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

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

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

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

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

Brief Background Summary

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

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

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

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

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

The Revision

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

The story of Eve’s (the woman’s) temptation, therefore, clearly illustrates the interaction between morality, instinct and reason. The serpent represents the instinct for reproduction. The symbolism of the serpent ‘speaking’ relates to the allure of pleasure to be had by indulging the instinct for reproduction. And Eve ‘seeing’ “that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, …” symbolises the human ability to ‘reason’ to justify taking actions that we ‘know’ are wrong. The prohibition against eating of the tree represents morality – the neurological moral network within the brain that ‘speaks’ to us of the morality of certain actions, and acts as a restraint to actions which offend against it, if we listen to it (pages 131 – 132).

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

Anyone who follows a reasonable train of conjecture, will say with great propriety, that the … serpent is the symbol of pleasure.  … The serpent is said to have uttered a human voice, because pleasure employs innumerable champions and defenders who take care to advocate its interests, and who dare to assert that the power over everything, both small and great, does of right belong to it without any exception whatever (Philo, 2015, p. p. LVI (157) and (160) respectively).

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

The Outline Argument

The serpent” symbolises reason advocating for the pleasure that could be had by succumbing to the demands of some or other primitive instinct (and the phallic imagery of “the serpent” suggests the instinct for reproduction) to indulge in some physical act or acts which the neurological moral network cautions is ‘wrong’. The reply to “the serpent” by “the woman” that God had prohibited them from eating of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” (the “fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden”) is the response from the neurological moral network cautioning that the behaviour contemplated is wrong. The response from “the serpent” symbolises reason then challenging that warning from the neurological moral network against indulging in the contemplated behaviour by proclaiming that “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4 & 5).

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

The woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was PLEASANT to the eyes, and a tree to be DESIRED to make one wise, and took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband with her: and he did eat (Genesis 3:6).

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

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

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

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

For other animals pursue pleasure only in taste and in the acts of generation; but man aims at it by means of his other senses also, devoting himself to whatever sights or sounds can impart pleasure to his eyes or ears (Philo, 2015, p. p. LVIII (163)) – and I would add, not just his “eyes and ears”.

Why acquiring knowledge of good and evil was wrong

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

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

Reason and The Tree of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consequences of violating the neurological moral network

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————————————-

Bibliography

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

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

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

 

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

Scientific Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Day Two – Expansion

Summary: The first chapter of Genesis reveals remarkable insights into the origins of the universe. Scientific discoveries are only today beginning to reveal the extent of those insights. The key to understanding Genesis is to recognize the methodology employed by its author/s. Applying that methodology, early Jewish scholars like Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD) accurately described cosmic phenomena which scientists now theorize were crucial for the creation of the universe. Day Two addresses two such phenomena – expansion, and the density variations of matter and energy in the early universe. Like modern cosmologists, Genesis recognized that these two cosmic phenomena were a prerequisite for the creation of heavier elements in the stars, and ultimately life itself. The analysis in these articles may not accord with current scientific, theological or philosophical interpretations of science and the Scriptures, but to ignore or dismiss it, without further investigation or reflection, would be a disservice to our understanding of our cosmic origins and our cosmic destiny.

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

Before addressing Day Two, we should recall the methodology employed by the author/s of Genesis in Day One.[1]

Day One starts with “the heaven and the earth”, which are then re-described collectively as “the waters”. The “waters” are then ‘converted’ into “light”. According to science, this transformation occurred following the Big Bang, 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 accounts for the universe we see all around us. Genesis refers to this excess matter as “the darkness”, which was separated from the “light”.[2]

The same methodology is applied in Day Two.

At the start of Day Two, “light and darkness” are collectively re-described as “the waters” again. And as in Day One, water symbolizes life-giving properties; in this case, the life-giving properties of “light and darkness”.

Accordingly, Day Two starts with this:

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Genesis 1: 6

The first thing to establish in this verse is what is meant by the word “firmament”. It is a new concept that does not feature in Day One. In my King James Version of the Bible, the reference relating to the word “firmament” says “Heb. [Hebrew] expansion”. I never paid much attention to it until I started researching the science in more detail for my latest book, A ‘Final Theory’ of God. The reference to “expansion” then began to make a lot more sense.

With that more accurate translation, verse 6 reads, “And God said, Let there be an EXPANSION in the midst of the waters …” This verse then takes on a very different meaning.

But what did ‘expansion’ mean in the original Hebrew? The Hebrew word is raqiya`, which loosely translated, means to hammer out something small into something large. But it still seemed highly improbable that it could mean expansion in the scientific sense, although it did seem to be an unusual word to use. There has been a lot of debate about whether the word refers to the scientific concept of expansion and, of course, the answer depends on the objective of those making the argument.

But there is a more reliable way to determine what it means. And that is to see what Jewish scholars of the Torah thought it meant before there was any inkling in the scientific community about the importance of expansion in the ‘creation’ of the universe and life. And for that we need to return to Nahmanides (1194 – 1270 AD), to whom we referred in Day One.

We should remind ourselves of what Nahmanides said in his commentary on Day One:

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.[3]

This is what Nahmanides then says about “the firmament” in Day Two:

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.”[4]

Since Nahmanides lived some 700 years before the scientific concept of expansion was proposed by Alan Guth and Henry Tye in the late 1970’s, he could hardly have been trying to fit his translation of Genesis to science. For all the debate about what the word means, this evidence is by far the most reliable and compelling.

What are “the waters”?

With that in mind, we can now consider what constituted “the waters”. As we have already seen, the word is used as a collective description of “light and darkness”, which includes visible matter and energy, as well as dark matter. Of visible energy, it includes energy in the form of photons; and of visible matter, it comprises fundamental particles like electrons, protons and neutrons, the latter two of which are composed of 3 quarks each. Although scientists still know little about dark matter, they do know that it has an effect on visible matter and energy.

Of the visible matter that was ‘created’ by the Big Bang, the electrons, protons and neutrons combined to form the first basic elements (atoms). Greene says this: “Our most refined theories of the origin of the universe – our most refined cosmological theories – tell us that by the time the universe was a couple of minutes old, it was filled with a nearly uniform hot gas composed of roughly 75 percent hydrogen, 23 percent helium, and small amounts of deuterium and lithium.[5]

Weinberg says that the Big Bang theory enables scientists to calculate that “the matter formed in the first few minutes of the universe was about three-quarters hydrogen and one-quarter helium, with only a trace of other elements, chiefly very light ones like lithium. This is the raw material out of which heavier elements were later formed in stars.[6]

Martin Rees adds that, at this stage, the universe would have been “dense and opaque, like the glowing gas inside a star.[7]

Michio Kaku explains why that should be. He says that “for years after the big bang, the temperature of the universe was so hot that anytime an atom formed, it would be ripped apart; hence there were many free electrons that could scatter light. Thus, the universe was opaque, not transparent. Any light beam moving in this super-hot universe would be absorbed after travelling a short distance, so the universe looked cloudy.”[8]

This was the state of the universe at the end of Day One, and the start of Day Two. There were “the waters” – “light and darkness” – which were called “Day” and “Night”. As we have already noted, this naming is to highlight permanent changes to the state of the universe as the original matter and energy are ‘processed’ through the first three ‘days’ (this naming only appears in the first three days).

Day Two tells us that it is into this state of the early universe, described as “the waters”, that God is said to have inserted an “expansion” to separate some parts of “the waters” from other parts of “the waters” – “to divide the waters from the waters.”

When God is said to put this plan into effect, this is what happens:

And God made the firmament (expansion,) and divided the waters which were under the firmament (expansion) from the waters which were above the firmament (expansion): and it was so.” Genesis 1:7

The underlined emphasis of the words “were” are the original, suggesting a pre-existing state in which certain parts of “the waters” were in different places – “under” or “above”. That would have been a consequence of what happened in Day One. And Day One was about inflationary cosmology.

Greene identifies one specific consequence of inflationary cosmology which was crucial to the formation of the universe as we see it today.

Why some of “the waters” were “under”, and others “above”, the “Firmament”

According to Greene, “the initial nonuniformity that ultimately resulted in the formation of stars and galaxies came from quantum mechanics.”[9] Like particles, fields are also subject to quantum phenomena, so the “rate of change” of a field is not uniform but “will undulate up or down” at various speeds, or “assume a strange mixture of many different rates of change, and hence its value will undergo a frenzied, fuzzy, random jitter.”[10] This means that the “amount of energy in one location would have been a bit different to what it was in another.[11]

These small differences in the quantum world of the pre-inflationary universe were then amplified by inflationary expansion, causing certain areas of the expanding universe to be more ‘dense’ in particles and energy than others. This has been confirmed by measurements of the temperature differences of microwave photons arriving from space. Greene says that “observations have shown that … tiny temperature differences fill out a particular pattern on the sky …,[12] confirming slight differences in the density of matter and energy in different locations in the universe. And these variations were “set down nearly 14 billion years ago … [and arose] from quantum uncertainty.”[13]

Greene attributes these variations to the inflaton (Higgs) field, to which we referred in Day One. Scientists believe that this field was the engine for inflationary expansion in the earliest moments of the universe. According to Greene, the inflaton field “reached the value of lowest energy at different places at slightly different moments. In turn, inflationary expansion shut off at slightly different times at different locations in space, so that the amount of spatial expansion at different locations varied slightly …”[14]

This resulted in different densities of matter and energy in different regions of space, or more accurately, the expanding universe. According to Rees, “slightly overdense regions, expanding slower than average, were destined to become galaxies and clusters; others, slightly underdense, were destined to become voids.”[15]

It seems then, that describing some of ‘the waters’ as being in different places – “under” or “above” – in relation to the “expansion”, is quite accurate, according to inflationary cosmology. Without it, the universe as we know it, and life itself, would not exist.

Why no mention in Day Two of the words “And God saw …”?

We should recall that there is a subtle but crucial difference between the explanation of what takes place on Day Two, and what takes place on all the other ‘days’. After God is said to have ‘instructed’ that there be an “expansion”, He then “made the expansion”; but there is no ‘observation’; that is, the words “And God saw …” are absent from Day Two.

However, if Greene is right about how expansion works in scientific terms, then it seems that the author/s of Genesis must have had some understanding of the need and effect of expansion in creating the universe as we know it.

Nahmanides certainly recognized the omission, and identified a reason for it.

He asks the question, “Why does it not say, ‘And God saw that it was good,’ on the second [day]?” And he answers, “Since the work of the water was not finished – therefore, it is written twice on the third [day]; once for the work of the water and once for the work of the day.”[16]

The question then is, what “work” did “the waters” still have to do, and why was expansion important to that work?

As we have already seen, by the beginning of Day Two, the Big Bang had only created the lighter elements of hydrogen, helium, deuterium and lithium. The Big Bang did not generate sufficient heat to produce the heavier elements needed to create the universe and life as we know it. That is because “… elements with 5 and 8 neutrons and protons are extremely unstable and hence cannot act as a ‘bridge’ to create elements that have a greater number of protons and neutrons.[17]

That required a different cosmic phenomenon.

In the 1950’s, Fred Hoyle, an English physicist at Cambridge University, had a moment of ‘insight’ which went some way to resolving how the heavier elements could have been created. As Kaku says, “in a stroke of genius, Hoyle realized that IF there were a previously unnoticed unstable form of carbon, created out of three helium nuclei, it might last just long enough to act as a ‘bridge,’ allowing for the creation of higher elements. … When this unstable form of carbon was actually found, it brilliantly demonstrated that nucleosynthesis could take place in the stars, rather than the big bang.[18]

However, not all stars are heavy enough to produce the heat necessary to create the heavier elements. That would require heavier stars with greater gravity. According to Rees, such stars can reach a “billion degrees” and thus “release further energy via the build-up of carbon (six protons), and by a chain of transmutations into progressively heavier nuclei.[19] But once we get to iron, which has the most “tightly bound” nucleus, “energy must be added” to create the even heavier elements beyond iron. And so, says Rees, “a star therefore faces an energy crisis when its core is transmuted into iron … [and] …the consequences are dramatic.[20]

The intense gravity causes the core of the star to implode which “releases enough energy to blow off the overlying material in a colossal explosion – creating a supernova.[21]

The supernova then ‘fertilizes’, so to speak, the universe by blasting its mix of elements into space. “The debris thrown back into space contains this mix of elements. Oxygen is the most common, followed by carbon, nitrogen, silicon and iron. The calculated proportions … [depend on the] … types of stars and the various evolutionary paths they take …[22]

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]

Calibrating Cosmic Forces for the Creation of Life

However, all this chemistry in the stars depends on a precise balance between the expansion force and the density variations of matter and energy in space, which Genesis symbolizes by referring to some of “the waters” being “under the expansion” and others being “over the expansion”.

