Thursday, June 19, 2008

Science and John's Gospel converge?

Discover magazine online reports on a cosmologist who says that the universe is actually made of math.
Cosmologists are not your run-of-the-mill thinkers, and [M.I.T Professor] Max Tegmark is not your run-of-the-mill cosmologist. Throughout his career, Tegmark has made important contributions to problems such as measuring dark matter in the cosmos and understanding how light from the early universe informs models of the Big Bang. But unlike most other physicists, who stay within the confines of the latest theories and measurements, the Swedish-born Tegmark has a night job. In a series of papers that have caught the attention of physicists and philosophers around the world, he explores not what the laws of nature say but why there are any laws at all.

According to Tegmark, “there is only mathematics; that is all that exists.” In his theory, the mathematical universe hypothesis, he updates quantum physics and cosmology with the concept of many parallel universes inhabiting multiple levels of space and time. By posing his hypothesis at the crossroads of philosophy and physics, Tegmark is harking back to the ancient Greeks with the oldest of the old questions: What is real?
If you read the whole interview, you might discern that Tegmark's hypothesis is not far from the theory of the logos in ancient Greek philosophy. The logos was thought to be the ordering structure of the universe, so first described by Heraclitus.The Stoics later picked up the concept, associating it with reason and that which gave animation to the universe.

The author of the Gospel of John used the concept of logos to describe the place of Christ in the creation and ordering of the universe, and to explain how the logos had become human in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospel opens,
In the beginning was the Word [logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
Now, Prof. Tegmark certainly did not set out to show that a theory of the universe, founded in 21st-century science, was only an elaboration of early Christian theology or ancient Greek philosophy. But it's kind of interesting that there is a philosophical convergence between them.

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