Category Archives: science and religion

The REASON DELUSION

If you reason in the right way, you will agree with me; if you don’t agree with me that, in itself, proves that you haven’t reasoned in the right way’.

That is the essence of ‘justifying’ an argument or belief on the basis that ‘reason’ supports it.

It is essentially a claim that there is an ‘absolute truth’ which is discoverable by adopting the correct ‘reasoning procedure’.

Invoking ‘reason’ to justify an argument or belief is like “banging on the table” (to borrow from Alf Ross’ observation about invoking ‘justice’ in support of an argument).

There are many who say that reason is not the decisive factor, but that other imponderables must be considered. I believe that there can be nothing of value which is not in the last resort based on reason.” That, of course, was Adolf Hitler. But it starkly demonstrates the tendentious and delusional nature of invoking reason, which can be deployed to justify even the most hideous of ideologies.

The fact is, reason is a neutral faculty. Contrary to what Emmanuel Kant claimed, it tells us nothing “on its own account”. If reason and instinct were the only ‘faculties’ in the human brain, then it would be better for humanity if the capacity to reason could be expunged from the brain.

The worth of the human capacity to reason depends entirely on whether it is in bondage to our primitive instincts or in service to the neurological moral network in the human brain. Reason in bondage to our primitive instincts makes us nothing more than ‘civilised’ savages.

Only when reason is in service to the neurological moral network can we begin to discover our true moral purpose and our true cosmic destiny.

A Thought-Provoking review of A ‘Final Theory’ of God, by Professor Vaughan Pratt of Stanford University

Genesis 1:26 and 3:22 refer to God in the plural. In his thought-provoking review of A ‘Final Theory’ of God, Professor Vaughan Pratt, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, argues the case for 9 gods, although not specifically in relation to Genesis. Here is a copy of his review from Amazon.com:

“Top Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars McMillan is quite right, modulo details

“By Vaughan Pratt on June 12, 2015

“Format: Paperback

“I read Mr McMillan’s book with great interest. Having studied physics at the university level myself–in fact I obtained an honours degree in physics long ago and far away–I found his arguments based on physics for the existence of a god quite compelling.
However there is more than one particle in physics, and what I didn’t find was any evidence for McMillan’s unspoken assumption that there was only one god, which he seemed simply to take for granted with no discussion whatsoever!
“It is surely very reasonable that the number of gods should be a perfect square, namely one of 0, 1, 4, 9, 16, etc. This would constitute a much more stable foundation for the cosmos than some random number such as 11 or 19 gods. Atheists like Richard Dawkins and monotheists like Joseph McMillan should be equally comfortable with this premise.
“But on the equally reasonable premise, if not more so, that God passes judgment on us all, the problem with an even number of gods is that this gives no way to resolve a tie. Atheists favor 0, which would appear to be the least number of gods that can avoid a question on the ground of a tie. However larger even squares such as 4, 16, 36, etc. have the same problem, leaving 1, 9, 25, etc. as the only available options for breaking ties.
“I submit this line of reasoning as further support for Mr McMillan’s thesis that god exists, while further extending his thesis to rule out the possibility of an even number of gods.
“But now a problem rears its ugly head: the problem of management by large committees. A divine committee with 25 or 49 gods is surely an unmanageable number. Not even the Greeks envisaged 25 gods able to focus on serious decision making: Bacchus in particular would be insulted to be left out of any committee that large.
“This narrows the options down to 1 or 9.
“Now picture a Supreme Court of the US in which Justice Roberts was the sole member. This would have the great advantage that any question brought before the court could be settled in the time it took Justice Roberts to make up his mind on the matter. However it would leave those citizens who were on the wrong side of his philosophy of justice with the worry that they were getting the short end of the gavel.
“For citizens of any universe subject to divine intervention, the advantages of nine gods are (a) no ties, (b) a manageably small governance, and (c) fewer worries about undue bias from on high.
Taken in combination with every argument in Mr McMillan’s admirable book, which nowhere rules out the possibility of more than one god, it is hard to see how our own universe in general, and physics in particular, could expect supreme justice from any number of gods other than nine.”

Link to Professor Pratt’s Amazon review: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3SCBL4CH3XF4E/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1502507196

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary of Methodology in Day One

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

Summary of Methodology in Day Two

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

Day Three

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

The first part starts with this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The symbolism of Day Three exactly reflects that process.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let the earth bring forth …”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was brought forth?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And God saw that it was good.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2017 All Rights Reserved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[8] Rees, page 126.

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

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

[11] Maimonides, II: 30.

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

[13] Rees, page 126.

[14] Rees, page 119.

[15] Rees, page 127.

[16] Greene, page 223.

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

[18] Maimonides II:30.

[19] Maimonides II:25.

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

[21] Kaku, page 63.

[22] Rees, pages 122 – 123.

[23] Kaku, page 67.

[24] Greene, page 199.

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

[26] Weinberg, page 34.

[27] Weinberg, page 37.

[28] Greene, page 189.

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

[30] Rees, page 50.

[31] Rees, page 20.

[32] Kaku, page 147.

[33] Kaku, page 242.

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

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

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

[37] Rees, page 20.

[38] Weinberg, page 84.

Scientific Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Day Two – Expansion

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

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

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

The same methodology is applied in Day Two.

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

Accordingly, Day Two starts with this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are “the waters”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That required a different cosmic phenomenon.

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

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

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

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

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

Calibrating Cosmic Forces for the Creation of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2017 All Rights Reserved

Footnotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[9] Greene, page 305.

[10] Greene, page 306.

[11] Greene, page 306.

[12] Greene, page 311.

[13] Greene, page 311 – 312.

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

[15] Rees, page 119.

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

[17] Kaku, page 56.

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

[19] Rees, page 50.

[20] Rees, page 50.

[21] Rees, page 50.

[22] Rees, page 50.

[23] Kaku, page 67.

[24] Rees, page 1.

[25] Rees, page 2.

[26] Rees, page 2.

[27] Rees, page 3.

[28] Rees, page 82.

[29] Rees, page 100

[30] Rees, page 99.

[31] Rees, page 127.

[32] Rees, page 128.

[33] Rees, page 119.

[34] Greene, page 312.

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

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

[37] Rees, page 119 – 120.

[38] Rees, page 122.

[39] Rees, page 122.

[40] Rees, page 121.

[41] Rees, page 117.

[42] Kaku, page 58.

[43] Rees, page 119.

[44] Greene, page 314.

[45] Greene, page 315.

[46] Kaku, page 147.

[47] Kaku, pages 147 and 146 respectively.

[48] Rees, page 3.

[49] Genesis 1: 7.

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

[51] Greene, page 308.

[52] Rees, page 119.

[53] Rees, illustration at page 132.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quantum Physics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Delayed-Choice Experiments

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

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

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

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

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

Quantum Physics to Classical (Newtonian) Physics

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

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

Quantum Physics and Genesis

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that brings us to verse 5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…………………………………………………………….

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

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

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2017 All Rights Reserved

Footnotes

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

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

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

[4] Rees, page 73.

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

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

[7] Greene, page 286.

[8] Rees, page 145.

[9] Kaku, p 158.

[10] Green pages 322 and 323 respectively.

[11] Greene, page 272.

[12] Greene, page 320.

[13] Rees, page 145.

[14] Greene, page 284.

[15] Greene, page 286.

[16] Kaku, page 14.

[17] Greene, page 301.

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

[19] Rees, page 126.

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

[21] Cox and Forshaw, page 200.

[22] Cox and Forshaw, page 200.

[23] Rees, page 95.

[24] Rees, page 95.

[25] Rees, page 96.

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

[27] Underling is original emphasis.

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

[29] Weinberg, page 61.

[30] Greene, pages 82 – 83.

[31] Kaku, page 149.

[32] Kaku, page 147.

[33] Greene, page 189.

[34] Kaku, page 164.

[35] Weinberg, page 84.

[36] Rees, page 154.

[37] Greene, page 193.

[38] Greene, page 198.

[39] Greene, page 199.

[40] Greene, page 193.

[41] Greene, page 199.

[42] Weinberg, page 84.

 

 

Can Freedom and Law coexist without God?

An understanding of the relationship between freedom and law is fundamental to any discourse about the existence of God.

The essence of freedom is that no one person, group of people, or institution, has any natural authority over any other person or group of people. That is self-evident; to assert otherwise is to claim that some are masters, and others slaves.

However, if no one human being can be subverted to the authority of another human being, how can we have such a concept as law? It is fatuous to resort to arguments about the ‘will of the majority’, or ‘fundamental human rights’, or the ‘social contract’ as an ‘authority for government’; they are simply devious mechanisms by which some seek to impose their authority on others.

That leads to the inescapable premise that freedom cannot recognize as law the commands and doctrines of other human beings.

Yet, we do recognize the concept of law as operating to define the limits of freedom. We recognize that there are right and wrong actions.

That leads to the second inescapable premise – that freedom and law can only coexist under the auspices of a Supreme Law. Freedom can only recognize as law that which is universal, and applies equally to each and every human being alike, in the same way that the laws of physics apply to everyone everywhere, without distinction or favour. And like the laws of physics, such a law cannot emanate from another human being.

But does such a supreme law presuppose a supreme lawmaker?

