David Birnbaum Metaphysics 4 articles


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Op-Ed: A scientific finesse of the God question

Does Potentialism Theory unify Science & Religion?

By Scott Sawitz

A debate has raged for several thousand years pivoting over the following (real) issue and (false) assumption: If the universe and the human body are indeed ‘designed,’ does that not prove (supernatural) Creationism?

The atheistic/scientific community says NO DESIGN, ergo no (supernatural) Designer (God). The polar-opposite Creationist community says YES DESIGN, ergo (our supernatural) Creationism (and God).

Enter metaphysicist and conceptual theorist David Birnbaum: There is YES DESIGN, but the designer is (scientific) Infinite Quest for Potential in league with the equations of Physics-Math. Cannot get more pro-science than that. However, Birnbaum then takes matters to an interesting universality: This eternal overarching dynamic of Infinite Potential may or may not evolve into classic God. Matters can metaphysically be read either way.

Meaning, hitherto, notwithstanding compelling evidence, the ‘entrenched orthodox’ atheistic academic community has adamantly presented a ‘united front’ coming down squarely and aggressively against considering any design in nature, presumably to short-circuit any argument for Creationism. However, their zealousness in challenging DESIGN is predicated upon a false premise.

Birnbaum shows that, contrary to the popular-wisdom assumption, DESIGN is not only scientific, it is radically more scientific than the random chaos championed by the ‘entrenched orthodoxy’ of the British academic atheist hierarchy. To the Randomness/atheist advocates, all is random and meaningless. Birnbaum feels that history will not be overly kind to their unstructured and scientifically dubious Theory of No Theory.

Albert Einstein, in his book The World As I See It, stated that the harmony of natural law “reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.”

In a letter to a child who asked if scientists pray, Einstein wrote “Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble” (January 24, 1936; Einstein Archive 42-601).

The Big Questions: Classic metaphysics questions have remain unanswered for millennia: Is there an eternal dynamic? What was the catalyst for the cosmos? Why does anything exist?  How/why did Life emerge? What is our purpose? New scientific questions have been added to the list:  What ignited the Big Bang? What is the essence and drive of Evolution? What was the catalyst for emotion, consciousness?  Birnbaum daringly offers an elegant simultaneous solution (to all of the above) which has tantalized the world.

Metaphysics was the discipline of the classic Greeks: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. But  they were not able to come up with convincing answers which would stand the test of time; nor were the great Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Eastern or secular philosophers able to do so. So since civilization began 7,000 years ago, these questions – both the old and the new – have hitherto remained unanswered.

The field of metaphysics almost disappeared from the radar as a formal discipline subsequent to the posthumous publication of Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza’s treatise Ethics following his death in 1687. In the ensuing 300+ years, no one has put forward a comprehensive theory or tract which has gained sustained traction to gain international attention and a significant academic foothold – until Messr. Birnbaum’s Summa Metaphysica alighted ‘center stage’ in 2012-2013.

Potentialism Theory: David Birnbaum of New York began looking at this ultimate puzzle as a 10 year old in 1960. Poking-around and consulting whatever ‘sources of knowledge’ he could gently harass, Birnbaum focused on three key fields which he was directly exposed to: religion, metaphysics and astrophysics. He was acutely aware of the parallel shortcoming in all three for explaining cosmic origins. He first came up with his solution in 1982 and formalized his theory in the 1988 volume I of his to-be 3-volume treatise.

Birnbaum employed a somewhat unique approach to unraveling the inter-related Big Questions. He made several key assumptions, which were to prove crucial. He felt that the solution was (a) probably not only ‘hiding in plain sight,’ but that it was also (b) relatively simple, and (c) infinite.

Regarding (a) his reasoning was that that a dynamic powerful-enough to extricate reality from the cosmic void, was probably a pervasive theme – and hence, pretty much in full view. Regarding (b) his reasoning was that only a ’simple’ dynamic could be eternal, and as regards (c) his reasoning was that only an infinite concept could get us from infinity to the present.

Meaning, that the key to the cosmic code was not some obscure mathematical formula. And meaning that as a consequence he could deal with the code-breaking part-time, sort-of as a hobby. He conjectured that the correct solution to any one problem, should be the solution to at least several of the other key Big Questions. Thus, the proof that he had hit upon the correct ‘solution’ would not lie in abstruse physics, but rather in its apparent simultaneity.

Birnbaum’s main resource for information was initially two elementary school Yeshiva of Forest Hills classmates Sherwin and Alan, each of whom seemed to know everything there was to know about science. However, they consistently deflected his Big Questions with a shrug. That was to be his experience with the scientific community in general in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. Up until 2012 when Bard College hosted its now-famous conference fully-focused on his landmark work (see below).

According to Birnbaum’s Theory of Potential, eternal Quest for Potential harnesses the eternal equations of Physics-Math to ignite the cosmic order. See his 16 point outline for a step-by-step articulation.  Birnbaum proposes that his theory can be viewed respectively by Religious Man, Spiritual Man and Secular Man. Hence, his three-volume treatise.

