The Possibilities Mind: Conversations With God, Einstein, and Others

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There cannot be anything that cannot be subsumed by the human personality, and this proves that the Truth of the Universe is human Truth. I have taken a scientific fact to explain this — Matter is composed of protons and electrons, with gaps between them; but matter may seem to be solid. The entire universe is linked up with us in a similar manner, it is a human universe. I have pursued this thought through art, literature and the religious consciousness of man.

This world is a human world — the scientific view of it is also that of the scientific man. There is some standard of reason and enjoyment which gives it Truth, the standard of the Eternal Man whose experiences are through our experiences. We have to realize it through our emotions and activities. We realized the Supreme Man who has no individual limitations through our limitations. Science is concerned with that which is not confined to individuals; it is the impersonal human world of Truths. Religion realizes these Truths and links them up with our deeper needs; our individual consciousness of Truth gains universal significance.

Religion applies values to Truth, and we know this Truth as good through our own harmony with it.

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We individuals approach it through our own mistakes and blunders, through our accumulated experiences, through our illumined consciousness — how, otherwise, can we know Truth? I believe, for instance, that the Pythagorean theorem in geometry states something that is approximately true, independent of the existence of man. Anyway, if there is a reality independent of man, there is also a Truth relative to this reality; and in the same way the negation of the first engenders a negation of the existence of the latter.

TAGORE: Truth, which is one with the Universal Being, must essentially be human, otherwise whatever we individuals realize as true can never be called truth — at least the Truth which is described as scientific and which only can be reached through the process of logic, in other words, by an organ of thoughts which is human.

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According to Indian Philosophy there is Brahman, the absolute Truth, which cannot be conceived by the isolation of the individual mind or described by words but can only be realized by completely merging the individual in its infinity. To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted , in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot.

God is a complex of ideas formed by the tribe, the nation, and humanity, which awake and organize social feelings and aim to link the individual to society and to bridle the zoological individualism. But I am persuaded that such behavior on the part of the representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress.

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In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests. In their labors they will have to avail themselves of those forces which are capable of cultivating the good, the true, and the beautiful in humanity itself. This is, to be sure, a more difficult but incomparably more worthy task. After religious teachers accomplish the refining process indicated, they will surely recognize with joy that true religion has been ennobled and made more profound by scientific knowledge.

If it is one of the goals of religion to liberate mankind as far as possible from the bondage of egocentric cravings, desires, and fears, scientific reasoning can aid religion in yet another sense. Although it is true that it is the goal of science to discover rules which permit the association and foretelling of facts, this is not its only aim. It also seeks to reduce the connections discovered to the smallest possible number of mutually independent conceptual elements.

It is in this striving after the rational unification of the manifold that it encounters its greatest successes, even though it is precisely this attempt which causes it to run the greatest risk of falling prey to illusions. But whoever has undergone the intense experience of successful advances made in this domain is moved by profound reverence for the rationality made manifest in existence.

By way of the understanding, he achieves a far-reaching emancipation from the shackles of personal hopes and desires—and thereby attains that humble attitude of mind toward the grandeur of reason incarnate in existence, and which, in its profoundest depths, is inaccessible to man. This attitude, however, appears to me to be religious in the highest sense of the word. And so it seems to me that science not only purifies the religious impulse of the dross of its anthropomorphism but also contributes to a religious spiritualization of our understanding of life.

Learning how to die, as Michel de Montaigne once rightly said, is the unlearning of how to be a slave. Brief thoughts on death from John Stuart Mill. Contributor Albert Einstein. Related Reads. Stearns was building to carry out the analysis. He did not know of this method but immediately understood when I explained the process and he pointed out that it would not give phases and that these are more important for an "aether-drift" than amplitudes.

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This I agreed to but also replied that if the data seemed to give a null result in amplitude by this method of analy- sis, then the phases would not be a consideration. He repeated several times during our talk that since the phases found by Miller "which fix the direction in space" were not consistent, this was the strongest argument against the drift reported by Miller. He said several times, however, that he and also H. Lorentz considered Miller an excellent experimenter and thought his data must be good.

