Category Archives: Perspectives on the Scriptures

Scientific Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Day Three – The Elements, and the Building Blocks of Life

Summary: The methodology employed in Genesis points unequivocally to Day Three being an account of the formation of heavier elements in the stars and supernovae, and the almost simultaneous emergence of the first primitive life forms, the organic building blocks of life.

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Day Three of Genesis continues the methodology applied in the first two ‘days’.

The methodology sets out a series of transformations of the state of the universe from the initial matter and space described in Day One, to the final cosmic ‘product’ in Day Six – the human organism.[1]

Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD) explained this process of cosmic transformation as follows:

the heavens and all that is in them are one material, and the earth and all that is within it is [another] material; and the Holy One, blessed be He, created both of them from nothing – and the two of them alone were created, and everything was made from them.”[2]

Maimonides (1135 – 1204 AD), another great Jewish Scholar, adopted an explanation for the methodology applied in Genesis that mirrors what scientists today call a “Final Theory” or “Theory of Everything.”  Maimonides maintained that “The true explanation of the first verse of Genesis is as follows: ‘In [creating] a principle God created the beings above and the things below.’[3]

Steven Weinberg explained the scientific conception of a “Final Theory” by noting that the principles which govern different aspects of science “are all connected, and if followed backward they all seem to flow from a common starting point. This starting point, to which all explanations may be traced, is what I mean by a final theory.[4] And Weinberg states further that physicists study fundamental particles, like quarks and electrons, because they believe that by doing so they will “learn something about the principles that govern everything.”[5]

Nahmanides also recognized that what was created “in the beginning” constituted energy, which had the latent properties to create everything we see in the universe today: “[God] brought out a very fine element from complete nothingness; it has no substance, but it is the energy that can create, that is able to accept a form and to go from the potential to the actual.”[6]

Martin Rees likewise notes that ‘empty space’, “Even if shrunk to a ‘point’, … is LATENT with particles and forces.”[7]

From this “beginning”, Genesis applies a methodology of transformation to explain the universe and life as we know it today.

Summary of Methodology in Day One

  • The heaven and the earth” refer to the original, and only, material that was created which would be used to create the universe and life; “earth” symbolizes matter, and “heaven” symbolizes space (where the matter was).
  • Matter (the earth) is described as being “without form, and void”; and space (the heaven) is described with the words “darkness was upon the face of the deep.” In scientific terms, Martin Rees describes this initial state as “an ultra-dense primal medium that was almost structureless.”[8]
  • Everything else in the universe, including life, would be created from this original matter and space through a series of transformations. That is why they are then collectively re-described as “the waters,” symbolizing their latent life-creating properties.
  • The waters” are then transformed into “light”, which is “divided” from “the darkness.” The “light” and the “darkness” symbolize the matter and energy created by the transformation of the original (exotic) matter following the initial inflationary expansion and Big Bang. “Light” was created when matter (particles) and anti-matter (anti-particles) collided to create photons of light. But since there was a slight excess of matter over anti-matter, some matter remained; Genesis calls this excess matter “the darkness”, which comprised both visible and dark matter. Visible matter, at this early stage of the universe, comprised mainly hydrogen and helium, with traces of deuterium and lithium – the lighter elements.
  • The words “And God saw the light, that it was good” refer to what physicists now know to be a crucial element in quantum physics – an An observation was crucial at this early stage in the universe, because “our very existence depends on an IRREVERSIBLE effect that established an excess of matter over antimatter … Had that not occurred, all the matter would have been annihilated with an equal amount of antimatter, leaving a universe containing no atoms at all.”[9] Although Maimonides would not have understood quantum physics, he did understand the significance of these words: “When the creation of any part of the Universe is described that is permanent, regular, and in a settled order, the phrase “that it is good” is used.”[10] And for that to happen, an observation was necessary, hence the words “And God saw …”
  • To emphasize that the initial transformation of matter had been made “permanent, regular, and in a settled order”, God is said to name the transformed matter, always with a capital letter: “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.Day refers to the photons of light, and Night refers to the dark and visible matter. At this stage, it means that a number of crucial cosmic numbers had been “finely tuned” (as Rees describes it) to ensure that the next step in the process can proceed on a fixed and firm foundation. In particular, the number Ω (omega), which measures the amount of matter in the universe. If the amount of matter had been more, the universe would have collapsed in on itself; if less, it could never have formed into stars and planets. A significant part of the quantum world had been transformed into the Classical (Newtonian) world.
  • The process of inflationary expansion had also forced the initial matter into motion, thus starting the cosmic clock. Time had begun, signified by the words “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Maimonides suspected that time related to motion. He said, “God created the Universe from nothing; that time did not exist previously, but was created: for it depends on the motion of the sphere, and the sphere has been created.”[11] Of course, at this stage, time didn’t depend on the motion of a sphere; it was a consequence of the motion of matter expanding through space as a result of the initial inflationary burst and Big Bang. Cosmic time is measured from that moment.

Summary of Methodology in Day Two

  • Day Two begins by again re-describing “light and darkness” collectively as “the waters,” signifying their life-creating properties, even though, at this stage, they comprised only photons of light, and visible and dark matter. And visible matter still only comprised hydrogen, helium and traces of deuterium and lithium, the lighter elements.
  • God is then said to insert a “firmament” into the “midst of the waters, to divide the waters from the waters.” Firmament means, literally, expansion. An expansion was thus to “divide the waters from the waters”.
  • However, some of “the waters” were clearly in different places, because when the expansion divided “the waters” it divided “the waters which were UNDER the firmament (expansion) from the waters which were ABOVE the firmament (expansion).” This refers to the density differences in the matter and energy that had been produced by the initial inflationary burst and Big Bang. Greene notes that these density differences which “ultimately resulted in the formation of stars and galaxies came from quantum mechanics.”[12]
  • The interaction of gravity attracting particles in the denser regions of space, and Expansion pushing the denser regions of space apart, caused matter to ‘cluster’ into enormous protogalaxies, leaving large areas of space between them.
  • Rees explains that “slightly overdense regions, expanding slower than average, were destined to become galaxies and clusters; others, slightly underdense, were destined to become voids.”
  • The density differences in different parts of the expanding universe were precisely calibrated in relation to the forces of gravity and expansion to ensure the formation of galaxies. Rees notes that “these complexities are the outcome of a chain of events that cosmologists can trace back to an ultra-dense primal medium that was almost structureless.”[13]
  • What was left between the newly forming protogalaxies was called “Heaven”, or what Rees calls “voids,[14] commonly described as the sky, or space.
  • Therefore, at the close of Day Two, Rees’ six numbers had all been finely tuned. In particular, the cosmic numbers Ω (omega – the measure of the amount of matter in the universe), λ (lambda – the expansion force), and Ǫ (the measure of density variations in the expanding universe in relation to gravity and expansion), had been ‘imprinted’ into the very fabric of the expanding universe. As Rees notes, “the outcome (of the universe) depends sensitively on these three key numbers, imprinted (we are not sure how) in the very early universe.”[15]
  • However, “the waters” had not finished their work. But they had, by the close of Day Two, perfectly configured the universe to begin the task of creating the heavier elements and the building blocks of life. That is done in Day Three.

Day Three

There are two distinct but interrelated parts to Day Three, separated by an observation – by the words “And God saw …”

The first part starts with this.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. Genesis 1:9

There appears to be a curious omission right at the start of Day Three. When God is said to command that “the waters” be “gathered together unto one place,” it is only “the waters that are under the heaven” that are gathered together. So what happened to the rest of “the waters,” those that wereabove the firmament” (verse 7)?

The answer is found in what science calls rotational symmetry. Brian Green explains it like this: “every spatial direction is on equal footing with every other.” Therefore, looking up from anywhere in space “there is nothing that distinguishes one particular direction in the black void from any other.”[16]

Once the expanding matter had formed into clusters (protogalaxies), leaving vast “voids” between them (what Genesis calls “Heaven”), all the clusters are under the voids in the sense that they are surrounded by ‘empty’ space. In other words, “the waters” that were previously described as being “under” or “above” the expansion, all ended up surrounded by empty space once expansion and gravity had done their work on the density differences of matter. Looking up at the heavens from any cluster in the early universe would have felt like being under the void of space, just as it does today when we look up at the sky from planet Earth.

Therefore, none of what had previously constituted “the waters” had changed; it had simply formed into clusters scattered across the expanding universe, separated by voids of space. All “the waters” still constituted the lighter elements of hydrogen, helium and traces of deuterium and lithium.

It is from these “waters” that “dry land” is to appear. Part of “the waters” is to undergo a transformation; a transformation from being “water” into being “dry land;” and that is to be brought about by “the waters” being “gathered together unto one place.”

Unfortunately, neither Nahmanides nor Maimonides can help us understand what these verses mean. That is because they both assumed that all the elements were created on Day One. They adopted the consensus of the time that the elements comprised air, earth, fire and water.[17] As a result, they assumed that reference to “the waters” in Day Three must have meant water in the sense of liquid water.

However, Maimonides did recognize that the methodology of Genesis used “the waters” symbolically to denote a series of transformations of the material in Day One into different ‘substances’. He noted, “It is therefore clear that there has been one common element called water, which has been afterwards distinguished by three different forms; one part forms the seas, another the firmament, and a third part is over the firmament, and all this is separate from the earth. The Scriptural text follows here a peculiar method in order to indicate some extraordinary mysteries.”[18]

The arguments put forward in this series of articles adopts the “method” referred to by Maimonides of the original elements undergoing a series of transformations resulting in the universe and life as we know it. The only difference is that, with modern atomic theory, science has a better understanding of what elements were created by the Big Bang, and how subsequent elements were created.

This analysis evaluates Day Three in light of these scientific discoveries. However, in doing so, it still conforms to Maimonides’ ‘philosophy’ that Genesis should be construed in accordance with ‘proven’ science, and when ‘proven’ science differs from any current interpretation of Genesis, that interpretation must to be revisited and, if necessary, revised. He says, “those passages in the Bible, which in their literal sense contain statements that can be refuted by [scientific] proof, must and can be interpreted otherwise.”[19]

By applying that approach in the context of the methodology adopted in Genesis, Day Three exactly reflects the modern scientific understanding of the cosmic processes that created the heavier elements, and the building blocks of life.

Atomic theory was first proposed by John Dalton in the 1800’s and subsequently developed by others such as Ernest Rutherford and Niels Bohrs.

In the 1940s, the Russian physicist (turned cosmologists), George Gamow, discovered ‘nucleosynthesis’, which explained how nuclear reactions created the lighter elements like hydrogen and helium. Gamow believed that all the elements were created by the intense heat of the Big Bang. However, the calculations didn’t add up. His calculations worked for the lighter elements of hydrogen, helium, deuterium etc, but not for heavier elements. The Big Bang didn’t produce sufficient heat.

The English astronomer Fred Hoyle resolved the problem when he discovered “how the nuclear reactions inside the core of a star, not the big bang, could add more and more protons and neutrons to the nuclei of hydrogen and helium, until they could create all the heavier elements, at least up to iron.”[20] (see analysis of Hoyle’s discovery in Day Two) And for even heavier elements beyond iron, “one needs an even larger oven – the explosion of massive stars, or supernovae.[21]

Day Two concluded after the lighter elements of hydrogen, helium, lithium and deuterium had formed the “first protogalaxies”, but before the formation of stars and supernovae.

Therefore, if the methodology employed in Genesis is adhered to, the first part of Day Three can only be referring to the consequence of the “protogalaxies” forming the heavier stars and supernovae.

That is done, according to Rees, because “the first gaseous condensations to form … are … a million times heavier than stars. … [And] if [the gaseous condensations are] spinning, the gas settles into a disk, and condenses into stars, thereby initiating the recycling process that synthesizes and disperses all the elements of the periodic table.[22]

The symbolism of Day Three exactly reflects that process.

  • The “waters under the heaven” symbolize the “first gaseous condensations” that had formed across the universe as a result of gravity and expansion acting on the density variations in the expanding universe. At this stage, “the waters” consist only of the lighter elements of hydrogen, helium, deuterium and lithium.
  • All “the waters” were “under the heaven” in the sense that all the protogalaxies were surrounded by ‘empty’ space, or what Rees calls “voids.”
  • The “waters” being “gathered together unto one place” refer to the “gaseous condensations” forming “into disks, and condensing into stars.
  • And let the dry land appear” symbolizes the transformation of a portion of the lighter elements into the heavier elements due to the nuclear reactions (fusion) caused by the immense heat of the stars, and subsequent supernovae. The “dry land” symbolizes the heavier elements. It is clear from the text that the “dry land” is not something that is created in addition to, or apart from, “the waters;” it is to “appearfromthe waters” that had been “gathered together unto one place.”

The first part of Day Three is an account of the “gaseous condensations” that had formed in Day Two being condensed into stars and supernovae “that synthesize and disperse all the elements of the periodic table.” This mix of elements was a pre-requisite for life. As Kaku says, “our true ‘mother’ sun was actually an unnamed star or collection of stars that died billions of years ago in a supernova, which then seeded nearby nebulae with the higher elements beyond iron that make up our body.”[23]

The methodology employed in Genesis doesn’t permit any other reasonable interpretation of the first part of Day Three.

And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters he called Seas.” Genesis 1:10

This is the last time in the creation story that the naming of what had been created takes place. The names given here are “Earth” and “Seas” – and, as usual, this naming is with capital letters.

As already noted, this signifies another stage in the transformation of the state of the universe that Genesis started with – “the heaven and the earth.” And there is good reason that this is the last occasion that the naming takes place.

This verse tells us that not all the lighter elements were converted into heavier elements; most remained, and they were called “Seas.” The “the waters” do not disappear. Only part of “the waters” are converted into the heavier elements, symbolized by the words “dry land”, which are then called “Earth”; and the remaining lighter elements, constituting the rest of “the waters”, are called “Seas.”

Day Three clearly refers to a generic situation across the universe, in which many areas were experiencing the same thing, even if at different times, and the process was repeating itself forging all the natural elements. The elements were being created across the universe, not just in our galaxy, or even our solar system. In fact, according to Genesis, our solar system only starts taking shape in Day Four. However, its origins are in Day Three. And just as the original “heaven and earth” clearly did not refer to the sky and planet Earth, likewise it is clear that neither do “Seas” and “Earth” refer to planet Earth and its oceans.

The naming here highlights the fact that all the necessary cosmic ‘structures’ and ‘ingredients’ had formed into the required configurations to begin the process of creating the intended cosmic product – life. The quantum world had been transformed into the Classical (Newtonian) world.

It was therefore time to make it “permanent, regular, and in a settled order.

And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:10

With everything in place, it was time to make these transformations “irreversible”, which is why we only now find the reference to “And God saw that it was good.” The observation (measurement) establishes a “fully settled” future from the initial intentions expressed in Day Two, and the first part of Day Three, by the words “And God said …

The observation establishes an “irreversible effect” in respect of everything that had been created up to that time, and would be created in the future by the same processes. And that “irreversible effect” establishes what we recognize today as Classical physics. It explains “how the fundamental laws of quantum physics morph[ed] into the classic laws,[24] thus enabling us to predict with such certainty how inanimate objects behave.

It provides a stable and predictable macro-world of planets and stars which operate according to laws – laws that are symmetric across the universe.[25]

The universe becomes a cosmic factory; the stars and planets become cosmic machines; the elements are the cosmic ingredients; and the laws of physics and chemistry provide the cosmic instructions on how everything operates.

The initial ingredients from which the universe was to be constructed have now been transformed, in accordance with the laws of quantum mechanics, into planets, stars and elements which operate under an apparently different set of laws to those that created them. As Weinberg says, in “modern quantum mechanics as well as in Newtonian mechanics there is a clear separation between the conditions that tell us the initial state of a system (whether the system is the whole universe, or just a part of it), and the laws that govern its subsequent evolution.[26] However, this does not mean that the laws of quantum mechanics have disappeared, or are no longer relevant. Weinberg notes that “even in quantum mechanics there is still a sense in which the behavior of any physical system is completely determined by its initial conditions and the laws of nature.[27]

Thus, the process of creating the intended cosmic product was ready to begin. And there is good reason that this initial process was included in the same ‘day’ that the heavier elements were created.

 “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb-yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

And the earth brought forth grass, and the herb-yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1: 11 – 12

The first thing to note in these verses is that nothing is named – there is no mention of the words “And God called …” We have already seen why that should be – all the structures and materials necessary to create life were in the required forms and quantities, and the laws that determine how they behave (their fundamental chemical and physical properties) had been imprinted into the universe.

Let the earth bring forth …”

God is not said to create what is to be made Himself; instead, He ‘delegates’, so to speak, “the earth” to produce the grass etc. But what exactly constitutes “the earth”?

The methodology employed in Genesis re-describes the state of the universe immediately preceding the next stage of transformation with a word that encompasses the totality of the material at that time, but which also conveys a sense of the intended future purpose of the transformation that is about to take place.

Up until this stage, “the waters” symbolized the various states of transformation to signify the latent life-creating properties of the material that was being processed. But now the process of making the intended product itself is to begin – life. And it is for all the material that existed at that time, with its newly acquired properties, to initiate the process.

The meticulous methodology can only mean that the words “Let the earth bring forth” refer to the whole state of the universe as it existed at that time. That is, the stars and supernovae which were producing the heavier elements and dispersing them throughout space, symbolized by “the earth,” would also now initiate the process to creating life.

But why call it “the earth” rather than “the waters”?

First, because “the earth”, in the sense of planet Earth, would be composed of all the elements that were being forged in the stars and supernovae, and would thus have both liquid water and dry land. The word “earth” more effectively conveys the message that what was to “bring forth” life included what had previously been symbolized by both the “Seas” (the lighter elements) and the “Earth” (the heavier elements). The building blocks of life would require a perfectly balanced mixture of elements to transform into the intended final ‘products’ once it encountered a conducive environment; and that environment would be planet Earth, and other such ‘goldilocks’ planets that may form throughout the universe.

Secondly, the word “earth” relates not just to the state of the universe that was to initiate the process of creating life; it also reveals what kind of environment the precursors for life will encounter in the future, thus enabling it to configure accordingly. That is made clear by the repetition of the word “earth.” The “earth” is to “bring forth” grass etc, “whose seed is in itself, upon the earth.” The “earth” that is to “bring forth” life refers to the state of the universe at that time (stars and supernovae); and the life it is to bring forth is destined to be “upon the earth” (planet earth), and is configured accordingly.

The description of this process conforms with the principles of quantum mechanics, and the implications of the ‘delayed-choice’ experiments explained in the article on Day One.

Brian Greene explains the significance of these experiments as follows: “it’s as if the photons adjust their behaviour in the past according to the future choice of whether the … detector is switched on; it’s as though the photons have a ‘premonition’ of the experimental situation they will encounter farther downstream, and act accordingly.[28]

These experiments into the quantum behavior of particles show that particles adjust their configuration in anticipation of the future environment they will encounter. They can even ‘know’ what that future environment will be before it exists, and prepare accordingly.

These verses in Genesis, in which the word “earth” conveys a dual meaning, perfectly reflect the quantum mechanical model. The ‘destination’ “earth” (planet earth) is the environment (situation) the precursors to life will “encounter farther downstream”; that is ‘communicated’ to the material that will configure itself into the required life, symbolized by the words “And God said …”; then the “earth” (the state of the universe at that time) configures the elements to form (“bring forth”) the chemical structures (organic precursors) that will form the intended products (grass, herb yielding seed and the tree yielding fruit).

That interpretation must be correct, because when the things that “the earth” (stars and supernovae) was to “bring forth,” which would be “upon the earth” (ie planet earth – verse 11), are in fact “brought forth” (verse 12), there is no mention of them being “upon the earth.” The reason for that is clear – the planet earth (their ultimate destination) had not yet been formed.

(I do appreciate that there are those who will charge that I am reading a great deal into Genesis to make it ‘conform’ to current science, and I must confess that I harbored similar reservations in the early stages of my investigations into the relationship between science, religion and philosophy. However, as my investigations progressed, I found it increasingly difficult to sustain such misgivings in the face of the evidence. The closer the methodology of Genesis is followed, the more it converges with science. The big question for me was how anyone many millennia ago could possibly have known, in such detail, how the universe and life came about. That enquiry itself revealed remarkable neuroscientific phenomena. These issues will be addressed in a subsequent article relating to the authorship of Genesis, although they are touched upon in this article concerning insight.)

What was brought forth?

The next thing to consider is what exactly is meant by “grass, the herb-yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself”?

It would be an uncharacteristic departure from the meticulous methodology applied by Genesis if it suddenly jumped from stars and supernovae creating elements, to grass and plants as we see them outside our windows today. But if these references to grass, plants and trees are meant to be symbolic, like “the heaven and the earth” and “the waters”, then what are they supposed to symbolize?

To understand the meaning of these words we need to go to Genesis Chapter 2, which begins with a summary of what had taken place throughout the six days of creation. It then says this:

These are the generations of the heaven and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground.Genesis 2: 4 – 5

These verses are clear – at the end of the six days of creation, as recorded in Chapter 1, Genesis tells us in Chapter 2 that nothing that was said to have been created in Chapter 1, in respect of living things, yet existed; no plants, no herbs, and no human beings, at least not in a form we would recognize as plants, herbs, or human beings. However, peculiar as that may seem at first, it does entirely conform with the methodology applied in the first chapter of Genesis. (I am aware that the weight of theological opinion today is that there are two creation stories. However, I don’t find the arguments and evidence convincing. As mentioned above, that issue will be addressed in a subsequent article relating to the authorship of Genesis.)

It should be noted that verse 5 (of Chapter 2) does not say that nothing had been made, only that whatever had been made could not yet be identified as to what it was to become. God is said to have “made … every plant … and every herb,” but that He had made them before they had developed into what we would recognize today as plants and herbs. And the reason they were apparently still in a sort of state of limbo, according to Genesis, is that “God had not [yet] caused it to rain upon the earth.” (Genesis 2:5)

Genesis is telling us that the basic structures of elementary life had been created, but that they had not yet developed into any identifiable type of life. It needed something to enable it to ‘grow’ into what it was ‘programmed’ to be. And verse 5 tells us that what was lacking was the right environment.

The Jewish philosopher Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, who lived at about the same time as Jesus, explained these verses as follows:

Does he [Moses] not here manifestly set before us incorporeal ideas perceptible only by the intellect, which have been appointed to be as seals of the perfected works, perceptible by the outward senses. For before the earth was green, he says that this same thing, verdure, existed in the nature of things, and before the grass sprang up in the field, there was grass though it was not visible. And we must understand in the case of everything else which is decided on by the external senses, there were elder forms and motions previously existing, according to which the things which were created were fashioned and measured out.[29]

Clearly, Philo believed that these verses qualified the account of creation set out in Genesis 1.

