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As an FMC member, I have attended two of your sessions.
I am interested in the prospect of time "before" the Big Bang, Time and Eternity, God's foreknowledge and man's free will, the Arrow of Time (Roger Penrose), Time Reborn (lee Smolin), and the books and papers on 'time' by William Craig Lane and J P Moreland of the Apologetics Dept. in Talbot Theol. Seminary at Biola.
But what I am really into right now is writing a paper on the King James Only (KJO) controversy. I have narrowed it down to 3 essential issues: (1 which are the best manuscripts (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic) to use--the issue of Textual Criticism'? (2 if God preserved His Word perfectly throughout the ages, what mechanisms did He use, and where in the Scriptures do we find evidence that He would use these mechanisms?, and (3 how do we deal with the very intractable problem of translation from the original languages?
I have an MA in Linguistics, and I have done field work in Brazil with an indigenous tribal people. Some translation issues I have become aware of are:
~ ancient historical translations ((Coptic, Syriac, Septuigint) have used slightly different source texts. Were these the genuine Word of God?
~ Greek-to-English translation works fairly well, because both have highly developed vocabularies, but this is not the case when translating into a language with vastly different cultural emphases and interests, and
~ Greek and English are both members of the Indo-European Families. Ancient Hebrew to English is not so good a fit. When one gets into other wildly different languages, word for word translations become impossible.
I hope to join in again in one of your classes.
I have responded here.
The medium Michelson and Morley attempted to validate seems to me to have been like a fluid through which the galaxies swim. What if they had instead looked for an absolutely real medium made up of points at rest capable of being energized and transmitting this energy pattern to the points proximate to them? A medium that could contain an energy pattern such as a photon of light, an interferometer, the Earth, or Michelson and Morley themselves? And what if the number of points in the medium was finite? Energy patterns that began as a big bang in the medium would eventually reach the "edge" of this medium. If these patterns were deflected parallel to the "edge", as I suspect, they would begin to interact with each other by means of gravity. To an observer, such as Hubble, the Doppler shift would be interpreted as straight line acceleration.
I was overjoyed to run across your blog and wonder if you would enjoy occasionally discussing this concept where what we call space and mass are caused by the energy patterns and are proportional to each other. And where the "why" of gravity can be understood as easily as the "how" was explained by Newton
I'm afraid your comments here don't make much sense to me. There are too many new terms defined in too vague of a way (e.g. "energy patterns, absolutely real"), with too little connection to what we already know about Big Bang cosmology (in which, by the way, there is no "edge" in space, but only in time). In order to construct models of cosmology which cosmologists will take seriously, you have to first learn the math of GR, and then if you want to modify the theory, you have to be able to express that modification in a similarly precise language.
I hope this doesn't come across as too mean, but I presume you wanted my honest opinion...
Dear Ken Murphy: I understand your comment.
When you say "an absolutely real medium made up of points at rest capable of being energized and transmitting this energy pattern to the points proximate to them?"
You are talking about a spacetime composed of indivisible particles, or Quanta. The Quanta transfer energy to each other in the form of momentum or radiation. It is, yes, an ether. Which is a good thing. I think there must be something in space, transferring the energy. Space is not an absolute void.
I prefer ground-state neutrinos. They are Quantum fermions with as little energy as possible. Yet they take up space. In fact they fill all of space. They transfer momentum and radiation at the speed of light.
This speed slows down (as seen by an outsider) when they are packed close by gravitational fields.
This is General Relativity, except using spacetime with a lot of little points, instead of no points. It is GR using discrete math, instead of calculus.
Most physicists reject this model, because it doesn't allow a singularity.
But I say you are right. Spacetime is a medium, not a void. I go further and say it is quantized, and the Quanta are ultrastable fermions and can not be crushed out of existence.
I don't know how many physicists you've run your model by, but I doubt very much that they reject it "because it doesn't allow a singularity". Many physicists would love to have a model that gets rid of singularities.
The reason they reject it is that you haven't done the following things: (1) write down your model in terms of equations, not just words, and (2) show mathematically that in a certain approximation, the theory can be reduced to General Relativity and/or the Standard Model, at least in those domains where they are well-tested. Unless you can do that (and I am quite sure you have not) physicists like me will not take a supposed revolutionary new theory of physics seriously.
