About gigglinginthegutter

I read science at University with a final year specialisation in vertebrate evolution. I believe. There is meaning, and that is to be found in connection. Life and love are two sides of a coin. I'm a practicing Christian, but I'm not convinced about the Church (es). I'm particularly interested in quantum physics and what new discoveries tell us about reality and the meaning of life. For me at least, they point to a deeper meaning rather than the opposite. I'm also a musician - though as with my spiritual life I practice intermittently and struggle with manifest imperfection. I have been deeply influenced by Martin Buber, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Karl Jung, Wolfgang Pauli, Niels Bohr, Alfred Einstein, Professor Owen Chadwick, my family and friends, Jesus Christ and the Dalai Lama. Since nothing can be proved we owe it to each other to listen as deeply as possible, rather than to preach. If reality is indeed within connection, then it's the intensity of the act of conversation that is important rather than conversion to a particular point of view. What about you?

Scotland – Nationalism v Economics

This is a reprint from the Spectator this week…

Scotland’s deficit is higher than the UK average — an estimated 7 per cent of GDP, as opposed to the UK’s 2 per cent. It’s not hard to work out why. In 2018-19, Scottish public spending was 13.6 per cent higher per head than the UK average and revenue collected was 2.6 per cent lower. Scotland accounts for about a tenth of the UK’s population and a tenth of its economic output — but more than half of the increase in total annual government borrowing in cash terms.

How could the Scottish government possibly sustain that level of expenditure in the absence of the UK subsidy (about £10 billion a year)? It would have to go, tam o’ shanter in hand, to the bond market, but with the size of Scotland’s deficit, as well as the share of the UK’s debt it would inherit, the interest rates would be far more onerous than those currently available to the UK.

Bankruptcy would soon follow.

Would the IMF come to Scotland’s rescue, as it came to the UK’s in 1976? Maybe, but only at the cost of a huge reduction in spending on public services such as education, already a complete basket case under the SNP’s stewardship.

But let’s suppose the Spanish government waives its objection to Scotland joining. That wouldn’t exactly save the day. For starters, there would be the small matter of the hard border with the rest of the UK, not something conducive to trade with Scotland’s largest export market.

Then there’s the fact that Scotland would have to adopt the euro and become part of Schengen, both of which are non-negotiables for any new member states. But crucially, Scotland’s annual deficit of 7 per cent of GDP puts it over the 3 per cent threshold that automatically triggers the EU’s ‘excessive deficit procedure’, i.e. the

EU would insist on an eye-watering austerity programme as a condition of joining.

And if the people of Scotland want to know what that would involve, I’m sure plenty of Greeks would be happy to tell them. (Youth unemployment of 40 per cent? Not sure that will go down well in Glasgow.) It would make the levels of austerity imposed by George Osborne and Philip Hammond — which the SNP ceaselessly complained about — look like a mosquito bite compared to full-blown malaria.

Unknotting nottiness

I hold to one-ness, to boundary intensifying connection. I reject the primacy of ego and materialism and the loneliness and fear of death to which they condemn.

Humanity is in a blind alley. We are here because we have followed two whopping lies.

Here’s the first (courtesy of Sigmund Freud).

You are not me.

You-Me. Yes to that – there is boundary – it is the edge between us that allows us to experience each other. It’s the little word not that causes all the problems. You are not me. Distinction, separation, contrast. The birth of Freud’s concept of ego.

And this nott-iness is perculiarly modern and western. After all the Hindu – Namaste means something like “I bow to the divine in you”. Our culture – European and American – is also rooted in “community”. Together, we are one. Do our achievements in the west not stand on the foundations of all of the tribes, families, villages, congregations, parliaments, colleges, schools, classes of the past? The individuals who we remember – the Shakespeares, Napoleons, Eliots, Einsteins, Washingtons, Elizabeth Reginas – were they not the flowering and expressions of their age. They did not appear singular and without context.

And here’s the second great lie (thanks to Marx and Engels)

All is matter.

Dialectic materialism. There is no such thing as spirit; no concept of purpose or any “other”. Without a yardstick against which to measure moral compass what is there? Self-referential humanism and its close cousin narcissism.

