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Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Science of God - V

And as a final entry, this would be the 5th regarding Dr. Schroeder’s book The Science of God. I hope you have enjoyed reading (that is if you have been reading) and I also hope these thoughts spark introspection in your own life as they have certainly done in mine.

In Genesis, chapter 26 describes God as creating humans, yet chapter 27 goes further and describes God infusing the human soul w/in humankind. My first thought on reading this was “wait, I never read that in the Bible.” Comparatively based on the original Hebrew text, he states that the heavens and earth were “made” but humans were “created.” This is interesting because according to their etymology, “create” is to generate something from nothing – a contrast to “make” which means to fashion from some sort of raw material. In as much, the universe was first created… and then made. However, in the case of the Biblical person Adam, the reverse order is true – he was made (Ch 26) and then created (Ch 27). Through this translation, there was perhaps some unknown time period between the completion of him being made and then at which time his body was infused with the soul. Schroeder draws a connection between this ambiguous timeline and cave drawings that pre-date Adam – making them understandable from a Biblical perspective. According to Dr. Schroeder and his supporters, there quite easily (and the Bible does not discount this possibility) could have human like beings on the earth doing human like things, yet, they had no soul, or human spirituality.

Schroeder states that scientists date the beginning of history (as opposed to prehistory) at the beginning of time when writing was established – not writing with an alphabet but with writing in the form of pictographs and other forms/symbols. There is little doubt that this took place in ancient Mesopotamia – there is also little doubt that this is the part of the planet that was the home of the Biblical person Abraham. The bible also says that Adam was created (soul infusion variety) 5-6 thousand years before Abraham, the exact range of dates at which writing in the form of these pictographs were first started. This is all according to Dr. Schroeder’s book, yet I have not been able to find a website which discounts this support.

Transitioning now to the concept of free will, I know from discussions over the years that at the very least, some Christian denominations believe in predestination – however, it is interesting to me that some scientists believe the same thing. Dr. Schroeder however points out some flaws in this understanding. First, he concedes that free will is difficult to understand from a cursory glance using the physics we experience daily… that experiential physics is deterministic – in that if you toss up a ball, you can be certain it will fall back down. The question that one has to ask is whether or not this experience transcends all levels of existence?

The answer is no. There are in fact physics observations that occur on a daily basis that in fact do not follow this pattern. In college physics, we studied the wave-particle duality principle of light. Basically, this principle shows that light travels in packets of energy called photons which exhibit the normal pattern of motion in waves – the predictable motion that is easy to conceptualize. However, at the exact same time, these same packets of energy act as individual particles as well, and will unpredictably interfere with each other if sent through a tiny opening. We don’t experience this principle of light on a daily basis, but just like this puzzling observation, there are many subatomic forces impacting our daily life that we don’t assume b/c we don’t “experience” them. In the same way, it is conceivable to argue that this unpredictability is present in our understanding of human biology, physiology, and genetics because the observations made in those fields of study are governed by the laws of physics.

One aspect of God that I have always had trouble understanding is the passage that states that God knew me before I even existed – this doesn’t exactly jive with my experiential understanding of time. However, Dr. Schroeder addresses just such a concept in a similar way to his understanding of the first six days of creation – using Einstein’s theory of relativity. When God says “I was, I am, and I will be,” God is stating that he is Eternal and the creator of the universe, therefore also in existence outside of time as we know it. To understand this using relativity, Schroeder describes a beam of light that was shot out at the big bang – and well, traveling at the speed of light. Now imagine that you high-jacked that energy and were speeding along with that light. Immediately you decide to slow down in order to read this blog post. According to the generally accepted theory, virtually no time would have elapsed – you would be living in nearly the same instant now as when you started out. This is hard to imagine, but relativity states that speed and time are constant – the faster speed the slower the time, and vice versa. By this line of reasoning, it would thus be possible that to God everything has already happened yet at the same time has yet to take place. There is no difference in the absolute quantity of time, only a difference in the quality of time (or in how one experiences it).

There are two more points Dr. Schroeder makes in his book that I would like to explore. The first is the often said/heard phrase “if God is so good, why do such bad things happen in the world?”

Perhaps if something really terrible happened to me, I may express this same sentiment. However, I hope that I would be able to reason and perhaps understand it on a level that Dr. Schroeder discusses. He first quotes the Bible in that “it is for us to learn how to react to the bad as well as the good even if we can not understand its purpose.” Thus, it is our challenge to figure out justice and truth in all events. It is interesting to note that the natural capacity of the human brain can store nearly the information contained in a 50 million volume encyclopedia – if that is true, it can probably handle the understanding necessary to overcome these types of challenges. Dr. Schroeder states that it is the randomness of the universe that allows for sanity – for if it were not for the randomness in our experience of the world, everything would be predetermined by unyielding laws of nature. This would be a world no one would wish for, a world where we would be mere robots to our body’s chemistry and the condition of our environment.

And finally Dr. Schroeder discusses what is so unique about the planet Earth, why is it such a special place for life to exist? According to him, the universe is somewhere between 10 to 18 billion light years in scale, and our galaxy is just a tiny blip on that large map. There are millions of large cosmic bodies orbiting and hurtling through space out there somewhere, yet one aspect of our galaxy that is so special is that the Milky Way’s planets and moons have virtually swept clean most of the space through which Earth must travel – literally giving us a clear path to orbit in without the daily risk of slamming in to some wayward cosmic mass. And in the same way, Earth unexpectedly does not fall into the normal exponential distribution of distance from the Sun which each of the other planets in our universe ascribe to. In fact, each of the planets is roughly 2x further away from the preceding planet than that planet was from its predecessor. The Earth is the only planet in the solar system that disobeys this distribution, yet it is clearly to our benefit.

And then there is the miracle of the sun. It is precisely the right size to consume its supply of hydrogen and produce energy at a rate that provided the time and conditions for life to form. Earth’s orbit around the sun is more circular than most of the other planets, but it is still 3% off of being a true circle – this is important because had it been a bit more elliptical like many of the other Milky-Way planets, we would be experiencing drastic alternations between baking and then freezing depending on where we were in relation to the solar body.

Even more, our planet’s core is made of molten iron – the effects of which are drastically important yet go unnoticed by most of us. The molten iron ensures that the center of the earth contains just enough internal radioactivity to produce a virtual magnetic umbrella that deflects an otherwise lethal dose of solar wind. Not only does it provide this protection, but it also has given rise to the volcanic activity present on Earth that has been responsible for the release of the subterranean waters necessary for life – however, it has been so well balanced as to not shroud the planet with dust.

The force of Gravity is so perfectly balanced so as to hold on to the needed gases of our atmosphere but weak enough to allow lighter noxious gases to escape into space. Not only this, but we are so perfectly spaced from the Sun that the battle between evaporation of those water vapors and gravitational return of the same vapors ever so gently favors the gravitational return.

These and much more facts about how we exist within the universe really make living in our world so much more special. Dr. Roger Penrose, a well respected physicist and mathematician has stated that the odds of all of these cosmic realities occurring in the way they have in order to sustain life as they do is a number nearly to difficult to grasp – 1 in 1010^123 . To speak this number aloud would take longer to say than there has been time since the big bang. In light of all these delicately yet imperatively important facts about our world, we are truly not dependent on the Earth alone, but we are certainly children of the cosmos.

So that’s about it with regard to Dr. Schroeder’s book. I hope you have enjoyed reading all of these thought as much as I have enjoyed typing and exploring them on my end. I look forward to possibly talking about these things again sometime, but until then…


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