But for this balance to be effective in creating a universe capable of spawning and sustaining life, certain cosmic forces and factors also had to be calibrated to very precise values. In his book Just Six Numbers, Martin Rees identifies six numbers whose values had to be “finely tuned” for our universe to exist in its present form. And according to Rees, these numbers were “imprinted into [the universe] at the time of the initial Big Bang.”[24]

In Nahmanides’ terminology, the “work” that “the waters” still had to do required that the quantities and properties of the matter and energy created in Day One had to be precisely calibrated for the “expansion” force to finish the “work”.

  • First, the ‘creation’ of “light and darkness” in Day One resulted in the creation of fundamental particles with the ability to bind together to form atoms (elements). For that to happen, the number ε had to be tuned to the correct value. This number, “whose value is 0.007, defines how firmly atomic nuclei bind together and how all the atoms on earth were made. … If ε were 0.006 or 0.008, we could not exist.”[25]

The number ε is important in relation to expansion, because it is the effect of expansion, in conjunction with the ‘balancing’ of the other numbers, that enables the first atoms (elements) to build more complex and heavier atoms. But again, for expansion to bring that about, “the waters” needed different densities in different locations in the expanding universe, otherwise the ‘fine tuning’ of the number ε would have been powerless to create heavier elements.

  • The ‘creation’ of “light and darkness” also resulted in the ‘fine tuning’ of another of Rees’ numbers. That number is N, which “measures the strength of the electrical forces that hold atoms together, divided by the force of gravitybetween them.”[26] However, it is only when the density discrepancies in different parts of the expanding universe are subjected to the effects of expansion that the ‘fine tuning’ of N can finish its “work” by creating heavier elements.
  • Thirdly, the transformation of initial matter and space, which were “without form, and void,” into “light and darkness,” also produced three dimensions, and the expansion (motion) of matter and energy through space as a consequence of that transformation, created the concept of time, which Genesis refers to as “the evening and the morning.” That satisfies another of Rees’ six numbers, the number D, which “… is the number of spatial dimensions in our world, D, and equals three. Life couldn’t exist if D were two or four. Time is a fourth dimension … [which] … has a built in arrow: we move only towards the future.[27] Expansion is crucial to ensure that time continues to move towards the future.

The next three of Rees’ numbers are particularly relevant to Day Two. They relate to the effect of expansion on the density variations of matter and energy. Rees explains it this way: “The starting point is an expanding universe, described by Ω, λ and Q. The outcome depends sensitively on these three key numbers, imprinted (we are not sure how) in the very early universe.”

  • The first is Ω (omega). This number relates to the density of matter in the universe (both visible matter and dark matter). If the density was too great in relation to the expansion force and gravity, the early universe would have collapsed in on itself. If the density in relation to expansion and gravity was too sparse, the universe would have expanded at such a quick rate that no galaxies and stars could have formed, and the universe would have become a dark, empty place. Given the counterforces of expansion and gravity, scientists have calculated a critical density within which the actual density should fall for the universe to have emerged in the form we see it. Rees explains that “the ratio of the actual density to the critical density is a crucial number. Cosmologists denote it by the Greek letter Ω (omega). The fate of the universe depends on whether or not Ω exceeds one.[28] But Rees also notes that Ω must have been “tuned amazingly close to unity in the early universe.”[29] This means that at the start of Day Two “the waters” contained exactly the right density of matter necessary to create the universe, and thus life. But in order to do so, a precisely calibrated rate of expansion was required to finish the “work”. As Rees says, “only a ‘finely tuned’ expansion rate can provide the arena for these processes to unfold.[30]
  • The rate of expansion is denoted by λ (lambda). It is the weakest force in the universe, and the most mysterious. But it is a crucial force. It acts as a counter-force to gravity, thus ensuring that gravity doesn’t cause all the matter and energy in the universe to collapse in on itself. However, for expansion to ensure that “the waters” could finish their “work”, it had to be “finely tuned”. But it also required one further cosmic phenomenon to be precisely calibrated – the density variations of matter and energy.
  • And that brings us to the last of Rees’ six numbers, the number Q. This number is a measure of the density differences which are the “initial irregularities [that] ‘seed’ the growth of structure[s][31] like stars and galaxies. According to Rees, “the number Q measures the amplitude of these irregularities or ‘ripples’. Why Q is about 10­-5 is still a mystery.[32] Genesis symbolizes these density variations by describing some of “the waters” as being “under the expansion” and others being “above the expansion.” These density differences in “the waters” were crucial for expansion to finish the “work”. And that “work” was to prepare the early universe for the creation of heavier elements in stars. As Rees says, “slightly overdense regions, expanding slower than average, were destined to become galaxies and clusters; others, slightly underdense, were destined to become voids.”[33]

How Expansion enables “the waters” to do its “work

Greene explains the process as follows: “as the universe expands, matter and radiation lose energy to gravity while an inflaton field gains energy from gravity.”[34] The “total energy carried by ordinary particles of matter and radiation drops because it is continually transferred to gravity as the universe expands. … gravity depletes the energy in fast moving particles of matter and radiation as space swells.[35] On the other hand, “a uniform inflaton field exerts a negative pressure within an expanding universe. … [thus] the total energy embodied in the inflaton field increases as the universe expands because it extracts energy from gravity.”[36]

However, this ‘exchange’ of energy away from gravity, and to expansion, is dependent on very precise variations of the matter density in the expanding universe. If the density of energy and matter were absolutely uniform, this exchange would be uniform, and no stars and galaxies could form. If the densities of matter and energy in certain regions of space were too great, expansion would cause a greater transfer of energy to gravity than in less dense regions, and that increased gravity would attract other nearby matter, thus preventing the formation of galaxies and stars with the right density to be the engines for creating heavier elements.

As Rees says, “the dominant gravitational stuff is … ‘dark matter’ … [which is] … influenced by gravity. … Swarms of dark matter on subgalactic scales condense out first; these merge into galactic-mass objects, which then form clusters.”[37]

But this clustering of dark matter also needs atoms. According to Rees, the atoms “ride along passively [on the dark matter], constituting a dilute gas that ‘feels’ the dark matter’s gravity.[38] And this ‘gas’ of atoms “exerts a pressure as well … [which] … prevents the gas from being pulled by gravity into very small ‘clumps’ of dark matter.[39]

This process of matter ‘clustering’ into galaxies and stars was playing out across the universe; and it was a consequence of expansion amplifying the density variations in matter and energy. It was the process that would create the conditions for the ‘manufacture’ of heavier elements, the elements needed to create life.

That was the “work” that “the waters” had to finish. And that is why there is no observation in Day Two, hence the omission of the words “And God saw …”.

Manipulating probabilities – “And God made the firmament” Genesis 1:7

For our consideration of the lack of an ‘observation’ in Day Two, it is important to understand, as Rees says, that “[w]hen the universe was a million years old, everything was still expanding almost uniformly.[40]

However, “if our universe had started off completely smooth and uniform, it would have remained so throughout its expansion It would [have been] cold and dull: no galaxies, therefore no stars, no periodic table, no complexity, certainly no people.”[41]

The expansion force needed something to bring together all the other forces (numbers) that had been ‘imprinted’ on Day One. And that something was the slight density differences of matter and energy in space. As we have seen, Genesis describes these density differences as some of “the waters” being “under the expansion”, and others being “above the expansion”.

Scientists calculate the length of the events recorded in Day One as about 300,000 years of Earth time. That would have meant there was a near uniform density of matter, energy and forces throughout the universe at the start of Day Two.

However, at about this time, the universe began to cool from the extreme temperatures following the Big Bang. Kaku explains it this way: “After 380,000 years … the temperature dropped to 3,000 degrees. Below that temperature, atoms were no longer ripped apart … [and] … stable atoms could form, and light beams could now travel for light-years without being absorbed.”[42]

Rees says that “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.”[43]

According to Greene, in the “early history of the universe, matter was spread uniformly throughout space.[44] Furthermore, “although attractive gravity causes clumps of matter and creases of space to grow, repulsive gravity (expansion) does the opposite: it causes them to diminish, leading to an ever smoother, ever more uniform outcome.[45]

At this point, we should remind ourselves of what Kaku said regarding quantum theory: “The quantum theory is based on the idea that there is a probability that all possible events … might occur. This, in turn, lies at the heart of inflationary universe theory …”[46]

However, Kaku also acknowledges that “physicists realize that if we could somehow control these probabilities” then anything “is possible.”[47]

The description of Day Two then starts to make sense. The scientific consensus is that the matter and energy density in the early universe was almost perfectly uniform. Gravity and expansion were evenly balanced, thus tending to “an ever smoother, ever more uniform outcome.”

However, since there is a probability that all “possible events … might occur”, at this early stage of the universe there must have been a probability that the almost perfect uniformity could have become perfectly uniform, in terms of both matter and energy density, as well as the balance of the gravitational and expansionary forces. That would have meant that no universe as we know it would have formed, and thus no life.

The use of the words “And God said, Let there be an expansion …” suggests a manipulation of probabilities. It suggests the exclusion of the probability of perfect uniformity, or the probability of under-density or over-density. And that is important, because otherwise, as Rees says, either the “universe would be inert and structureless”, or “it would have been a violent place in which no stars or solar systems could survive …[48]

Day Two was a bridge to Day Three. Therefore, no reference to “And God saw …” was necessary. The slight density variations which existed at the start of Day Two, symbolized by “the waters” being in different locations – “under” or “above”, needed only to be amplified by the effects of a precisely calibrated rate of expansion to prepare the early universe for the next intended steps in constructing a universe capable of spawning and sustaining life. The important thing was to ensure that other probabilities did not intervene to disturb that ‘fine-tuning’.

The omission of the words “And God saw that it was good” suggests that the author/s of Genesis understood that, as did Nahmanides.

And God called the firmament Heaven.” Genesis 1:8

Day Two concludes its account of the division of “the waters” with this: “And God called the firmament Heaven.[49] As we have already noted, this naming at the end of the “day” (always with a capital letter), signifies a permanent change from the state of the universe at the start of the ‘day’. At the start of Day Two there were “the waters” into which was inserted an “expansion”. At the end of Day Two the “expansion” had divided “the waters”, resulting in what God is said to call “Heaven”.

We should now recall what Rees said about the effect of the density differences in matter and energy in different parts of space: “slightly overdense regions, expanding slower than average, were destined to become galaxies and clusters; others, slightly underdense, were destined to become voids’.[50]

Genesis calls these voidsHeaven” – those areas of space that were left ‘free’ of matter. When we look up at the night sky, it is those areas that are not lit up by stars. As Greene says, “according to inflation, the more than 100 billion galaxies, sparkling throughout space like heavenly diamonds, are nothing but quantum mechanics writ large across the sky.[51]

And the evening and the morning were the second day.” Genesis 1:8

Day Two ends at just about the time Rees says the “first protogalaxies formed” which lit up the universe again following the “dark age”.[52] According to Rees’ depiction of the time-line of the universe, that would have been about 1 billion years after the Big Bang.[53] Thus “the evening and the morning” of Day Two were approximately one billion years, less the 300,000 years for Day One.

However, as already noted, it was important that the effect of the “expansion” up to this time should not yet be made “irreversible”, hence there is no reference to “And God saw …” in Day Two. That only comes halfway through Day Three. In the language of the delayed-choice experiments, the effect of the density differences should not be “fully settled” by an observation (measurement) until all the elements had been created, ‘fertilizing’ the universe with their life-creating, and life-sustaining, properties.