From these two ideas – “ego” and the exclusive worship of “matter” has sprung the western “triumph” of atheism, the advance of capitalism and the fragmentation of society.

I hold to one-ness, to boundary intensifying connection. I reject the primacy of ego and materialism and the loneliness and fear of death to which they condemn.

When my body dissolves, then the molecules will become part of new patterns. So too will my other essence. My soul. The fragment of spirit that animates this collection of atoms. As Rupert Brooke puts it.. “a pulse in the eternal mind, no less”.

Or perhaps

Let us go gentle into that good light,

Old age should turn to brave the close of day;       

Courage guag’d against the flighting of its wight

God only knows

It is all, let’s admit, unprovable. All – reality, God, no-God, meaning, purpose etc. That’s because there is no independent starting point, no external (to the Universe) objective truth. That is, there may well be – but it isn’t available to us as humans and to our thinking minds. That being so – all is conjecture and belief. I have been irritated by the messaging from materialists and atheists that tries to claim that “science” dis-proves God. They are trying to manipulate, and they do – or should – know better. However, as atheists can’t prove Un-God, neither can other religions prove God.

However there is the small matter of probability, and it seems to me highly unlikely that there is no God. This does not speak to what God might be. Declaring my hand, I do believe in God as personal and loving – but that is belief. However, if God were defined as “that which came before” or ” the ultimate cause outside existence”, then it seems to me overwhelmingly likely that God exists.

Cosmologists agree that the chain of events that have led to this existence are not random. The likelihood that the Universe – with it’s 26 physical constants (eg the exact speed of light etc) – is a random event is vanishingly small. Think of it –  from the “Big Bang” through rapid inflation of the Universe, pausing every now and then just long enough to create stars, the elements, the conditions for life and then an aware and self-conscious mankind. At every stage, if the “laws” of physics were just fractionally different – we wouldn’t be here. You only have to read the discoveries of science – and wipe away the slant that materialists would like to put on them..

In the face of this mountain of evidence that the Universe is not random, atheists and materialists hold up a model of Multiple Universes. This is their line of defence against God, or at least a God as I defined earlier. They do this because they can then say that in an infinity of Universes there would be one that had just the right conditions for awareness and life – and we think that’s special because we happen to be in it. Let me pause here simply to contrast probabilities. All agree that this Universe is infinetly unlikely. Which is more probable? Either that there is a creative impulse that set up the Universe (I define this as God), or that infinite Universes arises all the time and we happen to keep on track with the only one where awareness is possible? Leave aside the question of what was the creative impulse behind setting up the infinite Universes.

The Multiple Universes theory is  the “alternative” explanation to the Copenhagen Interpretation of the observer effect which has been proven in Quantum Mechanics. (There is a third, a kind of fudge called Environmental Decoherence – but that anyway relies on the Universe being singular and everything in it relative).

Revisiting what these theories attempt to address. Experiments show that everything exists (at least at the quantum level) as possibility – until observed. It is the act of observation that collapses possibility into a single reality. This isn’t contentious, simply fact established by experiment time and time again. (For me this leads to the critical role of consciousness, us, as reality engines. We crystallise out reality by our observation.).

” Before observation, a particle is in a superposition state of all possible values. During measurement, what causes the reduction of this state to a single value?” (Hidden in Plain Sight: The fundamental link between relativity and quantum mechanics. Andrew Thomas). Einstein famously could not refute the conclusions of these quantum experiments, but couldn’t accept them because he couldn’t explain them – “What I am really interested in is whether God could have the world in a different way; that is, whether the necessity of logical simplicity leaves any freedom at all”.

The Many Worlds Interpretation states that all the time the world is splitting into infinite Universes. Therefore the collapse of superposition into one state of reality is not caused by the observer, it is that the observer is also splitting infinitely. There is a logical problem with this however. To work – the “observer” has to be in a state of superposition before the observation (so that it can continue to split infinitely as supposedly does the “observed”. Yet the observer is not, the observer is in a single well-defined state.

