Monday, April 27, 2009
Science and G-d
What do you get, if you divide science by G-d?
By Mark Vernon
(Mark Vernon is author of: After Atheism: Science, Religion and the Meaning of Life)
A prize-winning quantum physicist says, that a spiritual reality is veiled from us, and science offers a glimpse behind that veil.
So how do scientists, investigating the fundamental nature of the universe, assess any role of G-d, asks Mark Vernon.
The Templeton Prize, awarded for contributions to "affirming life's spiritual dimension", has been won by French physicist Bernard d'Espagnat, who has worked on quantum physics, with some of the most famous names in modern science.
Quantum physics, is a hugely successful theory: the predictions it makes about the behavior of subatomic particles, are extraordinarily accurate. And yet, it raises profound puzzles, about reality that remain as yet to be understood.
WHAT IS QUANTUM PHYSICS?
Originated in work conducted by Max Planck and Albert Einstein, at start of 20th Century. They discovered, that light comes in discrete packets, or quanta, which we call photons
The Heisenberg Uncertainty principle says, certain features of subatomic particles, like momentum and position, cannot be known precisely at the same time.
But gaps remain in the theory, like attempts to find the 'G-d Particle', that scientists hope to spot in the Large Hadron Collider. It is required, to give other particles mass.
The bizarre nature of quantum physics, has attracted some speculations, that are wacky, but the theory suggests to some serious scientists; that reality, at its most basic, is perfectly compatible, with what might be called a spiritual view of things.
Some suggest, that observers play a key part in determining the nature of things. Legendary physicist John Wheeler said, the cosmos "has not really happened, it is not a phenomenon, until it has been observed to happen."
D'Espagnat worked with Wheeler; though he himself reckons with quantum theory, he suggests something different. For him, quantum physics shows us, that reality is ultimately "veiled" from us. The equations and predictions of the science, super-accurate though they are, offer us only a glimpse, behind that veil.
Moreover, that hidden reality is, in some sense, divine. Along with some philosophers, he has called it "Being".