THE DESIGN OF THE UNIVERSE
By Roland Watson
In the last article, I concluded that the purpose of the universe is to enable the creation and evolution of animate life. This in turn leads to the question of how it is able to accomplish this; how the universe has been designed to achieve this end.
The universe appears to have a grand design, and its components, and fuel, and also its outcomes, are all energy: various forms of energy. I said before that there is a lot of energy in the universe. Few people in fact consider just how much there is. Matter is potential energy, the energy held in the form of its bonds, its subatomic particle forces - or string tension. And, we know, tangibly, examples of this magnitude.
A few pounds or kilograms of uranium, when its energy bonds are broken, will destroy a city. A star, through the fusion of its elements, will light and heat a solar system for billions of years.
The quantity of matter-energy
But, the universe contains about a hundred billion galaxies, each with on average some one hundred billion stars, and also innumerable planets and other objects. How many total pounds or kilograms of matter are there - if there were such a thing as a universal pound or kilogram?
The universe contains an untold amount of matter, and an unimaginable number of atoms. And, the total energy that is pent up in them is the product of their mass with the speed of light squared. Universal energy truly is incomprehensible. Indeed, one wonders, what would happen - what would be the size of the explosion - if all of these bonds were broken simultaneously: if all of this energy was released at once? Would this be equivalent to the scale of the Big Bang?
This amount is all the more phenomenal when one considers the lengths to which life goes to conserve energy.
The first element of the universe's design, or description of this stage of god's life cycle, then, is its overwhelming quantity of matter-energy: the amount of "raw clay" that is available to be shaped. I might add, this conceivably is also the minimum amount required to create a universe that can itself yield animate life.
Chance and will, and the rate of universal expansion
The second element in the design is the existence of chance - the universe's quantum nature; and will - that it is not superdetermined. The third element is the rate of universal development.
It is believed that the early rate of universal expansion - the size and properties of the Big Bang explosion - was just enough to keep the universe from collapsing back onto itself through the attraction of gravity. Billions of years later, the universe is still expanding just beyond the rate that would lead to a collapse.
Conversely, were the universe expanding more rapidly, matter would not clump together sufficiently to allow galaxies, stars and planets to form.
The fourth element is also a type of universal "tuning." The universal constants, such as Planck's constant - and also the specific masses of the different subatomic particles, are, according to Stephen Hawking, "very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life." Because of this, the matter in stars burns very slowly, so they last billions of years. This in turn provides the light and heat for a period sufficient for life's origination and evolution.
Fifthly, there is the fact that the atoms of the vast majority of elements have open quantum slots for electrons. Each atom has a specific arrangement of quantum energy states, including the number of electrons that can occupy each state. If the innermost state that exists when the atom is unenergized, when it is not heated - this is its ground state - if this state is fully occupied, it is "inert." This means it is very difficult for it to engage in chemical reactions with other atoms, since many such reactions occur via the exchange of electrons into open slots, through "valence."
The fact that most elements are not inert means a wide variety of chemical reactions can take place. This in turn enables the formation of larger and more complex chemical and molecular structures, including, ultimately, of life.
Sixthly, and from Richard Feynman, "the whole universe in its character depends upon precisely the position of one particular level in one particular nucleus. In the carbon 12 nucleus, it so happens, there is a level of 7.82 million volts. And that makes all the difference in the world."
The initial element produced by the Big Bang was hydrogen, some of which subsequently, via fusion, was converted into helium. Additional fusion of three helium atoms, which could occur only through the existence of this quantum energy level, then created the form of carbon known as carbon 12. This type of carbon exhibited a degree of stability such that further fusion, and the creation of all of the other naturally occurring elements, was enabled. Interestingly, carbon 12 is also the form of carbon on which life is based.
Next, there is the element of universal scale, the amount of space that matter-energy manifests, or occupies, and the proportion between the two. The distribution of matter throughout a great amount of space seems to imply that the origination and evolution of life was meant to occur in isolation. There should be no cross-fertilization, at least until an advanced state of consciousness was reached, if at all. And, even then, and as I have described, this should only be via electromagnetic communication, not face-to-face.
However, the underlying purpose of such a design is not that difficult to grasp. Independent development leads to the greatest diversity. Cross-fertilization, as is now happening in human society through globalization, reduces the diversity by bringing about standards of sameness.
Lastly - although there may well be other aspects of the overall design of which I am unaware, distinct from its underlying elemental, quantum, relativistic, chaotic and topological structure, the scale of planets that is necessary to enable the origination of life, is also that required to survive the cataclysms that it causes as it evolves - humanity is now in its most destructive stage yet, and other similar events such as the striking of asteroids. But, even this is finely tuned. The life on some planets fails - as through our actions the life on ours may do so as well. Indeed, this could be the case with Mars, where evidence suggests that it once had life. In these situations, life is originated, develops somewhat, and then dies out. The cycle is over. It is the end of the story.
We do not want this to happen here on earth! In other words, the size of the earth cannot be used to justify our mistakes. We now know that we can affect all of the planet, at least all of its surface and its life. Rather, this should spur us to protect what we have, so we can still be part of the design, and continue to evolve and reach greater and greater states of complexity and awareness.
The creation of diversity
In conclusion, the design apparently exists so that as many combinations and permutations as possible will occur. However, there is a subtle distinction here. Does the design exist solely to generate as many different types of life as possible, or to generate life that develops towards a greater goal, such as by being able to link with universal consciousness in ways that we cannot yet imagine? While I am speaking with a small bias for the latter, because it seems consistent with the progression of life to self-consciousness, the answer is actually unknowable.
In any case, there are many ways in which life can explore all of its possible forms, including with the evolution of advanced perceptual and reasoning abilities, and this brings us to the furthest reaches of scientific and philosophical speculation.
In the next article, I will consider yet another question: How many universes are there?
© Roland Watson 2015