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A Reflection

By Dr. Dick Wieder


     I was unwrapping a pack of cigarettes the other evening when I was befuddled again by the cellophane top and its cellophane string sticking to my fingers. It happens quite frequently. And no matter how hard I shake my hand, the cellophane remains as if glued to me. I wonder why doesn't gravity grab it and pull it to the earth? When I stop and think about it, I realize that it takes a massive body the size of the earth to hold me down on the surface. Yet the insignificant power of static electricity in that cellophane top sticking to my hand is sufficiently powerful to defy the law of gravity, and it clings to my hand. But if I break that static electricity, the wrapper drifts downward under the impetus of gravity. Then I question: as the cellophane paper approaches the surface of the earth - at the submicroscopic level - does the static electricity cause the actual "contact" with the earth or is it gravity?

    I have read that at certain unimaginably short distances at the subatomic level, quantum effects take place. At such a small distance that my eyes cannot see and my mind cannot conceive, the forces of nature merge. Thus, electromagnetism and gravity merge. Which force caused the contact cannot be stated with certainty. And so, an uncertainty enters science that cannot be made clear. Was it gravity or electromagnetism? It really doesn't matter, for at that distance they are one in the same.

    That is probably an oversimplification but that is how the new physics forces me to think. For at that minute distance the concreteness of matter itself disappears into a haze of probabilities. And uncertainty. I don't know which answer to give: gravity or electromagnetism. But it must be one or the other. Or is it? there is a basic uncertainty to the very heart of reality. This is the present status of man's loftiest endeavor, the riddle of the universe. For centuries science has held sacrosanct that matter was particulate. And existed as some "thing." Now science isn't sure. The heart of matter is not a particle at all. Now I am told that what really "matters" are quantum fields (pardon the pun). A quantum field is a region of space that is manifested by a force. And the quantum particles may be a super-minute massively intense area of the forces' energy occurring at some unknown point somewhere within the confines of that quantum field. And even this answer is only a carefully reasoned guess! Science has destroyed its cornerstone. It finally comes down to being able to live with a little uncertainty. (In fact, the new cornerstone of science is called the Uncertainty Principle).

     If a scientist explained it in the common vernacular, he might say something like this: "At the heart of creation are these little tiny areas called fields. Somewhere within this field the energy that sustains it may not be evenly distributed. Somewhere in there is a very intense area of energy. Just where that intensity is, science cannot be sure. But we know its there. Well, we don't know for sure, but with what the most beautiful of mathematics tells us, we believe it is there and we have faith in our math. We really can't say for certain, but we do believe." This is maybe the final answer to the question that gave rise to science in the first place: How?

     And this caused me to realize that this answer to "How?" is also the answer to "Why?." For when mankind asked "Why?", it gave rise to the field of theology. And here a theologian, in the common vernacular, might say...

     "We are not sure where - a; but there is a God - a out there somewhere - a! We are not sure where - a, but we know he is there - a! We see his handiwork - a. A most marvelous creation - a. So intricate -a! So balanced -a! So beautiful -a! We just know there is a God out there -a; well, we don "know" there is a God, we believe there is a God -a. For there is a trace of uncertainty here too, my friend. You just have to have faith!"

     Now it seems to me that both those guys are saying the same thing! And thus is the symmetry of science and theology finally revealed. At some uncertain point in time at some uncertain distance, science and theology are one. Which one is which really doesn't matter. They are one in the same. In this land seeming opposites become one. In the final common pathway the answer is the same. I really don't know, I just believe. But in the end, let me be included among the "Why?'s".




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