‘You are not thinking. You are merely being logical’

If you want to know about mystery, ask a quantum physicist

Solvay, 1927
The famous Solvay conference of 1927. Bohr is middle row, far right. Others present include Erwin Schrodinger, Wolfgang Pauli, Arthur Compton, Wernher Heisenberg, Lawrence Bragg (who won the Nobel Prize aged just 25), Paul Dirac, Louis de Broglie, Max Born, Max Planck, Marie Curie, Hendrik Lorentz, Albert Einstein, C T R Wilson and Owen Richardson (who was born just down the road from where I grew up). Each won the Nobel Prize for physics. They still dominate the undergraduate physics syllabus today. I stayed at that hotel as part of a writing prize and have seen the book signed by this astonishing assembly.

Here’s the world according to the very quotable Neils Bohr, one of the founders of quantum mechanics.

‘Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future.’

‘How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.

‘The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.

‘You are not thinking. You are merely being logical.

I borrowed these quotes from here.

Paradox, and what to do with it.

stormy photo
Photo by Karsun Designs Photography

Paradox can be a happy place, and leaving it for a simpler place just leads to trouble, I think.

Paradoxes are like the edges of our known world. We sail out to them. But however far we continue to sail, we realise we aren’t getting any further.

Is it true that in all the big questions, if you keep asking long enough, you reach paradox? Suffering and a God of love. Free choice and fate. Healing and sickness. Success and failure. Knowing things and not knowing things. Death and life or judgement and mercy. How can they both exist together? What happens at the place they meet?

This is the place of paradox, where we stand in the cross-winds. Or perhaps the cross-hairs. Or perhaps just in the shadow of the cross itself, where Christ resolved paradoxes by becoming one.

I think the place of paradox is a bleak, empty place, or a full, contented one, depending on whether we stand and complain, or fall and worship.