Selected Correspondence Peter
PETER: I guess the difference is that I understood what Richard meant when he said everyone has got it 180 degrees wrong – in that everyone has been searching for the meaning of life within the existing human condition, by way of either materialistic or spiritual pursuits – which then meant that I didn’t waste the opportunity that meeting Richard presented by indulging in knee-jerk reactions or wallowing around in doubt. Once my interest and my own enquiries established a prima facie case the next thing to do was obvious – give it a go.
RESPONDENT: I’m giving it a go, and part of giving it a go involves questioning things that clang with either my personal experience, knowledge or common sense. The prima facie case has been established. The way I see it so far, Richard is spot on with regard to the human condition. There are personal hang-ups involved in my own process (naturally enough), but I am trying to separate those from purely objective matters of fact. Finding Richard to be genuinely free from the human condition (and an expert on most of its varieties) does not automatically imply an infallible insight into the objective facts of this universe. To question some of his (and your) assertions on matters of fact is not to be a materialist or a spiritualist, or to ‘wallow’ in doubt.
PETER: When I came across Richard it gradually became obvious that he was an expert in matters of spiritualism and mysticism – indeed whilst I had been busily dabbling around in the shallows he had been doing laps of the pool for years. Given what he had to say about the revered spiritual teachings and mystical traditions I took the time, and made the effort, to investigate whether what he was saying was correct and this investigation also involved enquiring into the extent to which mysticism and spiritualism continues to influence much of the world of science. Whilst you may not be able to readily see that theoretical physics and cosmology embody the ancient mystical traditions of science it would be an opportunity wasted not to investigate the matter for there have been other correspondents on this mailing list who have turned away from actualism rather than inquire in to their own mystical ‘hang-ups’.
PETER: As for Richard being ‘a well-meaning madman’, that was a definite attraction. And my ‘proven track record of long-term devotion to causes that ultimately lead to disillusionment’ apparently means that I have a far better experiential understanding of the inherent failures of spirituality than any of my peers.
RESPONDENT: Perhaps also a propensity to interpret the whole of human endeavour in stark binary terms, based on your personal experiences.
PETER: And yet it was the PCE, an experience that is common-to-all and not personal, which revealed that peace on earth already exists in the actual world. And it was the PCE that which revealed that despite this already existing peace on earth all human beings are either passionately involved in a ‘self’-centred grim instinctual struggle for survival and/or desperately believe in the existence of a fairy-tale or science-fiction mystical other-worldly realm.
RESPONDENT: There are two kinds of people in the world: those who say there are two kinds of people in the world, and those who don’t.
PETER: This appears to be a comment aimed at denigrating the fact that a new experiential discovery has been made about the fundamental workings of the human psyche – one that renders all past theories, propositions, myths and legends utterly redundant.
In the mid 16th century a Flemish physician by the name of Andreas Vesalius was appointed a lecturer in surgery at the University of Padua with responsibility for giving anatomical demonstrations. At first, Vesalius had no reason to question the theories of Galen, the 2nd century Greek physician whose books on anatomy were still considered as absolutely authoritative in medical education in Vesalius’ time. However, in 1540, breaking with this 1400 year old tradition of relying on Galen, Vesalius openly demonstrated his own method … doing dissections himself, learning anatomy from cadavers, and critically evaluating the ancient anatomical texts. His own hands-on experience of the human anatomy soon convinced him that Galenic anatomy had not been based on the dissection of the human body, a practice, which had been strictly forbidden by the Roman religion. Vesalius revealed that Galenic anatomy was an application to the human form of conclusions drawn from the dissections of animals, mostly dogs, monkeys, or pigs.
As can be seen it took the inquisitiveness of one man and his willingness to engage in hands-on empirical research as well as his having the audacity to question the revered ancient texts to wipe away 1400 years of misinformation and mythology in order to set medicine on the path to being an empirical science. Radical discoveries such as these make all the previous ‘wisdom’ of all the previous venerated ‘experts’ completely redundant and entirely useless.
Vesalius’ discovery of the actual structure and workings of the human anatomy is directly analogous to Richard’s empirical observations as to the actual structure and workings of the human psyche and his ground-breaking discovery that it is possible to rid oneself of the instinctual passions that give rise to human malice and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: Everything that is not actualism is either materialism or spiritualism, hence 180 degrees wrong.
PETER: Yes. 180 degrees wrong, in that everyone has been, and still is, searching for the meaning of life via the pursuit of a thoroughly outdated archaic wisdom based solely on myth and legend and not on facts and sensibility.
RESPONDENT: Given freedom to define the terms, you can pull any rabbit out of your hat, as you have done with Einstein and Paul Davies and other ‘spiritual scientists’.
PETER: I haven’t pulled a rabbit out of my hat – I deliberately inquired into theoretical physics because they were proposing theories about the universe that did not gel with my own experience of the infinitude of the universe that I had experienced in a PCE. What I found was that theoretical physics and cosmology is rife with mysticism – other-worldly thinking, totally engaged in wish-fullness, based on thought experiments and competitive imagination, completely devoid of practicality and sensibility.
RESPONDENT: It is this kind of stuff that, in my opinion, converts actualism from a very coherent and original psychological assessment of (and remedy for) the human condition into a form of reductionist dogma verging on fundamentalism.
PETER: You are not alone in wanting actualism to accommodate some aspects of the human condition and to demand that an actual freedom from the human condition retain some aspects of the human condition. Some want religious tolerance to be retained, some want love fitted in somewhere, some want to hang on to imagination or to romance or to science fiction – all demanding a conditional personally-tailored freedom, rather than an actual and complete freedom from the human condition in toto.
RESPONDENT: One thing that persistently rings false for me w.r.t actualism (as a philosophy, not as a practice) is the apparent equivalence of all things metaphysical, supernatural and spiritual.
PETER: I found that when I began to practice actualism I started to come down-to-earth for the first time in my life, which in turn meant that my interest in all things philosophical, mystical, metaphysical, supernatural and spiritual gradually paled into insignificance compared to the on-going fascination with doing this business of being alive on this verdant planet. (...)
RESPONDENT: I see people keenly interested in the psychological, physiological and practical implications of actualism, but I also see quite justifiable reservations regarding actualists’ assertions outside their area of expertise.
PETER: I presume you are commenting on the current thread of discussion concerning one particular aspect of the mystical tradition that permeates all of the sciences. The emergence of empirical evidence-based science from the ignorance, superstition and mysticism of the past is an on-going struggle – an emergence of fits and starts, often resisted tooth and nail by those who have a vested interest in maintaining the mystical tradition at any cost.
The mystical tradition is still very much alive and kicking in all scientific education as it is in any discipline. My architectural education had two distinct streams – one was pragmatic, down-to-earth and practical and the other was mystical, fanciful and ‘creative’ and it was instilled into me that the latter was more meaningful than the former. To be pragmatic, down-to-earth and practical was seen as boring, mundane and ‘uncreative’ whilst to be mystical, fanciful and creative was where the true meaning of life really lay.
Apparently the same applies in the fields of scientific endeavours as not only are whole fields of science devoted to the pursuit of the mystical, the sacred and the profound but many mystical scientists have won fame and fortune and the accolades of his or her peers for championing the mystical tradition. In fact, a clear-eyed look at the current state of the sciences reveals that a significant turning back to the mystical roots of the past has been occurring – a turning back that closely parallels the current fashionable obsession with Eastern spirituality and philosophy.
The discovery of an actual freedom from the human condition renders the whole mystical tradition not only irrelevant but it exposes it for what it is – an aberration from the dim, dark ages of humanity. Far from being outside of an actualist’s area of expertise, the mysticism still taught and practiced in current day science is precisely the field of expertise of an actualist. A practicing actualist has a hands-on experiential understanding of the workings of the human condition (including the instinctive lure of mysticism and spiritualism) and as such is more capable of making sensible down-to-earth observations and evaluations and is more readily able to discern between what is mere belief or theory and what are the facts of the matter, unlike an impassioned scientist steeped in the mystical tradition.
RESPONDENT: My personal observation, for what it’s worth, is that the questioners often seem to be at least as open-minded, i.e. willing to refine or modify their synthesis of the facts, as the answerers.