Day Three suggests, therefore, that only primitive DNA (or its chemical precursor) had been created, and that it was created at about the same time as the heavier elements were created in the stars and supernovae.

DNA comprises five main elements – carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, phosphorus, and nitrogen. And apart from hydrogen, all these elements were created in the heavier stars and dispersed throughout the universe in supernovae explosions. According to Rees, “the debris thrown back into the space [following a supernova] contains a mix of elements. Oxygen is the most common, followed by carbon, nitrogen, silicon and iron.[30] And, of course, that “debris” would also include phosphorus, and other elements. This means that the elements necessary to construct DNA were being produced by such processes across the universe.

Of course, even primitive DNA is much more complicated than simply a combination of its elements, although it is still essentially just that. Most scientists would probably agree that DNA is a very improbable result of throwing its constituent elements together. But they would also acknowledge that they “still don’t know how or where life got started.”[31]

However, we should remember what Kaku said about quantum mechanics, and probabilities: “The quantum theory is based on the idea that there is a probability that all possible events … might occur… [and] … physicists realize that if we could somehow control these probabilities, one could perform feats that would be indistinguishable from magic.”[32]

It is possible, therefore, that when all these elements were created they could have accidently formed into the right combinations to create the first primitive DNA, or precursors to DNA. But there is also the alternative possibility; that there was an unseen force controlling the process. That raises the question of whether “these laws [of nature] are arranged by some greater design or by accident …[33] Clearly both are ‘possibilities’. But in either case, quantum mechanics requires that there be an observation if any consequential amalgamation of particles is to become “fully settled”. And only Genesis provides such an explanation with the words “And God saw that it was good.”

There is certainly a great deal of evidence that life-forms exist throughout the universe, and were created in the stars. And the evidence is growing stronger by the year.

  • On 8th August 2011, it was reported that “NASA-funded researchers have evidence that some building blocks of DNA, the molecule that carries the genetic instructions for life, found in meteorites were likely created in space. The research gives support to the theory that a ‘kit’ of ready-made parts created in space and delivered to Earth by meteorite and comet impacts assisted the origin of life.
  • On October 27, 2011, Science Daily, referring to work done by Professor Sun Kwok and Dr. Yong Zhang of the University of Hong Kong, said that “Astronomers report in the journal Nature that organic compounds of unexpected complexity exist throughout the Universe. The results suggest that complex organic compounds are not the sole domain of life, but can be made naturally by stars.” The article goes on to note that, “by analyzing spectra of star dust formed in exploding stars called novae, [Kwok and Zhang] show that stars are making these complex organic compounds in extremely short time scales of weeks. Not only are stars producing this complex organic matter, they are also ejecting it into the general interstellar space, the region between stars.” Kwok is quoted as saying, “our work has shown that stars have no problem making complex organic compounds under near vacuum conditions. Theoretically, this is impossible, but observationally we can see it happening.”
  • In 2013, a team from Sheffield University, led by Professor Milton Wainwright, discovered organisms from space after sending a balloon into the high stratosphere. Wainwright noted that “If life does continue to arrive from space then we will have to completely change our view of biology and evolution.” Wainwright went on to say, “we can only conclude that the biological entities originated from space. Our conclusion then is that life is continually arriving to Earth from space, life is not restricted to this planet and almost certainly did not originate here.”
  • In 2015, it was reported that “alien life” had been discovered on the Philae comet: “The experts say the most likely explanation for certain features of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, such as its organic-rich black crust, is the presence of living organisms beneath an icy surface.” Furthermore, “Rosetta, the European spacecraft orbiting the comet, is also said to have picked up strange ‘clusters’ of organic material that resemble viral particles.”[34]
  • In 2017, the Royal Astronomical Society reported that researchers from Queen Mary University of London and University College London had detected organic compounds “in the swirling material which is forming new stars 400 light years away in the constellation Ophiuchus, The Serpent Bearer,” suggesting that prebiotic compounds, the precursors of life, “may form in the melting pot of new stars.”[35]
  • In 2014, Quanta Magazine reported the Jeremy English, a physicist at MIT, proposed that life was a natural consequence of the second law of thermodynamics. The “new theory … proposes that when a group of atoms is exposed for a long time to a source of energy, it will restructure itself to dissipate more energy. The emergence of life might not be the luck of atoms arranging themselves in the right way, it says, but an inevitable event if the conditions are correct.” Although English doesn’t suggest that this process takes place in the stars, if his theory is correct, stars would seem to present the ideal conditions for atoms to restructure to form organic compounds.[36]

These are only a few of the many findings of ‘life from space’. With missions to Mars and Saturn, it is likely that even more surprises may be in store for us. But what this evidence shows is that the Genesis account of when life was first ‘created’ is turning out to be very accurate. Even into the 1970’s, biologists were absolutely convinced that life could not exist without sunlight. That has been proved to be wrong.

As Rees notes, life can spring up in the most unlikely places, and it does not need sunlight: “The ecosystems near hot sulphurous outwellings in the deep ocean bed tell us that not even sunlight is essential [to the creation of life].”[37]

Until even more recently, the notion that life may not have evolved on Earth met with ridicule. But the evidence is starting to point in precisely that direction. If the evidence does keep building up, as Wainwright says, “we [will] have to completely change our view of biology and evolution.” And perhaps scientists will have to give at least a grudging acknowledgement to the author/s of Genesis for having ‘known’ all this many millennia ago.

Accordingly, at the end of Day Three, the universe has been transformed into a cosmic factory, with cosmic machines; it has an abundance of cosmic ingredients together with a cosmic recipe; and we get the first glimpse of the intended cosmic ‘product’ – life.

And God saw that it was good.”

Having ranked up the cosmic machinery to begin the process of ‘engineering’ the intended cosmic products, the cosmic structures and materials necessary to maintain the process are made “permanent, regular, and in a settled order” with an observation – “And God saw that it was good.”

The first three ‘days’ of Genesis has established the kind of “quantum-mechanical model” that shows how, “as a result of repeated interactions of a [conscious outside observer] with individual systems, the wave function of the combined system evolves with certainty to a final wave function, in which the [conscious outside observer] has become convinced that the probabilities of the individual measurements are what are prescribed by the Copenhagen interpretation.[38]

And the evening and the morning were the third day.” Genesis 1:13

Day Three takes the universe to a time shortly before the formation of our solar system, which is about 4.6 billion years old in earth time. That means that by the end of Day Three the universe must have been about 9.2 billion years old. Deducting the time for the first two ‘days’ (about 1 billion years), Day Three would have covered a time span of about 8.2 billion years.

From Day Four, Genesis focuses in on our solar system, although the processes that take place are just as likely to have occurred (and perhaps continue to occur) in other solar systems scattered across the universe.

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This article is based on the book A ‘Final Theory’ of God by Joseph BH McMillan

http://wp.me/P5izWu-5T

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2017 All Rights Reserved

[1] Although, as we shall see, not the human organism in its physical form, but as DNA with the necessary properties to form the physical being when it encounters the right environment.

[2] Nahmanides, Commentary on Genesis 1:1 at Para 3 . Retrieved from http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.1.3?lang=en

[3] Maimonides, Moses. Guide for the Perplexed, II: XXX, p 212 (and see 213). Retrieved from http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/gfp/gfp117.htm

[4] Weinberg, Steven. Dreams of a Final Theory, Vintage, New York, 1994 (paperback), page 6.

[5] Weinberg, page 61. Emphasis on principles is his.

[6] Nahmanides, 1:1 at Para 3.

[7] Rees, Martin. Just Six Numbers, Phoenix, London, 1999 (paperback), page 145.

[8] Rees, page 126.

[9] Rees, page 154 – my emphasis on irreversible.

[10] Maimonides, II: 30. Retrieved from http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/gfp/gfp117.htm

[11] Maimonides, II: 30.

[12] Greene, Brian. The Fabric of the Cosmos, Penguin, London, 2005 (paperback), page 305.

[13] Rees, page 126.

[14] Rees, page 119.

[15] Rees, page 127.

[16] Greene, page 223.

[17] Nahmanides 1:1:3 & Maimonides II:30.

[18] Maimonides II:30.

[19] Maimonides II:25.

[20] Kaku, Michio. Parallel Worlds, Penguin, London, 2006 (paperback), page 62.

[21] Kaku, page 63.

[22] Rees, pages 122 – 123.

[23] Kaku, page 67.

[24] Greene, page 199.

[25] See Greene, page 22, for an explanation of translational symmetry.

[26] Weinberg, page 34.

[27] Weinberg, page 37.

[28] Greene, page 189.

[29] Philo, On the Creation, XLIV, 129 – 130.

[30] Rees, page 50.

[31] Rees, page 20.

[32] Kaku, page 147.

[33] Kaku, page 242.

[34] https://uk.news.yahoo.com/alien-life-philae-comet-scientists-105432674.html#2lZ4i3r

[35] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/06/08/really-made-stardust-building-blocks-life-found-birth-new/

[36] https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-new-thermodynamics-theory-of-the-origin-of-life-20140122

[37] Rees, page 20.

[38] Weinberg, page 84.

Scientific Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Day Two – Expansion

Summary: The first chapter of Genesis reveals remarkable insights into the origins of the universe. Scientific discoveries are only today beginning to reveal the extent of those insights. The key to understanding Genesis is to recognize the methodology employed by its author/s. Applying that methodology, early Jewish scholars like Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD) accurately described cosmic phenomena which scientists now theorize were crucial for the creation of the universe. Day Two addresses two such phenomena – expansion, and the density variations of matter and energy in the early universe. Like modern cosmologists, Genesis recognized that these two cosmic phenomena were a prerequisite for the creation of heavier elements in the stars, and ultimately life itself. The analysis in these articles may not accord with current scientific, theological or philosophical interpretations of science and the Scriptures, but to ignore or dismiss it, without further investigation or reflection, would be a disservice to our understanding of our cosmic origins and our cosmic destiny.

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Before addressing Day Two, we should recall the methodology employed by the author/s of Genesis in Day One.[1]

Day One starts with “the heaven and the earth”, which are then re-described collectively as “the waters”. The “waters” are then ‘converted’ into “light”. According to science, this transformation occurred following the Big Bang, when matter and antimatter interacted to create photons of light. But because there was a slight excess of matter over antimatter, some matter was not converted into light. That excess matter accounts for the universe we see all around us. Genesis refers to this excess matter as “the darkness”, which was separated from the “light”.[2]

The same methodology is applied in Day Two.

At the start of Day Two, “light and darkness” are collectively re-described as “the waters” again. And as in Day One, water symbolizes life-giving properties; in this case, the life-giving properties of “light and darkness”.

Accordingly, Day Two starts with this:

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Genesis 1: 6

The first thing to establish in this verse is what is meant by the word “firmament”. It is a new concept that does not feature in Day One. In my King James Version of the Bible, the reference relating to the word “firmament” says “Heb. [Hebrew] expansion”. I never paid much attention to it until I started researching the science in more detail for my latest book, A ‘Final Theory’ of God. The reference to “expansion” then began to make a lot more sense.

With that more accurate translation, verse 6 reads, “And God said, Let there be an EXPANSION in the midst of the waters …” This verse then takes on a very different meaning.

But what did ‘expansion’ mean in the original Hebrew? The Hebrew word is raqiya`, which loosely translated, means to hammer out something small into something large. But it still seemed highly improbable that it could mean expansion in the scientific sense, although it did seem to be an unusual word to use. There has been a lot of debate about whether the word refers to the scientific concept of expansion and, of course, the answer depends on the objective of those making the argument.

But there is a more reliable way to determine what it means. And that is to see what Jewish scholars of the Torah thought it meant before there was any inkling in the scientific community about the importance of expansion in the ‘creation’ of the universe and life. And for that we need to return to Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD), to whom we referred in Day One.

We should remind ourselves of what Nahmanides said in his commentary on Day One:

And know that the heavens and all that is in them are one material, and the earth and all that is within it is [another] material; and the Holy One, blessed be He, created both of them from nothing – and the two of them alone were created, and everything was made from them.[3]

This is what Nahmanides then says about “the firmament” in Day Two:

He [God] said about the material that existed at the beginning when He created it from nothing, that it should be stretched out like a tent in the midst of the water and separate the waters from the waters.”[4]

Since Nahmanides lived some 700 years before the scientific concept of expansion was proposed by Alan Guth and Henry Tye in the late 1970’s, he could hardly have been trying to fit his translation of Genesis to science. For all the debate about what the word means, this evidence is by far the most reliable and compelling.

What are “the waters”?

With that in mind, we can now consider what constituted “the waters”. As we have already seen, the word is used as a collective description of “light and darkness”, which includes visible matter and energy, as well as dark matter. Of visible energy, it includes energy in the form of photons; and of visible matter, it comprises fundamental particles like electrons, protons and neutrons, the latter two of which are composed of 3 quarks each. Although scientists still know little about dark matter, they do know that it has an effect on visible matter and energy.

Of the visible matter that was ‘created’ by the Big Bang, the electrons, protons and neutrons combined to form the first basic elements (atoms). Greene says this: “Our most refined theories of the origin of the universe – our most refined cosmological theories – tell us that by the time the universe was a couple of minutes old, it was filled with a nearly uniform hot gas composed of roughly 75 percent hydrogen, 23 percent helium, and small amounts of deuterium and lithium.[5]

Weinberg says that the Big Bang theory enables scientists to calculate that “the matter formed in the first few minutes of the universe was about three-quarters hydrogen and one-quarter helium, with only a trace of other elements, chiefly very light ones like lithium. This is the raw material out of which heavier elements were later formed in stars.[6]

Martin Rees adds that, at this stage, the universe would have been “dense and opaque, like the glowing gas inside a star.[7]

Michio Kaku explains why that should be. He says that “for years after the big bang, the temperature of the universe was so hot that anytime an atom formed, it would be ripped apart; hence there were many free electrons that could scatter light. Thus, the universe was opaque, not transparent. Any light beam moving in this super-hot universe would be absorbed after travelling a short distance, so the universe looked cloudy.”[8]

This was the state of the universe at the end of Day One, and the start of Day Two. There were “the waters” – “light and darkness” – which were called “Day” and “Night”. As we have already noted, this naming is to highlight permanent changes to the state of the universe as the original matter and energy are ‘processed’ through the first three ‘days’ (this naming only appears in the first three days).

Day Two tells us that it is into this state of the early universe, described as “the waters”, that God is said to have inserted an “expansion” to separate some parts of “the waters” from other parts of “the waters” – “to divide the waters from the waters.”

When God is said to put this plan into effect, this is what happens:

And God made the firmament (expansion,) and divided the waters which were under the firmament (expansion) from the waters which were above the firmament (expansion): and it was so.” Genesis 1:7

The underlined emphasis of the words “were” are the original, suggesting a pre-existing state in which certain parts of “the waters” were in different places – “under” or “above”. That would have been a consequence of what happened in Day One. And Day One was about inflationary cosmology.

Greene identifies one specific consequence of inflationary cosmology which was crucial to the formation of the universe as we see it today.

Why some of “the waters” were “under”, and others “above”, the “Firmament”

According to Greene, “the initial nonuniformity that ultimately resulted in the formation of stars and galaxies came from quantum mechanics.”[9] Like particles, fields are also subject to quantum phenomena, so the “rate of change” of a field is not uniform but “will undulate up or down” at various speeds, or “assume a strange mixture of many different rates of change, and hence its value will undergo a frenzied, fuzzy, random jitter.”[10] This means that the “amount of energy in one location would have been a bit different to what it was in another.[11]

These small differences in the quantum world of the pre-inflationary universe were then amplified by inflationary expansion, causing certain areas of the expanding universe to be more ‘dense’ in particles and energy than others. This has been confirmed by measurements of the temperature differences of microwave photons arriving from space. Greene says that “observations have shown that … tiny temperature differences fill out a particular pattern on the sky …,[12] confirming slight differences in the density of matter and energy in different locations in the universe. And these variations were “set down nearly 14 billion years ago … [and arose] from quantum uncertainty.”[13]

Greene attributes these variations to the inflaton (Higgs) field, to which we referred in Day One. Scientists believe that this field was the engine for inflationary expansion in the earliest moments of the universe. According to Greene, the inflaton field “reached the value of lowest energy at different places at slightly different moments. In turn, inflationary expansion shut off at slightly different times at different locations in space, so that the amount of spatial expansion at different locations varied slightly …”[14]

This resulted in different densities of matter and energy in different regions of space, or more accurately, the expanding universe. According to Rees, “slightly overdense regions, expanding slower than average, were destined to become galaxies and clusters; others, slightly underdense, were destined to become voids.”[15]

It seems then, that describing some of ‘the waters’ as being in different places – “under” or “above” – in relation to the “expansion”, is quite accurate, according to inflationary cosmology. Without it, the universe as we know it, and life itself, would not exist.

Why no mention in Day Two of the words “And God saw …”?

We should recall that there is a subtle but crucial difference between the explanation of what takes place on Day Two, and what takes place on all the other ‘days’. After God is said to have ‘instructed’ that there be an “expansion”, He then “made the expansion”; but there is no ‘observation’; that is, the words “And God saw …” are absent from Day Two.

However, if Greene is right about how expansion works in scientific terms, then it seems that the author/s of Genesis must have had some understanding of the need and effect of expansion in creating the universe as we know it.

Nahmanides certainly recognized the omission, and identified a reason for it.

He asks the question, “Why does it not say, ‘And God saw that it was good,’ on the second [day]?” And he answers, “Since the work of the water was not finished – therefore, it is written twice on the third [day]; once for the work of the water and once for the work of the day.”[16]

The question then is, what “work” did “the waters” still have to do, and why was expansion important to that work?

As we have already seen, by the beginning of Day Two, the Big Bang had only created the lighter elements of hydrogen, helium, deuterium and lithium. The Big Bang did not generate sufficient heat to produce the heavier elements needed to create the universe and life as we know it. That is because “… elements with 5 and 8 neutrons and protons are extremely unstable and hence cannot act as a ‘bridge’ to create elements that have a greater number of protons and neutrons.[17]

That required a different cosmic phenomenon.

In the 1950’s, Fred Hoyle, an English physicist at Cambridge University, had a moment of ‘insight’ which went some way to resolving how the heavier elements could have been created. As Kaku says, “in a stroke of genius, Hoyle realized that IF there were a previously unnoticed unstable form of carbon, created out of three helium nuclei, it might last just long enough to act as a ‘bridge,’ allowing for the creation of higher elements. … When this unstable form of carbon was actually found, it brilliantly demonstrated that nucleosynthesis could take place in the stars, rather than the big bang.[18]

However, not all stars are heavy enough to produce the heat necessary to create the heavier elements. That would require heavier stars with greater gravity. According to Rees, such stars can reach a “billion degrees” and thus “release further energy via the build-up of carbon (six protons), and by a chain of transmutations into progressively heavier nuclei.[19] But once we get to iron, which has the most “tightly bound” nucleus, “energy must be added” to create the even heavier elements beyond iron. And so, says Rees, “a star therefore faces an energy crisis when its core is transmuted into iron … [and] …the consequences are dramatic.[20]

The intense gravity causes the core of the star to implode which “releases enough energy to blow off the overlying material in a colossal explosion – creating a supernova.[21]

The supernova then ‘fertilizes’, so to speak, the universe by blasting its mix of elements into space. “The debris thrown back into space contains this mix of elements. Oxygen is the most common, followed by carbon, nitrogen, silicon and iron. The calculated proportions … [depend on the] … types of stars and the various evolutionary paths they take …[22]

This mix of elements was a pre-requisite for life. As Kaku says, “our true ‘mother’ sun was actually an unnamed star or collection of stars that died billions of years ago in a supernova, which then seeded nearby nebulae with the higher elements beyond iron that make up our body.”[23]

Calibrating Cosmic Forces for the Creation of Life

However, all this chemistry in the stars depends on a precise balance between the expansion force and the density variations of matter and energy in space, which Genesis symbolizes by referring to some of “the waters” being “under the expansion” and others being “over the expansion”.

But for this balance to be effective in creating a universe capable of spawning and sustaining life, certain cosmic forces and factors also had to be calibrated to very precise values. In his book Just Six Numbers, Martin Rees identifies six numbers whose values had to be “finely tuned” for our universe to exist in its present form. And according to Rees, these numbers were “imprinted into [the universe] at the time of the initial Big Bang.”[24]

In Nahmanides’ terminology, the “work” that “the waters” still had to do required that the quantities and properties of the matter and energy created in Day One had to be precisely calibrated for the “expansion” force to finish the “work”.

  • First, the ‘creation’ of “light and darkness” in Day One resulted in the creation of fundamental particles with the ability to bind together to form atoms (elements). For that to happen, the number ε had to be tuned to the correct value. This number, “whose value is 0.007, defines how firmly atomic nuclei bind together and how all the atoms on earth were made. … If ε were 0.006 or 0.008, we could not exist.”[25]

The number ε is important in relation to expansion, because it is the effect of expansion, in conjunction with the ‘balancing’ of the other numbers, that enables the first atoms (elements) to build more complex and heavier atoms. But again, for expansion to bring that about, “the waters” needed different densities in different locations in the expanding universe, otherwise the ‘fine tuning’ of the number ε would have been powerless to create heavier elements.

  • The ‘creation’ of “light and darkness” also resulted in the ‘fine tuning’ of another of Rees’ numbers. That number is N, which “measures the strength of the electrical forces that hold atoms together, divided by the force of gravitybetween them.”[26] However, it is only when the density discrepancies in different parts of the expanding universe are subjected to the effects of expansion that the ‘fine tuning’ of N can finish its “work” by creating heavier elements.
  • Thirdly, the transformation of initial matter and space, which were “without form, and void,” into “light and darkness,” also produced three dimensions, and the expansion (motion) of matter and energy through space as a consequence of that transformation, created the concept of time, which Genesis refers to as “the evening and the morning.” That satisfies another of Rees’ six numbers, the number D, which “… is the number of spatial dimensions in our world, D, and equals three. Life couldn’t exist if D were two or four. Time is a fourth dimension … [which] … has a built in arrow: we move only towards the future.[27] Expansion is crucial to ensure that time continues to move towards the future.

The next three of Rees’ numbers are particularly relevant to Day Two. They relate to the effect of expansion on the density variations of matter and energy. Rees explains it this way: “The starting point is an expanding universe, described by Ω, λ and Q. The outcome depends sensitively on these three key numbers, imprinted (we are not sure how) in the very early universe.”

