In the Beginning

Thus spake Zahid:

Here is Wisdom:

In the beginning was Potentia.

And the cosmos was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the cosmos. And Potentia moved upon the face of the cosmos.

And Potentia said: For every action, let there be a dual antipodal reaction.

Thus, let there be light.

And there was light.


The wisdom Zahid brings for discussion is not a wisdom obtained by revelation but one derived from knowledge, the cumulative learning of humanity acquired mainly since the dawn of civilization. Therefore, references and allusions to sacred writings are not to be construed as claims of authority arising from scriptures or their associated religious traditions, but as literary devices intended to contextualize the concepts under discussion within a broader frame of understanding. Sacred writ and religions are, after all, part of the cultural product of humanity and, consequently, constitute a portion of its knowledge. The melding of sacred and secular expressions in Zahid's exposition is indicative of an attempt to bridge differences in philosophical outlooks and reconcile the viewpoints of religion and science.

The Wisdom (capitalized) can be thought of as the set of universal truths about all that is, was, and will be. In Zahidean thought, transcendent Wisdom is posited to exist although it is unfathomable to mortals endowed with limited intellect. This Wisdom or Omniscience is conceived of as eternal and unchanging. Human (lowercase) wisdom, on the other hand, is but a fleeting shadow of the absolute Wisdom that serves as a working approximation to universal Truth. It is deemed to be impermanent and flawed. However, it can be improved upon by reason and experience, thus making possible increasingly better approximations to inscrutable, transcendental Wisdom. Consequently, insofar as the idea of Wisdom is concerned, Zahidean thought can be considered to be quasi-Platonic in form, though not in actual function.

Since Wisdom is unattainable for the human mind, any allusion to it, such as the one above, must be interpreted as a declaration of an axiom pertaining to the exposition. That is to say, references to Wisdom indicate assumptions: things that are being assumed in the discourse.

The beginning is the Big Bang.

Potentia is a Latin word meaning power. In Zahidean thought, the power of Potentia is essentially that of becoming: the capacity to actualize being or existence. Figuratively speaking, Potentia allows a contingency (a possible event, circumstance or state of affairs) to assume concrete reality in the physical universe. Thus, Potentia can be understood as a personification of potentiality; it is meant as a rhetorical figure of speech. In olden times, Potentia was chiefly represented by deities. In modern times, Potentia is often formally expressed by probability functions. In quantum theory, for example, the Schrodinger wave equation is a specific instantiation of Potentia at the atomic level of reality.

Clearly, in the beginning the cosmos was without form and void because of the cosmic singularity. Logic and poetic license both therefore conclude that darkness was upon the face of the cosmos. Darkness the absence of light is the dual antipode (the corresponding direct opposite) of light. Light is pure energy. And energy is the capacity to do work, to perform or bring about activity, which includes the synthesis of matter itself (because of Einstein's equivalence of energy and matter). Thus darkness symbolizes the absence of everything, to wit, the void.

That Potentia moved upon the face of the primordial cosmos follows from Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, a fundamental property of nature. The uncertainty principle permits virtual particles to pop briefly and spontaneously into existence from a vacuum (void). And as in relativity theory, Zahidean thought assumes that spacetime also arose at the instant of creation. Nothing is said at this point about the existence or nonexistence of one or more meta-spacetimes.

Zahid now postulates what he takes to be another fundamental property of nature: For every action, there is a dual antipodal reaction. This property, a cornerstone in Zahidean thought, has been accorded the status of law in radically different domains of thought ever since antiquity, thus evincing the extent of its philosophical importance throughout the ages. For convenience, let us call this property of dual antipodal reaction the principle of duality.

In ancient legal codes of the Fertile Crescent, duality is manifest as the Lex Talionis, the law of equal and direct retribution (or rightful retaliation), better known by the Biblical dictum: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. A primitive legal conception believed to be common in preliterate societies, Talionis is the basis of Mosaic law and before that, the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi. (More liberal interpretations of Talionis did exist where equitable justice was sought without necessarily exacting equal and direct retribution, as was the case of the earlier Sumerian Code of Ur-Nammu, king of Ur.) The principle also arises in Ancient Egypt in association with the concepts of order and justice, and was often personified as the goddess Ma'at.

In Indian thought, the concept of dual antipodal reaction is evident in the law of karma as developed in Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist traditions. Karma explains causality in the world as a chain of actions and reactions that governs all aspects of life. In all traditions, the concept of karma follows from the Indian scriptures, the Upanishads.

Jesus of Nazareth recognized the power and ubiquity of Talionis but also taught how to overcome it in his Sermon on the Mount: by turning the other cheek. Zahid does not address this profound teaching at this point. (Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King later remarked that an eye for an eye would make the whole world blind. Islam acknowledges the legality of Talionis but exhorts forgiveness. Taoist wu wei also argues for non-dual action: the reaction of non-action.)

Isaac Newton crystallized the principle of duality in the physical plane with his third law of motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Subsequent research in physics would show the virtual universality of the principle of duality, up to and including quantum physics.

In mathematics, duality arises in myriad forms. But two instances are particularly revealing. In game theory, the strategy of Tit for Tat (do unto others as they have done unto you) has been proclaimed the optimal strategy in multi-player tournament simulations. And in linear programming, the duality theorem shows that it is not possible to achieve the greatest profit without also doing the right (correct) thing. Zahid will speak on this in due course.

Now then, assuming duality holds, if there was darkness, then there also had to be light. And if there was light, which is energy, along with the set of physical laws that govern our universe, then by force of cosmic evolution there simply had to be us or something very similar to ourselves. Given the infinitude of development possibilities for the universe, that we happen to be here is nothing short of miraculous.