Purpose of the Bhaktivedanta Institute
Thompson explains his appreciation of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's instructions to the Bhaktivedanta Institute scholars to philosophically challenge speculative reductionist theories frequently promoted in the name of modern science.
TRANSCRIPT: Purpose of the Bhaktivedanta Institute. Origins Magazine Seminar 1: San Diego - c. 1986 / (001)
To explain what this magazine is all about and indicate how it can be used in preaching Krsna Consciousness ... so I thought that to do this it would be good to provide some background information on the Bhaktivedanta Institute so as to indicate what the Bhaktivedanta Institute was really intended to be by Srila Prabhupada. So to give it some idea about that, I thought I would quote from some of Srila Prabhupada's statements. I have here a transcript of a morning walk conversation that occurred in May 1973 at Venice Beach in Los Angeles. So here Srila Prabhupada is speaking to Bhaktisvarupa Damodar Maharaja, and he is talking about this matter of the scientists and what one should do about them. So Srila Prabhupada says:
You have to go and lecture at all the universities, calling these rascals fools. That will be our mission. They do not know anything, talking all nonsense. There was nobody to challenge till now. Now we are creating persons to challenge these rascals. That is our credit. Till now, whatever nonsense they are talking, people thought oh! he is a big scientist. Now our scientists will protest against them, and stop them from talking all nonsense. So challenge all this nonsense. Why do they talk all this nonsense? This protest must be now. We challenge all scientists – come on. We shall pay all expenditures. According to our Vedic description, Brahma is first created, he is life, not that matter is first created then Brahma comes. No! And Brahma comes from Visnu. And Visnu is life, supreme life: yad uttamasloka-gunanu-varnanam. Here is life, Krsna. Here begins everything.
So I’ll make some comments, as I go along, on the points that Srila Prabhupada is making here. At the present time the whole world is dominated by what you could call the scientific world view. It used to be that people got their idea that what reality was, and what the meaning of life was, from some religious source. Perhaps in the Western society it was Christianity or Judaism, or in India of course there is the Vedic tradition plus many other things. So people were obtaining their ideas of reality, ostensibly, from some source of knowledge that was coming down from God. This was the basic idea throughout human society. But for the last couple of hundred years, since the days of Newton and then Darwin and so forth, people have been basing the idea of reality on scientific speculation, and this has taken root all over the world. Even in India now, people are thinking in terms of evolution and so on and so forth.
So Srila Prabhupada wasn't content simply to preach to those people who are, perhaps, dissatisfied with this scientific way of looking at things, and who would be willing to quickly disregard it, or never took much of an interest in it. But he wanted to actually eliminate this system of atheistic philosophy from the human society, because everyone is being led astray by this atheistic teaching. So he wanted to go directly to the source – the scientists themselves – and publicly make very strong protest and actually defeat these atheistic ideas. So here Srila Prabhupada sums up the Vedic position, and said that “the whole world is running on a false theory that life is born out of matter. We have to defeat this rascal theory.” So that’s the point, the whole world is actually under the influence of these atheistic theories; this is what people largely are believing these days. Srila Prabhupada says:
In all respects we have to prove that life has not come from matter, matter generates from life. So this is not a theory, this is a fact. Now we have to prove it. Then the whole program of this rascal's theory will be changed and people will be happy. Because they are standing on a wrong theory, all their calculations are wrong, and people are suffering.
So a basic point that Srila Prabhupada stresses is that we have to show that life is not material. Of course in the Vedic literature, many points are made, and these points are made on various levels. There is a very elementary fundamental level represented, let’s say, by say the 2nd chapter of the Bhagavad-gita which explains that the spirit soul is not material, is distinct from the material body, and then from there you can go up to higher and higher levels of realization, all the way to understanding the conjugal pastimes of Krsna. So one has to start with the beginning. So the key point, which is the beginning of the philosophy of Krsna Consciousness, is that life does not come from matter. Matter itself originally comes from life because Krsna creates the material elements, and then matter is formed into different bodies and so forth by Krsna. So all the different forms are coming from the supreme life, namely Krsna. And why are these bodies there? Well, they are vehicles for the spirit souls, which are the actual living entities. And the spirit soul is the real life within the body; it's not the body itself. So this is the starting point for the philosophy of Krsna Consciousness. And Srila Prabhupada wanted us to establish this very fundamental point. He makes an interesting statement here. He says:
So we have to challenge, protest, defeat. This will be our work. Our worshipping of Krsna, that is our internal affair. The external affair will be to establish this theory; otherwise they will be misleading the society.
