Reconciliation #1: Initial Discussion on the Inorganic Sciences and Christianity [1/3]   1 comment

I. Introduction

The Concepts of Eastern Christian teaching founded throughout the Theological Writings of Mystics and Clergymen from the Patristic Era to the Modern Day itself are not in conflict with the Modern Scientific understandings concerning Physics at the Quantum Level, Relativity, Chaos and Uncertainty as well as the the Emerging Science of Systems/Network Science. This blog post will be broken up into 3-Parts in order to accommodate for space in respect to the reader. This is the first and initial discussion done in order to begin the work of reconciling the Christian God to Inorganic Nature. Sources will be cited at the end the end of the First Post, the Second Post, and the Third Post, to point to further reading.



II. A Discussion on The Current Scientific Understanding of Inorganic Nature

In this section I wish to discuss with you the Scientific understandings present with regard to Inorganic Nature. It is a new idea the notion of Chaos and Uncertainty, one that has affected our entire worldview and psychology, it shows the unstable side of and a constantly changing universe, and I want to talk more about the Scientific understandings present within it. The notion of Relativity must also be discussed if we are to begin the work of tackling Relativity as it relates to the understandings of the Physical Universe as well. This concept is also powerful and it has affected our worldview and psychology too. Systems Science is a new science in recent memory, and its fundamentals must also be discussed before we begin the work of integration as well.

A. Quantum Physics

With the arrival of the the Quantum World in the Scientific Realm, those of us who believed in a well ordered and stable Newtonian worldview feel under fire. The Newtonian worldview at the outset seems more friendly to Certain Christian Theological notions pertaining to God: Matter is dead, something we are all in all Separate from and also that the laws of Nature were to be seen as the Laws of God, invariable and eternal. However, under the new paradigm of the Quantum Universe, we learn that the Newtonian Worldview, is not being thrown out but rather we admitting its incompleteness, that the Newtonian Worldview is good for addressing the motion of Solid Bodies.

What the Quantum Worldview shows us however is that, such a totalitarian view of the whole creation is not true, all physical events cannot be reduced to the motion of material points in space, caused solely by gravity. In fact if we took Newtonian worldview to its fullest conclusions, it would lead to a cold godless universe of rigorous determinism. This is more of a Deistic worldview however, that God simply created the initial conditions and walked away, because the system is now complete unto itself. Again this not to brush off all of Newton’s understandings, since those understandings did allow us to better understand the world around us, rather it is to show its incompleteness in thinking that the universe is completely casual and determinate within itself.

Physicists during the 1920’s showed that atoms were not nearly as solid and indestructible as the classical Newtonian model thought, rather the subatomic particles are very abstract and depending on how we look at them they will show themselves as Light in the form of particles or waves at the same time. Thus at the heart of physical creation there lies an inherent paradox, The Light that makes up material matter is both confined to a small location and yet spread out throughout space simultaneously.

Quantum Physics showed us that matter only has a “tendency to exist” and that atomic events only has a “tendency to occur,” we can only predict we cannot guarantee like in the rigorous deterministic worldview of Newton. Quantum Physics thus shows that the universe is not separate/isolated from other things, but dependent upon the observer and the thing being observed, and the belief of Descartes that, “I think therefore I am,” or that my being is separate from creation around me, no longer holds true.

B. Relativity

The old Newtonian notion held that Space and Time, are 2 Separate entities and that Space is 3-Dimensional has also been threatened by more modern understandings of Physics thanks to the work of Einstein who showed that Space and Time are an intimately connected 4-Dimensional continuum, called “space-time.” He also showed that there is no absolute physical time, but that one cannot talk about space without talking about time, and that time is relative to the space between you and what is being observed. From this we learn that we need to modify our framework to describe nature, and from this we recieve the famous Einstein equation that Energy is mass multiplied by the speed of light squared (E=mc2). In a word, matter is only a form of energy. Relativity Theory even holds to the belief that pure energy can create the material particles.

C. Systems Science

According to Neil Johnson author of the book, Simply Complexity and head of a new inter-disciplinary research group in Complexity at the University of Miami in Florida he states in his book that, Systems Science has created its own theory, called The Theory of Complexity, the Theory holds that a Complex System contains the following “ingredients”:

1) The System Contains a Collection of Many Interacting Objects called “Agents”

Agents could be anything, whether it is particles, cells, animals, people, or [relatively speaking] inanimate objects like a car. Interactions could occur between these Agents because they are: (1) Physically Close to Each Other, (2) They are Members of the Same “Group,” or (3) They share some common information, whether public or private. The more they interact the more they are linked and in effect the more they are part of a Network. Systems Science is synonymous with Network Science.

2) These Objects’ Behavior is Affected by Memory or “Feedback”

This means two things, something from the past affects something  in the present, or that something in one location affects what goes on in another location. The interesting observation that can be drawn from this is that, the net result of everyone/everything having such memory can be the the system as a whole would also remember. In a word, present actions can be global-ized throughout a community of agents for example.

3) Objects Can Adapt their Strategies According to Their History

This is simple enough, an agent can adapt its behavior by itself, in order to improve its performance.

