Chapter 12 – Blue Paperback

Elder Gottlieb held up a blue paper-back book with the image of an angel blowing a trumpet on the cover. Let’s explore that question. If you are right, about religion and science, we will all die and lose nothing. If we are right, we will die and you may have lost everything. You seem to have given up the search for the true map and compass by concluding that all religions and scientific conclusions somehow evolved over a few thousand years. You are excluding the most obvious hypothesis.

And what is the most obvious hypothesis Mr. Jäger?

The true mark, map, and compass have existed from the beginning. In the hands of arrogant men and women, the map was modified, its simplicity was ignored, and they choose to look towards new marks. All you have to do is find the original map, use the compass that you have been given, and the mark will become clear. 

Is the mark made of physical matter? How can you look at the mark if you don’t know where it is? Did you know “matter pops into and out of existence all the time (Adams, 2013)?”

Yes, you are again referring to principles of quantum mechanics and there are several hypotheses on why small matter appears to make quantum leaps. We have stories in our scriptures that refer people appearing to pop out of existence in one location, then appearing in another Helaman 10:16-17. The current science of quantum physics concurs with our beliefs. Elder Jäger is referring to a very unique set of marks. The marks are on something physical that does move freely through space and time. We cannot look at the marks with our physical eyes. Even though the marks are always moving, our actions can be guided by them. Once you know where the true marks are, you can then choose to act, rather than be acted upon.

There are no marks on any physical object that you can know with a certainty their position. Therefore, since you cannot know the position of your mark, you cannot move towards it.

Elder Jäger turned to Elder Gottlieb with a deep stare. Elder Jäger was ready once again to end the conversation. He wasn’t sure if he should provide the old man with more information that he would deflect with scientific theories of what is and what is not reality. Clearly the old man only believed in chance. After nearly an hour of conversation, Elder Jäger wasn’t sure the old man believed in anything. 

Elder Gottlieb on the other hand seemed to be having too much fun with comparing physics to religion. Elder Gottlieb had the upper hand on Elder Jäger because he had studied physics for several years. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in physics in only two years and went straight into a PhD program at Princeton at the age of 18. 

Elder Jäger earned his Eagle Scout award at 16 and completed one year of college in agricultural engineering with a minor in ancient religious studies. Elder Jäger knew that he would be a missionary all his life. When he was eight, his parents baptized him into their church and gave him a small tag for his white shirt that read, ‘Future Missionary’. He never took his eyes off of that goal. 

Elder Gottlieb decided only months before sending in his application, that he would take a two-year sabbatical from Princeton to serve. His mind, like fine matter, always seemed to be in two places at one time, never quite certain where he was. Elder Gottlieb frequently expressed his doubts about joining the church and going on his mission, while Elder Jäger never seemed to doubt anything which drove Elder Gottlieb crazy. Sitting with this old man, who seemed to know everything about the physics that Elder Gottlieb loved so much, was just what he needed. He was craving a good intellectual challenge and now he had found it. For Elder Gottlieb, this was fun; which is what worried Elder Jäger so much.

Elder Gottlieb spots an old wooden tennis racket sitting in the corner of the room by a trophy and photo with Avatar taken with an unknown tennis player. The photo looks very old. He decided to use this to take the conversation down a new path.

I play tennis and I have become quite good at it. I play on the university team. Have you ever played tennis?

It was a long time ago but yes, I played tennis and I was very good. In fact, there were few opponents who could return my back swing. I was able to return just about anything.

How did you do it? How were you able to track and return a ball that travels between 50 and 80 meters per second?

Elder Jäger glanced over as if to ask, how did you know that fact?

I did an experiment for a physics class on tracking the speed and position of a tennis ball. 

I cannot explain how I did it. Overtime, I was able to instinctively know where the ball would be before it left my opponents racket. I could hear the sound of ball hitting court, watch the motion of my opponents’ racket, hear the distinctive sound of the ball hitting the racket and then move the location where the ball was going to be.

According to the principles of quantum mechanics you could never know with certainty the position of the ball and therefore never be able to approach it, let alone rotate your racket to the precise position to strike the ball so that it would travel back to a location that you were aiming at. Regardless of the laws of physics, you did it anyway. How did you do it?

Avatar responded to Elder Gottlieb’s question. My brain learned how to predict the spin, velocity, and likely position of the ball with years of practice. If I were able to shrink myself down to the size of an atom, and then try to hit a tennis ball the size of a proton, the laws of quantum mechanics suggest that I could never do what I did with a tennis ball in this physical world.

We can manage probability in this world with things like predicting the location of a tennis ball traveling at 60 meters per section while spinning. We can learn how to see the ball, move our body towards it, while it is in motion, and act upon it. Even though tennis balls are made up of small unpredictable matter, tennis balls are predictable. The conditions in this world allow us to manage the unpredictability of small matter, which gives us the ability to act, if we are willing to put in the time to learn how to do it.