3. The Almighty Power of the Universe

Praise be the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes the time of the seasons.

The Bible: Daniel 2:21

You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with corn, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.

The Bible: Psalm 65:9

In the creation of the heaven’s and the earth; in the alternation of night and day in the ships that sail the ocean with cargoes beneficial to man; in the water which God sends down from the sky and with which he revives the earth after its death, dispersing over it all manner of beasts; in the disposal of the winds, and in the clouds that are driven between sky and earth: surely in these there are signs for rational men.

The Koran, The Cow, 163

Not an atom’s weight in earth or heaven escapes your Lord.

The Koran: Jonah 61

…God drives the clouds, then gathers them and piles them up in masses which pour down torrents of rain… The flash of His lightning almost snatches out men’s eyes. God makes the night succeed the day…

The Koran: Light 43

Blessed is He who decked the sky with constellations and set in it a lamp and a shining moon

The Koran: Light 60

There are many things in the Universe, which are important, especially for the production of life. Stars are a good example. For without them there would be no light or heat to drive the weather systems on the Earth and provide the green plants so essential for the food chain. Water is highly important for without it there can be no life as we are accustomed to it. It is the combination of energy from our local star, the Sun, the water on the Earth and the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, that enables green plants to build themselves up. It is surprising just how many of the general population are somewhat ignorant of the facts, even though they were taught the process, which we call photosynthesis at school. Some people are under the impression that plants are made from the Earth out of which they grow. If this were the case, we would very soon have no topsoil left at all, when you consider the amount of garden waste, which we remove at the end of the summer. The fact of the matter is, that while there may be a small quantity of nutrients taken from the soil during plant growth, the bulk of a plant consists of carbon, which the plant has removed from the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis. So, the bulk of any plant is carbon, water and the sun’s energy trapped within it. You come along and eat it, or eat an animal that has eaten it and you transfer that carbon and energy to yourself. Alternatively, burning it returns the carbon dioxide and water back to the atmosphere and any remaining ash back to the Earth.

If there were no planets around stars then there would not be a safe haven for life to develop. At present, we are only certain that the Earth in our solar system can sustain life. The Earth just happens to have been created in just the right zone, in terms of distance from the Sun, to support the great diversity of the life that we see. It is interesting to speculate just how the climate and development of life on Earth would have been if the Earth had been further away or closer to the Sun. If it had been further away, then the poles would have been so cold, that any habitable region would have been confined to a narrow strip centred on the equator. That would have been an interesting problem for any emerging intelligence to wrestle with especially after the first person had found out that it was possible to arrive back where you started if you travelled in one direction. Alternatively, the Earth could have been closer to the Sun and the equatorial regions totally uninhabitable. Development of life could have taken place at the poles. With two sets of evolutionary paths taking place on opposite ends of the planet, would they have been similar or totally different? Would intelligent life have arisen during the same epochs? If it did and they became technologically advanced so that they discovered each other, would they like each other or would they kill each other? End of speculation.

If there is a point to the Universe at all, then by far the most important thing in the Universe above all others has to be conscious awareness. Without conscious awareness, then no matter how many planets in the Universe could sustain life, everything would be a total waste of time and would be pointless. Of course, if the whole thing is just one nasty accident, then conscious awareness would just be a by-product of this accident and have no significance what so ever. However, if there is something more to life and the Universe, then conscious awareness has to be the supreme pinnacle of all. It is the means by which the Universe knows itself. Therefore, what the Bible refers to as the spirit or soul has to be intrinsically linked with consciousness. The spirit of life from its simplest form up to its higher manifestation in our own consciousness has to be what its all about. This point is being emphasised, because all to easily when we here references to the spirit or the soul, we are inclined to think of it as something abstract or detached from our consciousness, rather than thinking of it as being our very consciousness itself. If I had lived, but never been conscious of living, then it is as if I had never lived at all.

The Holy Spirit on the other hand can be thought of as everyone’s consciousness working together or the consciousness of the very Universe itself.

Life is the interaction of conscious awareness with the rest of the Universe from its simplest to its highest levels. Who is the real conscious you?

