12 December 2009

IN THE BEGINNING: moses v. krauss

In the beginning, there was no space, no time. There were no atoms, planets, or stars. The precursor of everything that now exists in our Universe emerged from a single point, formless and infinitely dense, in a titanic explosion of energy. As this energy erupted into its self-created space, the universe experienced an extraordinary spasm and swelled instantly at a phenomenal rate.

Then, as quickly as it began, this rapid inflation slackened and energy began its conversion into matter. Equal amounts of matter and antimatter were initially produced. Almost instantaneously pairs of matter and antimatter particles met and annihilated in flashes of pure energy, and particles of residual matter were left over. Protons and neutrons combined as nuclei of helium. The universe was so hot that it was opaque. Matter existed as a charged plasma – a dense fog through which light could not advance.

1 In the beginning God created heaven, and earth.
2 And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters.
3 And God said: Be light made. And light was made.
4 And God saw the light that it was good; and he divided the light from the darkness.
5 And he called the light Day, and the darkness Night.


Time passed and the universe continued to expand and cool. The temperature eased enough to allow nuclei to capture errant electrons, forming neutral atoms. The universe became transparent, and the fog dissipated. Light from the edge of creation could then begin its journey toward the future.

Tiny ripples in the density of matter dating back to the dawn of time were amplified. A tenuous web of dark matter slowly condensed to create the framework upon which visible galaxies would ultimately form. Primordial gas was drawn by gravity towards these folds of dark matter. Small proto-galaxies emerged, and as they fragmented smaller regions coalesced further. Volumes of gas contracted and heated. As these massive balls of gas continued to collapse, their surface temperature rose and they began to glow, first in infrared then in visible light, heralding the universe’s earliest dawns.

6 And God said: Let there be a firmament made amidst the waters: and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made a firmament, and divided the waters that were under the firmament, from those that were above the firmament, and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament, Heaven.


Powerful energy from intense pressure and temperature triggered the onset of nuclear fusion. Protons became neutrons and these neutrons bound to other protons. Hydrogen became helium, which in turn became carbon, and so on, inexorably combining lighter nuclei into increasingly heavier ones. (This prodigious energy source can power stars for millions or billions of years as it balances the relentless inward pull of gravity with the outward pressure of hot gas.)

9 God also said: Let the waters that are under the heaven, be gathered together into one place: and let the dry land appear. And it was so done.
10 And God called the dry land, Earth; and the gathering together of the waters, he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 And he said: Let the earth bring forth the green herb, and such as may seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, which may have seed in itself upon the earth. And it was so done.
12 And the earth brought forth the green herb, and such as yieldeth seed according to its kind, and the tree that beareth fruit, having seed each one according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.


With the emergence of starlight, the universe teemed with incandescent activity. Massive galaxies collided and merged, fostering rippling stellar nurseries in which countless new stars ignited. Some stars much more massive than our sun burned with a colossal fury and exhausted their nuclear fuel.

14 And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years:
15 To shine in the firmament of heaven, and to give light upon the earth. And it was so done.
16 And God made two great lights: a greater light to rule the day; and a lesser light to rule the night: and the stars.
17 And he set them in the firmament of heaven to shine upon the earth.
18 And to rule the day and the night, and to divide the light and the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

("Two great lights"... God created on the first day, light.  But on the fourth day he ordered and distributed this light, and made the sun, moon, and stars. The moon, though much less than the stars, is here called a great light, from its giving a far greater light to the earth than any of them.)


As we study the universe and learn more of its history and composition, we find that its dominant ingredient may not be visilbe ordinary matter, or even phantom dark matter. The bulk of creation seems to be an exotic form of energy permeating empty space itself that drives everything apart. Now this energy is quietly overwhelming gravity, causing the universe once again to expand at an ever accelerating rate. We must wonder why we are fortunate enough to live at a time when we can still witness the splendid effervescence of our dynamic universe and ask: “How did a self-aware life-form evolve on our planet, in a galaxy in the middle of nowhere in particular? Are we alone?”

20 God also said: Let the waters bring forth the creeping creature having LIFE, and the fowl that may fly over the earth under the firmament of heaven.
21 And God created the great whales, and every living and moving creature, which the waters brought forth, according to their kinds, and every winged fowl according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
22 And he blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the waters of the sea: and let the birds be multiplied upon the earth.


24 And God said: Let the earth bring forth the LIVING creature in its kind, cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth, according to their kinds. And it was so done.
25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds, and cattle, and every thing that creepeth on the earth after its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 And he said: Let us make man to OUR image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.
27 And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth.
29 And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat:
30 And to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon. And it was so done.
31 And God saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good.

("Let us make man to our image"... This image of God in man, is not in the body, but in the soul; which is a spiritual substance, endued with understanding and free will. God speaketh here in the plural number, to insinuate the plurality of persons in the Deity.)

("Increase and multiply"... This is not a precept but a blessing, rendering them fruitful; for God had said the same words to the fishes, and birds, (ver. 22) who were incapable of receiving a precept.)


[Lawrence M. Krauss is Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Physics Departments, associate director of the Beyond Center, co-director of the Cosmology Initiative at Arizona State University.  Dr. Krauss received his Ph.D. from MIT and then joined the Society of Fellows at Harvard.  He joined Arizona State after appointments at Yale and Case Western Reserve Universities.  A fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancemnt of Science, he is an international leader in cosmoloy and astrophysics.]

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