4) The System is Typically “Open”

In a word, a System is really only a System if it is capable of being influenced by outside forces, in one respect the only closed system is the Universe itself, but even that I will address later. According to these Ingredients, Neil Johnson then states that, the Complex System shows the Following Behaviors:

1) The System Appears to be Alive

The Systems Evolves in a Highly Non-Trivial and often Complicated way, driven by an ecology of Agents who interact and adapt under the influence of feedback. We often personify such systems as well. In the case of say the stock market, we call call it “bearish or pessimistic” and “bullish and optimistic” giving the system qualities of it being alive.

2) The System exhibits Emergent Phenomena which are Generally Surprising, and Maybe Extreme

The System is far from equilibrium in that, anything could still happen there is still a level of uncertainty, and if you wait long enough something will happen. There is also emergent phenomena present in the world, emergence means that, based on our knowledge of any particular property that makes up a particular agent, we could not foresee how the whole would react/interact within its own system or other systems. According to Adelphi University professor Jeffrey Goldstein writing in the journal Emergence that emergent phenomena possess the following characteristics,

(1) radical novelty (features not previously observed in systems); (2) coherence or correlation (meaning integrated wholes that maintain themselves over some period of time); (3) A global or macro “level” (i.e. there is some property of “wholeness”); (4) it is the product of a dynamical process (it evolves); and (5) it is “ostensive” (it can be perceived). For good measure, Goldstein throws in supervenience — downward causation.”

3) The Emergent Phenomena Typically Arise in the Absence of Any sort of “Invisible Hand” or Central Controller

It is believed that Complex Systems evolve, “all by themselves” and that they are more then the sum of their parts. It is believed that this particular principle of the Complexity Theory would damage any notion of God as it relates to the Intelligent Designers. I will show though later on the second and third parts of this post that this may undermine the Intelligent Design theory but it certainly does not threaten the notion of God.

4) The System Shows a Complicated Mix of Ordered and Disordered Behavior

All complex systems are capable of moving between order and disorder, “on their own accord.”

D. Chaos and Uncertainty

Uncertainty is now part of reality, thanks to the Advance of Quantum Worldview. Uncertainty clearly states that the more precisely one property is measured, the less precisely the other can be controlled, determined, or known. In order to know one property more precisely, the observer can no longer be detached from the observation but needs to participate in it, in order to know the answer to the question for which he seeks.

With regard to the Study of Chaos Theory in Physics, we also see a non-totalitarian determinism present within the Universe. Chaos Theory is above all my most favorite theory, it has very practical applications in many sciences and even the Humanities. Chaos Theory, or the Butterfly Effect as it is popularly known, makes the case that Dynamic Systems are highly sensitive to initial conditions. Through these initial conditions we could predict certain future outcomes, Chaos is simply called Chaos, but its fullest understanding is called: Deterministic Chaos. Chaos theory is applied in many scientific disciplines: mathematics, programming, microbiology, biology, computer science, economics, engineering, finance, philosophy, physics, politics, population dynamics, psychology, robotics, and meteorology. According to Neil Johnson author of the book, Simply Complexity and head of a new inter-disciplinary research group at the University of Miami in Florida he states in his book Simply Complexity that,

“In fact, Chaos can simply be seen as a periodic pattern whose period is so long, that the pattern never repeats itself. Now that is remarkable behavior, by anyones standards.”

This encapsulates the notions of Chaos, it is found within the operations of a Dynamic System, and that it has a long albeit finite lifespan, yet its lifestyle is such that its always new and somewhat unpredictable. Through Chaos Theory then we see that the universe is neither inherently fully stable nor inherently fully unstable, but it exists between the tension of both forces working in unison with each other.

Conclusion of Part One

So From This Part of the Post I want to tackle the following notions as we progress into the following Post which will be released this afternoon:

1. Chaos Is Not Completely Chaotic, but even it too has deterministic elements in it.

2. The Created Order is neither Fully Ordered nor Fully Disordered, but exists because of the Tension between the two.

3. The Emergent Phenomena Typically Arise in the Absence of Any Sort of “Invisible Hand” or Central Controller.

4. The Spiritual Parallels to Emergent Phenomena

5. The System Typically Needs to Be Open for Complexity to Arise and A Discussion on how the Universe is Both Closed and Opened.

6. Matter is only a form of energy created by pure energy.

7. The Notions that Time and Space are connected to each other and are not absolute.

8. Matter has a Tendency to Exist and Atomic Events have a Tendency to Occur.

9. The Physical Reality is a Paradox

10. Matter is Not Dead, for We Are Made of the stuff as Matter and that Nature like Man is in a State of Change.

SOURCES: (1) Simply Complexity (2) Tao of Physics (3) Goldstein, Jeffrey (1999), “Emergence as a Construct: History and Issues”, Emergence: Complexity and Organization 1 (1): 49–72


Posted August 14, 2011 by jimbo9889 in The Objectives

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One response to “Reconciliation #1: Initial Discussion on the Inorganic Sciences and Christianity [1/3]

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  1. Pingback: Reconciliation #2: Initial Discussion on The Organic Sciences and Spiritual Christianity [1/3] « Reality and Illusions

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