The stage of a well-equipped theater has ways and means of removing curtain after curtain before the open stage is at last revealed to the audience. At the rear of the stage several backdrops can also be raised or lowered one after another as the play progresses. Each of them quickly suggests the setting within which the current action is supposed to be taking place. The various properties, such as tables and chairs, must be carried on and off the stage item by item. The great curtains and backdrops, however, can change the entire locale of the action all at once. With one movement of a tapestry the audience finds itself seated in full view of events taking place in some other place at some other time—a most remarkable feat of transportation.
I conceive the sequence of Now-states, by which the world’s story develops, as the successive removal and replacement of the whole scene at once—including the actors and the audience. Picture after picture, like tapestry after tapestry, briefly appears, only to be succeeded by yet another which is similar to its predecessor, but is nevertheless discernibly different from it.
A textile tapestry may lack artistic unity, but it always has a structural unity. Although it is composed of separate fibers that are individually weak, these have been so intertwined, interwoven or interknit that the finished fabric is quite strongly interconnected.
The whole tapestry of a given Now-state likewise has an organized unicity, such that every item in it is cross-connected with every other item. These cross-connections between coexisting items don’t run directly from one to another, however. The “time barrier” prevents simultaneously existing entities from communicating by ordinary signals. How then does the fabric of a Now-state hold together?
I believe that it’s because each quantic event in every field of the Now-state is intimately and directly involved with its Creator. The separate bristles in a paintbrush are held together in one handle. The separate spokes of a wheel are held together because each is connected to the same hub. The secret of the unicity of a Now-state lies in the unicity and immediate presence of the Creator. At each moment each item is put in its place by creative fiat. Each holds its position, not by any strength which it possesses in itself, but by the sustaining hand of Him who put it in its place. The mysterious attracting-repulsing “natural” forces which appear to act “across distances” are simply manifestations of the creative will of God for the format of the universe at any given moment.
Space can separate coexisting entities from each other. Time can separate the inhabitants of one Now-state from those in all other Now-states. But neither space nor time can function as effective barriers between creature and Creator. The connection between quantic events and their Creator is so direct and immediate that communication between God and his creatures takes no time at all. Wherever there is a creature, God must be present—otherwise there would be no creature.
Because the Creator in his unicity is equally present to all fields in each Now-state, each quantic event could influence something in distant fields of events with inconceivable swiftness. If there is anything in the EPR effect, it happens through God. It is through the Creator that the distant components of a system, though distant from each other, are coordinated at each and every moment.
Each feature and inclination of each quantic event in a given Now-state is taken into account in producing the overall pattern of the next great tapestry of time.
If we call to mind how knitted fabric is manufactured, we will have a useful analogy. Loops in continuous yarns are pulled through loops which were formed earlier. In the material which results from the repetition of the stitch-making cycle, each loop-through-a-loop is called a single stitch.
The mechanical motions by which a stitch is made should be distinguished from the stitch which they produce in the material. The operational stitches may be quite discrete—i.e., the motions of the knitting cycle may cease or begin anew at any time. The yarn which connects stitches in the material, however, must be continuous. On occasion the knitter may halt “between stitches,” but a break in the yarn calls for special remedial action. The cross-connections between the stitches must not be interrupted or a troublesome “run” will ruin the work.
Stitches may be formed in several different ways. Each stitch in the knitted material therefore possesses its own set of distinctive individual characteristics. Some are simple loops through loops. Others double back, cross, spread or reverse. Stitches can be transferred or tucked. When all these possible stitch characteristics are multiplied by all the possible weights, colors and textures of yarns, we see that an untold number of patterned, knitted fabrics can be manufactured.
The lay of the yarn in any given stitch to a certain degree determines the lay of the yam in the next stitch of that course—the line of successive stitches. It also influences the lay of the stitches which will be knitted adjacently to it in the next course. The loop-size of a certain stitch, also the resiliency and texture of the yarn being used, help to give each particular stitch in the material its individual character.
This brief excursion into knitting procedure may serve to illustrate several aspects of cosmic creation time. Although each quantic event in a Now-state has a peculiar identity and character of its own, it is not entirely discrete or utterly disjoined from all its neighbors or from the rest of the quantic events that have their being simultaneously within the same Now-state. When the Creator brings the next Now-state into existence, the unique individual determination of each quantic event is taken into account. What one event is and does, to some extent shapes all the others. More will be said later about the mutual influence of all coexistents. Here it is sufficient to say that, while the character of a tapestry of time depends somewhat upon its individual “stitch-events,” the whole spread of it is absolutely dependent for its momentary existence upon the will of the Creator to create or not to create.