PETER: I do appreciate that it is early years for actualism. Because it is such a radical departure from the previously accrued wisdoms and because it represents a complete break with the past, the sensibility inherent in actualism will take a long time to be understood, appreciated and absorbed – but now that the findings are published the wisdoms of the past will increasingly fall into the category of historical curiosities.
RESPONDENT: I also see that questioners are in a bit of a double-bind. Success in this enterprise is not possible without total sincerity. Total sincerity is only possible if one can assuage one’s doubts concerning the bona fides of Richard and Actualism w.r.t. matters of fact. If the attempt to assuage these doubts is not directly pertinent to the daily practice of being happy and harmless, they are intellectualising, dealing with peripheral issues, or not fulfilling the raison d’etre of the mailing list, or having ‘knee-jerk reactions’.
I regard myself as having a sincere interest in what actualism offers. I have had a glimpse of its central motivation and guiding light (the PCE), and the psychological/emotional aspects of Richard’s teachings are making good sense. I see the purpose of these dialogues as opportunities to share both experiences and ideas, but sometimes I sense that questioners are being spoken at, rather than spoken with. It creates resistance that would not otherwise be there.
PETER: By this logic Vesalius should not have had the audacity to present the facts of his discoveries to his Galen-influenced colleagues – as in ‘spoken at’ them – but rather should have ‘spoken with’ them as in allow at least a bit of Galen-influence and mysticism to be incorporated into his empirical discoveries. No matter how he presented his discoveries, no matter what ‘style’ he adopted, the amount of resistance of his Galen-influenced peers to his discoveries was solely dependant on each individual’s penchant for clinging on to the revered knowledge and authorities of the past.
As for my style – speaking at rather than speaking with, as you put it – I tend to use my time writing as productively as I can which means I attempt to put as much information and facts into each response as I can, on the basis that maybe some of it may be of use to anyone who reads it. When I first read Richard’s report of his discovery I found that I had to overcome my instinctive reluctance to read what was obviously heretical and iconoclastic in order to be able to concentrate on understanding the substance of what he was saying. Because of this experience, I always assume that anyone reading my reports of the nuts-and-bolts of practicing actualism will need to do the same if they want to understand the gist of what it is I am reporting.
PETER: When I came across Richard it gradually became obvious that he was an expert in matters of spiritualism and mysticism – indeed whilst I had been busily dabbling around in the shallows he had been doing laps of the pool for years. Given what he had to say about the revered spiritual teachings and mystical traditions I took the time, and made the effort, to investigate whether what he was saying was correct and this investigation also involved enquiring into the extent to which mysticism and spiritualism continues to influence much of the world of science.
Whilst you may not be able to readily see that theoretical physics and cosmology embody the ancient mystical traditions of science it would be an opportunity wasted not to investigate the matter for there have been other correspondents on this mailing list who have turned away from actualism rather than inquire in to their own mystical ‘hang-ups’.
RESPONDENT: Could you be more specific?
Physics (The branch of science that deals with the nature and properties of matter and energy, in so far as they are not dealt with by chemistry or biology; the science whose subject-matter includes mechanics, heat, light and other radiation, sound, electricity, magnetism, and the structure of atoms (Oxford Dictionary) is an empirical science whereas it is apparent that theoretical physics deals with the supposed nature and properties of assumed abstract phenomena and hypothetical forces based on thought experiments and mathematical equations (see Paul Davies below).
When I came to understand this of this I realized that theoretical physics is a continuation of the ancient mystical traditions of philosopher/scientists who, due to a lack of empirical knowledge and practical understanding, could do doing nothing but think and theorize about nature and properties of the matter and its associated energies that constitute the material universe.
Cosmology (The science of the evolution and structure of the universe; a theory or postulated account of this. The branch of philosophy or metaphysics which deals with the universe as a whole (Oxford Dictionary) is a branch of science that is devoted to studying the evolution of the universe – for something to have evolved it must have had a beginning and must have an ending – its central tenet is that the universe was created, not whether or not it was created or whether it has always existed and always will exist. I then understood that the whole science of cosmology is predicated on finding empirical evidence to support the mystical creationist legends and myths and the belief that ‘Someone’ or ‘Something’ created the physical universe.
But hey. I’m not making this up as a theory or a philosophy or writing to you for the sake of arguing a contrary position (as men in particular are wont to do) – a little bit of research into the historical development of the empirical science will reveal that in ancient times the belief in mystical energies and forces and metaphysical matter was absolute and that these beliefs still hold sway in modern science today, and no more so than in the fields of theoretical physics, cosmology and the environmental sciences.
RESPONDENT: In what way is, say, Einstein’s physics inconsistent with actual observation of the actual universe’s behaviour?
PETER: Einstein’s physics has no relevance at all to the actual objective observation of either the matter that is this actual universe or to the qualities of that matter and this glaring anomaly is explained away by Einsteinian physicists with the glib dismissal that Einstein’s physics do not apply to ‘locally-observable phenomena’ or to any conditions that we can experience on earth lat alone those that we can sensibly relate to our everyday lives. Local phenomena and objective observation are not the realm of Einstein’s physics – a sure sign that His physics have nothing to do with actuality. Einstein apparently has such a Guru status within the scientific community that few dare to question his theories for to do so would be to dare to challenge the accepted current status quo of science itself.
RESPONDENT: Better still, so as not to get too far off track, how is it inconsistent with what one experiences in a PCE?
PETER: In a PCE, there is no psychological or psychic faculty present to be interested in, let alone capable of, indulging in imaginative scenarios or fanciful thinking about the nature and properties of matter and energy. What does become startlingly apparent about the nature and properties of matter is that the matter that is the universe is not merely passive – the very matter that is this universe is in a constant state of change and transformation, often imperceptibly slowly, sometimes dramatically evident. I have had a more detailed correspondence about this subject which may be of interest to you.
In a PCE, the direct sensual experience of this non-passivity is experienced as a vibrancy that is magical in its immediacy and one is free to gaze around in wonder at the fact that all this is happening in this very moment. This direct experience of the inherent properties of the matter that is this universe is only possible because ‘I’ have vanished from the scene along with ‘my’ atavistic mystical/spiritual/religious beliefs, fears and fantasies.
In other words, in a PCE the facts of matter are easily distinguished from the human beliefs about matter because there is no ‘me’ as an identity present to produce, maintain and cherish any mystical beliefs whatsoever. Due to ‘my’ absence this flesh and blood material body is no longer separated from the material universe. (...)
RESPONDENT: A quick note re Paul Davies: you mention him receiving the Templeton(?) prize for religion, as if this supports the charge of ‘spiritual scientist’. Readers of his books would conclude that he was awarded this prize for demonstrating how and why some conventional religious beliefs are untenable, for explaining that physics is better placed to describe and explain phenomena than religion, for explaining that science can account for most aspects of the universe’s behaviour without God’s intervention, and for cautioning against invoking God to explain the hitherto unexplained, ie. invoking a ‘God of the gaps’ to explain tricky phenomena like consciousness, the illusion of free will, etc. It is also a bit rich to criticise a theoretical physicist, whose job is to construct explanatory models that are consistent with observable phenomena, for ... doing his job
PETER: Rather than speculate upon what ‘readers of his books would conclude’, here is what Paul Davies himself has said on this very subject –
Given that he so blatantly champions the cause of metaphysics and the mystical, it is no wonder he was awarded the Templeton Prize of 795,000 Pounds Sterling – ‘the Templeton Prize honours and encourages the many entrepreneurs trying various ways for discoveries and breakthroughs to expand human perceptions of divinity and to help in the acceleration of divine creativity’. Website of the Templeton prize Website of the Templeton prize Website of the Templeton prize
PETER: No comment? You raise an objection claiming that Paul Davies has been misrepresented, I respond by posting Mr. Davies’ own words and then you don’t even bother to respond. Perhaps it is that you consider my response somewhat moot? If so I will let Mr. Davies say a bit more on the subject –
RESPONDENT: All of this clangs for me.
PETER: Aye. The only reason that one would even dare to leave mystical imagination behind is if one wanted to live the actuality that one experiences in a PCE, 24/7. I remember one incident that particularly stood out for me at the time I was enquiring into the differences between imagination and actuality ...