Although physicists would argue that a supreme law does not require a supreme lawmaker, they devote a great deal of time and effort seeking a ‘theory of everything’, or a ‘final theory’. That is really a search for a supreme lawmaker – a fundamental set of principles, or perhaps even a single principle, from which all other laws flow. The question is whether such a supreme lawmaker could simply be an impersonal mathematical construct, or whether it is a conscious Being.

We cannot discover which it is by examining the minutiae of the building blocks of the universe; we need to consider what was built, and why.

If we want to know the intended purpose of a factory, we need to see what final product is produced. So far as we presently know, the final product of the cosmic factory that is the universe is a human organism endowed with a capacity for moral judgment. In that sense, human beings are a conscious manifestation of the fundamental laws of physics, and they give expression to their capacity for moral judgment in the search for justice.

Legal codes going back to Hammurabi, Moses and Asoka, testify to that.

The common underlying principles of such codes, and the recognition in each that those principles emanate from a supra-human authority, tell us that the authors ‘saw’ with stark clarity that freedom and law can only coexist under the auspices of a supreme lawmaker.

Modern systems of government and justice also reveal a recognition that a supreme law requires a supreme lawmaker. The grand structures housing our executive, legislative and judicial ‘authorities’, and their procedural ‘rituals’, are designed to create the impression of a supra-human authority as the foundation of supra-human systems of law and justice. It’s an illusion, of course, and mostly corrupted by those who believe themselves to be ‘gods’.

Yet, even such systems, corrupted as they may be, reflect a basic human condition that refuses to recognize the commands and doctrines of other human beings as legitimate authority to limit freedom. The human condition demands a supreme lawmaker as the only legitimate authority to define and limit human freedom.

Modern neuroscience can now tell us why that is. It is a consequence of a neurological moral network within the human brain. And that network is a manifestation and image of the moral dimension of the fundamental laws of physics.

But the neurological moral network is in fierce competition with primitive human instincts. The instincts for survival, security and reproduction, instincts that are fired by the prospect of pleasure and the fear of pain and death, seek protection and sanctuary in the herd. Herd instinct has compelled us to surrender our freedom to an ever more oppressive global corporate tyranny under which we are nothing more than economic units in service to the financial interests of a select few. Our productivity has become the only measure of our worth.

The challenge now facing the human race, as it has been throughout the ages, is to free ourselves from bondage to our primitive instincts, and exert ourselves to activate the neurological moral network that lives within us all. Only such a supreme effort can bring about a new dawn of civilization in which every human being is free from the commands and doctrines of other human beings, yet living under a system of universally recognized principles. Only such a reconciliation of freedom and law can ensure respect for the worth and dignity of each and every human being.

The neurological moral network tells us that such a reconciliation between freedom and law requires a supreme lawmaker as the author of a supreme law; it requires God. Anything less makes some masters, and others slaves. And that is tyranny.

******

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

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2016 All Rights Reserved

A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part XI-B): The Garden of Eden as an account of the formation of the human brain

When I first realized that the story of the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve, was an account of the formation and functioning of the human brain, the rest of the Scriptures made a whole lot more sense – everything from the creation and revelation, to the Kingdom of God.

The apparent inconsistencies and contradictions inherent in current Christian theology evaporated, especially the problem of the eschatological notion of the Kingdom of God (Schweitzer 1914).

This article shows how the allegorical explanation of the human brain in the story of the Garden of Eden conforms perfectly with the neuroscientific understanding of the functioning of the human brain outlined in the previous article (Part XI-A).

Genesis 1 as a reductionist account of the origins of the universe and life

Parts II to IX of these articles demonstrated how the interpretations of the creation story, primarily from two Jewish scholars, Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD) and Philo Judaeus of Alexandria (who lived at about the time of Jesus), accurately reflected the current scientific understanding of the origin of the universe and life.

In respect of Genesis chapter 1, Parts II to VII adopted the reductionist interpretation advanced by Nahmanides, best exemplified by his description of the creation of man:

The correct simple meaning of the word, ‘let us make,’ is that which you have already been shown, to know (above, verse 1) that God created something from nothing on the first day alone, and afterwards He formed and made [everything] from the fundamental elements.” (Nahmanides 2015, on 1:26).

However, we departed from Nahmanides’ interpretation with regard to what actually existed after the six ‘days’ of creation. In that respect, Part VIII adopted Philo’s explanation that Genesis 2:4-5 should be interpreted to mean that nothing existed in the form we would recognize as life, such as plants, trees, animals or humans, after the six ‘days’ (Philo 2015, XLIV (129 – 130)). The methodology of Genesis 1 precludes it.

Applying the strict methodology of the first chapter of Genesis, we adopted an interpretation of the account of the ‘creation’ of “man” (Genesis 1:26-30) as a physicalist and reductive explanation of the three principal faculties of the human brain.

  • The “image of God” symbolizes the ‘programming’ of primitive human DNA with a neurological moral network.
  • The ‘programming’ of primitive human DNA with a capacity to reason is symbolized by God ‘speaking’ to the male and female He had just created.
  • ‘Programming’ primitive human DNA with instincts is symbolized by what God says to the newly created human beings. “Be fruitful and multiply” represents the instinct to reproduce; “replenish the earth” symbolizes the instinct for survival and security, and the instinct to nurture and protect our offspring in order to perpetuate the species; “subdue the earth and have dominion” symbolizes the human instinct to subdue and control our environment, but regrettably, not excluding others of the species, which translates into an instinct to conquer; God explaining what He had given to the human beings for their survival and benefit, and what He had given to the “beasts of the earth,” symbolizes primitive human DNA being ‘programmed’ with a knowledge of how the physical world functions, and an instinct to pursue that knowledge.

This ‘programming’ of human DNA with instinct is central to the question of good and evil. Since ‘evil’ is reason in the service of primitive human instinct, yet primitive instinct is a necessary requirement for survival, and not in itself ‘evil’, God does not create ‘evil’.

The previous articles demonstrated that these various faculties of the human brain are a product of the physical laws that created and sustain the universe (both the quantum and Classical (Newtonian) laws), but also an “image” of those laws. In that respect, we adopted Philo’s interpretation of the “image of God”:

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” (Philo 2015, XXIII (69)).

But as we saw in Part VIII, if the human mind, as an ‘image’ of the “mind of the universe,” is conscious, then the “mind of the universe” must also be conscious. That would resolve the scientific dilemma of how the “fundamental laws of quantum physics morph into the Classical (Newtonian) laws” (see Greene 2005,199, and Weinberg 1994,84). The observation necessary to effect the transformation is made by a conscious universe. The words “And God saw” at each crucial stage of the creation of the universe refer to the conscious universe effecting the observation. However, as mentioned in the previous article, that does not mean that God is redundant. The question remains as to how the initial matter in the universe, from which everything else was to be created, was itself transformed from being subject to quantum laws to being governed by the Classical laws that give the universe consciousness. It seems that the “spirit of God” (Genesis 1:2) moving across the waters must symbolize an initial observation, or action, by God, which created and ‘programmed’ the original matter and space (subject to quantum laws) with the laws that created the conscious “mind of the universe.”

However, the evidence suggests that all the faculties of the human brain constitute an ‘image’ of the laws that govern the universe, whereas the “image of God” specifically symbolizes the neurological moral network only.

The previous articles cited the scientific evidence that supports this reductive explanation of the ‘creation ’of primitive DNA, which has the necessary properties to transform into the various life-forms we see all around us, including the primitive DNA that created the human brain with these three distinct faculties. Part A adduced the neurological evidence of those neurological faculties.

The evidence thus supports Philo’s version of Genesis, which argues that nothing existed after the six ‘days’ in the form that we would recognize as life. All that existed was the primitive DNA that was ‘programmed’ to develop into the various life-forms that would inhabit the Earth. Research showing that what geneticists previously thought of as “junk DNA” actually consists of genetic “switches” that activate dormant genes, or ‘program’ spare genes, lends further support for Philo’s interpretation (Zimmer 2014).

Philo described Genesis 2:4-5 as follows:

Does [Moses] not here manifestly set before us incorporeal ideas perceptible only by the intellect, which have been appointed to be as seals of the perfected works, perceptible by the outward senses. For before the earth was green, he says that this same thing, verdure, existed in the nature of things, and before the grass sprang up in the field, there was grass though it was not visible. And we must understand in the case of everything else which is decided on by the external senses, there were elder forms and motions previously existing, according to which the things which were created were fashioned and measured out” (Philo 2015, XLIV (129-130)).

One, or Two, Creation stories?

Previous articles thus adopted the position that Genesis 2 and 3 are a continuation of Genesis 1.

Genesis 1 is an account of the creation of the physical laws that determined how the universe and life would function in order to achieve the intended purpose, while Genesis 2 and 3 are an anthropological account of the development of man from the initial primitive DNA into modern human beings.

In Genesis 1, God’s actions (the words “And God said/saw”) refer to the conscious “mind of the universe” implementing the laws that would govern and sustain the universe and life by way of observation, while references to God taking actions in Genesis 2 and 3 refer to the laws that had been established by the conscious “mind of the universe” beginning to operate in order to give effect to the intended purpose and destiny of the creation.

