Category Archives: Philosophy

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

Day Five starts with these words:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So why these words?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The general scientific consensus is evolution.

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

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

And it gets even more intriguing.

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

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

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

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

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

So how can DNA ‘know’ all this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Joseph B.H. McMillan All Rights Reserved

Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

[6] Greene, pages 188 & 189.

[7] Weinberg, page 32.

[8] Weinberg, pages 9 & 10.

[9] Rees, page 1.

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

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

Day Four thus starts with this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how do scientists get round that problem?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so Day Four was “fully settled.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to go to Day Five.

 

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

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

Notes:

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

[2] Kaku, page 244.

[3] Kaku, page 249.

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

[5] Kaku, page 172 – my emphasis.

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

[7] Hanlon, Ibid.

[8] Kaku, page 166.

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

[10] Kaku, page 167.

[11] Kaku, page 351.

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

[13] Weinberg, page 84 – my emphasis.

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

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

[16] Greene, pages 188 & 189.

[17] Genesis 1: 19.

[18] Kaku, page 67.

[19] Kaku, page 248 – see above.

A ‘Final Theory’ of God – An Overview: Part II

A ‘Final Theory’ of God demonstrates that philosophy, science and religion are all saying the same thing, only in different ‘tongues’. But it also shows that they are all seeking the same thing – a supreme law, and a supreme lawmaker.

Science finds a supreme law in the fundamental laws of physics, both Classical physics and quantum physics. However, although science claims to be on course for discovering the principles that will constitute a ‘final theory of everything’, it still cannot explain how the quantum laws transform into the Classical laws, then revert again to the ‘free will’ inherent in human behavior, which reflects the quantum laws. So in the absence of a ‘final theory of everything’ to act as a kind of supreme lawmaker, as we have seen, scientists propose, for the time being, a multiverse as a supreme lawmaker.

Philosophy approaches the problem in a different way. It first seeks to establish a supreme lawmaker, which then dispenses a supreme law. In the Western tradition, the supreme lawmaker purports to be ‘the people’ electing representatives to promulgate a supreme law.

Religion identifies the supreme lawmaker as God, and in the Christian and Judaic traditions, only God can determine the supreme law, which is the Ten Commandments as the “heads and principles” of the Law, as Philo described them.

The Principle of Freedom as the Foundation of a Supreme Law

But there is a far more important and intriguing element in the search for a supreme law and a supreme lawmaker. In philosophy, science and religion, the search reveals, more or less distinctly, the principle of freedom as the fundamental principle of the supreme law.

In science, the freedom of fundamental particles to choose from an almost infinite number of probabilities is the basis of quantum theory. Freedom is the symmetry that the physicist Brian Greene says is the “foundation from which the laws [of physics] spring.[1]

The philosophical search for justice also has as its foundation the principle of freedom. The people should be ‘free’ to choose their representatives, and the object of justice should be the preservation of the people’s freedom.

In religion, the principle of freedom is inherent in the First Commandment. God is said to have delivered the people from “the house of bondage” so that they would be free to serve God. But even then, the people were free to choose whether to obey God or not – “if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant” [Exodus 19: 5]. And “all the people answered” to say yes [Exodus 19: 8]. Some people could not answer on behalf of others; each person was free to choose. That places freedom as the fundamental basis of God’s law, and the fundamental basis of any relationship between God and each and every human being.

The Principle of Freedom Requires a God as the Supreme Lawmaker

A ‘Final Theory’ of God shows that it is this principle, the principle of freedom, which speaks of a God.

In science, it means that the quantum laws cannot transform into the Classical laws unless particles are compelled to adopt the probability that leads to the Classical laws. But since freedom is the very foundation of the quantum law, the law itself cannot compel particles to adopt that path; that would violate the symmetry that is the “foundation from which the laws spring”. And multiplying the probabilities by postulating a multiverse doesn’t resolve that problem. That necessarily means that only a supreme lawmaker can compel particles to choose the path that leads from the quantum laws to the Classical laws, and sets in place a universe capable of creating and sustaining life. And only Genesis Chapter 1 explains how that occurred with the words “And God said” followed by “And God saw”.

The words “And God said” act like a particle detector that is switched on, thus enabling particles to ‘know’ what future environment they should prepare for. The words also symbolize a manipulation of probabilities, as envisaged by Kaku, in order to compel particles to adopt the right path; the path that leads to the classical laws of physics.

The words “And God saw” relate to the observation element of the quantum behavior of particles. The observation was necessary to make the Classical laws irreversible. “As Sakharov first pointed out, our very existence depends on an irreversible effect that established an excess of matter over antimatter at [the very earliest] stage [of the universe].”[2] Only the Supreme Lawmaker as a conscious outside observer could make the required observation.

The observation, symbolized by the words “And God saw”, creates “a consistent and definite history [that] becomes manifest only after the future to which it leads has been fully settled.”[3] The words “And God saw” make “irreversible” the intention expressed by the words “And God said.” And that provides the “quantum mechanical model” envisaged by Weinberg.

