Saturday, May 6, 2017

MULTI-DIMENSIONAL UNIVERSE

The normal person thinks in and operates in four dimensions: length, breadth, height and time.  If I am going to meet you some place we might agree to meet on the ninth floor (height) of the Brand Building at Hollywood and Vine (length and breadth) at 4:00pm (time).  Not so for quantum string theorists.  They have discovered ten or possibly eleven "hidden" dimensions lurking in every tiny corner of the universe.

To demonstrate this they will give an example of a very long hose spread between two mountain tops.  Now from a distance, they say, that hose will look like a line and we would locate any position on that line by making one measurement, its distance from one of the mountain tops.  However, since it is really a hose, the position of, say,  ants travellng around the circumference of that hose, could not be determined by that one coordinate.

Well, that's true!  If I thought from a distance that a house looked flat, which it does, then I couldn't locate the people eating their dinner in that house, by simply using coordinates that always put me on the facade of the house.  If I thought the sun was a flat disk, I couldn't locate anything in the sun's core, or even imagine that there could be a core.  Other examples are given of "flat" rugs which actually have a nap that may be a fraction of an inch or a couple of inches in height.  Within the nap of that rug their are fibers that could be twisting and curling this way and that and I, assuming that the rug was flat, would not be able to locate them.

So, yes, that is true.  If you misperceive something and think that it is flat when it has depth, think that it is linear when it has both height and depth, then you will be missing something.  However, if you knew all the dimensions involved, if you knew the actual height and length and breadth, you would be able to locate any object, providing it was stationary, within that hose, or any person within that house using those three coordinates.  I am not dealing with objects in motion, because their location is changing over time and cannot necessarily be predicted.

All of this is based on the idea that because light is quantized, comes in little discrete packets of energy, and has some minimum wavelength, there is a minimum amount of distance that one can measure no matter what instrumentation. The extra dimensions are supposedly curled up within these unmeasurably tiny interstices of space. Yet, we can deduce that whatever interesting shapes and curls one assumes are occupying these miniscule unmeasurable spaces; the truth is that if we could measure it, if we could put all those fancy shapes on a grid of length width and height, that we could still locate any point within those curled up shapes, any one.  So, although we can not measure it, we can imagine it, and our imagination allows no "dimension" that is beyond the purview of height, length and breadth.

In fact our entire sense of dimension is based on imagination.  There are no actual lines.  For a line to be seen, for it to have existence in the physical world it cannot have only one dimension.  A line without 'any' width could not exist.  Neither could a two dimensional flat surface without any depth.  Even if you painted something on a wall, the paint has some depth (a tiny depth in our normal world, but a vast depth in the quantum world).  If you projected something on a wall, then that projection may not have depth, but that projection does not exist in the real world; it is just an image of something real, just like there are no real people or houses or football stadiums on your television screen.

In the Standard Model of Particle Physics, subatomic particles like quarks and electrons are considered to be point particles.  But "point-particle"  is an oxymoron.  How could something that has no dimensions (a point) also be a particle.  There would be nothing to be a particle of.  Even a 'real point' is an oxymoron.  You can indicate a point with a dot, but even the tiniest dot has dimension, has length  and width and even some tiny height which would be the height of the medium in which you are drawing the dot.  If it 'really' had no dimensions it would 'really' disappear!  Just because we cannot observe actual points and lines and flat spaces in the real world, but only approximations of them, that doesn't limit our ability to think in three dimensions and it doesn't limit our ability to apply those three dimensions, or four if there is movement and therefore time involved, to spaces that we cannot directly observe.

The theory of a multi-dimensional universe in the countless, tiny, unobservable corners of space was cooked up by string theorists whose theories are based on the idea that the oscillations of loops of impossibly tiny strings within all subatomic particles, within all the quarks and gluons and photons and bosons of the universe, are creating their mass and spin, energy and gravity.  The only way that these strings could produce the necessary oscillations to create all these effects would be if they were under enormous tension and were shaped in a variety of strange, curled and bent formations.

