By Professor Michael Pravica, Ph.D.
As a religious physicist, I have occasionally fielded questions from various people pertaining to my Faith and how I reconcile it with my understanding of physics. One point that is often brought up is the apparently "illogical" nature of the Holy Trinity, which is of utmost importance to Orthodox Christians: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. "How can three be one and yet be distinct at the same time?" I am often asked, and I never really had a good answer for that question.
Recently, however, I had an epiphany as I was thinking about the Holy Trinity from a physics perspective, which may aid in better appreciating Its' amazing significance. But to do so, I was forced to "think outside of the box (universe)" so to speak.
To begin with, we first must recognize that we live in four-dimensional spacetime (x,y,z,t). Within the confines of our universe, energy and matter (a form of potential energy) interact and move about, converting from one form to another over the past 13.5 billion years or so. Within the paradigm of physical laws, we also have the concept of wave-particle duality wherein every physical object (proton, photon, electron, neutrino, etc) can be viewed either as a particle or as a wave, quantum mechanically. Both views are just as valid despite the apparent paradox of something being a wave and particle at the same time. From this, the uncertainty principle derives which some have argued enables "free will." As I have suggested before [1-2], our universe is likely a four-dimensional "bubble" that is expanding into infinitely dimensional (or at least higher dimensional) "space." With these perspectives, we can consider the following possibility:
- God, the Father encompasses all that is outside of our universe (including other parallel universes and universes of different dimensions should they exist) as the Creator of these universes and as an infinitely-dimensional entity. This is similar to a painter such as Michelangelo existing outside of his painting or the designer/engineer of a car living outside of the car.
- Jesus Christ, the Son of God, represents God's representation within four-dimensional spacetime, i.e., our universe, as a human being (made up of particles - matter) who suffered as a human being and then was resurrected.
- The Holy Spirit represents God's representation within our universe as an all-encompassing/ubiquitous wave (pure energy) which is immune/invisible to the material world - i.e. the matter-based world - but which permeates it with ease. Time stops for waves that travel at the speed of light. As long as the universe exists, the Holy Spirit will continue to roam and spiritually warm our universe. God may no longer be with us in the flesh (at least for now) but is with us in spirit (if we want Him to be).
When we pray, the Holy Spirit "hears" us. When we love God, the Holy Spirit "resonates" with us and perhaps even inspires us. In other words, we interact with the Holy Spirit.
When we attend Church and take Holy Communion, we interact/couple with the body and blood of Christ (physical particles) in accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and look to follow Him as our Shepherd. Jesus is much easier for us to comprehend (and follow) than an infinitely dimensional and complex Creator (God the Father).
Together, all three of these entities represent God as a whole. Though we will not meet God the Father until after death, we are enlightened via the Son of God and the Holy Spirit, which existed and exist (respectively) in four-dimensional spacetime. Jesus, as the perfect human being, set the example for us to follow. Though God is likely infinitely complex (and therefore will always be incomprehensible to us), this may give us yet some more insight into the Creator of our world and possibly infinitely many more worlds.
I certainly am not pretending to "explain" God in this piece as I present an incomplete theory of sorts. Nevertheless, the more we learn about our physical universe and how it was put together, the closer we can come, I believe, to God.
The writer is an associate professor of physics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The opinions expressed in this article are solely his own.