Creation, Thomistic Philosophy, and the Natural Sciences


This example is caused by adding energy and creating momentum. An old toy gyroscope has a pull string that if pulled quickly (energy added), will cause it to spin at a fast rate. Even picking it up will not cause it to tip over. If you attempt to push it to one side, a proportional force caused by its mass and momentum can be felt and it will return to a vertical position. As the spin decreases, it will begin to wobble and fall on one side after the spinning ends. You can force it to stop by blocking its momentum.

On earth, a force of one gravity means when you drop something, it falls down.


Ok, thank you bob for the update, interesting. There is a lot that can be discussed here but presently and in my next post I think I’m still going to be in the cosmos or heavens as it were and dealing with heavenly objects as this seems to be what I’ve been principally thinking about lately in one sense or another.


Ok thanks. I think the ‘added energy’ here is what physics calls kinetic energy which in this example without getting too technical and in my view is nothing other than the movement or local motion of bodies. A person moves their arm and applies a certain force and movement to the string which is transferred to the gyroscope and causes its motion. Momentum seems to be a natural property which follows bodies and which God bestowed on bodies.


Momentum is just one factor. Why does does the earth turn while in orbit? Why does it vary its tilt to give us the various seasons?


I have said following St Thomas Aquinas that in the initial act of creation per Genesis 1:1 God created the substance of the heavens and the substance of the elements, i.e., the entire matter of the corporeal world under the form of the heavens and the various forms of the baryonic elements indicated by the word ‘earth’. According to the present scientific understanding, the simplest baryonic elemental forms are quarks, leptons, and gauge bosons. The forms of neutrons, protons, and the forms of the naturally occuring elemental atoms on the periodic table were created simultaneously I believe with the quarks, leptons, and gauge bosons. Quarks are not found to exist apart from neutrons and protons. In this initial act of creation, God may also have created and formed simultaneously with the elemental atoms various compound forms of them in various quantities such as the various simple molecules found in the interstellar medium such as ice-water and in cosmic dust.

Naturally, the placement of every elemental atom in the heavens or ‘space’ upon their creation was determined by God. Consequently, there is no doubt that every galaxy in the heavens, every star, and every object associated with any star such as planets or asteroids were immediately formed by God but not all necessarily at the same time. The question could be considered whether after the formation of massive stars by God and supernovae explosions and the dispersion of this material in space, whether stars can form by natural processes from this material. I’m going to address this question a little later on.

As God created a great variety and multitude of plants and animals, so he also formed a great variety and multitude of stars. Some are bigger and brighter than others and some shine longer than others. From observations, apparently God formed some stars so massive that they explode into supernovae and disperse their material far and wide into space. In the early universe, I don’t think it is possible to determine in any manner how many of these kinds of massive stars God may have formed unless it is considered that a good part or a majority of the material now found in the interstellar medium is from blown out stars from ages past.

It is said that the interstellar medium in the Milky Way galaxy averages one atom per centimeter cubed. This makes for quite a substantial number of the material in the interstellar medium, i.e., 7-10 billion solar (our sun) masses. The material is not evenly distributed over the galaxy but some places are more dense than others. A few articles I read have said that about 50% of the interstellar material is in clouds or nebulas such as the Orion Nebula.



These clouds can contain many hundreds or millions of solar mass material but it is dispersed far and wide over many light year distances even hundreds of light year distances. Accordingly, these clouds of gas and dust are not very dense by ‘earth’ standards. According to the Wikipedia article on the interstellar medium and other sources, the coldest or densest part of these clouds can reach up to 1 or 2 million atoms (1 or 2 x 10 to the 6th power) or molecules of them per centimeter cubed. In contrast, it is said that the air we breathe contains 10 to the 19th power atoms per centimeter cubed.

The question remains whether stars can actually form by natural processes of nature from dispersion of the material into space from supernovae and any material God may have left in the interstellar medium. It is an interesting question and I honestly don’t know. From what the main stream scientific community says, it may seem that the formation of stars from natural processes is as easy as making cookies. In theory and on paper, it may seem possible but it has never been observed of course.

I cannot rule out God supernaturally and directly forming stars and galaxies and any object associated with them such as planets not only since the beginning of any galaxy and the first stars of it which I hold was absolutely necessary on the part of God such as in the placement of all the elemental atoms He created, but also throughout the entire billions of years history of any galaxy right up to the creation of man on the sixth day and God’s rest on the seventh day from ‘all the work he had done in creation.’ For example, the earth is said to be created in the beginning in Genesis 1:1 but in some unfinished or formless state. And it is not until day 3 that God further prepares the earth in forming the dry land for plant and animal life and eventually mankind. Light is said to be created on day one but the sun, moon, and stars on day 4 even after the creation of the vegetation and plants on day 3.