A pragmatic example that the actuality of this infinite, eternal and only universe far exceeds the paltry imaginations of anything the ancient mystics, and their modern day pseudo-scientific equivalents, have ever – or could ever – dream up.
RESPONDENT: Well, here we are in complete agreement. The actual is far more intricate, astonishing, wonderful than the wildest imagination could ever devise. By contrast with what is actually there, imagination is indeed a pitiful thing.
PETER: And yet despite your ‘complete agreement’ you made no comment to Paul Davies’ call to abandon pragmatic empirical physics in favour of the imaginary world of metaphysics and also you made no comment with regard to Vesalius’ discoveries that put paid to Galen’s imaginary scenarios of human anatomy. These omissions appear to indicate that your complete agreement is a conditional agreement – conditional on how far you are willing to question the human reverence for imaginative thinking and passionate feeling and especially those theories that continue the mystical tradition of insisting that the physical universe is ephemeral.
PETER: I have just noticed that Richard has replied to you on the same subject and has even used some of the very same quotes that I have found. Despite this I will send this as-it-is, as it may be of use to you. As you see I have split my response into two parts –
RESPONDENT: One of Peter’s latest posts to No 60 has occasioned me to write a couple of things to ‘set the facts straight’ so to speak. I want to address 3 main ideas that are false in Peter’s and (possibly) other actualist writings.
The false ideas:
1) The ‘big-bang’ theory is ‘creationist’ cosmology.
2) The ‘big-bang’ theory proposes the universe was ‘created out of nothing.’ 3) That ‘Einsteinian physics’ relies on ‘an a priori principle that the universe was created out of nothing.
1) Just because the ‘big-bang’ theory originated with someone who was a ‘theist’ does not mean that it is necessarily tied to belief in God. Some other factor must be established like for example that belief in God is a necessary part of the ‘big-bang’ theory. There are plenty of physicists who do not believe in God – and not agnostic – but are atheists – who also think the evidence (red-shift, 3K radiation, etc) for the big-bang is overwhelming. This demonstrates that there are plenty of physicists that are led to endorse the big-bang theory based upon the evidence (as they see it) rather than using belief in God as evidence.
To conclude that the big-bang theory is creationist cosmology because it was proposed by a creationist and because many creationists have been fascinated with it, by the same fallacious reasoning, evolutionary theory is ‘creationist’ since Darwin was a theist, and Newtonian physics is ‘creationist’ because Newton was a theist It is reasonable to note that beliefs (specifically belief in God) can influence theory, but that is far from establishing in each instance that it actually has.
PETER: In order to give a considered response, I will have to break this down and respond to each of the points that you raise – no wonder I only get around to writing a few posts a week.
RESPONDENT: Peter’s false ideas: 1) The ‘big-bang’ theory is ‘creationist’ cosmology. The facts: Just because the ‘big-bang’ theory originated with someone who was a ‘theist’ does not mean that it is necessarily tied to belief in God.
PETER: Indeed not, and this is why I said the following to No 60 –
Now whilst some cosmologists are upfront in saying that a God, by whatever name, had a hand in the supposed ‘Big bang’ event that created the universe, others are less circumspect, yet others make no mention at all of a creator God and yet others make no mention of a creationist event.
I came across an example of this last category when I typed the word Cosmology into the Encyclopaedia Britannica search engine –
– an example of cosmology with out a God. (Mr. Gautama Buddha supposedly gave no answer as to how the universe was created.)
When I looked up Greek cosmology as a matter of interest, I came up with the following –
This then led me to think that I should have used the word cosmogony instead of the words ‘creationist’ cosmology in reference to the Big Bang theory. But then I came across the term relativistic cosmology in the Encyclopaedia Britannica and lo and behold the article clearly and unambiguously explained that the ‘Big Bang’ theory came out of Einstein’s relativity theory … so my use of the term cosmology does seem appropriate according to at least one authoritative reference source.
Are you hanging in with me on this? I just needed to check if I had used an appropriate term when I used the term creationist cosmology to describe the Big Bang theory.
RESPONDENT: I’m not sure I follow you here. I understand the need to check whether ‘creationist cosmology’ is an appropriate term – I am not particularly concerned with the word ‘cosmology’ versus ‘cosmogony.’
PETER: I was explaining that sometimes the terminology used by theoreticians and philosophers can be confusing because it could be argued that the Big Bang theory should be termed cosmogony (dealing with the origins of the universe) rather than cosmology (dealing with the ordering of the universe).
PETER: So back to your point, yes I would agree with you that the ‘Big Bang’ theory is not necessarily tied to the belief in God. In fact I made the following statement to No 60 so as to leave God out of the ‘Big Bang’ theory altogether –
RESPONDENT: Peter’s false ideas: 1) The ‘big-bang’ theory is ‘creationist’ cosmology. The facts: Some other factor must be established like for example that belief in God is a necessary part of the ‘big-bang’ theory.
PETER: If I said that the ‘big-bang’ theory is ‘Creationist’ cosmology (with a capital C) then I would be clearly making a statement that the belief in God is a necessary part of creationist cosmology, whereas I used the term creationist to mean that it was created – as in it had a beginning, it originated, it was produced, it came into being. Now for me a ‘miraculous thus-far-inexplicable event’ that is said to have created the universe at the very least requires it to be a metaphysical event in which, whilst one doesn’t necessarily have to believe in a creator God, at least one has to believe in miraculous thus-far-inexplicable forces.
RESPONDENT: Thank you for this – it goes miles towards explaining your use of the word ‘creationist’ – small ‘c.’
Here’s what ‘creationist’ means to me:
PETER: And yet I also said this in my post to No 60 –
thereby making it clear that I was not specifically talking about a cosmological theory – in this case relativistic cosmology – which specifically requires a creator God as you are apparently trying to make out I was when you said that my ideas were fallacious.
RESPONDENT: Consider this... I think that the Mississippi River ‘had a beginning, it originated, it was produced, it came into being’ – yet I do not hold a ‘creationist’ view regarding the Mississipi River since I do not think it was laid out by a god. To me, and I could make the case that for most people, the word ‘creationist’ implies a ‘creator’ – and does not simply mean to imply a belief that something ‘came into being.’ I have never encoutered a distinction between ‘Creationist’ with a capital ‘C’ implying a ‘creator’ versus ‘creationist’ with a small ‘c’ meaning ‘had a beginning, it originated, it was produced, it came into being’ until now. I have also not encountered your explanation of the difference in your usage until now, so it seems likely that either a) your usage is faulty, or b) you may have wanted to explain your ‘extra-normal’ usage of the term ‘creationist’ prior to using the word?
PETER: Or you could, and only if you wanted to of course, broaden your options to consider an option c) –
RESPONDENT: The facts: There are plenty of physicists who do not believe in God – and not agnostic – but are atheists – who also think the evidence (red-shift, 3K radiation, etc) for the big-bang is overwhelming. This demonstrates that there are plenty of physicists that are led to endorse the big-bang theory based upon the evidence (as they see it) rather than using belief in God as evidence.
PETER: You would probably be aware that I am on record as saying that Richard was the only thorough-going atheist on the planet, so we are going to get bogged down on this point straight away. Stephen Hawkins, a self-declared atheist when asked if he believed in God is on record as saying ‘I do not believe in a personal God’ – a somewhat equivocal statement, and Einstein is on record as saying ‘I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings’ and I can think of none of the major players in the formulation of the Big Bang theory who did not believe in some form of mysticism or did not have some type of spiritual or religious belief. I guess the only way one could establish that your fact is a fact is if one conducted in-depth interviews with each of the ‘plenty of physicists’ that you know to be atheists to determine whether they are thorough-going atheists, i.e. that they hold no metaphysical, mystical, spiritual or religious beliefs whatsoever.
RESPONDENT: The fact that you have gotten Stephen Hawking’s name wrong multiple occasions as ‘Stephen Hawkins’ makes me wonder whether you have difficulty typing or remembering his name – or whether you don’t really know much about what you are talking about (this is at least the third time on record you have spelled his name incorrectly as ‘Hawkins’).
PETER: By the same logic I could just as well say that someone who has misspelt the word ‘Mississippi’ as well as the word ‘encountered’ in the space of three sentences maybe doesn’t really know much about what he is talking about, but I am interested in having a sincere conversation about this topic and not in indulging in tit-for-tatting.
