Tag Archives: Genesis

Small Revision to my latest book A ‘Final Theory’ of God

I am currently working on an Updated Edition of my last book, A ‘Final Theory’ of God. The update will primarily focus on scientific developments/discoveries since the book was published in 2014, and especially developments in neuroscience. However, these scientific developments require some consequential revisions to other arguments in the book. For the benefit of those who have already read the book, I would like to share one small revision I shall be making.

It relates to the interaction between the neurological networks of instinct, reason and morality, and specifically how the activation of the neurological moral network (morality module) in the first of the human species is portrayed in the Biblical story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.

The revision relates to Chapter 7 of the book (The Manifestation of the Laws of Physics as the Human Brain – The Meaning of the Garden of Eden), at pages 131 – 133. For those who have not read the book, abridged articles on Genesis chapters 2 and 3 can be found here  http://wp.me/p5izWu-7r and here http://wp.me/p5izWu-7C.

I should stress, however, that these and other revisions do not detract from the overall arguments in the book; they reinforce and clarify those arguments.

Brief Background Summary

Chapter 7 of the book is an analysis of the culmination of the unfolding of the fundamental laws of physics as a human organism with a capacity for moral judgement.

Preceding chapters explain how the brain developed the distinct neurological faculties (neurological networks) of instincts and reason. Initially the capacity to reason was limited to servicing those instincts. The primary human instincts are survival, security and reproduction, which are instincts we share with animals. Instincts are activated by the prospect of pleasure or the fear of pain. However, the human capacity to reason (think, scheme, evaluate, plan etc) at a higher level than animals causes humans to devise ways to indulge (or over-indulge) the pleasure to be had by servicing their primitive instincts and react (or over-react) to the fear of pain. To counter this propensity to over-indulge or over-react to the prospect of pleasure or fear of pain, the human brain is endowed with what neuroscience now recognises as a neurological moral network, or morality module (McMillan, 2017). The neurological moral network was somehow activated at some point during the development of the human brain.

Chapter 7 of the book explains that the description of the Garden of Eden and the story of Adam and Eve are metaphors for the formation and functioning of the human brain, and the process by which the neurological moral network was activated in the first of the human species to experience it. The book describes the metaphor of the Garden of Eden as follows.

The “trees” [that are “made to grow”] perfectly correspond to [the various neurological faculties] – “pleasant to the sight” refers to instincts; “good for food” refers to the innate ‘knowledge’ of how the universe and life functions and the human compulsion to consciously acquire that ‘knowledge’; and “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” refers to the neurological moral network (page 120).

But the “tree of life” is more problematic. If the “Garden of Eden” refers to the human brain, and the “trees” to the various faculties (neurological networks) that constitute the brain, then the “tree of life” should correspond to a neurological network. And it should be noted that “the man” was not prohibited from eating of the “tree of life” (Genesis 2:16 & 17).

The Revision

The revision that I will be making to the book resolves that problem, and it is found in a proper understanding of the symbolism of “the serpent” (Genesis 3:1-5). In the book, I explain these verses as follows:

The story of Eve’s (the woman’s) 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, …” symbolises 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 to it (pages 131 – 132).

In adopting that interpretation of these verses (ie Genesis 3:1 – 7) I was swayed, to an extent, by the interpretation of Philo Judaeus (also called Philo of Alexandria, the great Jewish philosopher who lived at about the same time as Jesus) who described the symbolism of “the serpent” like this:

Anyone who follows a reasonable train of conjecture, will say with great propriety, that the … serpent is the symbol of pleasure.  … 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 (Philo, 2015, p. p. LVI (157) and (160) respectively).

However, after considerable reflection, and specifically in attempting to explain the “tree of life” in the context of the Garden of Eden being a metaphor for the human brain, it became increasingly obvious that “the serpent” represents the human capacity to reason (think, reflect, scheme, devise, evaluate, plan, investigate etc). I will be setting out the argument for that conclusion in full in the Updated Edition of the book but set out here the argument in outline.

The Outline Argument

The serpent” symbolises reason advocating for the pleasure that could be had by succumbing to the demands of some or other primitive instinct (and the phallic imagery of “the serpent” suggests the instinct for reproduction) to indulge in some physical act or acts which the neurological moral network cautions is ‘wrong’. The reply to “the serpent” by “the woman” that God had prohibited them from eating of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” (the “fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden”) is the response from the neurological moral network cautioning that the behaviour contemplated is wrong. The response from “the serpent” symbolises reason then challenging that warning from the neurological moral network against indulging in the contemplated behaviour by proclaiming that “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” (Genesis 3:4 & 5).

That final response from “the serpent” (reason) induces “the woman” to find ‘justification’ for ignoring the ‘voice’ of the neurological moral network by citing the perceived ‘benefits’ that she thinks (reasons) may be derived by indulging her primitive instincts:

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, and took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband with her: and he did eat (Genesis 3:6).

The words “pleasant” and “desired” pointedly refer to pleasure; the pleasure reason perceives is to be had by indulging in some or other type of physical behaviour (and the imagery of “the serpent” suggests sexual behaviour of some kind) that the neurological moral network cautions is wrong.

That “the woman” perceived the tree to be “good for food” refers to the primitive human instinct to find the means to satisfy the demands of our primary primitive instincts of survival, security and reproduction. The word “food” refers to the desire to provide ‘sustenance’ for primitive instincts, and “good” refers to those things which can most effectively provide such ‘sustenance’. But in this case, ‘sustenance’ was not an issue because there was an abundance of other fruit in the Garden that they were free to ‘eat’. The reference to “the woman” justifying ‘eating’ the fruit on the basis of it being “good for food” thus symbolises reason invoking an otherwise ‘natural’ human action (simply responding to our instincts) to justify an action that the neurological moral network was strongly warning was wrong. It wasn’t for basic ‘sustenance’ that she was justifying eating of the fruit, but over-indulgence of some primitive instinct because of the perceived additional pleasure it may generate.

Finally, the words “to make one wise” refer to the human instinct to acquire ‘knowledge’ of the world and how it functions as a means to better cater to the demands of our primitive instincts. However, in this case, “the woman” applies reason to justify indulging an action that offends against the neurological moral network on the pretext that it would provide additional ‘knowledge’ (“make one wise”) even although it had nothing to do with servicing the basic needs for survival, security or reproduction, but only for the perceived pleasure it may generate.

