A modern retelling of the creation of the heavens


(Brian Dau) #1

Hi again, everybody!

This is another selection from the novel I’m writing, in case forum members might appreciate it. As I’m not formally trained in science if anybody has any corrections or suggestions I would appreciate it greatly!

From: Creation and Fall

“Let there be light!” God said, but the light did not instantaneously appear when God unfolded the universe. Space and energy and matter inflated out of a singularity, and in less than a trillionth of a second the cosmos expanded by a factor of 〖10〗^26, beginning within an area smaller than that of an electron and inflating exponentially.

The universe came into being out of nothing. Time and space and the stuff within space were suddenly there through an extraordinary event. The causes of all subsequent effects were caused by a First Cause, Who was God — “He Who Causes to be all that is.”

Then God said, “Let the vast energy inherent in the creation of the universe be converted into matter / antimatter pairs, which, when they collide, will immediately annihilate one another.”

And so it happened. God established a quantum asymmetry so that there was slightly more matter than antimatter, less than one part in a billion. Only a small fraction of what God made in the very first instant of time continued to exist. The matter that did not get annihilated by antimatter came to make up the universe as it exists today.

Thus, there was not so much matter left over so as to cause the cosmos to collapse into a universal black hole, nor not enough matter left over so that what remained was too diffused to clump together through the attraction of gravity. And so God saw how good it was.

Then God said, “Let the rate of expansion of the universe allow for the formation of the massive bodies of light that I shall bring together out of the matter.”

And so it happened. The universe’s rate of expansion happened at exactly the right balance so that the universe continued to expand. The infant universe did not collapse back upon itself, and yet the matter was not so diffused so as to not eventually begin to gather.

When God had established the universe’s rate of expansion and acceleration, He said, “Let there be a force of attraction between matter at long ranges throughout space, so that some but not all of the matter will move toward the other matter, and that it may gather together.”

And so it happened. The force of attraction would eventually allow stars of diverse sizes to form, so that some stars would produce heavy elements, while other stars, such as the Earth’s sun, would burn longer and at the right part of the light spectrum to eventually sustain photosynthesis. And it happened also so that planets of diverse sizes and compositions would form as well, and remain in motion around their respective stars. God called this force “gravity,” and He saw how good it was.

After this, God said, “Let there be a force that will bind together elementary particles at short ranges of space, so that they may be assembled into diverse larger structures.”

And this also came to pass. God called this force “the strong nuclear force,” and it was optimally balanced for the creation of diverse elements. The strong nuclear force was not so strong as to make hydrogen extremely rare, nor was it so weak that atoms could not have a nucleus of more than one proton. Thus, hydrogen existed in exactly the right proportion in the universe so that stars could eventually form and thereby forge other elements.

God also saw how good this was.

Then God said, “Let there be another force to act upon the elementary particles at an even shorter range, so that these will not remain fixed in their simple arrangements, but rather be capable of more complex arrangements and remain in flux.”

And so it happened. God optimally balanced this force also, so that in the universe’s first few moments it was not so strong as to create too little helium to eventually forge heavy elements, nor so weak as to create too much helium, which would have resulted in the creation of heavy elements in such quantities as to preclude the complex chemical reactions necessary for His plan. Thus, the right amount of hydrogen and helium were created. God called this “the weak nuclear force,” and He saw how good it was.

Then God said, “Let there be a force that will bind diverse arrangements of elementary particles together, and thus determine the internal properties of larger structures within the universe.”

And it happened as God had said, so that electrons could eventually began to orbit protons and neutrons, which would take shape as a consequence of the other forces that God had made. The force was strong enough to keep electrons in orbit around the nuclei of atoms, but not so strong that the electrons could not orbit more than one atom. Hence, molecular bonds and chemical reactions became possible. God named this force “electromagnetism.” God saw how good it was.

Thus, within the first second of the universe’s history, the forces and laws that govern the universe took shape in the optimal proportion to bring God’s plan to fruition. The force that led to the inflation of the universe was broken down into four separate forces—the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, electromagnetism, and gravity. Motion and all of the stuff in motion were then set into motion.

