Scientific Fundamentalism

Following up from our previous installment on Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principal, Sir Arthur Eddington reminds us (from his book “The Nature of the Physical World”) that “our particle can never have simultaneously a perfectly definite position and a perfectly definite energy…. Hence in delicate experiments we must not under any circumstances expect to find particles behaving exactly as a classical particle was supposed to…”

“Awwww, but we don’t want to change,” say Eddington’s current day descendants. “We’ve always done it THIS way!” And ever since Eddington, Heisenberg, Einstein, Bohr, Planck, et al. blew the lid off the supposition that the material realm is the only basis for scientific understanding, most scientists have refused to acknowledge this scientific discovery of actual reality.the-sacred-nature-of-the-doctor-patient-relationship-by-dr-mark-gignac-11-638

The standard scientific paradigm remains to this day the model of materialistic reductionism, in spite of the fact that our quantum physicists completely destroyed this misguided belief years ago. Try to challenge the modern day principalities and powers in their departmental chairs and lab coats, along with their research dollars and institutional obstinance, and watch your career flounder as the modern inquisition system does everything it can short of burning you at the stake (because we’re much more enlightened nowadays, right?) to discredit and demean your research, theories, and theses. There’s nothing like an atmosphere of free and open inquiry, right? Hmph.

The fact is that even the ancients knew that reality was not materially based, but was rather based upon Spirit, energy, love. The Vedantic assertion that “All is Maya” is simply a statement of reality, that the very basis for our existence in the material realm is contradiction. Although the life of our senses is good and at times can certainly be a beautiful experience, it is not eternal and exists within the context of perceived dichotomies. When a Hindu asserts that “Everything is Brahman,” they are saying that Brahman is the ground from which everything that is manifests and exists, and without which nothing could manifest or exist. Brahman is the eternal principle; Spirit, energy, love. When we attempt to translate a reality from the realm of Spirit into the material realm, we can only come up with paradox – with contradiction (which shows us that the material proceeds from the spiritual).

brahma

Two opposite truths simultaneously co-exist! This cannot be to us; it must be “Either-Or.” “Both-And” is “unacceptable.” And so science based in materialistic reductionism continues on, pretending that Either-Or is the only choice when it knows that Both-And has already won the intellectual battle. This is terrifying to them. Science proverbially sticks its fingers in its ears and says to quantum mechanics, “I can’t hear you! La la la la la!” And of course these modern day cognoscenti are much more enlightened and advanced than those ancient religious nuts, right?

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So what does Jesus further have to say or do concerning Eddington’s quote at the beginning of our post? That’ll have to wait until the next entry. Until then, peace.

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The Elemental Unit

In order to set the stage for the rest of chapter 7, we must explore in depth the concept of the elemental unit of energy, h. Preston Harold writes:

In physics, the might, magnificence, and yet exquisite delicacy of the control of one is come upon when man encounters, as he must at every turn, h, an elemental unit of energy: .00000000000000000000000000655 erg-seconds. The erg is the unit of energy, the second is the unit of time, h is of the nature of energy multiplied by time.

Harold then goes on to cite Sir Arthur Eddington. I will quote Eddington at length:

Evidently h is a kind of atom – something which coheres as one unit in the process of radiation; it is not an atom of matter but an atom or, as we usually call it, a quantum of the more elusive entity in action. Whereas there are [103] different kinds of material atoms there is only one quantum of action – the same whatever the material it is associated with…. You might perhaps think that there must be some qualitative difference between the quantum of red light and the quantum of blue light, although both contain the same number of erg-seconds.; but the apparent difference is only relative to a frame of space and time and does not concern the absolute lump of action…

Eddington

The indivisible units in the shuffling of energy are the quanta. By radiation, absorption and scattering energy is shuffled among the different receptacles in matter and aether, but only a whole quantum passes at each step…

The paradoxical nature of the quantum is that although it is indivisible it does not hang together. We examined first a case in which a quantity of energy was obviously cohering together, viz. an electron, but we did not find h; then we turned our attention to a case in which the energy was obviously dissolving away through space, viz. light-waves, and immediately h appeared. The atom of action seems to have no coherence in space; it has a unity which overlaps space. How can such a unity be made to appear in our picture of a world extended through space ad time?

