WARNING – this post is chock full of scientific stuff. Depending on how technical you are, it may take a couple of reads to sink in. I apologize in advance for any resulting aneurysms.
The physical universe is the result of a First Cause. The First Cause is defined in the information source known as the Judeo-Christian Bible. The Bible calls the First Cause “God”
Up until now, I’ve reduced the origins of the physical universe into immaterial concepts like “information” and “principles”, and described the universe itself in terms of its governing rules such as causality and thermodynamics. But we don’t just experience the physical universe conceptually. We can touch it, taste it, hear it, smell it, and see it. Its fair to ask , when will I finally talk about the more tangible aspects of the universe ?(or how can you answer “what’s the point?” if you never get to the %&@$# point?!)
I hear you. In this post I endeavor to give a practical answer to how the physical universe could come into being from the First Cause. Once we reach the end of this post, hopefully you will understand why I had to give so much seemingly “vague” background information first.
Because I said so!
Now, according to the Bible, God simply spoke everything into existence – “And God said let there be light”, and suddenly light existed. (And God said, “let there be colon cancer”, and the first McDonalds opened). This seems rather fanciful, but lets take a systematic approach with this and start at the beginning.
Atoms, atoms everywhere
The basic building block of matter is the atom. Everything we see, mountains, trees, oceans, even our physical bodies are made up of trillions of atoms too small to be seen without powerful scientific equipment. As the picture at the top shows, an atom consists of a nucleus at the center, and one or more negatively charged particles called electrons that orbit the nucleus at high speeds. The picture above is he common way atoms are presented because it makes them easy to visualize, but he proportions are WAY off.
The size ratio of the nucleus to the orbit of the electron is about 100,000 to 1. In other words, if the nucleus were the size of the head of a pin, the orbit of the electron would be over 100 meters away. If we were on a football field, and the head of a pin (nucleus) was at the 50 yard-line, the electron’s orbit circumference would be the end zones on either side!
A solid illusion
The VAST majority (99.99999~%) of an atom is…nothing. Empty space. Ok, so if the building blocks of matter are primarily empty space, then why do physical objects seem solid? That’s because of the electrons. Due to their electric charge, they repel the electrons in other atoms and groups of atoms (molecules). Remember in grade school when you’d have two magnets that would stick to each other because they had a different electrical charge, but when you’d turn one over the similar charge would make them repel each other? Like that.
So then, when you have an object made of billions of atoms and molecules like the chair you’re sitting on, the repellant force of all those electrons is so great that it seems solid, when it encounters another object made of billions of atoms and molecules (like your butt).
The more electrons present in each atom, the more solid and dense an object seems, which is why iron, which has 26 electrons is more solid than water, which has 10 electrons, and which is more solid that helium, which has two. But in reality, this “solidness” is an electro-magnetic illusion because, again, the vast majority of an atom is nothingness.
But wait, it gets worse.
An electron itself is almost without mass. Electrons “behave” a lot like light (which has no mass). Many scientists believe that the apparent mass that an electron has is only inferred form the electro-magnetic energy created from its fast orbit of the nucleus. So in essence, the particle responsible for the phenomenon that makes objects tangible is not “real”
But wait, it gets even worse.
The nucleus (composed of particles called protons and neutrons) does have definitive mass. Protons and neutrons are each made up of three sub-atomic particles call “quarks”. Quarks are so small that they cannot be observed by scientific equipment. We only know they exist based on secondary evidence. This puts us in the crazy world of particle or “Quantum” physics.
Sub-atomic particles are unimaginably small – so small in fact that the laws of physics become fuzzy and cause these particles to behave very strangely. The Copenhagen Interpretation and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle show that sub-atomic particles have no definitive independent locality or even existence when scientists are not observing them. In other words, sub-atomic particles cannot be said to definitively exist unless an intelligent being is actively looking at them! If that does not freak you out, then you weren’t listening.
Quantum physics is so odd that it even disturbs the scientists who study it. Niels Bohr stated, “Anyone who is not shocked by Quantum theory has not understood it.”
Richard Feynman said, “Of all the theories proposed in [the 20th Century], the silliest is Quantum theory…the only thing that Quantum theory has going for it, in fact, is that it is unquestionably correct.”
So what does this all mean?
So in summary, what can we say about physical matter via the atoms that make it up?
- 99.9~% of it is nothingness
- Its physical tangibility is an electro-magnetic illusion
- The tiny fraction of 1% of it that actually is “real” doesn’t exist unless an intelligent being is thinking about it
So……….we know that the universe exists, but nothing in it is what we’d define as “real” on a fundamental level. What do we do with this information? Why, analyze it of course!
Do we know of anything else that exists and is immaterial, consists primarily of electronic energy, has a dramatic effect on what we call physical matter, and only exists as a product of intelligence? We do. We’ve discussed it before. Information! Or more specifically thought.
Ok, brace yourself…The universe and everything in it is nothing more than a thought in the mind of God! (granted, a really, really complex thought, but still…)
The metaphysical ramifications are staggering. Everything we see as physical existence – stars, planets, mountains, oceans, birds, bees, flowers, trees, the Grand Canyon, and Disneyland, are all figments of God’s imagination (ok, I won’t blame God for Disneyland. That’s just not fair).
Everything exists because God is thinking about it. Including us. (I wonder what would happen if God stopped thinking about it? Never mind. This post is theoretical enough as it is).
Words shape the world
With this in mind (no pun intended), God speaking everything into existence is not so far fetched. In fact, it kind of makes sense, especially if His spoken words correlate perfectly with His thoughts.
Think about dreams you’ve had at night or fantasies you created in your mind. You dismiss them as not being real, but in essence, they work on the same principles as divine creation.
PLEASE note that I am NOT getting all New Age-y on you and saying that we can create or alter objective reality with our thoughts in the manner that books like The Secret (and some popular Televangelists) say you can. We are not God. We do not have the nature of the First Cause.
But then…what about us? We’re different from anything else in known creation. We have volitional will. We can intentionally act apart from God’s will and initiate situations that He may not want to happen. How and why did God create us this way? I’ll tell you in one week…
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The Physics of Creation
Biblical Creation and the Age of the Earth
Evolution: The Ludicrous, Impossible Fairy Tale
Darwinian Philosophy – The World’s Deadliest Religion