Category Archives: Science

Spirituality vs Science: Missing the Point

A few minutes into that video on the previous post Leonard Mlodinow says something like neither Hawking nor he, and presumably neither science in general, rule out the possibility of there being a God.

But really thinking of “God” as a fact is not what spirituality is about. God as a symbol for that which is beyond fact or fiction, beyond being and non-being, beyond past and present, or any duality one can think of is what spirituality is about.

Any kind of definition throws you out of the “Garden,” to which only “being” can bring you back.

Also, I was really exited that Deepak tweeted me back. I had tweeted him “The Scientific Method did not create Relativity or the Quantum Theory. Inspiration did. The Scientific Method only verified them.”

He tweeted back that he liked that, that way of putting it, that the Scientific Method hadn’t rested the physical laws but only verified them.

But now that I think about, even he was missing my point a little bit. Of course the physical laws weren’t created by The Scientific Method, but what I was saying was that even the scientific theories themselves came from Inspiration & Imagination, and then only later to be verified by observation.

So what I was saying was no we weren’t using the Scientific Method to explain our World. We were using imagination and creativity to do so, which are Zen like, Spiritual activities, and then later the Scientific Method to verify them.

So, really Science and Religion aren’t so different. It’s just that the science of 4000 years ago is way different than the science of today. Today we have new explanations: The Big Bang, Inflation, String Theory. Non of which are incongruent with Spirituality. As a matter of fact each new discovery seems to invoke the Sublime and increase the sense of wonder that we have labeled “Spirituality.”

The War of the Worldviews: A Zen Review

OK, so I haven’t read the book. Or have I? Quantum theory would say that there is at least one Universe in which I have.

But we’ll stick with the consciousness that I am experiencing now. I haven’t read the book. I’ve seen Deepak tweet about it for a while now. I follow Leonard Mlodinow, and he actually followed me back.

Once I tweeted him saying, “God is Symbol for that which is beyond all thought, beyond what is even capable of being thought.”

He replied, “You sound like Deepak!”  I must admit that made me happy. Happy because Deepak is a hero. Happy because not only did he reply, acknowledging me, making me feel part of the conversation, but also because, though I disagree with him (Do I? Again, there is at least one Universe in which I agree with him, but also one in which I am him!) he was cheery. That was nice.

I don’t like debates. That’s one reason I’ve been reticent to begin reading this or even to watch the videos, but I do feel like the fact that Leonard is such a cheery, warm, nice person, that perhaps some benefit can come from it.

My sister put it best on the phone just a while ago, “Maybe he isn’t coming from it from a place where he needs to win.” Debates could be productive activities if neither side had an absolute need to win, in as much as having a desire to come to the truth.

So I don’t know if this post will even be finished. I’m just doing it “stream of consciousness” starting with a couple tweets I sent today (10/8/11) after watching the first 10 minutes of a video of them debating. Again, not liking debates, that’s all I could watch for now.

So if this goes on, if I can continue and actually read the book, this post might actually get done, or at least expand.

My niece who works at the Wall Street Journal, actually sent me a copy that she saw at their offices without even knowing I knew anything about it. I guess lying around. It is definitely an advanced copy. On it read, “Not for resale.” I feel special. Thanks Michelle!

That fact seems kind of Zen to me already.

So here goes the beginning of my ‘real’ post or the beginning of what I’m thinking:

  •  The Scientific Method didn’t create Relativity or Quantum Theory. Inspiration did. It merely verified them.

OK, so what I’m saying here is that the two greatest scientific discoveries of the 20th Century did not come by way of the “Scientific Method” of which Dr. Mdlinow seems to constantly refer. Those discoveries came through imagination and inspiration. They weren’t discovered through a calculatory method, but rather through a creative method, and then later verified by calculations. These achievements have more in common with the revelatory nature of spirituality and mysticism (at least in their birth) than they do with the systems (Science! Physics! Computers!) that they gave birth to.

  • The Kingdom of Heaven is spread upon the Earth, yet men do not see it.” – Jesus

Why don’t they see it? Here’s a story that might explain:

A young yogi came to his master.
Master,” he said, “You say ‘Buddha is in all things’?
Yes,” replied the master.
“Is the Buddha in me?” asked the student.
“No.”
“But you said he is in all things.”
“He is in all things, but not in you.”
“But why?”
“Because you are asking the question.”

Do you get it? So the sense of asking the question is actually creating an “Ego” type separation consciousness, actually cutting one off from Unity Consciousness to which one must re-link (“re-ligio” .latin) or re yoke (“Yoga”) in order to have an understanding of that which is beyond thought.