The pursuit of the quantum leads to many surprises; but probably none is more outrageous to our preconceptions than the regathering of light and other radiant energy into h-units, when all the classical pictures show it to be dispersing more and more.

Consider the light-waves which are the result of a single emission by a single atom on the star Sirius. These bear away a certain amount of energy endowed with a certain period, and the product of the two is h. The period is carried by the waves without change, but the energy spreads out in an ever-widening circle. Eight years and nine months after the emission the wave-front is due to reach the earth. A few minutes before the arrival some person takes it into his head to go out and admire the glories of the heavens and – in short – to stick his eye in the way. The light waves when they started could have had no notion that they were going to hit; for all they knew they were bound on a journey through endless space, as most of their colleagues were. Their energy would seem to be dissipated beyond recovery over a sphere of 50 billion miles’ radius. And yet, if that energy is ever to enter matter again, if it is to work those chemical changes in the retina which give rise to the sensation of light, it must enter as a single quantum of action h….

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Just as the emitting atom regardless of all laws of classical physics is determined that whatever goes out of it shall be just h, so the receiving atom is determined that whatever comes into it shall be just h. Not all the light-waves pass by without entering the eye; for somehow we are able to see Sirius. How is it managed?

So how would Jesus express these words of Eddington concerning h over 2000 years ago? We will look at that challenge in our next installment. Until then, peace.

The Power of a Seed

How does a sage from a past civilization which hasn’t developed advanced mathematical equations and concepts describe unseen reality? How does one communicate simultaneous truths which on the surface contradict one another but beneath the surface depend each upon the other? Preston Harold asks:

How could the ancient describe the measure of the random element – spreading, increasing? The concept of entropy is enfolded in a mathematical formula, and mathematics may be thought of as the language of size. Descriptions which fit the incomparable size of entropy’s shoe, as well as the nature of it’s measure, and its significance, are found in Jesus’ words pertaining to the reign of God, the realm of heaven, the coming of the kingdom. He likened its “smallness” and its “largeness” to a mustard seed – “less than any seed on earth,” which grows “larger than any plant.” He invoked the working of the reign of God with the shuffling, spreading, and action of energy throughout the whole… He said, it is “like dough…buried in three pecks of flour, till all of it was leavened.” Jesus said this working is begun: the seed is sown, the dough is buried. And the kingdom of God, which involves the concept of the end of the world, will come – just as the physicists envision the heat death of the universe when nature’s supreme law is fulfilled.

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One must remember here, though, that in order for there to be increase of the seed or leaven, that death is a necessary factor. “Unless a seed falls into the earth and dies it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit.” –John 12:24 Which leads me to ponder that if the earth and universe are on their way to heat death, what is the mission of the planet earth? Why do we exist at all?

In a letter to the Anthroposophical Society in January 1925, Rudolf Steiner asks just such a question. I will quote the letter at length…

The question must arise: What is the significance of the earthly realm for the macrocosm (universe)?… In the far distant past, the macrocosm so lives that there ceases to be any question of “calculating” the manifestations of its life. Out of this living condition man is then brought forth as a separate being, while the macrocosm enters more and more into the “calculable” sphere. But in this it undergoes a slow process of death… In the present cosmic time, a dead macrocosm is existing…we have grown accustomed to focus our attention on the spacial magnitude of the Universe, and to look on the earth as a speck of dust, insignificant compared to the great universe of physical space. Hence it will seem strange, to begin with, when spiritual vision unfolds the true cosmic significance of this so-called “speck of dust.”

Consider the world of plants… In spring and summer, forces of growth show themselves in plant life. In the growing, sprouting process, the seer’s consciousness perceives not only what brings forth the abundant blessing of the plant life for the given year, but a surplus of germinating force. The plants contain more germinating force than they expend upon the growth of foliage, flower and fruit. This surplus of germinating force flows out into the extra-earthly macrocosm… Now in the same manner a surplus of force streams out from the mineral kingdom… Likewise there are forces proceeding from the animal nature…It is thus the spirit-seeking consciousness beholds the essence of the earthly realm, which stands as a new, life-kindling element within the dead and dying macrocosm

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The life of all this earthly realm becomes clear and transparent when we feel at its foundation the germ of a new Universe. Every single plant and stone appears in a new light to the soul of man when he becomes aware that each of these beings is contributing by its life and by its form to this great fact: that the Earth in its unity is an embryo – the seed of a macrocosm newly arising into life.

