Biocentrism Demystified: A Response to Deepak Chopra and Robert Lanza’s Notion of a Conscious Universe

Written by December 14, 2009 1:53 am 509 comments

Co-authored with Ajita Kamal

Editor’s Note: This article has been cited by P.Z. Myers at Pharyngula and Steven Novella at Neurologica.

It is almost irresistible for humans to believe that we have some special relation to the universe, that human life is not just a more-or-less farcical outcome of a chain of accidents reaching back to the first three minutes, but that we were somehow built in from the beginning.”

Steven Weinberg

You are here to enable the divine purpose of the universe to unfold. That is how important you are.”

Eckhart Tolle

1. Introduction

The impulse to see human life as central to the existence of the universe is manifested in the mystical traditions of practically all cultures. It is so fundamental to the way pre-scientific people viewed reality that it may be, to a certain extent, ingrained in the way our psyche has evolved, like the need for meaning and the idea of a supernatural God. As science and reason dismantle the idea of the centrality of human life in the functioning of the objective universe, the emotional impulse has been to resort to finer and finer misinterpretations of the science involved. Mystical thinkers use these misrepresentations of science to paint over the gaps in our scientific understanding of the universe, belittling, in the process, science and its greatest heroes.

In their recent article in The Huffington Post, biologist Robert Lanza and mystic Deepak Chopra put forward their idea that the universe is itself a consciousnessproduct of our consciousness, and not the other way around as scientists have been telling us. In essence, these authors are re-inventing idealism, an ancient philosophical concept that fell out of favour with the advent of the scientific revolution. According to the idealists, the mind creates all of reality. Many ancient Eastern and Western philosophical schools subscribe to this idealistic notion of the nature of reality. In the modern context, idealism has been supplemented with a brand of quantum mysticism and relabeled as biocentrism. According to Chopra and Lanza, this idea makes Darwin’s theory of the biological evolution and diversification of life insignificant. Both these men, although they come from different backgrounds, have independently expressed these ideas before with some popular success. In the article under discussion their different styles converge to present a uniquely mystical and bizarre worldview, which we wish to debunk here.

2. Biocentrism Misinterprets Several Scientifically Testable Truths

The scientific background to the biocentrism idea is described in Robert Lanza’s book Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe, in which Lanza proposes that biology and not physics is the key to understanding the universe. Vital to his proposal is the idea that the universe does not really exist unless it is being observed by a conscious observer. To support this idea, Lanza makes a series of claims:

(a) Lanza questions the conventional idea that space and time exist as objective properties of the universe. In doing this, he argues that space and time are products of human consciousness and do not exist outside of the observer. Indeed, Lanza concludes that everything we perceive is created by the act of perception.

The intent behind this argument is to help consolidate the view that subjective experience is all there is. However, if you dig into what Lanza says it becomes clear that he is positioning the relativistic nature of reality to make it seem incongruous with its objective existence. His reasoning relies on a subtle muddling of the concepts of subjectivity and objectivity. Take, for example, his argument here:

Consider the color and brightness of everything you see ‘out there.’ On its own, light doesn’t have any color or brightness at all. The unquestionable reality is that nothing remotely resembling what you see could be present without your consciousness. Consider the weather: We step outside and see a blue sky – but the cells in our brain could easily be changed so we ‘see’ red or green instead. We think it feels hot and humid, but to a tropical frog it would feel cold and dry. In any case, you get the point. This logic applies to virtually everything.

colorThere is only some partial truth to Lanza’s claims. Color is an experiential truth – that is, it is a descriptive phenomenon that lies outside of objective reality. No physicist will deny this. However, the physical properties of light that are responsible for color are characteristics of the natural universe. Therefore, the sensory experience of color is subjective, but the properties of light responsible for that sensory experience are objectively true. The mind does not create the natural phenomenon itself; it creates a subjective experience or a representation of the phenomenon.

Similarly, temperature perception may vary from species to species, since it is a subjective experience, but the property of matter that causes this subjective experience is objectively real; temperature is determined by the average kinetic energy of the molecules of matter, and there is nothing subjective about that. Give a thermometer to a human and to an ass: they would both record the same value for the temperature at a chosen spot of measurement.

The idea that ‘color’ is a fact of the natural universe has been described by G. E. Moore as a naturalistic fallacy. Also, the idea that color is created by an intelligent creator is a supernaturalistic fallacy. It can be said that the idea that color is created objectively in the universe by the subjective consciousness of the observer is an anthropic fallacy. The correct view is that ‘color’ is the subjective sensory perception by the observer of a certain property of the universe that the observer is a part of.

Time and space receive similar treatment as color and heat in Lanza’s biocentrism. Lanza reaches the conclusion that time does not exist outside the observer by conflating absolute time (which does not exist) with objective time (which does). In 2007 Lanza made his argument using an ancient mathematical riddle known as Zeno’s Arrow paradox. In essence, Zeno’s Arrow paradox involves motion in space-time. Lanza says:

“Even time itself is not exempted from biocentrism. Our sense of the forward motion of time is really the result of an infinite number of decisions that only seem to be a smooth continuous path. At each moment we are at the edge of a paradox known as The Arrow, first described 2,500 years ago by the philosopher Zeno of Elea. Starting logically with the premise that nothing can be in two places at once, he reasoned that an arrow is only in one place during any given instance of its flight. But if it is in only one place, it must be at rest. The arrow must then be at rest at every moment of its flight. Logically, motion is impossible. But is motion impossible? Or rather, is this analogy proof that the forward motion of time is not a feature of the external world but a projection of something within us? Time is not an absolute reality but an aspect of our consciousness.”

In a more recent article Lanza brings up the implications of special relativity on Zeno’s Arrow paradox. He writes:

“Consider a film of an archery tournament. An archer shoots an arrow and the camera follows its trajectory. Suddenly the projector stops on a single frame — you stare at the image of an arrow in mid-flight. The pause enables you to know the position of the arrow with great accuracy, but it’s going nowhere; its velocity is no longer known. This is the fuzziness described by in the uncertainty principle: sharpness in one parameter induces blurriness in the other. All of this makes perfect sense from a biocentric perspective. Everything we perceive is actively being reconstructed inside our heads. Time is simply the summation of the ‘frames’ occurring inside the mind. But change doesn’t mean there is an actual invisible matrix called “time” in which changes occur. That is just our own way of making sense of things.”

In the first case Lanza seems to state that motion is logically impossible (which is a pre-relativistic view of the paradox) and in the next case he mentions that uncertainty is present in the system (a post-relativistic model of motion). In both cases, however, Lanza’s conclusion is the same – biocentrism is true for time. No matter what the facts about the nature of time, Lanza concludes that time is not real. His model is unfalsifiable and therefore cannot be a part of science. What Lanza doesn’t let on is that Einstein’s special-relativity theory removes the possibility of absolute time, not of time itself. Zeno’s Arrow paradox is resolved by replacing the idea of absolute time with Einstein’s relativistic coupling of space and time. Space-time has an uncertainty in quantum mechanics, but it is not nonexistent. The idea of time as a series of sequential events that we perceive and put together in our heads is an experiential version of time. This is the way we have evolved to perceive time. This experiential version of time seems absolute, because we evolved to perceive it that way. However, in reality time is relative. This is a fundamental fact of modern physics. Time does exist outside of the observer, but allows us only a narrow perception of its true nature.

Space is the other property of the universe that Lanza attempts to describe as purely a product of consciousness. He says Wave your hand through the air. If you take everything away, what’s left? The answer is nothing. So why do we pretend space is a thing”. Again, Einstein’s theory of special relativity provides us with objective predictions that we can look for, such as the bending of space-time. Such events have been observed and verified multiple times. Space is a ‘thing’ as far as the objective universe is concerned.

Lanza says Space and time are simply the mind’s tools for putting everything together.” This is true , but there is a difference between being the spacetime‘mind’s tools’ and being created by the mind itself. In the first instance the conscious perception of space and time is an experiential trick that the mind uses to make sense of the objective universe, and in the other space and time are actual physical manifestations of the mind. The former is tested and true while the latter is an idealistic notion that is not supported by science. The experiential conception of space and time is different from objective space and time that comprise the universe. This difference is similar to how color is different from photon frequency. The former is subjective while the latter is objective.

Can Lanza deny all the evidence that, whereas we humans emerged on the scene very recently, our Earth and the solar system and the universe at large have been there all along? What about all the objective evidence that life forms have emerged and evolved to greater and greater complexity, resulting in the emergence of humans at a certain stage in the evolutionary history of the Earth? What about all the fossil evidence for how biological and other forms of complexity have been evolving? How can humans arrogate to themselves the power to create objective reality?

Much of Lanza’s idealism arises from a distrust/incomprehension of mathematics. He writes:

“In order to account for why space and time were relative to the observer, Einstein assigned tortuous mathematical properties to an invisible, intangible entity that cannot be seen or touched. This folly continues with the advent of quantum mechanics.”

Why should the laws of Nature ‘bother’ about whether you can touch something or not? The laws of Nature have been there long before Lanza appeared on the scene. Since he cannot visualize how the mathematics describes an objective universe outside of experience, Lanza announces that reality itself does not exist unless created by the act of observation. Some cheek!

(b) Lanza claims that without an external observer, objects remain in a quantum probabilistic state. He conflates this observer with consciousness (which he admits to being “subjective experience”). Therefore, he claims, without consciousness any possible universe will only exist as probabilities. The misunderstanding of quantum theory that Lanza is promoting is addressed further in the article in the section on quantum theory (Section 4.).

(c) The central argument from Lanza is a hard version of the anthropic principle. Lanza says:

“Why, for instance, are the laws of nature exactly balanced for life to exist? There are over 200 physical parameters within the solar system and universe so exact that it strains credulity to propose that they are random — even if that is exactly what contemporary physics baldly suggests. These fundamental constants (like the strength of gravity) are not predicted by any theory — all seem to be carefully chosen, often with great precision, to allow for existence of life. Tweak any of them and you never existed. “

This reveals a total lack of understanding of what the anthropic principle really says. So let us take a good, detailed, look at this principle.

3. The Planetary Anthropic Principle

And the beauty of the anthropic principle is that it tells us, against all intuition, that a chemical model need only predict that life will arise on one planet in a billion billion to give us a good and entirely satisfying explanation for the presence of life here.

Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (2007)

The anthropic principle was first enunciated by the mathematician Brandon Carter in 1974. Further elaboration and consolidation came in 1986 in the form of a book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle by Barrow and Tipler. There are quite a few versions of the principle doing the rounds. The scientifically acceptable version, also called the ‘weak’ (or planetary) version, states that: The particular universe in which we find ourselves possesses the characteristics necessary for our planet to exist and for life, including human life, to flourish here.

In particle physics and cosmology, we humans have had to introduce ‘best fit’ parameters (fundamental constants) to explain the universe as we see it. Slightly different values for some of the critical parameters would have led to entirely different histories of the cosmos. Why do these parameters have the values they have? According to a differently worded form of the weak version of the anthropic principle stated above: the parameters and the laws of physics can be taken as fixed; it is simply that we humans have appeared in the universe to ask such questions at a time when the conditions were just right for our life.

This version suffices to explain quite a few ‘coincidences’ related to the fact that the conditions for our evolution and existence on the planet Earth happen to be ‘just right’ for that purpose. Life as we know it exists only on planet Earth. Here is a list of favourable necessary conditions for its existence, courtesy Dawkins (2007):

  • Availability of liquid water is one of the preconditions for our kind of life. Around a typical star like our Sun, there is an optimum zone (popularly called the ‘Goldilocks zone’), neither so hot that water would evaporate, nor so cold that water would freeze, such that planets orbiting in that zone can sustain liquid water. Our Earth is one such planet.
  • This optimum orbital zone should be circular or nearly circular. Once again, our Earth fulfils that requirement. A highly elliptical orbit would take the planet sometimes too close to the Sun, and sometimes too far, during its cycle. That would result in periods when water either evaporates or freezes. Life needs liquid water all the time.
  • The location of the planet Jupiter in our Solar system is such that it acts like a ‘massive gravitational vacuum cleaner,’ intercepting asteroids that would have been otherwise lethal to our survival.
  • Planet Earth has a single relatively large Moon, which serves to stabilize its axis of rotation.
  • Our Sun is not a binary star. Binary stars can have planets, but their orbits can get messed up in all sorts of ways, entailing unstable or varying conditions, inimical for life to evolve and survive.

Most of the planets of stars in our universe are not in the Goldilocks zones of their parent stars. This is understandable because, as the above list of favorable conditions shows, the probability for this to happen must be very low indeed. But howsoever low this probability is, it is not zero: The proof is that life does indeed exist on Earth.

What we have listed above are just some necessary conditions. They are by no means sufficient conditions as well. With all the above conditions available on Earth, another highly improbable set of phenomena occurred, namely the actual origin of life. This origin was a set of highly improbable (but not impossible) set of chemical events, leading to the emergence of a mechanism for heredity. This mechanism came in the form of emergence of some kind of genetic molecules like RNA. This was a highly improbable thing to happen, but our existence implies that such an event, or a sequence of events, did indeed take place. Once life had originated, Darwinian evolution of complexity through natural selection (which is not a highly improbable set of events) did the rest and here we are, discussing such questions.

Like the origin of life, another extremely improbable event (or a set of events) was the emergence of the sophisticated eukaryotic cell (on which the life of we humans is based). We invoke the anthropic principle again to say that, no matter how improbable such an event was statistically, it did indeed happen; otherwise we humans would not be here. The occurrence of all such one-off highly improbable events can be explained by the anthropic principle.

Before we discuss the cosmological or ‘strong’ version of the anthropic principle, it is helpful to recapitulate the basics of quantum theory.

4. Quantum Theory

In conventional quantum mechanics we use wave functions, ψ, to represent quantum states. The wave function plays a role somewhat similar to that of trajectories in classical mechanics. The Schrödinger equation describes how the wave function of a quantum system evolves with time. This equation predicts a smooth and deterministic time-evolution of the wave function, with no discontinuities or randomness. Just as trajectories in classical mechanics describe the evolution of a system in phase space from one time step to the next, the Schrödinger equation transforms the wave function at time t0 (corresponding to a specific point in phase space) to its value ψ(t) at another time t. The physical interpretation of the wave function is that |ψ|2is the probability of occurrence of the state of the system at a given point in phase space.

An elementary particle can exist as a superposition of two or more alternative quantum states. Suppose its energy can take two values, E1 and E2.decoherence Let u1 and u2 denote the corresponding wave functions. The quantum interpretation is that the system exists in both the states, with u12and u22 as the respective probabilities. Thus we move from a pure state to a mixture or ensemble of states. What is more, something striking happens when we humans observe such a system, say an electron, with an instrument. At the moment of observation, the wave function appears to collapse into only one of the possible alternative states, the superposition of which was described by the wave function before the event of measurement. That is, a quantum state becomes decoherent when measured or monitored by the environment. This amounts to the introduction of a discontinuity in the smooth evolution of the wave function with time.

This apparent collapse of the wave function does not follow from the mathematics of the Schrödinger equation, and was, in the early stages of the history of quantum mechanics, introduced ‘by hand’ as an additional postulate. That is, one chose to introduce the interpretation that there is a collapse of the wave function to the state actually detected by the measurement in the ‘real’ world, to the exclusion of other states represented in the original wave function. This (unsatisfactory) dualistic interpretation of quantum mechanics for dealing with the measurement problem was suggested by Bohr and Heisenberg at a conference in Copenhagen in 1927, and is known as the Copenhagen interpretation.

Another basic notion in standard quantum mechanics is that of time asymmetry. In classical mechanics we make the reasonable-looking assumption that, once we have formulated the Newtonian (or equivalent) equations of motion for a system, the future states are determined by the initial conditions. In fact, we can not only calculate the future conditions from the initial conditions, we can even calculate the initial conditions if the future conditions or states are known. This is time symmetry. In quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle destroys the time symmetry. There can be now a one-to-many relationship between initial and final conditions. Two identical particles, in identical initial conditions, need not be observed to be in the same final conditions at a later time.

Multiple universes

Hugh Everett, during the mid-1950s, expressed total dissatisfaction with the Copenhagen interpretation: ‘The Copenhagen Interpretation is hopelessly incomplete because of its a priori reliance on classical physics … as well as a philosophic monstrosity with a “reality” concept for the macroscopic world and denial of the same for the microcosm.’ The Copenhagen interpretation implied that equations of quantum mechanics apply only to the microscopic world, and cease to be relevant in the macroscopic or ‘real’ world.

Everett offered a new interpretation, which presaged the modern ideas of quantum decoherence. Everett’s ‘many worlds’ interpretation of quantum mechanics is now taken more seriously, although not entirely in its original form. He simply let the mathematics of the quantum theory show the way for understanding logically the interface between the microscopic world and the macroscopic world. He made the observer an integral part of the system being observed, and introduced a universal wave function that applies comprehensively to the totality of the system being observed and the observer. This means that even macroscopic objects exist as quantum superpositions of all allowed quantum states. There is thus no need for the discontinuity of a wave-function collapse when a measurement is made on the microscopic quantum system in a macroscopic world.

Many worlds

Wave function bifurcation

Everett examined the question: What would things be like if no contributing quantum states to a superposition of states are banished artificially after seeing the results of an observation? He proved that the wave function of the observer would then bifurcate at each interaction of the observer with the system being observed. Suppose an electron can have two possible quantum states A and B, and its wave function is a linear superposition of these two. The evolution of the composite or universal wave function describing the electron and the observer would then contain two branches corresponding to each of the states A and B. Each branch has a copy of the observer, one which sees state A as a result of the measurement, and the other which sees state B. In accordance with the all-important principle of linear superposition in quantum mechanics, the branches do not influence each other, and each embarks on a different future (or a different ‘universe’), independent of the other. The copy of the observer in each universe is oblivious to the existence of other copies of itself and other universes, although the ‘full reality’ is that each possibility has actually happened. This reasoning can be made more abstract and general by removing the distinction between the observer and the observed, and stating that, at each interaction among the components of the composite system, the total or universal wave function would bifurcate as described above, giving rise to multiple universes or many worlds.

A modern and somewhat different version of this interpretation of quantum mechanics introduces the term quantum decoherence to rationalise how the branches become independent, and how each turns out to represent our classical or macroscopic reality. Quantum computing is now a reality, and it is based on such understanding of quantum mechanics.

Parallel histories

Richard Feynman formulated a different version of the many-worlds idea, and spoke in terms of multiple or parallel histories of the universe (rather than multiple worlds or universes). This work, done after World War II, fetched him the Nobel Prize in 1965. Feynman, whose path integrals are well known in quantum mechanics, suggested that, when a particle goes from a point P to a point Q in phase space, it does not have just a single unique trajectory or history. [It should be noted that, although we normally associate the word ‘history’ only with past events, history in the present context can refer to both the past and the future. A history is merely a narrative of a time sequence of event – past, present, or future.] Feynman proposed that every possible path or trajectory from P to Q in space-time is a candidate history, with an associated probability. The wave function for every such trajectory has an amplitude and a phase. The path integral for going from P to Q is obtained as the weighted vector sum, or integration over all such individual paths or histories. Feynman’s rules for assigning the amplitudes and phases for computing the sum over histories happen to be such that the effects of all except the one actually measured for a macroscopic object get cancelled out. For sub-microscopic particles, of course, the cancellation is far from complete, and there are indeed competing histories or parallel universes.

Quantum Darwinism

A different resolution to the problem of interfacing the microscopic quantum description of reality with macroscopic classical reality is offered by what has been called ‘quantum Darwinism.’ This formalism does not require the existence of an observer as a witness of what occurs in the universe. Instead, the environment is the witness. A selective witness at that, rather like natural selection in Darwin’s theory of evolution. The environment determines which quantum properties are the fittest to survive (and be observed, for example, by humans). Many copies of the fitter quantum property get created in the entire environment (‘redundancy’). When humans make a measurement, there is a much greater chance that they would all observe and measure the fittest solution of the Schrödinger equation, to the exclusion (or near exclusion) of other possible outcomes of the measurement experiment.

In a computer experiment, Blume-Kohout and Zurek (2007) demonstrated quantum Darwinism (http://www.arxiv.org/abs/0704.3615) in zero-temperature quantum Brownian motion (QBM). A harmonic oscillator system (S) is made to evolve in contact with a bath (ε) of harmonic oscillators. The question asked is: How much information about S can an observer extract from the bath ε? ε consists of subenvironments εi; i = 1, 2, 3, … Each observer has exclusive access to a fragment F consisting of m subenvironments. The so-called ‘mutual information entropy’ is calculated from the quantum mutual information between S and F.

An important result of this approach is that substantial redundancy appears in the QBM model; i.e., multiple redundant records get made in the environment. As the authors state, this redundancy accounts for the objectivity and the classicality; the environment is a witness, holding many copies of the evidence. When humans make a measurement, it is most likely that they would all interact with one of the stable recorded copies, rather than directly with the actual quantum system, and thus observe and measure the classical value, to the exclusion of other possible outcomes of the measurement experiments.

Gell-Mann’s coarse-graining interpretation of quantum mechanics

For this interpretation, let us first understand the difference between fine-grained and coarse-grained histories of the universe. Completely

Murray Gel-Mann

Murray Gel-Mann

fine-grained histories of the universe are histories that give as complete a description as possible of the entire universe at every moment of time. Consider a simplified universe in which elementary particles have no attributes other than positions and momenta, and in which the indistinguishability among particles of a given type is ignored. Then, one kind of fine-grained history of the simplified universe would be one in which the positions of all the particles are known at all times. Unlike classical mechanics which is deterministic, quantum mechanics is probabilistic. One might think that we can write down the probability for each possible fine-grained history. But this is not so. It turns out that the ‘interference’ terms between fine-grained histories do not usually cancel out, and we cannot assign probabilities to the fine-grained histories. One has to resort to coarse-graining to be able to assign probabilities to the histories. Murray Gell-Mann and coworkers applied this approach to a description of the quantum-mechanical histories of the universe. It was shown that the interference terms get cancelled out on coarse-graining. Thus we can work directly with wave functions, rather than having to work with wave-function amplitudes, and then there is no problem interfacing the microscopic description with the macroscopic world of measurements etc.

Gell-Mann also emphasized the point that the term ‘many worlds or universes’ should be substituted by ‘many alternative histories of the universe’, with the further proviso that the many histories are not ‘equally real'; rather they have different probabilities of occurrence.

5. The Cosmological Anthropic Principle

Some quantum cosmologists like to talk about a so-called anthropic principle that requires conditions in the universe to be compatible with the existence of human beings. A weak form of the principle states merely that the particular branch history on which we find ourselves possesses the characteristics necessary for our planet to exist and for life, including human life, to flourish here. In that form, the anthropic principle is obvious. In its strongest form, however, such a principle will supposedly apply to the dynamics of the elementary particles and the initial conditions of the universe, somehow shaping those fundamental laws so as to produce human beings. That idea seems to me so ridiculous as to merit no further discussion.

Murray Gell-Mann, The Quark and the Jaguar

Much confusion and uncalled-for debate has been engendered by the (scientifically unsound) ‘strong’ or cosmological version of the anthropic principle, which is sometimes stated as follows: Since the universe is compatible with the existence of human beings, the dynamics of the elementary particles and the initial conditions of the universe must have been such that they shaped the fundamental laws so as to produce human beings. This is clearly untenable. There are no grounds for the existence of a ‘principle’ like this. A scientifically untenable principle is no principle at all. No wonder, the Nobel laureate Gell-Mann, as quoted above, described it as ‘so ridiculous as to merit no further discussion.’

The chemical elements needed for life were forged in stars, and then flung far into space through supernova explosions. This required a certain amount of time. Therefore the universe cannot be younger than the lifetime of stars. The universe cannot be too old either, because then all the stars would be ‘dead’. Thus, life can exist only when the universe has just the age that we humans measure it to be, and has just the physical constants that we measure them to be.

