Now, before I move on to the second major line of evidence for the existence of God, let me tackle four potential objections to what I have just proposed.
The first is that I am simply interpreting the vision in a way that fits my preconceived notions. To help explain why I don’t think this is a fair objection, let me summarize how I actually developed those ideas. After I had decided to write this letter to atheists, I started to read up on how scientists said the early universe came about, so I could write about it in this letter. Soon after, I felt a desire to read the first chapter of Ezekiel, and as I did so, I was suddenly struck by the thought that the cloud and fire Ezekiel saw when the heavens were opened to him, was essentially the same as what scientists were describing at the formation of the universe.
I then asked myself: what if the vision really was describing the beginning of the universe? This idea was completely new to me at the time. I then proceeded to investigate the rest of the vision with this idea in mind.
The results, as I have shared in the previous few chapters, strongly suggest that the initial thought was correct. If it was wrong, then my interpretation would look increasingly strained as it went along. Instead, the fit became better as we gathered more data from the account.
What Ezekiel saw has traditionally been called “Ezekiel’s Chariot,” but this interpretation is the one that looks strained, because what chariot has wheels that don’t turn, are within one another, have rims that are high and awesome, and eyes in them? Even on the surface, it sounds far more like a description of the electron shells of an atom than it does a chariot! Even the relative sizes are more accurate, because the shells are vastly larger than the atomic nucleus. And when I came to the part of the vision that sounded like it was describing quarks, which are smaller particles making up larger particles such as protons and neutrons, I couldn’t arrange in advance that the King James Version would use the words “up” and “down” in the same place, which are the very names of the quarks!
In other words, while it is true that we obviously have to “read into” the account to a certain extent, since we aren’t told this is actually a description of physics, forces and particles, the sheer number of correspondences to aspects of physics strongly suggests this isn’t coincidence, but that my “preconceived notion” was correct. Indeed, this is how science works. Scientists propose a notion, which they call a hypothesis, and then they test it to see if it holds up. This is precisely what I did. I just didn’t wear a white lab coat while doing so.
Another potential objection is that I have given multiple interpretations for one symbol. For example, I initially said the four living creatures represented the four fundamental forces, but then I interpreted a living creature to be a helium-4 nucleus; and according to Ezekiel, they are also cherubs. I also suggested that the torches moving between the living creatures are quarks, electrons and also photons.
Which are they? The answer is, they are all of the above. Four fundamental forces did indeed emerge out of the early universe, and also helium-4 nuclei, so for the purpose of communicating an efficient vision, I think the symbols are meant to have more than one meaning depending on their context. This is precisely how symbols in any form of communication work.
However, we can’t take each symbol to mean anything we like. It makes no sense to have a banana running and returning like a streak of lightning, because bananas generally don’t do that. The point is, each section of the vision harmonizes with key events that took place in the development of the early universe, and in that regard, each symbol can only be interpreted in a very limited number of ways.
Another potential objection might be that, if God really wanted to reveal particle physics to us, he would do it more plainly. We could rephrase this objection into the following question: Why didn’t God simply say to Ezekiel: “Let me show you the creation of the universe, the emergence of the four fundamental forces, the formation of protons and neutrons out of quarks, the fusion of helium-4 from hydrogen-2, and the atomic nuclei obtaining their energy shells”?
Hopefully, the answer is obvious. Ezekiel was a priest, not a physicist. The concepts, along with the words needed to describe such concepts, didn’t exist in his day. How do you explain the notion of wave-particle duality or standing waves to someone who doesn’t have any understanding of physics?
Perhaps the simplest way would be to represent them in symbolic form, using living creatures, with faces representing particles, and wings representing waves, and of smaller particles being pictured as coals of fire moving between torches, and of electron shells as wheels.
This is precisely what I am proposing. The only difference is, God omitted the key. He didn’t tell Ezekiel that the vision was about the formation of the universe and matter. Besides, a good reason to include it in the form seen by Ezekiel, is so it could remain hidden until science caught up with the details God already knew. If modern science has chosen to exclude God from their picture of the universe, this is perhaps God’s way of painting himself back in, in a rather spectacular manner!
Also, if it were more obvious that the vision contained particle physics, the accusation could be made by skeptics that scientists had been influenced by it. But by hiding the details in a vision that could be dismissed as a religious fable, scientists have been able to work out the details of particle physics independently.
We rightly give credit and honor to the scientists who worked hard to help us gain such an understanding of matter and the universe. At the same time, I would suggest that Ezekiel’s vision is also a polite request for due credit to be given to the One who oversaw the formation of the universe in the first place.
Another objection might be that I have omitted some details. For example, the account says the living creatures have feet: “And their feet were an upright foot, and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot; and they gleamed like the sparkle of burnished copper.” 1
I didn’t intend to do a line by line analysis of the vision in this letter. However, the additional details may reveal even deeper insights. For example, the “upright foot” could represent its wave nature, while the “calf’s foot” could represent its particle nature.
Furthermore, a calf’s foot is split into two, or cloven. In chapter 10 of Ezekiel, a certain man is told by God to “enter in between the wheels that are beneath the cherub, and fill both of your hands with coals of fire from among the cherubs, and scatter them over the city.” 2
This act symbolized the city’s destruction; but what could be “between the wheels” that would be so destructive? I suppose literal “coals of fire” would do the job. However, earlier we saw how the living creatures looked like “burning coals of fire” and had torches running and returning in-between them. If the cherubs also represent atoms, then the answer to our question becomes obvious, and the symbology becomes immediately relevant to us in our day; for the splitting of the atom has led to some of humankind’s most destructive weapons.
This is strong additional evidence that Ezekiel’s vision was about the fundamental forces of the universe, and the particles from which it was built. It also perhaps serves as a divine warning about the awesome, powerful and destructive energy found within each atom.
1 Ezekiel 1:7. 2 Ezekiel 10:2.