The Physics and Philosophy of Eternal Life
Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to each other, AWhy do we sit here until we die? If we say, >We will enter the city,= then the famine is in the city and we shall die there; and if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us go over to the camp of the Syrians. If they spare us, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die.@ (2 Kings 7:3-4 here describes the plight of three rather helpless outcasts agonizing over their plight in a setting where Jerusalem is being besieged by the ancient Assyrians.)
The New Christian Apologetics
We find ourselves in “the new Christian apologetics” for two reasons: Utilizing Albert Einstein’s Theories of Relativity, along with much logical reasoning and some help from quantum mechanics, we can show that we are immortal, and, looking at some of the most amazing aspects of quantum mechanics, we can virtually prove that God exists. Therefore, apologists are more heavily armed with regard to eternal life and the reality of God than in the past, and the reason is science, as we shall see.
Science, Theology, and Apologetics
We all live forever, and I will provide enough evidence to this effect to win a civil court case or a debate on the matter.
Things are not as they seem. Almost nothing, in fact, is what it seems to be in our world. Our physical senses serve us well in their helping us to live our lives in time, but they have little to do with the discernment of ultimate truth and reality. We can best examine this feature of our time-bound home in terms of logos and doxa, and we shall do so in this chapter as we develop the concept of a “logos universe” that is quite different from the doxa universe that our physical senses present to us daily. This will enable us to perceive more clearly the ultimate nature of the physical universe, a world where death is not what it seems to be. This chapter is the first of two installments of the “new” apologetics. As we begin here our investigation of what is new in the vindication and defense of God, we shall find that the subordination of the universe and everything in it to mind, together with Einstein’s belief that space-time is illusory, leads us to a concept of our world that is fundamentally new.
We can make a case for the insignificance of death by way of debating technique; whether it is otherwise meaningful, I do not know, but I think our discussion would be incomplete without it. Julius Caesar, assassinated exactly 2000 years before my first wife and I began to go steady in high school, has, from my perspective, been dead for 2056 years and 82 days as I write today, but how long has he been dead from his perspective, which would seem to be more important, is quite different. As far as I can see, from “where he sits,” he departed time only an instant ago. One cannot refute the claim that Caesar was killed on the 15th or 16th of March in the year 44 BC, but, for someone who is outside of time, time does not pass. Therefore, insofar as Caesar is concerned, it is still March 15 or 16, 44 BC. We are unconscious for quite a while longer than this every night, so why worry about death that removes us from time? Yet it is easier to say that than it is to comfort the bereaved with it. Therefore, I am going to treat death much more seriously than this line of thought suggests I should. Jesus did: Jesus wept.1
I am not presently writing about whether we will be glad to be alive forever. Happiness in eternity is a religious matter, one to which we will be paying a great deal of attention. Obviously, we must, if we are to have a discussion about something that anyone cares about. There are basically three possible ways to spend eternity: alive/happy, alive/unhappy, and dead. The third is better than the second unless perhaps the degree of unhappiness is mild. The degree of misery could be severe, however. Imagine something like being buried alive forever, and you will quickly see what I mean. At best, our arrival at the end of our appointed years in our present lives will lead us, provided we indeed remain conscious, into a realm with which we shall be entirely unfamiliar, such that satisfactory life in it will necessitate our obtaining help. The only available Guide in our world to come is Jesus the Christ.
Theology is mostly about authority, such that much of the research in this field consists of finding reasons to believe the claims of religious figures and those who support their validity. In order to assess the likelihood that these people are dependable, one looks at their credentials, at the rationality of their contentions, and at whether their communications jibe with Scripture. In addition, we should look for the ring of truth, the intuitive feeling that we receive when we hear or read what someone says and what others whom we respect say about them and their beliefs. Thus, where the Christian faith is concerned, we examine Jesus, primarily by reading His words; we examine the writings by the authors of the New Testament that support His divinity; we examine the works of subsequent writers of good repute after we have distinguished the ones on whom we believe we can rely; we evaluate the integrity and the words of our peers in this respect; and we decide whether this or that faith has the ring of truth.2 Apologetics per se is of course not about authority; it is entirely objective, whereas not all of religion can be entirely so.
I do not ask you to believe anything because I believe it, because my grandmother believed it, because I am fretting about the fate of your immortal soul, because I think you might be thinking or doing things that are repulsive to me, or because I believe my welfare in eternity depends on how I do with regard to your prospective conversion. I do not even fret about my offspring anymore, as I believe the Holy Spirit of God will take care of the important things if I do the footwork, and the footwork is not difficult. In fact, I enjoy it.
Modern Physics and Immortality
Modern physics affords me all the information I need to support my contention that we will be forever conscious and eternally able to think coherently. Theoretical physicist Brian Greene states in his most recently published book, The Fabric of the Cosmos, that (paraphrasing) the most important message we have received from scientific investigators during the past century is that experience is often a misleading guide to the true nature of reality.3 Compare this to the contention of Parmenides, almost a mentor of Socrates, 2500 years ago: “…not let habit born from much experience compel you…to direct your sightless eye…but judge by reason.” Hone in on the words, “experience,” “habit,” “sightless eye,” and “reason.” He is saying, “Do not allow the deeply ingrained habits you have learned through much experience prevent you from replacing your undependable senses with reason when you are attempting to discern the ultimately true state of things.” The only essential difference between Greene’s and Parmenides’ statements is that the ancient Greek adds his advice that we seek important answers through rational accounting.
In rendering his opinion here, Greene shows he heartily believes that things are not as they seem, and he emphatically underscores this fascinating assertion with a vivid illustration. He tells us that our view of ultimate reality is analogous to that which we obtain regarding a Van Gogh if we view it through an empty Coca Cola bottle. In expressing this opinion, he is in good company: both Plato and Paul support him before the fact. Plato believed it is our thought, not our senses, that can show us ultimate reality, and Paul wrote in the 13th chapter of I Corinthians, “…now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.”
Doxa and Logos
The concepts that “Things are as they seem to be” and “Things are not as they seem” can conveniently be defined and described in terms of the terms, “doxa” and “logos,” respectively. Doxa, which gave rise to such English words as “orthodox” and “paradox,” refers to everything in the universe as perceived by our senses. For those who believe that doxa reveals ultimate reality satisfactorily, things are as they seem. Logos means “rational accounting,” and those who disdain doxa as a revealer of ultimate truths and believe that logos is the key to such matters necessarily believe the things are not as they seem. With logos, one sees with the “mind’s eye.” Certainly both “doxa people” and “logos people” employ rational accounting, but the latter consider doxa to be substantially deceptive in revealing the ultimate nature of physical reality. Henceforth, I will often use “doxa” “logos” in the form of a title, I am employing the definitions, “the state of believing that things are as they seem” and “the state of believing that things are not as they seem,” respectively. There is no doubt in my mind that those on the logos side with regard to that which best points us to ultimate truths, e.g. the Answer, are correct, though I believe that faith in the true God is vital as well, as I will discuss in Chapter 4 of Part 3.
