Category Archives: science and religion

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

We should be clear at the outset what we will be doing in this analysis.

We will not simply be substituting God for those things science cannot yet explain, although it is remarkable that Genesis does in fact make reference to the intervention of God at precisely those moments.

Neither will we claim that only an ‘intelligent designer’ could explain the complexity and improbability of life and the universe.

Such arguments risk a charge of ‘mistaken identity’. The counter-argument would be that Genesis simply uses God as a substitute for the laws that govern the universe. That would make God a symbolic description for what scientists call “The Theory of Everything,” or the “Final Theory”.

If the argument for the existence of God is to have enduring credibility, it must show that the fundamental laws themselves speak of a God, and they must speak of a specific and personal God. Otherwise we end up with a vague notion of God that is indistinguishable from some force of nature.

The physicist Steven Weinberg put it well. For God to have a compelling significance, says Weinberg, He has to be shown to be “an interested God”; a “creator and lawgiver who has established not only the laws of nature and the universe but also standards of good and evil”, and “is concerned with our actions”.[1]

As we shall see, that is in fact the message in Genesis. The fundamental laws that govern the universe are God’s Law, and they reveal God’s Will, and those laws are imprinted into the human brain in mathematical form. That was God’s chosen method of communicating with us.

To understand how that was done, we need to go to the beginning. Both science and Genesis recognize that the beginning is where we can discover the origin of the universe, and the origin of our own existence.

The Beginning

References are to the King James Version of the Bible because it is reputed to be the closest to the original translation.

For ease of reference, these are the verses we shall address in this article:

  1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
  2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
  3. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
  4. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
  5. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

So let’s consider each of those verses in turn and compare them to the scientific explanations.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

First, we have to identify exactly what is meant by “the heaven and the earth.”

Clearly “the earth” does not refer to planet Earth, because the next verse says “the earth was without form, and void,” and planet Earth is not “without form and void.” And anyway, references to planet Earth only come later.

So “the earth” can only refer to matter, the stuff that was going to be used to create the universe.

Likewise, reference to “the heaven” cannot mean Heaven in the sense of the realm in which God is said to exist, because it would be most peculiar if God had to create the very domain in which He resides. The only reasonable explanation is that “the heaven” refers to space, the place in which the matter (“the earth”) exists.

So Genesis sets out right at the beginning the material that was going to be used to create the universe, and where it was – matter and space.

That is identical to the scientific explanation. Scientists calculate that all matter that exists in the universe was at one time concentrated into one dense point, variously described as the size of a grain of sand or a football. But since this matter had to exist in something, space itself was condensed into this tiny confined mass as well. And Genesis confirms that. The statement that “darkness was upon the face of the deep” can only refer to the fact that there was no space into which light could be emitted. This concentration of matter and space was so dense that even light could not escape, like a black hole, but with an immensely greater gravity.

However, although science and Genesis agree on where the material that makes up the universe came from, they don’t agree on how it got there. Genesis says it was God, and scientists admit that they have no idea. And that should not surprise us because, as 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.”[2]

So there we have the material that will be used to create the universe and, ultimately, life.

Next we have to consider what this material looked like.

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

Genesis thus gives a very precise description of what this dense mass of matter and space looked like.

But what of science?

Here are some descriptions from a number of scientists.

According to the ex-Royal Astronomer of Britain, Martin Rees, it was an “ultra-dense primal medium that was almost structureless.” [3]

Brian Greene says that it was “a highly disordered state of primeval chaos.”[4] He goes on to describe it as “… a wild and energetic realm of primordial chaos; [with] extremes of heat and colossal density,”[5] in which “gravity was by far the dominant force.”[6]

And in respect of “heaven”, 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.[7]

These scientific descriptions are virtually identical to the description in Genesis – “the heaven and the earth” were “without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

However, the next verse of Genesis then appears to refer to something that has not been mentioned before.

“And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

The obvious question is, ‘where did “the waters” suddenly come from’? Critics of Genesis love scoffing at this verse, arguing that water did not appear on the Earth until relatively recently.

But that ignores the methodology used in Genesis. As we shall see, this re-description of what just went before is a common literary technique applied in Genesis to convey meaning. In this case, matter and space, previously referred to as “the heaven and the earth,” are simply re-described as “the waters.” And that is a very astute way of explaining the inherent ability of matter and space to create life. Water is perceived as life-giving and life-sustaining.