Once that moral boundary had been crossed, the descendants of these human beings would pursue pleasure for the sake of pleasure itself, not just to satisfy a particular instinctive need such as hunger or reproduction. Philo put the distinction well:

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 (Philo, 2015, p. p. LVIII (163)) – and I would add, not just his “eyes and ears”.

Why acquiring knowledge of good and evil was wrong

The reason it was wrong to ‘acquire’ the “knowledge of good and evil” is that an act had to be taken which offended against the neurological moral network for it to be consciously activated. That opened the way for human beings, who up until then had simply conformed to the subconscious constraints of the neurological moral network, to ‘rationalise’ setting aside any sense of guilt or conscience caused by indulging the demands of their primitive instincts and seek to maximise pleasure and eliminate at any cost any perceived threat that may cause ‘pain’. From then on, human beings would no longer be satisfied with simply sustaining their lives in harmony with nature. They began to desire in excess. They proclaimed ‘ownership’ of more land than they needed for their own survival, even if that meant depriving others of the basic necessities. They sought to conquer, plunder and destroy to allay their fears and insecurities. It meant building castles, building kingdoms, building empires. The human species had fallen into bondage of their primitive instincts. They became slaves to the pursuit of pleasure and the fear of pain. But as Philo says, “And those who have previously become the slaves of pleasure immediately receive the wages of this miserable and incurable passion” (Philo, 2015, p. p. LX (167)). A condition, says Philo, “more miserable than death” (Philo, 2015, p. p. LVIII (164)).

A further consequence arises from “the serpent’s” initial claim that eating of the Tree would make them “as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). They would not then need to pay any attention to the ‘voice’ of the neurological moral network, they could do as they please, and would be accountable to nobody. There would be no need to believe in God. They could decide for themselves what was right and wrong, and they would not feel any guilt for their actions.

Reason and The Tree of Life

Recognising that “the serpent” symbolises the human capacity to ‘reason’ leads to the supposition that the “tree of life” is a metaphor for ‘reason’ as well. But there is a difference. And that relates to the application of reason. I shall set out the argument in outline only.

The “tree of life” and the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” that were in the “midst of the garden” (Genesis 2:9 & 3:3) refer to the initial harmony between reason (“the tree of life”) and the neurological moral network (“the tree of knowledge of good and evil”). At this early stage of human development reason subconsciously complied with the restraint of the ‘voice’ of the neurological moral network when responding to the demands of primitive instinct. That is not idle speculation. It is supported by anthropological evidence, as can be seen in the earliest of the human species, whose descendants survive to this day, most notably the San people of southern Africa (and I would include also perhaps other indigenous peoples like the Aboriginal people of Australia and the Inuit). Those who have not yet been ‘civilised’ respond subconsciously to the ‘voice’ of the neurological moral network.

This state of harmony between reason and the moral demands of the neurological moral network is symbolised by the words “and they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25).

But the human capacity for reason was not and is not genetically limited to subconsciously complying with the restraint cautioned by the neurological moral network. The human capacity for reason was and is capable of contemplating and entertaining actions which would violate the neurological moral network. And human beings were and are capable of ‘rationalising’ disobedience to the restraint urged by the neurological moral network by citing the need and benefits of servicing their primitive instincts. That is symbolised in the exchanges between “the serpent” and “the woman”. The “serpent” symbolises this malevolent aspect of the human capacity to reason, but it also demonstrates that the human will is free to choose whether to serve the moral demands of the neurological moral network or the demands of primitive instinct, although it does know which choice is right.

So when the first human beings took some action that violated the neurological moral network it caused a sense of guilt; it pricked their conscience, and they sought to ‘cover up’ their indiscretion by blanking it out, so to speak – that is, they sought to suppress the sense of guilt and conscience they felt. That is symbolised by the words “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (Genesis 3:26).

But they could not escape the sense of guilt and conscience. Notwithstanding their attempts to justify their actions in terms of a natural response to the demands of their primitive instincts, the sense of guilt and conscience persisted, especially when they were no longer in a state of heightened passion that had originally provoked their disobedience to the ‘voice’ of the neurological moral network. That is symbolised in Genesis 3:8 with these words: “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the Garden.”

The “voice of the Lord God” symbolises the persistence of their guilty conscience.

The “cool of the day” symbolises reflection on their actions when they were no longer in the state of excited passion about the pleasure they anticipated by indulging in the contemplated action.

That they “hid themselves … amongst the trees of the Garden” symbolises them seeking to avoid the guilt they were feeling by justifying their action as a natural response to their primitive instincts.

Consequences of violating the neurological moral network

Of course, no matter how much they sought to suppress the sense of guilt they were unable to do so. And the consequences were dramatic, for the first of the human race to succumb to the temptation to defy the ‘voice’ of the neurological moral network, and to their descendants, right up to the present day. Once the neurological moral network had been consciously activated it could not be de-activated. From that moment on, the human capacity to reason would be in constant tension with itself in discerning and choosing between the demands of their primitive instincts and the moral prescriptions of the neurological moral network.

This consequence is symbolised in this verse: “And I will put enmity between thee [the serpent/reason] and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

The word “enmity” refers to the state of tension or opposition that had arisen between the demands of primitive instincts and the neurological moral network on the human capacity to reason.

The “serpent” represents the capacity to reason, and “the woman” represents the human will which is compelled to choose between the conflicting demands on reason to act in accordance with primitive instinct or the neurological moral network.

That the “enmity” will continue “between thy seed and her seed” symbolises the fact that this tension (“enmity”) would afflict the human capacity to reason in all the descendants of the first human beings who consciously activated the neurological moral network.

That “enmity” shall “bruise” the head of “the serpent”, and that “the serpent” shall “bruise” the heel of “enmity”, symbolises the conflict between the competing demands on reason. On most occasions, the demands of primitive instincts will prevail in this conflict and reason shall succumb (“it shall bruise thy head”); at other times, reason will resist and make the right decision (“thou shalt bruise his heel”).