Most often, one finds that doxa people are atheistic or agnostic and that they are negative or neutral in their feelings about the possibility of living forever. These individuals particularly admire the scientific method and tend to derive their beliefs concerning all matters from observation and experimentation. For them, nothing, such as ethics, is axiomatic. Most believe that what is right or wrong is relative and depends on various factors, such as the time in history a person lives or the society in which he dwells. “Logos people,” on the other hand, are generally religious and believers in immortality. They may well look to science for evidence concerning ultimate matters, but they see doxa as often deceptive where these are concerned, employing rational accounting and/or faith in their seeking truth. They are apt to utilize thought experiments as opposed to the more conventional sort. These individuals believe in axioms, facts that do not need creation or proof in order to exist, particularly in the sphere of ethics. The doxa-oriented are nearly always humanists, whereas the logos-oriented usually do not believe the assertion of Protagoras that “man is the measure of all things.”
Protagoras is the father of humanism, which is a lot like a religion, and his student, Gorgias, carried it forth quite competently. Protagoras, building on the confusion of Heraclitus, taught that all begins and ends with humanity, that because we do not detect with our senses any minds superior to those of humans, we should assume that there are none in existence. Socrates and Plato strongly disagreed, but Aristotle, though a student of Plato, almost “straddled the fence.” Considering how much he learned in a scientific mode, almost entirely on his own volition, and how much of this he transmitted to his students, who included the illustrious Alexander the Great, he must have been hard-pressed to de-emphasize doxa in any way. Humanism and the claim that doxa is our only source of ultimate truth correlate closely with one another, though many humanists believe there is no ultimate truth at all, at least none that is worth pursuing.
Historical Consensus and Citing
The first step we will take in supporting our thesis of eternal life will be to go through the history of humanity and see what were the prominent beliefs of intellectuals from one era to the next with regard to immortality, deity, axioms, and logos as the primary path to ultimate reality. We shall see that the consensus of humankind with regard to death as termination vs. death as transition has almost always been in favor of transition, at least in the western world.
Looking at the Greek philosophers who lived, studied, spoke and wrote prior to the time of Socrates, one finds that most of them trusted their minds instead of their senses in contemplating the ultimate. I have already mentioned the most important of these, Parmenides, was especially adept as well as enthusiastic in his extolling the virtues of logos. He was possibly the only person ever to win a debate against Socrates. As I essentially noted above, told us to utilize logos for these purposes and not to depend on “doxa.”
Certainly the two founders of western philosophy, Socrates and Plato, living well over two thousand years ago, believed in immortality and that things are not as they seem. Socrates, one of the three greatest teachers of all times, and probably the wisest person who ever lived except for Jesus, went to his death without fear, firmly believing in Providence and an after-life. One sees this clearly in Plato’s four dialogues that have their settings in the events surrounding Socrates’ trial, sentencing, and execution. In the final one of these, the Phaedo, Plato describes the great man’s swallowing the hemlock4 and continuing to provide wise aphorisms as he feels his limbs becoming heavier and heavier as he fades away into eternity. He is characterized as remaining completely placid while his friends grieve in forte tone and beg him to try to escape.
Socrates wrote nothing because he felt that communication was insufficient unless it consisted of discourse, such that he could not adequately duplicate conversation with the written word. He felt that give and take is crucial in this respect. More important, he was not as much interested in conveying information as he was in stimulating thought and the development of opinions. He recognized that what we can know for sure is vastly less than what we can believe, for which reason he concentrated on helping people to organize and clarify their beliefs because doing so enhances one’s understanding of why he believes as he does. Plato wrote strictly in dialogue in order to make his works as much like conversation as possible, and, with the greatest of modesty as well as admiration of Socrates, he put the great majority of his philosophy into the mouth of his mentor. Therefore, in most cases, his convictions cannot be distinguished from those of his teacher.
Most students of Plato’s works consider his Republic to represent his greatest accomplishment. It contains his analogy of the cave, which goes as follows. Humanity is represented as people sitting chained to chairs in a deep dark cave. Even their heads are restrained in a way that prevents their turning them. A fire burns behind them, projecting their images onto the cave wall. They watch the movements of these images and believe that they represent reality and all of it. Eventually, one particular person, representing the philosopher, yearns for additional knowledge. He manages to escape his chains and make his way to the entrance of the cave. He goes out into the sunshine and sees the grass, trees, birds and animals, and he is dazzled as he realizes there is so much more to reality than he ever dreamed of. Thus did Plato present to us the most famous and probably the most piercing illustration of “things are not as they seem” that anyone has ever constructed.
A.N. Whitehead, a prominent British intellectual of the early twentieth century, said that Plato was such a great philosopher that all philosophy since his came upon us has been but footnotes on his work. I can only agree; he is to philosophy as Michelangelo is to sculpture. Whitehead was at Cambridge at the same time Sir Arthur Eddington and Sir James Jeans were there. (These two figure powerfully in our story, as we shall soon see.) He was clearly in the camp of logos.
Though enamored with doxa, Aristotle could not bring himself to disconnect from Plato with regard to the best way to seek fundamental truths.
Traditionally, we can list the ancient Greeks, Romans and Hebrews as believers in immortality, though they generally held out no hope of happiness after death. In both Homer’s Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid, the major heroes descend into the underworld, the realm of the dead, and find it to be an unpleasant place. One of them encounters Achilles, who makes the statement that he would rather be a slave in an earthly life than a king where he now finds himself. Then, in the first book of Samuel, in the Bible, we find Saul hiring a medium to call Samuel up out of sheol so that he can ask the prophet how he is going to do against the Philistines. (The news is not good, and, the following day, and the following day Saul is able to consult with Samuel without having him brought up out of sheol.)5
The Jews were doubtless logos people, probably from the time of Abraham until the present. (To their great credit, they have always worshiped their God without His having given them the hope of eternal life.) They therefore represent an exception to the general rule that theists tend to believe in immortality, and there are others.)
Jesus was the ultimate logos person, particularly with regard to His supernatural powers. He was and is, in fact, “the Logos,” the Word of God, as He is the executive aspect of the Trinity and as He came into space-time to deliver God’s most important messages. Certainly, raising the dead and telling people that they could, with enough faith, move a mountain, reflects His mindset of logos.
I have already noted how Paul the apostle, the original and greatest missionary, expressed in his first letter to the Corinthians the same thought that Plato enunciated in his analogy of the cave.
Very interestingly, the Biblical book of Isaiah, written a half century before the time of Paul and containing much Messianic prophecy, offers us the following tasty piece of that genre: “…He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear….” This is a very unusual and insightful statement that I would not expect to see in the context in which we find it unless it truly reflected divine inspiration. It could just be that Isaiah was a particularly excellent philosopher who was familiar with the doxa-logos controversy, but I am surprised that he deems it particularly important that the Messiah would avoid utilizing his visual and auditory senses in order to judge whether he was in the presence of truth.
Christianity, rife with the confidence of its votaries in logos, became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the latter part of the 4th century AD, and the western part of the Empire, which had been fading in authority since the 3rd century, fell in the 5th. The Germanic and other barbarians that took over that part of the Roman possessions also took on its Christianity. These peoples melded with the Romans and others of the Roman lands that they conquered, forming early Christendom. The European Middle Ages, the age of the Church, was upon us. Thus, during the time of the late Roman Empire and the early Middle Ages, logos continued to dominate.
The eastern part of the Empire took on the Christian faith at the same time as the western and subsequently did much better than the west in the political and military spheres. It successfully fended off invaders until 1453 while the western part lasted only until 476, but both held to their faith and utilized it in their military operations and daily living.
