The Soul of Regressive Physics

PSI Blog 20150408 The Soul of Regressive Physics

Lately, I have been having a series of email and Blog exchanges with a delightful chap who goes by the handle of Captain Bligh. We agree on a lot of things, but one of his ideas is especially baffling to me. That is his suggestion that matter can be produced out of motion. In other words, he believes that I am too strict in adhering to the Fourth Assumption of Science, inseparability (Just as there is no motion without matter, so there is no matter without motion).[1] My bafflement can be summarized in this simple question: How can there be motion unless something moves? What the good Captain is proposing is what I call “matterless motion.” How anyone could entertain such a preposterous idea is of interest to me, as I am always interested in the root causes of things. Now, I think I have it figured out, although Bligh and compatriots probably would not agree.

Life is so wonderful that most of us wish to continue far longer than our mortal life expectancy says we should expect. The matter of which our bodies consist tends to lose integrity as we age, with the ultimate insult occurring at death. Religions have offered a solution to this problem in the form of a “soul,” that supposedly continues our existence after we die. Many imagine that this “entity” will travel to a place of immeasurable happiness or torment. Believe it or not, this idea of the soul played a far greater part in the “regression” in physics that occurred at the beginning of the 20th century than is generally acknowledged.

Einstein’s overthrow of classical mechanics was not a revolution in physics—it was a counterrevolution. Per inseparability, mechanics assumed that the universe consists only of matter in motion. The opposing indeterministic assumption, separability, accepts the idea that motion might occur independently of matter, much in the way religious followers might imagine their immaterial souls leaving their physical remains. The shock endured by religion in the latter half of the 19th century via Darwin, Marx, and science in general swung the determinism-indeterminism pendulum too far to suit the faithful. The “overthrow” of classical mechanics by Einstein really was a step backward, away from the principle that all was matter in motion. By avoiding strict adherence to that principle and accommodating religious (i.e., indeterministic) assumptions, Einstein’s relativity gained wide acceptance among the faithful, formerly faithful, and credulous.

Most of the best scientists are atheists,[2] but many were indoctrinated in various religions as children, with the concept of the soul being unquestioned. The mechanical details involving the soul always are vague. Souls, being only imaginary, are not amenable to scientific investigation or even clear thinking. Those supporting the soul hypothesis certainly would not agree that the universe displays only two phenomena: matter and the motion of matter. Unfortunately, there are vestiges of the idea of separability even among the most staunch atheists. Once we have dimly accepted the matter-motion estrangement, even if it was in the distant past, it can always rise again as a subconscious notion. Thus, when Einstein proposed his theory of relativity, it was welcomed with open arms by the religious, the anti-materialists, and the naïve popular press. Its inherent contradictions and lack of common sense apparently were not a problem for those used to such in their sabbatical lives. Experiments claiming to support the theory were always interpreted from the indeterministic point of view (e.g., starlight passing the Sun bent due to refraction was seen instead as proof of its particulate nature being influenced by gravitation caused by curved empty space and clocks flying around Earth in jets).[3]

The regression produced by relativity involved “immaterial fields,” “mass-less particles,” and objectified light and time.[4] Like ghosts and souls, these were envisioned as things that are not things. They do not contain matter, but are envisioned to be localized, being here and not there and capable of movement. In particular, the motions exhibited by gravitation and magnetism were not produced by material objects one could see or easily detect. In regressive physics, separability reigned supreme.

The Soul Barrier

To progress beyond relativity, we must overcome the “Soul Barrier,” which like the Great Wall of China, prevents critics from rejecting the indeterministic assumption of separability and its claim that motion can occur without matter. When I was religious, I never even considered what a soul actually could be. True, we learned some mechanics in physics class, but we certainly were not encouraged to apply that approach to everything. Although anyone with eyes can see that our surroundings consist of things and that many of these things are in motion, it took me a long time to truly realize how the universe works. As a mental construct, the Soul Barrier fades when we hold fast to our belief that there are only two basic phenomena: matter and the motion of matter. Then, endless debates about whether or not Einstein’s mathematically defined fields actually are immaterial and therefore devoid of aether, whether a particle could be mass-less, whether time was a thing or dimension, and whether light was both a wave and a particle at the same time become pointless.

Once more, the antidote to the “Soul Barrier” is the deterministic assumption of inseparability. Along with it and the rest of the “Ten Assumptions of Science,” you can better understand physics and avoid the silly proclamations currently being foisted on the populace. At least, you will be able to steer clear of the craziness to which believers in relativity are prone. Hopefully, you will not be as extreme as the physicist from Mexico who once told me that I did not exist, but that the event of my birth did. You won’t believe that mass can be turned into energy, construed as matterless motion, travelling ghost-like through aetherless empty space.[5] You won’t believe, as does Lawrence Krause,[6] a leading cosmogonist, that motion could produce matter out of nothing via “quantum fluctuations.”  In other words, you won’t believe in the creation of the entire universe out of nothing, in opposition to the long-standing Fifth Assumption of Science, conservation (Matter and the motion of matter can be neither created nor destroyed). If you wish to rid the world of relativity and the Big Bang Theory, you must cross the Soul Barrier first. Dawdling behind that barrier is a pointless waste of precious time. In particular, you must choose between the deterministic concept of aether and the indeterministic concept of matterless motion.

