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Stephen Hawking (1942- ) is a British theoretical physicist and an outstanding summarizer of recent ideas in physics. His bestselling book, A Brief History of Time (1988, 1996), helped to catapult him into the public eye.
In that work Hawking didn’t entirely dismiss the idea of God. However, his comments about God were usually couched in the language of theories that depend on sense observation (e.g. The Big Bang, Black Holes, Relativity Theories, the Beginning and End of Time).
Not much serious discussion is given to the possibility of immanent, spiritual powers (and realms) existing beyond yet influencing the observable universe. This isn’t surprising because Hawking is a leading physicist, and not a leading mystic nor theologian.
Having said that, Hawking is open-minded enough to rethink the nature of time and consider the possibility of backwards causality. And his use of the phrase “angel-eye’s view” to describe this process suggests that he’s not averse to using metaphors that, at least for others, would point to a spirituality existing beyond sensory and conceptual realities (although Hawking’s usage here does seem entirely literary and whimsical):
“Observations of final states determine different histories of the universe,” says Hawking. “A worm’s-eye view from inside the universe would have the normal causality. Backwards causality is an angel’s-eye view from outside the universe.”¹
To this Rob MacRiner adds:
Answer to Question: Why does time seem to exist only in a forward direction?
Time seems to only exist in a forward direction because the universe is expanding. If the Universe reaches Critical Velocity and starts to contract ….then time, as we measure time will reverse according to the Big Bang / Big Crunch Theory. The reason for this is that time does not exist without change or movement….. (change or movement of particle matter or energy as we know it). If matter has no movement either expanding or contracting then time does not exit for that matter. However Time can exist around non moving particle matter if something is either expanding or contracting around it.
If the expansion of matter increases as in the case of our universe, or an expanding object, or even light…then time increases relative to the rate of expansion. Example: if carbon A is heated and expands faster than carbon B (which is not heated) then time increases in carbon A relative to carbon B…However as Einstein pointed out…time is relative to the observer…and you need something of contrast to make that comparison….fortunately our universe offers lots of contrast …otherwise we would have a very difficult time figuring this out. Time being relative to the observer can exist at different speeds based on the rate of expanding matter. If you are on riding on a beam of light than time is much different than your friend riding on a sound wave.Of course time is relative to the observer, therefore your time is much faster only to him, or any body else who is not on a beam of light.
If matter contracts or condenses then time actually reverses…as in the case of a contracting universe…so Planks Quantum would be measured as zero time for the entire Universe…and time starts at the point of the Big Bang (once matter is on the move again)… In the case of a black hole, relative to our expanding universe)… there is also no time. (except for matter being sucked into a black hole….this matter would be reversing in time, until at which point it becomes part of the black hole mass, then time (in a Black Hole) as in Planks Quantum is zero….which is odd because the Universe is still expanding around the black hole…but it is consistent with the theory that. Time can exist around “non moving matter” if something is either expanding or contracting
Time as we know it is measured in a forward direction and will continue until the point of critical velocity…at which point time starts to reverse…and for a brief moment…the point where the Universe changes from expanding to contracting…time will again be zero…as in Planks Quantum. However…during the forward direction of time…(while the Universe is expanding)…black holes are continuing to suck up matter…and should in theory at some point converge with other black holes….Therefore…as the universe is expanding from the big bang…there is multitude of matter which is not expanding (black holes)…which might well be unexploded Planks Quantum matter from the big bang…and the black holes with their massive gravitational force are sucking up matter which was attempting to expand but was not able to overcome the stronger force of the black hole…like mini-Plank Quantum’s converging within the universe …When the Universe reaches Critical Velocity and then all matter in our Universe starts to contract…heading towards the Big Crunch….the multitude of black holes converging (up to that point) should in theory rapidly increase the speed of reverse time …acting as an accelerant force of a contracting Universe with there collective gravitational force …so the reverse of time.(the journey the contracting Universe is taking towards the Big Crunch)…should happen much quicker than the time it took for the Universe to go from the Big Bang to Critical Velocity…That is of course Time relative from the Big Bang to Critical Velocity ……in contrast to …….Time Relative from Critical Velocity to the Big Crunch..… » See in context
More recently, Hawking has argued that our universe has no need for an intelligent creator.
