In the Beginning
When one talks of the beginning of all things, one has only two choices. All variations fit within one of those two.
1. First choice: Matter is eternal and self-organized to the point where intelligence was produced. That intelligence, in turn, invented God.
2.Second choice: God is eternal and invented matter in its varieties, some of which had intelligence.
In the long run, it's one or the other. There are no other options. Well, there is the option that nothing is real, but we are going to go ahead on the presumption that it is.
Looking at the first choice -- can matter self-organize? All arguments for temporary random patterns aside, the essential truth is that it cannot; certainly not to the extent of the type of complexity we see in life. In his book, The 2nd Law; Energy, Chaos and Form, P.W. Atkins states on pages 62 and 63,
In The Way of the Cell, Frankin M. Harold, Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Colorado State University, discusses the little E. coli bacteria. On page 113, he asks, "What pulls together the cacophany of molecules and ion channels and regulated pathways into a coherent whole: a cylinder with rounded caps, quickly and every time? If a cell is an orchestra and DNA the score, who or what conducts?" A paragraph later he admits, "Here we reach an edge, and are left contemplating the disquieting notion of an orchestra without a conductor."
In the preface to his book, The Blind Watchmaker, famous atheist Richard Dawkins states the following:
He doesn't give up, of course. Instead he spends the entire book trying to show how directionless, chance events cause evolution to produce what appears to be designed. The point he makes, later in the preface, states the problem he is dealing with rather succinctly: "It is almost as if the human brain were specifically designed to misunderstand Darwinism, and to find it hard to believe."
While the honesty of these men in saying these things is commendable, the sad fact is they each spend the entire book each of them wrote trying to debunk the idea of God and relying instead on the chances of self-organization of matter. But if you leave a bicycle out in the rain, it rusts. It does not become a motorcycle. The general direction of all parts of the universe, and of all of life, is downhill, not uphill.
And it is for this collection of examples, and for this reason, that the only viable alternative among the two at the beginning is that there is a God who created the universe. In the same way that physcists reasoned that if the universe had expanded, it had to have started in a much smaller initial state, we can also say that if the general direction is downhill, it all must have started uphill. The beginning must have been highly organized, supremely coherent, and unbelievably well-designed. Not just apparent design, but real design -- the kind that requires a Designer.
For the above reasons, at the least, we are eliminating option number one. That leaves us with a Creator, and the resultant conclusion that matter is not eternal.
So the question becomes, what happened at, or during creation? There are many theological points of view, but for our purposes here, we would rather stick with what we can discern scientifically.
There are a number of proposed models in the field of creation science regarding the beginning.
1. Searching for an answer to the distant starlight problem (how could starlight, traveling at the speed of light, reach earth from 13 billion light years away in just a few thousand years?), a number of possibilities have been put in Christian texts. If God created the universe at the size it is now and created light in transit, then, the argument goes, there is no problem with the speed of light not being able to reach us from that distance in a short amount of time. One major problem here is that the starlight is recording events that never happened. In other words, the explosion of a distant star could never have happened because the light from that explosion was already in transit at the beginning. This is a very unsatisfactory scientifically; it means we cannot believe what we see happening is really happening or has really happened.
2. A second approach taught in a major Christian textbook is that it is only a convention to decide how fast light travels and that it is only convention which determines the age at which various astronomical events might have taken place. This model says that, light speed aside (since our understanding about light is only a convention), all things happen exactly at the time we see them happen in space -- there is no travel time for the message to reach us. This model,, again, denies us the ability to use our senses, our brains, our learning, and the intelligence God gave us when trying to understand His creation. The fact that light has been intensively studied and measured is not a convention, but a matter of data over great amounts of time by a large number of physicists.
3. A third attempt to solve the problem of starlight from so far away reaching us in a few thousand years is Russ Humphreys "white hole cosmology." In this model, physicist Humphreys proposed that all matter erupted from a white hole -- sort of the opposite of a black hole sucking everything in. In order to solve the time problem, Humphreys also proposed that at a particular distance from the white hold, called the event horizon, the earth paused "momentarily." This momentarily, however, although it was short on earth, on day 4, resulted in billions of years occurring past the event horizon, "out there." This effectly means the earth was at the event horizon for billions of years and not for a 'moment.' It also means that time as we know it is an illusion. Another interesting problem for this white hole cosmology is that, while it attempts to answer the problem of a universe which appears to be billions of years old, it does not even attempt to address the problem that rocks on earth, using the same radiometric dating systems, also date to be billions of years old.