[1] Borchardt, Glenn, 2004, Ten assumptions of science and the demise of 'cosmogony' ( http://www.scientificphilosophy.com/Downloads/TTAOSATDOC.pdf ): Proceedings of the Natural Philosophy Alliance, v. 1, no. 1, p. 3-6.
---, 2004, The ten assumptions of science: Toward a new scientific worldview: Lincoln, NE, iUniverse, 125 p.

[2] Larson, Edward J., and Witham, Larry, 1998, Leading scientists still reject God ( http://www.scribd.com/doc/2430168/Leading-scientists-still-reject-God#scribd ): Nature, v. 394, no. 6691, p. 313; Stirrat, Michael, and Cornwell, R, 2013, Eminent scientists reject the supernatural: a survey of the Fellows of the Royal Society: Evolution: Education and Outreach, v. 6, no. 1, p. 33.  (http://www.evolution-outreach.com/content/6/1/33)

[3] Borchardt, Glenn, 2011, Einstein's most important philosophical error, in Proceedings of the Natural Philosophy Alliance, 18th Conference of the NPA, 6-9 July, 2011 ( http://www.worldsci.org/pdf/abstracts/abstracts_5991.pdf ), College Park, MD, Natural Philosophy Alliance, Mt. Airy, MD, p. 64-68.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Borchardt, Glenn, 2009, The physical meaning of  E=mc2 ( http://scientificphilosophy.com/Downloads/The%20Physical%20Meaning%20of%20E=mc2.pdf ): Proceedings of the Natural Philosophy Alliance, v. 6, no. 1, p. 27-31.

[6] Krauss, Lawrence Maxwell, 2012, A universe from nothing : why there is something rather than nothing: New York, Free Press.


Daniel said...

Hello Glenn,
Just came across your blog, and downloaded your "10 Assumptions..." , so have just begun learning what you think and why, and have no idea yet what you mean by matter. So far as having a soul in the sense of something related to our identity that is there before and after our biological existence, it could certainly be made from "matter" of some kind, even though many refer to it as "immaterial."

Glenn Borchardt said...


Thanks for your interest. Hope you enjoy the Ten Assumptions and TSW. Remember that there never was any evidence for a soul, which was invented by folks who wanted to live forever. The suggestion that the soul was a material object did not sit well with immaterialists, as you imply. On the other hand, there have been attempts to measure the "mass" of the soul by weighing folks immediately before and immediately after death. These were always miserable failures plagued by arguments over error analysis and the decay processes that set in immediately. Bodies lose mass as they cool in the same way that a coffee cup loses mass as it cools. The motion of the atoms inside is transmitted to air outside, as you can quickly find out by putting your hand near the cup (or the recently deceased). Those especially superstitious might even mistake this movement of air molecules for the movement of an imaginary spirit.

Death is truly a tragedy, but no real thing exists forever, per the Sixth Assumption of Science, complementarity (All things are subject to divergence and convergence from other things). In order for anything to exist, it must form as the coming together of other things (birth). Because all things are in motion, these various things eventually will diverge, moving to other parts of the universe (death). That is why souls and the eternal life they are supposed to bring can only be imaginary. The upshot is that each of us should not waste even a microsecond of the all too short time that we have.

joogabah said...

If all that exists is matter in motion, what is "meaning"? Souls are linguistic. I am also persuaded by materialism, and yet it cannot explain subjectivity. Something absolutely fundamental is missing, and I don't mean to suggest that it is indeterministic. But this is what must be answered to counter religion. Perception itself cannot be objectified. If consciousness is somehow an emergent property of matter in motion, then the natural material universe might also give rise to greater levels of consciousness on a scale that can influence matter to a much greater extent than we can. So even materialism leaves open the possibility of humanity's instinctive sense of a higher mental realm, of a greater agency that might have had a hand in initiating life on Earth. I think it is the denial of this that makes evolution unpalatable to many. Consciousness is not an illusion, and we are not animals. We are linguistic constructs riding on animal substrates, much older than the bodies we inhabit, by virtue of language. We are literally spoken into existence. That is the sense in which we are created, and it is to that that religion addresses itself. That is what allows us, unique among animals, to create. We extrapolate that to the entire universe and imagine a macrocosmic, parental consciousness.

Glenn Borchardt said...


Thanks so much for your comments. They got me to do an entire Blog on the answer. It will be coming out on Wednesday: PSI Blog 20170301 The Meaning of Life.