Google グループのホームへ移動    talk.origins
Adam lived over 900 years

Serpico606 <serpico...@aol.com>

>Subject: Re: Adam lived over 900 years
>From: camemb...@webtv.net (Steve Sondericker)
>Date: Wed, Sep 23, 1998 9:17 PM
>Message-id: <2353-36099F4...@newsd-103.iap.bryant.webtv.net>

>Serpico, I just chanelled a message from Havona.  It says, "name those
>'finest scientific minds.'"

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------------------------------------------------------------------------
Physics and Astronomy

by L. Dan Massey
Scientific Symposium I    1988

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Welcome to Nashville, Tennessee. As I contemplated the substance of my
remarks to you today, I was struck by a certain irony. Sixty-three years
ago, in 1925, in the town of Dayton, hardly a hundred and fifty miles
from here, a young biology teacher named John Scopes was tried for and
convicted of the crime of teaching the theory of evolution to his
students. The statute under which John Scopes was convicted was upheld
as constitutional on appeal to the state supreme court. Although the
events of the trial occurred in Dayton, the political authority which
enacted and enforced this law emanated from the state capital,
Nashville.

The trial was the media sensation of its day. Some of the most famous
legal, scientific, and theological authorities of the time used young
Scopes' misfortune and Tennessee's tragedy as a ready-made soap-box from
which to promote their own causes, both good and bad. Clarence Darrow
led the defense. William Jennings Bryan led the prosecution. Public
opinion about the issues of the trial would polarize around the
differences of these two men.

Clarence Darrow was the most famous trial lawyer of his day. A staunch
advocate of individual, minority, and labor rights, Darrow had gained
fame for his impassioned and inspired defense of the most controversial
criminal cases of the time. An outspoken agnostic, he seemed to
represent above all the secular and intellectual position on the issues
of the trial.

William Jennings Bryan was the most famous orator of the day. Three
times the Democratic Party's presidential nominee, Bryan advocated many
important populist causes. Though respected by a nation for his social
leadership, the foundation of his intellectual, moral, and political
position was a fundamentalist kind of Christianity, which espoused a
literal reading of the Bible, and a belief that government should serve
as an instrument of God in perfecting society. He came to represent the
religious and authoritarian position on the issues of the trial.

Bryan was so confident of his righteousness, authority, and speaking
abilities that he allowed himself to be called as an expert witness on
the Bible, for the defense. Darrow's widely-reported examination of
Bryan's fundamentalist beliefs was devastating and destroyed Bryan's
credibility in the minds of all but the mindless. Scopes was nonetheless
convicted and, two days later in Chattanooga, Bryan died suddenly, to
many a martyr for his faith.

No event since the trial of Galileo had a stronger effect on the general
perception of the separation between science and religion. The central
issue of the Scopes trial, whether government could legislate the
teaching of religious myths, was lost in the furor over whether science
or religion was "right." Anyone suggesting a position allowing the two
to be unified would be excoriated by both camps. In the public mind,
religion became identified with irrational belief in a set of arbitrary
myths, while science assumed the position of the supreme authority on
reality. The rapid improvements in the quality of life brought about by
the exploitation of scientific discoveries reinforced this view, while
religion was largely remembered for its manifestations of extreme
intolerance--the crusades, the inquisition, the witchcraft trials,
prohibition, persecution of women, minorities, and intellectuals, and so
on. The idea was firmly established that science and religion were
irreconcilable.

Today, the secular scientific and rationalist community find it almost
impossible to forgive religion, as they understand it, for inciting
human society repeatedly to deny and to destroy the discoveries of human
intellect which seem, to them, to be the highest products of humankind.
The fundamentalist religious and theological community similarly finds
it almost impossible to forgive science, as they understand it, for
inciting human society repeatedly to deny and to destroy the myths and
illusions which, to them, seem to support and justify the highest and
noblest of human spiritual actions. As each group works to defend itself
against the other, the middle ground is largely held by secular and
spiritual pragmatists, who care relatively little for the facts and
theories of either camp.

The URANTIA Book enters the scene as the first and, so far, the only
text fully to unify and harmonize the teachings and attitudes of science
and religion through a new, revealed philosophy of reality which
transcends the parochial concerns of either faction. By revealing the
existence of the Seven Absolutes of Infinity, by revealing the existence
of the four domains of finite reality, and by explaining how these
realities combine in the human pursuits of science, philosophy, and
religion, The URANTIA Book forever eliminates any basis for contention
about which viewpoint is "right."