Genesis is telling us that matter and space, although clearly inorganic, had the built-in properties to create life. The fact that matter and space are concentrated into a “primordial chaos” does not mean that they are incapable of producing life. As Martin Rees says, Einstein showed that matter and space, “Even if shrunk to a ‘point’, … is LATENT with particles and forces.”[8] Rees thus cautions scientists (and Stephen Hawking comes to mind) against claiming that the “universe can arise ‘from nothing’”.[9]

So re-describing matter and space as “the waters” was obviously deliberate.

But why then the reference to “the Spirit of God” moving across “the waters”?

This is a very important verse because it tells us that this dense concentration of matter and space was inert. It could not transform itself into a different state. It needed something to initiate the process.

So here we encounter the first significant distinction between simply substituting God for some unexplained phenomenon of physics, and instead looking to the fundamental principles to identify the requirement for God. And the necessity for God relates to the Principle of Freedom referred to in the previous article.

Most physicists today subscribe to the theory of “inflation” to explain how the initial matter and space was transformed into the universe as we know it. According to this theory, within the dense matter and space was an anti-gravity force physicists call an “inflaton field” – inflation without the “i”. This field ‘wriggled’ around in the dense chaos until at some point it reached a “value” that caused it to exert an enormous outward force that expanded the initial matter and space at a phenomenal rate, causing the Big Bang.

Greene says that the inflaton field exerted a repulsive force which overwhelmed gravity. If we think of gravity as the positive force, the inflaton field would be the negative force. The effect was that the “negative pressure” of the inflaton field caused a “gigantic gravitational repulsion that drove every region of space to rush away from every other.”[10]

However, physicists can’t agree on what caused the inflaton field to be activated. According to Michio Kaku, “there are over fifty proposals explaining what turned on inflation and what eventually terminated it.”[11]

Greene acknowledges science’s “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.[12]

With an acknowledgement like that, it is tempting to fill the gaps with God. But that is the danger in the “intelligent design” argument. If we simply ascribe to God those things Greene acknowledges science doesn’t yet understand, the argument runs the risk of science coming up with an explanation. Then the whole “intelligent design” argument will lie in tatters because it would appear as though science had disproved the existence God. But it would only appear that way because the argument had been based on the wrong evidence. That is a common occurrence in the law when a case is built on the wrong evidence which is then used to disprove the case it was intended to prove.

Instead, we need to consider the fundamental principles that determine the behavior of the inflaton field itself.

Fields are subject to the same quantum mechanical principles as particles. As Greene says, “the uncertainty principle also applies to fields.”[13] And Greene notes that the “quantum processes will inject random jumps into a Higgs Field’s value …[14]

So both particles and fields in this pre-existing universe were governed by quantum principles, and as we saw in the previous article, there are two distinct aspects to quantum behavior.

The first relates to probabilities. Particles and fields are free to choose from an infinite number of probabilities. As Kaku says, this establishes “free will.”[15] Greene explains this correlation between the quantum behavior of particles and fields like this: “the particle is free to take on this or that velocity …or … a mixture of many different velocities … For fields, the situation is similar.[16]

So not only is freedom the fundamental principle of the laws that govern the universe, it was also the fundamental principle of the quantum laws that governed what Genesis describes as “the heaven and the earth”, and science calls a “primordial chaos.”

But we should also recall that physicists realize that the probabilities could be manipulated or controlled. However, in order to adopt a specific position, they still require the second aspect of quantum law – an observation. Only then will they adopt a fixed position. And that is what would be required in order for the “fundamental laws of quantum physics [to] morph into the classical laws[17] that created the universe we have today; a universe capable of creating and sustaining life.

A pre-requisite for this transformation was that the particles and inflaton field had to be compelled by something outside the law, but able to control the law, to adopt the specific positions and properties that created the necessary structures to build the universe. The law itself could not do that. And Genesis tells us that this required “the spirit of God.”

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”

According to Genesis, the “the spirit of God” was the mechanism through which free particles and fields were compelled to adopt the positions and properties that would initiate the inflationary burst and Big Bang.

Genesis symbolizes this with the words “And God said, let there be light.” What had been “the heaven and the earth” was being commanded to transform into something entirely different – “light.” And when the command was given, “there was light”.