The Middle Ages
Roman Catholicism prevailed in both east and west until 1054, the year of the East-West (“Great”) Schism, when the easterners, who were no longer willing to recognize the Pope as Supreme Authority in the Church, formed the Greek Orthodox Church under a Patriarch. Though thinking of the doxa sort frequently occurred in conjunction with practicalities, there was no hint that the people of the lands of the formerly combined Roman Empire from the philosophy of logos until the 16th century. Insofar as the Church was concerned, it was essentially part of doctrine, and the same was true with regard to Islam. The same was essentially true with regard to Islam beginning in 610 when Mohammed began to proclaim that Allah was the true God and that he was speaking to and through him.6
Various orders of Christian monks arose during the early Middle Ages, often called the “Dark Ages,” which lasted from the 5th century until the 9th. Living together in monasteries, monks devoted most of their time to reading Scripture, praying, performing ritual, and in general seeking to draw as close as possible to their Lord. These intense devotees, highly logos-oriented, copied and recopied reams of Christian writings. Beginning around the year, 1000, they unexpectedly began to preserve pagan writings as well, but they were quite particular regarding the pagans of whom they approved. Working on the same materials as many Moslems, they participated in the preservation of the works of Plato and Aristotle.
Charlemagne, who ruled much of Europe during the late 8th and early 9th centuries, conferred regularly with a chosen group to discuss intellectual matters. His attempt to encourage deep thinking was rather feeble – it is questionable whether he could even write his name – but, considering the age in which he lived, he was at least forward-looking in this respect.
By the time of the high Middle Ages, which began about 1200, the ancient Greek genius had penetrated Europe to the extent that, except for Church studies, the writings of Aristotle essentially became the entire curricula of the earliest universities, which had come to the fore at the end of the 11th century and were first established in Bologna (Italy) and Paris. Plato and Aristotle also fed the great exacerbation of learning that occurred in the (primarily Italian) Renaissance7 of the 14th and 15th centuries. Aristotle’s stupendous studies and findings on most of the aspects of doxa as well as other matters must have led readers in the direction of confidence in their surroundings as they perceived them without a lot of thought, but the teachings of the church held so firmly that Europe remained Christendom in spirit, and belief in immortality and that things are ultimately not as they seem remained solidly in place not only beyond 1500, by convention the first year of the modern era, but a great deal longer than that.
The Early Modern Era
The Scientific Revolution arrived in the 16th century with Copernicus, a Polish priest who showed that the planets revolve around the sun. It hit its stride in the 17th century, primarily with Galileo in Italy, the first person to point a telescope at the heavens and learn something important by doing so, and Sir Isaac Newton in England, who invented the calculus and gave us our first theory of gravity and our most basic and important equations of physics. These advances were in the physical sciences–disciplines like physics, astronomy, and cosmology–and they had little if any effect on people’s beliefs. Masters of the arts, in fact, responded at this time with compositions glorifying God, best exemplified by in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach who celebrated the order of our universe with melodies of precise rhythm, pervaded by exuberance that thrilled the soul, pointed out order and promised security. The somber chants of the 1500′s and before gave way to happy celebrations of the partnership of God and humanity. There was in fact so much change in the music that the era is known as the “baroque,” meaning the “bizarre,” period.
The Later Modern Era
Even the Enlightenment of the 1700′s, with its emphasis on humanism, did not make much impact the convictions of the average person or even most intellectuals. Even Voltaire, perhaps the most “enlightened” of all, died “adoring God, loving my friends, not hating my enemies, and detesting superstition.” Logos continued to prevail. Nevertheless, our race began to be proud of itself and its accomplishments. With Hayden and Mozart, music became grander as we celebrated our cleverness in what we now call the classical era. Aloof aristocracy danced the minuet, and the coming effect of discoveries in the life sciences was foreshadowed.
In 1859, Charles Darwin published his Origin of Species and, soon thereafter, Sigmund Freud began to tell us what he had learned by way of psychoanalysis.8 These life scientists caused God to seem less necessary than He had in the past, and logos began to give way to doxa. Evolution seemed to suggest that, given enough time, various life forms could develop by chance just as well as any God could create them, and psychoanalysis raised the question of whether religion was just another manifestation of sexual fixation or some other foolishness of the subconscious mind.
With failing faith in God came fear, which insinuated itself into the minds of men and women. With diminished hope of heaven, they needed diversion – to emote much in order to think less about death. Beethoven obliged in spades, adding lush and romantic tours de force to the classical music created mainly by Mozart and Haydn. Chopin’s sweeping masterpieces carried one away to exclusive retreats of the heart. Thus, otherworldliness declined in the 1800′s and probably arrived at its nadir between 1900 and 1927. Concurrently, many physicists of that time came to believe that there were no other major discoveries to be made and that further scholarly investigation would only consist of filling in details. Philosophers began to have similar pessimistic thoughts.9
The pendulum of thought swung in the direction of doxa, such that people began to be over-confident in it. “Things are as they seem” made more sense to people than it ever had before. The ideas of the pre-Socratic, Heraclitus, who saw nothing beyond the time-bound world and was thus preoccupied with change, returned with an authority his teachings had never attained during his lifetime. The “Things are not as they seem” way of thinking about immortality and such, which had been prevalent at least since the time of the pre-Socratic philosophers, faded in favor of “Enjoy and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Nietzsche, in spite of psychosis and eventual treatment by confinement, attained wide-spread recognition as a philosopher worth reading.
Thus, human history entered into a period of corporate depression, inevitable with diminished belief in Absolute Truth with its absolute ethics. Faith, belief in eternal life, and feelings of security were shaken to their very foundations. In large numbers, people began to change in their feelings about deity, wondering if such existed and whether death might be permanent. People withdrew into themselves — communication dried up. Narcissism became more common than it ever had been before. This state of mind leads to failure of the development of identity, a sense of self and, in fact, self per se. The person most about self is he or she with the least self, and vice versa; narcissism, in other words, leads to small personalities. Knowing little about others, one tends to hate them. We cannot say for sure what this had to do with wars, but the American Civil War, mainly caused by the insistence of southern magnates that some people were born to serve others in bondage, produced over 600,000 American casualties from 1861 to 1865. The Spanish-American War followed, and then came World War I, begun over a triviality compared to the greater than 10,000,000 deaths it caused, which triggered World War II, during which, one way or another, 50,000,000 people died.
Communication is the essence of meaningful life. Without it, one can possibly attend to necessities, such as food, water, and shelter, and one can even learn, but, with no one to discuss anything with, life is barren. One is left with a pseudo-life of competition, and it is not gentlemanly sport to which this situation gives rise — not at all.
Einstein and Planck et al to the Rescue!
It was like a melodramatic movie; at this lowest point for humanity since the barbarians stormed Rome, two shining knights of science appeared. The first was Karl Ernst Ludwig Max Planck, who was advised not to choose physics as a career by Munich physicist Philipp von Jolly, who told him, “in this field, almost everything is already discovered, and all that remains is to fill a few holes.” The second was Albert Einstein, who, along with Planck, found some extraordinarily large and unsuspected holes to fill and some vast expanses in which to roam and employ his vast intellect.
