My life changed when I first heard the famous quote from physicist Niels Bohr, “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”
I’ve also heard this translated as the difference between trivial and profound truths.
So often we are pushed to choose sides in this life around issues that don’t really lend themselves to black and white “sided” decisions. When profound issues are reduced to the dynamics of trivial issues, I think we lose out as individuals and as a community of human beings when we accept the pressure to name one thing completely right and the other completely wrong. There are elements of rightness and wrongness in all the decisions we make about profound issues, though you might never know it the way our culture demands allegiance to extreme ideas.
Bohr developed the theory that explains the structure and action of complex atoms. During World War II, Bohr fled his native Denmark to escape the Nazis. He travelled to Los Alamos, New Mexico, to advise the scientists developing the first atomic bomb. He returned to Copenhagen after the war and later promoted the peaceful use of atomic energy.
This week I’ll be blogging about the challenges of finding the authentic path through profound truths. I’m thinking a lot about science, no doubt in part because a physicist developed this concept of profound truths sometimes opposing one another. What examples do you have from your own experience? I hope to see your comments.