Friday, February 8, 2013

Dice and Determinism



“God does not play dice with the universe.          –Albert Einstein


As I stated in class, the oft-quoted Einstein statement pertains to Einstein's views on both religion and science. Einstein believed in both scientific and religious determinism, which is the idea that all events that happen are pre-ordained and with enough information, intrinsically predictable (See also: Laplace’s demon); it was a kind of scientific Calvinism, if you will. The work of Heisenberg and Planck (specifically the former’s Uncertainly Principle and the latter’s Constant) put paid to Laplace’s demon, leaving only the religious essence of Einstein’s quote, and his apparent desire to embrace a fundamental reality in nature, which may or may not be known as God.
I’m including an image that seemed very relevant to our discussions this week. It shows our planet, as seen in 1990 by the Voyager 1spacecraft, from over 3 billion miles away. Superimposed on this image is a quote from Carl Sagan’s book Pale BlueDot:

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” (Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1997 reprint, pp. xv–xvi)

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