Hello, my name is Aron Wall. Welcome to my blog!
The title of this blog is an homage to Poul Anderson's essay "Uncleftish Beholding", which explains atomic theory using only English words of Anglo-Saxon origin (no Latin, Greek or French). "uncleftish" is equivalent to "atomic" (or perhaps "quantum"), and "beholding" means "theory". When back-translated into modern English, one obtains "Undivided Looking".
"Undivided Looking" expresses the aspiration that, although compartmentalized thinking is frequently helpful in life, one must also step back and look at the world as a whole. This involves balancing specialized knowledge with common sense to keep both kinds of thinking in perspective.
"Undivided Looking" also suggests that in order to see the Truth, we have to be earnestly seeking it with our whole self. As Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God". The word "pure" means unmixed or whole. Those who want to live wholesome lives must purify themselves from malice, bias and greed, so that the Holy can dwell within them.
it was good to meet you and discuss truly important things. I am curious what kind of things have been discussed here on the blog so I'll check it out. I hope you have had a chance to visit the jesuslifetogether site as it is full of encouraging, convicting and eye opening truth. Let's keep in touch as life permits :)
I am so glad to have come to your blog, because now I can read a Christian who can speak with authority on quantum mechanics things and atheist physicists cannot gainsay him.
I'm glad you are enjoying what I write. If any atheist physicist happens to be reading my blog, they are certainly welcome to attempt to gainsay me about quantum mechanics, if they like. :-) Then we can have a conversation.
Glad to have found your blog!
Glad to have found your blog. Always nice to find other people from statistical/empirical professions who share my basic approach on this -- and even nicer that you can speak on physics, a topic that is actually relevant to the debate. Far too many people equate atheism/agnosticism with skepticism/rationality/intelligence/elite positioning, so I'm glad you're putting this stuff out there.
Thanks for your kind words, Sean.
Hello Aron! My name is Josue. I have a couple of questions but let me give you some backround before I start asking. I found your website thanks to Ron Cram. He directed me here and told me you are a Christian scientist. I found that interesting since most scientists today are atheists.
Now to my real question. I am currently pursuing a degree in engineering. I will start my fourth semester next week. I am 20 years old. However, I have always been interested in science. More recently I have gained interest in the fields of cosmology and astrophysics. Do you think I could earn a degree in one of those fields some day? If so, what do I need to do? Whom do I need to talk to? What are the requirements? Prerequisites? Please help me. I just want to pursue my dream. You can contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) I would truly appreciate your thoughts and any advice you can give me. Thank you for your time in advance and I look forward to get in touch with you.
Wow! It's great finding like-minded individuals! In my travels through YouTube science videos, the comments are always condescending to the stupid, ignorant Christian, worshipping the "God of the gaps". In other words, it is presumed that God was invented to explain science that we were ignorant to, but now that we apparently have all the answers, believing in God is like believing in Santa Clause. For me, science always shows God to be even more amazing than previously thought. If the Big Bang was just the tiniest bit more or less powerful, our universe would've either recollapsed or never collected into "stuff". I think about our perfect planet, a perfect distance from the perfect star. A magnetic field blocking life-sterilizing radiation, a moon to stabilize our axis, so Norway isn't on the equator next year, and an oxygen rich atmosphere providing pressure for liquid water. I consider that all life has a common ancestor, implying that life only started once on our perfect planet. Dinosaurs, here for 200 million years, never building a society, creating art, or pondering their existence, had to be killed in a way that spared mammals, allowing them to evolve. Humans, here for 1/1000 of the time as dinosaurs, can comment on blogs using cellphones, while sitting on the front porch of a house with plumbing, electricity, and 600 channels of nonsense on their TVs. Out of millions of species, why just us? I believe God uses natural processes to do His work. Actually, He defines those processes! This means that when a blood moon rose at Christ's crucifixion, God planned it billions of years ago as rocks and plasma tumbled through space, so the moon would rise in an eclipse on 1 special day. This blows my mind! I always thought to be a Christian meant I had to disconnect my brain and read Genesis as a literal history/ science book. Science teaches us how to better interpret the bible! Thank you for giving credibility to believers. Some say that for me to believe in God means I think I know more than Hawking. I guess i do!