So this is an interesting statement. First of all you’ll notice that Srila Prabhupada is very war-like in his statements here. He was not simply being peaceful and spiritual. People sometimes think that to be spiritual means that you should be santi, very peaceful, and of course that's true, that is the frame of mind one attains by spiritual realization. But in the matter of preaching, Srila Prabhupada was very much on the offensive. He wanted to go and chastise those persons who are misleading the human society. The whole purpose of the human society, according to the Vedic literature, is that it provides the setting in which the conditioned souls can attain spiritual knowledge. For the purpose of mere material enjoyment, there is the animal society, which is perfectly set up for that purpose. Actually no human being can enjoy materially more than the animals can, because the animals are equipped with senses for material enjoyment and they have no guilty conscience because their minds are not developed to the extent that they can understand the implications of what they are doing. So an animal is perfectly set up for sense gratification. So the human society has a different purpose. So if a certain element of men within the human society is misleading everybody, and taking them down the path of animalistic sense gratification, then that actually destroys the original purpose of human society as it was intended by Krsna. So Srila Prabhupada wanted to restore the original purpose of the human society, and to do that one has to eliminate these atheistic elements. So it’s interesting, here also Srila Prabhupada says, “Our worshipping of Krsna is our internal affair; the external affair will be to establish this theory.” By that he means that life comes from life and not matter. He speaks of it here as a theory, but of course he says:
Because it is truth, you will come out triumphant, there is no doubt about it. It is truth. Now you have to know how to present the truth. That is your business. We are not presenting some theory concocted by my brain. No, this is the fact. Rudimentarily we have got evidences, but it has to be presented by the modern ways. They are presenting some wrong principle by propaganda. And we cannot establish the real principle by factual presentation! What is the difficulty?
So Srila Prabhupada makes an interesting point here. He says, “Rudimentarily we have got evidences, but it has to be presented by the modern ways.” Now, this is an interesting point, because what does he mean when he says "rudimentarily we have got evidences.” What Srila Prabhupada here is speaking about, presenting arguments based on evidence. Now ultimately, the sastra provides the conclusive Vedic knowledge. However the unfortunate situation is, that in the modern age, people are not accepting sastra. If people were to accept sastra, then it would be very easy. There would be no problem. If we just point out what the sastra is saying and people would just accept that, and they would be on the right track – but they don't accept it. So essentially our task is to convince them to accept the sastra. So if they don't accept sastra, how do you convince them to accept the sastra? So you argue. So arguments by themselves never prove anything – an argument is simply a matter of persuasion – and whether you persuade somebody or not depends on what you are able to do, in speaking to that particular person.
So arguments are not absolute. But nonetheless, to bring people to the point of accepting the absolute source of spiritual information, when they are in the state of ignorance and they are not accepting this absolute knowledge, one can try to persuade them with arguments. And so Srila Prabhupada wanted us to do that, and Srila Prabhupada himself was always presenting arguments. So when he speaks of "rudimentarily we have got evidences," he is speaking of the very simple and straightforward arguments that you can make, to argue that life is not material and that God must exist. There is the basic argument from design which Srila Prabhupada was always presenting. According to this argument, you point to the different evidences of design in nature: the fact that the sun always rises at a certain time and sets at a certain time, the fact that the different elements are adjusted to provide for life, the rain is falling in a regulated amount. In the living body, there are so many living organs arranged systematically. So all these things point to some supreme intelligence, which is creating the whole system.
If you look in human society, and we see some factory in which various processes are going on, we know this is not just happening by chance, or by matter just coming together according to the rules of physics or chemistry, but we know that some intelligence is behind it. So similarly, if we look at the world as a whole and if we see all this organization within the world, we can infer that there is some intelligence. So this is a very old argument. People all over the world have presented this argument since time immemorial. Various Christian scholars have presented it for example, for many centuries. And Srila Prabhupada also used this argument. For example, I remember after the first Ratha Yatra in New York in 1976, in Washington Square Park, Srila Prabhupada gave a lecture, and the entire lecture was based on this argument from design. Srila Prabhupada was very simply stressing this point, that there is so much order that you see in nature, so there must be some supreme controller. Because, the idea that there is supreme intelligence in nature is a basic starting point for coming to the point of appreciating Krsna Consciousness philosophy.
