It might sound a little strange, unless you’re a chemist, but the periodic table of elements is actually a map of creation. It’s not a being or deity or anything, and few would argue that the periodic table or its elements are intelligent in and of themselves…but it tells the story of the creation of our solar system, if you read it right. I know that sounds like a weird way to put it, since ‘creation’ is often thought of in a very particular way by some people; but it makes sense, if you look at it a certain way.
I’m one of those folks that take words like ‘omnipresent’ and ‘omniscient’ quite literally, which means that I view the creative intelligence of the universe as being everywhere. From my perspective, evolution works the way it does because it’s guided by this intelligence. So does science, and philosophy, and every other aspect of this thing we call life. We can’t separate ourselves from something that is everywhere, since we’re part of everywhere; and we ourselves can’t create outside of that field.
For those that put their faith in science, this perspective often makes more sense than it does to those that put their faith in a personified version of a creator. We tend to put things into terms that we can understand, and pretty much all of us understand creation in some way or another. We create meals from food ingredients, we create products from raw materials, and we create opportunities with our actions. It can be difficult for a being that creates in one way to imagine that another being creates in a another way, or that the creator of their creations is not a being at all.
Within your mind, no thought can exist without being influenced by your unique intellectual fingerprint. That may be why many philosophers think of the universe as the mind of God, or at least an outpicturing of that mind. For some of us, science doesn’t make sense without acknowledging the vast intelligence that it relies on to exist, any more than God makes sense if we don’t try to make sense of it. For the sake of convenience, we’ll call this overarching and all-encompassing intelligence ‘the universe’ instead of ‘God’. Feel free to replace one with the other, or imagine the other without the one, wherever and however you like.
The universe creates at a more fundamental level than we do, unless you have a particle accelerator in your backyard. Science likes to tell us that the entire universe existed at a single point smaller than the head of a pin for aeons, until The Big Bang happened. I’ve always been confused about the fact that science feels so comfortable skimming over this part of the universe coming into being. How did The Big Bang happen? What triggered it? Why did it happen, and where did that motivation come from? Are we supposed to accept on faith that everything went from infinitesimally tiny to infinitely huge just because? What happened to cause and effect?
The truth is, the story of The Big Bang reads an awful lot like Genesis…from the right perspective. If they could just get together on what we need to accept on faith and what we should consider facts, we might be able to put the two stories together and come up with one that doesn’t have any major plot holes.
How about…the universe was smaller than the head of a pin, then the universe said, “let there be light”. Once we take this event on faith, all kinds of cool stuff can happen. Massive amounts of hydrogen are expelled into infinity, from the explosion of that pinhead, and those molecules start to react with each other. It’s hard to conceive of things like infinity with a mind designed to boggle at the concept, so we’ll talk about suns instead. When they’re far away we call them stars, but it doesn’t matter what we call them. What matters is what they do.
Stars are giant constant chemical reactions that start out as big balls of hydrogen. The hydrogen crashes into other hydrogen, and that collision forms helium. Light and heat also come with that reaction, which is why our sun shines like it does and why we aren’t freezing out here in space. The sun doesn’t stop with that, though; it keeps crashing molecules into other molecules, and those collisions go on to form other things. Most of it is helium, as long as the sun has hydrogen, and this part of the process accounts for the bulk of a star’s life. When it runs out of hydrogen, more complicated collisions start to happen more frequently. In the last days of a star’s life, it creates every element on the periodic table in the exact order that they are laid out, left to right and top to bottom, on that table. Then, it explodes and casts those elements out into space.
Well, almost. There are a couple things we should say, to qualify that. First of all, there are a bunch of blank spots on the periodic table of elements that we need to consider. Second, we have to point out that humans have filled in some of those blank spots using those particle accelerators that some of them actually do have in their backyards. By smashing molecules into each other, just like a star does, people have created elements that exploding stars never have.
The weird thing is…there was already a blank spot on the periodic table describing each of these elements pretty accurately. These new creations were really discoveries, even if they are the discovery of something that only existed in theory before.
Of course, figuring this out wasn’t easy. Many an esteemed scientist tried to arrange the periodic table of elements in a way that made some kind of sense, only to fail. It wasn’t all that long ago that we got the chart everyone accepts today as standard, and you can bet that it got challenged when it was first introduced.
I mean, what’s with all the holes?
Well, if you consider how things are grouped, the holes totally make sense. Each element’s atomic number, or number of protons, dictates where it falls on this chart. That number increases, from left to right and top to bottom, in the order in which a dying sun creates them. Where there are numbers missing, you leave a blank spot. The wisdom in this was proved out time and again after the chart was finalized, and continues to be proven each time we discover or create a ‘new’ element.
Is there a point to all this? Well, yeah. Didn’t you read the title? The reason that so many scientists banged their heads against the wall trying to be the one that figured this out is because they all pretty much knew that it would be a discovery and not an invention. People didn’t come up with the periodic table of elements; they just mapped it. It’s like drawing up a blueprint of a house that has already been built by someone else; you can see that it makes sense, and works, while you’re standing on the curb and admiring the structure. If your version of the story is missing anything, it isn’t because the story itself is incomplete; it’s more likely that you just don’t have the tools or the understanding to tell it the way it actually happened in objective reality.
We still don’t know what all the elements possible to the universe look like, but we do have a place for them on the periodic table. Just as a map is a representation of a location, and not the location itself, so is the periodic table a map of creation while not being creation itself. If the scientists and the spiritualists could all just get together and admit that they are both flying blind and having a lot of faith in the way the universe works in much the same way, we might get a better picture of what’s going on here. I mean…it took faith to know that the periodic table of elements must have some intelligent order it could be laid out in, the kind of faith that only a scientist can have. A bunch of them had it, too; that’s why so many of them worked on mapping it, and were able to agree when someone finally broke the code.
That’s the cool thing about science; even if it takes awhile, they eventually admit when they are wrong about stuff. The best way to prove something is wrong is by discovering something that is more right, and being open to your discovery being trumped by another better one. Very seldom does a scientific field reach the point where they have discovered everything and all its highest associated truths. Some scientists take this as a given, and look forward to the next wave of discovery no matter how silly it makes them and their own discovery look. Other scientists treat science like a religion, and cling to old doctrine even when presented with new truth.
Nowhere is this more true than among historians. These folks are notorious for their quibbling, their falsified evidence and their tendency to draw erroneous conclusions. The simple fact of the matter is that the history most of us learned in school was largely fiction, and much of it is easily disproven. At the very least, some doubt should have been cast over the fact that everyone telling the story had some stake in it; once we take the unreliability of human memory into account, we have to realize that the further we go back the murkier things get. But we’ll talk about that next week, in a post called…
‘History has been erased!’
Thanks for reading!
All the best,