Category Archives: Philosophy

Demystifying Mysticism

Einstein famously said that “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.[1]  The former Royal Astronomer of Britain, Martin Rees, says that Einstein was “expressing his amazement that the laws of physics, which our MINDS ARE SOMEHOW ATTUNED TO UNDERSTAND, apply not just here on Earth but also in the remotest galaxy.”[2]

But should it be so “incomprehensible” that the human mind is “somehow attuned to understand” the laws that govern the universe?

Broadly speaking, there are currently two alternative explanations for this curious ability. Either the human mind is entirely explicable by its physical make-up and its interaction with the environment through the senses, or there is an inexplicable element to the mind that gives it a metaphysical, or even mystical, character.

The former view is that of many physicists who hold that the principles that determine the behavior of fundamental particles determine the functioning of everything else in the universe, including the human brain. I include in this view those who argue that the chemistry of the neurological structure of the brain has a ‘life of its own’ that is ‘independent’ of the principles of the fundamental particles that make up its physical structure. There isn’t really any distinction between these views because in the last analysis they both perceive the functioning of the brain to be a consequence of its physiology.

The contrary view is that there is more to the human mind than the physical structure of the brain and its interaction with the environment. This view is exemplified by Immanuel Kant who said that “The moral law, although it gives no view, yet gives us a fact absolutely inexplicable from any data of the sensible world, and the whole compass of our theoretical use of reason, a fact which points to a pure world of the understanding, … and enables us to know something of it, namely, a law.”[3] This “moral law,” says Kant, is simply “presented for our obedience by practical reason, the voice of which makes even the boldest sinner tremble …”[4] Kant’s view is a mystical or metaphysical view. In religion it is called spirituality.

Although these views may seem incompatible at first, they are in fact simply different facets of the same phenomenon. Ironically, Friedrich Nietzsche inadvertently identified the mystical as a facet of the physical, and vice versa, when he mocked Kant for having “discovered a moral faculty in man.”[5]

In order to understand how that works, we need to go back to the Beginning, to the origin of the universe. Both science and the Scriptures recognize that an explanation for the universe and life, and consequently the structure and functioning of the human brain, is to be found in the origin of the universe itself.

A Final Theory – the scientists’ view

The physicist Steven Weinberg says that although DNA is too complex to be explained with current quantum mechanical equations, he maintains that with a sufficiently sophisticated computer, scientists could explain all the workings of DNA “by solving the equations of quantum mechanics for electrons and the nuclei of a few common elements.”[6]

Likewise, Martin Rees says that it is the principles, or properties, of fundamental particles, “their sizes and masses, how many different kinds there are, and the forces linking them together,” that dictate how everything in the universe functions, from planets and stars to chemical reactions and human beings. And this is all a result of “an expanding universe, WHOSE PROPERTIES WERE IMPRINTED INTO IT AT THE TIME OF THE INITIAL BIG BANG.”[7] According to Rees, “mathematical laws underpin the fabric of our universe.”[8]

This approach is known in science as reductionism[9]. Weinberg, for example, says that the “evolution of living things has been made possible by the properties of DNA and other molecules and that the properties of any molecule are what they are because of the properties of electrons and atomic nuclei and electric forces.[10] He goes on to say that physicists study fundamental particles “because we think that by studying [them] we will learn something about the principles that govern everything.”

Although this approach does not dispute that certain mental faculties and processes may determine aspects of human behavior, it argues that those faculties and processes are what they are as a consequence of the principles that determine the properties of fundamental particles. As Weinberg says, “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.[11]

By identifying these fundamental principles, physicists believe they could construct a Final Theory that will explain everything about the universe and life. This is also known as a Theory of Everything, and by definition such a theory would necessarily include an explanation for what we regard as the mystical. More importantly, this view also claims that a Final Theory would definitively settle the question of whether or not there is such a thing as God.

The problem with the reductionist approach is that it is morally ambivalent. Morality is simply a neurological response to certain environmental and social conditions.

In his book The First Three Minutes, Weinberg said that “the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.”[12] In an attempt to deflect the criticism his remark attracted, Weinberg ‘clarified’ that statement in his next book, Dreams of a Final Theory, by saying that he “did not mean that science teaches us that the universe is pointless, but rather that the universe itself suggests no point. I hastened to add that there were ways that we ourselves could INVENT a point to our lives, including trying to understand the universe.”[13]

In other words, Weinberg suggests that we can “invent” some point to our lives by dedicating our lives to proving that there is no point to life. That sounds like ‘a Final Theory of Despair,’ in which the only purpose to human existence is the pursuit of vanity and the satisfaction of our physical desires.

This very ‘physicalist’ approach fails to recognize that the human capacity for moral judgment, which expresses itself in the establishment of systems of government and justice, may be a manifestation of a more profound dimension of the physical laws that govern the universe – a moral dimension,[14] rather than a neurological accommodation to physical conditions.

Kant recognized the nihilistic tendencies of such an approach when he said that “[man] is not so completely an animal as to be indifferent to what reason says on its own account, and to use it merely as an instrument for the satisfaction of his wants as a sensible [sensual] being. For the possession of reason would not raise his worth above that of the brutes, if it is to serve him only for the same purpose that instinct serves in them; it would in that case be only a particular method which nature had employed to equip man for the same ends for which it has qualified brutes, without qualifying him for any higher purpose.”[15]

Although Kant was wrong that reason can tell us anything “on its own account”, and it is used by most people as a means to satisfy their wants as sensual beings, it is Kant’s recognition of a distinction between the human capacity for moral judgment, and the servicing of our primitive instincts, that is crucial to understanding the ‘mystical’ in human existence.

The Scriptural view – a seed to a tree to a seed

Jewish scholars and philosophers have long recognized this distinction, as did Jesus. And they found it in the same place that physicists look to unlock the ‘secrets’ of the universe and life – The Beginning.

In his Commentary on Genesis 1:1, the Jewish scholar Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD), says this: – “He [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. 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. … Behold, with this creation, which was like a small [and] fine dot, and without substance, were created all of the creations in the heavens and the earth.”[16] Nahmanides included the creation of man as a subsequent creation from the original matter. On Genesis 1:24, he says “that God created something from nothing on the first day alone, and afterwards He formed and made [everything] from the fundamental elements.”

Nahmanides adopted a literal reading of Genesis, yet still described the origin of the universe and life in precisely the way science now understands it (except that he attributes it to God). That is because of the Hebrew meaning of the word “beginning”, which is reishit.[17] The word relates to the origin or beginning of a thing, like a seed, which then grows or expands into something much larger and grander, like a tree. Although the tree has no outward resemblance to the seed that ‘created’ it, the fruit that it yields contains a replica of the seed that initiated the whole process. The fruit is not some inconsequential by-product of the tree, but the very purpose of the tree’s existence. The fruit contains a seed that is an image of the seed that created it, and an image of the tree and the fruit that the seed is ‘programmed’ to create. The fruit of a tree is not itself a replica of the seed that created the tree, only the seed within the fruit is a replica. The flesh of the fruit hanging from the tree is what enables the replica seeds within the fruit to be dispersed so that the species can propagate. The fruit is the vehicle that carries the seed.

It should not be surprising, therefore, to find Jesus adopting such an analogy to explain the “mystery of the Kingdom of God[18] to his disciples: “It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it growth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.”[19]

The account of creation in Genesis Chapter One describes the origin of the universe as a similar process. It tells us that the human organism is the fruit of the tree, the universe is the tree, and the human brain is a replica of the seed that gave birth to the universe.

The great Jewish philosopher, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, who lived at about the same time as Jesus, recognized this when he said, regarding the creation of man “in the image of God[20], that “the resemblance [between God and man] 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.[21]

In other words, the mathematical structure that gave birth to the universe is imprinted into the human brain as an image of the original structure. The human brain is ‘programmed’ with the “mathematical laws” that Rees says “underpin the fabric of our universe.[22] The incredible abilities of the ‘mathematical’ savants are evidence of that.[23] In his excellent book Islands of Genius, Darold A. Treffert notes that some mathematical savants “seem to ‘see’ their answers as if projected on to a screen,”[24] and asks whether the “actual knowledge [of the prodigious savant], or at least the software templates or scaffolding for [the] rules of music, art and mathematics, or even other areas of expertise, come ‘factory installed’ in all of us?[25]

Likewise, Rees notes that “Newton’s laws are in some sense ‘hardwired’ into monkeys that swing confidently from tree to tree.”[26] And if in monkeys, why not in humans?

However, Genesis also tells us that the mathematical structure of the replica seed that is the human brain, like the original seed that gave birth to the universe, has three distinct but interrelated elements: morality, reason and instinct.

As explained in Parts VII and VIII of my series A Legal Proof for the Existence of God, the “image and likeness[27] of God refers to the human capacity for moral judgment; the symbolism of God speaking to the male and female He had created refers to the human ability to reason; and what God is said to say to the humans refers to human instinct, some of which we share with animals (the instinct to reproduce, and the instincts for survival and security), and others that are unique to human beings (the instinct to subdue and conquer, and the instinct to pursue knowledge of our world and the universe).

Chapter Two of Genesis symbolizes these distinct faculties with trees. The “tree of knowledge of good and evil” refers to the human capacity for moral judgement; the trees that are “pleasant to the sight, and good for food,”[28] represent human instincts; the reference to God commanding the man[29] symbolizes the human ability to reason; and the “tree of life” represents our ability to apply the knowledge of the universe to understand and seek to fulfil our true moral purpose and our true moral destiny.[30]

Each year science discovers further evidence that suggests that these elements of the human brain are the consequence of the mathematical laws that govern the universe. In respect of the faculties of reason and morality, for example, Dr Kelly Smith, of Clemson University, says that the tendency of the universe to produce complexity suggests that the emergence of life with a capacity for reason and moral judgement may not be accidental, but a consequence of the basic structure of the universe unfolding in a predictable manner.[31]

In respect of the instinct for reproduction, Jeremy English, a physicist at MIT, has proposed that the second law of thermodynamics inevitably tends to the rearranging of atoms so as to create life. But he also suggests that the energy dissipation that drives this process is most effectively achieved by self-replication. As English says, “A great way of dissipating more [energy] is to make more copies of yourself.”[32]

These scientific discoveries show that the distinct neurological faculties in the brain are in fact facets of the mathematical laws that govern the universe, which, in turn, if the reductionist view is proved correct, are themselves a consequence of even more fundamental principles that determine the properties of all the other mathematical laws, like the second law of thermodynamics.

Origins of Mysticism – competing neurological networks

Using the symbolism of trees to describe these distinct faculties conveys the message that these faculties are imprinted into the human brain as neurological networks. These three networks convert the raw mathematical data ‘pre-installed’ in the brain, together with the mathematical data processed through the senses, into emotions, words, images and concepts, enabling us to understand what the raw mathematical data means, and respond accordingly.

But all these neurological networks start out like seeds in the brain. They need to be carefully tended and nurtured in order to germinate and grow, and fulfil their intended purpose and potential. That is especially important for the moral network because it is the most easily neglected network. As Jesus said, although the seed of the “word of the kingdom of God” is “within[33]” us, “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becommeth unfruitful.[34]

That warning by Jesus brings us to the crux of the matter, because the neurological moral network is the most important of all the networks. It is the network that most induces the phenomenon we call mystical, or spiritual. That is because it acts as a ‘regulator’ and restraint on the networks that give us our instincts and our ability to reason. But its interventions often seem inexplicable. As Kant said, it is “the voice [that] makes even the boldest sinner tremble.”[35] And it is important that we learn to distinguish between the “voice” that speaks to us from the neurological moral network, and the voice of our instincts that tempts us with the prospect of pleasure, or fills us with the fear of pain.

Reason in the service of instinct, rather than in service of the moral law, is what we recognize as evil. It is responsible for the most despicable deceits, betrayals, humiliations and atrocities human beings can inflict upon their fellow human beings.

Take for example the instinct for reproduction. The instinct is fired by the prospect of the pleasure to be had by engaging in the act. But when this instinct is not restrained by the voice of the moral law, reason will find justification for all manner of deceptions and deceits in order to indulge the prospect of pleasure, or avoid the fear of pain. When totally unrestrained by the moral law, it will justify rape, incest, and even pedophilia, and devise deceptions to escape detection. It will even justify murder if its instinct for survival feels threatened by the possibility of detection. On the other hand, when reason is in the service of the moral law, it compels the instinct to reproduce to recognize that the act of creating a new life is sacred, and attaches profound and enduring obligations to those who engage in the act – obligations not just to the life they create together, but towards each other.

Likewise, reason in the service of the peculiarly human instinct to subdue and conquer is responsible for reprehensible acts like bullying, slavery and war. But when this instinct is regulated by the neurological moral network, we are compelled to apply it to subdue and conquer the human appetite for pleasure and the fear of pain. Reason in the service of the moral law enables us to subdue and conquer our primitive instincts. Buddhism is largely based on exactly this endeavor.