But the consequence for the human condition is that they would be ruled thereafter by the pleasures and fears aroused by their primitive instincts. They would have to strenuously and consciously strive to hear the ‘voice’ of neurological moral network above the clamour of demands from their primitive instincts. The ‘voice’ of the neurological moral network had been silenced, unless they strove assiduously to discern it. Human beings would only hear dim rumblings. They had become morally deaf, blind and mute.

That is the symbolism of Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden.[i] “Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken” (Genesis 3:23).

And the next verse is particularly apt in respect of the ability of reason to conform itself to the demands of the neurological moral network once that network had been consciously activated: “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). Human beings would no longer enjoy the mental tranquillity of automatically and subconsciously living in conformity with the prescriptions of the neurological moral network. For reason to re-discover that tranquillity it would face considerable and almost insurmountable obstacles (“Cherubims and a flaming sword”) due to the overwhelming need for reason to devise ways to service the demands of primitive instinct. The “way of” naturally conforming to the moral law had been lost. That is symbolised by the words “to keep the WAY OF the tree of life”; that is, the way of reason in conformity with the neurological moral network.

Why compliance with the prescriptions of the neurological moral network is significant is dealt with under the sub-headings “Mind/Body Debate” and “Mind/Soul Debate” in the article titled “Addressing some contemporary issues between science, philosophy and religion.”

This interpretation is also important in understanding the intricate connection between the origins of religion and justice. I shall be addressing that issue in the next article.

——————————————————————-

Bibliography

McMillan, J. B., 2016. Science in Genesis Chapter 2. [Online]
Available at: http://wp.me/p5izWu-95

McMillan, J. B., 2017. Addressing some contemporary issues between science, philosophy and religion.. [Online]
Available at: http://wp.me/p5izWu-bC

Philo, 2015. On the Creation. [Online]
Available at: http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/text/philo/book1.html

 

[i] Adam had by then called “the woman Eve, because “she was the mother of all living” – Genesis 3:20

Preview of forthcoming video: Part III of A Legal Proof for the Existence of God

Before addressing the science in Day Two of Genesis it is useful to recall the methodology adopted in Day One.

Day One started with “the heaven and the earth”, which were described as being “without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Then “the heaven and the earth” are re-described collectively as “the waters”, signifying their life-giving and life-sustaining properties. The “waters” were then ‘converted’ into “light” when matter and antimatter interacted to create photons of light. But because there was a slight excess of matter over antimatter, some matter was not converted into light. That excess matter was described as “the darkness”, which was separated from the “light”. This excess matter would form the building blocks of the physical universe.

Now some people may claim that this is a rather ‘creative’ interpretation of Day One of Genesis, but it is in fact based on the literal meaning of the words in the original Hebrew. That is confirmed by the great Jewish scholar Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD), also known as Ramban.

In his analysis of Genesis, Nahmanides made clear that he was adopting the plain meaning of the words: “And now, listen to a correct and clear explanation of the text according to its simple understanding (peshuto).”

He then goes on to explain Day One like this:

The heavens and all that is in them are one material, and the earth and all that is within it is [another] material; and [God] created both of them from nothing – and the two of them alone were created, and everything was made from them. … He brought out a very fine element from complete nothingness; it has no substance, but it is the energy that can create, that is able to accept a form and to go from the potential to the actual. … And behold, with this creation, which was like a small [and] fine dot, and without substance, were created all of the creations in the heavens and the earth.[1]

As we saw in the second video in this series, which addresses Day One, that is the basis of the mathematical equation – how a substance can converted into something else while maintaining its intrinsic value, like the most famous equation of all, E = mc2.

But this conversion from one state to another also has a moral dimension. It is the basis for which government should strive – freedom under law. Day One started with absolute freedom, then part of that freedom was converted, or subjected, to law. The objective was to bring order to something that was otherwise “without form, and void.”

Day One ended with light and darkness. But when we get to Day Two, we find no mention of “light” and “darkness.” Instead we have a reference to “the waters” again.

That is what the next video will address.

The previous two videos can be seen here:

For the article on which the forthcoming video is based, click here.

These arguments are based on the book A ‘Final Theory’ of God by Joseph BH McMillan.

[1] Nahmanides Commentary on Genesis 1: 1 (paras 3 and 4): http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.1.3?lang=en&layout=lines&sidebarLang=all

A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part X): The Power of Insight

This article addresses a crucial element in the case to prove the existence of God, but not the final element.

It considers the phenomena of scientific knowledge, philosophical understanding, and religious revelation, or prophecy, and shows that they are all saying the same thing, only in different ‘tongues’. They all recognize and rely on the power of insight in their greatest achievements.

The previous articles have shown that Genesis chapters 1 to 3 are a scientifically accurate account of the origins and functioning of the universe and life, so far as scientific knowledge extends today.

But the question is, how did the author or authors[1] of Genesis know, over three thousand years ago, what science is only now discovering?

Insight

Ever since we first acquired the capacity to reflect on our own existence, and hence our own mortality, human beings, or at least some human beings, have asked themselves, ‘what are we doing on this vermin-infested piece of rock hurtling through space at high speed?

They were searching for what we now call truth – truth about the origin of the universe, the functioning of the universe, and our place and purpose in the universe.

Of course, the first human beings who acquired this capacity did not know that what they thought of as home was in fact a ‘piece of rock’, never mind that it was ‘hurtling through space at high speed’. But it didn’t take them very long to start working it out.

