Chapter 24b


Train to London


“Hope we didn’t wake you up,” said Hapgood.  “Yes, the Jews seem to depend on revealed law.  So, in fact, do the Muslims.  If it is in the Koran, it isn’t supposed to change.  Not many years ago, while doing renovations in a mosque the workers discovered a large number of copies of the Koran going back over several centuries.  As you might expect, they could trace subtle changes creeping into the text over the years.  But the Koran was not supposed to evolve.  It was supposed to be fixed.  The discovery made a lot of people unhappy, and there was a big flap about it.  I don’t know what finally happened to the old texts.  I can’t believe they were destroyed, but I have never seen them all published side by side either.”


Jon said, “Well Hebrew law must have evolved.”


“Indeed,” said Hapgood.  “Certainly the tone changes over time.  But the Hebrews kept everything, whether it seemed to conflict with other things or not.  That is one of the things that make the Bible such a powerful book.  It’s all there, warts and all, and I do not mean that in an irreverent fashion.  You may have a quarrel with this passage or that, but you have to respect the fact that they put the difficulties right out there where you could see them.  That implies a basic honesty that is without equal in any other serious document I am aware of.  The field of science as a whole might compare, but generally an individual paper is written with a conscious slant and an attempt at complete consistency.” 


“What about the constitution of the United States?” asked Ivan.


“That’s a good point,” said Hapgood.  “There are amendments that change it.  In fact the ability to change it was written into the constitution from the beginning.  They never expected it to be an absolute standard.  That, of course, casts a shadow over the times when the courts decide they are going to make an effective change in the constitution without going through the process of an amendment.  One could object that they overstep their powers, but of course they claim the right to be the ones to decide just what their powers are, so any objection is going nowhere without an amendment.


“There again, you have to respect the Hebrews.  At least they made no secret of the fact that they were calling on God for an opinion rather than on the vote of the people.  There’s that honesty again.”


Jon said, “I guess the pressure to be honest is pretty great if God is watching you the whole time.”


Hapgood said, “Yes.  There is the power of the perfect observer, even if all He does is observe.


“That brings up an interesting point.  Remember we learned at Cambridge that we only observe a fraction of what we think we observe.  You look out the window and you think you see everything out there.”


“And then some,” thought Jon.


“There are those who claim that we do not have conscious will.  When the test is done, the will does appear to be a delusion.  But just who is being deluded?  Is our consciousness actually God looking out though our own eyes and seeing the world as He knows it is?  When we feel we are making a choice, is it God making a judgment of our actions, and are our actual actions simply being carried out by a sort of automaton?  These are difficult questions.” 


Tracy said, “Well everyone believes that God can read their innermost thoughts.  I don’t think anybody actually believes that it is God doing the thinking for us.  We believe he sees what we see.  You are saying that maybe we think we see what He sees.”


“There is another spooky thing about God as the observer,” said Hapgood.  “You remember I said that I find it unsettling that the universe essentially began as a flash of light, as in ‘Let there be light.’”


“Yes, of course,” said Jon.


“Well the next thing that God did was to see the light.  Now modern physics distinguishes between two states of reality.  There is the quantum world in which everything is uncertain, and there is the classical world in which things behave the way we understand them to in ordinary life.  Things go from an uncertain state to a classical state when they are observed or when they interact with the classical world.


“But if everything began as a flash of light, there was no observer to see the light and no classical world with which the light could interact.  Light, until it is observed or interacts with the classical universe, is completely in a state of quantum uncertainty.  So how did the classical world begin?  Who made the Great Observation that made the knowable universe possible?”


“God, of course,” said Ivan.


“You say of course, but that implies a God that can be inferred from science.  That would be quite a stretch for most scientists these days.”


“Difficult,” said Jon. 


They fell silent as the train rustled eastward.  About nightfall, they were in London, meeting the car that Lanier had arranged.  The car took them to the Inns of Court.  This had been the place where Newton’s carriage arrived when he came down from Cambridge to London.


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