So according to Steiner, the earth itself is a seed for a whole new universe. That’s a pretty great thought for sure, and makes one deeply contemplate the power contained within a seed.  What thoughts does this kindle in you? Until next time, peace.

Entropy, Entropy; All is Entropy!

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Vanity of vanities, says the teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity….All things are wearisome; more than one can express….There is nothing new under the sun. -Ecclesiastes chapter 1

Thus is the poetical scriptural witness to the second law of thermodynamics. It is the law that entropy always increases. The International Dictionary of Physics and Electronics states:

Application of the “second law” of thermodynamics leads to the conclusion that if any physical system is left to itself and allowed to distribute its energy in its own way, it always does so in a manner such that this quantity, called “entropy,” increases; while at the same time the available energy of the system diminishes. This law applies to the universe as a whole, hence the proposition that the total entropy increases as time goes on.

Sir Arthur Eddington says:

“The law that entropy always increases…holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature…if your theory is found to be against [it] I can give you no hope…From the property that entropy must always increase, practical methods of measuring it have been found. The chain of deductions from this simple law have almost been illimitable.”

Might there be a “yes, but…” response to this iron-clad law? Is all really vanity? Is there any hope that can rise above and beyond this theory? Preston Harold comes to the rescue:

As physicists understand this law today, it appears to spell in some billions of years the heat-death of the universe. But as Dr. Rolf Alexander points out, the anti-entropic nature of living things may point to a “simultaneous process of entropy and creation…the process of nature observed by physical science are but a fraction of the picture…”

Here we see the door opening into the realm of “both-and,” leaving the area of “either-or.” Not either creation or destruction, but both creation and destruction. And in the Hindu god Shiva we see that the ancient Shaivas, the oldest sect of Hinduism, had a hold of this concept millennia ago.

shiva

Preston Harold continues:

Structural alterations are going on in the realm of physics, and physicists themselves project that there are other laws yet to be discovered, so that all one can say with certainty is that the real meaning of entropy in universal terms may not yet be known.

Ah, the realm of not knowing; the unknown. So frustrating to some of us. Seems to be connected to the “both-and” realm which is full of paradox and uncertainty.

In our next post we’ll continue to explore the second law of thermodynamics and more specifically the “random element.” Until then, peace.

Chapter 6: Nature’s Supreme Law

To begin Chapter 6, which focuses on the 2nd law of thermodynamics, Preston Harold sets us up nicely:

The realm of physics is paradoxical, topsy-turvy, poetic, as inexpressible in the last reaches as any mystic revelation that has confronted man.

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In his “The Nature of the Physical World” Sir Arthur Eddington writes, “Sir William Bragg was not overstating the case when he said that we use the classical theory on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and the quantum theory on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.” Preston Harold says this shift of theory is necessary because scientists have had to divide their laws into different compartments, classic and quantum. Eddington continues, “Unfortunately, our compartments are not watertight…The classical laws are the limit to which the quantum laws tend when states of very high quantum number are concerned…The disagreement is not very serious when the number is moderately large; but for small quantum numbers the atom cannot sit on the fence. It has to decide between (classical) and (quantum) rules. It chooses [quantum] rules.”

Preston Harold pulls us into the realm of religion:

Here, the first parallel may be drawn; when large numbers are concerned, men must operate under classical law, outgrown from the Ten Commandments, and humanity at large will tend to operate according to the classical patterns history presents; but operating within each human being are quantum psychic laws that contradict the classical picture he presents, and as an individual, he is subject to these laws primarily. Just as one psychic law – the Golden Rule – bridges the dichotomy between man and society, so the physicist deals with one law that fits in either quantum or classical compartment. This is the second law of thermodynamics which, in Eddington’s words, “has been equally successful in connection with the most recondite problems of theoretical physics and the practical tasks of the engineer.”

'I thought the Golden Rule covered all this?'

In our next installment we will hone in on the second law of thermodynamics and explore it’s meaning and consequence. Until then, peace.

Which Life?

