2.2   The Understanding of Existence Resulting from Astrophysics

         and Space Exploration

 

What results from scientific consideration, and specifically from astrophysics and space exploration, regarding the basic questions as formulated in the preceding chapter?

§         God

§         The Law

§         The meaning of life

 

The additional question remains whether specific Christian formulations of faith can have universal validity:

§         The basic Christian laws: faith in God and neighborly love

Furthermore, the Christian concepts:

§         that all humans are sinful, “original sin”

§         that the main task of life – and, therefore, the plan and meaning of life for all humans – is probation between good and bad

§         that there will be a last judgment and the next world to come

§         that redemption from the consequences of sin was made possible only through the sacrifice of Christ, God’s only son, one of the expressions of the Trinity

§         that absolution from sin is possible on the basis of faith, possibly also good deeds, but principally through the mercy of God

§         That one can expect either reward in eternal life in heaven or condemnation to eternal punishment in hell

 

 

The question of God and Afterlife

 

As already presented, this question is subdivided into the following sub-questions:

§         the originally creating God

§         the still-acting God, in evolution and destiny

§         the personally reachable, and possibly helping, God

§         the judging God and the question of an afterlife after death

§         the question of evil, uselessness, and suffering in the world

 

The originally creating God:

Will other intelligent beings somewhere in cosmic space also ask about an originally creating transcendental essence, “God”?  On account of causality, intelligent beings somewhere in outer space that arrived at civilization through causal action will also ask for the causal origin of their and the world’s existence.    On account of the complexity of their environment, they will ask how such combinatorial building of the world became possible.  On account of their existence somewhere in cosmic space and seeing other stars, they will ask how the vacuum can transmit radiation.  Therefore, they too remain with the most important and mysterious questions:

*        What provided the enormous initial energy, as well as the irregularities that resulted in the later structure of the world?

*        What provided the universal and invariable physical laws and constants?

*        What provided for the important “combinatorial principle” whereby smaller elements can be combined to form larger structures of different character? [1]

*        Why can the vacuum, the nothingness, harbor fields and can propagate these fields in the course of “time”?

 

One could add the question:

*        What provided for the most skillful tuning of the basic numbers, constants, and laws of nature to allow for the combinatorial principle to arise?[2]

 

On account of the physical laws that are valid everywhere in the universe, they will not be able either to research beyond the original Big Bang. [3] Will they then be able to find any answers to their question? 

 

If one sees the various energies, radiation, and forces of the universe as the effects of fields in the vacuum of space and also the thinly distributed matter only as a condensation or concentration of such field energies (strings), then the whole reality of existence appears as something very abstract – just as fields, whatever that is, in the vacuum, in nothingness.

 

There is the additional question of the essence of time.  Relativity Theory shows that time runs at different rates for differently moving bodies in space, and speculates that it started only with the original Big Bang (but comes to a stop within “black holes”).

 

Therefore, we, as well as all other civilizations in outer space, can see the ultimate origin of Creation only as a very abstract, grandiose phenomenon.  Since this origin is appearing from beyond common physical causality, we describe this phenomenon as “transcendental”, whatever name we may give it, calling it “Great Spirit”, or using the concept “God”, “Tao”, “Allah”, or merely describing this abstract, transcendental phenomenon as “X”. [4]

 

In other words, one can notice an important and basic difference of treating the question of God between theology and the sciences.  Theology may discuss whether God exists.  Science, however, discusses what one can derive from the observation of Creation about the original essence that may have caused the creation of the universe.

 

Astrophysics now contributes a new and very important insight – that the whole universe has only a limited time of existence.  All “stars” will be extinguished once their nuclear fuel is used up – sometimes in several steps.  New galaxies or stars will not be formed any longer once all interstellar dust is used up.  Galaxies will possibly disappear in the “Black Holes” at their respective centers.  The black holes will slowly dissipate themselves in the form of radiation (following Hawking’s theory). [5]  Therefore, only an expanding, ever thinner and colder radiation remains at the end of the universe.  An alternative theory visualizes at first the expansion of the universe – accelerated by the energy of interstellar space – but then a reversal and a total collapse of the universe at its end.  

 

Therefore, the question of the originally creating force, God, has to be expanded to include the question of the force that ultimately dissolves everything, the extinguishing God – a question that must also be seen in connection with the very large biological extinctions in geological time as mentioned before.

 

Theology begins with an understanding of God as received from divine “revelation”, and proceeds to construe what consequences result from that for human existence.  The natural sciences can, and must, proceed in the opposite way.  We and other civilizations in outer space can ask what the observation of the existing universe can possibly allow us to say about the originating force “X” or “God”.  [6]

 

The following observations are certainly part of that:

 

o       Our universe is dynamic, with constant internal movement and change.

o       A special aspect of this dynamic character is the combinatorial principle resulting in the formation of increasingly complex phenomena of existence and ever increasing diversity at some points of the universe where conditions are suitable.

o       Another aspect is the continuous disappearance, destruction, extinction, or death of previously formed phenomena of sometimes high complexity, often through probabilistic events or coincidences with catastrophic consequences, finally through the total dissolution of the universe. 

o       Especially impressive is the absolute validity of all physical constants [7] and laws of nature everywhere and at all times in the universe, defining many phenomena in absolute regularity (for example, the paths of the planets or the arrangement of the molecules in a crystal).

o       Equally impressive are the large areas where, at best, only chaotic or statistical distributions of individual phenomena can be found (for example, the appearance of particle pairs in quantum fluctuations or the effect of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, but also the distribution of atoms in a gas, of the stars in the sky, or the paths of snowflakes in a blizzard).

o       From this results much uncertainty for the course of individual phenomena and for evolution in the universe – and, thereby, much flexibility and certain degrees of freedom for the development of the universe and all its parts.

o       The mysterious unevenness of the creative essence between determined order and a disorder that leaves everything open, between coming into being and fading away, appears not only in the physical world, but also in the course of biological evolution and the fate of each being.  Periods of swift and wonderful development of structures are interrupted by long periods of stagnation, catastrophic extinctions, or large-scale destruction (the same in the astronomical, geological, and biological worlds).  In the history of mankind, periods of cultural-intellectual rising to surprising refinement are followed by natural catastrophes (see the culture on Thera/Santorin that disappeared through a volcanic event), plagues (see the plague that killed Pericles and thus contributed to Athens’s defeat), incursion of wild, destructive hordes (see the Mongols), or mental perturbations (see the Hitler/Stalin/Mao/Pol-Pot era), and decay (see historic periods of Egypt, Rome, the Mayans, or China).