A brief wedge into Religious Man would show him potentially viewing the Creator as the God of Potential. See Book of Exodus at the Burning Bush saga, where the Creator identifies himself as Eheyeh asher Eheyeh. Birnbaum translates that as I Will Be That Which I Will Be – meaning, according to Birnbaum, I am the God of Potential.

Birnbaum promotes an original concept as the key to understanding the cosmos. His concept of Infinite Potential as the eternal cosmic force, suggests that this dynamic worked its way forward over the eons and ignited our universe, which ultimately led to the materialization of humans.

Developed in 3-volume Summa Metaphysica, Potentialism Theory can be explained quite succinctly as well: Potential drives the universe. Infinite Quest for Potential is the “prime mover” of life; it lies where science, philosophy and spirituality meet. Flexible enough to include all typologies of mankind – religious, spiritual and secular man – Infinite Potential can be defined differently by each:
For religious man, it is the core of classic God.
For spiritual man, it is the spirit and drive of the cosmic order.
For secular man, it is the cosmic mechanism.

Birnbaum develops his Potentialism Theory schema for the three typologies of mankind across his three volumes: Summa Metaphysica I: Religious Man: God and Evil (Ktav Publishing 1988); Summa Metaphysica II: Spiritual Man:God and Good (New Paradigm Matrix 2005); and finally Summa Metaphysica III:  Secular Man: The Transcendent Dynamic (New Paradigm Matrix 2014).

Although his theory can be simply stated in one word “Potential,” Birnnbaum crafted Summa Metaphysica to attempt “get his arms around” an infinite universe – and the key  metaphysics problems therein. The treatise has been used as a course text at universities worldwide including UCLA, Brandeis and Hebrew University (Jerusalem).  Birnbaum’s Potentialism Theory was the subject of a 4-day international academic conference in April 2012 at Bard College in Upstate NY, which ultimately ignited a global storm.

Scientist Andrei Alyokhin, Associate professor of Biology and Ecology at the University of Maine wrote in November 2012 “Deeply rooted in Biblical tradition, yet providing a modern and original approach to answering millennia-old questions, Summa represents a bold attempt to formulate a unifying concept of the universe….It is reasonable to propose Summa’s Quest for Potential as a working hypothesis for explaining the impetus behind the cosmic dynamic.”

Yale philosopher of religion and noted metaphysics authority Louis Dupré (1988) wrote of Summa I “an original, and, in this reader’s opinion, a very promising point of view…the author gathers a philosophically coherent and, in the end, a highly modern insight…a unified metaphysics….” British journalist Oliver Burkeman (2013), directly echoing the iconic French scientist and thought leader Claude Levi-Straus (2006), has hailed Summa as “remarkable and profound.”

To hear Birnbaum himself speak about his theory, check out Summa “focus tapes”. No flaw – scientific or otherwise – has been found in Birnbaum’s Theory of Potential since Ktav Publishing released Volume I of Summa in 1988. And, after 7,000 years of  both formal and informal discussion and debate on these issues, there is no competing integrated theory on the global chessboard.







Intellectual Pursuit versus Collegiate Orthodoxy

January 16, 2014

In April of 2012, Bard College hosted an academic conference focusing on a philosophical treatise by private scholar David Birnbaum. Twelve months later, that same conference would set off a firestorm of academic censure, personal attacks and outrage from the collegiate establishment. In what can only be described as an attack upon intellectual freedom and critical thinking, Mr. Birnbaum and anyone brave enough to stand for the intellectual and academic legitimacy of the conference would become the target of libel and character defamation.

Aggressively protected by establishment academic circles, the Theory of Randomness postulates that everything in the universe is simply a random occurrence. Vociferously championed by entrenched academics and atheists alike, Randomness seeks to remove the possibility of the spiritual or metaphysical from any universal theory of creation.

Detractors of this theory are quick to point out, however, the inherent intellectual laziness of Randomness. Ensconced within a scientific lexicon, Randomness does little in the way of actual universal explanation – using the blanket theory of “it is simply random” in lieu of logical or material evidence to support and explain. In short, the Theory of Randomness fallaciously uses its own entrenched academic position to self-prove itself.

Understanding Summa Metaphysica

By contrast, Mr. Birnbaum has introduced a unifying theory in his work, Summa Metaphysica. Far from excluding the concept or rightful place of chaos theory, Mr. Birnbaum’s work presents it in its proportionate place alongside philosophical and metaphysical theory. Meaning, that while randomness plays-a-part, it is not the over-riding governing cosmic dynamic, which, in turn obviously yields apparent pattern and design in the cosmic order. Such is the common-sense, self-evident nature of Summa Metaphysic’s Theory of Potential (Frontiers, “Potentialism or String Theory?”).

While any new, divergent theory is, rightfully, subject to intense scrutiny – it is the nature of the attacks upon Summa Metaphysica which are suspect. Indeed, the intellectual core of the Theory of Potential (Theory of Potential, Logical Science, December 2013) seems not to have been criticized at all. Ever. What has transpired, however, has been a relentless string of ad hominem attacks upon any academic brave enough to express confidence in Potential Theory.

