Tag Archives: bruce meyer

How to lose a girl in less than 10 words

By Contributor Bruce Meyer

Bruce Meyer

I can lose a girl  in less than 10 words.  There are all kinds of possibilities.  The classics are, “I watch football all day long,” or, “I still live with my mother.”  Or there’s my favorite, “I want to be a writer.”   But those all take six words.  I can do it in just four simple, harmless words.

In her book “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Harper Lee’s character Atticus Finch says it’s important to climb into another’s skin and walk around in it for a while.  For Christians, Jesus says the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount, “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”  However, I’ve discovered many megachurches and popular radio programs teach something very different.  These adherents scour the Web for posts that agree only with their viewpoint.  Compromise is a dirty word.  And anyone who disagrees is obviously evil, stupid or part of a scientific conspiracy (which, by the way, is impossible).

Take the dispute over evolution as an example.  Never mind what the most important historical figures in Christianity have said.  You know, like Augustine, who wrote way back in the fifth century that Genesis should not be taken as a seven-day creation account, and even devised his own early big bang theory.  Or Thomas Aquinas back in the 13th century, who showed that in every event both God and nature are 100 percent involved, paving the way for understanding the hand of God at work in evolution.  Forget also that in the early 20th century, Christian denominations had fully embraced the theory of evolution.  This changed with the rise of fundamentalism.  Now we live in a different age, one that has amnesia to the progress of the last 2,000 years.

So after long talks of families, work, and recreational pursuits, I look my date straight in the eyes and say, “I agree with evolution.”

It works every time.

Dropped call? Blame the spiritual?

By Contributor Bruce Meyer

Bruce Meyer

Everybody knows cellphones are powered by batteries. And if you’re a geeky engineer like me, you know they connect calls by electromagnetic radiation. End of story right?

How do you know the spiritual world isn’t involved also?  How do you know there aren’t little gremlins with mealy claws living inside your phone?  In ancient times many people believed some deity or spirit was directly responsible for the events in the world.  If it rained the gods were favorable; if there was famine God was angry.  This was called supernaturalism.

Believe it or not, supernaturalism is still very much alive today.  Those who oppose evolution or the big bang, for example, are claiming a supernaturalism position.  They see God or Allah as directly responsible for the creation.  There is no other mechanism.  After the time of Aristotle, however, the idea of a clockwork universe gradually developed.  Theologians in the Middle Ages came to understand the cosmos as a place of order that functioned predictably, and supernaturalism was replaced by causation.  God and natural processes were involved with every event.  If your cellphone dropped a call, according to causation, the primary cause would be God and the secondary cause would be interference with electromagnetic waves.   You could not take another breath without both God’s sustaining power and your healthy lungs.

The Illustrated Sutra of Cause and Effect/Wikipedia

In today’s society, naturalism, the viewpoint that natural forces alone govern events in the world, has become more prominent.  If the scientific process cannot measure or explain the cellphone gremlins, according to naturalism, then they don’t exist at all.  Obviously this is a threatening idea to religiously minded people.  Instead of God responsible for the world around us, there is an explainable machinery of science.

Some have recoiled in fear, retreating into various forms of fundamentalism and claims of infallible spiritual texts.  They’ve acquired a sort of split personality regarding supernaturalism and naturalism.  The same people who have no problem using modern technology (and don’t believe in cellphone gremlins) will oppose evolutionary science.

So which one is it?  Is our world run by naturalism or supernaturalism?  Does it run by God or machinery?  It’s not logical to think technology runs the world today, but that God created the world directly without any intervening naturalistic causes.  When did the big change occur?  Why should creation work any differently than everyday life?

In case you think I am espousing a naturalist position, I am not.  Both viewpoints have the same problem: they are fundamentalist in their thinking.  Naturalists cling to math and science as the answer to everything, while religious fundamentalists claim the Bible or the Quran as infallible.  I recently heard Stephen Hawking allude that God was unnecessary for the creation of the universe.  Hawking is a great physicist, but I was shocked by his complete disregard for great thinkers of the past, such as Thomas Aquinas.  Religious fundamentalists equally have amnesia when it comes to the philosophical heritage of the Middle Ages.

Thomas Aquinas, as well as many Muslim scholars, has claimed that every event in the world was caused 100 percent by God and 100 percent by natural forces.  Both were fully involved.

Your dropped call is due to both electromagnetic interference and demons at the same time.  Human beings came to exist both by evolution and by the hand of God.

Take another great man: Steve Jobs.  Now I’m not a fan of Apple, but there are those who consider Apple to be the greatest company in the world; perhaps the greatest ever.  How did he build this incredible enterprise?  Did he use science and technology?

Of course, it’s a computer company.  But that’s not what Jobs claimed as the secret of his success.  He claimed intuition.  Some say he wasn’t even very good at understanding the sleek devices he had created.  But his intuition was able to harness the power of the electronics.

Science has made some incredible achievements in the world, but Jobs showed us that the world isn’t run only by technology.  Yes, science is fully involved, but so is intuition.  Technology is the servant of human intuition.  As some spiritual texts say, “Wisdom is supreme.”  It’s by intuition that we see beyond the matter and energy of the universe to places where scientific inquiry can never go.  It’s by intuition that we look around at the art and beauty of creation and know that some spiritual force is responsible, whether by the big bang or by evolution or whatever naturalistic mechanism was involved.  It’s by spiritual intuition that the majority of people today still worship a deity as a relevant and important part of their lives.

The real God particle?

By Blogger Bruce Meyer

Bruce Meyer

Perhaps you’ve heard the recent announcement by a group of physicists that they have seen hints of a subatomic particle called the Higgs boson.  You may have even heard it called the ‘God particle’ because it’s so important.  So what’s the big deal?