In 350 BC Aristotle declared “… that the earth is circular in shape, [and] …is a sphere of no great size.”[2]

Although Aristotle dismissed the notion that the Earth was in ‘motion’, clearly there were advocates of such a theory in Aristotle’s time, because Aristotle refers to them. He says, “Let us first decide the question whether the earth moves or is at rest. For, as we said, there are some who make it one of the stars, and others who, setting it at the center, suppose it to be ‘rolled’ and in motion about the pole as axis.”[3]

Aristarchus of Samos (310 – 230 BC), a Greek mathematician and astronomer, was one of those. Aristarchus put the Sun at the center of the universe with the Earth orbiting around it, as well as revolving on its own axis. He accurately calculated the positions and distances of the other planets from the Sun. This was known as the heliocentric model of the universe and, although rejected by the likes of Aristotle, was eventually revived by Copernicus (1473 – 1543). Many years later, “the work of Johannes Kepler, Galileo, and Newton, finally established not only that Copernicus was correct, but led to a theory of planetary motion in the form of Newton’s laws of motion and gravitation.”[4]

Other early observers of nature and the universe were equally as gifted. The Greek mathematician Eratosthenes (276 BC) even measured the circumference of the Earth at 25,000 miles, only some 100 miles over the actual circumference of 24,901 miles. And at about the time Christ was delivering his Sermon on the Mount, the great Jewish philosopher, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, was saying something similar to Aristarchus: “and [the earth’s] motions and revolutions worthy of notice, being arranged in perfect order, both as to the proportions of its numbers, and the harmony of its periods.”[5]

Now, great minds like Aristotle, Aristarchus, and Philo, are not the norm. Even by today’s standards they would be regarded as exceptionally gifted. Which points to the fact that this newly acquired ability to rationalize human existence was not evenly distributed among the species.

And that itself did not escape the notice of these our gifted ancestors.

As Philo noted: “And very beautifully after He [God] had called the whole race ‘man’, did he distinguish between the sexes, saying, that ‘they were created male and female;’ 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.”[6]

That was nearly two thousand years before Darwin wrote his Origin of the Species, although Philo made that observation for very different reasons.

What Philo was saying is that human beings can discover, or better uncover, the phenomena that govern the universe and determine our nature as human beings because we are a product of those phenomena; and we uncover those phenomena through the application of another product of those self-same phenomena, Philo’s beholding “as in a mirror” – our ability to somehow access the ‘raw data’ in our own brains.

This ability is described as insight.

Insight in science

So it is not surprising to find one of the greatest scientific minds of modern times proclaiming something remarkably similar to Philo.

Einstein said, “I am convinced that we can discover by means of purely mathematical construction the concepts AND THE LAWS … which furnish the key to the understanding of natural phenomena. Experience may suggest the appropriate mathematical concepts, but they MOST CERTAINLY CANNOT BE DEDUCED from it [experience] … In a certain sense, therefore, I hold it true that PURE THOUGHT can grasp reality, as the ancients dreamed.”[7]

Martin Rees, in Just Six Numbers, says, “‘The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible’ is one of Einstein’s best-known aphorisms, expressing his amazement that the laws of physics, which our MINDS ARE SOMEHOW ATTUNED TO UNDERSTAND, apply not just here on Earth but also in the remotest galaxy.”[8]

Likewise, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Eugene Wigner said that “it is not at all natural that laws of Nature exist, MUCH LESS THAT MAN IS ABLE TO DISCOVER THEM.[9]

But should we be surprised that our minds are “attuned to understand the laws of physics”?

Steven Weinberg, another Nobel Prize-winning physicist, suggests not. Commenting on chemical reactions, he says: “we believe that atoms behave the way they do in chemical reactions because the physical PRINCIPLES that govern the electrons and electric forces inside atoms leave NO FREEDOM for the atoms to behave in any other way.[10]

Martin Rees makes the same point when he says that “Mathematical laws underpin the fabric of our universe – not just atoms, but galaxies, stars and people.”[11]

However, scientists also recognize that these fundamental principles, or laws, are accessible to the human brain, and that can only be because they are ‘programmed’ into the brain. Otherwise, how could we know them?

According to Weinberg, the most successful “theoretical physicists” are either like “sages or magicians.”[12]

The sage-physicist reasons in an orderly way about physical problems on the basis of fundamental ideas of the way that nature ought to be.”[13]

Magician-physicists,” on the other hand, says Weinberg, “do not seem to be reasoning at all but … jump over all intermediate steps to a new INSIGHT about nature.”[14]

And Martin Rees says that Einstein’s theory of general relativity was a “conceptual breakthrough” that arose from “Einstein’s DEEP INSIGHT rather than being STIMULATED by any specific experiment or observation.[15]

And Einstein himself said this: “The only really valuable thing is intuition.”[16] But clearly, what Einstein means by “intuition” is “insight”; in the sense set out by Rees and others.

Philosophical insight

Philosophers have a lamentable lack of insight. The exception is Immanuel Kant.

However, Kant’s insight did not relate to the origin and functioning of the universe and life, or even to human behavior. Instead it related to the phenomenon of insight itself.

He says this: “The moral law, although it gives no view, yet gives us a fact absolutely inexplicable from any data of the sensible world, and the whole compass of our theoretical use of reason, a fact which points to a pure world of the understanding, nay, even defines it positively, and enables us to know something of it, namely, a law.”[17]

What Kant was saying is that there is a universal “moral law” which we can somehow access, but which is not based on our experience from assimilating and interpreting our environment through our physical senses. It is called the “Categorical Imperative”. It is essentially insight.

However, he could not identify what it was, or where it came from. He ascribed a more metaphysical aspect to it, even mystical.

Ironically, the solution to Kant’s inability to identify what his “moral law” was, and where it came from, was inadvertently provided by Nietzsche when he mocked Kant for having “discovered a moral faculty in man.”[18]

The origin of Kant’s “moral law” is what I have called in previous articles the neurological moral network. Sir Robert Winston calls it a “morality module”. So it is not some metaphysical or mystical ability, but a physical structure in the human brain. That is the “moral faculty”.

Religious insight – revelation

Leon J Wood, in his book The Prophets of Israel, argues that prophesy is not based on, or derived from, ecstatic experience. The three Hebrew terms used for Prophets in the Old Testament all refer to someone who “sees”, hence a “seer”. As Wood says, “the fundamental thought signified by [the words for Prophets) concerns INSIGHT regarding God’s will.[19]

Wood cites verses such as Isaiah 30: 9 & 10: “this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the LAW of the Lord: Which say to the seers; see not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.”

The Psalmist says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”[20]

Deuteronomy explains why some people can have insight regarding God’s will. It says that the words 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.[21]

And Jesus put it this way: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is WITHIN YOU.[22]

Regarding the Gentiles, the apostle Paul says this: “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].”[23]

Where did this “moral faculty” come from?

But how did this information get into the brain?

In order to answer that question we need to look back to the origins of the universe itself.

