Saturday, 25 June 2011

More things in heaven and earth...

There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in thy philosophy

This is a quotation from  Hamlet.  Shakespeare had no idea how right he was.

All the things around us are made of atoms; yet each atom is 99.99999999999999% empty space (12 nines after the decimal point)  permeated by force fields. Even if everything we experienced was solid to the touch and there were no liquids or gases, only 0.000000000001 % of it would be genuinely solid matter. In fact if one took into account that much of our visible environment is water or air or the vacuum between planets, stars and galaxies, the per centage of solid matter would be even less.

The same applies to us.  We humans, too, are ghostly configurations of force fields in empty space punctuated by barely detectable points of matter  such as electrons and quarks. Yet our consciousness conveys to us the experience of living in a seemingly material world, filled with solid objects which jolt us if we knock into them.

Today, 95% of the material universe we observe takes the form of dark energy and dark matter and is outside the realm of current science. Even the 5% we have some theoretical hold on is incompletely understood or even wholly misunderstood – - life, evolution, subatomic particles and consciousness, for example. It is often ‘explained’ in terms of randomness. Radioactive particles are emitted from atoms at random. Evolution proceeds by selection pressure plus random mutations according to neo-Darwinism. 

But as mentioned in a previous posting, it is quite possible that meaningful realities are behind random events (e.g. random quantum events may be clues to some hidden deeper reality, just as the random digits forming pi correspond to the geometry of a circle).

We build increasingly powerful technology for probing the natural world. Yet every question we answer generates more questions, and the revealed knowledge allows even more powerful technology to be invented, resulting in yet more discoveries and so on ad infinitum.

Our centre of consciousness and creativity  exists in a ghostly mileu of particles and force fields. We are ghosts in ghosts searching for truth, love, wisdom, justice and some kind of fulfilment. Are these more real than the world we see, hear, touch, taste and smell?  We are confronted with choices between good and evil and, deep down, we know we have been given free will in some mysterious way.

The ancients were perplexed, inspired, awestruck and terrified by the world around them, by the creation of life from somewhere and its disappearance into somewhere.

So what has changed? Today we have science  to dissect the material world and see how it works as well as medicine to heal diseases of mind and body. Yet science has not tamed the universe. The more it discovers the more mind stretching, unpredictable and miraculous the natural world becomes, while free will, good and evil, justice, love, truth, beauty and immortality continue to be supremely important to every person on the planet, especially philosophers, artists, priests and mystics.
That’s how I see it . Feedback welcome!

Author, 2077AD