It has been calculated that if the laws and fundamental constants of our universe had been even slightly different from what they are, life as we know it would not have been possible. Rees (1999), in the book Just Six Numbers, listed six fundamental constants which together determine the universe as we see it. Their fine-tuned mutual values are such that even a slightly different set of these six numbers would have been inimical to our emergence and existence. Consideration of just one of these constants, namely the strength of the strong interaction (which determines the binding energies of nuclei), is enough to make the point. It is defined as that fraction of the mass of an atom of hydrogen which is released as energy when hydrogen atoms fuse to form an atom of helium. Its value is 0.007, which is just right (give or take a small acceptable range) for any known chemistry to exist, and no chemistry means no life. Our chemistry is based on reactions among the 90-odd elements. Hydrogen is the simplest among them, and the first to occur in the periodic table. All the other elements in our universe got synthesised by fusion of hydrogen atoms. This nuclear fusion depends on the strength of the strong or nuclear interaction, and also on the ability of a system to overcome the intense Coulomb repulsion between the fusing nuclei. The creation of intense temperatures is one way of overcoming the Coulomb repulsion. A small star like our Sun has a temperature high enough for the production of only helium from hydrogen. The other elements in the periodic table must have been made in the much hotter interiors of stars larger than our Sun. These big stars may explode as supernovas, sending their contents as stellar dust clouds, which eventually condense, creating new stars and planets, including our own Earth. That is how our Earth came to have the 90-odd elements so crucial to the chemistry of our life. The value 0.007 for the strong interaction determined the upper limit on the mass number of the elements we have here on Earth and elsewhere in our universe. A value of, say, 0.006, would mean that the universe would contain nothing but hydrogen, making impossible any chemistry whatsoever. And if it were too large, say 0.008, all the hydrogen would have disappeared by fusing into heavier elements. No hydrogen would mean no life as we know it; in particular there would be no water without hydrogen.

Similarly for the other finely-tuned fundamental constants of our universe. Existence of humans has become possible because the values of the fundamental constants are what they are; had they been different, we would not exist; that is how the anthropic principle (planetary or cosmological, weak or strong) should be stated. The weak version is the only valid version of the principle.

But why does the universe have these values for the fundamental constants, and not some other set of values? Different physicists and cosmologists have tried to answer this question in different ways, and the investigations go on. One possibility is that there are multiple universes, and we are in one just right for our existence. Another idea is based on string theory.

6. String Theory and the Anthropic Principle

A ‘string’ is a fundamental 1-dimensional object, postulated to replace the concept of structureless elementary particles. Different vibrational modes of a string give rise to the various elementary particles (including the graviton). String theory aims to unite quantum mechanics and the general theory of relativity, and is thus expected to be a unified ‘theory of everything.’ When this theory makes sufficient headway, the six fundamental constants identified by Rees will turn out to be inter-related, and not free to have any arbitrary values. But this still begs the question asked above: Why this particular set of fundamental constants, and not another? Hawking (1988) asked an even deeper question: ‘Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?’

Our universe is believed to have started at the big bang, shown by Hawking and Penrose in the 1970s to be a singularity point is space-time (some physicists disagree with the singularity idea). The evidence for this seems to be that the universe has been expanding (‘inflating’) ever since then. It so happens that we have no knowledge of the set of initial boundary conditions at the moment of the big bang. Moreover, as Hawking and Hertog said in 2006, things could be a little simpler ‘if one knew that the universe was set going in a particular way in either the finite or infinite past.’ Therefore Hawking and coworkers argued that it is not possible to adopt the bottom up approach to cosmology wherein one starts at the beginning of time, applies the laws of physics, calculates how the universe would evolve with time, and then just hopes that it would turn out to be something like the universe we live in. Consequently a top down approach has been advocated by them (remember, this is just a model), wherein we start with the present and work our way backwards into the past. According to Hawking and Hertog (2006), there are many possible histories (corresponding to successive unpredictable bifurcations in phase space), and the universe has lived them all. Not only that, there is also an anthropic angle to this scenario:

As mentioned above, Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose had proved that the moment of the big bang was a singularity, i.e. a point where gravity must have been so strong as to curve space and time in an unimaginably strong way. Under such extreme conditions our present formulation of general relativity would be inadequate. A proper quantum theory of gravity is still an elusive proposition. But, as suggested by Hawking and Hertog in 2006, because of the small size of the universe at and just after the big bang, quantum effects must have been very important. The origin of the universe must have been a quantum event. This statement has several weird-looking consequences. The basic idea is to incorporate the consequences of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle when considering the evolution of the (very small) early universe, and combine it with Feynman’s sum-over-histories approach. This means that, starting from configuration A, the early universe could go not only to B, but also to other configurations B’, B”, etc. (as permitted by the quantum-mechanical uncertainty principle), and one has to do a sum-over-histories for each of the possibilities AB, AB’, AB”, … And each such branch corresponds to a different evolution of the universe (with different cosmological and other fundamental constants), only one or a few of them corresponding to a universe in which we humans could evolve and survive. This provides a satisfactory answer to the question: ‘why does the universe have these values for the fundamental constants, and not some other set of values?’.

The statement ‘humans exist in a universe in which their existence is possible’ is practically a tautology. How can humans exist in a universe which has values of fundamental constants which are not compatible with their existence?! Stop joking, Dr. Lanza.

The other possible universes (or histories) also exist, each with a specific probability. Our observations of the world are determining the history that we see. The fact that we are there and making observations assigns to ourselves a particular history.

Let A denote the beginning of time (if there is any), and B denote now. The state of the universe at point B can be broadly specified by recognizing the important aspects of the world around us: There are three large dimensions in space, the geometry of space is almost flat, the universe is expanding, etc. The problem is that we have no way of specifying point A. So how do we perform the various sums over histories? An interesting point of the quantum mechanical sums-over-histories theory is that the answers come out right when we work with imaginary (or complex) time, rather than real time. The work of Hawking and Hertog (2006) has shown that the imaginary-time approach is crucial for understanding the origin of the universe. When the histories of the universe are added up in imaginary time, time gets transformed into space. It follows from this work that when the universe was very small, it had four spatial dimensions, and none for time. In terms of the history of the universe, it means that there is no point A, and that the universe has no definable starting point or initial boundary conditions. In this no-boundary scheme of things, we can only start from point B and work our way backwards (the top-down approach).

This approach also solves the fine-tuning problem of cosmology. Why has the universe a particular inflation history? Why does the cosmological constant (which determines the rate of inflation) have the value it has? Why did the early universe have a particular ‘fine-tuned’ initial configuration and a specific (fast) initial rate of inflation? In the no-boundary scenario there is no need to define an initial state. And there is no need for any fine tuning. What is more, the very fact of inflation, as against no inflation, follows from the theory as the most probable scenario.

Artistic Rendition of the Multiverse. Source: Nature

Artistic Rendition of the Multiverse. Source: Nature

String theory defines a near-infinity of multiple universes. This goes well with the anthropic-principle idea that, out of the multiple choices for the fundamental constants (including the cosmological constant) for each such universe, we live in the universe that makes our existence possible. In the language of string theory, there are multiple ‘pocket’ universes that branch off from one another, each branch having a different set of fundamental constants. Naturally, we are living in one with just the right fundamental constants for our existence.

While many physicists feel uncomfortable with this unconfirmed world view, Hawking and Hertog (2006) have pointed out that the picture of a never-ending proliferation of pocket universes is meaningful only from the point of view of an observer outside a universe, and that situation (observer outside a universe) is impossible. This means that parallel pocket universes can have no effect on an actual observer inside a particular pocket.

Hawking’s work has several other implications as well. For example, in his scheme of things the string theory ‘landscape’ is populated by the set of all possible histories. All possible versions of a universe exist in a state of quantum superposition. When we humans choose to make a measurement, a subset of histories that share the specific property measured gets selected. Our version of the history of the universe is determined by that subset of histories. No wonder the cosmological anthropic principle holds. How can any rational person use the anthropic principle to justify biocentrism?

Hawking and Hertog’s theory can be tested by experiment, although that is not going to be easy. Its invocation of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle during the early moments of the universe, and the consequent quantum fluctuations, leads to a prediction of specific fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background, and in the early spectrum of gravitational waves. These predicted fluctuations arise because there is an uncertainty in the exact shape of the early universe, which is influenced, among other things, by other histories with similar geometries. Unprecedented precision will be required for testing these predictions. In any case, gravitation waves have not even been detected yet.

In any case, good scientists are having a serious debate about the correct interpretation of the data available about life and the universe. While this goes on, non-scientists and charlatans cannot be permitted to twist facts to satisfy the hunger of humans for the feel-good or feel-important factor. The scientific method is such that scientists feel good when they are doing good science.

7. Wolfram’s Universe

Stephen Wolfram has emphasized the role of computational irreducibility when it comes to trying to understand our universe. The notion of probability (as opposed to certainty) is inherent in our worldview if quantum theory is a valid theory. Wolfram argues that this may not be a correct worldview. He does not rule out the possibility that there really is just a single, definite, rule for our universe which, in a sense, deterministically specifies how everything in our universe happens. Things only look probabilistic because of the high degree of complexity involved, particularly regarding the very structure and connectivity of space and time. It is computational irreducibility that sometimes makes certain things look incomprehensible or probabilistic, rather than deterministic. Since we are restricted to doing the computational work within the universe, we cannot expect to ‘outrun’ the universe, and derive knowledge any faster than just by watching what the universe actually does.

Wolfram points out that there is relief from this tyranny of computational irreducibility only in the patches or islands of computational reducibility. It is in those patches that essentially all of our current physics lies. In natural science we usually have to be content with making models that are approximations. Of course, we have to try to make sure that we have managed to capture all the features that are essential for some particular purpose. But when it comes to finding an ultimate model for the universe, we must find a precise and exact representation of the universe, with no approximations. This would amount to reducing all physics to mathematics. But even if we could do that and know the ultimate rule, we are still going to be confronted with the problem of computational irreducibility. So, at some level, to know what will happen, we just have to watch and see history unfold.

8. The Nature of Consciousness

One criticism of biocentrism comes from the philosopher Daniel Dennett, who says “It looks like an opposite of a theory, because he doesn’t explain how consciousness happens at all. He’s stopping where the fun begins.”

The logic behind this criticism is obvious. Without a descriptive explanation for consciousness and how it ‘creates’ the universe, biocentrism is not useful. In essence, Lanza calls for the abandonment of modern theoretical physics and its replacement with a magical solution. Here are a few questions that one might ask of the idea:

  1. What is this consciousness?
  2. Why does this consciousness exist?
  3. What is the nature of the interaction between this consciousness and the universe?
  4. Is the problem of infinite regression applicable to consciousness itself?
  5. Even if Lanza’s interpretation of the anthropic principle is a valid argument against modern theoretical physics, does the biocentric model of consciousness create a bigger ontological problem than the one it attempts to solve?

Consider this statement by Lanza:

Consciousness cannot exist without a living, biological creature to embody its perceptive powers of creation.

How can consciousness create the universe if it doesn’t exist? How can the “living, biological creature” exist if the universe has not been created yet? It becomes apparent that Lanza is muddling the meaning of the word ‘consciousness.’ In one sense he equates it to subjective experience that is tied to a physical brain. In another, he assigns to consciousness a spatio-temporal logic that exists outside of physical manifestation. In this case, the above questions become: 1. What is this spatio-temporal logic?; 2. Why does this spatio-temporal logic exist? and so on…

Daniel Dennett’s criticism of biocentrism centres on Lanza’s non-explanation of the nature of consciousness. In fact, even from a biological

The Cartesian Theater

The Cartesian Theater

perspective Lanza’s conception of consciousness is unclear. For example, he consistently equates consciousness with subjective experience while stressing its independence from the objective universe (see Lanza’s quote below). This is an appeal to the widespread but erroneous intuition towards Cartesian Dualism. In this view, consciousness (subjective experience) belongs to a different plane of reality than the one on which the material universe is constructed. Lanza requires this general definition of consciousness to construct his theory of biocentrism. He uses it in the same way that Descartes used it – as a semantic tool to deconstruct reality. In fact, Lanza’s theory of biocentrism is a sophisticated non-explanation for the ‘brain in a vat’ problem that plagued philosophers for centuries. However, instead of subscribing to Cartesian Dualism, he attempts a Cartesian Monism by invoking quantum mechanics. To be exact, his view is Monistic Idealism – the idea that consciousness is everything- but the Cartesian bias is an essential element in his arguments.

In a dualistic or idealistic context, Lanza’s definition of consciousness as subjective experience may be acceptable. However, Lanza’s definition is incomplete from a scientific perspective. The truth is that there are difficulties in analysing consciousness empirically. In scientific terms, consciousness is a ‘hard problem’, meaning that its complete subjective nature places it beyond direct objective study. Lanza exploits this difficulty to deny science any understanding of consciousness.

Lanza trivializes the current debate in the scientific community about the nature of consciousness when he says:

“Neuroscientists have developed theories that might help to explain how separate pieces of information are integrated in the brain and thus succeed in elucidating how different attributes of a single perceived object-such as the shape, colour, and smell of a flower-are merged into a coherent whole. These theories reflect some of the important work that is occurring in the fields of neuroscience and psychology, but they are theories of structure and function. They tell us nothing about how the performance of these functions is accompanied by a conscious experience; and yet the difficulty in understanding consciousness lies precisely here, in this gap in our understanding of how a subjective experience emerges from a physical process.”

This criticism of the lack of a scientific consensus on the nature of consciousness is empty, considering that Lanza himself proposes no actual mechanism for consciousness, but still places it at the centre of his theory of the universe.

There is no need to view consciousness as such a mystery. There are some contemporary models of consciousness that are quite explanatory, presenting promising avenues for studying how the brain works. Daniel Dennett’s Multiple Drafts Model is one. According to Dennett, there is nothing mystical about consciousness. It is an illusion created by tricks in the brain. The biological machinery behind the tricks that create the illusion of consciousness is the product of successive evolutionary processes, beginning with the development of primitive physiological reactions to external stimuli. In the context of modern humans, consciousness consists of a highly dynamic process of information exchange in the brain. Multiple sets of sensory information, memories and emotional cues are competing with each other at all times in the brain, but at any one instant only one set of these factors dominates the brain. At the next instant, another set of slightly different factors are dominant. At all instants, multiple sets of information are competing with each other for dominance. This creates the illusion of a continuous stream of thoughts and experiences, leading to the intuition that consciousness comprises the entirety of the voluntary mental function of the individual. There are other materialist models, such as Marvin Minsky’s view of the brain as an emotional machine, that provide us with ways of approaching the problem from a scientific perspective without resorting to mysticism.

Consciousness is not something that requires a restructuring of objective reality. It is a subjective illusion on one level, and the mechanistic outcome of evolutionary processes on another.

“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us ‘universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.”

Albert Einstein

9. Deepak Chopra Finds an Ally for Hijacking and Distorting Scientific Truths

Deepak Chopra, Lanza’s coauthor in the article, is known for making bold claims about the nature of the universe. He peddles a form of new-age Hinduism. Chopra’s ideas about a conscious universe are derived from an interpretation of Vedic teachings. He supplements this new-age Hinduism with ideas from a minority view among physicists that the Copenhagen Interpretation implies a conscious universe. This view is expounded by Amit Goswamiin his book The Self-Aware Universe. In turn, Goswami and his peers were influenced by Fritjof Capra’s book The Tao of Physics in which the author attempts to reconcile reductionist science with Eastern mystical philosophies. Much of modern quantum mysticism in the popular culture can be traced back to Capra. Chopra’s philosophy is essentially a distillation of Capra’s work combined with a popular marketing strategy to sell all kinds of pseudoscientific garbage.

Considering Chopra’s reputation in the scientific community for making absurd quack claims about every subject under the sun, one must wonder about the strange pairing between the two writers. With Lanza’s experience in biomedical research, he could not possibly be in agreement with Chopra’s brand of holistic healing and quantum mysticism. Rather, it seems likely that this is an arrangement of convenience. If you look at what drives the two men, a mutually reinforced disenchantment with Darwin’s ideas emerges as a strong motive behind the pairing. Both Chopra and Lanza are disillusioned with a certain perceived implication of Darwinian evolution on human existence – that the meaning of life is inconsequential to the universe. Evolutionary biology upholds the materialist view of modern science that consciousness is a product of purely inanimate matter assembling in highly complex states. Such a view is disillusioning to anyone who craves a more central role for the human ego in determining one’s reality. The view that human life is central to existence is found in most philosophical and religious traditions. This view is so fundamental to our nature that we can say it is an intuitive reaction to the very condition of being conscious. It has traditionally been the powerful driving force behind philosophers, poets, priests, mystics and scholars of history. Darwin dismantled the idea in one clean stroke. Therefore, Darwin became the enemy. The entire theory of biocentrism is an attempt to ingrain the idea of human destiny into popular science.

The title of Chopra and Lanza’s article is “Evolution Reigns, but Darwin Outmoded”. This may mislead you to think that the article is about new discoveries in biological evolution. On reading the article, however, it becomes apparent that the authors are not talking about biological evolution at all. It is relevant to note that not once in their article do they say how Darwin has been outmoded.

Towards the end of their article, Chopra and Lanza say:

“Darwin’s theory of evolution is an enormous over-simplification. It’s helpful if you want to connect the dots and understand the interrelatedness of life on the planet — and it’s simple enough to teach to children between recess and lunch. But it fails to capture the driving force and what’s really going on.”

There is irony in dismissing the most brilliant and explanatory scientific theory in all of biology as an ‘over-simplification’, by over-simplifying it as a way to “connect the dots and understand the interrelatedness of life on the planet”. Contrast this with what Richard Dawkins said: “In 1859, Charles Darwin announced one of the greatest ideas ever to occur to a human mind: cumulative evolution by natural selection.” The irony of Chopra and Lanza’s statement is compounded by the fact that biocentrism does not address biological evolution at all! The authors are simply interested in belittling the uncomfortable implications of evolutionary theory, while not actually saying anything about the theory itself! We can safely assume that Lanza and Chopra are more concerned with the implications of Darwinian evolution on the nature of the human ego, and not on the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Interestingly, Chopra has demonstrated his dislike and ignorance of biological evolution multiple times. Here are some prize quotations from the woo-master himself (skip these if you feel an aneurysm coming):

“To say the DNA happened randomly is like saying that a hurricane could blow through a junk yard and produce a jet plane. “

“How does nature take creative leaps? In the fossil record there are repeated gaps that no “missing link” can fill. The most glaring is the leap by which inorganic molecules turned into DNA. For billions of years after the Big Bang, no other molecule replicated itself. No other molecule was remotely as complicated. No other molecule has the capacity to string billions of pieces of information that remain self-sustaining despite countless transformations into all the life forms that DNA has produced. “

“If mutations are random, why does the fossil record demonstrate so many positive mutations–those that lead to new species–and so few negative ones? Random chance should produce useless mutations thousands of times more often than positive ones. “

“Evolutionary biology is stuck with regard to simultaneous mutations. One kind of primordial skin cell, for example, mutated into scales, fur, and feathers. These are hugely different adaptations, and each is tremendously complex. How could one kind of cell take three different routs purely at random? “

“If design doesn’t imply intelligence, why are we so intelligent? The human body is composed of cells that evolved from one-celled blue-green algae, yet that algae is still around. Why did DNA pursue the path of greater and greater intelligence when it could have perfectly survived in one-celled plants and animals, as in fact it did? “

“Why do forms replicate themselves without apparent need? The helix or spiral shape found in the shell of the chambered nautilus, the centre of sunflowers, spiral galaxies, and DNA itself seems to be such a replication. It is mathematically elegant and appears to be a design that was suited for hundreds of totally unrelated functions in nature. “

“What happens when simple molecules come into contact with life? Oxygen is a simple molecule in the atmosphere, but once it enters our lungs, it becomes part of the cellular machinery, and far from wandering about randomly, it precisely joins itself with other simple molecules, and together they perform cellular tasks, such as protein-building, whose precision is millions of times greater than anything else seen in nature. If the oxygen doesn’t change physically–and it doesn’t–what invisible change causes it to acquire intelligence the instant it contacts life? “

“How can whole systems appear all at once? The leap from reptile to bird is proven by the fossil record. Yet this apparent step in evolution has many simultaneous parts. It would seem that Nature, to our embarrassment, simply struck upon a good idea, not a simple mutation. If you look at how a bird is constructed, with hollow bones, toes elongated into wing bones, feet adapted to clutching branches instead of running, etc., none of the mutations by themselves give an advantage to survival, but taken altogether, they are a brilliant creative leap. Nature takes such leaps all the time, and our attempt to reduce them to bits of a jigsaw puzzle that just happened to fall into place to form a beautifully designed picture seems faulty on the face of it. Why do we insist that we are allowed to have brilliant ideas while Nature isn’t? “

“Darwin’s iron law was that evolution is linked to survival, but it was long ago pointed out that “survival of the fittest” is a tautology. Some mutations survive, and therefore we call them fittest. Yet there is no obvious reason why the dodo, kiwi, and other flightless birds are more fit; they just survived for a while. DNA itself isn’t fit at all; unlike a molecule of iron or hydrogen, DNA will blow away into dust if left outside on a sunny day or if attacked by pathogens, x-rays, solar radiation, and mutations like cancer. The key to survival is more than fighting to see which organism is fittest. “

“Competition itself is suspect, for we see just as many examples in Nature of cooperation. Bees cooperate, obviously, to the point that when a honey bee stings an enemy, it acts to save the whole hive. At the moment of stinging, a honeybee dies. In what way is this a survival mechanism, given that the bee doesn’t survive at all? For that matter, since a mutation can only survive by breeding–“survival” is basically a simplified term for passing along gene mutations from one generation to the next-how did bees develop drones in the hive, that is, bees who cannot and never do have sex? “

“How did symbiotic cooperation develop? Certain flowers, for example, require exactly one kind of insect to pollinate them. A flower might have a very deep calyx, or throat, for example than only an insect with a tremendously long tongue can reach. Both these adaptations are very complex, and they serve no outside use. Nature was getting along very well without this symbiosis, as evident in the thousands of flowers and insects that persist without it. So how did numerous generations pass this symbiosis along if it is so specialized? “

“Finally, why are life forms beautiful? Beauty is everywhere in Nature, yet it serves no obvious purpose. Once a bird of paradise has evolved its incredibly gorgeous plumage, we can say that it is useful to attract mates. But doesn’t it also attract predators, for we simultaneously say that camouflaged creatures like the chameleon survive by not being conspicuous. In other words, exact opposites are rationalized by the same logic. This is no logic at all. Non-beautiful creatures have survived for millions of years, so have gorgeous ones. The notion that this is random seems weak on the face of it. “

Now comes the kicker. All these quotes that demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of biology, let alone the theory of evolution by natural selection, are from one single article as compiled by P. Z. Myers in his blog post in 2005. Since then, Chopra has continued to spout his ignorance of evolution over and over.

Chopra’s brand of mysticism gets its claimed legitimacy from science and its virulence from discrediting science’s core principles. He continues this practice through his association with Robert Lanza. Both Chopra and Lanza seem to be disillusioned by the perceived emptiness of a non-directional evolutionary reality. Chopra has invested much time and effort in promoting the idea that consciousness in a property of the universe itself. He finds in Lanza a keen mind with an inclination towards a similar dislike for a perceived lack of anthropocentric meaning in the nature of biological life as described by Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

10. Conclusions

Let us recapitulate the main points:

(a) Space and time exist, even though they are relative and not absolute.

(b) Modern quantum theory, long after the now-discredited Copenhagen interpretation, is consistent with the idea of an objective universe that exists without a conscious observer.

(c) Lanza and Chopra misunderstand and misuse the anthropic principle.

(d) The biocentrism approach does not provide any new information about the nature of consciousness, and relies on ignoring recent advances in understanding consciousness from a scientific perspective.

(e) Both authors show thinly-veiled disdain for Darwin, while not actually addressing his science in the article. Chopra has demonstrated his utter ignorance of evolution multiple times.

Modern physics is a vast and multi-layered web that stretches over the entire deck of cards. All other natural sciences – all truths that exist in the material world- are interrelated, held together by the mathematical reality of physics. Fundamental theories in physics are supported by multiple lines of evidence from many different scientific disciplines, developed and tested over decades. Clearly, those who propose new theories that purport to redefine fundamental assumptions or paradigms in physics have their work cut out for them. Our contention is that the theory of biocentrism, if analysed properly, does not hold up to scrutiny. It is not the paradigm change that it claims to be. It is also our view that one can find much meaning, beauty and purpose in a naturalistic view of the universe, without having to resort to mystical notions of reality.

Dr. Vinod Kumar Wadhawanis a Raja Ramanna Fellow at theBhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai and an Associate Editor of the journalPHASE TRANSITIONS.

This post was written by:

- who has written 36 posts on Nirmukta.