Likewise, reason in the service of our instincts for survival and security compels us to accumulate and appropriate to ourselves far in excess of what we need to survive and be secure, even at the expense of depriving others of a means for providing for their own survival and security. But reason in the service of the moral law compels us to compassion and a recognition of our obligations to the survival and security of the weak and least advantaged of the human species. This obligation was recognized as far back as 1,780 BC, when Hammurabi declared that the primary purpose of his Code was to bring “about the well-being of the oppressed” and ensure “that the strong should not harm the weak.” Similarly, Asoka (304 – 232 BC), in speaking of the Dhamma (Law), advocated “moderation in spending and moderation in saving.”[36]

And again, reason in the service of the instinct for knowledge, unregulated by the voice that speaks to us from our neurological moral network, willingly puts itself in the service of those who would use that knowledge to service their instinct to subdue and conquer. The claim by scientists that they only design the weapons of war, politicians use them, is such an example. It is like the irresponsible father giving his disturbed son a gun to take to school, but when the disturbed son then shoots dead scores of his schoolmates, the father protests that he only gave him the gun, he didn’t make him use it. However, when reason is guided by the voice of the moral law, the instinct for knowledge is applied to enhance the wellbeing of humanity, not to provide it with the instruments to inflict death and destruction upon itself.

It does not take a great deal of reflection to recognize those acts that are a consequence of reason in the service of instinct, and those acts that are a consequence of reason in the service of the moral law. The former we call evil or sinful, and we devise laws in an attempt to regulate them. The latter we recognize as good, and we should seek to encourage and promote them, if we had not so pitifully fallen into bondage to our primitive instincts.

Mysticism demystified – signposts in the mind

The ‘mystery’ of the moral law is that human beings recognize that there is a universal law that is not of human making; a law that is not a consequence of one person or group of people imposing their authority on others. It acts as a restraint on our instinctive reactions and motivations by directing us towards the good.

Science is now beginning to recognize that the human brain may indeed be programmed with such a neurological moral network that speaks to us of a supreme moral law. The IVF pioneer, Robert Winston, writes that “Psychologist Eliot Turiel observed that even three- and four-year-olds could distinguish between moral rules … and conventional rules … Furthermore, they could understand that a moral breach, such as hitting someone, was wrong whether you had been told not to do it or not, whereas a conventional breach, such as not talking in class, was wrong only if it had been expressly forbidden.[37] Winston concludes from such research that the human brain has “a sort of ‘morality module’ … that is activated at an early age.[38]

But, as yet, scientists have no idea how the “morality module” got to be ‘programmed’ into the brain, nor how it really functions.

Although research like that of Dr Kelly[39] suggests that the human capacity for reason and moral judgement may not be accidental, but a consequence of the laws of the universe unfolding in a predictable manner, another mathematical equation may reveal how the “morality module” presents the moral law to us “for our obedience.”

It is Richard Feynman’s “sum over paths” equation. Feynman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, devised an equation (based on Schrödinger’s wave equation of quantum physics), referred to as “sum over paths,” which, in very simple terms, demonstrates that although particles are ‘free’ to choose between all probable paths, they appear to be ‘programmed’ to ‘know’ that they should adopt the path that leads to the deterministic laws of Classical (Newtonian) physics, the laws that are a prerequisite for an ordered universe capable of spawning and maintaining life.[40]

Then there is the curious behavior of particles in what physicists call delayed-choice experiments. As the TV physicist Brian Greene notes, modified versions of these experiments show that particles seem to “have a ‘premonition’ of the experimental situation they will encounter farther downstream, and act accordingly.”[41] That is, they appear to ‘know’ what a future environment will look like, and adjust to prepare for it. But they have to have that future environment communicated to them in some way.[42]

These ‘mystical’ properties of particles, or at least the mathematical equations that determine their properties, appear to be the origin of the similarly mystical mechanism in the neurological moral network that suggests to us which path is the right path to choose to comply with the “moral law.” Like the “sum over paths” equation, it suggests the path that fulfils our true moral purpose, and our true moral destiny, and warns us to adopt the right path by communicating to us the negative consequences of failing to do so. It suggests to us the path that leads to order and justice, not to chaos and oppression; the path that leads to compassion and sacrifice, not gain and vanity.

With the exception of psychopaths, who are virtually totally disconnected from their neurological moral networks (and according to a BBC Horizon program,[43] that includes a disturbingly large number of CEOs of leading corporations), most of us subconsciously ‘hear’ the voice of the moral law. Unfortunately, we are so overwhelmed with suggestions that appeal to our appetite for pleasure and fear of pain, and that appeal to our vanities, that what little we do hear is drowned out by the clatter of advertising. And as Jesus said, “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in,” serve to silence the already faint voice of the moral law.

But how does the neurological moral network present the moral law to us for our obedience?

As already noted, most of us are only subconsciously aware of the moral law. Others, however, and I would put the Old Testament prophets in this category, appear to ‘see’ or ‘hear’ it with stark clarity, like those savants that ‘see’ answers to mathematical problems “as if projected on to a screen,”[44]

Others, no doubt, experience something similar to savants like Daniel Tammett, and incredible mathematicians like Ramanujan. When Tammett was doing complicated calculations he said “I’m seeing things in my head; like little sparks flying off, and it’s not until the very last minute that those sparks tell me what on earth they mean.” Likewise, Ramanujan said that he dreamed of drops of blood followed by visions in which scrolls appeared to him containing complex equations.[45]

As I explain in my article The Power of Insight, the experiences of Tammett and Ramanujan are similar to what the prophets are said to have experienced. Isaiah and Ezekiel, for example, saw visions, Jeremiah saw words, while Daniel, as well as having dreams and visions of his own, could ‘see’ the meaning in what others ‘saw,’ because he had ‘understanding in all dreams and visions’.

It is important however to distinguish between hallucinations, in which the mind plays tricks on us, and the kind of insight experienced by the likes of Tammett and Ramanujan. It is also important to distinguish between ‘seeing’ the mathematical raw data ‘programmed’ into the brain, as Tammett and Ramanujan did, and ‘seeing’ or ‘hearing’ that mathematical raw data after it has been converted into moral principles by the neurological moral network.

Although there is a ‘mystical’ element to the kind of insight experienced by Tammett and Ramanujan, only the “voice” of the neurological moral network, as it reveals to us the moral law, is truly mystical. It is this kind of insight that gives us signposts in the mind that reveals to us our true moral purpose, and leads us to our true moral destiny.

From Mysticism to A ‘Final Theory’ of God

Immanuel Kant best explained why this kind of insight is truly mystical when he said that the moral law is “absolutely inexplicable from any data of the sensible world, and the whole compass of our theoretical use of reason,” that it is “incomprehensible to speculative reason,” and, most significantly, that it demands our obedience “apart from all advantage.[46]

What Kant recognized was that the moral law is counter-intuitive. It holds out no prospect of physical or intellectual benefit. When viewed from the perspective of what we would normally consider logical or commonsense assumptions about life, it seems to suggest the contrary. Intuitively we aspire to personal gain, security and contentment; the moral law suggests submission, moderation and even sacrifice.

It tells us that there is something more to life than the physical. As Jesus said, “for what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul.”[47] Or as The Preacher proclaimed, “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding …”[48] In fact, the theme is the whole basis of the Sermon on the Mount, exemplified by the saying “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.[49]

But recognition of the supremacy of the moral law is not exclusive to the Scriptures. It is common to all religions, to all people, and to all ages of history. As we have seen, conquering our appetite to service our instincts is the objective of Buddhism, and it was the basis of Mahatma Gandhi’s way of life.

And it all rests on the moral law being ‘revealed’ to us by the neurological moral network converting the raw mathematical data ‘programmed’ into the brain as an image of the raw mathematical data that governs the universe. That is the mystical in the moral law – that the fundamental laws of physics are moral laws. It tells us that we can no more invent the laws of morality than we can invent the laws of physics. We can only discover them.

Ever since our early ancestors first activated the neurological moral network by offending against it (that is the story of Adam and Eve – see http://wp.me/p5izWu-7C), human beings have sought to give expression to the voice of the moral law. They have done so by establishing systems of government and justice.

These institutions are a manifestation of the moral law, and they give us an insight into what it means. It compels us to recognize that a supreme law to which all are subject requires a supreme lawmaker to promulgate it. And it requires a system of justice to ensure compliance with the law, and which requires that there be a consequence for a violation.

Religion is similarly an expression of the moral law which moves us to recognize a Supreme law and a Supreme Lawmaker as its author. And just like human justice, it compels us to recognize that there has to be a consequence for a violation, otherwise the law is meaningless.

This means that government, justice, and indeed religion, are all a manifestation of the neurological moral network converting the mathematical data imprinted in the human brain into moral principles which, as Kant says, it then presents to us for our obedience.

Although Kant argued that his “moral law” did not prove an afterlife, or the existence of God, it did presuppose it. But it may just be more than a supposition. Perhaps we walk past the real proof of God, an afterlife, and even a judgment, every day of our lives – in the grand seats of our legislatures, in the courts of law in our towns, and in the prisons that incarcerate offenders. Of course, these institutions don’t get it right, because they are mostly occupied by those in bondage to their primitive instinct to subvert others to their own authority and power. Although they are not a model of what the moral law is, they do give expression to the basic components of the moral law.

It is clear, nevertheless, that the neurological moral network speaks to us of a Supreme law and a Supreme Lawmaker. It reveals to us that the mathematical structure in the human brain that speaks to us of a Supreme law and a Supreme Lawmaker is a replica of the mathematical structure that gave birth to the universe. And that tells us that the mathematical structure of the universe, the Supreme Law of the universe, must recognize itself as a creation of a Supreme Lawmaker.

That is the mystical in man, and it is a reflection of the mystical in the universe. But it is a mystical that is an integral aspect of the physical. It seems then that Weinberg was most probably wrong, the universe does suggest a point – to itself, and to human existence. And Nietzsche inadvertently explained where we can find it when he mocked Kant for having “discovered a moral faculty in man.”

But ultimately, the mystery may only be solved if the Final Theory, the theory that is the Holy Grail of science, turns out to be A ‘Final Theory’ of God.

————————————————————————

The arguments and evidence in this article reflect certain arguments and evidence set out in the book A ‘Final Theory’ of God by Joseph BH McMillan.

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

Notes

[1] Physics and Reality (1936), in Ideas and Opinions, trans. Sonja Bargmann (New York: Bonanza, 1954), p292.

[2] Rees, Martin, Just Six Numbers, Phoenix, London, 1999 (paperback), pages 11-12 – my emphasis.

[3] Kant, Immanuel, Critique of Practical Reason, page 60.

[4] Kant, page 100.

[5] Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Vintage (paperback), page 18.

[6] Weinberg, Steven, Dreams of a Final Theory, Vintage Books 1994 (paperback), page 32.

[7] Rees, page 1 – Capitals are my emphasis

[8] Rees, page 1.

[9] See Weinberg, Chapter 3 – Two Cheers for Reductionism.

[10] Weinberg, pages 57, 58.

[11] Weinberg, pages 9 – 10 (my emphasis).

[12] Weinberg, Steven. The First Three Minutes, Basic Books, 1993 (paperback), page 154.

[13] Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory, page 255 – emphasis on invent is mine.

[14] As noted in my article “Perhaps there is hope for Humanity’s moral destiny after all!” at http://wp.me/p5izWu-7V there is at least one physicist who believes that there could be a moral dimension to the cosmos.

[15] Kant, page 80.

[16] Nahmanides Commentary on Genesis 1:1 paras 3 & 4 – http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.1.3-4?lang=en&layout=lines&sidebarLang=all .

[17] See Nahmanides on Genesis 1:1: http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.1.3?lang=en&layout=lines&sidebarLang=all

[18] Mark 4:11, Mat 13:10.

[19] Mark 4:30; and see Mat 13:31 and Luke 13:18.

[20] Genesis 1:27.

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

[22] Rees, page 1.

[23] See Part X of A Legal Proof for the Existence of God: The Power of Insight, at http://wp.me/p5izWu-aN

[24] Treffert, Islands of Genius (paperback), page 36 – emphasis on ‘see’ is mine.

[25] Treffert, page 12.

[26] Rees, page 37.

[27] Genesis 1:26.

[28] Genesis 2:9.

[29] Genesis 2:16.

[30] See Revelation 22:14 and Proverbs 12:13 & 14.

[31] See Perhaps there is hope for Humanity’s moral destiny after all!

[32] https://www.quantamagazine.org/20140122-a-new-physics-theory-of-life/

[33] Luke 17:21.

