David Birnbaum Summa Metaphysica


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The History of Ideas & Summa Metaphysica’s Potentialism Theory

Scientific history is about revolutions – in ideas and thoughts. And human history abounds with these fundamental, watershed moments which redefine how we understand the universe around us. There are intermittent moments of these in history; but some are categorized as paradigm changers in the history of science and cosmology. We focus here on several key historical paradigm changers.

Theory: The Earth is Round

Though largely attributed to Pythagoras, the concept of the earth being round is perhaps a mystery in its origin. We do know that a spherical earth was in the course of academic discussion in the 6th century BCE and became a more commonly held view from that point onwards, being established in Hellenistic (more specifically Greece/Egypt) astronomy as a ‘given’ in the 3rd century BCE.

The astronomer/mathematician/geographer Eratosthenes (276 BCE-195 BCE) of Greece and Egypt would provide the first estimation of the size of the (spherical) earth. Measuring the length of a shadow at different locations on earth, Eratosthenes was able to calculate the circumference to within ~15% of the earth’s actual size.

Theory: Heliocentrism

Heliocentrism – the theory that the planets revolve around the sun – was first introduced by the Greek scientist Aristarchus of Samos in the 3rd century BCE; his theory was widely rejected in favor of geocentrism – the theory that the planets revolve around the Earth – of Aristotle and Ptolemy.

Nineteen centuries later in the 16th century, against quite-formidable opposition and push-back, Nicolaus Copernicus, a Renaissance mathematician and Christian cleric, re-introduced heliocentrism. Geocentrism had been the ‘entrenched orthodoxy’ for centuries before Copernicus despite the obvious flaws in the theory. Most obvious amongst its flaws was its inability to reconcile the orbits of the other planets. With Earth in the center of the solar system, the planets seemed to have erratic orbits, sometimes reversing their direction entirely.

Heliocentrism was, as well, widely and radically unpopular both with the academic establishment and with the Catholic Church at the time. Copernicus confided to a friend in 1532 that he resisted publishing the theory as he feared the scorn “to which he would expose himself on account of the novelty and incomprehensibility of his theses.” Though the Pope himself attended a lecture on Copernicus’ ideas in 1536 and a leading cardinal (Nikolaus von Schonberg of Capua) encouraged him to publish, Copernicus chose not to do so until another seven years later in 1543, the year of his death.

Theory: Relativity

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity supplanted the 200-year old theory of mechanics, crafted primarily by Isaac Newton.

Relativity was introduced by Albert Einstein in two ground breaking works. The first, in 1905, was special relativity. Special relativity theorized and explained mathematically the interconnectedness of time and space. It solved a host of issues, including the seeming inconsistencies between Newtonian physics and other branches of physics then being developed. Further, it gave us the constant speed of light and all implications that this and timespace creates; these implications include the fundamental calculation E=mc², which describes the relationship between energy and mass.

The only weakness of special relativity is that it required a “flat” timespace to function properly. Gravity bends space. So special relativity didn’t actually work as planned in the real universe. Einstein solved this in 1915 when he followed up with the theory of general relativity. General relativity unified relativity and Newtonian gravity and is responsible for our understanding of gravity’s effects on time space.

Theory: Randomness

One side-effect of the work on relativity was the birth of a new science – quantum physics. Specializing in describing the smallest particles science knows of, it runs on a very peculiar set of laws, introducing such concepts as probability and super positioning. Capitalizing on this indeterminate science has been the Theory of Randomness.

Randomness seeks to describe a universe that is fundamentally random, without order or purpose. It seeks to describe the macroverse in similar terms. While lacking in ability to give an overall understanding of the cosmos, it proposed a cosmology without a guiding force, which played-well in anti-religion circles, in particular. Despite its incompleteness and gaps/flaws, Randomness was the dominant theory throughout the 20th century – largely kept dominant by the atheistic academic community just as, ironically, geocentrism had been kept alive by the Catholic Church. Note that the (often hyper-aggressive) tactics deployed by the Randomness/Atheist community to maintain its hegemony in academe have not been above reproach.

