Albert Einstein
is a scientific great whose legacy although highly
valued may be richer than we realize. The vision of the
universe he developed is sublime in its elegance and
beauty. In addition to his bold strides into new areas
of scientific knowledge he argued that adopting the
scientific worldview is a next step in mankind’s
spiritual evolution. His hope for his life’s work was
that it would provide a doorway for many into a
spiritual state he called the cosmic religious
experience.

Einstein truly
began his scientific career in 1905 while maintaining a
full time job as a clerk in the patent office. His work
published in that year has been described as a period
unparalleled for individual scientific accomplishment
except possibly that period during 1665 and 1666 when
Newton made his discoveries in calculus, gravitation and
optics. 1905 was at the birth of the ‘New Physics’ and
Einstein soon became its leading light. The new physics
began with some well known experimental evidence that
didn't fit classical theory. Plank used the quantum idea
to describe some rogue phenomena. Lorentz developed the
basic equations of Special Relativity without any idea
its effects might extend beyond some particular
phenomena.

Einstein
described the full framework of Special Relativity, and
then used the quantum idea to show light is a phenomena
sometimes acting like a wave and sometimes like a
particle. DeBroglie showed that matter also displayed
quantum characteristics. Then it got exciting.
Schrödinger and Heisenberg developed the equations of
quantum mechanics. Bohr began to expound an extremely
weird interpretation of quantum theory. Dirac developed
the full relativistic equations and Feynman and others
produced the ultimate theory: Quantum Electro-Dynamics.
This theory rules, nothing has ever been so accurate in
prediction, no contradictory evidence has ever been
found; all of its prediction that can be confirmed have
been confirmed.

In the early
stages of the first half of the century, Einstein
revealed General Relativity. Never was there a vision of
physical reality so elegant, so complete. It too was
confirmed as true on all tests. It spoke true to us; it
resonated with the human mind. It describes an
understandable, deterministic universe, it all makes
sense.

On the other
hand the quantum guys were saying things like ‘quantum
theory is so weird that if you think you understand it,
you don’t’. We’re talking about an explanation here
because science is explanation. An explanation so weird
that if you think you understand it you don’t? What kind
of an explanation is that? And yet the theory works, to
as many decimal places as measurement has been capable.
Einstein could not accept weird scientific explanations
as complete. To him science was enlightenment not
bewilderment as to the meaning of reality.

Einstein mixed
it up with the quantum guys, especially Bohr. Einstein
got off some great lines like ‘I don’t believe God plays
dice with the universe’, but in the end it looked like
he lost. He drew a line in the sand, he said that if
quantum theory were completely true than it would imply
something impossible. In science this is an air tight
argument that would prove quantum theory not completely
true. The only problem with Einstein's argument was that
what he claimed was impossible had never been
experimentally tested. The technology didn’t exist to
perform the test. Einstein stated 'The real factual
situation of the system S_{2 }is independent of
what is done with the system S_{1} which is
spatially separated from the former'. Spatially
separated means that the two systems are so far apart
that information could only flow between the systems in
the time allowed if the information traveled faster than
the speed of light. Everyone, including Bohr and
Einstein, understood quantum theory to predict that this
faster than light transfer of information would occur
under some circumstances. Einstein's awesome physical
intuition told him this was impossible.

The problem
became known as the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox or
Bell's theorem after being transformed by others into a
form that could be tested when the necessary technology
was developed. Basically it looks at a pair of quantum
entangled particles. Quantum theory predicts that if
they are separated a great distance without their
entanglement being disturbed and then one is measured,
information could be gained of the state of the distant
particle and this would imply that information would
have traveled between the particles at a speed greater
that that of light. The traveling of information faster
than the speed of light was the impossible thing to
which Einstein referred. And then the technology came
along that would allow the test, Aspect conducted the
experiment and it looked like Einstein was wrong.

The experiment
was done long after Einstein death in 1955. He spent his
last 30 years trying to extend General Relativity to
include some of the forces successfully described by
quantum theory and he couldn’t. He couldn’t bring
quantum phenomena into the realm of his beautiful
theory. Nobody else could either. He grew estranged from
the larger scientific community which seemed content
filling in details of quantum weirdness. By the time of
his death very few researchers were active in relativity
or in Einstein’s project of unification. Einstein was
very much on the sidelines and considered by many as
simply wrong about the important issues facing science.

