of Special Relativity marked the beginning
of the downfall
of the Newtonian Universe
and, therefore, has important philosophical ramification
s as well as the obvious social and political consequence
s (see The Bomb
). Prior to Special Relativity the dominant scientific paradigm
was an organic outgrowth of the dominant Western
. One God
created one universe
which was the same for all observer
Science and philosophy uniformly failed to prove the one God part of that idea, but under Newton the one universe idea reached full fruition. First, the same forces applied uniformly throughout the universe to all observers. Second, in Newton's universe if you had a complete description of all the objects in the universe including all their measurable physical attributes the subsequent behavior of the universe would (with sufficient computational power) be completely predictable and deterministic.
Special Relativity modified the first of these two ideas, and Quantum Mechanics (and latter Chaos Theory) modified the second. Under Special Relativity the forces experienced and measured by observer depend on that observers frame of reference. That dependence is quite exact and deterministic, and yet the consequences of that dependence are quite disturbing: time itself, for instance, runs at different rates for observers moving relative to each other.
Special Relativity is a step toward Solipsism, but it is not the same as Solipsism. Just because some of the measurable attributes of the universe change according to the observer's frame of reference does not mean that all of the measurable attributes change arbitrarily or that (in an even bigger leap) the observer somehow creates the reality in which he or she resides.
Nevertheless, under Special Relativity the role of the observer began to be important in the physical universe. The uniformity of physical laws had begun to be contingent on relationship between observers. Thus, in a fundamental (if tiny and for all intents and purposes unmeasurable) sense my physical universe is not the same as yours. Is God somehow creating a universe for each or us that interrelate but are not the same? Clearly, the idea of a monolithic set of physical laws that applied everywhere and equally for everyone and everything remained the scientific ideal after Special Relatively. But those laws were stranger than we had previously imagined.