But how does that fit with the science? Well, as it happens, it fits exactly.

According to science, the Big Bang spewed billions upon billions of particles and anti-particles into the universe. However, when particles collide with anti-particles, they destroy each other creating a photon of light. So at the very earliest moments after the Big Bang the universe would have been filled with light, just as Genesis says.

But here is the problem. If there were an equal number of particles and anti-particles they would all have destroyed each other, leaving a universe full of light with no particles to create stars, planets and people. As the British physicists Brain Cox and Jeff Forshaw say in their book Why does E = mc2?, “The question ‘why is the universe not just filled with light and nothing else?’ is still open-ended, …[18]

That is where the next verse of Genesis is relevant.

“And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”

As we know, because they constitute our bodies and everything we see in the universe, some particles did survive. There must have been a slight excess of particles over anti-particles. But not just any amount of particles, but the precise amount to ensure that the universe as we know it survived.

If there had been too many particles, gravity would have condensed them quickly, and the universe would have folded in on itself. If there had been too few particles, gravity would not have been strong enough to bring them together to create stars and planets, and ultimately life.

But not only were the number of particles exactly right, the number was so precise that they perfectly balanced the gravity pulling them together with the anti-gravity force that pushes the universe to expand.

Scientist simply do not know why this happened. Some have suggested that the cooling of the universe after the Big Bang created the excess, while others argue that in the case of some particles the anti-particle decomposes at a faster rate than the particle.

Whatever the cause, what is certain is that the timing of the initial expansion was perfect to ensure that there would be an excess of particles that would form together to create the universe.

But there is an even more important element to this. That fine balance between light and particles, and the various forces at work, had to be maintained so that the universe didn’t simply descend into chaos again. Martin Rees cites Sakharov to emphasize the point: “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.”[19]

Although science has no idea why this should be, Genesis provides an explanation; and again it relates to the other fundamental principle of quantum physics – an observation.

In order to create the “irreversible effect” that would  ensure that there was enough matter in the universe, Genesis tells us that at a crucial moment after the creation of light, God made an observation, thus making the amount of matter and balance of forces in the universe permanent. But we don’t have to read anything into the description to find reference to an observation, it is in plain language – “And God saw the light.”

Furthermore, when God is said to have observed the light, He saw “that it was good.” That introduces a moral element into creation, and more importantly, into the properties of the fundamental principles of physics. And that moral element can only relate to the fact that order had been created from chaos, and the building blocks for life had been established.

The fact that Genesis reveals that this observation by God was made at precisely the moment required to leave enough matter from which to build the universe comes in the next words: “and God divided the light from the darkness.”

The reference to “darkness” as a contrast to “light” perfectly portrays the fact that not all the material that we started with, “the heaven and the earth,” had been converted to “light”. There was something left over that could be separated from the “light” – “darkness.” This description can only refer to those particles that had not been converted to photons by colliding with anti-particles. These excess particles were not particles of “light.

We can only read these verses in Genesis in utter amazement. To so precisely describe, thousands of years ago, what science is only now discovering, is remarkable to say the least. How that could be will be the subject of a subsequent article on insight.

And so we come to the final verse of “the first day.”

“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.”

This is an important verse which is dealt with in detail in the book. But for this article, we will only briefly mention its significance.

It has two aspects.

The first relates to the naming of what God is said to have created – “Day” and “Night”. And this naming is emphasized with the use of capital letters.

Such naming only occurs three times in Genesis – this verse, and verses 8 and 10 in days two and three respectively. And it occurs at precisely those moments when certain fundamental quantum laws are transformed into the Classical, Newtonian laws which give us the predictable, deterministic universe that is required to facilitate the emergence of life.

Use of the words “Day” and “Night” signifies that certain of the “fundamental laws of quantum physics [had] morphed into the classical laws”. However, at this stage, only one aspect of the freedom of particles and fields had been limited by being subjected to law. And that was a law that created the basic material and forces in the right quantities that were required to start building the universe. But more importantly, those materials and forces were not only in precisely the right quantities, they were also perfectly balanced, and had been made permanent with an observation. That created the “irreversible effect that established an excess of matter over antimatter”.

It’s like building a house. The necessary materials in the right quantities are calculated from a plan and delivered to the construction site. Only then can the building begin.