The one thing most scientists (or at least physicists) now agree upon is that the functioning of the universe is governed by Principles which were set in motion at its very ‘creation’. Those Principles govern everything from the behavior of sub-atomic particles to the DNA which makes up the human organism, and thus the human brain.

From the scientific perspective, Martin Rees says that it is the fundamental principles, or properties, of fundamental particles themselves, “their sizes and masses, how many different kinds there are, and the forces linking them together,” that dictate how everything in the universe functions, from planets and stars to chemical reactions and human beings. And this is all a result of “an expanding universe, WHOSE PROPERTIES WERE IMPRINTED INTO IT AT THE TIME OF THE INITIAL BIG BANG.”[24]

Rees refers to the “chemistry of our everyday world” which emerged from the “time” when these properties were “IMPRINTED” into the universe by “the initial Big Bang.” So the “mathematical laws” which Rees says “underpin the fabric of our universe”, including “people”, were “imprinted” by that event, and at the time of that event.

Weinberg goes even further when he considers the effect particles have on DNA. Although he says that DNA is too complex to be explained with current quantum mechanical equations, he maintains that with a sufficiently sophisticated computer, scientists could explain all the workings of DNA “by solving the equations of quantum mechanics for electrons and the nuclei of a few common elements, 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.”[25]

The Scriptures also bring together these two concepts of “the beginning” and certain Principles that dictate how the universe came about.

Proverbs says, “The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.”[26]

The LORD possessed me [wisdom] in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.”[27]

If we simply substitute the word Principles, or “properties”, or even “mathematical laws”, for the words “wisdom” and “understanding”, we find that Rees and Proverbs are saying essentially the same thing.

Isaiah even links the creation of the universe to numbers: “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by NUMBER.”[28]

Coincidentally, and quite ironically, Martin Rees called his book “Just Six Numbers”. Rees says that six crucial numbers are a “‘recipe’ for [the] universe,” and that if any of them did not have the precise value they do possess, then “there would be no stars and no life.[29]

So scientists and the Prophets agree on the seminal moment which not only set the universe and life in motion, but also determined the “laws”, or Principles, that would dictate how it all works.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.’[30]

The only real difference between scientists and the Prophets is that scientists don’t ‘see’ their principles in relation to the human organism, whereas the Prophets ‘see’ their principles in terms of what they would claim is their true function – the creation of a living organism capable of moral judgment.

We should be careful, however, not to confuse ‘seeing’ with subjective opinions.

Insight Explained

But how is it that a number of individuals are able to “see” certain “laws”, or gain some special “insight” into the functioning of physical laws? What process takes place that enables them to apparently transcend what we understand of the functioning of the human brain? And what exactly do they “see”? And where do they “see” it?

In his excellent book Islands of Genius: The Bountiful Mind of the Autistic, Acquired, and Sudden Savant, Darold A. Treffert asks this question: “How much does [the] actual knowledge [of the prodigious savant], or at least the software templates or scaffolding for [the] rules of music, art and mathematics, or even other areas of expertise, come ‘factory installed’ in all of us?[31]

Savants display quite extraordinary abilities. As Treffert notes, some ‘mathematical’ savants “seem to ‘see’ their answers as if projected on to a screen.”[32]

They don’t appear to make mental calculations. Answers to complicated mathematical calculations simply appear to them automatically.

The “human calculator” – Scott Flansburg

But this ability is not unique to savants. Scott Flansburg, for example, known as the human calculator, has similar prodigious mathematical abilities, yet doesn’t seem to display any other savant-like characteristics. In Stan Lee’s Superhumans television program, Scott Flansburg’s abilities were tested at Santiago State University where he demonstrated that he could perform complicated mathematical calculations faster than mathematics students using calculators. Scott said that he simply ‘knew’ the answers to the questions.

Scott was then subjected to a real-time brain scan (an fMRI) while he was doing his calculations. The presenter of the program was also subjected to a brain scan while performing similar calculations so that their respective scans could be compared for differences in brain activity. The neuroscientist conducting the scan, Dr David Hubbard, anticipated that an area known as Brodman’s Area 44 would be enlarged in Scott’s brain, and would be active during his scan. However, once the scans were done, Area 44 was in fact active in the presenter’s brain, but not in Scott’s brain. Instead, an area near the motor cortex was active. This area is behind the right eye, and according to Dr Hubbard, it controls movement.

This part of the brain appears to be ‘programmed’ with the ‘raw data’ required by the brain to make almost instant calculations which enable the human body to perform everyday functions like walking, running, or driving a car.

As Rees notes, the classical laws of physics, Newton’s laws, are apparently ‘hard-wired’ into animals like monkeys which enables them to swing through the trees.[33] Likewise, humans must be ‘hard-wired’ with those laws which enable us to perform our everyday tasks. Even the simplest activity like jumping off a wall must necessarily require the brain to make a multitude on instant calculations taking into account distance, weight of the body, and the effect of gravity, so as to ensure that the body has the tolerances to safely withstand the impact of the jump.

In most of us, however, these calculations, making use of the ‘raw data’ that is ‘hard-wired’ into the brain, is done subconsciously. In people like Scott Flansburg, it seems that the ‘raw data’ is consciously activated when they are presented with complicated calculations.

However, the ‘raw data’ is not something we learn. It is necessary in order for the human organism to function. And it was necessary for the ‘creation’ of the human organism in the first place.

Knowing things we never learned

Treffert recognizes this, and examines how human beings, particularly savants, can “know things we never learned.[34] This ‘knowledge’ cannot come from experience, because savants who are born with the condition mostly exhibit these extraordinary abilities at an early age, long before they could have had the opportunity to ‘learn’ them.[35] Even babies have inbuilt data giving them “specialized innate abilities.[36] That must stand to reason, because every human being is born with powerful instincts that are necessary for our survival. And those instincts can only be the product of the laws that determine how the human organism functions. Our very instincts require the ‘raw data’ of the laws of physics and mathematics in order to perform even the most menial tasks.