Dr. Vinod Wadhawan is a scientist, rationalist, author, and blogger. He has written books on ferroic materials, smart structures, complexity science, and symmetry. More information about him is available at his website. Since October 2011 he has been writing at The Vinod Wadhawan Blog, which celebrates the spirit of science and the scientific method.

509 Comments

  • Give a thermometer to a human and to an ass….

    Heck, give it to Deepak Chopra and you’ve done both.

  • Absolutely excellent article. I particularly liked the idea that their disenchantment with a theory that doesn’t directly flatter them or pander to their egos is the primary cause of their creation of something that feels nicer. It’s a wishful cosmology like no other.

    And it’s a strange kind of irony that Darwin’s theory reveals so much about them and their behaviour – and even why their woo memes are so successful in the population – and yet it evidently makes them feel so small and insignificant, whereas it makes us gasp and grin in the wonder of nature.

    I could only read the first three Chopra excerpts before becoming too angry to continue…

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      The terrible thing is that even today there are so many ‘educated’ people who exhibit with pride their ignorance of what Darwinian and other kinds of evolution of complexity is all about. This is why I am spending so much time writing my series ‘Complerxity Explained’ on this website. Part 9 evoked a large response. So should Part 12.

  • Dude Zenos paradox has nothing to do with relativity, calculus is what resolves it!

    • It’s even *easier* than that – limits of infinite series resolves it. No calculus required.

      • It’s even **easier** than that – discrete spacetime a la digital physics resolves it. No infinities required.

  • Shripathi Kamath

    Excellent demolition of the Deepak Chopra brand of quackery.

    I offer the quacks a challenge: I have never jumped out of an airplane. So for this test I am about to suggest, Chopra et al cannot claim to be disadvantaged.

    I’ll jump out of an airplane, putting my “faith” in a parachute designed on scientific principles, magically tailored to my subjective reality of space-time.

    Chopra et al can do the same, except that they need to use nothing but their mysticism, or the tools of the new buzz phrase bio-centrism.

    I’ll pay to record the dull thuds their bodies may experience as in their bio-centric space-time-less universe, they strangely comply with my subjective reality.

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      I and Ajita Kamal wish to thank you and all others who have said nice things about the article.

  • I recently read Charles Seife’s Decoding the Universe, which is basically an overview of Thermodynamics, Entropy and Classical and Quantum Information Theory. It has an excellent discussion of what it means to be an observer and he discusses the quantum fluctuations of a vacuum which mean that the universe itself is constantly measuring everything – there is no need for any observer more significant than a particle or anti-particle. http://www.amazon.com/Decoding-Universe-Information-Explaining-Everything/dp/B000NBKIXU/

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      A testable theory of quantum gravity, when available, will answer some more questions about the universe than what we can do at present.

  • Well said! A wide-ranging and far-reaching article that blows away the flim-flammery of Chopra and his ilk!

    Not sure if I understand the “kicker” at the end of the list of quotations. Surely they’re all from different books and articles originally?

  • I recommend that Deepak and Lanza watch ‘A Universe From Nothing’ by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009

    Not that I expect it will do much good. They have too much invested (pun intended) in their world view 😉

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      Deepak Chopra is a doctor, claiming to be doing all kinds of healing. I think he should be prescribed a course of compulsory reading of Richard Dawkins’ books.

  • This was an elegant deconstruction of what can only be described as an utter mess of reasoning and chicanery.

    Thank you, this was a fun read.

  • An excellent article!

  • Thank you so much for this rebuking post! I received the Huffington post from several people, mostly fellow Buddhists. As a rationalist/atheist/Buddhist I try to daily ask what I believe and why. Buddhism helps me appreciate the fact that I can appreciate. But there is so much in every belief system that is either cultural or subjective and needs be put upon a skeptical scale. For that I use Sagan, Dawkins, and Tyson. Unfortunately most of the Buddhists I know practice like Born Again Buddhists, sublimating one disability for another. The Chopra quotes reminded me of George Bush in his arrogation of spirituality when running for office as presidential nominee for the Republican Party; 1987-AUG-27: “No, I don’t know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God.”

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      Sometimes attack is the best available defence. In some of his books, Richard Dawkins has deliberately used a calculated amount of ridicule for making his case against irrational belief systems. We have used this approach to some extent in this article. There is a limit to how patient one should be when faced with aggressive and illogical beliefs. I am reminded of George Bernard Shaw. He said something to the effect that there are situations in life when it is immoral not to be indignant about certain things.

  • PS
    I also meant to say that so many are jumping on the “Quantum Mysticism” train and assign misinterpretation to spirituality.

  • Excellent and exhaustive article, but I have to disagree with Section 8, which falsely succumbs to Dennett’s obscurism. All the – correct and interesting – things the authors say about how our brain processes information do not “tell us nothing about how the performance of these functions is accompanied by a conscious experience”; on this, one, point Lanza is actually right. Of course, neither does his “theory” tell us anything. There is no current solution to the hard problem.

    My own tentative solution is that consciousness is how interactions feel like from within. It isn’t some new mystic stuff that gets added to physics, it’s how physical things, conforming to all the laws of physics, feel like. All physical things – even elementary particles have some dim awareness of their states, and some (not all!) collections of particles are woven together in the right way so that collective and richer consciousness can develop from these foundations. But I’m not at all sure how that last step happens; this is called “the composition problem”, and replaces “the hard problem” in this scheme (called “panpsychism”, but not to be confused with the idea that every macroscopic thing has a spirit – only things built in the right way, like humans, have a collective consciousness).

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      Philosophers are always happy pondering over the nature of consciousness, but there are quite a few scientists (including neuroscientists) who avoid discussing it because they perceive it to be a woolly, ill-defined concept. Jeff Hawkins proposed an important new theory of intelligence in his 2004 book ‘On Intelligence.’ According to him, ‘Consciousness is not a big problem. I think consciousness is simply what it feels like to have a neocortex.’ He goes on to explain that the idea that consciousness is something extra stems from earlier beliefs in élan vital (some kind of a ‘life force’ once thought to animate living things). The modern scientific view is that there is nothing fundamentally different between living and nonliving entities. It is simply that life becomes possible when a complex adaptive system has a certain minimum necessary degree of complexity.

      The complexity approach to consciousness is well brought out by the work of Marvin Minsky, who wrote the book ‘The Society of Mind’ (1986) and other books on this subject. The ‘society’ here is like that in a beehive. Simplistically, we can liken the neurons in the brain to the bees in a beehive, but with a rider. The notion of hierarchical levels of complexity is central to the understanding of complex systems: Self-organization at one level of complexity provides the background and the wherewithal for the emergence of the next higher level of hierarchical complexity, till we get something we are calling consciousness in the present context.

      I quote Minsky: ‘The functions performed by the brain are the products of the work of thousands of different, specialized sub-systems, the intricate product of hundreds of millions of years of biological evolution. We cannot hope to understand such an organization by emulating the techniques of those particle physicists who search for the simplest possible unifying conceptions. Constructing a mind is simply a different kind of problem—of how to synthesize organizational systems that can support a large enough diversity of different schemes, yet enable them to work together to exploit one another’s abilities.’

      • Certainly ‘[human] consciousness is simply what it feels like to have a neocortex.’ But this already tells us that there is something more here, unlike elan vital – consciousness is how something feels like, not how something functions. We don’t yet understand why and how things feel the way they do. I hope that when we finally do, we will not be limited to neural correlates of consciousness, that we would understand the principles of how things feel and therefore could come to understand how a bat feels like, or give a convincing answer on whether an atom feels anything.

        Finally, as a physicist, I have to say that your portrayal of physics is cartoonish and thus misses the point. It is simply not true that physicists try to understand everything by simple reduction. Physicists employ a host of theories at different levels of “coarse graining” and approximation. The fundamental theory is not meant to explain everything directly, but rather to provide the background against which higher-level theories are constructed in a complex mesh. The same would, I am sure, be true in biology – biochemistry will explain things like the manufacture of proteins, which will contribute to an understanding of cells, and further on to neurons, neural networks, brain modules, and so on.

        I would also suggest that biology is simpler than physics in that there are ~10^27 atoms in a block of ice, so we could never truly simulate a block of ice, whereas a human brain has only about 10^11 neurons, which may be within reach. This is precisely my point above – the level of abstraction and effective theory needs to match the topic of interest. Simulating all the atoms in the brain will not lead to insights into how the brain works (at least not easily); simulating the operation of neurons might.

        It is just not correct that physics is simply the art of reduction, it is the art of constructing effective theories, theories that capture just those elements determining the dynamics of the problem at hand.

        • Vinod K. Wadhawan

          For the last few years I have been working almost exclusively on complexity. Regarding reductionism and physics, here is what I wrote in a recent article for students
          http://www.ias.ac.in/resonance/September2009/p894-906.pdf:

          ‘Anderson, in his famous ‘more is different’ paper, emphasized the emergence of complexity in a variety of condensed-matter systems. As happens even now, scientists sometimes tend to take the validity of both reductionism and constructionism for granted. Anderson pointed out that ‘the reductionist hypothesis does not by any means imply a constructionist one: The ability to reduce everything to simple fundamental laws does not imply the ability to start from those laws and reconstruct the universe. In fact, the more the elementary particle physicists tell us about the nature of the fundamental laws, the less relevance they seem to have to the very real problems of the rest of science, much less to those of society. The constructionist hypothesis breaks down when confronted with the twin difficulties of scale and complexity. The behaviour of large and complex aggregates of elementary particles, it turns out, is not to be understood in terms of a simple extrapolation of the properties of a few particles. Instead, at each level of complexity entirely new properties appear.’

          Later, Anderson, in his path-breaking work on spin glasses, highlighted the role of broken symmetry for explaining the properties of a variety of complex materials. A fairly common theoretical framework has since been built up for describing spin glasses and their electrical and mechanical analogues, as also neural networks, protein folding, and several other networked complex systems. The spin-glass model was also invoked for understanding prebiotic evolution. It was pointed out that only this model has the key features of both stability and diversity. The transition from inanimate molecules to life was interpreted as a spin-glass-like transition. It was argued that ‘chance and necessity’ alone cannot account for the transition to living systems even when aided by the phenomena of self-organization in dissipative open systems, and that chaos must be an additional precondition. It must have been necessary to have a survival probability that is a fixed but chaotic function of the molecular composition. The spin-glass model fulfils all these requirements.’

          Even the Marvin Minsky approach I mentioned in my previous reply to you makes the crucial point about the EMERGENCE of new (and unpredictable) properties in complex systems. This is indeed a far cry from reductionism.

          • It seems I have misunderstood you then. You seem to have been quoting Minsky as an attack on the reductionism of particle physicists, not physicists at large. My apologies.

            It does appear to me that your article for students can be read as denying reductionism altogether. This is contrary to my view, as I see reductionism as correct in principle but not in practice (the difficulties of scale and complexity, et cetera). The alternative is to have laws of nature that apply only to certain collections of particles, which I find philosophically displeasing and physically unwarranted. But your knowledge in these areas clearly eclipses my own, so I’ll still my tongue.

            I would urge you again, however, to reconsider Section 8. It is simply not true that consciousness – how things feel like – can be explained by complexity, hierarchies, or so on. If we would ever understand consciousness, it would require a revolution of thought that will incorporate into the description of nature how things feel like, not just how they behave. Complexity can be shown to lead to the emergence of novel phenomena and collective dynamical properties, but it has never been convincingly shown to lead to novel subjective phenomena, and I can’t see how it possibly can.

            Respectfully,
            Yair Rezek

          • Vinod K. Wadhawan

            We wish to thank you for your erudite contribution to the discussion.

            It is certainly not right to reject reductionism altogetehr. Reductionistic reasoning has led to so much good science. Even for complex systems, reductionism and constructionism have a fair amount of validity, when confined to CONTIGUOUS levels of the hierarchy of complexity.

            I suggest that you should have a look at some of the 11 articles on complexity that I have already posted on this website. For this, please click on
            http://nirmukta.com/category/writers/wadhawan/

        • “consciousness is how something feels like, not how something functions. We don’t yet understand why and how things feel the way they do.”
          This is the trap of the Cartesian Theater. The minute you draw a line between feeling and being, you invoke the homunculus. Of course we do this all the time in regular conversation, but that is the nature of the illusion that it is necessary for our normal functioning. Both Dennett’s Multiple Drafts model as well as the Minsky’s Emotional Machine model offer insights into how we can reach a materialist conception of consciousness without invoking the subtle dualism that you are resorting to. Since you bring up Tom Nagel’s idea about what it is like to be a bat, here is Dennett’s criticism of it (from my interview of him, by the way): “I think this is a spuriously attractive way of thinking. I think it confuses more than it helps.”

          • I do not believe that there is any hope for a materialist (as in “dead matter”) account of consciousness. I fail to understand how you think there is.

            The fact that we feel is not an illusion. The fact that there is a coherent “me” that feels may be an illusion, and so on – but the feelings themselves exist. They really are felt. Do you think otherwise? Do you deny there is subjective experience at all? If not, then I don’t see how a materialist account can be made of it.

            Mere “materialist” (i.e. functional, relational, objective, physical) descriptions cannot give rise to “mental” (i.e. subjective, experiential, first-person, feel-like) descriptions, no matter how high and complex you stack the materialist accounts. There is simply no way to get from descriptions of how something behaves to descriptions of how something feels.

            For example, I think Dennett’s Multiple Draft Model explains how human consciousness changes, but not how it arises to begin with. Critically, it does not explain how neural firing patterns, by way of going through functional (“materialist”) dynamics, produce subjective (“mental”) phenomena. Neither do his latter ideas about the “intentional stance” or so on. To paraphrase Dennett, I think that in relation to the hard problem Dennett “confuses more than he helps”; I much prefer David Chalmers on the subject.

            I am not familiar with Minsky’s emotional machine model, so I won’t comment on it except to say that I doubt it addresses the hard problem either.

            I am also afraid I don’t quite follow your critique. To my limited understanding, the Cartesian Theater is the misconception that there is a being separate from brain activity, that feels that activity. That was not my contention – I merely maintain that our brain feels its own state/activity.

            Also, I do not maintain that there is a separation between what feels and what exists-materially. I firmly maintain that some material beings, like our flesh-and-blood selves, do have mental content, do feel. Yet, as stated above, there is no way to get from materialist descriptions to subjective ones – how is it that we can validly say that a person feels something, then? The simplest way to reconcile this disparity is, following Russel and Spinoza, to suppose that beings actually have two aspects to them, how they feel and how they behave. If this is drawing a line between feeling and being than I am guilty [although it is really more like drawing a line between feeling and behaving], but this does not lead to a homunculus – on the contrary, it leads to panpsychism. At any rate I must emphasize that I do not claim to have solved the problem of consciousness with this move (at best, it allows some limited progress), and that this is a tentative step taken for its simplicity more than anything.

            Ajita Vinod: I thank you for your attention and comments. You wrote a truly wonderful article, and I applaud you. Don’t take my critique as disparaging your work – I greatly admire it.

            Respectfully,
            Yair Rezek

  • Excellent article. I read some of the tomes mentioned here in my youth and instinctivly felt a great unease about the hard anthropic principle’s conclusions. Its taken me a few reads of Renrose, Dawkins, Hawkins and others to understand the scientific view but well worth the effort. I’ll make sure anyone I know who gets woo’ed by Chapra’s woo gets this article to read.

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      Thanks.

      I think we should focus more on Lanza than on Chopra. Although the latter is getting his due share of the flak, he is not a scientist by profession. Lanza’s pronouncements are more damaging because he is a scientist. When a professional scientist says something mystical or irrational, the lay public takes it more seriously because such a person can couch his statements in scientific jargon. Even Chopra has been trying something similar, but his ignorance of science shows very glaringly.

  • Great article! Thanks a lot, Vinod! Just wondering where you got Dennett’s comments on biocentrism.

    Mark

  • I was particularly interested in the Gell-Mann ideas of fine-grained and coarse-grained views of reality. Has this quantum interpretation been expounded more fully somewhere? I shall have to read his book The Quark and the Jaguar. I’ve an idea I did read it some years ago, but seem to have missed this idea.

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      All my information on this is based on his book ‘The Quark and the Jaguar.’ It is one of the finest books on complexity, written as early as in 1994. But a substantial portion of the book is also devoted to the quantum universe

  • As a relative novice in this field, I am grateful for this article. I have been looking for some time for a perspective on these matters, and I have found this piece well constructed and useful for a lay person such as myself.

    I have never been able to put my finger on Chopra. He speaks and writes with such a tone of authority, one wants to follow. But in the end, I am confused by him. This piece explains at least part of that.

    In one of your replies, you referenced other pieces – is this a series and where do I find the others? I’ve strolled through this site, guessing it is somewhere here, found some fascinating stuff – can you tell me where to find the other pieces of this particular series (if I understood correctly that this is a series)? Thank you.

  • Great article. Such incisive analysis is important to debunk the charlatanism in vogue.

    I have added a link to this article to:

    http://nonspiritual.net/Deepak_Chopra

  • Excellent artical, thanks for putting this together.

  • You might care to respond to these criticisms:

    http://www.agnosticweb.com/index.php?id=2768

    They are from the point of view of an agnostic.

  • If you don’t want to respond to the criticisms on the agnostic web site, perhaps you will answer them here. The following are the points, by D.H.Wilson, summarised by me, which I find difficult to answer. It seems to me, as a sceptic, that he makes some strong points that ought to be answered.

    1) Kamal and Wadhawan start by quoting Steven Weinberg, who says humans can’t resist the belief “that human life is not just a more-or-less farcical outcome of a chain of accidents.” Their own belief in a chain of accidents underlies most of their arguments.

    They quote Dawkins’ list of essential planetary conditions for life, and admit that the probability is very low. This list is followed by “another highly improbable set of phenomena” – the chemical events that led to the “emergence of a mechanism for heredity” – and a third: “Like the origin of life, another extremely improbable event (or a set of events) was the emergence of the sophisticated eukaryotic cell (on which the life of humans is based).” In each case, they invoke the anthropic principle “to say that, no matter how improbable such an event was statistically, it did indeed happen; otherwise we humans would not be here.”

    What sort of reasoning is this? Lanza’s argument is: “There are over 2000 physical parameters within the solar system and universe so exact that it strains credulity to propose that they are random.” Kamal and Wadhawan’s answer is to describe one set of improbable events after another, and then to tell us we exist, as if somehow that proved it was all “a chain of accidents”.

    2) The authors go on to give a useful summary of various theories about the universe. Everett’s multiverse theory or Gell-Mann’s theory of many alternative histories of the universe might expand the time scale way beyond the Big Bang, while string theory apparently “defines a near-infinity of multiple universes”. These would vastly enhance the probability factor, of course, but as our authors do have the grace to admit, “many physicists feel uncomfortable with this unconfirmed world view”. Hawking’s idea that “the string theory landscape is populated by the set of all possible histories” can be tested through prediction “of specific fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background, and in the early spectrum of gravitational waves.” Unfortunately, “gravitation waves have not even been detected yet.”

    I’m not objecting to the theories, though I have no idea how feasible they are. But I do understand the difference between unproven theories and scientific fact, and to my mind the former do not provide a basis for any sort of belief.

    3) The next subject is consciousness. “In scientific terms, consciousness is a ‘hard problem’, meaning that its complete subjective nature places it beyond objective study.” The authors quote Lanza, who acknowledges advances made in understanding structure and function, but says that the theories and observations “tell us nothing about how the performance of these functions is accompanied by a conscious experience” – the problem being “how a subjective experience emerges from a physical process.” You could hardly ask for a clearer exposition.

    The authors respond: “This criticism of the lack of a scientific consensus on the nature of consciousness is empty, considering that Lanza himself proposes no actual mechanism for consciousness, but still places it at the centre of his theory of the universe. […] There is no need to view consciousness as such a mystery.” If someone says there’s a mystery, but he himself doesn’t propose a solution, does that mean there’s no mystery?

    The authors then explain how they (and Daniel Dennett) think consciousness works, but of course they don’t explain how “a subjective experience emerges from a physical process.” They can’t. No-one can. I’m not arguing for a universal consciousness – that, I agree, creates a whole new set of problems – but I find it singularly unedifying when one form of faith launches irrational attacks on another.

    • George,

      The first and second points in that criticism are essentially an outright denial of accepted science. Maybe Dr. Wadhawan will address them here, but I am not going to waste my time trying to make an adamant denier understand the foundations of modern theoretical physics.

      The arguments about consciousness are at least partly fair. Partly fair because you cannot completely blame someone for misunderstanding the semantics being used.
      The line that we constantly keep seeing in the arguments is “they don’t explain how “a subjective experience emerges from a physical process.””. The answer we have consistently given is that this is a misleading way of thinking about consciousness. It is a dualistic trap that requires a Cartesian Theater to make meaning of consciousness.
      Consciousness, the way we normally think of it, is an illusion. This is not to say that it does not exist- this is where the confusion arises, but it exists only as an abstract idea- a concept, if you will. In reality, there is not a whole entity that comprises consciousness. The idea of consciousness as a subjective experience, IS THE ILLUSION. It is an illusion caused by changing physiological states of the brain. Consciousness, in real terms, is the state of PHYSICAL being in itself.

      The last part of the criticism is simply false rhetoric. Those who wish to attack science have devised a new strategy- to tag it as faith. There can be no argument with these people. They simply do not understand science.

      Our refutation of biocentrism does not require a comprehensive scientific model for consciousness. We only need to show that Lanza’s model, which is completely dependent on mystifying consciousness, relies on capitalizing on the human intuition to a dualistic (and therefore wrong) way of thinking about consciousness. We have provided some ways of looking at consciousness that may someday be fully tested and understood from a materialistic perspective, only as a way of looking forward from the point we are in our scientific understanding about the human body. It is a perspective that does not violate known physics and does not require a complete overhaul of science as we know it. It is far from ‘faith’. To claim that our ‘faith’ is behind ‘irrational’ attacks on this laughably unscientific notion of biocentrism is simply outrageous.

    • Here’s a bit of ad hominum to go with my comment. D.H.Wilson is one of those “open-minded” people that has had their brains fall out. These people are so incapable of understanding the concept of scientific likelihood that they persist in equating evidence-based beliefs with complete fantasy. They use this aversion to factual understanding through reason as a sledge hammer, labeling everything they do not understand as ‘faith’. Read this article for why people like him cannot be taken seriously: http://atheism.about.com/b/2008/01/23/dh-wilsons-guide-to-agnostic-arrogance-ignorance.htm
      Austin Cline points out how Wilson equates the likelihood of Darwin’s theory of natural selection to intelligent design by labeling the former as “irrational faith in the creative genius of mindless, lifeless matter”. He also refers to the theory of evolution as ‘accident’. Truly the logic of a simpleton.

    • Since Ajita refrained from answering points 1 & 2, I will try to.

      1) Ajita and Vinod don’t need to prove that it was all a chain of accidents. It is enough to point out that in the presence of selection bias improbability does not rule out normal chance oc occurrence. Just like the fact that you received one highly-improbable hand at poker (all hands are) does not mean that it was anything more than chance that led to this hand. That we exist means that the events that led to our existence occurred; to show that they did so by more than luck you need more than to point out that they are a priori improbable.

      However, I would add that we just don’t know how low the frequency of these planetary-level improbable events are, or how large the sample space is. Even without invoking multiple world theories, there are good reasons to suspect an infinite or at least vastly large single universe, so that in practice even a very low estimation of these probabilities will yield a large (infinite?) number of planets fitting them. See, for example, Max Tegmark’s “The Multiverse Hierarchy”, http://arxiv.org/abs/0905.1283

      2) Again, the authors need not prove the multiverse theories. All they need to do is to show that there are other possible avenues of explanation. This makes accepting the bio-centric explanation nothing but vanity.

      Furthermore, I would add two critical points. Firstly, we have no idea what is the probability distribution of the universe’s constants, or even if there is such a thing and how many choices are drawn from it. Without such a background, all talk of the “improbability” of having the constants we do have is empty.

      Secondly, no supernaturalist explanation explains the fine tuning of the universe. As noted by the authors, even the weak anthropic principle explains the tuning, the fact that the constants support life – but this is not fine tuning. No supernaturalist explanation explains why some constants are so sensitive to variation, others less so, why they have these specific ranges of sensitivity, and so on. The current stock of multiverse theories will provide some partial explanation for these ranges of variance, so are by far superior as model of how the universe (multiverse?) works.

      3) I do actually agree with the third point, about consciousness. I find the idea that “consciousness as subjective experience is an illusion” utterly unthinkable. We can be mistaken about many things, but not about the existence of subjective experience. Cogito ergo sum.