On that basis, at the end of the six ‘days’ (or seven if we count the ‘resting day’), the Earth existed only in a pre-liquid water form, although all the primitive DNA necessary to create a large variety of life was present but dormant. That is confirmed by the words that follow the statement that grass etc had been created, but was not present – “for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth” (Genesis 2:5).

Then, when the Earth had cooled sufficiently, water appeared: “there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground” (Genesis 2:6).

Liquid water provided the right environment for the dormant DNA to begin to develop. Over time, the DNA that was ‘programmed’ to become human began to form, going through various stages. The symbolism of God breathing life into man to make him a “living soul” suggests that the soul is a function of the physical brain (see below).

The Garden of Eden as the formation of the human brain

In Part VIII, we saw that the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8-14) symbolizes the formation of the human brain.

The “trees” that are “made to grow” perfectly correspond to the various neurological faculties. Those that are “pleasant to the sight, and good for food” refer to the network of instincts in the brain. Referring to these trees as being “pleasant” and “good for food” relate to the way these instincts are activated – the prospect of pleasure or the fear of pain.

The “tree of knowledge of good and evil” refers to the neurological moral network.

The “tree of life” refers to the reason network, which is the network that creates the mind and soul. The “man” was not prohibited from eating of this tree because, while the neurological moral network is only subconsciously activated, the mind is automatically structured for survival; the “man” automatically ‘obeys’ the impulses received from it. Only once the neurological moral network is consciously activated does a positive and conscious effort become necessary to structure the reason network in such a way as to ensure the survival of the mind as a conscious ‘living’ soul after physical death.

The river that flows out of Eden “to water the garden” (Genesis 2:10) clearly refers to the nervous system which supplies the brain with the information it needs in order to function. In A River out of Eden, obviously a ridicule of this verse, Richard Dawkins charts a “river of DNA” that eventually resulted in human DNA through a series of mutations (Dawkins 2014). Dawkins’ “river of DNA” is an account of the development of human DNA from the initial primitive DNA to modern man, whereas The Garden of Eden is actually describing the initial primitive DNA after it had formed into human DNA but which, at this point, was still dormant. That is symbolized by God putting the man into the garden the first time (Genesis 2:8).

The second time the man is put into the Garden, he is put there to “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). The first time he was just put there. The reason is that the first time symbolizes human DNA having appeared in the first of what would become the human species, but which was still dormant. These human beings would have had fully formed brains that would be recognizable as human, but would still have acted entirely on their primitive instincts, much as their primate ‘relatives’ would have done.

The second time man is put into the Garden symbolizes the first human being in whom the neurological moral network became subconsciously active. That is symbolized by the verse which immediately follows “man” having been put into the Garden the 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” (Genesis 2:16-17).

In the original Hebrew, the words translated as “thou mayest freely eat,” and “thou shalt surely die,” are actually “eating thou shalt eat,” and “dying thou shalt die,” respectively. And that is important in respect of the symbolism in Genesis 2 and 3.

The symbolism of God commanding the man relates to the subconscious activation of the neurological moral network in the first human being/s who experienced it, and the effect it had on them. The recent discovery of Naledi man in South Africa may well be the remains of these first human beings with fully functioning neurological moral networks (Barras 2015). As Lee Berger, the head of the team that discovered Naledi man said, the fact that they buried their dead indicates “that naledi individuals recognised their own mortality and the other self that comes with death.” If that is the case, it would support the argument that the activation of the neurological moral network, even subconsciously, has the effect of causing a consciousness of mortality, and thus a consciousness of existing.

The original wording in Genesis 2:16-17 symbolizes that neurological event. Until that moment, human beings with still dormant neurological moral networks would have hunted, gathered and consumed on a day to day basis for survival. They would not have had the capacity or inclination to do otherwise. But once the neurological moral network was subconsciously activated, along with the other peculiarly human instincts (to conquer and seek knowledge), it also caused an enhanced capacity to reason in order to service those instincts. That means that these first human beings would have been tempted to cater to the demands from their instincts, for example, to seek greater security by appropriating to themselves more than they required for day to day survival. Their enhanced capacity for reason would also have been susceptible to the temptation to indulge their primitive instincts in excess, solely for the purpose of enjoying the pleasure of doing so.

However, the neurological moral network would have subconsciously caused them to refrain from doing so because they knew it was wrong. The words “eating thou shalt eat” symbolizes the moral imperative, dictated by the neurological moral network, that they should not appropriate to themselves in excess of what they could consume, especially not to the detriment of other life, or their environment. Neither should they kill other life unless it was absolutely necessary for their survival, and never in excess, or for the purpose of indulging their appetite for pleasure beyond the requirements of survival, or to allay their fear of pain.

The command that the man should not eat of “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” or in “dying [he would] die,” symbolizes the effect caused by the subconscious activation of the neurological moral network. These first human beings became aware that certain actions were wrong even though no other human being had declared such actions to be wrong, and there was no authority to impose a consequence for committing such acts. Moreover, with this newly acquired knowledge, they would have noted that many of the actions of the very species from which they had emerged were wrong, yet there were no consequences to them for indulging in such behavior.

The effect of the subconscious activation of the neurological moral network was to compel them to recognize that the consequences would be imposed at some time other than during their lifetime, and the only other time could be after death. That would have caused an awareness of their own mortality, thus also causing a consciousness of being alive.

Genesis 2:18 to 25 records how the newly activated neurological moral network began to direct human behavior, and ultimately, human destiny.

Verses 18-20 imply that the activation of the neurological moral network occurred in one, or a number of individuals, who were isolated from one another, hence the reference to “the man” being alone. But this does not mean that each of them was physically alone. They would have been the offspring of members of the group or tribe from which they emerged. 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” (Philo 2015, XXIV (76)). This first “man” was thus the first to assume the “distinctive [human] form.”

These first human beings would have recognized that they were different to the species from which they had emerged.

The reason that it was “not good that the man should be alone” is that his instinct was to reproduce, but there wouldn’t have been a female of the species with fully ‘matured’ human DNA to reproduce with. Genesis suggests that this search for a mate activated other elements of his brain. The words “I will make him an help meet for him” symbolizes 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 activated another latent characteristic of the brain – the language module. Adam started ascribing names to the animals.

But Adam’s search for a mate proved futile: “but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:20). 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” (Genesis 2:21).

The symbolism of “Adam” going into a deep sleep suggests 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 the dormant DNA must have been activated in both a male and female at the same time, and 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 may have said, they would have “beheld” each other “as in a mirror” (Philo 2015, XXIV (76)).

However, at this stage, these early humans had not consciously activated the neurological moral network, 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 or to prevent lusting after each other’s bodies – they did not lust, because they knew it was wrong: “They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25).

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, suggests Genesis, was the state of the human race before primitive human instincts got the better of some.

The San people of Southern Africa, also known as Bushmen, who are the direct descendants of these first human beings who never consciously activated their neurological moral network, are living testimony to this interpretation of Genesis 2.

Anthropologists and geneticists identify some of these peoples as the ancestors of all human beings, although perhaps the rest of us are the descendants of that part of the species that went astray, and they are the descendants of those who did not. A recent extensive study supports that position (Choi 2012). Other research into the San people’s culture and beliefs provides evidence that they respond automatically to the impulses of the neurological moral network, so they don’t need courts of law and systems of justice (See Brody 2000 and Lewis-Williams 2004 & 2015). Reason is not in the service of their primitive instincts, so their minds, and thus their souls, are automatically structured on the neurological moral network (Lewis-Williams 2010).

The San should be contrasted with that branch of the species that did activate their neurological moral networks. That is addressed in Genesis 3.

Activation of the neurological moral network – ‘original sin’

As we saw in Part IX, the reason it was wrong to acquire “the knowledge of good and evil” is that to awaken the neurological moral network, some action had to be taken which offended against it. According to Genesis, that action 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 …” (Genesis 3:6). All the emphasized words relate to pleasure, and pleasure relates to instinct (Philo 2015, LVI (160)).

The story of “the woman’s” temptation clearly refers to the interaction between the morality, instinct and reason networks. 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 “the woman” seeing the attractions of the tree symbolizes the application of reason to justify taking actions that she ‘knew’ were wrong.

The prohibition against eating of the tree symbolizes the neurological moral network within the brain that ‘speaks’ to us of the morality of our actions, and acts as a restraint to actions which offend against it.

When 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” (Genesis 3:7). Genesis then tells us that once the neurological moral network had been consciously activated, it gave rise to a sense of guilt. Adam and “the woman” are then said to have done 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” (Genesis 3:8). They attempted to escape the guilt aroused by their actions by seeking justification in their primitive instincts; in “the trees of the garden.” 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 the guilt could not be easily assuaged, so reason seeks to divert the blame – Adam blamed “the woman,” and “the woman” blamed the serpent. In ‘excusing’ her behavior by claiming that “the serpent beguiled” her, “the woman” defends her actions by ‘reasoning’ that the attractions of the pleasures she imagined could be had by indulging her primitive instincts were simply a ‘natural’ response to a ‘natural’ desire. But attempting to excuse their actions failed to silence their consciences.

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, and could apply reason to justify doing so.

The ‘punishment’ said to have been inflicted on Adam clearly relates to human beings falling into bondage to their primitive instincts. From then 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 previous mental tranquility of intuitively refraining from actions because they knew they were wrong, was replaced with an obsessive preoccupation with the pleasures and fears aroused by those instincts.