At the same time, The URANTIA Book provides much apparently factual
information about the nature of physical reality, while warning its
readers that its cosmological statements, while revealed, are definitely
not inspired. (*1109:6-1110:1) We now understand that the Biblical
creation myth is neither revealed nor inspired. Its descriptive details
have been shown by the true discoveries of science to be either
incorrect or unlikely to be true. The URANTIA Book, through revelation,
confirms this conclusion without confirming the scientific evidence upon
which it is based. In fact, many of the factual statements which the
book assembles to confirm this philosophical conclusion appear, on the
surface at least, to conflict in some details with the very discoveries
of science on which rational rejection of Biblical myth is based.
Fortunately, the conflict is not so severe as to undermine either the
rational or the revealed conclusion.

There is, however, a hazard in all this. We who are wholly convinced of
the authenticity of The URANTIA Book as a revelation strive unceasingly
to understand and to live its teachings. In the arenas of mind and
spirit the authorities of human philosophy and human religion are so
weak and confused that we tend to accept our interpretation of the book
uncritically. In the arena of fact, however, the cosmological
revelations of the book may be objectively tested against scientific
facts and theories. The apparent dissonances are so clear that we are
tempted to seek reinterpretations of both science and revelation which
bring them into harmony.

The Hebrew priests of the Babylonian captivity undertook a redaction of
their racial myths of the creation, thus providing a uniform theory of
origins which would come to support the supposed role of Deity in the
establishment of the Jewish state. The result is contained in the Book
of Genesis. The URANTIA Book, by virtue of its claim to revelatory
authority, and by virtue of the truth-content and power of its spiritual
and philosophical teachings, tends to compel belief in its uninspired
cosmology. Yet elements of that cosmology may seem to conflict with
clearly observable facts of nature. How tempting will it someday become
to "correct" these seeming inconsistencies by changing a word here, a
phrase there?

By so doing we might remove the very parts of the text which, in ages to
come, will provide a safeguard against the use of the book by the
enemies of truth to crystallize and fossilize scientific thought.
Already, at the time of the second printing in 1963, the publishers had
modified the text to remove several blatant errors of fact. I do not
criticize this specific action, which seems entirely justified in these
cases. I believe, however, that such changes will always seem eminently
reasonable when they are made, yet in sum and substance may come to
undermine a plan for the future role of the book in human intellectual
development which we can only dimly perceive at this time.

I am not, however, primarily concerned about how the text of the book
shall be preserved. I am more interested in the spirit in which we
approach the task before us today, the task of interpreting the text of
the book and the facts of science in such a way as to bring the two into
harmony.

For many years I have carefully examined the cosmological teachings of
the book in an effort to determine how this could be done. Often, I
found statements in the book which correlated directly with current
scientific knowledge and/or belief. More often, I found the statements
in the book to be couched in such metaphorical and poetic language as to
allow no definite comparison to be made. Occasionally, I found
statements in the book which flatly contradicted some of the so-called
teachings of science. As I explored these areas more carefully, I
discovered that the sharp conflicts were more often with the beliefs or
theories of science than with the observed facts on which those beliefs
were based. The book, therefore, seemed to offer some new ways of
interpreting existing data and experience.

Where contradictions of fact appeared, I discovered that the so-called
facts of science, while somewhat factual in nature, usually contained a
great deal of theorizing about a rather limited or selective body of
data, so that the possibility of misinterpretation was clear. In
general, the theory had become accepted as fact simply because it had
existed for a long time without being seriously questioned, because it
offered the intuitive appeal of simplicity, or because the facts which
would refute it had been ignored by the community of responsible
scientific specialists for various reasons, including paucity,
obscurity, and the human quest for personal advantage.

My most successful approach to interpreting The URANTIA Book in these
areas was to set aside my scientific preconceptions about the matter
under discussion, to assume that the statements in the book must, in
some sense, be actually correct, and to extrapolate from them as far as
I felt confident (which was usually not very far). Only then would I
examine the experimental facts and manipulate the accepted theories of
science to try to achieve a match. Although this process often yielded
interesting results, I eventually found some of the resulting
interpretations unsatisfying, as though, through lack of evidence or
lack of understanding, I had twisted one or the other source to achieve
a similarity that was not entirely real. I thus came to feel that,
except for the degree of dogmatism involved, there was little to disti
nguish my approach from that of the fanatical creationist who decides
that, since he believes Genesis to be factual, God must then have
created the fossil record by fiat in 4004 BC as a way of testing human
faith.