Theory: Potentialism

Potentialism Theory overthrows the Randomness/Atheism construct. The theory was first published in 1988 (see Summa Metaphysica I: God and Evil, Ktav Publishing) by metaphysicist David Birnbaum of Manhattan. Potentialism Theory (aka Quest for Potential∞ Theory aka Q4P-Theory) presents a revolution in cosmological theory and intellectual thought. See SummaCoverage.com.

As Relativity married the classic model and Newtonian physics under a new unifying theory, Potentialism has great promise in unifying Relativity and quantum mechanics into one single, metaphysical theory of cosmology. See PotentialismTheory.com.

Potentialism Theory acts as unifier for the scientific, spiritual and religious as well. Ascribing equal importance in universal reality to both thought and form, Potentialism Theory shows how each interrelate and integrate. See ParadigmChallenge.com.

Birnbaum delineates his SuperLaw of Metaphysics: Q4P∞ → E+. Per Birnbaum, Infinite Quest for Potential (Q4P∞) infinitely iterates and vectors towards Extraordinariation (E+), a Birnbaum-hypothesized state of infinite wondrousness and super-complexity. See TheoryCore.com.

In-the-mix, Potentialism Theory solves several hitherto intractable problems in Metaphysics – Theogony (origins of God, if there is a God), Theodicy (the problem of evil), Teleology (cosmic direction) and Purpose (of Mankind) – via one simultaneous solution concept: Infinite Potential.
Eternal Infinite Potential ignites, drives and directs the Cosmic Order; if there is a Divine – in one form or another – then the dynamic (Infinite Potential) is at the core of the Divine. See TTOE1000.com.

Potentialism Theory (aka Quest for Potential∞ Theory aka Q4P-Theory) shows how the universe naturally evolves/complexifies following a general path/arrow towards ever-increasing levels of complexity – in form, in thought and even artistic and spiritual expression. This ongoing complexification (see Glossary1000.com) is integrated/harmonized with the existing bio-landscape.

On every level, macro to micro, the cosmic order seeks-after its optimal/maximal potential. The Quest for Potential∞ Theory is expounded in its founder’s 3-part treatise, Summa Metaphysica (1988, 2005, 2014). All fields of thought are impacted. See Philosophy1000.com.

Initially, Birnbaum faced-down the entire Randomness/Atheist entrenched academic hierarchy alone; however, in 2005 and 2014, MIT physicists Lloyd and Tegmark, respectively published works dovetailing with Summa Metaphysica (1988, 2005, 2014):

Programming the Universe (Knopf, 2006) by Professor of Quantum Mechanics Seth Lloyd of MIT;
Our Mathematical Universe (Knopf, 2014) by Professor of Physics Max Tegmark of MIT.
See xQuantumUniverse.com and xMIT1000.com.



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Global Battle over Metaphysics

Today’s ‘entrenched academic orthodoxy,’ championed by British academia, is that Randomness is the prime determinant of the overall cosmic order. According to this representation our universe came about simply through random chance: The Big Bang and the attendant billions of galaxies and stars and subsequent myriad life forms was simply a cosmic accident. Life itself came about through a fluke; Consciousness, Language, Love all appeared through random happenstance. According to Randomness/atheism all these extraordinary phenomenon are simply cosmic accidents which just happened to dovetail with each other.

Opposing Randomness is yeshiva-educated and Harvard educated, conceptual theorist David Birnbaum of Manhattan. This private scholar and maverick philosopher is the author of the cutting-edge 3-volume philosophical treatise on Potentialism, a theory which directly and powerfully challenges the entrenched paradigm.

The Challenging Theory

According to Birnbaum, ‘Potential’ drives the cosmos. Everything in the universe is defined by this eternal theme.

Summa Metaphysica proposes that there is a protagonist to the cosmic order, but that the protagonist is a ‘quest’ and not an ‘entity.’ According to the theory, the universe quests for its maximal potential. Birnbaum hypothesizes that just as a human quests for his/her own maximum realization of Potential, so does the cosmos as a whole. He hypothesizes that “eternal Quest for Potential harnessed eternal Physics-Math” first to ignite our universe and then to provide the catalyst for life, evolution, consciousness and the universe as a whole. Ensemble all life and neo-life advance-forward seeking to optimize their respective potentials – both individually and collectively.