      Of course, this does not in any way imply that consciousness is an important ingredient within existence, let alone that it constructs all the rest of existence. All that it establishes is that consciousness exists.

      Yair Rezek

      • Yair,

        Thank you for replying to the above comment.

        Regarding consciousness, I did not reply to your comment earlier because of this very misunderstanding of the semantics involved when discussing consciousness. As I stated in my comment, consciousness exists. I am not denying that. But, it does not exist in the same sense as physical materials exist. As long as this misunderstanding of the semantics goes on, we will continue talking past each other.

        The act of describing consciousness as subjective experience is itself counter-productive to its understanding, because you are trying to describe the illusion from within the illusion. As stated in the article and in my comment previously, this is the nature of the Cartesian Theater- completely intuitive and yet non-existent (as a physical entity)

      • “ ‘consciousness as subjective experience is an illusion’ [is] utterly unthinkable”

        When the materialist philosophers say things like this, they are not actually saying subjective experiences do not exist or consciousness does not exist. For example, they are not denying the existence of pains, pleasure or the experience of seeing colors. These experiences (normally called subjective) are as real as any thing else.

        For example, when we see red color, what exactly is happening in the brain? There are no colors out there in the environment. In other words, the red color is not an intrinsic property of the ‘red’ object. This was discovered by Newton. We normally think a subject is seeing the red color of the object. But philosophers like Dennett point out this leads to contradictions. For example, if a subject is seeing the red color, where is the subject located? In other words, in which region of the brain (Cartesian theater) does it all come together? Neurological experiments have failed to show any consistent evidence of these experiences converging and coming together at a certain location in the brain.

        As alternatives to the common folk psychological notions like ‘a subject experiencing a feeling’, Philosophers and scientists have come up with explanations that more gradually build up elements of consciousness consistent with experimental evidence. Dennett’s multiple drafts model is one such explanation.

        • Krishna & Ajita: I am afraid I don’t quite follow your reasoning. Consciousness exists as a phenomena, not an object, certainly. The Cartesian Theater is also clearly ludicrous, there is no “subject” that is feeling the experience which is separate from the brain states that dynamically represent it.

          But these are non-problems, distractions from the hard problem. It is still true that functional descriptions “tell us nothing about how the performance of these functions is accompanied by a conscious experience”; for that you need a philosophical theory that asserts how consciousness relates to functional descriptions.

          For example,

          Philosophers and scientists have come up with explanations that more gradually build up elements of consciousness consistent with experimental evidence. Dennett’s multiple drafts model is one such explanation.

          How does Dennett’s MDM offer an explanation of how consciousness builds up from (supposedly) non-conscious elements such as neural spikes? I submit that it does not. Dennett can only construct a changing multi-partite consciousness based on already-conscious things, which is why he is ultimately forced to identify the brain’s information processing with conscious and thereby implicitly arrives at the very same solution I do – panpsychism (since every physical interaction is information processing). Except he is less honest about it, or maybe less willing to go there. To the extent that Dennett does not acknowledge that he is relying on a panpsychist account of nature (by talking about gross, human-level “behaviour”, eliminating qualia, and so on), he is an obscurist; to the extent that he describes an actual solution to the hard problem (information processing as consciousness), he offers a poor panpsychism (poor, because he doesn’t address the difficulties with identifying information processing with consciousness, with the sole exception of the Chinese Room argument).

          Whichever horn of Dennett-interpretation you choose, the truth behind my rejection of (the latter part of) Section 8 remains: the functional descriptions are insufficient to establish a science of consciousness, so our understanding of consciousness must instead rely on a philosophical speculation. Larza is correct in pointing this out.

          As another example, consider

          [there is] a highly dynamic process of information exchange in the brain. Multiple sets of sensory information, memories and emotional cues are competing with each other at all times in the brain, but at any one instant only one set of these factors dominates the brain. At the next instant, another set of slightly different factors are dominant. At all instants, multiple sets of information are competing with each other for dominance. This creates the illusion of a continuous stream of thoughts and experiences

          See the jump at the highlighted part? This is the jump from science to philosophy, from the solid science talking about how the brain processes information to the tentative philosophical speculation about what consciousness is.

          Finally, I would strongly urge you not to say that consciousness is an illusion. You explicitly say it isn’t, after all. Rather, say that subjectivity is an illusion, i.e. that the idea that there is an “me” that feels “a continuous stream of thoughts and experiences” is an illusion. That will make your piece, and your reasoning, much clearer. The illusion is with the idea of a continuous subject, not with the it-feels-like aspect of consciousness, and your terminology confuses the two.

          • Yair, I will make my points one last time. Forgive me if parts of this reply seem aggressive. I am writing is a hurry and cannot spare much time on this subject any more. I have enjoyed discussing this with you and perhaps someone else will continue exploring this further with you.

            Krishna & Ajita: I am afraid I don’t quite follow your reasoning. Consciousness exists as a phenomena, not an object, certainly. The Cartesian Theater is also clearly ludicrous, there is no “subject” that is feeling the experience which is separate from the brain states that dynamically represent it.

            Although you get the basic premise behind the scientific rejection of dualism, you are not stating the complete implications of the absence of the Cartesian Theater in its entirety. Not only is there no “subject”, but speaking of any such “subject” that could be “feeling” the “experience” is meaningless. “You” “think” you “feel” the “experience”. Those (me, think, feel, experience) are all part of the illusion of the homunculus in the Cartesian Theater.

            However, that entire illusion is representative of real information processing in the brain.

            It is this semantic misunderstanding that is behind our entire disagreement. Throughout our conversation I have tried to show that there are two completely different types of ways in which consciousness has been addressed. One is as an intuitive illusion (popular) and the other is as its objective description (empirical). You are continuing to muddle the distinction between these two ways of understanding consciousness. Nevertheless, let us proceed in specifically addressing the points.

            But these are non-problems, distractions from the hard problem. It is still true that functional descriptions “tell us nothing about how the performance of these functions is accompanied by a conscious experience”; for that you need a philosophical theory that asserts how consciousness relates to functional descriptions……

            When we wrote the article, I had not intended to go into much detail about consciousness itself. Perhaps we could have avoided all this by simply stating Lanza’s failings and leaving it at that.

            But since we ventured to try and provide a way of thinking about a non-metaphysical notion of consciousness, let me elaborate on my take on the nature of the ‘hard problem’. I realize that we were unclear in the article when we stated that consciousness is a “hard problem’ scientifically. What I meant was that the subjective experience of consciousness as it is intuitively thought of, and as Lanza is alluding to it, is a ‘hard problem’ to understand from an empirical point of view. This is, however, a form of consciousness that we dismiss as being just an illusion, and therefore NOT to be subject to empirical understanding. Chalmers’ idea of the ‘hard problem’ is itself based on a philosophical (qualitative) notion of consciousness, not on any empirical notion of it. This notion of consciousness explicitly avoids being tied down to empirical logic. How can you expect an empirical solution to a completely non-scientific metaphysical problem? You are asking a non-material philosophical question and expecting a material scientific answer.

            Moreover, the only basis for any such reasoning is intuition. Simply insisting that there is something beyond the material information processing that takes place in the brain is not sufficient cause to bend the laws of physics (Im not saying you are doing this). You have to demonstrate some empirical effect of this ‘subjective’ consciousness that could NOT arise form the material information processing alone. Otherwise, you are simply voicing your intuition that there is something there and expecting science to describe it.

            No matter how well you describe the unicorn, it remains beyond scientific understanding because it does not exist objectively. What we CAN do is try to explain functionally how the illusion of the unicorn is created, and ignore the unicorn itself. You are, however, not interested in this functional explanation because you want an explanation that retains an intact illusion of the unicorn. However, to explain the illusion objectively it has to be deconstructed into its functional attributes.

            Whichever horn of Dennett-interpretation you choose, the truth behind my rejection of (the latter part of) Section 8 remains: the functional descriptions are insufficient to establish a science of consciousness, so our understanding of consciousness must instead rely on a philosophical speculation. Larza is correct in pointing this out.

            The functional descriptions are all that are needed to establish an objective understanding of consciousness. The philosophical speculation is initiated by the intuitive illusion of consciousness as ‘subjective experience’, not by any real objective notion of consciousness. Both Lanza and yourself are confounded by this intuitive illusion of consciousness as ‘subjective experience’, as are the majority of people.

            As another example, consider

            [there is] a highly dynamic process of information exchange in the brain. Multiple sets of sensory information, memories and emotional cues are competing with each other at all times in the brain, but at any one instant only one set of these factors dominates the brain. At the next instant, another set of slightly different factors are dominant. At all instants, multiple sets of information are competing with each other for dominance. This creates the illusion of a continuous stream of thoughts and experiences

            See the jump at the highlighted part? This is the jump from science to philosophy, from the solid science talking about how the brain processes information to the tentative philosophical speculation about what consciousness is.

            There is no jump. This is a semantic mix-up (between the two notions of consciousness that I mentioned at the beginning of this comment). You simply insert your intuitive notion of consciousness as ‘subjective experience’ at this point and assume that I am talking about that notion of consciousness. So in your mind I am trying to describe ‘consciousness as subjective experience’ as flowing from the information processing in the brain, and therefore you see it as a jump in logic. As I have stated multiple times that idea of consciousness is an intuitive illusion. I am NOT talking about that notion of consciousness here. I am talking about a functional notion of consciousness as the only aspect of consciousness that exists objectively.

            If you are going to keep insisting that the ‘subjective experience’ intuition of consciousness needs explaining in scientific terms, then I must insist that you show me at least one empirical effect on the universe that this non-material version of consciousness is responsible for that cannot (theoretically) be explained through scientific empiricism alone. (I am really interested in seeing if this is possible).

            Finally, I would strongly urge you not to say that consciousness is an illusion. You explicitly say it isn’t, after all.

            I’m not sure if you have understood me at all because you are again confusing the two different conceptions of consciousness! I am trying to explain that the popular intuition of consciousness as ‘subjective experience’ is an illusion. The only reason I am forced to address the illusion initially (rather than just the true functional aspects of consciousness throughout) is because everyone from Lanza to Chalmers to yourself are positing that this intuitive illusion is real and requires empirical understanding. I am saying that there is no reason why it does other than speculation based on intuition. However, there IS a real (functional) consciousness which is the only form of consciousness that I explicitly state is NOT an illusion.

            Rather, say that subjectivity is an illusion, i.e. that the idea that there is an “me” that feels “a continuous stream of thoughts and experiences” is an illusion. That will make your piece, and your reasoning, much clearer. The illusion is with the idea of a continuous subject, not with the it-feels-like aspect of consciousness, and your terminology confuses the two.

            We are back to square one (my first statements above). The homunculus in the Cartesian Theater is not only responsible for the ‘me’ that is watching the ‘continuous-stream-of-thoughts-and-experiences’, but this illusional ‘me’ is inextricable from the illusional ‘it-feels-like’ aspect of consciousness. This entire package is the illusion of consciousness. You cannot separate the ‘me’ from the ‘experience’. They are both part of the illusion of ‘subjective experience’ and ‘consciousness’.

            Finally, I agree about the terminology. This is responsible for much of the confusion. Everything that you and Lanza are labeling as consciousness is one conception (α). The functional aspects of the brain that are responsible for the illusion of α are another conception of consciousness (β). α is an illusion and will always remain so. It is the unicorn. It will never be understood unless one invokes β. β is (potentially) empirically testable and can (potentially) satisfy the requirements of a scientific proposition.

          • Dear Ajita, it seems we have reached an impasse so it is indeed perhaps wise to end the discussion at this point. I simply cannot wrap my mind around the idea that “consciousness as ’subjective experience’ is an illusion”. I thought you were referring to the Ego, which I agree is an illusion, but clearly you mean also experience itself – and this I find literally unthinkable.

            If you are going to keep insisting that the ’subjective experience’ intuition of consciousness needs explaining in scientific terms, then I must insist that you show me at least one empirical effect on the universe that this non-material version of consciousness is responsible for that cannot (theoretically) be explained through scientific empiricism alone. (I am really interested in seeing if this is possible).

            First, I am not insisting that subjective experience can be given a scientific explanation; on the contrary, I insisted that a philosophical (i.e. non-scientific) conjecture is required, precisely because we have no access to the conscious experience of other people/things, so cannot validate any theory scientifically.

            Despite this, there is an empirical phenomena that cannot be explained by functional descriptions of the brain operation alone, and therefore calls for the assumption of consciousness. This is the phenomena of feeling. It is an empiric phenomena, because empiricism means seeking patterns in experience, and it is in our experience. ‘[F]unctional aspects of the brain’ just cannot give rise to the conscious “illusion of consciousness”, only to a “functional” illusion. For example, functional dynamics can explain why a brain will produce output that will result in the body saying “I feel pain”, but cannot create the feeling of pain that we all feel. We therefore must add a ‘subjective’ aspect to our description of the world, if we are to retain subjective experience and not just reports of subjective experience.

            I doubt the above will convince you, but I cannot do better. And I cannot understand how you can deny that there is an experiential aspect to reality that transcends relational (causal, and therefore scientific) descriptions. We have truly reached an impasse.

            I did enjoy our conversation, and wish you and this wonderful site many more great achievements.

            Yair Rezek

      • Vinod K. Wadhawan

        1. Anthropic principle. If something has a low probability, it can still happen. If something is impossible (i.e. if the probability is zero), it will not happen. If something is known to have happened, then that is a fact. It is immaterial that its probability of occurrence was low. It is also immaterial that we humans are dumbfounded by the happening of a highly improbable event. If you understand this much, the (scientifically sound version of the) anthropic principle is little more than a tautology: We humans exist in a universe which is compatible with our existence. How can humans exist in a universe that is not compatible with their existence?!

        2. Quantum theories. In science we have place only for testable or falsifiable statements. Anything else is just opinion (or worse). When we are dealing with theories about the cosmos and its origin, there is plenty which science does not yet explain. But that does not mean there is room for untestable or mystical statement. There are plenty of unproved (but falsifiable) theories in science. But so what? The situation will improve as science makes more progress.

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      George Jelliss quotes D. H. Wilson: ‘What sort of reasoning is this? Lanza’s argument is: “There are over 2000 physical parameters within the solar system and universe so exact that it strains credulity to propose that they are random.” Kamal and Wadhawan’s answer is to describe one set of improbable events after another, and then to tell us we exist, as if somehow that proved it was all “a chain of accidents”.’

      In my earlier reply I have already clarified about the anthropic principle, and about the position regarding current quantum theories. The phrase ‘chain of accidents’ does not do justice to the scientific arguments. A good understanding of the complexity sciences is required to get a feel for what is being really said. I realize this, and have therefore spent so much time writing the series ‘Complexity Explained’on this website. Please click at

      http://nirmukta.com/category/writers/wadhawan/

      to access all these articles. The basic idea is that complex adaptive systems are open, nonlinear-dynamical systems (my series expalins all such jargon). Such systems have the all-important self-organization feature. Darwinian natural selection acts on this already existing order to further enhance the process of evolution of complexity. Darwinian selection is NOT a random (or ‘accidental’) process, but bifurcations in phase space are (more jargon again!).

      Evolution of complexity occurs at all levels, and that includes cosmic evolution also. My series explains these things.

      The problem is that the likes of Lanza and Wilson do not have a fair understanding of what complexity ia all about.

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      George Jelliss summarizes D. H. Wilson’s comments: ‘ … The authors go on to give a useful summary of various theories about the universe. Everett’s multiverse theory or Gell-Mann’s theory of many alternative histories of the universe might expand the time scale way beyond the Big Bang, while string theory apparently “defines a near-infinity of multiple universes”. These would vastly enhance the probability factor, of course, but as our authors do have the grace to admit, “many physicists feel uncomfortable with this unconfirmed world view”. …’

      Here is what we actually wrote in our article: ‘While many physicists feel uncomfortable with this unconfirmed world view, Hawking and Hertog (2006) have pointed out that the picture of a never-ending proliferation of pocket universes is meaningful only from the point of view of an observer OUTSIDE a universe, and that situation (observer outside a universe) is impossible. This means that parallel pocket universes can have no effect on an actual observer inside a particular pocket.’

  • Impressive article, but does Chopra really merit such a detailed debunking? :)
    At a scientific level, we can take him seriously once he does two things
    1) Formulate his quantum quackery in self-consistent mathematical terms.
    2) Come up with a falsifiable prediction.

    We can confidently predict that neither is likely to happen before the Universe ends up in heat death.

    • You’d be surprised how popular this notion of biocentrism is. I have a feeling this idea is going to be the new quantum mysticism for the new-agers who are intent on creating a fairy tale reality in which they can exist as god’s chosen children. Chopra, by himself, is easy to ignore, but as Dr. Wadhawan points out, his association with Lanza is what makes them particularly adept at misrepresenting science.

      • It seems to me that there are two kinds of people – one that can accept the consequences of philosophical materialism and the essential purposelessness of the universe, and those who cannot. The latter, unfortunately, are the majority. Religion and the modern quantum quackery both seem to be born from the desperation of brains of the latter kind.

        This is why efforts like this site are important, so the truth isn’t washed away in all this self-delusion, and those who can handle the truth know they aren’t alone. Thanks!

        • “… the consequences of philosophical materialism …”
          Ha, sounds like you’ve been forcing yourself to wade through the muck that was Chopra’s recent speech at the Indian astrologers convention!
          Thank you for your support. Sites like these would not exist if it wasn’t for the support we get from those like you, to keep reminding us that we’re not wasting our time!

          • Sadly, yes, I have subjected myself to reading that speech.

            That’s not where the phrase came from, though. In my experience of talking to otherwise intelligent folk, there’s often a remarkable unwillingness to accept materialism due to its philosophical consequences. Logically, that’s backwards. Since there’s no reason to presuppose anything non-material, and no credible evidence has ever been shown for non-material entities like souls, materialism must be the default position. There seems to be something in the human mind that drives a lot of people to seek some solace in woo to escape the thought that they’re “only” matter.

        • Vinod K. Wadhawan

          It is probably true that the universe has no purpose. But there is no reason why we humans cannot try to adopt the purpose of making the lives of other humans as pleasant as possible. Rationalism offers a ray of hope there. By contrast, I am not aware of any organized religion which can claim to have been uniformly good to ALL humans, cutting across all real or imagined barriers.

          • Precisely. If the universe has no inherent purpose, we create purpose by directing our actions towards what we see as noble aims – helping others or the greater good or achievement, or whatever. That to me is the most liberating thing I’ve ever contemplated. You and I and the rest of humanity are not pawns doing the bidding of a “creator”, but beings capable of creating purpose for ourselves.

          • Doing good is as selfish as any other of our actions. we are moral because we are rewarded by our brains. We like any other life try to repeat things that feel good.

            so helping others is not even a good precept for creating purpose in our lives. instead we should acknowledge purpose as purely biological, physical and chemical and accept truth even though it would sound either selfish and worthless

            In a very large network, the impact of our individual purposes are negligible unless we manipulate the purposes of large sections of people or just plain educate them. but since some people would rather die than learn something new. so it should be a combination of the above two.

          • Vinod K. Wadhawan

            I agree with you completely about the nature of purpose. Evolutionary processes have developed and honed our survival instincts. Since the wish to live is natural, we may as well make life pleasant. If you make others happy, it rebounds on you. If you make others unhappy, that also rebounds on you! Make your choice. As you said, it feels good to be moral and helpful. I agree.

  • “The observer and that which is observed are everywhere produced by the matrix of causality and conditions. In all that is produced by causality and conditions, there is emptiness of self.”
    The Great Calm-Observation, Volume 5, Part 3, Page 1

    • Cathy Sander

      And once the self is emptied, then you cannot be held responsible for anything! You just become a force of nature: indifferent. So much for the pretense to wisdom by self-denial…

  • In the article you write: “Existence of humans has become possible because the values of the fundamental constants are what they are; had they been different, we would not exist /// But why does the universe have these values for the fundamental constants, and not some other set of values? Different physicists and cosmologists have tried to answer this question in different ways”

    A way that you have not mentioned is proposed in “The Life of the Cosmos” by Lee Smolin (1997). Roughly speaking he argues that new universes derive from black holes, and this evolution has the effect of maximising the number of black holes. A by-product of this is that all the elements for life to evolve will also be produced. If this is true you could say that the anthropic principle should really be called the black hole principle. I find this hypothesis attractive, and as far as I know it has not yet been falsified. It seems to me to be a much more economical solution to the six numbers problem than the multiverse idea.

  • Vinod K. Wadhawan

    Thanks for the comments, George.

    1. The universe, since it exists, has to have some set of values for the fundamental constants. The universe in which we exist has values which are compatible with our existence; otherwise we would not be there. Had the values for the fundamental constants been different, two things could have happened. Either there would be no life at all, or some other form of life would have evolved which was compatible with the prevailing set of fundamental constants. There is no reason to believe that that life form would have resembled (or not resembled) humans.

    2. Different physicists and cosmologists have tried to answer the question about the observed set of fundamental constants in different ways, and we mentioned a few approaches. The black-holes idea may well be a good one, except that I have not yet spent enough time studying it.

    3. There is another model which seeks to replace the one Big Bang by several; rather like the multiple nucleation and crystallization processes that can occur in a supersaturated solution of a material.

    Thanks again for your contribution to the discussion.

  • Hi,

    Good that you proposed this and that about what Deepak Chopra and Lanza postulated. But let me tell you no matter how hard you try you will not be able to understand the infinite mind through the battle of wits. The intellect, the world , the mind and the bodies come from this source. To know this source, You will have to know who you really are? God may exist or may not exist, but no one can deny that S/he exists. Nobody can make you believe in it, as its an subjective experience. Words and any intellectual understanding could not subsitute the direct experience of Beingness. When you know that all else is known.Science is the field of mind and spirit is the field beyond mind , how would you know something which is beyond the grasp of mind. Its only in the absense of mind experience happens. No mind and person could know the world of spirit, it is the will of spirit to know itself if it wants to know itself through a body-mind mechanism. No power can make it happen if its not the will of the infinite intelligence. Because there exists nothing but this power only. The question is to make sure if you exist or not.

    Thanks

    • I would blame the pathetic standard of science education in India for this gobbledygook, except that such mumbo-jumbo is also found in the West. This is just the nonsensical end of the intelligence spectrum. Congratulations.

    • Cathy Sander

      We can not “understand the infinite mind” because we are finite creatures of matter. It’s that easy…and yet, people claim to know what is impossible, like the intention of the gods. I don’t know how to react in these cases: with laughter [because it’s absurd] or with pity [because of their arrogance by ignorance factor].

  • If only deepak chopra understands what he’s talking about. unfortunately his cranium capacity is limited to being a good businessman and a clever conman. he is a moron who does not even know what he is talking about half the time.

  • Ah, the incessant regurgitation! Attacking anything beyond the contemporary models is the foundation of the space-cadet style of scientific practice responsible for stifling the progress. People so conveniently forget that the very concept of space-time when first introduced was vehemently rejected only a century ago. And so was quantum mechanics. And the incredulity continues with string theory and multiverse. Skepticism is the basis for scientific growth. However, the all-knowing tone lends itself to as severe a disservice to science as do the alleged misinterpretations. Elephant and the blind men represent the sate of humans in universe. Biased and limited by their very biology each interprets with passion and belief. A pillar, a rough surface, a rope… It seldom occurs to some that just like a dog that cannot fathom advanced mathematics perhaps humans will never be able to comprehend the vastness. Embracing the imagination is the path discovery. And since the author has quoted numerous legends… here’s one for the road:

    “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

    • Are you going to address any of the actual claims? Your statement is not a rational argument. It is an ignorant and useless sophistic diatribe like this one.

    • “the all-knowing tone”
      Just what I was thinking reading your response.

    • I thought the article was thought provoking. I feel that view points such as this help the mentally constricted to expand ones preception of self and invites one to be response-able and receptive. I love choices as anyone should but there’s always some resistant folks “resistsnce causes pain”,new concepts for some is like being put through the birth canal, reality as we curently know it to be is that everything starts outside yourself and your this helpless being that needs outside validation to create self value. When the truth of the matter is that you do create your reality through conscious effort and developement of the mind and spirit.One should always work at being response-able though we often times run on mental cruise control not giving much thought to how we interact with our outward projections. Once each of us learn to take responsability for our loveless outwardly projection of self towards others this world will be a better place for all. Loves attracts love so the next time your looking for some happiness to fall from the sky stop and look within.

