The Glory of God Part 3 – Matter

What’s the Matter?

Before we can understand light, we first need to understand the basic ingredients of matter. Light is manufactured at the subatomic level so it would benefit us greatly to understand how atoms work. Believe it or not, this actually does having something to do with God, so don’t miss this!

atoms

Matter, which is made up of atoms, is defined as “physical or corporeal substance in general, whether solid, liquid, or gaseous, especially as distinguished from incorporeal substance, as spirit or mind, or from qualities, actions, and the like; something that occupies space.”[1] Matter can even be invisible like the air we breathe. In fact, all the matter we can see is actually made up of smaller bits of matter we can’t see. Amazingly, the Bible told us this truth thousands of years ago! “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Heb. 11:3). How did the writer of Hebrews, who wrote the letter two thousand years ago, know that everything we see in the universe is made out of things we can’t see? Could it be that the Holy Spirit inspired the writer so we could read it two thousand years later and see the fingerprint of God in the Bible?

Atoms

Most people in America are required to take chemistry and physics in high school to fulfill graduation requirements, so it is safe to assume that the majority of people are familiar with atoms. We’ve all seen the diagrams showing an atom made up of protons and neutrons in the center called a nucleus and electrons orbiting the nucleus much like planets orbiting the sun.

As we’ll discuss later, this picture of the atom is actually not very accurate. Scientists now describe electrons as a wave in a mist or fuzzy cloud rather than a little ball of matter.

High school students are also familiarized with the Periodic Table of elements and how different atoms, depending on the number of protons in the nucleus, form the different elements. Have you ever wondered where those elements came from? God created stars to not only create light energy, but they are also factories that make elements.

Stars: Atom Factories

The core of a star is incredibly hot and dense, which creates the right environment for nuclear fusion. Fusion is the process by which stars create energy and mass. If a star is massive enough, it can continue the cycle of fusion until its core is iron.

Hydrogen, having only one proton and electron, is the lightest and most abundant atom in the universe.

hydrogen atom

God created hydrogen atoms and all other atoms in such a way that they can be used to construct other pieces of matter, but it takes incredibly hot, dense regions such as those found in the center of stars to make it happen. It takes four hydrogen atoms to make one helium atom. If two hydrogen atoms are moving fast enough from the intense heat, they can actually fuse together to create a heavier element, helium. If a star is massive enough, after it burns through all of the hydrogen in its core, it will then start to fuse the left over helium atoms into carbon. This process will continue with the creation of an even heavier element – carbon and oxygen. An even more massive star will fuse these elements together creating neon. The next phase will be neon into silicon and if the star is very massive, it can fuse silicon into iron. Iron is the most stable element and can’t be fused into anything heaver unless there is a massive supernova.

How Small are Atoms?

If it were possible to shrink to the size of an atom you would have to shrink to 10-8 centimeters. It is quite miraculous that something that small can maintain certain properties like spin, charge, and motion. The electron, for example, spins on an axis much like planet Earth spins on its axis giving us day and night. As electrons zig and zag around the nucleus, they do so at close to the speed of light! I challenge any scientist to create something as small as an electron, make it spin around an axis and then keep it moving at close to the speed of light. And then, if you can create one electron, try to make trillions more all spinning and moving at incredibly fast speeds and then maintain that for billions of years! If you can do that I’ll come and worship at your feet because only God can do something like that.

Atoms are so tiny that one million of them lined up side by side would equal the thickness of a piece of paper, and one speck of dust contains up to three trillion atoms![3] It’s almost too hard to believe that scientists even know about atoms or how to measure their mass and size considering their extremely small sizes.

