Monday, November 19, 2012

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain." -Richard Feynman

Observe, Ask, Experiment; The first steps of the scientific method, Rinse and Repeat. There is a very systematic approach to science. It seems to be about reaching that undeniable, unquestionable fact. How much uncertainty and doubt play into the universe might surprise you. For the continued perpetuation of progress, is it crucial for the reasoning man to be aware of the role uncertainty plays in our pursuit of knowledge.

Religion is all about creating comfort.  By saying “We cannot”, or “we will never know” we are relinquishing our own intellect to a higher level of unattainable intellect which provides great comfort. 

Uncertainty creates intellectual discomfort which is constant companion to those pursuing truth. New evidence may render old theories antiquated, but the new scientific discomfort introduced a new approach and eventually a  new discovery. Scientific progress is dependent on that uncertainty. It is that little angel on the every scientists' shoulder always asking " Are you sure?" 

I have an intense relationship with that angel who I shall call "Hmm". Hmm started out as a squatter, secretly taking up residence in the kingdom of my  sub-conscious. She would come up early in the form of "If I think my god is true and other religions think their god is true, which one really is The One?". She appeared in my Chumash class , when my teacher tried to explain away atrocious act committed by our all-loving god.  Hmm attempted to poke its head up when I read about carbon dating and its geological implication.. But all along Hmm was sufficiently suppressed by the very powerful leader named God Knows Best”. God Knows Best was very specific in what areas of his kingdom I can explore and roped off many forests and trails  as strictly off limit. He had a powerful army with painful threats ensuring compliance. He was a frightening leader but  he created an environment where I felt taken care of and looked after. The instituted mental subservience provided a great level of comfort. 

Hmm is a resilient little knight . She regroups and resurfaces in many different disguises which  shakes up the comfort for a little while, but for as long as the kingdom was under the rule of God Knows Best, Hmm would be suppressed. Eventually God Knows Best grew old and fragile and the new king,  Free Inquiry, was crowned. Free Inquiry was a more democratic ruler, he allowed me to explore many new areas of my sub-conscious. I discovered that the dark forbidden forest is full of brilliant creatures and beautiful flora. Full of fascinating factoids. Hmm was now promoted and was no longer suppressed.

Giving Hmm free reign came along with expected discomfort. Discomfort that is quite painful at times. Free Inquiry completely pulls the carpet of comfort from under me. It left me defenseless and doubtful  When you discover that most of what you believed was a lie, it create a tremendous amount of hurt. The world as I knew it, is turned upside down. People I used to trust are now viewed with suspicion.  Ideas that used to be central to my identity are now completely destroyed. All that comfort is replaced with uncertainty. Uncertainty is painful. Doubt plagues a person. 

But I am attempting to rebuild. I now acknowledged that uncertainty is welcome. I fully realize how Hmm was instrumental in allowing me to get to where I am now, and I realize what a big role she will continue to play in my continued quest to find the most authentic version of me. I grew to love Hmm, I encourage her and made her my most trustworthy adviser. 

I have equated my current position with the chemical law known as  the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. It tells us that it is impossible to determine with certainty the position and momentum of a subatomic particle. The allure of that principle is the certainty in which the rules applies. It is certain that we are uncertain. I will adopt that principle as a governing law in my new kingdom. As I grow more comfortable in my quest, I will continue to be certain that I am uncertain. Religion tries to peddle absolute truths but that is actually  translated to mean “Do not question”  Science tells me that nothing is immune to questioning. I side with science because of that attitude, and I hope to continue being absolutely certain with my newly found permission to be uncertain. Rinse and Repeat

Never Be Told!!


  1. Lovely post. Like getting comfortable with the notion "I don't know" which is diametrically opposed to Religion's "I have the answer to everything"

    Funny thing happened along Religion's path - they replaced the words "I don't know" with "god"

  2. Interesting, but I have to think about it.

  3. What are you referring to in saying the "atrocious acts of our all loving god'?

    1. I don't need to actually explain that. Read the Old testament, and forget for a minute the idea that "god knows best"

      Read it as a book, as a story. Tell me who the villain is.

  4. With all the food for thought on your blog, I think my brain is getting fat!
    You wonder way back when as to who is the true God. Interestingly, the god. God, G-d of Israel never says to the Jews go out and convert the world.

    "Do not question" is a foreign concept to authentic Torah Judaism and that is inclusive of all subject areas. Free inquiry welcome.
    All the best. Each blog post is a meal unto itself. (GS)

    1. I am not saying "do not question"
      I am saying for each question, it eventually reaches a point where the answer is either " we dont understand the ways of god" or " god knows what is best for us"
      Try is. Take any common question, and answer it without somehow adding some version of "god knows best"

