Tag Archives: Nahmanides

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

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

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

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

Methodology

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

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

The “waters” are then ‘converted’ into “light when matter and antimatter interacted to create photons of light. But because there was a slight excess of matter over antimatter, some matter was not converted into light. That excess matter was described as “the darkness”, which was separated from the “light”. This excess matter would form the building blocks of the universe. Everything that exists in the universe, or will ever exist, is made up of this initial matter and energy (light).

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

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

A Literal Interpretation?

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

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

This is what Nahmanides then says about Day One: “He [God] brought out a very fine element from complete nothingness; it has no substance, but it is the energy that can create, that is able to accept a form and to go from the potential to the actual … And the heavens and all that is in them are one material, and the earth and all that is within it is [another] material; and the Holy One, blessed be He, created both of them from nothing … And behold, with this creation, which was like a small [and] fine dot, and without substance, were created all of the creations in the heavens and the earth.

That description perfectly conforms to modern cosmology.

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

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

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

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

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

Firmament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are the issues addressed in this video.

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

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

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

Joseph BH McMillan

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan All Rights Reserved 2015

[1] References are to the King James Version.

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

[3] Rees, page 155.

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

[5] Genesis 1:6.

[6] Genesis 1:6.

[7] Genesis 1:7.

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

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

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

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

[12] Rees, page 119.

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

The Kingdom of God

Much has been written about the Kingdom of God, ranging from ridicule to the ‘Hollywood spectacular’ of chariots and trumpets.

I can’t claim to be familiar with all interpretations and criticisms, but I am unconvinced by those I have encountered. And the reason is simple – I can’t find much Scriptural support for them.

Jesus was a Jew, and he was teaching Jews. He was clearly well versed in Jewish Scripture.[1] And he made his stand firmly on the Law: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”[2]

In determining what Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven (which are used interchangeably in the Gospels), I would expect to find confirmation in the Old Testament – in the Law and the prophets. I would expect the Kingdom of God to be a description of a fundamental tenet of Jewish Scripture that had been lost to “the house of Israel.”[3]

But let’s start with what Jesus said about it.

First, Jesus said that there were people alive at the time who would “see” the Kingdom of God coming in their lifetimes.[4] Jesus also told the twelve disciples that they would not have visited all the cities of Israel before “the son of man be come” (ie the Kingdom of God).

The Kingdom of God was something that people could expect to “see” in their lifetimes. And Jesus specifically urges them to do so: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to thee.”[5] The things that would “be added” are those things necessary for life. So the Kingdom of God is something to discover during our lifetimes. It is not eschatological (relating to the end times), except as it relates to our individual lives after death.[6]

To find the Kingdom of God, Jesus tells us to “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.[7] This is an important verse. I shall return to it.

But how and where do we “seek … the Kingdom of God”?

Well, Jesus is clear on that: “The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the Kingdom of God is WITHIN YOU.”[8]

Here, then, we find the first reference that ties up the Kingdom of God to the Old Testament.

 “For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?  Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the WORD is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.[9]

The “word” is the Law, the Ten Commandments – “These words the Lord spake … and He added no more. And He wrote them in two tables of stone.”[10]

It is abundantly clear, therefore, that the Kingdom of God that Jesus says is “within” us is precisely the same thing as the “word” which, according to Deuteronomy, is also within us, in our heart and in our mouth, that we may do it.

But when Jesus describes the Kingdom of God, we find it starts as something tiny.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”[11]

Also, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”[12]

So the Kingdom of God grows from something resembling a tiny seed into a mighty kingdom; a kingdom governed by the Law, the word of God.

That suggests that the Law, the Ten Commandments, started from something tiny before it ‘grew’ into the Kingdom of God. And that is indeed the message of the Scriptures.

Not only was Jesus said to preach the word, he is said to have been the Word, which was “in the beginning with God,” and through whom all things were created.[13]

That is identical to the description of Wisdom in Proverbs: “The Lord possessed me 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.[14]

So to understand how the Kingdom of God came about, and how it came to be “within us”, the Scriptures point us to The Beginning. And we find that in the first book of the Bible – Genesis.

The best starting point in considering the first chapter of Genesis is the literal interpretation. And that interpretation is itself quite remarkable.

It is the view adopted by the Jewish scholar Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD). His Commentary on Genesis chapter 1 says this: – “And now, listen to a correct and clear explanation of the text according to its simple understanding (peshuto). … 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.”[15]

Now that sounds very much like the “grain of mustard seed” or “leaven” referred to by Jesus, and happens to be precisely the current understanding of science regarding the origin of the universe. I’ll be addressing this further in my forthcoming video presentation of A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part III).

But Nahmanides takes this interpretation further. In relation to the creation of human beings, his Commentary on Genesis 1: 24 says this: “the correct simple meaning of the word, ‘let us make,’ is that which you have already been shown, … that God created something from nothing on the first day alone, and afterwards He formed and made [everything] from the fundamental elements.”

So human beings are descended from the same “small [and] fine dot”, or “grain of mustard seed,” just like everything else in the universe.