It is a well-known truth of mathematical logic, little appreciated in
other human endeavors, that, from a single false proposition, you can
prove anything, no matter how absurd. At the literal level of fact,
truth conforms to certain mechanistic processes which virtually
guarantee the fallibility of logical conclusions. Rational acceptance of
theories about material reality must be based on continual testing
through experiment, a process called falsification. Scientific theories
are logical myths, inevitably false to some degree, which explain the
data available at any given moment, but which must constantly evolve to
encompass emerging information.

In my own quest in the book I hoped, I freely admit, to discover new
ways of interpreting old data which would lead to important testable
predictions. I found that most such insights led rather to a better
understanding of the book or of existing scientific theory. At other
times, the predictions I could make lay so far beyond current human
technology or so far outside my areas of personal expertise as to be
useless. On the other hand, I did find many things which correlated with
emerging scientific knowledge to a degree almost unthinkable in a text
prepared in 1935. In the next few minutes I would like to explore some
of these ideas.

My topic, "Physics and Astronomy," is incredibly broad. The URANTIA Book
 is laden with facts from both domains. For this reason I have chosen to
focus my discussion on a single unifying theme which, while far ranging,
at least focuses our attention on a series of related ideas. This
unifying theme is the phenomenon of physical light as portrayed in The
URANTIA Book. Light is one of the most fundamental phenomena studied in
physics and astronomy. Its gross characteristics and its general
interaction with material substances have long been described and
modeled in great detail, yet there has remained a sense that certain
fundamental properties were not adequately explained. Recently light
phenomena have come under increased scrutiny by both physicists and
astronomers. Their new ideas may lead to important new discoveries in
line with certain suggestions of The URANTIA Book.

From time to time in the development of scientific thought there arise
moments at which a logical myth, a theory, is presented that so fully
explains all known data, with such perfect clarity and simplicity, that
it comes wholly to dominate subsequent scientific thinking for a very
long time period. Of course, such critical events of successful
scientific explanation are usually clear only in hindsight, as they come
at the end of a lengthy period of novel experimentation, intellectual
debate, and presentation of partial and premature solutions. Such events
are technically called paradigm shifts, and popularly called scientific
revolutions.

The scientific revolution best known to us occurred in the seventeenth
and early eighteenth centuries. During a remarkably short period of time
a number of important things happened. Galileo invented the telescope,
described the behavior of falling bodies, and discovered the moons of
Jupiter. Tycho developed a precise observational astronomy and applied
it to measure planetary motion, providing the first data of sufficient
quality to support the heliocentric speculations of Copernicus. Drawing
on this data and theory, Kepler developed a logically correct abstract
description of planetary motion. These results, combined with the work
of innumerable lesser- known workers, provided the experimental and
interpretive foundation for the work of Isaac Newton. Newton's theory of
gravitation, combined with his three laws of motion, and developed
according to the principles of his differential calculus, once and for
all seemed to be able to explain and describe the motions of heaven and
earth. Although many extensions, improvements, and problems with
Newtonian theory have arisen, particularly in this century, no
comparably complete synthesis has yet been stated which embraces all the
new evidence and details.

An equally important scientific revolution occurred in physics during
the nineteenth century. As the basic correctness of Newton's theories
came to be fully accepted, the attention of physicists turned to a new
class of unexplained phenomena, which we now understand to be electrical
in origin. First, the phenomena were studied in nature. Galvani observed
biological effects we now know were produced by electric currents.
Franklin studied atmospheric effects, such as lightning. The ability of
certain materials to accept charges which generated repulsive and
attractive forces had been known since antiquity. Scientists learned how
to recreate these effects artificially and under controlled
circumstances, permitting the study of situations which did not occur in
nature, but which helped in understanding the effects. Standards of
measurement were defined for such concepts as charge, current, and
potential. These measures of physical quantities were related back to
the older concepts of mass, force, and energy. Finally, Hertz discovered
 radio waves and demonstrated that these new energies could act at great
distances through space, without any intervening mechanism. At nearly
the same time James Clerk Maxwell presented his theory of
electromagnetism, which unified all these diverse phenomena and
observations into a simple set of relationships of great symmetry,
simplicity, and beauty.