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      Imagination is very important. It is a distinctive feature of humans. Everybody is free to imagine what he or she wants to, or is capable of. But only those ideas can be accepted as valid which have gone through the rigour of the scientific method of seeking truth.

  • Thank you for the intelligent rebuttal. I ran across Lanza’s article on Huffington Post site (shame on them). It is sophistic and misleading pseudoscience. As a science teacher I need to research “biocentrism” to rebut these ideas in students minds. It can be very difficult without relying on science that is too far beyond their ability/desire to grasp. I truly appreciate the time you spent writing your article. Thank you.

  • any suggested further readings on these and other related subjects?

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      The number of topics covered is very large. If you could narrow down the list of your interests, I can suggest some reading material. Here are some possibilities:

      1. Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion).

      2. Murray Gell-Mann (The Quark and the Jaguar).

      3. Stephen Hawking (The Universe in a Nutshell).

      4. Marvin Minsky (The Emotion Machine).

      5. Douglas Hofstadter (Godel, Escher, Bach).

      • I’ve actually read a few of the five you listed above (hawking and dawkins). I’m curious to learn more about quantum mechanics and maybe some material on nueroscience and cognition. I recently looked into Brian greene’s books on superstring theory, however, I wasn’t sure if that would cover the topics I previously mentioned.

  • Matrix Rising

    Lanza makes some good points and I think the article starts with a materialist assumption. The materialist assume that everything just happened and this chain of “accidents” produced life.

    Materialism is a fantasy and science supports idealism. The choice of the observer creates reality. For instance, look at Schrodinger’s cat. The observer made a choice to set up the experiment. The observer might make a choice to open a window or call his wife before he opens the box. Decoherence tells us nothing about the choice of the observer. Decoherence just tells us after a choice is made it’s thermodynamically irreversible.

    With a massive object like a cat, superposition wouldn’t last long and the cat will decohere to either a dead cat or live cat but this says nothing about the choice of the observer. There may be universes where one has a live cat and the other a dead cat but there isn’t universes for every choice of the observer. Again, decoherence says nothing about the choice of the observer. Our choice can affect the outcome of an event as shown by the delayed choice experiment and the quantum eraser delayed choice experiment.

    Also, science supports idealism. Nobody has ever touched matter. So you never touch a hard table or a soft pillow. The electrons from the table or pillow repel against the electrons from your hand and you percieve a hard table or a soft pillow. Science tells us our perception creates reality, materialism doesn’t have any scientific standing. Materialism is just wishful thinking.

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      On a cosmic time scale, humans appeared on the scene very recently (there is a lot of fossil evidence for that, as also for biological evolution). Your line of reasoning raises a question: Did our universe exist or not before we humans appeared on the scene? If there was no universe before we appeared, then we appeared out of nothing. Right or wrong?

  • As a physicist who lived thru the new-age movement of the `70’s, I can smell Lanza’s ilk from 10 Km away. Nonetheless, I got interested in his premise about death from the HP.
    Prior to buying the book, I had the good fortune to see your article, and I agree that Lanza is debunked, & I still have $15.
    I do not practice medicine, nor would I expect Lanza to practice physics, but he does. Why ? Is he retired ? He needs to buy Vic Stenger’s book, a potent, Rx antidote for new age physix wannabees.
    Excellent article !

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      Thanks, Jim, for the comments and for the prescription you have written as a doctor for Lanza. I do wish that physicists and other scientists should spare a litte time to protect their territory from usurpation by pseudoscientists and charlatns.

  • Dear Dr. Wadhawan

    I have to complain you have made a very selective presentation of facts in this article. But I should first commend you for the coining of the word de”myst”ified. The similarity of the word mystic to the word mist in English is accidental. In reality, the word mystic represents clarity of vision and thought : a mental phenomenon that occurs in meditation, something from which the very word enlightenment is derived.

    Now, Dr. Lanza is by no means the originator of this theory of “biocentrism”. He is also no authority on the field of consciousness. About quacks like Deepak Chopra, they don’t merit serious discussion. But you have ignored the opinions of two eminent scientists who have made no small contributions to modern physics. I am talking about

    1) Erwin Schrodinger : He has made one of the first formulations of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics. It is “still” the most commonly held interpretation of this phenomenon by physicists. I am not talking about “consciousness causes collapse” interpretation which presupposes what consciousness is (and what a human observer has to do with it), but the very essence of Copenhagen interpretation which can be termed as the “observer effect”. The solidification of reality into one of the quantum states does not happen until an observation is made of this reality. This observation can be as dumb as an electron “sensing” another electron / photon in its vicinity. No need to invent multi-verses which don’t make any testable predictions. Dr. Schrodinger didn’t hold an deterministic view of the universe. He didn’t shy away from acknowledging a “choice” in the functioning of this universe. He delimited this element of choice to within this own universe. No external agent (neither God nor an infinity of other universes) are required to understand this choice. Our current means of measuring how this choice is executed is no doubt limited, but it might be still possible to build a greater theory that explains this and keeps it within the confines of our own universe.

    2) John Archibald Wheeler : He coined the participatory anthropic principle, and a formulation of the its from bits theory on how the universe might have breathed into existence. According to him, consciousness is not a binary variable but a continuous variable. Any particle in the universe can possess varying degrees of it. An electron can be “aware” of the presence of other micro-particles through the various fields that they generate.The level of awareness exhibited by life-forms, animals and finally human beings are just exponentially more complex formulations of this very basic awareness that is omnipresent in this universe. The simple and obvious fact is that our universe has been “evolving” into forms of higher and higher awareness over time. Even we human beings are not the end of this process. We shall evolve into cybernetic beings that are interconnected to reality and are aware of it at a much closer level. Dr. Wheeler formulated that this ever increasing awareness would culminate in a moment when the entire universe is aware of itself completely. That shall close the loop and “its” will be born from “bits”.

    Neither Wheeler nor Schrodinger are quacks. They didn’t believe in ignoramus et ignoramibus. They are serious scientists, who had a vision for making certain predictions about the future, and these predictions are testable. These theories might not sit well with the hard deterministic outlook that may be present in certain atheists, but no theory can be evaluated from prejudice.

    Daniel Dennett has made absolutely no testable hypotheses on how consciousness can arise from a computer. But consciousness is the elephant in the room, it cannot be “demystified”. It has to be explained, in a coherent and scientific manner through testable predictions.

    • I have to complain you have made a very selective presentation of facts in this article.
      It is you who has actually refrained from addressing even a single one of the refutations that we present in this article. In fact, you don’t say a word about any specific claim or statement, and make general attacks. We are not required to present all facts. As it is, we have presented quite a comprehensive bit of literature for what amounts to a glorified blog post.

      ” But you have ignored the opinions of two eminent scientists who have made no small contributions to modern physics. I am talking about

      1) Erwin Schrodinger”

      Wrong. Please re-read the article.

      2) Wheeler

      It’s sad that a brilliant physicist is remembered more for his flaky metaphysics.

      You cannot just point to two scientists, ignore the vast number of top physicists like those in the NAS and claim that we are the ones ignoring something. Please address our claims first.

      Daniel Dennett has made absolutely no testable hypotheses on how consciousness can arise from a computer

      Your notion of consciousness is inherently biased. Someday our PC may wonder if we could develop consciousness.

      • It’s sad that a brilliant physicist is remembered more for his flaky metaphysics.

        So you’d rather trust in Daniel Dennet (a philosopher) for his theory of consciousness (a natural phenomenon) than in what a physicist says about his philosophy (and which is logically coherent, by the way) ?

        How come Wheeler’s metaphysics is flaky but Dennet’s is solid as rock ? Is you frame of reference even inertial ? :)

        Your notion of consciousness is inherently biased. Someday our PC may wonder if we could develop consciousness.

        I don’t understand. Am I asking for too much when a scientific hypothesis needs to make testable predictions ? Merely wish-washing away a subject cuts no favour with people who are actually working in this field.

        From the perspective of a computer scientist, claims like one day a computer may wonder in consciousness are as outrageous as one day, a golden cow will descend from the heavens and give everything you ask for.

        • So you’d rather trust in Daniel Dennet (a philosopher) for his theory of consciousness (a natural phenomenon) than in what a physicist says about his philosophy

          No. What people traditionally think of as ‘consciousness’ is not a natural phenomenon in the same sense that most physicists understand natural phenomena. It is a subjective concept, like ‘color’ or ‘music’. However, there are ways of looking at the physical manifestations of neuronal activity, including using the new science of complexity. Some scientists use the term ‘consciousness’ when talking about the emergent properties of brains, but this notion of consciousness should not be confused with the notion of a subjective experience, which is the type of consciousness the Lanza and Chopra believe to be objectively real, and which we are debunking. And no, I don’t ‘trust’ Dennett, I agree with his philosophy. Anyway, yours is an argument from authority, a logical fallacy.

          Am I asking for too much when a scientific hypothesis needs to make testable predictions ?

          This is a straw man. There is no scientific hypothesis to speak of, since there is no valid phenomenon to begin with. This is why the reference to Laplace. Can you give me a scientific hypothesis to explain color? Not wavelength and frequency of photon beams, but color itself.

          Merely wish-washing away a subject cuts no favour with people who are actually working in this field.

          Right back at you. Don’t wishy-wash it away.

          Please don’t reduce all computer scientists to your subjective level. And don’t think that being a computer scientist gives you some sort of authority here. And the argument from authority is especially meaningless when it is used rhetorically. Your outrage arrives from your inability to define consciousness in objective terms.

          • I am not arguing from authority (and I am by no means an authority in this field :) )

            In computer science, we treat the question of consciousness as a “natural” phenomenon. It is not a subjective interpretation like colour. We consider that it is possible to judge whether a process / person is conscious. This is the basis of the formulation of the Turing test. For the moment, let’s ignore philosophical objections to this raised by Searle. There are “practical limitations” on reaching this goal of making a computer at least “appear” as mimicking human behaviour. This is the reason why I am prejudiced against Dennett’s hypothesis. I am willing to consider the possibility that it is correct. But from my perspective, I can definitely say it is unlikely.

            Now coming to the purely philosophical question of whether there exists an absolute subjective experience (the so-called qualia, or hard problem of consciousness), I believe we should treat all hypotheses with equal respect. If there is no way to evaluate this question objectively, science can make no statement about it.

            But what science can indeed study with all seriousness are these two questions

            1) How much of human behaviour can be replicated accurately by a computer ? (the question of AI)

            2) Is there a general direction to the physical evolution of this universe over time (encompassing also biological evolution on earth) ?

            I’d like to point out that the theory of “biocentrism” makes predictions about what one should expect in the future. In Dr. Wheeler’s perspective, our technological evolution is just a continuation of the biological evolution. And the earth (and specifically human society) is a very important part of our universe (something like a brain in an animal’s body). These are serious statements, which will lead to more elaborate hypotheses, and experiments can be designed to test the truth behind them.

            What we should realize is that neither of the questions (1) and (2) can be dispensed with pre-fabricated answers from prejudice.

          • “In computer science, we treat ……… I can definitely say it is unlikely.”
            The majority of AI researchers disagree. What is your point here?

            “I believe we should treat all hypotheses with equal respect. If there is no way to evaluate this question objectively, science can make no statement about it.”
            We should certainly not treat all hypotheses with equal respect. Your second statement does not follow from the first and is presented to justify your post-modernist false equivalence of all non-scientific ideas. Not all hypotheses deserve equal respect, whether they are testable or not. There are infinite possible hypotheses that are untestable that deserve no respect.

            Reason is not about experimental verification of ideas alone, it is also about assigning degrees of confidence to untested/untestable ideas. Ideas can only be evaluated based on observations and current knowledge. Reason is applying current knowledge to evaluate the likelihood of specific claims. This is how scientific likelihood works. You cannot simply dump all levels of likelihood in one barrel.

            I can propose that a tiny meteor crashed into a planet orbiting a distant star. We could not confirm this event using our current level of scientific advancement. Yet this event is far more likely than the idea that there is a flying unicorn orbiting the earth.

            Science can study many more than the two questions you propose, but I’ll humor you.

            1) Passing the Turing test is a small step for the future of AI. Most AI researchers believe that the Turing test will be passed this century. In fact, computers will have to learn to pretend to be really stupid (for their level of thinking) in order to make us think they are human.
            2) What general direction are you talking about? This is a blanket statement that can mean anything. Yes, physicists know that certain things are likely, so there is a general direction in that sense. But if you were to say that the universe is unfolding in a particular direction because of some organizational force that we humans possess, then I call it BS. It seems to me that you are purposely making these general statements in order to present a false equivalency between matters of fact and matters of irrational speculation.

            You say that biocentrism makes predictions, and yet you name not one.

            “our technological evolution is just a continuation of the biological evolution”

            Nice metaphor, but nothing more. A child’s level of reasoning. Not a prediction.

            “And the earth (and specifically human society) is a very important part of our universe (something like a brain in an animal’s body).”

            BS. Its almost as though you didn’t read the article at all.

            “These are serious statements, which will lead to more elaborate hypotheses, and experiments can be designed to test the truth behind them.”

            The statements are a joke. No predictions, not falsifiable, not testable and certainly not science.

            “neither of the questions (1) and (2) can be dispensed with pre-fabricated answers from prejudice.”

            This is a blanket statement, again. Both pre-fabricated and fabricated ideas are equally meaningless, because they are FABRICATED. What we should do is analyze the evidence and assign degrees of confidence based on observation, and not lump all ideas together regardless of the evidence for or against them.

            ‘Prejudice’? Do you mean confirmation bias? From everything I’ve seen here it is you who is irrationally biased against the idea that we live in a naturalistic world, despite the fact that all the evidence points to it. Perhaps it is you who should be concerned about not being “prejudiced” against reality.

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      ‘1)Erwin Schrödinger: He has made one of the first formulations of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics. It is “still” the most commonly held interpretation of this phenomenon by physicists. I am not talking about “consciousness causes collapse” interpretation which presupposes what consciousness is (and what a human observer has to do with it), but the very essence of Copenhagen interpretation which can be termed as the “observer effect”. The solidification of reality into one of the quantum states does not happen until an observation is made of this reality. This observation can be as dumb as an electron “sensing” another electron / photon in its vicinity. No need to invent multi-verses which don’t make any testable predictions. Dr. Schrödinger didn’t hold an deterministic view of the universe. He didn’t shy away from acknowledging a “choice” in the functioning of this universe. He delimited this element of choice to within this own universe. No external agent (neither God nor an infinity of other universes) are required to understand this choice. Our current means of measuring how this choice is executed is no doubt limited, but it might be still possible to build a greater theory that explains this and keeps it within the confines of our own universe.‘

      i) Quantum computation is now a reality. I think the Copenhagen interpretation should not be taken seriously now. In any case, there is so much in quantum mechanics that continues to be debated hotly.

      ii) The multiverses idea explains a number of observations. Here is how: The reasons for the occurrence of the Big Bang are still a puzzle. Another puzzle in modern cosmology is the fact that matter and the cosmic background radiation are distributed quite homogeneously throughout the observable universe. Consider a galaxy that is 5000 million light years away today from our galaxy, namely the Milky Way. When the universe was one million years old, it (the universe) was only a thousandth of its present size. Therefore at that time the two galaxies must have been 5 million years apart. But since the age of the universe at that time was only one million years, not enough time was available for the two galaxies to have exchanged signals of any kind (assuming that nothing travels faster than the speed of light). There could not have been any kind of communication between the contents of one galaxy and the other. So how did the homogenization of the shock waves associated with the BB occur?

      There is general agreement that the emergence of matter from the early radiation field was a kind of symmetry-breaking phase transition. This can be likened to the phase transition from liquid water (which is homogeneous, or translation-invariant) to ice (which is not translation-invariant). The radiation field was translation-invariant, and the appearance of matter broke this translational symmetry. A hypothetical field called the Higgs field has been introduced in cosmology to understand these phenomena. This field breaks the symmetries of the interactions among the elementary particles, and gives the particles their mass.

      The Higgs field results in the existence of a new cosmological constant, which turns ‘empty’ space into a space that has an energy content. The problem at present is that the predicted cosmological constant has too large a value for a correct understanding of the observed cosmic evolution. It is believed that perhaps the Higgs cosmological constant had a large value right after the Big Bang, resulting in a violent and very rapid expansion (or ‘inflation’) of the universe. At a certain stage of this inflation, a cosmic phase transition occurred, which freed enormous amounts of energy (rather like the release of latent heat when steam condenses to liquid water). In a way, this energy flash or Big Bang marked the actual birth of our cosmos. After this prelude of inflation and cosmic phase transition, the normal (much slower) expansion of the universe set in, and has continued ever since.

      During the inflation prelude, the universe grew extremely rapidly from a volume smaller than that of the nucleus of an atom to the size of a tennis ball. If we associate the Big Bang with the moment at the end of the (very quick) inflation episode, certain cosmological mysteries get resolved. When the universe was just the size of a tennis ball, regions that are far apart today could have been in contact then, thus resulting in the observed homogenization of the universe.

      This new model of the Big Bang (i.e. a phase transition AFTER the inflation prelude) answers a few additional questions as well. The model implies that the observable cosmos is a part of a much bigger system. Our Big Bang occurred in a certain region of the cosmos, leaving other regions untouched. More Big Bangs can keep occurring in other regions of the cosmos, opening up the possibility of parallel universes. There is thus a multiverse, rather than a universe. In a multiverse, Big Bangs occur repeatedly, and each resulting universe accidentally has values of fundamental constants that just happen to be what they are. The universe we live in happens to have values of fundamental constants that make our emergence and existence possible. Otherwise we would not have emerged and evolved.

      ‘2)John Archibald Wheeler: He coined the participatory anthropic principle, and a formulation of the its from bits theory on how the universe might have breathed into existence. According to him, consciousness is not a binary variable but a continuous variable. Any particle in the universe can possess varying degrees of it. An electron can be “aware” of the presence of other micro-particles through the various fields that they generate. The level of awareness exhibited by life-forms, animals and finally human beings are just exponentially more complex formulations of this very basic awareness that is omnipresent in this universe. The simple and obvious fact is that our universe has been “evolving” into forms of higher and higher awareness over time. Even we human beings are not the end of this process. We shall evolve into cybernetic beings that are interconnected to reality and are aware of it at a much closer level. Dr. Wheeler formulated that this ever
      increasing awareness would culminate in a moment when the entire universe is aware of itself completely. That shall close the loop and “its” will be born from “bits”.

      Neither Wheeler nor Schrödinger are quacks. They didn’t believe in ignoramus et ignoramibus. They are serious scientists, who had a vision for making certain predictions about the future, and these predictions are testable. These theories might not sit well with the hard deterministic outlook that may be present in certain atheists, but no theory can be evaluated from prejudice.

      Daniel Dennett has made absolutely no testable hypotheses on how consciousness can arise from a computer. But consciousness is the elephant in the room, it cannot be “demystified”. It has to be explained, in a coherent and scientific manner through testable predictions.’

      I have already answered some of your comments. For more, please read my recent article on consciousness at http://nirmukta.com/2010/03/19/complexity-explained-16-evolution-of-intelligence-and-consciousness

      We should show due respect to the views of all learned people. But the point is that if some good scientists are not naturalists or atheists, it does not prove anything.

      • Dear Dr.Wadhawan

        Thanks for your reply.

        We should show due respect to the views of all learned people. But the point is that if some good scientists are not naturalists or atheists, it does not prove anything.

        This is exactly what I am driving at. When we have insufficient evidence, all possible hypotheses should be given equal respect. Obviously, there will be “fashion trends” amongst the scientific community to prefer one over the other (for example, string theory over quantum loop gravity), and these trends change with time.

        But, as far as educating general populace is concerned, no material of speculative nature can sit together with proven hypotheses and deserve equal respect. This is why I have found fault with the way you have presented this article.

        Without this sceptical nature and the possibility of entertaining multiple hypotheses, science cannot proceed. We cannot afford the scientific community to be monolithic, subscribing to a single philosophical perspective (causal / reductionist / deterministic) and dissenting voices be shuffled out.

        The theory of biocentrism has first come out from the work of Dr. Wheeler, through the participatory anthropic principle. Dr. Lanza has just pushed it forward. It is a shame that quacks like Deepak Chopra have stuck to it and abusing its ideas. But nobody can be judged guilty on account of association.

        On the question of whether there is a general direction to biological evolution, to human technological progress, the holistic journey of this universe over time etc.. the right sceptical answers should be I don’t know. May be yes, may be not.

        The perspective that life is insignificant in this universe and doesn’t have to do anything with the rest of the physics is just “one perspective”. And it is purely a philosophical perspective, which cannot be given an equal respect as a scientific truth.

      • And thanks for giving a very patient explanation of Dr. Alan Guth’s theory of inflation. But I don’t consider the extension of this theory to the bubble-verse (universes popping up as bubbles all over) a necessity. Personally, I don’t think there is any way we should prefer the multiverse hypothesis over the rest of the interpretations. As you know, the multiverse interpretation gives its own share of philosophical headaches like quantum suicide and immortality (as if we didn’t have enough already :) )

        I did read your other post on consciousness, and I made a comment there. That post is more within my domain of knowledge (computer science, AI). There are serious problems with extrapolating our limited knowledge on some minor brain functions to something as complex as consciousness. I should also remind you that the Hard-AI position (that consciousness will ultimately be replicated in computers), that you are subscribing to implicitly, is not entertained by a majority of computer scientists.There are not only some serious philosophical problems, but also a lot of practical limitations that have to be overcome, especially on the so-called NP complete problems.

        • Vinod K. Wadhawan

          What makes me optimistic is that we humans have had some great successes in tackling the NP-complete problem to a high degree of approximation. Ant logic has been used to attack the travelling-postman problem. Phil Anderson and others had great success in cracking the physics of the spin-glass problem. With our computers getting better and better, evolution of machine consciouness does not look very far fetched to me.

  • Actually, the word “mystify” indeed appears to come from “mystery” (from French) to which the word “mystic” is also related. So my apologies to you there.

    • One explanation of the word “mystic” from an English dictionary describes it as this:
      a person who seeks by contemplation and self surrender to obtain unity with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or who believes in the spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the intellect.
      And the explanation of “mystical” is:
      transcending human understanding.
      Therefore, “mystic”, by this definition, is the personification of that which is “mystical”.
      In assigning meaning the burden of proof is always to the positive and must be falsifiable. I’m all for de-mystifying ignorance.

      • I think it is difficult to find the Indian equivalents for these words : mystic, intellect, and human understanding.

        One simple translation would be yogi / rishi (mystic), buddhi (intellect) and vijnana (human understanding).

        The Upanishads, for example, say that there exists no truth that is beyond the grasp of human beings. This is said using the word “jnana” which can be loosely translated as knowledge, but there is a problem.

        There is a distinction specified on the knowledge obtained by linguistic reasoning (using word sense mappings) and that obtained by direct perception (pratyaksha). The former is considered to be substandard because Sabdah bandhah (word associations are like chains, which prevent reasoning beyond a point). The latter is considered to be absolute. Direct perception through senses is considered to provide absolute knowledge. These senses can be both outer senses and also inner sense (meditation). The right translation of yogi would then be a person who sees. This is unfortunately lost in the English word “mystic”.

  • I have always wondered why a person who is born blind and is given sight via an operation still cannot see. the human brain cannot make sense of the information coming in from the retina. their have been many documented cases like this. the old question of a tree falling in the forest and no one heard it did it really happen? when the sun goes nova and the universe eventually goes dark from endless expansion, did we ever exist? if their is no one around to remember we existed? did we exist?

    • ranti,

      Very important questions to those with imagination. It is these kind of questions that drive me as well. I find that it is useful to separate these powerful anthropocentric emotions from the quest for objective truth.
      Very often, what is important to me tries to influences what is real, and I have to choose.
      Very often, I find that redefining what it means to be sentient helps reconcile the real and the important.

      Yet, they remain separate, one a preference subjective to my physical reality, and the other all of physical reality.

  • Dr. Wadhawan,

    If we live in a universe that is at the core made up of “objects” existing independent of sentient observations, why should there be a “subjective” reality to an otherwise “objective” universe? There is NO naturalistic reason (not even darwinism and adaptation can explain this) as to why a bunch of organic wires firing electricity back and forth and storing information (aka brains) should have any subjective sentience – what philosphers call qualia – in the FIRST PLACE at all?