4. There is a type of "gap theory" presented by those who believe that gravity slows down time. Einstein's general theory of relativity opened the door for this idea. Einstein's idea was that a high gravitational field would affect the rate of ticking of all clocks. Taking this as a start, this model says that creation began with Earth and that Earth had an enormous gravitational field which caused time around it to slow down while time in space was going at a faster rate. This model also states that God created the rest of the universe from Earth.
While, as Christians ourselves, we appreciate attempts to harmonize what is seen with the Bible, it must be said that not one of the theories presented above has a shred of data to back it up. We firmly believe God has not tried to deceive us in creation. In fact, Romans 1 says that no man has an excuse as creation itself bears witness. If creation itself bears witness to God, then we must be able to examine the data dispassionately and honestly.
One of the problems both religion and science have in common is tradition. There are traditions which tell us what Genesis 1 means. There are traditions regarding science. Evolution itself has become mired in tradition. So has physics. Quantum physics is now the traditionally accepted way of dealing with physics, regardless of data. It is tradition to believe the speed of light has never changed. But the data says differently. We cannot afford to be afraid of the data.
In December of 1979, while Helen was waiting for her oldest daughter to learn to roll over by herself, fourteen thousand miles away, Barry had received a Christmas gift that would change his life and the course of his scientific work. The book was Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies, by William Corliss. An anomaly is a fact or measurement or other bit of data which does not agree with a widely accepted theory. Near the end of this book was a segment entitled, "Constancy of the Velocity of Light Questioned." It contained a number of articles from peer-reviewed scientific journals, such as Nature and Science, which listed the differing measures of the value of the speed of light and discussed them. Barry's initial reaction was, "OK. Perhaps there is a systematic error here, or an observational error. I think I can clear this up in a couple of weeks."
The measured values showed there was a systematic decrease in the speed of light over time. That is not what he had been taught in university or what any other student had been taught. As he collected the data, he could see that the changes were even more extensive that what had been presented in the book. Curiosity forced him to continue his research. Although he was talked into publishing some articles regarding his preliminary findings in the early 1980's, it was not until late 1986 that he had a full data set. He attempted to get the data set published in several peer-reviewed journals, but was always rejected.
In 1987, he was invited to write, for internal consideration of the Stanford Research Institute International, a paper regarding his findings. He asked Trevor Norman, who taught mathematics and computers at an Australian university, to work with him as co-author for the paper. Mr. Norman's discussion with his colleagues led to the fact that the university itself became interested in the work. Because of this, the paper, when it was finished, was not simply confined to white paper status but was published by Flinders University as a joint project with SRI International. That paper is on the website here.
The reason this data was important was because if the speed of light was not constant, that called into question the accuracy of radiometric dating. Every radiometric equation, when reduced, contained the speed of light in the numerator. Because Einstein's basic postulate was that the speed of light was a constant (despite published data available in his time), this paper also ran up against Einstein's work.
The result was a sharp division in the scientific community, or that part of it aware of the paper. It was either from the devil or from heaven, figuratively. Efforts were made to show that the error bars outstripped the measurements, but they did not. All manner of objections were raised, many based on the simple tradition that the speed of light had always been constant.
But the data was there. Barry and several other scientists spent two years answering every objection that was written or asked regarding their work. No challenge was left unanswered. However the work came to a sudden stop not long after the publication of the paper with Barry's mother had a severe heart attack and needed constant care.
It was intensely frustrating for Barry to find himself at a stop which lasted for about ten years. But something was happening in physics during that time which would make the wait very important. Plasma physics was starting to come into its own, and quantum physics was being challenged. Instead of physics being based on pure mathematics, which quantum physics is, the rise of Stochastic Electrodynamics, or SED physics, relied on data. Barry's mother had died and he was again free to continue his research. Pieces started coming together and this is what is being presented here.
The point that was not at all satisfactory to Barry was WHY had the speed of light changed? Nothing he read was providing a real answer. In addition, the idea that the speed of light had not remained constant continued -- and continues to this day -- to be denied or avoided, and that made progress difficult. In addition, Raymond Birge, the "keeper of the constants" in 1941 said that if the speed of light had changed, then so must have other atomic frequencies. But things just don't change for no reason. So where was the answer.If the speed of light had changed, and other atomic frequencies had changed, that meant the properties of the vacuum of space had changed to cause these things to happen. The properties of space are defined as permittivity (the electrical property of the vacuum) and permeability (the magnetic property of the vacuum). Because every electric current produces a magnetic field, these two properties are always linked.
