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AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE for 07/05/2004
Volume 2, #130

So many practicing scientists seem to go to pieces at the mere notion of mysticism. Men like Dawkins (The Selfish Gene) actually feel threatened by the word. Well, today, I'm going to threaten such people even more. I'm going to demonstrate that this thing we call science is first, not just one thing; second, is a collection of separate views of reality that do not even fit together. For starters, there's no such seamless whole as science; there's macrocosmic science, and there's microcosmic science, Einstein and Newton's worlds of reality, and that most mystic of all scientific ideas, the quantum wave which we can only get to see in probabilistic terms by collapsing it. That's it, quantum theory.

Now, the fact is, the scientists who think mysticism is childish stuff, long dispelled by the enlightenment, obviously wouldn't like Superman. And wouldn't read this column. Obviously! But I do have scientists among my readers, and a number of very good ones. But the problem is establishment science doesn't seem to have any idea of what mysticism is, except that it's bad. Like Engel's old shibboleth about religion being something to enslave the masses. Yes, yes, lots of things are used to enslave the masses, including comic strips, pop culture and lack of money. But in actual fact, anyone who works in quantum physics is practicing mysticism, that is, utilizing things that can't be seen, touched, smelled, sensed in any way, to bring about drastic changes in our lifestyles and our activities. Just like the old magi's of the distant past. Or aboriginal medicine men who also have been known, when their culture is intact, to perform medical miracles. The way aboriginal medicine works in dependency with a culture that is whole, uninvaded as yet by "civilized" influences, leaving it an unsullied communal belief system, might be the subject of a future column, but today, the subject is the mysticism of science.

Now I already mentioned last week how quantum physics was born out of a dream by Max Planck, effectively revealing the basic notion of "quanta". I've also mentioned Descartes dreams and the fact that Sir Isaac Newton was a Rosicrucian. Let's take the men responsible for the discovery of DNA, James Watson and Francis Crick. What were they likely to have said at the moment of discovery. Remember the word? All scientists speak of it when after years of toil and trouble, the answer suddenly breaks in on them from left field.

Eureka! Yes, the Eureka experience. Maybe many would insist that something happened in some unexplored region of the brain. But straight on, it looks like a sudden mystical experience. So what's that? I can't say really, but it's an old familiar of mine.

Like everybody else, I often find myself facing problems that seem insurmountable. I look at the situation and figure that the outcome obviously has to be this or this or that. And almost always, I've been paying special attention to this lately, the answer comes from somewhere else, out of some totally unanticipated antic of possibility. The last thing I would have expected or imagined.

Think back, and consider how certain problems solved themselves. Unexpectedly. But consider also that these solutions occur only if you make your own efforts, using common sense, knowledge and sheer doggedness. Then it happens, from some place you never thought of. A dream, a flash of insight, a gift from the Mysterium Tremendum?

Listen everyone. If you tell them you're a mystic, you'll never get that grant. So don't tell them. Get the grant, do the work and be sure that somehow the "implicate order" as that great scientist David Bohm describes it, produces the answer. Something like that just happened to me today. That's why I thought I'd write about it.

--Alvin

<< 06/28/2004 | 07/05/2004 | 07/12/2004 >>

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