    Just this observation throws absolute materialism out the window. If you don’t like what quantum mathematics is literally suggesting (that the universe is perhaps ultimately idealistic and matter is exists in ‘potentia’ as Heisenberg observed), there are other valid possible models to consider such as the Penrose-Hameroff ORCH OR model of consciousness, David Chalmers dualistic worldview, etc.

    Whatever be the “ultimate truth” (if it can ever be truly grasped by science), I think you must concede that absolute materialism has reached a dead end in it assumptions regarding the nature of sentience and subjective consciousness. Everything that we experience as “objective” and “real” is ultimately entangled with our inner mental “subjectivity”. Perhaps we live in fundamentally sentient universe? May be.

    Best wishes,
    Taz

    • ” There is NO naturalistic reason (not even darwinism and adaptation can explain this) as to why a bunch of organic wires firing electricity back and forth and storing information (aka brains) should have any subjective sentience “

      There is no subjective sentience other than the process of neural firing itself. It is the process that leads to the illusion of sentience. All this has been repeated multiple times here in the comments and in other forums. Your argument is just Descartes’ “Cogito ergo sum” with modern language from neurobiology. Descartes has been dismissed a long time ago. That idea, that there is something other than the material brain that causes the mind has not led to a single advancement in science, has not offered a single testable prediction, and has never been falsifiable. It is completely unscientific garbage.

      David Chalmers is the popular poster boy of the quantum mystics, and with good reason, but he is vastly outnumbered by the materialist philosophers.

      “I think you must concede that absolute materialism has reached a dead end in it assumptions regarding the nature of sentience and subjective consciousness. “

      Absolutely not. Please make the argument first. Simply stating your conclusions does not constitute reasoning of any sort. Give me one reason why there absolutely has to be something beyond the physical before expecting everyone to reject reason.

      ‘Everything that we experience as “objective” and “real” is ultimately entangled with our inner mental “subjectivity”. “

      That makes no sense. What we experience is not “objective”, but the very definition of the “subjective”. Your statement is a tautology, building into the premise some sort of universal relationship between the objective and subjective. You cannot state as fact what you need to prove and then draw your proof from those preset conclusions.

      The universe is not sentient.

      • “There is no subjective sentience other than the process of neural firing itself. It is the process that leads to the illusion of sentience”

        Where is your evidence for this claim? All that neurobiology tells us is that the brain is correlated with subjective sentience and is necessary for it. It does not say that sentience is an emergent property of the brain. That is just the faith of absolute materialism.

        “That idea, that there is something other than the material brain that causes the mind has not led to a single advancement in science, has not offered a single testable prediction, and has never been falsifiable. It is completely unscientific garbage.”

        Thats besides the point. My point was that absolute materialism does not hold any water when it comes to its assumptions regarding the nature of consciousness. To chant that sentience is an epiphenomenon of matter is also a tautology: you need to prove it. Again neurobiology only proves correlation between the physical and the mental; it does not prove causation.

        You have not convinced me how and why conglomerates of insentient matter have the ability to produce the subjective realm.

        By the way, if subjective sentience and consciousness are an illusion, then even science and the whole of objectivity and reality are illusions since the latter are only constructed and perceived by the former. Without our thoughts and concepts there is no science. Perhaps there is no physical universe as well? Either way, it can’t be proved or disproved.

        Best wishes,
        Taz

        • “Where is your evidence for this claim?”

          Taz, I am not the one making the claim that needs to be justified, you are. I am saying that all there is is the brain, and the brain is sufficient to create the illusion called ‘mind’. You are the one making the extraordinary claim that there is something else beyond the observable. You are the one who must provide evidence of this non-material mind. It is you who has blind faith in something that there is absolutely no evidence for!

          But let me elaborate on your point about faith in materialism. Claims and expectations about reality can only be based on past observations about reality. Every known fact in science is a materialist fact. The rational and logical method in science involves the materialistic premise for any real science to be possible. Every time someone made a non-material assumption about reality, it got us nowhere. When Newton, who invented calculus and discovered the laws of thermodynamics, reached a point where he could not explain something (he was having problems with explaining why the planets did not spiral into the sun) he posited a magical non-material solution (god). He never solved the problem. Laplace a hundred years later solved the problem without positing the non-material solution.

          Non-material phenomena are useless. Nothing has ever come of positing that there exists some phenomena that has no detectable presence. If you posit that there is such a phenomenon, YOU MUST PROVE IT. The burden of proof rests on you.

          “To chant that sentience is an epiphenomenon of matter is also a tautology ”

          Why are you making stuff up? I never said (let alone chanted) that sentience is an epiphenomenon. Please address my claims without making up things about me.

          “You have not convinced me how and why conglomerates of insentient matter have the ability to produce the subjective realm. ”

          I do not have to. There are many problems in science without answers. For example, we know that most of the DNA in our cells does not code for any genes. This is a mystery. Why should this DNA be preserved when it has no known evolutionary function? The way to proceed is to assume that there is a natural causal explanation, and then try and find it. Simply saying that there is a non-material force preserving the DNA will be construed of as nonsense.

          “By the way, if subjective sentience and consciousness are an illusion, then even science and the whole of objectivity and reality are illusions since the latter are only constructed and perceived by the former. ”

          You have a wrong understanding of the notion of a subjective consciousness and why it is an illusion. Let me take you through this using an example.

          Say you take a picture of a sunset with your camera. What if someone claimed that the image in your memory card is a real sunset? Of course that would be ridiculous.

          The sunset in your camera is a representation. But if you believed that the sunset in your camera is a real sunset, then it is an illusion. Evolution gave us a representation of the universe in our heads, as our senses process information and the sensory information interacts with stored information (memory). But evolution also gave us the illusion (our mind). The illusion is that this representation of the universe in our heads, our mind, is somehow real.

          You are looking at the photograph, believing that you have the sunset in your hands.

          “Without our thoughts and concepts there is no science. ”

          Of course. The reason science is the most successful tool that humanity has invented to study the universe, is this: Science tries to eliminate subjective bias. I suggest you read a basic text book on scientific philosophy. Some of the greatest thinkers of the past 400 years have spent their lives answering these questions.

          “Perhaps there is no physical universe as well? Either way, it can’t be proved or disproved.”

          This is the so-called brain-in-a-vat problem, one of the oldest problems in philosophy. Thousands of philosophers have pondered on this question. No useful conclusions can be drawn from it. It is completely ineffectual in regards to proving anything you have discussed here. In any case, your last sentence is known as the appeal to ignorance, and is considered a logical fallacy.

          • Hi Ajita,

            First of all, I am glad we are having this conversation in a professional manner and are not throwing rocks at each other :-) [which usually does happen, when discussing such tabooed ideas].

            “Taz, I am not the one making the claim that needs to be justified, you are. I am saying that all there is is the brain, and the brain is sufficient to create the illusion called ‘mind’. You are the one making the extraordinary claim that there is something else beyond the observable. You are the one who must provide evidence of this non-material mind. It is you who has blind faith in something that there is absolutely no evidence for!”

            Ajita, these same concerns validly and equally apply to your assumptions about brain creating mind and subjective sentience. To me saying that the mind is created by the brain (aka an epiphenomenon of matter) is extraordinary. Show me the evidence. So far we have only correlations established (from the field of neurology), we haven’t proved any causation. Perhaps we can’t, either way.

            “I never said (let alone chanted) that sentience is an epiphenomenon. Please address my claims without making up things about me.”

            Well, by you saying (without evidence) that the brain produces the illusion called the mind, that is obviously saying it is an epiphenomenon of matter.

            “I do not have to. There are many problems in science without answers. For example, we know that most of the DNA in our cells does not code for any genes. This is a mystery. Why should this DNA be preserved when it has no known evolutionary function? The way to proceed is to assume that there is a natural causal explanation, and then try and find it. Simply saying that there is a non-material force preserving the DNA will be construed of as nonsense.”

            Of course, there will always be mysteries. Always. I am not appealing to ignorance. I am just saying that materialistic monism as a scientific paradigm has served us well in most respects, but it is grossly lacking in its potency when it comes to explaining sentience and qualia.

            Of course we should use science to construct a model for consciousness, but why should we restrict ourselves to materialistic assumptions. Philosopher David Chalmers is a philosopher who is working on a dualistic model for consciousness. Sir Roger Penrose and Dr. Stuart Hameroff have proposed their ORCH OR model for consciousness. The list goes on. Why are you turning a deaf ear to all other possibilities that may invalidate absolute materialism philosophy?

            I don’t see science being threatened here, just a worldview. But worldviews have always been toppled over as science has progressed. Perhaps the time has come for absolute materialism too? Perhaps we need to consider “a modified materialism” framework to interpret the irregularities and inconsistencies in modern physics and consciousness?

            “Say you take a picture of a sunset with your camera. What if someone claimed that the image in your memory card is a real sunset? Of course that would be ridiculous.

            The sunset in your camera is a representation. But if you believed that the sunset in your camera is a real sunset, then it is an illusion. Evolution gave us a representation of the universe in our heads, as our senses process information and the sensory information interacts with stored information (memory). But evolution also gave us the illusion (our mind). The illusion is that this representation of the universe in our heads, our mind, is somehow real. ”

            All this is just tautology. In using this analogy, you are already taking for granted that what we see “out there” is “produced” and “stored” in our brains. You have no evidence for these assumptions.

            I repeat, sure the brain is “necessary” for “consciousness”, but that does not mean the brain is “creating” what you see “outside”. Perhaps the brain is “accessing” what is already embedded in the fabric of the universe from the start. Either way, for now, science cannot tell us. May be someday it will. I am just asking you to be open to the possibility that science might show us that materialistic monism is incomplete.

            Saying both that the brain creates the mind or that the mind and brain exists together dualistically, are BOTH extraordinary claims that have no scientific evidence so far.

            By the way, you might be interested in checking out Dr. Stuart Hameroff’s website: http://www.quantumconsciousness.org

            The Penrose-Hameroff model is very different from Dr. Lanza’s and Amit Goswami’s interpretation of quantum theory. Its an interesting possibility to consider.

            Best Wishes,
            Taz

          • Taz, your reversal of charges, that it is me who makes the tautology, arises from the fact that you are still unable to see beyond the illusion of subjective sentience and observe the real sunset. Your assumption that “subjective sentience” is some magic thing that needs to be explained in some non-material way is leading you to keep repeating that I must explain it and that I am making assumptions about it. I AM SAYING IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE EXPLAINED AT THAT LEVEL BECAUSE THAT LEVEL IS AN ILLUSION.

            One thing I must make clear. Many people think that the word “illusion” means that “non-existent”. This is wrong. All it means in this context is a “representative version of reality”.

            “Ajita, these same concerns validly and equally apply to your assumptions about brain creating mind and subjective sentience.”

            You keep repeating this stuff about without understanding how the notion of scientific likelihood works. You cannot simply throw around words like “equally apply” when you are defending a non-scientific notion and I am defending a functional mechanistic explanation.

            Can you please define “subjective sentience” for me? You are yet to do that.

            I have already said that it is an illusion, a representation of the real world that confuses you into thinking that it IS the real world. No doubt the representation aligns with the real world for the most part, here in our natural environment, but there are plenty of areas where it does not. This is one way we can know that it is an illusion. If our minds were directly tapped into the universe, there would not be a difference between subjective and objective reality. In reality, everything about the way we perceive reality suggests that we create a subjective representation of reality in our heads.

            There is plenty of evidence that our brains create representations of the real world. If you think that this is an “assumption” then you are woefully uninformed about neurobiology. We can manipulate our brains to produce all sorts of representations of the real world using physical processes. The fact that you keep repeating your false equivalence between physical processes with plenty of evidence and a complete non-explanation is evidence that you do not understand how scientific likelihood works. And do not say “there is a correlation” between subjective sentience and the brain, because YOU HAVE NOT DEFINED SUBJECTIVE SENTIENCE.

            “Well, by you saying (without evidence) that the brain produces the illusion called the mind, that is obviously saying it is an epiphenomenon of matter.”

            No it is not. You are not being completely honest about what an epiphenomenon means.

            “Of course, there will always be mysteries. Always. I am not appealing to ignorance. I am just saying that materialistic monism as a scientific paradigm has served us well in most respects, but it is grossly lacking in its potency when it comes to explaining sentience and qualia.”

            Again, you have not defined sentience and qualia and yet expect everyone to think of it as something that is real that exists beyond the material world. Let me point you to a satirical paper by Dan Dennett called “The Unimagined Preposterousness of Zombies” : http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/papers/unzombie.htm

            “Why are you turning a deaf ear to all other possibilities that may invalidate absolute materialism philosophy?”

            These “possibilities” have neither been confirmed nor have they been tested. More importantly, they attempt to answer a non-problem, since they are stuck within the illusion. Anyone can make up something that is untestable or redundant and accuse others of ignoring his fantasy. But this person would certainly be mistaken if he thinks that his fantasy invalidates materialism. For example I can say, all those ignoring the zombie theory of zombiehood are ” turning a deaf ear to all other possibilities that may invalidate absolute materialism philosophy”. See, complete nonsense.

            “Perhaps the time has come for absolute materialism too? Perhaps we need to consider “a modified materialism” framework to interpret the irregularities and inconsistencies in modern physics and consciousness?”

            Materialism is a very complex idea. I fear you do not have a very complete understanding of it. You keep saying “absolute materialism”. What exactly do you mean by it? Whatever the concept of materialism we propose, we must be able to relate to it using the laws of physics. Whatever ideas that we propose to explain ” irregularities and inconsistencies in modern physics”, WE MUST NOT MODIFY PHYSICS TO SUIT OUR PET THEORY. Rather, we must first attempt to deal with the physics itself.

            There IS a new kind of physics that is gaining steam, that, as Dr. Wadhawan has demonstrated here, works rather well within the materialistic framework to open up vast new areas of scientific inquiry. It is called complexity science.

            Throughout history people have proposed magic, non-material solutions to ” irregularities and inconsistencies” in science. This is the god of the gaps. In every case that science has found an answer to these irregularities of unexplained phenomena, these people were wrong. There is no magic in the gaps, and yet there will always be some people looking for it. This is because of the nature of the illusion. You are unable to see beyond the sunset in your photograph.

            “All this is just tautology. In using this analogy, you are already taking for granted that what we see “out there” is “produced” and “stored” in our brains. You have no evidence for these assumptions.”

            Wrong. I am not taking anything for granted. We have loads of evidence that the physical processes in the brain create representations of the real world. Your dismissal of key areas of neurobiology is appalling.

            “I repeat, sure the brain is “necessary” for “consciousness”, but that does not mean the brain is “creating” what you see “outside”. ”

            Again, FIRST DEFINE CONSCIOUSNESS. I did not say that the brain is creating what you see outside. I said it is creating a representation of the natural world.

            “Perhaps the brain is “accessing” what is already embedded in the fabric of the universe from the start. Either way, for now, science cannot tell us.”

            And we’re back to false equivalence. You keep taking ideas that are well supported within the established scientific framework and equating them with nonsense. This is intellectually dishonest. And again you use the appeal to ignorance, a logical fallacy.

            “I am just asking you to be open to the possibility that science might show us that materialistic monism is incomplete.”
            Why do you think I am not open to that possibility? Just because I do not agree with your version of fantasy? You have not even defined what you mean by subjective consciousness and yet you think I should give up on established science.

            “Saying both that the brain creates the mind or that the mind and brain exists together dualistically, are BOTH extraordinary claims that have no scientific evidence so far.”

            FALSE EQUIVALENCE followed by a false claim.

            We have plenty of evidence that the brain creates a representation of the universe. Also, again you need to define what you mean by “mind”. I already have. You have not. The entire problem lies with your mistaken idea that simply saying there is this thing called “qualia”, which is “subjective”, qualifies as a definition. As I have pointed out, you are simply stuck within the illusion, unable to see beyond it. If you try to define this magic notion of yours you will find that it is not quite that easy. In fact, it is a figment of your imagination, “imagination” itself being another very useful illusion.

          • Ajita,

            You accuse me of being deluded and having no knowledge of neurobiology. Let me just say that I am a physician, and I have read many science books (including most of Dawkins and comrades’s works) and I was an atheist for 7 years. I am not a theist. I could use the term agnostic but I prefer not to use any “organized” label to describe myself.

            You have repeated over and over the following:

            “YOU HAVE NOT DEFINED SUBJECTIVE SENTIENCE.”

            Subjective sentience or ‘qualia’ is the ‘perception’ of red, the ‘taste’ of chocolate’, the ‘smell’ of a rose, and ‘hearing’ of music.

            All these are no doubt correlated with electricity firing in our neurons as a result of “external” stimuli. No problem there.

            Here’s the problem: if “matter” is fundamentally insentient, fundamentally cold and dead (for the lack of better vocabulary), WHY SHOULD CONGLOMERATES OF MATTER FIRING ELECTRICITY GIVE RISE TO ANY ‘QUALIA’???

            You calling ‘qualia’ as an ‘illusion’ of the brain activity needs to proved by evidence, which you have not yet provided.

            “There is plenty of evidence that our brains create representations of the real world. If you think that this is an “assumption” then you are woefully uninformed about neurobiology. We can manipulate our brains to produce all sorts of representations of the real world using physical processes.”

            So what? That still doesn’t explain why ‘qualia’ should exist?

            I can manipulate my television screen and knock off parts of its circuitry and my cable programs will not show. Does that demonstrate “causality” of my telly producing the streaming image? Of course not, it demonstrates only “correlation” – that I need a functional telly to show me the streaming image. The telly is a “receiver”, not a “generator” of images. It receives information from outside signals.

            You don’t know that the brain is not something like the telly analogy. I am open to the possibility that ‘qualia’ is fundamental to the universe just as “matter”, “gravity” and “electromagnetism” are. Its seems you are not.

            Best wishes,
            Taz

          • “You accuse me of being deluded and having no knowledge of neurobiology. “

            I did not say you are deluded. You are again putting words in my mouth. Also, my statement about neurobiology was “There is plenty of evidence that our brains create representations of the real world. If you think that this is an “assumption” then you are woefully uninformed about neurobiology.” I stand by it. I did not say you have “no knowledge” about it, just that, given your ignorance about the fact that our brains create representations of the real world, you are woefully uninformed about neurobiology. Either that, or you deliberately misrepresented your understanding of how brains work in order to win the argument.

            “Subjective sentience or ‘qualia’ is the ‘perception’ of red, the ‘taste’ of chocolate’, the ’smell’ of a rose, and ‘hearing’ of music.”

            Ah ha! That is not the definition you apply when you argue for a non-material mind!

            This is essentially the problem with your ideas (and the majority of humanity has this problem when dealing with the illusion of consciousness). Everything you mentioned- perception, taste, smell and hearing, are physical processes. These are not what you really mean when you say “subjective experience”. All these things you mention are clearly explained or explainable in theory using mechanistic science. The problem is that the illusion you are stuck within makes you believe that there is more than just that, and yet when questioned about it you cannot even define it beyond the physical.

            “Here’s the problem: if “matter” is fundamentally insentient, fundamentally cold and dead (for the lack of better vocabulary), WHY SHOULD CONGLOMERATES OF MATTER FIRING ELECTRICITY GIVE RISE TO ANY ‘QUALIA’???”

            WHAT QUALIA? ALL THOSE MATERIAL THINGS YOU USED IN YOUR DEFINITION OF IT?

            “You calling ‘qualia’ as an ‘illusion’ of the brain activity needs to proved by evidence, which you have not yet provided.”

            Again, WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF QUALIA? Not the physical processes you mentioned above. You are doing a bait-and-switch. When I ask for the definition, you present a materialist one. When I submit that the materialist interpretation is wholly consistent, you invoke magic. You cannot have it both ways.

            “I can manipulate my television screen and knock off parts of its circuitry and my cable programs will not show. Does that demonstrate “causality” of my telly producing the streaming image? Of course not, it demonstrates only “correlation” – that I need a functional telly to show me the streaming image. The telly is a “receiver”, not a “generator” of images. It receives information from outside signals.”

            This example is actually perfect for me to demonstrate to you why you are confused. Of course the TV does not cause the image out of nothing. It is a receiver. Similarly, the brain is a receiver, receiving outside (sensory) signals. But that is where the analogy ends. Now I’ll take it further.

            The difference between the TV and the brain is that the receiver in the brain IS ALSO THE OBSERVER. There is no separate observer outside of the receiver. The creation of the images in our brains is a dynamic process that involves the illusion that there is another entity observing the image. This is the essence of the illusion.

            Now imagine if your TV was not just a receiver, but also a highly intelligent agent, capable of placing the images it receives in a relevant context, purely by mechanistic processes. Now imagine if this information interacts with other information, both stored and streaming. This TV not only just collects the information, but also puts it together with other information, in a dynamic and rapid process, creating an internal world (a representation) for itself. This internal world allows it to navigate through the physical universe. The TV’s intelligence enables it to ponder on the nature of being itself, leading it to conclude that there is a difference between the mechanistic processes in it’s innards and some observer (namely its own ego) that exists beyond those mechanistic processes. Congratulations, your TV is now conscious!

            “I am open to the possibility that ‘qualia’ is fundamental to the universe just as “matter”, “gravity” and “electromagnetism” are. Its seems you are not.”

            Of course I am not, just as I am not “open” to the possibility that gremlins are in my pants right now. We have exhausted this conversation. I refuse to accept that any undefined, untestable, unnecessary and unscientific notion needs any consideration. Let us move along.

    • Vinod K. Wadhawan

      Dear Taz,

      Please read my recent article on consciousness at

      http://nirmukta.com/2010/03/19/complexity-explained-16-evolution-of-intelligence-and-consciousness

      There is some more discussion in my follow up article at

      http://nirmukta.com/2010/04/04/complexity-explained-17-epilogue

      I want to try to understand what you are saying. Perhaps you will agree that ‘conscious’ or ‘sentient’ humans appeared on the scene at some specific point of time (yes or no?). Questions for you:

      1. Who or what created them, and how?

      2. Did anything exist before they appeared? If yes, what? If no, how did the humans (embodying a huge amount of complexity) appear out of no complexity? [A plus point of the Big Bang model is that, in it, the degree of complexity at the moment of the Big Bang is nil. Complexity increased as the universe expanded, and humans emerged as a natural phenomenon in due course.]

      3. How do you explain away all the fossil evidence for the EVOLUTION of biological complexity? There IS evidence that there was life before conscious humans came on the scene.

      • Dear Dr. Wadhawan,

        First of all, thank you for taking the time to read and respond my discussions with your colleague Ajita. Also thank you for suggesting the links; I will do my best to go through them when I get some free time.

        “I want to try to understand what you are saying. Perhaps you will agree that ‘conscious’ or ‘sentient’ humans appeared on the scene at some specific point of time (yes or no?).”

        Yes I agree. I have no problem accepting the laws of physics or evolution via darwinian natural selection. The evidence of common descent and natural selection as one of the prime forces is evident (although, I don’t think it was necessarily the only force relevant in shaping the diversity of life on our planet).

        My questions deals with existence of subjective sentience or ‘qualia’. In other words, I stand by Professor David Chalmers argument of the ‘hard problem’ of “consciousness”.

        Clearly the existence of subjective sensations cannot be explained by neurology. Of course there are neurological correlates to various “states” of subjective experiences. But that doesn’t explain why those subjective experiences in the “first place”.

        While it is easy to see how natural selection can select the presence of sentience in an organism in a positive way as it would add survival advantage, this still does not explain why conglomerates of “matter” (objects which are presumed to be insentient, cold, and blind) should produce qualia at all? As David Chalmers has correctly pointed out, there is no naturalistic reason for the existence of ‘qualia’ in a universe made up of “objects”.

        Which is why I think “sentience” is somehow fundamental to the fabric of the cosmos.

        You might be interested checking out a renowned neurologist (an author of many medical books) Dr. Stephen Goldberg’s book ‘Anatomy of the Soul’, available for free download at his website http://www.medmaster.net/anatomyofthesoul.html

        Even Dr. Goldberg argues for a new model of “consciousness” and “reality” and he equates consciousness = information = meaning; and that we may be “bathed in a sea of consciousness”. He walks a fine line between realism and idealism. You might be interested in reading his work.

        You may have also heard of the “Penrose-Hameroff” model for consciousness, which Sir Roger Penrose and Anaesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff argue for a form of “quantum consciousness” through their ORCH OR model (www.quantumconsciousness.org)

        I see incompleteness in the materialist philosophy of reality (I have no problems with scientific findings and the scientific method) when it comes to dealing with “consciousness”.