I will quote now from Brian Greene's 'The Elegant Universe:

"If a string is constrained to lie on a two-dimensional surface-such as the surface of a table or a garden hose-the number of independent directions in which it can vibrate is reduced to two: the left right and backforth dimensions along the surface.  Any vibrational pattern that remains on the surface involves combinations of vibrations in these two directions.  If, however, the string is allowed to leave the surface, the number of independent vibrational directions increases to three, since the string then can oscillate in the updown direction.  Equivalently, in a universe with three spatial dimensions, a string can vibrate in three independent directions.  Although it gets harder to envision, the pattern continues:  In a universe with ever more spatial directions, there are ever more independent directions in which it can vibrate."

What utter nonsense!  Where do I begin?  First of all, a string cannot lie in a two-dimensional space.  Nothing can.  The only way that it could do that is if it had no height.  If it had no height it would not be a string.  It would disappear.  The same is true, of course, for what Greene refers to as the garden hose circular world of two-dimensions.  Anything that is crawling on it, including the ants that he uses elsewhere to demonstrate how a two-dimensional universe operates, must have three dimensions.  Ants cannot exist if they don't have breadth as well as width and height; and the haemolymph molecules, and food particles, and nerve signals moving within that ant are moving in a world of three dimensions, otherwise they, and the ant in which they are moving,  could not exist.  

Second, a three dimensional space does not in any way limit the direction of movement to one of those three planes, or combinations of those three planes.  I live in three dimensional space; does that mean that I cannot curl my fingers, arch my back, or do a somersault?  Greene confuses dimension with physical constraint of movement and also with support of movement.  I am not supported by the length dimension.  I am supported by the energy that I put into contracting my muscles against the force of gravity so that I can stand up.  A wind or a push may force me in a horizontal direction, but it is not the horizontal dimension itself that is forcing me to do that.  In fact I move in whatever direction I choose to move in, limited only by my body's flexibility and my desire to do so.  

In 1928 Rudolph Laban developed Labanotation, a written system of communicaing choreographed movement so that a Russian ballet performed by a Chilean dance company did not necessitate the Russian choreographer travelling to Chile to supervise the production; and also to preserve dance choreography for future generations.  Every direction and every strength and speed of movement that is humanly possible is denoted in this system.  Also, models of all the elaborate shapes that string theorists dream up, called Calabi-Yau spaces, that supposedly represent nine or ten dimensional space, are all sculpted in three dimensional space.  If we can sculpt them in three dimensions why can't we move in each of those directions using only three dimensions, plus, of course, time.

Dimensions do not force you into any particular direction of movement and do not support you if you do.  I cannot lie horizontally in space and vibrate, even if I wanted to.  I would need something to support me in my horizontality, like a floor or a bed.  The string theorists assume that all these dimensions support a free standing string to vibrate in curled and bent loops.  Really?  A string, floating in space, would have to be supported by something to keep it afloat.  A vibrating string would have to be supported by two really stable holders on either side of that string.  In that tiny, tiny, submicroscopic space, I wonder what those holders would be made out of, especially if they had to hold a string in place that was under enormous tension; and what would be supporting the holders?

While we're on the subject of matter, what would the strings be made out of?  These strings are so tiny that if the atom that they found themselves in were blown up to be the size of the entire known universe (95 billion light years in diameter, and each light year being a tad under six trillion miles), then the string, unbelievably, would be, at the same rate of expansion, the size of a small tree.  Since matter, as we know it, is made out of atoms, and solid matter is made out of larger atoms with multiple protons and neutrons, then what could this string possibly be made out of?  String theorists say it is made out of the elemental, indivisible, foundational stuff of the universe, that is beyond our ability to observe; bringing us right back to where we started from: Democritus and the ancient Greeks.  

Rather than being a Theory of Everything as the string theorists claim, it is a theory that creates more absurdities than answers. The multi-dimensional universe  is something that has been cooked up by theorists to justify their theories.  It has never been observed, couldn't possibly exist, and even if it did it would not do for those tiny strings what the theorists think it would do for them:  force them into certain directions and give them the support to continue to vibrate under extreme tensions without any other external support.  And, of course, string theory does not address the central question of who or what is it that is plucking those strings to cause them to vibrate at a certain intensity for eternity?  It's time to try a different justification or, better yet, try a different theory.