Amazingly, as small as atoms are, they are basically empty space. If we could grow an atom to the size of the earth, the nucleus would be a basketball in the center of the earth with the electrons way out in the atmosphere and everything in between would be empty. As Gerald Schroeder stated:

“If we could scale the centre of an atom, the nucleus, up to four inches, the surrounding electron cloud would extend to four miles away and essentially all the breach between would be marvelously empty. The solidity of iron is actually 99.9999999 percent startlingly vacuous space made to feel solid by ethereal fields of force having no material reality at all.”[4] According to Brian Greene, if the Empire State Building could be shrunk to eliminate all the free space between the atoms and all the free space within the atoms themselves, it would be the size of a grain of rice![5] So, when we think of something being “solid,” we must realize that there really is no such thing. Solidity is an illusion brought on by invisible forces at the atomic level. Like charges repel, so this repulsion of charges is what gives us the impression something is solid. The reality is, the universe is made up of ghost-like particles that behave in very peculiar ways.

The atom is truly a miraculous invention of Almighty God that shows a level of genius beyond anything we can comprehend. We take it for granted because we know about atoms, study them and even know their properties like mass, weight, and spin. But, it is one thing to know about atoms and it is quite another to actually invent and create them and then sustain the process for eons of time. Humans have never even come close to inventing anything as small as the atom,  yet there are arrogant scientists who deny the obvious truth that an intelligent mind put all of this together.

The Subatomic Realm

Atoms are by no means the end of the story when it comes to the smallest constituents of matter. In the 1960s physicists discovered that the protons and neutrons that make up atomic nuclei are actually made up of smaller bits of matter called quarks.

quarks

We would have to shrink to 10-18 cm to enter the realm of these elementary particles. To give you an idea of how small quarks are, think of an electron being one centimeter long. A quark in comparison would be the size of the thickness of a single hair. Anything smaller than a quark has not yet been discovered and it is here where string theorists take the baton.

The smaller we shrink and the closer we get to the very substance of space, the more “aware” the universe seems to be. Just like programmers have created anti-virus software to detect and remove a virus without the programmer having to be actively involved in the process, God programmed the universe with intelligence to operate without His undivided attention. God doesn’t have to physically, or even mentally make every electron in the universe move. All of the laws of physics, chemistry, biology, and other fields of science function according to the “programs” God wrote for them. He only had to write the program once and then step back to watch the universe unfold.

Observer Effect

One of the most fascinating discoveries to come from studying the subatomic realm is a strange phenomenon called “the observer effect.” The way elementary particles behave reveals that some intelligent mind must have programmed them with the ability to know when they are being looked at. Like sensors on floodlights that can be triggered by someone’s presence, God created particles of matter with “sensors” to know when they are observed.

The Double-slit Experiment

The double-slit experiment is a famous experiment that reveals this strange behavior of matter responding to observation. When physicists fire electrons through a screen with two slits, they expect two lines to form on the detector screen behind it. This reasoning seems logical because we would see that result if we fired marbles or BB’s through a screen with two small slits.

But there is a big difference between firing huge pieces of matter (relatively speaking) like marbles and firing incredibly small pieces of matter like electrons. The subatomic realm does not follow the same rules as the macro-world and can indeed be rather “spooky,” as Einstein labeled it. The results of the experiment actually show more than two lines on the detector screen, which means the electrons went through both slits at the same time as a wave.

To explain how this works, look at the picture below. The green light is emitted and travels as a wave. When the wave hits the two slits, two waves are created which disturb each other. The crest of one wave can meet the trough of another wave and cancel each other out leaving a dark region on the detector screen where no wave hit. When the crest of one wave meets the crest of another, they combine and strengthen and leave a bright mark on the screen.

When physicists discovered that a particle could travel through both slits at the same time they decided to put a measuring device by the slits to see if they could “catch” the particle in this ghost-like state. Every time they went to observe what was happening, the wave property of the particle collapsed and formed a point-like particle. In other words, the electron or photon leaves as a particle, travels as a wave, but will then manifest as a particle when it is observed by a conscious being. Brian Greene wrote concerning this, “Particle properties…come into being when measurements force them to. When they are not being observed or interacting with the environment, particle properties have a nebulous, fuzzy existence characterized solely by a probability that one or another potentiality might be realized.”[6] All of this seems to imply that matter has some form of intelligence. How does the particle know it is being observed?

