Rick DeLano’s movie, The End of Quantum Reality makes a strong case against scientific materialism, but then there’s the Catholic thing.
photo by: Skeptiko
[Clip 00:00:00- 00:00:34]
That’s South Park talking about what it’s like to go back to Catholic Church today. It has a connection with today’s interview with Rick DeLano, who has a really outstanding new science movie out called The End of Quantum Reality, about the work of Dr. Wolfgang Smith. Well, the connection is that even though it’s a great science film, with beautiful cinematography, I can’t stop laughing about the Catholic thing.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:01:01] You did a great job of educating us on something that we always know, and that is how solid quantum physics is, because one of the tricks that’s been done here to get away from the philosophical implications of quantum physics, is to make it sound woo-woo or fluffy.
You just don’t get it, Rick. I mean, you don’t understand why non-Christians like me, are just stunned how any really bright, intelligent person that you are, can buy into such a wacky cosmology.
Rick DeLano: [00:01:40] There is no remote point of congruence between the straw man on your screen and the actual content of Christian revelation. Any Christian knows that instantaneously.
Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science and spirituality with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I’m your host, Alex Tsakiris, and today we welcome Rick DeLano to Skeptiko.
Rick is a guy who has a terrific new movie out called The End of Quantum Reality. It’s a movie that explores the work of physicist, Dr. Wolfgang Smith, and it builds a very strong scientific base case against the biological robot, meaningless universe meme that we talk about so much on this show. Here’s a clip from the trailer of the movie.
[Movie clip 00:02:42 – 00:03:24]
Alex Tsakiris: [00:03:24] Okay, that might be a place where we could pause. Rick, welcome to Skeptiko, thanks so much for joining me.
Rick DeLano: [00:03:33] Thank you so much for having me on Alex.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:03:36] Well, I have to say, you are one talented guy. I was watching this movie, which for anyone who saw it, the clip I was just playing is absolutely visually fantastic, beautifully well done, graphics, animations, cinematography. I’m watching it and I’m thinking, where did they get this guy to narrate this film? I’m serious. I’m serious. That was my first thought. And then I look, you were the writer, director, narrator. I mean it’s your baby. So I was dying to know a little bit about your background and how you came to do this.
Rick DeLano: [00:04:11] Well, it’s really interesting. I am the writer and the narrator and the producer. My dear associate Katie Thomas is the director. And I sort of fell into this business, not by choice or by design, but a dear friend of mine had decided to make a film about the Copernican principle back in about 2010, and while I do have extensive experience in the music business, my friend thought that since I was a Hollywood producer that meant I would know something about movies. No, I was a Hollywood music producer, I knew absolutely nothing about filmmaking.
But one thing led to another and he could not find anyone that he really trusted to make the film, and that is how I became a film producer with The Principle in 2014, was released in 2014. And the most remarkable thing happened. I mean, for about three weeks, it became probably one of the biggest three stories in the world, which is highly unusual for an independently produced scientific documentary. But of course, we touched a nerve with that film. And that film was an examination of our science on the very largest scales of the world. We look at the cosmos, and that is of course the science of cosmology.
So The Principle examined the very, very serious challenges to our present Big Bang worldview that these latest observations of the cosmos have brought to light.
And the other, and I would argue even more profound paradoxes, confronting our present world story are those which are found at the opposite end of the scale, down in the very, very small, which is the realm and the domain of quantum mechanics.
And so it seemed to me to be a necessary and logical next step to examine the paradoxes of science in the very small. And this of course led me to Dr. Wolfgang Smith and his profound work over decades on this so-called quantum reality problem, which has really bedeviled physics since the discovery of quantum mechanics. And so that is the genesis of the film, The End of Quantum Reality.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:06:52] Well, yes. I mean, certainly, and this is something we’ve talked a lot about on this show, is the whole quantum physics thing really blows away this dumbed down materialistic, you’re a biological robot in a meaningless universe thing. Your movie does a fantastic job of breaking that down and building it up from the ground up, in terms of solid physics. And also, I think you did a great job of educating us, re-educating us on something that we always know, and that is how solid quantum physics is, because one of the tricks that’s been done here to get away from the philosophical implications of quantum physics, is to make it sound woo-woo or fluffy or something like that. In which your movie really nails if it doesn’t nail a lot of other things, is that, this has given us a more precise scientific measure of reality than almost anything else we’ve ever encountered. So do you maybe want to speak to that in general?