[34] Mark 4:19. And see Mat 13:22 & Luke 18:24.

[35] See note 4 above.

[36] The Fourteen Rock Edicts, number 3.

[37] Winston, Op Cit.

[38] The Guardian, 13 October 2005.

[39] See Note 30 above.

[40] See Kaku, Parallal Worlds, Penguin, London, 2005 (Paperback), page 164.

[41] Greene,Brian, The Fabric of the Cosmos, Penguin, London 2005 (paperback),pages 188 & 189, and see http://wp.me/p5izWu-8S

[42] See an explanation here: http://wp.me/p5izWu-8S

[43] http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b014kj65 and http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1y4j0s_e05-are-you-good-or-evil_tv for the video.

[44] See Note 24 above: Treffert, page 36.

[45] See The Power of Insight – http://wp.me/p5izWu-aN

[46] Kant, page 100.

[47] Mark 8:36.

[48] Ecclesiastes 9:11.

[49] Matthew 5:5.

Preview of forthcoming video: Part III of A Legal Proof for the Existence of God

Before addressing the science in Day Two of Genesis it is useful to recall the methodology adopted in Day One.

Day One started with “the heaven and the earth”, which were described as being “without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Then “the heaven and the earth” are re-described collectively as “the waters”, signifying their life-giving and life-sustaining properties. The “waters” were then ‘converted’ into “light” 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 was described as “the darkness”, which was separated from the “light”. This excess matter would form the building blocks of the physical universe.

Now some people may claim that this is a rather ‘creative’ interpretation of Day One of Genesis, but it is in fact based on the literal meaning of the words in the original Hebrew. That is confirmed by the great Jewish scholar Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD), also known as Ramban.

In his analysis of Genesis, Nahmanides made clear that he was adopting the plain meaning of the words: “And now, listen to a correct and clear explanation of the text according to its simple understanding (peshuto).”

He then goes on to explain Day One like this:

The heavens and all that is in them are one material, and the earth and all that is within it is [another] material; and [God] created both of them from nothing – and the two of them alone were created, and everything was made from them. … 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 behold, with this creation, which was like a small [and] fine dot, and without substance, were created all of the creations in the heavens and the earth.[1]

As we saw in the second video in this series, which addresses Day One, that is the basis of the mathematical equation – how a substance can converted into something else while maintaining its intrinsic value, like the most famous equation of all, E = mc2.

But this conversion from one state to another also has a moral dimension. It is the basis for which government should strive – freedom under law. Day One started with absolute freedom, then part of that freedom was converted, or subjected, to law. The objective was to bring order to something that was otherwise “without form, and void.”

Day One ended with light and darkness. But when we get to Day Two, we find no mention of “light” and “darkness.” Instead we have a reference to “the waters” again.

That is what the next video will address.

The previous two videos can be seen here:

For the article on which the forthcoming video is based, click here.

These arguments are based on the book A ‘Final Theory’ of God by Joseph BH McMillan.

[1] Nahmanides Commentary on Genesis 1: 1 (paras 3 and 4): http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.1.3?lang=en&layout=lines&sidebarLang=all

The Kingdom of God

Much has been written about the Kingdom of God, ranging from ridicule to the ‘Hollywood spectacular’ of chariots and trumpets.

I can’t claim to be familiar with all interpretations and criticisms, but I am unconvinced by those I have encountered. And the reason is simple – I can’t find much Scriptural support for them.

Jesus was a Jew, and he was teaching Jews. He was clearly well versed in Jewish Scripture.[1] And he made his stand firmly on the Law: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”[2]

In determining what Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven (which are used interchangeably in the Gospels), I would expect to find confirmation in the Old Testament – in the Law and the prophets. I would expect the Kingdom of God to be a description of a fundamental tenet of Jewish Scripture that had been lost to “the house of Israel.”[3]

But let’s start with what Jesus said about it.

First, Jesus said that there were people alive at the time who would “see” the Kingdom of God coming in their lifetimes.[4] Jesus also told the twelve disciples that they would not have visited all the cities of Israel before “the son of man be come” (ie the Kingdom of God).

The Kingdom of God was something that people could expect to “see” in their lifetimes. And Jesus specifically urges them to do so: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to thee.”[5] The things that would “be added” are those things necessary for life. So the Kingdom of God is something to discover during our lifetimes. It is not eschatological (relating to the end times), except as it relates to our individual lives after death.[6]

To find the Kingdom of God, Jesus tells us to “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.[7] This is an important verse. I shall return to it.

But how and where do we “seek … the Kingdom of God”?

Well, Jesus is clear on that: “The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the Kingdom of God is WITHIN YOU.”[8]

Here, then, we find the first reference that ties up the Kingdom of God to the Old Testament.

 “For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?  Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the WORD is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.[9]

The “word” is the Law, the Ten Commandments – “These words the Lord spake … and He added no more. And He wrote them in two tables of stone.”[10]

It is abundantly clear, therefore, that the Kingdom of God that Jesus says is “within” us is precisely the same thing as the “word” which, according to Deuteronomy, is also within us, in our heart and in our mouth, that we may do it.

But when Jesus describes the Kingdom of God, we find it starts as something tiny.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”[11]

Also, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”[12]

So the Kingdom of God grows from something resembling a tiny seed into a mighty kingdom; a kingdom governed by the Law, the word of God.

That suggests that the Law, the Ten Commandments, started from something tiny before it ‘grew’ into the Kingdom of God. And that is indeed the message of the Scriptures.

Not only was Jesus said to preach the word, he is said to have been the Word, which was “in the beginning with God,” and through whom all things were created.[13]

That is identical to the description of Wisdom in Proverbs: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.[14]

So to understand how the Kingdom of God came about, and how it came to be “within us”, the Scriptures point us to The Beginning. And we find that in the first book of the Bible – Genesis.

The best starting point in considering the first chapter of Genesis is the literal interpretation. And that interpretation is itself quite remarkable.

It is the view adopted by the Jewish scholar Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD). His Commentary on Genesis chapter 1 says this: – “And now, listen to a correct and clear explanation of the text according to its simple understanding (peshuto). … Behold, with this creation, which was like a small [and] fine dot, and without substance, were created all of the creations in the heavens and the earth.”[15]

Now that sounds very much like the “grain of mustard seed” or “leaven” referred to by Jesus, and happens to be precisely the current understanding of science regarding the origin of the universe. I’ll be addressing this further in my forthcoming video presentation of A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part III).

But Nahmanides takes this interpretation further. In relation to the creation of human beings, his Commentary on Genesis 1: 24 says this: “the correct simple meaning of the word, ‘let us make,’ is that which you have already been shown, … that God created something from nothing on the first day alone, and afterwards He formed and made [everything] from the fundamental elements.”

So human beings are descended from the same “small [and] fine dot”, or “grain of mustard seed,” just like everything else in the universe.

The universe is an integrated system governed by law, just like a mustard tree. Everything is related and connected to everything else. And that includes the human brain.

The great Jewish philosopher, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, who lived at about the same time as Jesus, says this about the connection between the human brain and the integrated system that is the universe: “the resemblance [between God and man] 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.[16]

Human beings are then a manifestation of the laws that govern the universe. But not only are we a manifestation of those laws, they are also imprinted into the human brain, which has the necessary mechanisms to convert them into words, images and concepts. One of those mechanisms converts the universal laws into moral principles. The British IVF pioneer, Sir Robert Winston, calls this mechanism a “morality module,” which he says is activated at an early stage; I call it a neurological moral network. It is this mechanism that gives us the capacity for moral judgment.

But if the human brain as a “primitive model” of the universal mind has a moral dimension, then the universal mind must also have a moral dimension. The laws that govern the universe must be moral laws.

It is this remarkable aspect of the brain that speaks to us of God as our Creator, and reveals to us His Law and His Will. It is like an ‘instruction manual’ installed in the human brain that identifies its manufacturer and the proper use of its abilities to realise the purpose of its creation, should we choose to consult it. Jesus called it the Kingdom of God.

That can be the only reasonable understanding of the Kingdom of God being “within us”. [see A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part I) and (Part X)].

If we seek it, says Jesus, we can find it. But there is a complication. As I show in A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part VII), Genesis tells us that the human brain is also programmed with instinct and reason. These faculties are required to ensure the survival of the species. But when reason falls into bondage to our primitive instincts we are blinded to the Kingdom of God “within us.”

That is the meaning of the other parables of the Kingdom of God in which the “seed” of the word of the Kingdom of God does not take root, or is choked: “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.”[17] We chase after the allure of the pleasures to be had by indulging our primitive instincts, and the human capacity for reason will devise many a justification for doing so, not least our insatiable appetite for vanity. Jesus himself had to resist the temptation to service his instincts as reason sought to persuade him of the personal benefits of doing so.[18]

The brain is like a search engine. It is ‘programmed’ with the ‘knowledge’ of the universe. But it is up to us what we search for. Search for information that will enlighten us and we can find it, rare as it may be on the internet. Search for those things that appeal to our primitive instincts, and we are inundated with advice on getting rich, on obscenities, violence, celebrities, and every other useless piece of information that can be devised by the human mind in service of its primitive instincts. But Jesus tells us that the only important thing is to search for the Kingdom of God, and that if we search with resolution and faith, if we ask the right questions, we will find what we are looking for. And the seed of the Kingdom of God “within us” will begin to grow into a mighty mustard tree.

Make the right search, and we will get the right results, and it will be worthwhile: “For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.  But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.[19]

The things to search for are those things that constitute the fundamental principles of the Kingdom of God, the Ten Commandments: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”[20]

But that search demands that we resist the temptations to indulge our primitive instincts: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?[21]

However, the Kingdom of God is not something relevant only to each person individually. It was not God’s purpose to simply set a test to see who could get across the line to everlasting life, and to fry the losers.

His purpose was to establish His Kingdom among the human species as a whole. It was to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth. That is the objective of the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”[22]

It was the mission of Jesus to spread the Kingdom of God to all the world, just as God covenanted to Abraham: “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”[23]

But that can only happen when there is an awakening of the human spirit to its true moral purpose and its true moral destiny. And that requires that we recognize that we are here to fulfil the purpose of God; God is not there to fulfil whatever purpose we may choose for our own lives. As Jesus said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”[24]

Only when we begin to do the same will the Kingdom of God be established on Earth.

Regrettably, it seems that is unlikely to happen any time soon. And we may just commit collective suicide before we even get a chance to try.

So although the Kingdom of God will not be ushered in at the end of the world, failure to live by its principles may just have the effect of causing the end of the world. That is the message of the Law and the prophets.

Joseph BH McMillan

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

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

Notes:

[1] Luke 2: 47.

[2] Mat 5: 17 & 18.

[3] Mat 10: 6.

[4] Luke 9: 27; Mat 16: 28; Mark 9: 1.

[5] Mat 6: 33; Luke 12: 31.

[6] Mat 7:13 & 14; 13: 39.

[7] Mat 7: 7; Luke 11: 9.

[8] Luke 17: 20 & 21 (my emphasis).

[9] Deuteronomy 30: 11 – 14 (my emphasis).

[10] Deuteronomy 5: 22.

[11] Mat 13: 31, 32; Mark 4: 30; Luke 13: 18.

[12] Mat 13: 33; Luke 13: 20.

[13] John 1: 1 & 2.

[14] Proverbs 8: 22 & 23; and see 3: 19 ff.

[15] Nahmanides Commentary on Genesis 1:1 paras 3 & 4 – http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.1.3-4?lang=en&layout=lines&sidebarLang=all .

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

[17] Mat 13:22.

[18] Mat 4:1 – 11.

[19] Proverbs 8: 35 & 36.

[20] Revelations 22: 14.

[21] Mat 16: 26.

[22] Mat 6: 10.

[23] Genesis 22: 18.

[24] John 6: 30.

A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part X): The Power of Insight

This article addresses a crucial element in the case to prove the existence of God, but not the final element.

It considers the phenomena of scientific knowledge, philosophical understanding, and religious revelation, or prophecy, and shows that they are all saying the same thing, only in different ‘tongues’. They all recognize and rely on the power of insight in their greatest achievements.

The previous articles have shown that Genesis chapters 1 to 3 are a scientifically accurate account of the origins and functioning of the universe and life, so far as scientific knowledge extends today.

But the question is, how did the author or authors[1] of Genesis know, over three thousand years ago, what science is only now discovering?

Insight

Ever since we first acquired the capacity to reflect on our own existence, and hence our own mortality, human beings, or at least some human beings, have asked themselves, ‘what are we doing on this vermin-infested piece of rock hurtling through space at high speed?

They were searching for what we now call truth – truth about the origin of the universe, the functioning of the universe, and our place and purpose in the universe.

