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part IV - Freemasonry, Science and Mankind

W. M. Don Falconer PM, PDGDC

The breath of life, which converts inanimate material into living and breathing animals, is still concealed from our knowledge.


In the beginning


In ordinary circumstances we are conscious of various elements and conditions that directly affect our lives, especially light, space, time, temperature, sound and matter, although in fact most are only transient or insubstantial states. When considering the creation event, we find that space and time were the essential boundaries that define what is called the initial singularity, which preceded the primeval explosion by which the universe was created. For a minuscule period immediately after that space-time boundary of the creation, all matter was in a state of chaos, when time and space were indistinguishable. In everyday life on planet earth, space and time appear to be separate entities, which they are for all practical purposes under ordinary circumstances. However, when the theory of relativity is applied in relation to the universe as a whole, time and space no longer have their individual identities, but are inextricably interwoven into a composite entity or dimension called space-time.


The beginning referred to in Genesis took place about 15,000 million years ago, when "the earth (that is the universe) was void and darkness covered the face of the deep (that is space)". The Creator said "let there be light", introducing energy into the space‑time abyss, precipitating the primeval explosion and giving birth to the universe. The generally accepted theory is that all matter comprising the universe was infinitely compressed under immeasurable pressure before the primeval explosion, producing an incredible amount of energy when released. Whilst under extreme compression matter could only have existed as sub‑atomic particles, when quantum mechanics would have been of the utmost importance and the prime determinants governing the initial evolutionary processes that began immediately thereafter. Quantum mechanics relate to the behaviour of the smallest particles that can possibly exist for something, like the photons or particles of light that are the quanta of light energy.


Because space and time are acknowledged as constituting the boundaries of the initial singularity that preceded the creation, many attempts have been made to measure any energy field, akin to gravity or a magnetic field, which might derive from space‑time. Although none has yet been discovered, this does not preclude the possibility that space‑time energy fields could exist. Should they exist their influence on the ultimate devolution of the universe and the destiny of humans might be profound. A great deal of research has been carried out in relation to what is usually called "the passage of time", searching for a time‑flux or field like magnetism, though none has been discovered. Time is a mysterious and apparently irreversible phenomenon encompassing the past, present and future, seemingly having neither motion nor energy. As with space‑time, the possibility that related energy fields do exist is not precluded, however unlikely that may seem at present. If they should exist their ultimate consequences, which at present are unknown, could be dramatic. The relationship between matter and space‑time is extremely complex.


Chaotic matter


If space and matter were infinitely compressed at the initial singularity, then a transition must have occurred during an extremely short period thereafter, when some element of time began turning into space to form the space‑time continuum. When researching sub‑atomic matter to determine what its state would have been shortly after the primeval explosion, physicists have conducted experiments that have enabled them to observe quantum fluctuations over distances as short as about 10-16 centimetres and for intervals of time as brief as 10-26 seconds, in what essentially were fixed space‑time environments. These fluctuations were found to affect both the positions and the momenta of the particles, which therefore would also have affected space‑time itself under the conditions pertaining during an infinitesimal period after the primeval explosion. These experiments confirm that space, time and matter must have passed through a critical boundary almost immediately after the primeval explosion, but before the evolutionary processes commenced, during which period space and time were indistinguishable and matter was chaotic.


This boundary has been assessed as occurring at about one Planck time after the primeval explosion. The Planck scale comprises elements called the Planck time, distance, density and mass, named after, Max Planck (1858-1947), the German theoretical physicist who formulated the quantum theory in 1900. One Planck time is about 10-43 seconds, the shortest period of time that has any meaning, when the typical horizon volume contains only one particle. One Planck time after the primeval explosion the universe was not more than 2 x 10-33 centimetres across, a minuscule distance called the Planck distance, which is the distance that light can travel in one Planck time. At that instant had the incredible density of 1094 grams per cubic centimetre, which is called the Planck density. The Planck mass is the mass of the material that could be contained in a black hole having a diameter equal to the Planck distance, which is only a minuscule 10-20 of the diameter of a proton. A black hole is a region in which the gravitational field is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape from it. The Planck mass is calculated to be about 2 x 10-5 gram.


