I recently saw a movie on TV called "What the bleep do we know?" which raised questions about philosophy and quantum physics that were quite interesting... i was hoping to bring out a discussion into some of the things it talks about... the website is www.whatthebleep.com
It talks about human thought influencing the universe... and that all one need do is ask and believe in something of the universe... and one will receive...
Are any of the concepts it talks about true? how do they tie together and what does this mean for our every day lives... what about a Christian perspective?
It seemed to me a product of the “new age” style, where man discovers the perfect theory and lives in harmony with himself and the world. It’s not a ‘scientific’ movie, a popularization of scientific concepts, rather a proposition for life. Given this, what’s right and what’s wrong in the movie’s arguments, doesn’t really matter.
We can’t know what exactly and to what degree is true, because science changes, and the truth of today may become the error of tomorrow. But the most important is, as I’ll try to explain, that science can not save us, can not be the meaning of our life, even if we imagine it arriving at a complete and perfect knowledge.
At a certain level (which is not the main level that is of interest to a person in search for truth), Orthodoxy has no problem with most of what is claimed by the movie. The Fathers say that man is autexousios (αὐτεξούσιος), leader and ruler of himself, having full power over himself. If we are created in the Image and Likeness of God, how could it be possible for us not to have that power over ourselves and over nature?
Beyond this level (which really doesn’t matter a lot), there appear the limits of science. Science means proof – but a person can not live by a proven, objective, truth, because in such a case one would have to comply, that is to become a slave of a proof. If indeed man is free and powerful, his living the truth must also be free, which is the reason of God’s coming in the form of man, and not as a flying Superman.
The movie talks about how directly the mind influences matter. So what? The movie's suggestion is : sit down, relax, and decide yourself. This is not only the ‘scientific’ endeavour of the movie, it is also the demand of psycho-analysis and of other methods, political systems, etc., by the help of which man would become able to define himself. What happens with death? What is the importance of the definitions of myself, when I’m going to lose my friend?, such a question is of little interest for the movie. Besides this, how man the Ruler and Leader with the Omnipotent Mind, is not only struggling to provide his living, but also to gain knowledge and to keep his health, facing at last even death? How was death made possible, when we are such powerful creatures? This too is of no interest for the movie.
The movie talks about “avatars, buddhas, Christ” as if all were the same. But if there is a God, what would a man want before anything else, than to know Him? And this is another, and most significant, question that the movie does not know and does not care about. “Avatars, buddhas, Christ” are just symbols of our becoming ‘enlightened’. Enlightened with what light, when we don’t know even the name of our God?
Religious doctrines are not objective; they are based on revelations to particular persons, and their broader adoption follows by an act of faith. However, even if not really objective, they can be treated is if they were objective truths, in which case they don't save. They are indications of a path one must follow in trust, hoping that the truths indicated by doctrines may also be revealed to him personally. Treated as 'objective' truths, doctrines become a religious ideology and pseudo-science tending to fanaticism.
Your question brings us to the relationship between conceptual truth and action. You seem to ask : if there exists an inferior truth or even an error that could help us act better, shouldn't we prefer that quasi-truth against a superior or perfect truth, if the latter is unable to serve our practical betterment? Such a thinking belongs to the 'logic' of the aim sanctifying the means, a jesuit logic, that serves not our betterment, but hypocrisy.
To stay to the western world where 'new age' theories occured, one could ask: if Christianity is indeed the highest truth and if Christianity did not manage to help western peoples enough, how could 'new age' theories help? Because they talk about peace, unity, etc., that doesn't mean they can serve these causes. Do you see western societies or any 'new age' societies to provide more meaning in peoples' life? Is it possible for a man to be helped by a brain theory or atom theory and the like, when even his faith in a living, personal, and revealed God did not help him? (Cf. a recent blog post about Ostrov, a modern Russian movie)