The expulsion from the Garden of Eden to prevent “man” from eating of the “tree of life” symbolizes the effect of the neurological moral network being consciously activated. No longer is the faculty of reason, and thus the mind, automatically structured as an ‘image’ of the neurological moral network. In order to structure the mind to reflect the structure of the neurological moral network, we have to actively and consciously seek to do so.

Re-connecting to the neurological moral network – seeking the Kingdom of God

Other parts of the Scriptures perfectly support this interpretation, as does the way in which the Scriptures advocate providing for the ‘survival’ of the soul.

Many passages in the Scriptures lend support to the argument that the neurological moral network is the ‘vehicle’ through which human beings come to know God, and can provide for the survival of the mind as a conscious, ‘living’ soul after physical death.

Jesus said 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” (Luke 17: 20 & 21).

Deuteronomy says a similar thing regarding the Law: 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” (Deuteronomy 30: 11 – 14).

The parable of the mustard seed likens the Kingdom of God (or heaven) to a tree, which closely resembles neurological networks: “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” (see Mat 13: 31, 32; Mark 4: 30; Luke 13: 18).

That verse, and others (Mat 13: 33; Luke 13: 20), portray the Kingdom of God as something that starts out tiny and has to be nurtured in order to grow into a vehicle to survive physical death. But we need to seek it to find it:  “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to thee” (Mat 6: 33; Luke 12: 31). Furthermore, Kingdom of God is something we discover during our lifetimes (Mat 7:13 & 14; 13: 39), and if we ask for it and seek it, we can find it (Mat 7: 7; Luke 11: 9), but we should be aware of the dangers of servicing our primitive human instincts: “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful” (Mat 13:22).

The references to being “born again” at John 3:3-13 relate to the activation of the neurological moral network, especially verses 6 and 8. The description at verse 8 refers to the “voice” of the demands of the morality network. These verses suggest that even if reason is in ‘bondage’ to the demands of human instincts (the instinct networks), it can still be activated (“born again”) in order to ensure that the mind is structured so as to survive physical death (to “enter into the kingdom of God”).

Jesus warns of the consequences of servicing our instincts, even if it is ‘profitable.’ He asks, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mat 16: 26). Proverbs issues the same warning: “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” (Proverbs 8: 35 & 36).

The Bible closes with the same theme of providing for the survival of soul following physical death: “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” (Revelations 22: 14). We “do his commandments” when reason is in service of the neurological moral network, which has the effect of structuring the mind to survive physical death as a ‘living’ soul.

However, although servicing the neurological moral network has implications for each person in respect to the soul, if there is a God, then it is also likely to be the mechanism through which God chose to reveal to us His purpose for the universe and humanity. Servicing the neurological moral network is how human beings can collectively realize that purpose. That is the objective of the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Mat 6: 10).

Conclusion

The story of the Garden of Eden only makes any sense when it is understood to relate to the formation of the human brain. But more compelling is that such an understanding of the story conforms in every respect to the current neuroscientific understanding of the functioning of the brain.

However, this does present some problems for current Christian theology. Current theology will find it increasingly difficult to find accommodation with science if it insists on holding to current doctrines. Unless it can bring itself to re-asses those doctrines, it will render itself increasingly irrelevant.

Unfortunately, there are many vested interests at stake. But that cannot stand in the way of each person deciding for him or herself what the Scriptures mean. Such ‘rebellion’ against the institutionalization of God was in fact the initial cause for the Scriptures, going back to Abraham. The prophets condemned the rituals of their times (see Isaiah 1:10-15 and Jeremiah 2:8-13). And Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees for “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mat 15:9).

Perhaps we should ask ourselves whether we may just be doing the same?

———————————————————

Joseph BH McMillan     http://josephbhmcmillan.com

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

Bibliography

Barras, Colin. 2015. “New species of extinct human found in cave may rewrite history.” New Scientist. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22730383-700-new-species-extinct-human-found-in-cave-may-rewrite-history/.

Brody, H. 2000. The Other Side of Eden: Hunter-gatherers, farmers and the shaping of the world. London: Faber and Faber.

Choi, Charles Q. 2012. “African Hunter-Gatherers Are Offshoots of Earliest Human Split.” Live Science. September 12. http://www.livescience.com/23378-african-hunter-gatherers-human-origins.html.

Dawkins, Richard. 2014. A River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (SCIENCE MASTERS). Weidenfeld & Nicolson; Reissued 2001 edition .

Greene, Brian. 2005. The fabric of the cosmos. Penguin.

Lewis-Williams, David and Sam Challis. 2011. Deciphering Ancient Minds: The Mystery of San Bushman Rock Art. Thames and Hudson Ltd.

Lewis-Williams, David. 2010. Conceiving God: The Cognitive Origin and Evolution of Religion. Thames & Hudson.

—. 2004. San Spirituality: Roots, Expression, and Social Consequences. AltaMira Press.

Lewis-Williams, JD. 2015. Myth and Meaning: San-Bushman Folklore in Global Context. Left Coast Press.

Nahmanides. 2015. “Ramban on Genesis.” Seferia.org. http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.26?lang=en&layout=lines&sidebarLang=all.

Philo. 2015. “On the Creation.” EarlyJewishWritings.com. http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/text/philo/book1.html.

Schweitzer, Albert. 1914. The Mystery of the Kingdom of God. New York: prometheus Books (1985).

Weinberg, Steven. 1994. Dreams of a Final Theory. 1. New York: Vintage Books.

Zimmer, Carl. 2014. “The Case for Junk DNA.” National Geographic. September 5. http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/05/09/the-case-for-junk-dna/.

 

 

A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part XI-A): Addressing some contemporary issues between science, philosophy and religion

This article addresses some contemporary issues between science, philosophy and religion, and more specifically, issues of right and wrong, or in the more spiced-up version, good and evil; human consciousness; the body/mind and mind/soul debates; the nature of knowledge (epistemology); free will versus determinism; and an initial consideration of the question of God.

But I want to start with a statement from a prominent physicist, which puts the issues in perspective.

In his book The First Three Minutes, Steven Weinberg said that “the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless” (Weinberg, The First Three Minutes 1977, 154). He clarified that remark in Dreams of a Final Theory, by saying that what he really meant is “that the universe itself suggests no point.” However, he went on to insist that human beings could still “invent a point” to their own lives, “including trying to understand the universe” (Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory 1994, 255).

It is a rather curious suggestion that we can find some purpose to life by dedicating our lives to proving that there is no purpose to life, especially since most people have neither the intellectual aptitude to undertake such an endeavor, nor the appetite. But the sentiment that science has already ‘proved’ there is no point to life, and therefore no God, has taken root in the public consciousness. That perception has led to a mentality that the pursuit of pleasure is the highest ‘virtue’, and vanity the greatest ‘happiness’. It has given us the hedonistic ‘culture’ of the ‘modern’ world.

This article will challenge that misconception by addressing those contemporary issues in the debate (or what some more optimistically describe as a dialogue) between science, philosophy and religion. However, it will show that we don’t need to venture into the mystical to explain these issues. The physical (neurological) structure of the brain adequately accounts for them. So that is where I’ll start.

What follows is based on the evidence and arguments that have been advanced in previous articles in the series, and in my latest book, A ‘Final Theory’ of God. However, for those unfamiliar with the articles and book, a short summary is provided in Part XI-B of this article.

The Brain

Scientific evidence increasingly supports the proposition that the brain has three distinct but interrelated neurological faculties – instincts, reason and morality. It is the interaction of these faculties that gives rise to the phenomena that currently defy scientific, philosophical and religious consensus.

The instincts faculty comprises a number of neurological networks that give us the instinct to reproduce; the instinct to nurture and protect our offspring as a means of perpetuating the species and our own genetic lineage; the instincts for survival and security as a means to enhance the prospects of perpetuating the species and our genetic lineage; the instinct to subdue and control our environment (including, regrettably, others of our own species) in order to eliminate or reduce any threats to our survival and security; and the instinct to acquire knowledge of how our environment, and indeed we as human beings, function, so as to more effectively subdue and exercise control over our environment. This latter instinct accounts for the quest for scientific knowledge.

Instincts are activated by the prospect of the pleasure to be had by indulging them, or the fear aroused by perceived threats – that is, they are activated by the prospect of pleasure and the fear of pain, and the experience of pleasure and pain are the ‘by-products’ of the realization of our instincts.

The morality faculty comprises a neurological moral network that acts as a restraint and counterbalance against the instinct networks. It compels us to recognize that certain indulgences of our instincts are wrong, and that other actions, even if apparently contrary to our instincts, are right, or good. The neurological moral network speaks to us of moral imperatives as fundamental obligations. It drives the human quest for justice, and finds expression in the search for a Supreme Law and a Supreme Lawmaker.

The reason faculty comprises a neurological network that is entirely neutral, and thus morally ambivalent. It mediates between the competing demands of the instinct and morality networks, and is free to choose which to serve. When in service to instincts, it is also adept at justifying its choices so as to evade responsibility for the consequences of its actions.