o       In spite of all this, cosmic evolution generates phenomena of increasing complexity, refinement, often great beauty, and diversity in the course of time through combinatorial development, whether as the “goal of Creation” or merely as a consequence of initial and boundary conditions.   

o       In biological nature, many living beings (all viruses, most bacteria, all animals and all humans) depend for their survival upon feeding on or destroying other living beings – even such of higher complexity (see bacteria and viruses living on humans and, at times, prematurely destroying the best among them).

o       In biological nature, a high rate of propagation leads to a perpetual fight for survival in harsh rivalry, with high mortality and – on account of statistical variations between living beings – preference being given to the fittest.  Thereby, evolution continuous to progress.  

o       In this process, the ongoing evolution leads living beings from passive existence to reflective automation and, finally, to increasing personal initiative, self-determination, and responsibility for not only themselves, but also for fellow beings, society, and the environment.  Among humans, this development leads to the pursuit of higher intellectuality and of the “higher values” guided by emotions, as well as to the enjoyment of beauty.

o       All stars will be extinguished at some time in the future, possibly absorbed by black holes from where they may be radiated out again, until the whole universe, all of Creation as known to us, will be dissolved in ever more distributed, weaker, and ever colder radiation in infinite space or will collapse again into a single spot.   

 

Consequently, observation of the world and of destiny results in a grandiose, abstract, and for us humans, contradictory, morally incomprehensible image of “X”, of God, the creator and extinguisher.  Regarding the image of God or regarding the Creation produced by the original power, one can comment from observation only as follows:

 

o       If Creation is laid out for eternal movement and change in time, then the creating Spirit, “X”, or “God”, must have wanted that so.

o       If Creation is laid out for continuous build-up to higher complexity, refinement, and diversity – often also beauty – of forms of existence, the creating Spirit, “X”, or “God”, must have wanted that so.

o       But if Creation is also laid out for destruction, death, and finally again total disappearance of the whole Creation – then the creating Spirit, “X”, or “God”, must have wanted that, too. 

o       One can rely on the order provided by God’s natural constants and laws everywhere and at all times.

o       But, on account of the chaotic distribution of probability in vast areas of Creation and the quantum uncertainty, one cannot recognize a firmly determined course of development or destiny.

o       Thereby, Creation retained for itself some freedom for further development

o       Creation also retained freedom for those living beings that possess capabilities for thought and decision making – to the extent that those are free.

o       The evolution of Creation proceeds in continuity from one form of existence to another.  Occasionally, however, the novelty of a form of existence – on account of its significant difference to everything prior – can be called a new dimension of Creation or a new idea of Creation – as, for example, the origin of life or that of human thought, of human values and artistic capability.  It is an open question whether such developments as those on Earth have already taken place equally or differently at other sites in outer space, possibly having led further – and whether such different “ideas of Creation” in outer space could or would have to lead to a different image of “God”.

o       In retrospect, from the dimension of human values, biological life appears cruel and without any justice, fairness, or compassion – with the exception of some proto-ethical stirrings among higher animals.

o       Looking forward from the dimension of biological life, the formation and evolution of human capabilities appear to provide humans with a specific role in Creation.

o       Within this context, the capability for thought – as well as, specifically, the capability for emotions – are the specific gifts of nature, or the specific burdens, that Creation has contributed to humanity.

o       These capabilities provide humans with the possibility of independently intervening in the course of Creation and destiny.  Did “God” delegate power thereby?  Is the power of “God” thus limited?  Or does Creation run its course only in accord with its own laws, by also leaving some space of freedom for humans, being exposed to humans?  Are the spirit and the emotions of humans free, or are they also merely expressions of the inherent laws of nature? [8]

o       To the extent that human thoughts and processing of emotions are free, Creation leaves mankind to itself – to its own initiative and personal responsibility for itself, for human society and the environment.

o       But it is an open question to what extent one can project the human dimensions of thought and emotions into the image of God.

o       One can possibly say that “God” leaves all development in the universe to the laws of nature and accidental chance.  But can one also say that “God” cannot possibly be against something that then results from such development of Creation?

o       Should one be able to expect that “God”, as creator of all, can also “perceive” everything that occurs within Creation, including human thought, emotion, and prayer?

 

 

Some further observations regarding the question of God

 

If one were to build a model of the universe wherein the visible part of our galaxy, the Milky Way, were a disk with the diameter of 1 millimeter, then the whole universe would be a sphere only 150 meters in diameter, assuming linear (and not curved) expansion of light since the moment of the Big Bang origin.  If one assumes 1,000 years to be 1 second, then the age of the universe would be only half a year.  Our sun will be burnt out in only six additional weeks on this scale of time.  The indicated extinction and dissolution of the universe will be well on its way within a few hundred years only.  Seen this way, Creation, as it is known to us, is not very big, very old, or very permanent.  What does God do outside of our universe?  What did God do before the beginning of our universe or will do after its end?

 

This causes one to think that possibly more has originated in all of Creation, in a possibly multidimensional universe, or still could originate.  Would it be possible that the whole of Creation in space and time could be multidimensionally infinite?

 

If God permits the universe to continue running by itself, following the initial impetus and the once-given laws of nature, what is God doing all the time?  Does that lead to thoughts of Eastern meditative philosophy of acting by just being there – as the ancient Chinese emperors were supposed to be effective merely by inactively “being there”, thus giving strength and life to the whole empire, the machinery of state, and the laws?  Or are there still the continuously new Creations and the ongoing actions within each individual Creation, even if only through the most subtle events in the smallest probabilistic areas, subsequently leading to great consequences?

 

Can all the above be stated objectively, and as universally valid?  What will other civilizations in cosmic space think about these matters?  Other highly developed beings somewhere else in cosmic space can also have developed only through an evolution (after cooling off and formation of a biologically suitable environment on their respective planet).  Consequently, they too must have developed their intellectual-spiritual concepts in the course of time.  As shown in other essays (see “Creative Thought” by H. Schwab, 1994, and others), the creative unfolding of new concepts in thought is a combinatorial process in the course of time.  This corresponds to the general principle of the combinatorial unfolding of Creation.  Therefore, the recognition of the transcendental origin of existence also will have evolved in other space-civilizations from more primitive concepts.  Their possibly existing concept of the original creative force (God) would reflect that. 