        My question again: Why should a bunch of organic wires firing electricity back and forth and storing information (what we call brains) should have any subjective sentience – what philosphers call qualia – in the FIRST PLACE at all?

        Kind regards,
        Taz

        • Vinod K. Wadhawan

          Dear Taz:

          I am a simple-minded scientist who is trying to understand the implications of your worldview. It would be a great help if you agree to answer the three questions I asked. I have a feeling that your answers will end up making a case for materialism, in spite of the fact that there are so many things we do not understand yet.

          • Dear Dr Wadhawan,

            I think I have answered your three questions pertaining to the evolution of sentient living things. We both agree that life arose from physical laws and Darwinian evolution. Where we differ is that you view sentience as an emergent propert of the brain, while I think it is somehow fundamental to the fabric of space and time, the way matter, gravity, electromagnetism are fundamental.

            Best wishes
            Taz

          • Taz,

            If sentience is a fundamental property of universe, then we should be able to find it on many planets other than earth. In fact, why just planets? If it is a fundamental property, we should be able to find it on stars as well, just like matter, gravity and electromagnetism.

            Cheers,
            Krishna

          • Hi Krishna,

            The universe is an infinitely vast place; perhaps there are sentient life forms out there in the universe (when considering the Drake equation as illustrated by late Carl Sagan, the notion seems optimistic).

            However, I do not think the presence or absence of life elsewhere in the universe is an argument for or against consciousness being either a fundamental or emergent property of the cosmos.

            As for starts and planets having “sentience”, even if they do have it, it will be hard to actually detect that (just as we have no idea of how ‘insect’ sentience is like, or how a bat “sees” sound – we are using to “hearing sound”, even though nowadays we use ultrasound technology and in a sense we are “seeing” sound, but I am sure its quite different from how bats see them).

            Just has we have no idea how ‘sentience’ can be an emergent property of conglomerates of matter (I don’t think it can), we have no idea how ‘sentience’ relates to ‘matter’. Even if its a fundamental property of the universe, we can say under what conditions does it manifest itself in complex systems like living things.

            I think the same can be said for Artificial Intelligence. If AI ultimately produces sentient beings, it will still not prove either way that “sentience” is an emergent or a fundamental property of the universe.

            Cheers,
            Taz

          • typo correction: Even if its a fundamental property of the universe, we CANT say under what conditions does it manifest itself in complex systems like living things.

          • Vinod K. Wadhawan

            Taz said: ‘We both agree that life arose from physical laws and Darwinian evolution.’

            So, human life arose from earlier life forms, which arose from nonlife. Humans have the so-called ‘sentience’, and nonlife does not have it. It means that sentience has evolved (or arisen) somewhere in this dynamical progression of things involving physical nonliving objects. What is so fundamental about it?

          • Dr Wadhawan said, “It means that sentience has evolved (or arisen) somewhere in this dynamical progression of things involving physical nonliving objects. What is so fundamental about it?”

            Sure it has evolved, but you assume it to be an emergent property of neuronal activity. But there is no naturalistic reason for that as Professor David Chalmers has pointed out over and over again.

            Darwinian selection and adaptation comes in action later down the chain, ONCE ‘sentience’ has arisen so that it can be “selected” for or against.

            I am asking you the question again, “WHY should a bunch of ‘objects’ give rise to any form of ‘subjectivity’ or ‘sentience’ in the first place”?

          • Taz, both Dr. Wadhawan and I have asked you repeatedly to define sentience and consciousness in non-material and objective terms. You are yet to do so. If you cannot do this, you are essentially asking us to prove that magic comes from “objects”. This is silly. David Chalmers has been answered multiple times, but there is a faction of people who cannot get over the fact that sentience as we experience it is an illusion who are propping up his meaningless arguments. I’m sure it feels very intuitive to you. To be frank it does to me as well. But the point of science is to get over our intuitions and to understand things objectively.

            Let me ask you one last time. Define sentience in objective terms. That is, define it without relating it to any observers.

            If you’re going to ignore everything we and the majority of philosophers have said about the nature of sentience, there there is no point in having this conversation.

          • Vinod K. Wadhawan

            There is only one naturalistic reason for anything to happen: It is is the second law of thermodynamics, particularly its version applicable to open systems. I fail to see the need for any more reasons of any kind.

            The second law simply says that a more probable thing is more likely to happen; this may LOOK like a circular statement, but it is not. I am deliberately stating it like this for fun!

          • Vinod K. Wadhawan

            Taz said: ‘Darwinian selection and adaptation comes in action later down the chain, ONCE ’sentience’ has arisen so that it can be “selected” for or against.’

            A large amount of CHEMICAL evolution occurred before biological evolution started. Please see my article on chemical evolution at

            http://nirmukta.com/2009/10/29/complexity-explained-8-evolution-of-chemical-complexity/

          • Dr. Wadhawan, here is the problem as I see it. We are talking about different ideas of sentience. You and I can still say that subjectivity is a property of the universe, but it doesn’t exist without observers.

            But Taz and other supernaturalists are arguing that subjectivity is itself an objective property of the universe. That is, they believe that without any observers there would still be sentience and subjectivity in the universe. So, whatever you say about evolution, they will say it is irrelevant, because where did this magic sentience come from for it to evolve? It is unfalsifiable. But more importantly, it makes the notion of objectivity itself redundant. Literally their argument breaks down to “Subjectivity is Objectivity”. They go in with this assumption, and no matter how much evidence you show them that the objective universe is consistently objective, and that our subjectivity is consistently mistaken about non-adaptive experiences of the objective world, the illusion remains too strong. They will not define subjectivity objectively, and yet they cannot see that it is different from objectivity. This is the core of the problem.

          • Vinod K. Wadhawan

            Taz says: ‘We both agree that life arose from physical laws and Darwinian evolution. Where we differ is that you view sentience as an emergent property of the brain, while I think it is somehow fundamental to the fabric of space and time, the way matter, gravity, electromagnetism are fundamental.’

            Interactions or forces operative between any two or more objects are known to be from one or more of the following:
            • The electromagnetic interaction.
            • The gravitational interaction.
            • The nuclear interaction.
            • The electro-weak interaction.

            No other interactions or forces are known to science. You seem to be saying that, at some point in the history of our universe, a fifth fundamental interaction manifested itself. I find that strange, particularly when there is no need to invoke the existence of such an interaction (Ockham’s razor).

            Also, as Ajita has suggested, please do try to define sentience in a clear, logical manner.

  • Immediacracy

    “The mind does not create the natural phenomenon itself; it creates a subjective experience or a representation of the phenomenon.”

    This is inside-out. While there is an objective phenomenon of e-m frequencies which are optically detectable to us, the subjective representation of it as color is the relevant aspect of it. Close your eyes and think of a bright blue ball… got it? Where are the photons? Where is the natural phenomenon itself creating your subjective experience?

    Color is a neurological subjective product which can be stimulated by the optic nerve. With an MRI, night vision goggles, or an X-ray we can transduce invisible frequencies into patterns of visible image but we can never experience the actual X-Rays or whatever as a new color without modifying our neurology (if that).

    While I’m sympathetic to the anti-new agey cause, I think that it’s important to recognize a significant blind spot in science which clings to the notion of true objectivity with religious zeal. When we come up with a mathematical model which can describe and predict the actual qualia of a hue based on it’s wavelength (as in why 490nm wavelength light appears as blue and not as some other hue), then I’d be impressed. While we’re at it, we should have no trouble coming up with a new primary colors as well as tracing back the origins of a color like blue itself. What substance is blue made of? Did it always exist? If not how did it come into being and what were the other possible choices?

    • “While there is an objective phenomenon of e-m frequencies which are optically detectable to us, the subjective representation of it as color is the relevant aspect of it. Close your eyes and think of a bright blue ball… got it? Where are the photons? Where is the natural phenomenon itself creating your subjective experience?”

      You are misunderstand the meaning of the word “representation” and creating a straw man by simplifying the materialistic processes to an absurd caricature. It is absurd to think of all brain phenomenon as requiring external information through sensory input at all times. Are you not familiar with the notion of imagination? First, define “subjective experience” in objective terms, and then we can have a conversation about what creates it.

      “Color is a neurological subjective product which can be stimulated by the optic nerve. With an MRI, night vision goggles, or an X-ray we can transduce invisible frequencies into patterns of visible image but we can never experience the actual X-Rays or whatever as a new color without modifying our neurology (if that).”

      Our subjective experience offers a very limited insight into the universe. Thank you for making my point for me.

      “While I’m sympathetic to the anti-new agey cause, I think that it’s important to recognize a significant blind spot in science which clings to the notion of true objectivity with religious zeal.”

      Next person throwing around slurs like “religious zeal” at those seeking an evidence-based approach, equating dangerous blind faith behaviors with science, will be immediately disallowed.

      “When we come up with a mathematical model which can describe and predict the actual qualia of a hue based on it’s wavelength (as in why 490nm wavelength light appears as blue and not as some other hue), then I’d be impressed.”

      What is qualia? Please define this in objective terms before you speak so authoritatively about it.

      “While we’re at it, we should have no trouble coming up with a new primary colors as well as tracing back the origins of a color like blue itself. What substance is blue made of? Did it always exist? If not how did it come into being and what were the other possible choices?”

      What is “blue”?

      “subjective experience”, “qualia”, “blue” are all part of your brain’s interpretation of the universe. Non of them are real objective concepts that would make sense in the absense of any obeservers. They are representations of reality.

      “blue” is just your brain’s interpretation of a certain wavelength. The illusion is that you think there is an observer who “sees” the blue. In reality, the “blue” is the actual processing of certain specific information. Just like with emotions and feelings, our brain has evolved meaningful associations for “blue”. You have language, emotions and associative memory to conceptualize “blue”. But you cannot define it in terms that are non-material without making things up.

      There could be alien intelligence with perceptive powers of that wavelength of light we call “blue”, but they may experience it very differently form us. They may experience it as “hot” or “happy”, just to make an example of it.

      The trick it to step out of the illusion, instead of asking questions about the outside from within the illusion.

  • Anirudh Kumar Satsangi

    The territory of physics is very limited and physics is not able to explain beyond it. Not only this, the laws of physics breaks beyond this territory. So we should work for the synthesis of science and spirituality. This is something different that someone don’t agree with the views of Lanza or Deepak, yourself, myself etc.etc. Every one has the liberty to come forward with one’s own views. We should also encourage brainstorming to reach at some worthwhile conclusion.

  • Anirudh Kumar Satsangi

    You mentioned that biologist Lanza and mystic Deepak Chopra has put their views that the universe is the product of consciousness. We can think how we can define consciousness scientifically? I have defined it. Force of consciousness and gravitational force are the two names of the same supreme force current. Its source is known is GOD. We need not to debunk anyone. We should think carefully and should conceive some idea for synthesis of scientific and religious terms.

    • “Its source is known is GOD.”
      This is the mixing of science and non-science creating nothing. You say you have define consciousness scientifically and call it God. Apparently anything that has yet to be measured or undefined, you will label with yet another undefined term, God, which can be known only subjectively to you, which makes you a mystic, not a person of science.
      “We need not to debunk anyone.”
      Your paradigm of thinking will indeed, if propagated, lead others, to a cull de sac of stagnation. You need debunking because your thinking threatens the well being of the rest of humanity.

    • You are wrong. The source is not God. It is a pink unicorn that rides atop of comets in the Kuiper belt that is the source of the supreme force current.

  • Anirudh Kumar Satsangi

    You are totally mistaken Joe. I feel pity on you. Except few, like you, majority of scientific community and others also are supporting my views in one way or the other. Religion and science will soon get merged into each other. Both are the results of humans’ deep observation.

    • “You are totally mistaken Joe. I feel pity on you.”

      Well then, now we have a commonality where we can start a dialogue: likewise.

      Firstly, please state your source of your findings and provide the numbers of your statement about the majority of the scientific community who would turn “is” into “ought” using the scientific method (which then would make it something other than the scientific method). There is Lanza we know for sure. I know of about 11 others but that does not make a majority unless there are only 23 scientists in the world.

      My own personal proclivity for humanistic spirituality stems from Buddhism, which attracted me for its lack of an external deity, and the concept it contains of causality, which gives the individual responsibility over fate. That being said, I’ve yet to find any supportive evidence going beyond this life for any justification of the concept of Karma. Logically speaking, as in the hypothesis of Karma, if your life is infinite, then there are an infinite number of non-linear variables which make up an individual’s existence. I can observe this life but backfilling in regression or projecting an unsubstantiated assumption based on wishful thinking is what all religions do to justify existence and is not observable.

      Which leads me to ask you to also define what you mean by “observable”.

  • Anirudh Kumar Satsangi

    However, I do not agree to the proposal of Dr.Lanza that biology and not physics is the key to understanding the universe. Contrary to Dr. Lanza view a question has been troubling biologists for many years:- Do all biological phenomena reduce to physics and molecular concepts or not? The development of views on this problem amounts to an increasing, or frequently expansion of the “field of action” of physics in biology.

  • Anirudh Kumar Satsangi

    The idea of Lanza that the universe does not really exist unless it is being observed by a conscious observer and his conclusion that everything we perceive is created by the act of perception is illogical. It is not acceptable. In fact human consciousness is the part of the cosmic consciousness. Deepak Chopra is also not an authority. I am convinced that the Gravitational Force Theory of God is correct and only scientific view which describes God objectively.

    If 11 scientists support my views then I am quite satisfied.

    • “I am convinced that the Gravitational Force Theory of God is correct and only scientific view which describes God objectively.”
      I just read this response…sheesh! Go lock up Galileo! You have nothing go do with science except to abuse the word and it’s function.

  • Dear Authors,

    Have you check out the recent “Is Time an Illusion?” article on Scientific American?
    Some physicists argue that there is no such thing as time.
    Based on this, I don’t think Lanza is too far-fetched, at least not with this concept.

    Regards,
    Espagnat

    • I’m not quite sure how the concept of “time” as an illusionary theory, relates to what Lanza is trying to say in that existence is a function of being observed, which requires a subjective time frame. Please explain.
      Regards,
      Joe Isuzu

      • Lanza’s theory of biocentrism has seven principles.
        I’m just referring to one which states that time does not have a real existence outside of animal-sense perception. It is the process by which we perceive changes in the universe.

        Regards,
        Espagnat

        • Yes, indeed, number six of Lanza’s seven. Space and time , however, exist even though they are relative and not absolute and it is arguable that he is just arbitrarily reversing what is actually happening; we perceive time through changes in the universe. But according to Lanza, nothing ever changed until we observed it.

          • If we accept the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, then Biocentrism does present some interesting perspectives on the role of life and consciousness in the origin and nature of the Universe.

            I know this site is attempting to discredit Copenhagen interpretation. However, according to a poll at a Quantum Mechanics workshop in 1997, the Copenhagen interpretation is the most widely-accepted specific interpretation of quantum mechanics, followed by the many-worlds interpretation.

          • This site is not trying to discredit the Copenhagen interpretation, but rather what the revisionists make of it. One cannot not fill a void of understanding paradoxes of pragmatic predictability with baseless spiritual subjective meaning, which is what Chopra and Lanza have done.

          • Whatever the merit (or lack of) in the biocentrist view, the site does indeed attempt to discredit the Copenhagen interpretation, which is still very much in contention in scientific circles. Quoting the article:

            “This (unsatisfactory) dualistic interpretation of quantum mechanics for dealing with the measurement problem was suggested by Bohr and Heisenberg at a conference in Copenhagen in 1927, and is known as the Copenhagen interpretation.”

            It is easy to see why the author does this, since the preceding argument depends on its denial. For example, in a Lockean terms, the author grants subjective status to the secondary qualities of things (eg. colour), but holds that primary qualities are ‘objective’ by dint of experimental results. But in the Copenhagen interpretation, the experimental apparatus collapses the wave function because observers witness the results.

            I don’t have a definite view on biocentrism one way or the other, but the author of this article needs to be more up front about his bias rather than attempt to peddle his own belief system.

          • “That is, one chose to introduce the interpretation that there is a collapse of the wave function to the state actually detected by the measurement in the ‘real’ world, to the exclusion of other states represented in the original wave function. ”
            I stand corrected. Thanks.

          • It should be amply clear from our long article why the Copenhagen interpretation is not a good one. The scientists who favour it over other models should justify their stand. Is it because there is some inner need for many of them to do so? Or is it plain intellectual lethargy? In any case, the debate on the foundations of quantum mechanics is not likely to end any time soon. This is what Richard Feynman said in ‘The Character of Physical Law’: ‘I think that I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.’

            As I have said in my new book (to be released after a month or so): ‘Quantum theory has been remarkably successful in explaining a vast range of observations. It is also highly counterintuitive. We accept it simply because there is no BETTER theory for understanding natural phenomena. In any case, there is no reason why the laws of Nature should not be counterintuitive to humans. There is nothing special about us, except that we possess some intelligence. In the history of the cosmos, we emerged on the scene VERY recently, whereas the laws of Nature have been there all the time.’

            The debate among true scientists on quantum mechanics should not be allowed to be exploited by vested interests for their nefarious ends. All those who love and respect science should try to ensure this.

          • If you accept the Copenhagen interpretation, then of course Biocentrism is believable.
            Which explains why this site is trying to discredit Copenhagen interpretation.

            Personally, I’m keeping an open mind on this. Unless Copenhagen interpretation has been formally discredited, people will at least acknowledge that it might be true.

          • Ajita Kamal

            “If you accept the Copenhagen interpretation, then of course Biocentrism is believable.
            Which explains why this site is trying to discredit Copenhagen interpretation.”

            A good portion of the article deals with why the Copenhagen interpretation is found lacking. Instead of focusing on a monolithic idea that has captured the popular imagination, let us look at the various aspects of the original hypothesis that have been modified over the years as our understanding of the physics has evolved.

            As Dr. Wadhawan says, we have provided actual arguments and evidence for our claims. You have not challenged any of the actual claims. You present no real counter-arguments to the claims made in great detail in the article. By suggesting that the reason we reject the CI is some ideological need to discredit biocentrism, you are essentially accusing us of distorting the science to fit our biases. This is ironic, because we presented evidence and you did not. It seems that it is you who is trying to discredit us because of ideological reasons, not the other way around. What is it about our arguments that you find lacking? Keeping an open mind must not prevent us from asking the hard questions and evaluating the evidence.

          • Quoting your article on many worlds interpretation:
            “Quantum computing is now a reality, and it is based on such understanding of quantum mechanics”

            Quoting on Dr. Wadhawan reply to vakibs on March 26, 2010 at 1:33 am
            “Quantum computation is now a reality. I think the Copenhagen interpretation should not be taken seriously now.”

            I would like to know specifically , are you saying that we should all dump CI and accept MWI?

        • Imagine some gas in a chamber, separated by a partition from another chamber of the same volume. This second chamber is empty to start with. So there is gas on one side of the partition and vacuum on the other. If the partition disappears, the molecules of the gas would be able to move into the right half of the enlarged chamber. Soon the gas will occupy the entire (doubled) volume uniformly.

          This ‘free expansion’ of the gas is governed by random chance processes. Let us say that there are n molecules of the gas. Before the partition is removed, all the molecules are in the left half of the enlarged chamber. So the probability of finding any of the molecules in the left half is 100%, and it is zero for finding that molecule in the right half. After the partition has been removed, there is a 50% chance of finding that molecule in the left half, and 50% chance for finding it in the right half. It is like tossing a coin, and saying that we associate ‘heads’ with finding the molecule on the left, and ‘tails’ with finding it on the right. In both cases the chance is 50% or ½.

          Next let us ask the question: What is the probability that all the n molecules of the gas will ever occupy the left half of the chamber again? This probability is the same as that of flipping a coin n times, and finding ‘heads’ in each case, namely ½n.

          Considering the fact that usually n is a very large number (typically of the order of the Avogadro number, i.e. 1023), the answer is very close to zero indeed. In other words, the free expansion of the gas is an irreversible process. On removal of the partition, the gas has spontaneously gone into a state of greater disorder.

          Why do we say ‘greater disorder’? Because the probability of finding any specified molecule at a particular location in the left half of the chamber is now only half its earlier value. Here ‘order’ or rather ‘less disorder’ means that there is a 100% chance that a thing is where we expect it to be, so 50% chance means a state of greater disorder.

          So intuitively we have no trouble agreeing that, left to themselves (with no inputs from the outside), things are more likely to tend towards a state of greater disorder. Now this is all that the second law of thermodynamics says. It says that if we have an isolated system, i.e. a system which cannot exchange energy or matter with the surroundings, then, with the passage of time, it can only go towards a state of greater disorder on its own, and not a state of lesser disorder. This happens because a more disordered state is more probable to occur than a less ordered state.

          We use the notion of entropy to quantify the degree of disorder. We identify the arrow of time with the direction of increasing entropy. If time is an illusion, what happens to entropy and to the second law of thermodynamics, which says that global entropy increases with increasing time?

          • In this example if there was no other empty half the entropy would still increase?

          • Our universe is expanding. So there is never a state of cosmic equilibrium. This means that the ‘global’ entropy can go on increasing. If ever the universe stops expanding (unlikely), then we shall have a truly isolated thermodynamic system, which will gradually head towards a state of equilibrium (i.e. maximum attainable entropy). That will be the ‘heat death’ of everything. Of course, we humans will meet that fate much earlier when our Sun expands to engulf our Earth.

          • “If time is an illusion, what happens to entropy and to the second law of thermodynamics, which says that global entropy increases with increasing time?”

            I think Biocentrism’s point is that we cannot consider time independent of a particular subjective reference frame?

          • Please see my post dated July 1, wherein I consider the free expansion of a gas. The gas spontaneously occupies the larger volume available to it.

            1. Entropy has increased in the process, and ‘later time’ means ‘higher entropy.’ What can be subjective about that?

            2. Once the gas taken up the larger (double) volume, there is no going back. The gas cannot, on its own, go back to the state in which it occupied only half the present volume. So the process that occurred is an IRREVERSIBLE process. Do we have a choice about how we consider time? The double-volume (or higher-entropy)state of the gas came LATER. Period.

  • The questions to Google

    “Is 2nd law of thermodynamics absolutely sacrosanct”

    and

    “New interpretation 2nd law of thermodynamics”

    result in some good references.

    Following reference is good reading as Landau is recognized as a clear and deep thinker-physicist.

    http://aeolist.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/landau-on-the-second-law/

    “I was browsing through a collection of Landau’s papers and came across one of the more bizarre explanations of the second law of thermodynamics that I’ve seen. The few people who frequent this blog probably don’t need this explained to them, but the reason why many philosophers think that the second law needs ‘explaining’ is that the fundamental laws of classical and quantum mechanics are time symmetric, but the second law is not. If we think that all physical phenomena are completely described by the fundamental laws, then it seems puzzling that one can observe large scale time asymmetry when said laws are time symmetric.

    Another way of stating that puzzle is that if one is given an isolated system in a state of less-than-maximal entropy, then standard applications of statistical mechanics lead to the conclusion that the system is likely to be found in a state of higher entropy in both directions in time — the past and the future. Landau accepts this as well. He then takes the problem of explaining observed monotonic change in time (a popular interpretation of the second law) to be one of explaining why all isolated subsystems seem to undergo monotonic change in the same direction. He offers the following argument:

    If a statistical body is isolated from its surroundings for a period which is not too large compared with the relaxation time,* its entropy changes monotonically. If two such bodies are isolated, then the monotonic changes cannot occur in mutually opposed directions. This is immediately clear, since these two systems can be connected by an arbitrarily weak coupling into one single system, at any rate when their periods of isolation are simultaneous or partly so. If we apply the proof introduced above of the monotonic entropy change in this case of two weakly linked parts of one system, then we can see immediately that the directions of the entropy changes of the parts cannot be opposed to each other. If different systems are not simultaneously isolated from their surroundings, then we can introduce to the argument any necessary intermediary steps. We can now see that either the entropy of every statistical body which is not isolated from the universe for too long is constant, or there is a particular universal time direction for entropy increase.

    This is weird since the clause about ‘relaxation time’ (see footnote) is a provision for the [supposed] fact that on time scales larger than the relaxation time, there isn’t a monotonic increase in entropy. So the ‘universal time direction’ would in this argument hold only for the system’s relaxation time. Yet, it’s also supposed to hold for all isolated systems that could be potentially coupled to the system in consideration! So, all such potentially coupled systems will undergo monotonic increases in entropy during the same time scale as our model system’s relaxation time!