Conclusion

That leaves just one final point to make regarding Day Two. What makes the Genesis account of “expansion” so remarkable is that it does separate, so to speak, the initial “inflation” in Day One, from the “expansion” which is said to start in Day Two. And that perfectly corresponds to Rees’ description of the process up to this point: “The fierce repulsion that drove inflation must have switched off, allowing the universe, having by then enlarged enough to encompass everything that we now see, to embark on its more leisurely expansion.[54]

The expansion which divides “the waters” causes matter and energy to concentrate into dense clusters, ready to form stars, from which the heavier elements necessary for the creation of life can be ‘manufactured’.

The expanding universe is thus ready for its next major transformation.

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

The next article will address the even more remarkable insights in Day Three.

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] I make no judgment on the author or authors of Genesis.

[2] The Big Bang also created dark matter, but for the sake of simplicity, I have not addressed it here, although it is addressed in the book.

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

[4] Nahmanides, Commentary of Genesis 1:6, Retrieved from http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.6.1?lang=en

[5] Greene, Brian. The Fabric of the Cosmos, Penguin, London, 2005 (paperback), page 171 (emphasis in bold is Greene’s).

[6] Weinberg, Steven. Dreams of a Final Theory, Vintage, New York, 1994 (paperback), pages 33 – 34.

[7] Rees, Martin. Just Six Numbers, Phoenix, London, 1999 (paperback), page 119.

[8] Kaku, Michio. Parallel Worlds, Penguin, London, 2006 (paperback), pages 57 – 58.

[9] Greene, page 305.

[10] Greene, page 306.

[11] Greene, page 306.

[12] Greene, page 311.

[13] Greene, page 311 – 312.

[14] Greene, page 307 – my emphasis in bold.

[15] Rees, page 119.

[16] Nahmanides, Commentary on Genesis 1:11. Retrieved from http://www.sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.1.11.1?lang=en

[17] Kaku, page 56.

[18] Kaku, page 62 – emphasis on IF is mine.

[19] Rees, page 50.

[20] Rees, page 50.

[21] Rees, page 50.

[22] Rees, page 50.

[23] Kaku, page 67.

[24] Rees, page 1.

[25] Rees, page 2.

[26] Rees, page 2.

[27] Rees, page 3.

[28] Rees, page 82.

[29] Rees, page 100

[30] Rees, page 99.

[31] Rees, page 127.

[32] Rees, page 128.

[33] Rees, page 119.

[34] Greene, page 312.

[35] Greene, page 311 – bold emphasis is Greene’s.

[36] Greene, pages 311 to 322 – bold emphasis is Greene’s.

[37] Rees, page 119 – 120.

[38] Rees, page 122.

[39] Rees, page 122.

[40] Rees, page 121.

[41] Rees, page 117.

[42] Kaku, page 58.

[43] Rees, page 119.

[44] Greene, page 314.

[45] Greene, page 315.

[46] Kaku, page 147.

[47] Kaku, pages 147 and 146 respectively.

[48] Rees, page 3.

[49] Genesis 1: 7.

[50] Rees, page 119 – emphasis in bold is mine.

[51] Greene, page 308.

[52] Rees, page 119.

[53] Rees, illustration at page 132.

[54] Rees, page 139 – emphasis in bold is mine.

A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part XI-A): Addressing some contemporary issues between science, philosophy and religion

This article addresses some contemporary issues between science, philosophy and religion, and more specifically, issues of right and wrong, or in the more spiced-up version, good and evil; human consciousness; the body/mind and mind/soul debates; the nature of knowledge (epistemology); free will versus determinism; and an initial consideration of the question of God.

But I want to start with a statement from a prominent physicist, which puts the issues in perspective.

In his book The First Three Minutes, Steven Weinberg said that “the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless” (Weinberg, The First Three Minutes 1977, 154). He clarified that remark in Dreams of a Final Theory, by saying that what he really meant is “that the universe itself suggests no point.” However, he went on to insist that human beings could still “invent a point” to their own lives, “including trying to understand the universe” (Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory 1994, 255).

It is a rather curious suggestion that we can find some purpose to life by dedicating our lives to proving that there is no purpose to life, especially since most people have neither the intellectual aptitude to undertake such an endeavor, nor the appetite. But the sentiment that science has already ‘proved’ there is no point to life, and therefore no God, has taken root in the public consciousness. That perception has led to a mentality that the pursuit of pleasure is the highest ‘virtue’, and vanity the greatest ‘happiness’. It has given us the hedonistic ‘culture’ of the ‘modern’ world.

This article will challenge that misconception by addressing those contemporary issues in the debate (or what some more optimistically describe as a dialogue) between science, philosophy and religion. However, it will show that we don’t need to venture into the mystical to explain these issues. The physical (neurological) structure of the brain adequately accounts for them. So that is where I’ll start.

What follows is based on the evidence and arguments that have been advanced in previous articles in the series, and in my latest book, A ‘Final Theory’ of God. However, for those unfamiliar with the articles and book, a short summary is provided in Part XI-B of this article.

The Brain

Scientific evidence increasingly supports the proposition that the brain has three distinct but interrelated neurological faculties – instincts, reason and morality. It is the interaction of these faculties that gives rise to the phenomena that currently defy scientific, philosophical and religious consensus.

The instincts faculty comprises a number of neurological networks that give us the instinct to reproduce; the instinct to nurture and protect our offspring as a means of perpetuating the species and our own genetic lineage; the instincts for survival and security as a means to enhance the prospects of perpetuating the species and our genetic lineage; the instinct to subdue and control our environment (including, regrettably, others of our own species) in order to eliminate or reduce any threats to our survival and security; and the instinct to acquire knowledge of how our environment, and indeed we as human beings, function, so as to more effectively subdue and exercise control over our environment. This latter instinct accounts for the quest for scientific knowledge.

Instincts are activated by the prospect of the pleasure to be had by indulging them, or the fear aroused by perceived threats – that is, they are activated by the prospect of pleasure and the fear of pain, and the experience of pleasure and pain are the ‘by-products’ of the realization of our instincts.

The morality faculty comprises a neurological moral network that acts as a restraint and counterbalance against the instinct networks. It compels us to recognize that certain indulgences of our instincts are wrong, and that other actions, even if apparently contrary to our instincts, are right, or good. The neurological moral network speaks to us of moral imperatives as fundamental obligations. It drives the human quest for justice, and finds expression in the search for a Supreme Law and a Supreme Lawmaker.

The reason faculty comprises a neurological network that is entirely neutral, and thus morally ambivalent. It mediates between the competing demands of the instinct and morality networks, and is free to choose which to serve. When in service to instincts, it is also adept at justifying its choices so as to evade responsibility for the consequences of its actions.

The Evidence

That the brain has a neurological moral network is now widely accepted by neuroscientists. In 2009, Dr Mendez reviewed all the neurological research up to that point, and concluded that “humans have an innate moral sense based in a neuromoral network centered in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and its connections” (Mendez 2009). Subsequent research has reinforced that conclusion (see Yoder and Decety 2014 and Heinrichs, Oser and Lovat 2013).

The research also confirms that actions not moderated by the neurological moral network, and thus based on the instinct networks, are what we call psychopathic. That is because instincts are amoral, so the application of a morally ambivalent capacity to reason in order to service amoral instincts cannot produce moral outcomes, although it can imitate them (Stockley 2011-2012). A 2015 study defined psychopathy as “a personality disorder associated with a constellation of traits including a lack of guilt and empathy, narcissism, superficial charm, dishonesty, reckless risk-taking and impulsive antisocial behaviour” (K. J. Yoder 2015). All these characteristics are indicative of reason in the service of primitive instincts. That is confirmed by Yoder’s study, which concluded that “hemodynamic activity and neural coupling within the salience network are disrupted in psychopathy, and that the effects of psychopathy on moral evaluation are influenced by attentional demands.

Research also shows that utilitarian arguments for ‘morality’ are a consequence of reason in the service of instinct, and thus psychopathic. A 2012 study found that participants who showed “greater endorsement of utilitarian solutions had higher scores on measures of Psychopathy, machiavellianism, and life meaninglessness” (Bartels DM 2011). Another study confirms that reason is a morally ambivalent faculty which can justify behavior that the neurological moral network tells us is wrong. In this particular study, arguments were put forward to justify incestuous behavior between consenting adult siblings. The study demonstrated that a persuasive argument justified the behavior “when increased deliberation time encouraged subjects to reflect” (Paxton, Ungar and Greene 2012).

Research has also concluded that “empathy may not be necessary for judging moral actions as right or wrong” (Will and Klapwijk 2014). That empathy is not a factor, or at least a driving factor, in moral judgment, confirms that the neurological moral network speaks of moral imperatives as fundamental principles, and are not a consequence of ‘reasoning’ about how we may ‘feel’ about certain actions and behavior.

As Mendez notes, “most moral judgments are rapid, involuntary, and intuitive; whereas, deliberate rational reasoning is often post hoc rationalization for judgments which have already occurred” (Mendez 2009).

The studies to date demonstrate that the reason network “mediates” between the demands of the instinct networks and the neurological moral network (see Kelly, et al. 2008 and Menon and Uddin 2010). However, research also shows that the “morality network can be over-ridden by DLPFC-mediated reasoning processes, resulting in utilitarianism, ie, the greatest good for the greatest many” (Mendez 2009). But as already noted, utilitarian ‘judgment’ is based on instinct, and thus psychopathic, rather than moral.

On the content of the neurological moral network, I should refer again to Mendez, who notes that the “neuromoral network works through moral emotions and moral drives, such as the avoidance of harm to others and the need for fairness and punishment of violators” (Mendez 2009). This points to freedom as the basis of the neurological moral network, which makes freedom the fundamental principle of morality and justice. The evidence for that will be adduced in Part XII.

On a final note, Will and Klapwijk make an important observation on how the brain makes the choice between serving morality or instinct. They note that although “neuroscience has increased our understanding of the contributions of neural systems involved in emotion and cognition to judgments of right and wrong, it is time to further investigate how activation in these systems can influence why some people decide to act on a moral judgment and others do not” (Will and Klapwijk 2014).

That is something I shall now consider by addressing those issues between science, philosophy and religion that still defy consensus.

In order to do so, however, we need to establish how these neurological faculties came to be in the brain.

Origin of the neurological faculties of the human brain

The evidence is fairly conclusive that these neurological faculties are the natural, physical consequence on the laws of physics. In science, this is called reductionism.

Weinberg says that physicists “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” (Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory 1994, 9-10). And he goes even further by stating that physicists study fundamental particles like quarks and electrons not only because all matter is made up of such particles, but that by studying them they hope to discover “something about the principles that govern everything” (Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory 1994, 61).

Martin Rees makes the same point when he says that “Mathematical laws underpin the fabric of our universe – not just atoms, but galaxies, stars and people” (Rees 2000, 1).

Weinberg insists that although the properties of molecules and DNA create life, they are only able to do so because of the “properties of electrons and atomic nuclei and electric forces” of which molecules and DNA are composed (Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory 1994, 57-58).

What seems to be important, according to the physicists, is that the properties, or laws, that govern sub-atomic particles determine how they can combine with other sub-atomic particles which, in turn, create ‘structures’ dependent on the properties of their constituent sub-atomic particles, yet having their own distinct ‘identities’, so to speak. These combined sub-atomic particles we call atoms, and atoms, although dictated in their ‘behavior’ by their constituent sub-atomic particles, have properties unique to themselves. The uniqueness of certain atoms in turn ‘permits’ them to interact with other atoms to ‘create’ more complex structures such as molecules. But we must constantly keep in mind that although these more complex structures appear to have their very own and very unique properties, they are still the product of the properties of the sub-atomic particles of which they are composed, and the properties of these more complex structures are an extension of the fundamental properties that govern their constituent parts, that is, their sub-atomic particles.

That is what Weinberg means when he says that by studying sub-atomic particles we may be able to discover “something about the principles that govern everything.