In the fifth century BCE a Greek philosopher, Leucippus, was the first who postulated that matter is composed of separate particles that can move about in space and combine together. His pupil Democritus (c.460‑c.370 BCE) developed the concept and called the particles atomos meaning indivisible. It was not until the beginning of the nineteenth century that John Dalton (1766‑1844), the British chemist and physicist who first defined colour blindness, was able to establish a scientific basis for the combining of atoms taking part in a chemical reaction. In 1897 the English physicist, Sir Joseph Thomson (1856‑1940), first succeeded in tearing electrons from atoms by applying electrical and magnetic forces. The next important breakthrough did not come until Lord Ernest Rutherford (1871‑1937), a New Zealand born British physicist who was one of the greatest pioneers of subatomic physics, discovered the similarity between atoms and the solar system, from which he derived the nuclear theory of atoms published in 1917. The theory was pursued by an English physicist, Sir John Cockroft (1897‑1967) and an Irish physicist Ernest Walton (1903- ), who spent years developing a voltage multiplier at Cambridge University, enabling them to be the first to disintegrate atomic nuclei in 1932. Chemical elements number at least 105, but more may be found. Atomic weights are expressed to the nearest integer, some of the familiar elements ranging from 1 for hydrogen, through 56 for iron, 100 for silver, 197 for gold and 238 for uranium, although a few very rare elements exceed 250.


An atom comprises a central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of orbiting electrons. The nucleus is a collection of protons and neutrons held together by the stronger of the two active nuclear forces. A nucleus typically is about 10-13 of a centimetre across, which is about 100,000 times smaller than the external diameter of the whole atom. Protons are composite particles carrying one unit of positive electric charge, comprised of quarks that are invariably combined as doublets or triplets. Neutrons are electrically neutral particles of similar composition to protons and about the same mass. Protons have a mass about 2,000 times greater than that of an electron. Electrons are fundamental particles of the lepton family carrying one unit of negative electric charge and having a mass of about 9 x 10-28 gram. The electrical forces acting between the particles of an atom are about 1040 times more powerful than the forces of gravity acting between them.


All quarks and leptons are fundamental particles that are point-like and have no structure. Quarks can have a positive or negative electric charge, which invariably is one‑third or two‑thirds of a unit, but leptons have either one unit of negative electric charge or no charge. The weaker of the two nuclear forces affect all members of the lepton family and cause some unstable nuclear particles to decay. Hundreds of different subatomic particles have been discovered, all of which are subject to the rules of quantum mechanics. Furthermore, whole atoms also display features of wave interference, so that the entire universe is really an interconnected arrangement of quantum mechanical systems, which proves that a purely clockwork universe of Newtonian simplicity cannot exist.


The dispersion of matter


About one Planck time after the primeval explosion, when space was beginning to emerge from time, the initially chaotic and inflationary state of matter was becoming more orderly. Microwave radiations arriving from outer space indicate that, during the early period of rapid expansion following the primeval explosion of the birth of the universe, the ambient temperature must have fallen from an estimated 1022 degrees centigrade at one Planck time to about 3° above absolute zero about 300,000 years later. This supercooling process allowed subatomic particles to combine and form atoms and then gases. Thus began the evolutionary state of matter that initiated the progressive formation of the universe. Because the earth is estimated to have come into existence about 4,500 million years ago, its age is less than one‑third the age of the universe. Even in the evolutionary state, particles of matter in the subatomic and atomic realms were subject to quantum uncertainties, blurring the distinction between matter and motion. A characteristic of these quantum processes is the spontaneous appearance of energy, which rapidly disappears while generating transient physical forces that have been measured and are found to affect atoms and the subatomic particles. An English mathematical physicist, Paul Dirac (1902‑1984), studied quantum mechanics in an attempt to reconcile the theory of quantum mechanics with the general theory of relativity, which he achieved in 1929 by utilising the wave nature of electrons in conjunction with the relativity of motion.


Paul Dirac’s work led to a complete mathematical formulation of the special and general theories of relativity, which the German-Swiss-American mathematical physicist, Albert Einstein (1879‑1955), published in 1905 and 1916 respectively. Paul Dirac also proved that the formula relating mass and energy is E2 = m2c4, the positive square root of which is the familiar formula E = mc2. However it is the negative solution of this equation, E = -mc2, which presaged the existence of antimatter. Scientists have since discovered antimatter and have assessed that in our galaxy it has an extreme upper limit of about one part per million. An important aspect of this discovery is that it confirms other evidence that the universe is in an extremely fine state of balance. Star counts have shown that, on average, the density of our universe is remarkably uniform. This is the logical outcome of the initial inflationary state, which by its very nature almost certainly would produce a closed universe. Observations made of the visible galaxies indicate an average density that is substantially less than the critical, but evidence derived by observing the gravitational influences of invisible matter, such as dark stars and black holes, suggests that the average density must be very close to the critical. Although the masses of individual stars and planets within galaxies vary enormously, as also do the densities within individual bodies, galaxies interact substantially as entities, so that it is their average densities that are of greatest importance in relation to the universe as a whole.


