It's just a week since scientists at the LHC happily announced the more or less probably fairly certain existence of the God particle. Couldn't let this momentous occasion slip by without a quick blog post to celebrate.
Best jokes of the week:
Why did the Higgs boson go into the church?
There could be no mass without it.
What did the Higgs boson say to the philosopher?
I am therefore you think.
So there we are.
Looks like there's some kind of field of fields that's everywhere present and supports and sustains everything and without which...
Hang on; isn't this where we came in?
At the very least, it gives weight to some of our ideas about reality.
This lovely music was composed and performed by one of my students, Phil Holiday, accompanied by the lovely voice of his friend Sarah Dean. As well as being a fine musician, Phil is also a qualified Tai Chi Instructor. The video was filmed in Buddha Maitreya's beautiful Zen Garden, Pureland Meditation and retreat centre, Near Newark, UK
This week I had conversations with two unhappy people. One had a habit of enrolling on courses and giving up after a few weeks if there was any suggestion that their final grade would be less than 100%, while another had put off any hope of doing anything they enjoyed until they had accumulated an unspecified large amount of money in the bank or died in the attempt.
It made me wonder just how many people are doing this kind of thing.
Have you ever looked at your garden and thought: "It would take a week to really get to grips with that and I can't afford to take a week off work, so I'll just have to leave it for now." ? Or have you thought about having a holiday but decided against it because you couldn't afford to get to the Seychelles this year? Or put off doing any exercise because it would take so much effort to lose two stone and you wouldn't be happy with just a few pounds?
Or are you the kind of person who completes the course and is happy with a B, goes off to Whitby for a couple of days and enjoys it, spends half an hour here and there pulling out a few weeds or mowing a lawn and generally gets on with life, grateful for what you have and for any modest achievements along the way?
It's great to have goals and dreams to inspire and motivate us, providing we don't let them cripple us in our attempt to achieve-it-all-or-take-our-bat-and-ball-home. A beaver doesn't necessarily have to chop down a redwood tree to block a river; he can build a pretty good dam with patiently-collected sticks, and I've yet to see an ant driving a JCB!
Elsewhere on this website, I've said: "The important thing isn't getting what you think you want; it's looking at what you actually get and learning something from it." Maybe one of the things we can learn is how to lighten up, go easy on ourselves and enjoy ourselves in the process!
I was intrigued by the cover of this week's New Scientist: "The God Issue". 17.3.12. You can view the main content online at
http://www.newscientist.com/special/god, or there's still time to actually buy a copy!
There are interesting articles declaring that we are all born with a "God-shaped space just waiting to be filled by religion" and that religious societies tend to last longer than secular ones because of the paranoia generated by the belief that we are constantly under surveillance by a supreme and potentially wrathful being who can even monitor our thoughts and punish us accordingly, which helps to keep us behaving like model citizens and also allows us to place more trust in strangers who engage in our popular rituals. This, apparently, allowed us to create complex civilizations rather than remain hunter-gatherers.
What I did find a little disappointing was a seemingly promising article declaring God to be a "testable hypothesis"(pp 46-47). "At last!" I thought, "This will be a balanced, scientific account which will begin to settle some of the polarised disputes between the Dawkins camp and the inhabitants of LaLa land by presenting a third and overarching hypothesis that will set science and religion in a broader context and thereby cut through some of the prejudice inherent in both."
Sadly, the article was written by a self-confessed atheist who set about "scientifically" disproving some of the peripheral nonsense generated by organised religions; arguing that - from the lack of evidence that, for example, prayers heal people, or that God has directly spoken to anyone, or that the universe is fine-tuned for human life, or that we have souls, etc. - "we can conclude that the universe and life look exactly as they would be expected to look if there were no God." Well duh.
It also looks exactly as it would be expected to look if it were a continually arising holographic simulation generated by a self-aware quantum computer, and in which human brains are devices capable of collapsing wave functions within an infinite sea of probabilities in order to generate co-created versions of percieived reality, but sadly none of the implications of relativity, quantum physics, or holographic theory got a mention.
Having resigned myself to the inevitability of the baby being flung out with the bath water yet again, I had to agree with the author's final statement that: "Blind faith is no way to run a world," and was therefore surprised by his apparent faith in modern cosmology which "Suggests an eternal 'multiverse' in which many other universes come and go," and which of course we have less chance of proving or disproving than the existence of the hypothetical almighty!
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