Following the conference in 2012, the panelists, the chairman of the conference and even Bard’s President, Leon Botstein, began being pressured by the entrenched academic establishment to distance themselves from the conference and its validity. Mr. Birnbaum himself would be contacted in April of 2013 by a co-chair of the conference, professor Garry Hagberg, and be advised that Professor Hagberg had been in contact with the ‘British academic hierarchy’ (The UK Academic System, PDF) advising him he would need to distance himself from the conference or face academic ruin and isolation. Within the next month, Professor Hagberg, several conference panelists, Dr. Bruce Chilton (chairman of the conference) and the President of Bard itself would all distance themselves from any public support of their very own conference.

However, one panelist stood fast against the intimidation of the academic establishment – Bard Professor of History Gennady Shkliarevsky. Professor Shkliarevsky publicly criticized President Botstein for both abandoning support of the conference and for orchestrating participants to do likewise. Professor Shkliarevsky’s defense notwithstanding, President Botstein’s capitulation to what amounts to external academic coercion has done lasting damage to Bard’s intellectual reputation and integrity.

For his part, Mr. Birnbaum retained high-level legal representation and brought threat of libel and defamation suits against Bard to force it to halt its campaign of discrediting its own conference at the behest of the orthodox academic establishment. Birnbaum also posted online his own set of the conference videotapes, much to the chagrin of Bard which vainly sought to both block the tapes and close down Birnbaum’s very own conference site.

Intellectual Challenges?

While intellectual challenge to any new theory is expected, even encouraged, it begs the question: Why has the academic establishment chosen ad hominem (A Concise Introduction to Logic7th ed., Wadsworth. pp. 125-128, 182) attacks against proponents of Infinite Potential Theory instead of challenging the theory itself directly? Is it perhaps because the theory is too strong? Too elegant? A lethal threat to Randomness Theory? All of the above? Is the Randomness Theory just a ‘house of cards’? Is the Randomness Theory just a 21st century version of ‘the Emperor’s Clothes’?

Infinite Potential is, indeed, a quite-powerful threat to the establishment’s Randomness theory. Ad hominem is a fallacious attack against the messenger when it is intellectually inadvisable to attack the message directly. Where Randomness offers lexical gymnastics, obscure mathematics and circular arguments; Infinite Potential offers self-evident, common sense answers and a unifying theory where religion, science and the metaphysical can coexist cooperatively. Where Randomness postulates that neither religion nor spirituality have any place in reality, Infinite Potential offers a ‘space’ and architecture where all may coexist peacefully and logically. Infinite Potential offers a bridge between the religious, the unknown and the scientific just as a Unifying Theory of Physics offers scientists a bridge between the macroscopic and sub-atomic (International Journal of Modern Physics A15.supp01b, 2000: 840-852).

Despite the virulent personal attacks and threats from the orthodox academic establishment, Birnbaum and his supporters have not only refused to retreat, but have, indeed, doubled down. With his own global set of steadfast academic backers, his philosophy works used at over a dozen colleges, international media focus on him, an international academic email list boasting some two million members, and a theory which has proved unassailable for over twenty-five years, Mr. Birnbaum commands a strong position on the global academic chessboard. He is quietly confident that he will prevail. Reviews by the British press, unlike the British academic establishment, have characterized his work thus far as “remarkable” and “profound”. Birnbaum supporters points out that the opposition – Randomness – is more the absence of a theory, than a bona fide theory.

In Conclusion

Whether Bard will stand on the right side of scientific history might still remain to be seen; however, their pretentious standing on the wrong side of intellectualism has already been established and if the fallacious attacks of Summa Metaphysica’s proponents are any indicator, history will not be kind to Bard.

Albert Einstein made the iconic observation that “God does not play dice with the universe.” (Einstein and the Poet: In Search of the Cosmic Man, p. 58). Summa Metaphysica is in accord. Indeed, it plays-out Einstein’s maxim. Via its Theory of Potential Birnbaum, is tenaciously and steadfastly executing a dramatic global paradigm challenge.





Potentialism or String Theory?

Posted by: Jastin Bailey
Posted on: 21 Dec 2013

Science – and physics in particular – seeks the Theory of Everything (TOE) in a formula or concept like ‘String Theory.’ To a physicist, a theory like ‘String Theory’ which potentially unifies Einstein’s large-scale physics with small-scale quantum physics would be a ‘theory of everything.’

But, an obvious question comes to mind:  Maybe that is just a ‘Unified Theory of Physics’ and not of the grander cosmos in all its richness and mysteries – beyond the realm of pure physics?

Now, since ancient times, philosophers have been grappling for a theory unifying everything.  The West is familiar with Aristotle and Plato and their buddies. ‘Everything’ is what they grappled with. And ‘everything’ encompassed much more that the mechanistic field of physics, however that field was to morph and evolve over the millennia to come.

