Contemporary theories of fundamental physics and cosmology have brought us to a curious place. On the one hand, our incredibly successful theories are internally consistent, quantitative, predictive, and contradicted by essentially no established experimental data. On the other hand, as we look more deeply into the foundations of those theories, and as well look at more complex systems, deep questions abound: What does quantum mechanics really mean? Is our universe just one of many, and what does that mean? How do we account for agency and freedom in a purportedly deterministic universe? Many of these questions sit at the profound rift between our personal subjective, conscious, experience of the world, and the objective, mathematical fundamental physics view of the world. After reviewing some of the elements of our contemporary fundamental physics view, I will argue for several assertions as to how we might bridge some of the gap between that view and our subjective experience. First, I will argue that *information* is as real, and perhaps more real, than the “stuff” information is generally considered to be about. Second, I will argue that from this stand- point, more “fundamental” does not mean more “real” and that macroscopic objects and laws should not be considered “nothing but” regularities that have emerged from a “more real” fundamental theory. Third, I will argue that in a cosmological context, much or all information may be “indexical” information — the type pertaining to our subjective perspective (including location in time, space, branch of the wave function, universe, etc.!) In this way, I argue that our own subjective experience — and place in a community of others — is just as real, and just as central, to the World as is the physical system described by our ultra-successful fundamental theories.
Professor Aguirre researches fundamental questions in early-universe cosmology, cosmological inflation, gravity, black holes, and quantum theory. He is currently organizing a research program run through the Foundational Questions Institute on the “Physics of the Observer”, spanning disciplines including artificial intelligence, biophysics, foundations of quantum mechanics, and cosmology.
All that is or could ever be known is experience, and all experience is known in the form of mind. Therefore, to know the nature or ultimate reality of anything that is known, it is first necessary to know the nature of mind. Whether the mind perceives a world outside of itself, as is believed under the prevailing materialist paradigm, or projects the world within itself, as is understood in the ‘consciousness only’ approach that is shared by nearly all the great religious and spiritual traditions, everything that is experienced is experienced through the medium of mind. Thus, the first imperative of any mind that wishes to know the nature of reality must be to investigate the reality of itself. Everything the mind knows or experiences is a reflection of its own nature, just as everything will appear orange to one wearing a pair of orange-tinted glasses. Having become accustomed to the orange glasses, orange will become the new norm and, as a result, the wearer will imagine that the orange colour he sees is an inherent property of consensus reality and not simply the limitations of the medium through which he perceives. In the same way, the mind’s knowledge of anything is only as good as its knowledge of itself. Until the mind knows its own essential nature, it cannot be sure that anything it knows or experiences is absolutely true rather than simply a reflection of its own limitations. Thus, the ultimate question that mind can ask is, ‘What is the nature of mind?’ or ‘Who am I?’ and the ultimate knowledge it can attain is the answer to that question.
From an early age Rupert was deeply interested in the nature of Reality. For twenty years he studied the teachings of Ouspensky, Krishnamurti, Rumi, Shankaracharya, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta and Robert Adams, until he met his teacher, Francis Lucille, twelve years ago. Francis introduced Rupert to the teaching of Jean Klein, Parmenides, Wei Wu Wei and Atmananda Krishnamenon and, more importantly, directly indicated to him the true nature of experience. Rupert’s first book is “The Transparency of Things,” subtitled “Contemplating the Nature of Experience,”. His second book, “Presence Volume I The Art of Peace and Happiness and Presence Volume II The Intimacy of All Experience” has been currently released by Non-Duality Press. www.rupertspira.com
Is life an ILLUSION? Researchers prove 'reality doesn't exist if you're not looking at it'
Life is an illusion, at least on a quantum level, in a theory which has recently been confirmed by a set of researchers.
They finally have the means to test John Wheeler’s delayed-choice theory and concluded that the physicist was right.
In 1978, Mr Wheeler’s proposed experiment involved a moving object that was given the choice to act like a wave or a particle – the former acting as a vibration with a frequency that can distinguish it from other waves and the latter having no frequency that you can determine its position in space, unlike a wave – and at what point does it ‘decide’ to act like one or the other.
At the time, the technology was not available to conduct a strong experiment, but scientists have now been able to carry it out.
Quantum theory suggests that the result can only be measured at the end of the object's journey, and that is what a team of researchers have found.
Physicist Andrew Truscott from the Australian National University (ANU), said: "It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it.”
To carry out the test, researchers from the Australian institute placed a number of helium atoms in a suspended state known as a ‘Bose-Einstein condensate’.
They then ejected all of the atoms until there was only one atom left. This sole atom was dropped through a pair of laser beams that had a grating affect to act as a crossroads for the travelling atom.
The ANU added: “A second light grating to recombine the paths was randomly added, which led to constructive or destructive interference as if the atom had travelled both paths. When the second light grating was not added, no interference was observed as if the atom chose only one path.”
The fact that the second grating was added after the atom passed through the initial crossroads suggests that the atom had not determined its nature before it was measured for the second time.
Ultimately, the researchers claim, that this shows that future measurement was affecting the atoms path.
Professor Trusscott explains: "The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behaviour was brought into existence.”
Alan Burdick’s “Why Time Flies” certainly does not answer our every question. And precisely for this reason it captures us. Because it opens up a well of fascinating queries and gives us a glimpse of what has become an ever more deepening mystery for humans: the nature of time.
Time may appear unproblematic at first. What is there to say about it? It flies, things happen in the fullness of it, clocks measure it, and we are well aware of its passage. This review shall take you perhaps three minutes to read. Nothing particularly curious about that. But the closer we look, the less clear our temporal sense becomes: First, our brain, body and cells all keep track of time in a variety of ways that are not all that well understood. Psychologists are puzzled by a wealth of experiments showing that we process time in more subtle and complex ways than we expected. Some neuroscientists interpret the brain as a “time machine,” whose core mechanism is to collect past memories in order to predict the future. Philosophers debate the very existence of time. And perhaps most disconcertingly of all, physics teaches us that physical time happens to be astonishingly different from how we intuit it: runs at different speeds, at different altitudes; is distorted by matter; is not organized in a straightforward past, present and future. Advanced tentative theories of the universe even discard temporality altogether from the basic ingredients of the world. From whatever side we address it, the nature of time is a source of perplexity and wonder.
