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In Perilous Times -- Can Science and Faith Be Reconciled?

New America Media, Commentary, Franz Schurmann Posted: Jul 14, 2006

Editor's Note: As fears rise that the world is descending into chaos, physicist and mathematician Edward Close -- in his book "Transcendental Physics," published in 2000 -- offers important insights into how human consciousness plays an integral role in the mechanics and laws of the physical universe. For those whose faith in secular science was rattled by quantum physics' challenge of Einstein's "Theory of Relativity," Close both confirms the Einstein fallacy and draws on Einstein's own beliefs to resolve the enigma.

SAN FRANCISCO--Throughout the 20th century, most people believed that no matter how chaotic human affairs became, science would eventually unravel the laws that govern the universe. Einstein's "Theory of Relativity," published on the brink of Europe's descent into World War I, was a beacon of light reassuring us that those laws did, indeed, exist -- that our lives were not ultimately held hostage to some cosmic enigma that only religion could resolve.

But even as Einstein became the totem of secular thinking, physicists working in the field of quantum mechanics -- the study of interactions of atoms, molecules, elementary particles and radiation -- found themselves unable to explain why those interactions occurred. "After half a century, quantum theory remains an enigma and baffles the physicists," science commentator Walter Sullivan acknowledged in the New York Times on Nov. 20, 1984.

The essence of that enigma was revealed in an experiment conducted in 1982 by a research team led by Alain Aspect at the University of Paris. "You did not hear about it on the evening news ... and unless you are in the habit of reading scientific journals, you probably never even heard Aspect's name," writes Michael Talbot in his 1991 book "The Holographic Universe: Does Objective Reality Exist, Or Is the Universe a Phantasm?" "But Aspect's discovery may change the face of science."

Talbot described Aspect's findings as follows: "Under certain circumstances, subatomic particles such as electrons are able to instantaneously communicate with each other...no matter whether they are 10 feet or 10 billion miles apart. Somehow each particle always seems to know what the other is doing."

This feat, Talbot concluded, "violates Einstein's long-held tenet that no communication can travel faster than the speed of light. Since traveling faster than the speed of light is tantamount to breaking the time barrier, this daunting prospect has caused some to try to come up with elaborate ways to explain away Aspect's findings. And it has inspired others to offer even more radical explanations."

Edward Close, author of "Transcendental Physics," is one of those radicals. A professor of mathematics and physics, Close has also taught meditation or what he calls "consciousness expansion techniques." Although the book was published in 2000, its relevance only grows more timely as people look for reassurance that some order exists amidst fears of impending chaos.

Close confirms the Einstein fallacy and hammers Einstein for having discovered the quantum in 1905 and then abandoning it. But unlike many of his peers who denigrate Einstein, Close pays him great respect as a thinker, drawing on his theories to argue why accepting a scientific world view inevitably involves embracing both the mechanics of the physical universe and faith in the enigma of the infinite. Close writes that science and religion, properly understood, spring from the same noble desire described by Einstein and others as "the cosmic religious feeling." Religion brings meaning to science.

In so arguing, Close takes on one of the other great pillars of secular thinking -- Marx's concept of scientific materialism -- which argues that physical reality exists independent of human consciousness. Just as accepting the interaction between waves and particles is necessary to explain experimental observations, Close writes that without human consciousness there is only "the infinite expanse of undifferentiated substance," or "the void." The void is the realm of classical and modern physics. Close's "transcendental physics," by contrast, treats human consciousness -- or consciences, to use his term -- as one of three interconnected universal substances, along with energy and matter. The interaction of all three is what holds the universe together.

That wisdom was shared by the artists of ancient Islam and China. Close worked for several years in the ancient city of Jiddah close to the holy city of Mecca and appears to have drawn on his experiences there to develop his concept that faith is integral to a scientific comprehension of the universe. There he noticed magnificent mosaics whose creators invariably marred the last tile. When Close asked why they did that, their response was that "nothing is perfect except God."

Chinese tile-men did the same centuries earlier. Perhaps that is why among the sermons given by the Archangel Gabriel was one advising that "If you want wisdom, go to China."

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