  • The first is Ω (omega). This number relates to the density of matter in the universe (both visible matter and dark matter). If the density was too great in relation to the expansion force and gravity, the early universe would have collapsed in on itself. If the density in relation to expansion and gravity was too sparse, the universe would have expanded at such a quick rate that no galaxies and stars could have formed, and the universe would have become a dark, empty place. Given the counterforces of expansion and gravity, scientists have calculated a critical density within which the actual density should fall for the universe to have emerged in the form we see it. Rees explains that “the ratio of the actual density to the critical density is a crucial number. Cosmologists denote it by the Greek letter Ω (omega). The fate of the universe depends on whether or not Ω exceeds one.[28] But Rees also notes that Ω must have been “tuned amazingly close to unity in the early universe.”[29] This means that at the start of Day Two “the waters” contained exactly the right density of matter necessary to create the universe, and thus life. But in order to do so, a precisely calibrated rate of expansion was required to finish the “work”. As Rees says, “only a ‘finely tuned’ expansion rate can provide the arena for these processes to unfold.[30]
  • The rate of expansion is denoted by λ (lambda). It is the weakest force in the universe, and the most mysterious. But it is a crucial force. It acts as a counter-force to gravity, thus ensuring that gravity doesn’t cause all the matter and energy in the universe to collapse in on itself. However, for expansion to ensure that “the waters” could finish their “work”, it had to be “finely tuned”. But it also required one further cosmic phenomenon to be precisely calibrated – the density variations of matter and energy.
  • And that brings us to the last of Rees’ six numbers, the number Q. This number is a measure of the density differences which are the “initial irregularities [that] ‘seed’ the growth of structure[s][31] like stars and galaxies. According to Rees, “the number Q measures the amplitude of these irregularities or ‘ripples’. Why Q is about 10­-5 is still a mystery.[32] Genesis symbolizes these density variations by describing some of “the waters” as being “under the expansion” and others being “above the expansion.” These density differences in “the waters” were crucial for expansion to finish the “work”. And that “work” was to prepare the early universe for the creation of heavier elements in stars. As Rees says, “slightly overdense regions, expanding slower than average, were destined to become galaxies and clusters; others, slightly underdense, were destined to become voids.”[33]

How Expansion enables “the waters” to do its “work

Greene explains the process as follows: “as the universe expands, matter and radiation lose energy to gravity while an inflaton field gains energy from gravity.”[34] The “total energy carried by ordinary particles of matter and radiation drops because it is continually transferred to gravity as the universe expands. … gravity depletes the energy in fast moving particles of matter and radiation as space swells.[35] On the other hand, “a uniform inflaton field exerts a negative pressure within an expanding universe. … [thus] the total energy embodied in the inflaton field increases as the universe expands because it extracts energy from gravity.”[36]

However, this ‘exchange’ of energy away from gravity, and to expansion, is dependent on very precise variations of the matter density in the expanding universe. If the density of energy and matter were absolutely uniform, this exchange would be uniform, and no stars and galaxies could form. If the densities of matter and energy in certain regions of space were too great, expansion would cause a greater transfer of energy to gravity than in less dense regions, and that increased gravity would attract other nearby matter, thus preventing the formation of galaxies and stars with the right density to be the engines for creating heavier elements.

As Rees says, “the dominant gravitational stuff is … ‘dark matter’ … [which is] … influenced by gravity. … Swarms of dark matter on subgalactic scales condense out first; these merge into galactic-mass objects, which then form clusters.”[37]

But this clustering of dark matter also needs atoms. According to Rees, the atoms “ride along passively [on the dark matter], constituting a dilute gas that ‘feels’ the dark matter’s gravity.[38] And this ‘gas’ of atoms “exerts a pressure as well … [which] … prevents the gas from being pulled by gravity into very small ‘clumps’ of dark matter.[39]

This process of matter ‘clustering’ into galaxies and stars was playing out across the universe; and it was a consequence of expansion amplifying the density variations in matter and energy. It was the process that would create the conditions for the ‘manufacture’ of heavier elements, the elements needed to create life.

That was the “work” that “the waters” had to finish. And that is why there is no observation in Day Two, hence the omission of the words “And God saw …”.

Manipulating probabilities – “And God made the firmament” Genesis 1:7

For our consideration of the lack of an ‘observation’ in Day Two, it is important to understand, as Rees says, that “[w]hen the universe was a million years old, everything was still expanding almost uniformly.[40]

However, “if our universe had started off completely smooth and uniform, it would have remained so throughout its expansion It would [have been] cold and dull: no galaxies, therefore no stars, no periodic table, no complexity, certainly no people.”[41]

The expansion force needed something to bring together all the other forces (numbers) that had been ‘imprinted’ on Day One. And that something was the slight density differences of matter and energy in space. As we have seen, Genesis describes these density differences as some of “the waters” being “under the expansion”, and others being “above the expansion”.

Scientists calculate the length of the events recorded in Day One as about 300,000 years of Earth time. That would have meant there was a near uniform density of matter, energy and forces throughout the universe at the start of Day Two.

However, at about this time, the universe began to cool from the extreme temperatures following the Big Bang. Kaku explains it this way: “After 380,000 years … the temperature dropped to 3,000 degrees. Below that temperature, atoms were no longer ripped apart … [and] … stable atoms could form, and light beams could now travel for light-years without being absorbed.”[42]

Rees says that “after half a million years of expansion, the temperature dropped to around 3,000 degrees … As the universe cooled further, it literally entered a dark age … [which] persisted until the first protogalaxies formed and lit it up again.”[43]

According to Greene, in the “early history of the universe, matter was spread uniformly throughout space.[44] Furthermore, “although attractive gravity causes clumps of matter and creases of space to grow, repulsive gravity (expansion) does the opposite: it causes them to diminish, leading to an ever smoother, ever more uniform outcome.[45]

At this point, we should remind ourselves of what Kaku said regarding quantum theory: “The quantum theory is based on the idea that there is a probability that all possible events … might occur. This, in turn, lies at the heart of inflationary universe theory …”[46]

However, Kaku also acknowledges that “physicists realize that if we could somehow control these probabilities” then anything “is possible.”[47]

The description of Day Two then starts to make sense. The scientific consensus is that the matter and energy density in the early universe was almost perfectly uniform. Gravity and expansion were evenly balanced, thus tending to “an ever smoother, ever more uniform outcome.”

However, since there is a probability that all “possible events … might occur”, at this early stage of the universe there must have been a probability that the almost perfect uniformity could have become perfectly uniform, in terms of both matter and energy density, as well as the balance of the gravitational and expansionary forces. That would have meant that no universe as we know it would have formed, and thus no life.

The use of the words “And God said, Let there be an expansion …” suggests a manipulation of probabilities. It suggests the exclusion of the probability of perfect uniformity, or the probability of under-density or over-density. And that is important, because otherwise, as Rees says, either the “universe would be inert and structureless”, or “it would have been a violent place in which no stars or solar systems could survive …[48]

Day Two was a bridge to Day Three. Therefore, no reference to “And God saw …” was necessary. The slight density variations which existed at the start of Day Two, symbolized by “the waters” being in different locations – “under” or “above”, needed only to be amplified by the effects of a precisely calibrated rate of expansion to prepare the early universe for the next intended steps in constructing a universe capable of spawning and sustaining life. The important thing was to ensure that other probabilities did not intervene to disturb that ‘fine-tuning’.

The omission of the words “And God saw that it was good” suggests that the author/s of Genesis understood that, as did Nahmanides.

And God called the firmament Heaven.” Genesis 1:8

Day Two concludes its account of the division of “the waters” with this: “And God called the firmament Heaven.[49] As we have already noted, this naming at the end of the “day” (always with a capital letter), signifies a permanent change from the state of the universe at the start of the ‘day’. At the start of Day Two there were “the waters” into which was inserted an “expansion”. At the end of Day Two the “expansion” had divided “the waters”, resulting in what God is said to call “Heaven”.

We should now recall what Rees said about the effect of the density differences in matter and energy in different parts of space: “slightly overdense regions, expanding slower than average, were destined to become galaxies and clusters; others, slightly underdense, were destined to become voids’.[50]

Genesis calls these voidsHeaven” – those areas of space that were left ‘free’ of matter. When we look up at the night sky, it is those areas that are not lit up by stars. As Greene says, “according to inflation, the more than 100 billion galaxies, sparkling throughout space like heavenly diamonds, are nothing but quantum mechanics writ large across the sky.[51]

And the evening and the morning were the second day.” Genesis 1:8

Day Two ends at just about the time Rees says the “first protogalaxies formed” which lit up the universe again following the “dark age”.[52] According to Rees’ depiction of the time-line of the universe, that would have been about 1 billion years after the Big Bang.[53] Thus “the evening and the morning” of Day Two were approximately one billion years, less the 300,000 years for Day One.

However, as already noted, it was important that the effect of the “expansion” up to this time should not yet be made “irreversible”, hence there is no reference to “And God saw …” in Day Two. That only comes halfway through Day Three. In the language of the delayed-choice experiments, the effect of the density differences should not be “fully settled” by an observation (measurement) until all the elements had been created, ‘fertilizing’ the universe with their life-creating, and life-sustaining, properties.

Conclusion

That leaves just one final point to make regarding Day Two. What makes the Genesis account of “expansion” so remarkable is that it does separate, so to speak, the initial “inflation” in Day One, from the “expansion” which is said to start in Day Two. And that perfectly corresponds to Rees’ description of the process up to this point: “The fierce repulsion that drove inflation must have switched off, allowing the universe, having by then enlarged enough to encompass everything that we now see, to embark on its more leisurely expansion.[54]

The expansion which divides “the waters” causes matter and energy to concentrate into dense clusters, ready to form stars, from which the heavier elements necessary for the creation of life can be ‘manufactured’.

The expanding universe is thus ready for its next major transformation.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

The next article will address the even more remarkable insights in Day Three.

Joseph BH McMillan. This article is an abridged extract from A ‘Final Theory’ of God.

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2017 All Rights Reserved

Footnotes

 [1] I make no judgment on the author or authors of Genesis.

[2] The Big Bang also created dark matter, but for the sake of simplicity, I have not addressed it here, although it is addressed in the book.

[3] Nahmanides, Commentary on Genesis 1:1 at Para 3 . Retrieved from http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.1.3?lang=en

[4] Nahmanides, Commentary of Genesis 1:6, Retrieved from http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.6.1?lang=en

[5] Greene, Brian. The Fabric of the Cosmos, Penguin, London, 2005 (paperback), page 171 (emphasis in bold is Greene’s).

[6] Weinberg, Steven. Dreams of a Final Theory, Vintage, New York, 1994 (paperback), pages 33 – 34.

[7] Rees, Martin. Just Six Numbers, Phoenix, London, 1999 (paperback), page 119.

[8] Kaku, Michio. Parallel Worlds, Penguin, London, 2006 (paperback), pages 57 – 58.

[9] Greene, page 305.

[10] Greene, page 306.

[11] Greene, page 306.

[12] Greene, page 311.

[13] Greene, page 311 – 312.

[14] Greene, page 307 – my emphasis in bold.

[15] Rees, page 119.

[16] Nahmanides, Commentary on Genesis 1:11. Retrieved from http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.11.1?lang=en

[17] Kaku, page 56.

[18] Kaku, page 62 – emphasis on IF is mine.

[19] Rees, page 50.

[20] Rees, page 50.

[21] Rees, page 50.

[22] Rees, page 50.

[23] Kaku, page 67.

[24] Rees, page 1.

[25] Rees, page 2.

[26] Rees, page 2.

[27] Rees, page 3.

[28] Rees, page 82.

[29] Rees, page 100

[30] Rees, page 99.

[31] Rees, page 127.

[32] Rees, page 128.

[33] Rees, page 119.

[34] Greene, page 312.

[35] Greene, page 311 – bold emphasis is Greene’s.

[36] Greene, pages 311 to 322 – bold emphasis is Greene’s.

[37] Rees, page 119 – 120.

[38] Rees, page 122.

[39] Rees, page 122.

[40] Rees, page 121.

[41] Rees, page 117.

[42] Kaku, page 58.

[43] Rees, page 119.

[44] Greene, page 314.

[45] Greene, page 315.

[46] Kaku, page 147.

[47] Kaku, pages 147 and 146 respectively.

[48] Rees, page 3.

[49] Genesis 1: 7.

[50] Rees, page 119 – emphasis in bold is mine.

[51] Greene, page 308.

[52] Rees, page 119.

[53] Rees, illustration at page 132.

[54] Rees, page 139 – emphasis in bold is mine.

Scientific Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Day One – Inflationary Cosmology

In the Jewish “Old Testament”, the book of divine justice, there are human beings, things, and speeches in so grand style that Greek and Indian literature have nothing to compare with it. With terror and reverence one stands before these tremendous remnants of what man once was …” Friedrich Nietzsche.[1]

Nowhere in the Scriptures is that observation more true than the book of Genesis. In just three chapters, Genesis provides a detailed scientific explanation of the origins of the universe and life, a detailed account of the formation and functioning of the human brain, and a concise exposition of the neurological mechanisms that give rise to human consciousness and human conscience. In just three short chapters, Genesis explains our cosmic origins and our cosmic destiny.

Furthermore, these three chapters inform everything else in the Scriptures. In my humble view, a flawed understanding of these few chapters necessarily undermines our understanding of the rest of the Scriptures.

For those of an open mind, whether believer or unbeliever, the insights revealed by Genesis can only instill a sense of awe. Verse by verse, even word by word, Genesis unveils the mysteries of the universe.

And that is how we will approach the task – line by line, and word by word.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

The first task is to determine what is meant by “the earth” and “the heaven”.

Verse 2 describes “the earth” as being “without form, and void;” and “the heaven” is depicted by the words “and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

Clearly, therefore, “the earth” in verse 1 does not mean planet Earth, because planet Earth is not “without form and void”; and describing “heaven” with the words “darkness was on the face of the deep”, can’t be a reference to the stars, moon and planets we see in the night sky.

These descriptions of “the heaven and the earth” better fit with the current scientific understanding of what matter and space must have looked like before the Big Bang.

Scientists, or more properly cosmologists, attribute the ‘beginning’ of the universe to what is called inflation, which they believe led to the Big Bang.

However, the initial “inflationary burst” that set the universe in motion did not actually create the universe. According to the physicist Brian Greene, it occurred in an already “PREEXISTING universe.[2]

Martin Rees, previously Royal Astronomer in Britain, says that the world we see about us, and life itself, is “the outcome of a chain of events that cosmologists can trace back to an ultra-dense primal medium that was almost STRUCTURELESS.”[3] According to Rees, scientific measurements prove that all the matter and energy in the universe “was once a compressed gas, hotter than the sun’s core.[4]

The popular television physicist, Michio Kaku, describing the initial sudden inflationary burst, says that “a mysterious antigravity force caused the universe to expand.” [5] It should be noted that Kaku does not say that inflation ‘created the universe’, but that it “caused the universe to expand.” The universe already existed.

On “the heaven”, Brain Greene says this about “space” in the “preexisting” universe: “But if the universe is spatially infinite, there was already an infinite spatial expanse at the moment of the big bang.”[6]

What we see from these references is that the universe as we now know it ‘existed’ in a different form before something happened which caused it to ‘transform’ into the present universe.

Genesis ascribes the existence of this matter in a preexisting universe to God. Scientists acknowledge that they can at best speculate as to where it came from.

Greene admits to the scientific establishment’s “continuing ignorance of fundamental origin: specifically, … why there are space and time within which the whole discussion can take place, and … why there is something rather than nothing.[7]

Rees warns scientists against claiming that the “universe can arise ‘from nothing’”. He says that Einstein showed that even what we think of as empty space has “a structure such that it can be warped and distorted. Even if shrunk to a ‘point’, it is LATENT with particles and forces.”[8]

So, until scientists can come up with some explanation as to where the ‘ingredients’ that gave rise to the universe came from, we can at best leave the issue where it is. Either we don’t know, or it has always been there, or God created it “in the beginning”. And we should remember what Max Planck said – “Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of Nature. And it is because in the last analysis we ourselves are part of the mystery we are trying to solve.”[9]

The next step is to consider what this dense matter, “the earth”, in the preexisting universe looked like.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. Genesis 1:2

We get a clue of the scientific perspective of what the pre-inflationary universe looked like from some of the above references – “a compressed gas” or “ultra-dense primal medium that was almost structureless.”

Brian Greene describes it as “… a wild and energetic realm of primordial chaos; [with] extremes of heat and colossal density,”[10] in which “gravity was by far the dominant force.”[11]

Referring to theories of the physicist Boltzmann, Greene also says this: “Everything we see may have resulted from a chance fluctuation out of a highly DISORDERED state of primeval CHAOS.”[12]

These scientific descriptions of what the pre-inflationary universe must have looked like are remarkably similar to the description in Genesis of “the earth” being “without form” and “void”, and that “darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

There was matter, but it was “highly disordered”, “structureless”, and a “primordial chaos” – which is almost identical to saying that it was “without form” and “void”. And since it was “ultra-dense”, and of “colossal density”, even light could not escape its immense “gravity” – “darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

It’s a beautiful and perceptive description of what scientists today imagine the pre-inflationary universe must have looked like.

At this point, verse 2 introduces a literary technique that is repeated throughout the first chapter of Genesis.

And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:2

The condensed pre-inflationary universe of matter and space, referred to in verses 1 as “the heaven and the earth”, are re-described collectively as “the waters”. Water has long been associated with life – life giving and life supporting. In that respect, we should recall what Rees said: “Even if shrunk to a ‘point’, it [matter in the pre-inflationary universe] is LATENT with particles and forces.[13] What may appear to be empty space, or a primordial plasma, has the “latent” potential to build the universe as we know it, and thus life.

According to Genesis, this “latent” potential of the pre-inflationary matter, symbolized by the “the waters”, was released when “the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

So far as physicists are concerned, the general belief is that a sort of anti-gravity force, referred to as an inflaton field (also called a Higgs field), exerted a powerful repulsive force which overwhelmed gravity causing a “gigantic gravitational repulsion that drove every region of space to rush away from every other.”[14]

However, as noted above, Greene admits to science’s “continuing ignorance of fundamental origin: specifically, if inflationary cosmology is right, our ignorance of why there is an inflaton field, why its potential energy bowl has the right shape for inflation to have occurred, why there are space and time within which the whole discussion can take place, and … why there is something rather than nothing.[15]

Likewise, Michio Kaku asks, “What set off this antigravity force that inflated the universe?” And his answer is that “there are over fifty proposals explaining what turned on inflation and what eventually terminated it.” But, he says, although all physicists don’t agree on how it all happened, most now subscribe to the “core idea of a rapid inflationary period.”[16] (We shall return to the words “turned on” and “terminated” shortly. They are particularly relevant to Day 2).

Physicists therefore agree, for the most part, that inflation set the process in motion, leading to the Big Bang and the creation of the universe as we know it; a universe that has spawned life.

So describing the pre-inflationary universe as “the waters” is apt. And the description of “the spirit of God [moving] across the face of the waters” uncannily describes what physicists now believe happened – “latentparticles and forces” submerged, so to speak, in a dense primordial chaos, strangled by gravity, were released when an inflaton field, or some other force, was somehow ‘activated’, causing an enormous repulsive gravitational force which released the ‘life creating’ potential of those “latent … particles and forces.”

Greene describes the immediate aftermath of the inflationary burst like this: “[As] the burst of expansion drew to a close … the inflaton released its pent-up energy to the production of ordinary matter and radiation.”[17]

Genesis ascribes this initial ‘activation’ of “latent” matter that “was without form, and void”, to the “spirit of God”, whereas physicists have no idea how or why it happened. So again, the only difference is in the explanation of how the event happened, not that it did.

Even these few verses of Genesis suggest that its author/s must have been aware, to some significant extent, of what scientists today describe as Inflationary Cosmology, which led to what we call expansion.

The commentary on Genesis by the Jewish Scholar Nahmanides (1194 – 1270) tends to confirm this. Nahmanides explained these verses of Genesis as follows:

And now, listen to a correct and clear explanation of the text according to its simple understanding (peshuto). The Holy One, blessed be He, created all of the creations from absolute nothingness. And we have no other expression in the Holy Tongue for bringing out something from nothing than “bara” (which is found almost exclusively in this verse). And none of all that which was made – ‘under the sun’ or above – existed [directly] from nothing. Rather, He brought out a very fine element from complete nothingness; it has no substance, but it is the energy that can create, that is able to accept a form and to go from the potential to the actual. And this is the first material [and] is called hyle by the Greeks. And after hyle, He didn’t create anything, but [rather] formed and made [the creations]; since it is from it that He brought everything forth and clothed the forms and refined them. And know that the heavens and all that is in them are one material, and the earth and all that is within it is [another] material; and the Holy One, blessed be He, created both of them from nothing – and the two of them alone were created, and everything was made from them.[18]

Nearly one thousand years before modern science proposed the theory of cosmic expansion, a Jewish Scholar studying the Torah described a very similar phenomenon. And as we shall see when we look at Day Two, there is a very good reason for that.

On that point, we should mention again the methodology applied in Genesis. As the statement by Nahmanides suggests, Genesis records a consistent pattern of transition of the ‘material’ it starts with, “the heaven and the earth”, through various stages. At each stage, the ‘material’ of the previous stage is invariably re-described before it undergoes its next transition, until the process is complete. And the completed process gives us insight into the purpose of the undertaking.

With that in mind, we can move on to the next stage of the process.

The next events described by Genesis are so profound in terms of physics and quantum mechanics that it is best to take the next two verses together.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” Genesis 1:3 & 4

We’ll start with the easy part of these verses – “light” and “darkness” – before moving on to the quantum aspects (although they do overlap).

The first thing to note is that what was previously described as “the waters”, which was itself a collective description of “the heaven and the earth”, now undergoes a transition to become “light”. But then there is the curious mention of “the darkness”. It hasn’t been mentioned before, and neither is it said to have been ‘created’. God is only recorded as creating “light”. But there is good reason for that omission.

In scientific terms, much of what happened “in the beginning” is speculative, but certain assumptions can be drawn by working ‘backwards’, so to speak, and deducing what must have happened to create what we see around us.

Rees says that the universe “evolved from a primordial fireball, uniformly hot, into a structured state containing very hot stars radiating into very cold space … [which] … set the stage for increasingly intricate cosmic evolution, and the emergence of life.”[19]

And that “fireball” created, or released, ‘light’. But ‘light’ in what sense?

Well, that is where antimatter comes in. Light is made up of photons which have no mass. They ended up that way because of antimatter. When an electron and an antielectron (called a positron, which is antimatter) collide with each other, they release two photons. Two sub-atomic particles with mass ‘destroy’ each other and in the process convert their joint mass into energy in the form of two photons (mass-less particles of pure energy).

According to physicists Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw, “Processes like this played a very important role in the early history of the universe when matter and antimatter almost completely cancelled themselves out by just such interactions. Today we see the remnant of that cancellation.”[20]

But Cox and Forshaw note that astronomical observations show that “for every 100 billion matter particles made just after the big bang, only one survived. The rest took the opportunity available to them … to divest themselves of their mass and become photons.[21]

So, just after the Big Bang, only one of approximately every 100 billion particles ‘chose’ not to transform into light.

