Satan as the Messiah of Nature?

THOMAS J. J. ALTIZER
 

IF THEOLOGY IS TRULY TO UNDERGO A RADICAL TURN OR TURNING in our time, then not the least of its tasks will be a new encounter with the theological meaning of space, and with that meaning or those meanings of space that have dominated the modern consciousness. Even at this late date theology has yet to enter a genuine dialogue with modern sci-ence, a dialogue in which the scientific revolution of the modern world is accepted and affirmed, and accepted not as an exploration of a domain isolated from faith, but rather accepted as the unveiling of a world that is either inseparable from or identical with the world of faith. Recogniz-ing the profound challenge to faith of the comprehensive mechanism of classical physics, many theologians hailed the advent of the twentieth-century revolutions in physics, but in doing so they commonly ignored the scientific testimony to the effect that there is a genuine continuity between classical and contemporary physics. Having yet to master the positive theological significance of the scientific revolution of the sev-enteenth century, it would seem audacious for theology to claim that it can absorb the revolutions of relativity and quantum physics, and most particularly so since those revolutions continue to be isolated in con-temporary thinking from the other revolutions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Our theological understanding here is just as frag-mentary and problematic as it is in other areas, indeed, far more so, for here we cannot speak of a theological understanding that as such has entered a purely scientifically comprehended time and space.
Obviously the time has not yet arrived for a genuine dialogue be-tween science and theology. Nevertheless, the moment may be propi-tious for theological questions that arise on the basis of a theological ac-ceptance of the reality of the. world or. worlds of modern science. Here, we may not yet hope for critical or sophisticated theological questions, or even for questions that can be translated into a scientific language, for the worlds of science and theology remain divorced. But at the very least theologians can foreswear all attempts to an impotent rape of sci-ence, just as they can renounce all imperialistic claims that science is a consequence of what they know as faith. So far as I know there are no longer any major scientists who accept such claims, or even find them to be meaningful, and the claims themselves do little more than per-petuate the illusion that there is no chasm between science and faith. Voices that attempt to cross this chasm may do no more than meet with a vanishing echo of themselves, but nonetheless the very attempt itself may preserve the power of speech. But first we must seek some sense of a theological meaning of the chasm itself, Alexander Koyre, perhaps the
most authoritative master of the intellectual significance of the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, has characterized this revolution by two closely connected and complementary features: (I) the destruc-tion of the classical idea of the cosmos, and (2) the geometrization of space. As he says, this characterization is very nearly equivalent to the mathematization (geometricization) of nature and therefore the mathematization (geometricization) of science.

The disappearance - or destruction - of the cosmos means that the world of science, the real world is no more seen, or conceived, as a finite and hierarchically ordered, therefore qualitatively and ontologically differentiated, whole, but as an open, indefinite, and even infinite universe, united not by its immanent structure but only by the identity of its fundamental contents and laws; a uni-verse in which, in contradistinction to the traditional conception with its separation and opposition of the two worlds of becoming and being, that is, of the heavens and the earth, all its components appear as placed on the same ontological level; a universe in which the physica coelestis and physica terrestris are identified and uni-fied, in which astronomy and physics become interdependent and united because of their common subjection to geometry.1