Of course, the first human beings who acquired this capacity did not know that what they thought of as home was in fact a ‘piece of rock’, never mind that it was ‘hurtling through space at high speed’. But it didn’t take them very long to start working it out.

In 350 BC Aristotle declared “… that the earth is circular in shape, [and] …is a sphere of no great size.”[2]

Although Aristotle dismissed the notion that the Earth was in ‘motion’, clearly there were advocates of such a theory in Aristotle’s time, because Aristotle refers to them. He says, “Let us first decide the question whether the earth moves or is at rest. For, as we said, there are some who make it one of the stars, and others who, setting it at the center, suppose it to be ‘rolled’ and in motion about the pole as axis.”[3]

Aristarchus of Samos (310 – 230 BC), a Greek mathematician and astronomer, was one of those. Aristarchus put the Sun at the center of the universe with the Earth orbiting around it, as well as revolving on its own axis. He accurately calculated the positions and distances of the other planets from the Sun. This was known as the heliocentric model of the universe and, although rejected by the likes of Aristotle, was eventually revived by Copernicus (1473 – 1543). Many years later, “the work of Johannes Kepler, Galileo, and Newton, finally established not only that Copernicus was correct, but led to a theory of planetary motion in the form of Newton’s laws of motion and gravitation.”[4]

Other early observers of nature and the universe were equally as gifted. The Greek mathematician Eratosthenes (276 BC) even measured the circumference of the Earth at 25,000 miles, only some 100 miles over the actual circumference of 24,901 miles. And at about the time Christ was delivering his Sermon on the Mount, the great Jewish philosopher, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, was saying something similar to Aristarchus: “and [the earth’s] motions and revolutions worthy of notice, being arranged in perfect order, both as to the proportions of its numbers, and the harmony of its periods.”[5]

Now, great minds like Aristotle, Aristarchus, and Philo, are not the norm. Even by today’s standards they would be regarded as exceptionally gifted. Which points to the fact that this newly acquired ability to rationalize human existence was not evenly distributed among the species.

And that itself did not escape the notice of these our gifted ancestors.

As Philo noted: “And very beautifully after He [God] had called the whole race ‘man’, did he distinguish between the sexes, saying, that ‘they were created male and female;’ 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.”[6]

That was nearly two thousand years before Darwin wrote his Origin of the Species, although Philo made that observation for very different reasons.

What Philo was saying is that human beings can discover, or better uncover, the phenomena that govern the universe and determine our nature as human beings because we are a product of those phenomena; and we uncover those phenomena through the application of another product of those self-same phenomena, Philo’s beholding “as in a mirror” – our ability to somehow access the ‘raw data’ in our own brains.

This ability is described as insight.

Insight in science

So it is not surprising to find one of the greatest scientific minds of modern times proclaiming something remarkably similar to Philo.

Einstein said, “I am convinced that we can discover by means of purely mathematical construction the concepts AND THE LAWS … which furnish the key to the understanding of natural phenomena. Experience may suggest the appropriate mathematical concepts, but they MOST CERTAINLY CANNOT BE DEDUCED from it [experience] … In a certain sense, therefore, I hold it true that PURE THOUGHT can grasp reality, as the ancients dreamed.”[7]

Martin Rees, in Just Six Numbers, says, “‘The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible’ is one of Einstein’s best-known aphorisms, expressing his amazement that the laws of physics, which our MINDS ARE SOMEHOW ATTUNED TO UNDERSTAND, apply not just here on Earth but also in the remotest galaxy.”[8]

Likewise, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Eugene Wigner said that “it is not at all natural that laws of Nature exist, MUCH LESS THAT MAN IS ABLE TO DISCOVER THEM.[9]

But should we be surprised that our minds are “attuned to understand the laws of physics”?

Steven Weinberg, another Nobel Prize-winning physicist, suggests not. Commenting on chemical reactions, he says: “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.[10]

Martin Rees makes the same point when he says that “Mathematical laws underpin the fabric of our universe – not just atoms, but galaxies, stars and people.”[11]

However, scientists also recognize that these fundamental principles, or laws, are accessible to the human brain, and that can only be because they are ‘programmed’ into the brain. Otherwise, how could we know them?

According to Weinberg, the most successful “theoretical physicists” are either like “sages or magicians.”[12]

The sage-physicist reasons in an orderly way about physical problems on the basis of fundamental ideas of the way that nature ought to be.”[13]

Magician-physicists,” on the other hand, says Weinberg, “do not seem to be reasoning at all but … jump over all intermediate steps to a new INSIGHT about nature.”[14]

And Martin Rees says that Einstein’s theory of general relativity was a “conceptual breakthrough” that arose from “Einstein’s DEEP INSIGHT rather than being STIMULATED by any specific experiment or observation.[15]

And Einstein himself said this: “The only really valuable thing is intuition.”[16] But clearly, what Einstein means by “intuition” is “insight”; in the sense set out by Rees and others.

Philosophical insight

Philosophers have a lamentable lack of insight. The exception is Immanuel Kant.

However, Kant’s insight did not relate to the origin and functioning of the universe and life, or even to human behavior. Instead it related to the phenomenon of insight itself.

He says this: “The moral law, although it gives no view, yet gives us a fact absolutely inexplicable from any data of the sensible world, and the whole compass of our theoretical use of reason, a fact which points to a pure world of the understanding, nay, even defines it positively, and enables us to know something of it, namely, a law.”[17]

What Kant was saying is that there is a universal “moral law” which we can somehow access, but which is not based on our experience from assimilating and interpreting our environment through our physical senses. It is called the “Categorical Imperative”. It is essentially insight.

However, he could not identify what it was, or where it came from. He ascribed a more metaphysical aspect to it, even mystical.

Ironically, the solution to Kant’s inability to identify what his “moral law” was, and where it came from, was inadvertently provided by Nietzsche when he mocked Kant for having “discovered a moral faculty in man.”[18]

The origin of Kant’s “moral law” is what I have called in previous articles the neurological moral network. Sir Robert Winston calls it a “morality module”. So it is not some metaphysical or mystical ability, but a physical structure in the human brain. That is the “moral faculty”.

Religious insight – revelation

Leon J Wood, in his book The Prophets of Israel, argues that prophesy is not based on, or derived from, ecstatic experience. The three Hebrew terms used for Prophets in the Old Testament all refer to someone who “sees”, hence a “seer”. As Wood says, “the fundamental thought signified by [the words for Prophets) concerns INSIGHT regarding God’s will.[19]

Wood cites verses such as Isaiah 30: 9 & 10: “this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the LAW of the Lord: Which say to the seers; see not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.”

The Psalmist says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”[20]

Deuteronomy explains why some people can have insight regarding God’s will. It says that the words 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.[21]

And Jesus put it this way: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is WITHIN YOU.[22]

Regarding the Gentiles, the apostle Paul says this: “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].”[23]

Where did this “moral faculty” come from?

But how did this information get into the brain?

In order to answer that question we need to look back to the origins of the universe itself.

The one thing most scientists (or at least physicists) now agree upon is that the functioning of the universe is governed by Principles which were set in motion at its very ‘creation’. Those Principles govern everything from the behavior of sub-atomic particles to the DNA which makes up the human organism, and thus the human brain.

From the scientific perspective, Martin Rees says that it is the fundamental principles, or properties, of fundamental particles themselves, “their sizes and masses, how many different kinds there are, and the forces linking them together,” that dictate how everything in the universe functions, from planets and stars to chemical reactions and human beings. And this is all a result of “an expanding universe, WHOSE PROPERTIES WERE IMPRINTED INTO IT AT THE TIME OF THE INITIAL BIG BANG.”[24]

Rees refers to the “chemistry of our everyday world” which emerged from the “time” when these properties were “IMPRINTED” into the universe by “the initial Big Bang.” So the “mathematical laws” which Rees says “underpin the fabric of our universe”, including “people”, were “imprinted” by that event, and at the time of that event.

Weinberg goes even further when he considers the effect particles have on DNA. Although he says that DNA is too complex to be explained with current quantum mechanical equations, he maintains that with a sufficiently sophisticated computer, scientists could explain all the workings 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.”[25]

The Scriptures also bring together these two concepts of “the beginning” and certain Principles that dictate how the universe came about.

Proverbs says, “The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.”[26]

The LORD possessed me [wisdom] in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.”[27]

If we simply substitute the word Principles, or “properties”, or even “mathematical laws”, for the words “wisdom” and “understanding”, we find that Rees and Proverbs are saying essentially the same thing.

Isaiah even links the creation of the universe to numbers: “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by NUMBER.”[28]

Coincidentally, and quite ironically, Martin Rees called his book “Just Six Numbers”. Rees says that six crucial numbers are a “‘recipe’ for [the] universe,” and that if any of them did not have the precise value they do possess, then “there would be no stars and no life.[29]

So scientists and the Prophets agree on the seminal moment which not only set the universe and life in motion, but also determined the “laws”, or Principles, that would dictate how it all works.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.’[30]

The only real difference between scientists and the Prophets is that scientists don’t ‘see’ their principles in relation to the human organism, whereas the Prophets ‘see’ their principles in terms of what they would claim is their true function – the creation of a living organism capable of moral judgment.

We should be careful, however, not to confuse ‘seeing’ with subjective opinions.

Insight Explained

But how is it that a number of individuals are able to “see” certain “laws”, or gain some special “insight” into the functioning of physical laws? What process takes place that enables them to apparently transcend what we understand of the functioning of the human brain? And what exactly do they “see”? And where do they “see” it?

In his excellent book Islands of Genius: The Bountiful Mind of the Autistic, Acquired, and Sudden Savant, Darold A. Treffert asks this question: “How much does [the] actual knowledge [of the prodigious savant], or at least the software templates or scaffolding for [the] rules of music, art and mathematics, or even other areas of expertise, come ‘factory installed’ in all of us?[31]

Savants display quite extraordinary abilities. As Treffert notes, some ‘mathematical’ savants “seem to ‘see’ their answers as if projected on to a screen.”[32]

They don’t appear to make mental calculations. Answers to complicated mathematical calculations simply appear to them automatically.

The “human calculator” – Scott Flansburg

But this ability is not unique to savants. Scott Flansburg, for example, known as the human calculator, has similar prodigious mathematical abilities, yet doesn’t seem to display any other savant-like characteristics. In Stan Lee’s Superhumans television program, Scott Flansburg’s abilities were tested at Santiago State University where he demonstrated that he could perform complicated mathematical calculations faster than mathematics students using calculators. Scott said that he simply ‘knew’ the answers to the questions.

Scott was then subjected to a real-time brain scan (an fMRI) while he was doing his calculations. The presenter of the program was also subjected to a brain scan while performing similar calculations so that their respective scans could be compared for differences in brain activity. The neuroscientist conducting the scan, Dr David Hubbard, anticipated that an area known as Brodman’s Area 44 would be enlarged in Scott’s brain, and would be active during his scan. However, once the scans were done, Area 44 was in fact active in the presenter’s brain, but not in Scott’s brain. Instead, an area near the motor cortex was active. This area is behind the right eye, and according to Dr Hubbard, it controls movement.

This part of the brain appears to be ‘programmed’ with the ‘raw data’ required by the brain to make almost instant calculations which enable the human body to perform everyday functions like walking, running, or driving a car.

As Rees notes, the classical laws of physics, Newton’s laws, are apparently ‘hard-wired’ into animals like monkeys which enables them to swing through the trees.[33] Likewise, humans must be ‘hard-wired’ with those laws which enable us to perform our everyday tasks. Even the simplest activity like jumping off a wall must necessarily require the brain to make a multitude on instant calculations taking into account distance, weight of the body, and the effect of gravity, so as to ensure that the body has the tolerances to safely withstand the impact of the jump.

In most of us, however, these calculations, making use of the ‘raw data’ that is ‘hard-wired’ into the brain, is done subconsciously. In people like Scott Flansburg, it seems that the ‘raw data’ is consciously activated when they are presented with complicated calculations.

However, the ‘raw data’ is not something we learn. It is necessary in order for the human organism to function. And it was necessary for the ‘creation’ of the human organism in the first place.

Knowing things we never learned

Treffert recognizes this, and examines how human beings, particularly savants, can “know things we never learned.[34] This ‘knowledge’ cannot come from experience, because savants who are born with the condition mostly exhibit these extraordinary abilities at an early age, long before they could have had the opportunity to ‘learn’ them.[35] Even babies have inbuilt data giving them “specialized innate abilities.[36] That must stand to reason, because every human being is born with powerful instincts that are necessary for our survival. And those instincts can only be the product of the laws that determine how the human organism functions. Our very instincts require the ‘raw data’ of the laws of physics and mathematics in order to perform even the most menial tasks.

