WORDS BY RUTH H. HOPKINS
In order for science and the human race in general to advance, we must dispense with the limits we have imposed on ourselves.
For many, western science has become rather fixed and stationary. It’s based on hard data and described in absolutes. Scientific laws and theories, especially in academia, are upheld as established categorical certainties and alternative notions are often scoffed at and viewed with derision.
What you will find, however, is that the most complex spheres of science are not concrete at all.
Quantum mechanics is a body of scientific laws that mathematically explain what classical physics cannot—namely, the properties and behavior of subatomic particles. What’s fascinating about Quantum mechanics is that it’s a relatively young branch of science, and so much of what’s proven thus far flies in the face of what the classical sciences have accepted as gospel truths. In fact, quantum mechanics often runs contrary to logic.
This new area of science is not about absolutes. It’s about probabilities and possibilities. And it’s forcing experts to expand their definition of reality and embrace the unknown.
For example, though confounding, experiments have verified that the very nature of the subatomic world seems to be affected by whether or not we are observing it. Without us, these miniscule twinkles of existence operate beyond our current understanding. What makes them recognizable, measurable, and indeed, ‘real,’ is our watchful eye.
Attempting to explain nature on the atomic level is leading human intellect into uncharted territory. String theory has become a prominent means of unifying quantum mechanics with classical physics like the law of gravity. The thing about string theory, though, is that it requires at least ten dimensions for the math to work. Humanity is presently operating within four dimensions. These alternate dimensions ultimately translate to the existence of an infinite number of parallel universes, which may have different physical laws from our own.
Quantum physicists call it parallel dimensions & the multiverse. My Native ancestors call it the spirit world.
Overall, scientists have been hesitant to investigate the spiritual since the discipline’s inception, but quantum mechanics made great strides thanks to those who were willing to buck the secular constraints of university circles. Fundamental Fysiks Group was composed of underfunded physicists at Berkeley in the 1970s who used eastern mysticism to delve deeper into quantum theory. Their work is now considered foundational to quantum mechanics.
David Bohm was a renowned quantum physicist who figured out wave-particle duality. Subatomic particles actually don’t behave as expected at all. They defy reason by having the characteristics of both waves and particles. While other physicists used uncertainty to describe this behavior, he defined it as inherent ambiguity. Bohm coined the idea of a pilot wave, clarifying that it was our efforts to observe particles that changes their behavior by disturbing a pilot wave composed of subatomic particles.
What Bohm failed to dispose of was the problem of a subatomic phenomenon called nonlocality. Simply stated, it’s the capacity of a particle to influence another instantaneously across great distances seemingly without explanation. Einstein referred to nonlocality as “spooky action at a distance.”
Bohm once again defied convention by proposing an unusual answer to explain nonlocality: that science will never fully explain the world. In 1980, he wrote a book on it called Wholeness and the Implicate Order where he broached the subject of spirituality and deduced that complete clarity is not within humanity’s grasp.
In his book, Bohm said that under physical appearances, or the explicate order, there is a deeper, hidden implicate order. He first visualized this arrangement by studying subatomic particles and developing the supposition that they abide in a field consisting of an infinite number of fluctuating pilot waves. From that assumption, he discussed the possibility that space and time itself might be manifestations of a deeper, implicate order.
But he didn’t stop there. Bohm was primarily concerned with enlightenment. He thought that today’s physicists should consider wiping the slate clean just as Newton and Descartes had done with the ancients.
It’s not that we should dispose of hard math and mechanics all together. It’s just that in order for science to jump forward, it must merge with art and spirituality. He understood the importance of thinking and perceiving differently.
A key underlying concept that we shouldn’t miss here is that in order for humanity to progress intellectually—or otherwise, we must become comfortable with not knowing. This does not mean that we should not strive to learn all that we can about our Universe. Instead, it says that there is power in the acceptance that we may never fully know everything because, like the many dimensions and universes that surround and overlap our own, knowledge is infinite, and in our corporeal forms, may be beyond our understanding.
My People, the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation), acknowledge the authority of Takuskanskan, a deity that we can only describe in English as being “that which moves all things.” It is the Great Mystery, but also the Universe, and everything within it. It is inside you and me. It is the Source of all life, but also motion absent any living thing. It is both the pilot wave and as Einstein said, the “spooky action at a distance.” Takuskanskan is the knowledge of an observable phenomena, without being able to fully explain what it is. Takuskanskan is the humility to accept the impossible as real, and also the understanding that our reality is determined by our interaction with our surroundings.
Quantum theory and the study of the subatomic realm has also led to the suggestion that the destruction of Earth could spell the annihilation of our universe.
It is these possibilities that will determine how far humanity will evolve. In order for science and the human race in general to advance, we must dispense with the limits we have imposed on ourselves. These limitations are often related to faulty prejudices created by a system built to uphold the bogus social hierarchy of colonialism, capitalism, heteropatriarchy, and white supremacy. It is crucial that Indigenous ways of knowing are included in the scientific process because they are the antithesis of these limitations. Incorporating them will foster enlightenment and open the door to the merger necessary for greater understanding.