At the lowest level of reality about which we know anything at all, the particles appear to be acting randomly and unpredictably. Yet somehow their chaotic activity fits together and produces a wonderfully ordered world of things and systems that are not only mutually compatible but cooperative.
In the heyday of Darwinian biology and Newtonian billiard-ball physics, the world was seen as a bloody arena of unceasing aggression and conflict. Only the “fittest” would survive in this life-or-death struggle. A more comprehensive survey of the interrelations between the kinds of creatures mat populate this world reveals that cooperation between individuals and species is one of the important secrets of being fit enough to survive. A study of the different styles and patterns of creaturely interdependence opens up an enormously important field that must not be ignored if one is to develop a truly comprehensive worldview.
Humans need animals. Domestic animals need humans. Humans and animals need plants. Many cultivated species of plants would die out were it not for humans or animals. Plants need inorganic substances. Coal deposits and a good deal of soil would never have existed without plants. Coral reefs would not exist without coral polyps, nor would gallstones come into being without animals. Humans exploit the chemical possibilities of all kinds of substances for all sorts of purposes, including fertilizers, medicines and buildings.
It is impossible to overemphasize the interrelatedness of all creatures. When I spade organic material into the soil of my garden, the bacteria and the earthworms, the sun, the wind and the clouds are my allies in persuading the seeds which I plant to be transformed into food for my family and me.
Sexual reproduction could not take place if male and female did not find each other and cooperate. The genes in sperm and egg combine their DNA in magnificent harmony as an overture to the life of a new organism. Offspring would perish were it not for the nourishment and protection which their parents provide. Often parasites reach their hosts by incredibly improbable routings, some of which require the assistance of several other intermediary organisms. It is amazing how often the necessary “helper creatures” are actually on hand just when the need for them appears.
Interdependence means that when something essential is missing, a given thing cannot function as expected, or survive successfully, or perhaps even come into existence at all. Tragedy strikes when a “necessary other” doesn’t exist or isn’t accessible when needed. Things that are interdependent must exist at the same time. Inter-dependency cannot function without coexistence in the same Now-state. Partnership requires a mutual participation in the same moment. Food is not food unless it coexists with the creature that needs it, i.e., unless it is available at the same time and place as the hungry creature that can use it.
This phenomenon of “complementary coexistence” demands an explanation which is much more plausible than the one commonly offered by biologists—”chance coincidence.” Come now! On such a vast scale? Imagine providing for the teeming trillions of creatures that inhabit this earth! Far too many of them are too tightly linked together in mutual dependence for me to accept mere chance as an explanation. In any case, chance is never an explanation. It is actually the abandonment of all attempts to explain.
Evolutionary biologists fill out their story of how the plant and animal kingdoms developed through the ages by suggesting that at all the critical places certain “fortunate accidents” occurred. The fortunate-accident gambit may seem appropriate in evolutionary biology, but it doesn’t seem to cover the parallel situation in physical chemistry.
If all the kinds of subatomic particles which entered into the atoms and molecules of the world appeared very soon after the “Big Bang,” that creative explosion must have been miraculously well organized. From the very first moment of their existence, the aboriginal elementary particles had to be capable of fitting conveniently and variously with each other so that they could form all sorts of different combinations. Everything that emerged from that inconceivable, swiftly expanding fireball was able to combine neatly and nicely with the other diverse kinds of creaturelings which appeared at or about the same time. The lot of them were able to form countless multitudes of stable and orderly structures.
Those primal elementaries, whatever they were, later turned out to be capable of fitting together very well indeed in higher and higher systemic groupings. If from the first they did not have any potentiality for forming not only hydrogen but oxygen, carbon and about sixty other elements, life could not have appeared on this earth. And all of them had to be present at once in the “dust of the earth” before human life could begin. Significant numbers of all of these basic atomic and molecular patterns must eventually have appeared on one and the same tapestry of time.
