1- The longing for love, 2- The search for knowledge, and 3- Unbearable
pity for the suffering of mankind.” Bertrand Russell
“Physics was invented by people who happened to be very religious. Newton is one example. For him the laws of nature and their mathematical representations were synonymous with knowing the thoughts of God: Space was the sensorium of God and true time was the time in which God experienced the world and made things in the world.”
Conversation with Lee Smolin.
Your Cosmological Natural Selection hypothesis suggests that the laws of nature change in time. How can that be possible?
There are two kinds of explanations as to why some system is one way rather than another way. One is that it has to be that way because there’s some fundamental principle that makes it so. In fact, my generation was raised to find the unique set of laws which would satisfy the principles of relativity and quantum mechanics. We thought we would find a unique answer. But now we know that there are many, many different possible laws compatible with the principles of nature. The only other way in science that things get explained in a way that leads to testable hypotheses is if there’s some dynamical process acting in time, which makes the world come out the way it did.
What does that mean for our understanding of time?
The standard view in physics is that time isn’t fundamental, and that it emerges as an illusion out of the action of the laws. But if the laws evolve, that can’t be the case; time has to be more fundamental. If laws can change in time, then I take that almost as a definition of time being real. The arguments that Einstein and other people give for time being an illusion assume that the laws of nature never change. If they do change, the case that time is an illusion falls apart. It means that time is more fundamental than the laws of nature.
Newton was revolutionary in part because he applied a timeless set of laws to the whole universe. Was he wrong to do so?
Physics was invented by people who happened to be very religious. Newton is one example. For him the laws of nature and their mathematical representations were synonymous with knowing the thoughts of God: Space was the sensorium of God and true time was the time in which God experienced the world and made things in the world. And Newton’s style of doing physics works perfectly when you apply it to a small part of the universe, say something going on in a laboratory. But when you take Newton’s style of doing physics and apply it to the universe as a whole, you implicitly assume that there is something outside the universe making things happen inside the universe, the same way there’s something outside the laboratory system making things happen in the laboratory. What I think has happened is that even physicists who have no religious faith or commitment have gotten sucked into a form of explanation which has a religious underpinning, by which I mean it requires pointing to something outside the universe in order to give a complete explanation. Many people who think of themselves as atheists do this habitually. In my view, it makes them think sloppy thoughts about cosmology. When it comes to extending science to the universe as a whole, you have to think differently than applying science to a laboratory system.
Posted By F. Sheikh
It is a worth reading article about a Palestinian farming town Halhul and a Palestinian farmer Mr. Kashkeesh, whom Mr. Ignatius visited 32 years ago and then recently. He writes;
“First, try to imagine the landscape and how it has changed in the years of Israeli occupation. Halhul is an agricultural town in the rock-ribbed hills just south of Bethlehem. When I first traveled this route in 1982 to spend two weeks with Kashkeesh, to write a profile of his town, the hillsides were mostly barren. Now, the landscape is dense with Israeli settlements, many of them built since the Oslo Accord in 1993 that created the Palestinian Authority.
Kashkeesh and his neighbors pride themselves on raising what they claim are the tastiest grapes in the world. His access to his vines was obstructed more than a decade ago when a road was built for Israeli settlers who live nearby. He had given up his precious grapes when I visited in 2003, but he has found a way to tend them again. Some of his neighbors aren’t so lucky; their vines have grown wild or died.”
He writes about an old heart aching personal story of Mr. Kahkeesh;
“I asked him to tell me again the story about the boy and the swimming pool. Listen with me;
It was 1975. Kashkeesh was 29 and had recently been released from prison after serving a six-year sentence for membership in the Fatah guerrilla group. He was working at a resort in Arad when he saw an Israeli infant fall into the swimming pool. The parents were elsewhere, and although Kashkeesh couldn’t swim, there was nobody else to save the boy. So he jumped in the water and took the child in his arms. When an Israeli investigator asked him why he had risked his life to help a Jew, he answered that the boy was a human being.
He tells that story now without much animation. As with millions of Israelis and Palestinians, I suspect that his heart has been hardened by so many years of pain and failure. Will the peace negotiations work amid so much mistrust and anger? I don’t know, but this quest for peace is surely still worth the effort.”
Posted By F. Sheikh