The Ineluctable Modality of the Material World NEW Paper

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Apologeticsislying
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The Ineluctable Modality of the Material World NEW Paper

Post by Apologeticsislying » Sun Dec 01, 2019 3:20 pm

A missive I worked on this last week as my opening paper for my new chairship at the online Cassisus University over on Shades Message Boards. For those who don't go or can't go to that messageboard, I share it here for your enjoyments. It's only 20 pages, so it can be read easily in one setting... Be prepared for some fascinating ideas. Some of these things just blow my ever lovin mind! I am very glad to have finally!........FINALLY able to put some of it all together in one setting....

THIS IS PART 1, it only allows me 60,000 characters in a post, and I have 77,000, so PART 2 will follow hard. Ack, I didn't know there was a limit!

The Ineluctable Modality of the Visible Material World
By Kerry A. Shirts
December 1, 2019

For those who are James Joyce readers, (my favorite book of his, bar none is, of course, Finnegans Wake) William York Tindall perhaps said it best: “Finnegans Wake refers with understanding and compassion to our deepest concerns.”(1)

This last week I was overly fortunate to just happen to stumble upon 4 volumes of the journal “Joyce Studies Annual” (2001, 2002, 2003, and 2007) at the local thrift store, for a mere $1.00 for all four volumes! Eureka! Of course, hurredlyfastspeedyspeedoflightquick and without hesitationalization I didst pulleroutofmypockets the wallet which billfoldedheld my dough of earnings loftically earned through brickabrackworkalurkshirkduties and did pay the shewomanishahmadamladychickbabe at the tillripoffplace the greatesthugegigantics of money I did possessifyown. And thus I did walkleaveexit out the doortrapopeningconduit a happyjoysmiling mannermaledudestudgent! And hence the title of this little missive of a fun research paper, not taken from Finnegans Wake, but rather Ulysses.
Ineluctable modalities of the visible means, as Joseph Campbell has so expertly expounded upon, something that you can’t get away from because it is in your sight, it is the inevitable visible world we live in.(2) And I want to discuss the interesting reactions based on Quantum Mechanical interpretations (yes plural) of the material world, which has been talked about here and there for over 100 years and what this does for our own appreciations of this magnificent world we live in, and are a signal part of, as we are with the universe also.

When I was exploring atheism, reading as many of them as I had time (I did decently, but not magnificently, through 4-5 years, and realizing it isn’t my cup of tea, though one ought to sip in order to know if it suits one’s tastes) I run across the idea that nature has many facets to her which are self-organizing. One of my favorite atheist authors to read because he is so thorough, and actually sort of an intellectual smart alec, which makes for some fun reading, Vic Stenger, noted “From snowflakes to Saturn’s rings, self-organization in material systems is ubiquitous.”(3) Self-organization? You mean no one makes it? Now, I knew about this idea already having read many of Paul Davies books, but somehow it really gonged my bell on reading it from Vic Stenger’s atheist viewpoint. Don’t ask why, I have no idea. And I knew from my previous reading of Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov and George Gamow and Stephen Jay Gould and others, that this appears to violate or contradict the Second Law of Thermodynamics. So is science contradictory? Is science the problem or is it us with our understanding or lack thereof? Does religion or spirituality have a say in this? Well, let’s take a look for a little bit, this idea of science and the physical world. It’s very interesting!

Robert M. and Anne Bass Professor of Physics at Stanford University, Robert B. Laughlin described the difficulties and differences between physicists and chemists when it comes to self-organization. Now we need to grasp that self-organization occurs in both physics and chemistry, therefore this infighting is not insignificant. The trouble is the psychological difference. Laughlin teaches us that “To most of us, understanding a thing is synonymous with controlling it… [sooooooo typical of a physicist isn’t it? As if control is the way to total, or even accurate knowledge] From a chemist’s perspective, understanding a thing usually means making it and observing it, preferably before anyone else does. From a physicist’s perspective, understanding a thing means categorizing it, making absolutely sure that this categorization is correct, and relating it to other similar things. Wolfgang Pauli’s idea of ‘not even wrong’ is central to physics but a total non-sequitur in chemistry. Thus, one the matter of understanding there is total misunderstanding… what we are actually experiencing is… a scientific paradigm shift – a large scale reorganization in how we think forced upon us by events… something new in the history of human interactions with nature, and that turning it into science will require an invention – a social structure that combines parts of old disciplines into something adept at extracting the greater whole from the sum of the parts. It is also plain that this has not yet happened.”(4) It appears to me as if Laughlin is saying it’s time to start working together instead of being at loggerheads.