Cox and Forshaw say this as to what was left of the particles: “In a very real sense, the stuff of the universe that makes up stars planets and people is only a tiny residue, left over after the grand annihilation that took place early on in the universe’s history. It is very fortunate and almost miraculous that anything was left at all. To this day we are not sure why that happened. The question ‘why is the universe not just filled with light and nothing else?’ is still open-ended, …[22]

Martin Rees suggests a reason for this. Citing work by the Russian physicist Andrei Sakharov, he suggests that there was a slight asymmetry between particles and antiparticles “during the cooling immediately after the big bang.” Accordingly “this would create a slight excess of quarks over antiquarks (which would later translate into an excess of protons over antiprotons).[23]

And, explains Rees, studies by American physicists James Cronin and Val Finch into the rate of decay of “an unstable particle called K˚,” provides evidence for this. “They found that this particle and its antiparticle weren’t perfect mirror images of each other, but decayed at slightly different rates; some slight asymmetry was built into the laws governing the decays.”[24]

But for every billion quarks that were annihilated with antiquarks, one would survive because it couldn’t find a partner to annihilate with… So all the atoms in the universe could result from a tiny bias in favour of matter over antimatter.[25]

However, the most important point in respect of this excess of matter over antimatter is that it created the material from which life would be built. “As Sakharov points out, our very existence depends on an IRREVERSIBLE effect that established an excess of matter over antimatter … Had that not occurred, all the matter would have been annihilated with an equal amount of antimatter, leaving a universe containing no atoms at all.”[26]

The establishment of an “irreversible effect” at certain points in the ‘creation’ process is crucially important to both the Scriptural and scientific accounts of the origins of the universe.

As these scientific explanations demonstrate, the direct consequence of the initial inflationary burst, and subsequent Big Bang, was the creation of ‘light’. The fact that other matter, important as it may be to our very existence, was left-over from the creation of ‘light’ appears to scientists to have been entirely coincidental. But it also perfectly explains why there is no mention in Genesis of God creating “the darkness”. That is because “the darkness” refers to the matter that was left over after all the antimatter had been annihilated with matter, of which there was a very slight excess.

But it was crucial to our very existence that the ‘creation’ of ‘light’ took place at the precise moment when there was a very slight excess of matter over antimatter; an excess that created the perfect proportion of matter to energy in the universe to facilitate and sustain life. Dark matter and dark energy are also relevant to the reference to “darkness”, but for the sake of brevity, I will not deal with them here (although they are dealt with in the book).

It is therefore not surprising that it is at precisely this crucial moment, the creation of light, that we find the curious words “And God said” followed by “And God saw.”

Quantum Physics

With the exception of Day 2, which only has “And God said …,” all the other Days have the two-stage process of ‘creation’ involving “And God said …,” followed by “And God saw …”

We should also note that following each “And God saw …” appear the words “that it was good.” The only exception is verse 31, where they are followed by the words “… it was very good.”[27]

So why all this detail about the words “And God said …” and “And God saw …”?

Well, let’s start with a quote from the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Steven Weinberg: “We really do need to understand quantum mechanics better in quantum cosmology, the application of quantum mechanics to the whole universe, WHERE NO OUTSIDE OBSERVER is even imaginable.”[28]

The reference to an “outside observer” is crucial because it brings together quantum mechanics (physics) with those curious words in Genesis which refer to God ‘speaking’ and ‘seeing’.

To better comprehend the importance of this connection, we need to briefly consider this aspect of quantum physics.

Quantum physics relates to the behavior of sub-atomic particles like electrons, photons and quarks. These particles make up everything we know as ordinary matter and energy. As Weinberg says, scientists study these fundamental particles because they believe that by doing so they “will learn something about the PRINCIPLES that govern everything.”[29] That is, scientists believe that the behavior of fundamental particles may lead them to a ‘final theory of everything.’

However, quantum physics tells us that fundamental particles are not like tiny grains of sand. They are more like waves. Scientists call this property of a particle its wavefunction. The wavefunction means that a particle can adopt any one of all probable states. But, as Brian Greene says, “only when the particle is looked at (measured or observed) does it randomly commit to one definite property or another.”[30]

There is a two-stage process that determines how fundamental particles transform from a quantum state to a state capable of establishing the physical universe.

First, particles are ‘free’ to choose from all probable states. Second, only when a particle is observed will it choose one specific state.

Many physicists believe that this is the basis for what we describe as “free will.” Michio Kaku describes the effect of quantum physics like this: “in a quantum play, the actors suddenly throw away the script and act on their own. The puppets cut their strings. Free will has been established.”[31]

However, Kaku says that “physicists realize that if [they] could somehow control these probabilities, one could perform feats indistinguishable from magic.”[32] And this is an important element of the Genesis account of creation.

There are also two other aspects of particle behavior we ought to note.

Delayed-Choice Experiments

The first relates to what are described as delayed-choice experiments. In these experiments, particles are fired through a beam splitter at a detector. When the detector is switched off, the particles show an interference pattern demonstrating that they are in a wave-like mode. However, when the detector is switched on, the particles pass through one or other slit on the splitter and appear as a dot. That means they are in a particle-like mode because they have assumed a specific state after being measured (observed) by the detector.

But if the detector is switched off after the particle has been emitted, the particle appears to ‘know’ that the detector will be switched off before it is fired, and adopts a wave-like state. If the detector is programmed to randomly switch on and off as particles are fired at it, the particles always ‘guess’ correctly whether the detector will be switched on or off when they arrive.

Brian Greene notes that “it’s as if the photons adjust their behaviour in the past according to the future choice of whether the … detector is switched on; it’s as though the photons have a “premonition” of the experimental situation they will encounter farther downstream, and act accordingly. It’s as if a consistent and definite history becomes manifest only after the future to which it leads has been fully settled.[33]

That conclusion is reinforced by further modifications to the experiments in which an erasing device is placed just in front of the detector which causes the particles to revert to a different mode. But it also suggests that whatever state a particle adopts, by perceiving what the future environment may be, can be undone at any time before the actual observation is made. And that is an important aspect of these experiments, as we shall see.

The second aspect of particle behavior we should note relates to what are called Feynman’s “sum over paths” equations. Richard Feynman, another Nobel Prize-winning physicist, demonstrated that although particles are free to choose from all probable paths, the path that leads to the Classical laws of physics is the most probable path. But as Kaku notes, “Feynman showed that the Newtonian (Classical) path is simply the most probable path, not the only path.”[34] Particles are still free to adopt any of the other paths.

Quantum Physics to Classical (Newtonian) Physics

There remains only one further thing to note about quantum physics – and that is the question of how the quantum laws morph into the Classical laws. Scientists still don’t know the answer to that question, which prompted Weinberg to suggest that what is needed is a “quantum-mechanical model” that shows how, “as a result of repeated interactions of a [conscious outside observer] with individual systems, the wave function of the combined system evolves with certainty to a final wave function, in which the [conscious outside observer] has become convinced that the probabilities of the individual measurements are what are prescribed by the Copenhagen interpretation.[35]

Now that may all sound like gobbledygook to non-scientists, but all it really means is that we need an explanation of how the uncertainty inherent in quantum physics brought about the predictable, deterministic physical world we see all around us. And such an explanation needs to identify what (or who?) played the role of a conscious outside observer which brought about the transformation from the quantum universe to the Classical universe.

Quantum Physics and Genesis

We can now consider the relationship between quantum physics and Genesis.

The first relates to the words “And God said …” followed by “And God saw …” The former wording (“And God said”) is like the laser, or electron gun, which fires the particles towards the detector. The particles are ‘programmed’, so to speak, by the ‘intention’ expressed in the words which follow the words “And God said …”; that is, “let there be light.” That ‘programming’ enables the particles to ‘predict’ which state they should assume in the expectation of a ‘measurement’. The ‘measurement’, or ‘observation’, is explicitly signified by the words “And God saw …”.

The transformed state of the particles is ‘locked in’ once the ‘observation’ is made. That is why we see, at each stage of the process, the intended outcome being repeated. First, in stage one, God is said to ‘direct’ what action is to take place (“And God said, let there be light”); second, the action then takes place (“and there was light”); and finally, in stage two, the action is ‘locked in’ by a ‘measurement’ (“And God saw the light”).

This second stage creates the “irreversible effect” referred to by Rees.[36] The reason for the need to ensure the process causes an “irreversible effect” is because other variations of the experiments show that where an “erasure device is inserted just in front of the detection screen …. [it has the effect of] … undoing the past, even undoing the ancient past.”[37]

But it should be noted that future measurements don’t in fact change what happened in the past. They only determine whether or not the initial ‘instruction’ has been realised, or “fully settled”. Greene says this: “The future measurements do not change anything at all about things that took place in your experiment [in the past] … [but] … they do influence the kinds of details you can invoke when you subsequently describe what happened in [the past].”[38]

He goes on to explain that “we thus see that the future helps shape the story you tell of the past.[39]

And that brings us to verse 5.

And the evening and the morning were the first day.Genesis 1:5

It seems odd that a ‘day’ would not be described as ‘morning to evening’, but rather that both the “evening” and the “morning” constitute a period of time. But it begins to make sense in the light of Greene’s assessment of the results of the delayed-choice experiments, and particularly the further modification in which an “erasure device” is inserted in front of the detector thus “undoing the past”.

Genesis emphasizes the importance of the measurement element of the two-stage process, which creates the “irreversible effect”, by defining the whole process as “the evening and the morning were the first day.” These words signify that the measurement made at the end of the process (“And God saw …”), created “a consistent and definite history” which manifested itself “only after the future to which [the initial instruction led had] been fully settled.”

The initial instruction, or intention, signified by the words “And God said …”, could have been ‘undone’ at any time before the measurement was made. That is what the modified delayed-choice experiments demonstrate when an “erasure device” is inserted in front of the detector. As Greene says, it has the effect of “undoing the past, even undoing the ancient past.

The words “And God saw …” are therefore crucial to create an “irreversible effect”, otherwise the initial intention could be undone at any time thereafter. It has the effect of “settlinga consistent and definite history” which is signified by defining the process as “the evening and the morning were the first day.” The final measurement sets the whole process in stone, so to speak.

Although this may all seem a little perplexing at first, it is in fact what we do on a regular basis in our own lives. For example, when you decide (make a decision) to go to university to get a degree, you give yourself a kind of instruction as to how you want the immediate future of your life to progress. You then apply, are offered a place, and start your course. At this stage, your objective of getting a degree is not at all ‘settled’. It is only “fully settled”, or achieved, when you sit your final exams, they are marked (‘measured’) and you pass, and are awarded the degree. The awarding of the degree creates “a consistent and definite history” because “the future to which [your initial decision] leads has been fully settled.” Conversely, at any time before you sit your final exams and pass, your objective of getting a degree is not fully settled. Any number of things could intervene to prevent that happening. And if that happens, you revert to the original position of having to decide (make a decision) on what to do next. Your past (decision) is “undone.” Like the particle in a wave-like mode, an “interference pattern[40] again appears in your life.

However, as Greene also points out, this does not change the fact that you originally made a decision to go to university. It only tells a different story of what happened in relation to that initial decision. As Greene says, “the future [that did not result in a degree] helps shape the story you tell of [your past decision to get a degree].”

Our lives are generally segmented into just such sets of objectives that we work to achieve. Each segment is like the “days” described in Genesis, including the “seventh day” when God is said to have rested from all His work. We humans retire – if we live long enough.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.” Genesis 1: 5

This ‘naming’ of what God is said to have created clearly symbolizes “how the fundamental laws of quantum physics morph into the classical laws that are so successful at explaining common experience – in essence, [it demonstrates] … how the atomic and subatomic shed their magical weirdness when they combine to form macroscopic objects.[41] It demonstrates how the phenomena of the micro-world combine to form the objects that make up our every-day reality.

It should be noted that this ‘naming’ uses capital letters – “Day” and “Night”. And this ‘naming’ only occurs on two other occasions in the Genesis’ account of creation, at verses 8 and 10. As we shall see in subsequent articles, these instances also relate to the transition of matter from one form to another.

This ‘naming’ is clearly to emphasize that a transition has occurred from the quantum state of affairs to a Classical state of affairs, which gives the foundation for the deterministic, predictable universe which was a pre-requisite for the emergence of life.

These verses of Genesis thus give us Weinberg’s “quantum mechanical modelthat describes not only various systems under study but also something representing a CONSCIOUS OBSERVER.” It is a model which shows how “the wave function of the combined system evolves with certainty to a final wave function” because of “repeated interactions of the OBSERVER with INDIVIDUAL SYSTEMS.[42]

This ‘naming’ of the new state of matter and space indicates that the transition from the original matter and space had been completed. And that speaks to us of order, which brings us to the final verse for consideration in respect of “the first day” – the words “that it was good.”

And God saw the light, that it was good.” Genesis 1: 4

We have already seen that the words “And God saw the light” was the first step in ‘creating’ the kind of universe that “our very existence depends on” by ensuring “an irreversible effect that established an excess of matter over antimatter.” It established the predictable physical basis on which to build a universe that could spawn and sustain life. It transformed the ‘chaotic’ pre-inflationary world of quantum physics into the predictable, ordered world of Classical physics.

Locking in the “light” at just the right moment to ensure that there would be enough matter left over to create a life-sustaining universe was “good”. Imposing order on chaos was “good”. The ‘freedom’ enjoyed by particles in the quantum world was subjected to a system of law.

But Day One was only the first step in establishing a universal system of law; a system of law that, in the end, manifests itself as a human organism endowed with a capacity for moral judgment, yet free to choose whether to exercise that judgment.

…………………………………………………………….

The next article addresses Genesis Day Two, and the concept of Expansion.

Joseph BH McMillan. This article is an abridged extract from A ‘Final Theory’ of God.

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2017 All Rights Reserved

Footnotes

[1] Nietzsche, Friedrich. Beyond Good and Evil, Vintage, New York, 1989, para 52.

[2] Green, Brian. The Fabric of the Universe, Penguin, London, 2005 (paperback), page 318.

[3] Rees, Martin. Just Six Numbers, Phoenix, London, 1999 (paperback), page 126 – capitals my emphasis.

[4] Rees, page 73.

[5] Kaku, Michio. Parallel Worlds, Penguin, London, 2006 (paperback), page 13.

[6] Greene, page 249 – emphasis is his.

[7] Greene, page 286.

[8] Rees, page 145.

[9] Kaku, p 158.

[10] Green pages 322 and 323 respectively.

[11] Greene, page 272.

[12] Greene, page 320.

[13] Rees, page 145.

[14] Greene, page 284.

[15] Greene, page 286.

[16] Kaku, page 14.

[17] Greene, page 301.

[18] Nahmanides, Commentary on Genesis 1:1 at Para 3 . Retrieved from http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.1.3?lang=en

[19] Rees, page 126.

[20] Cox and Forshaw, Why does E = mc2?, De Capo Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2001 (paperback),  page 200.

[21] Cox and Forshaw, page 200.

[22] Cox and Forshaw, page 200.

[23] Rees, page 95.

[24] Rees, page 95.

[25] Rees, page 96.

[26] Rees, page 154 – my emphasis on ‘irreversible’.

[27] Underling is original emphasis.

[28] Weinberg, Steven. Dreams of a Final Theory, Vintage, New York, 1994 (paperback), page 85 – my emphasis.

[29] Weinberg, page 61.

[30] Greene, pages 82 – 83.

[31] Kaku, page 149.

[32] Kaku, page 147.

[33] Greene, page 189.

[34] Kaku, page 164.

[35] Weinberg, page 84.

[36] Rees, page 154.

[37] Greene, page 193.

[38] Greene, page 198.

[39] Greene, page 199.

[40] Greene, page 193.

[41] Greene, page 199.

[42] Weinberg, page 84.

 

 

Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Chapter 3 – Adam and Eve; awakening the neurological moral network in the Human Brain.

The first question we need to address is whether the story of Adam and Eve refers to two particular individuals, or is a generic reference to the first of the species to acquire specifically human characteristics. And Genesis tells us that it is both.

The key to understanding the story of Adam and Eve is found at Genesis 5, verses 1 and 2:

This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him;

Male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day they were created.”

The references to “the generations of Adam”, and “the day God created man”, clearly refer to a period of time, and a generic description of the first human beings.

The wording is the same as Genesis 2, verse 4 – “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” As we saw in respect of The Garden of Eden, this verse clearly refers to a period of time as well. Conflating the words “generations” and “day” can have no other reasonable explanation.

We then see in verse 2 that the “male and the female” are collectively called “Adam”. There is no mention of Eve.

Adam clearly thus refers to the first human beings endowed with human DNA. However, as we saw in the previous article on the Garden of Eden, there would have been two literal human beings in whom this DNA would have been activated, who must have joined up to create new human life in their own genetic image. References to the “woman” and “Eve” in these chapters tell us that although the story is generic, it also refers to literal people, literal events, and literal places.

So there would have been two, or more likely several, human beings with human DNA who were the ancestors of all other human beings.

As we have seen, the San people of southern Africa speak to the fact that Genesis is certainly referring generically to the first human beings. That is because the San people seem to be the descendants of that branch of the human species that did not succumb to the temptation of eating of the ‘forbidden fruit’.

Chapter 3 of Genesis addresses the branch of the early species that did take of the fruit, and who are the ancestors of so-called ‘civilized’ human beings.. And that is what we will now address.

Chapter 3 records what happened when the primitive instinct to reproduce was aroused by the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging in the act of ‘reproduction,’ not for the main purpose of reproduction, but with the principal aim of deriving physical pleasure from the act.

It is appropriate here to quote again from Philo: “For other animals pursue pleasure only in taste and in the acts of generation; but man aims at it by means of his other senses also, devoting himself to whatever sights or sounds can impart pleasure to his eyes or ears.[1] It is the transformation from the latter to the former that Chapter 3 addresses.

We should set out the whole account of this transformation:

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.[2]

Before we analyze these verses, it is important to remember that we are looking at the symbolism of what is being said. But there can be little doubt that the symbolism relates to real events that took place many years ago, if not with just one such couple, then with several in various places over a period of time.

The important point to note is that these verses symbolize the first conflict between primitive human instincts and the promptings of the “morality module.” A picture is painted of a woman wrestling with the allure of pleasure by indulging in an act which her conscience is telling her is wrong. She is fantasizing; but about what?

Well, it is impossible to ignore the phallic imagery of the speaking serpent, so the most plausible explanation is that she is fantasizing about sex.

We should also remember that it was very likely that these early humans would have been living with, or at least in close proximity to, the species from which they had emerged, and even other species of primates that were genetically very similar to them. And these other species would also have been “naked.” And more tellingly, these other primates would have indulged in sex quite openly and casually, as they do today.

But at this stage, a number of characteristics had developed in the early human species which distinguished them from other primates. First, as we have seen, they had developed a higher level of communication, as well as an ability to ‘reason’. But they also had a partially activated “morality module” which acted as a restraint to their actions descending into an imitation of the species from which they had emerged. And that “moral law” acted by way of guilt aroused by conscience.

So these early humans would not have a conscious list of moral principles – only a strong comprehension that certain behavior was ‘wrong’.

However, the woman would have enjoyed the pleasure of intimacy with Adam. And this would have acted as a spark to ignite her ability to ‘reason’, and to consider other ways in which further pleasure could be had from the act of intimacy in reproduction.

And there would have been plenty of suggestions in the behavior of the more primitive primates living in close proximity. The imagery of the account of the woman being tempted by the serpent is then not hard to translate into a real picture. Although constrained by her moral impulses to refrain from sexual encounters other than with Adam, by observing the casual sexual interplay of primates around them, the woman begins to fantasize about what it would be like to do the same. She starts to imagine what ‘forbidden pleasures’ could be had if she just suppressed the feelings of guilt aroused by such fantasies.

No doubt she would have asked herself why it would be wrong for her to do what the other primates were doing. There was no consequence to them for doing it, so what could happen to her? Her ‘reasoning’ appears to have gone into overdrive to justify doing what she knew would be wrong by suppressing the restraint and guilt demanded by her newly acquired moral aptitude.

In the end, the woman succumbs to the allure of the pleasures to be had by indulging her sexual fantasies – “she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat.”

And by employing the newly acquired ability to combine ‘reason’ with an ability to communicate, the woman persuaded “her husband” to do the same.

And what they did, it can only be concluded, is indulge in casual sexual encounters with members of the other species around them, and no doubt with other newly formed humans if and when they encountered them.

Now many reading all this about a woman fantasizing about imitating the sexual practices of apes, and engaging in sexual encounters with them, will no doubt ridicule the whole interpretation. So what evidence is there that human beings could act in such a manner, either back then, or now?

Well plenty, actually.

Let’s start with the fantasy part, and humans looking to apes for ‘moral inspiration’. And for that we need look no further than a professor of philosophy, no less – a certain AC Grayling. Grayling is so enamored by his ‘philosophical opinions’ that he set up his own university in London to propagate them. His university is called New College of the Humanities, of which he was appointed Master and Professor of Philosophy.

Grayling claims that the arts (books, music, films and so on) demonstrate the importance of intimate physical relationships to human beings, but laments that the traditional moral consensus that sex should be limited to one other person in a bonding for life, apart from a little youthful experimentation, somehow inhibits what he calls human “flourishing.”[3]

So Grayling cites the behavior of bonobo chimpanzees as a model for a better approach. Being the primates most like humans, Grayling says that the bonobo’s equivalent of shaking hands, or doing a ‘high-five’, is to engage in sex, and to do so often.[4]

Grayling thus claims that “pleasure is good – and sexual pleasure is very good.”[5]

According to Grayling, this all means that sex only becomes a problem when it is “rationed and starved.”[6] So his solution is sexual experimentation. And with a lot of practice, Grayling believes that ‘humans’ can better learn to ‘love’ and be ‘loved’.[7]

But if anyone inhibits your sexual self-indulgence, such as a wife or children, then they need to be made to understand that some human beings have certain “needs and interests,” which the victims simply have to “accept and tolerate … and be open-minded” about.[8]

And it is belief in God (religion) that Grayling claims inhibits this kind of sexual indulgence in the pursuit of human “flourishing” – so he devotes the first half of his book to ‘disproving’ the existence of God. Of course, by getting rid of God, the likes of Grayling hope to get rid of guilt and conscience as well.

Grayling’s ‘philosophy’ is really based on a simple premise – why shouldn’t we behave like animals?

So we see that what is said to have aroused the first woman, and the ‘reasoning’ employed to justify indulging the arousal, is something that has stayed with some members of the species up to this very day. And Grayling is not unique in that regard; it is not an uncommon phenomenon.

But is there any evidence that the first humans did interbreed with other primates? Again, the answer is yes.