I welcome your comments.  Physicists, I especially welcome you to tell me where I went wrong.

Monday, March 6, 2017

DOES THE BRAIN GENERATE CONSCIOUSNESS?

Many Western scientists seem to think so.  A lot of research is being conducted at the moment to determine just where in the brain that consciousness is being generated.  Of course consciousness is never observed by these researchers.  What is observed are electrical patterns of firing neurons and the assumption is that firing neurons are generating consciousness which is not observed.  While it is obviously true that firing neurons effect the quality and content of consciousness, they do not generate consciousness.  It is also true that the firing neurons are the instrument of this change of consciousness, but not the cause of this change.  Firing neurons are the result, not the cause, of intentions, both personal intentions and Divine intentions.  The fantastic construction of our organisms, of any organism, is the result of Divine intention and the equally fantastic systems for the maintenance of that organism, to keep it surviving for as long as possible, is also the result of Divine intention.  So when your conciousness is effected by pain, which is a way of communicating to you to stop doing whatever it is that you are doing that is causing that pain; and when your consciousness is effected by thirst, or hunger, or fatigue, or the experience of being very hot or very cold, or very sexually desirous, this is the Divine communicating to you to do something that will insure your survival and insure the survival of your species.

There are experiments to show that electrical brain activity precedes consciousness.  Here is one of them:


Tracking the Unconscious Generation of Free Decisions Using UItra-High Field fMRI

Abstract


Recently, we demonstrated using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that the outcome of free decisions can be decoded from brain activity several seconds before reaching conscious awareness. Activity patterns in anterior frontopolar cortex (BA 10) were temporally the first to carry intention-related information and thus a candidate region for the unconscious generation of free decisions. In the present study, the original paradigm was replicated and multivariate pattern classification was applied to functional images of frontopolar cortex, acquired using ultra-high field fMRI at 7 Tesla. Here, we show that predictive activity patterns recorded before a decision was made became increasingly stable with increasing temporal proximity to the time point of the conscious decision. Furthermore, detailed questionnaires exploring subjects' thoughts before and during the decision confirmed that decisions were made spontaneously and subjects were unaware of the evolution of their decision outcomes. These results give further evidence that FPC stands at the top of the prefrontal executive hierarchy in the unconscious generation of free decisions.
I have just included the abstract.  If you would like to read more you can google the title of the experiment above.

The attempt here is to locate the areas of the brain where decision making is generated.  What the researchers overlook is that the process was initiated not by firing neurons, but by the participants conscious decision to participate in the experiment and then to follow the instructions of the researchers.  The researchers wanted them to make a decision and they, wanting to collect their fee for participating, wanted to comply.  It was their conscious decision to decide which number to press or which button to push that set the whole process in motion.  But isn't this the way that it always is?  A couple decides they want to have a baby.  They copulate and hopefully the woman becomes impregnated.  Nine months later they hopefully have what they wished for, but all the incredible processes involved in giving them what they want took place beyond the purview of their consciousness.  Right now when you get up to get a glass of water whole cascades of molecular reactions leading to muscular and skeletal reactions are set in motion that are beyond your conscious purview; but the whole process was set in motion by your conscious experience of thirst leading to the experience of the satisfaction of your thirst.

The fabulous workings of our organisms can be divided into two areas.  One is to satisfy or attempt to satisfy whatever conscious desires we have.  Every time we want something, whole cascades of molecular reactions are set in motion that result in us satisfying or attempting to satisfy that desire.  So that is the genie aspect of our organisms. The other is to keep this organism alive as long as possible so that we can continue to enjoy this way of experiencing the world for as long as possible.  This includes all the metabolic and homeostatic and digestive and circulatory and reproductive activities that take place beyond our conscious awareness. It also includes a system of biological desires that align perfectly with our biological needs.  So, ignorant of our biologifcal needs, we, humans and otherwise, seek a certain type of food when we are hungry, seek water when we are thirsty, seek rest when we are tired, try to stop doing whatever we are doing when we feel pain, seek refuge when we feel threatened, and seek a member of the opposite sex, but the same species, when we have sexual feelings.  Those desires, plus the know how to satisfy those desires, plus the fabulous nerve and muscle and skeletal and molecular equipment that allows us to satisfy those desires, are all gifts of the Divine whose goal is to provide us with this way of experiencing the world, that is called our organism, for as long as possible.  
Finally, consciousness is not generated, by the brain or anywhere else.  Consciousnes is.  It has no beginning and no end.  Organisms are ways of providing, for consciousness, a unique experience of living in this world, a unique experience of a separate existence.  The body does not generate consciousness.  Consciousness attaches to the body to have this particular experience and detaches from the body when the body is no longer capable of providing that experience.

