Code Cracking

August 20, 2014

focus: Potentialism Theory by David Birnbaum

Code Cracking


How to Crack the Cosmic Code

Summa Metaphysica's Potentialism Theory
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Where did the universe come from? What drives it onward? Where is it headed? Is there a protagonist to the cosmic drama? Why is there anything at all?

For shorthand, all of the above questions are referred to as the ‘cosmic code’; the academic name for the ‘cosmic code’ is ‘metaphysics.’

Stellar thinkers from time immemorial have tried – and failed – to crack the code. Many achieved temporary great fame; however, none ultimately proved successful in ‘cracking the code’; none of their theories stood the test of time. Until now. Contemporary thought leader David Birnbaum of Manhattan may well have succeeded (see No flaw has been discerned in his theory in the 25+ years since it was introduced and formally presented in 1988.

Was Birnbaum’s contemporary approach to ‘cracking the cosmic code’ distinctively different? The answer seems to be yes. Indeed Birnbaum has elucidated the components of his unique approach which yielded him his powerful ‘simultaneous solution’?

His proposed solution is conceptually totally different from prior ones; indeed, Binbaum introduces totally new and original terms as components of his theory; however, first we need to lay-out the broad parameters of Birnbaum’s Theory of Potential (see

Birnbaum proposes that “there is, indeed, a protagonist to the cosmic order, but that the protagonist is a ‘quest’ and not a ‘classic entity’. The universe (intuitively) quests after its maximal potential. The core dynamic Quest for Potential∞ strives with purpose and direction towards ever-greater and higher potential. At the beginning of time, eternal Quest for Potential harnessed the eternal components of the eternal equations of Physics-Mathematics to ignite our universe via the Big Bang. This same symbiotic dynamic – Quest for Potential in league with Physics-Math – then acted as a catalyst for life, evolution, sexuality, language, emotion and ever-higher consciousness.”

The word ‘potential’ is, to begin with, distinctive in that it is both an adjective (example: Mr. Smith is a potential client) as well as a noun (example: Mr. Smith has potential). Birnbaum, however, identifies it as well as a quest – indeed as the overarching cosmic quest. According to the theory, Quest for Potential∞ drives the cosmic order (see

Of course, one should not expect to fully digest the theory in one gulp. However, you probably get-the-drift. (1) Potential is eternal (2) Potential is the guts of the cosmic order (3) The potential for a universe helped ignite the universe (4) The equations of Physics-Math were receptive to playing-out their potential (5) Eternal Quest for Potential∞ ignited and drives the universe forward (6) The goal of the cosmic order is to, as fully as possible, play-out its maximal
potential . Start-to-finish, one multi-faceted dynamic – permeating the cosmos – is at the core of the action. The ultimate common denominator. [See for a 16-section outline.]

On one level the theory is very simple: one term: Potential. On the next level, it is not so simple at all. On a still-grander level the theory is infinite, as it encompasses the entire universe – Past, Present, Future. As well, it is infinitely telescoping forward – Quest for Potential (within Potential (within Potential (within Potential ….ad infinitum.

Now, back to our main theme: Was Birnbaum’s approach to ‘cracking the cosmic code’ distinctively/qualitatively/conceptually so significantly different? The answer seems to definitely be yes.

Birnbaum grew up in a Modern Orthodox Jewish environment and attended Yeshiva of Forest Hills elementary school and then Yeshiva University High School before going onto college and graduate school. He was acutely aware of vulnerabilities of classic monotheism on two fronts: (a) Theogony – If there is a God, what is the origin of God? – and (b) Theodicy – If there is a God who is all-powerful, knowing and merciful, why is there gross evil (e.g. the Holocaust)?

He was also aware of the vulnerabilities – then and now – of secular science vis à vis astrophysics, in particular: What ignited the Big Bang? What drives the universe forward? Why is there reality at all? Where is the universe heading? And he was aware of the vulnerabilities of science vis à vis. Darwinism: Why does the universe seem to be much more than just ‘survival of the fittest’? Finally, Birnbaum was struck by the fact that so many very smart people had tackled all these questions, but all had come up empty-handed.

At this point, Birnbaum’s unique approach comes-to-the-fore. Ten-year-old Birnbaum had relegated this entire subject to the realm of a part-time hobby; he had no interest in academe; he did not want to devote more than a few minutes a week to the issue; he wanted to ‘crack the code’ by the time he was thirty (twenty years out); he felt that the ‘solution’ was probably ‘hiding in plain sight’; he felt that the route to a solution would be in exposing his mind to as wide a gamut of possible of information/stimulation as possible.

