Tag Archives: quantum physics

Scientific Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Day Three – The Elements, and the Building Blocks of Life

Summary: The methodology employed in Genesis points unequivocally to Day Three being an account of the formation of heavier elements in the stars and supernovae, and the almost simultaneous emergence of the first primitive life forms, the organic building blocks of life.

………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Day Three of Genesis continues the methodology applied in the first two ‘days’.

The methodology sets out a series of transformations of the state of the universe from the initial matter and space described in Day One, to the final cosmic ‘product’ in Day Six – the human organism.[1]

Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD) explained this process of cosmic transformation as follows:

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 the two of them alone were created, and everything was made from them.”[2]

Maimonides (1135 – 1204 AD), another great Jewish Scholar, adopted an explanation for the methodology applied in Genesis that mirrors what scientists today call a “Final Theory” or “Theory of Everything.”  Maimonides maintained that “The true explanation of the first verse of Genesis is as follows: ‘In [creating] a principle God created the beings above and the things below.’[3]

Steven Weinberg explained the scientific conception of a “Final Theory” by noting that the principles which govern different aspects of science “are all connected, and if followed backward they all seem to flow from a common starting point. This starting point, to which all explanations may be traced, is what I mean by a final theory.[4] And Weinberg states further that physicists study fundamental particles, like quarks and electrons, because they believe that by doing so they will “learn something about the principles that govern everything.”[5]

Nahmanides also recognized that what was created “in the beginning” constituted energy, which had the latent properties to create everything we see in the universe today: “[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.”[6]

Martin Rees likewise notes that ‘empty space’, “Even if shrunk to a ‘point’, … is LATENT with particles and forces.”[7]

From this “beginning”, Genesis applies a methodology of transformation to explain the universe and life as we know it today.

Summary of Methodology in Day One

  • The heaven and the earth” refer to the original, and only, material that was created which would be used to create the universe and life; “earth” symbolizes matter, and “heaven” symbolizes space (where the matter was).
  • Matter (the earth) is described as being “without form, and void”; and space (the heaven) is described with the words “darkness was upon the face of the deep.” In scientific terms, Martin Rees describes this initial state as “an ultra-dense primal medium that was almost structureless.”[8]
  • Everything else in the universe, including life, would be created from this original matter and space through a series of transformations. That is why they are then collectively re-described as “the waters,” symbolizing their latent life-creating properties.
  • The waters” are then transformed into “light”, which is “divided” from “the darkness.” The “light” and the “darkness” symbolize the matter and energy created by the transformation of the original (exotic) matter following the initial inflationary expansion and Big Bang. “Light” was created when matter (particles) and anti-matter (anti-particles) collided to create photons of light. But since there was a slight excess of matter over anti-matter, some matter remained; Genesis calls this excess matter “the darkness”, which comprised both visible and dark matter. Visible matter, at this early stage of the universe, comprised mainly hydrogen and helium, with traces of deuterium and lithium – the lighter elements.
  • The words “And God saw the light, that it was good” refer to what physicists now know to be a crucial element in quantum physics – an An observation was crucial at this early stage in the universe, because “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.”[9] Although Maimonides would not have understood quantum physics, he did understand the significance of these words: “When the creation of any part of the Universe is described that is permanent, regular, and in a settled order, the phrase “that it is good” is used.”[10] And for that to happen, an observation was necessary, hence the words “And God saw …”
  • To emphasize that the initial transformation of matter had been made “permanent, regular, and in a settled order”, God is said to name the transformed matter, always with a capital letter: “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.Day refers to the photons of light, and Night refers to the dark and visible matter. At this stage, it means that a number of crucial cosmic numbers had been “finely tuned” (as Rees describes it) to ensure that the next step in the process can proceed on a fixed and firm foundation. In particular, the number Ω (omega), which measures the amount of matter in the universe. If the amount of matter had been more, the universe would have collapsed in on itself; if less, it could never have formed into stars and planets. A significant part of the quantum world had been transformed into the Classical (Newtonian) world.
  • The process of inflationary expansion had also forced the initial matter into motion, thus starting the cosmic clock. Time had begun, signified by the words “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Maimonides suspected that time related to motion. He said, “God created the Universe from nothing; that time did not exist previously, but was created: for it depends on the motion of the sphere, and the sphere has been created.”[11] Of course, at this stage, time didn’t depend on the motion of a sphere; it was a consequence of the motion of matter expanding through space as a result of the initial inflationary burst and Big Bang. Cosmic time is measured from that moment.

Summary of Methodology in Day Two

  • Day Two begins by again re-describing “light and darkness” collectively as “the waters,” signifying their life-creating properties, even though, at this stage, they comprised only photons of light, and visible and dark matter. And visible matter still only comprised hydrogen, helium and traces of deuterium and lithium, the lighter elements.
  • God is then said to insert a “firmament” into the “midst of the waters, to divide the waters from the waters.” Firmament means, literally, expansion. An expansion was thus to “divide the waters from the waters”.
  • However, some of “the waters” were clearly in different places, because when the expansion divided “the waters” it divided “the waters which were UNDER the firmament (expansion) from the waters which were ABOVE the firmament (expansion).” This refers to the density differences in the matter and energy that had been produced by the initial inflationary burst and Big Bang. Greene notes that these density differences which “ultimately resulted in the formation of stars and galaxies came from quantum mechanics.”[12]
  • The interaction of gravity attracting particles in the denser regions of space, and Expansion pushing the denser regions of space apart, caused matter to ‘cluster’ into enormous protogalaxies, leaving large areas of space between them.
  • Rees explains that “slightly overdense regions, expanding slower than average, were destined to become galaxies and clusters; others, slightly underdense, were destined to become voids.”
  • The density differences in different parts of the expanding universe were precisely calibrated in relation to the forces of gravity and expansion to ensure the formation of galaxies. Rees notes that “these complexities are the outcome of a chain of events that cosmologists can trace back to an ultra-dense primal medium that was almost structureless.”[13]
  • What was left between the newly forming protogalaxies was called “Heaven”, or what Rees calls “voids,[14] commonly described as the sky, or space.
  • Therefore, at the close of Day Two, Rees’ six numbers had all been finely tuned. In particular, the cosmic numbers Ω (omega – the measure of the amount of matter in the universe), λ (lambda – the expansion force), and Ǫ (the measure of density variations in the expanding universe in relation to gravity and expansion), had been ‘imprinted’ into the very fabric of the expanding universe. As Rees notes, “the outcome (of the universe) depends sensitively on these three key numbers, imprinted (we are not sure how) in the very early universe.”[15]
  • However, “the waters” had not finished their work. But they had, by the close of Day Two, perfectly configured the universe to begin the task of creating the heavier elements and the building blocks of life. That is done in Day Three.

Day Three

There are two distinct but interrelated parts to Day Three, separated by an observation – by the words “And God saw …”

The first part starts with this.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. Genesis 1:9

There appears to be a curious omission right at the start of Day Three. When God is said to command that “the waters” be “gathered together unto one place,” it is only “the waters that are under the heaven” that are gathered together. So what happened to the rest of “the waters,” those that wereabove the firmament” (verse 7)?

The answer is found in what science calls rotational symmetry. Brian Green explains it like this: “every spatial direction is on equal footing with every other.” Therefore, looking up from anywhere in space “there is nothing that distinguishes one particular direction in the black void from any other.”[16]

Once the expanding matter had formed into clusters (protogalaxies), leaving vast “voids” between them (what Genesis calls “Heaven”), all the clusters are under the voids in the sense that they are surrounded by ‘empty’ space. In other words, “the waters” that were previously described as being “under” or “above” the expansion, all ended up surrounded by empty space once expansion and gravity had done their work on the density differences of matter. Looking up at the heavens from any cluster in the early universe would have felt like being under the void of space, just as it does today when we look up at the sky from planet Earth.

Therefore, none of what had previously constituted “the waters” had changed; it had simply formed into clusters scattered across the expanding universe, separated by voids of space. All “the waters” still constituted the lighter elements of hydrogen, helium and traces of deuterium and lithium.

It is from these “waters” that “dry land” is to appear. Part of “the waters” is to undergo a transformation; a transformation from being “water” into being “dry land;” and that is to be brought about by “the waters” being “gathered together unto one place.”

Unfortunately, neither Nahmanides nor Maimonides can help us understand what these verses mean. That is because they both assumed that all the elements were created on Day One. They adopted the consensus of the time that the elements comprised air, earth, fire and water.[17] As a result, they assumed that reference to “the waters” in Day Three must have meant water in the sense of liquid water.

However, Maimonides did recognize that the methodology of Genesis used “the waters” symbolically to denote a series of transformations of the material in Day One into different ‘substances’. He noted, “It is therefore clear that there has been one common element called water, which has been afterwards distinguished by three different forms; one part forms the seas, another the firmament, and a third part is over the firmament, and all this is separate from the earth. The Scriptural text follows here a peculiar method in order to indicate some extraordinary mysteries.”[18]

The arguments put forward in this series of articles adopts the “method” referred to by Maimonides of the original elements undergoing a series of transformations resulting in the universe and life as we know it. The only difference is that, with modern atomic theory, science has a better understanding of what elements were created by the Big Bang, and how subsequent elements were created.

This analysis evaluates Day Three in light of these scientific discoveries. However, in doing so, it still conforms to Maimonides’ ‘philosophy’ that Genesis should be construed in accordance with ‘proven’ science, and when ‘proven’ science differs from any current interpretation of Genesis, that interpretation must to be revisited and, if necessary, revised. He says, “those passages in the Bible, which in their literal sense contain statements that can be refuted by [scientific] proof, must and can be interpreted otherwise.”[19]

By applying that approach in the context of the methodology adopted in Genesis, Day Three exactly reflects the modern scientific understanding of the cosmic processes that created the heavier elements, and the building blocks of life.

Atomic theory was first proposed by John Dalton in the 1800’s and subsequently developed by others such as Ernest Rutherford and Niels Bohrs.

In the 1940s, the Russian physicist (turned cosmologists), George Gamow, discovered ‘nucleosynthesis’, which explained how nuclear reactions created the lighter elements like hydrogen and helium. Gamow believed that all the elements were created by the intense heat of the Big Bang. However, the calculations didn’t add up. His calculations worked for the lighter elements of hydrogen, helium, deuterium etc, but not for heavier elements. The Big Bang didn’t produce sufficient heat.