The geometrization of space necessarily implies its infinitization; ac-cordingly, the destruction of the cosmos can be characterized either as "the breaking of the circle" (Marjorie Nicolson) or "the bursting of the
sphere" (Koyre). And the inevitable effect of this fundamental nega-tion was the disappearance of all formal and final causes as modes of explanation in the new science.
As Nietzsche so forcefully declared, ever since Copernicus we have been falling into a mysterious X, an X testifying to the total estrange-ment of the worlds of objectivity and subjectivity. we cannot escape this X, as so many theologians have imagined, by following the turn of Heidegger in 1929, and maintaining that science does not seek the truth in itself, and therefore no matter where and however deeply science investigates what-is, it will never find Being ("Postscript" to What is Metaphysics?). Let Christian thinkers resist the temptation of believing that science touches neither God nor Being, unless they are prepared to isolate totally faith from the world. Should not theologians far rather follow Pascal and be terrified by the eternal silence of infinite spaces? For, at least, a reaction of terror is an ultimate response, one taking with total seriousness a new space in which it is no longer possible to speak. Ironically enough, Newton, that profoundly Christian believer, whose own physics conceived the world as composed of the three elements of matter, motion, and space, identified space as the eternal realm of God's presence and action. Yet Newton created an idea of space that Pascal could not have known, and Newtonian space is an infinite and homo-geneous void in which matter or particles move. Moreover, as Koyre insists, Newton's introduction of the void into physics was a stroke of genius and a step of decisive importance: "It is this step that enables Newton to oppose and unite at the same time - and to do it really, and not seemingly, like Descartes - the discontinuity of matter and the continuity of space."2 The full reality and the ultimate meaning of mat-ter is here made possible by an infinite and homogeneous void; and this void not only seals the dissolution of the heavens of the classical Christian cosmos, but that very dissolution itself makes manifest the mathematical order of the universe.
From the perspective of the twentieth century, what is most distinc-tive about seventeenth century physics is that it could know a world that is at once mathematically or geometrically ordered and physically visu-alizable or intuitively coherent. If it geometricized nature and science, this was nevertheless a visualizable geometry, and it made possible a unification of the universe that it apprehended. That unity of the uni-verse was lost in the scientific revolutions of the twentieth century, and ironically it was lost by more nearly pure and radical modes of mathe-matical thinking. Perhaps Pascal saw beyond Newton in being terrified by the eternal silence of infinite spaces, for twentieth-century physic has not only dissolved an absolute space and time, but it has thereby lost a homogeneous, a unified, and an integrably coherent world or universe. Indeed, it is precisely a universe that has disappeared from view for no way has yet appeared of integrating, without mathematical in. consistencies, the quantum theory with the special theory of relativity The revolution of quantum physics is to this day philosophically, as opposed to mathematically, unabsorbed; it might even be said to be terra incognita to a non-mathematical thinking. Nevertheless, we have somc sense of the problems that it poses. Werner Heisenberg, in his Chicago lectures of 1929, described the indeterminacy principle. which he had discovered in 1925, as follows:

There exists a body of exact mathematical laws, but these cannot be interpreted as expressing simple relationships between objects existing in space and time. The observable predictions of this theory can be approximately described in such terms, but not uniquely -the wave and the corpuscular pictures both possess the same ap-proximate validity This indeterminateness of the picture of the process is a direct result of the indeterminateness of the concept of "observation" - it is not possible to decide, other than arbitrarily, what objects are to be considered as part of the observed system and what is part of the observer's apparatus. 3

Experimental evidence has shown that both matter and radiation po-sess a paradoxical duality of character, for sometimes they exhibit the properties of waves, at other times those of particles. Indeed, micro-cosmic phenomena can no longer be described coherently in a non-mathematical language, for the whole domain of atomic and sub-atomic processes can no longer be visualized by a physical schema, but only by the mathematical schema of quantum mechanics.
Following Niels Bohr's concept of complementarity, Heisenberg was led to believe that the resolution of the paradoxes of atomic physics can be accomplished only by recognizing that space-time relations and causal relations can no longer be coherently conjoined: "They represent complementary and mutually exclusive aspects of atomic phenomena."4 This interpretation of quantum theory is incisively illustrated by the following diagramatic form from Bohr:5

CLASSICAL THEORY
CAUSAL RELATIONSHIPS OF PHENOMENA
DESCRIBED IN TERMS OF SPACE AND TIME

QUANTUM THEORY

                                                          Or
          Either                                     Causal relationship expressed
Phenomena described in           Alternatives       by mathematical laws
terms of space and time               related              But
 But                                statistically         Physical description of
Uncertainty principle                                             phenomena in space-time
                                                                                           impossible
 
 
 