Spelling was never my forté, which is why I rely on the spell checker in my word processor to correct my spelling for me. Although my credibility horse has apparently already bolted, I will add ‘Stephen Hawking’ to my auto-correct.
RESPONDENT: Putting that aside: I can understand that you can ‘think of none of the major players in the formulation of the Big Bang theory who did not believe in some form of mysticism or did not have some type of spiritual or religious belief’ but it would indeed be a good idea to remain ignorant no longer about ‘major players’ that continue to ‘formulate’ and ‘buttress’ the scientific theory of the Big Bang.
PETER: Okay, but I did make the following point, which you seem to have ignored –
As such, when you claim that ‘it would indeed be a good idea (for me) to remain ignorant no longer’, on what basis you claim a superior knowledge of the beliefs or lack of beliefs of the major players – by what they have written (or not written) about their personal beliefs presumably? That’s also what I do initially but I also broaden my assessment to include what they are saying about the theoretical nature of the universe and of its supposed beginning. To ignore this evidence is to sidestep the main topic of this conversation.
RESPONDENT: I’m aware that God occupies the thoughts of Stephen Hawking – but as you yourself say – he is a ‘self-declared atheist’ and his theories are specifically designed to eliminate the need for a God from big bang comsmology –
PETER: I agree with you because Stephen Hawking is on record as saying ‘I not believe in a personal God’ so he would hardly specifically design a theory that gave credence to a personal God.
The more I have read about the history of relativistic cosmology, and most particularly in the last 50 years, it has been a progression of inventions of model universes each specifically designed to more and more distance big bang cosmology from any claims that a Divine or supernatural force was involved in the alleged beginning of the universe. This continual invention of yet more models seems to have much more to do with the age-old battle between the secular mathematical philosophers and the spiritual metaphysical philosophers for the intellectual, ontological and cosmological high ground than it has to do with anything remotely resembling authentic scientific enquiry.
But more on that later in the post.
RESPONDENT: personally, I don’t see his fetishism for talking about the ‘mind of God’ as supporting pantheistic belief – rather, it has to do with demolishing the need for a god in the big-bang theory.
PETER: Are you saying that when someone talks about wanting to know the ‘mind of God’, he is doing so in order to demolish the need for a God in his theories? Personally I find the difference between the term ‘mind of God’ and the word ‘God’ to be somewhat moot but presumably there is a difference between the two in the minds of philosophers and theoretical physicists.
But then again, from what I read, Stephen Hawking’s theories have already been superseded by yet more theories specifically designed to eliminate the need for a God from the big bang cosmology.
RESPONDENT: Here’s another major player for you – Steven Weinberg – atheist, through and through who wrote the book ‘The First 3 Minutes’ all about big-bang cosmology.
PETER: From what I can glean, Steven Weinberg is affronted by the fact that the spiritualists and deists have clasped relativistic cosmology to their bosom, so much so that he is at the forefront of the efforts to design models of the universe which, whilst remaining faithful to the theories of big bang cosmology, attempt to avoid, deny or distance themselves from the big bang central proposition that all of the space, matter and time of the entire universe was created in a singular near-instantaneous event out of no-space, no-thing, and no-when.
However, he stands on shaky ground in defending the facticity of relativistic cosmological theories, as this response to a question about the certainty of relativistic cosmology reveals –
Like all supporters of relativistic cosmology, he is so enmeshed in the theories of relativistic cosmology that he would not even begin to question the validity of the entire progression of theories that have been built upon Einstein’s original subjective thought experiment.
It was the theoretical scientists themselves who enthusiastically clasped Einsteinian relativity to their bosoms and then set about inventing a brand-new metaphysics consisting of flexible space, non-material particles, non-constant time and miraculous thus-far-inexplicable events, and by doing so they played into the hands of the mystics, spiritualists and deists. To now turn around and blame the mystics, spiritualists and deists for meddling in the affairs of science is, to say to least, a bit rich. The theoretical scientists who concocted relativistic cosmology in the first place dug their own hole and instead of abandoning it they are busily digging themselves an ever-deeper hole.
From what I read, Steven Weinberg is also at the forefront of the fight between science and religion as to who can best explain why the universe is here, where it came from and what is its underlying reality –
I can see now why you objected to my use of the term creationist cosmology – there is a battle raging between the materialists and the spiritualists and anyone who uses the term ‘creationist’ to describe the theory that the universe was created out of nothing is apparently waving a red flag at a bull. What I find cute is that both materialists and spiritualists have a passionate investment in supporting big bang cosmology – one side claiming it to be science and the other claiming it as proof of spirituality – and neither group is prepared to abandon it for to do so would be to admit defeat in the battle.
I am well pleased to be an actualist.
As for Steven Weinberg’s self-declared atheism, it is apparent from the following quote that he is uncomfortable with his atheism –
From what he says he is yet another ‘atheist’ seeking the meaning of life ‘somewhere else’ but here in this place in space and ‘sometime else’ but now in this very moment of time
RESPONDENT: Just a few more atheist big-bang proponents are Isaac Asimov, Paul Kurtz, Victor Stenger, and Adolf Grunbaum.
PETER: I’ll pass on Isaac Asimov as it is obvious that a science fiction writer would be an avid supporter of relativistic cosmology. So I will start by commenting on Victor Stenger as he is the only theoretical physicist in the group.
Victor Stenger has written a book entitled ‘The Timeless Reality’ and this quote is from a summary he has published –
Stenger appears to be offering a cosmological model that has much in common with Buddhist philosophy – as I said, relativistic cosmology seems to be only digging itself an even bigger hole in its efforts to fashion a metaphysics that is somehow distinct from that of the mystics, spiritualists and deists.
As a footnote to Victor Stenger – you are probably aware that he is an avid campaigner against supernatural beliefs and I came across this article in the Skeptic magazine in which he talks about time reversibility – the basis of the theoretical model of the universe he presents in his book ‘Timeless Reality’.
I post this as an example of how far into fantasy those who support relativistic theory have to go in order that metaphysical theories are not seen for what they are. It appears that it is politically correct to be sceptical of the super-naturalness inherent in spirituality but it is politically incorrect to be sceptical about the super-naturalness inherent in relativistic cosmology.
Moving on to Paul Kurtz, a secular humanist. Secular humanists are, by their very training and conviction, ethically motivated to challenge religiosity and support science and, as such, many have misguidedly taken up the cause of supporting relativistic cosmology whilst simultaneously turning a blind eye to its mystical and spiritual roots.
Adolf Grünbaum is a secular philosopher and secular philosophers are, by their very training and convictions, ethically motivated to challenge religiosity and support science and, as such, many have also misguidedly taken up the cause of supporting relativistic cosmology whilst simultaneously turning a blind eye to its mystical and spiritual roots.
I found the following quote to be of interest as it threw some light on the whole issue as to why it is so hard to get philosophers interested in discussing the facts of the matter –
From this I take it that it is pointless to ask either a philosopher or a physicist what was the cause of the miraculous thus-far-inexplicable event that is supposed to have brought all of the physical matter of universe into being. Apparently philosophy has its own inbuilt principles, aka logic, that serves to put ‘off-limits’ any sensible down-to-earth questioning of relativistic cosmology.
Adolf Grünbaum goes on to attempt to philosophize-away the ‘universe was created out of nothing’ dilemma that haunts relativistic cosmology with the following argument –
I take it that such explanations mean something to philosophers … but to me they are nought but slight-of-hand denial.
RESPONDENT: Peter’s false ideas: 1) The ‘big-bang’ theory is ‘creationist’ cosmology.
The facts: To conclude that the big-bang theory is creationist cosmology because it was proposed by a creationist and because many creationists have been fascinated with it, by the same fallacious reasoning, evolutionary theory is ‘creationist’ since Darwin was a theist, and Newtonian physics is ‘creationist’ because Newton was a theist.