I’m not even sure that the cosmic dust and various simple molecules found in the interstellar medium such as ice water and silicates formed of carbon and oxygen are actually produced by natural processes occurring in the heavens. These things are observed in the interstellar medium but how they were formed or came to be nobody really knows. The scientists have theories of course but it has not been directly observed and there is no overall common agreement on the theories themselves. For example, it has been theorized that the cosmic dust is produced from shock waves from supernovae explosions but it is now being theorized that it is produced from the radiation of supernovae explosions or just prior to the explosions or something of this nature.



Possibly some of the cosmic dust and molecules are produced from natural processes going on in the heavens. How much of it I don’t know. It could be that God himself formed most of the cosmic dust and compound molecules found in the interstellar medium. Presently, the production of some cosmic dust particles and some simple compound molecules associated with cosmic dust are as far as I personally go with what the natural processes in the heavens can naturally do. Anything larger than cosmic dust grains I assume God himself directly formed. The cosmic dust grains are said to be typically less than one ten-thousandth of a millimeter in diameter.

It is said that the interstellar medium of gas and dust is 99% gas and 1% dust grains. 98.9% of this gas is hydrogen and helium atoms and .1% some other heavier elements. A list of the molecules so far detected in the interstellar medium and circumstellar shells of late type stars can be found here:

From a quick survey of this list, it appears the most abundant elemental atoms are hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and a few others. Apparently, the greater majority of the naturally occurring elements on the periodic table have not been detected in the interstellar medium. My question is, where are they? It is theorized according to the most popular scientific opinion that all the elements beyond hydrogen and helium and trace amounts of lithium are produced in stars and in supernovae explosions and dispersed into the interstellar medium. But, apparently, many of these elements are no where to be found or haven’t been detected which I find rather odd. If supernovae explosions produce elements beyond iron as is theorized, it is apparently a very minuscule and undetectable quantity of them and a rather seemingly inefficient process. I’m not denying that fusion processes may go on in stars which produces the photons of light or even that supernovae explosions may produce ‘some’ elements heavier than iron as it is theorized. But, I do hold and believe most firmly that stars are not the only source of the production of elements beyond hydrogen and helium.


It is said they are there and formed after a star explodes. I regard this as an assumption only. The detonation of a star releases tremendous amounts of energy, including neutrons. Now, scientists are developing a device that can incinerate transuranic nuclear waste - using neutrons and heat.


Interesting, thanks.


Concerning the modern science of astronomy which in certain respects is very fascinating such as all the amazing pictures that have been taken and the astounding vastness of the heavens, one will commonly read about star formation by the natural processes of nature. The more I think about this, the more I think this is a very broad generalization which it appears to me involves an ideal theoretical situation of ‘precision tuning’ of an arrangement of the atoms in a cloud or nebula of gas and dust. If this nebula is more or less the result of quasars or supernovae explosions, the arrangement of the atoms can hardly be considered fine tuned but more or less a random scattering of the atoms which is usually what happens to the material in explosions such as in atomic or nuclear bombs. Or, for example, when a tornado destroys a house it passes over and what is left is a pile of rubble and the lumber more or less randomly scattered.

The force of gravity is called upon in order for a cloud of gas and dust in space to contract or condense into a star. Various nebulas such as the Orion Nebula in the Milky Way galaxy contain it is said lots of mass, i.e., many elemental atoms mostly of hydrogen and helium, many times the mass of our sun but spead out over great distances even light year and many light year distances. Accordinly, compared to our sun, earth, or the air we breathe they are many order of magnitudes less dense per centimeter cubed.

Without going in to great detail presently, a broad generalization of the mass and density of a nebula cloud isn’t going to automatically form into a star. Since we observe stars in the sky as well as these nebulas, the astronomers theorize natural processes of star formation, for this is what the natural sciences are about, i.e., investigating the natural processes and causes of things. The natural sciences do not concern themselves with invoking other possible causes of things beyond natural causes such as supernatural causes or God. God as the cause of things involves other sciences such as theology, philosophy, and metaphysics and not in the least the virtue of faith itself.