The English astronomer Fred Hoyle resolved the problem when he discovered “how the nuclear reactions inside the core of a star, not the big bang, could add more and more protons and neutrons to the nuclei of hydrogen and helium, until they could create all the heavier elements, at least up to iron.”[20] (see analysis of Hoyle’s discovery in Day Two) And for even heavier elements beyond iron, “one needs an even larger oven – the explosion of massive stars, or supernovae.[21]

Day Two concluded after the lighter elements of hydrogen, helium, lithium and deuterium had formed the “first protogalaxies”, but before the formation of stars and supernovae.

Therefore, if the methodology employed in Genesis is adhered to, the first part of Day Three can only be referring to the consequence of the “protogalaxies” forming the heavier stars and supernovae.

That is done, according to Rees, because “the first gaseous condensations to form … are … a million times heavier than stars. … [And] if [the gaseous condensations are] spinning, the gas settles into a disk, and condenses into stars, thereby initiating the recycling process that synthesizes and disperses all the elements of the periodic table.[22]

The symbolism of Day Three exactly reflects that process.

  • The “waters under the heaven” symbolize the “first gaseous condensations” that had formed across the universe as a result of gravity and expansion acting on the density variations in the expanding universe. At this stage, “the waters” consist only of the lighter elements of hydrogen, helium, deuterium and lithium.
  • All “the waters” were “under the heaven” in the sense that all the protogalaxies were surrounded by ‘empty’ space, or what Rees calls “voids.”
  • The “waters” being “gathered together unto one place” refer to the “gaseous condensations” forming “into disks, and condensing into stars.
  • And let the dry land appear” symbolizes the transformation of a portion of the lighter elements into the heavier elements due to the nuclear reactions (fusion) caused by the immense heat of the stars, and subsequent supernovae. The “dry land” symbolizes the heavier elements. It is clear from the text that the “dry land” is not something that is created in addition to, or apart from, “the waters;” it is to “appearfromthe waters” that had been “gathered together unto one place.”

The first part of Day Three is an account of the “gaseous condensations” that had formed in Day Two being condensed into stars and supernovae “that synthesize and disperse all the elements of the periodic table.” This mix of elements was a pre-requisite for life. As Kaku says, “our true ‘mother’ sun was actually an unnamed star or collection of stars that died billions of years ago in a supernova, which then seeded nearby nebulae with the higher elements beyond iron that make up our body.”[23]

The methodology employed in Genesis doesn’t permit any other reasonable interpretation of the first part of Day Three.

And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters he called Seas.” Genesis 1:10

This is the last time in the creation story that the naming of what had been created takes place. The names given here are “Earth” and “Seas” – and, as usual, this naming is with capital letters.

As already noted, this signifies another stage in the transformation of the state of the universe that Genesis started with – “the heaven and the earth.” And there is good reason that this is the last occasion that the naming takes place.

This verse tells us that not all the lighter elements were converted into heavier elements; most remained, and they were called “Seas.” The “the waters” do not disappear. Only part of “the waters” are converted into the heavier elements, symbolized by the words “dry land”, which are then called “Earth”; and the remaining lighter elements, constituting the rest of “the waters”, are called “Seas.”

Day Three clearly refers to a generic situation across the universe, in which many areas were experiencing the same thing, even if at different times, and the process was repeating itself forging all the natural elements. The elements were being created across the universe, not just in our galaxy, or even our solar system. In fact, according to Genesis, our solar system only starts taking shape in Day Four. However, its origins are in Day Three. And just as the original “heaven and earth” clearly did not refer to the sky and planet Earth, likewise it is clear that neither do “Seas” and “Earth” refer to planet Earth and its oceans.

The naming here highlights the fact that all the necessary cosmic ‘structures’ and ‘ingredients’ had formed into the required configurations to begin the process of creating the intended cosmic product – life. The quantum world had been transformed into the Classical (Newtonian) world.

It was therefore time to make it “permanent, regular, and in a settled order.

And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:10

With everything in place, it was time to make these transformations “irreversible”, which is why we only now find the reference to “And God saw that it was good.” The observation (measurement) establishes a “fully settled” future from the initial intentions expressed in Day Two, and the first part of Day Three, by the words “And God said …

The observation establishes an “irreversible effect” in respect of everything that had been created up to that time, and would be created in the future by the same processes. And that “irreversible effect” establishes what we recognize today as Classical physics. It explains “how the fundamental laws of quantum physics morph[ed] into the classic laws,[24] thus enabling us to predict with such certainty how inanimate objects behave.

It provides a stable and predictable macro-world of planets and stars which operate according to laws – laws that are symmetric across the universe.[25]

The universe becomes a cosmic factory; the stars and planets become cosmic machines; the elements are the cosmic ingredients; and the laws of physics and chemistry provide the cosmic instructions on how everything operates.

The initial ingredients from which the universe was to be constructed have now been transformed, in accordance with the laws of quantum mechanics, into planets, stars and elements which operate under an apparently different set of laws to those that created them. As Weinberg says, in “modern quantum mechanics as well as in Newtonian mechanics there is a clear separation between the conditions that tell us the initial state of a system (whether the system is the whole universe, or just a part of it), and the laws that govern its subsequent evolution.[26] However, this does not mean that the laws of quantum mechanics have disappeared, or are no longer relevant. Weinberg notes that “even in quantum mechanics there is still a sense in which the behavior of any physical system is completely determined by its initial conditions and the laws of nature.[27]

Thus, the process of creating the intended cosmic product was ready to begin. And there is good reason that this initial process was included in the same ‘day’ that the heavier elements were created.

 “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb-yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

And the earth brought forth grass, and the herb-yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1: 11 – 12

The first thing to note in these verses is that nothing is named – there is no mention of the words “And God called …” We have already seen why that should be – all the structures and materials necessary to create life were in the required forms and quantities, and the laws that determine how they behave (their fundamental chemical and physical properties) had been imprinted into the universe.

Let the earth bring forth …”

God is not said to create what is to be made Himself; instead, He ‘delegates’, so to speak, “the earth” to produce the grass etc. But what exactly constitutes “the earth”?

The methodology employed in Genesis re-describes the state of the universe immediately preceding the next stage of transformation with a word that encompasses the totality of the material at that time, but which also conveys a sense of the intended future purpose of the transformation that is about to take place.

Up until this stage, “the waters” symbolized the various states of transformation to signify the latent life-creating properties of the material that was being processed. But now the process of making the intended product itself is to begin – life. And it is for all the material that existed at that time, with its newly acquired properties, to initiate the process.

The meticulous methodology can only mean that the words “Let the earth bring forth” refer to the whole state of the universe as it existed at that time. That is, the stars and supernovae which were producing the heavier elements and dispersing them throughout space, symbolized by “the earth,” would also now initiate the process to creating life.

But why call it “the earth” rather than “the waters”?

First, because “the earth”, in the sense of planet Earth, would be composed of all the elements that were being forged in the stars and supernovae, and would thus have both liquid water and dry land. The word “earth” more effectively conveys the message that what was to “bring forth” life included what had previously been symbolized by both the “Seas” (the lighter elements) and the “Earth” (the heavier elements). The building blocks of life would require a perfectly balanced mixture of elements to transform into the intended final ‘products’ once it encountered a conducive environment; and that environment would be planet Earth, and other such ‘goldilocks’ planets that may form throughout the universe.

Secondly, the word “earth” relates not just to the state of the universe that was to initiate the process of creating life; it also reveals what kind of environment the precursors for life will encounter in the future, thus enabling it to configure accordingly. That is made clear by the repetition of the word “earth.” The “earth” is to “bring forth” grass etc, “whose seed is in itself, upon the earth.” The “earth” that is to “bring forth” life refers to the state of the universe at that time (stars and supernovae); and the life it is to bring forth is destined to be “upon the earth” (planet earth), and is configured accordingly.

The description of this process conforms with the principles of quantum mechanics, and the implications of the ‘delayed-choice’ experiments explained in the article on Day One.

Brian Greene explains the significance of these experiments as follows: “it’s as if the photons adjust their behaviour in the past according to the future choice of whether the … detector is switched on; it’s as though the photons have a ‘premonition’ of the experimental situation they will encounter farther downstream, and act accordingly.[28]

These experiments into the quantum behavior of particles show that particles adjust their configuration in anticipation of the future environment they will encounter. They can even ‘know’ what that future environment will be before it exists, and prepare accordingly.

These verses in Genesis, in which the word “earth” conveys a dual meaning, perfectly reflect the quantum mechanical model. The ‘destination’ “earth” (planet earth) is the environment (situation) the precursors to life will “encounter farther downstream”; that is ‘communicated’ to the material that will configure itself into the required life, symbolized by the words “And God said …”; then the “earth” (the state of the universe at that time) configures the elements to form (“bring forth”) the chemical structures (organic precursors) that will form the intended products (grass, herb yielding seed and the tree yielding fruit).

That interpretation must be correct, because when the things that “the earth” (stars and supernovae) was to “bring forth,” which would be “upon the earth” (ie planet earth – verse 11), are in fact “brought forth” (verse 12), there is no mention of them being “upon the earth.” The reason for that is clear – the planet earth (their ultimate destination) had not yet been formed.

(I do appreciate that there are those who will charge that I am reading a great deal into Genesis to make it ‘conform’ to current science, and I must confess that I harbored similar reservations in the early stages of my investigations into the relationship between science, religion and philosophy. However, as my investigations progressed, I found it increasingly difficult to sustain such misgivings in the face of the evidence. The closer the methodology of Genesis is followed, the more it converges with science. The big question for me was how anyone many millennia ago could possibly have known, in such detail, how the universe and life came about. That enquiry itself revealed remarkable neuroscientific phenomena. These issues will be addressed in a subsequent article relating to the authorship of Genesis, although they are touched upon in this article concerning insight.)

What was brought forth?

The next thing to consider is what exactly is meant by “grass, the herb-yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself”?

It would be an uncharacteristic departure from the meticulous methodology applied by Genesis if it suddenly jumped from stars and supernovae creating elements, to grass and plants as we see them outside our windows today. But if these references to grass, plants and trees are meant to be symbolic, like “the heaven and the earth” and “the waters”, then what are they supposed to symbolize?

To understand the meaning of these words we need to go to Genesis Chapter 2, which begins with a summary of what had taken place throughout the six days of creation. It then says this:

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

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground.Genesis 2: 4 – 5

These verses are clear – at the end of the six days of creation, as recorded in Chapter 1, Genesis tells us in Chapter 2 that nothing that was said to have been created in Chapter 1, in respect of living things, yet existed; no plants, no herbs, and no human beings, at least not in a form we would recognize as plants, herbs, or human beings. However, peculiar as that may seem at first, it does entirely conform with the methodology applied in the first chapter of Genesis. (I am aware that the weight of theological opinion today is that there are two creation stories. However, I don’t find the arguments and evidence convincing. As mentioned above, that issue will be addressed in a subsequent article relating to the authorship of Genesis.)