Is the world real? Now off the toptippittytoploftical of our heads we would say come off it! That question is rather ridiculous isn’t it? Just look around already, and in winter, go ahead and get out there and shovel some snow dude. (I’ve been doing that lately, I mean, it is December now). And who hasn’t heard of the philosophical conundrum why is there something instead of nothing? I mean, we have had a lot of input on that from Homer, to the Pre-Socratic Greeks, Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Parmenides, Zeno Empedocles, to the atomists Leucippus and Democritus, continuing with Aristotle, to Leibnitz to Sartre, Gurdjieff, Levinas, Gilson, Heidegger, Holt, Kaplan, Severino, and so on (there’s literally hundreds, and no, I am not going to list them all). We’ve been at it for thousands of years actually. Dontcha think the issue is rather settled? What kind of idiot is asking now if the world is real? It might surprise you how many rather ridiculously intelligent “idiots” are, in point of fact, asking this basic question, and even more surprising as why they are, and perhaps even more surprising coming up with answers you may not quite be able to comprehend! Lets keep exploring.

What brought all this on is an article I read recently of Roger S. Jones. Why do I care what this guy thinks? Well, for one thing, he did teach and work at physics and astronomy at the University of Minnesota for thirty three years, retiring in 1999, and gave hundreds of lectures on philosophy and humanity and the arts and culture, and he’s written two physics books, so there is that.(5) I honestly think he qualifies as a valid way to grasp why some Western scholars are asking about the actual existence of physicality itself. I am using his idea as the basis for investigation into the ins and outs of the evidences, reasons, and ways of learning about what reality is supposed to be. It’s very interesting, and besides, it’s fun. Yes, it’s allowed for us to have some fun while learning, lets go and I will show you.

The nice thing is Jones’ article is but 11 pages, so it is easy to read it in one go. It’s also written in 2000, so it’s not that old either. But I am still going to share his ideas, and then my methodology is going to be investigate several other experts in the field of Quantum Mechanics and their views, interspersed with Jones ideas, along with some historical and philosophical views that make this subject one of the most exciting, frustrating, mysterious and wild rides a person can go on mentally, intellectually, and spiritually. Ready for the roller coaster? O.K., let us board it and begin.

Jones immediately launches into the meat of it. “According to modern science, the material objects of our everyday experience aren’t made out of anything at all. There’s no stuff there. There’s no there there. Twentieth-century chemists and physicists have convinced most us that the world is made out of atoms, but what are they made of? Atoms themselves surely must consists of some kind of stuff and substance, right? Wrong! Stuff and nonsense is more like it.”(6)
I will never forget my very first introduction to Quantum Physics was my reading of John Gribbin’s “In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat, Quantum Physics and Reality,” (1984, I read it that year many times in stunned bewilderment). This book completely shook my teeth out of my head (well, not quite that bad, but close), and gobsmacked(7) me so thoroughly I remember walking around town muttering to myself for weeks trying to grasp what I had just read, and continually reading it while I was walking, and yes I got honked at many times by cars as I stumbled into the streets crossing them at the cross walks, just not correctly when it was not my turn to walk). From that book on I was hooked into what I knew was an intellectual adventure of the most bizarre kind. Besides, it’s also fun to bedazzle your friends with this crazy stuff also! The reason I bring up Gribbin is because of what he noted from Sir Arthur Eddington, (who, incidentally, was actually at the total eclipse in 1919 which verified Einstein’s theory(8)). Eddington, after Quantum Physics had come of age, noted in 1929 that “No familiar conceptions can be woven around the electron and our best description of the atom boils down to something unknown is doing we don’t know what. This does not sound a particularly illuminating theory. I have read something like it elsewhere –
The slithy toves
Did gyre and gimbal in the wabe.
Gribbin adds that even though we are ignorant about what is happening in the atom, we do know the number of electrons in an atom, so that, we give scientific names to things and it sounds official. For instance, “Adding a few numbers makes ‘Jabberwocky’ scientific – Eight slithy toves gyre and gimbal in the oxygen wabe; seven in nitrogen…If one of its toves escapes, oxygen will be masquerading in a garb properly belonging to nitrogen. This is not a facetious remark. Provided the numbers are unchanged… all the fundamentals of physics could be translated into ‘Jabberwocky.’ There would be no loss of meaning and conceivably a great benefit if we broke the instinctive association in our minds of atoms with hard spheres and electrons as tiny particles.”(9) Notice that. We do have incorrect conceptions of the atomic and subatomic world.