Even more intriguing is that the abstract quality of time appears to be subterraneously connected to many, if not all, of the great unsolved mysteries around us: the nature of the mind, the origin of the universe, the fate of black holes, the irreversibility of macroscopic phenomena and the functioning of life.
Burdick is a staff writer for The New Yorker and a contributor to Elements, that magazine’s science and technology blog. He is one of those praiseworthy journalists who have an acute sense of what is scientifically relevant, as well as an ability to translate the dry language of laboratory science into something that connects directly to our experience, emotions and daily questions. He presents scientific inquiry for what it really is: not a package of acquired knowledge, but a vibrant lively adventure of discovery, where what we do not yet know is more interesting than what we know. And few topics touch us as directly as time. Time is not only something we live immersed in, like fish in water, but also an element of our lives with which we constantly struggle, which drives us crazy, opens up possibilities, lulls us and loses us.
In “Why Time Flies,” Burdick gently intertwines a captivating account of his own personal struggle with time — the modification of the sense and the organization of time that he is forced to undergo when his two delightful twin children are born and begin to grow up — with an extensive learned overview of the wealth of the last century and a half of laboratory experiments exploring the complex relation of living beings with time. It is not meant to be comprehensive in this regard, but he does cover a wide spectrum, ranging from the delay between stimuli and perception, to the alterations in the perception of duration, from the surprisingly multiple manners in which our body tracks time, to the history of how we ended up agreeing upon a common hour around the planet.
The book is a wealth of stories and surprising facts, each page raising our curiosity and unveiling a novel aspect of our relation with temporality. It also includes sections on the classic philosophical discussion on the nature of time, from Plato to St. Augustine, to William James.
Burdick ends his book by pointing to its inconclusiveness: “I can guarantee that these pages do not answer your every last question about time.” This is how it should be and clearly what Burdick intended: You realize that there are far more open puzzles about time than what you thought before opening the book. The three minutes during which you have been reading this short review are now ending: How does your brain connect the you that started three minutes ago with the present you? How does it fold together the events of these three minutes into the unitary experience of the passage of three minutes? At the end of “Why Time Flies,” you will be puzzled by what “the present” really means; you will be asking yourself how we know, without looking at a clock, what time it is, how we know that time flies, and what it even means that time flies. You will be closer to what is today’s state of scientific knowledge about the nature of time: an enchanting enigma.
Carlo Rovelli is the author of “Seven Brief Lessons on Physics” and “Reality Is Not What It Seems.”
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Stephen Hawking said it might be the greatest scientific discovery of all time.
What discovery has baffled the greatest scientific minds of the past century, and why has it caused them to rethink the origin of our universe? New, more powerful, telescopes have revealed mysteries about our universe that have raised new questions about the origin of life.
Has science discovered God?
But wait a minute! Hasn’t science proven we don’t need God to explain the universe? Lightning, earthquakes and even babies used to be explained as acts of God. But now we know better. What is it about this discovery that is so fundamentally different, and why has it stunned the scientific world?
This discovery and what molecular biologists have learned about the sophisticated coding within DNA have many scientists now admitting that the universe appears to be part of a grand design.
One cosmologist put it this way: “Many scientists, when they admit their views, incline toward the teleological or design argument.”
Surprisingly, many scientists who are talking about God have no religious belief whatsoever.
So, what are these stunning discoveries that have scientists suddenly speaking of God? Three revolutionary discoveries from the fields of astronomy and molecular biology stand out:
1. The universe had a beginning
2. The universe is just right for life
3. DNA coding reveals intelligence
The statements leading scientists have made about these discoveries may shock you. Let’s take a look.
The Nature of Reality: A Dialogue Between a Buddhist Scholar and a Theoretical Physicist
Published on Feb 16, 2017
Alan Wallace, a world-renowned author and Buddhist scholar trained by the Dalai Lama, and Sean Carroll, a world-renowned theoretical physicist and best-selling author, discuss the nature of reality from spiritual and scientific viewpoints. Their dialogue is mediated by theoretical physicist and author Marcelo Gleiser, director of Dartmouth’s Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Engagement.
Philosophers and theologians in the Christian tradition have regarded human beings as distinguished from the other animals by the presence within them of a divine spark. This inner source of illumination, the soul, can never be grasped from outside, and is in some way detached from the natural order, maybe taking wing for some supernatural place when the body collapses and dies.
Recent advances in genetics, neuroscience and evolutionary psychology have all but killed off that idea. But they have raised the question of what to put in its place. For quite clearly, although we are animals, bound in the web of causality that joins us to the zoosphere, we are not just animals.
Psychobiological & Spiritual Perspectives on Trauma
Increasing our Capacity for Connection, Aliveness & Joy:
A 5-Part Series with Julie Brown Yau
April 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th, 2017 @ 10am (pst), cost $79
In this unique 5-week interactive course, we will explore how to create healthier levels of connection, aliveness & joy. By deepening our knowledge of trauma and how trauma affects us, we can begin to resolve symptoms and unconscious patterns and defenses, to significantly enhance our lives and relationships. Exploring the intrinsic relationship between trauma and spirituality can foster emotional maturity and psycho-spiritual growth. Each week we will explore different aspects of trauma, with psychobiological, neuroscientific & spiritual perspectives. A weekly somatic practice will assist us in self-regulation, deepening somatic awareness, and expanding our capacity for embodied presence. The traumas we endure and resolve within the body/mind are a crucial part of opening to deeper levels of compassion and awakening the spiritual heart.
Post-modern times often require some pre-modern wisdom. Pre-modern philosopher Thomas Aquinas (13th century) declared that, "a mistake about creation results in a mistake about God." Obviously we depend on scientists to teach us about creation or nature so there is a deep interdependence between spirituality and science and between a recovery of the sacred and the stories of awe and wonder that science can teach us. We will explore some of these connections, including a challenge from the Catholic monk Thomas Merton and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel to the world of technology.
Matthew Fox (b. 1940) is an internationally acclaimed theologian who was a member of the Dominican Order for 34 years. He holds a doctorate, summa cum laude, in the History and Theology of Spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris. Seeking to establish a new pedagogy for learning spirituality that was grounded in an effort to reawaken the West to its own mystical traditions in such figures as Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart and the mysticism of Thomas Aquinas, as well as interacting with contemporary scientists who are also mystics, Fox founded the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality.