It should be noted that verse 5 (of Chapter 2) does not say that nothing had been made, only that whatever had been made could not yet be identified as to what it was to become. God is said to have “made … every plant … and every herb,” but that He had made them before they had developed into what we would recognize today as plants and herbs. And the reason they were apparently still in a sort of state of limbo, according to Genesis, is that “God had not [yet] caused it to rain upon the earth.” (Genesis 2:5)

Genesis is telling us that the basic structures of elementary life had been created, but that they had not yet developed into any identifiable type of life. It needed something to enable it to ‘grow’ into what it was ‘programmed’ to be. And verse 5 tells us that what was lacking was the right environment.

The Jewish philosopher Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, who lived at about the same time as Jesus, explained these verses as follows:

Does he [Moses] not here manifestly set before us incorporeal ideas perceptible only by the intellect, which have been appointed to be as seals of the perfected works, perceptible by the outward senses. For before the earth was green, he says that this same thing, verdure, existed in the nature of things, and before the grass sprang up in the field, there was grass though it was not visible. And we must understand in the case of everything else which is decided on by the external senses, there were elder forms and motions previously existing, according to which the things which were created were fashioned and measured out.[29]

Clearly, Philo believed that these verses qualified the account of creation set out in Genesis 1.

Day Three suggests, therefore, that only primitive DNA (or its chemical precursor) had been created, and that it was created at about the same time as the heavier elements were created in the stars and supernovae.

DNA comprises five main elements – carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, phosphorus, and nitrogen. And apart from hydrogen, all these elements were created in the heavier stars and dispersed throughout the universe in supernovae explosions. According to Rees, “the debris thrown back into the space [following a supernova] contains a mix of elements. Oxygen is the most common, followed by carbon, nitrogen, silicon and iron.[30] And, of course, that “debris” would also include phosphorus, and other elements. This means that the elements necessary to construct DNA were being produced by such processes across the universe.

Of course, even primitive DNA is much more complicated than simply a combination of its elements, although it is still essentially just that. Most scientists would probably agree that DNA is a very improbable result of throwing its constituent elements together. But they would also acknowledge that they “still don’t know how or where life got started.”[31]

However, we should remember what Kaku said about quantum mechanics, and probabilities: “The quantum theory is based on the idea that there is a probability that all possible events … might occur… [and] … physicists realize that if we could somehow control these probabilities, one could perform feats that would be indistinguishable from magic.”[32]

It is possible, therefore, that when all these elements were created they could have accidently formed into the right combinations to create the first primitive DNA, or precursors to DNA. But there is also the alternative possibility; that there was an unseen force controlling the process. That raises the question of whether “these laws [of nature] are arranged by some greater design or by accident …[33] Clearly both are ‘possibilities’. But in either case, quantum mechanics requires that there be an observation if any consequential amalgamation of particles is to become “fully settled”. And only Genesis provides such an explanation with the words “And God saw that it was good.”

There is certainly a great deal of evidence that life-forms exist throughout the universe, and were created in the stars. And the evidence is growing stronger by the year.

  • On 8th August 2011, it was reported that “NASA-funded researchers have evidence that some building blocks of DNA, the molecule that carries the genetic instructions for life, found in meteorites were likely created in space. The research gives support to the theory that a ‘kit’ of ready-made parts created in space and delivered to Earth by meteorite and comet impacts assisted the origin of life.
  • On October 27, 2011, Science Daily, referring to work done by Professor Sun Kwok and Dr. Yong Zhang of the University of Hong Kong, said that “Astronomers report in the journal Nature that organic compounds of unexpected complexity exist throughout the Universe. The results suggest that complex organic compounds are not the sole domain of life, but can be made naturally by stars.” The article goes on to note that, “by analyzing spectra of star dust formed in exploding stars called novae, [Kwok and Zhang] show that stars are making these complex organic compounds in extremely short time scales of weeks. Not only are stars producing this complex organic matter, they are also ejecting it into the general interstellar space, the region between stars.” Kwok is quoted as saying, “our work has shown that stars have no problem making complex organic compounds under near vacuum conditions. Theoretically, this is impossible, but observationally we can see it happening.”
  • In 2013, a team from Sheffield University, led by Professor Milton Wainwright, discovered organisms from space after sending a balloon into the high stratosphere. Wainwright noted that “If life does continue to arrive from space then we will have to completely change our view of biology and evolution.” Wainwright went on to say, “we can only conclude that the biological entities originated from space. Our conclusion then is that life is continually arriving to Earth from space, life is not restricted to this planet and almost certainly did not originate here.”
  • In 2015, it was reported that “alien life” had been discovered on the Philae comet: “The experts say the most likely explanation for certain features of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, such as its organic-rich black crust, is the presence of living organisms beneath an icy surface.” Furthermore, “Rosetta, the European spacecraft orbiting the comet, is also said to have picked up strange ‘clusters’ of organic material that resemble viral particles.”[34]
  • In 2017, the Royal Astronomical Society reported that researchers from Queen Mary University of London and University College London had detected organic compounds “in the swirling material which is forming new stars 400 light years away in the constellation Ophiuchus, The Serpent Bearer,” suggesting that prebiotic compounds, the precursors of life, “may form in the melting pot of new stars.”[35]
  • In 2014, Quanta Magazine reported the Jeremy English, a physicist at MIT, proposed that life was a natural consequence of the second law of thermodynamics. The “new theory … proposes that when a group of atoms is exposed for a long time to a source of energy, it will restructure itself to dissipate more energy. The emergence of life might not be the luck of atoms arranging themselves in the right way, it says, but an inevitable event if the conditions are correct.” Although English doesn’t suggest that this process takes place in the stars, if his theory is correct, stars would seem to present the ideal conditions for atoms to restructure to form organic compounds.[36]

These are only a few of the many findings of ‘life from space’. With missions to Mars and Saturn, it is likely that even more surprises may be in store for us. But what this evidence shows is that the Genesis account of when life was first ‘created’ is turning out to be very accurate. Even into the 1970’s, biologists were absolutely convinced that life could not exist without sunlight. That has been proved to be wrong.

As Rees notes, life can spring up in the most unlikely places, and it does not need sunlight: “The ecosystems near hot sulphurous outwellings in the deep ocean bed tell us that not even sunlight is essential [to the creation of life].”[37]

Until even more recently, the notion that life may not have evolved on Earth met with ridicule. But the evidence is starting to point in precisely that direction. If the evidence does keep building up, as Wainwright says, “we [will] have to completely change our view of biology and evolution.” And perhaps scientists will have to give at least a grudging acknowledgement to the author/s of Genesis for having ‘known’ all this many millennia ago.

Accordingly, at the end of Day Three, the universe has been transformed into a cosmic factory, with cosmic machines; it has an abundance of cosmic ingredients together with a cosmic recipe; and we get the first glimpse of the intended cosmic ‘product’ – life.

And God saw that it was good.”

Having ranked up the cosmic machinery to begin the process of ‘engineering’ the intended cosmic products, the cosmic structures and materials necessary to maintain the process are made “permanent, regular, and in a settled order” with an observation – “And God saw that it was good.”

The first three ‘days’ of Genesis has established the kind of “quantum-mechanical model” that shows how, “as a result of repeated interactions of a [conscious outside observer] with individual systems, the wave function of the combined system evolves with certainty to a final wave function, in which the [conscious outside observer] has become convinced that the probabilities of the individual measurements are what are prescribed by the Copenhagen interpretation.[38]

And the evening and the morning were the third day.” Genesis 1:13

Day Three takes the universe to a time shortly before the formation of our solar system, which is about 4.6 billion years old in earth time. That means that by the end of Day Three the universe must have been about 9.2 billion years old. Deducting the time for the first two ‘days’ (about 1 billion years), Day Three would have covered a time span of about 8.2 billion years.

From Day Four, Genesis focuses in on our solar system, although the processes that take place are just as likely to have occurred (and perhaps continue to occur) in other solar systems scattered across the universe.

……………………………………………………………………………………

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

http://wp.me/P5izWu-5T

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2017 All Rights Reserved

[1] Although, as we shall see, not the human organism in its physical form, but as DNA with the necessary properties to form the physical being when it encounters the right environment.

[2] Nahmanides, Commentary on Genesis 1:1 at Para 3 . Retrieved from http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.1.3?lang=en

[3] Maimonides, Moses. Guide for the Perplexed, II: XXX, p 212 (and see 213). Retrieved from http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/gfp/gfp117.htm

[4] Weinberg, Steven. Dreams of a Final Theory, Vintage, New York, 1994 (paperback), page 6.

[5] Weinberg, page 61. Emphasis on principles is his.

[6] Nahmanides, 1:1 at Para 3.

[7] Rees, Martin. Just Six Numbers, Phoenix, London, 1999 (paperback), page 145.

[8] Rees, page 126.

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

[10] Maimonides, II: 30. Retrieved from http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/gfp/gfp117.htm

[11] Maimonides, II: 30.

[12] Greene, Brian. The Fabric of the Cosmos, Penguin, London, 2005 (paperback), page 305.

[13] Rees, page 126.

[14] Rees, page 119.

[15] Rees, page 127.

[16] Greene, page 223.

[17] Nahmanides 1:1:3 & Maimonides II:30.

[18] Maimonides II:30.

[19] Maimonides II:25.

[20] Kaku, Michio. Parallel Worlds, Penguin, London, 2006 (paperback), page 62.

[21] Kaku, page 63.

[22] Rees, pages 122 – 123.

[23] Kaku, page 67.

[24] Greene, page 199.

[25] See Greene, page 22, for an explanation of translational symmetry.

[26] Weinberg, page 34.

[27] Weinberg, page 37.

[28] Greene, page 189.

[29] Philo, On the Creation, XLIV, 129 – 130.

[30] Rees, page 50.

[31] Rees, page 20.

[32] Kaku, page 147.

[33] Kaku, page 242.

[34] https://uk.news.yahoo.com/alien-life-philae-comet-scientists-105432674.html#2lZ4i3r

[35] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/06/08/really-made-stardust-building-blocks-life-found-birth-new/

[36] https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-new-thermodynamics-theory-of-the-origin-of-life-20140122

[37] Rees, page 20.

[38] Weinberg, page 84.