The Evidence

That the brain has a neurological moral network is now widely accepted by neuroscientists. In 2009, Dr Mendez reviewed all the neurological research up to that point, and concluded that “humans have an innate moral sense based in a neuromoral network centered in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and its connections” (Mendez 2009). Subsequent research has reinforced that conclusion (see Yoder and Decety 2014 and Heinrichs, Oser and Lovat 2013).

The research also confirms that actions not moderated by the neurological moral network, and thus based on the instinct networks, are what we call psychopathic. That is because instincts are amoral, so the application of a morally ambivalent capacity to reason in order to service amoral instincts cannot produce moral outcomes, although it can imitate them (Stockley 2011-2012). A 2015 study defined psychopathy as “a personality disorder associated with a constellation of traits including a lack of guilt and empathy, narcissism, superficial charm, dishonesty, reckless risk-taking and impulsive antisocial behaviour” (K. J. Yoder 2015). All these characteristics are indicative of reason in the service of primitive instincts. That is confirmed by Yoder’s study, which concluded that “hemodynamic activity and neural coupling within the salience network are disrupted in psychopathy, and that the effects of psychopathy on moral evaluation are influenced by attentional demands.

Research also shows that utilitarian arguments for ‘morality’ are a consequence of reason in the service of instinct, and thus psychopathic. A 2012 study found that participants who showed “greater endorsement of utilitarian solutions had higher scores on measures of Psychopathy, machiavellianism, and life meaninglessness” (Bartels DM 2011). Another study confirms that reason is a morally ambivalent faculty which can justify behavior that the neurological moral network tells us is wrong. In this particular study, arguments were put forward to justify incestuous behavior between consenting adult siblings. The study demonstrated that a persuasive argument justified the behavior “when increased deliberation time encouraged subjects to reflect” (Paxton, Ungar and Greene 2012).

Research has also concluded that “empathy may not be necessary for judging moral actions as right or wrong” (Will and Klapwijk 2014). That empathy is not a factor, or at least a driving factor, in moral judgment, confirms that the neurological moral network speaks of moral imperatives as fundamental principles, and are not a consequence of ‘reasoning’ about how we may ‘feel’ about certain actions and behavior.

As Mendez notes, “most moral judgments are rapid, involuntary, and intuitive; whereas, deliberate rational reasoning is often post hoc rationalization for judgments which have already occurred” (Mendez 2009).

The studies to date demonstrate that the reason network “mediates” between the demands of the instinct networks and the neurological moral network (see Kelly, et al. 2008 and Menon and Uddin 2010). However, research also shows that the “morality network can be over-ridden by DLPFC-mediated reasoning processes, resulting in utilitarianism, ie, the greatest good for the greatest many” (Mendez 2009). But as already noted, utilitarian ‘judgment’ is based on instinct, and thus psychopathic, rather than moral.

On the content of the neurological moral network, I should refer again to Mendez, who notes that the “neuromoral network works through moral emotions and moral drives, such as the avoidance of harm to others and the need for fairness and punishment of violators” (Mendez 2009). This points to freedom as the basis of the neurological moral network, which makes freedom the fundamental principle of morality and justice. The evidence for that will be adduced in Part XII.

On a final note, Will and Klapwijk make an important observation on how the brain makes the choice between serving morality or instinct. They note that although “neuroscience has increased our understanding of the contributions of neural systems involved in emotion and cognition to judgments of right and wrong, it is time to further investigate how activation in these systems can influence why some people decide to act on a moral judgment and others do not” (Will and Klapwijk 2014).

That is something I shall now consider by addressing those issues between science, philosophy and religion that still defy consensus.

In order to do so, however, we need to establish how these neurological faculties came to be in the brain.

Origin of the neurological faculties of the human brain

The evidence is fairly conclusive that these neurological faculties are the natural, physical consequence on the laws of physics. In science, this is called reductionism.

Weinberg says that physicists “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” (Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory 1994, 9-10). And he goes even further by stating that physicists study fundamental particles like quarks and electrons not only because all matter is made up of such particles, but that by studying them they hope to discover “something about the principles that govern everything” (Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory 1994, 61).

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” (Rees 2000, 1).

Weinberg insists that although the properties of molecules and DNA create life, they are only able to do so because of the “properties of electrons and atomic nuclei and electric forces” of which molecules and DNA are composed (Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory 1994, 57-58).

What seems to be important, according to the physicists, is that the properties, or laws, that govern sub-atomic particles determine how they can combine with other sub-atomic particles which, in turn, create ‘structures’ dependent on the properties of their constituent sub-atomic particles, yet having their own distinct ‘identities’, so to speak. These combined sub-atomic particles we call atoms, and atoms, although dictated in their ‘behavior’ by their constituent sub-atomic particles, have properties unique to themselves. The uniqueness of certain atoms in turn ‘permits’ them to interact with other atoms to ‘create’ more complex structures such as molecules. But we must constantly keep in mind that although these more complex structures appear to have their very own and very unique properties, they are still the product of the properties of the sub-atomic particles of which they are composed, and the properties of these more complex structures are an extension of the fundamental properties that govern their constituent parts, that is, their sub-atomic particles.

That is what Weinberg means when he says that by studying sub-atomic particles we may be able to discover “something about the principles that govern everything.

Recent evidence supports that position.

  • On 8th August 2011, it was reported that “NASA-funded researchers have evidence that some building blocks of DNA, the molecule that carries the genetic instructions for life, found in meteorites were likely created in space”(NASA Researchers: DNA Building Blocks Can Be Made in Space 2011).
  • On October 27, 2011, Science Daily reported the results of research by Professor Sun Kwok and Dr. Yong Zhang of the University of Hong Kong: “Astronomers report in the journal Nature that organic compounds of unexpected complexity exist throughout the Universe. The results suggest that complex organic compounds are not the sole domain of life, but can be made naturally by stars … in extremely short timescales of weeks. Not only are stars producing this complex organic matter, they are also ejecting it into the general interstellar space, the region between stars” (Kwok and Zhang 2011).
  • In 2013, Jeremy England of MIT published a theory which proposed that entropy (the second law of thermodynamics) appeared to arrange particles and atoms in such a way that the creation of life is inevitable under certain conditions, and not a question of luck(England 2013). England suggested that this process is the basis of reproduction. If the theory is correct, it will provide evidence that the instinct to reproduce is a product of the fundamental laws of physics which are ‘imprinted’ into the human brain. But it will also provide evidence that all the instinct networks are likewise a consequence of the physical laws that determine how the universe functions, and indeed a neurological image of those fundamental laws.
  • Dr Kelly Smith, a physicist and philosopher, has also suggested that the laws of physics may naturally produce organisms with a capacity for moral judgment(Smith 2015).

Philosophy has its own version of this physical-based explanation of the human brain; it’s called reductive physicalism, although mostly replaced today with supervenience. For a summary of the philosophical account, see (Stoljar 2015).

The incredible abilities of the savants is compelling evidence that the human brain is ‘programmed’ with the raw mathematical data of the fundamental laws that govern the universe (see Part X). In his book Islands of Genius, Treffert notes that savants show that we can “know things we never learned.” Even babies have inbuilt data giving them “specialized innate abilities” (Treffert 2012, 55-57). 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 (Treffert 2012, 12).

Regarding the neurological moral network, the San people of southern Africa are compelling evidence that it was the neurological moral network itself that created the first of what we would recognize as a human brain (see Parts VIII and IX). The recent discovery of Naledi man in South Africa may well be the remains of these first human beings with fully functioning neurological moral networks. As Lee Berger, the head of the team that discovered Naledi man said, the fact that they buried their dead indicates “that naledi individuals recognised their own mortality and the other self that comes with death” (Barras 2015).

The reductionist explanation of the origin of the structure of the human brain is, therefore, supported by compelling evidence. It shows not only that the human organism, including the neurological structure of the human brain, is in every respect a manifestation of the fundamental laws that govern the universe, but also that those laws are ‘programmed’ into the brain in mathematical form as neurological networks. And the fact that one of those networks is moral tells us that there is a moral dimension to the fundamental laws of physics, both the quantum and Classical laws.

Weinberg’s reductionist argument is itself evidence of the moral dimension of the laws of physics. If the human organism is an inevitable consequence of the fundamental laws of physics when matter encounters certain conditions, and that manifestation of those laws is a conscious human being with the capacity for moral judgment, then the laws that govern the universe must likewise possess those properties. In other words, if the human brain is a “self-aware mathematical sub-structure” of the universe, and a miniature replica of the mathematical superstructure of the universe, then the universe itself must necessarily be a conscious, moral structure (reference to ‘self-aware mathematical substructure’ is from Tegmark 2014, 323)

If that is the case, the dilemma of how the “fundamental laws of quantum physics morph into the Classical (Newtonian) laws” would be resolved (Greene 2005, 199 and Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory 1994, 84). The observation necessary to effect the transformation is made by a conscious universe with a moral dimension. But that doesn’t account for how the original matter, subject to quantum laws, tranformed into a universe subject to laws that create consciousness. That is something I shall deal with in the final article.

I shall now consider how the interaction of the three neurological networks, and in particular the competing demands of the moral and instinct networks on the otherwise neutral faculty of reason, relates to those unresolved issues between science, philosophy and religion.

Right and Wrong; Good and Evil

Actions (and thoughts) we call wrong, or evil, are a consequence of reason in the service of human instinct, while actions we recognize as right, or good, are a consequence of reason in service of the neurological moral network.