In an article in the online journal Public Library of Science (PLoS), Dr Paola Villa of the University of Colorado Museum, and Professor Wil Roebroeks of Lieden University, say that “current genetic data suggest that complex processes of interbreeding and assimilation may have been responsible for the disappearance of the specific Neandertal morphology from the fossil record.”

In their conclusion, they say that “The momentous cultural changes that followed the arrival of AMH (anatomically modern humans) in Western Eurasia were not uniquely due to the residents’ cognitive or technological inferiority causing rapid and total replacement. The Neandertal demise appears to have resulted from a complex and protracted process including multiple dynamic factors such as low population density, interbreeding with some cultural contact, possible male hybrid sterility and contraction in geographic distribution followed by genetic swamping and assimilation by the increasing numbers of modern immigrants.”

And Villa and Roebroeks cite evidence of this interbreeding in modern human beings: “In 2010 a draft sequence of the Neandertal nuclear DNA provided clear evidence of interbreeding between Neandertals and modern humans, estimating that Neandertal inheritance makes up 1–4% of the genomes of people outside of Africa. A revised estimate based on a high-coverage sequence of a Neandertal from the Altai Mountains now suggests 1.5–2.1%.[9]

Now I am not claiming that the story of Adam and Eve relates solely, or at all, to this possible interbreeding between humans and Neandertals. It is likely that the story relates to a much earlier time when humans were only just emerging as the species we recognize today as humans. The example of the interbreeding with Neandertals appears to be a continuation of something that had started earlier.

The real significance of the story, however, lies in its explanation of how the “morality module” in the human brain was initially activated.

But if the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” symbolizes the “morality module,” why, some will ask, would it be wrong to acquire “the knowledge of good and evil’?

The answer is that to awaken the ‘morality module’ the first human beings had to take some action which offended it. That produced a sense of guilt in the form of a conscience. And as we have seen, according to Genesis, the action which initially activated the “morality module” related to pleasure – “the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was PLEASANT to the eyes, and a tree to be DESIRED to make one wise …”[10] As Philo says, “anyone who follows a reasonable train of conjecture, will say with great propriety, that the … serpent is the symbol of pleasure.”  And he goes on to say that the “serpent is said to have uttered a human voice, because pleasure employs innumerable champions and defenders who take care to advocate its interests, and who dare to assert that the power over everything, both small and great, does of right belong to it without any exception whatever.”[11]

The story of Eve’s (“the woman’s[12]) temptation, therefore, clearly illustrates the interaction between morality, instinct and reason.

The serpent represents the instinct for reproduction. The symbolism of the serpent ‘speaking’ relates to the allure of pleasure to be had by indulging the instinct for reproduction. And Eve ‘seeing’ “that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, …” symbolizes the human ability to ‘reason’ to justify taking actions that we ‘know’ are wrong.

The prohibition against eating of the tree represents morality – the neurological moral network within the brain that ‘speaks’ to us of the morality of certain actions, and acts as a restraint to actions which offend against it, if we listen. However, until this moment, the neurological moral network was subconscious.

But once the first humans succumbed to the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging their primitive instinct for reproduction, the “morality module” (the neurological moral network) was activated. This is symbolized by the words “and the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.”[13] They realized then that they were different to the other species around them, even those most like them, and that it was not appropriate to simply imitate animal behavior.

And this also suggests that the activation of the ‘morality module’ is directly related to human consciousness. It is only when humans activated the ability to judge their own actions that they became aware of the consequences of their actions, and thus their own mortality. And that brings about an awareness of ‘self’. That is the true meaning of the consequences God is said to have told Adam would follow should he eat of the tree – the Hebrew is not ‘thou shalt surely die’, but in ‘dying thou shalt die’.[14] The consequence related to the afterlife. And that gives rise to a distinction between life and death, and a consciousness of being alive.

Thus the very concept of morality, the human ability to judge its actions as right and wrong, triggers in the brain a sense of mortality, and thus an awareness of life. And that comes from the fact that humans can look at the behavior of animals, even ‘intelligent’ apes, and recognize that the same behavior in humans would be wrong. And that does not only relate to casual sexual indulgences with multiple partners, but to other things like violence.

Genesis tells us that once the “morality module” had been activated, it gave rise to a sense of guilt, and Adam and Eve are said to do what people do to this day in order to justify their actions; they “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the Garden.” They attempted to escape the guilt aroused by their actions by seeking justification in their primitive instincts; in “the trees of the garden.” As we have already seen, the trees in the garden symbolize the instincts with which humans were programmed, amongst which are the instinct to reproduce. So when they are plagued by a sense of guilt, they seek to justify their actions by reference to their instincts. They ‘reason’ their way to a justification by attempting to convince themselves that they should not feel guilty because what they did was perfectly natural – just like the animals around them.

But clearly the guilt could not be easily silenced. And so, like today, they started the blame game – Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. In ‘excusing’ her behavior by claiming that “the serpent beguiled” her, the woman is essentially seeking to defend her actions by saying that the attractions of the pleasures she imagined could be had by indulging her primitive instincts were so strong as to be ‘irresistible’. So she should not be to blame.

But, of course, it was all to no avail.

Once they had crossed the moral threshold, no longer did they simply respond to an intuitive restraint from certain actions, they acquired the ability to identify and classify specific actions as right or wrong. Yet, on the other hand, they were also driven on by their primitive instincts. And their ability to reason compelled them to service those instincts, either from fear of pain, or the attraction of pleasure.

The ‘punishment’ that God is said to inflict on them clearly symbolizes the conflict with which humans would be plagued from then on – a conflict between servicing their primitive instincts, or servicing the promptings of their “morality module”.

We can see that the ‘punishment’ puts “enmity” between the attractions of pleasure to be had by indulging primitive instincts, like those of reproduction, and the consequences of doing so. They now realize that the act of reproduction is not simply something to generate pleasure and excitement, it is not simply a ‘romantic’ experience. It is, as John Stuart Mill said, “one of the most responsible actions in the range of human life.” And I would say, THE most responsible act.

And the ‘punishment’ said to have been inflicted on Adam clearly relates to human beings falling into bondage of their primitive instincts. From that moment on, human beings would be driven to provide for their survival and security by relentless toil. The instincts for survival and security generate a fear of being unable to provide for themselves, and a fear of anything and anyone perceived to be a threat to their survival and security.

The words “in sorrow shalt thou eat of [the ground] all the days of thy life[15] clearly refers to the instinct for security; “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground[16] clearly refers to the fear of death, and the survival instinct.

But there was a far more unpleasant consequence of this awakening of the “morality module”. The previous mental tranquility of intuitively refraining from actions because they knew them were wrong, and responding to the promptings of their instincts “only in taste and in the acts of generation”, had been replaced with an obsessive preoccupation with the pleasures and fears aroused by those instincts. No longer were these first humans content to live day by day without the constant fear of want and death – now they were consumed by a passion to indulge the demands of their instincts so as to alleviate their fears, or feed their appetite for pleasure.

As Philo said, they condemned themselves to “an existence more miserable than death.”

They were expelled from the Garden of Eden. But this doesn’t mean that they were ‘expelled’ from their own brains. It suggests that they lost the mental tranquility they previously enjoyed, and embarked on a life of the relentless servicing of their instincts. And yet, at the same time, they would be plagued by the promptings of the “morality module” to moderate and control their appetite for pleasure, and their fear of pain.

And being deprived of the ability to “take of the tree of life” points to a clear consequence between regulating human actions in accordance with the “morality module”, or in service of human instinct. And that consequence, Genesis is telling us, relates to the afterlife.

From this point on, Genesis, and the Bible as a whole, records the conflict between human instinct and morality as it plays out in historical context.

So we see in the account of Cain and Abel that Abel’s endeavors were proving successful whereas Cain’s were modest. This fired insecurity in Cain, and wounded his vanity. Abel was seen as a threatening competitor who had to be neutralized. The symbolism of God speaking to Cain to ask why he is angry relates to Cain’s “morality module” intervening in an attempt to quell the anger. God says to Cain, “If thou does’t well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou does’t not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”[17]

The Hebrew for the last sentence actually says this: “And subject unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”

The message is quite clear – Cain has a choice about how to act. One choice is acceptable, or moral, the other is wrong, and will have consequences. The “desire” to satisfy his instincts is under his control – “subject unto thee.” And morality must rule over the desires of the instincts – “thou shalt rule over him.”

But, like Eve, Cain could not or would not listen to the moral ‘voice’ within him, and planned to slay Abel. We see that Cain “talked with Abel” before he implemented his plan. This is clear evidence that Cain was using ‘reason’, and the ability to communicate, in service of his primitive instincts, and not in service of the “moral law.” And even once he had killed Abel, he sought to deny any involvement, saying he does not know where Abel is. Furthermore, he also asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?

Cain’s reaction to the guilt that arises from his actions is first to lie, then to ‘justify’ the lie by ‘reasoning’ that he is not responsible for his brother’s welfare.

We see in Cain a regrettable model for those who believe that satisfying their own “needs and interests” at any cost is their primary ‘duty’ in life, and they ‘reason’ their way to justifying whatever actions they take in pursuit of their ‘goals’. And their goals are always the same – indulging their appetite for pleasure, and relieving the fear of their insecurities; in short, being in the service of their primitive instincts, and silencing the voice of morality whenever it ‘speaks’.

However, Cain realizes that he cannot completely silence the voice of morality, and finally acknowledges that “Mine iniquity is greater than can be forgiven.”[18]

And the only way he can live with the guilt of his conscience is to deny God – “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord.”[19]

That, it seems, is the “mark” which God is said to have put on Cain; the propensity to apply ‘reason’ to justify the servicing of our primitive instincts in defiance of the “moral law” which created us, and which is within us. And humans accomplish that self-deception through the denial of a universal moral law, and thus a denial of God.

In that way, those who seek to impose their own authority and will on others are free to ‘make’ such ‘laws’ as best serve their own interests, and to implement such measures as are necessary to compel others to submit to those ‘laws’.

That is the meaning of Cain building a city which he names after his son Enoch.[20] God is replaced with the pursuit of power and wealth to feed vanity and allay insecurity.

However, at the end of Chapter 4, the story reverts again to Adam and Eve. Eve conceives and gives birth to Seth, and he has a son called Enos. And it is this strand of the genealogy of Adam and Eve that came to the realization that God is indispensable to human existence. That is because, after the birth of Enos, “then men began to call on the name of the Lord.” [21]

And it is this strand of genealogy that leads to Abraham and on to Moses, and the Ten Commandments. They were the ‘keepers’ of the moral law that reveals God’s Will.

It was through Abraham that “all families of the earth shall be blessed.”[22]

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”[23]

The crucial words in that last verse are “because thou hast obeyed my voice.” It was this strand of the human species that stayed most obedient to the principles of the “moral law”; and, it seems, most easily able to decipher it over the clatter of demands from our primitive instincts.

They were the people most able to recognize that the laws which govern the universe are moral laws; and those moral laws are an expression of a will, God’s Will.

Through Abraham’s descendents God’s moral law would be revealed not just to the Israelites, but to all humanity.

This is the “insight regarding God’s will” possessed by the Prophets.[24]

But this kind of insight into the moral dimension of the human mind was not exclusive to the Israelites. It has arisen in many people in many diverse areas over the millennia, at times more clearly than at others. But we can detect from these various sources an unfolding set of common principles, right down to modern Charters and Declarations of Human Rights.

What these sources reveal, however, is not a ‘building’ of moral principles to accommodate changing times, but a discovery of those principles that were well understood by our ancestors millennia ago.

So what we see in these first few chapters of Genesis is a perfect description of the origins of life and the universe that validate and preempt scientific discovery. And we also see a compelling explanation of human behavior, human consciousness, and the capacity for human evil and human good.

But most important of all, we see that the human capacity for moral judgment is a manifestation of the moral content of the laws of physics. And the human capacity for moral judgment finds expression in the human quest for justice, which reveals the human search for a supreme law and a Supreme Lawmaker.

Joseph BH McMillan

This series of articles titled Perspectives on the Scriptures form the basis on which is constructed A ‘Final Theory’ of God.

Notes

[1] Philo, On the Creation, LVIII (163).

[2] Genesis 3: 1 – 7.

[3] Grayling, ACX. The God Argument, page 192 and 199. A full Review of The God Argument can be read under Book Reviews on this website jbhmcmillan.com.

[4] Grayling, page 205.

[5] Grayling, page 206.

[6] Grayling, page 201.

[7] Grayling, page 202.

[8] Grayling, page 193.

[9] Villa P, Roebroeks W (2014) Neandertal Demise: An Archaeological Analysis of the Modern Human Superiority Complex. PLoS ONE 9(4): e96424. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096424.

[10] Genesis 3: 6.

[11] Philo, On the Creation, LVI (157) and (160) respectively.

[12] The name Eve is not used in Genesis 3 until verse 20 – “and Adam called his wife’s  name Eve …”

[13] Genesis 3: 7.

[14] Genesis 2: 17.

[15] Genesis 3: 17.

[16] Genesis 3: 19.

[17] Genesis 4: 7.

[18] Genesis 4: 13 – also translated “My punishment is more than I can bear.”

[19] Genesis 4: 16.

[20] Genesis 4: 17.

[21] Genesis 4: 20.

[22] Genesis 12: 3.

[23] Genesis 22:18.

[24] Wood, Leon J, The Prophets of Israel, page 63

Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Chapter 2 – The Garden of Eden: the Manifestation of the Laws of Physics as the Human Brain

The first thing we have to address in Chapter 2 of Genesis is whether, at the end of the sixth day, anything actually existed in a form we would recognize today as ‘reality’.

We should recall what Philo said: “Does [Moses] not here manifestly set before us incorporeal ideas perceptible only by the intellect, which have been appointed to be as seals of the perfected works, perceptible by the outward senses.[1]

Philo was talking about verses 4 and 5 of Genesis 2.

We should just remind ourselves of those verses:

These are the generations of the heaven and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground.

The physicist Max Tegmark claims something very similar in his new book Our Mathematical Universe.

Tegmark claims that “reality isn’t just described by mathematics – it is mathematics …”[2] And that includes human beings. In Tegmark’s Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH), “mathematical structure is our external reality, rather than being merely a description of it. This equivalence between physical and mathematical existence means that if a mathematical structure contains a self-aware substructure, it will perceive itself as existing in a physically real universe, just as you and I do.[3] And that, says Tegmark, means that “Through us humans … our universe has gained an awareness of itself, and we humans have created the concept of meaning. So in this sense, our universe doesn’t give life meaning, but life gives our universe meaning.[4]

And finally, on a note not dissimilar to the one made in respect of Day Six regarding morality and physics, Tegmark says this about mathematical structures: “we don’t invent mathematical structures – we discover them, and invent only the notation for describing them.”[5] Which would mean that if there is in fact a “morality module” embedded in the brain, it is likewise a “mathematical structure” for which we have invented words to describe, but one which, according to Tegmark, could be equally well described in mathematical equations. And as we shall see in the next article on Chapter 3, Genesis does suggest how this self-awareness, or consciousness, arises; and morality is central to it.

But there is a crucial difference between Tegmark and Philo. And that relates to how the “mathematical structures”, or “incorporeal ideas”, came about.

Tegmark claims that “there’s no making required” for a mathematical structure, “it simply exists.”[6] He thus gets round the problem of any sort of outside observer by claiming that “mathematical structures” are not made, they just exist, and humans, being “self-aware mathematical substructures”, give the “universe meaning” by virtue of having self-awareness. In short, humans do the observing, thus giving the universe meaning.

So Tegmark doesn’t really get round the problem we encountered in Day One, when we looked at the words “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” As we noted, there are only really three explanations of how the initial ‘material’ from which the universe and life were constructed arose: either we don’t know; or we simply claim that it has always been there; or we accept that someone or something put it there. And there seems to be no reason to suggest that if we describe the initial ‘material’ as a “mathematical structure” the mystery somehow goes away.

The second issue relates to the necessity for an observation. Tegmark cannot get round the issue by claiming that a “mathematical substructure” within the overall “mathematical structure” that is the universe, or multiverse, creates the “self-awareness” that gives the “universe meaning.” It is just another way of saying that humans do the observing.

Philo, on the other hand, sees the ‘mind’ of God behind the numbers: “And he [Moses] says that the world was made in six days, not because the Creator stood in need of a length of time…; but because the things created required arrangement; and number is akin to arrangement.”[7]

And this arrangement of numbers must have been the “incorporeal model” which formed the basis of what we see around us: “when [God] had determined to create this visible world, [He] previously formed that one which is perceptible only by the intellect, in order that so using an incorporeal model formed as far as possible on the image of God, he might then make this corporeal world, a younger likeness of the elder creation, which should embrace as many different genera perceptible to the external senses, as the other world contains of those which are visible only to the intellect.”[8]

The problem with Philo’s interpretation of Genesis is that it only works if we discount the possibility that the words “And God saw …” refer to the quantum phenomenon of an observation. But that would mean that the words “And God said …” and the words “And God saw …” are simply a duplication, or repetition, of the same phenomenon. But Genesis seems to have been written far too carefully for such a careless or superfluous duplication. The inclusion of the words “And God saw …” must have been deliberate, and significant.

So the most likely explanation is that Genesis is telling us that at the end of the six days, the ‘macro-world’ of galaxies, solar systems, stars and planets had all been “fully settled” as a consequence of the “irreversible effect” of an observation; an observation from a conscious outside observer – God.

That created the deterministic universe that is predictable, calculable, and explainable by the Classical laws of physics. As Rees says about his six numbers, “if any one of them were to be ‘untuned’, there would be no stars and no life.[9] So it is clear that the universe and life is dependent on the quantum phenomena of the micro-world transforming into the deterministic workings of the macro-world. Each step in the process was dependent on the previous step being “fully settled” – otherwise everything could be undone at some point in the future, just as happens in the delayed-choice experiments when an eraser device is inserted in front of the detector which should carry out the measurement, or observation.

And only Genesis provides such a model.

At this stage, the basic DNA structures, ‘modified’ or ‘programmed’ to transform into their intended life-forms, had also been created, but were still ‘dormant’. They needed the right kind of environment in order to be activated, and that included the need for water.

And that is what Genesis tells us they got: “there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.”[10] That is what science asserts is the only way that primitive life could have ‘evolved’ into the higher life-forms we see today – liquid water appearing on earth.

However, before we move on to consider the rest of Chapters 2, we should also recall that  Genesis explains why it is that animals have a limited ability to ‘reason’ and communicate’, whereas humans have an advanced ability. And most important of all, we should recall that Genesis also explains how human beings acquired their moral capacity. History records humanity’s relentless quest to give expression to its moral purpose in the search for that thing which we call justice.

Chapters 2 and 3 of Genesis go back to the time of the ‘awakening’ of the ‘morality module’ in the first human beings who experienced it, and the dilemma that ‘awakening’ created for reason when it was confronted with the competing demands of the faculties of instinct and morality. The stories of The Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve, are the story of that ‘awakening’.

But again, we should take each of the verses in turn in order to fully comprehend their significance, and symbolism.

First we see that God is said to form man from the ground: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”[11]

Starting with an account of human beings, Genesis is clearly telling us that the account which follows concerns the highest of the species, and how it came to be what it became. But as we shall see, this does not mean that other life did not exist.

Furthermore, this verse does not suggest that the human it is referring to was a human in its final form, in the “image of God”. It clearly refers to the physical form of the first human being, or human beings – a form that has life, but not much different at this stage to animal life that would have existed simultaneously.

In other words, this verse is telling us that the DNA which was to form the human species as we know it had not yet been fully activated. This early species would certainly have had the primitive DNA with which “every living creature that moveth[12] had been ‘programmed’, and it would most certainly have had the primitive physical characteristics that would have made it recognizable as an early form of the species. But only a very select few of this early species had the latent DNA which had been ‘programmed’ with the additional elements referred to in Chapter 1 – that is, morality, reason, an ability to communicate, and the innate ‘knowledge and understanding’ of how the universe and life functions.

The next seven verses then focus in on the first of the species that had the latent DNA that was to become human beings as we know them.

Now before we look at the account of the Garden of Eden, let me first say this. In addressing the symbolic account, I do not discount the possibility that a literal place existed which formed the basis for the story. In fact, there must have been such a literal place where literal members of the early human species lived who would eventually become the ‘ancestors’ of the modern species. The Bible as a whole often takes literal events to convey deeper symbolic messages. Proverbs tells us that.[13] Not only can a historical event be used to convey a moral message, often the event is a result of the workings of the human brain which reveal which aspects of the human character have been the motivation for the event. Actual events can reveal whether those events were motivated by reason in the service of instinct, or reason in the service of morality.

However, we shall leave the search for such literal places and events to the archeologists and historians – but with the caveat that just because ‘evidence’ of such literal places and events have not yet been discovered does not mean that they don’t exist. Discoveries are constantly being made of things previously regarded as myth, fable or speculation, like our examples of life coming from space, and life existing without sunlight.

But before we move on, we should clarify one further aspect of the events recorded in Genesis 2. We should remember that at the end of the six days all the laws which would determine how the universe and life would unfold had been put in place. And according to Genesis, the unfolding, or implementation, of those laws reveals God’s will, because the laws are God’s laws. So when Genesis 2 refers to God doing something, or saying something, we should read that not as God Himself doing again what He had already done in the first six days, but as His law being implemented, thus revealing His will. In that sense, references to God saying or doing something in these Chapters are in fact God doing those things, but through the agency of the law He created which reveals His will. This is an important point to note in order to understand the verses which follow.

So let’s return to the symbolic message conveyed by the Garden of Eden.

First we have these two verses: “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.  And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.[14]

Philo says this about these verses: “And these statements appear to me to be dictated by a philosophy which is symbolical rather than strictly accurate. For no trees of life or of knowledge have ever at any previous time appeared upon the earth, nor is it likely that any will appear hereafter. But I rather conceive that Moses was speaking in an allegorical spirit, intending by his paradise to intimate the dominant character of the soul, which is full of innumerable opinions as this figurative paradise was of trees.[15]

However, when Philo refers to the “soul” having “innumerable opinions,” he would have better referred to the Garden of Eden as being the human brain, or at least the DNA which had been ‘programmed’ to produce a brain with the ability to conjure up such “opinions”.

The reference to God having “planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed”, far better symbolizes that DNA which had been ‘programmed’ with those elements described in Genesis Chapter 1, which would have been latent in some of the early species. And those of the early species with this latent human DNA must have been physically present in some place on the Earth. So God putting man into the garden must symbolize the first of the primitive human species in which the latent elements of the more advanced DNA which was to form the species “in the image of God” began to be activated. And that activation, which would have been gradual, is symbolized by the words “And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”

The important words in this verse which point to the Garden being the human brain are “out of the ground made the Lord God to grow …” Those words reflect the words used relating to the forming of man – “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground ….” So when the trees are made to “grow” out of “the ground”, it clearly implies the “the ground” that had been made “man”.