Scientific Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Day One – Inflationary Cosmology

In the Jewish “Old Testament”, the book of divine justice, there are human beings, things, and speeches in so grand style that Greek and Indian literature have nothing to compare with it. With terror and reverence one stands before these tremendous remnants of what man once was …” Friedrich Nietzsche.[1]

Nowhere in the Scriptures is that observation more true than the book of Genesis. In just three chapters, Genesis provides a detailed scientific explanation of the origins of the universe and life, a detailed account of the formation and functioning of the human brain, and a concise exposition of the neurological mechanisms that give rise to human consciousness and human conscience. In just three short chapters, Genesis explains our cosmic origins and our cosmic destiny.

Furthermore, these three chapters inform everything else in the Scriptures. In my humble view, a flawed understanding of these few chapters necessarily undermines our understanding of the rest of the Scriptures.

For those of an open mind, whether believer or unbeliever, the insights revealed by Genesis can only instill a sense of awe. Verse by verse, even word by word, Genesis unveils the mysteries of the universe.

And that is how we will approach the task – line by line, and word by word.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

The first task is to determine what is meant by “the earth” and “the heaven”.

Verse 2 describes “the earth” as being “without form, and void;” and “the heaven” is depicted by the words “and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

Clearly, therefore, “the earth” in verse 1 does not mean planet Earth, because planet Earth is not “without form and void”; and describing “heaven” with the words “darkness was on the face of the deep”, can’t be a reference to the stars, moon and planets we see in the night sky.

These descriptions of “the heaven and the earth” better fit with the current scientific understanding of what matter and space must have looked like before the Big Bang.

Scientists, or more properly cosmologists, attribute the ‘beginning’ of the universe to what is called inflation, which they believe led to the Big Bang.

However, the initial “inflationary burst” that set the universe in motion did not actually create the universe. According to the physicist Brian Greene, it occurred in an already “PREEXISTING universe.[2]

Martin Rees, previously Royal Astronomer in Britain, says that the world we see about us, and life itself, is “the outcome of a chain of events that cosmologists can trace back to an ultra-dense primal medium that was almost STRUCTURELESS.”[3] According to Rees, scientific measurements prove that all the matter and energy in the universe “was once a compressed gas, hotter than the sun’s core.[4]

The popular television physicist, Michio Kaku, describing the initial sudden inflationary burst, says that “a mysterious antigravity force caused the universe to expand.” [5] It should be noted that Kaku does not say that inflation ‘created the universe’, but that it “caused the universe to expand.” The universe already existed.

On “the heaven”, Brain 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.”[6]

What we see from these references is that the universe as we now know it ‘existed’ in a different form before something happened which caused it to ‘transform’ into the present universe.

Genesis ascribes the existence of this matter in a preexisting universe to God. Scientists acknowledge that they can at best speculate as to where it came from.

Greene admits to the scientific establishment’s “continuing ignorance of fundamental origin: specifically, … why there are space and time within which the whole discussion can take place, and … why there is something rather than nothing.[7]

Rees warns scientists against claiming that the “universe can arise ‘from nothing’”. He says that Einstein showed that even what we think of as empty space has “a structure such that it can be warped and distorted. Even if shrunk to a ‘point’, it is LATENT with particles and forces.”[8]

So, until scientists can come up with some explanation as to where the ‘ingredients’ that gave rise to the universe came from, we can at best leave the issue where it is. Either we don’t know, or it has always been there, or God created it “in the beginning”. And we should remember what 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.”[9]

The next step is to consider what this dense matter, “the earth”, in the preexisting universe looked like.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. Genesis 1:2

We get a clue of the scientific perspective of what the pre-inflationary universe looked like from some of the above references – “a compressed gas” or “ultra-dense primal medium that was almost structureless.”

Brian Greene describes it as “… a wild and energetic realm of primordial chaos; [with] extremes of heat and colossal density,”[10] in which “gravity was by far the dominant force.”[11]

Referring to theories of the physicist Boltzmann, Greene also says this: “Everything we see may have resulted from a chance fluctuation out of a highly DISORDERED state of primeval CHAOS.”[12]

These scientific descriptions of what the pre-inflationary universe must have looked like are remarkably similar to the description in Genesis of “the earth” being “without form” and “void”, and that “darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

There was matter, but it was “highly disordered”, “structureless”, and a “primordial chaos” – which is almost identical to saying that it was “without form” and “void”. And since it was “ultra-dense”, and of “colossal density”, even light could not escape its immense “gravity” – “darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

It’s a beautiful and perceptive description of what scientists today imagine the pre-inflationary universe must have looked like.

At this point, verse 2 introduces a literary technique that is repeated throughout the first chapter of Genesis.

And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:2

The condensed pre-inflationary universe of matter and space, referred to in verses 1 as “the heaven and the earth”, are re-described collectively as “the waters”. Water has long been associated with life – life giving and life supporting. In that respect, we should recall what Rees said: “Even if shrunk to a ‘point’, it [matter in the pre-inflationary universe] is LATENT with particles and forces.[13] What may appear to be empty space, or a primordial plasma, has the “latent” potential to build the universe as we know it, and thus life.

According to Genesis, this “latent” potential of the pre-inflationary matter, symbolized by the “the waters”, was released when “the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

So far as physicists are concerned, the general belief is that a sort of anti-gravity force, referred to as an inflaton field (also called a Higgs field), exerted a powerful repulsive force which overwhelmed gravity causing a “gigantic gravitational repulsion that drove every region of space to rush away from every other.”[14]

However, as noted above, Greene admits to science’s “continuing ignorance of fundamental origin: specifically, if inflationary cosmology is right, our 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.[15]

Likewise, Michio Kaku asks, “What set off this antigravity force that inflated the universe?” And his answer is that “there are over fifty proposals explaining what turned on inflation and what eventually terminated it.” But, he says, although all physicists don’t agree on how it all happened, most now subscribe to the “core idea of a rapid inflationary period.”[16] (We shall return to the words “turned on” and “terminated” shortly. They are particularly relevant to Day 2).

Physicists therefore agree, for the most part, that inflation set the process in motion, leading to the Big Bang and the creation of the universe as we know it; a universe that has spawned life.

So describing the pre-inflationary universe as “the waters” is apt. And the description of “the spirit of God [moving] across the face of the waters” uncannily describes what physicists now believe happened – “latentparticles and forces” submerged, so to speak, in a dense primordial chaos, strangled by gravity, were released when an inflaton field, or some other force, was somehow ‘activated’, causing an enormous repulsive gravitational force which released the ‘life creating’ potential of those “latent … particles and forces.”

Greene describes the immediate aftermath of the inflationary burst like this: “[As] the burst of expansion drew to a close … the inflaton released its pent-up energy to the production of ordinary matter and radiation.”[17]

Genesis ascribes this initial ‘activation’ of “latent” matter that “was without form, and void”, to the “spirit of God”, whereas physicists have no idea how or why it happened. So again, the only difference is in the explanation of how the event happened, not that it did.

Even these few verses of Genesis suggest that its author/s must have been aware, to some significant extent, of what scientists today describe as Inflationary Cosmology, which led to what we call expansion.

The commentary on Genesis by the Jewish Scholar Nahmanides (1194 – 1270) tends to confirm this. Nahmanides explained these verses of Genesis as follows:

And now, listen to a correct and clear explanation of the text according to its simple understanding (peshuto). The Holy One, blessed be He, created all of the creations from absolute nothingness. And we have no other expression in the Holy Tongue for bringing out something from nothing than “bara” (which is found almost exclusively in this verse). And none of all that which was made – ‘under the sun’ or above – existed [directly] from nothing. Rather, 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 this is the first material [and] is called hyle by the Greeks. And after hyle, He didn’t create anything, but [rather] formed and made [the creations]; since it is from it that He brought everything forth and clothed the forms and refined them. And know that 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 the two of them alone were created, and everything was made from them.[18]

Nearly one thousand years before modern science proposed the theory of cosmic expansion, a Jewish Scholar studying the Torah described a very similar phenomenon. And as we shall see when we look at Day Two, there is a very good reason for that.

On that point, we should mention again the methodology applied in Genesis. As the statement by Nahmanides suggests, Genesis records a consistent pattern of transition of the ‘material’ it starts with, “the heaven and the earth”, through various stages. At each stage, the ‘material’ of the previous stage is invariably re-described before it undergoes its next transition, until the process is complete. And the completed process gives us insight into the purpose of the undertaking.

With that in mind, we can move on to the next stage of the process.

The next events described by Genesis are so profound in terms of physics and quantum mechanics that it is best to take the next two verses together.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” Genesis 1:3 & 4

We’ll start with the easy part of these verses – “light” and “darkness” – before moving on to the quantum aspects (although they do overlap).

The first thing to note is that what was previously described as “the waters”, which was itself a collective description of “the heaven and the earth”, now undergoes a transition to become “light”. But then there is the curious mention of “the darkness”. It hasn’t been mentioned before, and neither is it said to have been ‘created’. God is only recorded as creating “light”. But there is good reason for that omission.

In scientific terms, much of what happened “in the beginning” is speculative, but certain assumptions can be drawn by working ‘backwards’, so to speak, and deducing what must have happened to create what we see around us.

Rees says that the universe “evolved from a primordial fireball, uniformly hot, into a structured state containing very hot stars radiating into very cold space … [which] … set the stage for increasingly intricate cosmic evolution, and the emergence of life.”[19]

And that “fireball” created, or released, ‘light’. But ‘light’ in what sense?

Well, that is where antimatter comes in. Light is made up of photons which have no mass. They ended up that way because of antimatter. When an electron and an antielectron (called a positron, which is antimatter) collide with each other, they release two photons. Two sub-atomic particles with mass ‘destroy’ each other and in the process convert their joint mass into energy in the form of two photons (mass-less particles of pure energy).

According to physicists Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw, “Processes like this played a very important role in the early history of the universe when matter and antimatter almost completely cancelled themselves out by just such interactions. Today we see the remnant of that cancellation.”[20]

But Cox and Forshaw note that astronomical observations show that “for every 100 billion matter particles made just after the big bang, only one survived. The rest took the opportunity available to them … to divest themselves of their mass and become photons.[21]

So, just after the Big Bang, only one of approximately every 100 billion particles ‘chose’ not to transform into light.

