The universe is not what it seems. Neither are we.
Big Bang. Spontaneous generation. Evolution. Natural selection.
According to conventional wisdom, these are the foundational principles that brought life, the universe, and everything into existence.
But a new theory suggests that we may have it all backwards.
Science has always taken for granted that the three physical dimensions of the universe are somehow woven into space-time – the fabric (or canvas, or backdrop) that provides a place for matter and life to exist.
However, a recent article in the Journal of Applied Mathematics and Physics proposes that quantum mechanics – the laws that govern motion on the subatomic level – may themselves be responsible for the creation of space-time.
Now don’t click away! Give me a chance to explain what this means.
A WHOLE NEW WORLDVIEW
Think of it like this: we have always assumed
that the universe existed first as empty space and endless time;
that the physical laws governing the universe describe the movement of matter and energy from the time they came into existence.
The new proposal by Paulo Castro from the University of Lisbon suggests that the laws of motion actually gave rise to and formed the existence of the physical universe.
As counter-intuitive as this may sound, scientists are excited that it might explain mysterious phenomena wherein particles seem to defy the laws of physics. One such enigma is quantum entanglement, the inexplicable connection between disconnected particles. Another is quantum tunneling, the curious instance of particles passing through solid matter. Both of these involve matter traveling faster than the speed of light, which is theoretically impossible.
Even stranger, the new theory also seems to imply that the laws of physics act with a life of their own, almost with a kind of cosmic consciousness that imposes organization upon chaos and brings structure to the universe.
This proposal seems a lot less radical when viewed through the lens of spiritual philosophy. In fact, one might even suggest that it rests on a model that was already established long ago – In the beginning.
THE WAY THINGS WORK
The sages of the Talmud understood that everything in our physical world is modelled upon a more elemental reality in the spiritual world. The three dimensions that define the length, breadth, and depth of our material universe reflect a parallel tri-dimensional framework that describes the underpinnings of creation: space, time, and life.
Intuitively, we would suppose that space and time were necessary prerequisites to the formation of life. But Jewish theology rejects that kind of compartmentalization. Time and space have no purpose except to serve life – specifically, human life. If not for the inevitable creation of mankind, time and space would have no basis or reason for existing in the first place.
The excitement generated by Professor Castro’s innovative theory stems from the hope it offers for advancing the long-elusive unified field theory, the resolution of quantum mechanics and relativity. Jewish tradition, however, has long asserted that everything in the universe is not only interconnected but interdependent. In the same way that John Donne famously declared that no man is an island, Judaism teaches that no particle is an island. Everything in creation has a purpose; everything – and everyone – is essential to the masterplan.
Contrary to the conventions of thermodynamics, the universe seems to have a relentless inclination toward order. Perhaps the cosmos are whispering to us that we need to work harder to put our own lives in order, to bring harmony into our homes and our communities, and to ensure that we chart our course forward by contemplating not what we want from the universe, but what the universe expects from us.
Published in Jewish World Review