Seconds came, and seconds followed— the first minute.

When the universe was less than three minutes old, it had cooled enough for hydrogen, helium, and lithium to form, although it would take another 300,000 years for the universe to cool enough so that electrons could be captured by these elements to form stable atoms.

The angels observed all of the things that God had created, ordered, and set into motion, and they were awed both by God’s power and the precision with which He ordered the universe.

Michael praised God, singing, “No one else but God can create with such power. He has made everything out of nothing, and nothing exists that He has not made exist. Even now, the universe expands and develops, and God yet sustains it in its being. Truly, O Lord, Your creation is wonderful to behold, for it reflects Your magnificence and splendor!”

Gabriel then joined the song, his words blending with those of Michael. “God’s Word has begun to take form in matter, because when God spoke, His Word made something new. He has rightly proportioned the matter and forces of the universe to enable its expansion and development into more complex forms. His wisdom shines forth in His creation, and through His creation, God will be glorified. Yours, O my God, is the universe and everything in it. You are holy and good!”

Once again, Lucifer’s song seemed to rise above that of the other angels, and though it still harmonized with their music, it also increasingly diverged from it. “How unlike You, O Lord, is this universe you have made. Though it is large, and growing, it will ever remain finite and contingent, dependent upon You for its care and continued being. Although You are One, within the cosmos different forces, some in opposition to one another, pull this matter back and forth, together and apart. You, O God, do not change, for You are eternal, but this space and time and the stuff within them are in constant motion and forever changing. Mysterious are Your ways, O Lord, and inscrutable are Your plans!”

For roughly 379,000 years after the beginning of time, the universe remained opaque, because its immense heat diffused the photons in an unimaginably hot fog through which the light could not be seen, if there had been eyes to see that light.

During this time, God sent the angels forth from Heaven and into the universe, to observe the wonders of His creation. But in his own song Lucifer, and with him a number of other angels, began to grumble against the Lord. “How long,” he asked, “must we wander in this dark universe, without the light that God has promised to make?”

But God said, “Let the universe remain dark for another 160 million years, until the force of gravity gathers enough of the hydrogen, helium, and lithium together to create conditions necessary for nuclear fusion.”

When the time was right, God said, “Let the matter in the universe be gathered together by gravity into vast and diverse regions, and let enough of it clump together in smaller proximities to allow it to be transformed into light.”

And so it happened. The matter in the universe was unevenly distributed, and began to gather in swirling clouds of hydrogen, helium, and lithium, with vast regions of empty space between these clouds. Within the clouds, the hydrogen, helium, and lithium atoms attracted one another through the force of gravity, and began to shed light.

And so from the beginning of time until the birth of the first stars it took nearly 200 million years after God’s command for the light to appear.

God called the great lights “the stars,” and the collections of stars, along with the dark matter in between, He named “galaxies,” and He saw how good these were.

Each of the stars of this first generation was so huge that it was capable of fusing together elements other than hydrogen and helium. As this process continued, lighter elements fused together to form progressively heavier ones, including carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, nickel, and iron. They burned so rapidly that in less than a million years they had consumed their hydrogen fuel and had created a core of iron and nickel, and no further fusion could take place.

However, the stars rapidly collapsed, with no energy output creating outward pressure to counteract the force of gravity. This implosion happened with such ferocity, and created such energy, that it caused a shockwave that made the imploding matter rebound in a tremendous explosion. The energy unleashed created elements heavier than iron and dispersed these elements into the interstellar medium.

God called these explosions “supernovae,” and He saw how good they were.

Still, Lucifer’s song expressed his murmuring, because although these stars burned brightly, their lives were relatively brief.

“Why this extravagant waste of matter and light?” Lucifer asked the angels. “We have waited until now for the light to appear, and even after there was light it was dominated by the darkness. Now, all of these stars are dying, exploding violently after consuming their hydrogen.”