Forty years later the Danish philosopher of quantum physics, Aage Pe-tersen, could declare that we are still unable to state clearly the difference between classical and quantum physics and to judge the significance of the distinction between the "physical" and the "symbolic."6 Neverthe-less, the distinction is real, so real that theories in physics may now be completely unvisualizable and inaccessible to intuitive understanding. As Petersen says:

Unlike the account of classical physical process, the analysis of a quantum phenomenon treats instrument and system behavior in essentially different ways. The experimental setup and the charac-teristics of the object are described by means of ordinary physical concepts; the "behavior" of the object when the object is placed in the given experimental situation is described by means of the quantal formalism. Since the phenomenon's interior is not repre-sentable as a sequence of well-defined physical steps, the quantum algorithm is a logical procedure that is not open to physical de-scription. In a classical physical process each infinitesimal step is "closed," i.e. it is a definite physical event. The event may be unknown, but it is decided or well defined. In quantum physics the object's "behavior" is not a sequence of "closed" steps. In the quantum domain the observations are still described in ordinary physical terms but they are linked together by a symbolic or phys-ically inscrutable algorithm.7

Here the very word "symbolic" bears the meaning of physically indescribable and inscrutable , as quantum mechanics has evolved a mathematical formalism existing at a seemingly infinite distance from the ordinary world of common experience.
The correspondence idea of the Copenhagen school of quantum physics was fundamentally directed to the problem of the relation be-tween quantum and classical  physics    Bohr became persuaded that there is an intimate formal analogy between the classical and the quantum scheme, and his correspondence principle was intended to utilize in the development of quantum theory every feature of the classical theories in a rational transcription appropriate to the fundamental contrast between the quantum postulates and the classical theories. Mathematically, the idea of correspondence suggested that the quantal formalism ought to emerge as a generalization of classical mechanism. As Bohr declared,
"quantum physics is in every respect a generalization of the classical physical theories."8 Bohr even believed that the language of Newton and Maxwell will remain the language of physicists for all time, just as   I he believed that '4common sense" judges the correct usage of words. Ac-cordingly, no scientific revolution of conceptual frameworks is possible.

Initially, Heisenberg accepted Bohr's idea of correspondence or complementarity, but he was gradually led to break with this idea. Patrick A. Heelan, in his recent study of the quantum mechanics of Heisenberg, asserts that the Gifford lectures of 1955-56 marked a turning point in Heisenberg's philosophy directing it to a more rational interpretation of complementarity.9 . Here, Heisenberg identifies a traditional metaphysical or dogmatic realism as the deepest obstacle to a new scientific break-through, a realism arising from the Cartesian partition between res cogitans and res extensa.
Heisenberg notes that the Cartesian partition between subject and object or mind and body was extremely successful for several centuries. Classical mechanics started from the assumption that one can describe the world without speaking about God or ourselves; but with the ad-vent of quantum mechanics the observed no longer appears or is real apart from the instruments and framework of the observer. And here there appears to be an essential union between the observer and the observed.

It has been pointed out before that in the Copenhagen interpreta-tion of quantum theory we can indeed proceed without mentioning ourselves as individuals, but we cannot disregard the fact that nat-ural science is formed by men. Natural science does not simply describe and explain nature; it is a part of the interplay between nature and ourselves. This was a possibility of which Descartes could not have thought, but it makes the sharp distinction between the world and the I impossible.10

Significantly enough, Heisenberg says nothing in his Gifford Lectures about the possible end of the sharp distinction between God and the world. Nonetheless, it is instructive to set the above words of Heisenberg beside the parallel although opposing words of Koyre:

Yet there is something for which Newton - or better to say not Newton alone, but modern science in general - can still be made responsible: it is the splitting of our world in two. I have been say-ing that modern science broke down the barriers that separated the heavens and the earth, and that it united and unified the universe. And that is true. But, as I have said, too, it did this by substituting for our world of quality and sense perception, the world in which we live, and love, and die, another world - the world of quantity, of reified geometry, a world in which, though there is a place for everything, there is no place for man. Thus the world of science -the real world - became estranged and utterly divorced from the world of life, which science has been unable to explain - not even to explain by calling it "subjective."''

