological Principle), which basically says that there’s nothing special about mankind, the earth, our galaxy, or our place in the universe. Wikipedia acknowledges that this principle is built upon a working assumption that neither the Sun nor the Earth is in a central or specially favored position in the universe. Humans, therefore, are not special observers in the universe. Even though it looks like we’re at the center, we’re not. And if any theory requires a special viewpoint, then that theory should be rejected.

The Copernican Principle is in stark contrast to the geocentric model that astronomer Ptolemy (AD 90 – AD 168) is associated with. In the Ptolemaic system, the earth is at the center of the universe, and the sun, moon, planets and stars circle it. Of course this model is soundly rejected by today’s scientists.

The movie includes a fantastic cast of scientists, such as Dr. Michio Kaku- one of the co-creators of string field theory. There’s also Professor Lawrence Krauss, who’s known for his book, The Physics of Star Trek; and Professor Max Tegmark, who plays a prominent role, among others.

It’s often assumed that we have just about everything in science figured out. We’ve had hundreds of years of knowledge to build upon, and today’s science is settled; we have consensus among all scientific theories with no disagreement from respected and intelligent people. Science is held in such high esteem that taking a stand against any mainstream positions is akin to blasphemy, and opens one to ridicule, scorn and personal attacks. It’s interesting, therefore, that the movie highlights the execution of Giordano Bruno (1548- 1600), an early astronomer who was burned alive, partly for his belief that the universe was infinite, and that there may be no star or planet at the center. Today Bruno is considered a hero and martyr for science because he opposed the settled science of his day and proposed ideas that contradicted the reigning paradigms. Back then religion had a stranglehold on science and stifled scientific innovation.

But today we still have religious dogma ingrained within science, but in a different form. This dogma is in the form of scientism, which reduces everything to materialistic, blind, undirected causes. In this way, science functions as a religion, encourages a lack of skepticism among its core principles, and seeks a quest for power. Science has been corrupted, and even though we don’t burn scientists alive for rejecting scientific principles, they do have their character assassinated and maligned, and some have even been fired for rejecting settled science.

This sets the stage for some of the new ideas that are being discovered, and the movie demonstrates how it’s shaking the foundations of science.

One of the accepted ideas in science is the Big Bang, which supposedly occurred about 13.8 billion years ago; there was an explosion, and the universe expanded from a singularity at a rate faster than light. Evidence for this is thought to be in what’s called the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB), which is believed to be radiation left over from the Big Bang. This is meant to explain why the entire universe has a nearly uniform temperature in every direction.

In addition to the CMB, the Big Bang relies upon hypothetical entities such as dark matter and dark energy. Without these, there is no Big Bang. Unfortunately, dark matter can’t be seen, observed or detected. But it is assumed to exist, and is needed to account for the gravitational effects on matter. Dark energy is another rescue agent for the Big Bang; it’s an unknown form of energy that supposedly accelerated the expansion of the universe. But there are huge problems with both of these. For example, when measuring everything in the known universe, ordinary matter consists of only 4.9% of what exists, while the remaining 95.1% of the universe consists of dark matter (26.8%) and dark energy (68.3%). Therefore, according to modern science, over 95% of the universe is made up of hypothetical material. But instead of acknowledging that these entities don’t exist (at the expense of the Big Bang), scientists must speculate that our technology isn’t sophisticated enough to detect it yet.

Modern cosmology also turns to the Hubble law to explain why it looks like stars and galaxies are moving away from the earth. According to this law, no matter where one is positioned in the universe, it would always look like everything is moving away. It’s kind of like placing dots on a balloon, blowing it up, and watching the dots expand from each other.

The movie challenges all this based on recent evidence that has been mounting. Cosmologist Max Tegmark has researched and mapped the cosmic background radiation and has found that it’s not as uniform as we were led to believe. According to the data, it appears that the earth is in a very special position in the universe, and this conclusion is making a lot of scientists uncomfortable as they realize the implications. Some of the scientists interviewed had no intention of invoking God as the creator who placed us in a special position, but, when pressed, they reluctantly admitted that there’s something extraordinary about the evidence.

In his experiments, Tegmark and his team discovered an anomalous multipole alignment, and this has become known by some as the “axis of evil” because it’s not supposed to exist, and we’re not supposed to be there. Yet it’s unimaginable to conclude that we’re in a special place in the universe without being placed there on purpose.

I haven’t taken a position on where the earth is in relation to our galaxy and the universe, but I’ve always found it fascinating to hear some of the proposals of those who believe the earth is at the center, and that the universe is fine-tuned for man’s existence on earth. Of course there are still those like Professor Krauss who reject the notion that there’s anything special about man and the earth’s location. Instead, he resorts to hypothetical explanations, such as multiverses, or mere coincidence. Krauss is one who won’t entertain the idea that there could be anything special about man and the earth.

Nonetheless, I believe the Bible is right when it says that, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20).

It seems that the more we learn about science, the more we see the hand of God in everything. So if you have the chance, get out and see the movie before its limited showing is over, or watch it when it comes out on video. It’s a very fascinating look into today’s cosmology.

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