Cox and Forshaw say this as to what was left of the particles: “In a very real sense, the stuff of the universe that makes up stars planets and people is only a tiny residue, left over after the grand annihilation that took place early on in the universe’s history. It is very fortunate and almost miraculous that anything was left at all. To this day we are not sure why that happened. The question ‘why is the universe not just filled with light and nothing else?’ is still open-ended, …[22]

Martin Rees suggests a reason for this. Citing work by the Russian physicist Andrei Sakharov, he suggests that there was a slight asymmetry between particles and antiparticles “during the cooling immediately after the big bang.” Accordingly “this would create a slight excess of quarks over antiquarks (which would later translate into an excess of protons over antiprotons).[23]

And, explains Rees, studies by American physicists James Cronin and Val Finch into the rate of decay of “an unstable particle called K˚,” provides evidence for this. “They found that this particle and its antiparticle weren’t perfect mirror images of each other, but decayed at slightly different rates; some slight asymmetry was built into the laws governing the decays.”[24]

But for every billion quarks that were annihilated with antiquarks, one would survive because it couldn’t find a partner to annihilate with… So all the atoms in the universe could result from a tiny bias in favour of matter over antimatter.[25]

However, the most important point in respect of this excess of matter over antimatter is that it created the material from which life would be built. “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.”[26]

The establishment of an “irreversible effect” at certain points in the ‘creation’ process is crucially important to both the Scriptural and scientific accounts of the origins of the universe.

As these scientific explanations demonstrate, the direct consequence of the initial inflationary burst, and subsequent Big Bang, was the creation of ‘light’. The fact that other matter, important as it may be to our very existence, was left-over from the creation of ‘light’ appears to scientists to have been entirely coincidental. But it also perfectly explains why there is no mention in Genesis of God creating “the darkness”. That is because “the darkness” refers to the matter that was left over after all the antimatter had been annihilated with matter, of which there was a very slight excess.

But it was crucial to our very existence that the ‘creation’ of ‘light’ took place at the precise moment when there was a very slight excess of matter over antimatter; an excess that created the perfect proportion of matter to energy in the universe to facilitate and sustain life. Dark matter and dark energy are also relevant to the reference to “darkness”, but for the sake of brevity, I will not deal with them here (although they are dealt with in the book).

It is therefore not surprising that it is at precisely this crucial moment, the creation of light, that we find the curious words “And God said” followed by “And God saw.”

Quantum Physics

With the exception of Day 2, which only has “And God said …,” all the other Days have the two-stage process of ‘creation’ involving “And God said …,” followed by “And God saw …”

We should also note that following each “And God saw …” appear the words “that it was good.” The only exception is verse 31, where they are followed by the words “… it was very good.”[27]

So why all this detail about the words “And God said …” and “And God saw …”?

Well, let’s start with a quote from the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Steven Weinberg: “We really do need to understand quantum mechanics better in quantum cosmology, the application of quantum mechanics to the whole universe, WHERE NO OUTSIDE OBSERVER is even imaginable.”[28]

The reference to an “outside observer” is crucial because it brings together quantum mechanics (physics) with those curious words in Genesis which refer to God ‘speaking’ and ‘seeing’.

To better comprehend the importance of this connection, we need to briefly consider this aspect of quantum physics.

Quantum physics relates to the behavior of sub-atomic particles like electrons, photons and quarks. These particles make up everything we know as ordinary matter and energy. As Weinberg says, scientists study these fundamental particles because they believe that by doing so they “will learn something about the PRINCIPLES that govern everything.”[29] That is, scientists believe that the behavior of fundamental particles may lead them to a ‘final theory of everything.’

However, quantum physics tells us that fundamental particles are not like tiny grains of sand. They are more like waves. Scientists call this property of a particle its wavefunction. The wavefunction means that a particle can adopt any one of all probable states. But, as Brian Greene says, “only when the particle is looked at (measured or observed) does it randomly commit to one definite property or another.”[30]

There is a two-stage process that determines how fundamental particles transform from a quantum state to a state capable of establishing the physical universe.

First, particles are ‘free’ to choose from all probable states. Second, only when a particle is observed will it choose one specific state.

Many physicists believe that this is the basis for what we describe as “free will.” Michio Kaku describes the effect of quantum physics like this: “in a quantum play, the actors suddenly throw away the script and act on their own. The puppets cut their strings. Free will has been established.”[31]

However, Kaku says that “physicists realize that if [they] could somehow control these probabilities, one could perform feats indistinguishable from magic.”[32] And this is an important element of the Genesis account of creation.

There are also two other aspects of particle behavior we ought to note.

Delayed-Choice Experiments

The first relates to what are described as delayed-choice experiments. In these experiments, particles are fired through a beam splitter at a detector. When the detector is switched off, the particles show an interference pattern demonstrating that they are in a wave-like mode. However, when the detector is switched on, the particles pass through one or other slit on the splitter and appear as a dot. That means they are in a particle-like mode because they have assumed a specific state after being measured (observed) by the detector.

But if the detector is switched off after the particle has been emitted, the particle appears to ‘know’ that the detector will be switched off before it is fired, and adopts a wave-like state. If the detector is programmed to randomly switch on and off as particles are fired at it, the particles always ‘guess’ correctly whether the detector will be switched on or off when they arrive.

Brian Greene notes that “it’s as if the photons adjust their behaviour in the past according to the future choice of whether the … detector is switched on; it’s as though the photons have a “premonition” of the experimental situation they will encounter farther downstream, and act accordingly. It’s as if a consistent and definite history becomes manifest only after the future to which it leads has been fully settled.[33]

That conclusion is reinforced by further modifications to the experiments in which an erasing device is placed just in front of the detector which causes the particles to revert to a different mode. But it also suggests that whatever state a particle adopts, by perceiving what the future environment may be, can be undone at any time before the actual observation is made. And that is an important aspect of these experiments, as we shall see.

The second aspect of particle behavior we should note relates to what are called Feynman’s “sum over paths” equations. Richard Feynman, another Nobel Prize-winning physicist, demonstrated that although particles are free to choose from all probable paths, the path that leads to the Classical laws of physics is the most probable path. But as Kaku notes, “Feynman showed that the Newtonian (Classical) path is simply the most probable path, not the only path.”[34] Particles are still free to adopt any of the other paths.

Quantum Physics to Classical (Newtonian) Physics

There remains only one further thing to note about quantum physics – and that is the question of how the quantum laws morph into the Classical laws. Scientists still don’t know the answer to that question, which prompted Weinberg to suggest that what is needed is a “quantum-mechanical model” that shows how, “as a result of repeated interactions of a [conscious outside observer] with individual systems, the wave function of the combined system evolves with certainty to a final wave function, in which the [conscious outside observer] has become convinced that the probabilities of the individual measurements are what are prescribed by the Copenhagen interpretation.[35]

Now that may all sound like gobbledygook to non-scientists, but all it really means is that we need an explanation of how the uncertainty inherent in quantum physics brought about the predictable, deterministic physical world we see all around us. And such an explanation needs to identify what (or who?) played the role of a conscious outside observer which brought about the transformation from the quantum universe to the Classical universe.

Quantum Physics and Genesis

We can now consider the relationship between quantum physics and Genesis.

The first relates to the words “And God said …” followed by “And God saw …” The former wording (“And God said”) is like the laser, or electron gun, which fires the particles towards the detector. The particles are ‘programmed’, so to speak, by the ‘intention’ expressed in the words which follow the words “And God said …”; that is, “let there be light.” That ‘programming’ enables the particles to ‘predict’ which state they should assume in the expectation of a ‘measurement’. The ‘measurement’, or ‘observation’, is explicitly signified by the words “And God saw …”.

The transformed state of the particles is ‘locked in’ once the ‘observation’ is made. That is why we see, at each stage of the process, the intended outcome being repeated. First, in stage one, God is said to ‘direct’ what action is to take place (“And God said, let there be light”); second, the action then takes place (“and there was light”); and finally, in stage two, the action is ‘locked in’ by a ‘measurement’ (“And God saw the light”).

This second stage creates the “irreversible effect” referred to by Rees.[36] The reason for the need to ensure the process causes an “irreversible effect” is because other variations of the experiments show that where an “erasure device is inserted just in front of the detection screen …. [it has the effect of] … undoing the past, even undoing the ancient past.”[37]

But it should be noted that future measurements don’t in fact change what happened in the past. They only determine whether or not the initial ‘instruction’ has been realised, or “fully settled”. Greene says this: “The future measurements do not change anything at all about things that took place in your experiment [in the past] … [but] … they do influence the kinds of details you can invoke when you subsequently describe what happened in [the past].”[38]

He goes on to explain that “we thus see that the future helps shape the story you tell of the past.[39]

And that brings us to verse 5.

And the evening and the morning were the first day.Genesis 1:5

It seems odd that a ‘day’ would not be described as ‘morning to evening’, but rather that both the “evening” and the “morning” constitute a period of time. But it begins to make sense in the light of Greene’s assessment of the results of the delayed-choice experiments, and particularly the further modification in which an “erasure device” is inserted in front of the detector thus “undoing the past”.

Genesis emphasizes the importance of the measurement element of the two-stage process, which creates the “irreversible effect”, by defining the whole process as “the evening and the morning were the first day.” These words signify that the measurement made at the end of the process (“And God saw …”), created “a consistent and definite history” which manifested itself “only after the future to which [the initial instruction led had] been fully settled.”

The initial instruction, or intention, signified by the words “And God said …”, could have been ‘undone’ at any time before the measurement was made. That is what the modified delayed-choice experiments demonstrate when an “erasure device” is inserted in front of the detector. As Greene says, it has the effect of “undoing the past, even undoing the ancient past.

The words “And God saw …” are therefore crucial to create an “irreversible effect”, otherwise the initial intention could be undone at any time thereafter. It has the effect of “settlinga consistent and definite history” which is signified by defining the process as “the evening and the morning were the first day.” The final measurement sets the whole process in stone, so to speak.

Although this may all seem a little perplexing at first, it is in fact what we do on a regular basis in our own lives. For example, when you decide (make a decision) to go to university to get a degree, you give yourself a kind of instruction as to how you want the immediate future of your life to progress. You then apply, are offered a place, and start your course. At this stage, your objective of getting a degree is not at all ‘settled’. It is only “fully settled”, or achieved, when you sit your final exams, they are marked (‘measured’) and you pass, and are awarded the degree. The awarding of the degree creates “a consistent and definite history” because “the future to which [your initial decision] leads has been fully settled.” Conversely, at any time before you sit your final exams and pass, your objective of getting a degree is not fully settled. Any number of things could intervene to prevent that happening. And if that happens, you revert to the original position of having to decide (make a decision) on what to do next. Your past (decision) is “undone.” Like the particle in a wave-like mode, an “interference pattern[40] again appears in your life.

However, as Greene also points out, this does not change the fact that you originally made a decision to go to university. It only tells a different story of what happened in relation to that initial decision. As Greene says, “the future [that did not result in a degree] helps shape the story you tell of [your past decision to get a degree].”

