The scientific properties of Light are key to reconciling science and the biblical creation story. The article thus begins with a brief primer on Light, thereby establishing a sound basis for a scientific analysis of Moses’s masterpiece of subtlety and symbolism.
The dual, wave/particle personality of Light – the “complementarity principle” – defines the “heaven and the earth” of Genesis 1. The creation of Light, followed by the firmament, then the appearance of land and so on is not an account of the creation of Planet Earth, but a metaphor for the creation of the universe. Understanding this, the major anachronisms plaguing the usual understanding of Genesis 1 disappear and the timeline tracks well with scientists’ “Big Bang” cosmological model.
Re-examining the “fall” in terms of complementarity reveals that the “forbidden fruit” was physical sensory experience, and the fall was a quantum event in which the focus of Adam’s consciousness shifted from God to the physical world in accordance with this principle of quantum physics. Details of the physical creation as distinct from the spiritual then come into sharp focus, the meaning of the six “days” of creation and other symbolic elements becomes apparent, and the old earth/new earth conflict is resolved.
History of the Universe (Detail, cropped from original).
Genesis 1: 1 – 2:
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Without a basic understanding of modern cosmology and the scientific properties of light, any attempt to reconcile science and the biblical creation story is doomed from the start. The first chapter of Genesis is a metaphor for the creation of the universe, not an account of the creation of Planet Earth. That begins in Chapter 2. When we understand this the apparent anachronisms disappear and the creation story then agrees quite well with scientists’ “big bang” model.
We’ll return to Genesis in a bit, but since the Light of Christ underpins the entire universe, let’s start by discussing some of the properties of light. I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible without losing important detail.
Complementarity and the Double Slit Experiment
In the 17th and 18th Centuries scientists were divided into two camps regarding the nature of light. Isaac Newton believed light consisted of tiny particles he called corpuscles. Newton’s theory had many supporters. Other prominent physicists championed the wave theory of light. Both camps were right. And both were wrong.
In 1801 Thomas Young demonstrated the wave nature of light by performing a simple version of what is known today as the “double slit” experiment, in which a coherent light source, e.g. a laser (Young used sunlight), shines onto a plate with two narrow, closely spaced slits. As the light wave passes through the slits, it emerges on the back side, spreading out from the two slits and interfering with itself. The effect is analogous to two water waves on a pond. Where peak meets peak or trough meets trough their amplitudes add. Where the peak of one wave meets the trough of the other they subtract. A screen placed behind the plate captures the resulting “wave interference pattern.”
When one of the slits is closed the wave pattern on the screen no longer appears, and a single band, called a “clump pattern” forms directly behind the open slit instead, as if the light source is emitting particles. The difference is that when both slits are open it’s impossible to determine which path the light travelled (through which slit it passed), but with only one slit open the path is known. When the path is known, it behaves as a particle. When the path is unknown, it behaves as a wave.
Modern Double Slit Experiment with Electrons
Source: https:// commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Double-slit.svg
The results of double slit experiments have baffled physicists for a long time, and physicists have responded by devising and executing ever more clever means to coax nature to give up her secrets. In the more than 200 years since Young’s experiment, advances in technology have made it possible to answer such questions as “What if we place some sort of sensor at one of the slits to find out which one the photon actually passes through?” And “What happens if we shoot photons one at a time at the plate?”
The answer to the first question is that if one attempts to determine, by any means whatsoever, which of the open slits the particle passes through the wave pattern disappears. Regarding the second question, using a photon gun to shoot photons one at a time through a double-slit apparatus results in single particles appearing on the screen, as expected. However, as the photons build up one by one on the screen, a characteristic wave interference pattern emerges just as it does with, say, a laser beam. And again, closing one slit causes the wave pattern to disappear and a clump pattern to appear instead. This clearly demonstrates the complementary (wave/particle) nature of individual photons.
We might wonder whether the complementarity principle applies to massive particles as well as photons. And in fact, it does. The complementarity phenomenon has been shown unequivocally to occur with electrons, atoms, and even some large molecules, as well as with photons.
These and other experiments provide convincing evidence that everything we perceive has its own wave nature. This point is worth emphasizing. Theory and experiment have now shown that everything in the physical universe is characterized by the complementarity principle. It follows that everything, ultimately, is Light, in complete agreement with D&C 88.
The Quantum Eraser
The double-slit experiment and its high tech incarnations have provided much fodder for thought experiments. Well-known physicist Richard Feynman proposed a thought experiment in which sensors are placed so as to determine which slit the photon passes through, and predicted that this would cause the interference pattern to disappear.