The universe is an integrated system governed by law, just like a mustard tree. Everything is related and connected to everything else. And that includes the human brain.

The great Jewish philosopher, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, who lived at about the same time as Jesus, says this about the connection between the human brain and the integrated system that is the universe: “the resemblance [between God and man] is spoken of with reference to the most important part of the soul, namely, the mind: for the mind which exists in each individual has been created after the likeness of that one mind which is in the universe as its primitive model.[16]

Human beings are then a manifestation of the laws that govern the universe. But not only are we a manifestation of those laws, they are also imprinted into the human brain, which has the necessary mechanisms to convert them into words, images and concepts. One of those mechanisms converts the universal laws into moral principles. The British IVF pioneer, Sir Robert Winston, calls this mechanism a “morality module,” which he says is activated at an early stage; I call it a neurological moral network. It is this mechanism that gives us the capacity for moral judgment.

But if the human brain as a “primitive model” of the universal mind has a moral dimension, then the universal mind must also have a moral dimension. The laws that govern the universe must be moral laws.

It is this remarkable aspect of the brain that speaks to us of God as our Creator, and reveals to us His Law and His Will. It is like an ‘instruction manual’ installed in the human brain that identifies its manufacturer and the proper use of its abilities to realise the purpose of its creation, should we choose to consult it. Jesus called it the Kingdom of God.

That can be the only reasonable understanding of the Kingdom of God being “within us”. [see A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part I) and (Part X)].

If we seek it, says Jesus, we can find it. But there is a complication. As I show in A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part VII), Genesis tells us that the human brain is also programmed with instinct and reason. These faculties are required to ensure the survival of the species. But when reason falls into bondage to our primitive instincts we are blinded to the Kingdom of God “within us.”

That is the meaning of the other parables of the Kingdom of God in which the “seed” of the word of the Kingdom of God does not take root, or is choked: “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.”[17] We chase after the allure of the pleasures to be had by indulging our primitive instincts, and the human capacity for reason will devise many a justification for doing so, not least our insatiable appetite for vanity. Jesus himself had to resist the temptation to service his instincts as reason sought to persuade him of the personal benefits of doing so.[18]

The brain is like a search engine. It is ‘programmed’ with the ‘knowledge’ of the universe. But it is up to us what we search for. Search for information that will enlighten us and we can find it, rare as it may be on the internet. Search for those things that appeal to our primitive instincts, and we are inundated with advice on getting rich, on obscenities, violence, celebrities, and every other useless piece of information that can be devised by the human mind in service of its primitive instincts. But Jesus tells us that the only important thing is to search for the Kingdom of God, and that if we search with resolution and faith, if we ask the right questions, we will find what we are looking for. And the seed of the Kingdom of God “within us” will begin to grow into a mighty mustard tree.

Make the right search, and we will get the right results, and it will be worthwhile: “For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.  But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.[19]

The things to search for are those things that constitute the fundamental principles of the Kingdom of God, the Ten Commandments: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”[20]

But that search demands that we resist the temptations to indulge our primitive instincts: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?[21]

However, the Kingdom of God is not something relevant only to each person individually. It was not God’s purpose to simply set a test to see who could get across the line to everlasting life, and to fry the losers.

His purpose was to establish His Kingdom among the human species as a whole. It was to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth. That is the objective of the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”[22]

It was the mission of Jesus to spread the Kingdom of God to all the world, just as God covenanted to Abraham: “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”[23]

But that can only happen when there is an awakening of the human spirit to its true moral purpose and its true moral destiny. And that requires that we recognize that we are here to fulfil the purpose of God; God is not there to fulfil whatever purpose we may choose for our own lives. As Jesus said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”[24]

Only when we begin to do the same will the Kingdom of God be established on Earth.

Regrettably, it seems that is unlikely to happen any time soon. And we may just commit collective suicide before we even get a chance to try.

So although the Kingdom of God will not be ushered in at the end of the world, failure to live by its principles may just have the effect of causing the end of the world. That is the message of the Law and the prophets.

Joseph BH McMillan

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

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

Notes:

[1] Luke 2: 47.

[2] Mat 5: 17 & 18.

[3] Mat 10: 6.

[4] Luke 9: 27; Mat 16: 28; Mark 9: 1.

[5] Mat 6: 33; Luke 12: 31.

[6] Mat 7:13 & 14; 13: 39.

[7] Mat 7: 7; Luke 11: 9.

[8] Luke 17: 20 & 21 (my emphasis).

[9] Deuteronomy 30: 11 – 14 (my emphasis).

[10] Deuteronomy 5: 22.

[11] Mat 13: 31, 32; Mark 4: 30; Luke 13: 18.

[12] Mat 13: 33; Luke 13: 20.

[13] John 1: 1 & 2.

[14] Proverbs 8: 22 & 23; and see 3: 19 ff.

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

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

[17] Mat 13:22.

[18] Mat 4:1 – 11.

[19] Proverbs 8: 35 & 36.

[20] Revelations 22: 14.

[21] Mat 16: 26.

[22] Mat 6: 10.

[23] Genesis 22: 18.

[24] John 6: 30.