Something must be eternal.  Otherwise you are faced with the problem of something emerging from nothing, which seems insurmountable.  Materialists used to think that particles were eternal until two discoveries made them very quiet on this subject.  The first was the Big Bang, which, according to their western scientific brethren was the beginning of particles.  The second was the discovery by quantum physicists that particles are a function of perception; that what exists prior to perception are wave potentials; with the potential of materializing in a whole variety of particular ways depending on which living organism is perceiving it.  
We are, as John Milton so beautifully put it, the "bright effluence of bright essence increate."  The over flow of the Divine energy and light that has no beginning and no end. 

I want to remind you of two things: One is that my play 'Disinherit The Wind' has just opened in Los Angeles (see post 'Shameless Commerce Division') and that your comments are always welcome. 







Sunday, January 15, 2017

SHAMELESS COMMERCE DIVISION

After much tossing and turning, I have decided to pass on Google's generous offer of making possibly $11 per month to allow advertisements on my blog.  I will reserve this post, however, to do my own shameless advertising.  I am doing my play, 'Disinherit The Wind' again.  I did it over a year ago and it got some sensational reviews.  Here's one from the LA Examiner:

Disinherit the Wind' Spellbinding RATING: *****

"One of the most compelling, riveting , spell binding shows to hit the stage in a very long time. A college professor Bertram Cates [masterfully portrayed by Matt Chait] takes a position not totally in compliance with the academic norm and is vilified. Eventually the matter winds its way into a court room and the scene is set for an overpowering intellectual battle. The amazing detail with which the issues unfold on stage and before the court creates an experience that is truly unforgettable. Much of the credit goes to Matt Chait who not only wrote the play ‘Disinherit the Wind’ but who also brought the lead character Bertram Cates to life on stage along with another stellar performance from Circus-Szalewski as the more than a little arrogant Professor Hawkins.

The pivotal issue is the extent to which any level of spirituality plays a significant
role in the character and advancement of man versus a belief solely in the Darwinian Theory of evolution and natural selection. This is somewhat rather weighty material, however the entire team presenting the world premiere of ‘Disinherit the Wind’ is so unbelievably skilled that what appears to the audience in something a bit over two hours of utter intellectual and even emotional enchantment. This is not just another play, this is something deeply extraordinary. ‘Disinherit the Wind’ is something utterly unique as it thoroughly captures the minds of everyone who watches as the story unfolds. It is one the most worthy and poignant plays to have ever been staged. It deserves ten stars but I am confined to a maximum of five. "


                   




As I said, this is the shameless commerce division, so modesty has no place here.  The production we will be doing in March (March 3-April 9th) is a revison of the earlier production.  I revised it for several reasons.  One is that I was surprised at how many people had an affinity for the main character's ideas, which are many of the ideas expressed in this blog. So the play is now not so much about the lead character vs. the world, but about the spiritual dimension in all of us vs. the materialist establishment that would supress that dimension.  It is also more interactive, funnier and more dramatic than before.  I am very excited, and that's not shameless bragging; that's the truth.

I should tell you the basic plot of the play.  Do you know the play/movie Inherit The Wind?  That play was about the Scopes Trial, also known as the monkey trial, which took place in the 1920's in a small town referred to in that play as "the buckle on the Bible Belt."  The citizenry of this town were up in arms because a teacher read to his class some portion of Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species.'  At that time, presenting anything other than a biblical account of the origin of life was illegal in that state.  It became a trial of international significance, with the teacher being represented by Clarence Darrow, the foremost trial lawyer in the country, and the townspeople being represented by William Jennings Bryant, the foremost orator in the country.