To begin to appreciate Krsna, you first have to at least think there must be some God who has actually created everything. That's the starting point. And in fact in the Bhagavatam, the starting point for God realization which is described there, is the appreciation of the Lord's universal form. It is stated that a materialistic man can come to a point of beginning to appreciate God by worshipping the universal form. So what does that mean? What do you do when you worship the universal form? So essentially it means looking at nature and seeing how everything is coming from a supreme intelligent cause. So, Srila Prabhupada says "rudimentarily we have got evidences." So on a very simple level this argument can be made. But nowadays people have become very sophisticated and they are very proud of this. They think now we have made great advancements – see how wonderful we are! And they don't know that this sophistication is actually a trap which is binding them. Ravindra Svarupa once made the interesting point, that an ordinary man on the street may have 2 or 3 basic reasons for being in the maya, but a philosopher with an university education has an entire elaborate sophisticated system, full of thousands of reasons for being in maya. So it's hard for him to get out of maya. He has built a very elaborate cage and locked himself into it. Actually the analogy is made to a caterpillar which wraps itself in a cocoon, and then it can’t get out. Of course, later it gets out and turns into a butterfly. Similarly, the modern scientists have built this elaborate structure which is actually a trap, which is very hard to get out of. So therefore, Srila Prabhupada says, we have to present this case in terms of modern knowledge, so-called knowledge.
The whole objective here is not that we are going to prove Vedic conclusions on the basis of the scientists' speculations. Arguments based on sensory data actually never prove anything. Only in mathematics do you have such a thing as proof by argument. But mathematics is all theoretical. It never not comes in touch with actual reality as it all deals with postulates which one imagines within the mind. Science deals with actual reality, but there, there’s no real proof of anything when it really comes down to it. Actually if you study various arguments you quickly learn that for every argument there is another argument, and of course, for that one there is still another argument; but it never ends. So the idea is to persuade people to seriously consider some of the basic elementary points of Krsna Consciousness, so that then they can come to the point of accepting absolute knowledge. Ultimately people have to come to the point of surrender. And Krsna says that in the Bhagavad-gita, that a jnani who is trying to attain knowledge through the power of his own mind and senses, after many many births, will eventually surrender to Krsna. When he actually attains knowledge of Krsna that will be because he surrendered, not because he manipulated his mind with such great dexterity. But the point is, as long as he is dedicated to learning everything through the manipulation of his mind and senses, he is going to keep doing that.
So how can you bring him to the point of surrender? So one can do that by persuading the person that, "Look, first of all, you are not your body, which means what you really are is a mystery beyond anything that you know. So wouldn’t it be nice to understand the basis of that mystery?" And secondly, this universe is not just an arrangement of matter that we can measure and dissect and pry apart, but it's coming from higher intelligence, which is totally beyond us. So wouldn't it better to approach that intelligence and somehow find out what that intelligence has to say about the universe? So the idea then is to bring people to the point of surrender, to the point of approaching this higher intelligence. So Srila Prabhupada says here,
So you protest, write books, you are a scientist, prove scientifically. That will be your laurel of taking the doctorate degree. If you also become one of these rascal doctors, then what is the use of your Krsna Consciousness? Whatever they say, you silently accept? No!
So Srila Prabhupada is making the point for those devotees who have scientific background, that if you don't use your scientific background to protest against these atheistic theories, then you’re as bad as they are. Let's say a person with a scientific background becomes a devotee and he says, "Well, this science is all maya, I renounce it. I’m just going to chant Hare Krsna and I’m simply going to concentrate on Krsna Consciousness, never mind all this science.” Well, what Srila Prabhupada is pointing out here is, essentially, that is an example of false renunciation. Actually a basic principle of this movement is to use material things in Krsna's service. Of course one has to be careful about that. We don't use butcher shops in Krsna's service. And there many things which if you try to use them in Krsna's service, you can get in trouble. So therefore we have to be very careful. Actually the traditional Vaisnava mode of life was first of all to not even wear shoes, not even to wear such a thing as a shirt, which is sewn with sleeves and so on, but just wear a cloth around the upper part of the body, and to live very simply, very far away from cities and places of materialistic contamination. So there are good reasons for that, namely, it is good to avoid maya. But Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati began sending his devotees around in automobiles, and Srila Prabhupada travelled around the world repeatedly in jet planes and used tape recorders, dictaphones, automobiles and so forth in Krsna's service.
