I thank a Facebook friend for a link to a fascinating article. According to the New Scientist (and it’s not the 1st April issue), Our world may be a giant hologram. No, this is not some new science fiction idea, the next step on from The Matrix perhaps. Apparently some real scientists have detected tiny oscillations in space-time which are best explained by this theory: everything we see in three dimensions is in fact some kind of holographic projection of events on a two-dimensional boundary of the universe.
I must say I am not entirely surprised. What does surprise me is that the scientists, or at least the writer of the popular New Scientist article, put this in terms of space only and not also of time. If in fact we are talking about the four-dimensional space-time we observe being a hologram projected from its three-dimensional boundary, then that is getting very close to the kind of concept I was struggling towards, but never fully articulated, more than three years ago, in my unfinished series Kingdom Thermodynamics (part 2, part 3, part 4 which is as far as I got with this).
In that series I was thinking mostly in terms of the universe as we now observe it being determined by its boundaries in the past and in the future, in the same kind of way that a hologram is determined by the details on its boundaries. This is distinct from the generally understood picture of the universe, as constrained by what happened on a past boundary but open in the future. In fact this latter is the picture presupposed by discussions of causality and of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, as I discussed previously.
Of course this has theological implications. The universe open to the future presupposed by scientists is the basis of Open Theism, the controversial teaching that even God doesn’t have definite knowledge of the future. By contrast, more traditional evangelical thinking, Arminian as well as Calvinist, is or at least would most logically be based on the idea of a closed and predetermined future, an ultimate boundary to space-time.
I can’t help wondering if scientists are now inching towards this latter position, rather than the open future which they have presupposed for so long. I should clarify that this does not imply determinism. Indeed the evidence they have found for the hologram idea is precisely that what happens on the boundary is random, on a tiny scale, and so not predetermined. Instead we have a picture of a universe which is not fully deterministic, but nevertheless whose future is in general terms already fixed – very much like the biblical picture.