In all this “stuff” that we are going to look into in this paper, one of my true science heroes Richard Feynman’s view is going to be kept in mind as well. I love his view here. “But see that the imagination of nature is far, far greater than the imagination of man. No one who did not have some inkling of this through observations could ever have imagined such a marvel as nature is… Or life itself. The internal machinery of life, the chemistry of the parts, is something beautiful. And it turns out that all life is interconnected with all other life… so close is life to life. The universality of the deep chemistry of living beings is indeed a fantastic and beautiful thing. And all the time we human beings have been too proud even to recognize our kinship with the animals.”(10)
Professor of experimental particle physics at the University of California, Irvine, and fellow of the American Physical Society, Daniel Whiteson gives us another “massive revelation.” “…the mass that we assign to basic particles like the quark or electrons isn’t really ‘stuff’ either. In fact, there is no such thing as ‘stuff.’ It doesn’t exist in our formulation of physics. Particles – in our current theory – are actually indivisible points in space. That means that in theory they take up zero volume and they are located at exactly one infinitesimal location in three-dimensional space. There’s actually no size to them at all. And since you’re made of particles, that means you’re mostly empty space, you are entirely empty space!”(11) Whoa…

Hey, you remember reading Frank Wilczek’s, the 2004 Nobel Prize winning scientist’s nifty book “The Lightness of Being”? Me neither, but he has a great comment (or 50) to quote. “Matter is not what it appears to be. Its most obvious property – variously called resistance to motion, inertia, or mass – can be understood more deeply in completely different terms. The mass of ordinary matter is the embodied energy [note this – energy, not stuff] of more basic building blocks, themselves lacking mass.”(12) He further shows thanks to Einstein, that most folks think matter is made of atoms. This is “profoundly false.”(13)

Enjoying the roller coaster yet? Yeah well… lets get back to Jones. “There are no hard little balls or even fuzzy atoms whizzing around in space and time. Matter isn’t concrete at all.”(14) O.K. wise guy, then what about when I run into a brick wall and am stopped, early enough to avoid breaking my nose thankfully? How come the wall stops me? Well, we know that it’s the electromagnetic force, the force that is felt when two particles have an electric charge that we are feeling as solid matter. It can either be repellant or attractive. “Electromagnetic interactions play a central role in low-energy physics, chemistry, and biology. They are responsible for the cohesion of atoms and molecules and are at the origin of the emission and absorption of light by such systems. They can be described in terms of absorptions and emissions of photons by charged particles or by systems of charged particles like atoms and molecules.”(15)

Two electrons at the atomic level “exert electromagnetic forces on each other according to Coulomb’s law.(16) In “Quantum field theory, the tool with which we study particles, is based on eternal, omnipresent objects that can create and destroy those particles. These objects are the ‘fields’ of quantum field theory.”(17) Fields are abstractions as are mathematics we use to describe them. At the deeper level, this interaction is described by a highly successful theory called quantum electrodynamics (QED). From this point of view we say that each electron senses the presence of the other by exchanging photons with it.”(18) It was this process, among others, which Richard Feynman said was “quite strange. One had to lose one’s common sense in order to perceive what was happening at the atomic level,” in his delightful discussion of QED.(19) It is also noticeable that even though we are going to look quite a bit into quantum mechanics, Feynman himself in the Preface to his “Lectures on Physics” said students didn’t need to even worry about quantum mechanics until their 3rd year, so we are in for a treat, or a terror, since we haven’t had the first 2 years yet! We shall see.(20)

To repeat so we get it. The reason for hardness and softness in nature (which we subjectively describe based on the softness of our own skin, Alan Watts said this, and for the life of me, I cannot find where he said it, sorry, but it is in one of the 25 books he wrote, I swear…) is because the molecules in whatever substance we are touching or feeling or interacting with are held together tightly electrically, and “it is this electromagnetic force you feel when you touch things.”(21) The electrically charged molecules of a book, a wrench, an apple, whatever you are touching, “are repelling the molecules in your hand.” It is not something physical it is electrical forces that are giving matter their “hardness” as we interpret it, based upon our own skin’s property of softness.(22) How does Jones put it?