Many other activities were occurring in the physical sciences alongside
these major advances. Work on the boundaries between physics and
chemistry led to understanding the phenomena of heat and work, an
understanding embraced in the science of thermodynamics, and which
provided most of the power for the industrial revolution of the
nineteenth century. Other work led to the discovery of radioactivity and
X rays.

Since the times of Galileo scientists had studied and tried to
understand the phenomenon of light. The spectrum of light produced by a
glass prism was early observed, as were the image forming capabilities
of refractive lenses and reflecting mirrors, which led to the rise of
observational astronomy through the creation of large telescopes. As the
science of optics developed greater precision, it became possible to
observe details of light spectra and of light images which revealed many
unexpected features. Many types of light sources were found to produce
light in which the spectrum displayed bright lines of differing colors.
When highly magnified, the shadows of simple shapes were found to be
built up from minute ripples of light and dark. These new observations
were easiest to explain by the idea that light must travel through space
as a wave, so that the wave phenomena of addition and cancellation could
be invoked as explanation. Yet, many scientists contended other evidence
indicated that light must actually consist of particles of energy
travelling through space along straight lines.

When Hertz discovered and Maxwell explained the electromagnetic wave, it
seemed that, at last, a complete description might be at hand for the
wavelike behavior of light. When it subsequently proved impossible to
unify Maxwell's beautiful theory with the equally replete theory of
thermodynamics, it required a great leap of the imagination, and
considerable strides in mathematics, before a solution could be found in
the idea of the quantization of action. Let me explain.

When we think of the infinite, we tend to think of that which is large
without limit, the unbounded in extent. When we think of the finite, we
tend to think of that which has definite boundaries to its extent, no
matter how great. But there is another, equally important property of
the finite, which we can call granularity. In the finite world there is
a limit to how small anything can be. The finite world is made up of a
limited number of parts, for it is limited in extent and composed of
parts that cannot be arbitrarily small. In infinity there is no limit to
smallness. Any thing of limited extent can still be made up of an
infinite number of infinitely small parts. If the parts were larger than
infinitely small, the infinite thing would be of unlimited size and
there would be no room for more than one in the universe!

Things which are infinitely small, while retaining their thingness, are
said to be infinitesimal. In formulating his complete theory of
mechanics, Newton had assumed that the universe he sought to describe
was infinite; that is, that mathematical operations on infinitesimal
quantities would be meaningful. This assumption, essential to the
operations of the calculus, was good enough to support the development
of physics for almost two centuries. Maxwell's electromagnetic theory,
the theory of thermodynamics, and every other conception of physics was
totally dependent on the infinitesimal assumption.

In most cases it made no difference that Newton had erred. In most cases
errors of measurement and approximation blurred the fine details which
would have disclosed the mistake. A few situations had emerged, however,
in which this small difference in treating one aspect of reality would
make a very big difference in what actually happened. From a
philosophical viewpoint, if I combine two perfectly continuous,
infinitesimally homogeneous things, the result will be equally smooth, a
blend of the properties of the two things combined. On the other hand,
if I combine two things, each with a very fine but very definite
granular texture in such a way as to preserve the granular qualities of
each, the result, while having the gross appearance of a blend, will
also display an exaggerated granularity.

Max Planck proposed that the conflict between theory and observation
would be resolved if one assumed that the physical property we call
action, or angular momentum, were available in the universe in a
smallest discrete unit, which he called a quantum. From the implications
of this idea there have flowed innumerable important results in modern
physics. By the second quarter of the twentieth century the notions of
quantum theory, electrodynamics, thermodynamics, and special relativity
had been combined into a synthesis called quantum electrodynamics, or
QED for short. This theory, while not explaining many things, has been
tested experimentally to the highest precision of all the theories of
physics, and has never been found wanting.

The URANTIA Book, in paper 42 especially, contains a number of
statements about the nature and relationships of wave energy. We are
repeatedly warned that the wave phenomena we observe are related to the
reactions and responses of space energies unknown on Urantia and that
the study of wave mechanics leads to "unending confusion." Here is
surely an area ripe for understanding. There is no subject discussed in
The URANTIA Book of which mankind appears to have more complete
knowledge. At the very least, any theory of reality based on teachings
from the book must somehow be consonant with the results of QED, at
least as far as they go.

