Our four-billion year old world came into being 5,781 years ago, with the creation of man. So… Happy New Year.
A Scientific Explanation
This Friday evening, September 18 , 2020, marks the five thousand, seven hundred and eighty first year since the creation of the earth. This celebration may be a little problematic for many people, because there’s a great deal of solid evidence that our planet is an awful lot older than that. On the other hand, who wants to miss a good New Year’s party?
Don’t fret: there are two ways to deal with this scientifically.
The first is that time ain’t what it used to be. The physicist Gerald Schroeder points out that the “days” mentioned in the Biblical story of Creation were not the same twenty four days we know now. Those are a function of having a sun, and that was only created on the fourth day. Using relativity theory to explain cosmic time, Schroeder explains that the modern science is in sync with the Creation account of Genesis, provided one doesn’t view the latter from an extreme literal perspective.
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, on the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven. (Genesis 2:4)
Keep in mind that the original text was in Hebrew. Holding literally to a translation opens you up to problems, including the inability to cope with a non-literal approach, or one that appreciates the subtleties of the Hebrew original. Two fire and brimstone rabbinic preachers recently declared that fourteen leading rabbis deserve to be executed because they cite the teaching of a great medieval sage that the biblical story of creation is a deep, complex allegory. How can we untangle this, without being executed?
Amit Goswami, a physicist from another religious tradition, uses quantum mechanics and the Uncertainty Principal:
Suppose we ask, Is the moon there when we are not looking at it? To the extent that the moon is ultimately a quantum object (being composed entirely of quantum objects), we must say no—so says physicist David Mermin. Between observations, the moon also exists as a possibility form in transcendent potentia. (p. 59)
Goswami explains that ultimately the components of the material world exist as a probability function. It takes a conscious observer to collapse the probability, so those components seem to us as a real, material universe.
Does a cat have consciousness? It is only in material realism that consciousness is something merely to be possessed. Such a consciousness would be determined, not free, and would not be worth having. (p. 59)
We turn to the cat physicist Erwin Schrödinger, who addresses this difficult question.
Therefore consciousness is associated with those of its (nervous system) functions that adapted themselves by what we call experience to a changing environment…. I would summarize my general hypothesis this: consciousness is associated with the learning of the living substance; its knowing how is unconscious.
It’s not merely looking for a warm cave when the weather gets cold. Schrödinger sees the conscious mind as one that transforms itself. “For we ourselves are chisel and statue, conquerors and conquered at the same time.” Not only did we chisel and conquer our minds: when we became human we began to conquer, or at least subdue the world. Primitive agriculture chiseled the earth to our needs. But some insects, even amoebas are also primitive farmers. Surely the Bible wasn’t addressing them.
People have farmed for at least ten thousand years; little plots of land that barely fed the people who worked them. It was only with the use of metal in the Bronze Age that we began to effectively chisel our world with irrigation and decent tools. Farming became communal, whether through cooperation or brutal authority. Humanity became the agent changing the environment which our consciousness adapted to. Humanity took control, and that control is what defines humanity. Man was created when he began to create himself in the Bronze Age. At that point, existence moved forward from being transcendent potentia, to the world we know and subdue.
This happened 5781 years ago, according to the Jewish count. It happened for Jews and non-Jews alike—for all human beings.
A personal New Year message:
Our consciousness, our lives are our own responsibility. Our behavior is our own choosing. On the anniversary of humanity’s taking responsibility for itself, it is appropriate for every single person to examine his actions of the past year, and resolve to make better ones in the coming year. I wish you a year filled with right decisions. Although we can never know where our choices will lead, I wish you results that bring health, contentment, and understanding.
Happy New Year.
Your comments are welcome