(Image by @Doug88888)
If you have a stray hour here or there I highly suggest checking out my multimedia link for “The Elegant Universe”. It’s a 3 hour (broken into smaller segments) PBS adaptation of Brian Greene’s book of the same name. It surveys 20th century physics into the present, showing how the developments and subsequent mismatches of relativity and quantum mechanics are potentially bridged by string theory. The program is extremely accessible and informative. Even if you don’t consider yourself scientific I would recommend this one. I’ve said for a long time that if you wanted to follow the zeitgeist of the 20th century that all you had to do was follow the theories of the physicists (my hypothesis for the 21st is that we’ll be following the theories of the biologists). In other words, watching the program will bring you more than just a physics tutorial. As least I hope it does.
In this vein…
Once upon a time a man was branded as a heretic by the church for claiming that the earth was not the center of the universe. You may have heard of this man at some point in your life travels. It turns out he was right. Well, he was least slightly more right than the presently accepted truth. He posited that the sun was the center of the universe. Now we know that this is in fact not the case. Not only is the sun moving along with every other star in our galaxy, but our galaxy is also moving. Every galaxy is moving. To and fro the heavens move. What I’m getting at is that we’re never finished with discovering the beautiful and complex facts about existence. We shouldn’t be surprised when the popular understanding of reality is shaken beyond recognition. Nor should we be worried.
Even as I write this post scholars at the forefront of physics question whether our universe is unique or whether it is just one of an infinite number of universes. Does that possibility bother you? Think about it. An infinite number of universes. Well, I don’t think it should bother you. In fact, my belief is that it should comfort you. As we discover the deeper complexities of our universe I see more and more only the hands of God.
Similarly, I feel the same way about the so-called emerging worldviews. I embrace postmodernity. I embrace relativism. Not without question, but I do embrace them. New perspectives bring both greater clarity and greater confusion. It’s the job of those who care to help work out which is which. Will postmodernity or relativism destroy Christian or any other religious belief? Of course not. And if you believe that it will then you are naïve.
Look at relativity and quantum mechanics. They are two branches of physics that smart people have been trying to unite for the past half century. Alone, each tells us unique facts. But when these facts try to mesh together in the current spheres of thought there are inconsistencies. Does this mean that the two oppose one another? I don’t think it does. On one levels there is definite disagreement. But I believe with no doubt that there is a larger canvas through which the two fit in harmony. It is beyond right and wrong.
Why can’t we get past right and wrong? Why can’t we let go of trying to control everything we do? It is so utterly binding. There is always, I am convinced, one step farther down the line that explains the currently unanswerable. And at the end of this line I do believe that God stands with a smile.