In the contemporary world are Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and assorted indigenous religions such as African religions and Native American religions. I have studied most of them. They all have useful aspects to them. However, they were formulated in the pre-scientific age. We now live in the scientific age. People, especially the college educated need a religion that is based on science. Science is a methodological approach to phenomena that accepts only what we can verify and or falsify. Old time religions are mostly based on faith. We need more than faith to convince us that there is a higher power in our lives. From personal experience I know that there is a higher power in our lives but was not able to present it in a scientific language. In trying to explicate that higher power I have written many books. The following paper is an attempt to summarize what a science based religion would look like; if you must give it a name it probably fits into the rubric of Gnosticism. Read it, think about it and if it makes sense to you practice it. If you really practice it you would experience peace and happiness in your life. You would agree that we all could use peace and joy in our personal lives and in the world, don't you?
THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE DOES NOT EXIST;
NOTHING IS HAPPENING IN THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE
Look around you and you see things and events taking place. You see you and other people in bodies interacting. To you all these seem real and you believe them to be real. If anyone tells you that the physical universe does not exist and that you as a body do not exist and that nothing is happening around you, you probably will consider that person a lunatic and ask him to get out of here.
Let us cool headedly see if the physical universe exists and whether you as a body exist and whether things are happening in our world. Let us begin with your body. Does your body exist?
Your body is composed of twenty six elements, mainly carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen (and traces of calcium, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, sodium, potassium, phosphor, sulfur and so on).
There are ninety two naturally occurring elements in the universe (and about twenty that scientists have made in the laboratory). It is out of the ninety two elements that our bodies are made. The term element is another name for atom.
Each atom is composed of electrons, protons and neutrons. The various elements are atoms with different configurations of electrons, protons and neutrons in them. The simplest element is hydrogen; it has one proton and one electron (some isotopes of hydrogen have one or more neutrons and more than one electron, such as deuterium and tritium). Carbon has six electrons, six protons and six neutrons. Oxygen has eight electrons, eight protons and eight neutrons. Nitrogen has seven electrons, seven protons and seven neutrons.
We can go down Chemistry's periodic table explicating their electron, proton and neuron compositions but you get the idea (uranium is number 92 on the periodic table, it has 238 particles, 146 neutrons, 92 protons and 92 electrons...as you can see it is bulky and unstable; it quickly decays, radiates hence it is used in constructing atomic weapons).
Heat decays atoms (elements) and their components. With the right amount of high temperature we can break any element down to its electrons, protons and neutrons components. With more heat we can break down protons and neutrons to quarks. With more heat we can break quarks down to all sorts of sub-particles but ultimately to light (photons). With heat we can breakdown electrons to photons, light.
In effect, we can break down all the elements in this universe to photons, light. This is actually what they do at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland. At velocity approaching the speed of light, they smash neutrons or protons and see what they are composed of; they have identified a veritable zoo of particles, leptons, bosons etc.; we shall not concern ourselves with those particles except to say that ultimately all of them are rooted in light.
Your entire body, animals, plants, mountains, the planets, our earth included and stars with the right amount of heat can be broken down to particles and then to photons, light. In effect, everything in the physical universe is configured from light.
Let me reiterate: the human body and other material things in the known universe are actually composed of light in masked forms. Therefore, we should not be cavalierly dismissive when certain religions tell us that our true essence is light! Religions are generally poetic articulation of phenomena that if subjected to scientific presentation are often stating the truth. Human beings' bodies are light albeit in masked forms.
So far, we know something about 4% of the universe and 96% remain unknown; 73% of the universe is composed of dark energy and 23% dark matter; we do not know what the dark stuff is made of (some speculate that they are made from neutrinos).
What produced the light from which everything in the universe is made? In other words, what existed before the Big Bang? Science is silent on that question. Science begins its discourse from the state of singularity and its explosion in the Big Bang.
Contemporary cosmology and astrophysics says that 13.7 billion years ago, out of nowhere and nothingness a particle of light as small as a particle inside an atom came out (each period/full stop in this paper contains millions of atoms and each of those atoms contains, at least, three particles; thus, we are saying that an infinitesimal thing began this universe!). That particle of light became inordinately hot and exploded. It shattered into many photons. Immediately, the photons reassembled themselves into quarks and electrons. Quarks combined into neutrons and protons. By the end of the first three minutes of the existence of the universe neutrons and protons had combined into nuclei of the simplest atom, hydrogen.
The strong nuclear force holds protons and neutrons together; the weak nuclear force decays nuclei; the electro-magnetic force keeps electrons circulating around the nuclei of atoms. Physics has another force, gravitation.
(I am tempted to cite references to those who made the seminal discoveries I am narrating here but I will not do so, for such citations make reading tedious. Moreover, I am here sketching my version of Gnostic religion which although borrowed from many people is my interpretation of that religion. )
The initial universe ought to have produced equal numbers of matter and anti-matter (electrons and positrons, protons and anti-protons, neutrons and anti-neutrons, quarks and anti-quarks); they ought to have attacked each other and annihilated each other and returned the universe to radiation, light hence not form matter, the basis for human existence. Apparently, for every billion particles of anti-matter produced a billion and one particle of matter was produced so that when they attacked each other a particle survived to guarantee the existence of a matter based universe. This event is considered anthropic for it seemed to suggest that right from the get go the universe is designed to produce people who live in bodies.
The universe was at this time expanding at a speed greater than the speed of light hence was prevented from re-collapsing to itself and ending its existence. This is what Alan Gutt-called the inflationary period of expansion. This event is considered anthropic for it suggests that right from the beginning the universe was intent on evolving to a point where human beings are produced.