The work of Planck and his intellectual progeny virtually resulted in the discovery of God, and the work of Einstein, the most positive influence on logos since the Logos Himself showed us that time is illusory, such that death, a result of time, is also not what it seems to be.
Like Einstein with his famous thought experiments, Planck also discovered by means of logos. Thus, these two men dramatically restored thought as the primary way of investigating the profound, while at the same time rescuing physics, and possibly philosophy as well, from the threat of dormancy. Planck’s intellectual descendents indeed performed conventional experiments of importance, but they spent and spend most of their research hours in thought and calculation. Relativity has remained almost entirely in the sphere of rational accounting, particularly in its thought experiments, though an observation in the heavens in 1919 virtually proved that space is curved, as Einstein had predicted in his General Theory of Relativity, thus providing major support for that work of genius that he revealed to the world in 1916. (I describe the Special and General Theories of Relativity in Chapter 3 of Part 3.)
Because of Planck et al and Einstein, we have now added an entire second discipline that we list under the category of physics. It is “modern physics,” which has joined “classical physics” and which has caused the fear of running out of subjects to study and discover in the halls of physics to evaporate like ether in Arizona in the summertime
Extrapolations of Modern Physics
Most of us are so used to thinking of philosophy and science as greatly different from each another that, with only two undergraduate degrees ordinarily available, one is called the Bachelor of Science and the other the Bachelor of Arts. The one usually involves no study of philosophy, and the other quite often does. Yet, science and philosophy are closely bound, and discoveries in science can well have philosophical implications.
The profound philosophical consequences of Quantum Physics and Relativity became fully apparent about 1927, according to Foster, when scientists Eddington and Jeans began to make philosophical statements that revealed Einstein and quantum physicists had made discoveries more profound than was previously realized. (Eddington had led the expedition in 1919 that had, by observing a condition revealed during a total solar eclipse, proved the validity of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.)
They in fact went beyond philosophy in their claims and spoke and wrote in terms of theology, showing that it was once again proper to include God in scientific discussions. In an interview published in The (London) Observer, Jeans replied when he was asked the question: “Do you believe that life on this planet is the result of some sort of accident, or do you believe that it is a part of some great scheme?” “I incline to the idealistic theory that consciousness is fundamental (Italics mine, and I believe he actually meant “cognition.”) and that the material universe is derivative from consciousness, not consciousness from the material universe… In general the universe seems to me to be nearer to a great thought than to a great machine. It may well be, it seems to me, that each individual consciousness ought to be compared to a brain-cell in a universal mind.”
This is, of course, one man’s opinion, but he was a very smart and experienced man. On another occasion, he said, “…mind and matter, if not proved to be of similar nature, are at least found to be ingredients of one single system. There is no longer room for the kind of dualism which has haunted philosophy since the days of Descartes.” In The Universe Around Us,” comparing the universe to a painting, he mused, “…the protons and electrons are the streaks of paint which define the picture against its space-time background. Traveling as far back in time as we can brings us not to the creation of the picture, but to its edge; the creation of the picture lies as much outside the picture as the artist is outside his canvas. On this view, discussing the creation of the universe in terms of time and space is like trying to discover the artist in the action of painting, by going to the edge of the canvas. This brings us very near to those philosophical systems which regard the universe as a thought in the mind of its Creator, thereby reducing all discussion of material creation to futility.” Both Eddington and Jeans believed that the universe is thought, that of a Supreme Being.
This is huge in the annals of theist apologetics.
More Bright Men and Discoveries
1927 was a very good year for theists! Besides being the year that von Heisenberg presented the uncertainty principle and that during which Eddington first expressed his belief that the universe looks like thought, it was also the year that Edwin Hubble announced his discovery that the universe is expanding, that space-time is constantly enlarging, causing the amount of space among its contents to constantly increase. This finding unavoidably gave rise to the idea of the Big Bang, which pictures the universe as having emanated from an infinitely small and dense point located in a void – nowhere, since there was no space until there was a universe. The Big Bang of course fits well the story in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Though conventional Christian doctrine holds that He created “from nothing“, my idea is different, as we shall see in the following chapter.
Hoyle derided the Big Bang, saying that his opponents were possessed by an idea no more significant than that of a firecracker. He wasn’t afraid to tell anyone anything. He eventually became a theist, however, at least in the sense of believing in a Super-Intelligence Who regulated the universe. We might say that he was dragged kicking and screaming into belief in deity.10
After the Big Bang came the “Big Molding.” In response to the question of the mechanism by which our universe has just the right amount of perturbation of homogeneity, just the right amount of clumping of matter vs. homogeneity of same — a state of exquisitely regulated balance in this respect necessary for the development of life as we know it — Alan Guth proposed the idea of cosmic inflation in 1981. He believes that, during a minuscule part of the first second of the universe’s existence, it passed through an unimaginably rapid phase of exponential (accelerated) expansion wherein it grew at a rate that far exceeded the velocity of light. (Though the Special Theory of Relativity states that the speed of light cannot be exceeded, that rule, more precisely stated, refers to all other electromagnetic waves as well, that are essentially in a vacuum.) Now, there is a difference between a vacuum and a void, or at least what I choose to call a void. The “inflationary epoch” that followed right after the Big Bang consisted of expansion into the void, “something that we cannot comprehend at all” or perhaps “nothing that we can comprehend at all.” This is of course impossible to grasp, but we can reach it with our minds to the extent that we can use the term and the concept in our discussion. To reiterate, with the expansion of the young universe, space-time expanded along with the rest of our world. As all space-time of which we know was part of the universe, it could not have expanded into space-time. We can perhaps say it expanded into the “void.” Of course, that is nothing more than the best term I can think of.) This theory together with the that of the Big Bang gives rise to a mental picture of Creator and Adjustor, with the result that the existence of God seems especially likely and the concept that He did not merely start things going but made the effort necessary to form the universe into a kind of place that is people-friendly is supported as well.
Guth did not study doxa in order to come to his conclusion. Once again, logos was at the bottom of important discovery. This is not surprising since Guth is a physical scientist–a theoretical physicist and cosmologist. The scientists in these fields are the ones who investigate subjects that reach to the greatest heights and depths of human thought and concern themselves with very largest and smallest objects in the universe, and they are the ones who are most likely to believe in God and therefore in immortality; this, I believe, says something to us about the likelihood of His existence.
The work of George Smoot at the end of the 1980′s demonstrated the residua of the Big Bang and provided additional evidence for the validity of the Inflationary Universe. Stephen Hawking called his work “the scientific discovery of the century, if not of all time.“11 Thus, the theories of the Beginning that correlate best with Genesis received more support yet. Though Smoot’s work was about doxa – it involved conventional experimentation on the universe – the reason it was done was to confirm a theory that was founded on logos. Smoot stated about the results of his work, “If you’re religious, it’s like looking at God.” He also said, “There is no doubt that a parallel exists between the Big Bang as an event and Christian notion of creation from nothing.”