Even more fascinating is that Genesis even emphasizes the fact that the quantum laws are being transformed into the Classical laws at certain stages of the creation process with the symbolism of God naming (always in capitals) the new state of matter and energy. That is why the naming only occurs in the first three Days with the words “And God called etc.” [Genesis 1: 5, 8, 10]

In philosophy, freedom necessarily requires equality. Any system of morality or justice that has the effect of one person or group of people imposing their authority on others, whether by claims of superior intellect, strength, or numbers, necessarily violates the principles of freedom and equality which are both the foundation of morality and the object of justice. It leads to tyranny.

In religion, as we have already seen, the very foundation of the Christian and Judaic traditions is freedom. But that is also the case in other religions across the world, as it was in many early systems of justice such as the Code of Hammurabi and the Edicts of Asoka.

But the essential point to note about freedom as the foundation of the law, as the symmetry from which all laws spring, is that it is a principle that cannot be violated by the law itself. It requires something apart from the law, but with a power over the law, to compel the adoption of a certain path. And that means the author of the law; a Supreme Lawmaker.

In human terms it means that freedom cannot recognize as law the commands and doctrines of other human beings. It can only recognize as law the commands of a Supreme Lawmaker – God.

That is the basic thesis put forward by A ‘Final Theory’ of God. And it does so by subjecting the scientific, philosophical and religious evidence to a rigorous legal methodology that confirms the existence of God beyond a reasonable doubt.

However, the book raises a number of important ancillary issues.

Morality, Instinct and Reason

First, it demonstrates that the human brain comprises three principal faculties: morality as a physical neurological structure which the IVF pioneer Sir Robert Winston describes as a “morality module”, and I call a neurological moral network; secondly, primitive human instincts– instincts necessary for the survival of the human species, which include the instincts for reproduction, survival, security and vanity, all of which are activated by the prospect of pleasure, or the fear of pain; and third, a capacity to reason.

The capacity to reason is a neutral factor – more reason doesn’t guarantee better decisions, and less reason doesn’t necessarily lead to worse decisions; often it is the reverse. But furthermore, the book demonstrates that what we recognize as ‘wrong’ or ‘evil’ is, in essence, reason in the service of one or more primitive instincts in response to some perceived pleasure to be had by indulging that instinct, or in response to the fear of some perceived threat. Conversely, ‘good’ or ‘right’ is reason in the service of morality as it speaks to us from the neurological moral network. It acts to regulate the demands of our primitive instincts.

As I demonstrate in the book, the Genesis account of the creation of “man” clearly identifies these distinct mental faculties, and the story of the Garden of Eden is an account of the activation of the neurological moral network in the first of the human species. Furthermore, the book shows how Genesis explains the phenomenon of human consciousness as the activation of the neurological moral network in the brain which gives human beings a capacity to recognize their own mortality.

The Voluntary Assumption of Obligations as the basis of the Moral Law

The second ancillary issue addresses the problem of the assumption and imposition of obligations which act to modify and restrict the freedom that is the fundamental basis of morality and justice. Since freedom as the foundation of morality and justice cannot recognize as law the commands and doctrines of other human beings, the assumption of obligations cannot be out of fear of punishment, or any other form of compulsion. And the only instance where human beings freely and voluntarily assume obligations which restrict and modify their freedom is the creation of new human life; and they assume those obligations out of unconditional love for the life they create.

The creation of new human life, in the image of those who create that life, automatically activates the neurological moral network, thus causing a voluntary assumption of the fundamental obligations that modify freedom. And it is those obligations, which constitute the fundamental principles of morality, that operate to subject human beings to the only obligations they can freely and voluntarily assume without surrendering their freedom to the authority of another human being. That is the Fifth Commandment – Honour thy father and thy mother. Commandments Six through Ten thus set out the principles that form the basis of those obligations, and the basis of the moral law that is God’s Law.

The most important aspect of this activation of the neurological moral network, however, is that it also induces recognition that the obligations we assume by the creation of new human life are also obligations that we have towards all life.

But it is not only the creation of new life that can cause an activation of the neurological moral network in the brain. Each and every human being has such a moral network; and each and every human being can access that moral network if they make the effort to do so. As Christ said, the “kingdom of God is within you” [Luke 17: 21, and see Deuteronomy 30: 11 – 14]. If we seek it, we can find it. And the Psalmist gives a methodology: “Be still, and know that I am God.” [Psalm 46: 10]

The creation of new human life simply activates it automatically; but only if those who create new life are not so in bondage to their primitive instincts that they simply fail to recognize the obligations presented to them for their obedience.

Activating the neurological moral network requires that we free ourselves from bondage to our primitive instincts; and that is the hard part for most people. The prospect of the pleasures to be derived by indulging our primitive instincts all too often silences the voice of the moral law as it speaks to us from the neurological moral network. And we should be in no doubt that reason will eagerly justify indulging the temptations of our primitive instincts in violation of the moral law.

Conclusion

These are just two of the ancillary issues that arise out of the thesis of A ‘Final Theory’ of God; but they are fundamentally important issues that go to our conceptions of justice, morality, politics and economics. They set the groundwork for a new constitutional disposition. And they awaken the human spirit to its true moral purpose, and its true moral destiny.

Notes:

[1] Greene, page 225.

[2] Rees, page 154.

[3] Greene, page 189.

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2014 All Rights Reserved