But even here, right at the beginning, we find an important coincidence between the creation of the universe, and what would much later become the human quest for a principle of government. The fundamental principle that we seek to establish in government is freedom under the law. And Genesis tells us that this is where it came from; it is a fundamental principle that informs the workings of the whole universe.

Otherwise free particles and fields, while remaining inherently free, operate in accordance with law. The particles and fields cooperate together under the law in order to bring about the intended will of the Lawmaker.

The second aspect of this verse is “And the evening and the morning were the first day.”

A whole chapter is devoted to this verse in the book, but for now we need only note that this verse clearly relates to what we call time. And by linking time to “Day” and “Night”, this verse reinforces the message that the first requirement for an ordered and predictable basis for the universe had been established. The amount of material and forces in the universe was certain and irreversible. We could be as certain of that as we are certain that ‘night follows day’.

Finally, by putting “the evening” before “the morning”, Genesis also tells us how time is calculated. It is done by reference to motion relative to a fixed event. In the case of the universe, that event is the Big Bang. And that is how time in space, a spacetime interval, is calculated. Time here on Earth is likewise determined by reference to a fixed point – the Sun. It is the motions of the Earth in relation to the Sun, its rotation and orbit, that are the basis for calculating Earth-time.

Conclusion

So at the end of “the first day” we have all the material and forces in exactly the right quantities and balance to start building the universe, and ultimately life. We also have time. But there was more to be done before the universe would be ready for life. There were still aspects of the quantum principle of freedom that had to be subjected to law.

We will address those in the next article when we examine Day Two.

——————————

This series of articles is based on the book A ‘Final Theory’ of God by Joseph BH McMillan. These articles are intended as a guide to reading the more detailed evidence and arguments set out in the book.

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan All Rights Reserved

[1] Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory (paperback), page 244.

[2] Kaku, Parallel Worlds, (paperback)page 158.

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

[4] Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmos (paperback), page 320.

[5] Green pages 322 and 323 respectively.

[6] Greene, page 272.

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

[8] Rees, page 145.

[9] Rees, page 145.

[10] Greene, page 284.

[11] Kaku, page 14.

[12] Greene, page 286.

[13] Greene, page 306

[14] Greene, page 283.

[15] Kaku, page 149.

[16] Greene, page 306.

[17] Greene, page 199.

[18] Cox and Forshaw, Why does E=mc2? (paperback), page 200.

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

Perhaps there is hope for Humanity’s moral destiny after all!