That wording wonderfully conjures up the image of those latent elements of human DNA developing the brains of the first human beings in whom it was found. And the “trees” perfectly correspond to those elements of that DNA which we discussed in Day Six – “pleasant to the sight” refers to instincts; “good for food” refers to the innate ‘knowledge’ of how the universe and life functions; “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” refers to the “morality module”; and the “tree of life” refers to the ability of the human spirit to survive physical death. It should also be noted that the word “pleasant” is associated with the “trees”, symbolizing instinct: because, as we have seen, it is the allure of pleasure, or fear of pain, that fires our instincts into action.

However, all these elements of the human brain need some way to interact with the world of the external senses for them to have any significance. The human instinct for reproduction, for example, can only be activated when it perceives something that it recognizes as another of the species which causes an arousal of that instinct. The instinct needs to be ‘fed’ by sight. Likewise, the instinct for survival can only kick-in when the senses perceive some danger to survival – an unfamiliar sound, an unusual sight, another of the species perceived as a threat. The physical senses are what ‘feed’ the brain – only Genesis calls it ‘watering’ the brain: “And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.”[16]

This verse very obviously refers to the nervous system of the human body which supplies the brain with the information it needs in order to act. And the reason it is so obvious is that the river didn’t go INTO the garden to water the trees, it “WENT OUT of Eden to water the garden.” It would be rather pointless for the water which should be ‘watering’ the trees in the garden to flow in the wrong direction. And as we have seen, the author/s of Genesis did not make careless errors.

So when we conceive of the Garden of Eden as referring to the human brain, and the river which flows fromEden to water the garden” as the human nervous system which ‘waters’ the brain by supplying it with the necessary information it requires in order to function, then the verse makes sense.

So what we have in these verses is an explanation of the first human beings in which the DNA developing the brain, which was ‘programmed’ with latent human characteristics, would give expression to those characteristics, and a description of the human nervous system which would feed the brain with the necessary information to allow it to develop those characteristics. And the information would be provided through the senses on the extremities of the body – the “four heads” of the river.

Verses 11 to 14 describe where these four heads of the river end up, and the references to what may have been physical places at the time would have been understood by the people at that time to make the connection between the places and the senses referred to. But for our purposes, the physical places are not important once we recognize that they refer to the senses and the nervous system which ‘waters’ the brain.

The next verse is curious, because we see God putting man into the garden for a second time: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.[17] The crucial difference, of course, is that this time the man is put in the garden “to dress it and to keep it.” On the previous occasion, he was just put in it.

This suggests that the human brain had now fully developed with all the necessary characteristics with which it had been ‘programmed’. The latent ‘genes’ had been activated, or as the Encode Project would say, had been ‘switched on’. But, as we shall see, not all were fully functioning. It was now the task of those human beings to develop those characteristics within the brain – “to dress it and keep it.

The next verse is also crucial to understand why the “man” is put into the garden a second time: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”[18]

Now, before we get into the meaning of these verses, we should note that the original Hebrew did not say “thou shalt surely die”, but “in dying thou shalt die”. This distinction is crucial, as we shall soon see.

So here we see the next difference with the second time God puts “man” into the garden. God is said to speak to him, or more properly, “commanded” him. And the word used to express the commanding of the “man” is that which was previously used in Genesis 1: 22 – “SAYING”. “God commanded the man, SAYING”. That is almost identical to the words in Genesis 1: 22, except that there God “blessed” the animals. And we should remember that the word “saying” symbolizes a lack of comprehension on the part of those ‘hearing’ the words, or at least a limited comprehension of the significance of the words being spoken.

The symbolism of God commanding the “man”, in conjunction with the word “saying”, tells us that the “morality module,” which the “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” represents, was still dormant, or latent. Although it was physically present in the brain, it had not yet been activated. However, the words indicate that when the first humans would be ‘tempted’ to take some action that would offend against the moral precepts (principles) of the “morality module”, they would ‘know’ that what they were doing was wrong, and that there would be a consequence. So this first human, or these first humans, would have simply recognized certain things as wrong, without ‘rationalizing’ their actions as right or wrong. They would have intuitively found certain behavior of the species from whom they had emerged ‘wrong’, but as yet not be able to identify why. That is how they would have known themselves to be different. So whereas the species from whom they had emerged may have regarded killing, raping and pillaging of members of other tribes as something to admire and celebrate, these first humans would have felt not just unease at such actions, but revulsion. The same would apply to casual sexual practices and violence between members of even the same tribe or community.

The remarkable thing about the innocence that clearly defined these human beings before they succumbed to the temptations of their primitive instincts is that there are just such people alive today. They are the San people of Southern Africa, also known as the Bushmen. Anthropologists and geneticists identify some of these tribes as the ancestors of all human beings.

The next verses in Genesis explain the further development of these the first of the human species.

So we see God speaking again, but not to “man” directly: “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”

Before we look at the meaning of these words, we should deal with another little bit of ‘housekeeping’ on translation. The original Hebrew for the word translated as “meet” was actually “as before him”. So the first verse in which the word is used should read “I will make him an help as before him.”

Now the first thing we should note is that God is said to have seen that the “man” was alone, and that it was “not good” that he should be alone. This suggests that of those of the species that had the fully ‘programmed’ human DNA, only a very few, or even just one, appeared to have survived. The rest must have died out.

And because of what follows, it is certain that Genesis is here focusing in on the first male, or males, of the species in whom the fully ‘programmed’ human DNA was present. But when Genesis refers to this first “man” being “alone”, it does not necessarily mean that he was physically alone. He must have been the offspring of a mother and father. And no doubt he would have been part of a group or tribe of people. But, as we have seen, the reason he would have been “alone” is that he would have recognized that he was in some fundamental respects very different to those around him. He was the first of the species with fully ‘programmed’ human DNA. Philo noted this when he said, in relation to the creation of man in the image of God, that “all the individuals of the race had not yet assumed their distinctive form; since the extreme species are contained in the genus.”[19] This first “man” was thus the first to assume the “distinctive [human] form.”

The reason that it was “not good that the man should be alone” is that his instinct was to reproduce, but there was no female of the species who would have shared the fully ‘matured’ human DNA. To this first “man”, reproducing with what ostensibly would have been another ‘species’, would have seemed like bestiality.

This would have caused a great dilemma for him; and that dilemma would have caused frustration. But in doing so, it appears to have activated additional elements of the human characteristics with which his brain had been imprinted by the fully human DNA. Accordingly, the fact that the words follow the words “And the LORD God said …” must symbolize the law of God responding to the unnatural condition the first of the human species encountered – being “alone”, without another of the species with whom he could reproduce. Since that was contrary to the will of God as expressed in His law, those elements of the human organism were activated which would seek to rectify this unnatural condition. The symbolism of God speaking is the expression of God’s will through the law responding to the situation.

So the words “I will make him an help as before him” can only symbolize the activation of the ability to reason to a higher level, compelling this first human to examine the life around him in the hope of finding another living thing like him. The words “as before him” then make sense. He was seeking another like him so that together they could be as the species before him – that is, joining together with the opposite gender to create new life, and so perpetuate the new species.

However, by looking differently at all the life about him, this first human appeared to activate another latent characteristic of the brain ‘programmed’ with human DNA – the language module. These verses clearly refer to the activation of the innate human ability to communicate – Adam started naming the animals. And that would also have led to a limited activation of the innate ‘knowledge and understanding’ programmed into the human brain by human DNA. That is symbolized by Genesis saying that God formed out of the ground the animals that were brought to Adam. This all suggests that as Adam realized he was different, he began a search for a companion so that this new species could be as the species was before – a community. And in his search he began to ascribe sounds to represent the different species he encountered. But it also suggests that in doing so he began to question where they all came from, and indeed where he came from. And all of this is the result of God’s law reacting to the situation through the vehicle of the human brain in order to give expression to God’s will. It is this expression of God’s will that is symbolized by God ‘speaking’ – He is speaking through His law in order to express His will: the creation of an organism in His “image”.

But Adams’s search proved futile: “but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.” Or, with the correct translation, “there was not found an help as before him.” This first of the species found that he was alone, the first of a kind, different to everything around him. It is also these closing words that give confirmation to the fact that these verses in which the animals are ‘made’ and brought to Adam to be named, symbolize the activation of certain elements ‘programmed’ into the human brain by human DNA – the words show that what preceded was a quest for something which did not come to fruition, at least not fully – a help for Adam as was before him.

So it seems that this first of the human species must have settled for one of those around him, even though they would have been a different ‘species’ in some major respects. And so this fully ‘programmed’ human DNA must have again become dormant: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.”[20]

There then follow these verses:

“ And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”[21]

The symbolism of “Adam” going into a deep sleep means that the fully formed human DNA he was carrying around would have been passed through several generations while remaining dormant. So a number of the pre-human species may well have had this dormant DNA, or at least dormant genes within that DNA, as part of their genetic make-up, but it did not manifest itself as a human species for some time. Then, by a coincidence of probabilities, the dormant DNA was activated in both a male and female of the species at the same time, and those two would have been in close physical proximity, perhaps even within the same tribe or community.

And immediately they recognized each other as being different from the species around them, and virtual mirror-images of each other, except one was male and the other female. As Philo said, “although all the individuals of the race had not yet assumed their distinctive form; since the extreme species are contained in the genus, and are beheld, as in a mirror, by those who are able to discern acutely.”[22]

The human species was finally to begin propagating. And the effect of this mutual recognition was that some element of the “morality module” was activated: Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”[23]

These two of the emerging new species, human beings, were aware that the new life they would create by joining together in a physical relationship would be unique, exclusive and special; in their image and likeness. And that, they understood, imposed on them fundamental obligations towards each other, and the life they would create. That is symbolized by the words “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife.” They recognized that this new relationship between members of the new species was different to what went before. They recognized the importance of monogamy. The joining together of a male and a female to create new life makes them “one flesh” in the new life they create. And the obligations which attach to that, both before and after they “cleave unto” each other to become one flesh, require that they forsake any and all other relationships. Like the new life they create, their relationship should also be unique, exclusive and special – for the benefit of the new life they create.

But clearly, there is also another meaning to the words “therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother.” These first two of the early human species would have been aware that they were different even to their own parents, and that required that they leave the community from which they came, including their own ancestors.

However, at this stage, there would still have been an innocence about them. Only a small element of the “morality module” had been activated – that element which compelled them to recognize the fundamental nature of their relationship to the exclusion of others, and the obligations which would attach to them by virtue of creating new life – becoming “one flesh.”

That is the message in the next verse: “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” The reason that “they were not ashamed” was that they did not look upon the physical body, and the act of procreation as something to be exploited for the primary purpose of generating physical pleasure.

And the San people mentioned above have precisely the kind of innocence we are talking about here. For the most part, the San people resisted the impulse to activate the “morality module”. They were content to listen to the “voice” of the “moral law”, whereas another branch of the species chose to challenge that “voice”.

It is this branch of the species that Genesis addresses in Chapter 3, represented by Adam and Eve.

And that will be the focus of the next and final abridged extract of A ‘Final Theory’ of God.

By Joseph BH McMillan

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2014 All Rights Reserved

 

[1] Philo, On the Creation, XLIV (129).

[2] Tegmark, Max. Our Mathematical Universe, page 254 – Tegmark’s emphasis.

[3] Tegmark, page 323.

[4] Tegmatk, page 391 – Tegmark’s emphasis.

[5] Tegmark, page 259.

[6] Tegmark, page 323.

[7] Philo, On the Creation, III (13).

[8] Philo, On the Creation, IV (16).

[9] Rees, Martin. Just Six Numbers, page 4.

[10] Genesis 2: 6.

[11] Genesis 2: 7.

[12] Genesis 1: 21.

[13] Proverbs 1: 1 – 7.

[14] Genesis 2: 8 – 9.

[15] Philo, On the Creation, LVI (154).

[16] Genesis 2: 10.

[17] Genesis 2: 15.

[18] Genesis 2: 16 – 17.

[19] Philo, On the Creation, XXIV (76).

[20] Genesis 2: 21.

[21] Genesis 2: 22 – 24.

[22] Philo, On the Creation, XXIV (76).

[23] Genesis 2: 24.

Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Day Six – ‘Programming’ Human DNA: Morality, Reason and Instinct

What we saw in Day Five was the start of the re-establishment of the principles of quantum physics which had been subsumed into the Classical laws in the previous Days.

That statement may require some clarification.

We should recall that the first three Days of Genesis explained how the laws of quantum physics “morphed” into the deterministic, ordered and predictable world of Classical physics, giving us the physical universe of inanimate objects we see all around us; a world of physical objects lacking the kind of ‘freedom’ of choice inherent in the quantum laws of physics.

But when we get to Day Five, we find that animals are said to be ‘programmed’ with a limited ability to make choices. But that ‘freedom’ is limited to applying reason to service their primitive instincts.

And now, when we get to Day Six, and human beings, we see the ‘freedom’ inherent in the quantum laws being fully reinstated.

But first, Day Six deals with a continuation of the creation of animals that started in Day Five.

Verses 24 and 25 again have the three-stage ‘creation’. First, there are the words “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.”

Second comes the actual ‘making’ of those things – “And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: …”

And third, we have the words “and God saw that it was good.” We have an observation.

However, there appears to be a major omission here; the words “And God blessed them, saying, …” do not appear. The reason for that ‘omission’ is that the life which emerges from “the earth” is a continuation of the life that was created in Day Five. But by putting this element of the creation into the same “day” as the creation of human DNA, clearly Genesis is telling us that some of the DNA that had been ‘programmed’ in Day Five had in fact been ‘programmed’ to manifest itself at a later stage, closer to when the DNA that was to become the human genome was ‘programmed’ to emerge.

In other words, the ‘programming’ of the DNA that was to become the ‘land animals’ was actually done in Day Five, but could only manifest itself in the form intended once it encountered the right kind of land environment. That is made clear by the words “And God created … every living creature that moveth …” in verse 21 of Day Five. That would have included what was to become the basic DNA of all animals.

So including the creation of “the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind …” in Day Six, demonstrates that those creatures would emerge shortly before human beings.

Then come human beings, and we find these well known verses.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. [Genesis 1: 26]

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” [Genesis 1: 27]

The first obvious point to note is the words “Let us make man …” There is still the expression of an intended objective, but these words are very different to the preceding ‘creation’. Days One and Two had the words “Let there be …” Those words signified a qualitative change in matter and energy which already existed. Day Three then has the words “Let the watersbe gathered together …” and “Let the earth bring forth …” These words signify a manipulation of what had resulted from the qualitative change to matter and energy in Days One and Two. Day Four then reverts to the words “Let there be …” As we have seen, Day Four is a sort of duplication of Day One, but in the microcosm of our solar system.

Then Day Five and the first part of Day Six revert to the words found in Day Three – “Let the waters …” and “Let the earth …” Again, as we have seen, these words signify a transformation of the pre-existing DNA so as to accommodate itself to the environment that would emerge on Earth.

But in the case of “man,” the situation is very different. By creating man “in the image of God” it is clear that the ‘accommodation’, in the first instance, is not to the environment but to God Himself. In other words, “man” was ‘intended’ to have a purpose beyond simply an ability to “Be fruitful, and multiply”. When the author/s of Genesis described “man” as being ‘created’ in “the image” of their Creator, clearly they intended to impart the idea that “man” would assume responsibility for those matters over which God Himself would otherwise have had power, and that “man” would be endowed with the ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’ to carry out those responsibilities which were being assigned to them – if they chose to make use of that ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’ for the purpose intended.

As we shall see, the “image of God” in these verses thus clearly refers to “man” being ‘programmed’ with a moral aptitude. But this is not some kind of flexible ability to adapt moral perceptions to new environments; it is a set of absolute moral principles which are being ‘imprinted’ into the DNA, which would determine the structure of the human brain, or mind. Those moral principles, as we shall see, are humanity’s moral compass which enables human beings to chart their moral destiny.

They act as a ‘window’ into God’s Law, and God’s will.

So let’s dissect verse 26 into its various parts. First we need to consider the opening words – “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

This is what Philo says about those words: “So then after all the other things, as has been said before, Moses says that man was made in the image and likeness of God. And he says well; for nothing that is born on the earth is more resembling God than man. And let no one think that he is able to judge of this likeness from the characters of the body: for neither is God a being with the form of a man, nor is the human body like the form of God; but the resemblance is spoken of with reference to the most important part of the soul, namely, the mind: for the mind which exists in each individual has been created after the likeness of that one mind which is in the universe as its primitive model, being in some sort the God of that body which carries it about and bears its image within it.”[1]

So, according to Philo, the “image of God” relates to the mind, or we should better say today, the brain. But Philo goes further. He asserts that this “image” imprinted in the brain, or mind, is a manifestation of the entire creation. This is what he says: “Accordingly he [Moses], when recording the creation of man, in words which follow, asserts expressly, that he was made in the image of God–and if the image be a part of the image, then manifestly so is the entire form, namely, the whole of this world perceptible by the external senses, which is a greater imitation of the divine image than the human form is.[2]

But we should be careful not to construe the brain (mind) as a whole as the “image of God,” because, as we shall see, parts of the brain are also used for other purposes – purposes, moreover, as far removed from anything resembling morality as we could get.

So we are really talking about some element of the make-up of the brain that reflects what the Creator wanted it to reflect. It’s like a painter. First, he or she ‘sees’ an ‘image’ of some feeling or thought they want to portray. They want to express part of something within themselves. So they first get all their materials ready and mixed, prepare the canvas, then they apply the brush strokes. The resulting ‘image’ is an expression of something within themselves; expressed in the physical form of a painting. The physical painting is the ‘likeness’ of the original ‘image’, whereas the sentiment expressed in the painting is the ‘image’ of the inner-most stirrings of the artist.

And we see something similar in Genesis. Each stage of ‘creation’ starts with an expression of an intention – “And God said …

Then there follows the actual ‘doing’ or ‘carrying out’ of the intention – “And there was light,” … “And God made …,” … “and it was so;” … “And the Earth brought forth …;” and so on.

And finally, God observes what has been created, and gives it His seal of approval – “And God saw that it was good.”

It is this latter wording that brings the laws of physics and the laws of morality together. The final convergence of the various intentions, makings and observations, culminate in the reflection of the Creator who initiated the whole process. The entire ‘creation’ was an unfolding of certain laws that would, in their final incarnation, reflect the expressed intention of God – something that encompasses “good”.

In other words, the universe is an expression of God’s Will which reveals itself in the laws of physics – or, according to Genesis, God’s laws. And the ultimate manifestation of that will, and those laws, is a human organism, or in this case, the DNA which would become the physical form of a human being. However, the ultimate manifestation of God’s Will and God’s law is limited to that part of the human mind that is endowed with the laws of morality. The “image of God” is thus reflected in some physical structure within the human brain – and it is that physical structure that reveals the “likeness” of God.

Many other verses of the Bible confirm the idea that God’s Law, or God’s Kingdom, is part of the human mind. Deuteronomy declares that the commandments which are written in the “book of the law” are not “hidden” from us, nor are they “in heaven”, nor “beyond the sea”; instead, “the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.[3]

And Christ said: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is WITHIN YOU.[4]

Even the “Gentiles” are so ‘programmed’ according to the apostle Paul: “For the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law … which shows the work of the law written in their hearts, their consciences also bear witness [to the law].”[5]

But in the Genesis account of the creation of “man” in the “image of God,” there is an even more powerful indication in these verses that the “image” refers to morality. And that is found in the remarkable way that Genesis introduces the plural when it comes to the creation of “man.” The words are these: “Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness: and let THEM

That expression of ‘intention’ is then put into effect with these words: “So God created man in HIS own image, in the image of God created he HIM; MALE and FEMALE created he THEM.

So in the expression of ‘intention’ we have reference to the plural when God says “Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness …”, whereas when it comes to actually ‘creating’ the “man”, it reverts, in the first instance, to the singular – “So God created man in HIS OWN image, in the image of GOD created he HIM …”

Philo says this about those verses: “very beautifully after he had called the whole race ‘man,’ did he distinguish between the sexes, saying, that ‘they were created male and female.’”[6]

Male and female created HE THEM.”

At the very heart of any notion of morality lies the relationship between two people, a man and a woman, and their joining together to create new life – a new human being which is in their genetic ‘image and likeness’. Only an imbecile would claim that the act of creating and bringing into this world a new human life does not attach any obligations to the two people who, by their own voluntary act, create new human life.

Even the Arch-Utilitarian John Stuart Mill said this about the creation of new human life: “It is not in the matter of education only, that misplaced notions of liberty prevent moral obligations on the part of parents from being recognised, and legal obligations from being imposed, where there are the strongest grounds for the former always, and in many cases for the latter also. The fact itself, of causing the existence of a human being, is one of the most responsible actions in the range of human life. To undertake this responsibility – to bestow a life which may be either a curse or a blessing – unless the being on whom it is bestowed will have at least the ordinary chances of a desirable existence, is a crime against that being.”[7]

Now, at first sight it may be tempting to link the words “male and female” to the words “Let us make …”, and conclude that the latter words mean that God had a female partner, or even that God Himself was ‘male’. But the words preceding “male and female”, as we have seen, revert to the singular when referring to God, and indeed “man” – “in the image of God created HE (God) HIM (man); …” Only then come the words “male and female created he (God)  them (male and female).”

But this all begins to make sense when we recognize that the “image and likeness” of God refers to the manifestation of God’s will in a universe governed by the laws God put in place to determine how it functions. That has been the message of Genesis since the start.

So the distinction between the sexes when it comes to human beings must have a moral significance. Animals also reproduce, in the main by male and female joining together, but Genesis does not refer to animals being created male and female anywhere in Days Five or Six.

We also see that Christ said that the concept of “male and female” is something integral to the laws which constitute the universe itself. When tempted by the Pharisees about divorce, Christ replied: “Have you not read, that which he [God] made them AT THE BEGINNING made them male and female, And said, for this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. … Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but FROM THE BEGINNING it was not so.[8]

So the Biblical interpretation, even through the New Testament, clearly links the words “male and female” to a fundamental moral principle which was established “from the beginning.”

So what exactly does use of the plural mean in verse 26 – because it is the only place that it is found in Genesis in respect of God creating anything?

The answer must lie in the various means God is said to employ in the creation.

As we have seen, Genesis starts with “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Everything that was to be created thereafter was to come from these two things – in scientific terminology, matter and space.

But to transform the ‘material’ that was there at the beginning, God is said to have employed His spirit – “And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

The third element comes in God ‘speaking’ – “And God said …” We should note that this wording is different from the first words of Genesis which simply say “God created …

Psalm 33 puts it this way: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”[9]

So what we see is that when it comes to the creation of “man”, ALL the methods God employed in the creation of the universe are brought to bear – God Himself, the “spirit of God”, and the “word of God” as reflected in the words “And God said …”

In the Christian tradition this is called the Holy Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.