In recent years the QED model of electrical phenomena has been
successfully extended, though not so thoroughly tested, to include the
phenomena of the atomic nucleus and of the interiors of sub-atomic
particles, such as the proton and the neutron. The extended theory does
not provide an explanation of the force of linear gravity and does not
anticipate that the electron has an internal structure, as described in
The URANTIA Book. Circular or Paradise gravity, often mentioned in the
book, is a phenomenon unrecognized by modern physics.

Let us examine one of the most specific statements about quantum effects
and light in the book. On page 474, in the fourth paragraph, we read,
"The quantity of energy taken in or given out when electronic or other
positions are shifted is always a `quantum' or some multiple thereof,
but the vibratory or wavelike behavior of such units of energy is wholly
determined by the dimensions of the material structures concerned. Such
wavelike energy ripples are 860 times the diameters of the ultimatons,
electrons, atoms, or other units thus performing. The never-ending
confusion attending the observation of the wave mechanics of quantum
behavior is due to the superimposition of energy waves: Two crests can
combine to make a double-height crest, while a crest and a trough may
combine, thus producing mutual cancellation."

There is much to learn here. In the first sentence, the book states that
the quantum of energy is something which is uniform in magnitude
regardless of the frequency or wavelength at which the energy appears.
Given our current scientific understanding, this can only be true if the
term energy used in this part of the book refers to the physical
property which physicists call action. Innumerable experiments confirm
that, while many physical effects are quantized in specific
circumstances, the only physical property which is quantized in uniform
parts, regardless of the specific circumstance, is the property of
action. Let us continue.

One of the earliest and best-known applications of quantum theory was to
explain the stable shell-structure of electrons in atoms. In the
formulas derived from experimental data to describe the structure of the
spectrum of light emitted by an electrically excited gas the number 860
occurred frequently. Eventually, when Bohr proposed his model of the
atom, the number 860 appeared as the result of balancing the electrical
forces holding the electron in the atom against the mechanical forces
tending to pull the electron free. The number was revealed to be hc/e2,
where c is the velocity of light, e is the charge of the electron, and h
is the result of multiplying Planck's quantum of action by two pi. It is
easy to work through a number of simple relationships to show that this
number is the ratio of the wavelength of the light emitted by an
electron falling into an atomic orbit to the diameter of the orbit into
which it falls. The exact ratio is known to be 861.023.

In real experiments one seldom observes light of this specific
wavelength. The reason is that one seldom if ever can see the results of
a single electron joining an atom. Observations of atomic spectra are
made on the light emitted by very large numbers of atoms, which are not
all equally excited. Physicists think of electrons as moving from one
orbit to another of greater or lesser diameter, absorbing or emitting
light of a specific frequency as they do. The wording of the paragraph
in The URANTIA Book seems to suggest that this may not be the actual
process, since the wavelength of observed light attributed to these
transitions is not simply related to the different electron orbit
diameters. Rather, the book seems to suggest that we consider an
electron to leave one orbit of one atom, absorbing a quantum of one
wavelength, and, possibly much later, to enter a different orbit of a
 different atom, releasing a quantum of a different wavelength. If
enough electrons, moving among a large enough group of atoms, are
observed, all the different wavelengths will be present in the emitted
light, and the interference of these waves of slightly different sizes
will give rise to exactly the atomic spectra which we observe. Our
failure to recognize this underlying process stems from our inability to
observe the ionizing behavior of single electrons, and our inability to
distinguish a single light beam of a longer wavelength from two
interfering light beams of nearly equal, much shorter wavelength.

Recent advances in the study of light, using laser techniques, suggest
that we may not always be so ignorant of these phenomena. The problem is
uncovering the true relationship of the wave properties of light to its
properties as a beam of particles. The URANTIA Book is most specific on
this point. Although light appears to propagate as waves, it in fact
consists of a stream of definite particles. Apparently, the waves are
created by the motion of the light particles through the content of
space, and the waves thus generated can affect the motion of other light
particles through space. Similar phenomena accompany the motion of
masses, such as electrons, through space.