Dr. Francis Collins, leader of the Human Genome Project that unlocked the secrets of DNA right after the turn of the millennium and presented humanity with its most important biological discovery since that of Charles Darwin, is a devoted Christian and believer in heaven, which shows us that life scientists as well as physical scientists can believe that things are not as they seem.12 It has been recently noted that, if one is looking on campus for an atheist, he or she will more quickly find one in the department of philosophy than in any of the science departments; this was not true a hundred years ago. An increasing number of scientists are doing what Foster said they must: “…in my extensive reading about philosophical scientists, I have found few…who at some stage or another did not have to introduce God. The critical moment is when one finds proofs of an Intelligence which exceeds human intelligence, and in this book the critical point was the realization of biological (improbable) specificity. Presumably the most elegant scientist is the one who can go farthest down the scientific road until at last he has to declare. ‘I give up, God exists.’”13
Though Collins’ work shows us that we cannot entirely disregard doxa as a source of help in discovering hugely important and fundamental workings of our universe and its contents, what we do with that information is clearly a matter of logos.
Here in the early 21st century, something quite ironical is going on. We have not heard from intellectuals as a group, and the masses (a convenient term, not to be taken as derisive in itself) are descending into the deepest depths of doxa, the adoration of the sensual. Those scientists who have been atheists or agnostics, particularly those of the physical kind who work in the fields of study that are especially on the cutting edge of human progress, are swinging to from doxa to logos, such that an increasing number of them believe in God. (However, their cosmic intelligence is admittedly not always the God of the Bible.)
We have thus witnessed the resurrection of logos by the founders of quantum mechanics and Relativity and have seen how Eddington and Jeans extrapolated and interpreted modern physics to the point that they realized it meant that everything with which we are familiar is thought, “mind stuff” as Eddington put it. Things are indeed nothing like as they seem to be.
The book of Genesis relates that God repeatedly said, “Let there be ….,” in creating the world. Who did He say it to? Apparently to Himself, and that makes these proclamations thoughts. Xenophanes of Colophon, living during the sixth century B.C. in a town in Ionian Greece near Miletus, reasoned that the Arche’ is a single God, who moves all things by way of his Mind.14 Aristotle, that giant of study and thought, saw the Creator of all as the Unmoved Mover, whose sole activity is thought. Sir Arthur Eddington enunciated in 1927, “The stuff of the universe is mind stuff,” and his fellow Cambridge professor, the same year that Edwin Hubble made his famous discovery that I have described, had this to say shortly thereafter. “The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter; we are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter….We discover that the universe shows evidence of a designing or controlling power that has something in common with our own individual minds….” Thus did this scientist of excellence and renown express that which had been impressed upon him by years of searching the heavens and trying to find a common denominator for all he had observed, and he came up with mind and Mind. Like Eddington, he believed that the universe is thought, that of God.
Michelangelo showed the profoundest of insight into the mechanism of the origin of the universe when he painted God reaching out to Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel against a background shaped exactly like a sagittal section of the human brain.15 In that way, he represented the creation of mind by Mind in this greatest of all masterpieces of human efforts to show God at work.
Sir Isaac Newton stated that space is the sensorium of God (meaning the inside of His Mind).
Cecil B. DeMille said, “Let the divine mind flow through your mind, and you will be happier. I have found the greatest power in the world in the power of prayer. There is no shadow of doubt of that. I speak from my own experience.” Compare what DeMille had to say with Jeans’ contention. It appears to me that the true God desires the closest intimacy with His cognitive creatures and that Mr. DeMille may have been more profound than he realized.
Bishop George Berkeley was an 18th century theologian and philosopher who had the insight to see that any object is merely a bundle of perceptions from the perspective of any person and that, no matter how one struggles to claim it is really “out there,” existing independently, we know absolutely nothing of it except through our senses which feed into our minds. “Thus, even something as obtrusive as a hammer striking your thumb ultimately consists for you only of your brains’ interpretation of the pain impulses streaming up your arm to the parietal cortex and impulses via the retina and optic nerve to the occipital area of your cerebrum, as you watch in horror.”16 Presaging Jeans’ views of two centuries later, Berkeley saw mind as primary relative to the universe, matter as nebulous, and our senses as undependable with regard to the revelation of ultimate reality.
Jeans was right; mind subordinates everything in our world. John Archibald Wheeler, who was, until his death in 2008, the dean of American physicists, believed this that our entire universe consists of information.17 He initiated a recent trend among theoretical physicists to think of the universe as information, with space-time and matter as incidentals. Such belief demands the existence of an informer with a stupendous mind and virtually amounts to seeing the universe as the thought of God, the great Informer. Thus did Wheeler, who worked well into his 90′s, echo Eddington’s and Jeans’ concept of the universe. Information is not ordinarily synonymous with thought because not all thought is correct, with one exception; if the thinker is omniscient, His thought will be pure information.
The information of the Informer is all of reality except for God Himself and The axiomatic Truth. Logos thoroughly trumps doxa when we are seeking to understand the most profound aspects of the universe and our lives in it and beyond. We best recognize the value, validity, and superiority of logos in the perception of our time-bound world when we compare it to a painting and realize that we must not look at/into it in order its Source because its Source is outside of it.18 It streams from the Mind of the Source. The universe is the Thought of God.19
I cannot imagine a more potent tribute to logos than the universe as the thought of God.
Relativity and Quantum Mechanics
We now return to the thought of the intellectual powerhouses of modern physics, those who are mainly responsible for Greene’s coke bottle analogy, who will lead us to the crux of the physics of eternal life.20 Einstein is most important here, but we will begin with Planck and his associates and successors. Workers in quantum physics have given us such an extreme version of “things are not as they seem” that most current investigators in that field do not even understand the subject of their study; they just know it works, and it yields practical results of momentous proportions. The MRI machine is a good example.
In 1900, Planck, defying the warning of von Jolly and to be followed by a host of investigators in the field of quantum mechanics which he established, became the first person to perceive that, in the quantum world, the smallest possible entities of matter (narrow sense of the word) and force can exist in either wave or packet (quantum) form.
Planck’s discovery pertains to a fascinating way in which our world is set up differently on the quantum level than it is on the level of our size. In the realm of quanta, form and substance can be separate from one another. If we analyze any “hunk of matter,” we see that it has form, which is essentially shape, and substance. Our bodies, for example, have certain shapes, and they contain “stuff” within the borders of these forms. We do not imagine that our shape could be put in one corner of the room and our substance piled up in another, especially the former. Yet this is actually what Planck discovered can and does happen on the quantum level.
He also found that, when we observe a quark, photon, or other elemental body, we see substance, but that when we look away, form takes over. When we observe, in other words, we perceive substance, but when we do not, matter (broad sense of the word) behaves like waves. This may explain some of the other strange characteristics of the denizens of the quantum level, e.g. elemental entities’ going through walls and the two halves of a split photon’s seeming to communicate though they are far from each other from our perspective because our observation causes them to be quanta to us. Form is more likely to go through a wall than is substance, and the two halves of a photon are not separate when they are both in wave form.
I believe we can think of form as more or less abstract, whereas substance is strictly actual, or would be if it did not reduce to mathematics, as we shall see chapter after next. Abstractions of course have no location, whereas actual objects do.
In 1927, Werner von Heisenberg presented his uncertainty principle, which, with its consequences and implications, became the most strange and exciting aspect of quantum physics. It appears to show that our minds directly affect the behavior of quanta on the quantum level, though it has been interpreted in a different way by some.
