Science and Time and God

So the church I go to when I am home is starting a new series for the year 2014 and it is that they are going to try to preach through the entire Bible, a book or so at a time. So of course this past Sunday was Genesis, and Genesis begins with the creation story, and that got me thinking.

The everlasting debate between evolutionists and creationists is (a) messy, (b) violent, (c) very, very messy, (d) very, very violent. In addition, it goes on and on and ON. Like half of a light switch. Seriously.

But, in my thinking, I wondered if maybe it isn’t two halves of one whole. Two ways of looking at the same event. Two sides of the same story.

If you’ll forgive me for yet another gratuitous Doctor Who reference, it’s like the painting in The Day of the Doctor. At the end, the Great Curator tells the Doctor that its two disputed and rivalrous (is that a word?) titles (“No More” and “Gallifrey Falls”) are actually one (“Gallifrey Falls No More”). Could it be something like that?

Let’s start at the beginning. This is from the Wikipedia article on the big bang.

“According to the theory, the Big Bang occurred approximately 13.798 ± 0.037 billion years ago, which is thus considered the age of the universe. At this time, the Universe was in an extremely hot and dense state and began expanding rapidly.”

First of all I want to point out that it does not say exactly what is in a hot and dense state and expanding rapidly. The universe, yes. What is the universe at that point in time? Is it anything at all? We don’t even have subatomic particles yet. So what is the universe?

Now. Pause.

I wrote a poem once a long time ago called “Academic Thoughts,” and basically it began with me noticing some similarities between what I was learning in chemistry and in trig, but it more or less expanded on something Hannah said in chemistry once, that she thought God must be a wave. Which, if we go back to Wikipedia’s definition of a wave as “a disturbance or oscillation that travels through space and matter, accompanied by a transfer of energy,” seems feasible. God travels through space and matter – that would explain the Christian theology of his being able to be anywhere at any time. One of the other things I remember from chemistry is that waves are capable of being in more than one place at once – which explains the Christian theology of his being everywhere all the time – and that they are usually not quite definite until you look at them. Or something like that. I’m not quite sure about transfers of energy, but, and this was the point of the poem in the first place, what’s to prevent God’s being something we don’t understand? Maybe he’s not even quite a wave. (Maybe God is an alien.) Maybe God is something we cannot possibly understand the concept of. There’s a bit in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Ring of Endless Light where Rob says something to Vicky about how difficult it would be to explain sight to a species that did not see, so how much more difficult would it be for someone to explain a capability we do not have to us? And, continuing with that thought, how difficult is it for someone to explain a concept we have never encountered? How difficult is it to understand God as it is?

So. At this point in the big bang model, the universe is barely anything at all, not even subatomic particles, and what I think is that at this point the universe is a thought. A thought in the mind of God. (Because God, whatever he is, is sentient.)

So God has this thought, and this thought is the universe, and though the difference between a thought and an idea is negligible, it becomes an idea, and it is hot and dense and expands. That seems plausible to me, for an idea to become hot and expand. Maybe that’s what my brain is doing every time I think of an idea for a post. I really haven’t any way of knowing.

“After the initial expansion, the Universe cooled sufficiently to allow energy to be converted into various subatomic particles, including protons, neutrons and electrons.”

The breath of God?

(Sorry, I had to be the tiniest bit theatrical.)

Seriously though. The universe cooled off. And remember, the universe at this point is a thought, an idea hot and honeylike with impulse sweeping along the synapses. God’s synapses. But, as with everything, you have to think about it practically as well, and as soon as the idea stabilized and became a rational possibility, here came the subatomic particles. Maybe God just got so excited over this idea, and then took a deep breath to calm himself down, and thus the energy needed to continue creating it was born.

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

In the beginning – the absolute first point in time ever – the little spark in God’s brain grew and flamed up and was cooled down and spread out into something that might actually be.

This is why I have trouble understanding the bit where so many people deny or question the existence of a God. If there is a higher being out there, can you really expect to know it when you see it? That’s actually rather conceited, to think that we should be able to see and understand everything. You cannot deny the existence of something if you don’t understand the nature of its existence.

I once told one of my fraternity brothers who asked that “I’m a sci-fi fan. I believe in everything.” And though my approach is a bit partial, I do sort of believe in anything being possible. I don’t deny having been heavily influenced by Doctor Who and Madeleine L’Engle and C. S. Lewis and Tolkien and MacDonald and even a little bit of Star Trek to believe that we live in a great and marvelous universe (possibly with others around us) the entire complexity of which we cannot possibly hope to grasp.

But that’s one of my pet soapboxes. Let’s move on.

At the core, the theories of evolution and creation are not unsimilar, I think.

The Wikipedia article’s section on the timeline of the model contains this.

“At some point an unknown reaction called baryogenesis violated the conservation of baryon number, leading to a very small excess of quarks and leptons over antiquarks and antileptons—of the order of one part in 30 million. This resulted in the predominance of matter over antimatter in the present Universe.”

It is literally right there in the paragraph: an unknown reaction. Let me say that again. We don’t know what happened there, people.

Baryogenesis, whatever it is, decided to bend the rules a little bit.

If we go back to the Bible and find Genesis 1:2 we read, “Now the earth [I think we can substitute universe here too at this point in the model] was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

I am not sure how to apply the reference to waters in the context of the universe – my assumption is that that refers to the earth’s original state. But nevertheless, though we are not talking yet about our own specific planet, the universe is without form and void, as the version that I am not quoting directly from says. Darkness over the surface of the deep. We have nothing but some subatomic particles. We have a battle between quarks and antiquarks (and their leptonic friends), it would seem, and baryogenesis cheats a little bit and knocks it in favor of the quarks and voila! Something is. Something is catapulted into a state of being. We have existence at this point, people.

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Genesis 1:3.

As a linguistics nut I am saddened by the wear and tear put on the verb to be which is a result of its being a fact of everyday living. Which it is. But it is also the most precious, exquisite, almost rare thing in the universe (a paradox, of sorts), in that it is never guaranteed. No one will ever know how close we may have come to being a universe of antimatter – or, worse, not being a universe at all.

But! (and there is always a but) our hero baryogenesis pops in to save the day, and would you look at that, matter. Now. Returning to the fact that we have no idea what baryogenesis even really is, how can you flatly deny or rule out or even question the possibility of God being that force, that reaction?

And, in turn, in its way, baryogenesis is a demonstration of God’s love, because he tips the scales and says to every creature who will one day inhabit the burgeoning universe, “For all the ridiculity you might have to endure, and for all the great things you will also get to live through, here you are, here is a chance, a shot at all of it. Here is your chance to BE.

And I think that’s pretty cool.

I also think there may be more to this idea than I have reached yet. Stay tuned.

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