“The ultimate scientific description of the material world is a complete mathematical abstraction… you may see or feel a rock, but according to science, there’s nothing there. Modern physics, the most successful, quantitative, and ‘hard-nosed’ scientific theory in history, offers no materialistic explanation for the physical world. In fact, science cannot substantiate matter… if there is no ultimate tangible substance, then why doesn’t your fist pass right through the table when you bang on it? And isn’t it patently clear that diamond is hard and water is wet? Such commonplace qualities seem true enough to our senses of sight, hearing and touch. But the notion that there is some kind of stuff or matter behind our sensations and experiences is a pragmatic construct of the mind – a complex of beliefs, which we conjure up to make sense of and negotiate our way in the world of experience.”(23) Remember, Jones taught physics at the college level for 33 years, so he may have a lot of truck here. Whiteson again includes the quarks and electrons into this not real “stuff” as well. “In fact, there is no such thing as ‘stuff.’ It doesn’t exist in our formulation of physics… An electron has nonzero mass and it exists in zero volume, so the density (mass divided by volume) is actually… undefined. It makes no sense.”(24)

Jocelyn Godwin indicates that though matter appears very “real” in our everyday interactions and experiences, “It is a mistaken prejudice to think that it confirms the materialist hypothesis of a world ‘out there’ waiting to be discovered, any better than the mentalist one of a world projected from ‘in here.’ Given that our only possible experience is of our own mental states, then those can include going to the moon, accelerating subatomic particles, or simply living lives in which number, measure, and weight conditions much of our experience. There is no evidence whatever that the ‘things’ of our experience are anything but thoughts; and the suspicion arises that these too, may be strongly subject to personal and cultural conditioning.”(25) Uh… look, that’s steep. Talk about yanking the rug out form under our feet! But since it isn’t real, we aren’t going to fall – GRIN!

So just hold your horses. If this is so, if “philosophers and thinkers have known for thousands of years there is no empirical or theoretical way to prove that matter actually exists,”(26), if nothing physical is real, and reality isn’t physical, just how did we get to this point? Quantum physics. Lets see what Jones has to say shall we? He was a teacher of physics for 33 years, perhaps he has some clues. Since materialism is “a convenient aid, a mental construct, a metaphor,” (Jones, p. 288), and since quantum physics is the science of the atomistic small world of which we all hail from, after all, we are all electrons, isn’t it rather interesting that “at its deepest level, quantum physics may be the supreme advocate of idealism”?!(27) An ideal is not reality, but what would be best in a hoped for thinking or situation. Ideally, I would be 6’2”, 290 lbs of rock hard solid muscle. Hee, hee, hey I can dream can’t I? Perhaps I can use quantum physics to create this reality? Uh… no. So what does quantum theory say about physicality? As Feynman said “You know the story about the donkey who is standing exactly in the middle of two piles of hay, and doesn’t go to either one, because it’s balanced.”(28) Just mull it over, it isn’t some deep profoundly philosophical illuminating thing… or is it?

“According to quantum physics, all matter is reducible to elementary particles and forces, such as electrons, photons, and magnetic fields. The fundamental quantum description of these elements involves highly mathematical entities, variously called wave functions or state vectors. This doesn’t mean that electrons and photons are waves or states or anything else that we can picture in space and time. The quantum wave function is a pure mathematical abstraction, which can be coaxed into giving up limited information about an electron, but which itself is not an electron by any stretch of the imagination. It would be just as incongruous to expect the word ‘pig’ to bear any resemblance or physical similarity to the animal of that name. The wave function of an electron is the ultimate and only source of knowledge about an electron that science can give us. It is an abstract and intangible form of knowledge, but it is all we have.”(29) Wow. And Whiteson describes “that’s because in quantum mechanics objects are actually fuzzy wavelike excitations of quantum fields with inherent random properties.”(30) Leon Lederman gives us the skinny. “The fundamental particles of nature, out of which everything is composed, such as the tiny electron, were seen to explore all possible paths in getting from point A to point B – all at once! Particles were always nowhere and yet everywhere at the same time.”(31) This is probably the worse thing about quantum physics. It takes away certainty, an almost morbid desire of we humans. “Newton’s equations of absolute exactitude and certainty (‘classical determinism’) were replaced by Schrodinger’s new equations and Heisenberg’s mathematics of fuzziness, indeterminacy, and probability.”(32)

