I got this article from Sikh Spectrum. Home For WritersAuthors LettersBibliographyArchives SikhSpectrum.com Monthly Issue No.12, May 2003 The Handwriting of God Preet Mohan Singh Ahluwalia Creator and the act of creation are two themes that are common to most religions. This short essay proposes to explain in brief how different religions deal with the subject. Also included are currently accepted scientific views. In 1992 COBE satellite discovered hot and cold patches in the cosmic background radiation that are characterized as primeval ripples. These patches have traveled undisturbed since the cooling of the universe, three hundred thousand years after the Big Bang. What was the significance of the COBE discovery? A galaxy has clusters of stars and gases. If the universe started smoothly with gases spread uniformly then, for these clusters to attain the present degree of density, the universe should have come into existence billions of years more than the current estimates. Could these clusters have formed at the start? It was one conclusion accepted by theoretical physicists albeit unverified till the COBE discovery. George Smoot, COBE project leader at NASA remarked, "It's like looking at God." Newsweek published the findings on May 4, 1992 in a report titled, The Handwriting of God: A satellite spies the ripples of the big bang. The first evidence of the primeval phase of origin was now available. COBE was launched into an Earth Orbit in 1989 to make a full sky map of the microwave radiation left over from the Big Bang. The first results were released in 1992. NASA: an artist's conception. Edwin Hubble while observing nebulae M31 (Andromeda), discovered that it lay beyond the edge of the Milky Way. Clearly, it was a different galaxy. The universe appeared larger than what had until then been accepted, and analyzing the red-shift he concluded that some galaxies are moving away from the Milky Way. That is, the universe is expanding. It is believed that the expansion is at a rate of 50 kilometers per second per megaparsec (a parsec is an astronomical unit of distance equal to 3.26 light years). Einstein assumed a static universe, and to accommodate for it he introduced an antigravity unit called cosmological term which is multiplied by a cosmological constant. The reason for its inclusion was simply to provide for a static cosmic equilibrium. The assumption that cosmic bodies are continuously experiencing mutual gravitational pull had a serious limitation. In a static universe, these gravitational forces would eventually cause the cosmic bodies to converge and become one. In other words, the universe would collapse. With Hubble’s observation of an expanding universe, Einstein regretted modifying his theory of general relativity with the cosmological constant and called it “the biggest blunder of my life.” Ideally, after the Big Bang, the gravitational pull should slow the expansion of the universe. This is not the case, however. By observing stars called supernova it has been found that the expansion is accelerating. Is there matter in the universe that resists gravity? Some believe that the cosmological constant proposed by Einstein could provide the answer. Secondly, with the help of the cosmological term it is easier to calculate the age of the universe to a figure that is supported by observation. According to current scientific understanding, origin of the universe is best understood by reversing the expansion process. In the reverse, more than 100 billion galaxies with billions of stars are compressed together. As it shrinks the temperature and the density of the primordial plasma rises. Extrapolating to the point of origin the universe would have begun as a point of extremely high temperature and density. The Big Bang occurred at this stage and space and time came into existence. It was believed that matter is made of protons and neutrons, but with the advances in particle physics these have been replaced by their smaller constituents called quarks. Before protons and neutrons the universe is said to consists of quarks, electrons and photons. Using this model the history of the universe has been reconstructed to one thousand-billionth of a second (10-12) after the Big Bang. As the early universe cooled, the matter produced in the Big Bang gathered into stars and galaxies. photo: Space Telescope Science Institute Mathematically speaking the moment of origin (time, t=0) is called a singularity; the density of matter and spacetime curvature is infinite and the distance between two “observers” is zero. Interestingly, the laws of physics, as are known to us, breakdown here. To understand the events close to the singularity, rules of quantum mechanics are employed. One scenario proposed by Edward Tyron of Columbia University is to consider the inherent uncertainty in the measurement of energy. In quantum mechanics there is no zero energy state of a system but a lowest energy state – its ground state. Earlier Heisenberg had ruled that the location and velocity of an electron could not be simultaneously measured due to its inherent fuzziness. The ground state is called quantum vacuum which is not completely