Cutting-edge science v. Intellectual torpor

The reigning cosmology at the end of the last century was Randomness/Atheism. This construct had been championed by the leading British universities for well over a century.


In international university rankings (see online) America’s MIT typically place first, and England’s University of Cambridge (usually just called Cambridge) typically places second. But is this somewhat misleading? Is the gap between MIT and Cambridge really a chasm between a 21st Century University and a 20th Century university? A focus on the field of cosmology (the origins of the universe) provides a window into the gaping intellectual chasm – and approach to cutting-edge thinking – between the two institutions.

The reigning cosmology at the end of the last century was Randomness/Atheism. This construct had been championed by the leading British universities for well over a century. Per this construct, the universe has no construct; all is random happenstance; the only common denominator is decay.

A major paradigm challenge to this reigning construct was launched by Harvard graduate and conceptual theorist David Birnbaum  of Manhattan in 1988. Via his to-be 3-volume treatise Summa Metaphysica, Birnbaum would endeavor to supplant Randomness/Atheism with his signature Potentialism. Per Birnbaum the universe is a dynamic, integrated and iterating cosmic structure; from eternal origins to this very day – on every level – the universe seeks after its maximum potential.

The 3-volume Summa Metaphysica series by Birnbaum would appear sequentially November 1988, March 2005 and January 2014. The series consists of Summa I: Religious philosophy; Summa II: Spirituality; Summa III: Secular Science; it so to speak covers the bases; Birnbaum would be consistent throughout: Infinite divine potential is eternal; it ignited and drives the cosmic order forward through this very day; the Quest for Potential, in turn, is the cosmic teleology (purpose).

Controlling the major academic journals and well-ensconced in the castles of Academe, the British academic elite at first ignored Birnbaum; but when Bard College (Upstate NY) hosted a 3 1/2 day international academic conference on Birnbaum’s Theory of Potential in April 2012, British academe (in Spring 2013) went into a global rabid attack-frenzy. Birnbaum was attacked quite vitriolically ad hominem, although the Birnbaum theory itself was never challenged – and, indeed, has literally never been challenged – on the merits.)

Who was this interloper Birnbaum? Who was this yeshiva-educated and Harvard-educated independent Conceptual Theorist? How dare Bard College give him a world platform and global exposure? How dare Bard College break ranks with the entrenched establishment and feature a challenging theory? Is not the very possibility of Birnbaum’s purpose-driven dynamic and iterating cosmic structure off the charts? Is not the cosmos an aimless, direction-less, structure-less void?

It turns out that two leading and cutting-edge MIT physicists would follow directly in the path of Birnbaum’s 1988 Summa I; both world class physicists would contemporaneously author major physics works in the early 21st century – both paralleling the Birnbaum’s Summa series by articulating dynamic and iterating cosmic structures.

MIT Prof. Seth Lloyd of MIT would author Programming the Universe in 2006 (Knopf), and MIT Professor MaxTegmark would author Our Mathematical Universe in 2014 (Knopf). The two works neither fight each other’s nor Birnbaum’s. Indeed, Lloyd wrote a key testimonial for Tegmark’s book, and both are published by Knopf, as noted.

Maverick cosmologist Birnbaum suddenly had two super-elite de facto scientific allies and both from the #1 university in the world. Thus, the global battle over Summa Metaphysica’s Theory of Potential plot had now essentially been joined by MIT- in intellectual alliance with Birnbaum.

To add ‘insult to injury,’ (to Cambridge U.) not only did the two MIT constructs  provide  dynamic and iterating cosmic structures, as per Birnbaum, but it turns out that Birnbaum’s core theory  is elegantly complemented by the Lloyd and Tegmark constructs. Thus, with a little help from the cutting-edge MIT physicists, Harvard grad Birnbaum’s metaphysics is now integrated into cutting-edge hard science; it would seem to quite readily trump the previously-entrenched randomness/aimlessness construct of the Cambridge, England academic hierarchy.

More than ever before, MIT was looking quite-stellar and, shall we say, 21st century; Cambridge U., on the other hand, was looking, shall we say gently, non-21st century.  The gap between #1 MIT and #2 Cambridge would seem to have widened further. MIT emerges ever more dominating at the pinnacle of global academe.