Frank Wilczek describes the beauty of atoms as musical instruments! “The wave functions that describe electrons in atoms are fields of probability (probability distributions) that fill space. They are continuous, and cloud-like. But the stable cloud patterns are discretely different and bear the stamp of number… the mathematics necessary to describe how atoms work… describe how musical instruments work!”(33) The strings on a musical instrument vibrate at discrete patterns, and form standing waves. The finite line segment brings whole numbers into the description of behavior in a continuum as Wilczek demonstrates in his graph. “The natural frequencies of our instrument are discrete, or, as we say, quantized… the geometric constraints in finite objects lead to discreteness (quantization) of their natural vibration patterns…”(34) It’s very Pythagorean! Kepler was the last to attempt to harmonize all disciplines, music, astronomy, astrology, geometry, and epistemology, are we perhaps going to be able to bring this line of reasoning and research back into an integrated whole?(35)

When dealing with finding particles, the wave function gather and collect into packets, which simulate a particle, it is not the particle as Jones correctly noted. The wave packet is calculated not with regular and real numbers, but with imaginary ones such as the square root of -1. This “made it difficult to view it as representing a physically real oscillation.”(36) It was Erwin Schrodinger who invented the wave function since he really did not like the weirdness of the quantum and wanted to make physics back into classical physics language, not all these damn probabilities. Schrodinger literally thought electrons were waves, since they exhibited wavelike properties, as did all other particles, hence his inventing the wave function to determine where the particle was. The problem was Max Born is the one who interpreted it as having to have a probability use in finding the particle now! This is how probability entered into the quantum physics world.(37) Born recognized that “instead of a model description of actual space-time events, it [the wave function] gives the probability distribution for possible measurements as functions of time.”(38) And it is when a conscious human observer looks at the wave function, that causes it to collapse, and we thus finally know where the particle exactly is, though its momentum escapes us.(39)

Interestingly, Wilczek says that the basis of the quantum world in describing the world is not particles, but the wave function and the probability cloud, as he calls it. We cannot, thanks to the Uncertainty Principle, know both the position and momentum of a particle together at once, like we could in Newton’s scheme of things. We can only know one of the other. We cannot know the exact position of a particle, but can find it using probability, since, according to quantum physics rules, it can literally be anywhere in space, even billions of light years away!(40) This is part of the quantum weirdness. But it gets worse. “The quantum world does not actually exist. All we have is an abstract quantum description. It is a mistake to believe that the purpose of physics is to find out how nature is made. Physics is interested only in what we can say about nature,” is Bohr’s view.(41)

Heisenberg himself said “The elementary particles of modern physics carry a mass, in the same limited sense in which they have other properties. Since mass and energy are, according to the theory of relativity, essentially the same concepts, we may say that all elementary particles consist of energy. This could be interpreted as defining energy as the primary substance of the world.”(42) This accords exactly with what Jones indicated. Particles are substance in some ways like Plato’s vision of the world, though his ultimate form was mathematical, not physical. The Pythagorean all things are number. In essence, however, ultimately in Heisenberg’s view “the smallest parts of matter are not fundamental Beings, as in the philosophy of Democritus, but are mathematical forms. Here it is quite evident that the form is more important than the substance of which it is the form.”(43) The problem in describing what happens and what is in the sub-atomic and atomic realms is that “our words don’t fit. They don’t really get a hold in the physical reality and therefore a new mathematical scheme is just as good as anything because the new mathematical scheme then tells you what may be there and what may not be there.”(44) As Pullman himself notes, after a good review of the various interpretations and difficulties, “all these observations raised fundamental questions about the nature of reality, indeed whether it exists at all.”(45) The amazing new view which has caused consternation up to our day is succinctly summed up thus: “In the realm of the infinitely small, we are no longer, indeed could not be mere passive and objective observers of nature ‘as it really is,’ as if it had an independent physical reality preceding (or following) out interpretation… the image of nature we can arrive at is set largely by the characteristics of the measuring instrument we choose to use. That choice determines which side of complementarity becomes visible to us [is it a particle or is it a wave?]. In Bohr’s world, the term phenomenon must of necessity encompass both observed and observer.”(46)
Since quantum physics is using math as the descriptor of reality, what the mathematician William Byers says is important. “There exists no mathematical knowledge that is completely objective. Mathematical knowledge and truth must be considered as a package with both objective and subjective aspects. The belief in ‘objective mathematical knowledge,’ that is, knowledge that is independent of the beings who know it, is itself a belief and therefore nonobjective. There is no knowledge that is independent of knowing. There is no absolute objective truth. If it is not possible to prove the existence of any objective reality that is independent of the observer, then it follows that people construct their own realities – their own understandings, knowledge, and meaning.”(47)