Treffert quotes Michael Gazzaniga as saying that “as soon as the brain is built, it starts to express what it knows, what it comes with from the factory.”[37]

Treffert compares the ‘innate’ knowledge of the human brain to software in a computer: “In a similar manner I think we all have considerable brain ‘software’ and indeed specific ‘knowledge’ which was factory installed genetically, but remains dormant and silent unless we access it.”[38]

An important point to note, however, is that savants tend to ‘see’ things in different ways. Some ‘see’ numbers in answer to mathematical calculations, others pictures, others ‘see’ music, and others can recall the fine detail of complex structures, or even entire cities, after only a very brief look at such things. And common to most savants is also a prodigious memory.

We should now recall our journey through Genesis. What we saw there was an account of the ‘construction’ of the human organism from the basic building blocks of the universe, and the laws that determine how those building blocks can be put together. Life was shown to be a manifestation of the fundamental laws of physics, and in being a manifestation of those laws, the human brain is ‘programmed’ not only by those laws, but with those laws. The human brain has an innate ‘knowledge and understanding’ of the material and laws which ‘created’ it.

That is what Einstein found so remarkable when he noted that “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.” Or as Rees says “our MINDS ARE SOMEHOW ATTUNED TO UNDERSTAND” the laws of physics.[39]

So the human brain is not only a manifestation of the laws of physics; the laws of physics are also manifest in the human brain.

The savant demonstrates that the human brain must be ‘programmed’ with all the mathematical ‘raw data’ of the subatomic particles, molecules, and chemical calculations that were responsible for creating it, and are needed to make it function. And integral to those laws are mathematical laws.

The variety of savants, and the different ways they appear to ‘see’ this ‘raw data’, is itself fascinating, and revealing.

Daniel Tammet – “Brainman

A famous savant is Daniel Tammet. In a documentary about him called Brainman,[40] he explained how he ‘sees’ certain things: “I’m seeing things in my head; like little sparks flying off, and it’s not until the very last minute that those sparks tell me what on earth they mean.”

And when Tammet was giving answers to complicated mathematical calculations, he was seen to be drawing shapes with his fingers. When asked what he was doing, he said that he was “seeing the numbers.” But he went on to say, “I’m seeing pictures, shapes and patterns, almost like a square; like the texture of water, drops, ripples almost … like something reflective; it’s something you can look through, almost metallic, like a half-cloud, a bit like a flash.”

According to Treffert, Tammet “sees individual numbers which have a unique color, form and texture.”[41]

Treffert records the varied abilities of many of the savants he has encountered in his work over the years, and common to each is the ability to ‘see’ or ‘know’ things that they have never learned. But also, a common feature is that those things they ‘see’ or ‘know’ all appear to relate in some manner or other to the fundamental laws of mathematics and physics. And some of those with these gifts attribute their gifts to God.[42] And from our analysis so far, that may not be an inaccurate claim.

But it should not surprise us that the human brain is ‘programmed’ with the raw mathematical data that underpins the laws of physics. As we have already seen, if it were not, we could not walk, or see, or jump, or do anything else that requires any kind of calculation of distance or space. We do not first ‘learn’ all the complicated mathematical formulae required to make the calculations necessary to carry out even the most basic of human activities. If we had to do that it is certain that no individual would ever acquire those basic capabilities. What we do ‘learn’ is how to make use of the ‘raw data’ in the brain in conjunction with our physical senses in order to achieve those capabilities, and mostly we do so unconsciously. And the more we practice, the better we get at making those connections.

From what science knows to date about the brain, most of this ‘raw data’ is stored in the right hemisphere of the brain, and that is also where savants show most cerebral activity when they demonstrate their amazing abilities. Savants appear to have direct access to some of this ‘raw data’, whereas the rest of us mostly use it subconsciously, and in conjunction with other parts of the brain, most notably the left hemisphere.

Genetic memory?

Treffert believes that “genetic memory” may be responsible for this ‘raw data’ being carried in the DNA through generations. It is a theory called epigenetics. This theory proposes that environmental circumstances make small chemical changes to our DNA which enables information to be passed through generations. This information acts as a kind of additional layer of DNA without actually altering the fundamental structure of our genetic make-up.

The theory may well prove to apply in certain circumstances, but it seems rather unlikely when it comes to the basic mathematical ‘raw data’ that savants appear to so readily access. If it did, then that would mean that we all had particularly incredible mathematicians and physicists in our distant past. If we have ‘inherited’ any mathematical information, or more especially information regarding the laws of physics, it will have been of a relatively primitive, incomplete, and rather defective variety.

It is far more plausible that human DNA ‘programs’ the human brain with the ‘raw data’ of the laws of physics, mathematics and chemistry, because our DNA ‘knows’ that it is needed in order to make the human organism function. And this ‘knowledge’ would appear itself to be a product, or manifestation, of the fundamental laws of physics. In that respect, we should recall the delayed-choice experiments we considered in Part V of this series. We saw then that a subatomic particle somehow ‘knew’ whether a detector was off or on, and adjusted its state accordingly between wave-like or particle-like respectively. However, to ‘know’ whether it had to adopt a particle-like state, the detector had to be on. In other words, the particle had to be ‘aware’ of some future condition, or environment’, in order to adapt accordingly. As we have seen, the words “And God said …” in Genesis Chapter 1 appear to correspond to the ‘communication’ of the future environment the particles will encounter, and that enables them to adjust accordingly to prepare for that environment.

And by a series of repeated interactions over the billions of years this process is said to have played out, a human organism was ‘created’ which was itself ‘programmed’ with the very laws that ‘created’ it.

This explanation does not rule out epigenetics though. Epigenetics may well apply to the transmission of certain information through generations, but it cannot apply to the transmission of the ‘knowledge’ of the fundamental mathematical principles that underpin the laws of physics. It is far more likely that the laws of physics facilitate epigenetics, than the other way round.

Nevertheless, what the savant shows is that the human brain is ‘programmed’ with certain ‘raw data’ relating to fundamental mathematical principles.

What do they ‘see’?

By comparing the abilities of the savant to ‘see’ such raw data, to the ‘insight’ experienced by certain scientists and the Prophets, it is clear that some scientists, and the Prophets, also ‘see’ certain ‘raw data’. However, the ‘raw data’ such scientists and the Prophets ‘see’ is in a relatively more unified form than the savant. The savant ‘sees’ the bricks, while the “magician” scientists and Prophets ‘see’ the house, and how it was built (at least in part), and in the case of the Prophets, why it was built.

And, like savants, great minds in science also ‘see’ in different ways. Einstein “preferred to think in pictures”. As he said, “I rarely think in words at all“.[43]

Benjamin Franklin, on the other hand, “learned to think in words …”[44]

The explanation given by Srivinasa Ramanujan (1887 – 1920), one of the greatest mathematicians of the twentieth century, for his incredible mathematical abilities is not dissimilar to that of Tammet. Ramanujan was born in Madras, India, and had no formal mathematical training. Yet he produced complicated equations, some of which were already known to Western mathematicians, while others were original. Even today, some of his equations in the “lost notebooks of Ramanujan” remain unsolved.

Ramanujan said that his abilities were attributable to the family goddess called Mahalakshmi. After dreaming of drops of blood representing her male counterpart Narasimha, Ramanujan said that he had visions in which scrolls appeared to him containing complex equations. Clearly, he ‘saw’ these equations with such clarity that he could transcribe them, and also understand what they meant. However, he made a remarkable statement regarding how he understood the equations he would ‘see’. He said that “an equation for me has no meaning, unless it represents a thought of God.”[45]

It appears that Ramanujan, like a savant, was tapping into the mathematical ‘raw data’ in his brain. And that ‘raw data’ was ‘revealed’ to him in a form reminiscent of the Prophets – in dreams and visions, which he attributed to God as being a representation of a “thought of God.”

The human mind as an image of the universal mind

That statement by Ramanujan is not dissimilar to Philo’s explanation of man having been made “in the image of God.” Philo said this: “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.[46]

The Gospel of Thomas records Jesus saying this: “the kingdom [of God] is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father.”[47]

That is much the same as the Gospel of Luke: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is WITHIN YOU.[48]

These statements attributed to Jesus are essentially the same as what Philo said about the human mind: “that one mind which exists in each individual has been created after the likeness of that one mind which is in the universe.”

As we have seen, according to Genesis the laws that govern the universe are God’s laws which express God’s will. The laws of physics could thus be said to reveal the “one mind which is in the universe.” The savant appears able to ‘see’ certain aspects of that “one mind” with stark clarity. But the way that  Daniel Tammet and Srivinasa Ramanujan, for example, say they ‘see’ what they ‘see’ shows that the ‘raw data’ of the “one mind” manifests itself in many different ways – numbers as colors or shapes, equations on scrolls in visions, dreams, sparks, ripples of water, or drops of blood.

The words used to describe the experiences of the Prophets are not much different to Tammet and Ramanujan.

The Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel saw visions,[49] Jeremiah saw words,[50] while Daniel, as well as having dreams and visions of his own, could ‘see’ the meaning in what others ‘saw’ because he had ‘understanding in all dreams and visions’.[51]

Conclusion

Insight is something that appears to happen to many different people in many different ways. But its origin is the same – the mathematical raw data that is imprinted into the human brain.

It has led to important scientific discoveries, and it has given us religion and philosophy.

But what Genesis shows is that some three thousand years ago an instance of insight occurred that transcended anything that has happened since. An instance of insight into the very foundations of the universe and life. And an instance of insight that revealed humanity’s moral origins, moral purpose, and moral destiny.

The Prophet/s of Genesis ‘saw’ the moral dimension of the laws that govern the universe. They ‘saw’ what the Scriptures would come to call The Law, which is the Ten Commandments; what Philo called “the heads and principles of all particular laws.”[52]And the mission of subsequent Prophets “was to urge the people to conform their lives to the Law.”[53]

More importantly, however, they recognized that the laws that govern the universe, and are imprinted into our minds, speak to us of a Supreme Lawmaker.

That is what we will address in the next article.

———————————————————–

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

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

[1] There is still debate about the authorship of Genesis. I make no judgment on the issue.

[2] Aristotle, On The Heavens, Book II, Chapter 14.

[3] Aristotle, On The Heavens, Book II, Chapter 14

[4] Cox and Forshaw, Why does E=mc2? (paperback), page 10.

[5] Philo, On the Creation, XXV (78).

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

[7] Albert Einstein, 1954, Ideas and Opinions, quoted in Michio Kaku’s Parallel Worlds, page 283 – emphasis mine.

[8] Rees, Just Six Numbers (paperback), pages 11-12 – my emphasis.

[9] Quoted by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw. ibid, page 25

[10] Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory (paperback), pages 9-10 – My emphasis

[11] Rees, ibid, page 1.

[12] Weinberg, ibid, page 67.

[13] Weinberg, ibid, page 67.

[14] Weinberg, ibid, page 68 – my emphasis.

[15] Rees, ibid, page 36 – my emphasis

[16] Various internet sources quoting Einstein.

[17] Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, page 60.

[18] Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, page 18.

[19] Wood, The Prophets of Israel (paperback), page 63 – my emphasis.

[20] Psalm 46:10.

[21] Deuteronomy 30:10 – 14.

[22] Luke 17; 21 – my emphasis.

[23] Romans 2: 14 & 15.

[24] Rees, ibid, page 1 – Capitals are my emphasis

[25] Weinberg, ibid, page 32.

[26] Proverbs 3: 19.

[27] Proverbs 8: 22 & 23

[28] Isaiah 40: 26 – my emphasis

[29] Rees, ibid, page 4.

[30] John 1: 1 – 4.

[31] Treffert, Islands of Genius (paperback), page 12.

[32] Treffert, ibid, page 36 – emphasis on ‘see’ is mine.

[33] Rees, ibid, page 37.

[34] Treffert, ibid, page 55.

[35] Treffert, ibid,page 12.

[36] Treffert, ibid, page 57.

[37] Treffert, ibid, page 57 – quoting from The Mind’s Past (2000) by Michael Gazzaniga at page 170.

[38] Treffert, ibid, page 59.

[39] Rees,ibid, pages 10&11.

[40] Treffert, ibid, page 162. Brainman was produced by Focus Productions of London, and airted on the Discovery Channel.

[41] Treffert, ibid, page 163.

[42] Treffert, ibid, pages 35 and 110

[43] Quoted in H Eves Mathematical Circles Adieu (Boston 1977), from http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Quotations/Einstein.html.

[44] Walter Isaacson, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 150, No. 4, December 2006.

[45] Chaitin, Gregory (28 July 2007).  Less Proof, More Truth – New Scientist (2614): 49.

[46] Philo, On the Creation, XXIII (69)

[47] Gospel of Thomas verse 3.

[48] Luke 17: 21.

[49] Isaiah 1:1 and Ezekiel 1:1.