This raises an important question: How did the universe exist before there were any conscious beings to look at it? How did matter exist? How were there planets, stars, galaxies, and other things if no one was around to look at it? The answer is quite simple; someone was looking at it. God is the ultimate observer. At the farthest reaches of the universe, God is observing how the universe unfolds. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13). As long as God is looking at the universe, it will exist in material form. God created humans like Him so we share the ability to interact with matter at a conscious level.

There is a time coming when God will stop observing the present order and with one “blink” everything in our universe will instantly change to the image He wants.[7] At the resurrection, when Jesus returns to set up His earthly reign as King, the creation as it is now will drastically be changed. “We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52).

Remember in the introduction I mentioned the thought I had of God’s glory entering our atmosphere as I felt the intense Florida sunshine on my skin. From the above passage of Scripture, we see this very thing as Jesus appears in glory and the atmosphere around Him is ignited in glorious fire. The intense heat I felt that day as I walked on the beach is nothing compared to the brightness of God’s glory. Jesus will appear in the fullness of His glory and nothing in the physical universe will be able to withstand that incredible light energy.

It will be very similar to what we read in Exodus when the children of Israel saw Mount Sinai on fire and the atmosphere around the mountain turned to thick, dark clouds. But when Jesus appears, He will not hold back. Everything that has sin in it will be completely destroyed by the intensity of the glory.

Particles or Waves?

If the above information didn’t blow your mind, then consider another fascinating aspect of the subatomic realm, namely, wave-particle duality. You might be puzzled over how electrons or other elementary particles can behave as a wave. Most of us were taught that electrons, protons, and other elementary particles exist as point-like particles or little balls of matter. It is now believed that electrons and all elementary particles exist as some kind of wave in a quantum ocean. Brian Greene explains this well: “Thus, the success of quantum mechanics forces us to accept that the electron, a constituent of matter that we normally envision as occupying a tiny, point-like region of space, also has a description involving a wave that, to the contrary, is spread through the entire universe.”[9]

And if this isn’t strange enough, the waves that are spread throughout the entire universe are beyond the reach of scientists to study them. These elusive waves know when they are being looked at so when scientists try to look at them the waves collapse and present the particles.

The next obvious question is: What is it that is waving? Physicists don’t really know what these waves are or what they are made of because the waves will not allow anyone to see them. They do know that whatever this stuff is that is waving, it is not made up of the ingredients that make particles. The particles don’t take on the substance of the waves. In a truly miraculous fashion, the particles, composed of entirely different ingredients, pop into existence out of this waving field only when they are observed.

There are several phrases that have been adopted over the years to describe these waves. It is common to hear such terms as “universal field,” “field of intelligence,” “superstring field” and so forth to describe this quantum ocean. We will discuss the concept of fields later, but just know for now that this field has every possibility programmed into it. And as we’ll discuss in a subsequent article, faith is using your God-given ability to tap into this realm where everything we need is already in existence in wave form. If you use your “eyes of faith” you can look at these waves of potentialities, thus causing whatever it is that you need from God to manifest.

Video of this material:

[1] Dictionary.com, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/matter?s=t (accessed September 5, 2014).

[2] Phil Mason, Quantum Glory: The Science of Heaven Invading Earth (Maricopa, AZ: XP Publishing, 2010), quoting Richard Feynman p 54.

[3] Quantum Glory p 54

[4] Quote from Quantum Glory p 56

[5] Brian Green, http://video.pbs.org/video/2163057527/ (accessed September 5, 2014).

[6] Greene, 121.

[7] Phil Mason, 131-132.

[8] Chuck Missler suggests the interesting idea that the “blink of an eye” or the “twinkling of an eye”, as it is translated in other versions, is the Planck Time (10-43 seconds), the shortest interval of time possible. The Planck time is the time it takes light to travel one Planck length, which is 10-35 meters.

[9] Brian Greene, 90.