Rick DeLano: [00:07:54] Yeah, it is one of the most important things to understand about Dr. Smith, is that by the time the man was 14 he had been brought from Austria to escape the Nazis and had applied to Cornell University at age 14, for a study in physics, mathematics, and philosophy. And by the time he was 18 he had his degrees in all three. By the time he was 20, he had a graduate degree in quantum mechanics. And he was trained back in the, what I would call the golden age of quantum mechanics. He was literally at Cornell when Richard Feynman was that Cornell. These guys were trained in the most rigorous imaginable way, and of course, back then we didn’t have this flourishing garden of the reality marketplace, where everybody under the sun can advance a different interpretation of what quantum mechanics means.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:09:05] Excuse me Rick, but the other thing we didn’t have is computers. I mean, when you look at the pictures of Feynman, one of the things that blows me away is it’s that old school chalkboard as big as the room, filled with formulas, and you had to sit up there and you had to be able to do the math at a level that probably there aren’t a handful of people in the world today that could do the math at that level. You had to make it right because you had like a room full of really super smart kids who would sit there and go, “Hey, over here, row three, line four, you missed this Dr. Feynman.”
Rick DeLano: [00:09:35] Yeah, the rigor, you’re absolutely right. The rigor of the formation, the necessity to do one’s own calculation, quantum mechanics is a quintessentially mathematical theory. And the great question in the quantum reality problem is what do these mathematical operators in the theory, what do they mean? Well, what do they mean in terms of the world that we experience every day? And having to do these problems and understand precisely what each one of these operators actually means, in terms of a physical prediction and the physical outcome, this, I think, had a great deal to do with Dr. Smith’s early acceptance of quantum mechanics as the foundation of physics. The physics finally, after a 400-year search for the bottom of the pool, so to speak, had finally arrived at its fundamental level with quantum mechanics.
And the first thing to understand about his resolution of the quantum reality problem, is that he absolutely accepts quantum mechanics as a correct physical theory, and anytime I bring to him one of these new articles where, “Oh, we’ve made time run backwards. Oh, we’ve proved that there’s other universes out there,” he simply laughs, and he says, “When they are able to falsify quantum mechanics, let me know, and until then, I really have nothing to say to them.”
So he is old school. He is an exemplar of the golden age of quantum mechanics, and he is not easily bamboozled by some of the popular science that is retailed these days under the rubric of “interpretations” of quantum mechanics.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:11:42] Rick, the movie really is terrific, and I encourage anyone who enjoys the kind of stuff we talk about on Skeptiko to watch it, because it really does have this great breakdown, the way that you’re talking about.
But, and you knew there was a but coming, there’s actually a couple of buts coming, and I did give you a heads up prior to the show and told you some of the things I’m going after. And so one of them relates to, again, another part of the trailer actually. So let me play that and then I’ll get your reaction.
[Clip 00:12:18 – 00:12:40]
Alex Tsakiris: [00:12:40] So we have a great science movie here, which is 90% of what the show is all about. But at the very beginning you have this kind of apocalyptic, the world… I mean, it’s completely to me, disconnected to the science and I’m into the science. I’ve interviewed a ton of physicists and quantum physicists and all those people. I don’t get the connection to the apocalyptic stuff.
Rick DeLano: [00:13:05] Well, it is fundamental to the film, so let me address it. The reason that we made the film is because it has become abundantly clear to Dr. Smith, and to many other observers by the way, that we are approaching a moment in history that has no precedent in at least the last 400 years. And what happened 400 years ago was that the entire world story of Western humanity was overturned. When Copernicus came along and formulated the heliocentric cosmos, Newton came along and provided us a mathematical physics, which would explain why the planets were actually moving around the sun, etc. etc. This was a probably the biggest change in the story that humanity tells itself about the world and its place in it since the gospels. And for 400 years that story has been elaborated on a greater and greater and greater scale.
Remember, 400 years ago we were the center of the universe and everything revolved around us, and that’s a certain picture of the world. Beginning with the Copernican revolution and basically all of science since then, has been a successive demotion of our place in the cosmos to a less and less and less significant, position. And of course, this demotion has been accompanied by magnificent scientific miracles. The accomplishments of the scientific enterprise have been so profound, and the miracles, our miracles come from laboratories. There have been quite a large number of them.
But as quite often happens, just at the point that you reach out to grab the brass ring on this great project to reduce the world to that which can be described without residue by mathematics, by physics, the whole project collapses and it collapses specifically and exactly what the discovery of quantum mechanics. Because this 400 year arc of human history was based on one fundamental metaphysical assumption, the idea that when you get down to the bottom of the world, you get these fundamental particles, whether you call them atoms or quanta or whatever you want to call them, all the physics over the past 400 years has essentially been a reductionist research program to get down to the bottom of the world in these little fundamental particles and the equations and fields and forces that are associated with them. That project catastrophically fails at the beginning of the 20th century with the discovery of quantum mechanics.
