By Basab Dasgupta
April 8, 2018
Most of my physicist friends are either atheist or agnostic. The reasons are not difficult to understand. As famous physicists like Stephen Hawking have declared, science and, physics in particular, can explain everything about how this universe was created and functions based on the laws of physics and the concept of God is not really necessary.
God does not fit into their explanation because existence of God cannot be proved on the basis of laws of physics. God is only a crutch for people who do not understand theories of physics.
Let us consider the intriguing possibility that existence of God is not only consistent with the laws of physics but electromagnetic (em) field is, in fact, same as God, or at least one manifestation of God.
The physicists have perhaps already embraced the existence of God without even realizing it and explained a multitude of phenomena in terms of God’s miracles using a different description and technical jargon.
The close association of light with God is not a new concept from a religious/spiritual point of view. “God is light” is a recurring theme in the Bible. Genesis says that “and God said ‘let there be light’ and then there was light”.
It is very close to although not quite same as saying “I will be the light”. In fact, according to some Biblical verses, God has more explicitly said that He is indeed light.
In Hindu scriptures “seeing the light” are equivalent to a spiritual awakening or seeing God. We get married with light in the form of “Agni” as an eternal witness. In Quran God is described as “light of the heavens and earth” and “light is a symbol of knowledge and of faith”. In Judaism the religious festival Hanukah is called the “festival of lights”; light symbolizes everything that is holy and beautiful.
Let me start with some obvious similarities between God and em field from a layman’s point of view. First of all, they are both invisible to the naked eye. We only see an object when light shines on it. We cannot see God but can see holy men blessed by Him.
Secondly, God and em fields both exist everywhere in this universe. Thirdly, our eye cannot see the entire em spectrum but only a narrow range of wavelengths – the visible portion.
Similarly, we cannot fathom God in His entirety; we can only hope to experience some limited aspect of the Supreme Being. Although we cannot see God the devotees know that God is almighty and super powerful. Similarly, em waves can carry enormous amounts of energy, for example, in the form of gamma rays or lasers.
In order to appreciate the identification of em fields with God from a physics perspective we have to dig a little into hard-core physics. A key basis of Einstein’s special theory of relativity is the second postulate which states that the speed of light (or more generally, any em wave) is always the same regardless of the condition of motion of the source or that of the observer. This is similar to saying that how God moves appears to be the same to everyone.
Note that Einstein did not prove this. He simply assumed this to be a postulate and then formulated his theory of relativity on this basis. In other words, if one accepts that God is not only omnipresent but also equally accessible to everyone then all phenomena in our lives can be explained.
Einstein also concluded that no material object can travel faster than light. In other words, no living being nor man-made craft can travel faster than God.
For a true believer God can, of course, travel at any speed that He wishes, but He has apparently set a limit that no human being can exceed. It is simply His message to remind us that we are mere humans and only He controls us.
In his effort to explain the so-called photoelectric effect Einstein had to postulate a particle nature of em waves.
This wave-particle duality subsequently led to the development of quantum mechanics. At first, it seemed to be a mind-boggling concept that light can appear both as waves and as particles. However, this is not so surprising to a believer who always knows that God can appear in multiple forms.
Newton used a prism to demonstrate that visible light can be separated into different colors – those which appear in a rainbow. Later the physicists realized that visible light is just a small part of the em spectrum.
The overall spectrum contains a continuous gamut of literally an infinite number of wavelengths. We can similarly think of God as a superposition of an infinite number of emotions and thoughts.
Every atom in the universe can emit em waves of certain wavelengths unique to it and in fact does so when the atom is appropriately excited. God exists in every object and inside every living being and God (or God’s messages) will emanate out of them when they are appropriately excited.
Electromagnetic wave is the key to all modern-day communication links – be it telephone, television, internet or satellite transmission! Just like we feel secure in handing out our message and innermost thoughts to God (through prayer and confession) we have no hesitation in trusting em waves as a medium to communicate all of our intimate thoughts.
Although we do not see em waves we can certainly see any object illuminated by the visible part of the em spectrum. The color and beauty of the entire planet earth are caused by this illumination. Is it not reasonable to say that God has presented this beautiful world to us?
Even metaphorically we associate light with positive things: hope, love, happiness, bliss. People who have claimed to have had God experiences always describe God as light. In all religious images regardless of religions God is portrayed as being associated with light. The word “enlightenment” is used to indicate understanding and comprehension of God.
All life forms are sustained because of light and energy from the sun. A reincarnation is continuance of eternal life after a brief interruption. Death is perhaps simply a temporary eclipse.
The most fascinating aspect of em waves is the mathematical representation. Existence of em waves is derived by solving Maxwell’s equations. The Maxwell equations are four first order linear partial differential equations which are mathematical versions of four different laws of physics: Gauss’ law for electrostatics, Gauss’ law for magnetism, Faraday’s law and Ampere’s law.
The most striking feature of Maxwell equations is that, in a region free of electrical charges and currents (such as vacuum) the electric field (indicated by the letter E) and the magnetic field (indicated by B) enter into the equations, almost in identical formats.
Furthermore, these equations are coupled in the sense that the equation for time variation of E involves B and that for B involves E, almost in a symmetric way, Mathematically, the equations would remain the same if we replace E by B and B by negative of E.
One can combine these four first order equations into two second order differential equations, one for the B-field and one for E-field by eliminating one or the other. These two equations are identical in their mathematical formulation and their solution yields the electromagnetic waves.
If the E-field varies with time it automatically generates a B-field and vice-versa. One cannot isolate one from the other and the two fields together constitute the em field (or em waves).
This description of electromagnetic waves is similar to the image of God consisting of Radha and Krishna: the essence of male and female embodiments of the two complimentary aspects of the supreme being.
Together they complete the image of God. Radha and Krishna control each other through love just as the E and B fields couple!
We often search for our “soul-mates” who are exactly like us except being of opposite gender. Many people look for their soul-mate all their lives. I believe that the concept of soul-mate is a myth.
One’s soul-mate is simply one’s image in a mirror separating the genders. It is one’s own reflection. If you are like the E-field your soul-mate is automatically there as your accompanying B-field and vice-versa. Once we truly believe this we become complete and in effect find God. The hankering for a soul-mate goes away.
God is the ultimate truth and God is the ultimate love. Or, as a physicist would say, electromagnetic waves are the ultimate phenomena which determine how the universe works. Without light and without God everything will be dark.
Basab Dasgupta, a physicist who worked in academia and industry, is a Bengali settled in America.