Faith in Physics
I am a baby boomer, born right smack in the middle of the peak of the age distribution (1954). I am as average as anyone can be. Boomers are both the largest and best-educated demographic slice of the American population. Like many of my generation I went to college correlating education with a white-collar job and a higher income/tax bracket. My undergraduate degree was in Chemistry (ACS 99th percentile) and mathematics. Through a quirk of fate I wound up professionally as a computer scientist and systems architect specializing in artificial intelligence, dynamics and kinematics. My graduate work was in mathematical physics. Like many scientists of my generation atheism seemed to be the rational philosophical belief.
My/our arrogance in the success of science in describing the physical world mathematically seemed to rule out the possibility of a Christian, Islamic, Judaic, Hindu or Buddhist divine being aka God. This for many led to secularism and the ascendancy of a scientific state being the faith of the modern world. This faith was been proven to be a disaster for over a hundred million human beings in the 20th century.
Communism expressed this faith explicitly becoming the first official atheistic modern state; China soon followed. This soon led to its adoption in much of the developing world of the twentieth century. As the Obama Administration seeks to implement socialism by bureaucratic fiat this faith is worth exploring in some detail because socialism explicitly seeks to manage the state by scientific principles denying both human nature and economic reality. The history of the twentieth century demonstrates in China, Russia, East Germany, North Korea, Cambodia and Cuba that Communism is the most despotic form of government. In a very short period of time this led to mass murder on scales never seen before. As Jolting' Joe Stalin (Iossif Dhugashvilli) is supposed to have said: "A single death is a tragedy, but a million deaths that's just a statistic." Chairman Mao took this as a prime directive and bolted into the lead with this pack of mass murderers. This revolting behavior has now been codified into a field of study: democide; when the state preys upon its own citizens. Sadly the following is the cruel reality:
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
~ Lord Acton
Power kills; absolute power kills absolutely.
~ Dr. R. J. Rummel
Is it possible that democide could come to be practiced in the United States? Impossible? I believe that this possibility gets closer with each passing day. As Will Rogers said "The American people are in danger every day that Congress is in session."
Democide has always been the product of a strong centralized and authoritarian government. This is a necessary, but not sufficient criteria; that final shift comes from a crisis, perceived, manufactured or real. The language of political discourse in the United States generally since 1860, and since 2001 specifically has been directed toward just such a crisis. The Global War on Terror is an open-ended, ill-defined, and illegal police action from the perspective of International Law. As we have seen it has been prosecuted by successive administrations and is now longer running than both World War I and II together. Each day brings America closer to fiscal insolvency thanks to the Federal Reserve that has been printing money or liquidity injection that is in reality theft from future generations; an unlegislated tax. Such a bankruptcy has resulted in chaos and civil unrest in other countries much smaller than the United States and whose economies have much less of an impact on other nations. A US bankruptcy might have catastrophic repercussions for other nations.
The anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall has been much ballyhooed in the press of western society of late, yet few Americans know that taxpayer funds and a U.S. "ally" Israel is in the process of building such a wall complete with guard towers, machine gun nests, and inevitably the murders that always follow such an edifice. Soldiers commit murder even if they are only following orders. The killing of one human by another is murder regardless of circumstance. Construction of this wall is in direct violation of International Law, making Israel culpable as a criminal state.
This "defense" wall is now large enough to be seen from space like the Great Wall of China; another monstrosity built by an authoritarian state on the corpses of tens of thousands of serfs that were buried in unmarked graves for their reward.
The United States gives each and every year about 10% of the Israeli Gross Domestic Product, so by that logic we have paid or ultimately will pay for some 43.6 miles of this 436-mile-long abomination.
Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest minds in history, was a devout monotheist. Sir Isaac wrote 1 million words on math and physics, with another 2 million words on issues of Faith. Never at Rest written by Dr. Richard Westfall is regarded as the definitive biography of Newton. In it he reveals that Newton did not believe in the Holy Trinity of the Roman Catholic faith; Newton believed that it was a product of secretive monks in the middle ages. What Newton did believe was that God was the supreme geometer. That the cosmos could be understood by man by the diligent application of Natural Philosophy; what science was called in the 17th century.
I have found that Sir Isaac was almost always right in his observations and conclusions. His birth marks the entry of mankind into the Age of Reason and the exit of western civilization from the Age of Faith as described by Will and Ariel Durant in their magnificent life work: History of Western Civilization. Mathematics begot physics which begot engineering which when coupled with Austrian Economics and the market economy begot the prosperity and social structure that provides sustenance and meaning for more than 6 billion souls that reside on our little blue jewel of a planet. Most of the people that have ever existed are alive now, due in no small part to these geniuses. Never have so many owed so much to so few!
My education in mathematical physics was quite by accident. I was hired for my artificial intelligence expertise in 1989 by a NASA prime contractor. I was quickly assigned to work on the commercialization of space technology in the wake of the Challenger disaster. I had some expertise in this area but not enough to lead a multi-million dollar development effort.
Emulating Sir Isaac I immediately enrolled in graduate school and trudged off to the Redstone Arsenal library, got a few books, turned to page 1 and got busy. Many courses later and thousands of hours of labor and I had absorbed a massive amount of differential geometry, built the product and delivered it to several customers.
Differential geometry is the mathematical tableau upon which all of the great theories of 20th century physics are built upon. Quantum field theory, general relativity, string theory, and loop quantum gravity are built upon this foundation. I was able to read and understand the canonical works by many experts in these fields. What this gradual enlightenment of your humble narrator over more than 2 decades produced was a renewed interest and understanding of Newton's Supreme Geometer.