Our lives are generally segmented into just such sets of objectives that we work to achieve. Each segment is like the “days” described in Genesis, including the “seventh day” when God is said to have rested from all His work. We humans retire – if we live long enough.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.” Genesis 1: 5

This ‘naming’ of what God is said to have created clearly symbolizes “how the fundamental laws of quantum physics morph into the classical laws that are so successful at explaining common experience – in essence, [it demonstrates] … how the atomic and subatomic shed their magical weirdness when they combine to form macroscopic objects.[41] It demonstrates how the phenomena of the micro-world combine to form the objects that make up our every-day reality.

It should be noted that this ‘naming’ uses capital letters – “Day” and “Night”. And this ‘naming’ only occurs on two other occasions in the Genesis’ account of creation, at verses 8 and 10. As we shall see in subsequent articles, these instances also relate to the transition of matter from one form to another.

This ‘naming’ is clearly to emphasize that a transition has occurred from the quantum state of affairs to a Classical state of affairs, which gives the foundation for the deterministic, predictable universe which was a pre-requisite for the emergence of life.

These verses of Genesis thus give us Weinberg’s “quantum mechanical modelthat describes not only various systems under study but also something representing a CONSCIOUS OBSERVER.” It is a model which shows how “the wave function of the combined system evolves with certainty to a final wave function” because of “repeated interactions of the OBSERVER with INDIVIDUAL SYSTEMS.[42]

This ‘naming’ of the new state of matter and space indicates that the transition from the original matter and space had been completed. And that speaks to us of order, which brings us to the final verse for consideration in respect of “the first day” – the words “that it was good.”

And God saw the light, that it was good.” Genesis 1: 4

We have already seen that the words “And God saw the light” was the first step in ‘creating’ the kind of universe that “our very existence depends on” by ensuring “an irreversible effect that established an excess of matter over antimatter.” It established the predictable physical basis on which to build a universe that could spawn and sustain life. It transformed the ‘chaotic’ pre-inflationary world of quantum physics into the predictable, ordered world of Classical physics.

Locking in the “light” at just the right moment to ensure that there would be enough matter left over to create a life-sustaining universe was “good”. Imposing order on chaos was “good”. The ‘freedom’ enjoyed by particles in the quantum world was subjected to a system of law.

But Day One was only the first step in establishing a universal system of law; a system of law that, in the end, manifests itself as a human organism endowed with a capacity for moral judgment, yet free to choose whether to exercise that judgment.

…………………………………………………………….

The next article addresses Genesis Day Two, and the concept of Expansion.

Joseph BH McMillan. This article is an abridged extract from A ‘Final Theory’ of God.

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2017 All Rights Reserved

Footnotes

[1] Nietzsche, Friedrich. Beyond Good and Evil, Vintage, New York, 1989, para 52.

[2] Green, Brian. The Fabric of the Universe, Penguin, London, 2005 (paperback), page 318.

[3] Rees, Martin. Just Six Numbers, Phoenix, London, 1999 (paperback), page 126 – capitals my emphasis.

[4] Rees, page 73.

[5] Kaku, Michio. Parallel Worlds, Penguin, London, 2006 (paperback), page 13.

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

[7] Greene, page 286.

[8] Rees, page 145.

[9] Kaku, p 158.

[10] Green pages 322 and 323 respectively.

[11] Greene, page 272.

[12] Greene, page 320.

[13] Rees, page 145.

[14] Greene, page 284.

[15] Greene, page 286.

[16] Kaku, page 14.

[17] Greene, page 301.

[18] Nahmanides, Commentary on Genesis 1:1 at Para 3 . Retrieved from http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.1.3?lang=en

[19] Rees, page 126.

[20] Cox and Forshaw, Why does E = mc2?, De Capo Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2001 (paperback),  page 200.

[21] Cox and Forshaw, page 200.

[22] Cox and Forshaw, page 200.

[23] Rees, page 95.

[24] Rees, page 95.

[25] Rees, page 96.

[26] Rees, page 154 – my emphasis on ‘irreversible’.

[27] Underling is original emphasis.

[28] Weinberg, Steven. Dreams of a Final Theory, Vintage, New York, 1994 (paperback), page 85 – my emphasis.

[29] Weinberg, page 61.

[30] Greene, pages 82 – 83.

[31] Kaku, page 149.

[32] Kaku, page 147.

[33] Greene, page 189.

[34] Kaku, page 164.

[35] Weinberg, page 84.

[36] Rees, page 154.

[37] Greene, page 193.

[38] Greene, page 198.

[39] Greene, page 199.

[40] Greene, page 193.

[41] Greene, page 199.

[42] Weinberg, page 84.

 

 

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.

Demystifying Mysticism

Einstein famously said that “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.[1]  The former Royal Astronomer of Britain, Martin Rees, says that Einstein was “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.”[2]

But should it be so “incomprehensible” that the human mind is “somehow attuned to understand” the laws that govern the universe?

Broadly speaking, there are currently two alternative explanations for this curious ability. Either the human mind is entirely explicable by its physical make-up and its interaction with the environment through the senses, or there is an inexplicable element to the mind that gives it a metaphysical, or even mystical, character.

The former view is that of many physicists who hold that the principles that determine the behavior of fundamental particles determine the functioning of everything else in the universe, including the human brain. I include in this view those who argue that the chemistry of the neurological structure of the brain has a ‘life of its own’ that is ‘independent’ of the principles of the fundamental particles that make up its physical structure. There isn’t really any distinction between these views because in the last analysis they both perceive the functioning of the brain to be a consequence of its physiology.

The contrary view is that there is more to the human mind than the physical structure of the brain and its interaction with the environment. This view is exemplified by Immanuel Kant who said that “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, … and enables us to know something of it, namely, a law.”[3] This “moral law,” says Kant, is simply “presented for our obedience by practical reason, the voice of which makes even the boldest sinner tremble …”[4] Kant’s view is a mystical or metaphysical view. In religion it is called spirituality.

Although these views may seem incompatible at first, they are in fact simply different facets of the same phenomenon. Ironically, Friedrich Nietzsche inadvertently identified the mystical as a facet of the physical, and vice versa, when he mocked Kant for having “discovered a moral faculty in man.”[5]

In order to understand how that works, we need to go back to the Beginning, to the origin of the universe. Both science and the Scriptures recognize that an explanation for the universe and life, and consequently the structure and functioning of the human brain, is to be found in the origin of the universe itself.

A Final Theory – the scientists’ view

The physicist Steven Weinberg says that although 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.”[6]

Likewise, Martin Rees says that it is the principles, or properties, of fundamental particles, “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.”[7] According to Rees, “mathematical laws underpin the fabric of our universe.”[8]

This approach is known in science as reductionism[9]. Weinberg, for example, says that the “evolution of living things has been made possible by the properties of DNA and other molecules and that the properties of any molecule are what they are because of the properties of electrons and atomic nuclei and electric forces.[10] He goes on to say that physicists study fundamental particles “because we think that by studying [them] we will learn something about the principles that govern everything.”

Although this approach does not dispute that certain mental faculties and processes may determine aspects of human behavior, it argues that those faculties and processes are what they are as a consequence of the principles that determine the properties of fundamental particles. As Weinberg 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.[11]

By identifying these fundamental principles, physicists believe they could construct a Final Theory that will explain everything about the universe and life. This is also known as a Theory of Everything, and by definition such a theory would necessarily include an explanation for what we regard as the mystical. More importantly, this view also claims that a Final Theory would definitively settle the question of whether or not there is such a thing as God.

The problem with the reductionist approach is that it is morally ambivalent. Morality is simply a neurological response to certain environmental and social conditions.

In his book The First Three Minutes, Weinberg said that “the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.”[12] In an attempt to deflect the criticism his remark attracted, Weinberg ‘clarified’ that statement in his next book, Dreams of a Final Theory, by saying that he “did not mean that science teaches us that the universe is pointless, but rather that the universe itself suggests no point. I hastened to add that there were ways that we ourselves could INVENT a point to our lives, including trying to understand the universe.”[13]

In other words, Weinberg suggests that we can “invent” some point to our lives by dedicating our lives to proving that there is no point to life. That sounds like ‘a Final Theory of Despair,’ in which the only purpose to human existence is the pursuit of vanity and the satisfaction of our physical desires.

This very ‘physicalist’ approach fails to recognize that the human capacity for moral judgment, which expresses itself in the establishment of systems of government and justice, may be a manifestation of a more profound dimension of the physical laws that govern the universe – a moral dimension,[14] rather than a neurological accommodation to physical conditions.

Kant recognized the nihilistic tendencies of such an approach when he said that “[man] is not so completely an animal as to be indifferent to what reason says on its own account, and to use it merely as an instrument for the satisfaction of his wants as a sensible [sensual] being. For the possession of reason would not raise his worth above that of the brutes, if it is to serve him only for the same purpose that instinct serves in them; it would in that case be only a particular method which nature had employed to equip man for the same ends for which it has qualified brutes, without qualifying him for any higher purpose.”[15]

Although Kant was wrong that reason can tell us anything “on its own account”, and it is used by most people as a means to satisfy their wants as sensual beings, it is Kant’s recognition of a distinction between the human capacity for moral judgment, and the servicing of our primitive instincts, that is crucial to understanding the ‘mystical’ in human existence.

The Scriptural view – a seed to a tree to a seed

Jewish scholars and philosophers have long recognized this distinction, as did Jesus. And they found it in the same place that physicists look to unlock the ‘secrets’ of the universe and life – The Beginning.

In his Commentary on Genesis 1:1, the Jewish scholar Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD), says this: – “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 this is the first material [and] is called hyle by the Greeks. And after hyle, He didn’t create anything, but [rather] formed and made [the creations]; since it is from it that He brought everything forth and clothed the forms and refined them. … 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.”[16] Nahmanides included the creation of man as a subsequent creation from the original matter. On Genesis 1:24, he says “that God created something from nothing on the first day alone, and afterwards He formed and made [everything] from the fundamental elements.”

Nahmanides adopted a literal reading of Genesis, yet still described the origin of the universe and life in precisely the way science now understands it (except that he attributes it to God). That is because of the Hebrew meaning of the word “beginning”, which is reishit.[17] The word relates to the origin or beginning of a thing, like a seed, which then grows or expands into something much larger and grander, like a tree. Although the tree has no outward resemblance to the seed that ‘created’ it, the fruit that it yields contains a replica of the seed that initiated the whole process. The fruit is not some inconsequential by-product of the tree, but the very purpose of the tree’s existence. The fruit contains a seed that is an image of the seed that created it, and an image of the tree and the fruit that the seed is ‘programmed’ to create. The fruit of a tree is not itself a replica of the seed that created the tree, only the seed within the fruit is a replica. The flesh of the fruit hanging from the tree is what enables the replica seeds within the fruit to be dispersed so that the species can propagate. The fruit is the vehicle that carries the seed.

