About the Author

When someone asked me at a party if early man had lived on dinosaur steak, or if it was the dinosaurs who dined on people.  I said with 65 million years between them, neither had devoured the other.   Someone else asked if earth had been created with the Big Bang, and when we humans had started to make music. When someone else said it was impossible to keep track of so much time, I accepted the challenge of writing a book about all time that non-scientists could understand.  That’s how my book, The Big Bang to Now:  A Time Line, began.*   

I am a cognitive psychologist,I knew from the beginning of the project that more than thirteen billion years, which is how old the universe probably is, is simply too vast for most people to understand first off.  Millions, billions, trillions, or thousands of years mesh together into a cloud of incomprehensibility. But it doesn’t have to be so impossibly hard to understand.  There are ways that perfectly normal people can learn to grasp these huge numbers and make sense of them.  This blog is a continuation of the dialogue that began at that party.  Writing the book opened up a fascinating world, and I keep learning.  Sometimes from journals, from the internet, from colleagues.  Most of all from my readers. I hope you will keep on telling me what you think. 

*It has now been published in a second edition, The Big Bang to Now:  All of Time in Six Chunks and is available in paper back or as an e-book.  It can be purchased on Amazon in the country of your choice.

I would be delighted to hear from you and any thoughts – positive or negative – that you may have on the topics covered in the book or on this blog.

Terry Herman Sissons, Ph.D.

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16 Responses to About the Author

  1. neiladams says:

    I read some of your earlier posts and you are absolutely right in saying that God (or our belief in God) is not threatened by whatever questions people may ask. In fact we should be able to ask anything. If our ‘idea’ of God is likely to fall apart under robust examination, then we need to get a more reliable theology. Unless a person knows everything he or she cannot really say, ‘There is no God,” for God may exist in those areas of which they have no knowledge – and for human beings, we are far more ignorant than informed.

  2. Yes! I’ve thought for a long time that it is presumptuous of us to insist that God has to fit into the narrow confines of our limited human intelligence. Who are we to decree what God can or can’t do? Even among ourselves, we cannot fully understand even another human being, and it is insulting for one person to tell someone else what they are thinking or feeling or intend.

  3. Kelly says:

    Almost everyone (who believes in God) should know that the earth was created because of Him. Not because of the Big Bang (well… how should I know what the Big Bang is? The truth is… I DON’T!!).

  4. Kelly, isn’t it possible that the universe was created by God using a Big Bang? It doesn’t seem to me you necessarily have to choose between one or the other.
    Thank you for your comment.
    Terry Herman Sissons

  5. Kelly says:

    Terry, you might be right. I would’ve never thought of that.

  6. Passa Caglia says:

    The need for an all powerful supernatural being for some human minds is as strong as the need for an animal organism to breath oxygen. I believe this is driven by the emotion of fear and fear of personal annihilation, which genetically speaking is counter to the need for survival. The explanation of a supernatural being who is responsible for the creation of the universe and benevolently interacts with humans is a poignant denial that the molecules that go to make up a person, will someday revert to its component atomic parts once again to become available to recombine into some other thing. It is comforting, and I think wholly arrogant, to think we survive somehow after our cellular life is over. What would be the point of living eternally anyway? The stories of religion make incredible claims about death and promises about what existence is after death. But in the hundreds of thousands of years humans have existed, no evidence of an afterlife has been provided. Only hopes of one. When someone provides reasonable justification for belief in a god and an afterlife, then there will be justification to believe.

    While it is true nothing can ultimately and absolutely be “proved,” justification for provisional belief that is the kind science offers is not too much to require for an inquiring mind. That requirement testifies equally to the far reaches the human mind can extend right along with the reach for religious explanatory inventions that cannot provide a body of knowledge in contrast to science that can provide much. Science always leaves the door open for new discoveries whereas religions do not. Religion is dogmatic, science is not. What one wants to believe, however, is a different thing, and the scientific explanation and the religious one are the choices. Questioning beliefs is for me the epitome of human psychology. At some point, some conclusions are less refutable than earlier. It is obvious which my voice speaks for.

    • Thank you for such a thoughtful comment. Like you, I too have wondered why so many people believe in God and have done so for thousands of years. Is it only fear? a desire to avoid the total annihilation of death? certainly it includes these things. But I wonder if there is some times something more for some people – a sense of something in the universe, some mystery, some intuition of the profound which seems to be more than the reducible world of science. Whatever I may or may not understand, however, I am certain I will never believe in the anthropomorphic god of so many – an angry tyrant whose lack of forgiveness carries down endless generations.

      Like you, too, I have a great delight in science. As you say, science cannot deliver us absolute certainty. But it has delivered us a world that simply stupendous, amazing, overwhelming in its majesty and beauty.

  7. Matt. says:

    I’m no great philosopher nor do I spend my entire existence wondering what is or what isn’t. I have seen arrogance from religious people and atheist people. Everybody thinks their right. I do ponder life after death occasionally and for me their does not have to be a religious component to it. It could be a perfectly mysterious natural process for all living things. I mean if the crazy world of quantum physics can be true is it that much of a leap to think that consciousness continues in some form after death? I mean they say dark matter is real but I don’t see it, never will see it. Some folks say string theory and multiverse theories are real and they are infinite universes with infinite copies of me and you doing slightly different things or the same thing. I mean come on I’m expected to believe these things yet folks won’t even entertain some natural process where consciousness don’t die? I’ve heard hypothesis about a quantum brain theory that intrigues me. I mean I don’t know perhaps it all does end at death. But the biggest mystery to me is why human beings even care! Why aren’t we wholly driven by instinct like every other animal known to exist. Why are we the chosen biological vessel for consciousness? Until someone can explain that with something more than “just because” then I will believe in my version of the afterlife even if I’m wrong. Good Day!