Treffert quotes Michael Gazzaniga as saying that “as soon as the brain is built, it starts to express what it knows, what it comes with from the factory.”[37]

Treffert compares the ‘innate’ knowledge of the human brain to software in a computer: “In a similar manner I think we all have considerable brain ‘software’ and indeed specific ‘knowledge’ which was factory installed genetically, but remains dormant and silent unless we access it.”[38]

An important point to note, however, is that savants tend to ‘see’ things in different ways. Some ‘see’ numbers in answer to mathematical calculations, others pictures, others ‘see’ music, and others can recall the fine detail of complex structures, or even entire cities, after only a very brief look at such things. And common to most savants is also a prodigious memory.

We should now recall our journey through Genesis. What we saw there was an account of the ‘construction’ of the human organism from the basic building blocks of the universe, and the laws that determine how those building blocks can be put together. Life was shown to be a manifestation of the fundamental laws of physics, and in being a manifestation of those laws, the human brain is ‘programmed’ not only by those laws, but with those laws. The human brain has an innate ‘knowledge and understanding’ of the material and laws which ‘created’ it.

That is what Einstein found so remarkable when he noted that “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.” Or as Rees says “our MINDS ARE SOMEHOW ATTUNED TO UNDERSTAND” the laws of physics.[39]

So the human brain is not only a manifestation of the laws of physics; the laws of physics are also manifest in the human brain.

The savant demonstrates that the human brain must be ‘programmed’ with all the mathematical ‘raw data’ of the subatomic particles, molecules, and chemical calculations that were responsible for creating it, and are needed to make it function. And integral to those laws are mathematical laws.

The variety of savants, and the different ways they appear to ‘see’ this ‘raw data’, is itself fascinating, and revealing.

Daniel Tammet – “Brainman

A famous savant is Daniel Tammet. In a documentary about him called Brainman,[40] he explained how he ‘sees’ certain things: “I’m seeing things in my head; like little sparks flying off, and it’s not until the very last minute that those sparks tell me what on earth they mean.”

And when Tammet was giving answers to complicated mathematical calculations, he was seen to be drawing shapes with his fingers. When asked what he was doing, he said that he was “seeing the numbers.” But he went on to say, “I’m seeing pictures, shapes and patterns, almost like a square; like the texture of water, drops, ripples almost … like something reflective; it’s something you can look through, almost metallic, like a half-cloud, a bit like a flash.”

According to Treffert, Tammet “sees individual numbers which have a unique color, form and texture.”[41]

Treffert records the varied abilities of many of the savants he has encountered in his work over the years, and common to each is the ability to ‘see’ or ‘know’ things that they have never learned. But also, a common feature is that those things they ‘see’ or ‘know’ all appear to relate in some manner or other to the fundamental laws of mathematics and physics. And some of those with these gifts attribute their gifts to God.[42] And from our analysis so far, that may not be an inaccurate claim.

But it should not surprise us that the human brain is ‘programmed’ with the raw mathematical data that underpins the laws of physics. As we have already seen, if it were not, we could not walk, or see, or jump, or do anything else that requires any kind of calculation of distance or space. We do not first ‘learn’ all the complicated mathematical formulae required to make the calculations necessary to carry out even the most basic of human activities. If we had to do that it is certain that no individual would ever acquire those basic capabilities. What we do ‘learn’ is how to make use of the ‘raw data’ in the brain in conjunction with our physical senses in order to achieve those capabilities, and mostly we do so unconsciously. And the more we practice, the better we get at making those connections.

From what science knows to date about the brain, most of this ‘raw data’ is stored in the right hemisphere of the brain, and that is also where savants show most cerebral activity when they demonstrate their amazing abilities. Savants appear to have direct access to some of this ‘raw data’, whereas the rest of us mostly use it subconsciously, and in conjunction with other parts of the brain, most notably the left hemisphere.

Genetic memory?

Treffert believes that “genetic memory” may be responsible for this ‘raw data’ being carried in the DNA through generations. It is a theory called epigenetics. This theory proposes that environmental circumstances make small chemical changes to our DNA which enables information to be passed through generations. This information acts as a kind of additional layer of DNA without actually altering the fundamental structure of our genetic make-up.

The theory may well prove to apply in certain circumstances, but it seems rather unlikely when it comes to the basic mathematical ‘raw data’ that savants appear to so readily access. If it did, then that would mean that we all had particularly incredible mathematicians and physicists in our distant past. If we have ‘inherited’ any mathematical information, or more especially information regarding the laws of physics, it will have been of a relatively primitive, incomplete, and rather defective variety.

It is far more plausible that human DNA ‘programs’ the human brain with the ‘raw data’ of the laws of physics, mathematics and chemistry, because our DNA ‘knows’ that it is needed in order to make the human organism function. And this ‘knowledge’ would appear itself to be a product, or manifestation, of the fundamental laws of physics. In that respect, we should recall the delayed-choice experiments we considered in Part V of this series. We saw then that a subatomic particle somehow ‘knew’ whether a detector was off or on, and adjusted its state accordingly between wave-like or particle-like respectively. However, to ‘know’ whether it had to adopt a particle-like state, the detector had to be on. In other words, the particle had to be ‘aware’ of some future condition, or environment’, in order to adapt accordingly. As we have seen, the words “And God said …” in Genesis Chapter 1 appear to correspond to the ‘communication’ of the future environment the particles will encounter, and that enables them to adjust accordingly to prepare for that environment.

And by a series of repeated interactions over the billions of years this process is said to have played out, a human organism was ‘created’ which was itself ‘programmed’ with the very laws that ‘created’ it.

This explanation does not rule out epigenetics though. Epigenetics may well apply to the transmission of certain information through generations, but it cannot apply to the transmission of the ‘knowledge’ of the fundamental mathematical principles that underpin the laws of physics. It is far more likely that the laws of physics facilitate epigenetics, than the other way round.

Nevertheless, what the savant shows is that the human brain is ‘programmed’ with certain ‘raw data’ relating to fundamental mathematical principles.

What do they ‘see’?

By comparing the abilities of the savant to ‘see’ such raw data, to the ‘insight’ experienced by certain scientists and the Prophets, it is clear that some scientists, and the Prophets, also ‘see’ certain ‘raw data’. However, the ‘raw data’ such scientists and the Prophets ‘see’ is in a relatively more unified form than the savant. The savant ‘sees’ the bricks, while the “magician” scientists and Prophets ‘see’ the house, and how it was built (at least in part), and in the case of the Prophets, why it was built.