During the following 400, 000 years the universe was composed of uncombined nuclei, electrons and photons (in a state of plasma). Thereafter, nuclei captured electrons and formed the simplest atom, hydrogen. Light was released when atoms were formed; that light is what Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias observed in 1965; it is called Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. This event is also anthropic.
During the next millions of years the universe was composed of a cloud of hydrogen (with some helium and lithium). Thereafter, an asymmetric event occurred (this is another anthropic event that suggests that the universe was designed to produce human beings): space occurred in the cloud of hydrogen. Thereafter, each clump of hydrogen gas was acted on by gravity; it was pressured inwards; heat and pressure in its core led to ignition; that is, hydrogen fused into helium. Stars are born.
A star is a cloud of hydrogen in whose center hydrogen atoms fuse into helium and give off heat and light; that light travels from the core to the surface of the star and we see it as star light. This, too, is anthropic.
The initial stars were very massive in size and did not live more than a few million years before they exhausted their hydrogen and begin fusing other elements (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and so on). As Fred Hoyle told us, when the fusion process (called nucleosynthesis) reaches Iron the star is no longer able to fuse higher elements and expands in size and explodes in a supernova. The attendant heat of the explosion produced all the elements beyond Iron on Chemistry's periodic table. This is also anthropic for the elements produced by supernova are used to construct our bodies (we are literally star dust!).
Over time, the cloud of elements, nebulae, from exploded stars reassembled into medium sized stars like our sun and planets like our earth.
Thus, it came to pass that there are now over 200 billion galaxies with each galaxy containing over 200 billion stars. Our galaxy, Milky Way is so large that it takes light traveling at the speed of light, 186, 000 miles per second, 100, 000 years to go from one end of it to the other. Light from our nearest galaxy, Andromeda takes 2.5 million years to reach us.
Some of the star lights we see at night are actually from stars that are long dead but they were so far away from us that they just got to us!
On planet earth, an insignificant planet orbiting an insignificant star, sun at the tail end of a spiral galaxy, the goldilocks region where it is neither too hot nor too cold, biological life forms emerged. Apparently, in ponds of water (water brought to earth by comets) twenty six elements mixed to form amino acids and eventually single celled biological forms and those over three and half billion years evolved to homo sapiens, us.
Whereas there are trillions of exoplanets, so far it is only on planet earth that biological life forms, plants and animals, have been found.
All stars and planets will eventually die. The massive ones die in supernovae; they explode and slough off their outer regions and their inner regions collapse into either Black holes (objects where nothing, not even light escapes from their events horizons) or neutron stars (here all elements in the collapsed star are crushed to neutrons and the neutron star spins at mind dizzying speed).
Our sun will die in five billion years. Before it explodes it will get hotter and dry planet earth. Actually, in about two billion years our earth would be dried by a dying hot sun.
In a few trillion years all the stars would explode and die. In more trillion years all the elements, atoms, would decay to their particles. In more time the particles would decay; the last to decay would be protons. When all the particles have decayed (radiated) there would no longer be matter in the universe.
The universe that began in nothingness (genesis) returns to nothingness (eschatology). This is how contemporary astrophysics' delineates the beginning and end of our universe. Is it true? Of course it is not true! Nevertheless, let us work with the accepted physics of the universe; in the future when our information base improves what we today call science will be revised.
Since in the beginning it was light that transformed itself into matter, space and time the question is where did that light come from, what existed before the Big Bang? And what happens when everything decays back to light?
Science does not know anything before the Big Bang. Since the original light that exploded during the Big Bang came from what we do not know can we speculate that that light came from God?
It should be noted that the co-founder of Strings theory, Professor Michio Kaku now believes that the universe seems created by an intelligent force; he thinks that the universe is sort of like a matrix where the same universe and its contents are replicated in different universes.
From my experience, I know that the universe was created by an intelligent force but who is that intelligent force? It is us.
We, the sons of God, invented our universe. God created us and the unified spiritual universe and we invented the physical universe.
And who is God? God is our highest self, so, in effect, we created even the unified universe! The same force acts as God, the son of God, the Holy Spirit and the ego.
FROM NOTHINGNESS TO NOTHINGNESS
This is the much that we know for sure: the universe and us came from nothingness and will return to nothingness.
What is nothingness, anyway? Nothingness means no particular thing, which means everything. In effect, we came from not one particular thing but from everything! And what is everything but what religionists call God?
Let us reiterate some known facts: the universe came from light; that light configured itself into matter. As the universe expanded and cooled light transformed itself to quarks and electrons; as it expanded some more and cooled some more quarks combined into protons and neutrons. As the universe continued to expand and cool protons and neutrons combined into nuclei. As it expanded some more and cooled some more nuclei captured electrons to form hydrogen. As the universe expanded and cooled some more stars were formed.
As the universe keeps expanding and cooling massive stars died and their star dust were reassembled into medium sized stars and planets. As the universe keeps expanding (due to dark energy) and cooled, life forms began on planet earth.
As the universe keeps expanding and cooling all its stars will die. As the universe keeps expanding it will lose heat, entropy and die in a cold chill, all matter dies.
What would eventually exist is space filled with radiation (photons, light). Thus, a universe that began in incredible heat ends as a cold place.
If we may ask, since the universe by definition means everything so where exactly is it expanding to that is not already part of it? Is there a pre-existing vacuum where it is expanding into? The balloon analogy: how an inflating balloon expands, is not satisfactory for the balloon expands to a preexisting space; if there is no space around the balloon you cannot inflate it. Science's story of creation remains murky!
In the meantime we, human beings, live in bodies assembled from matter. As pointed out above, matter was assembled from atoms and atoms were assembled from protons and neutrons and electrons and those particles were assembled from photons and photons, light came from nothingness during the Big Bang.