It should not be surprising, therefore, to find Jesus adopting such an analogy to explain the “mystery of the Kingdom of God[18] to his disciples: “It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it growth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.”[19]

The account of creation in Genesis Chapter One describes the origin of the universe as a similar process. It tells us that the human organism is the fruit of the tree, the universe is the tree, and the human brain is a replica of the seed that gave birth to the universe.

The great Jewish philosopher, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, who lived at about the same time as Jesus, recognized this when he said, regarding the creation of man “in the image of God[20], that “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.[21]

In other words, the mathematical structure that gave birth to the universe is imprinted into the human brain as an image of the original structure. The human brain is ‘programmed’ with the “mathematical laws” that Rees says “underpin the fabric of our universe.[22] The incredible abilities of the ‘mathematical’ savants are evidence of that.[23] In his excellent book Islands of Genius, Darold A. Treffert notes that some mathematical savants “seem to ‘see’ their answers as if projected on to a screen,”[24] and asks whether 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?[25]

Likewise, Rees notes that “Newton’s laws are in some sense ‘hardwired’ into monkeys that swing confidently from tree to tree.”[26] And if in monkeys, why not in humans?

However, Genesis also tells us that the mathematical structure of the replica seed that is the human brain, like the original seed that gave birth to the universe, has three distinct but interrelated elements: morality, reason and instinct.

As explained in Parts VII and VIII of my series A Legal Proof for the Existence of God, the “image and likeness[27] of God refers to the human capacity for moral judgment; the symbolism of God speaking to the male and female He had created refers to the human ability to reason; and what God is said to say to the humans refers to human instinct, some of which we share with animals (the instinct to reproduce, and the instincts for survival and security), and others that are unique to human beings (the instinct to subdue and conquer, and the instinct to pursue knowledge of our world and the universe).

Chapter Two of Genesis symbolizes these distinct faculties with trees. The “tree of knowledge of good and evil” refers to the human capacity for moral judgement; the trees that are “pleasant to the sight, and good for food,”[28] represent human instincts; the reference to God commanding the man[29] symbolizes the human ability to reason; and the “tree of life” represents our ability to apply the knowledge of the universe to understand and seek to fulfil our true moral purpose and our true moral destiny.[30]

Each year science discovers further evidence that suggests that these elements of the human brain are the consequence of the mathematical laws that govern the universe. In respect of the faculties of reason and morality, for example, Dr Kelly Smith, of Clemson University, says that the tendency of the universe to produce complexity suggests that the emergence of life with a capacity for reason and moral judgement may not be accidental, but a consequence of the basic structure of the universe unfolding in a predictable manner.[31]

In respect of the instinct for reproduction, Jeremy English, a physicist at MIT, has proposed that the second law of thermodynamics inevitably tends to the rearranging of atoms so as to create life. But he also suggests that the energy dissipation that drives this process is most effectively achieved by self-replication. As English says, “A great way of dissipating more [energy] is to make more copies of yourself.”[32]

These scientific discoveries show that the distinct neurological faculties in the brain are in fact facets of the mathematical laws that govern the universe, which, in turn, if the reductionist view is proved correct, are themselves a consequence of even more fundamental principles that determine the properties of all the other mathematical laws, like the second law of thermodynamics.

Origins of Mysticism – competing neurological networks

Using the symbolism of trees to describe these distinct faculties conveys the message that these faculties are imprinted into the human brain as neurological networks. These three networks convert the raw mathematical data ‘pre-installed’ in the brain, together with the mathematical data processed through the senses, into emotions, words, images and concepts, enabling us to understand what the raw mathematical data means, and respond accordingly.

But all these neurological networks start out like seeds in the brain. They need to be carefully tended and nurtured in order to germinate and grow, and fulfil their intended purpose and potential. That is especially important for the moral network because it is the most easily neglected network. As Jesus said, although the seed of the “word of the kingdom of God” is “within[33]” us, “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becommeth unfruitful.[34]

That warning by Jesus brings us to the crux of the matter, because the neurological moral network is the most important of all the networks. It is the network that most induces the phenomenon we call mystical, or spiritual. That is because it acts as a ‘regulator’ and restraint on the networks that give us our instincts and our ability to reason. But its interventions often seem inexplicable. As Kant said, it is “the voice [that] makes even the boldest sinner tremble.”[35] And it is important that we learn to distinguish between the “voice” that speaks to us from the neurological moral network, and the voice of our instincts that tempts us with the prospect of pleasure, or fills us with the fear of pain.

Reason in the service of instinct, rather than in service of the moral law, is what we recognize as evil. It is responsible for the most despicable deceits, betrayals, humiliations and atrocities human beings can inflict upon their fellow human beings.

Take for example the instinct for reproduction. The instinct is fired by the prospect of the pleasure to be had by engaging in the act. But when this instinct is not restrained by the voice of the moral law, reason will find justification for all manner of deceptions and deceits in order to indulge the prospect of pleasure, or avoid the fear of pain. When totally unrestrained by the moral law, it will justify rape, incest, and even pedophilia, and devise deceptions to escape detection. It will even justify murder if its instinct for survival feels threatened by the possibility of detection. On the other hand, when reason is in the service of the moral law, it compels the instinct to reproduce to recognize that the act of creating a new life is sacred, and attaches profound and enduring obligations to those who engage in the act – obligations not just to the life they create together, but towards each other.

Likewise, reason in the service of the peculiarly human instinct to subdue and conquer is responsible for reprehensible acts like bullying, slavery and war. But when this instinct is regulated by the neurological moral network, we are compelled to apply it to subdue and conquer the human appetite for pleasure and the fear of pain. Reason in the service of the moral law enables us to subdue and conquer our primitive instincts. Buddhism is largely based on exactly this endeavor.

Likewise, reason in the service of our instincts for survival and security compels us to accumulate and appropriate to ourselves far in excess of what we need to survive and be secure, even at the expense of depriving others of a means for providing for their own survival and security. But reason in the service of the moral law compels us to compassion and a recognition of our obligations to the survival and security of the weak and least advantaged of the human species. This obligation was recognized as far back as 1,780 BC, when Hammurabi declared that the primary purpose of his Code was to bring “about the well-being of the oppressed” and ensure “that the strong should not harm the weak.” Similarly, Asoka (304 – 232 BC), in speaking of the Dhamma (Law), advocated “moderation in spending and moderation in saving.”[36]

And again, reason in the service of the instinct for knowledge, unregulated by the voice that speaks to us from our neurological moral network, willingly puts itself in the service of those who would use that knowledge to service their instinct to subdue and conquer. The claim by scientists that they only design the weapons of war, politicians use them, is such an example. It is like the irresponsible father giving his disturbed son a gun to take to school, but when the disturbed son then shoots dead scores of his schoolmates, the father protests that he only gave him the gun, he didn’t make him use it. However, when reason is guided by the voice of the moral law, the instinct for knowledge is applied to enhance the wellbeing of humanity, not to provide it with the instruments to inflict death and destruction upon itself.

It does not take a great deal of reflection to recognize those acts that are a consequence of reason in the service of instinct, and those acts that are a consequence of reason in the service of the moral law. The former we call evil or sinful, and we devise laws in an attempt to regulate them. The latter we recognize as good, and we should seek to encourage and promote them, if we had not so pitifully fallen into bondage to our primitive instincts.

Mysticism demystified – signposts in the mind

The ‘mystery’ of the moral law is that human beings recognize that there is a universal law that is not of human making; a law that is not a consequence of one person or group of people imposing their authority on others. It acts as a restraint on our instinctive reactions and motivations by directing us towards the good.

Science is now beginning to recognize that the human brain may indeed be programmed with such a neurological moral network that speaks to us of a supreme moral law. The IVF pioneer, Robert Winston, writes that “Psychologist Eliot Turiel observed that even three- and four-year-olds could distinguish between moral rules … and conventional rules … Furthermore, they could understand that a moral breach, such as hitting someone, was wrong whether you had been told not to do it or not, whereas a conventional breach, such as not talking in class, was wrong only if it had been expressly forbidden.[37] Winston concludes from such research that the human brain has “a sort of ‘morality module’ … that is activated at an early age.[38]

But, as yet, scientists have no idea how the “morality module” got to be ‘programmed’ into the brain, nor how it really functions.

Although research like that of Dr Kelly[39] suggests that the human capacity for reason and moral judgement may not be accidental, but a consequence of the laws of the universe unfolding in a predictable manner, another mathematical equation may reveal how the “morality module” presents the moral law to us “for our obedience.”

It is Richard Feynman’s “sum over paths” equation. Feynman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, devised an equation (based on Schrödinger’s wave equation of quantum physics), referred to as “sum over paths,” which, in very simple terms, demonstrates that although particles are ‘free’ to choose between all probable paths, they appear to be ‘programmed’ to ‘know’ that they should adopt the path that leads to the deterministic laws of Classical (Newtonian) physics, the laws that are a prerequisite for an ordered universe capable of spawning and maintaining life.[40]

Then there is the curious behavior of particles in what physicists call delayed-choice experiments. As the TV physicist Brian Greene notes, modified versions of these experiments show that particles seem to “have a ‘premonition’ of the experimental situation they will encounter farther downstream, and act accordingly.”[41] That is, they appear to ‘know’ what a future environment will look like, and adjust to prepare for it. But they have to have that future environment communicated to them in some way.[42]

These ‘mystical’ properties of particles, or at least the mathematical equations that determine their properties, appear to be the origin of the similarly mystical mechanism in the neurological moral network that suggests to us which path is the right path to choose to comply with the “moral law.” Like the “sum over paths” equation, it suggests the path that fulfils our true moral purpose, and our true moral destiny, and warns us to adopt the right path by communicating to us the negative consequences of failing to do so. It suggests to us the path that leads to order and justice, not to chaos and oppression; the path that leads to compassion and sacrifice, not gain and vanity.

With the exception of psychopaths, who are virtually totally disconnected from their neurological moral networks (and according to a BBC Horizon program,[43] that includes a disturbingly large number of CEOs of leading corporations), most of us subconsciously ‘hear’ the voice of the moral law. Unfortunately, we are so overwhelmed with suggestions that appeal to our appetite for pleasure and fear of pain, and that appeal to our vanities, that what little we do hear is drowned out by the clatter of advertising. And as Jesus said, “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in,” serve to silence the already faint voice of the moral law.