The laws of nature themselves tells us that not only can the universe have popped into existence like a proton and have required nothing in terms of energy but also that it is possible that nothing caused the big bang.²
¹ New Scientist, “Exploring Stephen Hawking’s Flexiverse” 20 April 2006, Amanda Gefter, cited at http://okgrouputer.blogspot.com/2006/05/heisenberg-lsd-stephen-hawkings.html.
- Guest Post: Don Page on Quantum Cosmology (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- Stephen Hawking (whatdidyoulearninschooltoday.wordpress.com)
- Stephen Hawking – English Physicist (newsreminder.wordpress.com)
- Stephen Hawking: “Humans Have Entered a New Stage of Evolution” (chrishoeller.wordpress.com)
- The Physics Book by Clifford A. Pickover (neatorama.com)
- The Universe’s Dark Ages: How Our Cosmos Survived (livescience.com)
- Planets smashed into dust near supermassive black holes (eurekalert.org)
- Endless Void or Big Crunch: How Will the Universe End? (livescience.com)
- Rewind TV: Origins of Us; Holy Flying Circus; The Kid’s Speech; Brave New World with Stephen Hawking – review (guardian.co.uk)
Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was a German, Swiss and US physicist, born in Ulm, Bavaria. Einstein became a Swiss national in 1901 and held the position of examiner at the National Patent Office (1902-5). During this time he published papers on theoretical physics. He received the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on the photoelectric effect (i.e. the observation that electrons are released from specific metals when exposed to ultraviolet light), which spearheaded quantum theory.
Einstein is best known for his special theory of relativity (1905) and general theory of relativity (1916). He also produced the equation, e=mc² where ‘e’ is energy, ‘m’ is matter, and ‘c’ is the speed of light, which is a constant.
Professor at Zürich and Prague, and Director of Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Physical Institute, Einstein escaped persecution from the Nazis by emigrating to the USA, where he lectured at Princeton in 1934. He gained US citizenship and a professorship at Princeton in 1940. After World War II, Einstein advocated international regulation of the atomic bomb. In 1952 he was courted by Israel to become its second President but declined the offer.
Einstein has been accused of plagiarizing from several sources. He himself says that he didn’t have time to fully reference some of the ideas that contributed to this theories.
- General Theory of Relativity (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Albert Einstein Was A Genius But Also A Terrible Husband… (since1910.com)
- Albert Einstein by Frieda Wishinsky. (encinolibrary.wordpress.com)
- Inside The Office Of Albert Einstein (gizmodo.com.au)
- Happy Birthday, Einstein (Part 4) (letsplaymath.net)
- The Myth of Matter, p. 7 (antennaguru.wordpress.com)
- Einstein’s explanation is better than my – compare my recent blog – but, of course…. (akeeckerwall.wordpress.com)
- Inside the Office of Albert Einstein (gizmodo.co.uk)
- Two things you can learn reading Albert Einstein’s personal correspondence (boingboing.net)
- Inside the Office of Albert Einstein [Image Cache] (gizmodo.com)
It suggests the coexistence of more than one universe and possibly an unlimited number of universes.
The idea arguably existed in Celtic myths about the otherworld. In pagan Ireland, for instance, the afterlife region of sidh very closely resembles earthly life. On Novemeber 1 during the festival of Samhain, spirits from both worlds are said to interact.
In philosophy, Leibniz argues that God conceived of many possible universes but only actualized one: “the best of all possible worlds.”
In the 1970′s, Jane Roberts‘ Seth Books presented a cosmology that included not only parallel but interactive universes. For Roberts, the soul exists as a complex entity among multiple universes, learning something unique from each. At certain times some people may sense a “bleed through” from a parallel universe. The rock musician in universe A, for instance, may sense her other self as an astronaut in universe B.