    • Matt – Your comments are most appreciated. You have obviously been thinking about the same kind of issues I have been turning over for years, and interestingly, we have reached conclusions that are not dissimilar. We live in mystery. We as a species are intelligent enough to ask the questions — but we aren’t intelligent enough to answer them. Or perhaps it is not intelligence. Perhaps it is simply impossible for earthlings to look at the universe, at life and death, and to see the whole picture.

      I too have looked at my dogs and seen them accept death without all the angst we humans bring to it. But what I have seen is that dogs can mourn the loss of a companion (human or other) for years. There are numerous fascinating examples of animals from birds to chimpanzees mourning the loss of a fellow creature, and not one necessarily of their own species. So they experience loss. I doubt that they have fantasies comparable to the human versions though.

      The multiverse theories don’t excite me much either. The thought that the same things happening now will eventually happen all over again sounds too mechanical. I think the universes are probably eternal, but I suspect they are also directional. We’re not simply on some great merry-go-round continually returning to where we started.

      I am not familiar with the quantum consciousness hypothesis, but I will make an effort to read about it. I do know physicists say that energy is eternal – that it cannot be created or destroyed. And Einstein, of course, showed us that matter and energy are two states of the same thing, that they are convertible. So whatever happens when we die, we don’t become nothing. Whether our individual consciousness continues to exist with the same self-awareness is another question – my own suspicion is that it does not. But we don’t return to nothingness, or even to an earlier state.

      Thank you for your stimulating comments. I hope you will continue to share your thoughts. Terry

  8. Matt. says:

    Oh yes and even atheist ponder it otherwise they wouldn’t be atheist. So every human being is conscious, aware and ponders things no animal should ponder. My dog doesn’t think about life after death nor does any other animal. Explain why we are different with something more than just a dressed up dead end answer!

  9. Matt. says:

    The hypothesis I was trying to remember is called quantum consciousness hypothesis not quantum brain theory. Lol. Yea I am not even close to being edumucated on physics but I try!

  10. Matt. says:

    Thank you for your kind reply Terry. I’m no brainiac and I flunked Algebra and needless to say my higher math stopped their. I’m just an old retired law enforcement officer who loves science but has little hope of ever understanding the mind blowing math of quantum physics. But I have common sense and I know that despite what some try to tell us human beings are unique in the Animal Kingdom, perhaps unique in the universe! Not saying were the only creature capable of emotion or even love but certainly no other animal has ever been proven to be as aware as we are. I don’t see dogs, dolphins, chimps, or any other creature, but us, seek explanations beyond their own existence. You don’t have dolphin God statues or dogs going to church or chimps philosophizing about the meaning of life. Is it truly luck of evolution? Luck that as far as we know has never been repeated! It’s even possible were the only high life form in the universe. So far no extraterrestrial life has been found much less intelligent, conscious life. In the end you, me, atheist, theist, everyone is just guessing. It could all very well end at death. But what a tragedy if it does! What a waste of human consciousness! I for one will believe in the eternal universe and yes in some form the eternal consciousness. If I’m wrong so be it. Have a blessed day and Happy Holidays.

    • No matter how brainy somebody might be, we all flunk when it comes to what happens after we die, aren’t we? My own feeling is that people who claim to know without any possible doubt are the ones who *really* don’t know.

      My own math skills do not extend to the far reaches of quantum physics. But those who truly understand what they are talking about suggest that the more they learn and understand, the bigger the questions become about this universe we inhabit. So I have no expectation that any of us will ever arrive at all the answers. We just have to go by our own best lights.

      As far as consciousness goes, it seems to me as well that human consciousness is unique. But it may not necessarily be superior in the sense we tend to think. The consciousness of other animals is not accessible to us. And although dolphins don’t have God statues (as far as we know), and chimps do not philosophize about the meaning of life, (again, as far as we are aware), humans cannot navigate around the globe unaided the way birds have been doing for millions of years. Or around the world’s oceans the way whales do. Or use underwater sounds to communicate the way we have discovered that dolphins do. Our discovery of the evidence of various forms of consciousness in other forms of life is as mind-boggling for me as what cosmology & quantum physics tells us.

      Sometimes I think that there isn’t a single experience of which we are capable which is not simply astonishing, amazing, and mysterious.

      Best wishes for the holidays to you, too, Matt. And thank you again for sharing your thoughts. It’s refreshing to read what you say.

  11. Matt says:

    You are indeed a kind intelligent soul Terry. You are absolutely right those who claim to know often don’t. Be they atheist, theist, or none of these they know exactly what me and you know. What is consciousness? I don’t know! Why are humans equally full of love and hate simultaneously? I don’t know. Why are some humans capable of horrible things while others are capable of unexplainable love and kindness? I don’t know! But in the end I hope consciousness, what ever creature it comes from, is refined by unknown scientific processes to become a forever kind and loving power in the universe!

  12. Pingback: Cared For and Loved by Green Beings: Our Symbiotic Relationship with Plants and Trees - HAALo Nevada City Herb and Tea Shop, Alternative Healing Hub

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