Philo has a slightly different interpretation of the use of the plural in this verse. His argument is that since God can only create that which is “good”, and since certain elements of human nature are not “good”, God had to resort to others when it came to creating those elements of human nature. He says this: “It is on this account that Moses says, at the creation of man alone that God said, “Let us make man,” which expression shows an assumption of other beings to himself as assistants, in order that God, the governor of all things, might have all the blameless intentions and actions of man, when he does right attributed to him; and that his other assistants might bear the imputation of his contrary actions. For it was fitting that the Father should in the eyes of his children be free from all imputation of evil; and vice and energy in accordance with vice are evil.”[10]

Philo does not say who he thinks God’s “other assistants” might be.

I do not consider Philo’s interpretation of these words to be correct, because, as we shall see, what Philo considers are those elements of human nature that tend to ‘evil’ or ‘vice’ are not in themselves ‘wrong’. In fact, they are essential for human survival: they are human instinct, and human reason. It is only when reason is applied to service those instincts in violation of the “moral law” that the actions become ‘wrong’, or ‘evil’. And when it comes to ‘programming’ human DNA with reason and instincts, God is not said to have resorted to “other assistants” – He does it Himself.

So we see that the final manifestation of all these ‘elements’ of God being brought together in the final act of creation is not a physical man and a physical woman, but the “image of God” as “male and female” – “male and female” representing the moral nature of what human DNA was being endowed with. The “image and likeness” of God can only thus refer to a moral law being embedded into human DNA, and “male and female” representing the very origin and heart of morality.

As we shall see, the Ten Commandments speak to precisely such a foundation to the moral principles they enunciate. Man free of the authority or “bondage” of his fellow man, subject only to the laws of God, and the joining together of a man and a woman to create new human life as the foundation of all other moral principles.

The “male and female” as the foundation of all other moral principles is best put by Philo when he considers the Fifth Commandment – “Honour thy father and thy mother.”[11] He puts it this way: “The nature of one’s parents appears to be something on the confines between immortal and mortal essences. Of mortal essence, on account of their relationship to men and also to other animals, and likewise of the perishable nature of the body. And of immortal essence, by reason of the similarity of the act of generation to God the Father of the universe.”[12]

But then, the question is whether science recognizes such a ‘programming’ of human DNA, and thus the human brain, with any such moral precepts?

And the answer is yes, although neuroscience is still in its infancy when it comes to this element of human DNA and the brain.

IVF pioneer, Sir Robert Winston, says that the human brain has “a sort of ‘morality module’ … that is activated at an early age. Evidence from neuroscience would back this up, to a degree.”[13]

But if the human brain has such a “morality module”, then it is clear that it is an integral part of human DNA, and human DNA is the product of the fundamental laws of physics, which in turn are determined by the properties of fundamental particles, which themselves are subject to the laws of quantum mechanics.

As we have seen, Weinberg says this about DNA: “no one doubts that with a large enough computer we could in principle explain all the properties of DNA by solving the equations of quantum mechanics for electrons and the nuclei of a few common elements, whose properties are explained in turn by the standard model.[14]

The genetic makeup of human DNA is thus an ‘image’ of the laws of physics, and more particularly, the properties of fundamental particles. And the properties of fundamental particles are determined by quantum mechanics – probability, and observation.

So if, as Winston claims, the human brain has embedded within it a “morality module,” that module is an expression of those laws which determined the physical structure of the brain itself. But more remarkably, it is an expression of those fundamental laws of physics, or some core part of those laws, not in terms of numbers and equations, but in terms of moral principles that we can ‘see’ in terms of words.

Genesis thus plots for us the process that established the universe we see around us, as well as the process which enables us to ‘see around us’ in the first place. But it also plots the process by which we are able to ‘see within ourselves’ – to ‘see’ the moral foundation of the universe, and the “moral law” in whose image we are created. And that “moral law” is embedded into the human brain as a “morality module”; a module that is the final manifestation of the fundamental laws which created it, and which it is.

That is why we can no more create the laws of morality than we create the laws of physics; we can only discover them. And the reason is that they are the same thing. An expression of God’s will in the form of fundamental principles and laws.

And even if we leave God out of the picture, any “morality module” can only be the manifestation of the fundamental laws of physics, which means that the final manifestation of those laws must be moral.

The argument that we ‘invent’ moral principles to adapt to our social environment can’t get around the problem, because that must mean that human DNA must have known that it should prepare itself with a moral aptitude (and genes) to prepare to adapt to the social environment it may “encounter downstream”. Humanity’s relentless quest for justice speaks to a moral stirring within human beings to express the moral law which is embedded within the brain.

So again, the only difference between science and Genesis is whether human morality, like the universe and life itself, is some improbable cosmic aberration of no special significance, or whether it is central to human existence as being a manifestation of the will and law of a Creator.

Although this moral dimension to the creation of “man” is, of course, central to the creation process, it is not the whole story.

The second part of the ‘intention’ expressed in verse 26 is this: “and let them [humans] have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

However, when this stated intention is put into effect, we have wording that we have not seen before. In the case of the creation of life in Day Five, after the stated ‘intention’, we have the actual making of what was ‘intended’: “And God created great whales etc ….” Thereafter we have the words “And God Blessed them SAYING …” And we saw in the analysis of Day Five that such wording symbolized the ‘programming’ of animal DNA with a limited capacity to reason and communicate, and the basic instincts animals needed to survive and perpetuate.

In the case of humans, there is a subtle but fundamental difference.

After “man” is created in God’s “image”, and created “male and female”, which, as we have seen, symbolizes human DNA being ‘programmed’ with a “morality module”, we have these words: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every thing that moveth upon the earth.”[15]

The crucial words have been highlighted in bold.

First, we should note the difference in how God is said to ‘speak’ to animals and humans. In the case of animals, Genesis uses the word “SAYING”, whereas in the case of humans (“male and female”) the words used are “UNTO THEM”. The words “unto them” clearly imply a greater level of understanding between the one doing the speaking (God) and those He is speaking to (“male and female” – humans).

So the first thing these words clearly symbolize is human DNA being ‘programmed’ with a considerably higher ability to ‘reason’, as well as a considerably higher degree of communication skills. Talking to someone is very different to simply saying something. As we saw in the example given in respect of Day Five, one version is like ‘saying’ something to your pet, whereas the other is like talking to your children.

In the next verse, we find God again speaking to what He had created: “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree yielding seed; and to you it shall be for meat.”[16]

Here the words are even more explicit in that they depict a level of explanation and ‘reasoning’ when God says “Behold, I have given you …” It assumes that what is being communicated is being understood by those to whom it is being communicated, and that requires an ability to reason so as to comprehend what is being said, and an ability to receive that communication.

There can be no other explanation for the different use of words in respect of humans and animals.

Human DNA was being ‘programmed’ with the ability to reason, and to communicate. Whether that ‘programming’ involved a specific gene or series of genes, or whether it involved ‘programming’ existing genes to ‘know’ that these abilities would be required in the future and so to prepare ‘reserve genes’ (or psuedogenes), is not really important. The fact is that human beings do have these abilities. And even if geneticists claim that it is a result of ‘evolution,’ then, as the article on the Encode Project shows, human DNA would have to have had the ability to ‘know’ that it should prepare itself with ‘reserve genes’ which could form the basis from which the DNA could ‘evolve’ to accommodate the future environment it would encounter.

But even if human DNA only has this ‘evolutionary knowledge’ that it should ready itself for some future environment which it can ‘foresee’, and so ‘knows’ what genes to make to respond to that environment, that in itself would be quite a remarkable matter – DNA that ‘knows’ about the theory of evolution and how best to ‘accommodate’ itself to it? And all without any ‘programming’?

Nevertheless, that humans do have the capacity to reason and communicate, or at least some of them, is a fact. The only debate can be how that came about: or more specifically, was there some “conscious outside observer” involved who did a little manipulating of quantum probabilities before locking in the desired result with an observation; or was it an impossibly improbable accident of the kind to be expected when we multiply the probabilities to an infinite degree – even though the probabilities of the wavefunction of each particle are themselves said to be infinite? And even then, there is still that irritatingly persistent observation problem!

Hopefully having thus settled the origins of reason and communication according to Genesis, we should look to see what God was said to have been saying to “man” when He spoke to them, and why.

So the next crucial words come after God is said to bless “man”. In the first instance, God is said to say to “man” exactly what He said to animals: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, …[17] We should recall that in the case of animals the words were “Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters …[18]

It seems quite obvious that these words relate to instinct; the instinct to reproduce, and the instinct for survival.

So Genesis is telling us that humans and animals were ‘programmed’ with the same instincts to reproduce and survive. And the survival instinct encompasses a number of subsidiary instincts such as eliminating any perceived threats to itself, or its offspring, and conversely, the instinct to reproduce includes an instinct to protect what is reproduced so as to preserve that line of the species – to preserve that which is the image of the parents.

Furthermore, the instinct to reproduce must necessarily include some mechanism which attracts one gender of the species to the other, so that the act of regeneration may take place. And that requires an additional instinct for each gender to portray itself in a manner which would attract the attentions of the opposite gender. That is the instinct to vanity.

However, according to Genesis, when it came to humans, God saw fit to endow humans with a number of additional instincts.

The first of these human-specific instincts are set out after the reproductive and survival instincts symbolized by the words “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth”. Here is verse 28 again: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every thing that moveth upon the earth.”

The key words said to have been spoken to “man” are “subdue it [the earth], and have dominion over [everything else].

These words can only refer to “man” being ‘programmed’ with the additional instincts for security and invention, symbolized by the instruction to “subdue [the earth], … and have dominion over [the other creatures].” These additional instincts leave most human beings with a strong desire to impose their authority not just on their environment, but on other human beings, as a means of suppressing the fear of insecurity that fires the instinct for security. That is because, regrettably, the ‘instruction’ to the first human beings to “subdue” the earth did not include a prohibition against subduing other human beings. This is what Nietzsche called the “will to power”.[19] But, as we shall see, the ‘omission’ was not some ‘slip-up’ on God’s part. It was required in order to ensure that a fundamental element of God’s Law was preserved – freedom.

Moreover, the instinct for security requires an ability for cunning so as to enable human beings to devise means of attempting to outsmart opponents so as to eliminate any perceived threat to their security. And cunning very quickly assumes the guise of deception and deceit. However, to employ such instincts, humans resort to their ability to reason, and communicate.

So we see that our instincts for survival, reproduction, and security, are not in themselves ‘wrong’ or ‘evil’. It is only when we employ ‘reason’ to service those instincts in such a way as to deprive others of their survival or security, or we employ ‘reason’ to deceive others such as a wife, or husband, and children, so as to indulge our ‘reproductive’ instinct, that the action becomes ‘wrong’ or ‘evil’.

However, there is another dimension to these human instincts which make them vulnerable to manipulation by ‘reason’ – pleasure and pain. In order for instincts to serve their purpose, there must be some mechanism which activates them. And that mechanism is the fear of pain, and the appetite for pleasure. It is these elements of human instinct which, being susceptible to the manipulation of ‘reason’, are the source of all ‘wrong’ and ‘evil’.

‘Reason’ in the service of our primitive instincts in pursuit of the allure of the ‘pleasures’ to be had by indulging those instincts, or fearful of the ‘pain’ which may ensue if any such instincts are threatened, leads to deception, deceit, fraud, murder, theft, violence, and every other ‘wrong’ and ‘evil’ that human beings can conceive to visit upon their fellow human beings.

Human activity shows that although these instincts are ‘triggered’ by perceived expectations of ‘pain or pleasure’, with the additional ability to ‘reason’, any perceived threat of pain, or expectation of pleasure, as a result of an instinct being activated, becomes an end in itself. ‘Reason’ thus devises ways to limit any expectations of pain, and to service the expectations of pleasure, aroused by those primitive instincts.

As Philo said, “For other animals pursue pleasure only in taste and in the acts of generation; but man aims at it by means of his other senses also, devoting himself to whatever sights or sounds can impart pleasure to his eyes or ears.”[20] The device human beings use to “aim at” pleasure, and devote themselves to satisfying it, is ‘reason’.

However, Genesis does not end the ‘programming’ of human DNA with instinct. The next verses reveal that human DNA was also programmed with an innate ‘knowledge’ and ‘understanding’ of how other life functions, which, in turn, could be applied either to service our primitive instincts, or in the service of morality.

Those verses are these:

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree yielding seed; and to you it shall be for meat.”[21]

And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.”[22]

The introductory words “And God said, Behold, I have given you …” refer to the human beings which God had created “male and female”. But what is also clear is that those introductory words also apply to the next verse, because the next verse is a continuation of the explanation God is said to be providing to humans. These two verses symbolize human DNA being ‘programmed’ with an innate, but latent, ‘knowledge’ and ‘understanding’ of how plant and animal life functions, and the interrelationship between them. And to know how life functions, these verses also imply, by extension’, an innate ‘knowledge’ and ‘understanding’ of what life is made of, and the physical and chemical laws which make it all function.

And it is this ‘programming’ that gave rise to Einstein’s amazement at the human ability to understand the workings of the universe when he noted that “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.[23]

Having thus ‘programmed’ human DNA with morality, reason, instinct, and an innate ‘knowledge’ of the laws which make it all work, Day Six ends again with an observation: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.[24]

This final observation is not just “good,” but “very good.” It was exactly what God had intended to make, and it was also His final observation.

The “day” then ends with the familiar “And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”[25] As we shall see momentarily, this would have been just before liquid water appeared of Earth. And according to Schroeder, “Petrographical evidence indicates that liquid water appeared on Earth … approximately 4 billion years ago.”[26]

So, at the end of Day Six, Genesis tells us that human DNA had been ‘programmed’ with three principal elements: instinct, morality, and reason, and reason could act as a sort of adjudicator between instinct and morality, if we elect to apply it to that purpose, rather than the pursuit of the temptations of pleasure held out by satisfying our primitive instincts.

If ‘reason’ in the service of primitive instinct were the whole story, human existence would be a very miserable experience – an existence “more miserable than death.”[27]

Luckily, God spared us that fate by creating us “in his own image.”[28] He embedded in our minds a “morality module”, which could ensure that “… [man] is not so completely an animal as to be indifferent to what [morality] says on its own account, and to use [reason] merely as an instrument for the satisfaction of his wants as a [sensual] being.”[29]

Therefore, all the evidence points to human DNA having been ‘programmed’ with the necessary information to create the human species, first in primitive form, but with the ability to ‘know’ what kind of environments it will encounter in the future so that it can ‘program’ itself to respond to those environments, and so create more sophisticated DNA structures.

However, the crucial point to note is that this ability to ‘know’ what environments it may encounter, and prepare itself accordingly, requires an ‘observation – a kind of ‘instruction’ as to what the future holds. And that ‘observation’, or ‘instruction’, could not come from human beings themselves because human DNA ‘developed’ from earlier primitive DNA which, in turn, appears to have been ‘created’ in the stars or supernovae. To acquire these remarkable capabilities, DNA needed an “outside observer” to tend to the ‘fine tuning’ in order to create what resulted in a human being endowed with a moral aptitude.

Once DNA had finally realized its full potential as a moral being, it was able to make moral choices, and thus begin to shape its own destiny. The probabilities inherent in fundamental particles manifest themselves in the human ability to make choices as to what actions they will take, and whether those actions will be in service of their primitive instincts, or in response to the moral principles, or “moral law” as Kant called it, embedded in the brain.

It was at this point in cosmic history that the “outside observer” passed humanity’s moral destiny to human beings themselves – “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.[30]

In terms of science, Michio Kaku puts it this way: “… in a quantum play, the actors suddenly throw away the script and act on their own. The puppets cut their strings. Free will has been established.”[31] However, according to Genesis, it is not the “puppets” that “cut their strings”, but the “outside observer”.

And so, when we come to the end of the six days of creation, we find that in the functioning of the universe and nature, God’s Will is expressed through God’s Law which permeates everything; it is what we understand, to a very limited degree, as the laws of physics. However, in respect of human beings, God’s Will is expressed by God’s Law being embedded in the human brain as a neurological moral network or “morality module”. But humans are not ‘governed’ by that law, they must freely choose it. The decision to follow God’s Will is theirs. However, as we shall see, God does attempt to guide our choice, and He has made valiant efforts to do so – mostly in the face of arrogant and ignorant resistance.

And with that in mind, we will next consider Chapters 2 and 3 of Genesis. And we will be introduced to the ‘pre-fall descendants’ of Adam and Eve – yes, alive and well to this very day.

By Joseph BH McMillan

The remaining articles on Genesis Chapters 2 & 3 will be published in the coming days.

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2014 All Rights Reserved

Notes

[1] Philo, On the Creation, XXIII (69).

[2] Philo, On the Creation, VI (24).

[3] Deuteronomy 30:10 – 14.

[4] Luke 17; 21 – my emphasis.

[5] Romans 2: 14 & 15.

[6] Philo, On the Creation, XXIV (76).

[7] Mill, On Liberty, Chapter 5, v. 15 – emphasis mine.

[8] Mathew 19: 4 – 8.

[9] Psalm 33: 6.

[10] Philo, On the Creation, XXIV (74).

[11] Exodus 20:12.

[12] Philo, Decalogue, XXII (106)

[13] The Guardian, 13 October 2005.

[14] Weinberg, page 32.

[15] Genesis 1: 28.

[16] Genesis 1: 29.

[17] Genesis 1: 28.

[18] Genesis 1: 22.

[19] Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, para 36, page 48.

[20] Philo. On the Creation, LVII(162)

[21] Genesis 1: 29.

[22] Genesis 1: 30.

[23] Quoted by Rees, pages 11 – 12.

[24] Genesis 1: 31.

[25] Genesis 1: 31.

[26] Schroeder, The Science of God, page 90.

[27] Philo, On the Creation, LVIII (164)

[28] Genesis 1: 27

[29] Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, page 80 – my adaptations in square brackets.

[30] Genesis 2: 2.

[31] Kaku,  page 149.

 

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2014 All Rights Reserved

Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Day Five – ‘Programming’ of Animal Life: Reason in the service of Instinct

Day Five starts with these words:

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.”[Genesis 1: 20]

The first thing we should consider here is what is meant by “the waters”.

Although Day Four clearly refers to our particular solar system, and thus our planet, Genesis tells us that at the end of the six days there was still no water on the Earth, at least not water in liquid form. And the reason, according to Genesis, was that “God had not caused it to rain upon the earth ...” [Genesis 2: 5]

It is only after the six days of creation, and after the seventh when God is said to have rested, that water in liquid form is said to have materialized on earth: “But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.” [Genesis 2: 6]

However, we should recall from the first three “days” that the word “waters” was used to describe the life-giving properties of matter during its various stages of creation. We should also recall that Day Three can only be construed as having created primitive DNA structures as a sort of blueprint for life that was to follow. As Philo says, this primitive DNA would have acted as the “incorporeal ideas perceptible only by the intellect, which have been appointed to be as seals of the perfected works, perceptible by the outward senses.[1]

So it seems most likely, and consistent with the use of the word “waters” throughout Genesis Chapter 1, that in Day Five the words “the waters” are referring to the primitive DNA which had “seeded” the matter making up the early Earth and its atmosphere. And when we recall that the words “And God said …” have been consistently used to represent a manipulation of probabilities with the objective of creating a desired result, then this verse begins to make some sense.

The primitive DNA structures are undergoing a modification so as to enable them to respond to a future environment they will soon encounter. And that environment would be planet Earth in a form more similar to the one we see today; a planet with liquid water, and a life-permitting atmosphere. The primitive DNA that had “seeded” the early planet was being ‘programmed’ to respond to its intended future environment. Like the particles in the delayed-choice experiments, we could say that “it’s as though the [primitive DNA had] a ‘premonition’ of the [future Earth] they [would] encounter farther downstream, and [were adjusting] accordingly.[2] Except that Genesis is telling us that the primitive DNA was being ‘programmed’ by God to ‘know’ what was coming, and also to adapt itself to develop in the environment it was to encounter as Earth cooled down. And as any school child with even a little knowledge of what is called ‘evolution’ will tell us, animal life as we know it started in the oceans, then adapted to the skies, and land.

So what seems clear is that “the waters” have a kind of double meaning: they refer to the properties of primitive DNA which were being ‘programmed’ to develop into more advanced life once they encountered liquid water; and it means that the first ‘advanced life’ on Earth was destined (or ‘programmed’) to emerge from water, which, of course, it did – so far as we know.

The next verse follows the familiar sequence by introducing the second stage of what we could call the quantum effect as seen in the delayed-choice experiments – the ‘intended’ result, as expressed in the ‘instructions’ following the words “And God said …”, are implemented. In this verse, God is said to do those things He previously said should be done:

And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” [Genesis 1: 21]

Following the usual pattern, the words “And God saw that it was good” lock in, so to speak, the ‘programming’ that had taken place. But in the case of the creation of more advanced life, we have a very significant addition to the normal sequence of events. God is now said to speak to what He had just created:

And God blessed them, SAYING, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.[Genesis 1:22 – my emphasis on saying]

This is a very significant verse, and becomes even more significant when we contrast it to the words God is said to have spoken to human beings when they were created in Day Six. And it is for that reason, as we shall see, that I have emphasized the word “saying”.

So why these words?

Well, what is clear is that verse 21 refers to the physical composition of the creatures God is said to create – “whales, and every living creature that moveth  …”; whereas verse 22 clearly refers to the composition of the brain, and how it is ‘programmed’.

The reason for this is obvious. In verse 22, God is said to ‘speak’ when He blesses the creatures He has just created. And ‘speaking’ implies a neurological process or activity. But when God is said to bless the creatures, He does not ‘speak to’ them, instead he blesses them “SAYING, …”

By contrast, when it comes to “man,” which God is said to create “male and female,” we find these words: “And God blessed them, and God SAID UNTO THEM, …

And there is a very big difference between simply “saying” something and speaking to someone in particular.

The difference is something we experience in daily life. We often simply say something to no one in particular, or even to ourselves. Most people with pets will ‘speak’ to their pets. For example, if we take food out for the dog, we may say something like, ‘there you are, eat that, it will keep your fur shiny.” Of course, we don’t expect that the dog understands what we are ‘saying’. We are more ‘relating’ to the dog, not ‘reasoning’ with it as to the benefits of the nourishment of the food we are giving it. We do not expect the dog to respond in an intelligible way. And we certainly do not expect to hold an intelligent conversation with the dog.

Contrast that with what happens when we speak to our children. Even from an early age we speak to our children because we know that they have the capacity to come to understand what we are saying to them. We speak to our children in a very different way to the way we ‘speak’ to our pets. And as the children acquire a capacity to understand and respond, we hold intelligent conversations with them. And in time we expect to discuss things like the nutritional value of the food we prepare for them. And we also hope for intelligent discussion about the more profound issues of life.