empty since quantum physics does not support the idea of “nothingness.” E = mc2 relates matter with energy and energy fluctuations in quantum vacuum are converted into particles of matter called virtual particles. In the beginning, Tyron proposed, quantum vacuum (“nothingness”) existed and energy fluctuations may have resulted in the universe. It should be noted that “quantum nothingness” is different from absolute nothingness (complete emptiness). In the later part of his life Einstein attempted to formulate a Unified Field Theory wherein gravity and electromagnetism originate from a single fundamental field. Einstein was unsuccessful and after his death the work continues. Michio Katu, a theoretical physicist calls it, "an equation an inch long that would allow us to read the mind of God." James Garriga of University of Barcelona and Alexander Vilenkin from Tufts University claim the presence of infinite number of universes (called O-regions) contained in the universe we inhabit. As the universe continues to expand stars, galaxies and planets like earth, with life, are formed. Interestingly, events that have appeared on earth are being played in infinite number of regions. "The idea is pretty simple," Vilenkin says. "There are a total number of possible histories, which are finite. It's a huge number but it's finite. These histories are not just human events, but everything that happens down to the atomic level. There may be subtle differences, histories that are changed a tiny amount, but not enough, [according to quantum theory], to be told apart." "With a finite number of histories for a region like ours, there is an infinite number of regions in which those histories can play out," Vilenkin explains. "Any history that is not strictly forbidden [by the laws of physics] will repeat an infinite number of times." Newtonian time is "absolute, true and mathematical time, [which] of itself, and from its own nature, flows equably without relation to anything external." For Newton time is absolute and motion cannot affect it. This assumption creates a conflict between Newton's laws of motion and electromagnetism. Two centuries later Einstein introduced the concept of flexible time, that is, there is no absolute and universal time as proposed by Newton. Time is relative. It depends on motion and gravity. Astrophysicists calculate the age of the universe by measuring its rate of expansion and radioactive dating of stars. The proposed age is between 10-15 billion years depending on the method used. A word of caution for the reader will not be out of place here. The scientific community lacks consensus on a “final scientific model” describing the beginnings of the universe. God There are four arguments for the existence of God: (i) the ontological argument, (ii) the cosmological argument, (iii) the teleological argument, and (iv) the moral argument. An ontological argument shows that God's existence can be inferred from the fact that He is a Perfect Being who is Self-existent. God exists necessarily because His existence is greater than His non-existence. Descartes, Leibniz and St. Anslem supported the argument. Kant rejected it stating that a "necessarily existent being" need not exist at all. The cosmological argument reasons that God exists because the world exists. It also promotes the idea of an infinite chain of causes and effects - God being the first cause, the first Mover. Whatever moves is moved by another or it is self-moved; the mover of the Cosmos is the self-mover (i.e. God). David Hume opposed this argument because the choice to stop the regresses at God was arbitrary. Hume also felt it necessary for a relationship to exist between the "things being moved" and the cause behind it. Since creation exhibits order and design, a Creator must exist. This is the teleological argument or the design argument. It provides justification for the classic watch and watchmaker theory, that is, if you find a watch then there must be a watchmaker. There is a purpose and design behind creation, which leads to the evidence of an intelligent Being. Socrates, Plato and Aquinas supported the idea. Hume argued that the universe could have happened by chance rather than design. For Kant, God may have worked with a universe that always existed. A watchmaker makes watches from pre-existing materials, then how could God have created the universe from nothing. The Aristotelian perspective suggests that for an action to occur the "potential" for it to occur should exists. For example, a ball rolls because motion is part of its nature i.e. inherent to it. What gets created is essentially uncreated till the time of its creation. Said differently, the potential to create and what gets created lie within the Creator. The moral argument attributes morality to the existence of a Creator. The feeling of guilt associated with a wrong in the absence of anyone else knowing about it, except God. Michael A. Guillen, a mathematical physicist at Cornell, writes in Bridges To Infinity: The Human Side to Mathematics, "Until about 50 years ago, truth to a mathematician had been synonymous with logical proof. For this reason, mathematicians