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To: Alamo-Girl; marron; cornelis; hosepipe; YHAOS; MHGinTN; .30Carbine; metmom; editor-surveyor; ...
...scientists generally speaking do not have the necessary toolkit of methods to “do” philosophy or theology even though they choose and apply it (perhaps unawares.) Thus I strongly agree with Bohr that science should limit itself to what it can say about the physical and phenomenal world using its own methodology – and resist the urge to speak about the essence of any thing.

This would be a result dearly to be desired, dearest sister. But it is also a devilishly difficult thing to do. It cuts across the very grain of how human beings actually live their lives -- which usually involves trying to integrate their knowledge and experience with a view to the future, by drawing on the past. This seems to be the general condition of most intelligent human beings, whether they be great scientists, or just plain folks like you and me.

According to Niels Bohr, the very thing that ought to be avoided in science is exemplified by his dear friend, colleague, and (sometime) adversary, Albert Einstein.

To put this into perspective: As earlier suggested, Einstein’s thought tended to the “platonic.” That is, he assumed an eternal universe, without beginning or end; and he thought that at the root of the cosmos, a fundamental mathematics, or logic, or geometry would be found to specify the “implicate order” (to use David Bohm’s term without permission) that governs the unfolding (or evolution) of the universe in space and time.

Then in my reading of late along comes the eminent physicist John A. Wheeler, a friend of Einstein, and friend and close colleague of Bohr, with his intriguing insight that Einstein’s “continuing rejection of complementarity [i.e., the uncertainty/indeterminacy relations of quantum physics], and 1917–1929 rejection of the big bang [theory], were influenced by his youthful admiration for the thought of Benedict Spinoza, implacable advocate of determinacy and of a universe that goes on from everlasting to everlasting.” [J. A. Wheeler, “Physics in Copenhagen in 1934 and 1935,” in Niels Bohr: A Centenary Volume; Cambridge Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1985; p. 224.]

Plato and Spinoza seem to be in agreement with respect to the eternal-universe model: That is, a universe that subsists forever, with no beginning or end, for the reason that God subsists forever, without beginning or end. Moreover the two thinkers seem to be in accord on the conjecture that the universe is, at root, mathematically or geometrically founded and ordered.

But where it seems Plato and Spinoza part company is over the question of determinism.

For Spinoza, there is no free will in the universe: Even God creates by necessity; it is His nature; and it is by, through, and from His (immanent) “substance” that all other natural things are the reifications. In effect, Spinoza has created a fascinating pantheism on the basis of seemingly ineluctable rational principles.

Yet for Plato, the universe is not ordered deterministically, but by “persuasion.” Persuasion leaves room for free will, which Spinoza absolutely denies. The unknown god of the Beyond, Plato's Epikeina, draws us unto his everlasting truth by persuasion, not by force.

Anyhoot, much more can be said on this topic, and probably will be said in time. But for now, let’s leave it this way: Einstein’s philosophy was his lifelong guide to his scientific judgment. Which is hardly unexceptional. For who can make any judgment at all, if he lacks criteria of meaning, and a standard for his judgment?

I read Spinoza in my college years, and found him fascinating. I still do. Having revisited him recently at Wheeler’s suggestion, from what I know about Einstein (which is exceedingly partial in two senses), I conjecture that, if you can understand the thought of Baruch (Benedict) Spinoza, you just might gain insight into the workings of one of the greatest minds of all time, the guy who discovered the photon and gave us relativity theory.

And then spent the rest of his life arguing with Niels Bohr. :^)

To be continued…sometime. Hopefully. :^)

Thank you oh so much for writing, my dearest sister in Christ!

197 posted on 06/04/2007 8:38:14 PM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein.)
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To: betty boop
I was wondering why you didn't reply to my post and then when I came back to the thread, I discovered it is not here. LOL! I must have hit "x" instead of post. Jeepers...

Best I can remember, my main point was that Einstein did indeed cling to the steady state model to the point that he "klugged" a cosmological constant. Afterwards, he regretted that - and yet today, many believe a constant is needed.

The other point was that Einstein's theories support the Platonist paradigm but he took the Aristotle paradigm (mathematics) in his debates with Godel. How strange!

Thank you so much for all of your wonderfully informative essay-posts!

216 posted on 06/07/2007 10:51:52 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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