21 February 2008

Alternate realities: A thought experiment

As promised, here are some further musings about all this vibrational energies stuff. I’m going to outline a few different explanations of reality, and you can ponder on these and see which one most appeals to you.

1) The universe was created by a Divine Being or Intelligence (we’ll call said Divine Being “God” for short), and the universe operates according to laws that God established. God occasionally or frequently intervenes in the day-to-day goings-on of the universe and of its created beings. In fact, everything that is was created by God, and everything that is longs to be reunited with its creator God. The entire creation, seen and unseen, including all of the beings therein, groan as if with birth pains to reach a new or renewed state of union with God in order to fulfill its true purpose. Some people, generally devotees of God, are more attuned to God than others, and perceive a different kind of reality, a spiritual reality or realm that is actually at the heart of what we ordinarily see as material and temporal reality (the four dimensions of “space-time”).

2) There isn’t necessarily a Divine Being, but there is some sort of Intelligence or Order that supports or infuses all that is (we’ll call this “the Force”, as a familiar sobriquet). This Force permeates the universe; the universe fairly resonates with unseen energies. These energies are vibrational in nature, and there is almost a kind of universal music or tonality to all that is, seen and unseen. Some people are more adept (or have practiced more) at tapping into the Force, and are attuned to the vibrational energies that exist therein. They can perceive another realm of reality, and either consider four-dimensional space-time reality as illusory, or at best as an incomplete depiction of the truth.

3) It’s unknown and unknowable whether there is a Divine Being, but there probably isn’t. However, the universe that we see in its four dimensions of space-time, everything that is, is actually made up of infinitesimally small particles that have the form of strings. These strings vibrate at resonant frequencies, and each and every string has a unique resonance, or harmonic. Thus, any particle should be thought of as a tiny vibrating object, rather than as a point. This object can vibrate in different modes (just as a violin string can produce different notes), with every mode appearing as a different particle (electron, photon, etc.). Strings can split and combine, which would appear as particles emitting and absorbing other particles, presumably giving rise to the known interactions between particles. Different harmonics determine different fundamental forces (gravity, etc.). The universe is not just made up of the four dimensions of space-time we generally perceive, but is actually comprised of 10 or 11 (or possibly 26) dimensions.

So, which one of these alternate realities do you prefer? Do they all seem far-fetched? Or is one (or two) very familiar to you, while the others seem nonsensical?

Scenario #1 is the standard orthodox Christian take on things, complete with references to the New Testament (Romans 8, to be specific). Many of you out there probably find this to be a familiar reality, although others probably see it as an outmoded devotion to a mythic Sky-God.

Scenario #2 is an amalgam of various new-Age spiritualities, including the “woo-woo” spirituality of my spouse’s aforementioned mentor. See previous post for more on this. Those of you who are devotees of the Lucasian worldview (i.e., Star Wars) probably find this one pretty appealing. Others probably find it to be either too wacky or dangerously heterodox.

Scenario #3 is a really crazy sounding one, isn’t it? Funny enough, it is also the theoretical model most popular among the smartest quantum physicists today. This is the current standard scientific model to explain what comprises the universe and everything that is. It has its detractors and it is not proving to be particular adept at generating falsifiable hypotheses, but it remains as science’s current best guess.

Here’s my take on this. As Einstein said, E=mc2, meaning that the inherent energy in something is equal to its mass times the speed of light squared. What that means is that even the smallest atom has a huge amount of potential energy in it, if you can figure out how to convert the matter into pure energy. That’s the basic physics behind nuclear power, and nuclear bombs. The other thing that this means is that there are two kinds of stuff in the universe, matter, and energy, and that the one can be converted into the other and vice versa. So if everything that exists is made up of vibrating strings, and everything that exists is also able to switch between being matter and being energy, then this stuff that we call matter, the stuff that comprises me and you and everything that exists, is really just energy organized in different ways based on what harmonics or modes the component string parts (or manifested energies) are vibrating into.

That’s just basic quantum theory and string theory adapted to a slightly more existential explanation of the universe. Given that, isn’t it perfectly plausible that there could be an underlying vibrational pattern to the universe, and that this pattern might shift over time in some seemingly organized way, and thus Scenario #2 makes a lot more sense then one might have previously thought? There’s another essay I would need to write about chaos theory and/or Jungian synchronicity to explain why things that are seemingly random and unrelated actually do exhibit patterns and non-causal connectivity, but I’ll spare you (and me) for now. And of course, if you want to take Kierkegaard’s leap of faith to posit a Divine Being behind all of this, then Scenario #1 also starts making a lot of sense.

In short, life and the universe (and everything, with apologies to Douglas Adams) are a lot more mysterious than we usually think. If we can remain open to these mysteries, we might just gain a little glimpse of insight every now and then. Why not give it a try?

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