And an amazing detailed analysis of the neurosurgeon Ramachandran demonstrates this is perhaps the singular most startling way for all of us. Working with patients who have phantom limbs has opened our eyes to the fundamental truth that reality is a projection, a creation of our own brains. One man who doesn’t have an arm below his elbow was offered a cup of coffee, which he proceeded to reach out and grab with his amputated limb (in his mind, his hand was reaching out and wrapping his fingers around the cup of coffee!), and Ramachandran yanked the coffee cup away and his patient yelled “Ow!” And then growled “Don’t do that!”
“What’s the matter?”
“Don’t do that,” he repeated. “I had just got my fingers around the cup handle when you pulled it. That really hurts!”
Ramachandran astonished, says to us readers, “Hold on a minute. I wrench a real cup from phantom fingers and the person yells ‘Ouch!’ The fingers were illusory, but the pain was real – indeed, so intense that I dared not repeat the experiment.” Another experiment was with a man whose phantom hand curled so tightly his fingernails dug into the palm of his hand giving him excruciating pain, until he worked with the patient and a mirror which tricked his brain into see the reflected image of his actual hand relaxing and flexing his fingers, which his phantom hand then did as he saw it do, and his pain went away! He asks “How much influence does our vision have over our subjective experiences? Astonishingly a lot! He tricked many patients into thinking they were doing something with their phantom limbs which they weren’t doing, including one patient who thought her hand had stretched out a couple of feet! Ultimately, Ramachandran shocks us forever with his conclusion. “Your own body is a phantom, one that your brain has temporarily constructed purely for convenience.”(48) The implications of this appears to be that if the brain has made our own body a phantom, then the rest of the world, with all our sensations of it is also a phantom. If we are imagined as physical, then everything else we also see, experience, and feel is imagined also. That is simply magnificently startling! This was Hume’s idea, as elaborated on by Morris Kline. Hume also indicated that “All we know are our sensations.” And that “there can be no scientific law concerning a permanent, objective physical world; such laws signify merely convenient summaries of sensations.”(49)
Eddington expressed the view that “by virtue of its own procedures, physics does not study the inscrutable qualities of the material world but only the data provided by instrumentation. To be sure, the data do reflect the fluctuations of the properties of the world; but the only thing we know exactly are the data, and not the properties themselves.”(50) Victor Weisskopf Distinguished University Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan and the Director Emeritus of the Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics, Gordon Kane essentially agrees. “We think of a theory as an equation (or several equations). On the other hand, our world is described by the solutions of the equation. That’s how it always is in science. The principles are embodied in equations. The actual aspects of the world are described by solving the equations and finding out how the solutions behave.”(51)

As Jones says “There is no matter underlying the wave function. And yet, without any tangible electrons or atoms, quantum physics can rationalize ‘physical reality’ and human experience. To explain the properties of diamond or water, the quantum physicist invokes the wave functions of the atom. Atomic wave functions are abstract patterns of potentiality, that have, as it were, a kind of mathematical incompressibility and persistence. When atoms are combined into bulk matter, the incompressibility of the wave functions is extended and amplified into properties that we experience, for example, as saltiness or wetness. Thus concreteness is a consequence of abstraction.”(52)

What we are beginning to grasp as we struggle with mathematics and how well it fits with the world, a situation expounded on by many a physicist, is that this makes perfect sense. The question is why? Not because the underlying reality of the universe is mathematics as Max Tegmark so creatively defends,(53) rather because “the key idea is that mathematics is not something independent of and applied to phenomena taking place in an external world but rather an element in our way of conceiving the phenomena. The natural world is not objectively given to us. It is man’s interpretation or construction based on his sensations, and mathematics is a major instrument for organizing the sensations. Almost automatically then mathematics describes the external world insofar as it is known to man.”(54) “Theoretical science is a game of mathematical make-believe. All these men contend that mathematics is not only man-made but very much influenced by the cultures in which it developed. It’s ‘truths’ are as dependent on human beings as is the perception of color or the English language.”(55)
Einstein did not agree with the experiments, the data, and solidity of quantum physics. It was his argument, since probability was the basis, that quantum physics was incomplete, not that it was wrong. Of the quantum group, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Planck, De Broglie, Born, Pauli, Schrodinger, Dirac, it was Born, Pauli, Heisenberg, and Dirac, along with Bohr who thought that electrons did not exist independently in reality until an observer came into the picture to look at the test for their reality. The split was not hardline, while some wavered and others changed positions, but overall it was a pretty even split, with no settling of the issue.(56) Heisenberg strongly advocated that “the elementary particles of modern physics are even more abstract than the atoms of the Greeks, that it is not a material particle in space and time, but only, in some sense, a symbol whose introduction gave the laws of nature a particularly simple form.” As Pullman summarizes it, “According to Born, the probabilistic wave function represents a tendency toward something… it introduces something halfway between the idea of a phenomenon and the phenomenon itself, between possibility and reality.”(57)