The Genius of Einstein
In 1905, amidst a total of five papers he submitted that year as a clerk in a Swiss patent office, Einstein produced one that told the community of physicists that space and time are inseparable, illusory, and relative. Planck happened to be the editor of the journal in which this master of the shaggy and deranged coiffure declared his discoveries and opinions, born of mathematical thought and based on the findings of investigators who had gone before him. One of the other papers won a Nobel prize, but the Special Theory of Relativity forever changed our conception of the framework of our universe.21
Einstein upstaged the previously unrivaled genius, Sir Isaac Newton, showing that perspective is everything and that differences in perspective are produced by the relative velocities of objects. He also taught us that space and time are so intimate, so indistinguishably similar, that whatever is true for space is for time and vice versa.
The Special Theory: What It Is All About
Though I cannot grasp with my mind the subject of Special Relativity, I can, so to speak, “reach” an explanation thereof. What I am about to write about this radical theory is the result of this reach.
Its primary premise is that, while one can increase the velocity of a thrown baseball by setting the pitcher on top of a moving train, one cannot increase the speed of the photons coming from the train’s headlight by having the train go from a stationary to a moving condition. Additionally, light rays (and those of any other electromagnetic waves) are unique in this respect; all other entities will act like the ball.22
Thus, let us imagine, for purposes of a thought experiment, a train on a track that is on the ground and in a vacuum. The train can travel as fast as one hundred miles per hour, and we have on hand a baseball pitcher, with his mitt and ball, who, even in his space-suit, can throw the ball at a maximal speed of one hundred miles per hour. Now, let him throw the ball forward as hard as he can throw it from a platform built on top of the train’s engine as it travels down the track at the its maximum speed; if we then measure the speed of the thrown ball relative to the ground, we will see that it is moving at a rate of two hundred miles per hour. Then let us measure the speed of the light coming from the train’s headlight when the train is stationary and when it is running down the track at its maximum velocity. We will find that the two velocities of the light are identical, that the speed of the train has not increased the speed of the photons coming from the headlight to any degree whatsoever.
No one has any idea why this is the case. There is something unique about the velocity of electromagnetic waves. The consequences of this quality of light are, however, astounding. Einstein modestly said he “just happened to notice it”: in order that something so bizarre may happen, space-time must warp. “Well, I can understand warping of metal or plastic, but how can space-time bend?” you ask. “Matter warps, but how can space-time warp?!” Certainly I do not know, except to say that before long we will learn that matter may be no more substantial than space-time.
In any case, Einstein was able to work out equations that pertain to the inability of anything to affect the speed of light in a vacuum and that allow the degree of warping to be calculated. The essence of the issue here is that nothing, not even light, can exceed the usual speed of light in a vacuum.23 These equations are the Special Theory of Relativity. They contain a crucial element that Einstein borrowed, so to speak, from a 19th century researcher in the field of electricity, Henrik Lorentz, twenty-one years his senior. It is the square root of one minus a fraction that consists of the velocity of a given body squared over (divided by) the speed of light squared. (Now and henceforth, whenever I refer to the velocity of light or electromagnetic waves, I mean “in a vacuum,” unless I designate otherwise.) The only other way the dilemma could have been solved was for the laws of nature to have varied from one system to another, for example from the situation of a stationary train to that of one moving down the track. We know very well that such variance does not occur, however. The laws of nature, largely if not mostly discovered by Isaac Newton, hold in the same manner for a person who is standing on the ground as they do for a person who is riding in a train.
Lorentz’ factor is so exponential that relativistic phenomena are minuscule until the speed of one body relative to another approaches that of light. This seems to be the reason that no one, not even Newton, was aware of the flexibility of space-time until about 2500 years after western Europeans began to calculate in earnest. It was not until relatively recent years that humans have become familiar with anything going so fast.
We can also see that the Lorentz factor contains time squared, in the factor, “c2, which represents the speed of light in a vacuum, squared. Now, we recall that the dimensions of velocity are distance per (period of) time, and that, in the glossary, we used 186,000 miles per second as an example of how the speed of light can be expressed. We also discussed there the method of multiplying fractions and the concurrent multiplication of dimensions thereof in the same manner in order to be able to understand what the product is measuring.24 When we square “c,” the velocity of light, we obtain, as the dimensions of the product, distance squared over time squared. Again, we are in awe over Einstein’s discovery of how to work with “square time,” a concept not previously dealt with.
Relativity in Action
Let us now look at an example of the effects of space-time’s somehow being an entity that can warp/bend. Imagine a stationary rocket ship in “outer space” and a moving ship that is coming toward it.25 As the moving ship gets close to the other – their courses are offset so that they do not collide — the pilot of the stationary vehicle, having incredible visual ability and, somehow, a giant mirror a distance away from his ship via which he can see the moving ship from the side, looks through its side window and observes that a clock inside of it has hands that are going slower than those of the clock in his own ship. Furthermore, this observer, being quite familiar with the moving ship, is able to see that it has shortened. With similar abilities and equipment, the pilot of the moving ship notes exactly the same things regarding the stationary ship and its clock. Now, if the velocity of the moving rocket ship reached that of light, time for anyone in it would stop from the perspective of the pilot of the stationary ship, and the moving ship would shorten so much, again from the perspective of the observer in the stationary ship, that it would, so far as that pilot was concerned, disappear. In addition, according to the perspective of the pilot of the moving ship, if it attained the speed of light, the stationary ship would disappear, and time would stop in it. Therefore, an object can leave space-time from the perspective of an observer outside of it, provided the sum of the velocity of the object and that of the vehicle that contains (or otherwise carries) the observer equals light-speed.26
Quantum Electrodynamics also supports the concept of objects’ – in this case, elemental particles — taking leave from and returning to the universe. Thus, both Relativity and Quantum Physics support the existence of the supernatural, a realm outside of our universe, of which a timeless realm is probably an example and probably the sole example.
If you are new to Relativity, you no doubt are thinking something like, “This is ridiculous!” However, it is all the inevitable result of the impossibility of anything’s going faster than 186,000 miles per second in a vacuum in our universe. That is a fact that holds regardless of what has to happen in order to enable it to. Thus, the shape of the universe will change if necessary to prevent light from going too fast.
In the language of relativity, I have just described “time dilatation” and “space contracture.”
Note that the importance of perspective in matters of Relativity is so great as to be absolutely necessary, such that relativistic phenomena do not work without the involvement of a thinking mind. Therefore, we indeed have here yet another reason to consider thought as primary in our universe. Recall that we have found that quantum mechanics also shows us that mind, the source of thought, is supreme.
Why does and how can light-speed subordinate space-time? Keep this question in mind, along with the term, light-speed, itself and the other most crucial terms we have encountered – mind/thought, logos and perspective. Later in this chapter, we will discuss terms and entities that we use and/or perceive from the perspective of doxa, our usual point of view, and will then compare them to those that pertain to the universe according to logos. This will, I believe, lead us to a concept of our world that is substantially different from the one we are used to utilizing in our everyday lives and will give us a clearer view of the part of ultimate reality that is our universe.
Death Is Not as It Seems to Be.
We now hone in on the crux of our story, and, for present purposes, the consequence of time’s being illusory. The most basic cause of death is time; if a cause is illusory, the event it causes will be likewise.27 Therefore, death, a consequence of time, is not what it appears to be.
If death is not as it seems to be and if it looks like termination/annihilation (which it does), it must not be termination/annihilation. Remember perspective, particularly as we observed it and its effect in looking at Special Relativity. Death is the end to those who witness its occurrence in another person, but, to the dying person himself, it may well be something quite different, and I think it safe to say that what it is from the perspective of the dying person is most important here.