Who is that thinking person who appears to inhabit your head and the rest of your body? In science we talk about localisation and non-localisation. A particle is localised if is confined to a particular volume of space. Non-localised means that the particles position is ill defined and spread out. Inside of our head countless electrons and photons are continually exchanging energies. It would appear that while we are conscious these energies are localised within our head and bodies. Remote viewing may offer a glimpse of a person's non-conscious awareness of non-localised states. The trick being to bring the information into conscious awareness. Are we something more than we may realise? A couple of thought experiments with our consciousness may offer a glimpse. Sit quietly and think on these points. Look at the back of your hand. When I was young I did this and said to myself, "This is a young hand." When grown up or in middle age we don't think much about it. Things are as they should be. Then as we get older we observe again, "This is an older hand." We are aware that things are different than the norm early and later in life. What does your spiritual voice sound like inside your head? Some will say that its not a voice its just a thought. Yet, in the same way that visualisation brings up a picture in our mind of someone we know, so the auditory imagination of our mind does the same with sound. Now imagine that a friend, relative, boss or colleague has just walked in the room and they are talking to you. Your auditory imagination presents this to you with all the personal characteristics and nuances of that persons voice and personality. Now for the difficult bit. Who's is the voice in your head when you are contemplating what do do for the day and turning over general thoughts in your mind? Your first reaction would probably be, that it is your own voice, meaning the physical voice that everyone hears when you speak. Yet a little more contemplation may reveal that its not quite the physical voice that everyone hears. It has a lighter, purer feel to it. Is this our spiritual voice? Your physical voice changes throughout life, but your spiritual thinking voice doesn't. One reason why we feel uneasy when we first hear our recorded voice is that it doesn't sound right. One reason for this is that we also receive sound from our vocal chords through our bodies as well as through the air which changes the sound slightly. However, the other reason may well be that it doesn't quite match the voice that we think of as being our real selves. The interaction of the real you, your consciousness, with your physical brain as part of your body creates tension in itself. Who writes your dreams? We have all had dreams about things that we have never even consciously considered. Are dreams just the product of our physical brain doing its own thing when our consciousness lets it go? Is that why we only remember dreams which are occurring as our consciousness takes control again as we awake. Then the events enter our consciousness. Many thoughts enter our conscious mind which we often wish we could do without, thoughts that our conscious mind may find unpleasant. Of course, the best thing to do appears not to resist, but to let them float in, examine and recognise them for what they are and let them float off again. I often drink tea as my normal drink and I have consciously trained my body to accomplish the task of brewing a cup of tea. Sometime for a change, I make a conscious decision to have a cup of coffee instead. Should I get distracted, so that my consciousness becomes preoccupied, I then find to my astonishment that my body has got on with its job and brewed me a cup of tea instead. Tea that I did not want. Consciousness is certainly something that we still know little about. We appear to know more about the Universe than our own conscious selves.

Understanding how the Universe itself works has been the goal of physicists and all those with an in built curiosity from the year dot. This does not apply to all people. There are those who can go through life without the slightest interest in how anything works as long as it does. This is not a criticism. The world needs the salt of the Earth type. They get things done without having to worry about what is going on in the background. On the other hand, they do not fuel progress and they would probably argue that progress is not necessarily a good thing. The curious however, do want to know the rules by which things work. They want to know what is going on. It is assumed that you are one of these, otherwise you would not be reading this. Therefore, sticking to our theme, the study of God in ancient times would have been the study of the rules, which govern everything. What may have gone wrong is the splitting of the two ideas into God and Universe rather than seeing them as a single unified whole. In other words, all those who study how the Universe works from the atomic level to the dynamics of galaxies, the rules of life from the microscopic bacteria to the most advanced life forms on the Earth, are really studying God more than they realise.

The rules that govern our Universe or God are finely balanced. We know that they are tuned for the production of life, otherwise we would not be here to witness it. This is known in science as the anthropic principle.

The whole of the Universe appears to be governed by just four fundamental forces, which we call the forces of nature. The word fundamental means that they cannot be split or simplified into other forces.

There is the gravitational force, which keeps our feet on the ground and our bodies on the Earth. It keeps the Earth and other planets in orbit around our sun. The realisation that it was exactly the same thing that was responsible for keeping our feet on the ground and the Moon in orbit around the Earth and the Earth in its orbit around the Sun, was a great triumph for Isaac Newton in his day.

Then, there is the electromagnetic force, which exists between all charged objects. This produces magnetic effects and electrical effects depending upon whether the objects are at rest or in relative motion with each other. The movement of electrons is responsible for much of the electromagnetic radiation, which travels through space. Electrons being forced to move up and down in an aerial produce radio waves. These then spread out like ripples on a pond and cause electrons in everyone else’s aerial to vibrate is sympathy much like a cork bobs up and down on water. Electrons vibrating and jumping around in atoms produce heat and light.

