Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This Weird Universe

I have been reading a biography of Einstein, and it is reminding me of the fascinating discoveries in physics during the first three decades of the last century in relativity and quantum physics. I cannot claim to understand the mathematics of these theories, nor to succeed entirely in visualising them. Nevertheless, every so often I glimpse, from the corner of my eye, something which, I suspect, is the reality of the universe described by these theories.

Einstein, of course, was deeply troubled by the development and implications of quantum theory until the end of his life. Quantum theory seemed to undermine the strict rules of cause and effect which he believed were necessary for any understanding of reality. He believed that quantum theory actually undermined physics, and undertook a long and fruitless quest to find an underlying theoretical framework that would reintroduce, at a deeper level, strict causality into the universe. I would not propose that his failure to do so means that such a theoretical framework does not exist and will not one day be discovered.

For the time being, however, I find the idea that strict causality does not govern the universe at its deepest (known) level, and that chance plays a fundamental role in the nature of reality, absolutely fascinating, if not awe inspiring.

There may be those who believe that this lack of strict causality let’s divine causality in through the back door. On the contrary, though, what this says to me is that there is a spontaneous causality embedded in the natural world, one in which creation ex nihilo is a characteristic of nature and does not depend on the intervention of a deity. In my opinion, this makes reality much more interesting and exciting than one into which a deity must intervene.

1 comment:

  1. When speaking of Albert Einstein, one can only think brilliant individual. A one-of-a-kind human intelligence, existing for a brief period in time, within mankind. Prayerfully, to inspire like-kind thinking in understanding life, the universe, and existence itself.

    In reading the post, This Weird Universe, it reminds me of “Some Traditional Arguments For the Existence of God,” whose article enlightenment refers to Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century theologian; in giving five arguments – which he called the five “ways” – for the existence of God. Of the five, three are variants of what philosophers call the Cosmological argument, going back to Aristotle’s argument for a “prime mover.” It’s an excellent article in thinking, as is your post, Dr. Newey. Still, in any light, it is but a glimpse in to what is.

    In the Year of our Lord 2014, December 25th, if I may, on this day of days being symbolic of mankind’s age of reasoning, be reflective of its season. With no relativity time component, nor religious intent involved; only loving-kindnesses in uplifting, spiritual enlightenment for all, in expressing a sincerest, heartfelt, best wishes in joyful truth – Merry Christmas every one.

    Suzanne McMillen-Fallon, Author