Almost all of
this activity took place in the first half of the
century. The second half slowed a lot at least
conceptually. We had two worlds that couldn’t be
reconciled. Einstein’s beautiful picture of gravitation
shows things moving naturally in straight lines. Things
follow their local path in space-time. It is space-time
that twists and turns and space-time that is responsible
for the twists and turns of all things moving in it. And
there is symmetry, space-time in turn twists and turns
due to the existence and distribution of everything that
has mass or energy. As John Wheeler said ‘Spacetime
tells mass how to move and mass tells spacetime how to
bend.’

General
Relativity is very geometrical and elegant, unlike the
quantum explanation. The most widely accepted
explanation of quantum phenomena was first articulated
by Bohr. It is most succinctly understood as the
implications of a number of axioms:

1) For every physical system
there is a corresponding mathematical object called a
state vector that has no physical embodiment. This state
vector is the most complete source of information that
exists concerning the physical system.

2) The outcome of any
measurement on a physical system can be predicted from
performing a specific mathematical operation on its
state vector.

3) The outcome of any
measurement process on a physical system can only be
predicted as a probability for obtaining that result.

4) Once a measurement is made
the state vector assumes a state such that the same
measurement immediately applied to this state has 100%
probability of achieving the previous measured result.

5) The state vector evolves in
time according to a continuous, deterministic formula
except when a measurement occurs and then it jumps to
the state described in 4) above.

This is all
about mathematical manipulation of mathematical objects.
It is not a vision of physical reality; in fact the
first axiom explicitly states that the mathematical
objects of the theory have no physical embodiment.

During much of
the last half of the twentieth century there was little
progress made on uniting the Quantum and General
Relativistic world views. Quantum field theory was
extended to include the two other atomic forces and
General Relativity languished. This was only to be
expected as the quantum world, though not
comprehensible, was very productive. Atomic power,
micro-electronics, lasers and most other high tech
objects are best described within the framework of
quantum electrodynamics. All measurements are made via
photons; the particles carrying electromagnetic force.
The graviton, the particle that carries the
gravitational force has not yet even been experimentally
detected.

Despite being
the main outstanding physical problem for fifty years,
little progress had been made uniting quantum and
general relativity theory until recently. String theory
has at times appeared promising but is still far short
of a complete theory. Loop Quantum Gravity although it
has attracted a much smaller group of researchers,
may be closer. In fact, in his paper Quantum Gravity
with a Positive Cosmological Constant, Lee Smolin
presents the first ‘candidate for the theory of quantum
spacetime.’[i]
Smolin is widely regarded as at the forefront of
efforts to solve this most important problem and yet in
the almost two years since his paper there seems to be
very little comment or excitement.

This has not
slowed him and others from continuing to fill in the
details. They postulate that there is a reality more
fundamental than the one containing space, time and
physical processes. This reality is not currently
accessible to experimentation as its phenomena exist at
a scale too small and at energies too high to be invoked
in an experimental setting. Instead the exploration has
been mathematical and has outlined how space and time
can arise from simpler structures.

Essentially Loop
Quantum Gravity researchers have shown how spacetime can
be considered an emergent property of a graph composed
of nodes and edges. This graph is more fundamental than
spacetime and in effects constructs spacetime. Smolin
and Markopoulou have demonstrate how the nodes of the
graph may correspond to events involving mass/energy and
the edges of the graph correspond to spacetime. With
some simple assumptions about the relationship of the
nodes (mass/energy) to the edges (spacetime) they
demonstrate that the fundamental equations of both
Quantum theory and General Relativity emerge.[ii]
Of particular interest, the assumption leading to
quantum theory is of some kind of an uncertainty in the
relation between nodes and edges. This could perhaps be
a basic uncertainty in the nodes position or it might
reflect the fact that nodes are subjected to thermal
vibrations. Regardless of the source of this
uncertainty, the basic equations of quantum theory can
be derived assuming only that an uncertainty is present.
Some weirdness is thus implied at the most fundamental
level of quantum theory; innate uncertainty is at the
basis of quantum phenomena. It helps explain why quantum
phenomena might best be treated with a mathematical
interpretation rather than a physical one.

