The Footprint--Determinism

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
Yes, God has a physical footprint and it’s grounded in the Logos of existence as it is described in the “the new model of the observer/observed relationship.” Accordingly, we live in a universe that, on one level, is deterministic, while, on another level, is less deterministic. However, the entire universe is comprehensible by people who can comprehend—you, me, and the scientist. Also, according to this Logos, death is not “the end;” rather, death is like the off ramp of one highway merging on to another highway—all energy far from equilibrium, eventually, must take this “off ramp.” However, information generated on the highway of life moves full speed ahead (by reproduction and natural selection, on the one hand, and by culture—language, books, libraries, etc., on the other hand). And, finally, we live in a universe where comprehensibility begins and ends in duality. Initially, this duality begins with the wave/particle duality of conjugate variables, and later, this duality is defined by human intelligence embedded in the physical events. The boundaries that shape God’s footprint then are defined by the duality that constitutes the comprehensibility of the universe, e.g., ~~b (wave/particle duality), ~bb (accommodation/assimilation of living creatures duality), and, b~b~bb (the duality of physical event/human intelligence).

Submitted: November 26, 2009

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Submitted: November 26, 2009




One of my favorite scenes in the movie Godzilla was when Matthew Broderick found himself in a huge hole searching for Godzilla’s footprint. The craterlike hole and the footprint were one, but Godzilla’s footprint was off the scale of any footprint Matthew had ever encountered so it remained hidden from him until a military officer pointed out that he was standing in the middle it.  In a like manner, we are standing in the middle of God’s footprint, the breath of which begins in the quasi-material world described by quantum physics, extends up into Einstein’s space-time continuum and is as deep as what is humanly possible to imagine. Since we know the parameters of the footprint, we can extrapolate a shape that is much more manageable. The footprint is shaped like a piece of pie! The space-time continuum exists in the mind’s eye of the physicist, but the rest of us know this continuum only through its effect on (some) physical events, so let the physical event represent one end of the piecrust and at the other end of the crust sits the observer. Both the physical event edge of the pie and the observer edge of the pie comes together at the narrow slivered end of the pie piece. Let the slivered part of the pie represent the quasi-material world of quantum phenomena.


The physical event, or that which we see, smell, taste, touch, and hear, occurs along the physical event edge of the pie piece while the comprehensibility aspect of the universe occurs along the pie piece’s observer’s edge. In other words, the physical event side represents what I (and Northrop) call the aesthetic continuum while the observer’s edge of the pie— or that which, in one form or another, senses an environment, -- represents “liberation from the aesthetic continuum.”  As always, from the human observer’s point of view, the aesthetic continuum is subject to an analytical account, or the hypothetical deductive method which postulates the public side of the continuum, and of course, there is the more personal, relative, experiential aspect of that continuum, one’s own individual, relative experience of it. The public side of the continuum, though, thanks to the advances of Relativity and quantum physics has changed the meaning and significance of the physical event, and that change woke me from my drunken slumber (my drunken slumber comment is a very loose paraphrase of Kant’s comment on Hume’s critique of Locke’s theory of knowledge).  Of course, the implications of Relativity theory and quantum mechanics are still being debated (after ninety years and counting) and I, like so many more, am eagerly waiting to see how it turns out. Fortunately, I’m not holding my breath,—which brings me to a brief description of my upcoming posts.


While trying to comprehend the meaning of the “new physics” awhile back, I wrote some dialogue. The dialogue below deals mostly with Relativity theory. Next week’s post wanders in and out of Relativity theory and quantum mechanics. After that, well, I’m only sure of a post on the observer, or the connecting link that shapes God’s footprint. After that maybe a post on temporality etc. etc., time will tell.


  Our old Professor friends, -- the philosopher, Noel, the physicist, Tony, and the English Professor, Stan, -- have been discussing this situation (the significance of the physical event), so perhaps they can make this idea more clear?


 “Maybe Noel,” interrupted Tony, “you’re referring to a different Einstein. The one that I thought we were talking about is the one who eliminated the confusion concerning space and time. We have known for a long time that people in other cultures experience space and time differently. But that’s the beauty of Einstein’s work; now we can all agree that space-time intervals are the same for everybody, even for space aliens traveling at close to the speed of light. We now know that the length of a space-time interval between any two events is the same for everybody.”

“Okay, Tony, if you want to jump into the thick of it, than lets do it,” replied Noel. “The space-time interval, what’s it based on?”

“The speed of light, or rather the constancy of the velocity of light,” Tony responded. “You and I share the same space-time, but my space and your space, and my time and your time, are the same only when we are at rest relative to each other. We live in our own private worlds of space and time, but in the new public domain of space-time, space and time are the same for everybody. In fact, the intrinsic structure of space-time accounts for the constancy of the velocity of light for all observers.”


“Do you know why?” said Noel.

“Sure,” responded Tony, “it has to do with the implications of relativity theory. In the mathematics of space-time, Minkowski, Einstein’s mathematics professor, showed that even though the Pythagorean theorem does not work in space-time, something like the Pythagorean theorem is still at work. In Euclid’s geometry the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of its two sides. In the geometry of space-time, the distance between two events, like in the Pythagorean theorem, is equal to the time interval squared minus the space interval squared, however, that minus is the reverse of what takes place in the geometry of Euclid. Subtracting, instead of adding the two intervals, produces four-dimensional space-time. In space-time the distance between two events connected by a light ray becomes zero. Light rays coming at us from outer space take time to reach us, but in space-time no distance is traveled. That’s one of the incredible results that follow from Einstein’s theory. And that is also why the speed of light is constant for all observers. In space-time light is just there, everywhere.”