PETER: My ‘false idea’ that the ‘Big Bang’ theory is a creationist cosmology is based on the theory being what it says it is, and this is how I translated the theory into down-to-earth terms –
That the Big Bang theory has its roots in Albert Einstein’s relativity theory, he who believes in Spinoza’s God, and was championed by George LeMaître, a Catholic cleric, is of but anecdotal interest for those on the list who might be vitally interested in the extent to which religion, spiritualism and mysticism continue to permeate and influence the world of science. In fact as I recall, I never mentioned Einstein or LeMaître in connection with the ‘Big Bang’ theory to No 60, the only person I did mention was Paul Davies and I only did so because No 60 had raised the issue. In other words, I never used the evidence in my posts to No 60 that you claim I used in making the point that I didn’t make that you now claim to be false.
As for Charles Darwin, what I find telling is that he agonized for years about publishing his discoveries because he thought he would be damned by other theists – as he was, and still is in some quarters. In fact some education establishments still refuse to teach the evolutionary process, whilst mainstream society have adopted the evolutionary process as being a sign of God’s work.
RESPONDENT: Yet, in accord with other deists in his day, Charles Darwin struggled with his belief in God to the point of agnosticism verging on atheism, yet attempting every step of the way to retain his belief in God.
PETER: I’ll leave Charles Darwin for the moment, as it is a side-issue to the topic we are discussing.
RESPONDENT: The facts: It is reasonable to note that beliefs (specifically belief in God) can influence theory, but that is far from establishing in each instance that it actually has.
PETER: But then again it would be sensible not to let this reasoning get in the way of allowing that beliefs have influenced theories in a particular specific instance.
PETER: If this is the summary of your statement of fact it appears you are using this reasoning to establish that beliefs have not influenced theory in this particular instance as a ‘fact’ – thereby proving ‘my idea’ to be false. From where I stand this reasoning is far from impartial – as far as I can ascertain you are establishing a rule of reasonableness and saying that what I am saying is false because it does not fit your rule.
RESPONDENT: It’s not that I am establishing a rule of reasonableness and ‘saying that what I am saying is false because it does not fit your [MY] rule’ –
PETER: And I was interested, of course, in the argument you were offering in this instance as a rebuttal of my ‘false idea’. I like it that you do not see it as being a hard and fast rule because it opens the door to the possibility of a clear-eyed seeing that relativistic cosmology is rife with metaphysical concepts, to acknowledging that it was heavily influenced by spiritual/ mystical beliefs in its formative years and that it is now unwittingly being supported by secularists and materialists solely on the basis that they feel compelled to support ‘science’ and disparage religion.
RESPONDENT: rather the confusion originates in the fact that you have chosen your own way of using the word ‘creationist’ that doesn’t fit with common usage – without explaining first that this is what you have opted to do. Such an unexplained arbitrary decision cannot but produce disagreement when you are using such a critical word as ‘creationist’ with a non-standard usage.
PETER: I notice that you are still dwelling on this point despite the fact that I have pointed out that I did not use the word creationist in the specific sense you took it to mean and that I provided several quotes from my post to No 60 where I made it clear that I was using the word creationist in the small ‘c’ meaning.
I also said in my last post –
– to which you made no comment.
RESPONDENT: Again, keeping with your usage of ‘creationist’ – you are a ‘creationist’ about the Mississippi River, for example – as well as anything else that ‘had a beginning, it originated, it was produced, it came into being’.
PETER: I have no problem at all about that the Mississippi River came into being at some stage as there is a good deal of empirical evidence that the geology of the planet has undergone radical changes ever since the planet itself came into being an estimated 6 billion years ago by some accounts, but it is an absurdity to imagine that all of the physical matter and all of the space of the entire universe came into being due to a miraculous thus-far-inexplicable spontaneous event, as the theoretical relativistic cosmologists would have us believe.
RESPONDENT: Peter’s false ideas: 2) The ‘big-bang’ theory proposes the universe was ‘created out of nothing.’
The facts: 2) I’m sure there are those that propose that the universe was created out of nothing – and they may be rightly termed ‘creationists.’
PETER: I take this to be a qualifier to ‘the facts’ you presented when you made the case in 1) that the ‘big-bang’ theory is not ‘creationist’ cosmology. If I can just summarize your case to date, your position now is –
I just want to get this clear as I find that I have to stop and think through what the other person is really saying if I am to make sense of what it is that they are really saying.
RESPONDENT: As it should be clear – ‘creationist’ does not mean to me what it means to you, so your representation of my ‘position’ is not correct. Put simply: ‘creationist’ cosmology normally entails a ‘creator.’ You have opted to change the meaning of the word without first informing us of that fact.
PETER: Okay that’s clear, your position now is –
And this is clearly the reason why theoretical physicists, together with secular philosophers, were compelled to design ever more models of the universe in a desperate attempt to refute all notions that there was a big bang event that happened in which all of the matter of the universe suddenly came into being out of nothing – in other words relativistic cosmology is involved in an ongoing process of denial and obscuration of its original hypothesis.
RESPONDENT: The facts: I know of no scientist who excludes God as part of their cosmology – who thinks the universe came ‘out of nothing.’
PETER: Which of course is not to say there aren’t any such scientists. I say this because you made the case for another point you raised on the basis that ‘there are plenty of physicists who …’
RESPONDENT: Right – people can have a variety of beliefs. My point is that people like Stephen Hawking and Steven Weinberg do not say that the universe ‘came out of nothing.’ Rather, they have theories about singularities, multiple expansions and crunches, etc – to offer.
PETER: I think you would probably agree that this is where it gets confusing because you are saying that Stephen Hawking who talks about ‘the mind of God’ is not a Creationist because he doesn’t say that the universe ‘came out of nothing’ and yet Paul Davies who also talks about the ‘Mind of God’ says –
But then again these are old-hat theories by now I take it. Is the model of the universe that Victor Stenger talks about at the cutting edge or are other models gaining favour? Just curious.
RESPONDENT: Rather, it is normally proposed that ‘prior to the big bang’ there existed great energy – that is hardly nothing.
PETER: Most of what I have read of cosmology theories seem to me to concentrate on imagining how the Big Bang could have happened and I haven’t come across many theories that concentrate on what supposedly existed prior to the Big Bang. If it is normally proposed that ‘great energy’ existed prior to the Big Bang out of which all of matter of the entire universe was created, I would ask the scientists if this was a non-material energy as in a metaphysical energy or if it was a non-matter material energy?
RESPONDENT: Sure, and that’s what scientists go on about. The question I’m focussing on now though is not ‘what existed prior to the big bang’ – rather, I am focussing on your misrepresentation of scientific theories of the big-bang – since you seem to think that big-bang theorists necessarily propose that the universe came out of nothing.
PETER: Thus far you have pointed me to other physicists and philosophers who use various descriptions to explain what ‘our’ universe supposedly came out of –
As far as I can ascertain, the cosmologists’ attempts to make nothing sound like something appear only to be playing into the hands of the spiritualists.
PETER: To give you a down-to-earth example we both can relate to – let’s take a computer mouse, and I presume you can see one in front of you as I can. Now what these scientists are telling me is that it is possible to instantaneously create matter such as this out of a ‘great energy’. In other words, an instant before there would be no matter and an instant after there would be matter. Hmmm….
But then again, if I remained open that this was possible, I would ask the theorists: did this supposed ‘great energy’ that all of the matter of the entire universe was created out of always exist – was it eternally existing prior to the coming into being of matter, or did some prior event cause this great energy to come into being? If so, what caused this ‘great energy’ to be created in the first place? Was this ‘great energy’ infinite or was it limited in size and scope in some way?
RESPONDENT: All good questions – and all questions that are being answered by cosmologists in a variety of ways – but peripheral to what is currently under discussion.
PETER: I take it that you are making a case for the facticity of relativistic cosmology, unless you are merely conducting an intellectual rebuttal of what I was saying to No 60 for the sake of making an intellectual rebuttal. Whatever your motive is in writing, I have appreciated your probings as it has spurred me to look a bit deeper into the world of relativistic cosmology and my investigations have served only to confirm my initial impressions.
PETER: I have just taken a break from this post and put my feet up for a bit and skimmed through a book from Paul Davies, who achieved an international reputation for his ability to explain the significance of advance scientific ideas in simple language. I came across this –
and further on …
If I take this on board, I can only assume that the ‘great energy’ that you say is normally proposed as having existed prior to the Big Bang would have to be a formless (there being no space existing before the big bang), spaceless (there being no space existing before the big bang) and timeless (there is no time existing before the big bang) energy.