Throughout the past century, a model of the basic building blocks of matter has been assembled.  It’s called the Standard Model of Particle Physics.  The model describes subatomic particles such as electrons and quarks and the forces that hold these elements together.  A discovery of the Higgs would provide a crucial element towards the completion of that model.

Big deal?  Well, there’s something much deeper in the works.  The energy level at which the Higgs may have been discovered points to a more fundamental level of physics, an even bigger (smaller) picture.  Theoreticians have been developing a theory of physics call supersymmetry.  For starters, supersymmetry adds an additional layer of particles to the Standard Model.  More than that, supersymmetry provides evidence for a new branch of physics called string theory.  String theory states that electrons and quarks are not the basic building blocks of nature.  Instead, everything is composed of tiny vibrating strings.

OK, let’s assume that the string theorists are right.  In days to come, perhaps researchers will find evidence of those strings and be able to demonstrate string theory just like they found the Higgs boson and developed the Standard Model.  Now another group comes along and says that strings aren’t actually the fundamental building blocks, they are really Legons (from Legos).  Obviously I’m making this up here.  But where does it stop?  Some future physicist will say that in fact Legons aren’t the basic elements at all.  It’s something much smaller, like maybe futurons or infinitons which can only be seen with a Higgs bosonic string-cooled yoctoscope that costs 15 quadrillions.  It will cost so much that Earth will need a bailout from Alpha Centauri!

I think you get the picture.  There can be no end to scientific discovery.  Once we think we’ve discovered the final fundamental particle, we still have to answer what’s it composed of and how did it get there?  These questions will never be ultimately answered by experimental science.

There is another discipline that has been passed down to us from ancient times.  Plato and Aristotle of classical Greece came up with an idea called the first cause or the prime mover.  It was picked up in later generations by Augustine and then Thomas Aquinas of the Christian tradition, and also Al-Kindi and Al-Ghazali of the Islamic tradition, among many others.  It is an argument that has been accepted by almost all religions.

The argument states that everything in the universe has a cause, going back until there is a first cause.  That prime mover sets everything else into motion.  The first cause is like a point, a line, or a plane is to mathematics.  It just is.  In better words, the ultimate answer that has been passed down to us through thousands of years of humanity has been God.  That’s the First Cause.  He’s the Prime Mover.  That’s the real ‘God Particle.’

Is Anybody Out There?

By Blogger Bruce Meyer

Bruce Meyer

The universe boggles the mind, at least it does mine, and I’m a science fiction writer with a wild imagination.  Just think of it: Our sun is one of at least 100 billion stars in the Milky Way and the Milky Way is one of nearly 100 billion galaxies in the universe.  If you’ve got a big enough calculator the total is at least 10 sextillion stars (one followed by 22 zeros).  That’s just a lower boundary; there’re probably multiples more than that.

What about all the planets around all those stars?  There are guesses that range from the numerous sextillions to the nearly infinite.  Astronomers are making great progress in identifying planets in other systems, but it’s difficult and there’s a long ways to go.  Without knowing the full number, though, astrophysicists have calculated that galaxies such as our Milky Way don’t contain nearly enough “stuff” to hold together on their own.  As many stars and planets as there are, the math doesn’t work out.  So they hypothesized a substance called “dark matter”.  It’s dark because it doesn’t emit or reflect radiation as would be expected by normal matter.  In fact, some 30 percent of the universe is believed to be composed of this exotic dark matter.  One of the projects slated for the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland is to prove out some of the hypothesis of dark matter.

Even more astounding is the revelation that the universe is not only expanding, but the rate of that expansion is accelerating.  For this mystery physicists have devised an enigmatic force called “dark energy”.  To grasp the magnitude of dark energy consider the following:  If all of the 10 sextillion stars and all the planets (however many there are), comets, asteroids, and stellar gasses were combined, they would make up merely 4 percent of the energy density of the universe.  The remaining 96 percent is composed of dark matter and dark energy.

Imagine how small the earth is compared with all the mass and energy of the cosmos!  Just the vast number of stars and planets suggest that extra-terrestrial life should be common.  Yet, even with those probabilities, there are those who believe that there is no life except on earth.  Some of the objections come from the rare earth hypothesis which says that the conditions for life on earth are unique: the size of the earth, the exact distance from the sun, the size of the moon, the magnetosphere, etc.  But what about the movie “Aliens,” where life is silicon-based instead of carbon-based?  That wouldn’t require a unique earth, would it?  If you don’t like silicon then life could be based on phosphorous, sulfur or even arsenic.

OK so maybe it’s tough to think there might be little yellow sulfur people from the Gliese 581g star system (where astronomers recently found a perfect earth-sized planet).  How about the claim that there’s no God?  The accomplishments of the scientific process have been phenomenal, fueling an increase in those who claim there is no spiritual world, that there is only matter and energy.  The rise in this belief has been especially prominent among young adults.  But from another perspective, we know just a little bit about 4 percent of the known universe.  If we’ve learned anything in the scientific age it should be the lessons of dark matter and dark energy.  There’s more to our existence than we can see, feel, or touch, or sense by the Visible Integral-Field Replicable Unit Spectrograph (being constructed to detect dark energy).  The scientific process can only discover so much.  If there is unknown stuff such as dark matter and dark energy, why is it such a stretch to believe there’s a spiritual world completely outside of matter and energy?

No, science cannot conclude that we’re alone.  If anything, we should admit the probability of the opposite.  The idea that there’s nobody out there sounds to me like some wild science fiction!