[50] Jeremiah 1:1.

[51] Daniel 1:17.

[52] Philo, Decalogue, XXXIII (175)

[53] Wood, ibid, page 75.

Joseph BH McMillan reviews A Study of Perceptions of Evil by Professor Ron Galloway

I have written that philosophy is at risk of rendering itself an extravagant academic indulgence. By that I mean it risks becoming so obscure as to be of no relevance to our everyday actions and behavior.

On the philosophy of science, the physicist Steven Weinberg went so far as to say this: “… I found [it] to be written in a jargon so impenetrable that I can only think that it aimed at impressing those who confound obscurity with profundity.” [Dreams of a Final Theory – Steven Weinberg (paperback) page 168]

So it was refreshing to read Professor Galloway’s Perceptions of Evil (if I may take the liberty of shortening the title).

Not to detract from its academic credentials, it is readable and enjoyable. But more importantly, it compels the reader to reflect on his or her everyday behavior. It does so by cleverly weaving into our perceptions of what is good and evil, philosophical thought going back to Plato.

The central theme is whether our perceptions of what constitutes good and evil are entirely rooted in our perceptions of what constitutes knowledge (epistemology), and our conceptions of what constitutes the right view of the world (our worldview).

Although Galloway identifies coincidences between historical perceptions of evil and the theories of knowledge and worldview prevalent at the time, he does make this most astute observation: “Even developed perceptions of the evil and the good grounded in elaborated theories of knowledge and worldviews seem to owe their beginning to this at least partly intuitive, partly unlearned sense of the evil and the good. Why else does so much of humanity cry out against child abusers, child killers, mass murderers, and ethnic cleansing? Does humanity really feel a need to support or claim that such things are evil? Does not the near intuitive outrage itself seem to serve as the verification for punishments inflicted on offenders of this kind?” [Page 463 – emphasis in bold is mine]

That element of the inherent recognition of what constitutes right and wrong, or good and evil, comes across in Galloway’s analysis of the writings of some of the most commonly recognized names in philosophy so far as non-philosophers are concerned, such as Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and David Hume. Suddenly their writings don’t seem shrouded in philosophical mysticism. They speak of what we, as human beings, care about – what should I do in this or that situation?

Although we do not need to consult philosophical tomes to make such decisions, Professor Galloway’s exposition of some of these great philosophical works gives us reassurance that we can, in the final analysis, find in them the comfort to listen to that “voice [within] which makes even the boldest sinner tremble.” [Kant, Critique of Practical Reason].

It is becoming an increasingly rare thing to find a book on philosophy that is readable, enjoyable, and thoroughly informative. If only there were a lot more like this.

A highly recommended read.

A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part IX): Science in Genesis Chapter 3 – Adam and Eve

The first question 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.

That 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 article on the Garden of Eden, there would have been a number of human beings with this DNA who would have joined up to create new human life in their own genetic image.

So at this stage of the development of the human race there would likely have been several small groups of people with human DNA who were the ancestors of all other human beings.

The San people of southern Africa are the descendants of that branch of the human species that did not succumb to the temptation of eating of the ‘forbidden fruit’.

The story of Adam and Eve relates to that branch of the early species that did take of the fruit, and produced so-called ‘civilized’ human beings.

Temptation

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 the great Jewish philosopher, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria: “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]

Chapter 3 deals with the transformation of the former to the latter.

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 considering 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.

These verses symbolize the conflict between primitive human instincts and the promptings of the neurological moral network as it arose in the first of the species. 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, they had developed a higher level of communication, as well as a more advanced capacity to reason. But they also had a partially activated neurological moral network which acted as a restraint on their actions by arousing a sense of conscience.

However, the woman would have enjoyed the pleasure of intimacy with Adam. And this would have acted as a spark to ignite her imagination to consider ways to enhance the pleasure derived from sexual intimacy. And her capacity to reason would have been eager to tender suggestions and justifications.

There would have been plenty of examples in the behavior of the more primitive primates living in close proximity. Thus the imagery of the account of the woman being tempted by the serpent is 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 her, the woman began to fantasize about what it would be like to do the same. She started 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 questioned 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.

Succumbing to Temptation activates the Neurological Moral Network

In the end, the woman succumbed 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.

What they did, it can only be concluded, is indulge in 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 – AC Grayling.

In his book The God Argument – The Case against religion and for Humanism, 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 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 is to engage in sex casually and often.[4]

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

According to him, 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 claims 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”.

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 that arousal, is something that has stayed with many of the species up to this very day. And Grayling is not unique in that regard; it is not an uncommon phenomenon.

Marketing companies exploit the human obsession with sex to sell everything from ice-cream to motor cars.

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]

However, clearly Genesis is not referring to this interbreeding between humans and Neandertals. The story of Adam and Eve relates to a much earlier time when humans were only just emerging as the species. The example of the interbreeding with Neandertals was simply a continuation of something that had started much earlier.

The real significance of the story, however, lies in its explanation of how the neurological moral network in the human brain was initially fully activated, and the central part played in that process by the human capacity to reason. The story demonstrates that reason can be applied to justify anything.

Why was acquiring the “knowledge of good and evil” wrong?

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

The answer is that to awaken the neurological moral network 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 that initially activated the neurological moral network  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]

So the story of Eve’s (“the woman’s[12]) temptation clearly refers to 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 application of reason to justify taking actions that we ‘know’ are wrong.

The prohibition against eating of the tree represents morality. It is 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.

Consequences of activating the neurological moral network

Once the first humans succumbed to the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging their primitive instinct for reproduction, the neurological moral network was fully 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.

However, Genesis tells us that once the neurological moral network had been offended, 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 human instincts, amongst which is 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. It was simply a ‘natural’ response to a ‘natural’ desire – much like AC Grayling.

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 to their actions from the neurological moral network. They had acquired an ability to identify specific actions as right or wrong. Yet, they were seduced by the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging their primitive instincts, as humans are today. So they mobilized their enhanced capacity to reason to seek justification for doing that which their neurological moral network told them was wrong.

The Legacy

The ‘punishment’ that God is said to inflict on them clearly symbolizes the conflict that has plagued the descendants of Adam and Eve from that moment on – a conflict between servicing their primitive instincts, or servicing the promptings of their neurological moral network.

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.

The ‘punishment’ said to have been inflicted on Adam clearly relates to human beings falling into bondage to 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.

The words “in sorrow shalt thou eat of [the ground] all the days of thy life[14] clearly refers to the instinct for security; “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground[15] 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 they 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 had condemned themselves to “an existence more miserable than death.”

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. And how human beings employ reason to justify doing wrong.

Cain and Abel

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 threat who had to be neutralized. The symbolism of God speaking to Cain to ask why he is angry, relates to Cain’s neurological moral network 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.”[16]

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 indicates 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, his ability to reason seeks ways to deny responsibility, saying he does not know where Abel is. Furthermore, he also asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” – an instance of reason seeking to excuse accountability for the wellbeing of our fellow human beings.

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.

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.”[17]

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.”[18]

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 Supreme 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.[19] 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.” [20]

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.”[21]

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”[22]

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.

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

Conclusion

Genesis Chapter 3 reveals a remarkable degree of insight by the author/s of Genesis into the workings of the human brain. However, the most remarkable aspect of the story of Adam and Eve is the light it casts on the human capacity to reason. As the account shows, reason can be applied equally for good or evil. More reason does not guarantee more benevolent and good outcomes; less reason doesn’t automatically lead to malevolent or evil outcomes. Often it is the reverse, as history reveals.

The current consensus that reason can give us objective principles of morality is delusional. Reason is a neutral faculty. Its worth rests entirely on whether it is in the service of morality, or in the service of primitive human instinct.

That is the real message behind the story of Adam and Eve. And it is a message we should heed!

In the next article we will discover how the author/s of Genesis could have had such a profound understanding of the working of the universe, and of the human mind.

———————————————————–

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

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

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 3: 17.

[15] Genesis 3: 19.

[16] Genesis 4: 7.

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

[18] Genesis 4: 16.

[19] Genesis 4: 17.

[20] Genesis 4: 20.

[21] Genesis 12: 3.

[22] Genesis 22:18.

A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part VIII): Science in Genesis Chapter 2 – The Garden of Eden

Early man was like a house wired for light, but for a long time was in darkness; then a switch was thrown, and the house was full of light.

Humans became conscious beings; conscious of their own existence, their own mortality, and their own actions.

That sums up Chapter 2 of Genesis, which goes back to the time of the ‘awakening’ of the neurological moral network in the first of the species to experience 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 story of The Garden of Eden is the story of that ‘awakening’.

As we have seen in previous articles, especially in relation to Days Three and Six, Genesis 2, verses 1 to 5, tell us that by the end of the six “days” no life existed on Earth in the form we would recognize today. There was only DNA in primitive organisms. That was because there was not yet water on the Earth in liquid form.

When water did finally appear, the DNA that would develop into the variety of life on Earth, including human beings, had already been ‘programmed’; it was ready and waiting.

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

But according to Genesis, it’s not so much that the universe knew we were coming, but that it had been prepared for our coming. Indeed, it even made our coming possible. It is the cosmic factory; and life is the cosmic product.

Then, when the Earth had cooled sufficiently, water appeared. As Genesis records, “there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.[2]

The machinery of the cosmic factory had been oiled, and production of life could begin in earnest.

The formation of the human brain

The description of the Garden of Eden can only refer to the human brain: “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.[3]

Philo says that these verses are “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.[4]

I agree that the verses are symbolic, and if Philo meant by “the dominant character of the soul” the human brain, I would agree with that as well. But I cannot agree that the trees represent the “innumerable opinions” of the multitudes. The description of the kind of trees in the Garden perfectly fits the neurological faculties ‘programmed’ into human DNA in Day Six. http://wp.me/p5izWu-92

Those were the faculties of instinct, reason, and morality. And those instincts are activated by the prospect of pleasure, or the fear of pain, and the human capacity for reason responds accordingly.

But we also saw that reason in the service of instinct accounts for what we call evil, while reason in the service of morality accounts for good.

When we consider the description of the trees in that light, the description of the Garden quickly begins to resemble the human brain.

First, the words “out of the ground made the Lord God to grow …” reflect the words used relating to the forming of man – “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground ….”[5] So when the trees are made to “grow” out of “the ground”, it clearly implies the “the ground” that had been made “man”.

The “trees” that are “made to grow” perfectly correspond to the various neurological faculties: “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 moral equation, which is why it is in “the midst of the garden.”   The interaction between the various neurological faculties must be properly balanced in order to keep the moral equation in equilibrium.

However, all these elements of the human brain needed some way to interact with the world. 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 is activated 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 ‘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.”[6]

This verse very obviously refers to the nervous system which supplies the brain with the information it needs in order to function. That is clear because 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.

So when we conceive of the Garden of Eden as referring to the human brain, and the river which flows out of  “Eden to water the garden” as the human nervous system which ‘waters’ the brain by supplying it with the information it requires in order to function, then the verse makes sense. The information the brain needs would be provided through the senses on the extremities of the body – the “four heads” of the river.

The references to what may have been physical places, and understood by the people at the time to represent certain of the senses, are not particularly important. The important point is that the rivers and the Garden symbolize the senses and the nervous system which ‘water’ the brain with information.

The activation of the human brain

The next verse is curious, because God is said to put 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.[7] 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 first occasion, he was just put there.

That is because the first reference is to the formation of the brain – “out of the ground made the Lord God to grow …”; whereas the second is to the activation of the faculties of the brain – “to dress it and to keep it”.

The latent ‘genes’ had been activated, or as the Encode Project would say, the necessary genetic “switches” had activated the genes, and the various neurological faculties began to function in the first of the species with a fully formed human brain.

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.”[8]

Now, we should note that the original Hebrew did not say “thou shalt surely die”, but “in dying thou shalt die”. This distinction is crucial, and we shall return to it shortly.

First, we should note that God is said to speak to the “man”, or more properly, “commanded” him. But the word used is the same as was used in Genesis 1: 22 – “saying”.

God commanded the man, SAYING”. We should remember that the word “saying” symbolizes a limited comprehension on the part of those ‘hearing’ the words, or at least a limited comprehension 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, had been activated, but that its messages were being subconsciously processed.

That is confirmed by the warning issued by God of the consequences of violating the message – “in dying thou shalt die.”

So the activation of these various faculties means that this first human being subconsciously knew that certain actions were wrong, and that there would be a consequence for committing those actions.

However, since there was no other human being to tell him that the actions were wrong, and no other human being to impose a consequence, or punishment, he would have reflected on why he felt that such actions could be wrong. Moreover, he would have noted that many of the actions of the very species from which he had emerged were wrong by his new understanding, yet there were no consequences to them indulging in such behavior.