The Quest for Unity Is Not Something Physics Is Cut Out to Do
Posted By Marcelo Gleiser on Apr 02, 2017
In physics, we like theories that are simple and broad-ranging. By “simple,” physicists usually mean a mathematical theory that rests on as few postulates as possible; by “broad-ranging,” we mean theories that can describe a wide class of phenomena, even when apparently not related. A quintessential example is Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Resting on a handful of simple principles, it successfully describes planetary orbits in this (and any) solar system, black holes, gravitational waves, and the expansion of the universe.
When theories are simple and broad-ranging, physicists call them “beautiful.” Nobel laureates Steven Weinberg and Frank Wilczek have compared such theories with Mozart’s musical compositions, masterful and perfect constructions where, as if by divine revelation, every note is where it should be: Take one out and the composition crumbles. Likewise, beautiful theories have a mathematical integrity that seems to be revealing something deep about nature, a sort of hidden code of Creation: From the very large to the very small, the universe has many layers, each built upon its own mathematical description. Are these not parts of a larger composition, a single unifying tune resonating through all of nature?
So hope those who pursue a final theory, a theory that would weave together the many layers of physical reality into one mathematical wholeness. We can call this the ultimate Platonic dream, the quest for a single simple and broad-ranging theory of physics. Indeed, during the past four decades, the search for such a theory has inspired many of the brightest physicists in the world. But today we are seeing the limits of this Platonic thrust to mathematize nature, due to a lack of experimental validation and several theoretical obstacles—including the possibility of multiple universes and the troubling questions they pose.
Physics is an expression of intellectual humility.
Any theory that attempts to determine unambiguously the initial conditions of the universe and, with them, the values of the fundamental constants, is doing something physics is not cut out to do. Are we stuck then, having to accept the values of these constants for what they are? Within the current framework, yes. Attempts around this issue, even if inspiring, will amount to not much more than epicycles.
But all is not lost. The search for a simple all-encompassing theory has eclipsed a more enduring insight about the nature of physics. Physics is the building of an ever-changing, self-correcting description of natural phenomena. In its practice, it sets aside metaphysical expectations about the nature of reality, which have more to do with how we search for meaning as humans than with how nature actually works. In other words, physics is an expression of intellectual humility. We learn to live with ignorance and, in return, gain the ability to make progress incrementally.
So, it’s okay to live with the seeming arbitrariness of our present laws of physics, moving beyond the aesthetic dogma that simple is beautiful and beauty is truth. If physics is understood as a descriptive mode of explanation, free of the unifying quest, the angst of not knowing it all is exorcised. Maybe our current dilemma is a symptom of something bigger, a deep change in the methodological nature of physical theories. We may have to see them historically, tossing aside First Cause explanations and timeless truths as fruitless pursuits. Quite possibly, the nature of physical theories mirrors their own narrative construction, piecewise and gradual, creations of our imperfect and incomplete grasp on physical reality. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Optical illusions have fascinated both young and old for centuries. These illusions are produced when our eyes (and our brains) have difficulty interpreting reality. There are two distinct types of illusions: errors of assessment occur when we interpret an image incorrectly, whereas visual paradoxes cause us to question the real appearance of the image.
Some iconic, others more obscure, these drawings and illustrations will give your brain a good workout. Whether you prefer a trompe l’oeil or hidden figures, there’s an illusion for everyone!
What was Einstein's viewpoint when he said "The more I study science, the more I believe in God"?
The following letter is one of the writings many Theists take as proof that Einstein believed in God:
January 24, 1936
I will attempt to reply to your question as simply as I can. Here is my answer:
Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish.
However, we must concede that our actual knowledge of these forces is imperfect, so that in the end the belief in the existence of a final, ultimate spirit rests on a kind of faith. Such belief remains widespread even with the current achievements in science.
But also, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.
The Death of SpaceTime & Birth of Conscious Agents, Donald Hoffman
Spacetime is doomed. It, and its particles, cannot be fundamental in physical theory, but must emerge from a more fundamental theory. I review the converging evidence for this claim from physics and evolution, and then propose a new way to think of spacetime: as a data-compressing and error-correcting channel for information about fitness. I propose that a theory of conscious agents is a good candidate for the more fundamental theory to replace spacetime. Spacetime then appears as one kind of interface for communication between conscious agents.
Pope Francis invites scientists to the Vatican after Catholic Church realises the Big Bang is real
The conference comes amid an increasing effort to tie religion and science together
The Vatican has invited the world's leading scientists and cosmologists to try and understand the Big Bang.
Astrophysicists and other experts will attend the Vatican Observatory to discuss black holes, gravitational waves and space-time singularities as it honors the late Jesuit cosmologist considered one of the fathers of the idea that the universe began with a gigantic explosion.
The conference – which runs through the week – is part of an increasing admission by the church that scientific theories were real and not necessarily in contradiction with theological doctrine.
Pope Francis declared in 2014 for instance that God is not "a magician with a magic wand" and that evolution and Big Bang theory are real.
Pope Francis says 'better to be an atheist than hypocritical Catholic'
The conference honours Monsignor George Lemaitre is being held at the Vatican Observatory, founded by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 to help correct the notion that the Roman Catholic Church was hostile to science.
In 1927, Lemaitre was the first to explain that the receding of distant galaxies was the result of the expansion of the universe, a result he obtained by solving equations of Einstein's theory of general relativity.
Lemaitre's theory was known as the "primeval atom," but it is more commonly known today as the big-bang theory.
"He understood that looking backward in time, the universe should have been originally in a state of high energy density, compressed to a point like an original atom from which everything started," according to a press release from the Observatory.
The head of the Vatican Observatory, Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, says Lemaitre's research proves that you can believe in God and the big-bang theory.
"Lemaitre himself was very careful to remind people — including Pope Pius XII — that the creative act of God is not something that happened 13.8 billion years ago. It's something that happens continually," Consolmagno said Monday.
Believing merely that God created the big bang means "you've reduced God to a nature god, like Jupiter throwing lightning bolts. That's not the God that we as Christians believe in," he said.