 

The evolution of biological nature occasionally produces “defective” results.  Those cannot survive in the long run.  Dominant forms of life can suppress the rising of other forms of life for long periods of time.  This, too, can happen with doctrine.  Erroneous doctrine and religious suppression of the evolution of thought can exist among cosmic civilizations in space, the same as they do here on Earth still in our times.

 

The image of God is described above as appearing contradictory and un-understandable to us humans.  There are two approaches that can be used to bring this to a clarification:

·        One can assume (as most scientists do) that the creating God relegates evolution totally to the given laws of nature in the universe.

·        One can also assume that God interferes from time to time through new ideas in continuous creativity (for example, the origin of life and of human values).  Thereby, the significance of the new phases God lets appear is independent of the previous phases, and even surpassing them (Intelligent Design Theory, referred to above).

 

The following chapter addresses these points.

 

 

The God Who Continues Acting in Evolution and Destiny

 

In order to withdraw the question regarding the continuously acting God from our accustomed thoughts and emotions, this question should, for once, be considered from the point of view of another civilization in cosmic space.

 

Every civilization in cosmic space must once have risen through an evolutionary process, as shown above. Thus, questions regarding the course of this evolution must have appeared there, too.

 

Do other cosmic civilizations know “fate” or “destiny”?  Many events occur randomly or in accordance with the statistical probability of the physical world.  This is as true on Earth as it is everywhere else in the universe.  Therefore, beings in other space-civilizations will also be continuously confronted by surprises – both favorable and unfavorable.  They will know such common accidental phenomena of nature as earthquakes and meteor impacts.  The individuals of those space-civilizations will also be differentiated between stronger and weaker ones, as demanded as a precondition for evolution.  Further, they will exhibit statistical distributions of gifts of nature, possibly also of diseases, and, on account of radiation in outer space, of birth defects.  Consequently, cosmic civilizations will also know individual “fate” or “destiny” – as well as the fate or destiny of groups of individuals.

 

Intellectual civilizations somewhere in outer space will certainly search for causality, even among those events that occur in a statistical distribution.  It is there where they could suspect, if not natural occurrences, then transcendental interference.  To the degree, however, how well they understand causality and probabilistic distributions in nature, they would see no further need for an arbitrary or pointed interference with the course of the world by the originally creating God.  Even the most unlikely developments can still be seen as accidental coincidences.

 

Furthermore, highly developed civilizations in outer space may be more capable than we in repulsing unfavorable developments or “accidents” and in attracting favorable ones.  Could such interference by them with evolution and destiny be seen as directed against the continuously acting “God”?  We on Earth reject such a fundamentalist thought.  We take matters into our own hands and use our knowledge, capabilities, and freedom as if we didn’t have to be concerned about a continuously acting God except in favorable cases. 

 

Therefore, one can not expect with certainty that other highly developed civilizations in outer space believe in a God that keeps acting beyond the original Creation.

 

If another highly developed space-civilization were still to believe in a continuously acting God, or would know of any continuous acting, it would be of the greatest importance for us on Earth to learn how such a belief or knowledge is supported by them. 

 

A singular divine interference would be less convincing than a multitude or a sequence that would allow us to derive conclusions regarding the nature or intention of God.  Concepts discussed in Chaos Theory, whereby the most sublime differences can result in the greatest effects, or considerations of quantum mechanics would serve as starting points.

 

Here on Earth, most steps of evolution appear to be explainable, although some remain as appearing quite improbable – but among those are the ones that are especially important for the further course of evolution.  Among those are the formation of our Earth where and exactly how it came together (including the formation of the moon), the choice of RNA and DNA as carriers of information with very complex molecular biology in their functioning and that of proteins, the formation of nerves with their synaptic couplings and memory capabilities, the refinement of emotions up to ethical judgment and the artistic capabilities, and several other steps of evolution.  But those would be very few steps of divine interference, at irregular intervals, mostly not leading very far until the next evolutionary step occurred as a new surprise.  Additionally, there are the numerous branches of evolution that did not lead very far, that were brought to an end, or that were terminated in one of the many great extinctions of natural history.

 

The new Intelligent Design Theory, in continuation of ancient religious believes,  attempts the interpretation of the especially intelligent designs of many phenomena of nature as being caused by an ongoing divine activity in the progression of evolution.  Where could believing humans see the hand of God in the course of the world, without violating the laws of nature or without assuming simple coincidental events only?  The question of transcendental guidance of developments occurs specifically in the following events:

o       In a sequence of several unlikely events (events that would occur with small probability) within a relatively short time when considering probability, that in this context of events would lead to a meaningful result.

o       In a sequence of evolutionary steps where the intermediate steps of development are unfavorable but the final result quite valuable.

o       In the timing of a very unlikely event that results in great consequences on account of the unexpected coincidence in time.

o       In events that can be explained only in transcendental terms (for example, the voice that Saul heard and that led to his conversion).

 

A catalog of such events of assumed divine action should be established from the observation of evolution or history, and this catalog should also be investigated by scientists!  So far, this has not been done.

 

Closer observation shows, however, that some of the assumed “designs” allow a more secular explanation or would lead into new problems for theology.  Planets with the consistency of our Earth – the collection of dust from the remains of earlier super-novas – may not be all that unusual.  The formation of moons around or out of parts of planets may be quite common, as seen in our own solar system, with probabilistic variations in their size and consistency.  The formation of an atmosphere and the accumulation of water through meteorites or out-gassing from the lithosphere – especially after removal of material through moon formation and onset of plate tectonics of the remaining pieces – may have occurred on many planets in space.  The formation of large molecules and the beginning of life may not have been that unlikely considering the billions of molecules being formed in the aboriginal environment – ponds or submarine hot springs – and the billions of their collisions in Gaussian movement at elevated temperature over millions of years.