had operated in a fantasy world, one in which nothing was left to faith because everything could be proved to be either true or false. In 1931, however, the mathematician's fantasy world became more like the realistic world when the Vienese logician Kurt Godel proved that there will always be mathematical truths that cannot be proved with logic." According to Guillen, mathematicians have two choices available to them -- the secular and the mystic principles of faith. The secular principle called Occam's Razor or the Law of Parsimony explains the evidence objectively and concisely. The mystic principle, on the other hand, requires both evidence and a purpose. The secular principle seeks verifiable truth, and the mystic principle adds purpose to it . Darwin was convinced of the non-purposeful process that selects from among accidental genetic mutations only those that are best adapted to the environment. William Parely, however, used the mystic principle to state the argument-from-design. In a debate with Darwin, Parely presented his case: [size=+0]Suppose that you're riding along in a train when you notice some rocks on a hillside that spell out the message WELCOME TO MASSACHUSETTS. It probably would not occur to you that those rocks had been purposefully arranged, and yet it is conceivable that someone might take the position that the arrangement was a happenstance, effected over many years by natural geologic forces. This person may also hold the belief in the non-purposeful appearance of human life on earth. However, no matter which way you might actually believe, if you depend on the arrangement of rocks for evidence that you are indeed entering Massachusetts, you are necessarily conceding the truth of the teleological interpretation. Otherwise your behavior would be irrational -- you cannot have it both ways! [/size] Creation The Judeo-Christian concept of Creation is found in the Book of Genesis that describes the process of creation over a period of six days with one Creator day equal to 1,000 earth years (2 Peter 3:8). The Scofield Reference Bible noted the date for creation as 4004 B.C., which makes the universe over 6,000 years old. In 1967 the reference to this date was deleted. God created the universe out of nothing (ex nihilo) through a series of commands. [size=+0]And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light (Gen. 1:3). "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters" (Gen. 1:6). And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so (Gen. 1:9). "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years. (Gen. 1:14). And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens" (Gen. 1:20). Then 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 birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth" (Gen. 1:26). [/size] Christians believe that Jesus is “God manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). Arius from Alexandria found it impossible to accept Jesus as the Father. How could the Father and son be identical he asked? Addressing the clergy Arius quoted the Scriptures to prove that there was only One God – the only Eternal. If Jesus was the Logos and the Logos is created by God it could only mean that God and Logos were distinct. Jesus was not God contested Arius, but only a perfect human on whom divinity was bestowed. It did not come natural to him. The debate continued passionately till May 20, 325 C.E. when bishops gathered in Nicaea and declared that Christ was not an ordinary human but Logos made flesh. Arius refused to accept it. The Cappadocians, Gregory (Bishop of Nyssa), Basil (Bishop of Caesarea) and Gregory (Bishop of Nazianzus) later developed the idea of the Holy Spirit. Elucidating this new concept further it was proposed that God has a single essence that is unfathomable, and three expressions through which He is known. Jewish creation beliefs are identical to Christianity as the Book of Genesis is common to them. Even Shetiyah is the “rock from which the world was woven” the “foundation of the universe.” Since the stone lies in Jerusalem it places the city at the center of world. God (Yahweh) is strictly monotheistic, as advised by Him to Moses, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-4). St. Thomas Aquinas is largely credited as the father of Christian cosmology. Influenced by the Greeks he accepted Aristotelian ideas. The earth is spherical and is at the center of the universe. Earlier, Pythagoras had proposed a model of the cosmos with “fire at the center.” The Aristotlean model of the universe had fifty-six spheres with all-matter composed of earth, air, water and fire. The circular motion of heavenly bodies is due to another kind of matter aether for which circular motion was a natural consequence. The universe was uncreated and eternal and is ruled by God from outside, with Earth located farthest from Him. The Church differed in its emphasis on God as the creator and rejected the idea of an uncreated universe. God and Earth were connected by spheres, the first eight orbs followed by the outermost mobile sphere Primum Mobile. The last immobile sphere, Empyrean sphere, is the dwelling of God and His