There are a great many people who are happy to produce these crackpot theories, and we physicists can detect them in a heartbeat. We reject them not because they come from a source outside academia, but because they haven't done steps (1) and (2) above.
Again, I'm not trying to be mean here, just brutally honest.
OMG! You have honed that beautiful acerbic wit into a delicate critical blade. It's been too many years since we've last talked in our mutual office at UMD in your first graduate year. I recall the shared beauty and intensity of our discussions on Spirituality and Physics. Thank you.
I was delighted to discover this haven of theoretical physics and spiritual philosophy as I searched the web for research/commentary on discredited predictions of Loop Quantum Gravity with respect to Black Hole Entropies; it was recently but briefly mentioned in a lecture by Maldacena entitled "Geometry, Entanglement and Entropy".
Regardless, it brought me to this beautifully designed webpage bejeweled with your wonderful essays. It may take a little time, but I'll probably devour them all...Lol. I was also captivated by your Doubting Thomas artwork. Oh and by the way, congratulations on receiving your Ph.D., your marriage, your post-doc appointment and of course your move to the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, my alma mater.
From our last discussions at Maryland, I've continued these same pursuits. I've only now discovered your ArXiv papers and will be taking a look at your worldline ;) My own research has me on perhaps a similar Network approach (your papers should establish any similarities) as well as a purely Combinatorial approach. And let's just say that I'd enjoy demonstrating to you that "Lorentz Invariance" can arise as a purely emergent/statistical phenomena characterized by either defects in the CFTs or Wilson Loops.
And again, it was so wonderful to discover you and your awesome page. Please contact me; I'd really enjoy catching up ;)
What a pleasant surprise! I'm very pleased to see that you're still alive, and thanks so much for all of your compliments. If you're ever in the Princeton area again, please feel free to drop by. I also remember our discussions well (though I believe they mostly occured during my 2nd year). If I may take the liberty of saying so, never before have I heard such bizarre opinions expressed with such wit and sophistication! ;-).
The "Doubting Thomas" artwork was shamelessly excerpted from a larger picture by an artist named "John Granville Gregory"; you can easily find the rest online.
As I'm sure you know, Juan Maldacena is at the IAS; I've met him several times and I'm very much looking forward to interacting with him more extensively.
Regarding the wave/particle duality principle. Please read this short paper at the link:
Please comment on that Australian idea; that the results of the dual-slit experiment can be explained as the effect of multiple universes. Isn't there a contemporary 'standard model' of the photon that adequately explains this? Have a link to such? - - - John, ee, retired
New Scientist is famous for sensationalist reporting, so I took a look at the actual article instead. It proposes a new interpretation of QM where there are a very, very large but finite number of universes which interact. Unlike most "intepretations" of QM, this one is different in that it does not lead to the exact same predictions in general. Only in the limit where the number of universes goes to infinity, does it give the same predictions. Thus, the number of universes needs to be large in order to agree with observations.
This seems like an extremely speculative idea. It also seems to be much more complicated than regular QM, insofar as it requires one to specify the force laws between the different universes in a somewhat arbitrary way. I think the idea may be worth exploring, but unlike New Scientist I don't think it's ready for prime time yet. If I were you, I would leave it alone until more people have studied it, and we have a better idea of its features and bugs.
Regarding the contemporary standard explanation of particles going through 2 slits, isn't the answer just "ordinary QM"? (Interpreted in whichever way you like best...)
Aron, do you have a Facebook or a Twitter account where I can follow your blog?
Not at the moment, but if there's enough demand I might create it. There is however an email subscription tool, and an RSS feed.
Hi Aron. I have a question that I think falls under metaphysics.
I recently became a Christian and having grown up in a Christian family and done a lot of reading over the last couple of months I believe I have a pretty solid understanding of what the Bible says. But I struggle to understand how this world of Christianity fits into the world that I know as a physicist in which I look at particles, waves and fields and how they affect each other. I guess my question is what is God physically? Do these things like souls, the Holy Spirit and angels and demons exist, can the interact with the physical world, or are they just metaphors to illustrate the psychological battles that we have?