Looking into the properties of the vacuum, he found there was another approach besides Quantum Electrodynamics, or quantum physics. It was called Stochastic Electrodynamics. It relied on the older physics, but had the addition of a real quality in the vacuum called the Zero Point Energy. In 1901, Planck was investigating a particular problem in physics and came up with a mathematical equation to solve the problem, but that equation had an arbitrarily introduced quantity in it to make the equation work. Although physics grabbed onto that paper and the equation, Planck was not happy with it. You can't just go adding arbitrary quantities to make equations work when you are dealing with the real world. Working on the problem, Planck published his second paper in 1911, in which he puzzled about it. He knew there had to be a physical reason for what he was seeing and not just a fancy mathematical explanation.
As it turned out, in his second paper, the reason for the constant, "h," was made plain. It was an energy intrisic to the vacuum of space. We now call that the Zero Point Energy, as it is present in a physical vacuum at absolute zero degrees of temperature. His equations made this quite obvious, and it was later proven to exist by such means as the Casimir Effect and other ways. The paper "Zero Point Energy and Relativity" explains this with diagrams.
The Zero Point Energy, or ZPE, is still considered just a mathematical construct in quantum physics, as quantum physics follows Planck's first paper and discounts his second. However the reality of the ZPE cannot be ignored. It is often called "vacuum fluctuations" in quantum physics, but no reason is given for these fluctuations.
The other major clue regarding the beginning of the universe had to do with the red shift of light from distant galaxies. Because the red shift measurements increase so dramatically near the edges of the known universe, and because these shifts were being attributed to a Doppler effect, the standard conclusion is that the universe is expanding at near the speed of light at that point. However the problems regarding this explanation have been discussed in Expansion of the Universe.
There were now three major areas that needed to be looked at closely: the changing speed of light and the observed change in some other atomic constants, the reality of the Zero Point Energy, and the dramatic red shift increases at the edges of the universe. When these are put together with God's statement that He stretched out the heavens, we have a pretty good idea of the physics of the beginning of the universe. Granted that God could have done the entire thing as a series of direct miracles, but if He used the physical forces and laws He established at the beginning, here is what it looks like happened.
The opening sentence of the Bible gives us the moment of beginning: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." The meaning of these actual words in the Hebrew is discussed in the Genesis 1-11 Bible study. What the indication is, however, is that the initial creation of time, space and matter was a creation by God -- something from nothing. It is no good trying to figure out what 'things' were like before time, space and matter, because we have no frame of reference for considering it. But there had to be a beginning and God says He created it.
At that point we have a very rapid expansion, the energy for which came from God, as He claims. Standard Big Bang theory has no explanation for the reason behind a sudden expansion of the universe, but God says it was from Him. All models know the earliest stages of the universe were plasma, or atom nuclei dissociated from electrons. Because the physical universe is 99% plasma still today, it seems evident that gravity never took over, but has been relegated to a minor force all along. This is where the plasma theory and the gravitational theory split ways.
As the universe expanded, the spinning and jostling particles were still too hot and rapidly moving to come together. We all agree about this and know this is the cause of the CMBR fog. However, the stretching did produce something else, called Planck Particle Pairs (PPP): bits of matter so tiny that if an electron were the size of the Golden Gate Bridge, a PPP would be the size of a bit of dust. Planck Particle Pairs are the smallest bits of matter possible. PPP were positively and negatively charged -- that gave rise to the electric field in the universe. Their spin about each other due to the turbulence of the stretching gave rise to the magnetic field. This was the beginning of the Zero Point Energy -- the electromagnetic field of the universe.
As God stretched out the universe, He was investing it with enormous potential energy. You can get a tiny picture of this by blowing up a balloon or stretching a rubber band. Before either is released, they contain the potential energy you invested in it. When you release the rubber band or the balloon (untied), the potential energy is transformed into kinetic, or active, energy extremely rapidly at first and then it slows down as the energy runs out. The change from potential to kinetic energy in the universe took the same curve. It was extremely rapid at first and then slowed down.