So, for what it’s worth. This is why I believe that Un-God is overwhelmingly Un-likely. There is one Universe (Uni-verse!). It is agreed by all scientists that it is almost inconceivably un-likely that the conditions within this Universe leading to conscious life is random. It it’s simplest if God is defined as the primal cause, then God exists.

God, then at least as “the Word existing beyond Time and Space”. An implication of this logic is that, here and now, the nature of God is un-knowable (since we exist IN Time and Space). The nature of God, then, and not the existence of God is a matter of belief.

For me anyway…

 

Poem in October

Featured

Dylan Thomas

For reading click here .. poem in october – dylan thomas

“the mussel pooled and heron Priested shore”

It was my thirtieth year to heaven

Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood

And the mussel pooled and the heron

Priested shore

The morning beckon

With water praying and call of seagull and rook

And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall

Myself to set foot

That second

In the still sleeping town and set forth.

My birthday began with the water-

Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name

Above the farms and the white horses

And I rose

In rainy autumn

And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.

High tide and the heron dived when I took the road

Over the border

And the gates

Of the town closed as the town awoke.

A springful of larks in a rolling

Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling

Blackbirds and the sun of October

Summery

On the hill’s shoulder,

Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly

Come in the morning where I wandered and listened

To the rain wringing

Wind blow cold

In the wood faraway under me.

Pale rain over the dwindling harbour

And over the sea wet church the size of a snail

With its horns through mist and the castle

Brown as owls

But all the gardens

Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales

Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.

There could I marvel

My birthday

Away but the weather turned around.

It turned away from the blithe country

And down the other air and the blue altered sky

Streamed again a wonder of summer

With apples

Pears and red currants

And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s

Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother

Through the parables

Of sun light

And the legends of the green chapels

And the twice told fields of infancy

That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.

These were the woods the river and sea

Where a boy

In the listening

Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy

To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.

And the mystery

Sang alive

Still in the water and singingbirds.

And there could I marvel my birthday

Away but the weather turned around. And the true

Joy of the long dead child sang burning

In the sun.

It was my thirtieth

Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon

Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.

O may my heart’s truth

Still be sung

On this high hill in a year’s turning.

Durch Schmerz?

There is a brilliant book by Netherlands author Harry Mulisch – The Discovery of Heaven. It isn’t an evangelical tract. It portrays the Universe from the perspective of the possibilities outside it. The potential that the Universe does not call into being. Quantum mechanics shows us that nothing is actual until observed. In that sense we, as witness engines (points of observation) call forth this particular Universe. We are enmeshed in the spacetime of our choosing. Here and now. Literally.

We ae imprisoned in the Universe as we together have created it. Why did we, humanity, create a history that includes (those infamous atheists) Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot?

The Cross is the symbol of Christ, redeemer. At it’s heart is the point of transformation, escape into the world beyond spacetime, as imagined by Harry Mulisch. And yes, through pain. Kraft durch Schmerz, or perhaps Freude durch Schmerz?

In reality, we’re all entangled

“William Blake says the body is ‘that portion of soul discerned by the five senses”

Marion Woodman, Conscious Femininity: Interviews With Marion Woodman (Studies in Jungian Psychology By Jungian Analysts, 58)

Quantum mechanics tells us that there is no such thing as a completely isolated object: objects are connected. The impression of separateness is just an illusion. It is possible for a particle to interact with another particle in such a way that the two particles form a single entangled quantum state. What this means is that the state of one particle is dependent on the state of the other in some way. Because of this dependency, it is a mistake to consider either particle in isolation from the other. Rather, we should combine the states and treat the result – both particles – as a single, entangled system. …. What this reveals is that our human perception of objects being separated is not a match with the physical reality of the situation.

“The relationships between particles and the entire Universe are interacting with each other through their inward and outward waves. Thus they become joined into one ensemble of waves which determines the behavior of the individual particles. The simplest example is Mach’s Principle, which proposed (1890) that all the matter of the Universe determines the Law of Inertia (f=ma)”

(The Eightfold Way of The Universe. Milo Wolff).