Thank you for creating this site and sharing your thoughts. I stumbled upon your site while searching cosmology topics related to God. The first page I found was a clarifying exchange between you and Josh. The words that you wrote during that exchange were inspiring; i found your thoughtfulness and reasoned responses simply amazing.
I'm not sure if this is the correct topic/heading to ask a question, but I will go ahead and ask.
Andy wrote about the crucifixion and the described eclipse; I believe 3 of the gospels state that the sun darkened. Historical records outside of the gospels do not mention an eclipse. It seems that an eclipse during a full moon would be something that would be recorded somewhere. I understand that sky darkening may be attributed to literary technique. There seems to be alot of conflicting information within the bible, how does one know when a conflict is important or when information is symbolic? (in regards to an eclipse, if that happened and that was a recorded event around the world it would be amazing)
I'm not sure what or how to believe, however, I feel that your site may provide guidance and for that I am thankful :-)
Is general relativity a reliable theory, just wanted your opinion on the matter.
Good luck with your website
General relativity seems to be amazingly accurate in every astrophysical situation where it can be tested. But like every theory, it is valid only in a particular patch of reality. In particular, classical General Relativity needs to be corrected in situations where quantum effects are important. Nobody knows yet how to make a fully quantum mechanical thory of gravity; that's one of the problems I work on (along with many other people).
Thank you for your website - I was pleased to read just from this page that I am not alone in my understanding of 'undivided looking' as the path to truth. I have no background in physics or theology and no brilliant mind, but I have developed a keen interest in the intersection of psychology, philosophy, religion, art, history, language and many avenues of science as the forum for a more inclusive understanding of God. I often feel like people are refusing to contribute pieces of the puzzle to the table to allow us to put it all together, under the assumption that their piece doesn't belong. I have been frustrated with the continual breaking down of potentially enlightening discussions on the Internet, so I find the premise of your blog particularly refreshing.
I look forward to exploring further, and hope the technical language is not beyond me.
Welcome to my blog, Carmel; glad to have you.
Let me just say, I'm overjoyed to have found your blog. These topics are of the utmost importance to me. I found your page by Googling critiques of the debate between William Lane Craig and Sean Carroll. Bill is the biggest reason I came back to the faith and have even began working on my Master of Divinity.
It looks like your blog delves into other topics that are near and dear to me including history, archeology, anthropology, etc. In the words of Captain Hook, GOOD FORM. I'll be traversing your blog when I can find more free time. Thank you for creating such an important and informative blog.
Thanks for the kind words, Braden. I'm glad your interested in reading the same things I'm interested in writing! Blessings, Aron
Stumbled across your site whilst looking for more information on the No Boundary Proposal, and look forward to delving deeper into your work and opinions - the fact that you're religious just opens another dimension of dialogue and debate, and I'll be further interested to see how you think the two fields mesh together.
That said @Andy, believe it or not there are countless Christians who decry the atheist as a heartless sinner, worthy of infinity in hell-fire - please don't pretend the negative behaviour is one-sided. And your fine-tuning argument is well-known but, I would wager, has many problems, and here's a couple that might be interesting for you: if it IS all part of God's design, then he's pretty inefficient isn't he? The vast, vast majority of the universe doesn't support life, why bother creating all of that? If it's because it's interesting etc. - then why not even more? Why not an infinite universe, for example, full of life - surely that would be unequivocally better? Secondly, why would he put our planet at a razor's edge? Why not make it such that our planet would be comfortably habitable at a large range of distances, or make the entirety of Earth easy/pleasant to live on (try living in the coldest/hottest places of the world - not quite so habitable are they?) Seems needlessly cruel (and not necessary for free will or anything like that), and it feels like the argument from fine-tuning could justify all kinds of potential universes, from those where life is easy and abundant (look, God made the universe such that it is maximally friendly to life!) to where only one planet in the entire universe supports life (look how perfect this planet, and this planet alone, is for us!) , making it seem like the argument could retroactively show intelligence no matter what kind of universe we were in - so long as there was us humans at least. Finally, the question is more what kind of God these variations of the argument imply, and even if I were to grant the likelihood that there was some kind of intelligence behind it all, I wouldn't necessarily call it a benevolent one.