In the late nineteenth century, as Maxwell's theory of electromagnetic
waves gained acceptance, physicists began to speculate on the existence
and nature of something called the ether, which was supposed to be the
medium through which the waves of light travelled, like ripples on a
pond travel across the surface of the water. A major problem centered
around the effect of the earth's movement through the ether. Since the
earth rotates on its axis and revolves in its orbit around the sun, any
point on the surface of the earth follows a very complicated path
through space. Yet, careful measurements showed that light waves
travelled across the earth's surface at a constant speed, regardless of
 the time or day or season of the year. Since it was inconceivable that
a fundamental attribute of space, like the ether, continually adapted to
the motion of the earth, it was eventually concluded that the ether, as
then conceived, did not really exist.

The URANTIA Book says that the idea of the ether is an ingenious attempt
to unify human ignorance of the forces present in space which determine
the behavior of light. All developments in modern physics have been
worked out for a universe in which there is no detectable ether. The
behavior of and interactions of light and matter are predicted by
Einstein's special theory of relativity and by the logical extensions of
quantum theory. Einstein's special theory of relativity describes the
phenomena associated with observing a mechanical universe in which the
speed of light is a constant for all observers. Its best known result is
the prediction of the equivalence between mass and energy, which is
popularly thought to have laid the foundations for atomic power.

Since the discovery of the laser, it has become possible to explore
phenomena associated with light to a degree of precision never before
possible. A laser, properly designed and operated, can produce a beam of
light of extreme purity, that is, a beam of light in which all the wave
motions remain in perfect step with each other over very large distances
and long time periods. Such light is said to be coherent. Coherent laser
light can be used to make extremely precise measurements of distances,
times, and physical relationships. There are, however, limits on the
accuracy of these measurements that are established by the quantum
behavior of space itself.

Early in the development of quantum theory, physicists realized that one
consequence of the theory would be that any finite volume of space could
not be completely empty. A perfect vacuum might contain no matter, yet
even the vacuum would have to be pervaded by a very weak form of energy,
a minimum level of action. As theory and experiment developed, it became
clear that this vacuum energy would be a source of noise in any
experiment, which would set a final limit on the precision with which
certain types of measurements could be made. The miniscule variations
which are ever present in the latent energy of the vacuum are now called
vacuum fluctuations. To a limited degree, physicists have learned to
control these fluctuations. While the overall level of vacuum noise in
an experiment cannot be reduced, it is possible to squeeze the noise out
of one set of measurements, as long as a greatly increased level of
vacuum noise can be tolerated in a related set of measurements.

The advent of experimental methods for manipulating the energies of the
vacuum converts a theoretical possibility, vacuum energy, into an
observable physical reality. This may mark the beginning of human
technical development into a new domain of energy relationships, one of
the several forms of energy said to be "unknown on Urantia" at the time
of the revelation. After a lapse of many years following the overthrow
of the ether theories, physicists are beginning to again understand that
apparently empty space is, in fact, filled with forces and quantized
energies that support and maintain the wave phenomena of light. It may
now be possible to study and to understand the mysterious properties of
a medium which supports wave motion, but which does so in a way totally
different from the simple notions of a hundred years ago.

Such developments will be of enormous importance to astronomy.
Astronomers are extremely limited in their ability to assemble data to
test their theories and to conduct reliable experiments. For example,
most of the theories of physics are developed from observations that can
be made in the space of a kitchen table. A few require a small room. A
very few involve larger apparatus. Similarly, the observations are
normally complete in a period of less than an hour, usually a fraction
of a second. While some important experiments involve measurements made
over many years, both time and space limits of the laboratory eventually
set a limit on the size of the domain over which a theory is known to be
reasonably accurate.

Astronomers, on the other hand, work in a laboratory where phenomena may
be as large and as old as the universe. Lacking any firmly established
theories for this scale of reality, they work by assuming that the very
accurate discoveries of physics, in the human-sized laboratory, can be
applied to the universe as a whole. This process, called scaling-up,
often works very well. In most cases, serious deviations of large-scale
phenomena from the laws observed in small-scale phenomena would reveal
themselves through unresolvable inconsistencies which would appear in
alternative interpretations of the large-scale data.