In my latest book, “A ‘Final Theory’ of God”, I made these comments in the final chapter regarding my purpose for the book:
“The task of A ‘Final Theory’ of God is to awaken the human spirit to its true moral purpose, and its true moral destiny.
“It aspires to awaken in humanity, and especially in those who hold in their hands the power and resources to influence the course of government, science, philosophy, and religion, the moral purpose and destiny that is ‘written’ in our hearts, and in our minds, so that humanity can shake off the shackles of bondage to our primitive instincts and work towards a new vision. A vision true to humanity’s moral purpose and destiny: a model of government and justice that reflects the Universal Moral Law.
“It urges science to re-tool its energies and investigations to the discovery and explanation of the link between the laws of physics, chemistry and biology, and the moral aptitude of the human organism to recognize the laws of morality that are embedded in our minds. Sir Robert Winston has made a start with his recognition of a “morality module” in man, but the task is immense. The focus must be re-orientated to make the connection between the fundamental laws of physics, and the fundamental principles of the “moral law”, and the curious human ability to ‘see’ those laws.
“Instead of tearing apart the very notion of a moral purpose to the human species, science should set itself to explaining why that moral purpose won’t be silenced.
“A ‘Final Theory’ of God provides a ‘brief’ to philosophers, jurists, politicians and political scientists, theologians, and economists, to apply themselves to the task of interpreting and implementing humanity’s moral destiny in cooperation with scientists. Each must inform and learn from the other. Vanity must be overcome, and discipline-centric research set aside. The goal must be clear – reinvigorate the human spirit in its true moral purpose, and set humanity on course to fulfill its cosmic destiny.
“Nothing could be more important.
“Before we venture out into the far reaches of the cosmos, let us prepare a gift for whomever and whatever we may find out there; a gift we set by example right here on Earth. Let us not be a cosmic Columbus, visiting upon the universe death and destruction, oppression and hate, strife and discord, greed and indulgence. We must be a beacon of light, not a harbinger of death.”
But after publishing the book, I feared that science would lead us down the road to a ‘Final Theory’ of Despair.
Then I awoke this morning to an article that gave me hope. Of all places, I found it on my Twitter page. A Follower had posted this link: http://phys.org/news/2015-01-explores-universe-morality.html#jCp
It referenced Dr Kelly Smith of Clemson University, a Philosopher and Evolutionary Biologist, who has suggested that the tendency of the universe to naturally produce complexity has distinctly religious overtones and may even establish a truly universal basis for morality.
Now that is essentially the argument of my book.
However, there are some areas in which Dr Smith and I may disagree at present, especially as to whether a moral dimension to the laws of physics suggests a Supreme Lawmaker, but at least there is a glimmer of light from the scientific community. We may also disagree on the role and significance of ‘reason’ – I consider it to be a highly over-rated commodity. For those who claim it, it is like “banging on the table” (Alf Ross, in respect of Justice).
But what I found very encouraging about Dr Smith’s hypothesis is his understanding of how the moral dimension to the laws of the universe may relate to other life in the universe – if there be such a thing.
According to the article,
“[Dr] Smith feels another similarity to religion is the potential moral implications of this idea. If evolution tends to favor the development of sociality, reason, and culture as a kind of “package deal”, then it’s a good bet that any smart extraterrestrials we encounter will have similar evolved attitudes about their basic moral commitments.
“In particular, they will likely agree with us that there is something morally special about rational, social creatures. And such universal agreement, argues Smith, could be the foundation for a truly universal system of ethics.”
Now, I may disagree with certain elements of what has been ascribed to Dr Smith, but I can agree with the effect a universal moral law would have. This is what I say in the very first chapter of my book regarding extraterrestrial intelligence:
“If the Laws of Physics and the Laws of Morality are the same thing, and as we shall see that is exactly what the evidence suggests, then Stephen Hawking will have nothing to fear from aliens. If the Principles constituting a Final Theory of the universe also turn out to be the Principles of a ‘Final Theory’ of morality, the one thing we could be fairly sure of is that if aliens had mastered the physical Principles so as to be able to traverse the universe, they would also have mastered the moral Principles – because they would be one and the same. So rather than embarking on a Columbus-style subjugation and extermination of the human race, as Hawking fears, the aliens would more likely school us in the error of our ways and divert our ability to reason away from a frantic and fanatical servicing of our primitive carnal instincts and bring it into the service of the Principles of morality.”
Where scientists, philosophers and theologians will go with this is yet to be seen. But I find Dr Smith’s direction of research most encouraging.
Hopefully others will take up the challenge.
Joseph BH McMillan is the author of “A ‘Final Theory’ of God” and “Freedom v A Tyranny of Rights”
Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We should set out the whole account of this transformation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well plenty, actually.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph BH McMillan

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

Notes

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

[2] Genesis 3: 1 – 7.

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

[4] Grayling, page 205.

[5] Grayling, page 206.

[6] Grayling, page 201.

[7] Grayling, page 202.

[8] Grayling, page 193.

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

[10] Genesis 3: 6.

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

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

[13] Genesis 3: 7.

[14] Genesis 2: 17.

[15] Genesis 3: 17.

[16] Genesis 3: 19.

[17] Genesis 4: 7.

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

[19] Genesis 4: 16.

[20] Genesis 4: 17.

[21] Genesis 4: 20.

[22] Genesis 12: 3.

[23] Genesis 22:18.

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

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

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

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

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

We should just remind ourselves of those verses:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And only Genesis provides such a model.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There then follow these verses:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Joseph BH McMillan

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2014 All Rights Reserved

 

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

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

[3] Tegmark, page 323.

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

[5] Tegmark, page 259.

[6] Tegmark, page 323.

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

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

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

[10] Genesis 2: 6.

[11] Genesis 2: 7.

[12] Genesis 1: 21.

[13] Proverbs 1: 1 – 7.

[14] Genesis 2: 8 – 9.

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

[16] Genesis 2: 10.

[17] Genesis 2: 15.

[18] Genesis 2: 16 – 17.

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

[20] Genesis 2: 21.