So the basic principle is to, as much as possible, use what we have in Krsna's service. So if a person has a scientific background and has this knowledge, then he is actually in a position to point out what is wrong with all these atheistic theories and so forth. And he’s in a position to get people in universities, to get scientists, students of science, people influenced by the scientists and so on, to begin to reconsider what they are saying and thinking. Because these people really aren't thinking. This is an important point to make. They’re just being carried along by the tide of the times. They’re learning all these gobbledygook, and they believe it. They are told this is rational and religion is something irrational and so they believe that. It becomes just like a conditioned reflex, just like with Pavlov's dogs which were trained to salivate when a bell rang. So similarly you ring the bell of religion and immediately they say, “Oh that's irrational.” And you ring the bell science and they say, “Oh that's rational.! So they’re trained in this way. So the idea is to bring them to start thinking about some of the defects of these theories. And Srila Prabhupada said that if you have training in this area and you don't go to these people and argue with them, plead with them, and point out these defects and so on, then you’re just as bad as they are. Because what that means is that you are complying with their viewpoint implicitly, you are going along with it by being silent. Just like if there is a crime and somebody is a witness to that crime and the court case comes up, but he does not come forward to speak, perhaps because he does not want to get involved as they say, because it’s too much trouble, because it can hurt your reputation and people can call you bad names, and it's such a terrible experience to go through. So you don’t go to witness and testify in the case, then actually you are guilty of complicity with the crime. So that is the point that Srila Prabhupada is making here.
Srila Prabhupada makes some rather strong points here, “Why should this be tolerated? Don’t be a doctor of chemistry like one of them, be really a doctor of chemistry.” He is talking to Svarupa Damodara, who is a chemist:
They must accept our viewpoint (and so on) Make plan how to meet them, how to defeat them, catch them on their throat. We are not ordinary so-called swamis and sadhus. We are going to give to the world something which forgot (and so forth). Otherwise, if you sleep only and take doctorate title, what is the use? You have to fight against these rascals. Make your soldier's party and start fighting against these rascals. No more tolerating, no more silence. Some of them are taking that this is a sankirtana party. We are a sankirtana party undoubtedly, but they may not think that we are sentimentalists. They must know that we are scientists.
So Srila Prabhupada is pointing out that it should not be regarded that we are just religious sentimentalists or that we are for some reason following some ancient system of, well, what shall we call it - religion out of sentiment - and because we are sort of detached from reality, not in tune with the modern world. But Srila Prabhupada says that they shouldn't think that we are just sentimentalists, they should think that we are scientists. So these are some basic points and one can go on, in great detail, making similar points.
So this Origins magazine is one part of this general effort, to defeat the scientific theories and establish basic fundamentals of the philosophy of Krsna Consciousness. The idea is that the people, especially college students, engineers, people with a scientific education, are steeped in various modern theories. For one thing, there is Darwin's theory of evolution. Then there is the Big Bang theory of cosmology, which says that the whole universe sprang out of nothing with a bang. There’s the basic idea of reductionism, according to which everything is to be explained in terms of chemistry and physics. A human being is nothing but a collection of chemicals. We evolved by a Darwinian process from randomly distributed molecules which sprang out of the void in a big bang. So in all of this, there is no God and no soul, and so forth. So people are very much trained up in this mode of thinking and, of course, these theories change as time goes on – they are always in flux. That’s one of the, in a way, the strengths of the scientists.