Now, I am sure Alex, that at some point in your life you have encountered someone who has said to you at some point under some set of circumstances, something along the lines of, “Dude, that’s your reality,” right? You’ve heard that right?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:16:45] Yeah, but you’re not getting to the point of what I’m talking about. I mean, this is the shit I talk about all of the time.
Rick DeLano: [00:16:54] This is, in fact, apocalyptic Alex. Once you have arrived at the point in a civilization’s development, where every single person on earth is entitled to their own reality. Such a condition is so far beyond mere schizophrenia, it is so far beyond anything of pagan antiquity, and it’s profound rejection of even the possibility of objective truth, that as Wolfgang Smith very profoundly points out in the film, this is the, and of the road for that 400 year arc of human history that has led us to these profound paradoxes in quantum mechanics.
So the trailer says, “Every pillar was wobbling at once.” Well, I’ll tell you, when we made that trailer, the dial was humming along, everything was Peachy Keen, Marvey Poo, and we now look at a civilization that is literally collapsing in front of our eyes. With all due respect, Alex, that’s a big deal. With all due respect, this is apocalyptic. We are reaching the end of one very profound arc of human history, and it is happening directly in front of our eyes.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:18:24] Maybe, I’m not a believer in that, especially when you look at the science and especially with the SMP, the last I looked it was at 3000. I don’t know how it’s at 3000 but it’s at 3000 after corona and all the rest of that.
But leave that aside for a second, the part that I don’t get is, I just put up on the screen, the Solvay Congress with all these great physicists a hundred years ago who were getting together and are saying, “Hey, we have this problem, we have this great philosophical problem that Wolfgang Smith is talking about.” So this has been ongoing for the last hundred years without stop.
Let me play some clips for you that’ll really drive home where I guess I’m coming from. I had a chance to interview the very excellent Caltech physicist…
Rick DeLano: [00:19:14] Sean Carroll.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:19:16] Oh god, I hate Sean Carroll, please don’t mention that name.
Rick DeLano: [00:19:20] You said Caltech, I immediately thought…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:19:21] No, I’ve interviewed Sean Carroll, what a nitwit.
Rick DeLano: [00:19:24] Yeah, I’m sorry, I like truth in advertising. Very good.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:19:29] so I had a chance to interview the very excellent Dr. Donald Hoffman, Caltech physicist, and his book up there that I’m showing, The Case Against Reality. And it is essentially wrestling with the same issues. He’s about developing very rigorous mathematical models for consciousness. Which we’ll have to come back and I’ll have to understand why you don’t talk more about consciousness in the film, because from all accounts, everyone I hear who talks about quantum physics and the big misstep by materialist science, is that they don’t recognize consciousness or they want to claim that consciousness is an illusion, which is just an absurd idea.
So these are some of the topics that I talked about with Don Hoffman. Let me play you some of these clips and I think that’ll kind of catapult us into an interesting discussion.
[Clip 00:20:22 – 00:21:21]
Alex Tsakiris: [00:21:21] Let’s pause there for a second because you don’t object to any of that, I’m sure. He doesn’t have a supportive film that shows kind of, military people jumping out and doing crowd control and fires and burning and apocalyptic kind of stuff.
Rick DeLano: [00:21:41] That’s because he’s nowhere near as profound a philosopher as Dr. Smith and he shouldn’t be expected to have been a student of history, and of the history of ideas, to the level that a man like Dr. Wolfgang Smith has done. I mean, there’s just no comparison. That’s nothing against the good doctor. It’s just, we’re talking about Wolfgang Smith here. This is a man who is profoundly, profoundly familiar, not only with quantum mechanics, which he actually has a graduate degree in, not only a doctorate in mathematics, he’s taught at MIT for heaven’s sakes. This is a man who was intimately familiar with every school of wisdom of human antiquity. And it’s that kind of breadth of vision and that kind of intellectual background that enabled him to point out, two and a half years ago in our trailer, that sometime in the very near future the wheels were going to come off the present civilization. The mere fact that it has happened in the first week of the release of the film, I don’t think he would claim that we had predicted that, but it was abundantly clear to him and to those who have studied him, that we were headed for this. There was no doubt about it.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:23:06] Yeah, I don’t buy it that wheels have come off of civilization but let me play the next clip.
Rick DeLano: [00:23:13] Go ahead and keep watching Alex.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:23:16] Yeah, I mean, I’m just not an apocalyptic kind of guy, but I don’t believe… It’s going to get into theology real quick here, so let me play this next clip.