Over the next 300 million years, the faithful angels were content to wait upon the Lord, putting their hope in Him and His providence. Lucifer and his angels, on the other hand, continued on with their complaints about the interminable time involved in creation and the seemingly destructive forces involved in bringing about the universe’s unfolding. The song of the faithful angels and that of those angels whose hearts were turning away from the Lord diverged, and it seemed that unless something dramatic happened, heaven itself would be torn asunder by the discord.

One of the angels, by the name of Raphael, the one who would take Lucifer’s place, as an archangel of healing, approached the Lord. “Father,” he sang, “some of the angels are growing restless, and they have begun to question Your plans. I do not yet understand this feeling in my heart, this sadness and uncertainty that their grumbling has caused. I trust in You, but I am also eager to see what You have in store for Your creation. So, if I may be so bold as to ask, what are Your plans, and when will they come to fruition? When, O my God, will You show us Your Face?”

God looked at Raphael, loved him, and spoke with immeasurable tenderness, patience, and kindness. “Come and see!”


#2

And when you come to write about the evolution of homo sapiens you could write about the potential for us to choose our way of life, setting before us continual developments of intellect and suvival, but instead of choosing love and true community interest humanity keeps defaulting back to selfish desires and power struggles, ignoring opportunities to engage the divine love and live accoriding to its promptings. That’s what I think our “fall” is. That’s how we have historically and continually all eaten the “forbidden fruit” symbolised in Gen 3.


(Brian Dau) #3

I’ve written my first draft of the section dealing specifically with the fall, and will probably polish it up more and publish it on this forum soon. I agree with you about the social/communal nature of not just sin in general, but original sin, even as Christians re-evaluate exactly what original sin is.

We know from the archeological record (i.e. bashed in skulls of women and children) that violence against the innocent antedates anatomically and behaviorally modern humans; So original sin is a very tricky issue, and not necessarily related to eating a literal fruit.

It is somewhat ironic that in a lot of people’s interpretation of the Genesis text, they blame Eve as the first to take the fruit. But the text suggests that even though she was the first to reach out her hand, Adam is hardly a dupe. He was with her while the serpent was tempting her, and did not speak against what the serpent told her.

Their sin brings about shame because they hide from God. They fail to discern His presence. It wasn’t like He went off to take a coffee break and came back to find that disaster had befallen his crowning creation. No, God was with them even as they were tempted, but they didn’t see Him, and then they thought they could escape from His presence.

Moreover, when God is looking for the man and the woman it isn’t because he misplaced them. He isn’t baffled by their expert skills at hide and seek. When He calls out “Where are you?” He prefigures His call to all who are lost and broken.

Adam does not speak again in the narrative until he begins blaming “the woman that you put here.” Like a sullen child, he takes no accountability, but accuses the wife with whom he originally found delight. He also indirectly blames God.

I also agree with you that we all historically and continually eat the fruit. The fallout, our tendency to blame, is evident even in the interpretation of the narrative that places the blame for human suffering squarely on Adam and Eve’s shoulders. Their story is not just the story of two particular human beings, nor even of human beings at the beginning of being fully human, but of every human who has lived since. Eve “saw that the fruit was good,” but we all to some extent choose the pseudo-good, that which is “pleasing to the eye and desirable.”

In the novel I do try to preserve the allegorical components of the original inspired text, so the story does involve eating fruit from a tree, which may or may not represent a literal history but most certainly lends itself to an extended metaphor. In my telling they don’t just take a bite out of an apple, but they gorge themselves on the fruit until they are sick. It stupefies them and they still pine for more. Once they have each eaten they lose awareness of one another and in fact begin to compete to take more of the fruit for themselves after they realize that only a finite amount of the fruit grows on the tree.

Hopefully this part of the text will resonate with readers, as it draws heavily upon 12 step spirituality, mimetic theory, and a contemporary understanding of the vicious circularity of sin and shame. However, I think that a close reading of the Genesis text also provides cause for hope, and so in the story God responds like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son. He runs to them and showers their mud and vomit caked faces with kisses, even as He affirms the natural consequences of their free choices.