Schrodinger actually leaned, after some time, more towards Bohr when he advocated the view that “Our brain, hindered by its limited capability, cannot ask nature questions that would require a continuous series of answers. Observations and individual results of measurements are nature’s answers to our discrete questions. Because of that, they do not deal with a pure object, but rather with the relation between object and subject. It is no longer obvious that repeated observations must inevitably lead to a precise knowledge of an object.”(58) Pullman himself says after his survey of the interpretations and arguments of the quantum group of pioneers making the theory and working the experiments, he concluded that “these paradoxical conclusions all come about as a result of repudiating the clear picture of a particle conceived as a concentration of energy tightly located in space and time. We abandoned the idea that the wave function is a propagating in space, and it gradually came to be perceived simply as an artificial mathematical tool useful for calculating probabilities.”(59) In point of very fact, Ph.d wielding Mathematician James A. Lindsay say unequivocally that mathematical ideas are formal and abstract constructions, perhaps even little more than useful fictions, and mathematics is what emerges from examining them through various lenses we call logics – yes, plural.”(60) Yet such an one as great of a mathematician as Roger Penrose holds the opposing view. He holds not only is the world objectively out there separate from us, but mathematics is an objective look at the world. He is most decidedly a Platonist, as Lindsay is not. In other words, the issue isn’t settled, which is exactly as it should be.(61) David Finkelstein even had the thought that “the human brain is able to generate the concepts of space and time out of the firings of its neurons. Could nature itself have created space out of a similar network of logical relations?”(62)

Nick Herbert, in discussing the quantum world and the various views of just what the heck was going on describes something fascinating, and in line with Jones point I have been elaborating on. “An obvious feature of the ordinary world is that it seems to be made of objects. An object is an entity that produces different images from different points of view… but all these images can be thought of as being produced by one central cause… its division into objects is a most important aspect of the everyday world. But the situation is different in the quantum world.
The separate worlds that we form of the quantum world (wave, particle, for example) from different experimental viewpoints do not combine into one comprehensive whole. There is no single image that corresponds to an electron. The quantum world is not made up of objects. As Heisenberg [and Jones] puts it, ‘Atoms are not things.’
This does not mean the quantum world is subjective. The quantum world is as objective as our own; different people taking the same viewpoint see the same thing, but the quantum world is not made of objects (different viewpoints do not add up). The quantum world is objective but objectless.”(63) This is a good summation of the complementarity principle of Neils Bohr. This view continues being argued about, sometimes waxing and sometimes waning in popularity, perhaps waning more in the recent years, is concerned with the notion that “to attain an understanding of phenomena in the quantum realm it is necessary to engage two or more concepts that are mutually inconsistent from the classical viewpoint, the complementarity concepts, constitute wave-particle duality.”(64) And the interpretation that there is no reality until there is a measurement. Again with Wilczek as our guide, “No one approach, however clever, can provide answers to all possible questions. To do full justice to reality, we must engage it from different perspectives. That is the philosophical principle of complementarity.”(65)