The figure below is a schematic representation of the basic idea in Feynman’s thought experiment. On the left side of the illustration a light source shines onto a half-silvered mirror, which replaces the slitted plate in the original experiment. Each photon has an equal probability of being reflected or passing through the half-silvered mirror to a normal mirror that directs it to one detector or the other, depending on whether it has passed through or been reflected by the half-silvered mirror. In this scenario the path of the photon is known, and therefore a “clump” pattern forms at each detector, as with the double slit apparatus when only one slit is open.
On the right side of the figure a second half-silvered mirror is placed as shown in the upper right hand corner. Photons arriving at the second mirror again have an equal chance of passing through or being reflected. Now, however, it’s impossible to determine which path the photon has travelled, and a wave interference pattern forms at the detectors as a result.
The principles in operation here are the same as in the double slit version of the experiment, except that in this version it’s as if the “which path” information has been erased after the photon has made its decision to travel one path or the other. The path information has been hidden from human consciousness.
Quantum Eraser Experiment. On the left the path of the photon is known. On the right a second half-silvered mirror is added, obscuring the “which path” information.
Quantum Entanglement and Delayed Choice
One might ask what would happen if the “which path” information is obscured after the photons have reached the detector(s) (high tech replacement for the original screen) but – and this is important – before the result has been observed by humans. In 2000, physicists Yoon-Ho Kim and colleagues conducted a mind bending experiment that not only answered this question, but raised intriguing questions about causality. Their experimental setup is rather complicated, but the basic idea exploits an important property of quantum mechanics called entanglement.
According to entanglement, any two objects that have ever interacted are thereafter related, to a greater or lesser extent, such that anything experienced by one instantaneously affects the other also, regardless of distance between them. The more intense the interaction, the greater the degree of entanglement. And the principle applies to everything, including humans.
Entanglement is a property of the wave nature of things, which means the spiritual side of its dual, wave/particle nature. Two entangled items share a “wave function” that describes them as one entity, in addition to their individual wave identities. This principle is very important to what follows.
Kim, et al generate two entangled photons and send them along different paths, each to its own detector(s). The path of one, let’s call it photon A, is unknown, so it should show a wave pattern. The path of the other, photon B, is sometimes known and sometimes unknown. When the path of photon B is known, it registers a clump pattern, and when its path is unknown, it registers a wave pattern.
The A photon patterns remain unobserved until after the B photon patterns are observed. So, due to entanglement, when the paths of the B photons are known, both they and their entangled A photon twins register a clump pattern, and when their path is unknown, they and their entangled A photon twins register a wave pattern.
And here’s the kicker: The path of the B photons is longer than the path of the A photons, so that they arrive at their detector eight nanoseconds later than the A photons arrive at theirs. The effect appears to precede the cause!
The conclusion from all this is inescapable: Observation by an embodied human consciousness manifests physical reality (all physical reality, not just photons) from spiritual potential (light waves). And that reality includes a history that’s rational and consistent with all other (observed) history! It should also be noted that observation includes all sensory input, not just visual, and that the observation may be below the threshold of awareness. (Note that consciousness and awareness are not the same. Consciousness is much more than awareness).
Complementarity and Cosmology in Genesis
The phrase “heaven and earth” in Genesis 1:1 is a reference to the complementary nature of Light, with “earth” being what was to become the entire physical universe, not just our own blue planet. However, it was “without form, and void” at this point, meaning it had no physical existence as yet. It had not yet been physically manifested.
But what is “the deep” upon which the darkness rested? Does it mean the oceans of our planet? No. By “the deep,” Moses means the entire universe, not the earth’s oceans. It’s a metaphor. The “waters” are the contents of the deep, which will soon be manifested as pure energy (photons).
Genesis 1: 3 – 9:
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
These references to light have nothing to do with our sun and moon. If they did, and if the “earth” meant our planet, then the earth would have been created before the sun, a serious anachronism.
The “light” referred to is the Light of Christ, the only Light that existed in the very beginning. Specifically, it’s the physical side of Light, and the physical side of the Light was initially pure energy. How do we know it’s about physical Light and creation? Think in terms of complementarity. God saw the Light, and we now know what happens when Light waves are observed. Waves become particles – the physical is manifested from the spiritual! Physicists call this phenomenon “waveform collapse.”
This two-step pattern – God creates it, then observes it – means God creates it spiritually, then gives it physicality by observing it, just as when photons are manifested from light wave packets when physicists observe or measure them in double slit experiments.
