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“God at the Speed of Light” – by T. Lee Baumann

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What if God and light are the same? That’s the intriguing question raised by Alabama doctor T. Lee Baumann, in his book published last year by the Association for Research and Enlightenment.

Barbara Hall, creator of the hit CBS television series “Joan of Arcadia,” said she based the premise of her show partly on Baumann’s theory.

Gregg Garrison interviewed Baumann for his story for the Religion News Service, which appeared in today’s Washington Post. More from Baumann:

    Every major religious text in the world describes God in terms of light.

    Einstein in his theory of relativity says that time stops at light speed. In a sense, light can be everywhere in the universe at once. Like God.

    If time doesn’t exist for light waves, then light can be in the past, present, and future simultaneously, another characteristic of God.

    Light is conscious. Light alters its behavior in ways that cannot otherwise be explained.

I just ordered this book from amazon.com: it’s a must-read.

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  • duane

    It’s so common for people who lack an in-depth understanding of physics to make a big fuss about some imagined consequence of relativity or quantum mechanics. Take, for example,

    “Einstein in his theory of relativity says that time stops at light speed. In a sense, light can be everywhere in the universe at once. Like God.”

    The problem here is one of reference frames. In the frame of an object approaching the speed of light, time does not slow down at all. What Relativity says is that time in the moving frame of reference appears to slow down according to an observer at rest. This is quite different from the assumption being used to claim that light can be everywhere in the Universe at the same time. This example of relativity is exemplified by the famous Twin Paradox. Check it out, and you’ll see one of the fallacies in this God analogy.

    “Light is conscious.”

    Eh? Come again? This is absurd. If the author doesn’t understand light, he sure won’t understand consciousness.

    “Light alters its behavior in ways that cannot otherwise be explained.”

    This is false. It is all explained by the theory of quantum electrodynamics.

    Consider also that light can be destroyed. Is this also one of God’s properties?

  • JR

    If we are to believe Neitzsche, then yes.

  • http://www.sxxxy.org Nyx

    Let’s turn this around, shall we?

    “Eh? Come again? This is absurd. If the author doesn’t understand light, he sure won’t understand consciousness.”

    We will change the sentence, thusly.

    If the author doesn’t understand NASCAR, he sure won’t understand genetics.

    If the author doesn’t understand cooking, he sure won’t understand aeronautics.

    See how absurd your sentence was, now?

    No, the original author didn’t prove the point about light being conscious, but you didn’t do a good job of disproving it, either.

  • duane

    Nyx, your transparent analogies miss the point entirely. Nice try, though.

    First of all, it is nobody’s duty to take up “disproving” outrageous claims. The burden of proof lies with Baumann. As they say, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. If I told you that a drunken band of singing hippos keeps me awake at night, would anyone need to disprove it?

    Now, Baumann claims that light is conscious. The behavior of light is described by the theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED), as I mention in post #1. To understand QED, one needs to understand relativity. Baumann shows that he does not understand relativity, hence he cannot understand QED, hence he cannot understand light. With me, so far? Therefore, I have no confidence in his ability to ascribe certain properties of light to consciousness, since he does not understand light in the first place. See? I have no confidence in his ability to understand consciousness (which nobody understands) if he hasn’t done his homework to the point of understanding light, since he wishes to find consciousness in light. He will not be able to prove his hypothesis, since he is not aware of the range of competing explanations that could explain whatever phenomena he is referring to. It’s somewhat analogous to the superstitious explanation of rainbows, which says that it is a sign from God. As you know (I hope) a rainbow results from well understood properties of light as it interacts with matter. If I didn’t understand the behavior of light, I might convince myself that God is at work in the rainbow.

  • Eric Olsen

    This is very interesting. A few thoughts: reducing God to someTHING, anything, is reducing God. I think if you accept the notion of “god” at all, you must accept something that transcends our meager ability to comprehend it.

    How is light conscious? What makes him think this? What are its manifestations?

