Marrying Physics with Philosophy, Lee Smolin opens the door to an exciting merger with Religion too

Lee Smolin (born 1955) is one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists. He is a Professor at the Perimeter Institute at the University of Ontario, Canada. Smolin is best known for his contributions to quantum gravity theory, in particular the approach known as loop quantum gravity (LQG). He advocates that the two primary approaches to quantum gravity, loop quantum gravity and string theory, can be reconciled as different aspects of the same underlying theory.

Lee Smolin

Frustrated with the abrupt stop, spanning over the last three decades, to the amazing Physics revolution which began with Albert Einstein’s theories on general and special relativity and the Quantum Physics revolution – which was kickstarted by Max Planck and peaked with Niels Bohr’s amazing philosophical as much as physicist work in the 1930s – Smolin has pursued a highly original path in Physics, for example with his controversial mainstream breakthrough The Life of The Cosmos, a highly recommended book where he argues for a new approach to multiverse theory which he calls cosmological natural selection.

Smolin has summarized his citicism of contemporary Physics in his tombstone The Trouble With Physics, only to then explore some brand new controversial ideas in his latest work Time Reborn. There Smolin argues that Time is the constantly underrated factor in Physics. Ever since Plato and all the way up to Einstein (via Isaac Newton), Physics has tried very hard to turn Time into an illusion, or at least merely an extra domension to Space (which has been presented as the true constant of Physics).

Smolin turns the Spacetime Paradigm around by making Time the mysterious constant of Physics, the undeniably true factor which Physics has yet to explore properly. Time is not merely a dimension of Spacetime as if a clumsily added dimension to Space. Time is the rather the beginning and end of everything physical, and the main factor to which everything else in Physics has to relate. This move radically changes almost everything we have heard from speculative Physics during the last few decades.

Relying on the classic mobilist philosophies of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and David Hume, Smolin then pursues a mobilist rather than totalist approach to Physics. We doubt he has read Gilles Deleuze, Manuel De Landa, or Karen Barad yet, but if anything, it is among these thinkers that Smolin is likely to find his strongest supporters in the world of Philosophy.

Because the daring questions Smolin raises are: What if there are no universal laws outside of The Universe (as Plato, Newton, and Einstein have all insisted)? What if the Universe is truly contingent? What if the future is truly open? Niels Bohr proved that The Universe is properly indeterministic (to Einstein’s enormous frustration). Is Smolin perhaps the true ancestor of the formidable Bohr today? At least you can’t deny hardly anybody has made the borderland between Physics and Philosophy this exiciting for a long long time.

Why just stop at relativism, why not go all the way, and propose full-on relationalism? Perhaps there are no such things as objects in The Universe to begin with? Perhaps there are just fields and relations? So how do we relate to such a revolutionary new understanding of reality? Let’s just say Syntheism is well prepared. We add Lee Smolin to our potential future saints, and place him next to Gilles Deleuze, Manuel De Landa, and Karen Barad. Marrying Physics with Philosophy, Lee Smolin opens the door to an exciting merger with Religion too.