Christians, he said, believe in a supernatural God who is responsible for the existence of the universe, while "our science tells us how he did it."
Many people say you are what you eat, but new research suggests that, when it comes to your DNA, you are what you feel.
In recent years scientists have been exploring the effects that stress and emotions have on our cells — in particular, on our chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA.
What they have found is that our emotions can shape our physical reality at the molecular level. This may have a number of effects on our health and aging.
Research shows that people with depression are at an increased risk of developing aging-related conditions. Scientists suspect this may be due to effects at the molecular level, such as shortening of the telomeres or changes in the number of copies of mitochondrial DNA.
Telomeres are stretches of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that keep the chromosomes from fraying or sticking to each other — kind of like the plastic tips on shoelaces.
This helps protect our genetic information. Every time a cell divides, telomeres get shorter. This shortening is associated with aging, as well as cancer and an increased risk of death.
Mitochondria are structures inside cells that convert energy from food into a form that the cells can use. They also play a role in the self-destruction of cells, known as apoptosis, which is a way for the body to get rid of aging cells.
Mitochondria have a small amount of their own genetic material — known as mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) — separate from the cell’s DNA. Each cell has hundreds to thousands of mitochondria, with two to 10 copies of mitochondrial DNA in each. Scientists suspect that damage to mitochondrial DNA is a major cause of aging.
A recent study in Molecular Psychiatry [http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/mp201748a.html] by a team led by researchers from The Netherlands examined how depression could change the telomeres and mitochondria. The study followed almost 1,000 people over a 10-year period.
Researchers found that people with higher depressive symptoms had, on average, shorter telomeres in their white blood cells. However, when people’s depression worsened over the course of the study, their telomeres did not necessarily shorten to the same degree.
This is in contrast to a 2014 study [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24419039] in the same journal that found that telomeres shortened over time in people with depression and anxiety. In this study, telomere shortening was also increased in men who tended to internalize their emotions.
The Dutch researchers suggest that by the time someone is diagnosed clinically with depression, they may have already experienced some early adversity in their life. This could explain why their telomeres don’t shorten as the depression worsens — the damage has already been done.
Another possibility is that there is a “third factor” that plays a role in the development of depression and the shortening of telomeres. This could be inflammation, say the researchers, which has been linked to depression in other studies. Genetic differences might also be involved.
This study, though, did not find a connection between symptoms of depression and the number of mitochondrial DNA. However, a 2015 large-scale study [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25913401] in Current Biology did. Conflicts between the results of different studies, say the Dutch researchers, may be due to how depression is diagnosed in the study and whether people reported the symptoms themselves.
The Current Biology study included DNA samples taken from almost 12,000 women. This group of researchers found that both telomere length and the amount of mitochondrial DNA were associated with adverse life events.
These molecular changes, though, depended on whether women had depression. The changes didn’t occur in women who had experienced stressful life events, such as sexual abuse during childhood, but had never had major depression.
To rule out that depression was not just happening alongside the molecular changes — rather than causing it — researchers did another experiment in mice. The mice were subjected to a stressful event five days a week for four weeks. Stress increased the amount of mitochondrial DNA and decreased the telomere length in mice, which matches what they saw in people.
However, when mice were allowed to recover, the molecular changes were partially reversible. The authors write that adversity in life can affect both the amount of mitochondrial DNA and the telomere length. But whether these molecular changes linger may depend on many factors, such as a person’s susceptibility to depression.
The authors also emphasize that they don’t think the molecular changes cause depression, nor are they risk factors for it. The connection between stress, mitochondrial DNA and telomere length depends upon the presence of major depression.
More research is needed to better understand how depression affects the physical reality inside our cells. This research, though, reminds us to view our emotions with the same respect as our food — as something that can shape our own existence.
The headline in the Bulletin of the Islamic Medical Association of South Africa announces a staggering discovery. Canadian scholar confirms Quran and Ahadith on Human Embryology (1). The story tells us that a certain Dr Keith Moore, Chairman of the anatomy department of the University of Torontos School of Medicine, has discovered the happy marriage between the Islamic revelation and contemporary human developmental anatomy. I am amazed at the scientific accuracy of these statements which were made in the seventh centuryIt is quite reasonable for Muslims to believe that these verses are revelations from God, Moore is reported to have said.
What has Keith Moore discovered that has excited the Muslim doctors, scientists and scholars so much? His paper, Highlights of human embryology in the Koran and the Hadith, was first presented at the Seventh Saudi Medical Meeting, and has since then been reprinted in a number of places (2). It simply reads modern biology into certain Quranic verses, describing the development of a foetus and illustrating them with clinical drawings and text book descriptions. For example, the Quranic verse, verily, we fashioned man from a small quantity of mingled liquids (Nut-fatin Imthjin) (76:2) is explained by Moore as referring to the mixture of a small quantity of sperms with the oocyte and its associated follicular fluid, or the male and female sexual secretion. The resulting mixed drop, made up of the ovum and penetrating sperm, becomes the zygote, the precursor of the embryo. Similarly, explanation, for example, is given of the following verses, Verily, we created man from a product of wet earth; then placed him as a drop (of seed) (Nutfatun) in a safe lodging; then fashioned We the drop a clot (alaga), then fashioned We the clot a little lump, (Mudgha) then fashioned We the little lump bones (Izam), then clothed the bones with flesh and then produced it as another creation. So blessed be Allah, the best Creator! (23:12-14). Reading these verses, Moore made some clay models and showed them to be similar to the description of the verses. He starts with an embryo at 28 days and shows that by the sixth week bones begin to form and muscles appear on the embryo. By the seventh week the bones give a human shape to the embryo. The ears and eyes begin to form in the fourth week and are visible by the sixth, or 42 days after the zygote has been formed. All these developments are in conformity with the Quranic description, Moore tells us.
So what does all this prove? Does it confirm the Divine origins of the Quran? Or does it merely tell us that the Quran is a treasure chest of scientific facts? What is the function of the exercise? This incident throws considerable light on the state of the Muslim mind: its acute inferiority complex; its obsession with science and by extension with modernity; and its pathological concern with seeing the Quran as the end of knowledge rather than as a text that provides an ethical framework for the pursuit of knowledge. On the surface, such attempts to legitimise modern science by equating it with the Quran, or to prove the divine origins of the Quran by showing that it contains scientifically valid facts, appear harmless, indeed, even commendable exercises. However, when pursued on a nave basis, as is often done by Muslim scholars, such methods can be dangerous; and when undertaken deliberately, be it sincerely, often by non-Muslim scholars, it can have mischievous consequences.