    Also, I was under the impression that under the right circumstances the speed of light COULD be exceeded, kind of like water staying water below the freezing point due to extraordinary circumstances like pressure.

    Since two entwined particles somehow communicate instantaneously across time and space, SOMETHING is exceeding the speed of light.

    God=light seems like an interesting metaphor to me, but I’m not sure if it’s anything else.

  • JR

    If the author doesn’t understand NASCAR, he sure won’t understand genetics.

    Some would argue that if you don’t understand genetics, you won’t understand NASCAR.

  • Eric Olsen

    I comprehend the appeal of NASCAR far less than i understand the appeal of Rush.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    first Rush, and now NASCAR?!!!

    ok, i have to admit, i don’t really understand nascar either. though i bet it’s fun if you’re there at the track.

  • Eric Olsen

    Yes, now we need someone to explain why they like NASCAR. I don’t want to prejudice the situation, but auto racing in general strikes me as an incredble amount of time, money, energy, and danger in order to drive real fast in a circle (or straight line in the case of drag racing).

  • JR

    ok, i have to admit, i don’t really understand nascar either. though i bet it’s fun if you’re there at the track.

    Actually, I’m betting if you don’t appreciate it on TV, you’ll like it even less in person. It’s much more difficult to follow the “action” at the track. So if you don’t just love watching cars go fast, you’re left sitting in the sun all day getting a headache from the noise.

    Disclaimer: As a rabid fan of international road racing, I consider NASCAR a bastardization of real motor sports. I’ve only been to one NASCAR race, and that was at a road course.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    it’s funny what people do or do not like on the tube. some people can watch golf (count me in that group) while others will be put asleep by it.

    i’ve never been to a nascar event but suspect you may be right about it.

  • JR

    it’s funny what people do or do not like on the tube.

    I once got sucked into a fishing show. I don’t even like fishing. That box is evil, I tell you.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    no kidding…once, very late at night ‘cuz i couldn’t get to sleep, i watched a whole hour of that infomercial about how you can get rich by “placing tiny ads” in newspapers.

    i knew the guy was full ‘o crap, but i was nonetheless mesmerized.

  • Eric Olsen

    I think you guys are mesmerized by mesmerization – I don’t think the tube has that much to do with it.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    i saw a show about the Judds on the food network last night.

    i was mesmerized by Ashley Judd.

  • Eric Olsen

    that’s a different matter entirely

  • duane

    I am trying to find God in Ashley Judd. That seems more worthwhile than trying to find God in light.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    i dunno…my wife told me not to look directly at ashley, or i’d go blind.

  • Eric Olsen

    “but mama, that’s where the fun is…”

  • duane

    Eric (post #5), here is a link to a 1-page discussion of faster-than-light phenomena:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faster-than-light

    The thing to realize is that the speed of light varies, depending on the medium through which it travels. The speed of light in vacuum is the maximum speed limit, but always travels slower in a material medium, like air. Also, the freezing point or boiling point of a substance is always defined at a given pressure. The usual 32 F freezing point of water assumes atmospheric pressure (760 mm mercury = 1 atmosphere). At higher pressures, the freezing point increases, and vice versa for lower pressures. Similarly, recall the well known phenomenon of water boiling at a lower temperature at high altitudes. The boiling point decreases with decreases in pressure.

    All right, let’s get back to the main subject — Ashley Judd.

  • Arjun

    Okay, so in the light’s frame of reference, the rest of the Universe is at a standstill, since the rest of the Universe is traveling at lightspeed relative to the light beam. Is this a valid conclusion?

  • drgatell

    I calculated that in order for God to speak to 7 Billion people on earth it would be for only 1 second every 280 yrs. But, if you assume God speaks-thinks at the speed of sound, then He or She or It, could speak 60 words to us all for 1 hour per day.

  • drgatell

    This makes me wonder about the light theory or string theory, etc, and true existence of sometype of Higher Power.

  • drgatell

    This assumes that God will speak to us at the rate of 600 milliseconds per word that is the approximate speed of our brains for word translation into speach e.g as in prayer.