But, I want to focus on the natural causes or processes in star formation that the astronomers or astrophysicists invoke. Presently, I’m going to try and keep this brief. As was noted above, the force of gravity is what is said to contract or condense a cloud of gas into a star. It appears to me and I think astronomers would agree that whatever conditions that could be theoretically invoked to cause a gas cloud or part of a gas cloud to condense, there are at least equally conditions that can be theoretically invoked to prevent collapse of a cloud. For example, lets assume a part of a gas cloud with a mass 5 times that of our sun and of whatever radius. And further assume that every cubic centimeter of this part of the cloud has equal mass and is also equally distanced from every other cubic centimeter in this part of the cloud. Using Newton’s law of universal gravitation and calculating the force of gravity, m1 x m2 / distance squared, the force of gravity between all these cubic centimeter of masses would all cancel out on each other. They would all have the same force of attraction upon each other and thus no one of them would free fall into another and condense.

Realistically, each cubic centimeter of mass in this part of a gas cloud we are hypothetically considering are going to have various masses and various distances from each other as it were. But, it can be hypothetically conceived without crunching any numbers, that even in this situation the forces of gravity acting upon each cubic centimeter of mass or groups of them will all cancel out so that, again, the cloud does not collapse. In another post, I may crunch some numbers for fun and for further illustration. I have used here in this illustration the volume of a cubic centimeter. One could invoke a millimeter volume or something much smaller but I don’t think this would change the theoretical conditions due to the force of gravity I’m presenting here. If I’m not mistaken and using Newton’s law of gravitational attraction and laws of motion, it appears to me that some 'precision tuning’ of the arrangement of the atoms in any observed cloud of gas and dust would be required for it to contract by the force of gravity into a star or any other object compounded of an arrangement of atoms.

Further, it seems to me that whatever other natural phenomena could be invoked besides gravity to help condense the cloud, the same or other natural phenomena could be equally invoked that would prevent collapse of the cloud such as I believe it is said of magnetism. God only knows all the combined forces and processes of nature acting on a nebula of gas and dust in a galaxy. I have considered here just the force of gravity itself. In conclusion, it appears to me that only a very precision arrangement of the atoms in a gas cloud in space is going to cause it to form into a star and I’m not sure such an arrangement is going to materialize by the combined natural processes and forces of nature and the force of gravity in the heavens except possibly by mere chance.


I do not see a problem with considering that new stars can form by way of a natural process, if such a process can in a way be likened to radioactive decay where a quantity of a certain isotope can continue to emit energy, particles, and splinter into different elements for many years.


Yesterday, I wrote about the possibility of a part of a cloud of gas and dust being in gravitational equilibrium due to this part of the cloud having more or less the same density. But, the material on the perimeter of this part of the cloud may be considerably less dense from the observations of these nebulas I believe it is said. Accordingly, I think it is theoretically possible that various areas on the perimeter of the more dense cloud may pull in material from the surrounding less dense region by gravitational attraction. This could cause various regions on the perimeter of the cloud in gravitational equilibrium to become more dense and thus upset the possible gravitational equilibrium of the more dense cloud. In effect, the gravitational equilibrium of the more dense cloud could splinter into segments or regions of various densities of material.

Accordingly, as I have been thinking about this more and more, I think it is theoretically possible on paper or in a computer simulation at least for stars to be generated by the natural process of gravitational attraction and other natural processes involved. Such a natural process could occur from the material blown out and accumulating in various regions in a galaxy from dying stars and supernovae as well as mixing with material that may have already been in the interstellar medium. At the same time, what can be conceived in the mind theoretically may not be what actually happens in the world of nature outside the mind.

Presently then, I don’t personally rule out the theoretical possibility of some stars being generated by natural processes of nature but knowing at the same time that it has never been directly observed. In fact, the formation of cosmic dust grains and various simple compound molecules that have been detected in interstellar clouds of gas and dust has also not been directly observed much less massive stars, asteroids or small rocks, or whole rocky planets. We observe what is already there. Personally, I’m very tentative about looking at objects in space trillions upon trillions of miles away through telescopes be they stars, planets, or cosmic dust and then attempting to explain their origin by appeal only to naturalistic theories and processes of nature. Some of these objects such as some stars, cosmic dust, and simple molecules found in the interstellar medium I’m tentatively holding the possibility of being generated by natural processes of nature. But, we cannot proceed to infinity in appealing to natural processes of nature not only from sound philosophy but also from our catholic faith and God’s word by which we understand and believe that the entire natural world of beings and all natural processes, the entire creation, are the products or effects of God’s creative power produced in their entirety out of nothing.