And I say timeless because Paul Davies says –
From what I make of what Paul Davies is saying it also appears that I am wrong in saying that the Big Bang theory proposes the universe was ‘created out of nothing.’ because nothing existed prior to the Big Bang (as in no space, time or matter existed prior to the singularity) and not only that but the Big Bang was not an event and did not happen at a particular moment in time because the event did not occur either in a place in space nor at a moment in time (as in no space, time or matter existed prior to the singularity).
After re-reading some of this book, I knew why I regarded relativistic cosmology as being absurd when I first started trying to make sense of it … but I digress.
To get back to the practicalities of your statement, when you say this ‘great energy’ that existed prior to the supposed Big Bang is ‘hardly nothing’, what do you mean? Do you mean it is ‘hardly nothing’ because it is a cosmological theory or ‘hardly nothing’ as in it is a bona fide energy that had, or has, a real existence? I ask because I am interested in what sense you make out of these theories, not as philosophical sense but as down-to-earth sense.
RESPONDENT: The facts: Also, there are those that propose that the universe actually expands and contracts and may go through a series of big-bangs – so this particular bang did not come out of nothing at all.
PETER: Yeah. I have read of many theories, amongst my favourites being the oscillating universe, a universe that is cyclic in nature, and many books have been written pointing out that this particular model is consistent with Hindu and other Eastern cosmologies of a cyclic nature (the reincarnating universe model?). There is also the time reversing model, wherein in each successive cycle, time oscillates between running forward and running backwards. There is also ‘the universe creates itself’ model, the ‘Mother and Child’ universe model, the ‘many universes’ theory, the Darwinist Cosmology model and so on. From what I gather, most of these theories are not big bang theories but are theories that have evolved in order to avoid the difficulties inherent in the mathematics of the Big Bang theory – seemingly not only does time, space and matter disappear in a singularity but also mathematics itself gets somewhat lost.
If I can just summarize, the point you appear to be making is that my idea that ‘the ‘big-bang’ theory proposes the universe was ‘created out of nothing’’ is ‘false’ because it is a fact that there are also other theories that propose a series of ‘little bangettes’ as alternatives to the Big Bang theory. From where I stand, it would be misleading to call these subsequent theories ‘the big-bang’ theory. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I can’t follow the logic of your refutation.
RESPONDENT: First, I should say that Paul Davies is an excellent source for you to buttress your theories about the ‘big bang’ being ‘creationist’ cosmology – yet he is not such an excellent source for looking at what others are proposing about the ‘big-bang.’ I’m sure it was for good reason that Davies titled one of his books ‘God and the New Physics.’
PETER: As I have indicated before, the only reason I have quoted Paul Davies is that I happened to buy a book of his in the local second-hand bookshop when I first started to enquire into the latest cosmological theories and the only reason that I mentioned Paul Davies in my post to No 60 was that he made the claim that –
But I do take your point that in the ongoing battle that the secularists are waging in support of relativistic cosmology Paul Davies could well be seen as a defector to religiosity.
RESPONDENT: My point is that there are big-bang theorists without the mystical bent of Davies and to a lesser degree – that of Einstein.
PETER: Now you have piqued my interest. Are you saying there is a relativistic cosmology that is not based on Einstein’s theory of relativity?
RESPONDENT: Your insisting on making ‘down-to-earth’ sense of what ‘pre-existed’ the ‘big-bang’ may of course, be unfulfillable.
PETER: It’s definitely unfulfillable for the simple reason that relativistic cosmology is a theoretical cosmology based on model universes that have nothing to do with the actual physical universe of sensate experience.
RESPONDENT: Can you make ‘down-to-earth’ sense of what Pluto is made of?
PETER: Human beings have done a fair job with this planet, this planet’s moon, are currently making sense of what Mars is made of, and have had a spacecraft fly by Pluto for a preliminary making sense … if that’s what you mean.
RESPONDENT: You may have to think out of the normal ‘down-to-earth’ ways you are accustomed to thinking.
PETER: Yep I can see that.
My current voluntary immersion into the world of relativity is akin to my previous unwitting immersion into the spiritual world. In both worlds one is encouraged to abandon common sense and accept presumption as being fact. Both are closed-loop belief systems in that you are taught that what they are saying is the truth.
I found by experience that the only way to free oneself from such beliefs is to dare to question everything and, most especially, the fundamental premise upon which they are founded.
RESPONDENT: I am not advocating big-bang cosmology – merely focussing on the fact that you often misrepresent it.
PETER: That’s becoming clearer to me now. No 60 essentially ran the same argument, he refuted any criticism of relativistic cosmology as being unfair and ill-informed whilst simultaneously declaring himself to be agnostic with regard to the nature and extent of the physical universe.
It is beyond me how anyone can settle for being agnostic towards the universe – this world of people, things and events. The very challenge presented by Richard’s discovery is that anyone who so desires can make sense of the universe and can do so to the point of becoming actually free of the human condition. It is a challenge that I, for one, could not and cannot turn away from.
RESPONDENT: The facts: Also, there are those that propose that the universe actually expands and contracts and may go through a series of big-bangs – so this particular bang did not come out of nothing at all.
PETER: Yeah. I have read of many theories, amongst my favourites being the oscillating universe, a universe that is cyclic in nature, and many books have been written pointing out that this particular model is consistent with Hindu and other Eastern cosmologies of a cyclic nature (the reincarnating universe model?).
RESPONDENT: An ‘oscillating universe’ may be consistent with Eastern cosmologies of a cyclic nature, but it is quite another issue whether a particular version of an ‘oscillating universe’ is connected in anyway to Eastern cosmologies.
PETER: I would have thought that this ‘quite another issue’ is central to the discussion we are having.
As far as I can see no relativistic cosmologist has yet designed a big bang model universe that can explain the supposed instantaneous coming into being of all the matter of this physical universe without resorting to metaphysical explanations. Every culture throughout history has had its own cosmology, and its own cosmogony, such that there are thousands of explanations as to when, why and how the physical universe came into existence – i.e. what is the universe’s underlying reality – and as such it is highly unlikely that the currently fashionable cosmology will invent anything that hasn’t been thought of before. After all, human imagination is extremely limited as it is always anthropocentric and it is always bound by instinctual passions.
PETER: There is also the time reversing model, wherein in each successive cycle, time oscillates between running forward and running backwards. There is also ‘the universe creates itself’ model, the ‘Mother and Child’ universe model, the ‘many universes’ theory, the Darwinist Cosmology model and so on. From what I gather, most of these theories are not big bang theories but are theories that have evolved in order to avoid the difficulties inherent in the mathematics of the Big Bang theory – seemingly not only does time, space and matter disappear in a singularity but also mathematics itself gets somewhat lost.
If I can just summarize, the point you appear to be making is that my idea that ‘the ‘big-bang’ theory proposes the universe was ‘created out of nothing’’ is ‘false’ because it is a fact that there are also other theories that propose a series of ‘little bangettes’ as alternatives to the Big Bang theory. From where I stand, it would be misleading to call these subsequent theories ‘the big-bang’ theory. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I can’t follow the logic of your refutation.
RESPONDENT: To say the ‘big-bang’ theory proposes that the universe was ‘created out of nothing’ is to say there is a necessary connection between the two ideas – but many mainstream big bang theorists do not say the universe was created ‘out of nothing’ – therefore the ‘big-bang’ theory does not necessarily claim that the universe was created ‘out of nothing.’ Do you follow now?
PETER: I do follow, but from what I read of the efforts of relativistic cosmologists and philosophers to create yet more models that enable them to explain this ‘nothing’ in other terms – such as: it is a timeless, formless and spaceless void; it is the true reality, it neither was nor will be, it just is; there was no time in which nothing could be said to exist; it is a pre-existing embedding vacuum space, and so on – is doing nothing but digging an ever bigger hole for 20th century Western cosmology.
RESPONDENT: Peter’s false idea 3) That ‘Einsteinian physics’ relies on ‘an a priori principle that the universe was created out of nothing.
3) Fact: Einsteinian physics – if by that you mean relativity (special and general) by no means relies on ‘an a priori principle that the universe was created out of nothing.’