Astronomers rely on light and other forms of wave-energy for essentially
all their observations of reality on the cosmic scale of distance and
time. Until this century it was assumed that these energies, to the
extent they were known at all, had always travelled from their point of
origin in direct, straight lines to the point at which they were
observed. Gradually, evidence accumulated that this might not be the
case. First, absorption of specific light energies by clouds of matter
in interstellar space was observed. Later, Einstein formulated his
general theory of relativity, which deals with the interactions between
gravity, space, and time. Since all observations about light involved
relationships of space and time, Einstein's theory predicted that light
(and all other wave energies) would be affected in their travel through
space by gravitation. These effects were first observed in light rays
passing near the sun and, later, in the orbital motion of Mercury and in
the behavior of radio waves reflected from the surface of the planet.
The effects were confirmed on the local scale by extremely accurate
measurements performed on the Earth's surface. More recently, attention
has turned to gravitational lenses. These are believed to be extremely
massive concentrations of matter which chance to lie along our line of
sight, between Earth and a distant source of light. They cause the light
from that source to be deflected in such a way that three or more images
of the distant source are observed.

The URANTIA Book confirms that light is affected in its passage through
space by the effects of gravity. In addition, the book states that
certain astronomical observations are unreliable because of the effect
which unknown space energies and motions have on light. Many of these
affected observations seem to relate to the big bang theory of the
origin of the universe. Surely there is no single scientific theory
which is more totally at variance with the information presented in the
book.

The big bang theory is said, by its advocates, to be supported by the
agreement of three remarkable findings. These are: the observed red
shift of light from distant galaxies, the observed radioactivity of
ancient rocks in the Earth's crust, and the observed spectrum of the
wave energy which seems to fill the universe in all directions from
Earth. The big bang theory ties these observations together in a
logically consistent way which supports the idea that, at some time
about twenty to forty billion years ago, all energy in the universe
emerged instantaneously from a single point. On the surface, this is not
a very reasonable sounding idea; however, the way in which it emerged in
the community of astronomers probably has more to do with its present
level of acceptance than the observations which support it.

When naturally occurring radioactivity was found in the rocks of the
Earth's crust it was initially difficult to establish its exact nature
and origin. Over many decades, thanks to the work of many chemists and
physicists, and in no small part due to work on the atomic bomb, the
tools were finally developed which allowed precise measurements of the
amount of different types of radioactive atoms which contributed to
natural radioactivity. Since each type of atom decayed radioactively at
a different rate, and since some of the decay products would be trapped
in rock, but would escape from a molten lava, the relative abundance of
certain different types could be used to estimate how much time had
passed since the most recent solidification of a particular rock. After
many analyses, an estimate in the general range of five billion years
came to be accepted as the age of the oldest rocks on the Earth's
surface.

About the same time as serious work began on natural radioactivity,
Edwin Hubble discovered that the bright lines of atomic light emission
in the spectra of distant galaxies were consistently shifted towards the
red from their position observed in experimental light sources in the
laboratory. Stellar red and blue shifts were, at this time, being used
to measure the relative motion of stars with respect to the Earth, a red
shift corresponding to motion away from Earth and a blue shift
corresponding to motion towards us. Hubble's data, interpreted in this
way, indicated that all the visible objects in the universe, on a
galactic scale, were rushing away from the Earth, with the rate of
departure being roughly proportional to the estimated distance, at least
for those objects close enough for their distance to be estimated.
Extrapolating the motion of these objects back in time, it was easy to
conclude that, at a time twenty to forty billion years in the past, all
the visible matter in the universe must have been concentrated in a very
small space.

The red shift observations led to much speculation about the possible
origin of the universe in a primeval fireball. The fact that this
universe age was roughly in line with the ages of rocks, which had been
obtained by totally different methods, caused scientists to take the
possibility of an explosive origin of the universe seriously. Finally,
George Gamow interpreted the available data in terms of Einstein's
general theory of relativity in such a way as to predict that, if the
universe had so originated, all space must now be filled with wave
energy remaining from that primordial event. He was able to describe the
spectrum which such energy would exhibit under this view of universe
origins. The theory became known as the big bang theory of universe
origins. While this work provided a logical framework for the theory,
there were alternative views held by other astrophysicists.