Being raised in the Missouri Synod branch of the Lutheran Church in America I was "forced" to memorize Luther's small catechism in just 3 short weeks; I found this completely repellent, largely unintelligible and a wonderful way to extinguish any desire for "faith" in a young man. More than 30 years later mathematical physics reawakened me to these possibilities. I will make my mathematical discussion as brief as possible, and will go into much greater detail in another forum. I ask users to take it on faith pending their own independent investigation and verification.
The book of Genesis of the Old Testament talks about how God brought order into the chaos of the void. In Quantum Field Theory this is expressed as the chaotic nonlinear dynamics of the vacuum energy. The Casimir effect has been measured to demonstrate that this is in fact to be the case. The principle of general covariance is how order is brought into the physical space in which we reside. All modern accepted theories as validated by experiment have shown these principles to be inviolable, just as would be expected from a Supreme Geometer.
My conclusion is that mathematics tells us what is true. Physics tells us which truths are implemented as reality in the particular differentiable manifold we inhibit, AKA Universe. An infinite number of universes is possible, the vast majority of which would be uninhabitable for life as we currently understand it. These multiverses allow for an infinite possibility for reality. The one we inhabit seems to be uniquely tuned for life. This is called the Cosmological Anthropomorphic Principle, an excellent book on this that requires no more mathematics than beyond the 8th grade is The Cosmic Anthropic Principle from Oxford Press.
Modern physics has given ancient faith a basis for rational possibility. Physics provides frameworks for answering well-posed questions, but not all questions. Quantum Mechanics tells us about how the microscopic world of particles, fields and matter interact. It tells us nothing about larger aggregations of these building blocks like frogs, primates, and the dynamic living social creatures from ant colonies to nations. Relativity and Field theory do give us a moment of creation, a beginning as posited in many books of faith. Relativity tells us that we cannot understand what happened before and what is happening outside of our manifold (Universe). Yet mathematics indicates that these exotic objects could exist beyond our understanding and this is one of the basic tenets of a monotheistic supreme being; a Supreme Geometer that could inhabit and control these realms which lie beyond human understanding.
A particle physicist, Dr. Stephen Barrow, has written an excellent treatise that I recommend to every inquiring mind on the nature of faith and science in his monograph Modern Physics and Ancient Faith. It is an excellent read. I found it hard to put down.
As the United States seems to drift into a cult of Obama personality and worship of the state above man and God these issues are worth pondering. History has shown that rational societies can devolve into democide that can slaughter millions and alter history and human life in ways that seem incomprehensible. The strong authoritarian state is a necessary precondition and this is all that the Federal Government seems to do. Concerned citizens need to take notice and act to stem this monstrous tide before it is too late.
Ludwig von Mises demonstrated that death is the logical product of Socialism in 1922; just five short years after the October Revolution loosed the modern state, modern industrial production and authoritarian rule upon the millions that ultimately perished at the hands of this abomination.
From my perspective, physics is the bond between man and God; it is the same for all persons, all faiths, all societies, and all political desires. The Holy Bible and the Holy Quran are tenets which guide the majority of living beings are God's word to forge a bond between human beings that is just and equitable. A society based upon the Ten Commandments has no need for Defense Departments, Homeland Security, FBI/CIA/NSA, Mossad, MI7, KGB, GRU or the NKVD.
Austrian Economics is the philosophical realization of this order. The message is simple yet pristine; something that all know in their hearts is true even if their minds and selfish desires convince them to act otherwise in pursuit of their own self-aggrandizement. Only twelve simple words convey the message: power of love, forgiveness of sin, peace on earth, goodwill toward men; express a society based upon the Ten Commandments. We need to restructure government that acts contrary to those dictates.
The founding fathers wanted America to be the realization of this dream divorced from the old world and its classes, aristocracies, grudges and hatred. It is not too late for America and other nations to return to this state of grace, mercy and prosperity based upon private property, the free market and the economy of utility from the division of labor. The trend of the last 200 years can be reversed, but the hour is getting late and the forces of darkness seem to be gaining strength in Washington just as they did in Beijing, Tokyo, Berlin, London and elsewhere in the past.
My opinion is that "living again is no more of a miracle than having lived once; yet here we are alive in a gentle corner of a universe constructed as it would seem just for us." We need to honor what has been provided by living as we are meant to, in peace and prosperity.
It is in plumbing the depths of Natural Philosophy that I found faith, not in religious dogma or repetitive ritual. Many religious scholars, libertarian scholars and authors have recognized that individual liberty, private property, and the Free Market are completely consistent with the teachings of the great monotheist faiths. The Prophet Mohammed said and I paraphrase: "We live by trade, not by usury," Christ threw the moneychangers from the temple, not the merchants!
It takes the monster of the centralized authoritarian state ascendant over the last century to do the devils work, creating desktop murderers as Judge Robert Jackson called Hitler's Third Reich. Air Force commercials showing handsome young soldiers using high-tech video games to rain death down on strangers seems to me to be eerily reminiscent of this injunction.
It is against this and other behaviors that concerned citizens and the devout must regain control by democratic plebiscite and rein the beast back in as the Founding Fathers intended with representative democracy in a democratic republic.
The greatest mathematician in history, Carl Friedrich Gauss, when interviewed near the end of his life said, and I paraphrase, "that life had no meaning without an afterlife." He was a genius of such immense magnitude that he was almost never wrong.
Quantum Mechanics says that if you wait long enough almost anything improbable could happen and eternity is a long long time.
"An educated man knows how little he knows."
~ Marquis Pierre Simone de Laplace
Res Ipsa Loquitur
November 5, 2009
George Giles [send him mail] is the founder of the Gonzo School of Economics, the radical branch of Austrian Economic Theory. He was the youngest Republican ever elected in 1972 at age 17. You could be elected at age 17 if the office was not assumed until after age 18. It only took 3 months of local GOP meetings to become a virulent Libertarian ever after.
Copyright © 2009 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.