Here we present the excellent scientific paper “Invisible world and modern physics: Modern science and theology“, by Theodossiou, E., Manimanis, V.N., Danezis, E.
Science and invisible world
One of the most complex theological issues, which always produced the scorn of classical physicists, is the question of the existence of an imperceptible by our senses but real and objective world, a “spiritual” world which coexists with the equally real world we see around us. On this topic, theologist Elias Economou writes in his book Theological Ecology (1994):
“The uncreated God wished and His will materialized into visible and
invisible Creation. This way, the following realities exist:
1. The reality of the Uncreated Triadic God.
2. The reality of the Creation as a result of the divine will, i.e. as the
realization of God’s will; this is subdivided into:
a) Non-perceivable Creation of invisible grandeur.
b) Perceivable Creation of huge dimensions, variety and power.
c) In mixed, made of perceivable and non-perceivable elements,
Creation, which is the human being…”
The above theological view of the existence of a non-perceivable creation had also been expressed in a scientific way by the ancient Greek natural philosophers (that is, scientists); they even had proceeded further: for some of them, like Plato, the world of our senses was an illusion, a highly distorted image of the real, non-perceptible world.
The non-perceivable world of the pre-Socratic philosophers
The first known allusion to the relative nature of the sensed world’s truth was made by Xenophanes, and also by Heraclitus, who wrote:
“The true structure of things is usually hidden”.
Besides this reference, Sextus Empiricus, mentioning the views of Heraclitus persuades us that this philosopher had fully realized the illusion of the “world” of the human senses:
“Heraclitus also believed that human beings possess two faculties to find the truth, sense and ‘logos’. From them, he considered sense as deceitful, more or less as the previous natural philosophers did, while he accepted logos as criterion for the truth”.
Here the term “logos” has its pre-Socratic meaning: it describes the opposite of the sense’s product, the non-perceivable by the senses. The word is used in the same context even today by Christian theology in order to describe God, considering Him, through this expression, “unconceivable” by the senses.
Parmenides, too, had a correct view about the illusion of the natural world. Sextus Empiricus and Simplicius write:
“Parmenides was saying that philosophy is dualistic: The one of its forms agrees with the truth, while the other conjectures it. And he set ‘logos’ as a criterion because the senses are not accurate.”
And also Empedocles had articulated a similar opinion:
“The criterion of the truth is not the senses, but the reason. There are two kinds of reason, the divine and the human. From these, the divine reason is inexpressible, while the human can be expressed.”
These views probably formed the necessary first material upon which Leucippus and Democritus were based to formulate some more integrated positions on this issue, in the context of supporting their atomic theory.
An interesting point that should be stressed is that most pre-Socratic philosophers, Democritus among them, refer to mind as a sixth sense, through which humans can perceive the invisible but existing and objective reality of the natural world. Therefore, it does not sound strange to repeat the view that, in the future, if we want to grasp as an objective reality the natural reality as it is expressed by modern physics and cosmology, we should train our mental faculties to the direction of making them a sixth super-sense.
In summary, the existence of the non-perceivable world was predicted by the Greek pre-Socratic philosophers. Let us see now what modern science has to say about this non-perceivable universal space.
The “strange” new Universe
One of the most discussed questions of modern cosmology is whether the Universe is infinite or not. The illusion of an infinite space could be formed, for example, by the phenomenon of the curvature of light. Such ideas led modern physics to consider the universal space as a “dynamic” medium, which, depending on the mass distribution inside it can be warped in three different ways, described by three different geometries: those of Euclid, Lobatschewski and Riemann. In these cases the Universe is referred to as “flat”, “hyperbolic” and “spherical”.
It is interesting that, since we are inside the space of the Universe, its curvature can’t be perceived through our senses. This effect can be traced through indirect indications, such as the gravity-generated distortion of images.While Euclidean geometry can be applied with very good results in small parts of a Lobatschewski or Riemann space, its deviation from truth becomes evident in larger astronomical scales.
The paradox for human “common logic” stems from the fact that human senses can visualize and describe shapes only in a three-dimensional Euclidean space. Since the geometry of the four-dimensional space of the general theory of relativity is non-Euclidean, the forms in the Universe can’t be perceived by humans as they are. Our realization of the shapes that surround us is a result of the fact that of a mental procedure. What we essentially perceive is just the projection of non-Euclidean forms and shapes in the three-dimensional Euclidean space, which is created through arbitrary dissections of the continuous and indivisible universal space-time, as our senses perceive it.
As the astrophysicist and cosmologist Sir Fred Hoyle puts it:
“Everything exists. Whatever existed in the past and whatever will exist in the future, already exists in our present. Only our mind makes the discrimination and creates the feeling of historical inconsistency and of the passing of time; feelings, however, are illusions, creations of our cognition, of the way we perceive the world.”
This view is stressed also by Michael Talbot in his book Mysticism and Modern Science (1993), where he writes characteristically:
“According to new physics, we can only dream of the real world. We dream of it as existing in a mysterious way, as visible everywhere in space and constant in time. However, we consciously gave our consent to the false creation of illogical, eternal dissections of its architecture in order to be able to view how false our initial frame is.”
In conclusion, modern physics theoretically accepts the existence of a real universal space beyond the senses, exactly as theological thought does. This fact can’t be realized by those who ignore modern physics and cosmology, considering the scientific views of the 19th Century as the correct ones.
Research: Isidoros Aggelos