[21] Genesis 2: 22 – 24.

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

[23] Genesis 2: 24.

A Convergence of Christianity and Judaism?

In his book Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI joins debate with Rabbi Jacob Neusner on what is dubbed “the Jewish-Christian dialogue.”

Neusner initiated the debate with his provocative book A Rabbi Talks to Jesus.

Rather than attempt to identify the points of difference between these ‘protagonists’, let me quote Neusner’s own assessment of where the debate rests.

Neusner says this in an article for the Jewish Forward titled The Pope and I: A Debate With Jesus Is Joined By Benedict XVI : “Where Jesus diverges from the revelation by God to Moses at Mount Sinai that is the Torah, he is wrong, and Moses is right. In setting forth the grounds to this unapologetic dissent, I meant to foster religious dialogue among believers, Christian and Jewish alike. For a long time, Jews have disingenuously praised Jesus as a rabbi, a Jew like us really; but to Christian faith in Jesus Christ, that affirmation is monumentally irrelevant. And for their part, Christians have praised Judaism as the religion from which Jesus came, and to us, that is hardly a vivid compliment.

“Jews and Christians have avoided meeting head-on the points of substantial difference between us, not only in response to the person and claims of Jesus, but especially in addressing his teachings. He claimed to reform and to improve, “You have heard it said… but I say….” We maintain that the Torah was and is perfect and beyond improvement, and that Judaism — built upon the Torah and the prophets and writings, and the originally oral parts of the Torah written down in the Mishnah, Talmuds and Midrash — was and remains God’s will for humanity.

“By that criterion I set forth a Jewish dissent to some important teachings of Jesus. It is a gesture of respect for Christians and of honor for their faith.”

Now, what I find remarkable about Neusner’s assessment (and I shall revert to the Pope in a moment), is his statement that “the Torah was and is perfect and beyond improvement, and that Judaism — built upon the Torah and the prophets and writings, and the originally oral parts of the Torah written down in the Mishnah, Talmuds and Midrash — was and remains God’s will for humanity.”

I find this remarkable for several reasons.

First, it does not appear to recognize the primacy of the Ten Commandments, or the distinction between the Ten Commandments and the laws Moses derived from the Ten Commandments.

Even if we are to assume that the Torah is “perfect and beyond improvement”, surely we still need to address the distinction between that which God is said to have deemed of such fundamental importance that He saw fit to write it down personally, and in His own hand, and that which He saw sufficient to relay through His messengers.

The great Jewish philosopher, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, who lived at about the same time as Christ, makes this distinction central to the understanding of the Torah. He says this: “For it was suitable to [God’s] own nature to promulgate in His own Person the HEADS and PRINCIPLES of all particular laws, but to send forth the particular and special laws by the most perfect of the prophets … to be the interpreter of His holy oracles.” [my emphasis]

Deuteronomy 5:22 reinforces Philo’s point: “These words [the Ten Commandments] the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: AND HE ADDED NO MORE. And HE wrote them in two tables of stone.” [my emphasis]

Whether we regard the events at Mount Sinai as literal or symbolic, the effect is the same. Certain Principles were given added weight by being said to have emanated from God Himself, in His own hand.

Ignoring that distinction, or elevating the other Mosaic laws to equal status as those said to have been delivered in God’s own hand, diminished the point of the distinction, and leads to some very curious results, which brings me to the second point.

If the Torah is “perfect and beyond improvement”, and reflects what “was and remains God’s will for humanity”, then it must rest with Neusner to explain why so many of the laws expounded in the Torah are simply ignored by Jews today, including him, I expect.

Let me give just a few examples.

Immediately after Exodus 20 (the Ten Commandments), we find certain laws and ordinances expounded. Exodus 21:1 – 11 deal with buying and selling human beings. Although the KJV refers to these human beings as “servants”, they are for all intents and purposes slaves. Verse 4 says this: “If his [the slave’s] master has given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he [the slave being freed after 7 years service] shall go out himself.”

I should be interested to know how many Jews would consider such an arrangement acceptable today, or whether Neusner thinks such a state of affairs is acceptable?

Let us take another. “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.” [Exodus 21:17]

Or the laws set out in Deuteronomy, for example.