And, like savants, great minds in science also ‘see’ in different ways. Einstein “preferred to think in pictures”. As he said, “I rarely think in words at all“.[43]

Benjamin Franklin, on the other hand, “learned to think in words …”[44]

The explanation given by Srivinasa Ramanujan (1887 – 1920), one of the greatest mathematicians of the twentieth century, for his incredible mathematical abilities is not dissimilar to that of Tammet. Ramanujan was born in Madras, India, and had no formal mathematical training. Yet he produced complicated equations, some of which were already known to Western mathematicians, while others were original. Even today, some of his equations in the “lost notebooks of Ramanujan” remain unsolved.

Ramanujan said that his abilities were attributable to the family goddess called Mahalakshmi. After dreaming of drops of blood representing her male counterpart Narasimha, Ramanujan said that he had visions in which scrolls appeared to him containing complex equations. Clearly, he ‘saw’ these equations with such clarity that he could transcribe them, and also understand what they meant. However, he made a remarkable statement regarding how he understood the equations he would ‘see’. He said that “an equation for me has no meaning, unless it represents a thought of God.”[45]

It appears that Ramanujan, like a savant, was tapping into the mathematical ‘raw data’ in his brain. And that ‘raw data’ was ‘revealed’ to him in a form reminiscent of the Prophets – in dreams and visions, which he attributed to God as being a representation of a “thought of God.”

The human mind as an image of the universal mind

That statement by Ramanujan is not dissimilar to Philo’s explanation of man having been made “in the image of God.” Philo said this: “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.[46]

The Gospel of Thomas records Jesus saying this: “the kingdom [of God] is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father.”[47]

That is much the same as the Gospel of Luke: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is WITHIN YOU.[48]

These statements attributed to Jesus are essentially the same as what Philo said about the human mind: “that one mind which exists in each individual has been created after the likeness of that one mind which is in the universe.”

As we have seen, according to Genesis the laws that govern the universe are God’s laws which express God’s will. The laws of physics could thus be said to reveal the “one mind which is in the universe.” The savant appears able to ‘see’ certain aspects of that “one mind” with stark clarity. But the way that  Daniel Tammet and Srivinasa Ramanujan, for example, say they ‘see’ what they ‘see’ shows that the ‘raw data’ of the “one mind” manifests itself in many different ways – numbers as colors or shapes, equations on scrolls in visions, dreams, sparks, ripples of water, or drops of blood.

The words used to describe the experiences of the Prophets are not much different to Tammet and Ramanujan.

The Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel saw visions,[49] Jeremiah saw words,[50] while Daniel, as well as having dreams and visions of his own, could ‘see’ the meaning in what others ‘saw’ because he had ‘understanding in all dreams and visions’.[51]

Conclusion

Insight is something that appears to happen to many different people in many different ways. But its origin is the same – the mathematical raw data that is imprinted into the human brain.

It has led to important scientific discoveries, and it has given us religion and philosophy.

But what Genesis shows is that some three thousand years ago an instance of insight occurred that transcended anything that has happened since. An instance of insight into the very foundations of the universe and life. And an instance of insight that revealed humanity’s moral origins, moral purpose, and moral destiny.

The Prophet/s of Genesis ‘saw’ the moral dimension of the laws that govern the universe. They ‘saw’ what the Scriptures would come to call The Law, which is the Ten Commandments; what Philo called “the heads and principles of all particular laws.”[52]And the mission of subsequent Prophets “was to urge the people to conform their lives to the Law.”[53]

More importantly, however, they recognized that the laws that govern the universe, and are imprinted into our minds, speak to us of a Supreme Lawmaker.

That is what we will address in the next article.

———————————————————–

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

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

[1] There is still debate about the authorship of Genesis. I make no judgment on the issue.

[2] Aristotle, On The Heavens, Book II, Chapter 14.

[3] Aristotle, On The Heavens, Book II, Chapter 14

[4] Cox and Forshaw, Why does E=mc2? (paperback), page 10.

[5] Philo, On the Creation, XXV (78).

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

[7] Albert Einstein, 1954, Ideas and Opinions, quoted in Michio Kaku’s Parallel Worlds, page 283 – emphasis mine.

[8] Rees, Just Six Numbers (paperback), pages 11-12 – my emphasis.

[9] Quoted by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw. ibid, page 25

[10] Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory (paperback), pages 9-10 – My emphasis

[11] Rees, ibid, page 1.

[12] Weinberg, ibid, page 67.

[13] Weinberg, ibid, page 67.

[14] Weinberg, ibid, page 68 – my emphasis.

[15] Rees, ibid, page 36 – my emphasis

[16] Various internet sources quoting Einstein.

[17] Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, page 60.

[18] Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, page 18.

[19] Wood, The Prophets of Israel (paperback), page 63 – my emphasis.

[20] Psalm 46:10.

[21] Deuteronomy 30:10 – 14.

[22] Luke 17; 21 – my emphasis.

[23] Romans 2: 14 & 15.

[24] Rees, ibid, page 1 – Capitals are my emphasis

[25] Weinberg, ibid, page 32.

[26] Proverbs 3: 19.

[27] Proverbs 8: 22 & 23

[28] Isaiah 40: 26 – my emphasis

[29] Rees, ibid, page 4.

[30] John 1: 1 – 4.

[31] Treffert, Islands of Genius (paperback), page 12.

[32] Treffert, ibid, page 36 – emphasis on ‘see’ is mine.

[33] Rees, ibid, page 37.

[34] Treffert, ibid, page 55.

[35] Treffert, ibid,page 12.

[36] Treffert, ibid, page 57.

[37] Treffert, ibid, page 57 – quoting from The Mind’s Past (2000) by Michael Gazzaniga at page 170.

[38] Treffert, ibid, page 59.

[39] Rees,ibid, pages 10&11.

[40] Treffert, ibid, page 162. Brainman was produced by Focus Productions of London, and airted on the Discovery Channel.

[41] Treffert, ibid, page 163.

[42] Treffert, ibid, pages 35 and 110

[43] Quoted in H Eves Mathematical Circles Adieu (Boston 1977), from http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Quotations/Einstein.html.