Disinherit The Wind takes place in the present.  An eminent neurobiologist from the University of California has been dismissed from his tenured position for espousing a view of evolution that is different than Darwin's and that has a spiritual perspective.  After a lot of humiliating publicity and unable to find work as a teacher or laboratory access to continue his research, he sues the University to be re-instated.  The teacher and his graduate student disciple present many of the ideas that run through this blog.  The characters share the same names as characters from Inherit The Wind, although their roles are very different.  The one exception is the expert witness for the University's defense, whose name is Robert Hawkins and who shares an uncanny resemblance to someone that is often mentioned in this blog, Darwinian front man and promoter, Richard Dawkins.

If you enjoy reading this blog, attending this production, I imagine, will be "truly unforgettable." (Remember, this is still the shameless commerce division.)  Small theater in Los Angeles is always a money losing proposition, but if the admission price is difficult for you, you can enter 'Deal50' when you make your reservation and get a half price ticket.

If coming to Los Angeles is not in the cards, then you can purchase a copy of the play at amazon.com. I would wait on this, however, since the play that they are selling now is the original and the revised edition wont be ready for at least a month.

Here are some reviews of the current version of the play:


Santa Monica Observer 
By Ron Irwin 
Observer Staff Writer 

Play offers rather rare quality of complete mental immersion in the subject matter 

The show begins in a University lecture hall where Professor Bertram Cates is presenting an abundance of details about the biological and physical structure of the human body. Compelling are these details of DNA and cell formation and other fascinating facts about physical life and they are made even more impressive as actual scientific video is projected on a very large screen as the good professor explains to the assembled class also known as theatre audience in this instance exactly what it is they are looking at. 

Instantly the audience knows that whatever may be ahead it is absolutely not your typical theatrical event and indeed it is not. It becomes far richer and infinitely more thought provoking yet retains the essential requirement of being fully entertaining as it dives into the question of how does spirituality connect with science? 

Soon the story moves forward several years. Professor Cates has lost his tenured teaching job for daring to challenge the academic establishment. Professor Cates you see actually started to look beyond the mere mechanics of human life and began to ponder the true meaning of life. As he did so he increasingly began to challenge the Darwinian theory of natural selection and began to focus more on consciousness and spirituality along with other scientific knowledge that has emerged subsequent to the development and wide acceptance of Darwin's theory of evolution. Taking that position put him out of work and eventually in a courtroom seeking some level of justice. 

The courtroom battle is intense and pits Professor Cates against the world renowned Dr. Robert Hawkins a deeply devoted subscriber to the Darwinian theory. The battle of wit is brilliantly presented and utterly captivating. Very unique in the world of theatre "Disinherit the Wind" compels a complete mental emersion and evokes long term analytical thinking, and that is both the strength and the weakness of this magnificent show. 

It gives "Disinherit the Wind" a rather rare quality of complete mental immersion in the subject matter. Such immersion is richly stimulating and for many a source of great joy regardless of any conclusions that may be drawn. But then again there are those who consider "The Kardashians" and "The Bachelor" to be really good television. Those folks will likely not enjoy "Disinherit the Wind." 

"Disinherit the Wind" is intense and compelling and extremely well acted by the entire cast, superbly written by Matt Chait and brilliantly directed by Gary Lee Reed. So except for those who actually watch "The Kardasians" or "The Bachelor" I highly recommend "Disinherit the Wind" playing now through April 9th 2017 at The Complex [Ruby Theatre], 6476 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, California. Show times are Fridays and Saturday evenings at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. This is one show you will never forget. 



Colorado Boulevard

“Disinherit the Wind” at the Complex Theater

Did Darwin skip a link?
Here’s a line we don’t often hear: “I’m going to make you feel great about your body.” Now place it in the mouth of a tenured microbiology professor, and you have the essence of what makes playwright Matt Chait’s Disinherit the Wind so unique.