Contemporary science uses the shorthand notation TOE for the elusive Theory of Everything. But what happened to the more overarching and iconic field (metaphysics) of those famous Greeks? Gone with the wind? Not fashionable? Not politically correct? Too intractable – so we abandon the inquiry, however noble?

Metaphysics is a corner of philosophy which deals in the fundamental building blocks of the cosmic order. Contemporary metaphysicist David Birnbaum of Manhattan uses the shorthand notation Q4P for his proposed overarching ‘Quest for Potential’ theory (for absolutely everything). Now, metaphysicists shun the term ‘theory of everything’ for their own theories, even though that is quite-precisely what (all) their theories attempt – by definition. Metphysicians are acutely aware of the grandness of their respective quests, and are simultaneously averse to trumpeting that grandness. To date, no metaphysics has ‘withstood the test of time.’ Only very, very brave individuals ‘attempt a dive off of this high board.’  The potential rewards of ‘cracking the cosmic code’ may be great, but the odds of success are quite daunting, to put it mildly. Brave souls involved in metaphysics have enough challenges on-their-hands without trumpeting that they seek the ‘Ultimate Big Idea Eureka Moment Flashing Light Bulb.’

Let us now go back to the scientific quest for a TOE – a Theory of Everything. From the vantage point of a philosopher or metaphysicist or to a random 7-year-old, reconciling large-scale physics with small-scale-physics is far from a Theory of Everything.  However, that TOE (Theory of Everything) term is widely used in academic circles and I the general vernacular, including our contemporary source for Absolute Truth Wikipedia, which we all know and love.

Now, metaphysics has been somewhat orphaned since the dawn of the European Renaissance in Florence in the 14th century. The Renaissance placed ‘laboratory science’ on the very highest pedestal, and there it has remained. Contemporary ‘theoretical physics’ pegs-off of laboratory science and the two march-in-tandem. However, it turns-out that the Renaissance simply did not solve the ‘very big’ questions – and not for lack of trying. It turns out that the optimal ‘laboratory’ for cracking the cosmic code is one’s brain. And that creative and incisive human brain has been around for many thousands of years, predating any particle accelerator setup in CERN. Indeed, it comes off-the-shelf with all newborns. No National Science Foundation grants needed.

To yeshiva-educated and Harvard-educated contemporary metaphysicist David Birnbaum, among others, the ‘laboratory physics’—only approach,  as opposed to a  grander ‘conceptual approach,’ will always fall short. Metaphysics indeed incorporates ‘laboratory science’ as an integral key component part, but not as the entire deal. Metaphysics points out that unless we take a grander conceptual approach, we will always be left with a series of key classic philosophical/metaphysical questions/issues hanging unresolved.

Additionally, odds-are that even the so-to-speak ‘unified scientific theory’ will tend to have ‘troublesome’ loose ends. These irritating ‘loose ends’ will all ultimately be resolvable not in a 2014  laboratory – but rather by the bona fide metaphysical construct, when it is discerned and played-out – by the scientific community. As the respective names of the fields, metaphysics and physics, imply, ultimately one cannot separate metaphysics from physics. The two fields are so to speak ‘connected-at-the-hip.’

Some of these ‘hanging issues’ which a scientific community TOE would leave unresolved would include the following: (1) Why is there anything at all? (2) Where did the ‘strings’ of String Theory come from? (3) What initially ‘energized’ these so-interesting strings – or whatever physical phenomena/entity is proposed as unifying? (4)  What ‘breathes fire’ into these ‘strings’ today – sustaining their dynamism? (5)  What ignited the Big Bang, the primary initial focus of ‘String Theory’? (6) The ‘Goldilocks Enigma’ question:  Why were the dynamics of ‘the strings’ so finely calibrated such as to produce a universe which would generate life? (7) What was the actual catalyst for life, language and consciousness?

Both conceptual theorist/private scholar David Birnbaum of Manhattan (Summa Metaphysica series 1988, 2005) and quantum physicist Seth Lloyd of MIT (Programming the Universe 2006) deal on a grand macro level: Over the span of cosmic history to-date how is the overall universe operating?  Each thought leader individually proposes a ground breaking solution. Both of their respective solutions are original, but are nevertheless eerily inter-related and parallel.

It turns out that Birnbaum can readily incorporate the Lloyd theory as the ‘mechanistic’ portion of his grander and more overarching metaphysical ‘Potentialism’ theory. Academics are aware of Birnbaum’s option here, but the author has not committed as such to date. Although crafted from radically different perspectives – Birnbaum’s  revolutionary theory is through a  metaphysical lens and Lloyd’s provocative theory is through a quantum mechanics lens – nothing in the Birnbaum theory materially contradicts the Lloyd theory  – and vice versa.

Both thought leaders specifically propose front-and-center that the equations of physics are marshaled by the cosmic order to iteratively ‘advance’ (the cosmos).  Birnbaum and Lloyd respectively each propose different paradigms, but at the gut core of their proposals they are in-sync.

