Monday, May 18, 2009

Baseball, Theoretical Physics, and MAPOL

I was walking on the beach with a friend this weekend discussing theoretical physics and string theory. He had just completed reading a book on parallel universes and was trying to explain this to me. He told me a story about three umpires who were discussing their approach to balls and strikes.

The first umpire said, "I call them based on what they are. If they are strikes I call them strikes. If they are balls I call them balls.

The second umpire said, "I call them the way I see them."

The third umpire said, "Whatever I call them, that's what they are."

This pretty much summarizes the different views of reality. View number one is that there is a reality independent of our existence that we can identify, classify and know. This reality is the same for everyone and it is up to us to learn to see it clearly. This reality is based on Newtonian physics. Newton saw the universe as a machine which acted according to very specific laws that could be calculated and understood mathematically. If we understood these laws and the mathematics behind them we could accurately predict the movements of bodies in the universe and ultimately all reality was knowable and predictable. The theories of Newton helped create a scientific revolution that resulted in the world moving into an age where man began to believe that he could control and influence the forces of nature.

View number two is that reality is different for each of us depending on our point of view and overall peceptive skills. This reality is the one espoused by Einstein in his theory of relativity. According to Einstein there was not a fixed reality that was based on mathematical laws. Reality was relative to the speed and position of the observer. He developed this theory by noticing that the orbit of Mercury did not correspond exactly to what Newton predicted it should. Einstein's thinking enabled us to unleash the power of the atom but also created a level of humility regarding our ability to see the world accurately.

View number three is that we create our own reality and then we name it and act as if it is the truth. This view is embodied in the theories of quantum physics, and especially Heisenberg's "theory of uncertainty' Quantum physics has caused scientists to question whether or not reality exists independently of our consciousness. It seems from a mathematical viewpoint and from the experiments of quantum physicists that there is no fixed realtiy, that there is no solid matter and that reality is created primarily by our observation and perceptions of that observation.

String theory is the latest advancement in our thinking. Although it has not yet gained universal acceptance in the scientific community it is pointing to the existence of a multidimensional reality that intersect and curve in ways that make our conventional definitions of space and time meaningless. The technological possibilities that may come from this level of thinking include space and time travel as well as understanding mathematically the nature of creation itself.

We have continued to progress scientifically since Newton's discovered the basic laws of physics. There is no reason to think that we will not continue to progress and there is high probability that our progress will accelerate. We are getting to the time when spiritual thinking and scientific thinking are merging. Any serious student of the MAPOL must take the discoveries and theories of science and theoretical physics into account in formulating their own belief systems. This is a very exciting time. We must keep our minds open to all possibilities.


  1. I really like this post and I think the umpire analogy is a great one.
    It seems to me that all three views work together and none are mutually exclusive. View #2 & #3 work together. It goes in line to say that if each individual perceives reality differently than how we construct our worldview will vary. These constructions can have a formulative basis in life experience which may be an even greater force than culture alone. I see this often working in the mental health field. For example, if we are child of abuse or have lived through war. Understanding these views 1&2 should give us humility and always keep us open for exploring new ideas and differing perspectives.
    View #1 which is more or less a scientific worldview, can teach us much about how the world works but may face difficulty answering questions we may pose concerning the MAPOL.
    I think the benefit comes when we understand that each view has value, but each has limitations. The then question becomes for me, how do we mold them together to give us a more complete view of the whole and how do we recognize each for its place in our pursuit of the meaning and puropose of life.

  2. When we try to understand reality we have limitations based on our level of consciousness. What is happening now, in my opinion is that the consciousness of the planet is evolving. This is enabling the insights of the great mystics and spiritual teachers to merge with the findings of science. Out of this will come greater clarity and purpose, but not absolute knowledge which I don't know where that comes from.

  3. I have heard the Dali Lama say that if science contradicts the teachings of Buddhism, then Buddhism needs to change in order to reflect new scientific knowledge.