Can a study of the physical universe reveal things spiritual by analogy? Let’s take a look at an example that may be useful. On Earth, in the late 20th century, a trial took place on the Western Hemisphere to determine the actual inventor of the electronic digital computer. A United States District Court found that the two individuals generally credited with the invention did not in fact invent the machine but derived their fundamental design from one John Vincent Atanasoff. Atanasoff, a Bulgarian Immigrant, was a physics professor at Iowa State University. He and his assistant, Clifford Berry, built the Atanasoff Berry Computer, the (ABC) to free the students in the good doctor’s physics class from the tedium of long algebraic equations. According to Atanasoff, these math problems were so complex, his students were simply missing the point of the physics lesson.
Unlike the later Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC), a large scale computer formerly thought to be the first and built to support the Allied effort during World War II, the ABC was built to facilitate discovery. During the trial, Atanasoff displayed his gift and commitment as a teacher, and he taught much about how physical reality is increasingly understood. Here, again, is his testimony in part.
We have a physically objective world, and then after a while we learn to measure in this world, and we gain experience with this world, through our senses. That is the objective world, and then we pass in to the mathematical world. In the mathematical world there are mathematical entities – “x”, “y”, numbers, and things of that kind. And we bring this mathematical world into isomorphism, or equality in structure with the objective world, so we can manipulate the mathematics and tell what the objective world is going to do; or, as Dirac – a great theoretical physicist – said, to calculate numbers which can be compared with experience, and such is the meaning of all mathematics.
The theoretical physicist, or the mathematical physicist, or the physicist, in the more elementary sense, is merely an artist and he’s attempting to depict the external world in terms of these formulations of which I speak, and the question is, if the theory is real. Take Newton, Newton did this; he was a great painter and he painted the field of mechanics for us in certain equational form. Now, the interesting thing is, and the powerful thing is that if you manipulate these equations, they behave in an analogy with the physical world so that by examining these equations, you can tell what the physical world is doing or should do.
Now, suppose it doesn’t do it? Why then you have a case where the theory in question has broken down. And when I spoke of Einstein, I was speaking of certain slight deficiencies in Newton’s world. Newton did it first, then along came Einstein and Einstein noticed certain discrepancies in the world described by Newton, so he tried a new formulation, generated a new formulation for the theory of relativity, and his theory also is subject to criticism as time goes on.
So much of what Dr. Atanasoff said in those three highly concentrated paragraphs makes perfect sense. But we have again put this testimony before you because it raises three important questions that have a direct bearing on this trial.
First, we will look at the ideal, the process of learning and what Atanasoff referred to as the theory “subject to criticism as time goes on.” Second, we will examine this nexus of the arts and sciences whereby the human scientist becomes an artist “attempting to depict the external world.” And third, we will attempt to apply, to things spiritual, the sort of reasoning a scientist uses in understanding the physical world. We will also examine the crossover whereby they “behave in an analogy.”
While the human view of the physical universes continues to mature, certain theories come to be viewed as law. If the doctor is correct, though the laws have been in effect since the beginning of time, human understanding of them is gained incrementally. Once understood however, the law of gravity can be depended upon throughout the observable universes. God is not like Lucy, pulling the football away just as Charlie Brown is about to kick. Our Father is consistent and his nurture is exemplary while his nursery is all that one would expect from its designer.
Lucifer would have us believe that science is the enemy of faith or that mindless causation could somehow evolve the refined and the complex from the crude and the simple. On Earth two diametrically opposed warring camps blindly perpetuate both ignorance and skepticism. Where one denies evolution, the other denies evolutionary over-control.
Though the skeptic may view life as a cruel hoax, the child of faith grows to appreciate the evolving universes not only as benevolent, but teeming with potential friends. In fact, the whole of finite reality favors growth and can therefore be viewed correctly as nurturing infrastructure.
The skeptic is correct however in pointing out certain aspects of cruelty along the way. As with any schoolyard on Earth, post rebellion life on that planet has an over-abundance of bullies. And throughout Earth history many of these have operated in the name of Christ. When Atanasoff spoke of Einstein’s theory as subject to criticism; he did not address the great peril under which scientist’s sometimes operate while advancing their theories in the face of a well entrenched priesthood of science or religion, an intolerant, dominant establishment.