A woman not found to be a virgin on her wedding night shall be brought “to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die.” [Deuteronomy 22:21]

Then we have the man committing adultery with a married woman: “Then they shall both of them die.” [Deuteronomy 22:22]

And, of course, there are the laws dealing with homosexuals: “And if a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death.” [Leviticus 20:13] Now, even if one finds homosexuality abhorrent, how many today would advocate such punishment?

Such laws are far more reflective of strict Sharia Law which so many in the West find so distasteful. Are such laws really “perfect and beyond improvement”? And do they really reflect “God’s will for humanity”?

Or should we distinguish between such laws, and the “heads and principles” of all laws, the Ten Commandments, as Philo noted?

In fact, the “writings” which Neusner references, which I take to include Proverbs, specifically refers to the question of ‘interpretation’. “To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the INTERPRETATION; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.” [Proverbs 1:4 – 6]

The plain fact is that in practice Jews, or at least the vast majority of Jews, do not subscribe to the letter of many, if not the majority, of the laws prescribed by, or ascribed to, Moses, as distinct from the spirit of the Principles annunciated in the Ten Commandments. And no matter how “dialogue on theological truth”, as Neusner describes it, attempts to finesse the issue, the ‘truth’ is that it is the Ten Commandments which are “perfect and beyond improvement” and reflect “God’s will for humanity”, and only the Ten Commandments.

And, as I have argued in previous articles [The Law: Salvation, the State, and the Kingdom of God, and Are We Genetically Programmed by, and with, the Ten Commandments?, and in my books], science is now beginning to suggest that we human beings have a “morality module” in our brains, a module, I argue, which is modeled on the Principles underlying the Ten Commandments.

Such discoveries by science tend to support, therefore, those verses in the Scriptures which say precisely that: Genesis 1: 27 (man in the image of God); Deuteronomy 30:14 (the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart); and, on the Christian side, Luke 17:21 (the Kingdom of God is within you).

Which brings me to the Christian side of the ‘debate’.

“Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.” No, not Christ, but Proverbs 24:29.

But Christ did say this: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” [Matthew 5:38 & 39]

What we see here is Christ taking further a movement away from the strict Mosaic law already under way in Proverbs.

But Christ is at pains to stress that He is not seeking to change the underlying Principles of The Law, only the interpretation.

He affirms the immutability of The Law, by which He clearly means the Ten Commandments. He says this: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, ‘Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, ‘till all be fulfilled.” [Matthew 5:17 & 18]

Now, I appreciate that Neusner’s point is that Christ could not ‘interpret’ the Law because only God, according to Neusner – if I read him right, can do so, and the Jews do not recognize Jesus as the son of God, or the Messiah.

But that misses the point!

It seems to me that Christ was making precisely the point made by the Jewish philosopher Philo. Christ was distinguishing between the Principles of the Ten Commandments, and the interpretation of those Principles.

Thomas Aquinas said the same thing as Philo: “The precepts of the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments) differ from the other precepts of the Law, in the fact that God Himself is said to have given the precepts of the Decalogue; whereas He gave the other precepts to the people through Moses.” [ST II, Q 100, Art 3]

So if we take, for example, the adulteress who was brought before Christ for a stoning. Christ doesn’t say there is nothing wrong with adultery, he brings the issue of the punishment into question. After those eager to cast the stones disperse, Christ tells her to go and “sin no more”.

The Seventh Commandment does not dictate a punishment. Moses determined the punishment. Christ re-interpreted the Commandment to lighten the punishment while affirming the Principle.

But the important point to note is that few Jews and Christians today would regard a good stoning appropriate for any crime, let alone adultery. Yet both, I expect, would still regard adultery as a sin, even a crime. So, in practice, both Christians and Jews are constantly ‘reinterpreting’ the Principles underlying the Ten Commandments. It is a simple fact – and I believe it is a simple fact because human beings are ‘programmed’ with the Principles underlying the Ten Commandments and are constantly trying to come to terms with them – unconsciously, I suspect.

Yet, like the Jews, in practice, many, or most, Christians do not follow strictly Christ’s teachings, or interpretation of the Principles underlying the Ten Commandments. For example, few Christians would ‘turn the other cheek’ if a family member were under threat or attacked. Few Christians (although I know there are some) would argue that we should have done nothing after 9/11. Few Christians would argue that we should not have a military to defend the country. All these things appear to contradict Christ’s teachings, so we find justification by reverting to the Old Testament.