[Clip 00:23:27 – 00:24:27]
Alex Tsakiris: [00:24:27] So, of course, this is the Achilles heel of the film and this theology in general. It just kind of slips, without warning, it slips from solid science and solid thinking of quantum physics into kind of this weird leap towards Catholicism. And Wolfgang talks about how he’s converted to Catholicism by his wife who’s a Catholic. And then there’s this kind of strange but not fully detailed Christian apologetics, that somehow links in some indirect way, quantum physics to your theology. I mean, I hope you understand how people see that as just completely disconnected, disjointed.
Rick DeLano: [00:25:10] Yes. Well, it’s been quite a long time since the classical cosmology presented to us, in the Christian tradition, has been as powerfully vindicated as it has in the work of Dr. Wolfgang Smith. I would not expect any other reaction from… I mean, having heard what you said about your understanding of your Greek Orthodox upbringing as being a form of mind control, I perfectly understand your uncomfortable reaction to Dr. Smith’s contrary journey. After all, his journey is in the exact opposite direction.
Here is a man who at 14 years of age applied to Cornell University, and he was asked, “What do you want to study?” And he said physics, and they asked him, “Why do you want to study it?” And he said, “Because I am convinced that physics is the key to understanding the universe.” And if you will remember in the film, he has a wonderful little pause followed by a self-deprecating little smile, and then he looks at the camera and he says, “Needless to say, I have changed my mind about that.”
So Dr. Smith’s progression is in the precise opposite direction that you and your guests have indicated to us that you have followed. Therefore, it shouldn’t become much of a surprise that there’s going to be some aspects of his work that rubbed you the wrong way on first hearing.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:26:42] Well, it’s not that they rubbed me the wrong way, they’re just completely disconnected with the science. There’s no Jesus on the cross connection to quantum physics.
Rick DeLano: [00:26:51] There’s no Jesus on the cross in the film either Alex.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:26:53] That’s my point. So why are we introducing…?
Rick DeLano: [00:26:57] So what we have is essentially a straw man here. Dr. Smith’s conversion story is a part of the profile of how his intellect developed over the decades of his life. There is no question of, you must be a Catholic or you must be a Christian in order to understand his resolution of the quantum enigma. But, but, and this is what I humbly propose that you might be missing, What we do have to recognize in Dr Smith’s resolution of the quantum enigma, is a form of causation, that is both unknown to physics and right in front of our eyes every time we measure a quantum system. Once that is understood, we have no choice but to look outside of physics for the resolution to the quantum enigma.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:28:00] And then jam it back into this outdated, dogmatic, crazy cosmology of Catholicism, right? That’s how we’re going to leap and that’s where we’re going to leap to. Why would we go there?
Rick DeLano: [00:28:12] Well, because that’s where the evidence leads us of course.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:28:16] To Catholicism?
Rick DeLano: [00:28:17] Well, no, to vertical causality, Alex. There’s nothing about the resolution of the quantum enigma in Wolfgang’s work or in the film that requires you to recite the Nicene Creed, for heaven sakes. It’s a complete misrepresentation of both the film and of his work. Now, what we do have to confront is a form of causality that is active and present in every measurement of a quantum system that does not reduce to any form of causality known to science. It is true that this form of causality is vertical rather than horizontal. It is true that a form of vertical causality puts us right back in a world that does not reduce to the equations of physics. Sorry, that’s just where we’re going.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:29:20] Buddy, I’m totally onboard, I’m totally onboard with all of that, that’s why I’m playing Donald Hoffman.
Let me go to a different point here, I was watching interview/debate you did with my frenemy, the skeptic Dr. Michael Shermer, who has been on the show, and I think utterly destroyed, in terms of his understanding of extended consciousness, his inability to accept that we don’t die after death, and that’s the best result that we can get from frontier science, and it comes back over and over again, and it directly contradicts his book. But he was hitting you pretty hard on the Catholic thing, and I thought in listening to you now, in a way you just don’t get it, Rick. I mean, you don’t understand why non-Christians, like me, are just stunned how any really bright, intelligent person that you are, can buy into such a wacky cosmology.
I have this interview, I want to read you this clip from the very excellent, Richard Smoley, who wrote a book a while back called, How God Became God: What Scholars Are Really Saying About God and the Bible. Smoley is Oxford trained, Harvard trained, highly regarded, all this stuff. Here’s Richard Smoley in his interview that he did with my buddy Miguel Conner on Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio. He says, “What are we supposed to believe? God got mad at the human race for eating a piece of fruit in Armenia 6,000 years ago. He got so mad that he condemned everybody to internal damnation, except he kind of felt bad about this afterward, so he sent part of himself down to have it tortured to death, which somehow made it all right. Except not really, because if you don’t buy the story, you’re still going to fry forever. Does that make any sense? Of course it doesn’t.”