 

Ebert, Dawkins, Maher, & Hitchens’ Neo-Determinism

Painting from "The Red Book" by C.G. Jung

Determinism, the idea that everything can be explained, has a “reason”,  died in 1906, the “Miracle” Year when Einstein came up with Special Relativity. Turned out Light didn’t care what the Victorians thought and didn’t obey “reason.” By 1925, with the Quantum Theory, whatever vestige of this mechanized view of the World was laid to rest once and for all.

Or so one would “think.”

But it seems lately in the voices and writings of Roger Ebert, Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, and Christopher Hitchens, among others (those are the ones who spring to mind), it seems to be the “Pragmatist’s Badge of Honor” to drag this dusty, worn out, good for nothing idea, back up from the basement.

For what “reason,” I have no idea, and the irony is that they seem to be invoking “Science,” the very craft of which is the idea’s undoing, as their main witness. Even though “Science” has testified time and time again, that what it saw and is seeing under that microscope and telescope is totally irrational and makes no “sense” at all.

There’s always been this sense that Science and Mythology are at odds with each other, but in this century and with every day that passes, Science seems to be only confirming what the roots of mythology has always been symbolizing.

This “Neo Determinist” Zeitgeist has been on my “mind” a lot over the last few years, mainly because of the above mentioned and other “influencers” of the day, it has become a Zeitgeist, even a hundred years after it was Scientifically swept away. But reading Roger Ebert’s “meta” review the Clint Eastwood movie, “Hereafter,” today motivated me to write comment on his blog, and then hence this blog post.

I say “meta” because it was mostly, not a review, but his take on the whole “new age” movement, so to speak, spirituality specifically, and of course his cynical view of it, but through the course of the blog it seemed like he was trying to rationalize or “bail” Clint Eastwood out, saying the subject matter of the movie could be “explained” without the need of the “supernatural.”  One of the first lines of his “review” jumped out at me:

“All the events we can perceive take place in a rational universe governed by physical laws.”

And lead me to leave this comment:

“Actually there’s nothing rational about the Universe at all. From what we can tell from the IMAP satellite images it began about 13 billion years ago from something weighing less than an ounce, and then for reasons unknown expanded at faster than light (Inflation Theory), symmetries fell apart under these extreme conditions forming “forces” that condensed matter into what we know and see today. But even today the very fabric of the Universe is un-rational. The very fact that electrons, for instance, are in multiple places at once around the nucleus is the only reason our bodies hold together. We can describe this but we don’t know how it works.

Even if we knew how they worked, who’s making them work? We describe the physical laws but who or what is executing them? In this sense then “God” as Joseph Campbell said, is a symbol of that which is beyond thought, beyond what is even possible to be thought.

“Reason,” as Blake said, is simply “the bound or outward circumference of energy”

So, we may can come to “know” this mystery, but not through reason or thinking. We can study for years, for instance, a chemistry book on “how” a baby is born, but a woman’s body actually executes the act without thinking.”

Quantum Leaping Through Time & Space

I haven’t written about this subject in a long time. I just picked up a Science book for the first time in a long time and I was re-fascinated by the “reality” of what is really going on inside and outside us. I’ve read these books so many times and realized it before, but it’s amazing how easily and quickly we can forget, and start seeing the World, what we call “reality” as mundane and predictable, while the exciting stuff happens “only in the movies.” But the gist of ‘actual’ reality (how else do you say it?) is this:

  1. Quantum reality is the reality of everything in the Universe, from your toe-nail to the furthest Galaxy.
  2. Quantum reality is this: Anything can, will, and does happen for any reason, spontaneously, with no energy or time expended.

Everything in the Universe is made of one thing, “Quarks” (This our current understanding. It could be that something even smaller, called “Strings” make up the Quarks, but for our discussion here let’s keep it at Quarks for simplicity’s sake. We’re trying to imagine the smallest indivisible particle that makes up everything.)

Quarks make up everything, you me, your dog, the trees, the air, Stars, and planets.

Quarks are subject to the ultimate Law of the Universe which is no law: Quantum Flux. Everything can and does happen, not every second, but since we are dealing with Quantum reality in Zero time. Like light, quarks are truly eternal. They do not experience time. Actually Quarks and Light create time, but I’ll explain that later.

So here’s what’s happening right here, right now at this moment: The hundred trillion trillion trillion quarks that make up my typing hands, every single one of them is leaping in and out of existence, perhaps to the other side of the Universe, perhaps to another Universe.

Look outside at a tree. Every particle of that tree is quantumly leaping all over the Universe and all throughout time. So why do you see a solid tree not moving? Because for every particle that disappears, another Quark, maybe from Abraham Lincoln’s leg, maybe from the Galaxy Andromeda is taking its place. So the whole looks relatively stable. Same for every “large” object, a rock, a blade of grass, a drop of water.

So why don’t large bodies quantumly leap? Actually they could. If you stood in times square for a trillion years you would see someone magically vanish at some point during that time and end up somewhere else. It’s sort of like the proverbial monkeys at a typewriter. Given enough time, they will eventually write a Shakespeare play.

