In the beginning…

I wanted to add a comment to SAM I AM’s post on Amana or trust, but then my comment expanded, so I thought I would make a post out of it instead. SAM I AM formulates a simple and beautiful message: “We are trustees of God’s creation, and we should seek to leave the world a better place than it was when we came into it.” In his formulation, he stated something that caught my attention: “Intellect makes Man unique and exalted from amongst creation”. This places incredible responsibility on Man to act as stewards for God’s creation. At the same time Man is, in all of creation, the only form of matter that does not understand his unique role in the universe. A tree is a tree and knows only to be a tree, likewise in the plant and animal kingdom. I once read a beautiful poem that had a line which read, ” …every snowflake falls where it should” Mans insistence to separate himself from the universe is a rejection of the role of steward. The Trust is broken.

This post however is not about Amana. SAM I AM can speak to that more eloquently than I can. I am however interested in Mans connection to the larger Universe and thus to Creation. To understand that we and everything around us comes from the same source is a humbling thought. It is true. Science confirms it. To see this, we have to start at the beginning, almost 15 billion years ago. The leading theory for the formation of our universe is the Big Bang. According to this theory, all the matter and energy in our present observable universe was compressed into a very small area, before, in a nanosecond, it exploded outward and expanded continually until the present time — and will perhaps do so forever. Everything that exists now, the building blocks of everything around us, and including us, was once all packed into a sphere one millionth of a meter across.

The following is from The Universe by Anthony Capri, PhD. “In the beginning [some 15 billion years ago], the universe exploded in one cataclysmic ‘Big Bang’. For an instant, only energy existed as the tremendous heat of the explosion (1 x 1032 degrees) unified everything. As space erupted, matter, energy and time itself were created. In the first seconds of time, the early universe expanded and cooled to 100 billion degrees, and protons, neutrons and electrons began to take form. Within moments, as temperatures plunged to one billion degrees above zero, small atomic nuclei began to take shape as protons and neutrons began to interact. After 300,000 years, temperatures in the universe had dropped below 3,000 degrees and neutral atoms were formed as electrons combined with the atomic nuclei. Gravity and the other fundamental forces were also created in this explosion and they began to cause the early atoms to pull together into dense clouds called nebulae. Over time, nebulae collapsed into massive objects called stars, which bathed the universe in light. As the tremendous pressure of a star’s own gravity squeezes the atoms inside of it together, stars fuse light elements (such as hydrogen and helium) into heavier ones (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, etc.). Over billions of years, a star eventually exhausts its nuclear fuel and ends its life in a cataclysmic explosion, called a supernova. This process spreads the star’s matter back into space and begins the cycle anew.”

To summarize, Capri has it almost right. Initially, the universe did not explode as he states. It was the explosion that created the universe. Something comes from nothing. This is a contradictory premise that undermines the Laws of Energy Conservation. At this stage, the quarks, neutrinos, and other quantum particles were bouncing of each other and combing. As the temperatures cooled due to expansion, protons, neutrons and electrons began to form. As these combined, large gas clouds formed. Gravity caused these gas clouds to condense and form stars. As the pressure of the outer cores of the stars compacted on their inner cores, the resulting high temperatures caused nuclear reactions to take place. Molecules, within the cores, bind and create new elements. When the star burns its fuel, it may explode, expelling all of the newly created elements into the universe. These new elements interact with gas clouds and form new stars and planets. We are all truly stardust. [For a deeper and more fascinating understanding of this process please see Big Bang Timeline]

All the matter in the universe, including us, comes from this process and was a result of the initial act of creation. My personal understanding is that God is the Big Bang. Her thought set into motion a chain of events that scattered consciousness [Quantum theory tell us that particles which make up atoms make decisions based on if they are being observed, and that the nature of the observing/measuring effects these decisions]. This is the life-force that I understand as God. So, God is in everything. From the first act of creation, every atom and particle in the unverse is part of that God spirit, as are we. All matter is tied together with everything else on this planet and in the Universe. Even with our intellect we are the only things in the universe that do not understand this relationship.

[Late addition] This was taken from His Highness the Aga Khan’s  speech at the Opening Session of
‘Word of God, Art of Man: The Qur’an and its Creative Expressions’ An International Colloquium organised by The Institute of Ismaili Studies. It has relevence to what I posted above, please excuse the length of this post.

“…it has been the Qur’anic notion of the universe as an expression of Allah’s will and creation that has inspired, in diverse Muslim communities, generations of artists, scientists and philosophers? Scientific pursuits, philosophic inquiry and artistic endeavour are all seen as the response of the faithful to the recurring call of the Qur’an to ponder the creation as a way to understand Allah’s benevolent majesty. As Sura al-Baqara proclaims: ‘Wherever you turn, there is the face of Allah’…

… the famous verse of ‘light’ in the Qur’an, the Ayat al-Nur, whose first line is rendered here in the mural behind me, inspires among Muslims a reflection on the sacred, the transcendent. It hints at a cosmos full of signs and symbols that evoke the perfection of Allah’s creation and mercy…

… It is concerned with the salvation of the soul, but commensurately also with the ethical imperatives which sustain an equitable social order. The Qur’an’s is an inclusive vision of society that gives primacy to nobility of conduct. It speaks of differences of language and colour as a divine sign of mercy and a portent for people of knowledge to reflect upon.

Ours is a time when knowledge and information are expanding at an accelerating and, perhaps, unsettling pace. There exists, therefore, an unprecedented capacity for improving the human condition. And yet, ills such as abject poverty and ignorance, and the conflicts these breed, continue to afflict the world. The Qur’an addresses this challenge eloquently. The power of its message is reflected in its gracious disposition to differences of interpretation; its respect for other faiths and societies; its affirmation of the primacy of the intellect; its insistence that knowledge is worthy when it is used to serve Allah’s creation; and, above all, its emphasis on our common humanity.”