Day Four confirms that the process of transforming the quantum universe into the Classical universe was complete. And according to Genesis, central to the process was the observation element of quantum physics. However, we don’t need to resort to some clever interpretation of the words to find reference to the observation element; it is there in plain language – “And God saw …”
Given the importance of those words, this would be an opportune moment to consider in a little more detail the significance of the words “And God said …” followed by “And God saw …”
“And God said …” – “And God saw …”
For those with a detailed understanding of physics, let me apologize in advance for what may seem a rather basic summary of these two concepts.
When scientists refer to quantum physics in contrast to Classical physics, the term Classical physics is used to include special and general relativity; in other words, it comprises the laws that apply from the level of isolated atoms and molecules through to the cosmic world of planets, stars and galaxies. Thus Classical physics refers to the laws that determine the predictable, deterministic world we see all around us.
Quantum physics, on the other hand, relates to the behavior of sub-atomic particles like electrons, photons and quarks. These particles make up everything we know as ordinary matter and, as Weinberg says, scientists study these fundamental particles because they believe that by doing so they “will learn something about the PRINCIPLES that govern everything.”
The first thing to note about fundamental particles is that they are not like tiny grains of sand. They are more like waves. Scientists call this property of a particle its wavefunction. The wavefunction determines that a particle is free to adopt any one of all probable states. As the physicist Brian Greene says, “a particle can hang in a state of limbo between having one or other particular property … and only when the particle is looked at (measured or observed) does it randomly commit to one definite property or another.”
There is thus a two-stage process that determines the physical universe.
First, particles are free to choose from all probable states. Second, only when a particle is observed will it choose one specific state.
Many physicists believe that this is the basis for what we describe as “free will.” The popular television physicist, Michio Kaku, describes the effect of quantum physics by saying that in a “quantum play, the actors suddenly throw away the script and act on their own. The puppets cut their strings. Free will has been established.” That establishes freedom as a fundamental principle of physics, or at least quantum physics.
However, Kaku also says that “physicists realize that if [they] could somehow control these probabilities, one could perform feats indistinguishable from magic.”
That is an important remark which leads to another aspect of particle behavior that we ought to consider.
It relates to what are described as delayed-choice experiments. In these experiments, particles are fired through a beam splitter at a detector. When the detector is switched off, the particles show an interference pattern demonstrating that they are in a wave-like mode. However, when the detector is switched on, the particles pass through one or other slit on the splitter and appear as a dot. That means they are in a particle-like mode because they have assumed a specific state after being measured (observed) by the detector.
But when this experiment is modified, the behavior of particles becomes even more peculiar. If the detector is switched off after the particle has been emitted, the particle appears to predict that the detector will be switched off before it is fired, and adopts a wave-like state. If the detector is programmed to randomly switch on and off as particles are fired at it, the particles always correctly predict whether the detector will be switched on or off when they arrive. Brian Greene notes that the particles appear to “have a ‘premonition’ of the experimental situation they will encounter farther downstream, and act accordingly.”
Greene goes on to say that these experiments suggest that “a consistent and definite history becomes manifest only after the future to which it leads has been fully settled.”
Further modifications to the experiments make the behavior of particles even more bizarre. By placing a tagging device in front of the slits it is possible to determine through which slit a particle travelled. That is a form of manipulating the particle to behave in a certain way. However, if an erasing device is placed just in front of the detector, the tagging is undone and an interference pattern again appears of the detector screen. As Greene says, this has the effect of “undoing the past, even undoing the ancient past.” But it does not actually change what happened in the past, it means that “the future helps shape the story you tell of the past.”
This may sound a little strange, but it is actually what happens in everyday life. Let’s take an example.
If you make a decision to go to university to get a degree, you give yourself a kind of instruction as to how you want the immediate future of your life to progress. You then apply, are offered a place, and start your course. At this stage, your objective of getting a degree is not at all ‘settled’. It is only “fully settled”, or achieved, when you sit your final exams, they are marked (‘measured’) and you pass, and are awarded the degree. The awarding of the degree creates “a consistent and definite history” because “the future to which [your initial decision] leads has been fully settled.” Conversely, at any time before you sit your final exams and pass, your objective of getting a degree is not “fully settled”; any number of things could intervene to prevent that happening. And if that happens, you revert to the original position of having to make a decision on what to do next. Your past decision to get a degree is “undone.” Like the particle in a wave-like mode, an “interference pattern” again appears in your life.
However, as Greene also points out, this does not change the fact that you originally made a decision to go to university, it only tells a different story of what happened in relation to that initial decision – “the future [that did not result in a degree] helps shape the story you tell of [your past decision to get a degree].”
Our lives are generally segmented into just such a set of objectives that we work to achieve. Each segment is like the “days” described in Genesis, including the “seventh day”, when God is said to have rested from all His work. We humans retire.
What this tells us is that ‘locking-in’ the future is important to create the deterministic universe of Classical physics. And that can only be done by an observation, the equivalent of your final examination being marked, and being awarded a degree.
Relationship between “the evening and the morning” and the words “And God said …” followed by “And God saw …”
The delayed-choice experiments reveal how the probabilities inherent in particles could be manipulated or controlled.