But doesn’t it require observation by an embodied consciousness to cause wave function collapse? Yes, it does. But we know that God has a physical body, or has the ability to take on physicality at will. (Genesis 32:30; Exodus 24:10 – 11, Abraham 3:11).
So, the universe has now been created as a spiritual entity and manifested physically by God’s observation. It exists initially as pure energy, and this energy is the physical manifestation of Light – the Light of Christ. Also in Verse 4, God divides the light from the darkness, which means separating the Light into its spiritual and physical guises.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
The concept of time enters the discussion in Verse 5 with the word “day.” But what is a day in this context? Was the universe (or the earth) really created in six 24 hour periods? The meaning of the word as used in the six days of creation has apparently been missed by just about everyone. Here’s what it means:
Beginning with Verse 5, Moses refers to “evening and morning” in relation to each of the six days. He’s setting up a scenario in which the Lord goes down to the earth in the “evening,” which means He enters the darker, physical world, the world of “night,” which he has separated from the brighter, spiritual world in Verse 4. While in the physical world, He accomplishes some phase of creation and gives it physicality by “seeing” (observing) it. In the “morning” He returns to the brighter, spiritual world.
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
Immediately after introducing time into the discussion, Moses follows it up in Verse 6 by introducing space. The word translated as “firmament” means “expanse,” or “space.” Space and time – spacetime – differentiates and separates the physical world from the spiritual. This is what Moses means when he says “let it (the firmament / space) divide the waters from the waters.” Paraphrasing, “God created spacetime, which separates the stuff of the spiritual world (the wave side of the Light) from the stuff of the physical world (the particle side).” Space and time as we know them are unique to the physical universe.
“Above the firmament” means the spiritual world, and “below the firmament” means the physical universe. The “waters below the firmament” means the stuff of the physical universe, e.g., physical matter and forces, time and space; and the “waters above the firmament” means the stuff of the spiritual world, the wave / unmanifested side of the Light.
We might ask whether the creation of space at this point in the narrative fits the big bang cosmological model, and if so, how. The universe entered a period of expansion at 10-36 seconds after the bang, in which space expanded at a rate much faster than the speed of light (this does not violate the principle that nothing can travel faster than light, because it was space itself that expanded, not objects speeding within space). Cosmologists call it the inflationary epoch. The creation of the firmament / space in the Genesis narrative is physicists’ inflation era. The chronologies coincide perfectly!
Genesis 1:8, 9
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
The gathering of waters and appearance of land is another metaphor. These verses are not about the planet, water, and land. They’re about the universe, energy, and matter! The “dry land,” which appears as the waters are “gathered together,” represents the increasingly complex structures materializing out of the original mass of pure energy as the universe expands and cools – fundamental / elementary particles, followed by nucleons, nuclei, atoms, molecules, and so on.
By E=mc2 matter is just a form of energy. A small quantity of matter is equivalent to an enormous amount of energy. Imagine gathering a quantity of energy together into one place. What would you have? Matter! Furthermore, this is still only the third “day” of creation. The sun has not yet been created; the solar system does not exist. But again, when we understand the metaphor, the anachronisms disappear and the biblical creation story agrees with physicists’ cosmological timeline.
On the fourth day God creates the sun and moon, which is symbolic of stars and planets generally, followed by animals on day five, and man on day six. Thus we have the following comparison between science and Genesis.
Genesis 1 as Metaphor
Matter from energy (E=mc2)
Land (metaphor for elementary particles, etc., materializing from energy) & plants
Stars and planets
Sun and moon (symbolic of stars and planets in general)
Comparing Genesis’s Creation Timeline with Science’s Timeline.
Comparing Genesis’s creation timeline with that of science, given that Genesis 1 is a metaphor for the creation of the universe, we see that all the anachronisms have disappeared, with the exception of plant life. I don’t know what to say about plants. Surely Moses knew that plants need sunlight.
Genesis 1: 26 - 27
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
What about “man,” whom God creates in Verses 26 – 27? Isn’t he referring to Adam? No, not yet. Adam is not mentioned by name until Chapter 2. But we earthlings are not God’s only children.
31 And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.
Moses has already told us that God observed His creation after each of the previous days. Why does he then say that God observed everything?
On each of the six days, except the day He creates the firmament (space), the Lord observes what He has created on that day, giving it physicality. But on the sixth day, in which He creates man, God observes everything together. He does not observe man independently, as he does with each of his other creations. He observes him as part of the entire creation.