Do keep in mind at this point that no communication by signals is considered to be possible between truly simultaneous events. The first elementary particles which emerged some time after the “Big Bang” were all contemporaries. Many of them must have come into existence simultaneously, and when they did so, they were a long way apart. At the moment any one of those protoparticles appeared, it had no way of knowing whether or not other particles already existed or, if there were any, what they might be like or what they were presently up to. Moreover it was quite impossible for any of those first cosmic entities to consult with others in order to come to some agreement about which characteristics each kind should have so that all of them could fit together compatibly. Those primal particles had absolutely nothing to say about developing attracting/repulsing forces as sorting devices which could expedite or inhibit the formation of certain combinations of particles. Those first-of-all-beings certainly could not form a primitive conspiracy to aim at any particular goals, nor could they draw up a single plan for even the simplest working system.
If those first particles were utterly unable to develop the remarkably excellent patterns later discerned by physical chemistry, and if sheer randomness doesn’t possess even the tiniest shred of wisdom, how did the tapestries of time across the universe come to display from the first this admirable array of formational principles? Who presided over the galactic council of the stars at those critical moments when the first of each new kind of atom could have been little more than a singularity? Who decided what would be the physical characteristics of the most basic ingredients of everything substantial? Who laid down the primordial, general principles which have governed everything that has happened since that time of beginnings?
If an inconceivably knowledgeable Creator had not known exactly what was happening at incredible speeds everywhere at once in that fearful fire, this wonderfully productive, orderly world that we know could never have emerged from the crucible of chaos.
In comparing different species of plants and animals, biologists have noted that many structural parallels or homologies are observable between various kinds of creatures. A whale is actually a mammal, but its form is very like that of a fish. There are marked resemblances between the eye of an octopus—a mollusk—and the eye of a mammal. A fish’s fin is quite like a seal’s flipper, and a bat’s wing has a structure similar to that of a bird’s wing.
Contrary to what we might have expected, these homologies did not arise out of genetic information inherited from a common ancestor. These features which make certain species similar in these respects, although they are so different in other respects, cannot have come from a shared line of development.
If heredity cannot account for these homologies, neither can the sharing of a common environment. Jellyfish, crabs and sharks all live in salt water, but they share very few conspicuous structural similarities.
These striking and detailed resemblances between quite separate species remind me of the resemblances often found between cars designed and built by a single company. Cars built by General Motors always have a certain feel and look to them because they have been produced by a continuity of designers and engineers. Ford cars have usually been recognizable as Fords because the company that builds them tends to resolve mechanical necessities and production problems in its own characteristic way. Why should they bother to think up a whole new set of construction ideas when the old methods and principles still work well enough? With a few appropriate modifications, a principle that worked nicely in a car will often function just as satisfactorily also in a lawn mower, a snowmobile, a boat or an aircraft.
When the Creator decides to introduce a new kind of creature into mis world, it would seem reasonable that he too should make further use of arrangements that had proved themselves serviceable in former productions. To have to dream up a brand-new set of structural principles at the outset of every new creative sally seems entirely unnecessary. For me, therefore, the remarkable homological resemblances between certain features of diverse species are simply telltale hallmarks indicating that all of them were indeed designed by the same Creator. They are God’s personal signature, as it were, on his tapestries of time.
My conception of cosmic creation time enables me to feel that at every moment I and the world in which I live rest in the creative hand of God. I know that many people today find it difficult to assign any role whatsoever in this world to what our ancestors called “God.” Some believe in “God” simply because, without a Creator, it’s hard to account for the existence of any kind of world. But in the beginning God, they claim, endowed his Big Machine with enough energy to keep it running by itself. Having set the world in operation, God is no longer necessary. For materialists, the world consists of matter in motion under the direction of natural causes and no others. Officially, no scientists as scientists are interested in where God is just now or what he is doing, so long as he doesn’t poke his fingers into any natural processes which happen to be under current scientific investigation. In the scientific worldview God is simply irrelevant. For many honest people these days, God might as well be dead.
Most people still don’t realize that this “irrelevance of God” is largely a conclusion derived from outmoded conceptions of time and creation. In science the only time which is recognized is “time” as marked off by clocks. “Cosmic time,” in which the very existence of clocks and scientists is embedded, has been consigned to a realm of mystery which science is unable to penetrate. But “impenetrability” is one thing and “irrelevancy” is another. Before people discard God entirely they should look squarely into the face of the ineffable mysteries from which science in helplessness has turned away. Time is the evidence of the effective presence of God with whatever world there is.
