Reflections on science, spiritual teachings, and mystical philosophy, by Thomas McFarlane

Empirical science is distinguished from mathematics primarily in one crucial respect: while mathematics requires that its propositions conform to pure logic, empirical science requires in addition that its propositions conform to empirical data. Because mathematics is unconstrained by the contingencies and uncertainties of empirical data, it has the virtue of great certainty and generality in […]

*May 16, 2009*

Symmetry is intimately related to the idea of invariance, the persistence of something amidst change (e.g., changes in time, space, or perspective). This is also one meaning of objectivity. Thus, symmetry is a key to understanding the objective world, as is well known in physics. The basic idea here is not confined to the esoteric […]

*March 22, 2009*

A keystone of modern science is the view that everything physical exists within time and space. Of course, these notions have themselves gone through radical revision, but they still form the basis for formulations of modern physics, and only recently have some theoretical physicists begun to consider the possibility that time and space might emerge […]

*March 22, 2009*

The so-called “collapse” of the wave function in quantum theory is often illustrated by the wave/particle duality. When a photon propagates through a double-slit apparatus, it behaves like a wave. Yet, if it is observed, the non-local wave is collapsed into a single localized particle. However, both theory and experiment show that this is not […]

*February 1, 2009*

The heavens have long symbolized the eternal, changeless perfection of the divine, while the earth has symbolized the ephemeral, changing flux of existence. Since ancient times, this division of heaven and earth has been a profound symbol of the separation humans feel from their divine source. We experience ourselves as ephemeral beings exiled from the […]

*January 30, 2009*

The creation of the cosmos, or cosmogenesis, may be symbolized as an emanation from a nondual reality (1) into duality (2), trinity (3), and further multiplicity. This archetypal pattern is represented in the universal symbol of the tree of life. At its base, the tree is a single trunk, representing the cosmic axis, or axis […]

*November 28, 2008*

In the mathematical formalism of quantum theory, there are two levels that are important to keep clearly distinct: 1) observables/operators and 2) outcomes/eigenstates. At the first level, one observable is selected by the experimenter from among various observables. At the second level, the measurement of a selected observable is actually performed and an outcome is […]

January 17, 20122