The Summa ‘Potentialism’ Challenge

The two competing theories of Randomness and Potentialism barely intersect. Whereas Randomness theory can only seek to explain a very narrow sliver of the universe which is comfortably in the hard scientific realm of atheism, Potentialism fully embraces both the hard scientific aspects of reality as well as the larger metaphysical nature of the universe. In effect, Potentialism erects quite a large ‘metaphysical tent’ over the totality of cosmology.

Birnbaum’s Summa Metaphysica treatise is actually divided into three works: Volume I: Religious Man in 1988; Volume II: Spiritual Man in 2005; and Volume III: Secular Man in 2014). While Summa Metaphysica shows how theism/religiosity can elegantly be anchored metaphysically, the landmark work is ultimately universalistic in nature. Birnbaum’s treatise does not postulate the existence any deity and is not theistic or ‘religious’ per se. Rather, the work proposes an original dynamic – Infinite Potential – which straddles the boundary between the ‘classic religious’ and the ‘classic secular.’ The fount of the universe is Infinite Quest for Potential. In the process, Birnbaum’s theory revolutionizes the global intellectual chessboard, de facto making meaningless the previous lines between the religious and the secular. Birnbaum’s Summa Metaphysica ‘unifies Science and Religion.’ Over a dozen journals have featured Birnbaum’s Summa Metaphysica and its Theory of Potential.

Birnbaum’s Infinite Potential is also inextricably interlocked with the foundations of physics and mathematics, thus linking Summa Metaphysica ‘at the hip’ to science. By comparison, Randomness, which claims to be based in scientific principle, necessarily disregards large fields of physics that would jeopardize the theory’s integrity. Birnbaum himself – a private scholar – has issued a challenge to the entire British academic hierarchy, offering to debate any of them in England or the US. His overtures have been rebuffed thus far. Instead he has been met by an anonymous disinformation campaign directed at him and his work.

Why is the British academic hierarchy’s hard-line atheistic constituency so very uptight here? Can 100+ British hard-line atheist academics not legitimately debate one independent private scholar? Is it because Birnbaum’s theory would render all their published books obsolete? Is it because Birnbaum, the ‘outsider,’ possibly could ‘beat them at their own game’? Is it because they know that their Theory of Randomness would not stack-up well in a head-to-head match-up against the Theory of Potential? Is it that their highly-counterintuitive schema of randomness is ultimately a Theory of No Theory? Or maybe it is ‘all of the above.’ Maybe their best British move on the chessboard is, indeed, to preemptively try to delegitimize the ‘outsider – by whatever tactics necessary.’

In November 2013, erudite British journalist Oliver Burkeman, echoing the iconic French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss (2006) described Birnbaum’s metaphysics as “remarkable and profound” (and as “not unscientific”). This was taken even much further by others, including University of Maine Professor of Biology and Ecology Andrei Alyokhin in November 2012: “David Birnbaum’s Summa Metaphysica is a major philosophical contribution to the study of Being…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.”

Birnbaum’s proposed transcending dynamic – Quest for Potential∞ – is effectively a ‘simultaneous solution’ to a series of key and classic metaphysical issues. These classic issues include: eternal origins, theogony, theodicy, cosmology, cosmogony, the Goldilocks enigma, the purpose of man question, teleology, the philosophy of science, and unified theory. The list goes on. However, Summa Theory would seem to work across the board. Hence the grand name of the 3-volume treatise, which translates into the not-understated title ‘the sum of all metaphysics.’ The author is crystal-clear that as best as he can ascertain – since he commenced writing in 1982 – the theory appears to cover the bases. All of them.

Birnbaum’s conceptualized overarching and transcendent Quest for Potential dynamic poses a formidable challenge to any competing schema. Iconic concepts introduced by David Birnbaum include the Cosmic Womb of Potential; the ‘0’-Point Portal; Extraordinariation; and, of course, his iconic shorthand notation for Quest for Potential Q4P.



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100 Elements + Potentialism = Humanity

Potentialism is a cosmological theory crafted by metaphysicist David Birnbaum. It is quickly gaining traction as one of the most respected and powerful theories of cosmic origin of the 21st century. To understand the true strength of Potentialism, one need only see how Potentialism describes the formation and evolution of the universe. Unlike competing theories of cosmology, Potentialism does not need to explain theoretical inconsistencies which appear in its theory of the universe. It also does not need to disprove scientific data or even to parry religious perspectives on the origin or nature of the universe. To the contrary, the two greatest powers of Potentialism are its ability to co-exist with both scientific and philosophical/religious theory and the fact that no observable inconsistencies to discount Potentialism have been found to exist.