It’s phrasing, of course, elaborate theologies, rituals, and doxologies, but it’s still a ridiculous story. That’s the part that, take the movie aside for a second, that you are making a connection between who we are supposed to hold up as this figure, this bright, shining light of physics and knowledge, and yet he seems to be endorsing a cosmology that we all sit back and go, “Well, that’s just insane. It’s ridiculous.”
Rick DeLano: [00:31:48] Well, let me first of all say, he doesn’t seem to be endorsing it. He most emphatically and certainly and unequivocally does endorse it. Now, let’s go back to your well-respected Oxford don, and let me just say, first of all, that it’s perfectly understandable that nobody would believe such nonsense. The problem is, he is the one who concocted the nonsense. This is what we see in logic as the classic straw man argument. You concoct a complete fraud and allege this to be the Christian message. That is a lie. There has never been a Christian message, remotely or approximately that which your Oxford don, who is so well respected.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:32:43] What part of that cosmology is not right out of the Bible?
Rick DeLano: [00:32:46] That is nonsense. That is not out of the Bible, that is out of the author of How God Became God. In other words, the Oxford don, rather than deal with the actual Christian kerygma, reconstructs it as a straw man, so that he had something easy, rather than to do the hard work of actually addressing the content of the revelation of the Catholic religion. But that’s up to him.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:33:16] You keep throwing up this straw man stuff, what is straw man about this? This is the story that we’ve all been passed down with.
Rick DeLano: [00:33:23] No, this is the story that the Oxford don concocted, so that he can dupe those who actually understand…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:33:32] Corrected, corrected. Here’s your opportunity Rick, tell us where Richard Smoley has created a straw man.
Rick DeLano: [00:33:40] There is no remote point of congruence between the straw man on your screen and the actual content of Christian revelation. Any Christian knows that instantaneously. So if we want to discuss Christian cosmology, let’s discuss Christian cosmology. If we’re going to discuss a straw man from your highly respected Oxford don, I simply laugh because it has absolutely no remote connection to the actual message of the Christian religion.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:34:22] But Smoley is a Christian.
Rick DeLano: [00:34:25] He’s no kind of a Christian that I would recognize. I suppose nominally anybody can call themselves a Christian, but if that is his understanding of the Christian religion, no wonder…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:34:36] Well correct him. This is such a bullshit skeptical thing to claim the straw man thing. It’s like when they throw out these things. What is incorrect about what Smoley’s view is of Christian cosmology?
Rick DeLano: [00:34:50] See, here’s the thing Alex.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:34:53] But this is the Adam and Eve story, this is the Adam and Eve story, isn’t it? What’s wrong about it?
Rick DeLano: [00:34:57] Look, you go ahead and talk and tell me when I can, okay? Go ahead and finish whatever point you want to make, because I have one I want to make.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:35:03] Well, please make it, but you keep claiming that there’s a straw man, tell us what the straw man is.
Rick DeLano: [00:35:09] Are you done? Can I talk now? Okay, great. There is not a word, not a syllable, not a phrase, not a sentence in that entire straw man concoction that proceeds from scripture or tradition or the official teachings of the Catholic Church. Not a word, not a sentence, not to syllable. It is a complete concoction, a confabulation of an enemy of that revelation. And instead of addressing the scripture, instead of addressing the fathers, instead of addressing the councils, the actual teachings of the Church, he rewrites them in a stupid and intellectually… It’s an insult to the intelligence of any honest researcher to consider that glop as having anything to do with the authentic revelation of the Christian religion. So, I laugh at him. Do you have anything else?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:36:25] Well, again, I would go back to my earlier point. I don’t have anything else. Can I go back to my earlier point? Here is my earlier point. People are going to listen to this little exchange and they’re going to read Richard Smoley’s quote up there, or listen to me reading it, and they’re going to go, “Yeah, that’s what Christianity has always said, there was Adam and Eve and they ate the apple, so…”
Rick DeLano: [00:36:51] As a wise man once said, Alex, as a very wise man once said…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:36:55] I just want you to recognize how many times you interrupt me. So your indignation that my interruptions of you. But that’s fine, go ahead.
Rick DeLano: [00:37:01] No, you make a good point. I will shut up and let you make your point, go ahead.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:37:07] No, I enjoy the interchange.