Consider two fetuses in a single uterus. They are both warm and comfortable. Insofar as they are concerned, it doesn’t get any better. Then one day, labor begins and one of them is expelled. The fetus left inside thinks something terrible has happened to the other fetus, but the one who exits experiences a whole new and wonderful world. We may also compare here the experience of the philosopher of Plato’s cave with those who never left that cold and dim place. Possibly except for those of us who have had near-death experiences, we the living cannot say what dying is like. Whether or not we think we can is entirely meaningless. I think we have a very large amount of evidence, however, that death is not as it seems—not what it seems to be; I believe, in fact, that a degree of belief wherein one thinks virtually not at all about doubt is quite appropriate here.
Now, the only alternative possibility to annihilation would seem to be some kind of transition, just as the fetus who left the company of the other fetus underwent transition.
What kinds of transitions are there to choose from? These consist of (1) passing to a timeless realm; (2) going to a realm with additional dimensions of time, where we can go backwards and/or sideways in it; (3) reincarnating; and (4) transitioning to another universe. With regard to reincarnation, I say that it is a fanciful idea and one which does not stand up to an apologetic approach or to any other approach that involves reason (if there is one). I do not believe any substantial evidence exists that it is true. One of the two religions28 that entails reincarnation is so tolerant of differences in belief that one can believe almost anything and be a votary thereof, and both29 are belief systems that advocate annihilation as an ideal goal toward which we should strive.30 As I cannot in any way accept the latter idea, I cannot accept any religion that venerates it.
With regard to a multiverse, we have no logical reason to believe that any such thing exists. It may, but, even if it does, we need a number of universes that approaches infinity in order to account for all the fine-tunings that we readily observe in our world. In addition, there is no evidence in favor of the existence of such a thing. With regard to a realm with “additional time” that goes on forever because it contains dimensions of time greater in number than does our universe, it is much easier for me to think of a realm of timelessness than it is to imagine time of any nature or quantity that goes on forever. Therefore, I choose to believe that in death we transition to timelessness. If we do that, we are immortal.
More Reasons to Believe that We Are Immortal
Let us now consider the contents of the universe other than space-time and see whether there is anything about their not being as they seem that can affect our concept of death. Here we have matter, and we have force, but we will lose nothing, in my view, if we leave force out of our discussion. We must leave dark matter out because we do not know enough about it to put it in. According to String Theory, well-reputed these days, there is no more difference between an elemental particle of force and one of matter than there is between two matter particles, and, according to Superstrings, every matter particle has a force particle with which it is paired. Thus, there is a question as to whether matter and force are sufficiently separable to warrant dealing with them separately. In addition, our concept of force is so vague that it is questionable whether we are able to grasp it sufficiently to be able to really deal with it: we do not understand the underpinnings of attraction at a distance, and we do not know, mathematically, how to fit gravity and the other three forces into the same universe.31
Therefore, we will deal only with atoms and their components here. Atoms have the peculiarity of being composed almost entirely of space. If we could have before us an atom the size of a cathedral, we would find that its nucleus was about the size of a housefly. If we could somehow sense a proton the size of our solar system, the quarks that compose it would each be about the size of a house. In addition, I contend that whatever material there is in atoms consists of energy, and I cite Einstein’s E = mc2 (The amount of energy that can be obtained from mass “m” is “m” times the square of the speed of light.) and “matter plus anti-matter yields energy and vice versa” as scientific precepts that essentially all scientists believe and that I believe virtually prove that sub-atomic particles are made of energy. Not only that, but we do not even know what energy is, though we do know what it can do – heat and accelerate things. We do know, however, that the effects of energy are ordered by math (as mathematics underlies all events and phenomena that occur in space-time). Thus can we say that matter reduces to math. Now, mathematics is a product of mind. Therefore, matter reduces to abstractions. Thinking of matter in this way causes death as the result of the deterioration of matter to seem less ominous than it has previously. If my body and brain are abstract, any significance of their destruction seems far less serious than it otherwise would.32
Things are nothing like what they seem to be. All of the evidence we have supports the subordination of matter (broadest sense of the word) to mind and the contention that we do not need matter in order to have mind/thought. Having seen that matter reduces to a product of mind (mathematics) in our world and that space-time has been shown to be an illusion and something vague, nebulous and elusive, I find that I even get a better mental grip on mind than I do with the universe as logos. Thus, the idea of a mind without a body becomes progressively easier for me to assimilate. When I then also remember that mind with its thought is necessary for perspective, which is important enough to be on our list of the entities that either compose the universe according to logos or closely and directly pertain to it, I complete my mind’s eye’s impression of the ultimate nature of physical reality.
The Universe as Logos
To reiterate, this list contains light-speed, mind, mathematics, logos and other thought, and perspective. We have identified five key words that stand for the entities that characterize our universe when we use logos, rational thought, in order to seek out its basic components, its qualities (its ultimate nature), and mind, which underlies it and without which it could not exist. These crucial contents of the universe in conjunction with its cause subordinate space-time, matter (narrow definition) and force, and perspective and logos can be placed under the heading of thought. The whole universe therefore reduces to thought and mathematics (with light-speed’s remaining special), and math is a kind of thought such that we may say the universe reduces to thought, which goes along nicely with the universe as the thought of God and with the universe as information, as one cannot really distinguish between information and thought. (In the next chapter, we shall see that mathematics is also something that is even more basic.)
Let us digress just for a moment and look at mind vs. thought in order to disperse any confusion or lack of clarity concerning these entities and terms. I have spoken of both as part of the universe as logos. However, mathematics is a variety of thought, as is logos. Perspective is actually thought as well; it can happen as a result of sensory input, such that we might to think of it in another way, but it basically amounts to thought. Is the universe as logos then thought bounded by light-speed that, like all thought, emanates from mind? Yes. Mind is not really in it just as an artist is not in his painting. I do not think our minds are it either. They are more free than that; they soar beyond it. The boundary, light-speed, of course, pertains only to us and not to God. The boundary is part of His thought as is everything besides Him that is, and it is established in conjunction with human minds.
When we consider the universe according to logos, we see its shining reality, a happy picture of the way that it really is.
By contrast, the universe according to doxa emphasizes space-time and matter in the broad sense of the world. It sees mind as a result of a complex arrangement of matter (narrow sense) and force. If such represented ultimate truth, the concept of life would be supremely anemic; a “mind” or even a consciousness deriving from dead chemicals would in fact seem to be no life at all. It would be a shade-like existence, zombie-like, without real cognition.