So the purpose of the Origins magazine is to start on the level of popular appreciation of these various atheistic theories. Specifically the level of popular magazines like Omni and Science 85, Discover, Science Digest, and so forth. And starting with that level of presentation, begin to make points showing: number one, that these theories are really not so airtight – they are full of many different kinds of defects. And then making the basic point that, number one, there is good reason to think that there must be some designer behind the universe. This basic argument from design is there. We want to present it in terms of the specific ideas of the scientists themselves, and also to show that there is more to the body than just chemicals. We want to argue that consciousness is something non-material, and we want to point to the existence of the spirit soul. And finally having established material arguments for making some of these basic points, we want to outline fundamental ideas of the Bhagavad-gita in modern language, using the vocabulary that people are accustomed to, so that they can begin to think about these things. Because one basic point is that if people begin to think about the fundamental world view, if we can call it that, of the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, then they can begin to appreciate it. And if they can begin to appreciate it, then gradually they will take an interest in learning more, and then we can lead them further and further to appreciating this knowledge.
So in subsequent classes I will go into more specific detail about the Origins magazine; I can discuss some of the specific points that are made there in the various articles. So it's already 6 o'clock, so I won't go into that today. Are there any questions or comments that anyone would like to bring up right now?
Answer: Well, the basis of all modern scientific theory is mathematical modeling. Now in some areas of science they progressed further along these lines than in others. Traditionally, physics was the first area which was developed mathematically. This started actually with Galileo, and then Newton developed it on a very big scale, which is Newtonian mechanics. And after Newton, mathematics became sort of the basic reference point for scientific thinking. The idea was that everything has to be explained in terms of mathematics. Now in biology however, it's very difficult to apply mathematics because one is dealing with very complex systems. So biology for many years was mainly descriptive, that is, scientists would just look at living organisms and describe what they saw. They would look at cells under a microscope, and describe the nucleus, and the different structures that they saw there. And mainly they would give just verbal descriptions and then try to give explanations of how they thought everything was working and so on.
However, as time has passed, the scientists have tried to make biology more and more mathematical. In fact, I have been working in this area called Mathematical Biology. So even for Darwin, though, the basic underlying idea was that the whole thing is a mechanical system and ultimately you can explain it in terms of Newton’s laws. That's what Darwin was thinking. Nowadays they have a new system of physics called quantum mechanics and so they are thinking that whatever it is, ultimately you can explain it in terms of quantum mechanics. So this is what is called reductionism. The physicists come up with certain ideas as to what matter is and then an attempt is made to reduce everything down to matter as conceived of by the physicists. So that's their approach.
A: Well in Origins, we did not deal with anything you would call technical, in the mathematical sense. Essentially in the Origins magazine there are no highly technical arguments at all, and there’s no mathematics. We present arguments, as I was saying, on the level of the popular science magazines; that is, we present the kind of argument that is presented there, which is simply verbal arguments of different kinds. However, we are talking to some extent about mathematical models.
I’ll just mention briefly, for example, the scientists have their theory, which is called basically the Big Bang theory, for the origin of the universe. So we want to point out some of the limitations of this theory. Now the theory is essentially a mathematical theory. It is based on two things, namely, Einstein's general theory of relativity, which is one mathematical theory, and quantum mechanics, which is another theory. So, just to give an example, one point we make in the magazine is that if you are going to make one theory of reality, so there is only one reality, so you need one theory for that. Then that has to be a complete unified theory; all the different parts have to fit together consistently. So it turns out that the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics are incompatible. They violently contradict one another. They are, they say, two completely different things about the world, and no one has ever been able to put them together into one unit. So the Big Bang theory is based on both the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. That means that as things stand today, it’s based on a total contradiction. What that means is that there is really no Big Bang theory, it doesn't exist yet. It’s what you can call a 'hoped for' theory, that is, there is a hope that in the future we will begin, we will be able to make a theory like this. Right now, it’s just a total contradiction.