The inference drawn by comparing the Quran and science is two-fold: if the facts and theories mentioned in the Quran, which was revealed 1400 years ago, are supported by modern science, the Divine nature of the Quran is confirmed, (if confirmation is indeed what we are looking for); and conversely, if modern scientific facts and theories find a reflection in the Quran, then modern science must also have the same universal and eternal validity as the Quran. My counter arguments is simple and though it will be discussed in detail towards the end, suffice it to say now that the Quran, which is a book of guidance, does not need confirmation from any other source. For Muslims, it is a priori valid and eternal. Any attempt at reading science in the Quran makes the eternal scripture subservient to science; and it elevates science to the level where it becomes the arbitrator of what is and what is not Truth. It further enforces the mythical notion that scientific theories are neutral, universal and eternally valid. Moreover, trying to read science in the allegorical, metaphorical and symbolic verses of the Quran often stretches analogical reasoning beyond its limits and leads to absurd and in some cases, to quite contradictory conclusions not intended by the Quran. It is apologia of the worst type.
I’m a neuroscientist and professor of neurosurgery. The mind-brain question haunts me. Neurosurgeons alter the brain on a daily basis, and what we find doesn’t fit the prevailing view that the brain runs the mind as computer hardware runs software.
I have scores of patients who are missing large areas of their brains, yet who have quite good minds. I have a patient born with two-thirds of her brain absent. She’s a normal junior high kid who loves to play soccer. Another patient, missing a similar amount of brain tissue, is an accomplished musician with a master’s degree in English.
How can this be? It wasn’t until I read Thomas Aquinas that I began to understand.
Aquinas began by reaching back to an earlier thinker. Following Aristotle, he posited that the human soul has three kinds of powers. It has vegetative powers, which serve physiological functions such as heartbeat, respiration, and metabolism. It has sensitive powers, such as sensation, perception, memory, sensitive appetite, and locomotion. The vegetative and sensitive powers are caused by matter, in a purely physical way.
But the human soul also has intellect and will, powers of a wholly different kind. With our intellect, we can think of universal concepts, such as mercy and justice and abstract mathematics. With our will, we can act on abstract principles. Because thinking of abstract concepts entails thoughts removed from particular things, Aquinas reasoned, intellect couldn’t be a material thing. Intellect and will are immaterial powers.
Aquinas taught that our soul’s immaterial powers are only facilitated by matter, not caused by it, and the correlation is loose. His insight presaged certain findings of modern neuroscience.
Science predicts only the predictable, ignoring most of our chaotic universe.
Scientists look around the universe and see amazing structure. There are objects and processes of fantastic complexity. Every action in our universe follows exact laws of nature that are perfectly expressed in a mathematical language. These laws of nature appear fine-tuned to bring about life, and in particular, intelligent life. What exactly are these laws of nature and how do we find them?
The universe is so structured and orderly that we compare it to the most complicated and exact contraptions of the age. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the universe was compared to a perfectly working clock or watch. Philosophers then discussed the Watchmaker. In the 20th and 21st centuries, the most complicated object is a computer. The universe is compared to a perfectly working supercomputer. Researchers ask how this computer got its programming.
How does one explain all this structure? Why do the laws seem so perfect for producing life and why are they expressed in such exact mathematical language? Is the universe really as structured as it seems?
Where Did Time Come From, and Why Does It Seem to Flow?
Paul Davies has a lot on his mind—or perhaps more accurate to say in his mind. A physicist at Arizona State University, he does research on a wide range of topics, from the abstract fields of theoretical physics and cosmology to the more concrete realm of astrobiology, the study of life in places beyond Earth. Nautilus sat down for a chat with Davies, and the discussion naturally drifted to the subject of time, a long-standing research interest of his. Here is a partial transcript of the interview, edited lightly for length and clarity.
The flow of time is an illusion, and I don’t know very many scientists and philosophers who would disagree with that, to be perfectly honest. The reason that it is an illusion is when you stop to think, what does it even mean that time is flowing? When we say something flows like a river, what you mean is an element of the river at one moment is in a different place of an earlier moment. In other words, it moves with respect to time. But time can’t move with respect to time—time is time. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that the claim that time does not flow means that there is no time, that time does not exist. That’s nonsense. Time of course exists. We measure it with clocks. Clocks don’t measure the flow of time, they measure intervals of time. Of course there are intervals of time between different events; that’s what clocks measure.
So where does this impression of flow come from?
Well, I like to give an analogy. Suppose I stand up, twirl around a few times, and stop. Then I have the overwhelming impression that the entire universe is rotating. I feel it to be rotating—of course I know it’s not. In the same way, I feel time is flowing, but of course I know it’s not. And presumably the explanation for this illusion has to do with something up here [in your head] and is connected with memory I guess—laying down of memories and so on. So it’s a feeling we have, but it’s not a property of time itself.
And the other thing people contemplate: They think denying the flow of time is denying time asymmetry of the world. Of course events in the world follow a directional sequence. Drop an egg on the floor and it breaks. You don’t see eggs assembling themselves. Buildings fall down after earthquakes; they don’t rise up from heaps of rubble. [There are] many, many examples in daily life of the asymmetry of the world in time; that’s a property of the world. It’s not a property of time itself, and the explanation for that is to be sought in the very early universe and its initial conditions. It’s a whole different and perfectly respectable subject.
Is time an emergent property or a fundamental property?
Time doesn’t flow. That’s part of psychology.
Is time fundamental to the Universe?
Time and space are the framework in which we formulate all of our current theories of the universe, but there is some question as to whether these might be emergent or secondary qualities of the universe. It could be that fundamentally the laws of the universe are formulated in terms of some sort of pre-space and time, and that space-time comes out of something more fundamental.
Now obviously in daily life we experience a three-dimensional world and one dimension of time. But back in the Big Bang—we don’t really understand exactly how the universe was born in the Big Bang, but we think that quantum physics had something to do with it—it may be that this notion of what we would call a classical space-time, where everything seems to be sort of well-defined, maybe that was all closed out. And so maybe not just the world of matter and energy, but even space-time itself is a product of the special early stage of the universe. We don’t know that. That’s work under investigation.
