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Bill Ghrist
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Modern physics has taught us that the ultimate nature of the physical world cannot be described in ordinary human language. Religious contemplatives have taught us that the ultimate nature of spiritual reality cannot be described in ordinary human language. It is fascinating to see how the mindset needed to think conceptually about the implications of quantum phenomena is very similar to the mindset needed to think conceptually about the implications of the contemplative experience. It brings to mind F. Scott Fitzgerald's statement that "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." Sort of like a superposition of intellectual states? Lack of this ability is probably what leads to modern "Fundamentalism." I am reading two books right now. In our centering prayer group we have been making our way bit-by-bit through Jesus the Teacher Within by Laurence Freeman, O.S.B., director of the World Community of Christian Meditation. I have recently also been reading The Quantum and the Lotus. This is a dialog between Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk residing at the Shechen monastery in Nepal, and Trinh Xuan Thuan, a professor of astronomy at the University of Virginia (and no, I did not get those names mixed up--the Buddhist monk is French and the astrophysicist is Vietnamese). I have been finding that discussing Freeman's book often brings to mind the concepts of quantum mechanics that are central to the dialog in The Quantum and the Lotus. One of the most important things that modern physics has taught us is that there is an interdependence among all things in the universe--an interdependence that can be demonstrated by observation and experiment, but that physics cannot yet completely explain. But perhaps the most important lesson is that even in the rigorous realm of science things are not always what they seem and things that are demonstrably true do not always make sense to our limited human reason.
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Matt, the stars are not "bouncing off" the black hole, it just looks that way for some of them because their orbits are very elliptical. All orbits are elliptical but some (like the Earth around the sun) are closer to being circular (a circle is simply a special case of an ellipse). They do not fall into the black hole for the same reason that the Earth does not fall into the sun--their velocity keeps them in an orbit that does not take them close enough to the black hole to reach the "event horizon." A black hole itself does not have a physical extent, but the "event horizon" is the distance from the black hole at which everything, even light, is captured by the hole's gravity. Even though the black hole has a mass of several million suns, its event horizon is smaller than the Earth's orbit around the sun. At the scale of the video picture, that would just be a minuscule dot at the center.
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I am reminded of this paradox by the remarkable painting by Salvador Dali, Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus). Dali depicts Christ suspended in front of the cross in the form of an unfolded four dimensional hypercube, the implication being that Jesus is God "unfolded" into our three dimensional world. Bill Ghrist
Toggle Commented Jan 8, 2010 on Christmas II C, 2009 at Entangled States
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It is my understanding that first century Christianity was known simply as "The Way." That certainly implies the priority of practice over proposition.
Toggle Commented Oct 31, 2009 on The BCP as Anglican Covenant at Entangled States
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