The notion of “a beginning of things,” however necessary it may be for a cause-and-effect scheme of explanation, is actually quite incompatible with the notion of a clock—a machine engaged in perpetual cyclic motion. Moreover, mechanical and physical laws ace independent of which direction time may happen to be moving. One can therefore never be sure that a “beginning” isn’t really an “end,” or that all clocks, whether atomic, mechanical, or the earth itself, have been consistently running in the same direction. The notion of a Creator who started the universe going at some far-distant beginning of time has, therefore, no secure place in physical science.
In this book I am proposing a conception of time which is radically different from the enigmatic clock-time used by scientists. If cosmic creation time is as I conceive it to be, God is more relevant to us than anything in this world, for everything everywhere at each moment derives its actuality from the just-now creative thrust of God. God is right now creatively active, sustaining our existence and organization just as he has sustained everything on which we depend. The present moment and the whole of the future are in his hands. Nothing is more closely related to our most intimate concerns than the Creator. He is still creating. The scope of God’s activity should never be conceived as restricted to the opening of the story of mis ancient universe.
When did God create the universe? JUST NOW! We live from moment to moment by the successive words of creation as they are uttered by the Creator renewing his world.1 As he called the universe into being in the first place and the first time, so his calling will go on and on until his cosmic purpose is accomplished.
As long as second-hand books keep circulating, and as long as teachers continue to use their old notes, and as long as well-worn sayings spring readily to people’s lips, there will be little hope of getting rid of the obsolete belief that the world is a great machine regulated solely by natural causes. Examined closely, the notion of causality never did make sense. It has never been possible to explain causality or to justify it rationally. Neither its unfailing inevitability nor its adequacy as an explanation could ever be successfully demonstrated. Nevertheless, like countless other superstitions, its futile verbiage continues to be passed on, contenting unquestioning minds, turning aside the thoughtful and keeping them from probing in more profitable directions.
In any single instance of a physical interaction, we never experience the “necessity” that is supposed to establish a cause-and-effect as a “necessary connection” between two successive events. Attempts to explain action-at-a-distance by mechanical causality are no longer successful. Action is now known to come in miniscule parcels that are discrete. What once were conceived as continuous “causal chains” have come apart link from link. The connections between links are purely conceptual. But neither by push nor by pull can a purely conceptual causal chain accomplish anything of significance in the real world. At the quantum level of the world, particles behave so unpredictably that the law of causality does not seem to apply at all there. What does not operate at the most basic level of reality cannot be effective anywhere else either.
Einstein convinced scientists that simultaneity and the relation of before-and-after depend upon the position and momentum of the observer. This upset the orthodox belief that a cause must always come before its effect, and that to be considered an effect, an event must always follow its cause in time. Under certain circumstances, what one observer might see as the cause of a certain event might appear to another observer as the effect of that same event. In a world where space-time is relative to the observer, who can be certain any longer that a cause is really a cause or that an effect is really an effect? Moreover, the EPR principle indicates that the world is as it is, not only because of the effects of events in the past—events that no longer exist—but because each existing thing is also simultaneously determined by all the other things that also inhabit the same moment of time. The crude notion of mechanical causality is today in real trouble.
In mechanical causal ideology, causes were conceived as operating by sheer mass and brute force. But in many situations a “cause” can be effective only when it operates with the consent and concurrence of what it affects. This condition is most obvious in resonance phenomena. If the frequency of the cause doesn’t conform exactly to the natural frequency of whatever it attacks—a taut piano string, a tuned radio receiver, an organ pipe, a crystal—no resonant response will occur. When someone wants to move a heavy stone, the stone will consent to be moved only when the mover has met the conditions stipulated by the stone and its surroundings. When the mover applies the necessary energy in the right direction the stone will concur with its proposed relocation. Before a cause can produce an effect, an agreement must be concluded between two things. A cause-and-effect situation may thus be seen as a cooperative situation rather than as another victory of brute force over another instance of stubborn resistance.
How cooperative can a situation become?