In both cases, however, there is an element of ‘reason’ going on. And that is clearly what Genesis is referring to.

In the case of animals, they are being ‘programmed’ with a limited ability to ‘reason’. They can work out that when we come out at certain times of the day they will eat. In the wild, that limited ability to ‘reason’ is applied to determine the most likely places to find food, and the most effective way to hunt, for example.

So the use of the word “saying” clearly refers to a ‘programming’ of animals with a limited ability to ‘reason’. But ‘limited’ to what?

Well, that is found in the words that God is said to have used. And these words are the key to properly understanding Genesis, and the human condition:

Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.[Genesis 1: 22]

They are being ‘programmed’ with primitive INSTINCTS – reproductive and survival instincts. In order to “be fruitful and multiply” there must be some mechanism to attract one sex of the species to the other so that they can reproduce. And in order to sustain their existence, they need to survive; and for that they need to eat. And for the species to “multiply”, they also have to ensure the survival of their offspring, so they need a strong instinct to protect their young.

So verse 22 can only refer to the ‘programming’ of DNA so that animals have basic reproductive and survival instincts, and a limited ability to ‘reason’; and the fact is that animals do have such instincts, and they do have a limited ability to ‘reason’ in order to work out how they can most effectively service those instincts.

Therefore, the only real difference between science (or biology) and Genesis is not whether animals possess such instincts, and posses a limited ability to reason in order to most effectively service those instincts, but how they got there.

The general scientific consensus is evolution.

However, with each passing year, the theory of evolution appears to be on increasingly shaky ground.

As we saw in Chapter 4, discoveries of life-forms from space are a direct challenge to the accepted propositions of evolution. As we noted there, Professor Milton Wainwright said: “If life does continue to arrive from space then we will have to completely change our view of biology and evolution.”[3]

And it gets even more intriguing.

The Encode Project, a multinational 5 year study to analyze the 98% of human DNA that does not constitute a protein-creating gene (classified previously as Junk DNA), has now discovered that “this DNA is not junk at all … [and] … that as much as a fifth [of it] is instead made up of “switches” – bits of DNA that turn some genes on and others off.”[4] As the Hanlon article notes, human beings are “not much more well endowed genetically than a fruit fly or even a lump of yeast.”

Hanlon goes on to note that “… the more we learn about our genome, the more complex it becomes. We have genes that tell our bodies to make proteins, genes that affect other genes, genes that are influenced by the environment, segments of DNA that switch certain genes on and off, as well as RNA, the still-not-fully understood messenger molecule that conveys information from our DNA to protein factories in cells.” And furthermore, DNA also “consists of ‘pseudogenes’ – non-functioning copies of active genes that form the raw material for evolution’ – sort of ‘reserve genes’ waiting to be switched on.

Now, although the Encode Project was looking at human DNA, the same principles apply when it comes to animal DNA. And taken in the whole, what this shows is that DNA is somehow ‘programmed’ to ‘know’ what it will encounter in the future and has prepared the mechanisms to respond to those eventualities.

Whether the ‘reserve genes’ are ‘pre-programmed’ to develop certain characteristics as they encounter certain environments, or whether DNA somehow ‘knows’ how, and with what, those ‘reserve genes’ need to be programmed when certain environments are encountered, is not important. Either way, DNA seems to ‘know’ which switches to operate in order to activate (or ‘program’) the ‘reserve genes’ necessary to respond to the different environments it appears to ‘know’ it will encounter at some point in the future.

In considering Hox Genes (the genes that that control the body’s organs), Gerald Schroeder says this: “It is true that Hox genes have been discovered to control the location and development of entire organs. But the genes that actually form these organs must already be present in the genome. We are forced to revert to the idea of latent genes, waiting patiently to be cued by the environment for expression.[5] The Encode Project appears to endorse that observation.

So how can DNA ‘know’ all this?

The answer may be found in the delayed-choice experiments referred to by Brian Greene (discussed in Day One).

Greene’s interpretation of the results of these delayed-choice experiments was this: “it’s as if the photons adjust their behaviour in the past according to the future choice of whether the … detector is switched on; it’s as though the photons have a ‘premonition’ of the experimental situation they will encounter farther downstream, and act accordingly.[6]

These remarkable properties of fundamental particles clearly show that they do have the ability to ‘know’ what the future will look like, as long as that future is somehow made aware to them. They then assume the correct mode to prepare for that eventuality.

But can these properties of fundamental particles be translated to explain the behavior of DNA? The answer must be yes.

On the connection between the quantum phenomena of subatomic particles and DNA, Weinberg says that “DNA is too complicated to allow us to use the equations of quantum mechanics to work out its structure. But the structure is understood well enough through the ordinary rules of chemistry, and no one doubts that with a large enough computer we could in principle explain all the properties of DNA by solving the equations of quantum mechanics for electrons and the nuclei of a few common elements, whose properties are explained in turn by the standard model. So again we find ourselves at the same point of convergence of our arrows of explanation.”[7]

And of chemical reactions, which of course underlie the creation and functioning of DNA, Weinberg says this: “We believe that atoms behave the way they do in chemical reactions because the physical PRINCIPLES that govern the electrons and electric forces inside atoms leave NO FREEDOM for the atoms to behave in any other way.[8]

Rees puts it this way: “Mathematical laws underpin the fabric of our universe – not just atoms, but galaxies, stars and people. The properties of atoms … determine the chemistry of our everyday world. … And everything takes place in the arena of an expanding universe, whose properties were imprinted into it at the time of the initial Big Bang.”[9]

However, we should also remember that the quantum phenomena which determine how chemical reactions create DNA, and make it function, are subject to the two-stage process of probability and observation. So if DNA somehow ‘knows’ that it should accommodate its structure to the environment it finds itself in, or that the molecules and proteins which make up DNA somehow ‘know’ that in certain environments they should ‘create’ sophisticated DNA structures, that must be down to the quantum phenomena of the subatomic particles whose properties are themselves determined by the phenomena of probability and observation. As the experiments referred to by Greene make clear, for particles to ‘know’ how to react to a future environment, they have to be observed.

We can thus apply this connection between the quantum phenomena of particles, and the structure and functioning of DNA, to the creation of higher life-forms referred to in Day Five and, as we shall see, Day Six.

So Day Five sees the ‘creation’ of DNA that will produce the various animal life-forms, but only once the Earth has stabilized to an environment containing water and the right atmosphere in which that DNA can manifest itself as the life it was intended to be. Further, the act of God blessing and speaking to the life created, symbolizes the ‘programming’ of the DNA with instincts and a limited ability to ‘reason’. And the limited ability to ‘reason’ also infers a limited capacity to communicate. Clearly the symbolism of God speaking as He blesses the creatures He has just created suggests that animals are ‘programmed’ with limited communication skills. And our everyday experience of animals confirms that fact.

At this stage, we should consider for a moment the question of statistics. There are many who argue that the very emergence of life is so statistically unlikely that it must point to a creator. In his book The Science of God, Gerald Schroeder devotes a lot of time to statistics and it does make interesting reading. But the argument based on statistics is circular, if not destined to be a dead end. It’s like the lottery. A statistician could no doubt convince most of us that the chances of winning the lottery are so infinitesimally small that it would be a waste of money to play. Yet, most weeks someone does win. To be ‘certain’ of winning the lottery, you may need to play for several lifetimes. The fact is, statistically remote as it may be to win, it does happen – regrettably, not to me.

So although I do mention statistics from time to time, A ‘Final Theory’ of God is not based on improbability – although probability does play a subsidiary role.

In the next article we will deal with Day Six – the culmination on the creation story; and the intended final cosmic product – human beings.

By Joseph B.H. McMillan. This article is an abridged extract from Chapter 6 of A ‘Final Theory’ of God, available from Amazon.com.

Copyright © Joseph B.H. McMillan All Rights Reserved

Notes:

[1] Philo, On the Heavens, XLIV – 129.

[2] Adapted from Greene, pages 188 – 189.

[3] Press Association, http://uk.yahoo.com/organisms -originated-space-154844488.html.

[4] Michael Hanlon, The Daily Telegraph (London), September 11, 2012.

[5] Schroeder, The Science of God, page 119.

[6] Greene, pages 188 & 189.

[7] Weinberg, page 32.

[8] Weinberg, pages 9 & 10.

[9] Rees, page 1.

Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Day Four – The Earth, Sun and Moon

Day Four of the Genesis account of the origins of the universe deals with the creation of our solar system.

Day Four thus starts with this:

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:”

And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.” [Genesis 1: 14 – 15]

At this stage, we should consider the question of time in the context of Genesis. In essence, time is a function of motion. In Day One, the motion was the initial inflationary expansion and Big Bang, which set the universe in motion. The subsequent expansion in Days Two and Three resulted in the formation of stars and galaxies, and then the first primitive DNA structures.

At the start of Day Four, there would have been galaxies and stars throughout the universe. But Day Four focuses in on our particular Sun, and solar system. And it makes the connection between the Sun and Moon, and time as we calculate it on Earth. Time, as we understand it in everyday usage, is simply a measure of the motion of the Earth in relation to the Sun.

So Day Four has three objectives – “to divide the day from the night”; to “be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years”; and finally, “to give light upon the earth”.

As usual, the process starts with “And God said …” which signifies, as we have seen, a manipulation of probabilities. In the case of the Earth, Sun and Moon, there either had to be a series of remarkably improbable coincidences, or there had to be some manipulation of probabilities. Otherwise, our planet would not have been able to ‘create’ and sustain life, never mind human life with a capacity for moral judgment.

As physicist Freeman Dyson said, It’s as if the universe knew we were coming.’”[1]

In his chapter titled A Designer Universe?, Michio Kaku lists some of the remarkable coincidences that placed our Earth in what scientists call “the Goldilocks zone” – but not just “the Goldilocks zone of our sun, we also live within a series of other Goldilocks zones.”

And, says Kaku, “If Earth were outside just one of these very narrow bands, we would not be here to discuss the question.”[2]

However, these coincidences do not ‘prove’ that God must have ‘designed’ our Earth, Sun and Moon to be perfectly receptive to the ‘creation’ of life as we know it. As Kaku says, “it might simply be a coincidence, one rare example among millions of planets in space that lie outside Goldilocks zones.” If we throw the dice a sufficient number of times, our numbers will eventually come up, is the scientific explanation.

But that is not the whole story. As we have seen, every sub-atomic particle has built into itself an infinite number of probabilities represented by its wavefunction. And quantum physics tells us that until a particle is “observed”, or interfered with, it will remain in that uncertain state of probabilities.

So how do scientists get round that problem?

Mostly, they propose a multiverse. Citing Martin Rees, Kaku says this: “It is no accident, [Rees] believes, that the universe is finely tuned to allow life to exist. There are simply too many accidents for the universe to be in such a narrow band that allows life.” Rees thus thinks, according to Kaku, that “these cosmic accidents give evidence for the existence of the multiverse… [and] … in our universe [one of the many in a multiverse], a series of cosmic accidents has happened, not necessarily because of the hand of God but because of the law of averages.”[3]

We should remember, however, that Rees does admit that his “view that our six numbers are accidents of history is no more than a ‘hunch’.”[4]

If we were to try to give an analogy, the argument could be compared to winning the lottery. The chances of winning the lottery are remote, as anyone having played will know. So the fact that one person does win does not mean that some divine providence played a part and arranged for that person’s numbers to come up. It was just luck. But in the case of our universe, or more specifically our Earth, scientists recognize that the chances of everything being so perfectly suited to life are simply too remote, which has driven them to seek explanations that don’t need to resort to God – otherwise they would have to have a default position that God created the universe and life, until they could ‘prove’ the contrary.

In the ‘parallel worlds’ hypothesis, the argument appears to be that every possible outcome is realized in a parallel world. So even if you don’t win the lottery in this world, everyone who played the lottery in a particular week will have won in one of the billions of other parallel worlds, and the person who won in this world lost in all or most of those other worlds. So everyone is a winner somewhere. And a loser!

The multiverse hypothesis is a little different. It reverses the process by multiplying the number of lotteries. So although you still only have the numbers on your one entry (rather than billions of entries), this hypothesis simply multiplies the number of lotteries your numbers enter to an almost infinite degree – so your numbers are likely to come up in at least one of the billions of lotteries in the multi-lottery universe. It’s the law of averages.

It should be noted that these two hypotheses are not mutually exclusive. Parallel worlds, it seems, can exist in any number of the universes in the multiverse.

But there is still a catch! Under all the hypotheses, until there is an observation, there are only probabilities. So, taking our lottery example, until the numbers are chosen and announced (the draw is made), for every ticket holder there is only a chance (probability) that they may win. If no draw is made, there will be no results for them to check to see whether they’ve won.

It is that problem that has given rise to theories like those of physicists Andrei Linde, John Wheeler and, most recently, Max Tegmark.

This is what Wheeler believed: “At the beginning of the universe, it sprang into being because it was observed. This means that “it” (matter in the universe) sprang into existence when information (“Bit”) of the universe was observed. [Wheeler] called this the “participatory universe” – the idea that the universe adapts to us in the same way that we adapt to the universe, that our very presence makes the universe possible.[5]

Tegmark claims that what Wheeler would have called ‘information’ is in fact mathematics – a “universe of gyrating numbers, of equations coming to life[6] – but only when we “observe” them.

So the general thesis seems to be this: in the universe we know there is a probability that all probable events and outcomes could happen; but the probability of the specific outcome of our universe with our special solar system, our Sun, our Moon, and our Earth, being perfectly suited and situated to create the DNA that gave rise to a living organism, conscious of its own existence, and capable of making moral judgments, is so remote as to be more or less impossible. BUT, if we say that there are billions or even trillions of other universes, then the probability that at least one of them would turn out like ours becomes more probable.

However, in order to manifest something that resembles ‘reality’, there still needs to be a conscious observer to look at the jumble of probabilities – otherwise they remain just that, probabilities.

As Tegmark says, “All those galaxies only became beautiful 400 years ago when someone saw them for the first time. If we humans wipe ourselves out, then the entire universe becomes a huge waste of space.”[7] And Andrei Linde claims that “In the absence of observers, our universe is dead.[8]

So these ‘theories’ recognize that a conscious observer is an absolute pre-requisite for any sort of ‘reality’; but they make us, human beings, the observers – after the fact, so to speak.

Outlandish as this may seem at first, as we have seen, Philo appears to lend some support to such theories: “Does he [Moses] not here manifestly set before us incorporeal ideas perceptible only by the intellect, which have been appointed to be as seals of the perfected works, perceptible by the outward senses.[9]

But Philo does not write God out of the story. He simply recognizes that Genesis does suggest that at the end of the six days of creation, life as we see it today did not exist in the form we see it today. The “incorporeal ideas” had been “appointed to be as seals of the perfected works.”

So we see that Philo recognizes that even abstract ideas, or as Tegmark may say, mathematics, had been “appointed” to be as “seals” to create the intended ‘product’. And according to Genesis, the appointing was done by God. The CONSCIOUS OUTSIDE OBSERVER was God.

Therefore, science and Genesis do not significantly differ when it comes to the remarkable coincidences that have placed the Earth in a position in relation to the Sun and Moon, and indeed the universe as a whole, which made it receptive to life, including conscious human life capable of making moral judgments.

And there is even recognition in some scientific circles that the necessity for an observation could well point to a God. Kaku cites “the Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner and others, [who advocate] that consciousness determines existence. … Wigner has written that it ‘was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way, without reference to the consciousness [of the observer] …’”[10]

On Wigner’s interpretation, says Kaku, “we necessarily see the hand of consciousness everywhere. The infinite chain of observers, each one viewing the previous observer, ultimately leads to a cosmic observer, perhaps God himself? In this picture, the universe exists because there is a deity to observe it.”[11]

So although most scientists fear the ridicule of their peers if they venture to suggest that God may make some sense of the science, there are those who will acknowledge that the evidence could well point in that direction. And the remarkable thing is that Genesis postulated just such a requirement (a conscious outside observer), and it did so several thousand years ago. What are the odds of that, we may ask?

So, according to Genesis, all the ingredients (elements) necessary to ‘refine’ the primitive DNA that had been created in Day Three, so as to ‘create’ higher life-forms, are found in perfect quantities on Earth. And the Sun was perfectly positioned “to give light upon the earth” – a necessary ingredient for life as we know it – but not so far from Earth as to leave a frozen planet, and not so near as to fry the Earth. And scientists would not disagree with any of that. The only disagreement, as we have just seen, is who or what did the observing to bring this ‘reality’ about. Either something like a multiverse of “gyrating numbers, [and] of equations coming to life” (but only once human beings had acquired the consciousness necessary to observe them); or a conscious outside observer – God.

However, even if one was inclined to believe the former, whether in the Tegmark form of a mathematical multiverse, or simply a series of highly improbable coincidences, there still remains the mystery of where the mathematics came from. As Weinberg says, “where do the probabilities come from …?[12] Which is what prompted Weinberg to suggest the kind of “model” we referred to in respect of Day One.

We should remind ourselves what he said: “What one needs is a quantum-mechanical model with a wave function that describes not only various systems under study but also something representing a CONSCIOUS OBSERVER. With such a model, one would try to show that, as a result of repeated interactions of the OBSERVER with INDIVIDUAL SYSTEMS, the wave function of the combined system evolves with certainty to a final wave function, in which the OBSERVER has become convinced that the probabilities of the individual measurements are what are prescribed in the Copenhagen interpretation.”[13]

Genesis looks more like such a model with each passing “day”.

Like all the previous Days, Day Four has a three-stage process. First, the manipulation of probabilities symbolized by the words “And God said …” We should recall from Day One the curious behavior of particles in the “delayed-choice experiments”. The words “And God said …” act as a kind of ‘instruction’ as to the intended goal, like the decision to go to university and get a degree.

The second stage appears at verses 16 and 17. “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: …” The description here is almost an exact repeat of the events in Day One, at verses 4 and 5. There is light and darkness; a division of the light from the darkness; and day and night. The only difference is that Day One referred to the creation of the universe as a whole, whereas Day Four refers to the creation of our little corner of the universe.

What these verses in Day Four are clearly telling us is that the principles are the same.

They are telling us that by working out how the laws of physics work right here in our little corner of the universe, we can know how those laws work throughout the universe. And that is a result of one of the principles of the laws of physics – symmetry. As Brian Greene says, ‘the explanatory framework the laws [of physics] provide is not at all changed by a change in location … So the symmetries of nature are not merely consequences of nature’s laws … [but] … the foundation from which the laws spring.’[14] Or more specifically: “We are bound to planet earth and its vicinity. And yet, because of translational symmetry, we can learn about fundamental laws at work in the entire universe without straying from home, since the laws we discover here are those laws.[15] Perhaps that is exactly what Genesis is telling us by making such apparently ‘careless’ duplications. Human beings were given the “signs” necessary to work out not only how the Earth, Sun and Moon work together, but how the entire universe works.

So stage two of Day Four is putting into effect the intended outcome sought, as depicted by the words that follow “And God said …” In the example of deciding to get a degree (referred to in the account of Day One), it is the application to university, followed by embarking on the course.

However, we should recall again from the delayed-choice experiments that “a consistent and definite history becomes manifest only after the future to which it leads has been fully settled.”[16] And for that we need an observation (measurement). And that is precisely what we find at the end of verse 18 – “and God saw that it was good.” From then on, the Earth, Sun and Moon, and the planets, work in the Newtonian classical model. Their motions are entirely deterministic, and thus predictable.

Day Four ends with the now familiar words that define a “day” – “And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.”[17] By the most recent scientific calculations, that would have been around 4.5 billion years ago – almost ten billion years after “the beginning” – although we should always bear in mind the possibility that everything may have ‘materialized’ in a much shorter timescale.

And so Day Four was “fully settled.”

But before we move on to Days Five and Six, we should just consider one final issue.

As we saw in respect of Day Three, “our Sun is not Earth’s true ‘mother’ … [because] our Sun is barely hot enough to fuse hydrogen to helium. This means that our true ‘mother’ sun was actually an unnamed star or collection of stars that died billions of years ago in a supernova, which then seeded nearby nebulae with the higher elements beyond iron which make our body.”[18]

That quote from Kaku demonstrates just how accurate the Genesis account of ‘creation’ is. In Day Three there is no Sun or Moon, yet ‘life’ emerges. And that life was dispersed throughout the universe. We then focus in on our solar system in Day Four, and the Sun and Moon come into the picture. So at this stage, we have the first forming of the Earth in a configuration close to that which we have today, and the chemical composition of the Earth was such as to have all the necessary elements to build on the primitive DNA life-forms that were ‘created’ in Day Three. To adapt from Kaku, we could say that the events of Day Three “seeded nearby nebulae [one of which was to form planet Earth] with [the primitive DNA] which [ultimately formed the ‘seal’ to] make [the human organism].

So by the end of Day Four, all the necessary preparations had been made to start on the real business of creating higher life-forms, and ultimately a moral organism – a human being. So Freeman Dyson, according to the Genesis version of creation, was pretty accurate, except it was not that “the universe knew we were coming,”[19] but that God was preparing the universe for our coming.

The creation process described by Genesis, even up to this point, certainly starts to give meaning to Einstein’s statement that “science without religion is lame [and] religion without science is blind.”

And that is because science and the Prophets are saying the same thing, only in different ‘tongues’.

Click here to go to Day Five.

 

By Joseph B.H. McMillan. This is an abridged extract from Chapter 5 of A ‘Final Theory’ of God, available from Amazon.com.

Copyright © Joseph B.H. McMillan 2014 All Rights Reserved

Notes:

[1] Kaku, Michio. Parallel Worlds, Penguin, London, 2006 (paperback), page 248.

[2] Kaku, page 244.

[3] Kaku, page 249.

[4] Rees, Martin. Just Six Numbers, Phoenix, London, 1999 (paperback), page 174.

[5] Kaku, page 172 – my emphasis.

[6] Hanlon, Michael. The Telegraph of London, 22 April, 2014  – Max Tagmark: It’s goodbye to the universe – hello to the multiverse, referring to Our Mathematical Universe, Allen Lane, London,2014.

[7] Hanlon, Ibid.

[8] Kaku, page 166.

[9] Philo, On the Heavens, XLIV – 129.

[10] Kaku, page 167.

[11] Kaku, page 351.

[12] Weinberg, Steven. Dreams of a Final Theory, Vintage, New York, 1994 (paperback), page 81.

[13] Weinberg, page 84 – my emphasis.

[14] Greene, Brian. The Fabric of the Cosmos, Penguin, London, 2005 (paperback), pages 222 & 225

[15] Greene, page 223 – Greene’s emphasis.

[16] Greene, pages 188 & 189.

[17] Genesis 1: 19.

[18] Kaku, page 67.

[19] Kaku, page 248 – see above.