Now the people in general don't know this. Now you will find admissions of it even in the popular science magazines, but it's presented in such a way as to lull people to sleep. The way they present there is by saying that, “There is still some mysterious features in the matter of the relation between Einstein's profound general theory of relativity and the even more profound and mysterious quantum theory of Heisenberg and Bohr,” and so on. “And so scientists are experiencing great intellectual delight in their effort to weave together these disparate strands of profound theoretical insight.” So they present it like that. It sounds like a very glorious and marvelous development on the forefronts of knowledge, and it sounds like great progress is being made and soon we will attain ultimate knowledge, even though at the same time we are told that we have already attained ultimate knowledge. Actually we have, it's becoming 'more ultimate' as time goes on. Actually, there is no limit, scientific knowledge is 'ever expanding'. So this is how they present it. But actually the plain fact is, which is really obvious if you know anything about these theories, is that they are like two completely different theories; they say two completely different things, and no one knows how to put them together. So, that means on the level of Big Bang theory there is chaos beyond just the primordial chaos that they talk about. There is chaos in people's thinking. So that's one basic point we want to make. So I don't think that I should eat up our whole japa period. There will be time for many further classes.
A: Well it can be done. Although, but I think some basic points can be made. For a thirty word presentation, let me make this basic point. In the theory of relativity, everything is essentially broken down to points. Now, the reason for this is, yeah, in Einstein's theory, this is one basic feature. In Einstein's theory everything is broken down into points. This is due to the fact that according to Einstein, if you have two points separated by some distance, you cannot speak of them as being linked together to form a unit. There’s a fundamental limitation on the rate at which any influence can propagate from one point to another based on the theory of relativity, that's provided by the speed of light. Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light according to relativity, nothing either physical or nonphysical or whatever it may be. That means an object is essentially split up into points, because, for example, suppose I push a metal block. Now naively we think that when you push a metal block, when the back end starts moving and the front thing also starts moving and then the whole thing moves in one unit. And Newton would have thought that way also. That's perfectly reasonable in Newton's theory. But in Einstein's way of looking at it, that doesn't make any sense at all. In fact you start pushing the back of the block and it starts moving, and meanwhile the front of the block is something completely different. And later on, it will start moving. So everything is divided into points. That’s the sort of basic framework there.
A: Yeah, everything is in flux, everything occurs at the level of points, which by the way, makes it very difficult to understand consciousness. But that's another thing for more than thirty words, which I will go into later. So in the quantum theory on the other hand, you have everything occurring in total units, which are called quantum jumps, that is, an entire extended physical system can undergo abrupt transitions all at once as a total unit. That’s a fundamental feature of quantum mechanics.
A: A quantum leap, just to give an example, take an atom. Now an atom is very small we think, but still the atom supposedly extends over a certain volume of space, and an atom may be in one energy level. So according to the idea of quantum mechanics, you can sort of visualize the atom. We shouldn't think of it in terms of little point-electrons spinning around. That's a Walt Disney atom. Those are only found in the company of Pinocchio and so on. But you can think of sort of a vague, wave-like substance with different lobes and protuberances forming a certain shape. That's a vague way we can think what an atom is! So imagine it's in one particular shape and it's said to be in a certain energy level. Now it goes to a different energy level. So it takes on a new shape; the different lobes and so on now are differently arranged. Well this happens, as far as quantum mechanics goes, abruptly. It’s called a quantum jump. First it's in this shape, like so, with a certain energy, and now, it's in this other shape, like so. And, how does it go from one to the other? Well it just goes! All at once, and all of a sudden!
Now many physicists have been very dissatisfied by that. Schrodinger himself, who first came up with this picture, didn't realize initially that his thinking led to this. But Niels Bohr pointed it out to him. And it's described that actually this caused a breakdown in Schrodinger's health. Niels Bohr was a very intense person, it seems. So after Schrodinger presented his wave function picture of the atom, Bohr got a hold of him. He shanghaied him to Copenhagen where Bohr had his lair, and he started haranguing Schrodinger to get him to accept this quantum jump idea. Because Bohr originally said that electrons make jumps, but he didn't have the wave function. So now Schrodinger came up with the wave function, but Bohr wanted to point out that you still have to have the jumps. And so he began to harangue Schrodinger, and actually day in, day out, practically for 24 hours a day, Bohr continuously argued against Schrodinger, just wearing him down.