More Thoughts Related to the True Nature of Death
We have seen how Parmenides, perhaps the ultimate champion of logos, challenged the wisdom of drawing profound conclusions from the observation of doxa. He also essentially said that something must be. He said that non-Being cannot be and that Being must be. For him there were three basic options: “Being is,” “non-Being is,” and both. The second and third options make no sense because “nothing cannot be.” Perhaps you will want to pause and think about that for a bit if you do not see its meaning(s) right away. To sweep away the cobwebs, what I am saying is that it is more logical to think of something than it is of nothing, that it makes more sense to think of existence than it does to think in terms of non-existence. Thus, it is not such a surprise that the thought of God is reality to us, and it would be stranger if nothing at all existed –unimaginable, in fact. Parmenides also said that our observation of things’ coming into and going out of existence is false, that our senses erroneously inform us with regard to this issue. He claimed that, if we would ignore our senses and pay attention to cognition instead, we would see that the changes we seem to perceive with our senses are, as a rule, ultimately false. Most basically, he said, “…Given that becoming requires both Being and non-Being and given that non-Being is unintelligible, becoming also is unintelligible.”33 In other words, he claimed, the detrimental changes we observe in this life are ultimately not true reality, and, since death amounts to detrimental changing and becoming, it is ultimately unreal. Thus, to Parmenides, passing out of existence didn’t make sense, and he therefore believed us immortal. He said that the ultimate state of things is eternal being, as all true being is eternal.34
It seems as though non-existence and non-being are losing out everywhere we look, because things are not as they seem. That is a particularly good thing because nothing is meaningful without cognitive and eternal life.
If the universe is the thought of God, we are part of that thought, and we are information. Information, according to Information Theory, cannot be destroyed. Again, we are immortal.
1. John 11:35.
2. J.B. Phillips, The Ring of Truth. In this little book, the Bible translator shows how the New Testament sounds intuitively true.
3. By “experience” here, he means supposed information supplied by our senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch.
4. Plato, the Phaedo.
5. I Samuel 28:7-20.
6. During several decades that followed his death in 632, his followers formed the largest empire in the world, occupying primarily the Middle East and northern Africa.
8. Psychoanalysis is more therapeutic than diagnostic, though it is both. It is nothing mysterious, consisting merely of relaxing the subject and enhancing his ability to remember by inserting words, phrases and sentences into a discussion that seeks to find experiences in his past life that may yet lie in his subconscious and periodically rise up to torment him, either by themselves or in conjunction with other memories. This form of treatment would probably be more prevalent today if practitioners had more time to spend with patients, but economic factors make it impractical. Freud felt that buried memories of a sexual nature were the most important ones in terms of the causation of after-effects.
9. Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein, the best-known philosopher of the first half of the twentieth century, expressed his fear that there was nothing left for philosophers to do but analyze language.
10. This discovery finished off the Steady State Theory of the non-Beginning, of which the late Sir Fred Hoyle was the last champion of note. It pictured a universe that had always existed and entailed continuous creation of matter within it. Hoyle’s version of this concept also contained the idea of “panspermia,” which had DNA flying through space from millions or billions of light years away from us and seeding Earth with the double helix molecules from which essentially all of life on Earth emanates. Where this genetic material came from and how it came to be was is something he never tried to explain. (This idea is really fantastic, far more so than anything (conventional) Christians have to say.)
11. Smoot has recounted the adventures he had in making his discovery in Wrinkles in Time.
12. Francis S. Collins, M.D., The Language of God.
13. David Foster, Ibid. Foster mentions Fred Hoyle as the chief example of this phenomenon and cites Hoyle’s book, Evolution from Space: a Theory of Cosmic Creation, especially the last chapter thereof, as an excellent description of the theist that he became.
14. Professor David Roochnik of Boston University, Ibid. His fine course, “An Introduction to Greek Philosophy,” is given through The Teaching Company, an excellent source of post-graduate education that comes from the best professors in America by way of CD’s and DVD’s. The website of this enlightened organization is www.teach12.com.
15. Frank Lynn Meshberger, MD; “An Interpretation of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam Based on Neuroanatomy,” “Journal of the American Medical Association,” October 10, 1990.
16. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy.
17. Dr. Wheeler was the mentor of multiple generations of physicists, including Richard Feynman and Hugh Everett III of the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics. Early in his career, this Princeton University researcher and teacher worked with both Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein.
18. This is from the writings of James Jeans.
19. Considering all of the trouble that is constantly occurring in our world, we might postulate that there are numerous gods working in and on it with very little cooperation among them. However, the following chapter and the rest of this volume that comes after it contains much evidence that God is one.
20. The Physics of Immortality is an original idea of Frank J. Tipler, Ph.D., as described in his book of that title.
21. The most basic aspect of the Special Theory, and the most radical, relative to the beliefs of the day according to Newton, is that time and space are relative, not absolute. This means that the length of an inch for you may not always be the same as the length of an inch for me.
22. Albert Einstein, Relativity: The Special and the General Theory.
23. When light penetrates matter, its velocity decreases, but its speed never increases.
24. “Dimension” refers to the increment of time or space that is being measured. It can be single and simple or more complex. For example, one can deal with a quantity of four seconds or of six feet, and, in the case of velocity, feet per second. (The dimension of acceleration is distance per time per time.) We are used to squaring distance (the same as squaring increments of space), such that we can easily feature in our minds the multiplication of the length of a yard stick by itself. However, thinking a time squared, e.g. a foot or a mile squared is foreign to our brains. Whether it was to Einstein’s mind or not I do not know, but he worked with squared time anyway, and he was able to use time dimensions in the same way he used spatial dimensions by inserting the velocity of light into his calculations.
25. This is indeed an imaginary situation because we do not have a frame of reference that allows us to call any object in space “stationary.” The earth itself has at least four known movements: rotation; revolution around the sun; movement with the rest of the solar system around the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way; and movement through space with our galaxy. The reality of the situation I am describing is movement of both ships relative to each other. However, for the purpose of simplicity, we will imagine one ship to be stationary and the other to be closing on it at a speed quite close to that of light. (In the case of two ships moving toward one another, we would add their respective velocities in order to determine how soon they would meet.)
26. Again, I am speaking of two objects that are flying directly toward one another. Those familiar with vectors will realize that, with rocket ships that are not on a collision or “close-pass” course, there may be components of their courses that add up to the speed of light and therefore cause relativistic phenomena of varying degrees.
27. In his saying what he did to the widow of his friend, Einstein confirmed that he believed this.
29. The other is Buddhism.
30. Though there are no doubt factions of Hinduism that do not praise the concept of assimilation of our minds by nirvana, with the result that we lose identity in the end, most Hinduism either entails this idea or is vague with regard to it. My feelings are that we strive all of our earthly lives to develop identity and that such individualism is way to precious to even consider giving up. I am forever fully subordinate to my God, but I think He wants in me a child and/or a friend with whom He can communicate and share, and lack of identity militates against such a situation.
31. We can say, “the other two forces” here if we consider that electromagnetic and the weak force to be different manifestations of the same force, which they are.
32. Another way we can cause death to appear less serious than it otherwise would is to imagine ourselves physically transported to the quantum world, where we would probably see ourselves and others as bunches of particles, with broad spaces in between where particles were much less dense. On our level of size, we at times see bad things happening to our bodies such as bleeding, drop in blood pressure, maybe a rash, perhaps abnormal sounds made by our lungs, and sometimes irregular or abnormally fast heart rate. On the quantum level, presumably the level that affords us our most accurate picture of the true nature of physical reality, these things would look very different: they would appear as something like perturbations of dots, which would likely be nearly as frightening as a compound fracture. Again, we have more reason yet to doubt our senses and believe that death is not as it seems.
33. I think he meant “becoming” as an end in itself because I do believe we are in a state of becoming while we are in time and will be in a state of being when we leave it, such that we are becomers who are becoming beings.
34. Roochnik, Ibid.