Recent evidence supports that position.

  • 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”(NASA Researchers: DNA Building Blocks Can Be Made in Space 2011).
  • On October 27, 2011, Science Daily reported the results of research by Professor Sun Kwok and Dr. Yong Zhang of the University of Hong Kong: “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 … in extremely short timescales 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 and Zhang 2011).
  • In 2013, Jeremy England of MIT published a theory which proposed that entropy (the second law of thermodynamics) appeared to arrange particles and atoms in such a way that the creation of life is inevitable under certain conditions, and not a question of luck(England 2013). England suggested that this process is the basis of reproduction. If the theory is correct, it will provide evidence that the instinct to reproduce is a product of the fundamental laws of physics which are ‘imprinted’ into the human brain. But it will also provide evidence that all the instinct networks are likewise a consequence of the physical laws that determine how the universe functions, and indeed a neurological image of those fundamental laws.
  • Dr Kelly Smith, a physicist and philosopher, has also suggested that the laws of physics may naturally produce organisms with a capacity for moral judgment(Smith 2015).

Philosophy has its own version of this physical-based explanation of the human brain; it’s called reductive physicalism, although mostly replaced today with supervenience. For a summary of the philosophical account, see (Stoljar 2015).

The incredible abilities of the savants is compelling evidence that the human brain is ‘programmed’ with the raw mathematical data of the fundamental laws that govern the universe (see Part X). In his book Islands of Genius, Treffert notes that savants show that we can “know things we never learned.” Even babies have inbuilt data giving them “specialized innate abilities” (Treffert 2012, 55-57). This ‘knowledge’ cannot come from experience, because savants who are born with the condition mostly exhibit these extraordinary abilities at an early age, long before they could have had the opportunity to ‘learn’ them (Treffert 2012, 12).

Regarding the neurological moral network, the San people of southern Africa are compelling evidence that it was the neurological moral network itself that created the first of what we would recognize as a human brain (see Parts VIII and IX). The recent discovery of Naledi man in South Africa may well be the remains of these first human beings with fully functioning neurological moral networks. As Lee Berger, the head of the team that discovered Naledi man said, the fact that they buried their dead indicates “that naledi individuals recognised their own mortality and the other self that comes with death” (Barras 2015).

The reductionist explanation of the origin of the structure of the human brain is, therefore, supported by compelling evidence. It shows not only that the human organism, including the neurological structure of the human brain, is in every respect a manifestation of the fundamental laws that govern the universe, but also that those laws are ‘programmed’ into the brain in mathematical form as neurological networks. And the fact that one of those networks is moral tells us that there is a moral dimension to the fundamental laws of physics, both the quantum and Classical laws.

Weinberg’s reductionist argument is itself evidence of the moral dimension of the laws of physics. If the human organism is an inevitable consequence of the fundamental laws of physics when matter encounters certain conditions, and that manifestation of those laws is a conscious human being with the capacity for moral judgment, then the laws that govern the universe must likewise possess those properties. In other words, if the human brain is a “self-aware mathematical sub-structure” of the universe, and a miniature replica of the mathematical superstructure of the universe, then the universe itself must necessarily be a conscious, moral structure (reference to ‘self-aware mathematical substructure’ is from Tegmark 2014, 323)

If that is the case, the dilemma of how the “fundamental laws of quantum physics morph into the Classical (Newtonian) laws” would be resolved (Greene 2005, 199 and Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory 1994, 84). The observation necessary to effect the transformation is made by a conscious universe with a moral dimension. But that doesn’t account for how the original matter, subject to quantum laws, tranformed into a universe subject to laws that create consciousness. That is something I shall deal with in the final article.

I shall now consider how the interaction of the three neurological networks, and in particular the competing demands of the moral and instinct networks on the otherwise neutral faculty of reason, relates to those unresolved issues between science, philosophy and religion.

Right and Wrong; Good and Evil

Actions (and thoughts) we call wrong, or evil, are a consequence of reason in the service of human instinct, while actions we recognize as right, or good, are a consequence of reason in service of the neurological moral network.

However, since instincts are necessary for our survival, just as they are in animals, instincts are not in themselves ‘evil’; they only attract reprobation when they become the deliberate objective of our actions. That being so, if there is such a thing as God, then He does not in fact ‘create’ evil. Evil is a consequence of our own decisions.

When the neurological moral network is active, but subconscious, human beings act on its moral impulses without question, and adapt their behavior accordingly. The San people of southern Africa are evidence of that (or at least those who have not yet been ‘civilized’). They are the direct descendants of the ancestors of the whole human race (Choi 2012). They simply ‘know’ what is right and wrong, so they do not indulge their instincts with the primary purpose of maximizing pleasure, nor do they excessively respond to the fears aroused by their instincts. They do not fence-off land to provide for greater security; they do not build castles to protect themselves from their fellow human beings; they do not subdue others of the species as a means of enhancing their security, or to allay the fear of threats to their survival; they do not need courts of law to tell them what is right and wrong, because they know what is right and wrong, and they know that such systems of law would simply be a justification for violating the universal law that applies everywhere and to everyone. War and conflict are alien to them, as is deceit, deception and dishonesty.

However, the neurological moral network was consciously activated when a number of these first humans committed some act that offended against it. That would have happened when they succumbed to the temptations of the pleasures to be had by indulging in actions the neurological moral network told them were wrong, or undertook actions to allay the fears aroused by their instincts which offended against their morality networks.

The evidence shows that the branch of those first human beings who did succumb to the pleasures and fears aroused by their instincts, consciously activated their own neurological moral networks, and those of their descendants. That suggests that offending against the neurological moral network caused a genetic change to the DNA of that branch of the species, and it was not a positive one.

It led to what we call today ‘civilized’ human beings. Activation of the morality network caused these human beings to relentlessly toil to enhance their security and allay fears for their survival. It led to conflict, war, crime, exploitation of resources to excess, even at the expense of the ability of others of the species to have access to those resources for their own survival, and it gave rise to institutions as mechanisms for one person or group of people to impose their authority on others. Institutions also cater to the instinct for security that is fired by the fear of insecurity. Being part of an institution appeals to the ‘herd’ instinct in human beings, because it provides a sense of security and ‘identity’.

Once those first of the species that would become ‘civilized’ human beings had activated their neurological moral networks, the genie was out the bottle. Thereafter, great effort would be required to model behavior on the demands of the neurological moral network. But there have always been those human beings who had stronger conscious impulses from their morality networks, and they have always sought to encourage and persuade others to forsake servicing their instincts, and make the effort to listen to the demands of their morality networks. That gave rise to religion and philosophy, and more importantly, the human quest for justice. But despite the intentions of the originators of these efforts, the ‘movements’ that their teachings inspired were corrupted by those in bondage to their primitive instincts, because they recognized that these ‘movements’ could be exploited to their own advantage as vehicles to subvert others to their authority and control.

There can be no doubt, therefore, that the so-called ‘modern’, or ‘civilized’ world, is a consequence of human beings in bondage to their primitive instincts, not in service to their morality networks. And that is leading us inexorably towards our own destruction.

To see what a world would look like if we were all in service to the demands of our morality networks, we need look no further than the San people. They automatically comply with the demands of their morality networks, and so live in harmony with the universal law, and thus in harmony with each other and their environment.

Human Consciousness

Artificial intelligence (a robot) was first shown to have acquired a degree of self-awareness in 2015. The process by which it was created was a variation of the “wise men” logic puzzle (MacDonald 2015). Essentially, self-awareness is a consequence of one part of an integrated structure having to evaluate competing demands from other parts of the same structure, and make a decision on how to resolve the dilemma. The ‘degree’ of consciousness depends on the extent and type of data that the ‘decision’ part of the structure has to evaluate.

Animals have more limited instincts than human beings, and an ability to reason limited to servicing those instincts. To what extent animals have some neurological network that relates to morality is unclear, but any such network in animals is clearly not to the same level of sophistication as humans. Animal consciousness is limited to the task of servicing primitive instincts. It should be noted, however, that humans share many of the same instincts with animals, notably the instincts to reproduce, and to protect and nurture their young, the instinct for survival, and a limited instinct to provide for their security.

So consciousness in animals is a consequence of the limited choices their limited capacity for reason has to resolve in order to most effectively cater to the demands of their instincts, like the most effective method for securing food and water.

In humans, however, the activation (even subconsciously) of the neurological moral network presents reason with a choice between the conflicting demands from the neurological moral network and instinct networks. This challenge compels reason to recognize that certain actions, thoughts and behavior are wrong, irrespective of whether there is a declared law that prohibits them, or whether there will be a consequence (in this life) for indulging them. The realization that certain actions are wrong, irrespective of the prospect of punishment in this life for a transgression, compels reason to recognize the possibility that the consequence may be visited upon us after death. The prospect of an after-life thus causes a consciousness of our own mortality, and thus a consciousness of our own existence. Berger’s comments on Naledi man burying their dead is evidence of that (Barras 2015).

However, it is also clear that those who have no connection to their neurological moral networks are also conscious. But their consciousness is of a different complexion to consciousness that is based on the morality network. It derives from their primitive instincts, which accounts for the characteristics they exhibit, such as “lack of guilt and empathy, narcissism, superficial charm, dishonesty, reckless risk-taking and impulsive antisocial behaviour” (K. J. Yoder 2015). More importantly, however, the fact that they are wholly or partially disconnected from their morality networks means that they are incapable of recognizing that right and wrong are not concepts of human invention, but universal concepts that exist independently of human existence, just like the laws of physics. That is why such people have difficulty recognizing that there could be a God, except in so far as they see such belief as something to be employed to their own advantage.

The question then is, does consciousness exist independently of the physical structure of the brain, or is it simply a chemical process in the brain? In other words, when the chemical processes in the brain cease, does human consciousness cease as well?

That leads to the mind/body and mind/soul debates.

The Mind/Body Debate

The first point to make here is that when I refer to ‘body,’ I mean the physical brain as the ‘control center’ of the integrated system that is the human organism.

The brain is composed of these three distinct but interrelated faculties. The reason faculty is neutral. Consciousness is a consequence of the reason network being compelled to ‘mediate’ between competing demands either from the instinct networks themselves (as in animals, and those disconnected from their morality networks), or from the instinct and morality networks (in those who have some connection with their neurological moral networks).

These competing demands create a ‘polarity’ in the reason network, which creates an electromagnetic structure that is ‘independent’ of the reason network itself, just as any other electromagnetic field is ‘independent’ of the physical materials that create it. Most of us will recall the experiments done in school when iron filings placed on a piece of paper over a magnet are arranged in the shape of the magnetic field of the magnet. We could then ‘interfere’ with the pattern of that field by introducing an electrical current at one end of the magnet which changed the pattern of the iron filings by concentrating them on the other side of the magnet.

We have known about electromagnetic fields even since James Clerk Maxwell discovered the relationship between magnetic and electric fields in the 1860s (Maxwell 1865). Amongst many other things, electromagnetic fields give us light, both natural and artificial. We know that artificial light is created when a negative current and a positive current are applied to a lightbulb. Until the current is switched on, the light bulb is ‘neutral’. But once the switch is thrown, the bulb fills the room with light. But the bulb itself is not the light, it is simply the device through which the light is created.

The reason network is like the bulb, the neurological networks within the brain are like the negative and positive currents that feed it, and the mind is like the light.

That would mean that the mind is something independent of the reason network in the brain, but structured on it. Consciousness must reside in this independent structure that we call the mind, not in the physical (chemical) processes in the brain itself. But if that were the case, why can we not detect or measure it in some way, for example in fMRI scans.

Well, there are several possibilities. First, there is the ‘mathematical reality’ theory proposed by the physicist Max Tegmark. In his Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH), Tegmark argues that “mathematical structure is our external reality, rather than being merely a description of it. This equivalence between physical and mathematical existence means that if a mathematical structure contains a self-aware substructure, it will perceive itself as existing in a physically real universe, just as you and I do” (Tegmark 2014, 323). Even if Tegmark is wrong about the universe itself being a purely mathematical structure, the concept may be an explanation for the mind. The mind would thus be a “self-aware (mathematical) substructure” that is modelled on the reason network, but independent of it, just like the light and bulb example.

