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.’”
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.”
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.”
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’.”
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.”
Tegmark claims that what Wheeler would have called ‘information’ is in fact mathematics – a “universe of gyrating numbers, of equations coming to life” – 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.” And Andrei Linde claims that “In the absence of observers, our universe is dead.”
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.”
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] …’”
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.”
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 …?” 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.”
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.’ 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.” 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.” 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.” 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.”
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,” 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’.
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
 Kaku, Michio. Parallel Worlds, Penguin, London, 2006 (paperback), page 248.
 Kaku, page 244.
 Kaku, page 249.
 Rees, Martin. Just Six Numbers, Phoenix, London, 1999 (paperback), page 174.
 Kaku, page 172 – my emphasis.
 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.
 Hanlon, Ibid.
 Kaku, page 166.
 Philo, On the Heavens, XLIV – 129.
 Kaku, page 167.
 Kaku, page 351.
 Weinberg, Steven. Dreams of a Final Theory, Vintage, New York, 1994 (paperback), page 81.
 Weinberg, page 84 – my emphasis.
 Greene, Brian. The Fabric of the Cosmos, Penguin, London, 2005 (paperback), pages 222 & 225
 Greene, page 223 – Greene’s emphasis.
 Greene, pages 188 & 189.
 Genesis 1: 19.
 Kaku, page 67.
 Kaku, page 248 – see above.