So, as I have been saying in this whole thread, I firmly believe the creation and formation of all the simple baryonic elements such as quarks, leptons, and gauge bosons and simultaneously all or most of the elemental atoms on the periodic table formed from these including neutrons and protons were produced by God out of nothing at the beginning of creation as well as and simultaneously the substance of the heavens or what is also called ‘space’ today. And then God formed from these elemental atoms all the galaxies in the universe and all the first stars associated with these galaxies many of which I believe are still shining such as red dwarfs which can burn hydrogen for many billions even hundreds of billions or trillions of years it is said. From the present modern science consensus, this period of the formation of the galaxies and stars in the heavens may have lasted billions of years before God formed our solar system, planet earth with its seas, and created the various living creatures on earth and finally mankind.

Accordingly, I’m tentatively not ruling out the possibility that some later stars in various galaxies including the Milky Way galaxy over these billions of years may have been generated by natural processes of nature from material accumulated from dying stars and supernovae in the interstellar medium. At the same time, I do not rule out that God himself was directly forming stars in the course of the formation of the galaxies throughout this long ‘days’ work ( I actually believe it to be so for there is no theological reason not too) at the same time that some stars may have formed by directed natural processes of nature in various regions of a galaxy from accumulated material in the interstellar medium from dying stars and supernovae. Such a process of God setting in place and directing natural processes of nature and at the same time continuing his own work of the creation and formation of the world appears from the very nature of the seven day creation narrative itself in Genesis 1-2:3.


The process you are describing here seems to be like a fission process of producing energy and light from stars. I have wondered about this idea myself but the present scientific consensus vouches for a fusion process beginning with the hydrogen element. A fission process from heavier elements would require a very great quantity of these elements but, again, the present scientific consensus is that the majority of the baryonic elements in the observable universe is in the form of the hydrogen and helium elements, 98% of it, and about 75% of this is in the form of the hydrogen element alone.


Most of the missing matter and energy are now dark matter and dark energy. And aside from some unknown process that has been observed during galaxy collision, for example, they can’t detect either. One statement I read suggested that they are outside of the electromagnetic spectrum as we know it.


In my opinion, the reason why the so-called dark matter and dark energy can’t be detected is because it may not exist. I believe the dark matter idea was originally invented in order to get stars to form by natural processes of nature because originally the scientists couldn’t get stars to form by the known laws of physics in computer simulations. So dark matter was invented that somehow interacts with baryonic matter by gravitational attraction only in order for the force of gravity to overcome the expansion of baryonic matter caused by the heat produced from the pressure caused by the force of gravity itself on baryonic matter. Now, it appears the scientists are appealing to this dark matter in the spiral arms of galaxies and I believe that they are appealing more and more to some natural cooling process and other natural phenomena than to dark matter in star formation although it may still be needed here in their theories. I’m not sure of what the other uses they may assign to dark matter if any. Since I believe most firmly that God himself formed all the galaxies and all the first stars in them without excluding later stars also as I mentioned in today’s first post, than the idea of dark matter is not necessary to overcome the expansion caused by heat according to the naturalistic star formation theories.

I believe the dark energy idea is used in conjunction with the theory of the expansion of space as being the force or energy that causes the expansion. Assuming the idea of the expansion of space or the heavens is a real phenomenon of nature, than I believe this idea of dark energy is also an unnecessary phenomenon. I wrote a post about this a while back ago on this thread and the possibility of connecting the making of the firmament on the second day of the Genesis 1 creation narrative with the expansion of space if such a phenomenon has occurred. This stretching out of the heavens to some unknown point could have been done by God himself without creating any secondary cause or phenomenon such as the idea of dark energy. The redshift phenomenon of distant galaxies is connected in some manner I believe to the theory of the expansion of space as you know and wrote about in a post on this thread. In that post, I believe you mentioned that in your opinion the redshift phenomenon is really not fully understood as their appear to be various observations and anomalies concerning this phenomenon that don’t add up which could exclude the theory of the expansion of space itself. I agree with you here.


I was not using the example so much for the mechanism (fission vs. fusion) but just that the ongoing decay is basically the secondary cause of the resulting fission products, energy, and particles emitted. I do not think God’s direct intervention is needed for forming new planets, galaxies, and stars any more than it is needed to guide a decay chain. I think they can both comfortably be accepted as secondary causes.


Scientists don’t know what’s going on. That’s all there is to it. God created the Universe out of nothing. I suggest people read up on radioactive decay. Some materials decay in a few hours, some in days.


Some in seconds, some minutes, some hours, some days, some years, some many years. I’m not sure what your point is. Rich_ca was questioning the development of new celestial bodies, and I used radioactive decay as an example of a non-living entity going through continuous changes due to its nature.

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