 

The theological problems with “intelligent design” concepts in nature result from the fact that some designs are very cruel (for example, the various predators, parasites and diseases such as AIDS).  Other “designs” appear unfair in providing advantages or disadvantages to only some species of living beings (the stupidity of some animals that serve as food for other more intelligent ones and survive as a species only thanks to their great fertility).  Some are very immoral (human character weaknesses as expressed in all the wars and horrors in history).  Intelligent Design Theory cannot explain either why complex bacterial, virus and fungus species appeared to torture beautiful animal species (hoof-and-mouth disease) or swiftly extinguish plant species (Dutch-elm disease) that were created only a short time before.  One would only have to visit a hospital’s children’s ward to raise more questions.  What image of the “Great Designer” would result from such observations of pervasive cruelty, unfairness, or destruction in evolution and history, if the Intelligent Design Theory was valid?

 

Would the intelligent design theory leave room for “God” only as an occasional tinker or Edisonian inventor in nature, parallel to the well-documented natural evolution?  How about God’s action in the general course of evolution and history?  The history of life on Earth and of mankind show remarkable lack of clarity.  The end results of evolution that are seen as positive by us often had to go through unusual intermediate events or steps – as examples, the formation of Earth with an initially unusable atmosphere, the very complex and fragile foundation of life on cumbersome molecular biology, the many extinctions within the Darwinian phase of biology, and mankind with its often tortuous history of senseless destruction.  Intermediate steps of evolution often lasted for surprisingly long periods of time; therefore not letting a goal-oriented transcendental action become recognizable.  Great advances toward a higher better world or higher culture have been interrupted by plagues, wars, destruction, and human stupidity.  Misguided doctrines appear more often than valid or benevolent ones.

 

Consequently, one cannot see a clear order or direction toward a goal that would indicate the ongoing action of the originally creative spirit, “X”, or “God” in the development of the universe, biological evolution, or human history.  Evolution, rather, shows the application of the “combinatorial principle” (as explained before) and the utilization of opportunities as they occur from time to time within the framework of nature’s own laws and in accordance with probabilistic events.  Natural history also shows the interruption of individual evolution phenomena through adversarial forces – and the interruption of general evolution by probabilistically occurring major catastrophes – mostly followed by new phases of grandiose evolution in a different direction.

 

If there is a continuously acting God in the universe, why do evolution, human history, and individual destiny progress so slowly, and often do so very laboriously here on Earth?  Why did that delay of more than 2 billion years occur between the appearance of single-cell life on Earth and its evolution during the Cambrian period into sophisticated and diversified organisms?  Why did dinosaurs dominate the natural world for almost 200 million years before already existing mammals were allowed to prosper?  Why did it take 65 million more years of Darwinian struggle for humans to appear on Earth? 

 

There is one more question: why were all these time periods of evolution that long on Earth, if the next creative idea had already occurred to the creative spirit of the universe at an earlier time somewhere else in cosmic space?  This thought is based on the assumption that all development on Earth occurs time-shifted to the development of other “Earths” and civilizations in outer space – which means later than many of those developments in space.  This implies that the divine creative thought for the appearance of the animate phase of existence, and the appearance of more gifted or “intelligent” living beings as we humans, most likely did not happen first on Earth.  In the course of the development of those other places of higher civilizations in space, possibly everything had already been tried out or could have been tried out, including such developments that had stalled, failed, or led to dead-ends on Earth.  After all, one must expect quite some similarities between living beings in the universe.  It appears unlikely that life can occur anywhere without organic chemistry, civilization without thinking, thinking without some kind of nerves, and, finally, values without emotions. 

 

In this cosmic view, it is not tenable to explain evolution as the thought of a continuously, almost “artistically” acting God who arrives from time to time at new creative ideas only here on Earth as Creation unfolds.

 

Finally, there is not only the question what the “designer” in nature or guide through history has done, but also what this spiritual force has left un-done or did not avert.  For example, nature never developed the wheel, nor the metallic conduction for signals, the whole modern world of electronic telecommunication, or other fields of discovery of the human inventive mind.  Other examples:  While the very complex and “intelligent” immune system of the body against bacteria was miraculously well developed, the defense against viruses and cancer remained underdeveloped.  Thus, these severe afflictions of many innocent individuals were not averted, as were not all the horrors of human history.

 

There are also the questions of the most recent history, e.g., why the Holocaust was allowed to happen.  It is the question of theodicy why so much evil and uselessness was not countered or avoided – including all the daily misery and catastrophes befalling the innocent of our time.  To repeat the above question or exclamation: What image of the “Great Designer” would result from such observations of evolution and history?  As the more reasonable answer remains the position of not seeing a Great Designer interfering in this world that evolves in accordance with the once given laws of nature and the combinatorial principle, as greatly artful as those where initially established.

 

How can one see a convergence with the Christian faith?

The Bible does not know natural evolution and, therefore, says nothing about interference by God with the evolution of the universe.  The Bible reports only God’s interference in response to human behavior in moral questions, and even then only in Judeo-Christian history.  There, it is a matter of punishment, reward, destruction of some bad clans or individuals or the saving of some good clans or individuals, or trials and tribulations imposed on them.  Nothing is said about God’s interference with the people of other cultures.

 

Does this mean that God interferes in the universe only after forms of life in the universe have reached freedom of will and moral judgment and have received God’s own moral code?  Such a view is less tenable than one that sees God’s involvement already in natural evolution and with all cultures on Earth and in the universe – or a view that sees no further action by God in the universe beyond the original Creation, including its inherent laws.  The latter view would still let the universe appear to us as overwhelmingly grandiose – but also as a mostly emotionally empty machinery, not one cradled protectively in “God’s own hand” – except where we humans rise to create such “humane” conditions.

 

In the human sphere, the practical observation of history and human destiny cannot confirm the faith in an always judging and compensating involvement of God in the course of the world.  Only the Jews still believe – in spite of the Holocaust – in a preferential direction of their destiny on Earth by God (and so do some American sects, such as the Mormons; but they have not yet survived enough perturbations through time).  For all the other faithful, the compensating involvement of God is given only in the next world.  

 

In this context, a view of God’s actions in the moral and sensitive world of humans with “good” consequences only (good times, rewards, rescue from predicaments) but not with the causation or admission of “bad” ones (wars, plagues, accidents, punishments, declines) is less tenable than a symmetrical view of God’s actions that also interprets “bad” events as coming from God – at least as tolerated by God or made possible by the lack of God’s help.  Should all those be only probations and trials – also the perishing of small children or of very old people?  With a somewhat understandable image of God, the always again occurring infinite suffering of many innocents through accidents, criminal, or medical events requires the faith in a compensating afterlife in a next world.  Otherwise, the only view remaining is the one that does not allow for God’s continuous action in the world – in neither good nor bad actions.