Birnbaum felt that taking a conventional approach was ‘doomed to failure’; a ‘creative pivot’ would be necessary; creative, but not wild; creative, but elegant; elegant, but infinitely powerful; Birnbaum felt that the ‘solution’ involved turbo-charging a seemingly mundane concept; furthermore, he suspected that the ‘solution’ to any one of the hitherto intractable metaphysical issues, if correct, would optimally also be the ‘simultaneous solution’ to all the key issues (see

Birnbaum’s just-noted “How To” checklist route to a solution would prove to be eerily on-the-mark. His original and creative solution pivots on a seemingly mundane concept, Potential; then Birnbaum turbo-charges it with infinite dynamism; he ends-up with a breathtaking ‘simultaneous solution’ (see apparently cracking the elusive cosmic code. There is no serious competing metaphysics on the global chessboard.

As regards Modern Orthodox Judaism, Birnbaum’s intuition was that his metaphysics ‘solution’ if/when it manifested might just ‘lance’ the key problems in religious philosophy – Theogony and Theodicy noted above. Indeed, that has proven to be the case. His Summa Metaphysica I: Religious Man: God & Evil (Ktav, 1988) is acknowledged as a timeless classic on the two inter-related themes.

Meanwhile, by age 22 he was off to Harvard Business School in Boston. But, because of kashruth he lived off-campus in his own apartment in Cambridge near Harvard College, and near Harvard Hillel. The Harvard Jewish student organization hosted speakers of all-stripes (and religions) to its well-known and heavily-attended Friday night (Shabbos) forums including cosmologists, theologians, philosophers in-the-mix. The members of the audience from the surrounding college community ‘were no slouches either.’ Birnbaum ‘religiously’ attended the forums and as he says now ‘listened very, very carefully.’ He had no need to ask any questions; the vibrant audience took care of that; he enjoyed many of the presentations and the give-and-take – but didn’t get what he calls ‘red steak’; only ‘side dishes.’ By the time he set forth back to NY in June 1974, he had concluded that neither ‘the best and the brightest’ nor anyone else had a clue as regards the 6-12 key inter-related questions of cosmic existence. Cambridge had proved no different than Forest Hills. ‘No one had a clue.’ He was 24.

Courtesy of Harvard Hillel, Birnbaum now had 100% confidence that there was a major intellectual vacuum waiting to be filled; at that point there were only 6 years left to his ‘crack the cosmic code by his ‘age 30 timeline target’ ticking time clock. He would marry in 1978 at age 28; his 30th birthday came-and-went but no ‘cosmic code.’

In January 1982 David Birnbaum was walking along the windy beach in Barbados trying to solve his little Metaphysics Rubik’s Cube puzzle in his brain, when the ‘eureka moment’ hit – ‘Potential’ possibly solved all the issues simultaneously. He and his wife went back to NY three days later. Birnbaum got down to work; no google yet, so he visited the major libraries; no longer devoting several minutes per week; now devoting a dozen hours per week.

In November 1988 Ktav Publishing released his first work (noted above) - God & Evil - which lays-out the guts of Potentialism. It received powerful academic and theological praise. The work would subsequently be renamed Summa Metaphysica I: Religious Man: God and Evil. Over a dozen colleges globally assigned the work as a Course Text. Summa Metaphysica II: Spiritual Man: God and Good would come out in 2005. Bard College (Upstate NY) would host a major 3 ½ day international academic conference on Science and Religion and focused on Birnbaum’s work in April 2012. Then Summa Metaphysica III: Secular Man: The Transcendent Dynamic would come out in January 2014. Over two dozen journals would focus on Summa – via 50+ feature articles - in 2013-2014 alone (see

The original theory remained unchanged – and effectively unchallenged. Over a three volume series (see, Birnbaum displays his powerful theory through the respective lenses of three typologies of mankind: Religious, Spiritual and Secular. See .

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle failed. Birnbaum may have succeeded. The contemporary author is quick to point out the mantra that ‘we all stand on the shoulders’ of thinkers before us who have paved-the-way. But Birnbaum did not just ‘stand on their shoulders’; he very carefully calibrated a revolutionary creative solution as discussed above. The ‘focus’ and guidelines he set for the project allowed-him to come up with his theory within 22 years. Now, 22 years is seemingly a long time, but metaphysics has been around in one form or another for the 7,000 years of civilization. Lucky that Birnbaum happens-to-be a focused and creative sort-of-guy; lucky that he was living in striking distance to those little Friday night forums in Cambridge; lucky that he started young. See

focus: David Birnbaum's Potentialism Theory


Cosmology, Metaphysics & Philosophy: See sample testimonial on Summa Metaphysica, David Birnbaum's philosophy treatise:


“…author and scholar David Birnbaum does what has eluded the greatest minds and thinkers…looks at the evidence from a genuinely fresh and original perspective…his brilliant thesis is built upon solid foundations of impeccable scholarship.”

- Rabbi A. Mark Levin, Anshe Sphard Congregation, Christian Brothers College, Memphis TN

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