So he would have wondered whether the consequences would be imposed at some time other than during his lifetime, and the only other time could be after his death. That would have made him aware of his own mortality, thus causing a consciousness of being alive.

The first of the human species had become a conscious being; conscious of his own mortality, and conscious of his own existence; and all because the neurological moral network had been activated.

Functioning of the neurological moral network

Verses 18 to 25 of Chapter 2 record how the now activated neurological moral network began to direct human behavior, and ultimately, human destiny. I shall only briefly address these verses in this article, although I do address them in detail in the book.

Here is a summary of those verses.

First, God is said to have wanted to find “an help meet for” Adam (the first human being with fully formed human DNA) because he should not “be alone.” So God made all the animals and brought them to Adam to be named. But still “there was not found an help meet for him.” So God put him into a deep sleep, removed one of his ribs, made a woman, and “brought her unto him.”

Adam is then said to have recognized the woman as “bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.”

As a consequence of this mutual recognition, “a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

Now the first thing we should note is that the “man” was alone, and that it was “not good” that he should be alone. This suggests that fully formed human DNA had appeared in only one (or at best a scattered few) of the first of the species. So he would have recognized that he was different to the species from whom he had emerged.

But this does not 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. That is because, as Philo says, “all the individuals of the race had not yet assumed their distinctive form; since the extreme species are contained in the genus.”[9] 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 with fully ‘matured’ human DNA to reproduce with. To this first “man”, reproducing with what ostensibly would have been another ‘species’ would have been an unattractive prospect.

So he would have become frustrated. But in doing so, he appears to have activated other elements of his brain.

The words “I will make him an help meet for him” can only symbolize the activation of the ability to reason at a higher level, compelling this first human to examine the life around him in the hope of finding another living thing like him with whom he could reproduce.

However, by examining the various different species around him, this first human appeared to activate another latent characteristic of the brain – the language module. Adam started ascribing names to the animals.

But Adams’s search for a mate proved futile: “but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”

So it seems that this first of the human species must have settled for a mate from one of the more primitive species from which he had emerged, even though she would have been a different ‘species’ in some major respects. As a consequence, his 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.”[10]

The symbolism of “Adam” going into a deep sleep means that the fully formed human DNA he was carrying around probably passed through several generations while remaining dormant. So a number of the pre-human species may well have had this dormant DNA

Then, by a coincidence of probabilities, the dormant DNA was activated in both a male and female at the same time, and those two must have been in close physical proximity. And immediately they recognized each other as being different to the species around them, and virtual mirror-images of each other, except one was male and the other female. As Philo said, they would have “beheld” each other “as in a mirror.”[11]

The human species was ready to “go forth and multiply”.

Recognition of moral obligations

The effect of this mutual recognition was that some additional elements of the “morality module” were activated. 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, required that they forsake any and all other relationships. They recognized that their relationship should be unique, exclusive and special – for the benefit of the new life they create.

There we find the source of the positive obligations we referred to in the introductory article.

Subconscious recognition of obligations

However, these first human beings did not sit down and make a list of what they thought was right and wrong. As we have already seen, they just subconsciously knew how they should behave.

That is the message in verse 25: “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.

Their neurological moral networks subconsciously communicated the law to them – it “commanded” them, saying”. The neurological moral network automatically kept the moral equation in equilibrium, as long as they heeded what it told them.

So there would have been an innocence about them. They would have lived harmoniously with nature, and others like them. They would not have fenced off portions of the Earth to claim as their own. They would not have sought to quell their insecurities and fears by building walls around themselves. They would not have sought security in subjugating others to their control and power. They did not even need clothes to display their vanity. Neither did they need clothes to divert others from lusting after their bodies – they did not lust, because they knew it was wrong.

They would not have been in need of laws, because they knew the law. They would have known that making their own laws would simply be a ruse to violate the universal law which applied to everything and everybody.

That was the state of the human race before primitive human instincts got the better of some.

But there are alive today some of the descendants of those first human beings who inhabited the Earth at the time described in Genesis – the time when the first of the species emerged. And like their ancestors, they simply do what they know to be right and good. They are not consumed by the demands of their primitive instincts. They are not in relentless pursuit of pleasure, or the persistent fear of death and insecurity. They are an innocent, decent, and good people; or at least as innocent and good as anyone can be after being exposed to the ‘civilized world’.

They are the San people of Southern Africa, also known as the Bushmen. Anthropologists and geneticists identify some of these peoples as the ancestors of all human beings. Although I would say that the rest of us are the descendants of that part of the original family that went astray, and they are the descendants of those who did not go astray.

And as we shall see in the next article dealing with Chapters 3 and 4, science and Genesis supports that conclusion.

———————————————————–

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

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

Notes:

[1] Kaku, Parallel Worlds, page 248.

[2] Genesis 2: 6.

[3] Genesis 2: 8 – 9.

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

[5] Genesis 2: 7.

[6] Genesis 2: 10.

[7] Genesis 2: 15.

[8] Genesis 2: 16 – 17.

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

[10] Genesis 2: 21.

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

A Question of Faith?

Faith is a central pillar of most religions. But what does it really mean?

There are those who argue that faith is not a function of evidence or proof. For want of a better description, we could call this ‘blind faith’. There are proponents of this kind of faith in most religions.

‘Blind faith’ is a curious approach. It requires absolute belief that something is true, without any evidence to support that belief, then uses the thing believed in as ‘evidence’ of the claims it makes.

We find such an approach in Islam, for example. The starting point is the statement of faith, the ‘Shahada’, which must be recited by converts to Islam. It declares that there is no god but Allah, and that Mohammed is his prophet. From that follows a belief that the Koran is the word of God as revealed to Mohammed. The Koran then becomes the ‘evidence’ of the claim that Allah is the one true God, and that Mohammed is his prophet.

This kind of approach does not begin by examining the claim that the Koran is the word of God to determine whether there is any evidence to support that claim, and then forming a view on the evidence. It does it the other way round. It makes the claim, then uses the book as evidence to support the claim. In other words, you begin by believing, without any evidence, that the book is the word of God, then point to passages in the book as ‘evidence’ of the claim.

However, the approach is not unique to Islam. We find a similar thing in Christianity and Judaism.

Few people, I suspect, who convert to Christianity or Judaism, do so because they have examined the evidence and concluded that the evidence justifies their belief in the claims made by those religions.

Of course, there have been those in all these religions who have sought to provide evidential support for the claims made by their respective religions. But mostly, they have sought to identify the evidence to support their already held beliefs, not formed their beliefs following an examination of the evidence. Although there are exceptions.

That raises the question of whether faith can, or should, have any role in determining what we believe, and how we conduct our lives as a consequence of what we believe.

In recent times, people have been conditioned to believe that if something can’t be proved, then it is simply untrue, or not worthy of further consideration. That has one of two broad effects. Either, people simply reject religion entirely, or they resort to something closely resembling blind faith.

But the conviction that faith is incompatible with proof is an entirely false distinction. In fact, without faith, every system of justice on the planet would cease to function.

That statement may appear counter-intuitive, because most people associate justice and the courts with evidence and proof. But that is not the whole story.

As any litigation attorney would acknowledge, there is no such thing as an open and shut case. And that is in spite of the fact that no case has to be proved with absolute certainty.

There are two broad standards of legal proof in the Anglo-American legal tradition: ‘on a balance of probabilities’ for civil cases; and ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ for criminal cases.

As a consequence, in a civil trial, for example, a judge or jury has to decide whether it is more likely than not that the evidence supports one or other party to a dispute. To make that judgment, they have to weigh up the evidence, and that includes making assessments as to the truthfulness of witnesses. But making such assessments is a subjective process. One person may find a particular witness entirely credible, while another person will find that same witness entirely shifty and unreliable. In the end, it is for the judge or jury to make a decision. However, as convinced as they may be that the evidence supports one side or the other, their decision still comes down to a question of belief – whose case they believe is more persuasive. That means that their decision is really a matter of ‘faith’. They cannot know for certain that their decision is right.

In the criminal courts, the situation is the same. Although the standard of proof is the higher standard of beyond a reasonable doubt, that does not mean beyond a shadow of a doubt, or with one hundred percent certainty. Even where DNA evidence, for example, shows that the defendant must have been responsible for the crime, there are other questions. Were the DNA samples contaminated or inadvertently substituted with other samples? Was there deliberate tampering with the DNA evidence?

The same applies to what some would consider absolute proof. What if there is video evidence capturing the defendant shooting the victim dead? The problem with that evidence is that it only goes to one element of a crime, the act itself, which lawyers call the actus reus. The prosecution also has to prove that the defendant possessed the appropriate mental state (mens rea) to commit the crime. And there is an array of defenses in respect of the mental element, from lack of intention, insanity, self-defense, provocation etc.

The point being that however convincing a case may seem at first, any half-decent litigation lawyer can raise any number of doubts in the minds of the judge and jury. And it doesn’t matter how convinced one person may be, others may harbor substantial and well-founded doubts. So again, it comes down to belief. And the law recognizes that fact by setting standards of proof that do not require absolute certainty.

The final judgment of the judge or jury, which may cause another human being to be cast into prison for the rest of his life, or even terminate his life, is simply a matter of faith that they have made the right decision on the evidence. In fact, the whole judicial system rests on faith that ‘justice will be done’.

Faith is therefore the cornerstone of justice. Without it, the legal system would simply grind to a halt. And those who have to exercise this kind of faith carry a heavy burden. The consequences of exercising their faith can be extreme; a matter of freedom or incarceration, even of life and death.

So faith is not just some feeble excuse to believe something in spite of the evidence. It is an essential element of human behavior. It is integral to the human character. It reaches into every human activity, from who we choose to marry, to where we choose to live, to our careers, jobs, car, and to everything else we do in life.

The important thing is that we exercise faith after careful consideration of the evidence. But in the end, every decision is a matter of faith. And religion is no different. Faith should follow a careful consideration of the evidence.

That is why I employed a rigorous legal methodology to evaluate the evidence of God in my latest book, A ‘Final Theory’ of God. The legal method is tried and tested, and has endured the ravages of time and history. It is the only really workable approach when there are limits to human knowledge.

So faith and proof are not diametrically opposed concepts. They are inter-related and inter-dependent. Each depends on the other.

But in the end, after careful consideration of the evidence, we always have to apply a measure of faith.

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Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

http://josephbhmcmillan.com

 

A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part VI): Science in Genesis – Day Five.

Day Five introduces instinct and reason to the universe, and thus establishes the basis for what will become evil, or sin, and eventually the entire concept of crime.

On a reading of Day Five, that may seem like a rather peculiar conclusion to draw, but I would urge the reader to bear with me. It will all become very clear.

But first, we need to address some preliminary issues.

As we have already seen, new scientific discoveries and theories are constantly confirming the Genesis account of the origins of the universe and life, and in that respect Day Five is no different.

It begins 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 need to address is what is meant by “the waters”.

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, because “God had not caused it to rain upon the earth ...” [Genesis 2: 5]

So “the waters” must be symbolic.

In the first three “days”, Genesis uses the word “waters” to describe the life-giving properties of matter during its various stages of transformation. Furthermore, Day Three is clearly an account of the creation of primitive DNA structures that act as a blueprint for life that was to follow. As Philo says, this primitive DNA reflected “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]

Nothing happened in Day Four that altered the basic structure of matter and energy as at the end of Day Three.

So it would be entirely consistent with the use of the word “waters” throughout Genesis Chapter 1, that “the waters” in Day Five refer to the primitive DNA which had “seeded” the matter making up the early Earth and its atmosphere. In other words, “the waters” refer to all the elements that had formed together into the mass of matter that was becoming the Earth, as well as the primitive DNA structures that were created in whatever supernova was responsible for our galaxy.

The next thing to note in this verse is how God is said to have initiated the process of creating the more advanced life. It says this: “And God said, LET THE WATERS BRING FORTH …

That wording is the same as Day Three, except Day Three says “Let the earth bring forth …” [Genesis 1: 11]. Day Six uses the same wording as Day Three – “And God said, Let the earth bring forth …” [Genesis 1: 24]

This wording, in which an ‘instruction’ is given for something else (earth or waters) to take the next step in ‘creation’, applies only when life in some form is said to be created (the exception being the creation of “man”). That is different to the account of the ‘creation’ of other things where God is not said to use something already existing as a medium for the next step in creation. When the creation of life is not involved, we find the words “And God said, Let there be …

The distinction is clear. When the account relates to the transformation of the quantum laws to the Classical laws of physics, the wording implies a direct intervention. In contrast, when the account relates to a transformation of inanimate matter into life, and primitive life into more advanced life, the structure of matter itself is said to have done the ‘heavy lifting’.

This distinct description of the creation of life is entirely consistent with new scientific understanding of the origin of life.