 

Therefore, inversely, one has to say that the omission of a faith in a compensating afterlife in a next world – even if only of the souls – must lead to the omission of a faith in God’s ongoing activity in this world – or to an absolutely incomprehensible, chaotic, and cruel image of God.

   

Additionally, here on Earth, the appearance of especially important, positive ideas are counted as “inspirations”, that is, as transcendentally caused mental events.  But, in a symmetrical view, how does one see the appearance of bad ideas – for example, the appearance of degenerated “communism”, “national socialism”, or of many unpleasant and retarding religious sects? 

 

For us humans on Earth, and for each civilization in space that has well understood the natural foundation of their “thoughts” or of the sequences of thought visualizations (for us humans, that foundation is the neurological one), the appearance of “ideas” can be explained quite naturally and does not require transcendental explanations (see the essay, “Creative Thought”, by H. Schwab, 1994).

 

The personal experience of a “blessed“ fate in the course of life – or of a miraculously saving event, especially after calls for divine help – counts more for the religious individual in establishing the individual’s faith in a continuously acting “God” than does all of theory.  Yet, does that count only for the favored individuals in life?  How does it look when we, from a symmetrical view, also consider the unhappy ones, the chronically ill, the accident victims, or those that perished in spite of fervent calls for help?  What can those individuals say? What do they believe, or represent?  Is our faith a faith of the survivors and the fortunate? Therefore, a universally valid transcendental interpretation of destiny in this world works only with the assumption of a compensating afterlife.  This will be discussed in a following chapter.  In accord with that discussion, the permanent storage of all “souls” in an eternally lasting next world cannot be expected, in view of the perpetual dynamics of the universe and the ultimately total dissolution of all its structures, whether within black holes, their dissipating radiation, or a Big Crunch – nor can any understandable transcendental explanation of fate or destiny be expected. 

 

If one cannot maintain the belief in a “continuously active God” and a compensating afterlife, some fortifying (and even “religious”) afterthoughts can still remain:

o       The view of the universe and the biological world, as we know it at least here on Earth, results in an immensely grandiose image of the creating transcendental spirit, “X”, or “God”.  We humans can only stand in amazement and in the knowledge of our human limitation in front of this world with all its natural laws, but also with its degrees of freedom, also in the sphere of thoughts.

o       Quite often, we must accept our destiny; but also quite often, we can pursue the path we recognize as the correct one – with all the energy and force of spirit and character given to us.  We can act, as well as influence other humans, and, thereby, interfere with destiny in accordance with our personal responsibility. 

o       Thereby, the fulfillment of human existence can lie in pursuing the human values that give us direction – in personal development, in service to others and the world community, in joy over beauty and culture.  This can apply both to a grandiose life and to a humble, unimportant one.  It can be valid for the whole of life or only for some short parts of it.  This can count even when personal sacrifice is needed and personal demise confronts all of us, sooner or later.

o       This leads to a new interpretation of ongoing action in the world, whereby it is still the original Creator who continues acting in Creation, but who now acts through humans, His creatures, with all their own Creation-given capabilities.

 

An Afterthought:

The appearance of human moral judgment, sensitivity of soul, and joy about beauty is a special miracle of Creation.  In hindsight, the appearance of this evolutionary miracle can possibly be explained in its appearing in the course of evolution through the action of the laws of nature.  But the appearance of moral values, sensitivity of soul and joy about beauty was not predictable, their origin not inevitably made necessary by the laws of nature.  Therein can be seen a miracle founded in Creation.    

 

 

The God one can personally call to and who also may help

 

The question whether one can personally call out to God, whether God hears the praying human and possibly helps, is in direct connection with two concepts:

o       The image of God as loving “father”, as taught by Christ, or at least as open to the emotions of compassion, justice, and fairness.

o       The question of a God that is still “active” in this world, as in providing help. 

 

The Christian image of God as a loving (and sometimes angry) father ultimately is based on human emotionality and corresponds to its needs.  Is it possible, however, that human characteristics are projected into the divine?  Or is it valid that whatever originated in humans in the course of Creation must also have been contained in the Creator?  [9]

 

Whoever has experienced severe personal adversity or suffering in compassion understands how everybody turns toward the transcendental power behind Creation and destiny to pray for a more lenient course of events.  Would God not perceive the creatures that He created?  Can He close Himself off from the suffering and injustice of their lives?  Should God not recognize the justification for the emotions that He created?

 

A special measure of God’s help is seen by the faithful in receiving emotional fortification of soul to accept one’s destiny.

 

A world without such a connection with God would be cold and empty – to some burdened down people, their lives would then appear not worth living – unless they rise to their human responsibility and remaining potential – and meet a helping hand where needed.

 

Out of these considerations emerges the search for a personal image of God, complementing the intellectual understanding and the resulting admiration for the grandiosity of Creation – also complementing or exceeding the intellectual process that establishes the place of humans in this world and destiny.  In this context, however, two considerations stand in opposition to the concept of a God one can appeal to and who helps:

o       The observation of suffering, evil, and uselessness in the world (the question of theodicy)

o       The previously discussed question whether God ever interferes with the course of the world or leaves evolution and destiny to the laws of nature and probability.

 

During the Holocaust, the bombing of Dresden, the terror attacks on New York, and all other cruelties in the course of the history of the world, many innocent humans perished despite their fervent supplication to God or their respective gods for help in their great suffering.  Many valuable humans go through burdensome old age and a painful death in spite of all prayers in their suffering.  This does not facilitate the image of God as a “loving father” interfering in the course of the world.

 

The image of God that implies the reachability of God and, possibly, God’s help – and which provides for God’s ongoing interference with the course of the world – cannot, at the same time, explain the immense suffering in this world through all the ages.  That is perceivable only by those who ultimately fared well in life or expect a compensating afterlife.  Therefore, in the absence of a compensating afterlife, as discussed later, only such an image of God remains that does not see God as interfering with the course of the world but, instead, as leaving the world up to its own inherent natural laws and to the initiative of humans – be it in medicine, charity, law and order, or politics.  That is the understanding of a not-acting God who then cannot be appealed to or reached for interference with the course of the world.

