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Saturday, March 22, 2014

M-theory and the defense of atheism and humanist ideas

So what does a physics theory have to do with politics? Maybe not much—but the argument between religion and/or idealism; and materialism and/or science, has always been an interest to Marxists.
In a nutshell M-theory is (Wikipedia):

“In theoretical physics, M-theory is an extension of string theory in which 11dimensions of spacetime are identified as 7 higher-dimensions plus the 4 common dimensions (11D st = 7 hd + 4D). Proponents believe that the 11-dimensional theory unites all five 10-dimensional string theories (10D st = 6 hd + 4D) and supersedes them. Though a full description of the theory is not known, the low-entropy dynamics are known to be supergravity interacting with 2- and 5-dimensional membranes.”

Karl Marx and his followers have written about Materialism and idealism for the last century and a half. For example this article by Paul D'Amato states:

“For the materialist, all of reality is based on matter, including the human brain which is itself a result of the organization of matter in a particular way. In this view, the abstract idea of "tree" was developed by humans from their experience of actual trees. "It is not consciousness that determines being," wrote Marx, putting it another way, "but social being that determines consciousness."
For the idealist, the mind--or the spirit, in the form of God--is the origin of all material things. The ancient Greek idealist philosopher Plato, for example, argued that the world and the things in it were determined by universal, logical categories. Therefore, every specific tree was a copy derived from the universal category "tree."

Mao Zedong (毛泽东) attached quite a bit of politics to the different physical outlooks on reality:

“The social origins of idealism and materialism lie in a social structure marked by class contradictions. The earliest appearance of idealism was the product of the ignorance and superstition of savage and primitive man. Then, with the development of the productive forces, and the ensuing development of scientific knowledge, it stands to reason that idealism should decline and be replaced by materialism. And yet, from ancient times to the present, idealism not only has not declined, but, on the contrary has developed and carried on a struggle for supremacy with materialism from which neither has emerged the victor. The reason lies in the division of society into classes. On the one hand, in its own interest, the oppressing class must develop and reinforce its idealist doctrines. On the other hand, the oppressed classes, likewise in their own interest, must develop and reinforce their materialist doctrines. Both idealism and materialism are weapons in the class struggle, and the struggle between idealism and materialism cannot disappear so long as classes continue to exist. Idealism, in the process of its historical development, represents the ideology of the exploiting classes and serves reactionary purposes. Materialism, on the other hand, is the world view of the revolutionary class; in a class society, it grows and develops in the midst of an incessant struggle against the reactionary philosophy of idealism. Consequently, the history of the struggle between idealism and materialism in philosophy reflects the struggle of interests between the reactionary class and the revolutionary class…. A given philosophical tendency is in the last analysis a manifestation in a particular guise of the policy of the social class to which the philosophers belong.”

But most of us, as modern Marxists, prefer to focus on politics and overlook people’s religious views. Religion has a lot of cultural roots and many people just prefer it to the materialist outlook. The act of liberating people from the capitalist monsters that reign over them seems possible regardless of religious views.
In US society it seems more important to push for religious tolerance for all, regardless of what individuals believe. When the first amendment is respected and people’s personal religious beliefs are kept out of politics, society can function well. In the US we still struggle to defend minority religious views so the struggle is not to outlaw or get rid of religion as an influence, but to protect minority views, be them materialistic or minority views, such as Muslims. There are people who believe that capitalism and Christianity can’t be separated and that communism and atheism can’t be separated. This attitude grew out of the cold war and raises its ugly head today when they bring back the pledge of allegiance to public schools. They always insist on the 1954 version which contains “in God we trust” as opposed to the original 1892 version.
As revolutionaries we realize we can’t fight against both Christianity and capitalism, so we attack capitalism, which is not compatible with a modern and just society. Christianity is compatible with a revolutionary society if the separation of church and state are kept and respected by all or most citizens.
So most revolutionaries in the US are more likely to agree that separation of church and state is more important than actually fighting religion. Other societies in Europe and the Middle-east, throughout this last century, have no tradition of separation of Church and state, so people there have had to endure the equivalent of fascist governments ruled by religious hierarchies.
Even though we must argue for separation of church and state, we are forced to defend materialist views from fundamentalist Christians and their world outlook.
They claim that we are “afraid of reality,” we are ‘pessimistic and promote a hopeless state of condition.’ Since we don’t believe in God, “we believe in nothing.” Typical of this kind of rational were some comments made by Creation Museum President Ken Ham, who responded to an atheist billboard last Christmas:

“I mean, what’s the atheists’ message? There is no God? When you die that’s the end of you? So everything’s just meaningless and hopelessness?”

It is probably very difficult for some of those who have never looked at humanist or Marxist views of religion (beyond their church’s propaganda) to really understand a world outlook based on humanity rather than God.
So where does M-theory come in? The first thing a Christian (or anyone who follows a God based religion) will ask is “If god did not create the world, where did it come from?” To this day, there really has not been an agreed upon answer. But some of us believe the universe we live in and all such universes really have no beginning.
Some early materialists, such as Epicurus (Έπίκουρος) and Titus Lucretius Carus wrote that the universe had endless worlds with people in them. They denied the existence of immortal spiritual beings. They wrote that atoms (along with material things that are part of the physical world) were immortal and their existence had no beginning or end.

So finally the science of string theory and M-theory have come up with an explanation on where the universe may have come from and points to a system were there may not be a beginning to the material world around us and there may not be an end to it either. If M-theory is right there are countless universes. They are born with some kind of big bang and then die out. Their matter eventually gets recycled into other universes which are born over and over throughout history and then they die. Material—atoms, light waves, gravity and all things known to us are probably eternal. Rather than God being eternal with no beginning or end, the materials of our universe are eternal.
Although M-theory is very complicated, the following program, The Elegant Universe - The 'M' Theory, boils the idea down to a little less than an hour, so that anyone can understand the basics of this theory:

-សតិវ អតុ

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