By Melanie Hooks

Just opened at the Complex Theatre in Hollywood, Chait’s courtroom drama debates evolution theory, specifically Darwin’s, and its lionization among scientists. Chait himself plays the lead, Dr. Bertram Cates, a professor stripped of his position and reputation by the University of California when his unusual take on consciousness brings unwanted media attention. As we learn through the courtroom proceedings, however, Chait’s real beef is with Darwin’s Origin of Species conclusions. The institution’s, and indeed the field’s, knee-jerk reaction is to label him a creationist (which he assuredly is not) and laugh him out of his profession. Cates has his day of reckoning to clear his name, and we the audience go along for the intellectual, spiritual, and occasionally emotional ride.

The biggest draw is Chait himself, nimbly managing the lion’s share of dialogue, over the 2 hour, 40 minute run-time. He immediately establishes credibility as a professor in the opening scene’s sample Molecular Biology lecture. His topic – the delicacy and intricacy of DNA replication – fascinates and awes him, and his energy, like any great university lecturer’s, spreads throughout the room. Audience members nod in understanding as he breaks down the topic and leans into the best bits. The Complex is a small, black box space, so there is little hiding even in the darkened seats, adding to the feel of a classroom. “Life is a million times older than the pyramids;” “One hundred trillion hemoglobins/second are produced by ribosomes;” “Your body has 37.2 trillion cells.” These could be delivered as dry facts, but Cates practically sings them. The body’s complexity enthralls him, and the character, even later when beaten down by humiliation and exhaustion, stays true to that pure love. This love is the basis of his spirituality, which he’s not shy about sharing. It’s refreshing to see such a duality in an academic character.

More common in drama is the representation of Cates’s rival, Dr. Robert Hawkins, played by Circus Szalewski with exactly the sort of sneer one expects from a Cambridge don. Unfortunately his dissertation-style dialogue doesn’t allow for much comedy, but when it does, Szalewski shines.

Cates’s protégé, Howard Blair, is closer to tears than laughter, as his fellowship and engagement to the Dean’s daughter are both on the line. Actor Stephen Tyler Howell shakes with all the nervous energy one can well imagine having on the biggest day of a young life. He arguably has more to lose as Cates’s only character witness. Blair is gambling a future career yet to happen versus Cates’s defense of a long-established one. Howell and Rehany Aulani, who plays his fiancé Melinda Brown, share a nice, believable chemistry amongst the biologists, and Aulani strikes a grounding daughter-father presence with G. Smokey Campbell, who plays the pro-Darwin crusading UC department head, Dr. Jared Brown. Neither Brown nor Hawkins can imagine an explanation of life’s origin outside Darwin’s theory, and both struggle to understand Cates’s thoughts about consciousness versus physical existence. Where does the mind fit in?

Brown’s character has the potential to be the most morally complex and conflicted, torn between his desire to defend the university’s reputation and his own love for new ideas, something his bureaucratic tenure has denied him. Campbell is afforded little opportunity to express this middle ground position, as most of the play’s real estate concentrates on the ideas themselves as expressed by their real believers, Cates and Hawkins. Playgoers however are treated to Brown’s forceful academic animosity in contrast with his real tenderness toward daughter Mel, a tease at a deeper emotional journey that would have been enjoyable to experience more often. Campbell’s stillness when holding daughter Mel’s hand might be the show’s most deeply felt moment – quiet, brief, jealously guarded.

As it stands, grad student Blair takes the prize for Act One’s most transformative personal choice, and Cates’s highs and lows take the audience along the whole of Act Two. The writing makes good use of the Judge (Christina Hart)’s reminders to both sides that they should be sticking to the evidence instead of their desire to win small, personal points. Even lauded academics are human, perhaps more painfully so, as their daily goals often knock on the door of eternal questions. The visuals, projected on scrims, of microscopic and galactic images also harken back to the real topic – the mystery and wonder of life.

Including intermission, the entire experience runs around three hours, which starts to feel it at about Hour 2.25. But as a summary of his own life’s writings and insights into spiritual-scientific links, it likely feels short to Chait, who remains just as invested emotionally by the end of the play as in its opening. His drive powers along the last section, and we experience Cates’s personal resolution as genuine and profound.