Yes, but the fact that humans (or other lifeforms) actually exist is the entire point of the argument---the vast majority of possible laws of physics don't allow life at all, so the fact that our laws do should count as significant evidence. (Of course, if we didn't exist we wouldn't know about it, but that doesn't relieve us of the need to explain our own existence if possible.)
It's not obvious to me that an infinite amount of life is actually better---it seems that that would take away a lot of the significance of individual lives, if arbitrarily similar lives happen infinitely often. In any case, nobody is saying that maximizing the total quantity of life is God's only goal, just that God wanted life to exist somewhere.
As for making the habitable zone wider, and the other suggestions you make---as far as I know, there are no consistent laws of physics similar to our own which would allow for such things. Maybe it isn't logically possible (given the constraint of relatively simple laws of physics not completely different from our own) to make life qualitatively more abundant than it is in our own universe.
Here is a small problem.
We know that space and time in our universe are relative. Now the question is: from when are they relative? Are they relative from the very beginning of their existence? If yes, then in that case the cause due to which they are relative must already be present there before the beginning of space and time. That means this cause cannot be a part of our universe; it must be beyond our universe.
As a scientist, what do you have to say about this?
"-the vast majority of possible laws of physics don't allow life at all, "
But what are these "possible laws of physics"? Are they specifically known? Do examples exist of possible laws of physics that does not allow life?
Scientists are now saying that space and time are not fundamental entities at all but emergent from some other yet more fundamental entities.
Has anyone ever thought that if space and time are emergent, then at the same time it might not be true that the universe has originated from nothing?
If space and time are emergent, then were they emergent also when they made their first appearance
at the beginning of the universe? Or, were they fundamental entities at the beginning? If we claim that they have originated from nothing at the beginning, then we are saying that they were fundamental
, simply because they have originated from nothing and not from those other yet more fundamental entities. If they were fundamental entities at the beginning, then how and when did they become emergent by losing their emergent nature? However if they were emergent at the beginning also, then would they not require the prior presence of those fundamental entities from which only they could emerge? Being emergent from some other yet more fundamental entities, was it possible for them to emerge from nothing?
If the above argument is correct, then it cannot be the case that the universe has originated from nothing but from those fundamental entities from which only space and time can emerge.
That means all those hypotheses that try to explain the origin of the universe from nothing are all false hypotheses.
Space and time being emergent would have some more implications. Those fundamental entities from which space and time have emerged cannot be within any space and time, simply because there cannot be any space and time prior to the emergence of space an time. That means those fundamental entities would be spaceless and timeless. Being spaceless and timeless they would also be immaterial, because as per GR there cannot be any space and time without matter. So if those fundamental entities were material, then there would also be space and time along with them. That means there would be space and time prior to the emergence of space and time, which is an absurdity.
So those fundamental entities from which the universe has originated would be spaceless, timeless and immaterial.
Theistic belief has two parts. In one part theists hold that life, mind and consciousness were already there before the beginning of the universe, because before the beginning there was God and God is life, mind and consciousness itself. In the second part they hold that there was no space and time before the beginning, because before the beginning there was God and that God is spaceless and timeless. So as per the theistic belief life, mind and consciousness are fundamental, because they were already there before the beginning of anything, but space and time are not, because there was no space and time before the beginning. Up till now scientists have refused to acknowledge that the first part of the religious belief is true and they still hold that life, mind and consciousness are emergent entities only. But forced by the circumstances scientists have been driven to the conclusion that the second part of the religious belief is essentially true, that space and time are not fundamental, but emergent only.
I hope within some fifty or hundred years from now on scientists will be again driven to the conclusion, and this time also they will be forced by the circumstances only, that life, mind and consciousness are indeed fundamental and not emergent.
