What might be the bedrock nature of material things? It is generally accepted they are made of atoms; that these atoms are constituted of sub-atomic particles; but what might be the common content or structure of these sub atomic particles? Maybe there is more than one such common content? But let’s assume one for our purposes – the famous ‘substance’ of the old philosophers – what I have to say applies nonetheless.
Quantum scientists call this ‘substance’ ‘information’ these days. Possibly the reason for this is that quantum scientists these days work mostly by way of mathematics and formulae to do their research and their probing of the natural world. Thus it makes sense that basic ‘substance’ can be called information by them.
On another level quantum physics tends to say that basic ‘substance’ is not material as we know it. That it consists of forces and of attractions and repulsions; of wavelike particles and/or particle like waves. In fact what it might be is not at all clear when looked at in this way.
But even were we to master the science, would we have any real idea what basic ‘substance’ might be; any idea in the way that we recognise say wood, or say plastic?
I think that our ideas about basic ‘substance’ will remain in our minds in the way the concepts of light years and of the Big Bang etc, remain in them; that we shall have no exact and accurate visualisation of the idea; but only a rational assent to its existence. Thus it lies beyond what we can imagine with any accuracy; because it lies beyond sensual or other cognitive assurance and so is recognisable unlike the way we can be wholly assured that such and such is wood or that such and such is plastic.
Without doubt attraction and repulsion forces are involved in the makeup of basic ‘substance’. Everyday objects are composed of clustered coalesced collections of such forces. In this way, and unlike the Skittles ad, objects we see and use are ‘glued’ together by positive/negative attraction forces so as to give them form and shape; and so that they do not –say upon a touch – disintegrate into billions of component and fluid atoms etc.
It goes against our understanding of common sense to believe that there can be positive and negative forces but without these forces having material objects in which they are embodies as qualities? To suppose otherwise seems as if we were claiming that a poem has form but no content; or a chair shape but no materiality. We are coming perhaps close to Plato’s Ideal Forms?
But let us talk about positive and negative forces a little. For this purpose the problem of materiality is set aside. A plus force set beside an equal minus force will cancel one another out; so that the net attraction/repulsion will be ‘wholly consumed’ in their mutual and opposite attraction to one another; and no force negative or positive will be ‘left over’ to be free to act elsewhere in say another direction.
Now say things, everyday objects, are held together and given shape by this fact of mutual and consuming negative/positive attractions. If this is the case can we go on to ask whether were they without the actions of these forces upon their component parts then everyday things –whatever their component parts might be – would no longer exist? That is to ask, is this actual mutual consuming attraction itself in some weird way also the ‘material’ of which everyday objects are made? That is, is there anything more than mere forces; is there a material ‘substance’ or is material substance as it were a fortuitous ‘side-effect’ of these, as it were, disembodied negative and positive forces?
The questions go further. If this were so; that materiality is a ‘side-effect’ in this way; then how do the negative and positive forces retain an identity and so their being (and so our material being) once they have ‘bonded’ together and cancelled one another out? In everyday life we know that when we add minus 6 to plus 6 we get zero; that when we buy a kilo of flour and we bake 2 x 500gram loaves with it we have zero flour left; that when we place two magnets opposite poles facing some small distance apart the gap between them will become zero centimetres.
But this does not apply here – somehow plus added to an equal and opposite minus does not cancel – but each retains an identity and a being. This is a clever conjuring trick. Can we assume that something else is present and in some way holds the two forces either in being or apart in a sense that cancelation one of the other is not allowed to occur? If this were the case, then there would be a foundational force or an interruption agent beyond positive and negative forces, and maybe beyond information, or even materiality, or whatever, a force beyond which in fact is a force which – to be melodramatic – is constantly keeping everything in being?
If this were so then the great problem is partially solved of why there is in fact existence and being and that there it not nothing in their stead – and for there to have been nothing instead seems to be the more likely, the obvious, default position and the most probable state of affairs were one to look logically on the problem. The great problem of being and existence is only partially solved because we do not know what might be such an agent that might keep us from a sort of natural and logical automatic annihilation, by as it were, keeping the contest to mutual death between forces from occurring.
Such an agent could be posited as a benign force – and we are heading here towards anthropomorphic attributes for it. But we have claimed such an agent would be beyond the rational as we understand rationality – magical almost – from our points of view.
It seems to me that since we are going this far – attributing a personal character of benignity to any such interventional force; and attributing to it magical operation also – we have very little way to go further to suggest that it might be God himself; who in religious doctrine across the world is held to be the sustainer of all things; that it is God himself who is intervening and holding us in a long and balanced tension of being and existence. God as ‘the everlasting arms underneath’.
Such a posited solution solves many, many things and suits all the arguments made here – both religiously and- I am daring to hope – scientifically.
Whether or not my arguments here are laughable to the scientist and drivel to the theologian; I do know that something astoundingly great is going on daily, every moment, in each of our lives and across the whole of created being and existence. I do know that the wondrous problem why there are things and in such a multiplicity and variety and in such vast array and number; instead of there being a much more logical and predictable, elegant even, nothingness; that this is indeed a very great mystery and is one which should fill us with hope and joy and an informed gratitude even.
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