In an interview with Dan Berkowitz, Chait dismisses cautious and ‘good enough’ attitudes about theater: “If you are not trying to deliver an experience to an audience that is life-changing, or attempting to affect people in a way that they will never forget, then what is the point?” Whatever one’s own conclusions about the origin or meaning of life, it’s unlikely that Disinherit the Wind will leave the mind unchallenged or unaffected.

Well worth your time – enjoy




The World Through Night-Tinted Glasses

Monday, March 6, 2017
Disinherit The Wind (review)
Spoilers ahoy!

I feel strange writing this. Disinherit The Wind (the title is a sly reference to the famous Pro-Evolution play Inherit The Wind--one of several) is a polemic about the relationship between science and spirituality, with an emphasis on how the two can live side by side. It attacks pure materialism, while eschewing anything smacking of fundamentalism or Creationism. But it also rejects Darwinian Evolution.

Now, most of this is actually my own point of view as well. I also see the universe itself as the manifestation of a transcendent consciousness of which we are a part. I see no inherent conflict between my faith and science.

But...

Disinherit The Wind tells a moving story, one that centers around some fairly esoteric questions of evolution, biology, genetics and other sciences. The fact such seemingly dry fare becomes a source of fascination and passion marks one of the play's great strengths. It urges, encourages, almost makes audience members think! Which is nearly the highest praise I can offer.

Dr. Bertram Cates (Matt Chatt--the playwright and owner of the Complex Theatre) is our protagonist--a neurobiologist fired because (he claims in a lawsuit) he disagreed with Darwinian Evolution. Financially he defends himself while the University has prominent attorney William Brady (Ken Stirbl) assisting Dr. Jared Brown (G. Smokey Campbell). The only witness Cates has on his side is graduate student Howard Blair (Stephen Tyler Howell), engaged to Dr. Brown's daughter Melinda (Renahy Aulani). One can see how the case cannot help but strum the strings of conflict, also the real battle happens in Act Two.

That is when Cates confronts the University's prime witness--Dr. Robert Hawkins (Circus-Szalewski) a very thinly veiled version/parody of Richard Dawkins. Since all this takes the form of testimony before not a scientist but a judge, both debaters are forced to make their points in layman's language--which sometimes even strays into the poetic.

Juicy stuff. It works I feel for the characters, and the rest of the audience felt for them as well. More I was so involved in the debate my urge to enter into it, making a point, needed stifling! Wow. Well done! Entertaining, moving and thoughtful--as fine a trio of adjectives as most plays could hope for! And totally deserved!

So why do I feel strange? Especially since I essentially agree with the protagonist in what after remains a play with a great big MESSAGE delivered pretty explicitly over and over again?

Well, I don't think he succeeded in making his case. Not in the way he claimed, anyway. Frankly Hawkins is set up as a straw man, the authoritative voice of the opposition. And he comes across as very intelligent, very arrogant, very unwilling to consider any world view other than his own--to the point where he storms off rather than even talk with Dr. Cates.

Frankly that feels like cheating. I wanted to step on stage and take his place--specifically because I do agree with Dr. Cates and wanted to hear him expound on important things such as punctuated equalibrium, and alternate definitions of life, and other matters. The play presents the question of evolution and beginning of life as in any way related--they are not. The latter is an infant science and anyone who confidently claims ideas common before I was born as current thinking--as Hawkins does--of course comes across as a fool. The playwright set up his voice of dissent to fail.

Of course that also makes for a good story, so in a way I cannot blame him. It helps as well the whole cast does a fine job--including Lon S. Lewi, Tony Cicchetti, Caroline Simone O'Brien and Christina Hart. All of which adds up to an almost startlingly good piece of theatre, a theatre of ideas that (and this makes for very high praise) fuels serious thought on the part of the audience.

So despite my whining, this remains a good play and very compelling production.



If you do come to see the play, please say hello to me after the show.  It only takes me about five minutes to emerge from the dressing room.  Thanks.