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A Divine Dissolution
In Defense of the Faith
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Wendy Wippel

Today's topic: science. Specifically, "decoupling", a word that according to Webster means to separate or detach. You'll find the word "separate" 53 times in the Bible (NASV). And one of those times is nothing less than slam-dunk proof that the Scriptures had one supernatural Author. And that that supernatural Author is God.

The Genesis account of creation is stunningly short on details, capturing the origin of everything around us (our hundreds of billions of galaxies, containing an estimated 300 sextillion unique stars  --and all that they contain-- in just a few hundred words. (Not to mention comets, black holes, moons, and asteroids).

300 sextillion, (for those who are curious), is this number: 3,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.  And that's a really big number.  In fact, there more stars created that there have seconds since the universe came to be, And that's at the commonly estimated 15 million- year- age of the universe.

But I digress. The Genesis account is frustratingly short on details.  But maybe that's to serve as a more sure testimony when we finally uncover the science behind them for ourselves.

Case in point: Genesis 1:

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was [a] formless and void, and darkness was over the [b]surface of the deep, and the Spirit of Godwas [c]moving over the [d] surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness." 

Four simple verses. But verses with an incredible amount of modern science packed into them. According to contemporary cosmologists and physicists, here's what happened at the universe's moment of origin:

First, an incredibly hot, incredibly dense point of energy appeared.  (How it appeared, where it came from, is a subject of great debate among scientists, but many of them acknowledge that its appearance demands a first cause outside of the universe's space/time construct, and many have gone into the spiritual realm for answers. These topics have been covered in earlier columns.)

But I digress.

Scientists say that the point of energy then rapidly expanded, and as it expanded, it cooled. As it cooled, the elements of our familiar universe formed out of it.

First forces, such as gravity, electromagnetism, and the nuclear force. (I don't pretend to really understand that…)

And then subatomic particles, like quarks and muons and bosons.  This sea of seething subatomic particles formed what scientists call a plasma--not really matter or substance yet, because no atoms, the building blocks of matter, had formed.  The plasma was still incredibly hot, much too hot for the subatomic particles to lose enough energy to form atoms.   

Within this plasma, however, bundles of light energy called photons were being created. But it was a funny thing.  In our world light always moves, currently at a speed of 186,000 miles/second. In the beginning, however, photons formed were trapped within the plasma , because the subatomic particles had positive or negative charges, and the distance a photon could travel without bumping into a charged particle was very short. The photons obligatorily interacted with the charged subatomic particles.

(Let's just think of it as needing to stop and say "Hi" --kind of like trying to get out of church on Sunday. You can't get very far because you keep running into someone else.) The photons couldn't get very far, so they remained trapped inside the plasma.

But not forever. The plasma continued to expand, and therefore cool. And finally the temperature hit 3000° Kelvin.  (For the curious, that's about 5000° Fahrenheit.)

And 3000° Kelvin, as it turns out, was (to put it mildly), a defining moment.

At 3000° Kelvin, it was cool enough that the subatomic particles, attracted by opposite charges and aided by the nuclear force, could finally coalesce into atoms. Neutrally charged atoms, which photons don't feel a need to interact with.

With atoms, we had matter, and the visible universe was underway.

Just to make sure we're all on the same page, let's review: 

  1. Light (in the form of photons) was created before matter. (BTW, just like the Bible says.)
  2. The bundles of light, created however (photons), were trapped in a plasma of seething charged subatomic particles
  3. At 3000°K.  At that temperature, however, the subatomic particles formed atoms, and because atoms are neutrally charged, the bundles of light were released.

You may realize where I am going with this, but if not, it's because I have intentionally left out one critical piece of information:  that incredibly hot sea of seething subatomic particle called a plasma?

It's also called "dark matter".

So at 3000° K, the subatomic particles conjoined themselves into neutrally charged atoms and the trapped photons of light flew away at 186,000 miles/second.

(One magazine article on the subject says that "they've been zipping along ever since.")

And they left the dark matter behind.

Scientists call this moment the Point of Decoupling because light "decoupled" from darkness. It "detached" itself from darkness.

Light separated from darkness.

Literally. Scientifically. That's what science says.

The atheist's  Bible commentary (skepticsannotatedbible.com) has this mocking analysis of Genesis 1:4:

"God creates light and separates light from darkness, and day from night, on the first day. Yet he didn't make the light producing objects (the sun and the stars) until the fourth day." 

The commentator is apparently as clueless about science as he is the Bible. Science says that light, a more fundamental entity, came into being before any of the stars. And science says that at some point later (just like the Bible says) light separated from darkness.

And when you understand the science, you understand that Genesis proves itself to be a scientific record of events that modern science finally caught up with.

Science "thinking God's thoughts after him", as one eminent scientist (Johann Kepler)  once described his profession.

Francis Bacon (who just happens to be the founder of the scientific method) nailed it 500 years ago:

“ A little science estranges a man from God; a lot of science brings him back.” 

Verily, Verily.

True Dat.

About Wendy Wippel

Last week: Faith Anchored



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