 

By the way, the possibility of appeal to God and His consequent personal help have never been researched using a scientific method.  This would demand comparative, quantified, and reproducible observation sequences concerning appeal and response or reaction.  It could be accomplished, for example, within the framework of a “quantitative theology”.  An ancient ruler once compared the content of truth of various divine oracles.  Other rulers put believers of various faiths on trial in order to comparatively test the reachability and help of their respective gods.  Theologians in our own time, though, reject such systematic investigation as a presumption of humans versus God that they are not entitled to – even though research into any other aspects of Creation is approved as open to humans, thanks to their naturally given intellectuality – even into the matter of the soul, as in psychology. [10] 

 

Can astrophysics and space exploration contribute anything to this discussion?

One cannot presuppose that other living beings in outer space developed and possess the neurophysiologic control mechanism of “emotions” and, hence, that they developed and possess the capabilities or qualities of emotionality and, thereby, “values”.  Does one not have the impression that this was, and still is, missing from some civilizations here on Earth – for example, with the mass-murderous Aztecs, but also with the formerly plundering Spanish conquistadores?  After all, colonies of bees and ants function without the control of emotions, too.  

 

On the other hand, one cannot exclude the possibility that other cosmic civilizations (or a future civilization on Earth after the next natural extinction catastrophe) may be capable of additional dimensions of sensations or consciousness that we do not yet know. This would result in an image of God that, if not higher, at least would be different from ours.  Therefore, the question of personal religiosity of other cosmic civilizations would be of special interest to us here on Earth.  But, even if a different reachability of God were to result from such different capabilities, the granting of help by God to other civilizations in space would also be tied to the question of God’s continued activity in Creation – and that cannot be expected, as shown above.

 

If one sees a creative spirit, “X”, or “God”, as the original creative force, but not as further interfering with Creation - therefore, also not personally helping - then all sacrifices to the gods or to God, and the need for all rituals, are superfluous.  Yet one can still adore God in God’s transcendental greatness – intellectually, emotionally, and artistically.  Individuals can also thank God for personal good fortune that resulted from the conditions of Creation.  One can enjoy everything positive and beautiful during positive periods of life. One can attempt to accept one’s own limited significance in Creation in bad times and use one’s remaining strength and gifts to improve matters responsibly.  In one’s own direction, one can identify oneself with “God’s” Creation in pursuit of human thought, the application of human values to one’s own conduct of life, in help to others and service to the community, and in a contribution to a more beautiful world.

 

How Could There Be a Convergence with Our Christian Faith?

The fact that a great many fervent prayers through the thousands of years of human history were not “heard” by God, that “good” people fared poorly and “bad” people did well, leads to a belief in a compensating afterlife.  If one cannot see God’s interference with the natural course of the world, then all that remains is the prayer for fortification of one’s soul to accept the imposed destiny. 

 

The prayer for a fortification of soul to accept destiny can also be understood such that one reflects meditatively upon the greatness of God.  In such reflection one accepts Creation with its inherent laws.  One relegates oneself to accepting one’s place in Creation – and then one takes the initiative to do one’s best for the necessary, right, or good!   

 

Here follow once more some thoughts in variation of what was already said before:

o       The view of the universe provides an overwhelmingly grandiose image of the originally creative, transcendental force – of “God”.  In view of this world with all its phenomena –including the human emotions, values, and joys – we can only stand in awe and accept our position in recognition of our human limitations.

 

o       We must accept the suffering that is inherent in our destiny, but we can also consciously perceive our joys. 

o       We can also, quite often, commit ourselves with all energy and force of spirit and character as given to us to personal development, to the ethically good, and to the beautiful in the world around us.  We can act; we can influence other people – and thereby achieve what possibly is the potential and possibly also the task of humans in divine Creation.

o       Thereby, this effort can lead to a fulfillment of personal human existence for ourselves – in personal development, in service to others and to the global community, and in joy of beauty and culture.  This may be valid even if such fulfillment of life is only temporarily possible.  This also may be valid where personal sacrifice is demanded and a personal end expects all of us sooner or later. 

o       Creation appears as a transient fireworks display that originates, rises brilliantly up in a multitude of lights, and then extinguishes itself again.  In this evolving vision, the significance of humans lies in their intellectual, ethical, and cultural development.  It lies also in the fact that humans – in their contemplative sensitivity and “consciousness” – are phenomena of Creation that are “spectators” of these fireworks – if not the only ones, then among the very few ones.  The significance of humans in these fireworks lies specifically in the responsible pursuit, development, and active, immediate application of human “values” on Earth – a preferred spot in the universe – and, thereby, in interfering with the course of events.

o       This is valid for us on Earth.  We can also expect it to be valid for other civilizations in the universe.

 

 

The Judging God and the Question of Life after Death

 

The belief in the judging of God is based on the belief that the moral laws (as well as the laws for sacrifices and ritual) were given by God and, therefore, are enforced by God through reward or punishment.

 

The “judging” can relate to consequences in the respective course of life of the one being judged, or to consequences after the end of life, in an afterlife, in the next world.  Consequences in this life presuppose a “still active” God, which cannot be expected here on Earth or with other highly developed cosmic civilizations – as shown above.

 

Added to this must be the observation that a judging interference of God in the present life of humans cannot be consistently observed.  Occasionally this is suspected in suitable turns of destiny, but generally one does not see that.  (See, in this regard, the discussion of the “still active” God.)

 

One could still believe that the judging is a timeless experience at the moment of death.  The peaceful death of evil individuals does not show this.  My own experience of parting from life shows that death, in its last moment, is – if not always then at least quite often – a fading into a great and wonderful calmness.

 

Thus, a belief in judgment cannot be for this world, but remains only for a time after death and, consequently, requires the belief in a life after death.  This subject was touched upon before and will be specifically discussed again in a following chapter; see the discussion of the doctrines of Christian faith.  It will be shown there how astrophysics discovered the perpetually dynamic character and the limited duration of the entire universe.  From this understanding, the assumption of a permanent and eternal next world and the static storage of souls for infinite time is not understandable.  An afterlife in a next world that would be limited in time would mean a second death for those souls.