Suppose that someone has thrown a brick through a window, shattering the glass and sending it flying all over the room inside. Disregarding the intentions of the one who threw the brick, what was the cause of that breakage? The mechanical causal explanation is simply that a brick of a certain mass was projected with a certain speed along a trajectory that intersected the plane of the window. The momentum of the brick overcame the inertia of the glass, but the force of the impact was not distributed equally across the pane. The glass therefore shattered into pieces whose collective momentum matched that of the flying brick.
Now let’s reconsider that glass-breaking incident more holistically. That particular flying brick was the thing that broke the glass because at that specific time all other massive flying objects were elsewhere. The window was broken because it happened to be made of glass and not of less frangible material, all of which was at that moment located somewhere else in the world. The flying brick was able to make contact with the glass because there was nothing between brick and glass but air resistance. Only air was there to cover the glass because all sheet metal, shutters and other resistant or resilient materials were elsewhere. The incident occurred in the way it did, therefore, because at the moment the glass was broken, the rest of the universe was otherwise employed.
We are now in a position to assert a new general “causal” principle. Whatever happens, happens as it does because the whole universe was what and where it was just the moment before.
That simply says that the whole universe at one moment is the cause of what happens hi the universe at the next moment. To enunciate such a principle of universal causation is to forsake altogether the traditional belief that it is possible to isolate and localize causes, and that such segregated causes constitute an adequate explanation for whatever happens.
If the universe at one moment is to be conceived as the cause of the universe at the next moment, we are putting forward a conception of the world’s development process which is obviously closely akin to my description of cosmic creation time. The universe as it is at any one moment and at the next moment and at the next, is simply a description of the succession of the Now-states. But if energy transactions are discrete, and “causal chains” are therefore ineffective as such, no given Now-state has followed from its predecessor by causal necessity. One Now-state of the universe follows another only because the Creator decides to create one more in the long succession.
The particular sequence of Now-states which constitutes the temporal history of our universe must not be assumed to be the only serial creative enterprise in which the Creator is currently engaged. If in any sense there are “gaps” between each two successive Now-states of our series—the only series we know anything about—God could be making use of those gaps. Between the Now-states of our universe’s story, for example, the Creator could interleave a set or sets of Now-states which would constitute the temporal history of some other world or worlds. The “time” experienced in any of such other worlds would proceed at its own pace, without being involved in any way with our world’s affairs.
It is conceivable also that those other worlds could be pursuing courses of action which from time to time were formerly offered to us as options. Perhaps we rejected those alternatives because on the occasions they were presented to us they did not appeal to us very strongly. Do you ever wonder what might have happened if you had made choices other than certain ones that you did make?
Through God our counterparts in some other world story may be inheriting valuable information derived from our experience. Those other beings may be living a life which is better than ours, profiting from our mistakes more intelligently than we ourselves do.
It is conceivable that right “within” our cosmic creation time God, not postponing it until the end of our world’s story, is even now putting together that “new heaven and new earth” which is featured in the Judeo-Christian scriptures.2
In the “spaces” which regularly occur between the Now-states that collectively make up our history there is plenty of room for “heaven” or other alien worlds.
The Creator’s own uncreated duration, of course, must run uninterruptedly “under” and “alongside of” any interleaved time sequences there may be. Upon mis, the only truly continuous duration, every individual Now-state of whatever tune-sequence is founded. But further discussion of that subject will have to be reserved until the next chapter. /
If on some occasion an episode of our time-sequence were ever to occur in phase with an episode from the time-sequence of one of those other possible worlds, some very unusual sightings, hearings and meetings could occur.
Positing a supranatural Creator makes the most sense by far of the paradoxes and mysteries both of time and of the quantic world. Contemporary particle physics appears to be highly compatible with a “mystical” or religious view of reality. One does not have to look far to find books in which highly reputable physical theorists are unashamedly affirming that much of physics today is quite consistent with an out-of-this-world hypothesis. Indeed they are saying that an otherworldly hypothesis is not only suggested by what physicists have observed, but that if what they have observed is to make sense, such a hypothesis is positively required.
If as you read this book you agree that there are some very good reasons now for placing your worldview in a transcendental context, let me assure you that these days you will not lack for distinguished and eminently respected company.
Physicists today are no longer in a position to dismiss lightly a conclusion long since reached by countless generations of human experience. The succession of events in this world cannot be adequately explained from the resources of this world alone.
1. Matthew 4:4; cf. Deuteronomy 8:3.
2. Isaiah 65:17, 67:22; Revelation 21:1.