Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Of Time, Quantum Physics, and Saint Augustine

A Quantum of Solace.  Timeless Questions about the Universe.  NYTs 7/1

"...light can be a wave — no, a particle — well, actually, whatever you need it to be for your particular experiment."

Unlike most philosophies where things are always either/or, in much of Catholic philosophy, things can be both/and.  Who would thought that there would be a confluence between quantum physics and Catholic philosophy?

"...whether time is real or an illusion."

In the Confessions of St. Augustine, Book IX, Chaper X (chapter 9, section 10) is a philosophical analysis of time. Though Bertand Russell was an atheist and says that he has a different philosophy of time than Augustine, in his History of Philosophy, Russell nevertheless less says that Augustine's philosophy of time is deeply profound.  Among other conclusions, Augustine states that both the past and the future exist simultaneously, and yet only the now exists.  And that in God there is no time. 

"...Einstein once wrote, 'People like us, who believe in physics, know the distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.'"

"John Archibald Wheeler, the visionary Princeton physicist who was Bohr’s disciple, once pointed out that the future and the past are theory. They exist only in records and the thoughts of the present, a fulcrum, in which all stories end and begin."

I think Augustine was on to something.

"You may wonder who cares what time is and whether it is worth your tax dollars. It’s not a question that moves the markets, but as Bohr understood, it moves our hearts."

The Confessions - Augustine's Philosophy of Time:

Song - "Time," by the Winans

Song - "Time Has Come Today," by the Chambers brothers
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxpcZrQQM-4 (best audio, no audio)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I4S61Do-Qs (video of live performance)