“I’m just a little confused,” said Noel, “If light doesn’t go anywhere, how can we know that the length of a space-time interval between any two events is the same for everybody?”

“Because of the constancy of light’s velocity,” Tony replied.

“So what you’re saying is that time doesn’t change, just space?” said Noel. “Is that the answer? Don’t answer that. There’s ‘no’ time to answer, right? Anyway, Einstein’s field equations dictate the space of space-time, and, as you have all ready pointed out Tony, we can agree upon the measured value of space-time. Is that about right?”

“Well, a stab in time will get you nine,” Tony muttered. “You know damn well what I’m talking about Noel. It’s just that you don’t like it. You won’t accept that in the cosmic scheme of things, you and I, and everybody else, are just world lines. That past, present, and future may, or may not, possess meaning scares the hell out of you. You hate the idea that your private frame of reference might be limited and meaningful only to you. Einstein’s universe attacks your sense of freedom, your dignity. Well I’ve got news for you. Nobody was more concerned about dignity than the old man. He didn’t bemoan the fact that he wasn’t God. It was enough for him to peer into the heart of nature, or the mind of God if you prefer to call it that, and understand what was really going on. It was enough for him to know that all human beings had this gift, but how it was used was a person’s own business. Denying it, however, was not dignified. It was just plain stupid; and anyway, what about the effects, the predictable consequences of Einstein’s theory? If they don’t occur in reality then where do they occur?”


“Right where they are predicted to occur,” Noel replied, “in the surrounding manifold of our sensual experience. Nature, or the name that we give to that manifold, takes in everything we can see, hear, feel, taste, smell, and explain. Space, as an ontological entity, in the theory of general relativity, doesn’t exist. The being of space has been replaced with purely methodological considerations. What space ‘is,’ or whether any definite character can be attributed to it, is no longer a concern. Rather, we must be concerned with the geometrical presuppositions, the ‘ideal meanings’ that get used in the interpretation of the phenomena that we ascribe to nature according to law.”

“I’m getting tired of this,” said Tony. “Science gets done and benefits follow, which, really, is all we have to worry about, right Stan? How come you’re so quiet, anyway? That’s not like you. Are you sick or something?”

“I’m fine. You know me, quiet as a mouse, but sharp as a tack,” said Stan. There’s a time for talking and time for listening. I’ve been enjoying the latter. Let me try to simplify this conversation, eh fellows; that is, after I throw another log on the fire.”

“Always the educator, eh Stan,” said Tony, “but that’s why we love ya.”


“Take nature for instance,” responded Stan, “for you Tony, its independent of the observer. It’s a bit complicated, but knowable, and it exists before one begins to experiment on it. That’s not the case for Noel. For him, nature does not exist independent from the observer. In fact, questions asked concerning nature, for Noel at least, actually brings nature into existence. And, he looks to quantum mechanics to substantiate that claim. On that level, the physical world seems to emerge from observations made on it. Any argument there fellows?”


“You’ve got the stage,” replied Noel, “go for it.”

“Now for the hard part,” said Stan, “On the one hand we have Einstein’s theory of general relativity, and on the other hand we have quantum theory. Both theories are proven successes, but when taken together they are out of joint. The equations that describe the gravitational field are completely different from the one’s that describe subatomic interactions. Moreover, space and time are intimately related in relativity theory. They are dependent on the state of motion of the observer. In quantum theory space and time are not tied to existence at all. As far as a person’s limited reason is concerned, there is no quantum world, just an abstract quantum physical description. Given this confusing state of affairs, it would be doctrinaire and dogmatic to say that one theory is better than the other, or that one is talking sense and the other is lacking in it. Right fellows?”

“Who’s patronizing now,” said Tony.

“Guilty as charged,” responded Stan, “I guess nobody’s perfect. For you Tony, the mind’s ability to discover reality’s true nature is a religious belief, just like it was for Einstein. If Einstein had a religious belief, it was that the world is comprehensible and objective.”

“I’d probably go to church, if I could sit next to Einstein,” Tony replied.


“As I was saying,” said Stan, “under the rule of cause and effect everything has its place and time, but that is not what works for you Noel. Knowledge, for Noel, constitutes what we take to be the physical world, and new knowledge may substantially alter that world. In other words, over time, both knowledge and the perceived field that we find ourselves in changes. Both Cassirer and Kant agreed on this. The function of the mind’s capacity to connect meaning to sensual contents goes beyond sensual contents and establishes an order among the connections between them. The necessary elements of every assertion—being and non-being, similarity and dissimilarity, unity and plurality, identity and opposition—cannot be represented by any content of perception, but through them ‘ideal meanings’ get created, and when applied to the perceptual field those elements fill our perceptions with meaning. That process, over time, alters both the meaning and the content of our perceptual field. But, what it comes down to in the end is testing the deductive consequences of those ‘ideal meanings’ against the sensual contents in the field of our perceptions. That was the way it worked for Einstein and, in any universe that will not change.”


Based on the above dialogue, for me at least, the physical event seems a little less obvious! But it’s still there; the foundational attribute of our knowledge of the objective world is still there. It’s just that it seems a little more open to interpretation at this point. Anyway, the physical event is only one aspect of God’s footprint. To get a better perspective on the footprint, (and I’m sure Matthew Broderick would agree here), we need to climb out of the hole in order to see the whole pie piece—errrr footprint!

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