However, since instincts are necessary for our survival, just as they are in animals, instincts are not in themselves ‘evil’; they only attract reprobation when they become the deliberate objective of our actions. That being so, if there is such a thing as God, then He does not in fact ‘create’ evil. Evil is a consequence of our own decisions.

When the neurological moral network is active, but subconscious, human beings act on its moral impulses without question, and adapt their behavior accordingly. The San people of southern Africa are evidence of that (or at least those who have not yet been ‘civilized’). They are the direct descendants of the ancestors of the whole human race (Choi 2012). They simply ‘know’ what is right and wrong, so they do not indulge their instincts with the primary purpose of maximizing pleasure, nor do they excessively respond to the fears aroused by their instincts. They do not fence-off land to provide for greater security; they do not build castles to protect themselves from their fellow human beings; they do not subdue others of the species as a means of enhancing their security, or to allay the fear of threats to their survival; they do not need courts of law to tell them what is right and wrong, because they know what is right and wrong, and they know that such systems of law would simply be a justification for violating the universal law that applies everywhere and to everyone. War and conflict are alien to them, as is deceit, deception and dishonesty.

However, the neurological moral network was consciously activated when a number of these first humans committed some act that offended against it. That would have happened when they succumbed to the temptations of the pleasures to be had by indulging in actions the neurological moral network told them were wrong, or undertook actions to allay the fears aroused by their instincts which offended against their morality networks.

The evidence shows that the branch of those first human beings who did succumb to the pleasures and fears aroused by their instincts, consciously activated their own neurological moral networks, and those of their descendants. That suggests that offending against the neurological moral network caused a genetic change to the DNA of that branch of the species, and it was not a positive one.

It led to what we call today ‘civilized’ human beings. Activation of the morality network caused these human beings to relentlessly toil to enhance their security and allay fears for their survival. It led to conflict, war, crime, exploitation of resources to excess, even at the expense of the ability of others of the species to have access to those resources for their own survival, and it gave rise to institutions as mechanisms for one person or group of people to impose their authority on others. Institutions also cater to the instinct for security that is fired by the fear of insecurity. Being part of an institution appeals to the ‘herd’ instinct in human beings, because it provides a sense of security and ‘identity’.

Once those first of the species that would become ‘civilized’ human beings had activated their neurological moral networks, the genie was out the bottle. Thereafter, great effort would be required to model behavior on the demands of the neurological moral network. But there have always been those human beings who had stronger conscious impulses from their morality networks, and they have always sought to encourage and persuade others to forsake servicing their instincts, and make the effort to listen to the demands of their morality networks. That gave rise to religion and philosophy, and more importantly, the human quest for justice. But despite the intentions of the originators of these efforts, the ‘movements’ that their teachings inspired were corrupted by those in bondage to their primitive instincts, because they recognized that these ‘movements’ could be exploited to their own advantage as vehicles to subvert others to their authority and control.

There can be no doubt, therefore, that the so-called ‘modern’, or ‘civilized’ world, is a consequence of human beings in bondage to their primitive instincts, not in service to their morality networks. And that is leading us inexorably towards our own destruction.

To see what a world would look like if we were all in service to the demands of our morality networks, we need look no further than the San people. They automatically comply with the demands of their morality networks, and so live in harmony with the universal law, and thus in harmony with each other and their environment.

Human Consciousness

Artificial intelligence (a robot) was first shown to have acquired a degree of self-awareness in 2015. The process by which it was created was a variation of the “wise men” logic puzzle (MacDonald 2015). Essentially, self-awareness is a consequence of one part of an integrated structure having to evaluate competing demands from other parts of the same structure, and make a decision on how to resolve the dilemma. The ‘degree’ of consciousness depends on the extent and type of data that the ‘decision’ part of the structure has to evaluate.

Animals have more limited instincts than human beings, and an ability to reason limited to servicing those instincts. To what extent animals have some neurological network that relates to morality is unclear, but any such network in animals is clearly not to the same level of sophistication as humans. Animal consciousness is limited to the task of servicing primitive instincts. It should be noted, however, that humans share many of the same instincts with animals, notably the instincts to reproduce, and to protect and nurture their young, the instinct for survival, and a limited instinct to provide for their security.

So consciousness in animals is a consequence of the limited choices their limited capacity for reason has to resolve in order to most effectively cater to the demands of their instincts, like the most effective method for securing food and water.

In humans, however, the activation (even subconsciously) of the neurological moral network presents reason with a choice between the conflicting demands from the neurological moral network and instinct networks. This challenge compels reason to recognize that certain actions, thoughts and behavior are wrong, irrespective of whether there is a declared law that prohibits them, or whether there will be a consequence (in this life) for indulging them. The realization that certain actions are wrong, irrespective of the prospect of punishment in this life for a transgression, compels reason to recognize the possibility that the consequence may be visited upon us after death. The prospect of an after-life thus causes a consciousness of our own mortality, and thus a consciousness of our own existence. Berger’s comments on Naledi man burying their dead is evidence of that (Barras 2015).

However, it is also clear that those who have no connection to their neurological moral networks are also conscious. But their consciousness is of a different complexion to consciousness that is based on the morality network. It derives from their primitive instincts, which accounts for the characteristics they exhibit, such as “lack of guilt and empathy, narcissism, superficial charm, dishonesty, reckless risk-taking and impulsive antisocial behaviour” (K. J. Yoder 2015). More importantly, however, the fact that they are wholly or partially disconnected from their morality networks means that they are incapable of recognizing that right and wrong are not concepts of human invention, but universal concepts that exist independently of human existence, just like the laws of physics. That is why such people have difficulty recognizing that there could be a God, except in so far as they see such belief as something to be employed to their own advantage.

The question then is, does consciousness exist independently of the physical structure of the brain, or is it simply a chemical process in the brain? In other words, when the chemical processes in the brain cease, does human consciousness cease as well?

That leads to the mind/body and mind/soul debates.

The Mind/Body Debate

The first point to make here is that when I refer to ‘body,’ I mean the physical brain as the ‘control center’ of the integrated system that is the human organism.

The brain is composed of these three distinct but interrelated faculties. The reason faculty is neutral. Consciousness is a consequence of the reason network being compelled to ‘mediate’ between competing demands either from the instinct networks themselves (as in animals, and those disconnected from their morality networks), or from the instinct and morality networks (in those who have some connection with their neurological moral networks).

These competing demands create a ‘polarity’ in the reason network, which creates an electromagnetic structure that is ‘independent’ of the reason network itself, just as any other electromagnetic field is ‘independent’ of the physical materials that create it. Most of us will recall the experiments done in school when iron filings placed on a piece of paper over a magnet are arranged in the shape of the magnetic field of the magnet. We could then ‘interfere’ with the pattern of that field by introducing an electrical current at one end of the magnet which changed the pattern of the iron filings by concentrating them on the other side of the magnet.

We have known about electromagnetic fields even since James Clerk Maxwell discovered the relationship between magnetic and electric fields in the 1860s (Maxwell 1865). Amongst many other things, electromagnetic fields give us light, both natural and artificial. We know that artificial light is created when a negative current and a positive current are applied to a lightbulb. Until the current is switched on, the light bulb is ‘neutral’. But once the switch is thrown, the bulb fills the room with light. But the bulb itself is not the light, it is simply the device through which the light is created.

The reason network is like the bulb, the neurological networks within the brain are like the negative and positive currents that feed it, and the mind is like the light.

That would mean that the mind is something independent of the reason network in the brain, but structured on it. Consciousness must reside in this independent structure that we call the mind, not in the physical (chemical) processes in the brain itself. But if that were the case, why can we not detect or measure it in some way, for example in fMRI scans.

Well, there are several possibilities. First, there is the ‘mathematical reality’ theory proposed by the physicist Max Tegmark. In his Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH), Tegmark argues that “mathematical structure is our external reality, rather than being merely a description of it. This equivalence between physical and mathematical existence means that if a mathematical structure contains a self-aware substructure, it will perceive itself as existing in a physically real universe, just as you and I do” (Tegmark 2014, 323). Even if Tegmark is wrong about the universe itself being a purely mathematical structure, the concept may be an explanation for the mind. The mind would thus be a “self-aware (mathematical) substructure” that is modelled on the reason network, but independent of it, just like the light and bulb example.

An alternative, but perhaps related explanation, may be found in dark matter. Considering that the matter we know something about constitutes only some 5% of the universe, and dark matter some 27% (CERN n.d.), it may well be that the mind is composed of dark matter that is structured on the reason network. Although we know virtually nothing about dark matter, other than it must be there, CERN notes that “one idea is that it could contain “supersymmetric particles” – hypothesized particles that are partners to those already known in the Standard Model (ie, ordinary matter like electrons).

If some of these theories are proved correct, then it would be entirely plausible that the mind is a model of the structure of the reason network, and composed of partner particles. That would also explain why we cannot physically detect the mind. As CERN notes, theories suggest that particles of dark matter may be so light that they would even be undetectable by the particle detectors of the Large Hadron Collider. The only reason they would know that they had discovered particles of dark matter, says CERN, is that the particles “would carry away energy and momentum, so physicists could infer their existence from the amount of energy and momentum ‘missing’ after a collision. Dark matter candidates arise frequently in theories … such as supersymmetry and extra dimensions. One theory suggests the existence of a ‘Hidden Valley’, a parallel world made of dark matter having very little in common with matter we know.