PETER: This is the full text of the passage you are referring to –
Yep, you have got me nailed on this one. Loose terminology and sloppy thinking. The conversation with No 60 had been shifting around between discussing creationist cosmology and Einsteinian physics, so much so that I obviously lost the plot a bit.
RESPONDENT: Not just ‘a bit.’ If you admit to ‘sloppy thinking’ on this occasion – isn’t it possible that sloppiness has entered the rest of your thinking with regard to relativity and ‘big-bang’ cosmology? Understand I am not making an accusation about you being a sloppy thinker in general – rather, I think you are right on much of the time – but there is much to be desired in your treatment of both relativity and – ‘big bang’ cosmology.
PETER: Well, I have always regarded the big-bang theory as science fiction so I never took it too seriously at all – for me it is simply another in a long line of fantasies that attempt to answer a question that is based on a false presumption – that there is ‘something else’ or ‘somewhere else’ other than this actual universe that we human animals sensately experience.
But apparently this was a naïve outlook as it apparent that a good many people take relativity theory and Big Bang cosmology very seriously indeed, so much so that many people have even taken it up as a ‘cause celebre’ in the ongoing battle between materialists and spiritualists. The Big Bang theory has been an issue that has been taken so seriously on this list such that at least two people that I know of have used it as one of their main excuses to turn away from actualism.
I am definitely somewhat of a newcomer to the world of relativistic cosmology and philosophy, hence I don’t necessarily understand what all the fuss is about, I don’t necessarily understand the passions involved and I don’t necessarily understand the type of thinking involved that is used to defend the theories and to repel the boarders. However, because I am neither a materialist nor a spiritualist, I am able to take a clear-eyed look at relativistic cosmology, which is why I can clearly see it for what it is – merely the latest in a long line of fantasies about the supposed ‘underlying reality’ of the physical universe.
PETER: In hindsight, t’would have made much more sense and would have been much more accurate if I had have said –
RESPONDENT: Now I’m not following your logic.
PETER: It’s not logic, it’s a clear-eyed description of the house of cards that is relativistic cosmology. This is how Richard put it recently –
I do realize that this pulls the rug out from under one of the core planks of modern theoretical science and that it also disenfranchises secular humanism from having its own naturalistic/ evolutionary cosmology – but then again t’is only a fantasy after all.
RESPONDENT: Fact: Einstein’s theories were proposed around the turn of the century – a good 25-30 years or so before big-bang theory got its start. In my readings about relativity, I have never read that Einsteinian physics relies on creation out of nothing. I can agree that ‘creation out of nothing’ is absurd – but the notion that Einsteinian physics (relativity) relies on such an absurd idea may be even more absurd.
PETER: Yep. I did put the cart before the horse – it was Einstein’s theories that led to the Big Bang theory (hence the term relativistic cosmology) and not the other way around. My statement was, as you rightly said, absurd.
Thanks for your correction. At least it shows that someone is trying to follow this discussion and is trying to make sense of the subject. As I said in my post to No 60 –
So your correction is welcomed because no doubt the issue will be raised again and again over the coming years and whilst I continue to be asked to write yet more on the subject I obviously need to not only get my terminology right but also to avoid sloppy thinking.
RESPONDENT: And it is good to know that you are willing to be corrected – rather than doggedly hanging on to a personal (incorrect) thesis.
PETER: I have no trouble at all in admitting I am wrong – as I said I have never had occasion to immerse myself in the details of relativistic cosmology, as a brief overview was sufficient to convince me of its fallacies. But I do stand by what I say about relativistic cosmology and the more I look into it the more I see it clearly for what it is – an impassioned fantasy.
PETER: I would like to add a postscript to this post as something you recently said to No 53 struck a chord with me. <snip>
The reason I have juxtaposed my position re: metaphysics to your position re: the existence of God is that it may help you to appreciate that I too have no ‘Archimedian point’ (whatever that is) from which I can say there is no such thing as metaphysics. I simply put my initial understanding down to my practical life experience and the application of common sense … and it was this common sense thinking that led to the conclusion that then opened the way to me having an experiential understanding based on the direct experience of the infinitude of the actual universe which one has in a pure consciousness experience.
RESPONDENT: Interesting reading – as it is an account of a personal odyssey. I would add though that both relativity and the ‘big-bang’ are not necessarily as ‘metaphysical’ as you make them out to be. They may both be wrong – but if so, they are wrong because the evidence doesn’t support them – not because they are ‘metaphysical’. Let me reiterate – I am not saying that there are not metaphysical theories associated with the big-bang and relativity by some scientists – I am saying that they are not NECESSARILY metaphysical.
PETER: I am not making a philosophical argument as to the rights or wrongs of Einsteinian relativity or Einsteinian cosmology. What I did was make a down-to-earth enquiry into the subjects and what I found was that both were predicated on there being an underlying non-material reality to the material universe, i.e. both are theoretical systems based on the theoretical interactions of hypothetical particles that have no material existence.
From what you say, you appear to be arguing the agnostic case as in because you can never prove the existence of God, nor disprove the existence of God, one must remain open to all possibilities. As I said before, I have always found that it was unacceptable to me to remain open to all beliefs and, after I met Richard, I particularly found it impossible to remain an agnostic towards the universe – this very world of people, things and events.
By applying down-to-earth pragmatism I came to understand that I had two clear choices. If there was in fact an ‘underlying reality’ to the material universe then I had better stick with searching for the meaning of life within that ‘underlying reality’. If not, then I need to abandon the traditional spiritual search and set about thoroughly road-testing actualism in order to see if it works in practice – which, as you know, was the decision I took.
When I look back on my early discussions with Richard, what we broadly talked about was life, the universe and what it is to be a human being. In these discussions what emerged were a few clear propositions –
Over the course of a few months these very simple propositions made increasing sense to me such that I set off on my own course to discover for myself the facts of the matter – and taking on board the utter simplicity of the facts of the matter have drastically changed my life to an extent that was unimaginable to me when I first met Richard.
Which is why you and I are having this conversation about the latest of the cosmological theories.
PETER: In a post you posted the following quote without making any comment –
PETER: Having concocted the fanciful notion of memes, memetics and memeplexes, do the proponents of this supposed infliction by theoretical non-substantive particles proffer any solution to their own self-created dilemma?
Anti-meme inoculation? Aerial spraying of conflict zones with anti-meme-icides? Meme-resistant creams and potions? Search for an anti-meme gene? The adoption of a diet that is rich in anti-memetic compounds or of meditative practices that enhance one’s resistance to memes such that one can eventually become a meme-free zone unto oneself? Memetic-based therapies? Counselling for early childhood meme-abuse?
But then again all of these solutions would be fought tooth and nail by pro-memetic supporters.
Mass rallies of support for memes-rights would result. Organizations would be set up to champion the cause of endangered ethnic, tribal and cultural memes. Legislation would be passed limiting meme research and ensuring their protection. Astronomers would begin to search for alien memes and start to discover meme holes. Meme museums would be built and sacred-meme spiritual movements would be spawned leading to the construction of meme shrines. The emerging conflicts between the supporters of various memes would lead to meme wars and the emergence of meme-liberation and meme-rights terrorist groups would mean …
RESPONDENT: You of course would argue that your point of view is evidently more sane since you have the empirical proof to back it up. But I can’t see the use of dismissing the theoretical side of science and everything else that isn’t possible to verify directly by empirical methods.
PETER: The problem I found with believing others’ theories and ideals was that they are changeable over time as more factual evidence became available, or as fashions changed. Further theories and ideals are culturally and spiritually influenced and the many variations only open up rich avenues of conflict, confusion, fantasy and fear, hope and hopelessness. Believing theories merely added more fuel to the fire of my instinctual passions, imaginations, dreams and nightmares – which is why I eventually abandoned the very act of believing.
Give me a fact any day.
RESPONDENT: What I’m trying to say is that you must be aware that many people might see you as an empirical fascist, stubbornly claiming your view and disregarding everything else.
PETER: What I’ve come to see is that people will do anything but face the facts and calling me ‘an empirical fascist’ is but mild compared with some of the comments I have had. It is no coincidence that this message – that an actual freedom from malice and sorrow is now possible – is being spread via the Internet for it is proving to be both a safe and anonymous way of conducting a free-wheeling, non-popularist, non-spiritual examination of the human condition.