Then, there are the weak and strong nuclear forces, which apply at the atomic level. The weak nuclear force is responsible for reactions that take place in the sun, and permits certain types of radioactive decay. The strong nuclear force binds the nucleus of the atom together. If you think about it, the nucleus contains protons, which are all positively charged. Positive charges repel each other, so following this rule the nucleus should fly apart. The strong nuclear force overcomes this repulsion and keeps the nucleus together. The strong nuclear force is by far the strongest of all four forces with gravity being the weakest. The strength of these four forces and there relative strength to each other is of vital importance. It has been shown that if there were just a small change in any of them then there would be no stars to provide the energy for life. There may well be no Universe at all. Yet, we know the Universe is here because we are in it and the four forces are tuned for its very existence. With the matter in the Universe and the four forces in action, the Universe is capable of some almighty powerful actions. Stars, which are too big, blast themselves to pieces in some of the most almighty explosions that the Universe contains. These are called supernova. This is the fate of all stars that are too big. By too big we mean around ten times bigger than our sun. If the Universe were perfect, why have them at all? Why not have a Universe where all stars are around the same mass as our sun? Well, if that had been the case then there would be no planets to live on, let alone life. The supernova explosion provides all the elements from which we and everything else we see around us eventually result. Stars in the first place just consist of hydrogen and twenty-five percent helium. A star fuses hydrogen into helium at is core. Helium is the next heavier element. By heavier we mean that it has more protons and neutrons in its nucleus. In later stages when the hydrogen has run out the star swells to become a red giant. In the core, helium now undergoes fusion and lithium is formed, which is the next heaviest element and so on. This process continues, on through the elements in the first part of the periodic table. When these fusion reactions take place electromagnetic radiation, of which light is one part is released. We call these small packets of electromagnetic energy, photons. These photons having been formed in the core of the star have to work their way out to the surface of the star. They take a random walk colliding with particles, being absorbed and re-emitted, which takes around a million years. Eventually, they arrive at the surface of the star and the energy is released into the rest of the Universe. That which lands on the Earth provides our energy. The process of fusion goes on in the centre of the star until the final element in the chain, iron, forms at the core of the star. Then the star collapses and explodes more or less at the same time. Now, we know that there are many more elements further along in the periodic table heavier than iron. The only problem is that in order for them to be created by the process of fusion, it requires energy to be put into the reaction instead of it being released as electromagnetic radiation. This happens in a supernova explosion. As the star explodes a colossal amount of energy is released, so much so, that a supernova in another galaxy can outshine the light of the entire galaxy as seen from our own galaxy for a few days. This energy fuses the rest of the elements. These elements together with all the elements formed in the star during its lifetime are blasted into the interstellar medium. It is from these enormous gas clouds that average sized stars like the sun are formed together with their attendant planets. The new smaller stars formed then radiate energy for around another ten billion years. In this sense, the Universe really does have an almighty power and what it is capable of is truly awe-inspiring. Strangely enough, it is some of the energy from the original supernova explosion that we are releasing on the Earth when we take a heavy element like uranium and split it into smaller nuclei by the fission process in a nuclear reactor. Fission means breaking nuclei. This cannot be done with any heavy element. It just so happens that one particular form or isotope of uranium can be split, by allowing neutrons to enter its nucleus. This causes the nucleus to split into two smaller lighter nuclei and releases a vast amount of heat energy in the process. This heat energy then changes water into steam to drive turbines and generators to provide our electricity. It is strange to think that we are using a tiny fraction of that original supernova explosion to provide us with cheap energy on the Earth. On the downside, we end up with highly radioactive material, which we have to store for thousands of years before it will be safe again. However, this is only a stopgap measure. There is not enough uranium in the Earth’s crust to last into the next century. This is one reason why we now need to extend our technological know how to perfect alternatives for the long-term future of the Earth.

One of the main reasons that many people shun the concept of God all together, is because of the harm that comes to people. This can be as a result of another person or particular group of people or due to some accident or natural disaster. We say that, if there is an “Almighty God” then why does he not do something about it. Surely, that is what the word Almighty means, the ability to do anything that is chosen. Clearly from everyday experience, this does not happen. Is this because there is no God or is it because our concept is wrong? One probable reason is that it may be due to us having a too high expectation, due to the overworking of the phrase “Almighty God”. It should be noted that in the whole of the King James Version of the New Testament the word “Almighty” is hardly ever used. It is not used at all in any of the four Gospels. It is mentioned once in the second book of Corinthians at the end of Chapter 6, but it is referring back to and quoting the Old Testament. It then appears 8 more times in the book of Revelation, but once again, it is quoting or paraphrasing the Old Testament. Jesus himself never uses the phrase at all. It would appear that we ourselves have overworked the phrase from the Old Testament of the Bible. The problem is that it gives us the false impression that God can do anything at the drop of a hat. The use of the word “Almighty” has even been extended in the New International Version of the Bible. In the preface to the same, it states:

“Because for most readers today the phrases “the Lord of hosts” and “God of hosts” have little meaning, this version renders them “the Lord Almighty” and “God Almighty”. These renderings convey the sense of the Hebrew, namely, “he who is sovereign over all the “hosts” (powers) in heaven and on earth, especially over the “hosts” (armies) of Israel.”