How do we know this? Because of the red shift. Atoms, like all matter, resist changes in energy until they can no longer resist. So as the ZPE built, the atoms resisted the change until they no longer could and then would jerk to a higher energy level throughout the universe, simultaneously. As the ZPE built, again they would resist and then finally jerk to a higher energy level. This happened extremely rapidly at first and then slowed down as the change from potential to kinetic energy slowed. Thus, we have the quantized red shift as we look out into the distant reaches of space. The changes in the energy of the light produced by the atoms reflect the changes in the energy absorbed by the atoms. As the atoms reached higher energy states, they produced bluer, or more energetic light. That is why we look out and see a 'red shift' as we go further back in time. We are looking at lower energy rates of the atoms, not the movement of material through space. This is also why we see enormous numbers of red shift changes and such high numbers in the measurements as we reach the edges of space. We are seeing close to the beginning when the transfer of potential to kinetic energy was happening so rapidly. So the energy shifts were also happening rapidly.
The Zero Point Energy did not just affect the color of the light produced by the different elements, it affected the entire rate of atomic processes itself. The lower the ZPE in the beginning, the faster were the atomic processes. This is because they were not being impeded by the jiggling effect of the ZPE. We know today that the lower the mass of a subatomic particle, the more it can be deflected by a magnetic field. This is what mass spectrometry is all about -- measuring these tiny masses. The more a subatomic particle is jiggled by the ZPE, the heavier its mass and more more it resists deflection. Here are a couple of diagrams that might help understand this. In the left diagram the 'wind' is taking the place of a magnetic field's ability to deflect an object. In the right diagram is a simplified picture of what is done in the lab.
The evidence from the red shift tells us the speed at which the ZPE was building up initially and how it slowed down. The fact that the mass of a subatomic particle is a result of its being impacted by the ZPE and jiggling more and more tells us that the masses in the beginning were lower (not physical masses, like body weight, but subatomic particle masses). This means they reacted more quickly to the changes in the ZPE's electromagnetic building than they would now. This also accounts for the very high red shift measurements we get out toward the edges of space.
But there is another implication here. Lower atomic masses and faster atomic reactions and processes means that radio decay was also occurring extremely rapidly at first. Kinetic energy is dependent upon both the mass and the velocity of the particle. Because kinetic energy is conserved as the ZPE changed (this is the subject of several of the technical papers in the Research section), the higher the mass, the lower the velocity. So as the ZPE increased, particle velocities in the atom dropped and this meant that electrons moved more slowly around the nucleus and the particles in the nucleus moved more slowly with time. One definition of an atomi second is dependent upon the rate of movemen of an electron around its nucleus. In radioactive decay, the rapid movement of particles in the nucleus produces "hits" on the nucleus "wall." The less the mass, the faster the movement, the more hits. Conversely, the greater the mass, the slower the movement, the less hits. The number of hits is directly related to the escape of any of the particles, and it is this escape which we call radio decay.
Thus, in the beginning, radio decay was occurring incredibly faster than it is now, and to presume that radiometric dating can give us actual dates in the past without considering that fact makes radio decay an inaccurate measure of orbital time. The only way this can be corrected is via a mathematical correction formula based on the red shift curve. When this is done, and the result was actually a shock to Barry in the spring of 2000, radiometric dates corresponded exactly with the geological dates in the geological column and the three catastrophes in the Bible: the Flood, the tower of Babel, and the division of the continents in Peleg's time. This is treated rather exhaustively in the Genesis 1-11 Bible study as well as in Setterfield Simplified.
In conclusion, we are holding to the plasma, or electromagnetic, model because it seems to be where the data points. There is no need for fancy mathematics, the invention of dark matter or dark energy, and it provides a very neat mesh with both Bible and geology. God expanded the universe, investing it with enormous potential energy. That potential energy, via the Planck Particle Pairs, became the kinetic energy of the Zero Point Energy which we can measure in the universe today. The build-up of the ZPE slowed and stopped about the time of Peleg, at which point radiometric dates began corresponding with orbital dates. Radiometric dates before that time must be correlated with orbital dates by use of the formula from the red shift data. Actions of plasma filaments in the lab correspond exactly to what we see in space, in galaxy formation, star formation, planet formation, and the current actions of galaxies and the lives of stars. Gravity does take over on small scales such as our solar system, but it cannot take the lead in larger systems than that. Watch, please, as astronomers and physicists discover more and more of the electrical and magnetic properties of the galaxies in particular, although they will keep trying to fit all of it in with the gravitational model, one way or another.