Since the birth of the universe it has been expanding under the influence of gravity, which progressively retards expansion at a rate decreasing in proportion to the square of the expansion. The present recessional velocity increases at the rate of 32 kilometres per second per million light years, but discoveries made in 2002 indicate that the rate of expansion of the universe is accelerating. Einstein's general theory of relativity implies that the universe occupies a closed space in the form of a finite curved space‑time continuum that is expanding. The least density required to ensure that the universe is closed is called the critical density, which has been calculated to be equivalent to about one atom of hydrogen in every cubic metre of space, or about 10‑30gram per cubic centimetre. Hydrogen is the most abundant element found in the universe, accounting for two‑thirds of its mass. Hydrogen and oxygen are essential elements in all living matter. An English natural philosopher and chemist, Henry Cavendish (1731‑1810), first recognised and isolated hydrogen in 1766. Then in 1774 an English Presbyterian minister, Joseph Priestley (1733‑1804), became a pioneer in the chemistry of gases by developing the production of oxygen.


The Reverend John Michell (1724‑1793), an English geologist, established the science of seismology. He was renowned as a scientist before he studied divinity. John Michell was the first to propose the existence of dark stars, in his paper read to the Royal Society by Henry Cavendish, his close friend and associate, in 1783. John Michell established that huge astronomical bodies are able to produce gravitational forces sufficiently powerful to prevent light particles from escaping, so that those bodies would be invisible to external observers. A French mathematician and astronomer, Pierre Laplace (1749‑1827), derived a similar theory independently in 1796. Then Johann von Soldner, a German astronomer, calculated that rays of light passing near a star would bend under gravity, as a result of which he postulated in 1801 that the stars making up the Milky Way might be orbiting a very massive dark star. Evidence now suggests that there is a black hole located in the centre of the Milky Way, equivalent to a mass of about a million of our suns. Dark stars, black holes and wormholes are now accepted as an essential part of the fabric of the universe, intrinsic to the general theory of relativity. Black holes are regions in space, usually formed by the collapse of a huge star or supernova under its own gravity, where the gravitational force is so strong that nothing can escape, not even light. In-falling matter cannot come to rest within a black hole until reaching the singularity of the space-time boundary that is at or near its centre. A wormhole is a tunnel through space-time interconnecting a black hole in one galaxy with a black hole in another galaxy that necessarily is in a different time frame, because it is in a different part of the universe. The deflections of light rays from distant bright stars are useful to detect dark stars and black holes.


Evidence of a Creator


An enigma of the creation is that, whilst on the one hand the more that science discovers the more it seems plausible that the universe could have evolved spontaneously without the need for a creator, yet on the other hand the less likely it seems that such a complex system could evolve and continue without the influence of some supreme force. An incredible aspect of the evolution of the universe is the diversity of astronomical bodies and the enormous range of inanimate materials that constitute it, coupled with the remarkable spectrum of plant and animal life that have evolved on planet earth, all from only a hundred or so elements of matter. Even more incredible is the breath of life that converts inanimate material into living and breathing animals, the substance of which is still concealed from our knowledge, thus preventing replication. Recent scientific investigations seem to preclude a purely clockwork universe and also indicate an extremely fine state of balance in the universe and on earth in particular. The following examples further illustrate how critical this state of balance is.


If the nuclear forces in atoms were marginally weaker, quantum forces would disrupt the tenuous links between particles and allow atoms to disintegrate, as a result of which the sun and all other stars would die out. If the nuclear forces were marginally stronger, protons would adhere in pairs and one proton of each pair would decay to a neutron. Thus the pairs of protons would progressively convert into deuterium and thence to helium, effectively using up all of the hydrogen, as a result of which stars like the sun could not exist, nor could liquid water. Equally critical requirements for the existing plant and animal life are oxygen and hydrogen, coupled with delicate ranges of ambient temperature, moisture and sunlight. These factors combine with those mentioned earlier to provide the most compelling evidence that the universe did not come into existence by mere chance, but that it was designed with such care and precision as could only be achieved by the ingenuity of an omniscient Creator, whose omnipresence seems essential for its continuing survival.

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