I believe this is significant. Man, being of the same essence as God and having dominion over the entire creation, is part of one overall (universal) wave function. But animals, plants, and rocks are subsets, so to speak. For this reason observation by man caused the entire creation to fall. His observation caused the wave function of which he is a part – the wave function of the universe – to “collapse.” But remember, nothing really collapses. It’s a shift in consciousness.
What about evolution?
God set up the universe such that it was initially perfect (“very good”). And given what we now know about observation creating a relevant and consistent back-history, the reality manifested by God’s observation would have included a history that extends back to the beginning of the universe. The reality manifested by present day observation does not change God’s perfect creation. Rather, it interfaces with it seamlessly, such that we see a continuous history of the physical universe all the way back to the “big bang.”
Recall the quantum eraser experiments, in which observation not only manifests physical reality but generates a history that’s appropriate to that reality. In 1935 physicist Erwin Schrodinger devised a now famous thought experiment in which a cat is placed into a box that also contains a radioactive atom. If the atom decays and emits radiation, the radiation is detected with a Geiger counter, which then activates a mechanism that releases a quantity of hydrogen cyanide gas, and the cat dies.
By the laws of quantum physics the atom has both decayed and not decayed as long as you haven’t peeked into the box to find out which it is, analogously to the photon/light wave passing through both slits when you’re not looking. Since the atom has both decayed and not decayed, the mechanism is both activated and not activated, and the cat is both alive and dead! This condition of being in more than one state or location simultaneously is called being in “superposition.”
Now let’s say you open the box after some period of time. You will find either that the mechanism has activated and the cat is dead, or that the mechanism has not activated and the cat is alive. Your looking at the system has caused it to be in one state or the other. This is analogous to the photon passing through both slits when it’s not observed. If the cat is alive he may be hungry. If he is dead, he might have rigor mortis. In either case, your observation has also generated a history appropriate to the state in which you find the cat!
If Schrodinger’s cat is found dead, a forensic examination might indicate it had died, say, 24 hours earlier. But Schrodinger might disagree, saying it was alive until an hour earlier, when he opened the box. In this analogy the forensic examiner is the classical scientist and Schrodinger is the biblical literalist. The scientist says the earth is billions of years old, but the biblical literalist insists it’s only 6,000 years old.
Who’s right? From a purely physical perspective there is no reason to reject the discoveries of the classical sciences and the plethora of evidence for a long and gradual evolution of the universe. But paradoxically, the biblical believer has a valid point as well, given that observation creates a valid and consistent back-history. So, we could say with perfect logic that God created the world 6,000 years ago including a much longer history that’s every bit as valid as your favorite NFL team’s season record from last year, or we can say He created it billions of years ago. And as long as we understand what this means, it really makes no difference!
However, we must keep in mind that because only man is part of the one overall wave function, everything except man is limited in its evolutionary potential. So while birds probably did evolve from dinosaurs, and modern man may have evolved from early man, a fish cannot possibly exceed the wave (spiritual) limits of its creation to become a man.
Down to the Nitty-Gritty
After a brief cosmological introduction, Moses shifts to the human story, narrowing his focus to the account of the fall of Adam from the presence of God. In the first part of Chapter 2 he makes it clear that the features and creatures described in Chapter 1 did not yet have a terrestrial existence. Nevertheless, given that our planet and solar system are relative newcomers to the cosmos, there is no reason to suppose that the universe wasn’t already abounding with plant and animal life before they developed on Planet Earth.
Genesis 2: 4-5, 7, 25:
4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,
5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
What does it mean that they were naked yet unashamed at this point? Moses is saying that they had not yet experienced themselves as separate and distinct from the rest of creation. Before the fall, Adam, Eve, and the rest of the world were one entangled entity, analogously to the entangled unobserved system inside Schrodinger’s box. They had no concept yet of “here I am and there you are looking at me.” Through their spiritual senses they perceived everything as Light. To their perception, all was one.1
Genesis 3:1 – 8, 10, 12 – 13, 16:
1 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?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 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.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 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.
The serpent, representing Satan, tempts the couple with the truth that by partaking of the forbidden fruit “your eyes shall be opened” (that is, their physical senses will be activated), and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (by experiencing the oppositional nature of the physical world via their physical senses). Notice the phrase “in the day” in Verse 5, which we now should understand to mean “in the physical world, the world of space and time.”