He emphasized that mere multi- plication of data is not a good thing. This re- inforced our resolve to concentrate on that part of Miller's data where he indicated "excellent conditions. Lorentz had studied Miller's work for many years and could not find the trouble.

Albert Einstein

Einstein asked about strains in the interfer- ometer and the experimental conditions at Mount Wilson. He emphasized that if there is a systematic effect, however small, it must be 19 Note added February : It was not until early after the complete analysis of variance results were avail- able that we were convinced that the periodic effects found by D. Miller were not due to statistical fluctuations or to his method of analysis. Only then did we plunge deeply into a study of the temperature effects to find the real cause of Miller's results see reference The essential correct- ness of Miller's harmonic analysis had meanwhile been proved by the autocorrelation analysis carried out by R.

Stearns, M. Thesis, Case Institute of Technology N D 52 explained. He was most interested and encour- aged me to carry the problem through. I then told Professor Einstein about the un- published Case data, and he was very interested. He fully understood why Miller did not consider the null results of this work signifi- cant because it was done in a basement room where the "drag" would be large. He pointed out, however, that there should be nearly as much "drag" at Mount Wilson as in the Case basement room due to the mass of the interferometer itself.

He also reminded me that any "drag" would be inconsistent with aberration. I told him that I felt the results should be published as these seemed to be among the best of all data taken in these experiments. I also told him of Miller's observations 18 using sunlight as a source and that these seemed to me to be better than Tomaschek's. He likes Tomaschek's work with starlight, however, because of the large radial velocities. We discussed the difference between the Morley-Miller result of and Miller's 26 experiments.

I suggested to Einstein that the discrepancy might be due to the method of analysis. Several times also he asked me very seriously, "Why did not Miller find this? He asked me about Miller's acoustical work, and when I told him of Miller's studies of vowels and their relation to Helmholtz's theory, he was much interested. He had not realized that Helmholtz had done this and exclaimed "What that man accomplished!

Toward the end of our talk, I asked if Michel- son had ever told him how he came to invent the interferometer. He said no. I told him that I felt it had been developed in Paris while he worked with Jamin and Mascart. He agreed that this was very probable and that Michelson's basic ideas for the Potsdam experiment had also evolved in Paris. He exclaimed at one point, "How many ideas Michelson originated for optical research! At last I said goodbye after an hour of pleasure and inspiration with this great man — so kind, so gentle, so interested only in the truth.

I taxied to the Institute for Advanced Study where the tele- phone girl told me that Einstein's secretary had called to leave word that he was coming over to see me. At I saw him walking briskly along the path, from the direction of Oppenheimer's white house, in stocking cap, long coat and cigarette.

He came in, spoke to the telephone girl and then came rapidly down the corridor towards his office where I stood. He extended his hand and very cordially invited me into his office room He had apparently put his cigarette into his coat pocket, and as we took off our coats he had a small conflagration in his. When I thanked him for coming over to see me he said, "I always come to the office. Then in a most friendly way he asked me, "What is your question? VIII, pp. He felt very strongly that Synge's approach could not be significant and that the results of any experiments of the kind proposed by Synge would be irrelevant to questions regarding relativity, including the relativistic concept of a rigid body.

When I told him that Synge predicted a small positive effect due to the acceleration of the interferometer, Einstein asked, "What acceleration, the rotation of the instrument? All such accelerations, including any due to Coriolis forces would be completely indis- tinguishable from gravity. He felt that even if Synge de- vised an experiment 25 and found a positive result, it would be completely irrelevant.

He was sure that all questions relating to the coupling of the "pin" and rigidity of the apparatus were mean- ingless in relativity.

He emphasized, however, that the question of "rigidity" was most impor- tant and needed study. He talked at some length about the problem of rigidity in relativity, emphasizing its importance for such questions as the finite speed of propagation of signals, etc. However, he told me that no significant definition or theory of rigidity existed which corresponded to "reality," since the only rigid bodies yet studied were either those having zero mass or whose behavior could be treated in the absence of all external forces.

He then referred to the fact that I had pre- viously told him that "Miller's positive result obtained at Mount Wilson could be explained by his method of analysis, and he felt sure that this was a more likely explanation than Synge's. Once 24 J. Synge and G.