    2. Ugh! The term “Old Testament” sounds so goyish. So for the sake of intellectual curiosity we look at the Torah as a history book and ask ourselves what is this God of Israel all about. Of course, this “look” will not cover every citation so there will probably be wiggle room for saying. “oh, yeah, what about such and such.” Now we see instances where God orders the killing of the tribe of Amalek or men, women and children of other groups. In every case I can think of these are members of groups that have been intractable enemies and scheming to undermine Israel. They wouldn’t give you a drop of water or let you pass through their land even if you took nothing or like Amalek mercilessly constantly attacked those weakest of Israel who fell behind. Hey, this is the Middle East, and this is history. Jews have learned (well not quite) that if you leave any of your enemy he’ll just raise another generation that will want to kill you.
      But wait, what about invading Canaan and killing all those people. For one thing, we see lots of Canaanites did live in the area centuries later. Why the divine animosity? Could it be because of some Canaanite practices, like taking their children and making them into burnt offerings? Or, perhaps on a lighter note (and probably why your high school teacher was uncomfortable with the discussion) Canaanite women having sexual relations with dogs. And God, just did not want the Israelites to pick up these (and here I’m not trying to be judgmental—live and let live) bad habits.
      There is an interesting bit of information in the Book of Joshua. It seems none of the cities of Canaan would make peace with the Israelites except that of Givon. So, it would appear, that the command was not kill, kill, kill. In offering peace, Joshua was not abrogating God’s command. He was, in fact, executing its actual intention, to get rid of the abominations, not necessarily the abominators. So the motivation was not racism but of a specific intolerance—woefully how many people in contemporary society don’t report a neighbor’s abuse with “I’m ok, you’re ok” or “live and let live” or “not my business” or “it’s a matter of moral relativism.” And yes, there is a lot more to say in this discussion.
      This brief Bible as history survey tells us that this god, God, G-d of Israel reminded the Israelites that they had been strangers in Egypt and should regard Egyptians with favor. This villainous, dictatorial god, God, G-d unlike such enlightened atheistic rulers like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pat, and whatever his name is in North Korea teaches in His instruction manual--the Torah such antiquated laws as: love of neighbor and the alien, one law for both native and foreigner, one set of measures and weights for all customers, whether friend or foe, forbids murder, robbery, oppressing the stranger, cruelty to animals, no wanton destruction of trees. And yes, here too there is lots more to say in discussion.(GS)

  5. I read your post with a lot of interest, after growing up in a religious ghetto, having been through an arranged marriage then divorce with 3 kids, secretly living many years as an atheist, and constantly dealing with these contradictive thoughts that you describe so eloquently!
    I would like to share my thoughts, although I don't claim to know it all, please bare with me until the end before you consider my comment.
    As an intro, I love every Human Being for the good they contribute to Humanity and the world. I will not attempt to solve and judge each individuals personal lifestyle decisions and choices, only merely sharing some of my own thoughts and journeys.

    The religious educational system is flawed at the deepest level, partly because we are being let by people with an agenda and partly because it is designed to simplify peoples lives and lifestyles by switching off their brains.
    at the crux of this topic is the question of GD's creation of the world:
    The Gemara says, when GD created the world, he asked the Angels "Should I create Mankind?"
    The Angels responded "why the Hell would you do that? you are EMET and Man is a liar and sinner!"
    GD discarded the angels and created "Mankind"!
    Why did GD not listen to the Angels - they were right?!
    And why did GD create this complicate Human Being in a complicated world?
    The Angels understood EMET as UTOPIA, GD saw something else??
    GD did not want a world full of Angels, for GD it is better to have a man that sins all his life to achieve a little than an angel who doesn't sin at all. life in UTOPIA would suck, we thrive from challenge. A Dr would not be considered an achievement without having to go through years of grueling schooling.
    In a Godly world, EMET is that achievement, overcoming that obstacle to do what is right.
    As an Atheist without a GD there are still Morals, for example a Dr that murders his/her patients would be considered by all as a low life even though they may of had the best intentions, ie to make money or to save their patients from pain!
    This example reflects the lowest level of right and wrong.
    GD set out a directory of ultimate morality and spiritual achievement, that doesn't mean that everyone must reach there, nor does it mean that if cant reach that level it isn't right!
    We can also not blame the dictates from religious dictators on GD, nowadays Hasidism or religious extremism where studying and work is shunned at, living a fulfilled and successful life is shunned at until they need your money, is not from GD.
    GD wants each person on his or her level to become a bigger and better person, not a holy cow, but a bigger person. we can all agree that a marriage without having affairs or the need to have an affair is a healthy marriage. that doesn't mean one who had an affair is a bad person, but one who has a good marriage has an advantage going for him/her, for a start their life is calmer not having to deal with the upheaval caused by the affair.
    our inability to teach the real Torah concept of Torah and Mitzvot, without the fear of inserting questions into our youths minds, has created a society of Religious Dictators and secular intolerance, and intolerance of deviation.
    There is no contradiction, in enjoying life, being educated, feeling freedom, being successful, worldly, fulfilling ones dreams, and at the same time believing in a guide book that is so intricate unparalleled in any other study, that if approached genuinely can help us at every stage, when we are ready.
    continued below:

  6. continued:
    The question of Tzadik V'rah Lo, is not a new one! but UTOPIA would suck too! death brings family closer, challenges make people grow and thrive, manmade horror reminds mankind what we are capable of doing to ourselves without moral guidelines. we don't wish bad on anyone, but we all agree that UTOPIA is not that answer.
    I have had personal challenges that I don't wish on anyone, more than most people can cope with, people constantly question how I am so positive? I wish what had happened to me wouldn't have happened, but I became a BIGGER person, I see things through a different lens, I don't let life challenges control me - so was it good or bad? depends how you define good/bad?
    If not for the Holocaust the state of Israel would not have been born, does the means justify the end? I would suggest NO if this was the end - but is it?
    The world has not ended yet!

  7. Thanks for sharing. But there is not one hint of a reason for me even to consider all that as true! It is a nice rationalization for an old theory for the questions in the universe- but has no more validity than the Christian, Hindi, Scientology's rationalization of the universe. With our advances in science and our general understanding of the universe- our rationalizations have to advance as well. It it time for us to stop attempting to make old theories of a primitive time to work in our current modern age.

    But whatever works for you...

  8. ס'דאך באקאנט די חסידישע ווארט אז עמלק איז בגמטריא ספק, און תמחה את זכר עמלק רעדט מען פון כל מיני ספיקות

    Ambiguity is not only made unnecessary in the Hasidic community, but is even actively suppressed.