The results of
Loop Quantum Gravity suggest that the simple system of a
fundamental graph, along with some simple assumptions
concerning the components of this graph implies both
Quantum Theory and General Relativity. Results such as
these, detailing the unity of quantum and relativity
theory within Loop Quantum Gravity are constantly
advancing this area of research.

An interesting
open question is ‘What physical interpretation should be
applied to the fundamental graph?’. A number of ideas
have been put forward. My favourite is that the graph
represents a Causal History. In this scheme nodes
represent events and edges represent the causal
mechanism whereby one event causes another. Markopoulou
and others have shown how a graph of causal events can
generate many properties of Loop Quantum Gravity.[iii]

A cool thing
about this interpretation is its implication that at the
most fundamental level physical reality is a network of
caused events. Caused events are more fundamental than
spacetime or any form of matter. In fact spacetime,
matter and all other physical processes are constructed
from this network of caused events. There are no
un-caused or illogical events. This may provide some
insight into why rationality has been so powerful as a
way of knowing compared to other forms of knowledge that
place less emphasis on the nature of cause and effect.

The coolest
thing is that after seventy five years of neglect and
ridicule Einstein’s views are back in vogue and may yet
triumph. Quantum physics may be understandable. David
Deutsch, the founder of Quantum Computation, has
analyzed the information flow involved in Aspect's
experiment and concludes:

*
‘Subsequent developments such as
Bell's theorem and Aspect's experiment which are prima
facie refutations of Einstein's conclusions have
therefore been taken as vindication of Bohr's. In fact,
both conclusions are mistaken, having been drawn from
the same false premise; as we shall show in this paper,
quantum physics is entirely consistent with Einstein's
criterion.***[iv]**

David Deutsch
has also undertaken another branch of research
suggesting that the weird probabilistic nature of
quantum mechanic is merely a misinterpretation. He has
shown how axiom 3 above can be derived using only
non-probabilistic decision theory and the other 4 axioms
underlying quantum mechanics.[v]^{,[vi]}
This line of research suggests that the appearance of
quantum theory as probabilistic in nature is entirely
due to a lack of information available to us on quantum
systems and that it is in fact a deterministic theory
much in the spirit of Einstein.

Einstein’s cause
has very recently been resurrected by the Bayesian
Quantum school which has burst on the scene with a
series of papers interpreting Quantum Theory as a theory
about knowledge:

*
There are excellent reasons for
interpreting quantum states
as states of knowledge. A classic argument goes back to
Einstein [1]. Take two spatially separated systems A and
B prepared in some entangled
quantum state |ψ*^{AB}. By performing the
measurement of one or another of two observables on
system A alone, one can immediately write down a new
state for system B—either a state

*
drawn from a set {|φ*^{B}_{i}}
or a set {|η^{B}_{i}}, depending upon
which observable is measured. Since this holds no matter
how far apart the two systems are, Einstein concluded
that quantum states cannot
be “real states of affairs.” For whatever the real,
objective state of affairs at B is, it should not depend
upon the measurements made at A. If one accepts this
conclusion, one is forced to admit that the new state
(either a {|φ^{B}_{i }or a {|η^{B}_{i})
represents partial knowledge about system B. In making a
measurement on A, one learns something about B; the
state itself cannot be construed to be more than a
reflection of the new knowledge.

*
*

*
We accept the conclusion of
Einstein’s argument and start from the premise that “quantum
states are states of knowledge.” An immediate
consequence of this premise is that all the
probabilities derived from a
quantum state, even a pure
quantum state, depend on a state of knowledge;
they are subjective or Bayesian
probabilities. We outline in this paper a general
framework for interpreting all
quantum probabilities as subjective.***[vii]**

Closely aligned
with the Bayesian Quantum researchers are the Quantum
Information group who has also recently made rapid
progress and who also take inspiration from Einstein:

*
The significance of the CBH theorem
is that we can now see quantum mechanics as a principal
theory, where the principles are information-theoretic
constraints. A relativistic theory is a theory
characterized by certain symmetry or invariance
properties, defined in terms of a group of space-time
transformations. Following Einstein’s formulation of
special relativity as a principle theory, we understand
this invariance to be a consequence of the fact that we
live in a world in which natural processes are subject
to certain constraints. (Recall Einstein’s
characterization of the special principle of relativity
as ‘a restricting principle for natural laws, comparable
to the restricting principle of the non-existence of
perpetual motion machines which underlies
thermodynamics’)***[viii]**

Some of the
weirdness inherent in quantum theory perceived by most
researchers, including Bohr and Einstein, may be
mistaken. The new, more powerful analytic tools
developed by Deutsch and others seem to indicate that
quantum theory is not so weird after all, that it is
compatible with Einstein's beautiful, comprehensible
universe.

Of our two
fundamental physical theories, quantum field theory and
general relativity, Einstein was a major contributing
founder to one and the sole founder of the other. He may
have possessed the greatest physical insight of all
time. But this was not the only extent of his genius.

His legacy also
includes his spiritual insights. Einstein considered the
great religions as primitive spiritual realms and
believed that in the future our spiritual home would be
the cosmic arena:

*
But there is a third stage of
religious experience which belongs to all of them, even
though it is rarely found in a pure form: I shall call
it cosmic religious feeling. It is very difficult to
elucidate this feeling to anyone who is entirely without
it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception
of God corresponding to it*.

Einstein clearly
saw our ‘one time only’ concerns as a prison from which
science can help free us. He exhorts us to widen our
spiritual framework and experience the cosmic religious
experience:

*
‘A human being is a part of a whole,
called by us universe, a part limited in time and space.
He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as
something separated from the rest...a kind of optical
delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind
of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires
and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our
task must be to free ourselves from this prison by
widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living
creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.’***[ix]**

Einstein
recognized that this spiritual realm is accessible to a
limited number of people, people he described as ‘*individuals
of exceptional endowments and exceptionally high-minded
communities*’**[x]**.
He saw that many of these enlightened individuals were
engaged as seekers of truth through scientific research:

*
Only one who has devoted his life to
similar ends (scientific research) can have a vivid
realization of what has inspired these men and given
them the strength to remain true to their purpose in
spite of countless failures. It is the cosmic religious
feeling that gives a man such strength. *

He trusted that
not only scientist but a wide range of people could
access this spiritual kingdom. He believed science can
provide a doorway for many:

*
‘In my view, it is the most
important function of … science to awaken this feeling
and to keep it alive in those who are receptive to it.’
***
[xi]**

*
*

Let’s be clear.
Albert Einstein, arguably the greatest scientist of all
time, saw this function of science, its ability to
awaken and keep alive the cosmic religious experience,
as the most important function of science.

Very few people
are aware of this aspect of Einstein's genius and we
might ask why this is so. Why isn’t there a thriving
sect of devotees committed to attaining spiritual
enlightenment through the understanding of science?
Einstein claimed this community exists: the scientific
community. He saw the cosmic religious experience as the
common motivator of the scientific quest, but he also
held out hope for those who are not scientists. Why have
we not responded?

One obvious
reason is that science, especially at the time Einstein
wrote, can be very difficult for the non-professional to
understand. When I was a boy it was widely rumoured that
only a dozen people in the world could understood
general relativity.

The good news is
that today accessibility to science is easier. When
Einstein wrote, Darwin’s theory was arguably the
scientific theory best understood by the general public
but it was still undeveloped and parts were unclear.
Since then many more details have been discovered, DNA
has been identified as the evolutionary replicator and
many of the great evolutionary theorists have written
books for the general public. Darwin’s ideas have been
extended to provide viable theories concerning the
creation of design in the cosmos and in culture.
Universal Darwinism opens a unified and easily
understood doorway to science. It integrates science
into a complete picture and provides a comprehensive
context for scientific knowledge. Universal Darwinism
also provides an explanation for all design found in the
universe and provides answers to the ‘big questions’. It
was Einstein’s hope that the doorway of science would
bestow access to an enlightened realm for many.

[ix]
Einstein Albert. (1930). *What I Believe*

[x]
Einstein Albert, (November 9, 1930), *
Science and Religion*, New York Times
Magazine

[xi]
Einstein Albert, (November 9, 1930), *
Science and Religion*, New York Times
Magazine