Full-of-Life

So what did Jesus mean when he said, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth this life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal?” Preston Harold says:

In largest sense, Jesus spoke as symbol of Authority-Ego, and when He speaks as symbol He is speaking from a different level of being than that of the ego-group… Symbol of “I” in man cannot accept the insufficiency of Homo sapiens’ consciousness and all that ignorance and error cause to be manifest in life. If man’s growth into a larger structure of consciousness is to be insured, Authority-Ego must lead the ego-group to hate the mixture of love and lust its limited certitude expresses. An adjustment to, a reconciliation with, an acceptance of such insufficiency as is now exhibited in this world would hinder the growth of consciousness, evolution’s goal.

Different levels of life are automatically implied if we bypass the English translation and go right to the original Greek in which the gospel was written. There are 3 different words in Greek that mean “life.” The first is pneuma, which can also be translated as “spirit” and refers to the mental disposition or rational soul. The second word is psyche, which means the animal sentient principal. The third is zoe, which connotes vitality. In Jesus’ statement, both psyche and zoe are used. Here is the statement with “life” being used as it is in the Greek:

“He that loveth his psyche shall lose it; and he that hateth his psyche in this world shall keep it unto zoe eternal.”

It is important to note that in Biblical terms it is the psyche that is subject to death, and to the extent that we identify with it we identify with mere temporality which closes off our consciousness to further development. We must not identify with our lower self, for if we do we will not inherit eternal life.

But notice the paradox here. The goal is to keep the psyche unto eternal life; to make it endure in a highly vital, developed state. In consciously denying the psyche in this life, in not following it’s every whim and desire, we are intentionally subjecting it to the process of death and resurrection which it must undergo to enjoy abundant life in growth of consciousness. If we can hold this tension within ourselves, we are promised to reap an abundant harvest.  Delayed gratification, anyone?

Until next time, peace…

Jesus: Life’s True Artist

Preston Harold takes us through Jesus’ approach to life; what He sees as essential to having life in abundance. In a private correspondence Henry Miller once wrote: “It’s not that I put the sage or saint above the artist. It’s rather that I want to see established the ‘artist of life.’ The Christ resurrected would be such, for example.”

Harold says…

No theology, acting on command of or by the example Jesus set, may prescribe a stern approach to life, prohibiting eating and drinking of any food of liquid except on the ground that it is offensive to the one partaking of it; what offends one must be cast out of his life, but nothing that enters a man defiles him. Jesus was called glutton and drunkard. He did not deny that He ate and drank as He chose – He stated that wisdom vindicates ascetic or nonascetic practices:

For John the Baptist has come, eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, “He has a devil”; the Son of man has come eating and drinking, and you say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of taxgatherers and sinners!” Nevertheless, Wisdom is vindicated by all her children. –Luke 7:33

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Jesus provided wine at the wedding of Cana… The teaching and practice of Jesus, however, does not invite drunkenness or gluttony. He teaches that there is nothing in life that cannot be used to further its joy and abundance when man has learned to control himself.

The richness of life must be leavened, and Jesus says the working or coming of the kingdom of God is leavening it. He saw that men must grasp the art of play:

To what then shall I compare the men of this generation? What are they like? Like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, “We piped to you and you would not dance, we lamented and you would not weep.            –Luke 7:31,32

Music and voices call men into action – life calls, nature calls: dance, laugh, weep, join us!

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Jesus reveled in nature. Any living thing was precious to him. He sought the open beauty of mountains and sea, the solitude of far places. He came also to the cities, the marketplace, the feasts, and to the temple. He allowed the extravagant. He aided the poor, but He did not extol the mean bone of poverty. He respected the Sabbath, but employed it to His own pursuits. He despised exhibitions of piety, vain repetitions, brutality and self-debasement. His was a total empathy, a compassionate rendering, an exquisite edition of the art of life.

Beautifully stated! But then comes a wrench in the spokes:

Jesus knew the very glory of life – knew that even the stones would shout it, if men did not. And yet, the Gospel of St. John presents an enormous contradiction as regards Jesus’ love of life in this world. He says:

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth this life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. -John 12:25

Against these words are posed the example He set and the statement that He came “not to judge the world,” but that man might have life abundantly… What then could Jesus have meant [by this contradicition]?

It is this we will tackle in our next post. Until then, peace…