In other words, what we are doing is trying to synthesize the various interpretations of the Ten Commandments from the Torah, the Prophets, the writings (like Proverbs and Ecclesiastes – “a time to kill, and a time to heal”), the Gospels, and the other books of the New Testament. We often hear the Old Testament quoted more in certain churches than the New when ‘turn the other cheek’ does not seem appropriate for the circumstance.

Even the issue of Salvation is not that different between the Jewish and Christian versions. Both seek to regain the ‘right to life’ lost by ‘original sin’. So we see the New Testament end in the last Chapter with this: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life.” [Revelations 22:14]

And Christ’s Commandments, the Law, are the same as the Commandments handed down on Mount Sinai (Matthew 5:17 & 18 quoted above).

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” [Matthew 7:21]

And our Father in heaven made His will abundantly clear – He descended down to earth to write it on two tables of stone. And Christ stated emphatically that not “one jot or one tittle” shall pass from God’s revealed will until all be fulfilled – that is, until His will is established as the Principles which govern human behavior and human government – until the Kingdom of God is established on earth.

So, what all this tells us is that once we move beyond the ‘theological’, and if I may say so, infantile, ‘no he can’t – yes he can’ arguments that encumber this ‘new debate’, we find that both Moses and Christ recognized as the immutable Word of God the Ten Commandments, and in particular, the Principles which underlie those Commandments. And in practice today, both Christianity and Judaism converge in the practical interpretation of those Principles, and their application.

We may not be doing a very good job of interpretation at present, but that is because no one has really ever brought up the issue.

If we do, then the other ‘differences’ may well converge as well. After all, we both recognize the same God, and we both recognize that He revealed His will when he descended to earth to deliver it.

By Joseph BH McMillan

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2014 All Rights Reserved

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

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

That statement may require some clarification.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Male and female created HE THEM.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The crucial words have been highlighted in bold.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those verses are these:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Joseph BH McMillan

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

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2014 All Rights Reserved

Notes

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

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

[3] Deuteronomy 30:10 – 14.

[4] Luke 17; 21 – my emphasis.

[5] Romans 2: 14 & 15.

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

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

[8] Mathew 19: 4 – 8.

[9] Psalm 33: 6.

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

[11] Exodus 20:12.

[12] Philo, Decalogue, XXII (106)

[13] The Guardian, 13 October 2005.

[14] Weinberg, page 32.

[15] Genesis 1: 28.

[16] Genesis 1: 29.

[17] Genesis 1: 28.

[18] Genesis 1: 22.

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

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

[21] Genesis 1: 29.

[22] Genesis 1: 30.

[23] Quoted by Rees, pages 11 – 12.

[24] Genesis 1: 31.

[25] Genesis 1: 31.

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

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

[28] Genesis 1: 27

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

[30] Genesis 2: 2.

[31] Kaku,  page 149.

 

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2014 All Rights Reserved

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

Day Five starts with these words:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So why these words?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The general scientific consensus is evolution.

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

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

And it gets even more intriguing.

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

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

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

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

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

So how can DNA ‘know’ all this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Joseph B.H. McMillan All Rights Reserved

Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

[6] Greene, pages 188 & 189.

[7] Weinberg, page 32.

[8] Weinberg, pages 9 & 10.

[9] Rees, page 1.

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

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

Day Four thus starts with this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how do scientists get round that problem?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so Day Four was “fully settled.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to go to Day Five.

 

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

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

Notes:

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

[2] Kaku, page 244.

[3] Kaku, page 249.

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

[5] Kaku, page 172 – my emphasis.

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

[7] Hanlon, Ibid.

[8] Kaku, page 166.

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

[10] Kaku, page 167.

[11] Kaku, page 351.

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

[13] Weinberg, page 84 – my emphasis.

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

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

[16] Greene, pages 188 & 189.

[17] Genesis 1: 19.

[18] Kaku, page 67.

[19] Kaku, page 248 – see above.

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

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

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

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

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

The Principle of Freedom as the Foundation of a Supreme Law

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

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

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

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

The Principle of Freedom Requires a God as the Supreme Lawmaker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morality, Instinct and Reason

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Notes:

[1] Greene, page 225.

[2] Rees, page 154.

[3] Greene, page 189.

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2014 All Rights Reserved