In the Update to my article on Day Three I made reference to new research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The research is being done by the physicist Jeremy English, and was reported in Quanta Magazine. Essentially, English devised a “mathematical formula” which he believes shows that when “a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy. This could mean that under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life.” Although it should not distract us here, the theory is based on the second law of thermodynamics.

The reason I referred to this research in my Update to Day Three is that it is most relevant to the initial creation of DNA described in my article on Day Three.

However, it is also relevant to Day Five, because the process of creating the initial basic structures of life also applies to the initial basic DNA restructuring itself into more advanced life. And as the reference makes clear, the “heat source” and the “heat bath” that initiate and propagate the process don’t have to be the Earth as we know it today. As long as the “source” and the “bath” are susceptible to the second law of thermodynamics operating, then the process must be able to take place. And as we saw in the article on Day Three, there is clear evidence that such processes take place right across the universe where the conditions are right.

Although English claims the process is inevitable as a “simple matter of probability”, it may not be as simple as that. The reason that particles and atoms behave in a certain way is that they have the necessary properties to do so. That is, they are ‘programmed’ to behave in certain ways in certain environments. But more remarkably, living structures in the form of DNA appear to ‘know’ in advance what sort of environment they will encounter in the future. And we find evidence of that in research on the human genome.

An article by Michael Hanlon in the Telegraph of London in 2012 reported that 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.”[2] As Hanlon notes, human beings are “not much more well endowed genetically than a fruit fly or even a lump of yeast.”

However, he goes on to say 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.

Although the Encode Project was looking at human DNA, the same principles apply to animal DNA. This shows that DNA is somehow ‘programmed’ to ‘know’ what it will encounter in the future, and prepares 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.

That accords perfectly with what we noted about the words “And God said …” in the article on Day Four. Those words have been consistently used to represent a manipulation of probabilities with the objective of creating a desired result.

Day Five is telling us that the primitive DNA structures that had “seeded” the early Earth underwent a modification that enabled them to respond to the future environment they were soon to 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-supporting atmosphere. The primitive DNA 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.[3] Genesis is telling us that the primitive DNA ‘knew’ what was coming, and adapted itself accordingly.

So “the waters” have a kind of double meaning: they refer to the properties of primitive DNA that 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.

But even so, we should always bear in mind that these chemical reactions, which underlie the creation and functioning of DNA, are a consequence of the principles that determine the behavior of fundamental particles. As Steven Weinberg says, “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.[4]

Martin 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.”[5]

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 in respect of the issue of evil, and will become even more significant when we contrast it to the words God is said to have spoken to human beings in Day Six. That is why I have emphasized the word “saying”.

The reason 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’.

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 God is said to create the “male and female,” we find these words: “And God blessed them, and God SAID UNTO THEM, …

That is an important distinction because there is a very big difference between simply “saying” something and speaking to someone in particular.

We experience this in every-day 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’, 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.

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 learn 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.

So the use of the word “saying” clearly refers to a ‘programming’ of animals with a limited ability to ‘reason’. And we find that limitation in the next verse, which is key to properly understanding the human condition:

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

Animals 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. And in order to sustain their existence, they need to survive; and for that they need to eat. Furthermore, 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 refers 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.

That is the meaning of Day Five, and it just happens to be what Jeremy English believes his new theory demonstrates. As he says, “a great way of dissipating more [energy] is to make more copies of yourself.

Conclusion

So Day Five sees the ‘creation’ of DNA that will produce the initial animal life, but only once the Earth had stabilized to an environment containing water and the right atmosphere. Further, the act of God blessing and speaking to the life created symbolizes the ‘programming’ of DNA with primitive instincts, and a limited ability to ‘reason’. The limited ability to ‘reason’ also implies a limited capacity to communicate. And our everyday experience of animals confirms that fact.

As we shall see in the next article, it is this interaction between reason and primitive instinct that forms the basis of what we call evil. In essence, reason in the service of primitive instinct portends to evil.

At this point I should briefly address what is known as Satan. It would be remiss of me not to.

I make no judgment about the existence or otherwise of a malevolent being. The analysis I set out does not require such a being, but neither does it preclude one.

It does not require one because human beings, on the analysis of Genesis, are more than capable of inflicting unspeakable atrocities on each other when their reason is in service of their primitive instincts. And it doesn’t preclude one because, like unscrupulous hackers who make our technological lives hell, if there is such a malevolent being, he could easily tempt us to put our reason in the service of our primitive instincts with the promise of the pleasure, or elimination of fear, that would facilitate.

In the next article we will deal with Day Six – the culmination on the creation story; and the intended final cosmic product – human beings. And more important, it will fully explain the phenomenon good and evil.

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

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

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Notes

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

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

[3] Adapted from Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmos, pages 188 – 189.

[4] Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory, pages 9 & 10.

[5] Rees, Just Six Numbers, page 1.

A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part V): Science in Genesis – Day Four

Day Four confirms that the process of transforming the quantum universe into the Classical universe was complete. And according to Genesis, central to the process was the observation element of quantum physics. However, we don’t need to resort to some clever interpretation of the words to find reference to the observation element; it is there in plain language – “And God saw …”

Given the importance of those words, this would be an opportune moment to consider in a little more detail the significance of the words “And God said …” followed by “And God saw …”

“And God said …” – “And God saw …”

For those with a detailed understanding of physics, let me apologize in advance for what may seem a rather basic summary of these two concepts.

When scientists refer to quantum physics in contrast to Classical physics, the term Classical physics is used to include special and general relativity; in other words, it comprises the laws that apply from the level of isolated atoms and molecules through to the cosmic world of planets, stars and galaxies. Thus Classical physics refers to the laws that determine the predictable, deterministic world we see all around us.

Quantum physics, on the other hand, relates to the behavior of sub-atomic particles like electrons, photons and quarks. These particles make up everything we know as ordinary matter and, 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.”[1]

The first thing to note about fundamental particles is that they are not like tiny grains of sand. They are more like waves. Scientists call this property of a particle its wavefunction. The wavefunction determines that a particle is free to adopt any one of all probable states. As the physicist Brian Greene says, “a particle can hang in a state of limbo between having one or other particular property … and only when the particle is looked at (measured or observed) does it randomly commit to one definite property or another.”[2]

There is thus a two-stage process that determines 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.” The popular television physicist, Michio Kaku, describes the effect of quantum physics by saying that 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.”[3] That establishes freedom as a fundamental principle of physics, or at least quantum physics.

However, Kaku also says that “physicists realize that if [they] could somehow control these probabilities, one could perform feats indistinguishable from magic.”[4]

That is an important remark which leads to another aspect of particle behavior that we ought to consider.

It 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 when this experiment is modified, the behavior of particles becomes even more peculiar. If the detector is switched off after the particle has been emitted, the particle appears to predict 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 correctly predict whether the detector will be switched on or off when they arrive. Brian Greene notes that the particles appear to “have a ‘premonition’ of the experimental situation they will encounter farther downstream, and act accordingly.”[5]

Greene goes on to say that these experiments suggest that “a consistent and definite history becomes manifest only after the future to which it leads has been fully settled.”[6]

Further modifications to the experiments make the behavior of particles even more bizarre. By placing a tagging device in front of the slits it is possible to determine through which slit a particle travelled. That is a form of manipulating the particle to behave in a certain way. However, if an erasing device is placed just in front of the detector, the tagging is undone and an interference pattern again appears of the detector screen. As Greene says, this has the effect of “undoing the past, even undoing the ancient past.[7] But it does not actually change what happened in the past, it means that “the future helps shape the story you tell of the past.”[8]

This may sound a little strange, but it is actually what happens in everyday life. Let’s take an example.

If you 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 make a decision on what to do next. Your past decision to get a degree is “undone.” Like the particle in a wave-like mode, an “interference pattern[9] 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 – “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 a set 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.

What this tells us is that ‘locking-in’ the future is important to create the deterministic universe of Classical physics. And that can only be done by an observation, the equivalent of your final examination being marked, and being awarded a degree.

Relationship between “the evening and the morning” and the words “And God said …” followed by “And God saw …”

The delayed-choice experiments reveal how the probabilities inherent in particles could be manipulated or controlled.

Particles appear able to ‘know’ what the future environment will look like when the detector is switched on. That tells us that the mere fact of the detector being in a position to observe somehow gives an ‘instruction’ to the particles about the future environment they will encounter, which compels them to adopt the necessary state to prepare for that environment. It’s exactly like making the decision to get a degree. We don’t go to university then wonder what we should do there. We go to university with the objective of establishing the future we envisage – a life with a degree.

So it seems that the observation element in Genesis, the words “And God saw …”, is what compels the particles to form the necessary structures to conform to the future environment the observation element communicates to them. It’s like the detector being switched on, or the decision to get a degree. The intention is what causes the preparation for the future environment.

The words to describe a “day” seem to confirm that. Placing “the evening” before “the morning” tells us that the future event (God saw) informs the preceding event (God said), just like the detector being switched on compels particles to adopt a specific state, or the decision to get a degree informs our actions today in order to achieve our intended objective in the future.

When we look at Genesis in that way, the peculiar wording seems entirely sensible.

The words “And God said …” indicate that there has been a manipulation of matter to adopt a particular path with a specific objective. Up to Day Four, the objective was to transform the quantum laws into Classical laws so as to create the ordered, predictable and deterministic world that is a prerequisite for what was to follow. And once that was achieved, the system was made definite with an observation – “And God saw …”

The first chapter of Genesis records a series of such stages to the creation of the universe and, as we shall see, life itself. It provides the kind of “quantum-mechanical model” Steven Weinberg says is required to explain how the universe came into being.

Weinberg suggests that physicists need to construct 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.[10]

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 the quantum laws that apply to fundamental particles have brought about the predictable, deterministic physical world we see all around us. And that explanation has to include an explanation for the necessity for a conscious outside observer in order to ensure that particles adopt a particle-like state; but not just any particle-like state, but the state that brought about the universe and life as we know it.

It is hard to imagine a better model than the opening chapter of Genesis.

Day Four thus starts with a confirmation that what had taken place in the first three “days” provided a predictable and deterministic world which operated according to predictable and deterministic laws. That confirmation comes with the opening verse.

“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:” [Genesis 1: 14]

The reference to the “lights in the firmament” being for “signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” makes it clear that the workings of the universe were such that they provided the basis for predictable measurement. But the reference to the word “signs” is more intriguing. The word “signs” follows the words “to divide the day from the night.” The reference is clearly linking what happened in “day” one with “day” four, thus pointing the reader back to “day” one for an explanation of how the predictable universe came into being. And that is made even more explicit in verse 18 (day four) which repeats exactly the words in verse 4 (day one) – that the light was to divide “the light from the darkness.”

This verse tells us that the laws that operate on earth, and in our solar system, are the same laws that operate across the entire universe. In science it is called “translational symmetry”, which, Greene notes, enables us to “learn about fundamental laws at work in the entire universe without straying from home, since the laws we discover here are those laws.”[11]

Day four therefore confirms that “symmetries are the foundation from which laws spring.”[12] That means that everything in the universe is equally subject to the same laws, including human beings.

So Day Four gives us the second fundamental principle of morality, the principle that is the foundation of justiceequality under the law.

Up until now, therefore, Genesis has set out the first two fundamental principles of morality. Day One gave us the principle that is the objective of government, Freedom under the Law, and Day Four gives us the principle that is the objective of justice, Equality under the Law. The inscription on the Supreme Court building in Washington DC proclaims the principle as “Equal justice under law”, but the meaning is the same.

There is then only one further thing to note about Day Four.

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

The lights were to “give light upon the earth.” Light was a necessary ingredient for the next stage of the unfolding universe – transforming the primitive DNA that had been produced in Day Three into higher life-forms.

After our solar system had thus been made ready, the system was ‘locked-in’ with an observation – “And God saw that it was good.”[13] What scientists call the Goldilocks zone had been set up.

Day Four ends with the familiar words that define a “day” – “And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.”[14] By the most recent scientific calculations, that would have been around 4.5 billion years ago – almost ten billion years after “the beginning”.

And so Day Four was “fully settled.”

The next article will address Day Five.

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

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

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[1] Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory, Vintage, 1994 (paperback), page 61.

[2] Greene, Brian. The Fabric of the Cosmos, Penguin Books 2005 (paperback).

[3] Kaku, Michio. Parallel Worlds, Penguin Books 2006, page 149.

[4] Kaku, page 147.

[5] Greene, page 189.

[6] Greene, page 189.

[7] Greene, page 193.

[8] Greene, page 199.

[9] Greene, page 193.

[10] Weinberg, page 84.

[11] Greene, page 223 – (emphasis in bold is Greene’s)

[12] Greene, page 225

[13] Genesis 1: 18.

[14] Genesis 1: 19.