Rick DeLano: [00:37:12] So do I. Okay, so look, here’s the thing. I am happy to defend my faith to anyone, at any time, under any circumstances, without reservation. What I object to is having a completely ridiculous self-constructed straw man caught up on the screen as if that was my faith. It is not. It has nothing to do with my faith. And if we want to discuss my faith, I would at least insist that the arguments be predicated on the actual content of that thing, that is found in scripture and in Aristotle tradition. I’m quite happy to defend both.
Your Oxford don wasn’t intellectually honest enough to address those sources of the faith. He rewrote it as a straw man, and somehow this is supposed to impress me. I don’t care if 90 million people think that’s the truth. It’s complete bullshit. And I have the greatest sympathy and poignant sadness for anyone who would mistake that garbage for the Christian religion.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:38:31] Well, let me take one more stab at this and I don’t know if we’re going to get through or not. I don’t have any special connection to Richard Smoley. You can diss him all you want or not respect him, you keep bringing up Oxford because I guess I brought it up. It’s just to kind of have a touchdown of who this guy is.
But my point that I was really trying to make Rick is, I don’t see, I was brought up in the Catholic, not in the Catholic Church, but as we mentioned in the Greek Orthodox Church, which is pretty damn close to the Catholic Church in a lot of ways. I understand exactly what Smoley’s talking about. I’m not ignorant.
Rick DeLano: [00:39:13] Well, that would explain why you’re no longer in the Greek Orthodox Church.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:39:18] Now you’re talking about your interpretation of my theology, which you don’t know.
Rick DeLano: [00:39:26] Well, you reject the Greek Orthodox faith because is in many ways very close to the Catholic faith. And neither one of them has the slightest thing to do with this straw man of Richard Smoley’s.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:39:36] Rick, but see, you keep kind of throwing that out there. So number one, you don’t know…
Rick DeLano: [00:39:42] Because it happens to be true, Alex. It’s a straw man. It is a concocted misrepresentation of the truth to make the argument easier for the Oxford don.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:39:50] Do let me make a point here Rick, because you have just repeated that thing over and over again. And what I was going to try and do is ask you to tell me, since one, I was brought up Christian, I did investigate thoroughly, and I probably have 50 shows, 50 interviews with leading, religious scholars, kind of all over the map, both Christian and non-Christian. I’ve investigated this pretty thoroughly. I can’t think of one of them that would react the way that you have to Smoley’s quote here. And I certainly don’t react that way and I don’t know any other Christians that would say that he has fundamentally misrepresented the Christian cosmology.
So hold on. There’s a question here and it’s the question I keep coming back to. What part of this are you reacting so strongly to, as not being part of your understanding of the Christian cosmology? Without just kind of blanketly saying, “This entire thing is constructed and it’s a straw man,” and all this.
Rick DeLano: [00:41:07] The entire segment is nonsense. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the authentic sources of the Christian…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:41:19] What is the authentic Christian cosmology?
Rick DeLano: [00:41:22] A Bible and the fathers and the councils for the Catholic, and even for the Orthodox up to the seventh ecumenical council, that is where you find the authentic sources.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:41:35] Tell us, Rick, tell us what the Christian cosmology is. Tell us how it different from Smoley.
Rick DeLano: [00:41:41] I suppose we could recite the Nicene Creed, but it begins very, very simply. “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.” That is the fundamental cosmological assertion of the Christian religion. The universe is not a self-assembling collection of subatomic particles that somehow emerge from the void and voila, given 13.8 billion years and a law of gravity. Here we are. Isn’t that marvelous? So that is essentially a straw manning of the current cosmological picture. And I don’t publish such a strong man because I wouldn’t be able to intellectually live with myself, if I straw manned my opposition, the way that the Oxford don who wrote out, How God Became God, a straw man the Christian message.
But the fundamental difference between my cosmology and the cosmology of the modern scientist is that he insists that the world…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:42:56] Don’t talk about that because we’re going to agree on that. What we’re not going to agree on is Smoley’s just telling us the Adam and Eve story and you haven’t told is what part of…
Rick DeLano: [00:43:04] He’s not telling us the Adam and Eve story, he’s telling us his story.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:43:10] So tell us what’s wrong with it. Forget it, we’re not getting anywhere.
Rick DeLano: [00:43:13] Because it is not the Adam and Eve story. The Adam and Eve story is found, interestingly or not, in the Book of Genesis. In fact, in the second chapter of the Book of Genesis. Now, if the author of How God Became God, Richard Smoley, had any actual interest in grappling with that story, the Adam and Eve story, he would have started out with the basic intellectual honesty of presenting this story as we have it in scripture, but that wouldn’t work at all. He needs to rewrite that story. In other words, to straw man that story, so that he can, in the Voltairean sense, skewer it as ridiculous on its face. Well, it is ridiculous on its face the way he writes it. Of course, the problem is, it’s not ridiculous on its face the way we find it in scripture, for the simple reason that it is the most profound, it is the most…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:44:20] Yeah, it is, that’s the part you don’t get. That’s the part that all non-Christians look at it and say, it is ridiculous. It’s been jammed down our throat. It’s been used to control, manipulate.