The reason large bodies don’t quantumly leap (very often!) is because large bodies are actually hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of trillions of Quarks. The chances that they would all synchronize and quantumly leap at the same moment to the same place are that once every trillion year thing.

Still, it brings up an interesting point. Even though the odds unimaginably, astronomically against it, it is possible that you could fall asleep in your bed tonight and wake up tomorrow in Africa or Mars, the other side of the Universe, or 1928. It is non-zero. So if you magically quantumly lept from your bed to say Africa tomorrow, not at the speed of light, but in Zero time and taking Zero energy, the interesting Question becomes what is the Mechanism for making this happen?

Here’s the interesting answer: That’s the way it is.

The Ground State of the Universe or the Multiverse, of Everything that is or could possibly be is that Everything can and will happen, does happen, and does not need a reason.

The so called “Physical” laws of the “Macro” world we are used to, are simply the result of the symmetry breaking caused by the quantum “jitters” of the ground state being spontaneous.

This is also why we age, and why time moves forward. When one of your Quarks leaves you, for another planet, or another century, the Quantum “Vacuum” replaces him with another visitor. And the Quantum Vacuum is remarkably accurate: maybe to 1 part in 100,000,000. That one mistake in a hundred million is caused by the “uncertainty” principle itself which states that nothing can be 100% certain. That one mistake, over time, causes everything, our bodies included to slowly deteriorate or as we call it “age.” This is the cause of all entropy, the 3rd Law of Thermodynamics, which states that everything moves from a state of Order to Disorder.

That last bit depressed me. At first when I read again about Quantum reality, it excited me: I thought, “What if there was some way to bring ‘coherence’ to a larger body?” “Then wouldn’t it Quantumly leap?” Even though its probably impossible, and even if it were, I can’t imagine how it could be achieved, or even controlled, it still was exciting to imagine.

But then I realized that this same mechanism that perhaps could make “magic” a reality also is relentlessly in charge of aging and decay.

Let’s play a “thought” experiment. Imagine you could somehow achieve coherence and assuming you somehow also manage to control the spontaneity of it, you decided to travel to someplace back (or for that matter, forward) in time.

In other words the Universe truly became your oyster. The only thing is, because of the Uncertainty Principle, you still would age and die. I can’t see any way around that, because the Uncertainty principle is the ground state of existence, and assuming that you or someone in the future could somehow do these “magical” things, it would be the Uncertainty Principle that itself enabled the Quantum Leaps.

I don’t see any way around that bit at the moment. Now maybe, somehow, someway, there is a way to slow aging, for instance if somehow, coherence slowed the number of mistakes uncertainty produced over time. That would be an interesting topic to consider on its own.

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Want to Travel Through Space and Time? Don’t Collapse Your Wave Function!

Technology is like stealing fire from the Gods, that’s one interpretation of the fire theft metaphor you see in mythology, most notably the Prometheus story, but it never satisfies because it is piecemeal, and the second we observe it, it freezes, its wave function collapses. So the more we get, the more we want, and the void is never filled. Part of the symbolism of the Cross is that the horizontal bar represents the divide between the conscious and unconscious, logic and emotion, and they have inversely proportional relationships. The more “Leviathans” that Logic destroys, the Dragon of the Ego grows and further suppresses the unconscious energies, spontaneity.

But an important step in the “Marriage of Heaven and Hell” developed at the turn of the 20th century with the discovery of Relativity, Hubble’s observations of an expanding Universe, and Quantum Mechanics. Overthrowing “determinism,” the prevailing theory at the turn of the century, these discoveries and their validation gave birth to most of the “magical” things in our lives today: radio, TV, computers, the internet, and on and on, all wonders of the mysterious Planck Length world making themselves known, felt, and realized in our “macro” conscious world of everyday living. This is one way that the horizontal cross and its barrier starts to be dissolved.

But also, ironically, the sense of Science being the great Antithesis of Religion, also was cut through like a lightening bolt from Zeus or Indra. In fact, beginning with Special Relativity and up to this day, the more Science digs and discovers, the more Mystery it finds. We find that Science is actually coming to the aide of Religion, at least religion in the since of Metaphysics and Mysticism, although even to this day this sense doesn’t not have much mindshare. Mostly because of the institutionalizing of the arts and sciences and their systems which produce “walled gardens” that can’t nourish each other. I talked about this a little bit in another article, “No Possum, No Sop, No Taters.”