So it seems most likely that the mind is a structure independent of the brain, but modelled on the reason network, whose structure, in turn, depends on whether it is in service to the instinct networks, or the neurological moral network.

It is the mind, therefore, that makes ‘decisions’, because it is conscious, and the reason network that ‘implements’ the decisions. The neurological phenomenon of insight confirms that, because it functions when reason is ‘muted’ (Stockley 2011-2012), which means that the decision made on the basis of insight must be taken elsewhere than in the reason network.

The Mind/Soul Debate

What this suggests is that if there is such a thing as a soul, it is in fact a description of what happens to the mind after physical death.

The ultimate ‘destiny’ of the mind will depend on whether the reason network on which it is structured is modelled on the neurological moral network, or on the servicing of the instinct networks. There are two alternative possibilities: one is that the mind survives physical death only if its structure is modelled on the neurological moral network, and if not, it dissipates after physical death because its structure is not sufficiently cohesive to exist independently of the brain; the other is that the mind survives, irrespective of whether it is modelled on the neurological moral network or on servicing the instinct networks, but that the ‘destiny’ of each is different.

If structured on serving the instinct networks, the mind may still survive physical death, but will be subject to the frustrations of still having powerful motivations to service those instincts after death, but without any physical body to indulge them.

If structured on the morality network, however, it will have detached itself from the need to satisfy physical appetites, so that after physical death it can integrate itself with the consciousness of the universe, or exist in some other dimension, or beyond. Most religions, whether more or less distinctly, focus on such a ‘detaching’ of the mind from instincts if it is to survive physical death.

The prospect of the mind surviving physical death has been around since human beings first became conscious of their own mortality. As we have already seen, the neurological moral network is the cause of that perception. It compels the mind to recognize that there must be a consequence for actions that are wrong, and if that consequence is not imposed in life, then it can only be imposed after death. And for that to occur, we must survive in some form after physical death.

That perception is what drives the human quest for justice. One philosopher who addresses the justice aspect as an explanation for God and an after-life is Professor Evan Fales of The University of Iowa.

In his essay Despair, Optimism and Rebellion, Fales suggests that Christian soteriology is a consequence of our “deep passion for justice” which requires injustices to be rectified if life is to have objective meaning (Fales 2007). He suggests, but does “not argue,” that there are two reasons for this:

One is that justice is so fundamental to our conception of morality and of human well-being that a human existence in which the demands of justice are irredeemably unsatisfied appears to be a fundamentally defective, poor kind of existence. The other is that we think of justice as an objective demand, a demand that transcends the self-serving interests of partisans. Hence, we are satisfied with nothing less than that the universe be ordered in such a way that the principles of justice are woven into its very fabric.

Fales cites Segal’s Life After Death (Segal 2004) as confirmation that justice was “a primary motivation” of the ante-Nicene Fathers for “the idea of a disembodied post-mortem existence of the soul …” He identifies the human demand for justice as an objective moral (naturalist) human condition, but argues that this does not pre-suppose a supreme being:

If it were true that human beings were designed by a supreme being to have by nature certain ends, then it would be true that, in giving us those ends, God would indirectly have determined the principles of action that properly guide human social behaviour. However, it would remain the case that the basis of morality is to be found in facts about human nature. It is a genetic fallacy of sorts to suppose that objective moral truths cannot be justified except by appeal to a divine will, even if the ultimate cause of the relevant natural facts is such a will.

The problem with this argument is that Fales pre-judges what the “facts about human nature” may tell us about the principles of morality.

The neuroscience shows that the natural human condition is what is ‘programmed’ into the human brain as neurological networks, one of which is a morality network that speaks to us of a Supreme Law and a Supreme Lawmaker. That is what drives the human quest for justice (Yoder and Decety 2014).

However, precisely such ‘disagreements’ as to what these generally agreed natural or neurological conditions mean, can in fact be a basis for reconciliation and accommodation between science, philosophy and religion, as well as inter-religiously. That is because each could agree that the neuroscience confirms that certain fundamental moral principles are ‘programmed’ into the brain as a neurological moral network, and that they should form the basis for any system of justice. Any differences about how the brain came to be ‘programmed’ with such a network would not then constitute a barrier to agreement as to what moral principles should underpin such a system of justice. In other words, whether the principles were ascribed to a God, to natural forces, evolution, or otherwise, agreement as to the core principles and how they should be implemented here on Earth would attract general consensus.

That would at least constitute progress for the human race as a whole towards a more just and equitable world.

Knowledge

The evidence demonstrates that the principles (laws) that created and sustain the universe are ‘programmed’ into the human brain in mathematical form, which creates the instinct, morality and reason networks.

The instinct and morality networks process data from the senses and ‘feed’ it to the reason network in the form of words, images and concepts. The reason network then evaluates the data, formulates judgments as to what it means, then presents recommended responses to the mind for a decision.

The outcome of this process produces what we call ‘knowledge’. However, the pursuit of purely physical (scientific) knowledge is a human instinct, whilst pursuit of an understanding of the moral dimension of the physical laws is a response to the ‘voice’ of the neurological moral network.

‘Knowledge’ is thus both external and internal. External in the sense that the brain processes data from the outside world which is fed to it by the senses, and internal in the sense that the brain can access the mathematical laws that determine how it was created because they are ‘programmed’ into the brain itself. That is the point Einstein made when he 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” (Einstein 1954, 274).

Free-will versus Determinism

The mind is ‘free’ to choose between servicing the demands of the instinct networks, or the demands of the neurological moral network.

The neurological networks themselves are entirely the product of the fundamental principles of the laws of physics, and as such entirely deterministic. How those networks process data through the senses is likewise deterministic. However, the decisions made by the mind as to how to respond to the data and options presented to it is not deterministic. The mind is free to choose how to respond, and that choice determines whether the decision is moral or not.

The choice is deterministic only to the extent that the reason network has been conditioned and accustomed to respond to such demands by its environmental circumstances, such as education, culture, upbringing, form of government and law, religion, and so on.

But even if the reason network, and thus the mind, has been accustomed to predominantly or wholly service the instinct networks, it still remains free to re-focus its attention to service the morality network. One way that can be done is through meditation (Simon-Thomas 2012). The other is through religious constructs such as repentance, or being ‘born again’ (see Part B). Another phenomenon relates to insight, in which the mind suddenly, and often inexplicably, ‘sees the light’ and rejects the demands of the instinct networks to follow the ‘voice’ of the morality network. The apostle Paul seeing the light on the road to Damascus is such an example, as is Asoka.

However, the best way to ensure that human beings act on the basis of the impulses we receive from the morality network, rather than the demands of the instinct networks, is to teach them how to do so from an early age. That is because research shows that the neurological moral network is activated at an early age, so nurturing it in a child’s early years is fundamental to a child’s moral development – discourage behavior based on instinct, and encourage moral behavior (Winston 2015).

Recognition of a Supreme Law and a Supreme Lawmaker

As we have seen, the neurological moral network compels reason to recognize that there must be a consequence for actions that are wrong, and if that consequence is not imposed in life, then it can only be imposed after death. That causes a recognition that we must ‘survive’ in some form after physical death, at which time ‘perfect justice’ will be dispensed by a Supreme Lawmaker applying the principles of a Supreme Law.

It is this consequence of the interaction between the neurological networks of instinct and morality that points to freedom being the fundamental principle of morality and justice.

The mind can only recognize as objectively right and wrong, or good and evil, that which comes from the neurological moral network. That means that it cannot recognize the authority of other human beings as a source of right and wrong. And it cannot recognize as justice an authority imposed on it by other human beings.

We could thus state the principle of freedom as follows: No one person, group of people, or institution, however constituted, has any authority, natural or otherwise, over any other human being (see Part I).

That being the case, then the following propositions must follow:

  1. Freedom cannot recognize as law the commands and doctrines of other human beings;
  2. Freedom and law can only coexist under the auspices of a Supreme Law and a Supreme Lawmaker as a legitimate basis for justice.

As already mentioned, Part XII will deal with the evidence of the Principle of Freedom in more detail. But for now, we can deduce that these propositions suggest a Supreme Law that is ‘imprinted’ into the human brain as a neurological moral network, and that Law speaks to us of a Supreme Lawmaker.

Insight

As was demonstrated in Part X of this series, there is also a further neurological phenomenon that enables the mind to ‘bypass’ reason, so to speak, and gain direct access to the mathematical principles that make up the instinct and moral networks; that is the phenomenon of insight.

This is the phenomenon behind revelation, prophecy, religion in general, and some of the greatest scientific discoveries. Because this phenomenon is most common when reason is muted, it often occurs unexpectedly and inexplicably, giving the impression that it is of external origin, and thus mystical. However, on a theological level, if there is a God, and He did at times intervene in human affairs, it seems likely that it would be through the vehicle of such a neurological phenomenon, much like the adverts that pop up on computers in order to influence what we purchase. Unfortunately, insight can occur in support of primitive instinct as well, producing the more destructive ‘talents’ of military conquest, and exploitation of other human beings and the resources of the earth, even to our own detriment.

