Monday, September 26, 2011

Quantum physics and eastern mysticism

I will soon be in India for a couple of weeks. Some of the time I will be involved in courses on science and religion (such as this) and so I am reading literature relevant to the subject.
Sometimes it is claimed, at least in certain Western circles, that "quantum physics is consistent with Eastern religion". This idea was particularly promoted by the popular book The Tao of Physics: an exploration of the parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism by Fritjof Capra. It was first published in 1975 and has now been published in 43 editions in 23 languages. The Wikipedia page mentions two serious criticisms of the book by physicists. 

First, the books argument is largely based on superficial similarities of the language and terminology used in certain contexts in both modern physics and eastern religions. [Aside: this highlights that Inter-disciplinary studies require great discipline].

Second, part of the book is based on the "Bootstrap model" of strong interactions in physics which was popular just before the first edition was published. However, this model is no longer considered valid and has been replaced by the Standard model. Nevertheless, more recent editions have ignored this problem.

A more thorough exploration is in an article by Peter Bussey in Science and Christian Belief.

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