It’s important to realize that without a wave function you couldn’t be reading this message, PC’s couldn’t exist, the internet couldn’t exist, because its all based on the ability of the electron to exist simultaneaously at every point in space. Fortunately we can’t “observe” an electron, so its wave function doesn’t collapse, and our Micro Processors still compute, and our emails go through. Even more fortunate still for our bodies’ sake, or it would collapse. The electron cloud keeps all of our bodies’ trillions of molecules that are constantly colliding, stable. The electron cloud is based on the electron’s ablity to be in an infinite number of points around the nucleus, simultaneously. Fortunately, someone wishing to do us harm has not the sensory organs to observe our electrons and collapse their wave function!


Every object, including your body has a wave function. In fact the probability of the wave function’s statistic looks exactly like you, your actual wave function, which is real, seeps into space and actually occupies the entire Universe. That is until you or someone else observes you. Then your wave function collapses, and you become frozen in space in time at the point they or you observe you. Want to travel or be in an infinite number of places simultaneouly like a God? Don’t collapse your wave function! How do we do that? I don’t know!!!!!

But I have a few ideas. (Of course having an idea, itself, especially attached to the idea of myself having it, is automatically collapsing my wave function!) Until we get the engineering prowess, which will be at least thousands if not millions of years, to build Star Trek like devices, we are going to have to look at the Mystical route.

I can’t stop my neighbor from observing me. I can’t stop even my dogs or cat from observing me, but if I were alone in a room, could I stop ME from observing ME? It seems to me (even saying “me” collapses my wave function) that observing myself, either in a mirror, or looking at parts of my body is very analogous, if not the same thing, to Ego. I. Look at your hand. The whole Universe is behind it, and when you look at it, it “freezes” it as separate from that Universe. MY HAND. Not the Universe’s.

It seems there would be one easy solution for not observing yourself: Close your eyes. But even when your eyes are closed, your other senses are involved with observing YOU, your sense of touch, smell, sound and even without those, your mind has only images of yourself as you have seen yourself for years, since you were born. That’s a very ingrained image, one that perhaps gives birth to the Ego itself, and then once born, the Ego’s needs, desires, and fears, propels one’s body towards actions that keep it (the Ego) fed.

This lock is not easily broken. Years upon years of habit are like mounds of soil and a rusty padlock in an indistinguishable field, on top of the treasure chest that is your Authentic Self (Self in the Eastern tradition as distinguished from Ego). The practice of Meditation and Yoga (re-linking, ie ‘re-ligio’ to source or unseparation consciouness) are the only two practices I’ve encountered that show, perhaps, a way or solution to stop observing yourself and collapsing your wave function. Actually its been a long time since I’ve engaged these practices, so maybe I am writing this post to remind myself of their value and not the World. But the successful moments, even if fleeting, that I have had with these practices were very freeing in the sense that the gap between thought was achieved and these frozen architectures of the mind, these complexes as Jung would say, that have been years of memories in the making, seem to collapse in an instant.

Can the simple act of meditation and yoga keep my Wave function alive and have me or you traveling to any point in the Universe (and perhaps time) instaneously, while at the same time keep one part of you, grounded, here on Earth, keeping your day job, keeping the bills paid? I don’t know, but the feeling just occurred to me now, reading Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos and coming across a passage about Quantum Mechanics:

“To resolve the discrepency between waves of probability and our commonsense notion of existence, Bohr and Heisenberg assumed that after a measurement is made by an outside observer, the wave function magically “collapses,” and the electron falls into a definite state-that is, after looking at the tree, we see that it is truly standing. In other words, the process of observation determines the final state of the electron. Observation is vital to existence. After we look at the electron, its wave function collapses, so the electron is now in a definite state and there is no more need for wave functions.” – page 152

“Before an observation is made, an object exists in all possible states simultaneously. To determine which state the object is in, we have to make an observation, which “collapses” the wave function, and the object goes into a definite state. The act of observation destroys the wave function, and the object now assumes a definite reality. The wave function has served its purpose: it has given us the precise probability of finding the object in that particular state.” – page 153

If I’m thinking of Eastern philosophy, the “Third Eye” represented as the red dot on the forehead of many Indians, is a symbol of observing without collapsing the wave function. “Seeing the infinite” as Blake would say.

So before I walked into my bathroom and see my cat reclining on the chair, was he really on Mars and every other place in the Universe for that matter? Yes, according to Quantum Mechanics, which though is still just a theory, is the most successful scientific theory of all time and is responsible for the microchip and this Mac I’m writing on. So one must take pause.

So if you want to travel through space and time, don’t collapse your wave function! And one of the ironies is in order not to collapse it, you have to stop wanting not to collapse it! How else do you do it? I don’t exactly know. My path might be different from yours and everyone else’s. The Authurian Romances tell us “Each adventurer entered the forest in a different place and made his own path which had never been made before. To follow another’s would have been a disgrace.”

So no one knows exactly, but mythologies give us hidden clues. The rest we have to find for ourself, and in our own way.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Am I on to something, am I completely wrong, or somewhere in between? Love to have a conversation with you about it.

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