Hello Dr. Wall,
I am a recent Christian convert who is studying philosophy and physics at Seattle Pacific University. I have been reading through your website and really love it, so I wanted to thank you for your work. I do have a question however, I am just starting to study cosmological models in school, and I am curious about your thought on Dr. Craig and James Sinclair's critiques of some non-standard models. Here is one video for example - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qx9w0qYh8jo&list=PL916E17EE70E98A68&index=24 This video is part of a series where Dr. Craig addresses cosmological models that would seem hostile to theism and tries to critique them (the other videos are in a playlist to the side). Is he off base or are his critiques (any of them really) on base? I don't know if you have ever read the Blackwell Companion to natural theology, but James Sinclair has also critiqued the models there. I am sorry for the long question, but I am just really curious if any of these critiques are any good. Finally, do you have a model that you think is the most strongly supported by evidence? If so does it have a beginning?
Thank you for your time,
Perhaps you know that I have a lot of family members who went to college at SPU (although I didn't myself)! I wrote pretty extensively about some of these issues in my series about Did the Universe Begin?. Please especially note my post on Fuzzing Into Existence where I argued that the choice of models is not as theologically important as many people make it out to be.
I've not read the Blackwell Companion, and I'm afraid I have a personal policy against reviewing web videos. It is difficult to engage with them at an academic level since it's hard to speed-read them and also hard to quote them. If you can find a link to a transcript or some other text description of their arguments, I could engage with that. I will say that it is bad terminology to call anything "the quantum gravity model". Quantum gravity is a field of study, not a specific hypothesis about the origins of the universe. It would be like calling a particular idea about of how evolution works "The Biology Model".
All of the things you mention are real, but one of them belongs in a completely different category than the others, namely the Holy Spirit. In Christian theology the Holy Spirit is an aspect of God himself (the Third Person of the Trinity). That means the Spirit is not a physical entity of any kind, instead it is the Creator of the whole universe. Since it predates the physical universe, it cannot itself be a physical entity, nor composed of any parts, rather it is the mind that lies behind the physical universe. As for how God interacts with the physical universe, the answer is simple: because he is the Omnipotent Creator, he can do so in whatever way he pleases, whether by means of miracles, or by simply dwelling within the normal results of physical processes of Nature. Of course, the most important Christian doctrine is that the Holy Spirit wants to dwell within our own hearts and minds.
As for angels and demons, if you believe the New Testament then these seem to be actual objective phenomena and not just aspects of human psychology. To the extent that they merely suggest thoughts to our minds, they may be very difficult to distinguish from our own subconscious minds. But it is hard to read events like Mark 5:1-20 or Matt 28:1-10 or Acts 12:1-11 in any other way. The reason we believe in angels is because they tend to appear to people during important moments of divine revelation; the reason we believe in devils is Jesus' interpretation of his healing of demonically possessed individuals. Unfortunately we Christians are not in a position to do scientific experiments on angels (because they submit to the will of God, and only appear to favored people at special moments in history) or on demons (because possession is rare, because it would be unethical to try to do experiments on such people instead of curing them, because demons are liars and therefore not a good source of knowledge, and because the study of them is not conducive to sanity). Thus the only honest answer I can give you, about their powers and how they relate to the physical universe, is I DON'T KNOW. This is a very respectable phrase which people should use more often. Our scientific knowledge is a limited approximation to reality, and if there are things outside the normal physical realm there is no reason why we should have detected them in expriments. But since they aren't God, they must have been given some limited nature with a definite set of powers, like people or trees.
The "soul" raises a completely different set of questions related to the Philosophy of Mind. I would personally define the "soul" as a way of talking about our interior self, so that is something that should exist on any interpretation of the mind. Of course the human mind is psychological by definition, but that doesn't make it unreal. Science seems to make it clear that the neural processes in our brain play at least a large role in determining the contents of our thoughts. In my opinion a Christian can consistently believe that our minds are in some sense physical entities, as long as they also accept that God is somehow going to arrange for us to live forever. But, the question of whether it is actually possible to reduce mental properties to physical properties is a very difficult and controversial question. I've discussed it here and here.
Thank you very much for answering my question Dr. Wall, I will wait and ask questions about models when I have more specifics!
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