Both of these theorists posit and publish parallel theories of ‘cosmos-as-a-whole iteration and self-advance.’  In parallel their theories overturn the global academic status quo. To both theorists, the cosmos as-a-whole – via internal and integral dynamics – is constantly iterating and advancing (to the next level).  The two theories step onto the global intellectual stage amazingly in-tandem.

Lloyd’s (2006) theory was pretty much ignored until the related Birnbaum theory (1988, 2005) as if by spontaneous combustion, exploded onto the global arena in 2013. For context, November 2013 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the November 1988 release of Birnbaum’s Summa Metaphysica I (God and Evil).

We will focus more in-depth now on the Birnbaum approach as it ‘wraps-around’ the Lloyd approach. Meaning, per Birnbaum the Lloyd construct is ‘necessary but not sufficient.’  By this thinking, Lloyd is not necessarily wrong; he is just not fleshing-out the situation as fully as is necessary. Per Birnbaum, Professor of Quantum Mechanics Lloyd is mainly giving the mechanics aspect. Lloyd would
probably agree – as his mantra is that he is “but a mechanic.” Lloyd universe-as-quantum-computer is perhaps not giving the still-fuller necessary conceptual/metaphysical superstructure. So we will focus on the more overarching paradigm which Birnbaum proposes in his seminal treatise.

For context of the overall ‘conceptual chessboard’ one could say that (MIT scientist) Lloyd’s  quantum mechanics construct ‘wraps-around’ the scientific community’s  TOE (Theory of Everything) , and that Birnbaum’s construct, in turn,  wraps-around Lloyd’s construct. Ironically, it turns out that Birnbaum’s overarching construct is, on some level, the ‘simplest’ of all.

Birnbaum likes proposed grand concepts to be ‘simple, yet infinite.’ According to Birnbaum, only a ‘simple yet infinite’ dynamic could have broken out of the void.  Since  on its face the string in ‘String Theory’ is neither ‘simple’ nor ‘infinite,’ it is  perhaps more suitable for the more ‘limited realm’ of Advanced Physics (however profound that realm is) than for the infinite world of metaphysics.

Birnbaum’s super-wrap construct can be encapsulated in one word: Potential. This is the core of his ‘framing concept’ or what Archimedes would label as his proposed ‘axiom.’ But axiom or not, Birnbaum believes he can posit its eternality via Formal Logic – which, by the way, he studied as an undergraduate.

As well, Birnbaum makes the following calculation: Find the dynamic which is eternal, and that dynamic should probably ‘solve’ the bulk of the key unresolved metaphysics issues. That metaphysical dynamic, if correct, should de facto unify all fields (including, in the mix, the large and small-scale theories of physics).

Birnbaum vectors onto the dynamic of Potential/Possibility as the only dynamic which we can posit with certitude as being eternal. He then refines the dynamic to be ‘Quest for Potential’ (Q4P).  Birnbaum then layers Q4P across cosmic history – and across the entire series of classic and modern metaphysics questions. It seems to work.  Summa theory has been hailed as a tour de force of conceptual elegance. (See www.sequence1000.com for point-by-point articulation).

Scientist Andrei Alyokhin, Professor of Biology and Ecology at University of Maine – frontally endorsing the power of Summa Theory – wrote In December 2012:  “Summa represents a bold attempt to formulate a unifying concept of the universe…It is reasonable to propose the Quest for Potential as a working hypothesis for explaining the impetus behind the cosmic dynamic…”.  Note that neither Birnbaum nor Alyokhin speak with certitude. Rather, both propose Summa as a ‘working hypothesis.’ (Of course they both happen to believe it to be true.)

Effectively, Birnbaum launches ‘Potentialism.’ The Manhattan conceptual theorist is quick to point out, however, that his ‘potential’ theory is intended as a transcending dynamic fueling (all) other fields, whether physics or biology or spirituality or religion et al.  Meaning, Potentialism is intended as a ‘framing concept’ and not as a stand-alone ‘belief system.’ Of course, what Birnbaum wants with his theory, and what the world actually does with his theory, may or may not turn out to be one-and-the-same.

Birnbaum assiduously crafts his philosophy works as potentially simpatico to religion in general, and monotheism (and Judaism) in particular. Indeed he subtitles the two volumes of Summa Metaphysica as God and Evil, and God and Good, respectively. And, indeed, his Summa I: God and Evil work offers – via his Quest for Potential theory –  an original and elegant resolution of ‘the problem of evil’ . The shorthand notation for the ‘problem of evil’ is ‘theodicy’, the salient issue which has most vexed religious philosophy over the millennia.

Published in 1988, the Birnbaum theodicy, which deploys ‘potential’ as centerpiece, has resonated globally. World renowned Professor of Jewish History Lawrence Schiffman (previously of NYU, recently at Yeshiva University) wrote in December 1989: “Birnbaum comes as close as possible to solving the dilemma of evil in a world created by a just God.”

But on net balance Birnbaum is universalistic, wary of over-committing conceptually to a religious approach. More in the tradition of Aristotle and Spinoza, he gives full respect to religion, while maintaining a careful emotional and intellectual distance. And it is this ‘universalism’ which may eventually turn out to be a runaway phenomenon.