Upon reflection, one realizes that there is no necessary difference be-tween these statements of Heisenberg and Koyre'. For what is the "I" of which Heisenberg speaks'? Is it not quite simply the "I" as purely empir-ical observer or purely mathematical thinker? The most striking thing about Heisenberg's oft-quoted statement is that it so spontaneously and innocently assumes that the totally quantitative "I" is identical with the "individual"!
Heelan is persuaded that Heisenberg realized, or is realizing, his original goal of giving an objective and ontological account of nature or physical reality by his adoption of the Aristotelian notion of poten-tia, which he proposed in his Gifford lectures to describe the kind of reality represented in quantum mechanics by the wave function. This significant shift is clearly presented by Heelan as follows:

Antecedently to observation, a quantum mechanical system is de-scribed by a wave function. What is the ontological status of that which a wave function purports to describe? In the complementarity interpretation, the wave function was just one of the math-ematical tools used by quantum mechanics: it was a mere mental construct and not part of a description of nature. This was the view which Bohr held and which Heisenberg agreed to in 1927. But in his Gifford lectures of 1955-56, Heisenberg adopted for it the Aris-totelian term "potency" or potentia or "Potentialitat," a trans-lation of Aristotle's dynamis. He also used as synonyms, "Possi-bility" ("Moglichkeit"), "objective tendency" ("objektiv Tendenz', and "probability" ("Wahrscheinlichkeit'). A potency, in Aristotle's philosophy, is a metaphysical principle of being ordained to its corresponding act. It is either a passive desire for its act (a pas-sive potency). or a power to perform its act (an active potency). In either case it gets its meaning and definition from the goal it envisages, a goal passively envisaged for the passive potency and actively envisaged for the active potency. Potency then is denomi-nated (gets its definition) from act and not act from potency. Both forms of potency achieve their completion and fulfillment with the actualization of their act.12

Are we to imagine, then, that Heisenberg is effecting a revolutionary con-ceptual breakthrough in physics by resurrecting the classical cosmos? Is the wave-function as "reality-in-potency " a round of a new teleological universe? Does the quantum mechanical wave function represent the 'form" (in Aristotle's sense) of some fundamental matter or substance, which Heisenberg names as energy?
Heelan is careful to point out that here the wave function represents a qualified kind of reality that is not reality-in-actuality, but reality-in-potency; or, in Aristotelian philosophy, it is a metaphysical principle of being, like a substantial or accidental form constituted by its natural tendency towards its proper act or goal. Yet, the quantum mechanical potency is not fully specified with regard to its goal. Part of the specifi-cation of its goal comes from the observer; and given a fixed observer, it is specified only to a set of possible goals, and only to a schedule of probabilities for the actualization of these goals. One wonders if in an Aristotelian or classical sense it can have any goal or end at all. One also wonders if an Aristotelian language can be renewed in modem physics because modem science has long since brought classical metaphysics to an end, and if an Aristotelian language can function without any Aristotelian metaphysical overtones. Heisenberg himself affirms that the goal of physics is to reach a complete understanding of the unity
of matter "The term 'complete understanding' would mean that the forms of matter in the sense of Aristotelian philosophy would appear as results, as solutions of a closed mathematical scheme representing the natural laws for matter."'3 How ironic that Aristotelian forms could be conceived as results of a closed mathematical scheme, for Aristotle's own forms, unlike Plato's, could have no possible mathematical ground. Is not Heisenberg the conceptual thinker a pure example of the scientific thinker who is liberated even from the memory of the classical cosmos and the Christian God?
Perhaps the decisive difference, at least from a theological point of view between modern physics and classical physics is that modern phys-ics is liberated even from the shadow or the reflection of a teleological universe and its final cause or cosmological origin and end. It would be misleading to say that the classical Christian heaven is missing from modern physics and astronomy, or even to speak of an identification and unification of the pkysicq celelestis and the physic a terrestris, for all meaning of either an ontological or a religious transcendence has simply vanished without leaving a trace. Who, in our day, can even shudder in the presence of a scientifically comprehended time and space? So far from failing to give signs of a transcendent ground or sources, the space that is manifest upon our horizon is a space-time continuum, which while it may be finite is also unbounded; and thereby all sense of a beyond is simply dissolved. There is no up or down" in our space, and while there would appear to be a chasm between the macro cosmic and the microcosmic domains, this is a chasm created by their respective theoretical foundations (relativity theory and quantum the-ory), which have yet to be integrated by the discovery of a unified field theory. The ~i6us may rejoice in response to Einstein's declaration that the cosmic religious experience is the strongest and noblest mainspring of scientific research; but Einstein identified the center of true religious-ness as the knowledge or feeling that what is impenetrable to us really exists. Who could imagine a Christian Newton in the twentieth century? .
Einstein, who for many years questioned and opposed quantum me-chanics with all his power, finally acknowledged the beauty and the va-lidity of quantum theory. But he continued until his death to insist that it could not be the last word. For him the wave function could   provide only a description of   ensembles and not of the "real state" of an indi-vidual system. As he declared    in a famous letter to Hedwig and Max Born:
 