This goes on in science. Science is sort of a Darwinian struggle for survival, actually. In case you wonder what the scientists are doing in their offices and so forth, they’re struggling with one another. So Neils Bohr was an amazing personality. So he kept wearing away at Schrodinger; finally Schrodinger went to the hospital. This actually happened. Of course it’s just a coincidence that he came down with a flu or something. But he was laying in his hospital bed and Bohr would sit there beside his hospital bed, still arguing away. And so Schrodinger is recorded to have said, that “If I knew that I would have to deal with this damned 'quantum jumping', I never would have had anything to do with the quantum theory.” But anyway, it turns out that logically the way the theory is set up, in the quantum theory you have a whole extended situation in space, which is in a certain state, and all of a sudden, the whole thing changes at once into a completely different situation.
So that is a situation totally different than what Einstein is saying. Now it turns out, just as evidence for the reality of this conflict, that Einstein himself never accepted quantum mechanics. And it’s no coincidence because, of course, Einstein liked Einstein's theories, and he was totally convinced that his theories were fundamentally right. And he knew that the quantum mechanical theory totally went against his theoretical viewpoint. So he never accepted it. There’s more to it than the idea that ‘God doesn't play dice with the universe.’ That’s part of it because when these quantum jumps occur, they occur by chance. That's another interesting feature of the quantum theory. But it’s not just that they occur by chance that disturbed Einstein, because Einstein himself introduced the theory of Brownian motion earlier in the 20th century, which involves the theory that a little particle will move by random steps. So Einstein himself introduced Caestecker random theories into physics. But what really disturbed him was that the whole thing extending over space changes by chance all at once. And in fact, Einstein pointed out that you’re not dealing here with just an atom, because we can imagine that an atom is very small, so perhaps weird things can happen on the level of atoms. It’s plausible. But Einstein pointed out in what is called the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox, which is a famous topic of controversy in physics, he pointed out that you can have an extended situation over any distance you like. It can be miles, it can be light years, or whatever, and the whole thing changes by abrupt jumps.
A: Well, that's a much later speculation that people are making. Yeah, when, one of the latest speculations about the Big Bang theory, which we mention in Origins magazine, is that the whole universe pops out of nothing by a quantum jump.
A: Well, it could happen. Actually according to their theory, you know what could happen? That could happen too. But here’s what could happen according to their theory, you see... well, we can go on obviously and completely use up japa period. But you see, the idea is that you can have nothing without even time or space, and something can pop out of it by a quantum leap. And similarly, right here another whole universe can pop out; but if it did, that would be the end of us, because it would be like the ultimate atomic explosion, we’d be just wiped out. If the universe popped out right here let's say, it would be very improbable, but given eternity it can happen. So lately, in recent years they have been trying to put together speculations like this. But this is a more recent development, for example, a Russian named Vilenken is very fond of this idea that something pops out of nothing. But the original conflict between relativity and quantum theory, though, is that in the quantum theory, you can have something extended over miles. And the whole thing can make an abrupt quantum leap into something different, whereas in the theory of relativity, it's hardly possible.
A: In theory of relativity, a change can only occur continuously, on a point-by-point basis.
A: Like you can imagine heat gradually working its way across a piece of metal, something like that. So that’s a basic problem there. So, you see, people in general don't learn about these controversies in physics. Most physicists don't appreciate the controversies, because physicists are trained up not to think about these things. This is actually a fact. See, physics is exceedingly complicated. There are oceans of mathematical equations that you have to plow through. So in studying physics, you can entirely devote yourself to learning how to manipulate these equations without even for one moment asking yourself what it all means. In fact, even if you spent a lifetime delving through these equations, you can't get through them all.
So you can become a professional physicist with a PhD and so on, and you can teach courses at a university for 20 years without even once thinking for one moment about what it all means. It's possible. And you can argue, in fact the argument is made, “Well look, all these discussions about what it all means have never led anywhere in the last 50 years or 80 years now, practically. So we have no time for that. We are interested in 'research'!” And 'research' means, looking at the energy levels of potassium crystals, or something like that, and delving into that ad infinitum. Learning more and more about less and less, as they say. So in science there’s a tendency for the scientists to become exceedingly narrow specialists. One scientist will know practically everything there is to know about tunneling in superconductors, but he won't know practically anything about anything else. So with this kind of narrowness, even the scientists themselves become oblivious to some of the real problems in their own theories. The scientist who knows everything about the semiconductors, would get his general ideas about science the same way that the ordinary students do in the university. He would read some article in Scientific American, or something like that, and just get a general idea.