Roberts’ views are no doubt interesting but, then again, so is science fiction. And until some kind of tangible proof can be obtained, her ideas remain pretty much on the fringe.
1970s channeler who wrote the popular Seth Books and several less commercially successful fiction novels before the idea of channeling became a New Age publishing sensation.
Roberts allegedly went into a trance and channeled a spirit entity called ‘Seth’ while her husband Robert Butts transcribed the sessions.
At times Roberts, herself, wondered whether it was just her unconscious speaking but most of the time she writes as if Seth were a separate entity.
Regardless of Seth’s true nature, the worldview advanced by the Seth character is noteworthy.
Seth’s cosmology (i.e. map of the universe) has intersecting parallel universes connecting among themselves backwards and forwards through time. The past and future of all parallel universes – to include our supposed parallel selves – interact with and have an effect on the present as perceived now.
As with other mystical traditions, Seth suggests that part of the self is located in the flesh while other aspects of mind and soul exist beyond the material plane.
The Seth model differs from the belief in reincarnation in three ways:
- Reincarnation stresses the effects of past lives on our present life, largely ignoring the possible influence of future selves on the present
- Seth advances the idea of interactive selves existing in parallel universes
- Not unlike Shakti Gawain, Seth highlights the importance of life in the present, whereas reincarnational theories tend to emphasize an escape from Samsara (the wheel of worldly rebirth)
Similarly, respected theorists like C. G. Jung view time, if perhaps not parallel universes, within a holistic framework. And the idea of parallel universes has gained some academic scrutiny through figures like Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku.
As a final note, the belief in an interactive past, present and future is not necessarily equivalent to the theological idea that God knows the past, present and future. Many traditional theologians become uncomfortable with the idea, for instance, that the future could be seeping into or impinging on the present. They prefer to stick to the old idea that the future just doesn’t exist yet.
This traditional perspective, however, is challenged by the modern physics worldview that space and time are not absolute but rather, relative, multiple and interactive positions.
Perhaps it’s just too challenging for some people to think that far out of the box, and adhering to their cherished old religious and philosophical ideas gives them psychological comfort, much like a baby needs a breast or a bottle before it grows up enough to learn how to walk to the store to buy some milk.
One definition of the word spirit points to an incorporeal being which may not be seen, as compared to a ‘ghost’ which allegedly is seen by a living person.
Spirit has several other meanings, such as an animating or vital force within life, the soul or some some kind of invisible force or presence that permeates the created universe.
Spirit arguably becomes an ambiguous concept if assessed merely from a conceptual level of analysis.
Many New Age thinkers, for instance, equate the notion of spirit with that of matter/energy. This is a dubious analog when we consider Rudolf Otto and C. G. Jung‘s treatment of the term numinosity and, moreover, the Christian understanding of The Holy Spirit.
It almost seems as if those who haven’t experienced any difference between the perception of matter/energy and spirit tend to automatically equate the two, just as one might equate any seemingly similar variables without having had a significantly direct experience of them.
By way of analogy, if one had never drunk white wine they might look at its color, recognize it as a liquid and say white wine is equivalent to apple juice or perhaps urine. And so it is, many mystics content, with the experience of spirit. Those who know, they claim, realize that spirit’s character may vary significantly, not only because spirit is passing through psychological and cultural filters, but also because of the differences inherent to spirit itself.
Since the experience of ‘the spirit’ may be associated with a ‘particular spirit,’ as in the opening definition, we have the notion of ‘pure and impure,’ ‘holy and unholy,’ ‘good and evil’ spirits, along with their respective abilities to influence human beings for good or ill.
This tremendous diversity as to the meaning of spirit is not just found in Christianity but in most world religions. But again, some well-meaning but arguably unknowing individuals tend to simplify this diversity by making unsupportable claims, as did Sri Ramakrishna, that all paths involve the same type of spirit, lead to the same place, and so on.
This may have been Ramakrishna’s belief when dabbling in different religions from his master perspective of Hinduism but it certainly isn’t everyone’s.
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