 

Additionally, our understanding of criminality and legal judgments has changed since the time of the origin of our religious doctrine.  We gained medical, psychological, and sociological understanding of deviant behavior.  Only seldom do we see the real need for deterrent punishment, preferably for reeducation and reintegration, otherwise for isolation of the incurable criminal or medical intervention.  Deterrence requires public knowledge of the fulfillment of judgment.  Reeducation, reintegration, isolation, or medical intervention requires a continuation of life after death.  How does that conform to the old concepts of judgment and life in the next world?  Or do both not exist?

 

It would be surprising if the observations of other cosmic civilizations were different. That means that God would intervene there directly and consistently – rewarding or punishing in intervention with the daily life and fate of individuals and societies – while not doing so here on Earth.  Would God’s balancing interference there, but not here on Earth, let us appear here on Earth as on a world neglected by God?  That does not correspond to the Christian faith in a “God-Father” and the view of a coherent order of the universe.  Thus, the religious concept of a “judging God” will not be based on the experience of daily life of other cosmic civilizations either, but should require there, too, a belief in a life after death in a next world.  Therefore, the belief in a judging God will not exist in other highly developed cosmic civilizations.   

 

One could still say that humans or societies that live in deviation from a moral code as anchored within them by nature cannot be happy.  Thereby, they would judge themselves based on their innate human nature.  Thereby, judgment by God would be moved back into the natural character of humans as it resulted from the original Creation and evolution.  One can observe, however, that individuals or societies that engage in exploitation seldom recognize the suffering they inflict upon others.  They merely see their own fortune in the misfortune, or exploitation, of others.  Therefore, they can believe only in a personal God who favors them above all others (some Jews, for instance) but not in a God who judges impartially above all.

 

 

The Question of Evil, Uselessness, and Suffering in the World

 

“Evil”, in contrast to “uselessness” and “suffering”, is based on an emotional judgment of behavior that violates the moral code.  We see the “uselessness” in the mindless destruction of something of value, the premature death of valuable individuals, or in a misused life without adequate content.  “Suffering” is the disadvantage, damage, bodily or emotional pain suffered in the course of life as occurring to oneself or as experienced in compassion with others. 

 

Do evil, uselessness, and suffering exist everywhere in the universe?  As described above, deviation from standards of behavior among individuals is a basic mechanism of evolution and can very well be expected everywhere.  Without such deviations, there would be no evolutionary progress.  The presence of emotions, however, cannot be presupposed everywhere among cosmic civilizations, but neither can it be excluded.  Therefore, the “evil” may exist at least among those cosmic civilizations that are gifted with “emotions”.  In this context, the “evil” will always relate to the inflicting of damage, to refusal of expectations, or to the hurting of emotions of other beings or societies.  Therefore, and on account of the probabilistic accidental events everywhere in the universe, there also will be uselessness and suffering with other cosmic civilizations, more so as they possess emotionality.  

 

Other emotionally sensitive cosmic civilizations will interpret the evil, the uselessness and the suffering in Creation to derive from some causality (psychological, physiological, or physical) or as probabilistic phenomena.  This forces civilizations in outer space to actively establish and retain defensive and confining measures as accomplished on Earth by the laws, police, psychology, medicine, government, and personal life styles.  One should not expect that highly developed cosmic civilizations will see this differently.  But a different concept or belief would be of the greatest significance for us on Earth.

 

Some more comments regarding the “evil” in the world:

Among us humans on Earth, “good” or “evil” behavior – and, thereby, the character or personality of an individual – is influenced by three factors, if it is not indeed determined by them. [11]  They are:

o       The neurophysiologic structure

o       The body chemistry

o       The preceding experiences (including our own thoughts), respectively, the anchoring of the individual in a specific environment, clan, culture, or religion.

 

All this relates back to genetic, accidental, or psychological facts, as well as to our own thought.  The external influences – partially under our own influence or that of our environment – also include such factors as nutrition, coffee, alcohol, drugs, climate, and the effect of exercise.  We do believe in the “freedom of will”, but, as far as possible, still try to influence all the above factors of personality and behavior, starting with the education and positioning of our children.

 

The mechanisms of determination of an individual’s personality may be different in other cosmic civilizations.  Ultimately, however, they always result from the hardware and software of their biological systems – the sensors, signal transmission, signal processing, memory, and usage of actuators of those beings – with the same consequences as for us. 

 

Following the above presentation of the foundation of behavior and regarding corrective actions against “evil”, one should assume that other highly developed cosmic civilizations put more emphasis on reeducation (or reprogramming), establishment of cultural/social/religious change of environment, as well as on medical intervention (medication, operation, and other means) than on emotional retribution or revenge.[12]  Thus, only character-changing intervention or deterrence remain in lieu of punishment – possibly, also the isolating imprisonment of the incurable “evil individuals” for the prevention of further damage.  Should that not count also for us on Earth and for God’s judgment as well?  That would significantly change the traditional concept of the “last judgment”, “hell”, and afterlife!

 

Of special interest for us is how the phenomenon of “freedom of will” and, thereby, personal responsibility is understood by other cosmic civilizations, how it is explained, and possibly strengthened – and how their concept of freedom of will or lack thereof will impact their understanding of a “final judgment” and its consequences.

 



[1] A most basic principle of nature provides for the combination from strings to quarks and gluons, atomic particles, atoms, molecules, large biochemical molecule combinations, cells, complex organisms, and even for systems of thought combined out of perceptions and thought elements.  Why did the sub-atomic particles not just fly out of the Big Bang, at best congregating in clumps like gravel?  Why did the higher-level elements have totally new characteristics – see us humans? 

[2]  For example, a minor variation in the ratio of weight between the proton and electron or the basic electric charge of the electron could have made the formation of heavier elements in stars impossible.

[3] In this context, other civilizations in outer space may also be concerned with the speculations of physics and philosophy regarding the significance of the inflationary phase early after the Big Bang, whether space-time was closed within itself without boundary, whether a fluctuation in terms of quantum mechanics could explain the origin of the world, whether the sum of all energy of matter and gravity in the universe can be considered as being equal to zero, whether matter may have originated from a curvature of space, how one can understand temporal causality before the origin of time or in imaginary time, or other speculations leading deeper into the abstraction of any original creation, but still not explaining the origin of the physical laws of nature (see Professor Hawking of Cambridge, or Professor Gott, of Princeton) and the combinatorial principle, see above footnote.