Quantum mechanics is very impressive. But an inner voice tells me that this is not the real Jacob. The theory has much to offer, but it does not bring us closer to the secret of the Old One. I am convinced that He does not throw dice.'4

Can contemporary theologians join Einstein and believe that God does not throw dice? Or should they join Nietzsche and believe that God now seems incapable of communicating clearly? Nietzsche, who if nothing else is the supreme master of the meaning of religious cruelty, conceived of three primary rungs of a great ladder of religious cruelty. The first the sacrifice of human beings to one's God, and the second is the sacrifice to one's deity of one's strongest instincts, one's "natural man.

And finally - what remains that could be sacrificed? Don't we in the end have to sacrifice everything consolatory, holy, and heal-ing: all hope, all belief in invisible harmony, in future blessedness and justice? Don't we have to sacrifice God himself and idolize a rock, the forces of stupidity, of gravity, fate, nothingness - all in order to be sufficiently cruel to ourselves? To sacrifice God for nothingness - this is the paradoxical mystery of ultimate cruelty that remained in store for the generation now growing up. All of us know something about it already.15

While theologians may be impelled to a quest for a "non-objective" or transcendental theology that effects an absolute boundary between faith's knowledge of God and human knowledge of the world, they should recognize that modern science has already sacrificed the God of faith to make manifest the full meaning and reality of the world. From the perspective of faith, that meaning may well be the idolization of gravity, fate, and nothingness, but it is such "idolization" that has un-locked the deepest secrets of nature thus far, and so much so, that any effort now to integrate or even associate the God of faith with the world e know can only appear as a hopelessly anachronistic act. Unless, perhaps, faith limits itself to the God who has sacrificed Himself, the God who has wholly disappeared from out space-time continuum, and can only appear in the language of those such as Einstein, Whitehead, and Teilhard, who are driven to resist the revolutionary consequences modern science. We may well respect and even venerate those scientists and thinkers who resist the revolutionary momentum of science the name of the clarity and coherence of an earlier worldview, but should not the theologian be open to the frontiers of thinking with the hope that the establishment of these frontiers may well make possible a new form and language of faith? Above all, should we not now finally recognize that it is no longer possible to speak of God in a classical theological language, or any form thereof, and this means that God can no longer be conceived as transcendent or immanent, either as "above" or below," in the "heights or in the "depths," and certainly not as a cosmic power or force of any sort, to say nothing of speaking of God as the cosmological origin or teleological end of the world?
If we no longer can speak of God in a classical theological language, can we truly speak of God in any language at all? In the visionary world of William Blake, deity, humanity, and nature are originally or eternally identical, and the primary symbolic names of this identity are "Jesus" and the "Imagination." Yet Imagination has all but been de-stroyed by "imitation of Nature's Images drawn from Remembrance" (Milton 41:24) as humankind now sleeps a sleep of eternal death. We see what we are, proclaims the seer; the forms of existence create the forms of perception. But a Fall.. from the original unity has inverted the original harmony of the senses, shattering their initial unity, so that the senses become isolated and estranged from one another, with the result that we actually perceive an alien "Goddess Nature." In the eternal cy-cle of the fallen cosmos, human beings perceive themselves and their world as mutually alien others, yet so likewise do they themselves ac-tually become an alien other; hence, the haunting refrain of Jerusalem; "they become what they beheld." However, this deepest darkness is an apocalyptic sign of the imminence of the coming Day:

Will you suffer this Satan, this Body of Doubt that Seems but is Not,
To occupy the very threshold of Eternal Life? If Bacon, Newton, Locke
Deny a Conscience in Man and the Communion of Saints and Angels,
Contemning the Divine Vision and Fruition, Worshipping the Deus
Of the Heathen, the God of this World, and the Goddess Nature,
Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Druid Dragon and hidden Harlot,
Is it not that Signal of the Morning which was told us in the Beginning? (Jerusalem 93:20-26)

Here, the full meaning of a fallen cosmos cannot become manifest until the cosmos has become most deeply alienated from humankind and can now truly appear as the apocalyptic "Mystery"
It is not insignificant that Blake chose Newton as a spiritual enemy, and that he imagined Satan in his Urizenic form as a geometrical rea-soner with Newton's compasses, for Blake saw Newton-Urizen as the creator of a purely autonomous nature, a nature eternally binding hu-man beings by wholly enclosing them within their solitary and isolated "Selihood." Already in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, one of Blake's proverbs of Hell states that "Where man is not, nature is barren." Na-ture is barren apart from humanity because nature does not and can-not exist apart from humanity; the idea of an autonomous nature ("the delusive Goddess Nature") is the product of a fallen humanity estranged from its own eternal being. Blake's clearest evocation of his vision of nature is present in the first book of Milton:

The nature of infinity is this: That every thing has its
Own Vortex, and when once a traveller thro' Eternity
Has pass'd that Vortex. he perceives it roll backward behind.
His path, into a globe itself unfolding like a sun,
Or like a moon, or like a universe of starry majesty,
While he keeps onwards in his wondrous journey on the earth,
Or like a human form, a friend with whom he lived benevolent.
As the eye of man views both the east and west encompassing
Its vortex, and the North & South with all their starry host,
Also the rising sun & setting moon he views surrounding
His corn-fields and his valleys of five hundred acres square,
Thus is the earth one infinite plane, and not as apparent
To the weak traveller confin'd beneath the moony shade.
Thus is the heaven a vortex passed already, and the earth
A vortex not yet pass'd by the traveller thro' Eternity.
(15:21-35)