Potentialism dictates that the universe strives with purpose towards higher complexity/extraordinariness. Whether this prime mover be a force with no consciousness or whether one wishes to see it as divinity, is entirely an individual’s decision. Potentialism is a cosmological theory, not a religious theory. It simply states that there is a force which drives the universe to greater and greater complexity/extraordinariness. Whether that force evolved consciousness, is not relevant to Potentialism Theory. The religious are free to interpret it as the hand of God. The agnostic can just as easily think of it like an extraordinary natural phenomenon. Indeed, Birnbaum’s 3-volume treatise is titled respectively, Summa I: Religious Man (1988); Summa II: Spiritual Man (2005); and Summa III: Secular Man (2014).

Age of the Atom

In the beginning, there was energy. In the first second of the birth of the universe – from one unimaginably small, hot point – the universe exploded outwards. As it rapidly cooled, it gave birth to matter as we know it. In its infancy, there was only hydrogen – the lightest and simplest of all elements.

What is important is that Potentialism mandates that the universe not stagnate, but evolve. And indeed it evolved. The atomic nature of the universe is such that the elements multiplied in size and complexity. Neutrons, protons and electrons coalesced with each other until there were over 100 known elements. Add to that the multitude of anions and cations and the elements found to exist in man-made reactions and the list just continues to grow.

Age of the Molecule

In a stagnant universe, the atom is enough. Certainly all the permutations of atomic structure and the number of elements would be sufficient. In a universe governed by Potentialism however, anything is possible. When the atom filled out its complexity, the universe simply expanded in another direction of complexity/extraordinariation.

Enter the molecule. As the atoms grew in complexity they began to join together, sharing their atomic makeup to create increasingly more complex compositions, sharing atomic particles between themselves until the universe filled with different molecular structures – giving birth to such substances as carbon dioxide and water.

Age of Life

As the universe progressed towards more and more complex molecular structures, once again the universe unfurled in a new direction. This new direction was life. As Potentialism predicts, once molecular structures had reached a certain level of complexity, the universe pivoted to give substance to a new form of existence. Life, in turn, becomes a ‘platform’ for a whole new plethora of complexity/extraordinariation. From this new platform, new expressions of complexity from the universe are, by definition, endless. Potentialism guides the direction towards extraordinariation. Thus Potentialists would never be surprised by the birth of some new phenomena in the universe. They would only be surprised by the lack of anything new.

Thus the dawn of plant life is a logical step in Potentialism. It represents the cell, which is a higher complexity conglomeration of molecules. As plant life grew more complex, it introduced networks of molecules and cells which functioned together as one life form. From simple plants and single-celled animals came the vast array of plants and animals we see today. Just as the universe became more saturated with complexity – first at the atomic, then the molecular level – so it did on the life-form level, giving rise to the plant and animal kingdoms.

Age of Man

Currently, we find ourselves in the age of mankind – the latest turn in the universe’s Quest for Infinite Potential. Having started with conscious drives in animals to assist in their evolution, now Potentialism has given birth to a perhaps unique creature of logic, reason, emotion and consciousness– humankind.

Viewed through the lens of Potentialism we can track the growth of the universe through its many ages thus far as it strives towards greater complexity/extraordinariation. From the first particles which merged and gave birth to hydrogen, we see how this eventually grew in complexity to create the 100+ elements. And we can see how those elements became the foundation for molecular structure and, in its next step towards complexity/extraordinariation, gave birth to multi-cellular life and, finally, mankind. From a distant in time and space supernova to, for instance, Angelina Jolie, we can witness, through the Quest for Infinite Potential, the very intentional direction of the universe as it evolves.

While other theories of cosmology have floundered to explain changes in the universe, Potentialism provides a unified theory. Unlike most hard-science definitions of the universe, Potentialism covers not only the ever increasing complexity of matter, but the rise of life, logic and reason. These are all just stepping stones in a universe that continues in its Quest for Infinite Potential.