Of course in Summa, Birnbaum provides religious adherents with what many have been seeking at least since Sinai – a quite-powerful metaphysical anchor. This ‘metaphysical anchor’ is not to be underestimate in the 5,000 year ongoing feud between the ‘religious’ at one polarity and the ‘hard-line atheistic’ at the other polarity.

Birnbaum’s philosophy works have been used as course texts at universities and seminaries globally for over twenty-five years.  Secular institutions Included in these dozen+ institutions are UCLA, Brandeis and Hebrew University (Jerusalem) among others. Note that the title Summa Metaphysica ‘modestly’ translates as ‘the sum of all metaphysics.’

Birnbaum’s  Potentialism posits a follows:  The true overarching ‘unifying force’ is Potential; Potential is eternal; it brought the equation of physics to the fore; in turn they (acting as agents of Divine Potential?) ached and ache to-this-day for ever-fuller actualization and realization and overall potentiality; to that end they engineered the igniting of the universe as we know it (via the Big Bang) as a platform to reach fuller realization through reality; within that reality, pressing well-beyond survival ( of the fittest), they quest for life, love, consciousness et al.  Elegant and powerful. If one wishes to assert that Potential forms the core of the Divine, so be it. If not, not.

Note that Birnbaum’s Theory of Potentialism wraps-around Lloyd’s complexifying quantum universe, which in turn wraps-around the ‘string theory’ physicist’s universe (or its latest theory du jour). In plain English Birnbaum’s theory wraps-around Lloyd’s theory, which wraps-around String Theory. Thus, Summa supporters maintain that Q4P is the Real Deal Theory of Everything (that is, the Real Deal TOE).  Accept no substitute.

As noted, at the core of Birnbaum’s Summa theory of potential is Q4P (Quest for Potential).  And this Q4P is posited as the true and sole ‘framing concept’ of the cosmos.  For those who like their concepts super-concise, the shorthand for the proposition would, tongue-in-cheek, consequently be “Q4P is the true TOE.” The rhyming is coincidence.






Is there a Purpose to Life and the Cosmic Order?

David Birnbaum’s Audacious Summa Metaphysica Theory

November 4, 2013

David Birnbaum’s audacious Summa Metaphysica theory

Plato (427-347 BCE) and his student Aristotle (384-322 BCE) believed that there was an ultimate purpose to the universe. But that was a long time ago when the discipline of metaphysics was in vogue, and elite thought leaders attempted to uncover the fundamental building blocks of the cosmic order. Plato and Aristotle believed that there was, indeed, a purpose to the universe, but admitted that they were unable to discern precisely what it was. Over the next two and a half thousand years the consensus shifted back-and-forth as to whether or not Purpose existed (see www.PotentialismTheory,com).

Then, along came the European Renaissance (c. 14th – 17th century) and everyone assumed that science would solve the key problems relating to the cosmos – which had remained unsolved and unresolved over the millennia. However, five centuries after the beginning of the European Renaissance, the best that science has come up with is that the universe is aimless and has no purpose. Randomness. According to the current entrenched orthodoxy which connects establishment philosophy with establishment science, Randomness reigns supreme. All is random. The Big Bang was random; the emergence of life was random; Consciousness is random. Your sophisticated complexity…is Random. (With a little ‘survival of the species’ thrown in).

Enter David Birnbaum. Born in 1950, his mother an artist and his father a businessman; Birnbaum grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, NY in the 1950s. He went to Modern Orthodox Jewish Day School. [It turned out that Simon and Garfunkel grew up contemporaneously in the same ‘hood and went to public school there]. An aficionado of the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright (d. 1959), Birnbaum leaned towards eventually becoming an architect professionally, but had two interesting side interests as a youngster – Metaphysics and Astrophysics. With the help of teachers, he tracked both fields.

In class, Birnbaum swam in the waters of Modern Orthodox Judaism, and was deeply versed in its dogma. He would emerge as valedictorian of his elementary school class. But Birnbaum was clear from the get-go as regards Maimonidean-based Jewish philosophy. “I’m far from convinced.”

Youngster Birnbaum was tracking all three fields – Metaphysics, Astrophysics and Religion. He was acutely aware that many parallel issues vexed all three disciplines. He was aware that all three filled-in lots of theory and dogma in the middle of their propositions, but that all three seemed to fall particularly short at the two ends of their propositions: “Origins” at the ‘beginning’ and ‘’Purpose’ at the end. Metaphysics, Astrophysics and Religion: Three seemingly very different fields – but all with the parallel issues. How did it all start? Where is it headed?

So, the question regarding “beginning” is often referred-to as the Eternal Origins question.

At the future-end, the formal name for the issue is Teleology – Is there a purpose/goal to the cosmos? And if so, what is it?

As of November 2013, 2,360 years after the death of Plato, the scientific/philosophical community still has no working hypothesis as regards either of these key issues. But Birnbaum proposes a “simultaneous” solution. Indeed, that is why he crafted his philosophy work. Andrei Alyokhin for one, Associate Professor of Biology and Ecology at The University of Maine, believes that Birnbaum’s theory should be employed as the global academic working hypothesis.

