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.

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Reconciling Science and Religion, PART 2

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Second Law of Thermodynamics – Increased Entropy
“The Second Law of Thermodynamics is commonly known as the Law of Increased Entropy. While quantity remains the same (First Law), the quality of matter/energy deteriorates gradually over time. How so? Usable energy is inevitably used for productivity, growth and repair. In the process, usable energy is converted into unusable energy. Thus, usable energy is irretrievably lost in the form of unusable energy. 

“Entropy” is defined as a measure of unusable energy within a closed or isolated system (the universe for example). As usable energy decreases and unusable energy increases, “entropy” increases. Entropy is also a gauge of randomness or chaos within a closed system. As usable energy is irretrievably lost, disorganization, randomness and chaos increase.”

-From AllAboutScience.org

Today, the supreme law, the “iron law,” in the physical world is seen to be the second law of thermodynamics. But it gives rise to a view of the universe and entropy’s meaning that is seriously questioned by many experts in various fields who suggest, indeed insist, that this law is correct insofar as it is stated, but that as yet it is incompletely stated or its meaning is misunderstood.

The second law of thermodynamics began to come into being with the first theory of the conversion of heat into mechanical work in the early 19th century. Rudolf Clausius was the first person to formulate the second law in 1850. Yet Jesus intimated the law poetically, from an inner aspect, in his teachings:

Jesus spoke of an “iron law”-that is, of a law that could not fail, and He indicated that all in creation is involved with and rests upon its operation. In the view of this study, He realized that man cannot understand himself until he also understands the natural universe of which he is a part and in which life manifests itself. He saw that in the psychic working of man a parallel to nature’s supreme law operates, and he described this operation in His descriptions of the workings of the kingdom of God, setting forth what might be called “secondary psychic law” as well as describing in poetic terms the most important of the secondary laws of physics. The “secondary psychic law” He enuncidated complements the law of Moses, which Jesus upheld, and forces a synthesis or the higher law of love when it operates in conjunction with the Ten Commandments.

Let’s look at some quotes from Jesus on the idea of law:

The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

-Luke 16:16-17

Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass, not one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law until all be fulfilled.

–Matthew 5:17-18

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Preston Harold continues:

Jesus did not come to destroy the promise of the high ethic inherent in Jewish law…He came to fulfill this promise which flowered in his teaching… But his words must have referred to more and something other than the mass of rules and regulations which comprised “the law” of His day, upon which time’s accretions bore heavily. For having said, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus, Himself, repudiated more than a “jot and tittle” of the Jewish law… In short, Jesus sets up so large a contradiction as regards “the law” of which He spoke in conjunction with the working of the kingdom of God that one must seek beyond the explanation of His upholding Mosaic law to find the full and deepest meaning of His words. Not until one compares His descriptions of the working of the kingdom of God with descriptions of the operation of the second law of thermodynamics, as will be done in the following chapter, does the parallel between the two concepts become apparent, albeit Jesus’ description is poetical.

But before we move on to the next chapter, we will make a brief detour to explore how Jesus’ teachings reflect the scientific working of light. Until next time, peace.

THE PROBLEM, THE OBJECTIVE, THE CRUCIAL QUESTIONS – Part 3

It’s time for the last of our 3 foci, “the objective.”

To understand the objective of THE SHINING STRANGER, we will all have to become poets.  But what exactly is a poet?  Of all the definitions I’ve heard, I enjoy Dr. Cornel West’s the most:

The great (Percy) Shelly used to say that ‘poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.’ What did he mean by that?  He wasn’t talking about versifying.  To be a poet in the most profound sense is to have the courage to release your imagination and your empathy…

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True poetry is full of contradictions, paradox, mystery, conundrums, and riddles.  Many people say the Bible cannot be trusted because it contains many contradictions.  Others say “if the Bible says it, it must be so,” and can’t see any meaning beyond the plain sense of the text.  Both sides are barking up the wrong tree.  Harold says…

Dr. Henry A Murray writes that an “important fact not generally acknowledged is…the Bible is poetry, in its best parts, magnificent and edifying poetry….Some devout Christians overlook the fact that the stirring and sustaining power of the Book they live by depends on the wondrous emotive language, the vivid imagery and figures of speech, with which its wisdom is transmitted….If the New Testament…had been written by a modern social scientist in the jargon of his profession, it would have died at birth.”

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As does (George) Santayana, Dr. Murray sees that the playing down of the “crucial import of the Bible’s poetry,” hand in hand with the playing up of its historicity, is the greatest fallacy of Christianity, for thereby the scope of its traffic with and judgement of reality is severely limited.  Poetry does not obscure fact – it presents it in words that act as leaven in the mind to make room for it to house there.  Poetry is dazzling in its completely open and full use of words that have, as John Ciardi puts it: “…far more meanings than anyone thinks about in reading factual prose.  A word is not a meaning but a complex of meanings consisting of all its possibilities: its ability to identify something, the image it releases in making that identification, its sound, its history, its associations-in-context…” (emphases mine)

Plato equated poetry with creation: “All creation or passage of non-being into being is poetry or making.”  Poetry comes from the subconscious, and Harold sees in Jesus the universe’s Poet Laureate…

Jesus spoke poetically, but if His words are true they must be a correct, albeit poetical, description of reality.

Until a man has grasped the full implication of Jesus’ words, “the kingdom of God is within you,” he cannot begin to understand Him.  His every word is predicated upon this revelation.  It is the woking of the inner kingdom He reveals.  If the kingdom of heaven is within, there is no heavenly place of the abode for the “redeemed” to go – the realm of heaven is now an individual state of being, a potential mankind shall in time realize.  It is inward reality as opposed to the outward illusiveness of life (and of matter, which Jesus proclaimed long before the physicists discovered it).

Jesus saw life to be infinite, saw that man’s religions form one-to-one correspondences of truth, and that each man is a one-to-one correspondence with God, truth, life, and with each other man.

Jesus saw the Ten Commandments as classical psychic law.  He realized, however, that quantum psychic law underlies the classical law, and this secondary law governs the inner, real life of the individual – this is the law he enunciated.

In saying that the kingdom of God, an unknown realm, is within each person, Jesus proclaimed the existence of that psychic reality now called the unconscious – revealed its working and power.  He made of Himself a symbol of the Authority within this psychic realm: the vital Self-of-selves abstracted from consciousness for which man yearns – which is unto each his own, “the Lord, your God.”

Jesus strove to heal the breach in man’s thinking upon reality, strove to rejoin the divided physical and spiritual realms, saying, poetically, that the energy which gives life to man is, potentially, in a “stone.”  Identifying Himself and mankind with primordial energy, light, He dramatized and phrased in poetic terms the most important of the secondary laws of physics, enfolding His answer to the question of the universe in the sign positive (+)….whether by design or because he knew how to tap the fount of truth in His unconscious, He presented in drama, symbol, and poetry the underlying physical and psychic laws that are today being revealed.

From these observations Harold derives the objective of THE SHINING STRANGER:

The objective, then,  is not to present one or several new aspects, but rather a whole new concept of Jesus, for, as Albert Schweitzer points out, “What has been passing for Christianity during these nineteen centuries is merely a beginning, full of weaknesses and mistakes, not a full-grown Christianity springing from the spirit of Jesus.”

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One here is reminded of GK Chesterton’s quote: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

Although THE SHINING STRANGER is a difficult work, we will not leave it untried.  I hope we are up to the challenge ahead of us.  Until next time, peace…