An alternative, but perhaps related explanation, may be found in dark matter. Considering that the matter we know something about constitutes only some 5% of the universe, and dark matter some 27% (CERN n.d.), it may well be that the mind is composed of dark matter that is structured on the reason network. Although we know virtually nothing about dark matter, other than it must be there, CERN notes that “one idea is that it could contain “supersymmetric particles” – hypothesized particles that are partners to those already known in the Standard Model (ie, ordinary matter like electrons).

If some of these theories are proved correct, then it would be entirely plausible that the mind is a model of the structure of the reason network, and composed of partner particles. That would also explain why we cannot physically detect the mind. As CERN notes, theories suggest that particles of dark matter may be so light that they would even be undetectable by the particle detectors of the Large Hadron Collider. The only reason they would know that they had discovered particles of dark matter, says CERN, is that the particles “would carry away energy and momentum, so physicists could infer their existence from the amount of energy and momentum ‘missing’ after a collision. Dark matter candidates arise frequently in theories … such as supersymmetry and extra dimensions. One theory suggests the existence of a ‘Hidden Valley’, a parallel world made of dark matter having very little in common with matter we know.

So it seems most likely that the mind is a structure independent of the brain, but modelled on the reason network, whose structure, in turn, depends on whether it is in service to the instinct networks, or the neurological moral network.

It is the mind, therefore, that makes ‘decisions’, because it is conscious, and the reason network that ‘implements’ the decisions. The neurological phenomenon of insight confirms that, because it functions when reason is ‘muted’ (Stockley 2011-2012), which means that the decision made on the basis of insight must be taken elsewhere than in the reason network.

The Mind/Soul Debate

What this suggests is that if there is such a thing as a soul, it is in fact a description of what happens to the mind after physical death.

The ultimate ‘destiny’ of the mind will depend on whether the reason network on which it is structured is modelled on the neurological moral network, or on the servicing of the instinct networks. There are two alternative possibilities: one is that the mind survives physical death only if its structure is modelled on the neurological moral network, and if not, it dissipates after physical death because its structure is not sufficiently cohesive to exist independently of the brain; the other is that the mind survives, irrespective of whether it is modelled on the neurological moral network or on servicing the instinct networks, but that the ‘destiny’ of each is different.

If structured on serving the instinct networks, the mind may still survive physical death, but will be subject to the frustrations of still having powerful motivations to service those instincts after death, but without any physical body to indulge them.

If structured on the morality network, however, it will have detached itself from the need to satisfy physical appetites, so that after physical death it can integrate itself with the consciousness of the universe, or exist in some other dimension, or beyond. Most religions, whether more or less distinctly, focus on such a ‘detaching’ of the mind from instincts if it is to survive physical death.

The prospect of the mind surviving physical death has been around since human beings first became conscious of their own mortality. As we have already seen, the neurological moral network is the cause of that perception. It compels the mind to recognize that there must be a consequence for actions that are wrong, and if that consequence is not imposed in life, then it can only be imposed after death. And for that to occur, we must survive in some form after physical death.

That perception is what drives the human quest for justice. One philosopher who addresses the justice aspect as an explanation for God and an after-life is Professor Evan Fales of The University of Iowa.

In his essay Despair, Optimism and Rebellion, Fales suggests that Christian soteriology is a consequence of our “deep passion for justice” which requires injustices to be rectified if life is to have objective meaning (Fales 2007). He suggests, but does “not argue,” that there are two reasons for this:

One is that justice is so fundamental to our conception of morality and of human well-being that a human existence in which the demands of justice are irredeemably unsatisfied appears to be a fundamentally defective, poor kind of existence. The other is that we think of justice as an objective demand, a demand that transcends the self-serving interests of partisans. Hence, we are satisfied with nothing less than that the universe be ordered in such a way that the principles of justice are woven into its very fabric.

Fales cites Segal’s Life After Death (Segal 2004) as confirmation that justice was “a primary motivation” of the ante-Nicene Fathers for “the idea of a disembodied post-mortem existence of the soul …” He identifies the human demand for justice as an objective moral (naturalist) human condition, but argues that this does not pre-suppose a supreme being:

If it were true that human beings were designed by a supreme being to have by nature certain ends, then it would be true that, in giving us those ends, God would indirectly have determined the principles of action that properly guide human social behaviour. However, it would remain the case that the basis of morality is to be found in facts about human nature. It is a genetic fallacy of sorts to suppose that objective moral truths cannot be justified except by appeal to a divine will, even if the ultimate cause of the relevant natural facts is such a will.

The problem with this argument is that Fales pre-judges what the “facts about human nature” may tell us about the principles of morality.

The neuroscience shows that the natural human condition is what is ‘programmed’ into the human brain as neurological networks, one of which is a morality network that speaks to us of a Supreme Law and a Supreme Lawmaker. That is what drives the human quest for justice (Yoder and Decety 2014).

However, precisely such ‘disagreements’ as to what these generally agreed natural or neurological conditions mean, can in fact be a basis for reconciliation and accommodation between science, philosophy and religion, as well as inter-religiously. That is because each could agree that the neuroscience confirms that certain fundamental moral principles are ‘programmed’ into the brain as a neurological moral network, and that they should form the basis for any system of justice. Any differences about how the brain came to be ‘programmed’ with such a network would not then constitute a barrier to agreement as to what moral principles should underpin such a system of justice. In other words, whether the principles were ascribed to a God, to natural forces, evolution, or otherwise, agreement as to the core principles and how they should be implemented here on Earth would attract general consensus.

That would at least constitute progress for the human race as a whole towards a more just and equitable world.

Knowledge

The evidence demonstrates that the principles (laws) that created and sustain the universe are ‘programmed’ into the human brain in mathematical form, which creates the instinct, morality and reason networks.

The instinct and morality networks process data from the senses and ‘feed’ it to the reason network in the form of words, images and concepts. The reason network then evaluates the data, formulates judgments as to what it means, then presents recommended responses to the mind for a decision.

The outcome of this process produces what we call ‘knowledge’. However, the pursuit of purely physical (scientific) knowledge is a human instinct, whilst pursuit of an understanding of the moral dimension of the physical laws is a response to the ‘voice’ of the neurological moral network.

‘Knowledge’ is thus both external and internal. External in the sense that the brain processes data from the outside world which is fed to it by the senses, and internal in the sense that the brain can access the mathematical laws that determine how it was created because they are ‘programmed’ into the brain itself. That is the point Einstein made when he said, “I am convinced that we can discover by means of purely mathematical construction the concepts and the laws … which furnish the key to the understanding of natural phenomena. Experience may suggest the appropriate mathematical concepts, but they most certainly cannot be deduced from it [experience] … In a certain sense, therefore, I hold it true that pure thought can grasp reality, as the ancients dreamed” (Einstein 1954, 274).

Free-will versus Determinism

The mind is ‘free’ to choose between servicing the demands of the instinct networks, or the demands of the neurological moral network.

The neurological networks themselves are entirely the product of the fundamental principles of the laws of physics, and as such entirely deterministic. How those networks process data through the senses is likewise deterministic. However, the decisions made by the mind as to how to respond to the data and options presented to it is not deterministic. The mind is free to choose how to respond, and that choice determines whether the decision is moral or not.

The choice is deterministic only to the extent that the reason network has been conditioned and accustomed to respond to such demands by its environmental circumstances, such as education, culture, upbringing, form of government and law, religion, and so on.

But even if the reason network, and thus the mind, has been accustomed to predominantly or wholly service the instinct networks, it still remains free to re-focus its attention to service the morality network. One way that can be done is through meditation (Simon-Thomas 2012). The other is through religious constructs such as repentance, or being ‘born again’ (see Part B). Another phenomenon relates to insight, in which the mind suddenly, and often inexplicably, ‘sees the light’ and rejects the demands of the instinct networks to follow the ‘voice’ of the morality network. The apostle Paul seeing the light on the road to Damascus is such an example, as is Asoka.

However, the best way to ensure that human beings act on the basis of the impulses we receive from the morality network, rather than the demands of the instinct networks, is to teach them how to do so from an early age. That is because research shows that the neurological moral network is activated at an early age, so nurturing it in a child’s early years is fundamental to a child’s moral development – discourage behavior based on instinct, and encourage moral behavior (Winston 2015).

Recognition of a Supreme Law and a Supreme Lawmaker

As we have seen, the neurological moral network compels reason to recognize that there must be a consequence for actions that are wrong, and if that consequence is not imposed in life, then it can only be imposed after death. That causes a recognition that we must ‘survive’ in some form after physical death, at which time ‘perfect justice’ will be dispensed by a Supreme Lawmaker applying the principles of a Supreme Law.

It is this consequence of the interaction between the neurological networks of instinct and morality that points to freedom being the fundamental principle of morality and justice.

The mind can only recognize as objectively right and wrong, or good and evil, that which comes from the neurological moral network. That means that it cannot recognize the authority of other human beings as a source of right and wrong. And it cannot recognize as justice an authority imposed on it by other human beings.

We could thus state the principle of freedom as follows: No one person, group of people, or institution, however constituted, has any authority, natural or otherwise, over any other human being (see Part I).

That being the case, then the following propositions must follow:

  1. Freedom cannot recognize as law the commands and doctrines of other human beings;
  2. Freedom and law can only coexist under the auspices of a Supreme Law and a Supreme Lawmaker as a legitimate basis for justice.

As already mentioned, Part XII will deal with the evidence of the Principle of Freedom in more detail. But for now, we can deduce that these propositions suggest a Supreme Law that is ‘imprinted’ into the human brain as a neurological moral network, and that Law speaks to us of a Supreme Lawmaker.

Insight

As was demonstrated in Part X of this series, there is also a further neurological phenomenon that enables the mind to ‘bypass’ reason, so to speak, and gain direct access to the mathematical principles that make up the instinct and moral networks; that is the phenomenon of insight.

This is the phenomenon behind revelation, prophecy, religion in general, and some of the greatest scientific discoveries. Because this phenomenon is most common when reason is muted, it often occurs unexpectedly and inexplicably, giving the impression that it is of external origin, and thus mystical. However, on a theological level, if there is a God, and He did at times intervene in human affairs, it seems likely that it would be through the vehicle of such a neurological phenomenon, much like the adverts that pop up on computers in order to influence what we purchase. Unfortunately, insight can occur in support of primitive instinct as well, producing the more destructive ‘talents’ of military conquest, and exploitation of other human beings and the resources of the earth, even to our own detriment.

Conclusion

So we can conclude that Weinberg’s evaluation that the universe suggests no point to human existence, or indeed its own existence, is not borne out by the evidence. On the contrary, Weinberg’s reductionist theory of the universe and life means that conscious human beings with a capacity for moral judgment are the highest manifestation of the fundamental laws of physics, and indeed an ‘image’ of those fundamental laws. However, the human quest for justice reveals a moral dimension to those laws, which finds expression in the recognition of a Supreme Lawmaker as the author of the Supreme Law.

Furthermore, as already noted above, if conscious human beings with a capacity for moral judgment are a manifestation and an ‘image’ of the universe, then the universe itself must necessarily be a conscious, moral structure. And its purpose must then be to give expression to the will of a Supreme Lawmaker.

That being the case, then it must follow that human beings are themselves capable of discovering the will of the Supreme Lawmaker, and thus their own moral purpose and destiny on Earth. That was certainly the mission of the Prophets of the Old Testament. As Leon Wood says in his book The Prophets of Israel, the words used for prophets signify people who acquire “insight regarding God’s will” (Wood 1998, 63).

However, these neurological faculties and phenomena that are the motivations for religion and justice, and speak to us of a Supreme Law and a Supreme Lawmaker, are discovered within ourselves, not in formalized religion.

With its rituals, doctrines and hierarchies, formal religion violates the fundamental principles of the neurological moral network. It is a product of reason in service of human instinct, which facilitates the exercise of authority by one person, group of people, or institution, over others. And that violates the principle of freedom that is the fundamental principle of morality and justice. According to Wood, the objective of the prophets was to warn against just such rituals and pomp in seeking to discover and do God’s will (Wood 1998, 76).