So time could be emergent?
This dichotomy between space-time being emergent, a secondary quality—that something comes out of something more primitive, or something that is at the rock bottom of our description of nature—has been floating around since before my career. John Wheeler believed in and wrote about this in the 1950s—that there might be some pre-geometry, that would give rise to geometry just like atoms give rise to the continuum of elastic bodies—and people play around with that.
The problem is that we don’t have any sort of experimental hands on that. You can dream up mathematical models that do this for you, but testing them looks to be pretty hopeless. I think the reason for that is that most people feel that if there is anything funny sort of underpinning space and time, any departure from our notion of a continuous space and time, that probably it would manifest itself only at the so-called Planck scale, which is [20 orders of magnitude] smaller than an atomic nucleus, and our best instruments at the moment are probing scales which are many orders of magnitude above that. It’s very hard to see how we could get at anything at the Planck scale in a controllable way.
If multiple universes exist, do they have a common clock?
The inter-comparison of time between different observers and different places is a delicate business even within one universe. When you talk about what is the rate of a clock, say, near the surface of a black hole, it’s going to be quite different from the rate of a clock here on Earth. So there isn’t even a common time in the entire universe.
But now if we have a multiverse with other universes, whether each one in a sense comes with its own time—you can only do an inter-comparison between the two if there was some way of sending signals from one to the other. It depends on your multiverse model. There are many on offer, but on the one that cosmologists often talk about—where you have bubbles appearing in a sort of an inflating superstructure—then there’s no direct way of comparing a clock rate in one bubble from clock rates in another bubble.
What do you think are the most exciting recent advances in understanding time?
I’m particularly drawn to the work that is done in the lab on perception of time, because I think that has the ability to make rapid advances in the coming years. For example, there are famous experiments in which people apparently make free decisions at certain moments and yet it’s found that the decision was actually made a little bit earlier, but their own perception of time and their actions within time have been sort of edited after the event. When we observe the world, what we see is an apparently consistent and smooth narrative, but actually the brain is just being bombarded with sense data from different senses and puts all this together. It integrates it and then presents a consistent narrative as it were the conscious self. And so we have this impression that we’re in charge and everything is all smoothly put together. But as a matter of fact, most of this is, is a narrative that’s recreated after the event.
Where it’s particularly striking of course is when people respond appropriately much faster than the speed of thought. You need only think of a piano player or a tennis player to see that the impression that they are making a conscious decision—“that ball is coming in this direction; I’d better move over here and hit it”—couldn’t possibly be. The time it takes for the signals to get to the brain and then through the motor system, back to the response, couldn’t work. And yet they still have this overwhelming impression that they’re observing the world in real time and are in control. I think all of this is pretty fascinating stuff.
In terms of fundamental physics, is there anything especially new about time? I think the answer is not really. There are new ideas that are out there. I think there are still fundamental problems; we’ve talked about one of them: Is time an emergent property or a fundamental property? And the ultimate origin of the arrow of time, which is the asymmetry of the world in time, is still a bit contentious. We know we have to trace it back to the Big Bang, but there are still different issues swirling around there that we haven’t completely resolved. But these are sort of airy-fairy philosophical and theoretical issues in terms of measurement of time or anything being exposed about the nature of time.
Then of course we’re always looking to our experimental colleagues to improve time measurements. At some stage these will become so good that we’ll no doubt see some peculiar effects showing up. There’s still an outstanding fundamental issue that although the laws of physics are symmetric in time, for the most part, there is one set of processes having to do with the weak interaction where there is apparently a fundamental breakdown of this time-reversal symmetry of a small amount. But it seems to play a crucial role and exactly how that fits into the broader picture in the universe. I think there’s still something to be played out there. So there’s still experiments can be done in particle physics that might disclose this time-reversal asymmetry which is there in the weak interaction, and how that fits in with the arrow of time.
John Steele is the publisher and editorial director of Nautilus.
A New Book Explains How the Christian Right Has Gotten Selective Denial Down to a Science
What inspired you to write Paranoid Science: The Christian Right’s War on Reality?
I discuss in the Introduction how I stumbled across a writer associated with the ex-gay movement, which seeks to “cure” gays and lesbians. After checking out the movement, I saw some clear parallels with creationism, especially the latest version called intelligent design. More research uncovered two other Christian Right pseudoscience movements, one pushing conservative positions on bioethics and a second using religious arguments to deny climate change. The individual movements had received some attention, but no one had written about the big picture, what these movements have in common. That seemed like a perfect book project.
What’s the most important take-home message for readers?
I coined the term “paranoid science” to refer to pseudoscience movements driven by paranoia. I built on historian Richard Hofstadter’s classic essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” which describes the recurrence of grand conspiracy theories (our whole way of life is under threat). When Christian Right leaders object to some sector of science, they respond by creating a grand conspiracy theory. “Not only are these scientists hiding the truth from the public, but they threaten to destroy the moral foundation of American society!” Once you understand the pattern, it’s easier to expose what Christian Right leaders are up to.
We usually describe the world in terms of trees, mountains, rivers, clouds, cars, houses, people, and so on.
But a chemist could say: “No, this is not how things truly are! The world is basically composed of molecules which are ceaselessly combining one with another at random”.
However a physicist would reply: “Not at all! Reality is actually made up of intermingling fields of energy/matter where the dance of waves/particles takes place ceaselessly”.
Who is right? Who is wrong?
All of them are clearly mere conceptual descriptions that can just supply a relative view of reality.
We do not actually live in ‘reality’, but rather in a description of it, that is like a ‘bubble’ of concepts and words all around us, which in time builds up a fictitious view of ourselves and the world.
Even non-dualism (as any other -ism without exception) is just a conceptual description of reality, that hopelessly tries to point to the unknowable ‘Whatever it is’: in so far as it becomes an ideology that relies on words and thoughts, it is unable to enjoy the taste of Being.
So we live in concepts without realizing it.
We blindly believe that reality is just as our thought represents it.
Science gives us an ‘objective’ description of the material world that, to some extent, can be very useful for the improvement of humankind, however relative and incomplete it is.