[44] Walter Isaacson, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 150, No. 4, December 2006.

[45] Chaitin, Gregory (28 July 2007).  Less Proof, More Truth – New Scientist (2614): 49.

[46] Philo, On the Creation, XXIII (69)

[47] Gospel of Thomas verse 3.

[48] Luke 17: 21.

[49] Isaiah 1:1 and Ezekiel 1:1.

[50] Jeremiah 1:1.

[51] Daniel 1:17.

[52] Philo, Decalogue, XXXIII (175)

[53] Wood, ibid, page 75.

A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part IX): Science in Genesis Chapter 3 – Adam and Eve

The first question 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.

That 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 article on the Garden of Eden, there would have been a number of human beings with this DNA who would have joined up to create new human life in their own genetic image.

So at this stage of the development of the human race there would likely have been several small groups of people with human DNA who were the ancestors of all other human beings.

The San people of southern Africa are the descendants of that branch of the human species that did not succumb to the temptation of eating of the ‘forbidden fruit’.

The story of Adam and Eve relates to that branch of the early species that did take of the fruit, and produced so-called ‘civilized’ human beings.

Temptation

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 the great Jewish philosopher, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria: “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]

Chapter 3 deals with the transformation of the former to the latter.

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 considering 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.

These verses symbolize the conflict between primitive human instincts and the promptings of the neurological moral network as it arose in the first of the species. 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, they had developed a higher level of communication, as well as a more advanced capacity to reason. But they also had a partially activated neurological moral network which acted as a restraint on their actions by arousing a sense of conscience.

However, the woman would have enjoyed the pleasure of intimacy with Adam. And this would have acted as a spark to ignite her imagination to consider ways to enhance the pleasure derived from sexual intimacy. And her capacity to reason would have been eager to tender suggestions and justifications.

There would have been plenty of examples in the behavior of the more primitive primates living in close proximity. Thus the imagery of the account of the woman being tempted by the serpent is 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 her, the woman began to fantasize about what it would be like to do the same. She started 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 questioned 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.

Succumbing to Temptation activates the Neurological Moral Network

In the end, the woman succumbed 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.

What they did, it can only be concluded, is indulge in 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 – AC Grayling.

In his book The God Argument – The Case against religion and for Humanism, 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 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 is to engage in sex casually and often.[4]

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

According to him, 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 claims 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”.

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 that arousal, is something that has stayed with many of the species up to this very day. And Grayling is not unique in that regard; it is not an uncommon phenomenon.

Marketing companies exploit the human obsession with sex to sell everything from ice-cream to motor cars.

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]

However, clearly Genesis is not referring to this interbreeding between humans and Neandertals. The story of Adam and Eve relates to a much earlier time when humans were only just emerging as the species. The example of the interbreeding with Neandertals was simply a continuation of something that had started much earlier.

The real significance of the story, however, lies in its explanation of how the neurological moral network in the human brain was initially fully activated, and the central part played in that process by the human capacity to reason. The story demonstrates that reason can be applied to justify anything.

Why was acquiring the “knowledge of good and evil” wrong?

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

The answer is that to awaken the neurological moral network 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 that initially activated the neurological moral network  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]

So the story of Eve’s (“the woman’s[12]) temptation clearly refers to 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 application of reason to justify taking actions that we ‘know’ are wrong.

The prohibition against eating of the tree represents morality. It is 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.

Consequences of activating the neurological moral network

Once the first humans succumbed to the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging their primitive instinct for reproduction, the neurological moral network was fully activated. This is symbolized by the words “and the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.”[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.

However, Genesis tells us that once the neurological moral network had been offended, 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 human instincts, amongst which is 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. It was simply a ‘natural’ response to a ‘natural’ desire – much like AC Grayling.

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 to their actions from the neurological moral network. They had acquired an ability to identify specific actions as right or wrong. Yet, they were seduced by the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging their primitive instincts, as humans are today. So they mobilized their enhanced capacity to reason to seek justification for doing that which their neurological moral network told them was wrong.

The Legacy

The ‘punishment’ that God is said to inflict on them clearly symbolizes the conflict that has plagued the descendants of Adam and Eve from that moment on – a conflict between servicing their primitive instincts, or servicing the promptings of their neurological moral network.

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.

The ‘punishment’ said to have been inflicted on Adam clearly relates to human beings falling into bondage to 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.

The words “in sorrow shalt thou eat of [the ground] all the days of thy life[14] clearly refers to the instinct for security; “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground[15] 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 they 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 had condemned themselves to “an existence more miserable than death.”

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. And how human beings employ reason to justify doing wrong.

Cain and Abel

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 threat who had to be neutralized. The symbolism of God speaking to Cain to ask why he is angry, relates to Cain’s neurological moral network 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.”[16]

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 indicates 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, his ability to reason seeks ways to deny responsibility, saying he does not know where Abel is. Furthermore, he also asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” – an instance of reason seeking to excuse accountability for the wellbeing of our fellow human beings.

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.

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.”[17]

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.”[18]

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 Supreme 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.[19] 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.” [20]

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.”[21]

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”[22]

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.

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

Conclusion

Genesis Chapter 3 reveals a remarkable degree of insight by the author/s of Genesis into the workings of the human brain. However, the most remarkable aspect of the story of Adam and Eve is the light it casts on the human capacity to reason. As the account shows, reason can be applied equally for good or evil. More reason does not guarantee more benevolent and good outcomes; less reason doesn’t automatically lead to malevolent or evil outcomes. Often it is the reverse, as history reveals.

The current consensus that reason can give us objective principles of morality is delusional. Reason is a neutral faculty. Its worth rests entirely on whether it is in the service of morality, or in the service of primitive human instinct.

That is the real message behind the story of Adam and Eve. And it is a message we should heed!

In the next article we will discover how the author/s of Genesis could have had such a profound understanding of the working of the universe, and of the human mind.

———————————————————–

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

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 3: 17.

[15] Genesis 3: 19.

[16] Genesis 4: 7.

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

[18] Genesis 4: 16.

[19] Genesis 4: 17.

[20] Genesis 4: 20.

[21] Genesis 12: 3.

[22] Genesis 22:18.

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.

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