In Part B of this article (posted separately), I shall demonstrate how the Scriptures support the arguments set out in this article, and how they tell us that we can only discover our true moral purpose and our true moral destiny within ourselves.

Joseph BH McMillan http://josephbhmcmillan.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Philo noted: “And very beautifully after He [God] had called the whole race ‘man’, did he distinguish between the sexes, saying, that ‘they were created male and female;’ although all the individuals of the race had not yet assumed their distinctive form; since the extreme species are contained in the genus, and are beheld, as in a mirror, by those who are able to discern acutely.”[6]

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

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

This ability is described as insight.

Insight in science

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philosophical insight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Religious insight – revelation

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

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

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

Deuteronomy explains why some people can have insight regarding God’s will. It says that the words written in the “book of the law” are not “hidden” from us, nor are they “in heaven”, nor “beyond the sea”; instead, “the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.[21]

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

Regarding the Gentiles, the apostle Paul says this: “For the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law … which shows the work of the law written in their hearts, their consciences also bear witness [to the law].”[23]

Where did this “moral faculty” come from?

But how did this information get into the brain?

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

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

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

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

Weinberg goes even further when he considers the effect particles have on DNA. Although he says that DNA is too complex to be explained with current quantum mechanical equations, he maintains that with a sufficiently sophisticated computer, scientists could explain all the workings of DNA “by solving the equations of quantum mechanics for electrons and the nuclei of a few common elements, whose properties are explained in turn by the standard model. So again we find ourselves at the same point of convergence of our arrows of explanation.”[25]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insight Explained

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

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

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

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

The “human calculator” – Scott Flansburg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knowing things we never learned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Tammet – “Brainman

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genetic memory?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do they ‘see’?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The human mind as an image of the universal mind

That statement by Ramanujan is not dissimilar to Philo’s explanation of man having been made “in the image of God.” Philo said this: “the resemblance is spoken of with reference to the most important part of the soul, namely, the mind: for the mind which exists in each individual has been created after the likeness of that one mind which is in the universe as its primitive model, being in some sort the God of that body which carries it about and bears its image within it.[46]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

That is what we will address in the next article.

———————————————————–

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

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[11] Rees, ibid, page 1.

[12] Weinberg, ibid, page 67.

[13] Weinberg, ibid, page 67.

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

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

[16] Various internet sources quoting Einstein.

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

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

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

[20] Psalm 46:10.

[21] Deuteronomy 30:10 – 14.

[22] Luke 17; 21 – my emphasis.

[23] Romans 2: 14 & 15.

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

[25] Weinberg, ibid, page 32.

[26] Proverbs 3: 19.

[27] Proverbs 8: 22 & 23

[28] Isaiah 40: 26 – my emphasis

[29] Rees, ibid, page 4.

[30] John 1: 1 – 4.

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

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

[33] Rees, ibid, page 37.

[34] Treffert, ibid, page 55.

[35] Treffert, ibid,page 12.

[36] Treffert, ibid, page 57.

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

[38] Treffert, ibid, page 59.

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

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

[41] Treffert, ibid, page 163.

[42] Treffert, ibid, pages 35 and 110

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

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

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

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

[47] Gospel of Thomas verse 3.

[48] Luke 17: 21.

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

[50] Jeremiah 1:1.

[51] Daniel 1:17.

[52] Philo, Decalogue, XXXIII (175)

[53] Wood, ibid, page 75.

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

The first question to address is whether the story of Adam and Eve refers to two particular individuals, or is a generic reference to the first of the species to acquire specifically human characteristics. And Genesis tells us that it is both.

That is found at Genesis 5, verses 1 and 2:

This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him;

Male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day they were created.”

The references to “the generations of Adam”, and “the day God created man”, clearly refer to a period of time, and a generic description of the first human beings.

The wording is the same as Genesis 2, verse 4 – “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” As we saw in respect of The Garden of Eden, this verse clearly refers to a period of time as well. Conflating the words “generations” and “day” can have no other reasonable explanation.

We then see in verse 2 that the “male and the female” are collectively called “Adam”. There is no mention of Eve.

Adam clearly thus refers to the first human beings endowed with human DNA. However, as we saw in the article on the Garden of Eden, there would have been a number of human beings with this DNA who would have joined up to create new human life in their own genetic image.

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

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

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

Temptation

Chapter 3 records what happened when the primitive instinct to reproduce was aroused by the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging in the act of reproduction, not for the main purpose of reproduction, but with the principal aim of deriving physical pleasure from the act.

It is appropriate here to quote again from the great Jewish philosopher, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria: “For other animals pursue pleasure only in taste and in the acts of generation; but man aims at it by means of his other senses also, devoting himself to whatever sights or sounds can impart pleasure to his eyes or ears.[1]

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

We should set out the whole account of this transformation:

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.[2]

Before considering these verses, it is important to remember that we are looking at the symbolism of what is being said. But there can be little doubt that the symbolism relates to real events.

These verses symbolize the conflict between primitive human instincts and the promptings of the neurological moral network as it arose in the first of the species. A picture is painted of a woman wrestling with the allure of pleasure by indulging in an act which her conscience is telling her is wrong. She is fantasizing; but about what?

Well, it is impossible to ignore the phallic imagery of the speaking serpent, so the most plausible explanation is that she is fantasizing about sex.

We should also remember that it was very likely that these early humans would have been living with, or at least in close proximity to, the species from which they had emerged, and even other species of primates that were genetically very similar to them. And these other species would also have been “naked.” And more tellingly, these other primates would have indulged in sex quite openly and casually, as they do today.

But at this stage, a number of characteristics had developed in the early human species which distinguished them from other primates. First, they had developed a higher level of communication, as well as a more advanced capacity to reason. But they also had a partially activated neurological moral network which acted as a restraint on their actions by arousing a sense of conscience.

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

There would have been plenty of examples in the behavior of the more primitive primates living in close proximity. Thus the imagery of the account of the woman being tempted by the serpent is not hard to translate into a real picture. Although constrained by her moral impulses to refrain from sexual encounters other than with Adam, by observing the casual sexual interplay of primates around her, the woman began to fantasize about what it would be like to do the same. She started to imagine what ‘forbidden pleasures’ could be had if she just suppressed the feelings of guilt aroused by such fantasies.

No doubt she would have questioned why it would be wrong for her to do what the other primates were doing. There was no consequence to them for doing it, so what could happen to her? Her reasoning appears to have gone into overdrive to justify doing what she knew would be wrong by suppressing the restraint and guilt demanded by her newly acquired moral aptitude.

Succumbing to Temptation activates the Neurological Moral Network

In the end, the woman succumbed to the allure of the pleasures to be had by indulging her sexual fantasies – “she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat.” And by employing the newly acquired ability to combine reason with an ability to communicate, the woman persuaded “her husband” to do the same.

What they did, it can only be concluded, is indulge in sexual encounters with members of the other species around them, and no doubt with other newly formed humans if and when they encountered them.

Now many reading all this about a woman fantasizing about imitating the sexual practices of apes, and engaging in sexual encounters with them, will no doubt ridicule the whole interpretation. So what evidence is there that human beings could act in such a manner, either back then, or now?

Well plenty, actually.

Let’s start with the fantasy part, and humans looking to apes for ‘moral inspiration’. And for that we need look no further than a professor of philosophy, no less – AC Grayling.

In his book The God Argument – The Case against religion and for Humanism, Grayling claims that the arts (books, music, films and so on) demonstrate the importance of intimate physical relationships to human beings, but laments that the traditional moral consensus that sex should be limited to one other person in a bonding for life somehow inhibits what he calls human “flourishing.”[3]

So Grayling cites the behavior of bonobo chimpanzees as a model for a better approach. Being the primates most like humans, Grayling says that the bonobo’s equivalent of shaking hands is to engage in sex casually and often.[4]

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

According to him, this all means that sex only becomes a problem when it is “rationed and starved.”[6] So his solution is sexual experimentation. And with a lot of practice, Grayling claims that humans can better learn to ‘love’ and be ‘loved’.[7]

But if anyone inhibits your sexual self-indulgence, such as a wife or children, then they need to be made to understand that some human beings have certain “needs and interests,” which the victims simply have to “accept and tolerate … and be open-minded” about.[8]

And it is belief in God (religion) that Grayling claims inhibits this kind of sexual indulgence in the pursuit of human “flourishing”.

Grayling’s ‘philosophy’ is really based on a simple premise – why shouldn’t we behave like animals?

So we see that what is said to have aroused the first woman, and the ‘reasoning’ employed to justify indulging that arousal, is something that has stayed with many of the species up to this very day. And Grayling is not unique in that regard; it is not an uncommon phenomenon.

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

But is there any evidence that the first humans did interbreed with other primates? Again, the answer is yes.

In an article in the online journal Public Library of Science (PLoS), Dr Paola Villa of the University of Colorado Museum, and Professor Wil Roebroeks of Lieden University, say that “current genetic data suggest that complex processes of interbreeding and assimilation may have been responsible for the disappearance of the specific Neandertal morphology from the fossil record.”

In their conclusion, they say that “The momentous cultural changes that followed the arrival of AMH (anatomically modern humans) in Western Eurasia were not uniquely due to the residents’ cognitive or technological inferiority causing rapid and total replacement. The Neandertal demise appears to have resulted from a complex and protracted process including multiple dynamic factors such as low population density, interbreeding with some cultural contact, possible male hybrid sterility and contraction in geographic distribution followed by genetic swamping and assimilation by the increasing numbers of modern immigrants.”

And Villa and Roebroeks cite evidence of this interbreeding in modern human beings: “In 2010 a draft sequence of the Neandertal nuclear DNA provided clear evidence of interbreeding between Neandertals and modern humans, estimating that Neandertal inheritance makes up 1–4% of the genomes of people outside of Africa. A revised estimate based on a high-coverage sequence of a Neandertal from the Altai Mountains now suggests 1.5–2.1%.[9]

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

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

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

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

The answer is that to awaken the neurological moral network the first human beings had to take some action which offended it. That produced a sense of guilt in the form of a conscience. And as we have seen, according to Genesis, the action that initially activated the neurological moral network  related to pleasure – “the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was PLEASANT to the eyes, and a tree to be DESIRED to make one wise …”[10]

As Philo says, “anyone who follows a reasonable train of conjecture, will say with great propriety, that the … serpent is the symbol of pleasure.”  And he goes on to say that the “serpent is said to have uttered a human voice, because pleasure employs innumerable champions and defenders who take care to advocate its interests, and who dare to assert that the power over everything, both small and great, does of right belong to it without any exception whatever.”[11]

So the story of Eve’s (“the woman’s[12]) temptation clearly refers to the interaction between morality, instinct and reason.

The serpent represents the instinct for reproduction. The symbolism of the serpent ‘speaking’ relates to the allure of pleasure to be had by indulging the instinct for reproduction. And Eve ‘seeing’ “that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, …” symbolizes the application of reason to justify taking actions that we ‘know’ are wrong.

The prohibition against eating of the tree represents morality. It is the neurological moral network within the brain that ‘speaks’ to us of the morality of certain actions, and acts as a restraint to actions which offend against it, if we listen. However, until this moment, the neurological moral network was subconscious.

Consequences of activating the neurological moral network

Once the first humans succumbed to the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging their primitive instinct for reproduction, the neurological moral network was fully activated. This is symbolized by the words “and the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.”[13] They realized then that they were different to the other species around them, even those most like them, and that it was not appropriate to simply imitate animal behavior.

However, Genesis tells us that once the neurological moral network had been offended, it gave rise to a sense of guilt, and Adam and Eve are said to do what people do to this day in order to justify their actions; they “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the Garden.” They attempted to escape the guilt aroused by their actions by seeking justification in their primitive instincts; in “the trees of the garden.”

