The posts on “quantum foam” a couple of days ago initially shook me to the core, so much so that I initially took them offline again.
Because one of the main insights in these posts is that there will not be any one theory that will ever capture all of “true reality."
And that was something I did not expect, nor was ready to believe. Where did that come from? As with all these dialogues, I always wonder, did I just make this up? And if so, how could I, because this statement would express the exact opposite of what I would expect. So it shocked me to receive it like that.
For some background, as described in the post, the night prior I had read up on the theory of quantum foam, as stated by John Wheeler in 1952. The actual reason why I had gotten interested in this particular theory, was because it seemed to be some sort of connection between Einstein’s general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.
Here you have these two great theories, each being very successful in their respective field: Relativity describing the behavior at very large scales, planets, galaxies, the speed of light; quantum mechanics at extremely small scales, atoms, electrons, bosons, etc. Yet these two great theories cannot be united. The theory of relativity was posted over 100 years ago (1912 and 1917, special and general relativity, respectivly), quantum physics followed soon thereafter, yet they never could be combined into some grand theory.
Even though some of the greatest minds have worked on this, this great theory of all, a universal theory that describes reality at all scales, eludes us to this day. Not only that, we do not even have any sort of consensus within quantum mechanics about how to interpret the results (Copenhagen vs. ontological vs. many-worlds vs. whatnot).
No matter, the point I am making is that whatever “ultimate reality” may be, we are far off from having a real theory describing it. Far off.
Yet, my own thinking is, as probably shared by many a scientist, that there should be such a theory, that it should be possible to describe reality, whatever that may actually turn out to be.
And along comes the Club in that session and says: No, you can’t. As soon as you have consciousness looking at this, even more so human-centric, you cannot. Furthermore it all depends on how you look at it and there may be multiple descriptions that are neither all correct or all wrong.
And that devastated me. Well, at least briefly, for day or so. It devastated me so much that I took the initial three articles offline. Surely, something must have gotten received wrong, or I had made it all up, so I told myself.
I then started rereading more about David Bohm’s theories, his ideas of the quantum potential, and active information, and so on. What I admire most about Bohm is that he was just as much a philosopher as a physicist, and just having the math line up was not enough for him, there had to be a reason 'why' something was a certain way.
By chance I found myself picking up one of his later books “Science, Order, and Creativity,” which I had read some decades ago, and there, already highlighted by a younger me, was this passage in the introduction, a dialogue between him and his co-auther David Peat:
David Bohm: “[...An American philosopher] said, for example, that whatever we say a thing is, it isn’t. […] For the thing is always more than what we mean and is never exhausted by our concepts. And the thing is always different from what we mean, if only because no thought can be absolutely correct when it is extended indefinitely. The fact that a thing has qualities going beyond whatever we think and say about it is behind our notion of objective reality. Clearly, if reality were ever to cease to show new aspects that are not in our thought, then we could hardly say that it had an objective existence independent of us.
All this implies that every kind of thought, mathematics included, is an abstraction, which does not and cannot cover the whole of reality. Different kinds of thought and different kinds of abstractions may together give a better reflection of reality. Each is limited in its own way, but together they extend our grasp of reality further than is possible with one way alone.”
(Source: "Science, Order, and Creativity," p. 8)
Here is a premier scientist stating basically the same thing as the Club did the other day: We can and will never know true reality, at least not all of it.
At best, we can build up several theories or models about it (abstractions), that each illuminates a certain part if it, helps us to predict certain aspects or behaviors, and expand our understanding. But these are only models, not the real thing.
The map is not the territory.
Thus, we can never have a universal total theory that matches or explains it completely, nor understand it down to every possible level of detail. There will always be deeper secrets.
I find it stunning that the insight that was received the other day echoed this, even though it argued exactly against my own belief. I guess I have to adjust my belief.
In a way, I have to admit, this does kind of express this awakening experience I was once part of: there was a definite experience, but it cannot be put into words, wrapped in some kind of model or theory, into language that is based on separation instead of unity. I’ve tried ever since that moment some twenty years ago to make sense of what was experienced, and did find several good metaphors (Hologram, net of Indra) but I understand they are only models and thereby limited.
So as a result of all this, I took another look at the posts from the other day, and combined them into one better writeup and put it back online.
From my end, faith in what I am doing has been restored: deep insights can indeed be received.
And the great mystery will always remain that, at least to our cognitive abilities: the great mystery.
As my favorite poet Robert Frosts once put it so perfectly and succinctly:
“The secret sits”
-- by Robert Frost
We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.
Namaste — I bow to you and the Divine in you.
Copyright © Hanns-Oskar Porr