chosen. “The heart is the chief thing in religion; it draws the will and affections after it, as the Primum Mobile draw the other orbs along with it” (Isa 29:13). In Islam the universe came into existence when God (Allah) uttered the word Kun (“Be”). Islam's views on creation are described in the Qur'an, which says that the seven heavens and the seven earths (65:12, 71:15) were created in six days (7:54). A day is equivalent to one thousand years (32:5) or fifty thousand years (70:4). According to Dr. Mohammad Wagdi creation took 6,000 lunar years. [size=+0]Then He directed Himself to the heaven, and it was a vapor, so He said to it and to the earth: Come both of you, willingly or unwillingly. They both said: We come willingly (41:11). Did you see how Allah created seven heavens, one above the other, and made in them the moon a light and the sun a lamp (78:12-13). God then rose turning towards the heaven which it was smoke (41:11). Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them, and we made every living thing of water? (21:30) [/size] Some accounts deal with the creation more specifically stating that earth was created on a Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday He created the mountains and on Wednesday trees, water and cultivation came into existence. On Thursday God created heaven and the stars, sun, and moon and the angels were created on a Friday [The History of al-Tabari]. Islamic theologians like al-Ashari proposed an atomistic model of creation. The world is created anew each moment by the direct intervention of God, that is, at every distinct moment the world is recreated. Existence is composed of atoms (atomon, “which cannot be cut”) that last momentarily and then disappear. Abu Bakr al-Baqillani, a reputed scholar of the Asharite school, developed the philosophy of Islamic occasionalism or atomism. A universe made of innumerable atoms, where time and space are discontinuous, is sustained not by any natural laws but God’s direct intervention at every moment. Referring to it Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia writes: “The world of time and space (khalq) is deemed to be a creation of God (Khaliq). Islamic ontology takes creation to be of discrete, atomistic character, it is not invested with internal causality (hukam in Sikhism) and the principles of dynamism which, in Sikh philosophy, makes the universe autonomous in its state of becoming and development. Consequently for Islamic speculative thinking, the universe for its existence is characterized by continual moment-to-moment dependence upon God.” Leucippus, a pre-Socratic philosopher, is the founder of the atomistic school. The universe consists of infinite number of atoms (Being) that wander and collide in the void (non-Being). These atoms are devoid of all properties (passive Being) and the collision of atoms with similar shapes results in different forms and geometries. In this way the atomists reconciled the idea of a “becoming” (changing) immutable Being. Democritus detailed the origin of planetary worlds using the atomistic theory. Similar shaped and randomly moving atoms on collision create circular motion (whirlpools). These dense vortices continue to attract atoms and eventually form planetary bodies including Earth. Hinduism has several creation beliefs. The Hindu trinity (trimurti) consists of Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Sustainer) and Shiva (Destroyer). According to Vamapurana, Brahma lay within an egg and after it broke the sacred word Om emanated. The first sound was bhuh, the second bhuvaha and the third svaha. The sun emerged from the egg, in the centre of which was the creator Brahma. Devi Purana considers the birth of Brahma from the navel of Vishnu. A golden lotus grew out of the navel of Lord Vishnu with Brahma seated on it. This is the lotus way (padma vidhi). Saandilya Upanishad declares that Lord Dattatreya is the Supreme Reality. "The Supreme Brahman performed penance which was of the nature of knowledge (jnyana), and desiring to become many, assumed the form of Dattatreya. From that form came out the three letters A, U, M; the three mystical names Bhuh, Bhuvah and Svah; the three-lined Gayatri; the three Vedas Rig, Yajur and Sama; the three Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara; the three castes Brahmana, Kshatriya and Vysya; and the three fires Gaarhapatya, Ashavaneeya and Dakshina.” In Brahmanda Purana, Brahma hatched from a golden egg and made the sky and earth from the eggshell. After creating rocks and mountains Brahma created Saraswati and fell passionately in love with her. He persuaded her to marry him and at the end of the wedding night Manu, the first human being was born. To him Brahma gave eight gifts - five senses, movement, reproduction and intelligence. Yaska (4th Century BC) is known as the first interpreter of Vedas. In Nirukta he explains that there are three types of deities: i. prithvisthana - gods who live on earth ii. dyusthana - gods who live in heaven iii. madhyamasthana - gods who live in between. In Atharvaveda gods are said to be born of goddess Aditi. In Vedantic view: (i) the Ultimate Reality alone is