David Bohm- Prophet of Unity and Meaning

Augustine Pamplany CST

David Bohm (1917-1992) was an America physicist and philosopher, considered to be one of the top scientists of the twentieth century. He wrote extensively on his belief that the intricacies of the subatomic physics directly carries implications for arts, philosophy, and religion. His book Causality and Chance in Modern Physics is a classical work in quantum mechanics.

Bohm opines that human being has a natural orientation to spirituality. Meaning is at the root of all human endeavours. Unfortunately in the course of the development of science and technology they split off from religion and conceived humans and the world in mechanistic terms. Fortunately today, the breakthroughs in physics is at our air in restoring coherence and meaning to our thinking and worldviews.

According to Bohm, in modern physics there is an emphasis on the intrinsic interconnectedness to the entire universe, what he terms as “an unbroken flowing whole.” “Modern physics really suggests that everything is thus internally related to everything else.” We are internally related to the whole. His researches in quantum physics led him to believe that subatomic particles cannot be understood as isolated entities but are intrinsically interwoven. He was much influenced by prominent scientists and thinkers like Robert Oppenheimer, Albert Einstein and Jiddu Krishnamurti.

His belief in the interconnectedness of the basic stuff of the universe led him to propose that mind and matter have “the same basic order” – two aspects of a single underlying process. He opined that “scientists could study the cosmic machine, while theologians could deal with the immortal soul of man… Science as we know it cannot, by itself, give meaning in the deep sense of ultimate significance, value, and purpose.”

He found the implications of this wholeness at the societal ad cultural level. “The significance of wholeness is that everything is related internally to everything else and, therefore, in the long run, it has no meaning for people to ignore the needs of others…. It could be said that science, art, and spirituality are the principal content of culture… We need a place where people could get together merely to talk without trying to solve any problems, simply to communicate, to share, and see if they can come to a common understanding. As we begin to share meaning, we will also share values and develop a common purpose… Dialogue, therefore, means creating something new where everybody wins.”

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