RESPONDENT: Don’t you think that the modern approach of science is more inclusive than exclusive, isn’t that something we’ve also learned along the line of evolution?
PETER: Theoretical science has always been grounded in mysticism, be it Western or the now fashionable version of Eastern mysticism. All theoretical cosmology can best be described as mystical cosmology for their search is based on proving a theory that they cannot prove by empirical observation – that there was a beginning and that there may be an end to the physical universe and that there is ‘something else’ or ‘somewhere else’ apart from this observable physical universe. Ever since the time of Albert Einstein’s mystical theory of a space-time continuum, a lot of common sense has gone out the window in both the search for the big picture and the search for the micro picture. When scientists lose their grip on sensate actuality and go searching for a greater reality they are following a long tradition of mysticism.
What we have learned from any form of mysticism is that all it produces is yet even more fanciful versions of mysticism.
RESPONDENT: That it’s helpful with crossovers in the search for new insights, to take in information from all valid areas, including theoretical science etc. The great explorers and practical scientists have contributed to mankind, yes, but they were also quite limited in many aspects and TERRIBLE human beings in some cases, they were also very influenced by their cultures that were anything but civilized.
PETER: Ah, well now you are talking about something different, which is human behaviour. Are you saying we should look to mysticism for the solution to peace on earth – an actual ‘civilization’ of human beings rather than the current fragile veneer of civilization, liable to break down at any moment, in any place? Surely the mystics have had long enough to prove their case. Mysticism, spirituality and religion have proven to be rotten to their sacred core – both the teachers and the teachings.
RESPONDENT: Science can hold the same piousness and trapping that previous religions have.
PETER: Indeed. Theoretical sciences such as cosmology and quantum physics are steeped in spirituality and religion for they are trying to comprehend what created the universe, what is beyond the infinite universe, what existed prior to eternal time and what will exist after eternal time ceases. No wonder they keep coming up with same old fairy stories of God by whatever name and ‘other’-worlds by whatever name. When human beings think about things that they cannot see, touch, hear, smell or taste then the only option is to resort (is) to impassioned imagination – thought unfettered by common sense and direct sensate evidence. This imagination which is ‘self’-centred is ultimately obsessed by the fear of death giving rise to stories of after-lives in other-worlds which are but poetry and music for the soul. (...)
RESPONDENT: The goal of science is not to eradicate the body but to dissect it to its base components.
PETER: If you are talking of medical science – I am constantly astounded by the inventiveness and technological advances in understanding, observing, monitoring, diagnosing and repairing the human body. Medical science has contributed mightily to the almost doubling of the average lifespan of human beings in the last century and the dramatic reduction in infant mortalities.
RESPONDENT: The mechanics of life within the planes of matter, energy time and space are bound by laws, many in the physical (physics) realm were discovered fairly recently. Many ‘discoverers’ added views such as Albert E, and more recently, Stephen Hawking, which can (relative to their field) appear to be ‘imaginary’, ‘metaphysical’ or mystical.
PETER: Neither Einstein nor Hawking work in practical empirical science but in the field of theoretical sciences, dealing with things that can neither be seen nor measured. Both men are self-proclaimed mystics, searching for the meaning of life in mathematical equations and unfathomable theories.
It is important to make a clear distinction as to what are physical laws – empirically measurable, clearly demonstrable and readily repeatable – and what is mere theory, postulation or assumption. I find it most telling that the clocks of the worldwide satellite navigation system were programmed according to Newtonian laws and not according to Mr. Einstein’s theory that suggests time somehow varies relative to the velocity of the clock itself. Similarly, all of the space exploration uses Newtonian physical laws and not Einstein’s esoteric theory.
A scientific theory ain’t a physical law – a theory is speculation or conjecture.
RESPONDENT: The reason I mention this is because I have discovered, without the brilliant minds that these guys were born with, as many others have, laws that transcend the ‘cultural laws’.
PETER: Theoreticians such as Mr. Einstein and Mr. Hawking and their ilk are human beings, exactly like you and I. As such, it is inevitable that they had an upbringing steeped in religious/ spiritual belief. Their theories are about the creation and ending of this eternal universe and about ‘other-worlds’, other than this infinite universe. The physical, actual universe, being eternal, has no beginning and no end and, being infinite, has no edge or outside to it. (...)
RESPONDENT: An interesting ‘recent’ discovery indicates the reality of ‘tissue memory’ for example.
PETER: One of the more curious aspects of the human brain is that the primitive animal-instinctual segment, commonly termed the reptilian brain, seems to have its own separate memory, which is an emotional-only memory of past events. There is also evidence that any long-term memory recall is very short on factual detail, and further, that we only recall the last time we remembered the event rather than being able to trace back to the original event. Thus it is that these past memories are primarily psychological and psychic in nature, i.e. they are ‘my’ unreliable and largely emotional memories. When a current event triggers an automatic kick-in of an instinctual reaction, it also activates a feeling in the neo-cortex, and this often opens a floodgate, as it were, and we get past emotional memories flooding in as well. Many people also access these emotional memories deliberately as they like to indulge in the bitter-sweet feelings of sorrow or grief, or the lusty feelings of anger and revenge. This is not ‘tissue memory’ – this is base-instinctual memory.
RESPONDENT: Science is also ‘unfolding’, as is everything, including the individual.
PETER: Empirical science is indeed progressing to the point that it is often able to correct, or even eliminate, the supposedly karmic-caused birth deformities you mentioned. This is despite the ethical and moral objections that doctors and scientists are playing God or interfering with the sacredness of life.
As for the ‘individual’ – humans stubbornly insist on remaining ensnared within the Human Condition, either by staying normal or becoming ‘spiritual’, and neither action is a sign of free individual autonomous behaviour.
RESPONDENT: Quantum science recognizes the predictability of a ‘cluster’, and the randomness of the ‘particle’.
RESPONDENT: You may be interested in the following scientific thing:
I saw today on NBC Today a short interview with Dr. Daniel Amen who wrote a book ‘Change your brain change your life’. Dr. Amen showed how activity of human brain is correlated with different mental states. He actually refers to the brain as hardware vs. personality as software. Both affecting each other (he claims you can reprogram, rewire your brain by restructuring your thoughts). He showed different blood flow (related to the brain activity) patterns observed by a NMR scan, I think, in a brain as related to depression, hyperactivity, obsession, etc. More is supposedly available on http://www.today.msnbc.com (if I recall the address correctly). He, for example, praised positive thinking. Would be interesting to see influence of a prolonged meditation or your ‘mantra’-investigation system on these blood flow patterns as brain is being ‘rewired’, wouldn’t it?
In a scientific mood today.
PETER: Yes indeed, we are starting to begin to understand a bit about the brain’s hardware. I always find it interesting that, in terms of mapping feelings, emotions and instinctual reactions, they can only watch and map the situation ‘as is’. The next major challenge facing the human species is to eliminate the animal instincts of fear, aggression, nurture and desire that are located in the reptilian or ‘lizard’ brain located at the top of the nerve system of the spinal chord .
It could well be that in the future it may be possible to cause this elimination genetically, but that is a mere speculation.
In the meantime, there is a tried and tested way of doing it yourself. It is possible by your own effort, guided by your own native intelligence when freed of the psittacisms of the past, to cause the elimination of these instincts in yourself.
To cause their elimination to such an extent that the final demise is inevitable. To finally become human, freer than a bird on the wing, pure and innocent, perfect and delightful.
As for positive thinking, the problem for me always was the effort needed. The need to be on vigilant guard or in ‘positive mode’ was a constant effort on ‘my’ part. I found it an exhausting thing to maintain and I saw that I often used it to cover up something I didn’t want to look at, dig in to and investigate.
Some aspect of the Human Condition, that was in me, that was causing me to be unhappy (sorrow) or causing me to make others around me unhappy (malice).
The very commitment to become happy and harmless meant that I was compelled to eliminate all the feelings associated with malice and sorrow.
At the core of who you ‘feel’ yourself to be is your very instinctual ‘self’ – the core instincts of fear, aggression, nurture and desire – the very animal survival instincts that still entrap the human species in animal behaviour.
It is now possible to evoke that change in yourself, should you so desire.
I do like the human brain and the marvels it has wrought. It’s time to do something about the lizard brain.
Peter’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.