(To answer some of the questions raised by the brilliant mind of Mamta Kshetrimayum in A short reflex action… October 6 2010)
The creation of human beings by God has been the topic in which the sapiency of the top hominid was well engaged, but what caused the God to create man still has no answer. If God created human beings in the past, he must have had thoughts- a creative impulse? The existence of God is not enough to explain the existence of human beings. Einstein said: “I want to know how God created the world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this and that element. I want to know his thoughts, the rest are detail.”
The focus on my title is because of conflict of values as part of big historical changes, which include the erosion of traditional religious beliefs and a growing interest in ‘spirituality’ and scientific alternatives to God and religion.
The typical Christian theological view is that the existence of God is a predicate. Apart from the concept being non-sensical the quantum physics has found no room for God in the universe. The concept of laws of nature began in the 17th century, disregarding the animistic view of physical objects such as the Sun. It began in Ionia (a colony of Greece). Pythagoras (c. 580-490 BCE) mathematically formulated that the square of the hypotenuse (longest side) of a right triangle equals the sum of the squares of the other two sides. With the renewed belief in the existence of the laws of nature and dwindling belief in the existence of God came new attempts to reconcile those laws with the concept of God.
Isaac Newton (1643-1727) brought the modern scientific concept with his three laws of motion and the law of gravity. Newton believed that the order in the universe was “created by God at first and conserved by him to this Day in the same state and condition”. Alexander Pope (poet) said:
Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night:
God said, Let Newton be! And all was light.
Today most scientists believe in the existence of the laws of nature, and non-existence of God – in the same way as the demise of the Sun God. Hindus believed in the Sun God. In the Bible, the Sun was believed as God:
For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord bestows… (Psalm 84:11)
The past is another country, and long ago in that mystical land of yesterday human beings used to worship the Sun God. Pueblo Indians of New Mexico believed that they were the sons of Father Son, and with their religion they daily helped their Father to go across the sky. They did not do it for themselves, but for the whole world. They believed that if they ceased practising their religion, in 10 years time the sun would no longer rise. Then it would be night for ever.
The Sun was the first God for all humanity living in that mystical land of yesterday. The Sun worship began at a time when our hunter-gatherer ancestors settled down to an agricultural mode of life. On a full stomach they had time to dwell on the marvels of nature. As the Sun has always been a ‘life-giver’ they looked upon it as a God.
The Sun God prevailed in the West and the Babylon until the Babylonians, around 550 BCE, recorded the sun’s movements in detail. The Greeks went further, inquiring into its size and shape, how far it lay from the earth, and along with the planets and the moon – which went around what, and in what order. Their last major astronomer was Claudius Ptolemy (c. 90-168 CE), who pronounced that the sky contained 55 crystal spheres with earth in the centre.
Christianity began in Rome, brought by Emperor Constantine, and it adopted Ptolemy’s system. Because the Sun, a supreme being residing in a distant heaven, was a perfect analogy for the Christian God. The belief was so intense that starting from 354 CE, the day traditionally celebrated as the rebirth of the Sun God – December 25 – was declared to be Jesus’ birthday. The Church maintained the belief for more than a millennium until Nicolaus
Copernicus changed all that. Copernicus presented a new theory in 1532. He had the earth moving round the Sun, but did not directly challenge Ptolemy’s universe. Then came Galileo who challenged the Church. With his newly invented telescope he found blemishes on the sun that was previously so perfect. He wrote a book pronouncing Copernicus’ view as not just theory but fact – a theory that was against the orthodoxy of the Church, which believed that the earth is the centre of the Universe. Galileo was house imprisoned for life.
The beginning of the end of the Sun as a God came with Isaac Newton (1643-1727), who discovered the law of Gravity (1687). Twenty years later he discovered two things: (1) the Sun’s mass relative to the Earth’s and its density; (2) he showed that a body on the Earth’s surface is drawn downwards by a force 350 times stronger than the tendency of the earth’s rotation to fling it outward: and that this same power held the moon in the orbit. Newton believed in God as the creator. Because he was a classical physicist, who worked at the macular level, long before the quantum physics. These days many famous scientists are proponents of atheism and materialism.
Richard Lewontin, Harvard University (January 9 1997), put the reality of materialism like this: “It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations. Moreover materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.”
To provide a framework to discuss whether God created humans beings entails a definition of ‘God’ whether He, She or It. The divine gender-controversy has replaced biblical translations of the generic “he” and “father” with politically correct gender-neutral “they” and “parent”.
Discussing his creative power is meaningless unless we have reason to think that God exists.
If God is timelessly eternal then there never would have been a point at which God did not will the universe into being. If God created human beings at a finite time ago, what happened before then? What has He been doing in the eternity?
Ancient people, ignorant of laws of nature, invented gods who ruled every aspect of human life. Assuming arguendo let me agree that God exists. I will also fudge the ‘first cause argument’ except that it is a dogmatic theory that God created life and nobody created God since the beginning of time.
Religious people believe that God made human beings in his own image with flesh, blood and bones. The Christian God made Adam and Eve from dust. The Islamic God made humans from a clot of blood. Hindus are not bothered. Metaphysically, God is the ultimate creator that exists outside of time, an eternal being with neither beginning nor end, unconstrained by the laws of cause and effect.
College education began the long process of replacing the notion of the reign of God with the concept of a universe that is governed by laws of nature. Quantum physics provides a framework for understanding how nature operates on atomic and sub-atomic scales. Stephen Hawking explains mathematically that as there are natural laws such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. Bodies such as stars and black holes cannot just appear out of nothing but a whole universe can. Gravity shapes space and time. That is, something can come from zero. This negates the first cause argument that nothing comes from zero
In the Bible God created human beings 4004 BCE, to be precise, at 9 a.m. on October 27 4004 BCE (Bishop Ussher, Primate of all Ireland from 1625 to 1656), while the world is full of fossils and other evidence of much older, 13.7 billion years. There is still confusion whether human race descended from two or more ancestral types (polygenism) or from a single pair of individuals (Monogenism). Further, while Christianity is only 2,010 years old Hinduism is 5,000 years old. Could it be that the Hindu God being much older created human beings much earlier in India? Islam God is only 1,400 years old.
Creation myths attempt to answer the question – who created human beings? Did God (which God) create human beings? As in the Socratic method of dialectic debate I would like the reader to inspect the evidence and form your own judgement. For me, man created God in his own image.
The writer is based in the UK