Conclusion

So we can conclude that Weinberg’s evaluation that the universe suggests no point to human existence, or indeed its own existence, is not borne out by the evidence. On the contrary, Weinberg’s reductionist theory of the universe and life means that conscious human beings with a capacity for moral judgment are the highest manifestation of the fundamental laws of physics, and indeed an ‘image’ of those fundamental laws. However, the human quest for justice reveals a moral dimension to those laws, which finds expression in the recognition of a Supreme Lawmaker as the author of the Supreme Law.

Furthermore, as already noted above, if conscious human beings with a capacity for moral judgment are a manifestation and an ‘image’ of the universe, then the universe itself must necessarily be a conscious, moral structure. And its purpose must then be to give expression to the will of a Supreme Lawmaker.

That being the case, then it must follow that human beings are themselves capable of discovering the will of the Supreme Lawmaker, and thus their own moral purpose and destiny on Earth. That was certainly the mission of the Prophets of the Old Testament. As Leon Wood says in his book The Prophets of Israel, the words used for prophets signify people who acquire “insight regarding God’s will” (Wood 1998, 63).

However, these neurological faculties and phenomena that are the motivations for religion and justice, and speak to us of a Supreme Law and a Supreme Lawmaker, are discovered within ourselves, not in formalized religion.

With its rituals, doctrines and hierarchies, formal religion violates the fundamental principles of the neurological moral network. It is a product of reason in service of human instinct, which facilitates the exercise of authority by one person, group of people, or institution, over others. And that violates the principle of freedom that is the fundamental principle of morality and justice. According to Wood, the objective of the prophets was to warn against just such rituals and pomp in seeking to discover and do God’s will (Wood 1998, 76).

In Part B of this article (posted separately), I shall demonstrate how the Scriptures support the arguments set out in this article, and how they tell us that we can only discover our true moral purpose and our true moral destiny within ourselves.

Joseph BH McMillan http://josephbhmcmillan.com

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

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Barras, Colin. 2015. “New species of extinct human found in cave may rewrite history.” New Scientist. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22730383-700-new-species-extinct-human-found-in-cave-may-rewrite-history/.

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Rees, Marin. 2000. Just Six Numbers: The deep forces that shape the universe. Phoenix.

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Introduction to a Video Presentation of the Science in Genesis Day Two – Expansion: A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part III)

There is a curious but crucial omission in Day Two of Genesis that appears in each of the other Days; only in Day Two are the words “And God saw …” missing.

But as this video explains, that is not a clumsy oversight, it is very deliberate; and it reveals a profound understanding of the scientific origins of the universe.

To understand why, we need to examine two important elements of the story: the methodology employed in Genesis, and the original meaning of the word that is translated “firmament” in the English version[1].

Methodology

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.” The “earth” clearly refers to matter, while “the heavens” refer to space. Matter is perfectly described as being “without form, and void,” and space is accurately described with the words “darkness was upon the face of the deep.” That is a description of what physicists today call a gravitational singularity.

The “heaven and the earth” are then re-described collectively as “the waters, symbolizing the latent life-creating properties of matter and space. And that fits perfectly with what the physicist Martin Rees says about matter and space: “Even if shrunk to a ‘point’, … it is LATENT with particles and forces.[2]

The “waters” are 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 universe. Everything that exists in the universe, or will ever exist, is made up of this initial matter and energy (light).

But it was essential that the amount of matter had to be exactly right and could not subsequently be converted into light. “As Sakharov points out, our very existence depends on an irreversible effect that established an excess of matter over antimatter … Had that not occurred, all the matter would have been annihilated with an equal amount of antimatter, leaving a universe containing no atoms at all.”[3]

It is precisely at that point of Day One that Genesis says there was an intervention: “And God saw …” An observation was made that created the “irreversible effect” that guaranteed that there would be enough matter in the universe to build everything we see around us today.

A Literal Interpretation?

Now some people may claim that this is a rather ‘creative’ interpretation of Day One of Genesis, but it is in fact based on a literal reading of the words in the original Hebrew. And that is confirmed by the great Jewish scholar Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD), also known as Ramban. And we should remember that he was commenting on Genesis some 700 years before scientists had any real idea of the origins of the universe.

First, Nahmanides[4] makes clear he is adopting a literal interpretation: –“And now, listen to a correct and clear explanation of the text according to its simple understanding.”

This is what Nahmanides then says about Day One: “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 the heavens and all that is in them are one material, and the earth and all that is within it is [another] material; and the Holy One, blessed be He, created both of them from nothing … And 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.

That description perfectly conforms to modern cosmology.

Furthermore, as we saw in the video on Day One, that is the basis of the mathematical equation – how a substance can change into something else while maintaining its intrinsic value, like the most famous equation of all, E = mc2.

It is also the basis of the principle ‘freedom under law.’

So at the end of Day One, Genesis tells us that the universe was composed of light and darkness, which means photons of light and the excess matter that was not converted into light because there were no antiparticles to pair-up with. And we know today that these particles formed the first lighter elements.

Accordingly, at the start of Day Two, the embryonic universe would have contained about 75 percent hydrogen, 23 percent helium, and traces of deuterium and lithium. The Big Bang did not generate enough heat to create the heavier elements needed for life.

Genesis then again re-describes this mix of lighter elements and photons of light as “the waters.”[5]

Firmament

It is into these “waters” that God is said to insert “a firmament,” and it was to “divide the waters from the waters.[6] But the next verse suggests that “the waters” were already in different places: “And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.”[7]

But if “the waters” were already in different places, that must have been a consequence of Day One, and Day One was about quantum physics.

This is what Brian Greene says about the effect of quantum physics on the unfolding universe: “the initial nonuniformity that ultimately resulted in the formation of stars and galaxies came from quantum mechanics.”[8] And as Rees says, that is because the “slightly OVERdense regions [of space], expanding slower than average, were destined to become galaxies and clusters; others, slightly UNDERdense, were destined to become VOIDS.”[9]

This was a result of the interaction of gravity and what physicists call today expansion.

The effects of quantum physics meant that the distribution of matter (the lighter elements) in the early universe was not completely uniform. Some areas of space were more dense with atoms than others, which meant that over time gravity pulled these atoms together into enormous ‘clumps’ of matter. At the same time, the expansion force was pushing the ‘clumps’ apart leaving ‘empty’ space, or what Rees calls “voids.”

Expansion was and still is crucial to maintain the universe in the way we see it now, and for the creation of life. And Genesis recognized that.

The word that is translated “firmament” in Day Two is actually raqiya in the original Hebrew, which means expansion.

So suddenly Genesis reads exactly like the modern day scientific understanding of the forces that created the universe, and especially this crucial expansion force that was the cause of the formation of galaxies, stars, and ultimately life. Without it, the universe would not exist.

But did the reference to expansion in Genesis actually refer to what science calls expansion today?

On the ‘best evidence rule’, the answer is yes. And that is again confirmed by Nahmanides.

This is what he says about Genesis 1: 6:  “He [God] said about the material that existed at the beginning when He created it from nothing, that it should be STRETCHED out like a tent in the midst of the water and separate the waters from the waters.”

And this is how a physicist describes it today: “The tremendous outward swelling [of inflationary expansion] resulted in space being STRETCHED enormously large and extremely smooth …[10]

Also, “Calculations show that [a] nugget of space need only to have been tiny – on the order of 10-26 centimeters across – for the ensuing cosmological expansion … to have STRETCHED it larger than the universe we see today.”[11]

But why no reference to the words “And God saw …”?

Rees describes the universe at this stage as follows: “after half a million years of expansion, the temperature dropped to around 3,000 degrees … As the universe cooled further, it literally entered a dark age … [which] persisted until the first protogalaxies formed and lit it up again.[12]

At this early stage, the universe consisted of giant protogalaxies composed only of the lighter elements, so it was essential that the state of the universe should not yet be made “irreversible,” and as we saw in the previous video, the words “And God saw …” does precisely that.

The protogalaxies had to continue to condense, forming giant stars whose incredible density would create supernovae, because it is this process that creates the heavier elements necessary for life.

Omitting any reference to “And God saw …” shows that Genesis understands the importance of the universe taking its course before being ‘locked-in’ with an observation. The observation comes in Day Three; in fact, there are two observations in Day Three, and for good scientific reasons.

So by the end of Day Two, everything was in place for the next step towards the ultimate purpose behind the universe – the creation of heavier elements, and ultimately human life.

These are the issues addressed in this video.

Previous videos in the series can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7fbq0r39xQXDVs-qOnIeKQ

For the article on which this video is based, click here: http://wp.me/p5izWu-8y

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

Joseph BH McMillan

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan All Rights Reserved 2015

[1] References are to the King James Version.

[2] Rees, Martin. Just Six Numbers. Phoenix, London 2000, page 145.

[3] Rees, page 155.

[4] http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.1.3?lang=en&layout=lines&sidebarLang=all

[5] Genesis 1:6.

[6] Genesis 1:6.

[7] Genesis 1:7.

[8] Green, Brian. The Fabric of the Cosmos. Penguin, London 2005, page 305.

[9] Rees, page 119, emphasis is mine.

[10] Greene, page 321, emphasis is mine.

[11] Greene, page 318, emphasis is mine.

[12] Rees, page 119.

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.