Episode · 1 year ago



This lecture makes the point that, notwithstanding our best theoretical frameworks, be they scientific, philosophical, or religious, the universe still appears magical, unless we are so naïvely impressed by our  so-called explanations that we fail to get this point.

Meditation, Time Lecture Eleven, the Divine Magician. Let us begin with the law of causality. Given these circumstances surrounding this object, we obtain this outcome in all probability. That is what experience teaches us through observation. Why is it so? To answer this question, we must leave the world of empirical evidence and enter the world of speculative reason, dealing with the intangible. If the first world is physical, the second is metaphysical. There we no longer talk about the behavior of things, but about the force determining this behavior, like the unseen hand animating of puppet. And it is worth noting that the concept of force in science is no less abstract than the concept of God or...

...universal principle in religions and philosophy, even though the former differs from the latter in that it applies to the behavior of particular objects in specific circumstances instead of applying in determinately to the workings of the entire universe. It is therefore considerably more precise and practical, allowing predictions and manipulations that are integral to the development of technology in the advancement of humanity. That said, scientific progress is often accompanied by regress, as technological innovations both promote and threaten our collective survival. Indeed, the mythical fall of man is the preamble to a bitter sweet story of knowledge and responsibility, marred by errors and faults. Let us now return to the law of causality, both framed in empirical evidence. If this,...

...then that, for example, water boils when heated to one hundred degrees Celsius and speculative reason. This is so because of that the first law of thermodynamics in the above example, where heat is transferred from a burner to the water through conduction, then dissipated by this water through convection toward entropy or a state of thermal equilibrium. That is how science describes and explains things as part of its mechanistic view of the universe, whose most remarkable and effective mode of expression is the language of mathematics. What about the law of causality when framed in speculative reason that is not scientific but religious or philosophical? It then accounts for all empirical evidence with a single, unaccountable notion that is little more than a useless tautology. Things are the way they are because God or the universal principle... such that they are so. No mathematical formula is here, just the verbal language of the most basic and profound logical assumption. The universe cannot be without the power to be, and this power is what the notion of God or universal principle essentially refers to. Truth is even the insightful and useful formalism of science, which precisely elicits the outer logic of things, comes short of a total explanation exhausting the universal mystery. First, this formalism, however insightful and useful it is, ignores a dimension of reality that is critical to understanding the universe, namely the inner and immaterial side of things. Second, it amounts to a description of how things work, and this description in turn conserved to make predictions and manipulations. But it doesn't really have an explanatory value.

Like religious and philosophical verbalizations about the first cause, it is somewhat tall logical. Things of the way they are because their nature is such that they are so. Why is this nature what it is instead of different or void? This question is forever doomed to remain unanswered. In the end, we are faced with a universe that is shrouded in mystery, no matter how well we may objectively decipher its physical nature or intuitively fathom its immaterial lessons. Moreover, although our observations and theorizations may give us a sense of familiarity regarding the way things are, we should never lose our sense of wonder. What is ordinary and dull to the average mind, numbed by knowledge, is in fact an extraordinary example of divine wizardry, forever creating something out of nothing. Consider every... thing, every second of every day, a thought, a word, a gesture, an arrangement or happening of some sort whatever. Acknowledge the fact that, prior to its occurrence, it was nowhere to be found. And yet, Voolah, out of this nowhere, in the intervening space between old things, comes the new thing, like a dove out of an empty hat. Magic. The Universe is but the necessary stage and apparatus for this magic show. As for our knowledge of the show, it is a description of the chain of events and an explanation of this chain in the form of rules that together leave the secret of the magic unbroken. Yes, we are aware of the empty hat and the dove that flies out of it, not to mention a host of other relevant things. We have words for each of them, plus ideas and equations to discuss the order of their appearance. But with...

...all that, we still walk out of the show scratching our heads, unless we are foolish enough to think that our knowledge is on par with a divine magician who is while the child within US.

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