Is the universe governed by energy?
As the title questions, is there an energy that controls what happens within the universe, and if so where did it come from, and what governs it? Some people believe that there’s a spiritual energy that is part of everything and when we die the energy transfers somewhere else. Carl Sagan believed that we are all born from stars, so everything we see has already existed as something else, hypothetically. The fourth most abundant element in the universe is carbon, and is preceded by hydrogen, helium, and oxygen, and it’s included in the largest make-up of life combination that includes (hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous and sulphur), that are generally known as the ‘CHNOPS‘ elements. Considering the periodic table lists 118 elements, only these six make up life, and the rest of life is made up of metals and minerals.
“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.” – Carl Sagan
Without carbon, life just couldn’t exist, as it’s the most basic and essential building block for life. It’s uniqueness is its ability to easily bond with other elements, and create organic compounds, that fall into just four macro-molecular categories.
Despite diamonds being rare on Earth, astrophysicists are confident that they are abundant throughout the universe and think that some planets may be pure carbon based diamond structures. The first elements in the universe must have been hydrogen, quickly followed by helium and lithium, and after it expanded it cooled down significantly enough for neutrons and proteins to bind. It took billions of years for objects like gas and dusts to begin to interact due to gravity and give birth to galaxies full of matter in the form of stars and planets. The birth of a star is a combination of dust and gasses being compressed together by gravity to create a nebulae. As it becomes denser it breaks up into smaller pieces and heats up, and over a period of millions of years it reaches a temperature where two hydrogen atoms fuse together to a create helium atom giving of tremendous energy in the form of light and heat, which is known as nuclear fusion, and creates larger atoms like carbon. Life, as we know it, was born in stars and is essentially what remains after burning of helium.
What is dark energy?
Scientists used to think that after the Big Bang that the universe would eventually slow down expanding, but it’s done the opposite and there’s an “anti-gravity force” which is causing the universe to accelerate rather than slow down. Scientists aren’t entirely sure what it is, but it’s been named as dark energy. Dark meaning unknown as opposed to invisible. Visible matter makes up just a tiny 4% of the universe and the rest is made up of dark energy and dark matter, that scientists are struggling to observe, but they are confident dark energy exists due to the behaviour of galaxies. Stars should be orbiting slower the further away from the galaxies centre as they are further away from a concentration of density, but they orbit at roughly the same speed meaning there’s another force at play other than gravity, and it works from within the vacuum of space.
“I want to know what dark matter and dark energy are comprised of. They remain a mystery, a complete mystery. No one is any closer to solving the problem than when these two things were discovered.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Dark energy was first seriously proposed in 1998 by two separate teams of astronomers who studied light from distant galaxies and discovered that the universe is indeed accelerating and not slowing down due to the force of gravity like scientists earlier predicted, and it’s been discovered that it indeed repulses gravity in less dense areas of space time, and this has been observed by the Hubble law. Despite people claiming that dark energy is a myth, the effect of gravity on the universe should indeed be slowing the rate of expansion down. Due to the rate of known mass in the universe being such a small percentage, there’s not enough gravity to slow the universe down and it’s thought that eventually it’ll expand so far that it’ll cool down into a deep freeze, but this is billions of years away.
“The luminous and non-luminous normal matter makes up about 4 percent of the total mass and energy density of the universe. Dark matter, which emits no light and cannot be directly observed, comprises another 24 percent of the total, while dark energy dominates with about 72 percent. Most of the universe is unknown and only indirectly detected. We can see its effects on galaxies and the expansion of the universe, but we have yet to identify the underlying source. That may seem unsettling, but to a scientist, it is exciting.” – Source
Is dark energy a result of an expanding vacuum, and if so, should the theory of gravity be reassessed? Could the theory of relativity actually be wrong, and could it be an inaccurate way to describe the universe?
What is energy?
Energy, derived from the Greek word ‘ergon’, which means task, or work, but the Oxford dictionary defines energy as:
“power derived from the utilization of physical or chemical resources, especially to provide light and heat or to work machines.”
How can we possibly begin to describe what could be a spiritual energy that flows through everything in the universe? If we look at it from the perspective of Carl Sagan, we all come from star stuff. We originated in the same place, and we will return into the life cycle of the universe when we die. Everything is made from atoms, and within those atoms are electrons which according to quantum mechanics the electrons appear simultaneously in different places to give the illusion of a solid mass, but any dense object it’s mostly empty of matter, but full of energy.
“Energy! At a pretty basic level, we’re all made of atoms, which are made of electrons, protons, and neutrons.” – Source
So we’ve established that everything is full of energy, but how is it connected, if you are to consider that? I’ve spoken to a few people recently that believe the universe and everything within it is all connected with some kind of spiritual force, but not related to any divinity. Bioenergetics is the science that studies the transfer of energy at a cellular level in biological organisms such as humans, and by applying the laws of thermodynamics, of which the first law is below, they’ve established that energy is all around us.
“The first law of thermodynamics, also known as Law of Conservation of Energy, states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. ” – Source
Is there such a thing as supernatural energy?
In Hinduism, they observe the the seven chakra system which are the main locations of energy in the body and that when the chakras are open, positive energy flows through the body, and mind, but when one is blocked, it disrupts the equilibrium and harmony within. This is often why people meditate, or adopt principles like yoga. It’s said that each chakra controls a different parts of a person’s physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual state. They believe that if all of the chakras are open, then we are at peace and harmony with our surroundings, and we are healthy and happy.
Much of the energy related alternative healing practises originated in the East, but are any of them worthy of credibility, or do they just create a placebo effect in helping someone feel better if they think they’re being healed. An example of this could be Acupuncture, which is a method first used in China and focuses on the life force energy (qi) of living beings and is the focus of Chinese medicine and martial arts. It’s about focusing energy and transferring it to parts of the body to heal, or to balance the body to perform an action focusing the energy to a certain point that the imagination coincides with the physical. Despite people studying these practises for thousands of years, it’s still considered pseudoscience as science cannot observe or study it.
“The distinction between life and lifeless is a human construct. Every atom in this body existed before organic life emerged 4000 million years ago. Remember our childhood as minerals, as lava, as rocks? Rocks contain the potentiality to weave themselves into such stuff as this. We are the rocks dancing. Why do we look down on them with such a condescending air? It is they that are an immortal part of us.” – John Seed
Animism is a belief that all objects, even inanimate objects hold a spiritual energy or essence, and that there’s no distinction between the physical and non-physical as everything is connected as one. Animism is derived from the Latin word ‘anima‘, meaning ‘spirit’, and essentially gives some form of sentience to objects and forces of nature. It’s by all accounts not a religion but a method to align ancient spirituality with modern religions, and is wildly considered the first basis for humans believing in something bigger than them; the seed of religion, and could potentially predate the first organised divine worship by thousands of years. Shintō is an example of both animism and polytheism as it believes all objects are inhabited by gods or spirits known as ‘Kami’. The Shinto faith believe that humans are inherently good, and anything bad that happens is down to evil spirits. They claim that if the Kami are kept happy, then they will deal with the evil spirits and restore harmony.
“The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it. If a mountain is a deity, not a pile of ore; if a river is one of the veins of the land, not potential irrigation water; if a forest is a sacred grove, not timber; if other species are our biological kin, not resources; or if the planet is our mother, not an opportunity—then we will treat each one with greater respect. That is the challenge, to look at the world from a different perspective.” – David Suzuki
The supernatural is classed by many as a pseudo-science as it can’t be observed by using the scientific method as it’s beyond the laws of naturalism. As a natural sceptic I struggle to comprehend the existence of something that cannot be observed, evidenced or tested. What do you think?