As we have already seen, the trees in the garden symbolize human instincts, amongst which is the instinct to reproduce. So when they are plagued by a sense of guilt, they seek to justify their actions by reference to their instincts. They ‘reason’ their way to a justification by attempting to convince themselves that they should not feel guilty because what they did was perfectly natural – just like the animals around them.

But clearly the guilt could not be easily silenced. And so, like today, they started the blame-game – Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. In ‘excusing’ her behavior by claiming that “the serpent beguiled” her, the woman is essentially seeking to defend her actions by saying that the attractions of the pleasures she imagined could be had by indulging her primitive instincts were so strong as to be ‘irresistible’. So she should not be to blame. It was simply a ‘natural’ response to a ‘natural’ desire – much like AC Grayling.

But, of course, it was all to no avail.

Once they had crossed the moral threshold, no longer did they simply respond to an intuitive restraint to their actions from the neurological moral network. They had acquired an ability to identify specific actions as right or wrong. Yet, they were seduced by the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging their primitive instincts, as humans are today. So they mobilized their enhanced capacity to reason to seek justification for doing that which their neurological moral network told them was wrong.

The Legacy

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

We can see that the ‘punishment’ puts “enmity” between the attractions of pleasure to be had by indulging primitive instincts, like those of reproduction, and the consequences of doing so.

The ‘punishment’ said to have been inflicted on Adam clearly relates to human beings falling into bondage to their primitive instincts. From that moment on, human beings would be driven to provide for their survival and security by relentless toil. The instincts for survival and security generate a fear of being unable to provide for themselves, and a fear of anything and anyone perceived to be a threat.

The words “in sorrow shalt thou eat of [the ground] all the days of thy life[14] clearly refers to the instinct for security; “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground[15] clearly refers to the fear of death, and the survival instinct.

But there was a far more unpleasant consequence of this awakening of the “morality module”. The previous mental tranquility of intuitively refraining from actions because they knew they were wrong, and responding to the promptings of their instincts “only in taste and in the acts of generation”, had been replaced with an obsessive preoccupation with the pleasures and fears aroused by those instincts. No longer were these first humans content to live day by day without the constant fear of want and death – now they were consumed by a passion to indulge the demands of their instincts so as to alleviate their fears, or feed their appetite for pleasure.

As Philo said, they had condemned themselves to “an existence more miserable than death.”

From this point on, Genesis, and the Bible as a whole, records the conflict between human instinct and morality as it plays out in historical context. And how human beings employ reason to justify doing wrong.

Cain and Abel

So we see in the account of Cain and Abel that Abel’s endeavors were proving successful whereas Cain’s were modest. This fired insecurity in Cain, and wounded his vanity. Abel was seen as a threat who had to be neutralized. The symbolism of God speaking to Cain to ask why he is angry, relates to Cain’s neurological moral network intervening in an attempt to quell the anger. God says to Cain, “If thou does’t well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou does’t not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”[16]

The Hebrew for the last sentence actually says this: “And subject unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”

The message is quite clear – Cain has a choice about how to act. One choice is acceptable, or moral, the other is wrong, and will have consequences. The “desire” to satisfy his instincts is under his control – “subject unto thee.” And morality must rule over the desires of the instincts – “thou shalt rule over him.”

But, like Eve, Cain could not or would not listen to the moral ‘voice’ within him, and planned to slay Abel. We see that Cain “talked with Abel” before he implemented his plan. This indicates that Cain was using ‘reason’, and the ability to communicate, in service of his primitive instincts, and not in service of the “moral law.” And even once he had killed Abel, his ability to reason seeks ways to deny responsibility, saying he does not know where Abel is. Furthermore, he also asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” – an instance of reason seeking to excuse accountability for the wellbeing of our fellow human beings.

Cain’s reaction to the guilt that arises from his actions is first to lie, then to ‘justify’ the lie by ‘reasoning’ that he is not responsible.

We see in Cain a regrettable model for those who believe that satisfying their own “needs and interests” at any cost is their primary ‘duty’ in life, and they ‘reason’ their way to justifying whatever actions they take in pursuit of their ‘goals’. And their goals are always the same – indulging their appetite for pleasure, and relieving the fear of their insecurities; in short, being in the service of their primitive instincts, and silencing the voice of morality whenever it ‘speaks’.

However, Cain realizes that he cannot completely silence the voice of morality, and finally acknowledges that “Mine iniquity is greater than can be forgiven.”[17]

And the only way he can live with the guilt of his conscience is to deny God – “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord.”[18]

That, it seems, is the “mark” which God is said to have put on Cain; the propensity to apply ‘reason’ to justify the servicing of our primitive instincts in defiance of the “moral law” which created us, and which is within us. And humans accomplish that self-deception through the denial of a Supreme Law, and thus a denial of God.

In that way, those who seek to impose their own authority and will on others are free to ‘make’ such ‘laws’ as best serve their own interests, and to implement such measures as are necessary to compel others to submit to those ‘laws’.

That is the meaning of Cain building a city which he names after his son Enoch.[19] God is replaced with the pursuit of power and wealth to feed vanity and allay insecurity.

However, at the end of Chapter 4, the story reverts again to Adam and Eve. Eve conceives and gives birth to Seth, and he has a son called Enos. And it is this strand of the genealogy of Adam and Eve that came to the realization that God is indispensable to human existence. That is because, after the birth of Enos, “then men began to call on the name of the Lord.” [20]

And it is this strand of genealogy that leads to Abraham and on to Moses, and the Ten Commandments. They were the ‘keepers’ of the moral law that reveals God’s Will.

It was through Abraham that “all families of the earth shall be blessed.”[21]

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

The crucial words in that last verse are “because thou hast obeyed my voice.” It was this strand of the human species that stayed most obedient to the principles of the “moral law”; and, it seems, most easily able to decipher it over the clatter of demands from our primitive instincts.

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

———————————————————–

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

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

Notes

[1] Philo, On the Creation, LVIII (163).

[2] Genesis 3: 1 – 7.

[3] Grayling, ACX. The God Argument, page 192 and 199. A full Review of The God Argument can be read under Book Reviews on this website jbhmcmillan.com.

[4] Grayling, page 205.

[5] Grayling, page 206.

[6] Grayling, page 201.

[7] Grayling, page 202.

[8] Grayling, page 193.

[9] Villa P, Roebroeks W (2014) Neandertal Demise: An Archaeological Analysis of the Modern Human Superiority Complex. PLoS ONE 9(4): e96424. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096424.

[10] Genesis 3: 6.

[11] Philo, On the Creation, LVI (157) and (160) respectively.

[12] The name Eve is not used in Genesis 3 until verse 20 – “and Adam called his wife’s  name Eve …”

[13] Genesis 3: 7.

[14] Genesis 3: 17.

[15] Genesis 3: 19.

[16] Genesis 4: 7.

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

[18] Genesis 4: 16.

[19] Genesis 4: 17.

[20] Genesis 4: 20.

[21] Genesis 12: 3.

[22] Genesis 22:18.

A Legal Proof for the Existence of God (Part VIII): Science in Genesis Chapter 2 – The Garden of Eden

Early man was like a house wired for light, but for a long time was in darkness; then a switch was thrown, and the house was full of light.

Humans became conscious beings; conscious of their own existence, their own mortality, and their own actions.

That sums up Chapter 2 of Genesis, which goes back to the time of the ‘awakening’ of the neurological moral network in the first of the species to experience it, and the dilemma that ‘awakening’ created for reason when it was confronted with the competing demands of the faculties of instinct and morality. The story of The Garden of Eden is the story of that ‘awakening’.

As we have seen in previous articles, especially in relation to Days Three and Six, Genesis 2, verses 1 to 5, tell us that by the end of the six “days” no life existed on Earth in the form we would recognize today. There was only DNA in primitive organisms. That was because there was not yet water on the Earth in liquid form.

When water did finally appear, the DNA that would develop into the variety of life on Earth, including human beings, had already been ‘programmed’; it was ready and waiting.

As physicist Freeman Dyson said, ‘It’s as if the universe knew we were coming.’[1]

But according to Genesis, it’s not so much that the universe knew we were coming, but that it had been prepared for our coming. Indeed, it even made our coming possible. It is the cosmic factory; and life is the cosmic product.

Then, when the Earth had cooled sufficiently, water appeared. As Genesis records, “there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.[2]

The machinery of the cosmic factory had been oiled, and production of life could begin in earnest.

The formation of the human brain

The description of the Garden of Eden can only refer to the human brain: “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.  And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.[3]

Philo says that these verses are “symbolical rather than strictly accurate. For no trees of life or of knowledge have ever at any previous time appeared upon the earth, nor is it likely that any will appear hereafter. But I rather conceive that Moses was speaking in an allegorical spirit, intending by his paradise to intimate the dominant character of the soul, which is full of innumerable opinions as this figurative paradise was of trees.[4]

I agree that the verses are symbolic, and if Philo meant by “the dominant character of the soul” the human brain, I would agree with that as well. But I cannot agree that the trees represent the “innumerable opinions” of the multitudes. The description of the kind of trees in the Garden perfectly fits the neurological faculties ‘programmed’ into human DNA in Day Six. http://wp.me/p5izWu-92

Those were the faculties of instinct, reason, and morality. And those instincts are activated by the prospect of pleasure, or the fear of pain, and the human capacity for reason responds accordingly.

But we also saw that reason in the service of instinct accounts for what we call evil, while reason in the service of morality accounts for good.

When we consider the description of the trees in that light, the description of the Garden quickly begins to resemble the human brain.

First, the words “out of the ground made the Lord God to grow …” reflect the words used relating to the forming of man – “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground ….”[5] So when the trees are made to “grow” out of “the ground”, it clearly implies the “the ground” that had been made “man”.

The “trees” that are “made to grow” perfectly correspond to the various neurological faculties: “pleasant to the sight” refers to instincts; “good for food” refers to the innate ‘knowledge’ of how the universe and life functions; “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” refers to the “morality module”; and the “tree of life” refers to the moral equation, which is why it is in “the midst of the garden.”   The interaction between the various neurological faculties must be properly balanced in order to keep the moral equation in equilibrium.

However, all these elements of the human brain needed some way to interact with the world. The human instinct for reproduction, for example, can only be activated when it perceives something that it recognizes as another of the species which causes an arousal of that instinct. The instinct needs to be ‘fed’ by sight. Likewise, the instinct for survival is activated when the senses perceive some danger to survival – an unfamiliar sound, an unusual sight, another of the species perceived as a threat.

The physical senses ‘feed’ the brain – only Genesis calls it ‘watering’ the brain: “And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.”[6]

This verse very obviously refers to the nervous system which supplies the brain with the information it needs in order to function. That is clear because the river didn’t go INTO the garden to water the trees, it “WENT OUT of Eden to water the garden.” It would be rather pointless for the water which should be ‘watering’ the trees in the garden to flow in the wrong direction.

So when we conceive of the Garden of Eden as referring to the human brain, and the river which flows out of  “Eden to water the garden” as the human nervous system which ‘waters’ the brain by supplying it with the information it requires in order to function, then the verse makes sense. The information the brain needs would be provided through the senses on the extremities of the body – the “four heads” of the river.

The references to what may have been physical places, and understood by the people at the time to represent certain of the senses, are not particularly important. The important point is that the rivers and the Garden symbolize the senses and the nervous system which ‘water’ the brain with information.

The activation of the human brain

The next verse is curious, because God is said to put man into the garden for a second time: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.[7] The crucial difference, of course, is that this time the man is put in the garden “to dress it and to keep it.” On the first occasion, he was just put there.

That is because the first reference is to the formation of the brain – “out of the ground made the Lord God to grow …”; whereas the second is to the activation of the faculties of the brain – “to dress it and to keep it”.

The latent ‘genes’ had been activated, or as the Encode Project would say, the necessary genetic “switches” had activated the genes, and the various neurological faculties began to function in the first of the species with a fully formed human brain.

The next verse is also crucial to understand why the “man” is put into the garden a second time: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”[8]

Now, we should note that the original Hebrew did not say “thou shalt surely die”, but “in dying thou shalt die”. This distinction is crucial, and we shall return to it shortly.