Non-duality – as far as it still relies on words and thoughts – is just another conceptual description of reality, though its understanding of non-separation can dispel a huge amount of suffering in one’s life.
Neither of them is more or less right, and both are useful.
But as long as we rely merely on them, we remain trapped in the net of concepts.
Just as the fisherman’s net can catch only fishes, but not the water that passes through it and even supports it, so the thinking mind can grasp only concepts, but not the awareness that perceives it as an object: the ‘water of awareness’ can never be detected by the net of the thinking mind.
Indeed, awareness is a paradoxical mystery: on the one hand its evidence is undeniable for the very fact that we are aware of objects, but on the other hand it is unknowable, just as the existence of the eye is undeniable for the very fact that we can see objects, though it always remains invisible, outside the picture.
However, even ‘awareness’ is just a concept: through it, we are ultimately confronted with the unknown ‘bottom line’ of any human knowledge.
No understanding whatsoever can touch the unknowable Source of everything.
What if any idea about who I am, including even the idea of ‘consciousness’, totally collapses?
What if any idea about reality, including even the idea of ‘non duality’, totally collapses?
What if even these very words you are reading now lose any meaning whatsoever and fall away?
What remains when every attempt to understand or to know reality reveals its utter futility?
Then, out of frustration, the thinking mind cannot help saying “I don’t know” and finally quits.
But when that “I don’t know” plunges off the head into the heart, the philosopher dies and the mystic is born.
It is not a process in time. It is a singularity where all the known collapses and disappears.
It is a timeless explosion of pure wonder and awe that blows away everything else.
And what remains is a wild, free, spontaneous, and utterly unknowable aliveness, within the glowing darkness of the Mystery that we ultimately are.
The concept of infinity has perplexed thinkers since the dawn of civilization. Everything we observe in the physical world around us is finite; even the number of atoms in the observable universe, though it is unimaginably large, is still finite. Does infinity really exist? If so, how do we find it?
I recently discussed these questions with Edward Frenkel, Berkeley mathematics professor and author of “Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality.” “We have many ways to connect to infinity: through art, through poetry, through love,” explained Dr. Frenkel. “But mathematics gives us perhaps the most cerebral and logical way to connect to the infinite. So in this day and age, when we tend to put more trust in rational arguments than in other types of arguments, mathematics becomes our portal to infinity.”
The mathematical theory of infinity was created, almost single-handedly, by the German mathematician Georg Cantor at the end of the 19th century. His ideas were so radical that many of his contemporaries flatly refused to accept them. The eminent mathematician Henri Poincaré even called Cantor’s theory a “pathology” from which mathematicians needed to be cured. Though such harsh criticism caused Cantor much anguish, he stood his ground. And he was vindicated: Today his theory is a cornerstone of all of mathematics.
In the past two years, the internet has given us The Dress, a photo of a mysterious missing leg, and this disorienting floor design.
If you’re still hungry for more, INSIDER rounded up a mix of classic optical illusions, baffling viral photos, and mind-boggling designs that will leave your head spinning and illustrate how our brains process and interpret colour, peripheral vision, size, and more.
One quick note: We’ve included explanations for many of the images, so scroll down slowly if you don’t want to spoil the illusion.
Why religion is not going away and science will not destroy it
Scientists, intellectuals and social scientists expected that the spread of modern science would drive secularisation – that science would be a secularising force. But that simply hasn’t been the case. If we look at those societies where religion remains vibrant, their key common features are less to do with science, and more to do with feelings of existential security and protection from some of the basic uncertainties of life in the form of public goods. A social safety net might be correlated with scientific advances but only loosely, and again the case of the US is instructive. The US is arguably the most scientifically and technologically advanced society in the world, and yet at the same time the most religious of Western societies. As the British sociologist David Martin concluded in The Future of Christianity (2011): ‘There is no consistent relation between the degree of scientific advance and a reduced profile of religious influence, belief and practice.’
Modern physics has taught us that mass is not an intrinsic property.
You’re sitting here, reading this article. Maybe it’s a hard copy, or an e-book on a tablet computer or e-reader. It doesn’t matter. Whatever you’re reading it on, we can be reasonably sure it’s made of some kind of stuff: paper, card, plastic, perhaps containing tiny metal electronic things on printed circuit boards. Whatever it is, we call it matter or material substance. It has a characteristic property that we call solidity. It has mass.
But what is matter, exactly? Imagine a cube of ice, measuring a little over one inch (or 2.7 centimeters) in length. Imagine holding this cube of ice in the palm of your hand. It is cold, and a little slippery. It weighs hardly anything at all, yet we know it weighs something.
Let’s make our question a little more focused. What is this cube of ice made of? And, an important secondary question: What is responsible for its mass?
Where does this leave us? We’ve certainly come a long way since the ancient Greek atomists speculated about the nature of material substance, 2,500 years ago. But for much of this time we’ve held to the conviction that matter is a fundamental part of our physical universe. We’ve been convinced that it is matter that has energy. And, although matter may be reducible to microscopic constituents, for a long time we believed that these would still be recognizable as matter—they would still possess the primary quality of mass.
Modern physics teaches us something rather different, and deeply counter-intuitive. As we worked our way ever inward—matter into atoms, atoms into sub-atomic particles, sub-atomic particles into quantum fields and forces—we lost sight of matter completely. Matter lost its tangibility. It lost its primacy as mass became a secondary quality, the result of interactions between intangible quantum fields. What we recognize as mass is a behavior of these quantum fields; it is not a property that belongs or is necessarily intrinsic to them.
Despite the fact that our physical world is filled with hard and heavy things, it is instead the energy of quantum fields that reigns supreme. Mass becomes simply a physical manifestation of that energy, rather than the other way around.
This is conceptually quite shocking, but at the same time extraordinarily appealing. The great unifying feature of the universe is the energy of quantum fields, not hard, impenetrable atoms. Perhaps this is not quite the dream that philosophers might have held fast to, but a dream nevertheless.
A new theory based on quantum physics says there's life after death
Every now and then a radical new idea arrives to shake the very foundation of our understanding of life and the universe.
How radical, you ask.
Let this blow your mind:
Anything you see, including the computer screen you are reading this article on, the chair you’re sitting on, the sounds in the background, all of it doesn't exist – except as a result of an active process occurring in your mind.