From childhood, Birnbaum tracked all three fields carefully – through elementary school (Yeshiva of Forest Hills), high school (Yeshiva University High School – Manhattan), college (CCNY: City College of NY School of Engineering (with a major in Computer Science) and then through academic life in Cambridge, Mass. In graduate school (Harvard Business School). Birnbaum got his masters in finance, but lived near Harvard Hillel, a Mecca for Boston’s academic elite of all faiths to present their ideas of matters both cosmic and trivial. A Sabbath Observer, Birnbaum was not into Friday night Boston partying or Saturday morning Harvard lacrosse; He had both the time and focus to attend the vibrant nearby Harvard Hillel Friday night and Saturday symposiums and forums. He listened carefully.

The questions, however, remained unanswered. When he graduating Harvard, and exited Boston in June 1974, back to Manhattan, Birnbaum was clear that all three fields were essentially stuck. And going nowhere. He was fascinated that even the so-to-speak “best and the brightest” did not have the answers. He put ‘cracking the cosmic’ on his informal 5-20 year to-do list.

Birnbaum went into the international rare gem business, but on-the-side continued his intellectual odyssey. He had tracked the three fields since age 10. He had examined the various academic and theological perspectives from multiple angles. Could he unravel the knots which damped-down the vibrancy of each of the three fields? Could possibly one subtle theme unravel all the knots simultaneously? He was now convinced that such was the case: A subtle theme ‘hiding-in-plain-site. His hunt for the Holy Grail of the cosmos was now an official “David Birnbaum project” he often came back to.

Birnbaum had one confidante in his to-be 50 year quest – his high school buddy – and a Physics and Biology teacher – Steven Gross. Steven, a graduate of Columbia University School of Engineering – was the “sounding board,” the “reality-check.” Gross (living in Jerusalem for the last 25 years) would stick by Birnbaum (in NY) for five decades through this day. Steven Gross is a polymath – a person with very significant expertise across a dozen scientific disciplines. Birnbaum considers himself to be a “Conceptual Theorist”. The two would prove-to-be a perfect complementary fit. Birnbaum would propose or write a chapter; Gross would hold-it-to-the-fire. Birnbaum describes the ascetic Gross as a “19th century Jesuit cleric disguised as a 20th century Orthodox Jewish scientist.”

In 1982, roughly 22 years after commencing his informal investigation odyssey into the three inter-related fields (Metaphysics, Astrophysics & Religion), Birnbaum felt that he had at last isolated onto the key core dynamic. And, indeed it was subtle. It seemed to elegantly resolve the key issues of the three fields via one subtle theme – Potential. Moreover, the same theme of Potential would unravel, as well, a cluster of other knotty issues plaguing all three fields. It would prove-to-be what is now considered by many to be “the simultaneous solution”. One concept unlocks all three treasure chests. After Birnbaum sold his idea to the hyper-demanding Gross, Birnbaum knew he was ‘on his way.’

Now, Monotheistic Religion had at least one extra major philosophical problem; the “problem of evil”. This problem is classically called Theodicy: If there is an all-powerful and all-merciful God, why is there gross evil? The Theodicy issue hovers over the now globally far-flung Birnbaum clan. David Birnbaum’s namesake, his paternal grandfather Rave David Birnbaum, was murdered in his 80s by the invading Nazis in his hometown in Czechoslovakia in 1944.

About 22 years after commencing his intellectual quest at age 10 in 1960, David Birnbaum vectored in to his signature theme’ and discerned a line-of-attack. One subtle theme – Quest for Infinite Potential – would seem to simultaneously ’solve’ all the key and interrelated classic issues. He triple-checked for six months that the theme was original. It, indeed, withstood the originality-vetting. Mid-1982. David Birnbaum commenced writing what was ultimately to be a philosophical game-changer.

Six years later In May 1988 KTAV Publishing, a respected publisher of primarily Jewish-related scholarly books, gambled and published Birnbaum’s work God and Evil: A unified Theodicy/Theology/Philosophy [ see www.GodAndEvil.com 164 pages of text, plus 59 pages of footnotes – all 664 of them]. This work would later be designated as Volume I of Birnbaum’s 2-volume Summa Metaphysica series the work proposes as its signature theme that ‘Potential’ drives the cosmic order. The theory was original, and over the next decade the work received a plethora of fine reviews globally. Eventually, over a dozen colleges globally would assign the work as a Course Text. To date, no flaw has been found in the elegant theory. The work has been through multiple printings, with over 50,000 sets now in circulation globally. Rabbi Benjamin Blech, Professor of Talmud and Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University, describes the God and Evil work as “a philosophical masterpiece for all time…. Birnbaum’s ‘God of Potential’ impacted clergy and academics globally… It remains a truly iconic work.”