More than a decade after Gamow's prediction, a form of microwave
radiation was detected, impinging on the Earth almost equally from all
directions, with a spectrum somewhat like that which had been predicted.
This discovery was interpreted as confirming the big bang theory. The
importance of this evidence was greatly magnified by the fact that it
confirmed a prediction which had been made in advance of its discovery.
Had the microwave background radiation been known at the time of Gamow's
formulation, it would have had much less psychological impact on
acceptance of the theory. While I have explained the origins of this
theory to emphasize the weakness of the logic which supports it, in
fairness I should point out that the evidence for the big bang is as
strong or stronger than that for many other astrophysical theories which
are much less controversial.

How are we to understand the cosmology of The URANTIA Book in the light
of this information? We could say the book is wrong. This is a bit much
to swallow, since there are so many parts of the text which would be
affected. Naturally, then, we will seek to see what could be wrong with
the big bang theory. Any reexamination must be based on how the actual
observational data have been interpreted. The mathematics of the big
bang are correct, given the assumptions on which the theory is based.
The data pertaining to the age of the Earth is irrelevant to the
examination, since it is in general agreement with the origin of the
Earth as depicted in the book. In addition, the cosmic background
radiation appears to be mentioned in the book as the product of forces
and energies local to Urantia, as well as the free space presence of the
Unqualified Absolute. The rough match between the predicted and observed
radiation is not good enough to make this a significant issue. The real
problem is the cosmological interpretation of the red shift.

There is probably no uncorroborated theory of astronomy more firmly and
dogmatically accepted by mainstream astronomers than the origin of the
red shift in the supposed expansion of the universe. The very few
astronomers who have persisted in bringing up data which suggests
alternative interpretations have been first humored, then ignored, and
finally persecuted by the research community. Why is the cosmological
red shift theory so totally accepted? First, it is extremely simple to
understand. Second, it fully explains the major body of evidence. Third,
while its opponents have many specific counter-examples which tend to
undermine the theory, they have so far failed to offer a satisfactory
competing theory which explains the red shift, the cosmic background ra
diation, and their exceptional cases. The area is not viewed as
productive of research results, and areas of study which fail to produce
results do not receive funding. No research institution can survive
without funding, and research which fails to produce results thus seems
to threaten the financial lifeline of science.

The authors of The URANTIA Book wrote, in 1935, that there would come a
time when human progress in astronomical observations would disclose
objects in space which seem to be moving at speeds approaching the
velocity of light. In the last twenty years, many such objects have been
observed. The quasi-stellar objects, or quasars for short, are the most
noteworthy. These distant points of light have red shifts, which, if due
to motion through space relative to the Earth, indicate that they are
flying away from us at a sizable percentage of the speed of light. Yet
The URANTIA Book says that these motions are only apparent and result
from unusual angles of observation and undetected space motions.

A basic assumption of astronomy and physics has always been the isotropy
 of space. Isotropic space is space which has the same properties at all
locations and in all directions. The isotropy of empty space is as
fundamental an assumption about the nature of reality as is the
assumption of the infinity and continuity of space and time which we
discussed earlier. Astronomical speculation assumes that all space
through which light passes, without emission or absorption, is empty. On
the other hand, we have just seen that current work in quantum optics is
showing that there is not and, in our experience, cannot be such a thing
as truly empty space.

Space, any space, all space, is filled with an extremely faint quantum
energy which, while apparently random, can be shaped by and bear the
impress of more ordinary physical causes. While the effects of these
space energies are very slight over the short distances measured in the
laboratory, it is reasonable to expect that, when they are finally fully
described by science, they will not always be slight on the scale of
cosmic distances and times. In particular, if space is organized, as
described in The URANTIA Book, with regions of quiescence adjoining
regions of relative motion, the quantum field of space will be sheared
along these boundaries, and wave energies travelling within such a
sheared space field will experience reflection, refraction, focusing,
and many other unknown effects.

To man, the sky beyond Earth's atmosphere appears to be almost perfectly
transparent. On the cosmological scale of time and distance, the images
we see are almost certainly distorted. Science is just now beginning to
take the first steps toward gaining the knowledge that will eventually
lead to understanding these effects.

Copyright 1997 L. Dan Massey, 10818 Fawn Drive, Great Falls, Virginia
22066.

All quotations are from The Urantia Book (C) 1996 by Uversa Press, 529
Wrightwood, Chicago, Illinois 60614. Any opinions or conclusions,
whether stated or implied, are those of the author and not the
publisher.

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