What we know as natural objects are vortexes, reflections of the past movements of humankind. Likewise, nature itself is a reflection of the human "travelle?'; its form is always a response to a particular human state; hence the vast distances of the starry heavens give witness to the vast time separating us from our ancient and original form, just as the compelling immediacy of the earth arises from a particular and present human condition, a condition not yet "pass'd."
May we also affirm that the compelling immediacy of our space--time continuum arises from. a wholly alien human condition, a condi-tion in which interior subjects or individuals are wholly estranged from the space they can know and therefore a condition in which the ulti-mate ground of space is humanly unnameable? But Blake named that ground by employing an apocalyptic imagery to speak of "the God of this World" and "the Goddess Nature" as "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Druid Dragon and hidden Harlot." By naming our darkness, Blake gave it a human face, a face that progressively assumed the form of Satan in his visionary world. But in the climax of that world, on the penultimate plate of Jerusalem, Satan passes into his own contrary or opposite, Jerusalem or the cosmic and apocalyptic Christ. Such an apoc-alyptic transformation cannot occur so long as the full darkness and hu-man emptiness of an alien nature of space is resisted and refused, for the epiphany of Satan is the "signal. of the Morning." We see what we are, yes, and we become what we behold; but we will not pass that space which is our "Vortex" until we travel through its dark abyss. Is not every effort  to name or conceive a God of our space a refusal or resistance of its compelling immediacy, an evasion of a darkness that dissolves all pre-vious forms of speech, and therewith a refusal of a fullness or epiphany of the world itself' Our apocalyptic seers may name our space as Satan, and so name it because it is totally alien to everything that we can know or experience as an interior or within, but it is precisely the appearance of the manifestation of the total darkness of the world that is the desicive sign of the dawning or epiphany of Jerusalem. Therefore faith must know that darkness as light, as the "Signal of the Morning." Must not theology, too, be prepared to accept a space that dissolves every image of God as a new ground for the epiphany or actualization of Christ?
Satan as the Messiah of nature? Grossly absurd as such an image may appear in our existing theological language, it may not be so ab-surd from the perspective of contemporary physics. The laws of physics had always shown complete symmetry between the left and the right (mirror symmetry); and this symmetry can also be formulated in quan-tum mechanics as a conservation law called the conservation of parity, which is completely identical to the principle of right-left symmetry.'6 But, in the summer of 1956, T. D. Lee and C. N. Yang examined the then existing experimental foundation of this concept and came to the conclu-sion that, contrary to generally held belief, no experimental evidence of right-left symmetry actually existed for weak interactions, such as are, for example, responsible for radioactive phenomena- Soon thereafter Madame Wu's experiments demonstrated quite clearly that radioactive beta decay is accompanied by deviations from mirror symmetry. As Heisenberg noted: "It looked very much as if the weightless particles emitted during beta decay - the so-called neutrinos - existed in only one form, let us call it the left-band form, while antineutrinos occurred only in the right-hand form."17 Wolfgang Pauli had predicted the exis-tence of neutrinos twenty years earlier, and now he and Heisenberg, in response to the suspicion that minor symmetry is not a primary aspect of the fundamental laws of nature, embarked upon the construction of a unified field theory or a self-consistent relativistic quantum field the-ory. Perhaps the observed reduction in symmetry might be the result of a cosmic asymmetry. Pauli, who was a great mathematician and who had the reputation of having the most brilliantly critical mind in mod-ern physics, became persuaded that the concept of division or doubling might introduce new symmetries. On this basis he and Heisenberg de-veloped a field equation that promised to be the "golden key to the gate that had hitherto barred access to the world of elementary particles."'8
Contrary to his usual nature, Pauli became elated (Heisenberg reports that never before or after had he seen him so excited about physics), and shortly before Christmas in 1957 he declared in a letter to Heisenberg:
 

... Division and reduction of symmetry, this then the kernel of the brute! The former is an ancient attribute of the devil (they tell me that the original meaning of 'Zweifel" [doubt] was 'zweiteilung" [dichotomy]. A bishop in a play by Bernard Shaw says: "A fair play for the devil, please." So let him join us for Christmas. If only the two divine contenders - Christ and the devil - could notice that they had grown so much more symmetrical!19
 

A week after he wrote Heisenberg: "The cat is out of the bag, and has shown its claws: division and symmetry reduction. I have gone to meet it with my antisymmetry - I gave it fair play - whereupon it made its quietus."20 A few weeks later Pauli went to the United States for a three month's stay, and while there he presented the ideas that he and Heisenberg had developed to a New York audience of physicists that included Niels Bohr. Many of the physicists found fault with the new theory, and when the discussion was over, Bohr summed it up in terms of the lessons physicists had learned from quantum theory about common sense:

We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question which divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct. My own feeling is that it is not crazy enough.21

Whatever may have been Pauli's response to this reaction, he suddenly withdrew from the work with Heisenberg and died that year ofan illness whose advent coincided with his loss of faith in the unified field theory
that he and Heisenberg were attempting. No unified field theory has yet triumphed in physics, perhaps because none of the attempts have been crazy enough. May we not accept this as a parabolic lesson for theology?
 

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