First, we should note that God is said to speak to the “man”, or more properly, “commanded” him. But the word used is the same as was used in Genesis 1: 22 – “saying”.

God commanded the man, SAYING”. We should remember that the word “saying” symbolizes a limited comprehension on the part of those ‘hearing’ the words, or at least a limited comprehension of the words being spoken.

The symbolism of God commanding the “man”, in conjunction with the word “saying”, tells us that the “morality module,” which the “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” represents, had been activated, but that its messages were being subconsciously processed.

That is confirmed by the warning issued by God of the consequences of violating the message – “in dying thou shalt die.”

So the activation of these various faculties means that this first human being subconsciously knew that certain actions were wrong, and that there would be a consequence for committing those actions.

However, since there was no other human being to tell him that the actions were wrong, and no other human being to impose a consequence, or punishment, he would have reflected on why he felt that such actions could be wrong. Moreover, he would have noted that many of the actions of the very species from which he had emerged were wrong by his new understanding, yet there were no consequences to them indulging in such behavior.

So he would have wondered whether the consequences would be imposed at some time other than during his lifetime, and the only other time could be after his death. That would have made him aware of his own mortality, thus causing a consciousness of being alive.

The first of the human species had become a conscious being; conscious of his own mortality, and conscious of his own existence; and all because the neurological moral network had been activated.

Functioning of the neurological moral network

Verses 18 to 25 of Chapter 2 record how the now activated neurological moral network began to direct human behavior, and ultimately, human destiny. I shall only briefly address these verses in this article, although I do address them in detail in the book.

Here is a summary of those verses.

First, God is said to have wanted to find “an help meet for” Adam (the first human being with fully formed human DNA) because he should not “be alone.” So God made all the animals and brought them to Adam to be named. But still “there was not found an help meet for him.” So God put him into a deep sleep, removed one of his ribs, made a woman, and “brought her unto him.”

Adam is then said to have recognized the woman as “bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.”

As a consequence of this mutual recognition, “a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

Now the first thing we should note is that the “man” was alone, and that it was “not good” that he should be alone. This suggests that fully formed human DNA had appeared in only one (or at best a scattered few) of the first of the species. So he would have recognized that he was different to the species from whom he had emerged.

But this does not mean that he was physically alone. He must have been the offspring of a mother and father. And no doubt he would have been part of a group or tribe of people. That is because, as Philo says, “all the individuals of the race had not yet assumed their distinctive form; since the extreme species are contained in the genus.”[9] This first “man” was thus the first to assume the “distinctive [human] form.”

The reason that it was “not good that the man should be alone” is that his instinct was to reproduce, but there was no female of the species with fully ‘matured’ human DNA to reproduce with. To this first “man”, reproducing with what ostensibly would have been another ‘species’ would have been an unattractive prospect.

So he would have become frustrated. But in doing so, he appears to have activated other elements of his brain.

The words “I will make him an help meet for him” can only symbolize the activation of the ability to reason at a higher level, compelling this first human to examine the life around him in the hope of finding another living thing like him with whom he could reproduce.

However, by examining the various different species around him, this first human appeared to activate another latent characteristic of the brain – the language module. Adam started ascribing names to the animals.

But Adams’s search for a mate proved futile: “but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”

So it seems that this first of the human species must have settled for a mate from one of the more primitive species from which he had emerged, even though she would have been a different ‘species’ in some major respects. As a consequence, his fully ‘programmed’ human DNA must have again become dormant: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.”[10]

The symbolism of “Adam” going into a deep sleep means that the fully formed human DNA he was carrying around probably passed through several generations while remaining dormant. So a number of the pre-human species may well have had this dormant DNA

Then, by a coincidence of probabilities, the dormant DNA was activated in both a male and female at the same time, and those two must have been in close physical proximity. And immediately they recognized each other as being different to the species around them, and virtual mirror-images of each other, except one was male and the other female. As Philo said, they would have “beheld” each other “as in a mirror.”[11]

The human species was ready to “go forth and multiply”.

Recognition of moral obligations

The effect of this mutual recognition was that some additional elements of the “morality module” were activated. That is symbolized by the words “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife.” They recognized that this new relationship between members of the new species was different to what went before. They recognized the importance of monogamy.

The joining together of a male and a female to create new life makes them “one flesh” in the new life they create. And the obligations which attach to that, both before and after they “cleave unto” each other, required that they forsake any and all other relationships. They recognized that their relationship should be unique, exclusive and special – for the benefit of the new life they create.

There we find the source of the positive obligations we referred to in the introductory article.

Subconscious recognition of obligations

However, these first human beings did not sit down and make a list of what they thought was right and wrong. As we have already seen, they just subconsciously knew how they should behave.

That is the message in verse 25: “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” The reason that “they were not ashamed” was that they did not look upon the physical body, and the act of procreation, as something to be exploited for the primary purpose of generating physical pleasure.

Their neurological moral networks subconsciously communicated the law to them – it “commanded” them, saying”. The neurological moral network automatically kept the moral equation in equilibrium, as long as they heeded what it told them.

So there would have been an innocence about them. They would have lived harmoniously with nature, and others like them. They would not have fenced off portions of the Earth to claim as their own. They would not have sought to quell their insecurities and fears by building walls around themselves. They would not have sought security in subjugating others to their control and power. They did not even need clothes to display their vanity. Neither did they need clothes to divert others from lusting after their bodies – they did not lust, because they knew it was wrong.

They would not have been in need of laws, because they knew the law. They would have known that making their own laws would simply be a ruse to violate the universal law which applied to everything and everybody.

That was the state of the human race before primitive human instincts got the better of some.

But there are alive today some of the descendants of those first human beings who inhabited the Earth at the time described in Genesis – the time when the first of the species emerged. And like their ancestors, they simply do what they know to be right and good. They are not consumed by the demands of their primitive instincts. They are not in relentless pursuit of pleasure, or the persistent fear of death and insecurity. They are an innocent, decent, and good people; or at least as innocent and good as anyone can be after being exposed to the ‘civilized world’.

They are the San people of Southern Africa, also known as the Bushmen. Anthropologists and geneticists identify some of these peoples as the ancestors of all human beings. Although I would say that the rest of us are the descendants of that part of the original family that went astray, and they are the descendants of those who did not go astray.

And as we shall see in the next article dealing with Chapters 3 and 4, science and Genesis supports that conclusion.

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

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

Notes:

[1] Kaku, Parallel Worlds, page 248.

[2] Genesis 2: 6.

[3] Genesis 2: 8 – 9.

[4] Philo, On the Creation, LVI (154).

[5] Genesis 2: 7.

[6] Genesis 2: 10.

[7] Genesis 2: 15.

[8] Genesis 2: 16 – 17.

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

[10] Genesis 2: 21.

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

A Question of Faith?

Faith is a central pillar of most religions. But what does it really mean?

There are those who argue that faith is not a function of evidence or proof. For want of a better description, we could call this ‘blind faith’. There are proponents of this kind of faith in most religions.

‘Blind faith’ is a curious approach. It requires absolute belief that something is true, without any evidence to support that belief, then uses the thing believed in as ‘evidence’ of the claims it makes.

We find such an approach in Islam, for example. The starting point is the statement of faith, the ‘Shahada’, which must be recited by converts to Islam. It declares that there is no god but Allah, and that Mohammed is his prophet. From that follows a belief that the Koran is the word of God as revealed to Mohammed. The Koran then becomes the ‘evidence’ of the claim that Allah is the one true God, and that Mohammed is his prophet.

This kind of approach does not begin by examining the claim that the Koran is the word of God to determine whether there is any evidence to support that claim, and then forming a view on the evidence. It does it the other way round. It makes the claim, then uses the book as evidence to support the claim. In other words, you begin by believing, without any evidence, that the book is the word of God, then point to passages in the book as ‘evidence’ of the claim.

However, the approach is not unique to Islam. We find a similar thing in Christianity and Judaism.

Few people, I suspect, who convert to Christianity or Judaism, do so because they have examined the evidence and concluded that the evidence justifies their belief in the claims made by those religions.

Of course, there have been those in all these religions who have sought to provide evidential support for the claims made by their respective religions. But mostly, they have sought to identify the evidence to support their already held beliefs, not formed their beliefs following an examination of the evidence. Although there are exceptions.

That raises the question of whether faith can, or should, have any role in determining what we believe, and how we conduct our lives as a consequence of what we believe.

In recent times, people have been conditioned to believe that if something can’t be proved, then it is simply untrue, or not worthy of further consideration. That has one of two broad effects. Either, people simply reject religion entirely, or they resort to something closely resembling blind faith.

But the conviction that faith is incompatible with proof is an entirely false distinction. In fact, without faith, every system of justice on the planet would cease to function.

That statement may appear counter-intuitive, because most people associate justice and the courts with evidence and proof. But that is not the whole story.

As any litigation attorney would acknowledge, there is no such thing as an open and shut case. And that is in spite of the fact that no case has to be proved with absolute certainty.

There are two broad standards of legal proof in the Anglo-American legal tradition: ‘on a balance of probabilities’ for civil cases; and ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ for criminal cases.

As a consequence, in a civil trial, for example, a judge or jury has to decide whether it is more likely than not that the evidence supports one or other party to a dispute. To make that judgment, they have to weigh up the evidence, and that includes making assessments as to the truthfulness of witnesses. But making such assessments is a subjective process. One person may find a particular witness entirely credible, while another person will find that same witness entirely shifty and unreliable. In the end, it is for the judge or jury to make a decision. However, as convinced as they may be that the evidence supports one side or the other, their decision still comes down to a question of belief – whose case they believe is more persuasive. That means that their decision is really a matter of ‘faith’. They cannot know for certain that their decision is right.

In the criminal courts, the situation is the same. Although the standard of proof is the higher standard of beyond a reasonable doubt, that does not mean beyond a shadow of a doubt, or with one hundred percent certainty. Even where DNA evidence, for example, shows that the defendant must have been responsible for the crime, there are other questions. Were the DNA samples contaminated or inadvertently substituted with other samples? Was there deliberate tampering with the DNA evidence?

The same applies to what some would consider absolute proof. What if there is video evidence capturing the defendant shooting the victim dead? The problem with that evidence is that it only goes to one element of a crime, the act itself, which lawyers call the actus reus. The prosecution also has to prove that the defendant possessed the appropriate mental state (mens rea) to commit the crime. And there is an array of defenses in respect of the mental element, from lack of intention, insanity, self-defense, provocation etc.

The point being that however convincing a case may seem at first, any half-decent litigation lawyer can raise any number of doubts in the minds of the judge and jury. And it doesn’t matter how convinced one person may be, others may harbor substantial and well-founded doubts. So again, it comes down to belief. And the law recognizes that fact by setting standards of proof that do not require absolute certainty.

The final judgment of the judge or jury, which may cause another human being to be cast into prison for the rest of his life, or even terminate his life, is simply a matter of faith that they have made the right decision on the evidence. In fact, the whole judicial system rests on faith that ‘justice will be done’.

Faith is therefore the cornerstone of justice. Without it, the legal system would simply grind to a halt. And those who have to exercise this kind of faith carry a heavy burden. The consequences of exercising their faith can be extreme; a matter of freedom or incarceration, even of life and death.

So faith is not just some feeble excuse to believe something in spite of the evidence. It is an essential element of human behavior. It is integral to the human character. It reaches into every human activity, from who we choose to marry, to where we choose to live, to our careers, jobs, car, and to everything else we do in life.

The important thing is that we exercise faith after careful consideration of the evidence. But in the end, every decision is a matter of faith. And religion is no different. Faith should follow a careful consideration of the evidence.

That is why I employed a rigorous legal methodology to evaluate the evidence of God in my latest book, A ‘Final Theory’ of God. The legal method is tried and tested, and has endured the ravages of time and history. It is the only really workable approach when there are limits to human knowledge.

So faith and proof are not diametrically opposed concepts. They are inter-related and inter-dependent. Each depends on the other.

But in the end, after careful consideration of the evidence, we always have to apply a measure of faith.

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Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

http://josephbhmcmillan.com