In Verse 3 Eve tells the serpent that they weren’t even supposed to touch the fruit. As mentioned, observation includes any physical sensory input. In Verse 6 we find out that it’s good for food, bringing the senses of taste and smell into the mix, and pleasant to the eyes, engaging the sense of vision. That makes four of the five senses. Of course, it’s hard to imagine how one might “hear” an apple! Not to worry, though, the fifth sense is mentioned shortly.
Importantly, Eve says the fruit is to be desired to make one wise. The desire for wisdom is, of course, a righteous one. Remember this point, because Moses is soon going to contrast the nature of Eve’s desire before the fall with the nature of her desire after the fall, in which the object of her desire changes from wisdom to physical pleasure.
6 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.
7 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.
Translation: Experiencing the world through their physical senses “collapsed” the entangled wave functions of which they had been a part, after which they experienced their separateness from the rest of the cosmos and from each other.
This was the “transgression:” After the Lord created Adam and Eve and gave them physicality by observing them, they used their new physical senses to observe the world, thereby causing the physical world, including themselves, to manifest to their consciousness! The “tree of knowledge of good and evil” is the body, especially the nervous system and physical senses, and the “forbidden fruit” is physical sensory experience. The fall was a planned quantum event!
Why, then, did God command Adam and Eve to avoid the tree of knowledge of good and evil? The story of the forbidden fruit is symbolic. It’s meant to illustrate the constant competition for the focus of our consciousness – internal versus external, God versus the world. If they don’t transgress they remain with God but have no opportunity to grow by experiencing the physical world – the world of opposition (opposites), the world in which both good and evil exist.
If they transgress they have the opportunity to become more like God (wiser, knowing good and evil, and capable of experiencing love and joy), but must be separated from Him for a time to do so. This is the human story still. We are all Adams and Eves.
8 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.
Moses’s creation story is a masterpiece of subtlety and symbolism. Even the phrase “cool of the day” has hidden meaning. “Day” again means 4-dimensional spacetime, and “cool of the day” is symbolic of the light and warmth of God’s presence having disappeared from their awareness like the setting of the sun.
The “trees of the garden” represent the objects of sensory experience, which provide the constant and ubiquitous barrage of sensory input that stubbornly maintains the external focus of our consciousness in opposition to communion with God, who can only be found within. They “hid from the Lord among the trees,” meaning the physical world came between them and their awareness of God, who is ever present. Notice also, that Moses has now brought the fifth sense into the story (they heard the voice of the Lord).
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
Adam is now subject to fear, one of two inherent characteristics of fallen man, the other being its polar opposite – desire. It’s often said that fear and desire, or equivalently, aversion and attachment, are the causes of all human suffering. Notice that fear and desire are both important themes in the creation story.
This new condition of separateness is reinforced in the next few verses when the couple have their first spat, each attempting to shift the blame to the other or claiming “The devil made me do it!” When the Lord questions them about the new state of affairs, Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent. So much for togetherness!
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
Three additional points about desire:
- Moses contrasts the object of Eve’s desire before the fall (wisdom) with the object of her desire after the fall (pleasure, physical sensory experience). Before the fall, Eve “desired” the fruit of sensory experience to make her wise – a righteous desire (Genesis 3:6). Now, however, she desires the sensory experience for its own sake. Before the fall her desire was centered on the things of God. Now it’s physical.
- Without physical bodies subject to physical desire, how was Eve to conceive and bear children? Before the fall she couldn’t, but now she can!
- A Google search reveals several sources that translate the second pronoun “he” in Verse 16 as “it.” It then reads, “…thy desire shall be to thy husband, and it (physical desire) shall rule over thee.” Moses is not saying women should be submissive to their husbands. He is stating the fact that in the fallen world, passions tend to rule rather than wisdom.
- One might question whether it’s plausible that conscious human beings could be in a state of superposition, or whether the idea violates quantum theory in any way. According to Sir Roger Penrose it is indeed plausible, and no violation exists. Penrose is an English physicist, mathematician and philosopher of science who has received several prizes and awards in physics, including the 1988 Wolf Prize, which he shared with Stephen Hawking:
“The state of the observer's perception is considered to be entangled with the state of the cat. I wish to make clear that… there is nothing in the formalism of quantum mechanics that demands that a state of consciousness cannot involve the simultaneous perception of a live and a dead cat.” (The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe, Penrose, R., Vintage Books, 2004).
Penrose’s statement is in reference to an extension of Schrodinger’s cat-in-the-box thought experiment by physicist Eugene Wigner in which the cyanide and cat are replaced by a human observer. It applies as well to Adam and Eve’s perception of the unmanifested universe.