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I Led Three Lives

David Cowles

Oct 18, 2022

“Modern physics is right now living at least three lives and possibly a fourth.”

In the 1950s there was a popular TV show, I Led Three Lives, about the life of a spy during the early days of the Cold War. I would submit that modern physics is right now living at least three lives and possibly a fourth: an Einsteinian life, a Newtonian life, a Quantum life, and perhaps, a Sub-quantum (Bohm) life as well.

Our job, should we choose to accept it, is to find a single principle of explanation that can potentially account for events manifested at all 4 levels, a principle that would allow us to decode the “signatures of all things I am here to read.” (James Joyce)

Some proposed ciphers find that all events are determined, either by the Laws of Science (Dawkins) or by the Will of God (Paley), or, popularly but bizarrely, by some ad hoc combination of the two.

Other ciphers (Hume) find a randomly seething sea beneath each legible signature. They ascribe emergent structure to chance and coincidence.

For almost 3,000 years, Western philosophers have been concerned to explain the relationship between so-called phenomena (signatures) and noumena.

Of course, none of these ciphers (above) yields a cogent translation. Philosophy (the ‘linguistics’ of science) is the quest to find the key that will unlock the messages (signatures) and provide us with a coherent translation. Philosophy is the search for the ontological Rosetta Stone.

To me, a universe subject to intelligent design, even if a benevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient God is the designer, is doomed to be an impoverished universe indeed. If the 20th century taught us nothing else, it should have taught us that centralized, top-down engineering can never compete with decentralized, bottom-up emergence. Eventually, Blockchain will put Central Banks out of business.

On the other hand, I see no reason to believe that our 'cloud-capped towers, gorgeous palaces, and golden temples' (The Tempest) can be explained by chance combinations of atoms, subatomic particles, and their forces. “I see no reason,” true enough, but I can do you one better: I have proof!

Meet George Jetson, oops, I mean John Bell (1964). He started with a normal assumption: an 'event' is focused on a contiguous but bounded region of spacetime. Then he went to work.

When he was done, he had proved that the prevailing concepts of 'event' and 'locality' are inconsistent, that a 'local' model cannot account for the richness of actual phenomena. Bell is the Zeno of our time!

Bell proved mathematically that the universe exhibits a level of connectedness inconsistent with mere locality. A universe of events localized in spacetime cannot account for our experience of events.

Instead, Bell proposed a model in which the concept of ‘event’ is non-local… and “Bingo!” Both Zeno and Bell produced arguments that were logically unassailable, but no one believed either of them. (Even today, almost no one believes Zeno.)

Libraries are full of attempts, unsuccessful in my view, to falsify Zeno. Fortunately, Bell fared a little better. In 1971 Alan Aspect proved Bell's theorem experimentally. It was Bell’s Equivalent of Einstein’s ‘Mercury moment’!

But still, folks weren’t convinced. "There must be something wrong." We claim to believe logic, math, and science above all else, but apparently, we don’t. Apparently, we believe what we want to believe, logic and observation notwithstanding: “Zeno and Bell can go to H…” No wonder the world is in the shape it’s in.

What is the universe if it is neither random nor engineered? What if it’s a 'floating craps game' played with loaded dice, or more easily, with the payout odds tilted in favor of the player rather than the House? What if the player is the House?

The fix is in! The player(s) will one day end up with all the chips. That we know! What we don't know is the outcome of any single bet or dice roll. A series of apparently 'random' events is certain to produce a particular result, but we have no idea how or when.

This is a modified version of the ‘emergent order’ model of the universe. It is much closer to Hume than Dawkins, but it differs from both in that it includes an ontological constant (a tilt toward Good and Being) and this all folks call God.


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