Rick DeLano: [00:44:33] Who’s jamming down the throat. All due respect, Alex…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:44:37] You claim to be a student…
Rick DeLano: [00:44:40] This stuff doesn’t appear anywhere in my film.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:44:44] It does not. You are correct.
Rick DeLano: [00:44:47] Who is slamming it down the throat here, Alex?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:44:48] You are correct. It does not appear anywhere in your very excellent film.
Rick DeLano: [00:44:54] And yet 40 minutes of this interview has been dedicated to something that isn’t even in the film. I ask, in all honesty, sir, who is jamming what down whose throat?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:45:09] Rick, in fairness, right? I scheduled this interview with you because your people sent me a thing, and your people sent me the trailer on the film and the one sheet on the film, and it was about scientism and it was about quantum physics, and I immediately said, this is fantastic, I’m all in. I watched the film and I said, this is great, but this Christian crap is just ridiculous. There’s no connection to it and that overlay completely, kind of destroys the message of the film. I immediately emailed you and said, “Rick, we shouldn’t do this interview because I don’t think it’s the kind of interview you want to do.”
Rick DeLano: [00:45:55] And then you turned around and made the entire interview about the very thing you said you didn’t want to discuss.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:46:01] No, no, no. See, you’re not a good listener, Rick, because that’s not what I said. It’s not that I said I don’t want to discuss it, I said you don’t want to discuss it because I don’t want to sit there and just talk about it a film…
Rick DeLano: [00:46:14] I’m happy to discuss it Alex. I am more than happy to discuss it. The problem is, as we attempt to discuss it, instead of engaging with the actual content of the Catholic faith, which I’m perfectly prepared to defend, you instead present this ridiculous straw man, as if I’m supposed to sit here meekly allow you to jam that down my throat.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:46:41] No, you’re not meek, you’re not meek.
Rick DeLano: [00:46:44] Anyway, look, here’s the thing. We incorporated the biographical section of the story of Wolfgang precisely so that the remarkable intellectual journey of this man can be understood by the audience, because it is and interesting thing. It is the exact opposite of your journey. In other words, you started out…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:47:11] You don’t know what my journey is, how can you say such a thing?
Rick DeLano: [00:47:13] I know this much. I know you started out in the Greek Orthodox Church and you’re not in it anymore. Okay? So that’s all I need to know.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:47:20] That’s all you need to know. That’s all you need to know my friend.
Rick DeLano: [00:47:26] To know that your story is the exact opposite of Wolfgang’s because he started out outside the church and pursuing physics exclusively as the correct way to understand the universe. And his journey has led him precisely back to the place that you consider to be so ridiculous.
Now, that’s an interesting thing to me. Certainly, if I were making a documentary about you, Alex, I would incorporate whatever biographical portions I could find that would explain why you have departed from the worldview of your early years of the Greek Orthodox Church, because it would be important to understand how you’ve arrived at the positions you have now. That’s exactly what we do in the Wolfgang Smith…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:48:22] Let me clarify…
Rick DeLano: [00:48:22] I stand behind it 100%.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:48:25] You should because it’s an awesome film and people should go and watch it because it’s incredibly wonderfully done in terms of science. And let me go one step further because I would kind of reorient what you just said. The part about his conversion back to Catholicism doesn’t interfere with the film at all. And I don’t want to leave people with that impression. It’s not like he gets up there and starts reading scripture halfway through the film, or he’s proselytizing or he’s trying to convert. There’s none of that.
So the discussion we’re having here really, I can understand why it could be a little bit off putting to you, because it really is not at all a fundamental, or even necessary part of the film. It’s just the part that interests me because I’m so interested in consciousness and extended consciousness.
Rick DeLano: [00:49:17] Alex, you’re darn good interviewer and I’ll tell you why. This is where the rubber meets the road and it’s darn good that we should cross swords on this because you and I do not agree, and you and Wolfgang Smith do not agree in your assessment of the meaning of the Christian revelation. It’s perfectly legitimate for you to put the heat on for me here. I don’t regret it, or I’m not upset about it at all. It makes for fantastic media. It’s a good spark-filled conversation. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just that I’m going to defend that which I hold to be most important, and Wolfgang will defend that what you hold was important, just as you will. And we’re not going to agree on this point, but I very much appreciate the point you just made about the film.