real, (ii) the universe is unreal and (iii) the individual self is not other than Ultimate Reality. The Ultimate Reality is the substance of which the universe is formed. Sankhaya philosophy divides this substance into two - purusha and prakriti. While there is one prakriti there are infinite purushas. </I> The cosmic energy is composed of three gunas (sattva, rajas, tamas). When the gunas were in the state of equilibrium - the primal prakriti called mulaprakriti- the universe remained unmanifested. It came into existence when this equilibrium was disturbed. The Vedantic Brahman, is sat (being), chit (consciousness) and anand (bliss). It does not possess the quality of being the Creator. Describing the Absolute, Dr Radhakrishnan wrote in Indian Philosophy: "[the Absolute is] rigid, motionless, and totally lacking initiative or influence, and He cannot call forth our devotion and worship like the Taj Mahal which is not conscious of the admiration it arouses from the worshippers. Sankara's view appears to be a finished example of error. His God is bloodless absolute." Sikh concept of Creator is defined in the Mool-Mantra. A Semitic God that orders creation into existence does not find acceptance and neither is there a place for multiple gods and their reincarnation in the form of humans and animals. Guru Nanak calls the creator Waheguru (Wondorous Light) that is formless (Nirankar), unborn and without a gender. In Sikh thought creation came from within the Creator (Karta Purakh). Before creation the Creator was by itself: "[from] nothingness the Formless one assumes a form, the Attribute free becomes full of attributes." (SGGS: p.940) [size=+0]From the state of shunya, the latent form became active. The elements of air and water were evolved out of shunya... within the fire, water and living beings is His Light and the power of creation lies within shunya.. From shunya came out the moon, the sun and the firmament.. The earth and heaven have been evolved out of shunya. (SGGS: 1037-38) The shunya of Guru Nanak is different from Buddhist shunyata and the absolute nothingness (ex-nihilo) of other schools. Guru Nanak's nothingness refers to the absence of creation and not the absence of Creator and His potencies. The universe originated from “within” the Creator. It is His manifestation. A single source as the origin of Cosmic laws, the Creator is both transcendent and immanent. All laws that are required for the functioning of the universe have been provided, once and for all, at the time of creation (SGGS: p.7). Sikhism does not consider the knowledge of the “exact moment” of creation as essential and refutes the claim of those who think they know. [size=+0]What the time, what movement, what lunar day, what week day, and what the season and what month, when the creation came into being? The pundits [Hindu priests] find not the time, even though it be mentioned in the Puran. Nor do the qazis, [Muslim clerics] who scribe the writing of Qur'an, know the time. Neither the yogi nor any one else knows the lunar day, week day, season and the month. The Creator who creates the world, himself knows (the time). (Japuji:21) [/size] There is no limit to creation. It is infinite. [size=+0]Numberless are the moons the suns, numberless universes and numberless countries (Japuji:35). Countless are the men of Divine knowledge and countless the servants of God. O' Nanak! there is no limit to His bounds (Japuji:35). There are universes upon universes and creations over creations (Japuji:37). There are more worlds beyond this earth, more and more (Japuji:16). There are nether worlds beyond the nether worlds and countless skies over skies (Japuji:22). The scriptures say one thing: searching for God's limits and bounds, (without success) people have grown weary (Japuji:22). If there be any account of His creation, then man would finish[die] while writing (Japuji:22). The limit of His created creation is not discerned (Japuji:23). His limits are not found (Japuji:23). He, who created the creation is and shall also be. He shall not depart when the creation shall depart (disappear) (Japuji:27). [/size] REFERENCES Paul Davies, About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution, Penguin Books. Marcelo Gleiser, The Dancing Universe: From Creation Myths To The Big Bang, PLUME (Penguin Group). Brian Greene, The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory, Vintage Books. Michael Guillen, Bridges to Infinity: The Human Side to Mathematics, J. P. Tarcher Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, The Doctrine And Dynamics of Sikhism, Punjabi University publication. Mohammad N. Waghdi, Exploring The Scientific Miracle in Holy Qur'an. Karen Armstrong, A History of God: The 4,000 Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Ballantine Books. Tufts Journal, Tufts University. Copyright ©2002 Preet Mohan Singh Ahluwalia. About The Author [/size]Print this Article Email this Article Comment on this Article About LinksSubscribe DisclaimerCopyright © 2002 SikhSpectrum.com. All rights reserved. Please contact email@example.com with any questions about this site. 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