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Converging of Science, Philosophy and Religion

Thanks Geoff Taylor for this piece. More available at Catholica Forum.

This is in a topic conversation from Warren, replying to Tony Equale in the US.

“….Lothar Schafer who is an emeritus professor of quantum chemistry has written a book Infinite Potential—What Quantum Physics Reveals About How We Should Live in which he says “The phenomena of quantum physics force us to believe that the basis of the visible world doesn‘t rest on some material foundation but on a realm of nonmaterial forms that have the properties of waves as though our world were afloat on an invisible ocean.” (p.33)
“When material particles dissolve in fields of mathematical forms and patterns of numbers- when they become such patterns and forms they transcend the domain of matter.—the basis of reality is a domain of transmaterial forms , images or elementary thoughts.” (p.238)
It seems that what happens is that “When electrons and atoms and molecules are left alone they become waves. (p.42)— When an elementary particle enters a wave state it abandons all matter.—When they become waves elementary particles become numerical patterns, mathematical forms or numbers.” (p.44)
“As a wave the material particle has no actual position in space but many potential positions. Thus the wave states into which microphysical objects dissolve are potentiality states. When a material particle enters the realm of potentiality it leaves the empirical world.—we can conclude that the visible reality emanates out of a realm of potentiality that is underlying all things.”—
“It is in this way we are led to the view that physical reality appears to us in two domains : the realm of the actuality of localised material things and the realm of potentiality of the nonmaterial forms that are spread out in space. These forms are real even though they are invisible because they have the potential to manifest themselves into the empirical world and act in it.” (p.46) But then Plato said all that in the fourth century BCE!
“The emergence of wavelike properties in the behaviour of elementary particles forces us to accept some amazing conclusions regarding the nature of physical reality. There is a realm of the universe that has the nature of potentiality—a realm that isn’t made up of visible, material and energetic things but of invisible mathematical forms : patterns of information or images.” (p.49)
Quantum chemists say that these empty states should be called virtual states and “Virtual states are real but since they are empty they are nonempirical. You can think of them as mathematical forms, wave functions or probability patterns.—They are truly existing potentiality.” (p.253)
“These forms are real even though they are invisible because they have the potential to manifest themselves into the empirical world and act in it.” (p.46) They do not actually exist in the empirical world but even so they can act on the empirical world.

So Schafer can say “I think that the quantum phenomena have led us to the point where we don’t have a choice anymore. There is no denying that a transcendent part of reality exists.” (p.187)
Schafer concludes that “In this regard science is facing an unavoidable paradox: Even though it must avoid in its descriptions of the world any reference to a transcendent realm of reality, scientific explorations of the world nevertheless force us to accept that such a transcendent realm exists.” (p.267)
Of course it is most extraordinary that Pythagoras as one of the Greek founders of Western philosophy in the sixth century BCE claimed to have found irrefutable arguments for the thesis that all things are numbers and Plato in the fourth century BCE taught his students that atoms were mathematical forms. (p.5). It is no wonder that scientists just love mathematics.
Also fascinating is that the followers of Pythagoras were a religious sect and their theory of numbers was connected with their spiritual teachings. So Schafer claims that “The fact is that the way in which it describes the world (in quantum numbers) quantum physics has taken science right into the middle of historic traditions of spirituality.” (p.21)
Fascinating that we are headed for virtual reality and its capturing of forms in numbers with the video game paradigm! But even more fascinating is that what Schafer is saying as a result of what quantum science has revealed is no longer metaphysics but phenomenology. Teilhard de Chardin predicted it would happen when he said “Like the meridians as they approach the poles, science, philosophy and religion are bound to converge as they draw nearer the whole.” (p.29)”