The implications of this theory for what happens after death are profound, as explained below.
To better understand the theory, let's put it another way:
Consciousness is creating an awareness of an "out there" outside of ourselves, when actually, the world we experience around us is actually created in our consciousness. There is no “out there”.
What you have just read is the first principle of Biocentrism: "What we perceive as reality is a process that involves our consciousness. An 'external' reality, if it existed, would—by definition—have to exist in space. But this is meaningless, because space and time are not absolute realities but rather tools of the human and animal mind."
This is written by Dr Robert Lanza, in his book Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the Nature of the Universe.
Biocentrism is a new theory of everything and is based on the idea that the universe arises from life and not the other way around. He places biology above the other sciences to develop his theory of everything which comes to the same conclusions as non-duality.
Just so you know you’re not reading about the crazy musings of just any garden philosopher:
Dr. Lanza has been acknowledged as one of the greatest minds of our times.
He is a noted scientist and foremost stem cell expert.
In 2014 he appeared on TIME’s list of the hundred most influential people in the world.
In 2015 he was selected as one of Prospect Magazine’s “World Thinkers 2015,” and he has been voted the third most important scientist alive by NY Times.
Lanza says biocentrism shows space and time are simply the tools our mind uses to weave information together into a coherent experience — they are the language of consciousness. Here's a key point:
According to Lanza, when we dream our minds use the same algorithms to create a spatio-temporal reality that is as real, 3-D and flesh-and-blood as the one we experience when we’re awake.
“At death there‘s a break in our linear stream of consciousness, and thus a break in the linear connection of times and places. Indeed, biocentrism suggests it's a manifold that leads to all physical possibilities. More and more physicists are beginning to accept the 'many-worlds' interpretation of quantum physics, which states that there are an infinite number of universes. Everything that can possibly happen occurs in some universe."
“Death doesn't exist in these scenarios, since all of them exist simultaneously regardless of what happens in any of them. The 'me' feeling is just energy operating in the brain. But energy never dies; it cannot be destroyed.”
A scientist and a monk compare notes on meditation, therapy, and their effects on the brain
Can training the mind make us more attentive, altruistic, and serene? Can we learn to manage our disturbing emotions in an optimal way? What are the transformations that occur in the brain when we practice meditation? In a new book titled Beyond the Self, two friends—Matthieu Ricard, who left a career as a molecular biologist to become a Buddhist monk in Nepal, and Wolf Singer, a distinguished neuroscientist—engage in an unusually well-matched conversation about meditation and the brain. Below is a condensed and edited excerpt.
Science Confirms Ancient Spiritual Teaching—We Live in Two Bodies
Have you ever seen a glow of light around someone? It can happen when the ambient light is not too bright and especially when you are in a calm and mellow mood. Have you ever felt a shared electric thrill pass through you at a concert when everyone rises to their feet? It often happens when a crowd-pleasing piece is played. Have you ever been moved by sound that seems to come from nowhere and everywhere? It can happen when we are alone and in a quiet space.
If you have, you’re not crazy. The light you see is real. It’s not some afterimage like one caused by a camera flash. And what you feel is real. You really are sharing the feelings of other people, they aren’t just your own. Those sublime sounds you hear are real as well—unless it’s Elvis thanking you for writing all his best songs, in which case, yes, you need help.
For those of us not hearing from Elvis, the mystics explain these experiences as evidence of our subtle energy body. According to them we live in two bodies. One is our physical body, which our senses reveal to us, and the other is a subtle energy body, or astral body, that our intuitive perception reveals to us.
The mystics go further and say that the physical body is created, sustained, and controlled by the subtle energy body; that the physical body is the sock of a sock puppet and the subtle energy body is the hand inside the sock. Without the hand, the sock puppet is just a lifeless, well, sock.
You might think that science can give no support to the reality of such woo-woo concepts, but string theory, especially the branch of string theory known as M-theory, gives us a scientific framework to help us understand how such subtle energy can exist. M-theory suggests that we continuously and simultaneously exist in two realms—in our three-dimensional physical universe, and in a vast, hidden-to-the-senses, two-dimensional, pure-energy realm they call the “bulk” (as in, “the bulk of the cosmos”).
How Can I Possibly Believe That Faith Is Better Than Doubt?
Not seeing and still believing is held up by Jesus as a greater thing than seeing and believing. But I’m not sure I have ever fully grasped what it is about faith that makes it precious in the eyes of God. Recently, with the help of friends — pastors, theologians, authors, fellow believers — I’ve tried to deepen my understanding on that subject.
To start out, it’s worth noting that treating Christian faith as different from proof doesn’t mean it’s antithetical to evidence and reason. Christianity is a faith that claims to be rooted in history, not abstract philosophy. St. Paul wrote that if Jesus was not resurrected from the dead, the Christian faith is “futile” and followers of Jesus are “of all people most to be pitied.”
Christians would say, in fact, that reason is affirmed in Scripture — “Come now, and let us reason together,” is how the prophet Isaiah puts it — and that faith properly understood is consistent with and deepens our understanding of reality. “Reason purifies faith,” George Weigel, my colleague at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, told me. “Faith without reason risks descending into superstition; reason without faith builds a world without windows, doors or skylights.”
But faith itself, while not the converse of reason, is still distinct from it. If it seems like that’s asking too much — if you think leaps of faith are for children rather than adults — consider this: Materialists, rationalists and atheists ultimately place their trust in certain propositions that require faith. To say that truth is only intelligible through reason is itself a statement of faith. Denying the existence of God is as much a leap of faith as asserting it. As the pastor Tim Keller told me, “Most of the things we most deeply believe in — for example, human rights and human equality — are not empirically provable.”
“The supreme function of reason is to show man that some things are beyond reason,” is how Blaise Pascal put it. Something would not require faith if the proof of it was absolute. According to Philip Yancey, the author of “The Jesus I Never Knew,” “Faith requires the possibility of rejection, or it is not faith.”
Perhaps the key to understanding why faith is prized within the Christian tradition is that it involves trust that would not be needed if the existence of God were subject to a mathematical proof. What God is seeking is not our intellectual assent so much as a relationship with us. That is, after all, one of the purposes of the incarnation of God in Jesus.
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