If I had turned this into some sort of a platform for Wolfgang Smith to proselytize, I’d be ashamed of myself, because I’d be falsely advertising what the film is. Thank you very much for making the point that we do not introduce these ideas as central to the resolution of the quantum enigma. We introduce these ideas so that we can understand Wolfgang Smith and why he has been able to resolve this profound problem in our understanding of reality.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:50:46] Well said. I think I might just want to kind of leave it there. Again folks, our guest has been Rick DeLano. I think you’ve got a good enough view of where he’s coming from, but maybe I turned up the heat too much because he’s fantastic in this movie. He’s extremely well-spoken and well versed on these topics. If anything, if there’s one thing about the movie that I would kind of warn you of, is it’s a deep dive into serious science. So put on your big boy boots and buckle up and I think you’ll really enjoy relearning about quantum physics and our history of it and why it’s so important to, kind of dispel the absolute insanity that we find ourselves in with materialistic science as we know it.
Rick, tell folks in the little bit of time we have left when the movie will be out and what you’re doing in connection with it, to get people interested in it.
Rick DeLano: [00:51:46] Well, the movie was released theatrically in January. We were rolling along quite wonderfully, and then COVID-19 came along and blew that entire business out of existence.
So we have just this past week, this past Wednesday, released the film digitally. It can be found at www.theendofquantumreality.com, and I must thank the audience most profoundly, we’re off to an amazing start, and we hope that the film will prove to be worthy of serious consideration.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:52:22] What’s next after this, Rick?
Rick DeLano: [00:52:25] That’s a great question. I always say after one of these films, I’ll never make another one because they almost kill me, but I never thought I’d make this one. So I don’t really know. I mean, what I want to do more than anything else now is, really establish Wolfgang’s work as, as strongly as I possibly can, in as many areas as I possibly can. We won’t have him with us that much longer. I hope to have an international conference on vertical causation in physics next year, and we hope to have a Philos-Sophia Initiative special edition of his collected works ready to go sometime next year too.
After that, we’ll just have to see if there are any movies out there that really need to be made that nobody else is going to take on.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:53:13] And finally, Rick, for anyone who might be interested in your first movie, which I’ve just kind of dipped into, looks extremely interesting. Tell folks quickly about that.
Rick DeLano: [00:53:24] Well, there’s one idea that brings the modern world into existence, and that is what we know today is the Copernican Cosmological Principle. This is the foundational idea that brings the modern world into existence, and it can be stated very easily. The earth is not in any special, central or privileged location with respect to large scale structure of the cosmos. This is the most widely believed assumption in the history of Western civilization. And there are astonishing new observations of the cosmos on its very large scales that called this assumption into very serious question. We made a film about it. It’s called The Principle, and you can access that film at www.theprinciplemovie.com.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:54:24] Rick, it’s been great having you on and I enjoyed it.
Rick DeLano: [00:54:25] Thank you, Alex. I enjoyed it very much and thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:54:33] So that will wrap it up. Rick, with your permission, I will edit slightly some of the combative stuff, it does turn people off.
Rick DeLano: [00:54:43] I’ll leave it entirely in your hands.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:54:45] I might leave some of it in, but we just kind of hashed it again and again and that just drives people away.
Rick DeLano: [00:54:48] There wasn’t a single bit of it that I didn’t love. The sparks flying is part of what makes this cool. You’re a tough interviewer, but an honest one. And ultimately a fair one. You got no problem from me at all my friend.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:55:07] Okay buddy, you take care and let’s stay in touch because I know you’re going to have another movie.
Rick DeLano: [00:55:10] Absolutely, anytime, anytime, anytime. You want to talk, we’ll talk.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:55:14] Okay, take care.
Thanks again to Rick DeLano for joining me today on Skeptiko. The one question I guess I’d have to tee up from this interview is, is it fair to use someone’s religion, in particular, someone’s Catholic faith as a litmus test, regarding their ability to talk about these deeper science questions and extended consciousness questions. Is that fair? I guess that’s the question.
Of course, I’d love to hear what you think. I really, really would. I know that this is a complicated issue, I know it can really trigger a lot of people and I get that. But I think we got to dive in.
Check me out over there at the Skeptiko Forum or, of course, just visit the Skeptiko website or send me an email or reach me, however you would like. The point is to connect with folks who are interested in this kind of Skeptiko stuff.
Please stay with me. I have a bunch of great shows coming up and some other stuff I’m working on that I’m dying to tell you about. Until next time, take care and bye for now.
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