Arthur Eddington declared “the problem of the scientific world is but a part of a broader problem, namely, that of the entire human experience… it could perhaps be said that the conclusions to be drawn from the arguments of modern science is that religion becomes possible for a rational scientist around the year 1927.”(66) Schrodinger didn’t believe God was the issue, since he rejected all monotheistic religions. However, “he was, however, taken with the mystical writings of India and those of the early Christian Gnostics, both of which provided a system of thought based on the conviction that the living self and the world are one and are the whole. Eventually he became an adherent of the Vedanta.” While for Bohr, “the language of religion is more closely related to poetry than to the language of science. True, we are inclined to think that science deals with information about objective facts, and poetry with subjective feelings… But I myself find the division of the world into an objective and a subjective side much too arbitrary… the location of the separation may depend on the way things are looked at; to a certain extent it can be chosen at will… Perhaps we ought to look upon these other forms as complementary descriptions which, though they exclude one another, are needed to convey the rich possibilities flowing from man’s relationship with the central order.”(67) Max Planck also sought to accommodate religion believing there was no problems putting the two together in order to acquire a greater understanding of the whole of reality, as was Heisenberg who said “In science, a central order is implicitly acknowledged by the simple fact that it is acceptable to use metaphors such as ‘nature is created according to a particular purpose.’ In this respect, my own conception of truth is closely related to the way religions describe it. I believe that this connection can be grasped more clearly now that quantum theory has been developed. For in this theory we can formulate in abstract mathematical language a unified order encompassing very large domains; at the same time, though, when trying to describe in our ordinary language the consequences of that order, we see that we are reduced to using parables, that is to say, complementary interpretations that contain paradoxes and apparent contradictions.”(68) Gribbin brings up a point worth repeating. “Ask why the world should be like this and even Feynman has to reply, ‘We have no idea.’”(69) What we do grasp is that as stuff is divided and further divided, unendingly, we end up with “no matter, just form… the underlying reality of the world may be field-like rather than particle-like. By splitting particles indefinitely we arrived at the conclusion that there is only form and no content.”(70)

Back to Jones. “The chances of finding an electron somewhere in space can be represented as a probability distribution. Other information about an electron, such as how fast it is moving or how much energy it has, can also be represented by probability distributions. There distributions portray abstract information about an electron, but in no sense do they represent the electron itself. And quantum physics strictly limits the scientific information about an electron to such abstract forms…this unique constellation of properties is the signature of electrons, as it were, but certainly is not the electron itself. Footprints, fingerprints, and even DNA traces may seem to identify a criminal, but they are not the culprit. We cannot send footprints to jail.
The properties of an electron are measured indirectly [such as in bubble chambers] but quantitatively and are represented by numbers, each of which has a certain probability. Thus each measured property is a specific numerical value from a probability distribution. And that, according to quantum physics, is what a ‘physical’ or ‘material’ electron is. Nothing more. Nothing tangible. An electron is a characteristic collection of numbers from a group of probability distributions. In poker, a ‘full house’ is also a characteristic collection of numbers from a group of probability distributions, but you can never empty out a full house or rent one.”(71) The lesson of quantum physics search for reality? “Scientific truth is powerful, but not all-powerful.”(72)

Heisenberg was adamant we could not actually “see” let alone truly know what was going on inside the atom. All we had to go on was its behavior. Schrodinger tried his best to interpret his waves assured the world of an actual physical and real picture of electrons and other particles. It was the physical integrity of the information which Schrodinger argued was what made the bunched up wave packet a good representation of a particle. Try as he might, he could not stop the fact that after a collision, the wave packet spread out like a wave, and not a classical particle. Max Born knew that the problem is particles do not spread throughout space for many lightyears. “The spreading waves leaving the collision site described, he proposed, not actual particles but their probabilities. Thus, Schrodinger’s wave was not a physical classical wave like water, and it was this that irked Schrodinger entirely. He hated the probability aspect of his invention which he wanted to use to keep descriptions of physical phenomena in the classical world of Newton, but they couldn’t be. They weren’t dealing with physical things.(73)

Leon Lederman describes this interesting issue quite well. “…we can never directly measure the wave function of a quantum mechanical particle, since we can only measure, in experiments, things that are always real numbers. From Schrodinger’s standpoint, electrons actually were waves – matter waves – no different from sound waves, water waves, and so on. But how could this be? A particle – say, an electron – has well defined location; it isn’t spread out all over space. But, if we superimpose many waves on top of each other, we can arrange the sum so we can get a robust result in one place in space and essentially a complete cancellation at all other places in space. Thus waves, artfully put together, can represent something very localized in space that we might be tempted to call a particle. The particle would spring into being whenever we have a big lump in the addition of many waves. In this sense, a particle is like a ‘rogue wave’ on the ocean where many small waves pile up at one place and make a humongous wave capable of toppling a ship.”(74)
The same energy that emerges from the fountain of eternity into time, is the Holy Grail at the center of the universe of the inexhaustible vitality in each of our hearts. The Holy Grail, like the Kingdom of God, is within. -Joseph Campbell-

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