As we continue reading in the first chapter of Genesis, we see that – though darkness and confusion may have permeated the expanse of the universe – the Spirit of God was not content to let this condition rule. We read that “…the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” The implications of the underlying language seem to present the Spirit of God as extremely attentive and lovingly involved in the nature of this early universe. What comes next is highly significant. What we have the first direct quote of the Creator of the universe: “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”
There are some points to consider in regard to this topic. What is light? What is the nature of this amazing force? What implications can be rendered from the verse that first introduces it to us, and beyond?
First, let’s consider the technical background of light. Historically, light was considered a stream of particles, notably by Sir Isaac Newton, who developed what was referred to as the Corpuscular Theory of Light. Due to his prominence in the sciences, his interpretation was regarded as accurate for a number of years.
Conversely, a fellow by the name of Christiaan Huygens – in view of light’s properties of refraction and reflection – conceived the Wave Theory of Light. As with other who ultimately followed, his perspectives on light were dismissed by the authorities in the field, simply enough because they were not as prominent as Newton.
The turning point came with Thomas Young’s Two-Slit Experiment. The basic setup of the experiment involved a box with a partition inside, and on this partition was a small hole. As light passed throigh the hole, its intensity could be measured, and as one who expect, the brightest area would be that found in the center of the light, with the intensity of the light tapering off as one looked further from the center. It’s all very much as a competent investigator would anticipate.
Conversely, if an alternate partition were inserted, this one with two slits, then the results change dramatically. One’s expectation may be that – as with the first, single slit – the two points of light shining through the partition would each present similar intensities, with the brightest areas being those directly across from the slit and weakens as it radiates outward; two bright spots, in effect. That expectation however turns out to be wrong. What the experiment demonstrated is that there is an interference between the two light sources! If lights were simply particles, as presented by Newton, then we would see the anticipated double bright spots. That’s not the case though, as we instead see this strange form of interference, like converse ripples on a lake clashing with each other…
Later, light was identified by James Clark Maxwell as an electromagnetic wave. Afterward, Max Planck – through a fortuitous miscalculation – discovered that light apparently is packaged as individual bundles, and Einstein published on the matter in 1905. His paper noted that electromagnetic waves could only function in the form of these bundles, which he termed quanta. Thus light, though capable of functioning as a wave, is at its basic level of existence a single bundle of energy known as a photon.
The truly stunning feature of this discovery is that it opens wide the gates of a previously unknown realm of discovery; a field we know today as Quantum Physics. Through the same avenue of inquiry came the stunning discovery that the reality in which we live appear to be digital in nature at its most basic level! Since energy is known to exist in the form of tiny, basic elemental quanta, by extension everything from length, mass, and even time can be reduced to a single, quantized, digital packet of data. This universe, it appears, is digital – as opposed to analogue – in nature, and that revelation is shocking.
“Let Light Be” continues next time…
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