There is one deep philosophical reason as to why spacetime cannot be fundamental, because in that case there would be an infinite regress.
Now let us start from the earth. Earth exists within the solar system.
The solar system exists within the Milky Way galaxy.
The Milky Way galaxy exists within the local cluster of galaxies.
This cluster again exists within some super-cluster of galaxies.
This super-cluster of galaxies exists within the universe.
The universe exists within the multiverse that contains trillions of other universes.
Cosmologists usually stop at this level; they do not want to go beyond the multiverse.
But there is no binding that we would have to stop here at the multiverse level at all.
So we would say that this multiverse exists within some super-multiverse that contains trillions of other multiverses.
Then we would again say that this super-multiverse exists within some super-duper multiverse that contains trillions of other super-multiverses.
Then we would again say that this super-duper multiverse exists within some supra-multiverse that contains trillions of other super-duper multiverses.
Then we would again say that this supra-multiverse exists within some supra-dupra multiverse that contains trillions of other supra-multiverses.
And so on and on ad infinitum.
But is it possible that we can go on like this indefinitely without stopping somewhere? Can there be an infinite regress in this way?
It would be sheer madness if we go on like this up to infinity.
So we would have to stop at some level.
But at whichever level we would stop, we would have to say that nothing is there beyond this or that level.
So if we decide that we would stop at the universe level, then we would have to say that nothing is there beyond the universe. That means the universe as a whole would be neither in any space nor in any time, because there would be nothing outside the universe.
If we stop at the multiverse level, then we would have to say that the multiverse as a whole is neither in any space nor in any time, because there would be nothing outside the multiverse.
In each case the entity being as a whole neither in space nor in time would be thus spaceless and timeless. Thus the ultimate reality would always be spaceless and timeless and therefore spacetime can never be fundamental.
Hello again. Happy Easter! Thank you for the invaluable work you offer on this site. You’ve stated you ascribe to classical theism. And it mostly (what I can comprehend...) makes sense to me. I stumble at the matter of God’s creating not causing a change in Himself. Similarly, it has made me question how I pray/receive answers if He is not “relating to me”. I’ve read several posts on Ed Feser’s blog and the last 2 commenters on this post seem to ask similarly. If you revisit the topic, any light you can shed on the subject would be appreciated.
Reading your question about God not relating to you made me recall Hebrews 4, specifically verses 15 and 16 which tell us that Jesus is able to relate to us.
I found your blog a couple of years ago, and have just recently rediscovered it. I enjoy reading your posts, both on physics and theology. I am just a lay undergraduate studying psychology, and oftentimes don't fully understand the posts on physics, but I still do very much appreciate them and am inspired by them to learn more. I was, also, wondering if you have any recommendations on books for the non-physicist wanting to learn more about physics.
All the Best,
I’m glad I came across your blog. I don’t believe in coincidences but divine appointments and like many things in my life yours blog has been one for me. I’ve recently stumbled across this app called clubhouse and initially had used it to interact professionally during COVID lockdowns but it quickly devolved into an app for misinformation and debating theology and science.
I’m a Christian and a seeker. I’ve only scratched the surface on philosophy and religion. I do have a medical background and some scientific knowledge but not enough to debate and as you’ve written a lot of discourse can quickly become derogatory and unnecessarily demeaning. I prefer listening and learning. This is why I found your blog most helpful with links and commentary.
In listening and reading I’ve come to realize a lot of atheists, especially the intellectual ones can’t reconcile the Bible with science. Also a lot have been Christians and have clearly been hurt in the past. As if they feel lied too. It’s very sad and heart breaking. As a mother of a teen and pre-teen I want they to find their own path to God and to be able to reconcile science with his Word. By far the most profound and thoughtful atheists I’ve heard and read seem to be biblical literalists in their pasts and haven’t lost that reverence in their new lives. It’s like some have a mental block they can’t see past.
At any rate your blog has been a blessing to me! I’m contemplating my own believes and have left room for universalism of some sort and choose the loving God of the Bible everyday. Thank you for all you do and what a tremendous mind and gift God had given you! Stay well!