[4]  If one considers existence as the presence of a difference, then one can describe the origin with the mathematical step “0/1” or with the smallest quantum energy step “q” from where all else combinatorially evolved.  But where remains the origin of time and, therefore, of any dynamic aspect of existence?  Is that enough to explain the origin of life, of all human “values” and of joy and beauty?

[5] Possibly resulting from quantum mechanical fluctuations producing complementary subatomic particle pairs at the black holes’ edge and asymmetrical “swallowing” of only one part of the pair (the anti-matter part).  This effect provides for the observed radiation and the predicted loss of mass for the black hole.

[6] The retrospect from a created system to the creating spirit may possibly render only limited insight into the latter.  This insight may, however, be sufficient for the created system and the understanding of its intended or permitted function.     

[7]  Among the most important ones are the speed of light in the vacuum; the Planck constants for energy, length, and time; the charge of the electron; and the ratio of the masses of the electron and the proton (critical for heavy element production and distribution in space through super-novas).

[8]  To the lengthy discussion of freedom of will shall be added the following thought:  What is freedom of will?  To do what one wants!  Consequently, it is freedom of self-expression.  The “self” is formed by genetically given factors of body structure, neurophysiology, biochemistry, prior experiences, personal preferences, and own thought. 

     The question of freedom is most justified in contrast to suppression of options through external (political, cultural) or internal (psychological, pathological) forces. 

     In this sense, there is already freedom of will for birds to fly where they want – but not to act like cats.  Humans can willfully act differently from their given personality (in role-playing), contrary to their self interest (as in charities), or even in willfully random behavior – unless suppressed, as indicated before.  What would a totally “free” individual do different from that?

     Consequently, the discussion of freedom of will is either the dilemma of wanting to be somebody different from what one is (including personality, see the essay on “Human Personality” by H. Schwab), or the revolt against psychological factors (“I want to lose weight, I want to be more assertive, but I cannot”), restrictions in personal capabilities (“I wish I was smarter”), and one’s station in life – including the being embedded in a culture. 

     The neurophysiologic formulation of will through sensory input evaluation, memory look-up, thought, and weighing of factors, and even the recently discovered appearance of conscious thoughts about the decision only after will expression was already begun by subconscious processes can not be held against freedom of will.  How would a “free” person do it differently – in self-expression?  There may even be an Uncertainty Principle in the formulation of will in the brain.    

[9] What are “emotions”?  Emotions developed many millions of years ago through the evolution of the middle section of the brain and body chemistry as a practical mechanism of control for higher animals.  Later, emotions were substantially refined and further developed, especially among humans.  This rendered many important life functions – beyond the primitive, neuromechanical reflexes of primitive creatures – controllable in a holistic manner, with relative little neurophysiologic expenditure. 

      Emotions (sensations, feelings) are partial phenomena of human consciousness that allow holistic evaluation of situations or the expression of a desire for change in a situation.  While thoughts are specific, virtual visualizations of the kind of words, images, or any other sensations, emotions are not such specific visualizations, but can result in those.  Emotions are vague and difficult to describe. 

     Emotions permit the grasping of the context of situations not only faster, but also better and “deeper” in regard to causality and consequences, than synaptic/logical “thought” by the frontal lobes of the brain, because they grasp the basis and not the symptoms of the situations.  But that is valid only for situations or partial aspects of situations where emotions have a causal or consequential connection, e.g., human situations. 

     In strictly factual connections, for example, mechanics or geology, emotions are of no use – there, help is provided at best by “intuitions” or the “intuitive” recognition of situations that result from neurologically quite different connections and are not based on emotions and provide different, e.g., practical insights. 

     The “enlightenment“ of Eastern schools of meditation is still another neurophysiologic or psychological phenomenon, likely of virtual nature, without any resulting knowledge of practical or emotional nature. 

     Unfortunately, many holistic phenomena of awareness or consciousness are linguistically combined in the sole word “emotions”.  They can actually concern quite different phenomena with different foundations in the neurophysiology of the brain and in body chemistry.  Mainly three groups of emotions can be distinguished from each other:

1.     Natural desires (hunger, thirst, sex) or drug addiction.  These emotions are specific and goal-oriented and disappear upon satisfaction of the respective desire.

2.        Ethical emotions of “warm-hearted” personal connection, as caring for children, for clan members, or self-

sacrificial action for the common good – e.g., forms of not-erotic “love” (in ancient Greek the αγαπη or φιλια, not the ερως).  Those emotions already exist in the proto-ethical world of animals and are generally based in genetics, but directed through personal or cultural learning processes, refined and generalized in their reach (compare with the Christian neighborly love for all humans).  The loving faith in God coming from one’s “heart”, and the expectation of a loving “God-Father” are based on these emotions.

3.    General sensations of a state of being as in happiness or sorrow – in many variations.  The happiness of a fulfilled life is one such emotion, as is the appreciation of human community, usefulness, or joy over beauty, but also the suffering from a meaningless life, loneliness, uselessness, boredom, as well as suffering from ugliness.

     For us humans on Earth, the emotionality of the second and third types resulted in a totally new dimension of existence, which then led to the unfolding of human “values” and the height of “humaneness” on our Earth.  Together with human consciousness and capability for thought, those values result in the justification for and significance of respecting the “dignity” of humans and the “sanctity” of human life (but mostly not, as is worth mentioning, those of plants and animals). 

 

[10] Not too long ago, on occasion of a scientific conference at the Vatican, the Pope interdicted all research concerning the ultimate cosmological beginning or cause of Creation, since that was an act of God and, therefore, not suitable for human investigation.

[11] See the essay, “The Brain, the Mind:  Human Personality”, by H. Schwab, 2002.

[12] The “revenge” behavior among us humans is an unfortunate relic of evolutionary development from ancient times, a negative remnant of genetically preconditioned reciprocity.  The neurophysiologic and cognitive-psychological anchoring of this behavior is not sufficiently understood, and its reduction has not yet succeeded.  Thus, this evil remains, and not just among individuals; it is also tolerated by many people when occurring between groups within our society or between nations, far beyond any rational deterrence or educational value, mostly only provoking endless revenge in reverse, see the fighting in the Middle East.