Particles appear able to ‘know’ what the future environment will look like when the detector is switched on. That tells us that the mere fact of the detector being in a position to observe somehow gives an ‘instruction’ to the particles about the future environment they will encounter, which compels them to adopt the necessary state to prepare for that environment. It’s exactly like making the decision to get a degree. We don’t go to university then wonder what we should do there. We go to university with the objective of establishing the future we envisage – a life with a degree.
So it seems that the observation element in Genesis, the words “And God saw …”, is what compels the particles to form the necessary structures to conform to the future environment the observation element communicates to them. It’s like the detector being switched on, or the decision to get a degree. The intention is what causes the preparation for the future environment.
The words to describe a “day” seem to confirm that. Placing “the evening” before “the morning” tells us that the future event (God saw) informs the preceding event (God said), just like the detector being switched on compels particles to adopt a specific state, or the decision to get a degree informs our actions today in order to achieve our intended objective in the future.
When we look at Genesis in that way, the peculiar wording seems entirely sensible.
The words “And God said …” indicate that there has been a manipulation of matter to adopt a particular path with a specific objective. Up to Day Four, the objective was to transform the quantum laws into Classical laws so as to create the ordered, predictable and deterministic world that is a prerequisite for what was to follow. And once that was achieved, the system was made definite with an observation – “And God saw …”
The first chapter of Genesis records a series of such stages to the creation of the universe and, as we shall see, life itself. It provides the kind of “quantum-mechanical model” Steven Weinberg says is required to explain how the universe came into being.
Weinberg suggests that physicists need to construct a “quantum-mechanical model” that shows how, “as a result of repeated interactions of a [conscious outside observer] with individual systems, the wave function of the combined system evolves with certainty to a final wave function, in which the [conscious outside observer] has become convinced that the probabilities of the individual measurements are what are prescribed by the Copenhagen interpretation.”
Now that may all sound like gobbledygook to non-scientists, but all it really means is that we need an explanation of how the uncertainty inherent in the quantum laws that apply to fundamental particles have brought about the predictable, deterministic physical world we see all around us. And that explanation has to include an explanation for the necessity for a conscious outside observer in order to ensure that particles adopt a particle-like state; but not just any particle-like state, but the state that brought about the universe and life as we know it.
It is hard to imagine a better model than the opening chapter of Genesis.
Day Four thus starts with a confirmation that what had taken place in the first three “days” provided a predictable and deterministic world which operated according to predictable and deterministic laws. That confirmation comes with the opening verse.
“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:” [Genesis 1: 14]
The reference to the “lights in the firmament” being for “signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” makes it clear that the workings of the universe were such that they provided the basis for predictable measurement. But the reference to the word “signs” is more intriguing. The word “signs” follows the words “to divide the day from the night.” The reference is clearly linking what happened in “day” one with “day” four, thus pointing the reader back to “day” one for an explanation of how the predictable universe came into being. And that is made even more explicit in verse 18 (day four) which repeats exactly the words in verse 4 (day one) – that the light was to divide “the light from the darkness.”
This verse tells us that the laws that operate on earth, and in our solar system, are the same laws that operate across the entire universe. In science it is called “translational symmetry”, which, Greene notes, enables us to “learn about fundamental laws at work in the entire universe without straying from home, since the laws we discover here are those laws.”
Day four therefore confirms that “symmetries are the foundation from which laws spring.” That means that everything in the universe is equally subject to the same laws, including human beings.
So Day Four gives us the second fundamental principle of morality, the principle that is the foundation of justice – equality under the law.
Up until now, therefore, Genesis has set out the first two fundamental principles of morality. Day One gave us the principle that is the objective of government, Freedom under the Law, and Day Four gives us the principle that is the objective of justice, Equality under the Law. The inscription on the Supreme Court building in Washington DC proclaims the principle as “Equal justice under law”, but the meaning is the same.
There is then only one further thing to note about Day Four.
“And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.” [Genesis 1: 15]
The lights were to “give light upon the earth.” Light was a necessary ingredient for the next stage of the unfolding universe – transforming the primitive DNA that had been produced in Day Three into higher life-forms.
After our solar system had thus been made ready, the system was ‘locked-in’ with an observation – “And God saw that it was good.” What scientists call the Goldilocks zone had been set up.
Day Four ends with the familiar words that define a “day” – “And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.” By the most recent scientific calculations, that would have been around 4.5 billion years ago – almost ten billion years after “the beginning”.
And so Day Four was “fully settled.”
This series of articles is based on the book A ‘Final’ Theory’ of God by Joseph BH McMillan.
Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved
 Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory, Vintage, 1994 (paperback), page 61.
 Greene, Brian. The Fabric of the Cosmos, Penguin Books 2005 (paperback).
 Kaku, Michio. Parallel Worlds, Penguin Books 2006, page 149.
 Kaku, page 147.
 Greene, page 189.
 Greene, page 189.
 Greene, page 193.
 Greene, page 199.
 Greene, page 193.
 Weinberg, page 84.
 Greene, page 223 – (emphasis in bold is Greene’s)
 Greene, page 225
 Genesis 1: 18.
 Genesis 1: 19.