I’m still reading Peter Davies’s God and the New Physics. It always takes me longer to read nonfiction, or at least nonfiction with new information or big ideas in it, because I have to stop and think a lot in between reading.
The new physics in this book isn’t new to me, just a reminder. I always enjoy reading about quantum physics, even though I am already pretty familiar with the ideas. Indeed, my thoughts that I have to stop and think, when I am reading about quantum physics and the theory of relativity, tend to be things like, “Gosh.”
Have you noticed, though, that physicists say things like “Time distortions… really do occur” and then go on to give examples such as what happens when one twin goes to visit a star and returns ten earth years later to find his earthbound twin is now ten years older than he is?
In what sense does this “really occur”?
I remember once I was looking at some Zome constructs like these with a mathematician of my acquaintance and he was describing some elements of the design which I couldn’t see. I mean, we were standing and looking at it and he was describing it, but I couldn’t see the things he was talking about. I mentioned this, and he explained, startled, that those things he was describing were in another dimension.
Now, I am not a stickler. I spend a lot of time thinking about and discussing religion, music, and people’s relationships, as well as math and physics. I can handle a little mismatch between observable reality and Higher Truth.
But it does seem to me that describing star travel as something that “really occur”s is a bit off. And physicists do it all the time. It may give them very elastic minds. Last night I was reading about the parallel universe hypothesis (the various universes have differing cat populations, quipped Davies, and those of us who read this stuff regularly can laugh here), and it struck me that actual belief in that hypothesis, which has absolutely no evidence for it in this universe, except math, would be some kind of test.
I have trouble believing that anyone actually literally believes that, as distinct from entertaining it as an interesting mathematical concept. Davies claims that someone at Austin really does, but we know that UT is a party school, don’t we?
That seems to me to be quite different from things that give you a headache when you try to hold them in your mind are hard to believe, and yet seem actually to be true. These would include counting a single long note as a triplet, Bell’s inequality, and the other big topic I read about last night in Davies, God’s relationship with time. Oddly enough, I have never had trouble with Einstein’s thoughts about time. They seem to me not only sensible, but also to be borne out by observation, though I am told that time feels completely different to most people. But God’s relationship with time is a lot harder to grasp.
Last night in class we were reading Matthew 16, which has a lot of rather slippery time stuff going on, not to mention the Doctrine of Election, and it fit right in with Davies. I have discovered, however, that people do not like to talk about physics. They get bored really fast. Chances are, no one is even still reading this. However, the good thing about blogs is that we can talk here about things that no one in our daily lives cares to discuss, and anyone chancing by can leave when they’re bored, and we’ll never even know.
Once, when I was much younger, I had a brief friendship with a theoretical physicist. It was a brief friendship because I really enjoyed talking with him about the philosophy of science, which I was studying at the time, and theoretical physics, about which I knew even less than I now do, but he thought we were dating. Yep, those walks on the beach talking about dead and yet still alive cats were dates, in his mind.
When I discovered this, I was astonished. I mean, literally, jaw-droppingly astonished. Being a well brought up young girl, I couldn’t say, “Are you kidding? You are old! Have you seen my boyfriend? How could you have thought I was dating you?” It is likely that the expression on my face said all these things for me, and the guy had a complete emotional meltdown, for which he apologized some years later when I encountered him in a post office.
Now, thinking as I have been about physics and faith, it seems to me possible that this guy, being a physicist, had such an entirely different relationship with reality that the misunderstanding was practically inevitable.
I don’t remember his name, but he is probably still alive. He seemed extremely old to me, but he was probably 30. If I ever encountered him again, I would apologize.