Thursday, August 7, 2008

Music and Natural Theology

I've been waiting for the audio files for the Beyond Paley Natural Theology conference I attended in June to be posted, and it's getting close to two months and no results yet, so I thought I'd just post a few thoughts on what was my favorite talk there, by Jeremy Begbie titled "On the 'Naturalness' of Natural Theology: Learning from Rameau and Rosseau on Music." It sort of snuck up on me, because it was about comparing Rameau and Rosseau, and I didn't know that Rameau was one of the theorists who set up modern music, I just thought he was some random French philosopher. Once the comparison was made, it wasn't just a "compare and contrast" talk, but much of the talk focused on music and natural theology, and made fascinating points left and right about the relation. It makes sense, because music is so scientific at its heart, but I hadn't heard the two put together so well before.

One point Begbie made near the end: Objects must occupy locations, but different notes can occupy the same space, forming harmonies, yet remaining distinct and different. This brought to mind the Bose-Einstein condensate, in which if you get boson particles cold enough, they will collapse into an overlapping, big atom-like condensate. This had been demonstrated with rubidium: imagine overlapping rubidium atoms, like a chord! And the natural theology part of this is that this must be like the Trinity, or like the body of Christ in the church today.

That's just one sentence from the talk. If the talk is ever posted, it'll be here:

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