The word “Almighty” is also used repeatedly in many church prayers including the Creed. As stated, the problem is, that this falsely raises our expectations to produce in our minds the concept of a God who could intervene in the everyday running of the Earth if he wanted. This creates for us a paradox. How can there possibly be a loving God if he allows such terrible things to happen? If we had almighty power, we would do something about it, would we not? That makes us better than God himself. Clearly, something is wrong. Either we are wrong to even consider the concept of God, or our expectations are wrong, as well as our concept of God. The word “Almighty” was translated into the King James Version of the Bible from the ancient word “Shadday”. The real sense that this word is supposed to convey is the sense of being powerful in the sense of having strength and being self-sustaining. It is not meant to convey the meaning of continuous intervention and rule changing as and when needed.

Although the word “host” maybe an obscure term for most people perhaps a more literal translation would be more appropriate than changing the word to “Almighty”. The phrase “Lord of hosts” really means Lord of the angels or Lord of the stars in the sense of being the Lord of many large groups of things. So, the term “Lord of many” or simply “Lord of all” could be a much more appropriate phrase which conveys the correct meaning without raising our expectations too much.

In one translation of the Koran, it says that the term “Lord of Creation” has been replaced with the phrase “Lord of the Universe”. Now, following our lines of thought we can see that “Lord of Creation” may well be a more appropriate phrase. “Lord of the Universe” once again separates the ideas into two rather than unifying them as one.

Would not the world be a totally chaotic place if the laws of the Universe were continually being broken? Someone has just fallen off the mountain. Suspend the force of gravity. Everyone will fly off the Earth. Just suspend it underneath them. The world then becomes a world of magic tricks. There would be no need to strive for anything. Leap off a mountain if you like. You know you will be saved. We know from everyday experience that it does not work like that. The rules are laid down and we all have to go with them.

It is true that there is an almighty power at work during star and planet building, but it could be a mistake to expect some almighty power to intervene continuously in our everyday lives. Apart from making us completely careless, we would probably not have any free will of our own at all. Free will is the very thing that makes us individuals.

One paradox is apparent in the words of Jesus in Matthew 17:20 where he states, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Now we know from our everyday experience that this cannot literally be true. A person may step out into mid air from the tenth floor of a building with the absolute one hundred percent belief that they can fly. However, we know the force of gravity will ensure only one outcome will result. Was Jesus exaggerating? Or was he speaking figuratively, emphasising that with a positive approach we can overcome problems, whereas a negative approach holds us back? The point is that sometimes the literal interpretation can lead us to a confused faith.

Not all this of course means that prayer and asking for help is a waste of time. If what we are told is correct, prayers can be answered and should be used. It is not going to help much if we have just fallen out of an aircraft without a parachute. The mechanisms that govern prayer may well operate at the level of the quantum world. That is the world of the very small, which we will be considering in a later chapter. It is here that we all may well be connected in some way to each other and the Universe itself by some type of subterranean channels. When praying or meditating we may bring about conditions in our lives that would not otherwise exist. In order to do this effectively everyone has to have something to visualise. One way of doing this is to imagine that you are praying to a father who is in heaven. Other religions than Christianity will have their own variations on the theme. If the process exists, it obviously exists for all, just as the same process that takes place after death must also exist for all. We are praying to the creator with which we are all interwoven and connected. Just how the system works is out of our reach. We know that it is no use praying for the next set of lottery numbers to be presented to us in advance. It is certainly not as straightforward as that. Nonetheless, praying for people’s health or help with difficulties may well cause effects that affect brain patterns in others. So while it may be difficult for us as mere mortals to rearrange the physical world by thought and cause for example that tumour to disintegrate or disappear, it may be possible to influence the minds of others at a distance by the patterns we produce in our own minds. Many people believe in the power of prayer due to their first hand experience. All the great prophets of all religions testify to its reality.

The question of whether there is any scientific proof on the power of prayer is open to debate. You can read about many studies, which claim to answer this question one way or the other. It is not as simple as saying for example that the gravitational force always acts towards the centre of the Earth. Predicting the results of prayer may be more akin to predicting the weather in that there are numerous variables that may influence the outcome. Group prayer may be more effective as more inputs are added to the system. One is reminded of the famous quote, "When two or more are gathered together in my name...".

So, to return to our original theme, the almighty power of the Universe or God was capable of star and planet building. That power built the Earth. So how do we reconcile what we know about science with the biblical account of this phenomenal action?

For further information, try entering words such as shadday and almighty in your search engine. Also, try prayer and scientific evidence.

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