According to the hypothesis, Potential/Possibility is eternal. Indeed, it is the only dynamic, according to the author which can be stated with certainty to be eternal, by definition. Indeed, after examination, it is, according to the author, self-evident as being eternal.

Birnbaum took a slight break after God and Evil – a 12 year break – to see if he could find-a-way to so-to-speak better get-his-arms-around his own core theme of infinite Potential. The theme was big – and Birnbaum understood that tackling-it on a grander scale would not be easy. He re-commenced writing in 2000. Five years later in 2005 he posted God and Good (Summa Metaphysica II) online (www.Philosophy1000.com – with the 2-book series now readily available en toto in flip-book at no charge to his key market – students – globally. By 2005 Birnbaum was simultaneously building a multi-media publishing platform, which now goes by the name New Paradigm Matrix. This entity formally published Summa II God and Good in 2008. KTAV was, in principle, willing to publish it, but Birnbaum wanted to be able to offer it gratis online from the get-go – aside from the Amazon for-pay option. He also wanted better control of the publishing process – as the work might need add-ons as his thinking evolved.

In March 2012, Bard College, upstate NY, hosted an international academic conference with a prime focus on Summa Metaphysica (see www.Conference1000.com). Birnbaum’s quite formalized metaphysics of Potential was juxtaposed against the academic establishment’s more informal metaphysics of Randomness. Dynamic debate – primarily at the collegial meals at the conference, pitted Birnbaum against academic establishment pillar, world renowned chemist and former Oxford don Peter Atkins. Birnbaum championed Potential; Atkins championed Randomness/Decay.

As regards the classic Theodicy (problem of Evil), Birnbaum places Potential at the core of the Divine. Potential is axiomatic. The Divine cannot contravene its own essence – of Potential. And since Freedom – Man’s freedom – is inextricably tied to Potential – the Divine cannot intrude on Man’s freedom – for to do so would be akin to cosmic suicide. There have been philosophers over the centuries who have ‘solved’ Theodicy by postulating that all-powerful God elects not to intervene in Man’s Freedom in order to yield man fullest possible Potential. Birnbaum’s crucial pivot here – as a consequence of his Potential theme – is that the Divine – whose very core is Infinite Divine Potential – is not truly able to intervene in Man’s Freedom.

Concerned about potentially being excommunicated – a la’ Spinoza – by the Jewish religious “right wing” for divergence from the Jewish philosophical Orthodoxy, Birnbaum braced his family. But the Jewish “right wing” felt his intentions were noble, his approach respectful, his scholarship impeccable – and his propositions elegant enough – and held-their-fire. As Birnbaum held-his-breath. Twenty-five years later he has emerged as editor-in-chief of the now-underway landmark 10-volume Mesorah Matrix series on Jewish spirituality, which has 140+ global Jewish thought leaders signed-up as essayists. (See www.MesorahMatrix.com) from across the Jewish spectrum. The first two volumes are expected-out in 2014.

As noted, at the future-end of the inter-related series of classic philosophical/scientific questions lies the ‘purpose of the universe’ question – known as the question of Teleology. Birnbaum layers his key theme of Potential right through it: The universe seeks to optimize its potential. The universe is, indeed, a Cosmic Womb of Potential. It ultimately seeks what Birnbaum calls extraordinariation. Birnbaum’s hypothesis dovetails with the work of contemporary NYU Professor of Law and Philosophy Thomas Nagel. In his controversial 2012 work Man and Cosmos, Nagel argues that the current “entrenched orthodoxy” in the scientific/philosophical community does not and cannot account for the evolvement of life, consciousness, and altruism, among other matters, and that consequently a teleology is needed.

Birnbaum elegantly lances all the key philosophical issues with one simple, yet sophisticated, theme: Quest for Potential. With regards the heavily-reviewed Summa I, the iconic paradigm arbiter Louis Dupré, retired Sterling Professor of Philosophy at Yale, has called the theory “original, promising… and a unified metaphysics”. Paul Mendes-Flour, Professor of Philosophy at Hebrew University – and editor of a multi-volume encyclopedia on philosophy – has called it “a remarkable effort to offer a fresh approach”. John J. Collins, Professor of Theology at Notre Dame called it a “new synthesis… a fascinating approach to the philosophy of religion which merits the attention of Christians and Jews alike.”

Deploying just one center-piece theme – Potential – Birnbaum enshrines his childhood quest in his 2-volume masterwork Summa Metaphysica. It stands alone – potentially elegantly unifying three great fields.

But by writing and launching his paradigm-challenge (see ParadigmChallenge) Birnbaum has also challenged a powerful status quo, a deeply-entrenched academic hierarchy – with has deep vested interests in de-legitimizing any challenge to its intellectual monopoly. This is an establishment which is aggressively protective of its turf. The entrenched academic establishment has a deep stake in the old paradigm – The credibility of their books and lecture series are all at-stake. Quest for ultimate truth does not necessarily top all of their agendas. Birnbaum has launched a major intellectual challenge to this ‘entrenched orthodoxy.’ A global intellectual and political war has begun. It promises to be fascinating – and brutal. It may span the 21st Century.