8. General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics ------------------------------ Previous - Next - Contents

Today I finished reading The fabric of the Cosmos. Frankly it is the first of such topic books I ever read to the end. I will read it again to become more familiar with some the concepts it covers.
It appears that some of the most cutting edge research is now directed at discovering the true nature of our familiar three spacial dimensions plus time. Are they too perhaps composites of more basic components (perhaps so called Planck squares), which form a background fabric within which we exist ? In the quest for this yet deeper layer of understanding the two major theories of the 20th Century :

  1. Einstein's theory of General Relativity covering space time, gravity and the large universal phenomena, and

  2. Quantum Mechanics covering the laws governing the tiniest basic components of what we call "matter"

reach out to each other ever more closely, through string theory and beyond, to find the answer.
And it occurs to me that, at a more mundane level, our own personal awareness - which ultimately guides us towards what we believe in - too is a composite of two similar extremes.

  1. At the one hand we have our awareness of the larger world and universe and their history.

  2. On the other we have an awareness derived from our close range observations, experiences, even feelings of the immediate environment we live in. Plants, trees, animals other human beings.

It was initially my growing awareness of this second aspect (b above) which made me turn away from Christianity (and any other formal religion) when I was in my teens. Living in the Martinshof woods, surrounded by farms and nature I concluded very decisively that no existing formal man made religion was anywhere near compatible with even the most simple component of nature, like for example a single blade of grass.
Once I started to study Geology at University, obviously the other aspect of my awareness (a above) started to spring alive, confirming and reinforcing the conclusion I had already arrived at.

It is to my mind highly surprising (although in some ways understandable) that in this modern day and age, where we have advanced so far and comfortably live with TVs, mobile phones, computers and the Internet, so many still cling to the "naive fairy tale" formal believes (as the well known 20th Century philosopher Bertrand Russell describes them) which were formed at a time when humans thought the earth was flat and the entire universe was rotating around it.

The formal religions are of course deeply ingrained in their cultures and still form an integral part of the social fabric. And in this role they perhaps do some good at the personal and communal levels.
I also acknowledge and can understand that many accept their foal believe only in a symbolic sense, and as a convenient vehicle to visualise the more abstract believe they really hold.
But on national and global scales the formal religions have caused (and of course still do) untold misery, harm, torture, war and death. Above all they repress the development of that unique and defining feature of the human species, increasing awareness. Because they have absolutely nothing to gain by such development, but everything to loose and fear from it.

The astonishingly fast development and consequent changes in our lives these 60 odd post WW2 years, especially after the emergence and now dominance of the computer, has had the immediate effect of a storm raving over a corn field. Some strands have flattened backwards to the ground, some are still standing upright, others have bent forward following the direction of the wind.   In other words, some have fled in fear back to what is familiar, their formal religion, some are still unaware of what is going on, but many are going forward with the wind, and by doing so are gaining a greater awareness.

I have noticed that in every single Australian bookshop I have entered this past year they hold an unusually high number of copies on the shelf of Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion. It obviously is selling like hot cakes. People are searching for new answers. Whether in the end they believe Dawkins is perhaps not so important. They are searching and increasing their awareness, making them more true human beings. And that I believe is important.
Another book on the same subject, perhaps treated slightly more gently is Christopher Hitchen's book "God is NOT Great". A good read.

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Copyright © 2010 Michael Furstner