But how does the neurological moral network present the moral law to us for our obedience?

As already noted, most of us are only subconsciously aware of the moral law. Others, however, and I would put the Old Testament prophets in this category, appear to ‘see’ or ‘hear’ it with stark clarity, like those savants that ‘see’ answers to mathematical problems “as if projected on to a screen,”[44]

Others, no doubt, experience something similar to savants like Daniel Tammett, and incredible mathematicians like Ramanujan. When Tammett was doing complicated calculations he said “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.” Likewise, Ramanujan said that he dreamed of drops of blood followed by visions in which scrolls appeared to him containing complex equations.[45]

As I explain in my article The Power of Insight, the experiences of Tammett and Ramanujan are similar to what the prophets are said to have experienced. Isaiah and Ezekiel, for example, saw visions, Jeremiah saw words, 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’.

It is important however to distinguish between hallucinations, in which the mind plays tricks on us, and the kind of insight experienced by the likes of Tammett and Ramanujan. It is also important to distinguish between ‘seeing’ the mathematical raw data ‘programmed’ into the brain, as Tammett and Ramanujan did, and ‘seeing’ or ‘hearing’ that mathematical raw data after it has been converted into moral principles by the neurological moral network.

Although there is a ‘mystical’ element to the kind of insight experienced by Tammett and Ramanujan, only the “voice” of the neurological moral network, as it reveals to us the moral law, is truly mystical. It is this kind of insight that gives us signposts in the mind that reveals to us our true moral purpose, and leads us to our true moral destiny.

From Mysticism to A ‘Final Theory’ of God

Immanuel Kant best explained why this kind of insight is truly mystical when he said that the moral law is “absolutely inexplicable from any data of the sensible world, and the whole compass of our theoretical use of reason,” that it is “incomprehensible to speculative reason,” and, most significantly, that it demands our obedience “apart from all advantage.[46]

What Kant recognized was that the moral law is counter-intuitive. It holds out no prospect of physical or intellectual benefit. When viewed from the perspective of what we would normally consider logical or commonsense assumptions about life, it seems to suggest the contrary. Intuitively we aspire to personal gain, security and contentment; the moral law suggests submission, moderation and even sacrifice.

It tells us that there is something more to life than the physical. As Jesus said, “for what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul.”[47] Or as The Preacher proclaimed, “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding …”[48] In fact, the theme is the whole basis of the Sermon on the Mount, exemplified by the saying “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.[49]

But recognition of the supremacy of the moral law is not exclusive to the Scriptures. It is common to all religions, to all people, and to all ages of history. As we have seen, conquering our appetite to service our instincts is the objective of Buddhism, and it was the basis of Mahatma Gandhi’s way of life.

And it all rests on the moral law being ‘revealed’ to us by the neurological moral network converting the raw mathematical data ‘programmed’ into the brain as an image of the raw mathematical data that governs the universe. That is the mystical in the moral law – that the fundamental laws of physics are moral laws. It tells us that we can no more invent the laws of morality than we can invent the laws of physics. We can only discover them.

Ever since our early ancestors first activated the neurological moral network by offending against it (that is the story of Adam and Eve – see http://wp.me/p5izWu-7C), human beings have sought to give expression to the voice of the moral law. They have done so by establishing systems of government and justice.

These institutions are a manifestation of the moral law, and they give us an insight into what it means. It compels us to recognize that a supreme law to which all are subject requires a supreme lawmaker to promulgate it. And it requires a system of justice to ensure compliance with the law, and which requires that there be a consequence for a violation.

Religion is similarly an expression of the moral law which moves us to recognize a Supreme law and a Supreme Lawmaker as its author. And just like human justice, it compels us to recognize that there has to be a consequence for a violation, otherwise the law is meaningless.

This means that government, justice, and indeed religion, are all a manifestation of the neurological moral network converting the mathematical data imprinted in the human brain into moral principles which, as Kant says, it then presents to us for our obedience.

Although Kant argued that his “moral law” did not prove an afterlife, or the existence of God, it did presuppose it. But it may just be more than a supposition. Perhaps we walk past the real proof of God, an afterlife, and even a judgment, every day of our lives – in the grand seats of our legislatures, in the courts of law in our towns, and in the prisons that incarcerate offenders. Of course, these institutions don’t get it right, because they are mostly occupied by those in bondage to their primitive instinct to subvert others to their own authority and power. Although they are not a model of what the moral law is, they do give expression to the basic components of the moral law.

It is clear, nevertheless, that the neurological moral network speaks to us of a Supreme law and a Supreme Lawmaker. It reveals to us that the mathematical structure in the human brain that speaks to us of a Supreme law and a Supreme Lawmaker is a replica of the mathematical structure that gave birth to the universe. And that tells us that the mathematical structure of the universe, the Supreme Law of the universe, must recognize itself as a creation of a Supreme Lawmaker.

That is the mystical in man, and it is a reflection of the mystical in the universe. But it is a mystical that is an integral aspect of the physical. It seems then that Weinberg was most probably wrong, the universe does suggest a point – to itself, and to human existence. And Nietzsche inadvertently explained where we can find it when he mocked Kant for having “discovered a moral faculty in man.”

But ultimately, the mystery may only be solved if the Final Theory, the theory that is the Holy Grail of science, turns out to be A ‘Final Theory’ of God.

————————————————————————

The arguments and evidence in this article reflect certain arguments and evidence set out in the book A ‘Final Theory’ of God by Joseph BH McMillan.

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

Notes

[1] Physics and Reality (1936), in Ideas and Opinions, trans. Sonja Bargmann (New York: Bonanza, 1954), p292.

[2] Rees, Martin, Just Six Numbers, Phoenix, London, 1999 (paperback), pages 11-12 – my emphasis.

[3] Kant, Immanuel, Critique of Practical Reason, page 60.

[4] Kant, page 100.

[5] Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Vintage (paperback), page 18.

[6] Weinberg, Steven, Dreams of a Final Theory, Vintage Books 1994 (paperback), page 32.

[7] Rees, page 1 – Capitals are my emphasis

[8] Rees, page 1.

[9] See Weinberg, Chapter 3 – Two Cheers for Reductionism.

[10] Weinberg, pages 57, 58.

[11] Weinberg, pages 9 – 10 (my emphasis).

[12] Weinberg, Steven. The First Three Minutes, Basic Books, 1993 (paperback), page 154.

[13] Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory, page 255 – emphasis on invent is mine.

[14] As noted in my article “Perhaps there is hope for Humanity’s moral destiny after all!” at http://wp.me/p5izWu-7V there is at least one physicist who believes that there could be a moral dimension to the cosmos.

[15] Kant, page 80.

[16] 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 .

[17] See Nahmanides on Genesis 1:1: http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.1.3?lang=en&layout=lines&sidebarLang=all

[18] Mark 4:11, Mat 13:10.

[19] Mark 4:30; and see Mat 13:31 and Luke 13:18.

[20] Genesis 1:27.

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

[22] Rees, page 1.

[23] See Part X of A Legal Proof for the Existence of God: The Power of Insight, at http://wp.me/p5izWu-aN

[24] Treffert, Islands of Genius (paperback), page 36 – emphasis on ‘see’ is mine.

[25] Treffert, page 12.

[26] Rees, page 37.

[27] Genesis 1:26.

[28] Genesis 2:9.

[29] Genesis 2:16.

[30] See Revelation 22:14 and Proverbs 12:13 & 14.

[31] See Perhaps there is hope for Humanity’s moral destiny after all!

[32] https://www.quantamagazine.org/20140122-a-new-physics-theory-of-life/

[33] Luke 17:21.

[34] Mark 4:19. And see Mat 13:22 & Luke 18:24.

[35] See note 4 above.

[36] The Fourteen Rock Edicts, number 3.

[37] Winston, Op Cit.

[38] The Guardian, 13 October 2005.

[39] See Note 30 above.

[40] See Kaku, Parallal Worlds, Penguin, London, 2005 (Paperback), page 164.

[41] Greene,Brian, The Fabric of the Cosmos, Penguin, London 2005 (paperback),pages 188 & 189, and see http://wp.me/p5izWu-8S

[42] See an explanation here: http://wp.me/p5izWu-8S

[43] http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b014kj65 and http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1y4j0s_e05-are-you-good-or-evil_tv for the video.

[44] See Note 24 above: Treffert, page 36.

[45] See The Power of Insight – http://wp.me/p5izWu-aN

[46] Kant, page 100.

[47] Mark 8:36.

[48] Ecclesiastes 9:11.

[49] Matthew 5:5.

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

The account of Day One in Genesis gives two fundamental principles essential for an ordered universe capable of sustaining life.

The first is the basis of mathematics – the equation.

Genesis demonstrates how one substance can be converted into another substance without losing its value. The original matter and space, “the heaven and the earth” (verse 1), are first re-described as “the waters” (verse 2), symbolizing their latent life-giving properties.

Then “the waters” are converted into “light” (verse 3), before then being “divided” from “the darkness” (verse 4). The “darkness” clearly symbolizes the matter that remained after the mass annihilation of particles and antiparticles which filled the early universe with billions of photons of light.

This understanding of the meaning of Genesis is not new.

The Jewish scholar Nahmanides (1194 – 1270) said this in his Commentary on Genesis 1: “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 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[1]

And we find a similar statement from Martin Rees: “We’ve realized ever since Einstein that empty space can have a structure such that it can be warped and distorted. Even if shrunk to a ‘point’, it is LATENT with particles and forces.”[2]

The conversion of one substance into another while retaining its intrinsic value is the basis of E = mc2, and indeed all mathematics. And as Rees says, “Mathematical laws underpin the fabric of the universe – not just atoms, but galaxies, stars and people.[3]

Regarding the second principle, the matter and fields that were compressed into a tiny point before the Big Bang were governed by quantum laws of physics. That means that the uncertainty principle applied which leaves the particles and fields free to choose between an infinite number of probabilities. That makes freedom the governing principle. Genesis tells us that law was then imposed on these otherwise free particles and fields which compelled them to adopt those initial structures that were a prerequisite to establishing a universe that could sustain life.

Science does not deviate from the basic account in Genesis, save only in respect of how it happened.

That establishes the basis of the principle of freedom under law, the principle which is the objective of justice and government.

This video presentation addresses these issues:

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

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

[2] Rees, Martin, Just Six Numbers (paperback), page 145.

[3] Rees, ibid, page 1.