    It gets more bizarre. Recall that in the passage above, Landau concludes that either

    ‘the entropy of every statistical body which is not isolated from the universe for too long is constant’, or
    ‘there is a particular universal time direction for entropy increase.’
    Landau opts for 2. Here’s how:

    Everyday experience shows, however, that [1.] is not the case. This alone is quite sufficient (even without Bohr’s hypothesis that the inner layers of the stars may only be described in terms of relativistic quantum theory) to conclude that there are at least regions in the world which do not obey the statistics.** This makes the two directions of the time axis non-equivalent; the direction which is associated with the increase of the entropy of a system isolated over not too long a period form its surroundings can be defined as the future. For classical mechanics the conceptions of past and future are entirely without meaning. Only then do we obtain the second law of thermodynamics as the law of increase of entropy. This laws, as well as the existence of past and future observed in everyday experience, is only possible because the world as a whole does not obey the laws of thermodynamics.

    This is the first time I’ve seen a claim like this: that entropy increases monotonically with time only because the laws of thermodynamics don’t apply to the entire universe! I must admit that because of the problems mentioned above, I can’t take any of Landau’s suggestions seriously, but the paper was a highly amusing read, and very reflective of how physicists tend to be much more imaginative than philosophers of physics.

    *This clause about ‘relaxation time’ is supposed to get around the notion that the evolution of a system’s entropy with time should appear time-symmetric on the large scale, as a series of mostly small fluctuations away from equilibrium and back again. If we look at the system on a time scale close to the relaxation time, then we should be ‘within’ that portion of a fluctuation that involves monotonic increase or decrease of entropy with time.

    **Landau states earlier in the paper that ‘in relativistic conditions… thermodynamic considerations [are] no longer valid’, and that he does not ‘expect thermodynamics to be upheld in the case of relativistic quantum theory’.

    M. Bronstein, & L. Landau (1933). Über den zweiten Wärmesatz und die Zusammenhangsverhältnisse der Welt im Großen Physikalische zeitschrift der Sowjetunion, 4 “

  • True Science is much more accomodative of marvels of nature.

    Readers here may want to read following blog describing in lay terms some very advanced work with thermodynamics.

    http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=287980782&blogId=444675672

    [ [ From Steam Engines to Molecular Motors
    The original development of thermodynamics found its inspiration in the steam engine. Nowadays the field is driven by the tiny molecular engines within living cells. Though of vastly differing scales, these engines share a common function: they transform energy into motion. For instance, ATP molecules provide the fuel for myosin molecules in muscle tissue to move along actin filaments, pulling the muscle fibers to which they are attached. Other motors are powered by light, by differences in proton concentrations or by differences in temperature [see “Making Molecules into Motors,” by R. Dean Astumian; Scientific American, July 2001]. Chemical energy can drive ions through channels in a cell membrane from a region of low concentration to one of high concentration—precisely the opposite direction that they would move in the absence of an active transport mechanism.

    The analogy between large and small machines is very deep. Fluctuations of the chemical energy affect a molecular motor in the same way that a random and variable amount of fuel affects the piston of a car motor. Therefore, the long tradition of applying thermodynamics to large motors can be extended to small ones. Although physicists have other mathematical tools for analyzing such systems, those tools can be tricky to apply. The equations of fluid flow, for example, require researchers to specify the conditions at the boundary of a system precisely—a Herculean task when the boundary is extremely irregular. Thermodynamics provides a computational shortcut, and it has already yielded fresh insights. Signe Kjelstrup and Dick Bedeaux, both at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and I have found that heat plays an underappreciated role in the function of ion channels.

    In short, my colleagues and I have shown that the development of order from chaos, far from contradicting the second law, fits nicely into a broader framework of thermodynamics. We are just at the threshold of using this new understanding for practical applications. Perpetual-motion machines remain impossible, and we will still ultimately lose the battle against degeneration. But the second law does not mandate a steady degeneration. It quite happily coexists with the spontaneous development of order and complexity.

    Note: This story was originally printed with the title, “The Long Arm of the Second Law”. ] ]

    • Science is what scientists do. There is a large bunch of scientists who are just unable to shake off their childhood conditioning by one organized religion or another: ‘time is an illusion’; ‘the universe is an illusion’; etc. If the second law of thermodynamics comes in the way, then question the second law also. In short, clutch at any straw that helps your deeply ingrained but unscientific notions to somehow survive and gain respectability.

      Here is what Arthur Eddington had to say about the second law:

      If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the Universe is contradicted by experiment, well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the Second Law, I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

      How can anybody be so sure about the second law? The answer lies in what the law says. I enjoy stating it in a crazy-looking but essentially correct language (just ignore the circular nature of the statement; it is deliberate): If something has a higher probability of occurrence, it is more likely to happen! That is all that the law really says.

      Some people have a deeply ingrained need to question even that. They want to question the statement that if an ISOLATED system is in a state of non-equilibrium, it is most likely to head towards a state of equilibrium, implying an increase of entropy. The entropy is at its maximum when equilibrium has been reached. Equilibrium is death.

      • “Here is what Arthur Eddington had to say about the second law:…”
        Thank you for this! One more wonderfully simple explanations that I wish I had always on the tip of my tongue.

        • For a nobel man that Eddington was, he behaved in quite a dogmatic way in 1930.

          Young astrophysicist S. Chandrashekhar regarded him as his guru, and shared many wonderful ideas with him through mails.

          Eddington invited him for a lecture in Royal Society. Hosted Chandrashekhar in his house but kept him in dark about opoosition to the idea of blackhole. The dogmatic eddington had a dark heart was revealed next day in the meeting when he shred the young lad to pieces in front of full house.

          There has never been bigger or more ruthless stabbing in back in the entire history of mankind, leave alone the history of science.

          Chandrashekhar eventually got nobel prize for the same work ridiculed in London in 1930 that fateful day.

          Eddington got nothing from this episode, apart from the great boost to his worthless ego.

          It also changed the young bubbly Chandrashekhar’s personality.

          He wrote later thesis as complete works, full rigor, and reasonably complicated.

          I wonder if there are any wisecracks by Chandrashekhar on second law.

          In the 1930s, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar found a fundamental parameter that determines the density of stars. Although recognized as a major discovery, it was generally unaccepted by astronomers because the work was ridiculed by a preeminent astronomer (Arthur Eddington). The controversy and current understanding of stellar evolution are discussed. (Author/JN)

          • 1. What Eddington did to Chandra was shameful.

            2. The second law of thermodynamics is valid even then!

          • Thanks ! Dr. Wadhawan,

            Even I am, a staunch believer of Second Law of thermodynamics.

            And, I will never think of spending my time on making/studying perpetual machines or theorize about the ways to separate milk from coffee.

            I must grant that The Eddington quotation is after all a good advice to some one attempting a theory that may want to violate second law.

            Yet we must appreciate the fact that for once, Eddington WAS dogmatic about his science, apart from being a JEALOUS mentor.

            That he paid a heavy price in bargain must also be taken as some kind of lesson.

            I think that:

            The questions about applicability of the law,

            1. To cosmic proportions

            2. To macroscopic systems

            3. To Mesoscopic systems

            will continue to be discussed in literature.

            Particularly the mesoscopic scale will permit lowering of entropy at local scale (without ofcourse contradicting the global validity of second law) in time scales perhaps not encompassable by us.

            I have not seen yet a (theoretical) picture of universe screened through million year time meter, etc.

            This is either a attosecond-nano second dynamism , or a sub-billion-year-long dull sequence of ‘dust gathering slowly in to forming stars/galaxies’, repeated over every where in the vast expanse of the observable universe.

            If, on the other-hand, at the mesoscale, where lowering of entropy (locally for a limited time )may occur, question is will it lead to some interesting physics?

            How big a mesoscale can it be? a cubic meter at its largest ? or a cubic light year at its smallest?

            Are there physics principles which can determine these limits?

            Same about the time scales? few minutes? few femtoseconds or few million years?

            These are the questions of interest.

            Not the thought of duping well meaning people with ideas of perpetual machine etc.

    • I read this article long ago. I want to assure everybody that there is no violation of the second law whatsoever. When you are dealing with an OPEN thermodynamic system, the law has to be formulated in terms of FREE ENERGY, rather than entropy alone. The law then says that the GLOBAL free energy cannot increase. But LOCALLY, the enthalpy term can often overpower the entropy term, giving rise to local order. An example is that of a (highly ordered) crystal growing from a (highly disordered) fluid.

      It is shocking that even some physicists fail to understand this elementary fact of life.

      • Is the jury already out on the question, ‘whether the Universe is an open system or a closed one?’

        It is perfectly acceptable to me ( if I am keen on keeping my reputation as a physisicist ) that available free energy in our this universe will eventually become minimum. Universe will then contain no information and will be an absolutely entangled structure of useless energy.

        That somehow appears to be a deserving end to the universe.

        Second law has ordained this already.

  • It’s funny how our minds work in absolute synch to imagine the same things at the same time, eh?

  • Be-Bop-A-Lula

    Joe Isuzu: “One cannot not fill a void of understanding paradoxes of pragmatic predictability with baseless spiritual subjective meaning.”

    Especially not if it gives meaning to meaning and suggests that subjectivity is an objective component of he universe…

  • Lanza is recycling ancient philosophy in modern terms without understanding the purport of that philosophy, no doubt about that. However, Wadhawan’s own view of “science” gives rise to many questions as well. As long as you interpret “science” as the scientific method of inquiry and inquisitiveness all is fine, but when you interpret “science” as specific scientific theories (as seems to be the case in this impassioned article) you are guilty of dogmatism as well, just of a different kind.

    Most scientists tend to forget that all scientific theories are “models” (Newtonian model, standard model, relativistic model, big bang model, Bohr model, Rutherford model &etc.) There have been no dearth of models. Why have we replaced so many models? At any given point in history (which defined our capacity to observe and measure physical entities and quantities) the then current model seemed to be infallible. During Newton’s time, Newton’s model of gravitation was unshakable. Why? Because we couldn’t observe or measure things that would compel us to take that model down. In 300 years we developed the ability to observe more keenly and therefore we had to adjust/replace that model with a newer model. This has happened over and over again. Yet, at any period in history scientists of that period have steadfastly proclaimed that their science is infallible. Did Isaac Newton foresee general relativity and how it shattered his idea of instantaneous action at a distance? Did Maxwell foresee how quantum electrodynamics replaced his classical electrodynamics? Can today’s scientists foresee what models will replace the theories they hold to be absolute truths?

    Also, the claim that “X is unfalsifiable and therefore outside the realm of science” is hypocritical. Science seeks a theory (or theories) that would describe and explain the universe in exact detail: the theory of everything. If scientists were to ever discover such a perfect theory, it would also become unfalsifiable, irrefutable. If scientists found the theory that describes everything accurately, predicts everything accurately, why would they want to modify it? You can’t modify what is perfect. And isn’t that the very goal of science? So on one hand scientists aspire to find that perfect, unfalsifiable theory of everything, on the other hand they decry as unscientific anything that is irrefutable. Convenient!

    Third, scientists pride themselves for not accept anything without questioning it first. The scientific method! Yet, they do not question their senses (sight, sound, touch etc.). The only proof of the claim “There is an objective physical world out there, independent of the our existence” is our senses. When our senses cease to function (for example when we sleep) the external world dissolves. So to be true to the scientific method, the first inquiry of a scientist should be directed at their own senses!! Every single scientist assumes the supremacy of their physical senses WITHOUT question. The dichotomy is complete when the same universe whose existence cannot be verified without the assertion of the senses is then described in abstract models with the help of entities that cannot be sensed, for instance the wave function. Scientists cannot even define in ordinary terms the very fundamental entities of their own scientific realm: matter and energy. They have to bring in abstract and abstruse principles and mathematics. Yet they somehow feel qualified to comment on the nature of consciousness! In lay terms no less!

    Our body changes hundreds if not thousands of times. Not one lepton or quark we were born with is still there in our bodies, yet we retain our memory, our individualism, our identity. We are not even the same bunch of particles that we were five years ago. If consciousness is just a trick played by the brain, how come this stream of different particles retain the same consciousness?

    Scientists like Wadhawan like to imagine that there exists a great order in the universe, everything is governed by laws that can be expressed as precise mathematical equations. But ask them about the consciousness that does the imagining and the expressing, and they dismiss it with “Oh that is just a random trick…” In the minds of these scientists the order of the universe somehow doesn’t extend to the mind, the emotions, the consciousness. That “scientific attitude” sounds pretty dubious to me.

    Any science that denies the existence of consciousness and does not want to examine the nature of consciousness is incomplete if not inaccurate.

    PS: I am no stranger to science and Raja Ramanna was present as a guest of honor when I graduated.

    • Please see my recent post at Nirmukta.net. The title is ‘Science and Scientists.’ It addresses many of the issues raised by you.

      Due to some technical glitch I was not able to post my response here.

    • D Samaddar,
      Brilliantly written. I agree with you.

      Regards,
      Espagnat

      • Ajita Kamal

        Of course you agree with Dr. Samaddar. What he says agrees with your worldview. Despite the fact that you have not been able to provide a single refutation of our article, it makes you uncomfortable enough to be driven to reject it.

        • I’ve never said that I reject your ideas. I said that I’m keeping an open mind which means also believing what you say.
          Quantum mechanics is the most accurate theory we have to describe the world, but there is still much about it that we do not fully understand. Furthermore, they are so counterintuitive.

          I asked the question on CI versus MWI in order to illustrate a point. How many people embrace MWI wholeheartedly?
          Again I emphasize that I do not reject MWI.

          • I still prefer to wait and see as these are exciting times. What with the discovery that quantum coherence plays an important part in photosynthesis, it really makes me anticipate for more mind blowing findings to come.
            Elad Harel, sum it well when he said
            “I’d be surprised if quantum effects are not ubiquitous in biology. To have a tool at your disposal, and not use it, is not a law of biology.”

          • It is a common story of scientific quest so far.

            Good ideas are rejected spontaneously. The ideas lie buried in journals, mutilated by over zeaolous (jealous) editors in name of science.

            After 20-30 or 40 years new champions propogate the idea ( MWI vs CI) to beat some other idea.

            Intuitively, MWI is personally acceptable to me.

            The “spooky” Action-at-a-distance gaining the creditability again.

            But is non-locality a new idea in the entire philosophical history of man kind?

            Is mathematical formulation only criterion for acceptance of an idea.

            Occam’s razor is too elementary a test, non mathematical ideas may also be able to pass?

            ” The entanglement feature of quantum mechanics is about the spooky ‘action at a distance’: Two particles behave synchronously without any intermediary, no matter how far apart they are. This nonlocalityfeature bothered Einstein and others, as embodied in the famous EPR (Eistein-Podolsky-Rosen) thought experiment published in 1935 in a paper with title ‘Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?’ EPR argued that the answer to the question is ‘No.’ They took the position that nonlocality is not something real, and therefore quantum mechanics does not provide a complete description of reality.”

    • Ajita Kamal

      “But ask them about the consciousness that does the imagining and the expressing, and they dismiss it with “Oh that is just a random trick…” In the minds of these scientists the order of the universe somehow doesn’t extend to the mind, the emotions, the consciousness.”

      Quite the opposite, actually. It is precisely because we extend the physical laws of the universe to the subjective notion of consciousness, that we are able to perceive “experience” as a virtual representation of the real universe and know that experience does not in any way supersede the real universe.

      “Any science that denies the existence of consciousness and does not want to examine the nature of consciousness is incomplete if not inaccurate.”

      This is just nonsensical rhetoric. Without defining consciousness properly, anyone can say such nonsense about it. First define it in scientific terms and then we can have a debate. Until you define consciousness in scientific terms you are saying a whole lot of nothing.

      • Be-Bop-A-Lula

        You are not addressing his most important point:

        “The scientific method! Yet, they do not question their senses (sight, sound, touch etc.). The only proof of the claim “There is an objective physical world out there, independent of the our existence” is our senses. When our senses cease to function (for example when we sleep) the external world dissolves. So to be true to the scientific method, the first inquiry of a scientist should be directed at their own senses!! Every single scientist assumes the supremacy of their physical senses WITHOUT question. The dichotomy is complete when the same universe whose existence cannot be verified without the assertion of the senses is then described in abstract models with the help of entities that cannot be sensed, for instance the wave function. Scientists cannot even define in ordinary terms the very fundamental entities of their own scientific realm: matter and energy. They have to bring in abstract and abstruse principles and mathematics. Yet they somehow feel qualified to comment on the nature of consciousness!”

        • Ajita Kamal

          Like I said, where is the scientific definition of consciousness?

          “Until you define consciousness in scientific terms you are saying a whole lot of nothing.”

          • There Ajita has caught his opponents in a bind.

            There is at present no definition of consciousness.

            Therefore it doesnot exist.

            Two Observations on controversy from my side :

            1. The consciousness as a subject of investigations by physicist is only now coming in focus. Lanza’s and Chopra’s may fail miserably, but history will record them as first braves who made an attempt.

            More investigators, cautioned and wisened by requirements put on them by naturalists ( and Occam’s razor) , will come forward with better ideas, theories, investigations and conclusions.

            The idea of consciouness may be as spooky as “quantum Entanglement ” in the end. But if the intertwining ( “entanglement”) between physical observation and ‘state-of-consciousness’ IF SHOWN by carefully designed experiments, it WILL BECOME INCONTROVERTIBLE SCIENCE.

            I am willng to wait for that future event.

            2. Asking for ‘definition’ however is a futile insistence. As understood by all serious scientists, many basic entities are not definable. { Or if at all, definable like ” A test less colorless gas that burns without smoke ” type definitions define certain matter surrounding us.)

          • Ajita Kamal

            “Asking for ‘definition’ however is a futile insistence. As understood by all serious scientists, many basic entities are not definable. { Or if at all, definable like ” A test less colorless gas that burns without smoke ” type definitions define certain matter surrounding us.)”

            Actually, as you have yourself demonstrated, it is far from “futile insistence”. “A test less colorless gas that burns without smoke” is a scientific description to some degree of usefulness. As for the issue at hand, it is Dr. Wadhawan and I who provide such descriptions of consciousness, as functional emergent properties of physical processes. Those attacking us have been imploring us to accept that biocentrism has some objective truth, based on a purely experiential and therefore subjective notion of consciousness.

            The entire reason I brought up the fact that consciousness must be defined in objective terms is to point to the absurdity in using subjective parameters to describe something, and then carrying on as though that description is objective and scientific.

          • Be-Bop-A-Lula

            Go see the last comment below for why a satisfying definition of consciousness cannot be found.

        • Ajita Kamal

          “Nobody who has really gone deeply into the matter will deny that in practice the world of phenomena uniquely determines the theoretical system, in spite of the fact that there is no logical bridge between phenomena and their theoretical principles” – A. Einstein

          But let me entertain a more serious reply.

          This sentence that you quoted says it all:
          “Scientists cannot even define in ordinary terms the very fundamental entities of their own scientific realm: matter and energy. They have to bring in abstract and abstruse principles and mathematics. Yet they somehow feel qualified to comment on the nature of consciousness”

          Without going into the reliability requirements of scientific theories- those that are designed to minimize subjective bias and to help ascertain as much of the objective truth as possible at every turn, let me ask, who else should be qualified to comment on consciousness? Deepak Chopra? Of course scientists are the most qualified to comment on the naturalistic aspects of consciousness. There are, of course, experiential aspects that many other members of our social tribe are enthusiastically commenting about all the time- aspects such as savoring art and food. There are also, of course, philosophical aspects to consciousness. But in order to define it in scientific terms, one has realize where subjectivity ends and the natural universe outside of ourselves begins.

          • Be-Bop-A-Lula

            But do you see where the obligation to define consciousness scientifically leads us? Because you assume that consciousness can be given to us as an object, you automatically think that a limit can be drawn between subjectivity and objectivity.

            And that is due to the our dual mode of perception. We grasp the world through opposites and we think that this is the only way to be/feel/think. But water can’t wet water just like my eye can’t see itself… Consciousness cannot “conscious” itself.
            I suggest that you read carefully an extract from DR RAMAKRISHNA PULIGANDLA’s work:

            “It is a fundamental fact of the phenomenology of our experience that consciousness is never given to us as an object. Therefore, the inescapable conclusion is that consciousness cannot, in principle, be scientifically studied, in the prevailing understanding and practice of ‘scientific study’.

            Not being aware of this fundamental fact of the phenomenology of our experience, many self-proclaimed scientists and philosophers use such absurd phrases as ‘the phenomenon of consciousness’ and ‘the structure of consciousness’. Consciousness is not a phenomenon, an object, and hence cannot have a structure, properties, and relations. Have you ever perceived your consciousness as an object, in order for you to be able to describe its structure, properties and relations?

            It is not surprising, then, that people who claim to scientifically study consciousness and write books only end up talking about their observations on synapses, neuronal circuits, various perceptual, linguistic, and emotional centers, and so on, all of which are objects of consciousness. When a physicist studies a certain particle, he/she clearly gives us all the above. A biologist scientifically studying, for example, a genome also does the same. This is true of all scientists. Likewise, anyone who claims to study consciousness scientifically should also give us a description of consciousness, its structure, properties, and relations to other objects. Otherwise, the claim is an empty claim.

            Am I then saying that consciousness cannot be studied scientifically? Yes, that is precisely what I am saying, insofar as ‘scientific study’ means study of phenomena, objects. Am I suggesting that we not engage in scientific investigation as we actually conduct it? Certainly not. To the contrary, we should rigorously continue scientific inquiries by which to discover various phenomena, their structures, properties, and relations, hitherto unknown.

            My thesis that Consciousness cannot, in principle, be studied scientifically is to be regarded as an impotency-principle (an impotency-principle is a statement that something cannot, in principle be done). Examples of the impotency-principle are the second lay of thermodynamics, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, Godel’s second incompleteness theorem, etc.”

          • Please tell what method, other than the scientific method, is available to us for investigating ANYTHING?

            We all agree that science has its limitations. But how can anybody jump these limitations and do better at acquiring knowledge or understanding?

          • Be-Bop-A-Lula

            It is ironic that me, an occidental, tells you that the advâita vedanta refers to the problem involved with our dual mode of perception..! The scientific method is perfect when it comes to investigate anything but the Self (beside that it leads us to think in terms of separability, duality and discontinuity).

            Only in a non-dual state of mind, only then you could see that the Self is uncreated, has never begun and cannot end and transcends the objective/subjective perspective.

            Our “I” is of course transitory but the “primal” substance from which every “I” borrows its existence, that cannot be found with the scientific method for the same reasons that DR RAMAKRISHNA PULIGANDLA explains above; i.e.: that consciousness is not an object and cannot be reduced…

            Here is the link for the article
            Consciousness, Cosmology, and Science:
            An Advaitic Analysis
            http://www.medhajournal.com/resident-philosopher/951-consciousness-cosmology-and-science-an-advaitic-analysis.html

          • You have not answered my question, so I repeat it:

            Please tell me what method, other than the scientific method, is available to us for investigating ANYTHING?

          • Be-Bop-A-Lula

            I answered but you can’t consider the answer. It doesn’t fit with what you want to accept. I’m telling you that because consciousness isn’t an object that can be reduced or measured, the only way to realize the nature of the Self is to get out of our dual, discontinuous mode of perception.

            Only then, you would be able to not identify the awareness you are experiencing with your self, only then “you” would be able to be conscious beyond the opposite on which the Ego builds its foundation.

            There are several method that can help you to reach that point, but they ask discipline, patience and attention, and they ask to bypass the intellect. That is usually not something a scientist wants to let go.

            But even a man of science like Pascal understood that the scientific method was a good thing but that it has some limits. That is why he said “the heart has reason reason knows nothing”.

          • Ajita Kamal

            “Only in a non-dual state of mind, only then you could see that the Self is uncreated, has never begun and cannot end and transcends the objective/subjective perspective.

            Our “I” is of course transitory but the “primal” substance from which every “I” borrows its existence, that cannot be found with the scientific method for the same reasons that DR RAMAKRISHNA PULIGANDLA explains above; i.e.: that consciousness is not an object and cannot be reduced”

            Not only does this line of thought not provide any useful information, it also blatantly refuses to indulge in the pursuit of knowledge. What a wonderfully asinine idea.

          • Be-Bop-A-Lula

            By refusing to understand how and why our limited dual perspective prevents us the see directly by our self the true nature of the Self, you also prevent a pursuit of knowledge to continue in a way that you cannot imagine. And that, just because it doesn’t fit with your assumptions. The snake eats its tale…

            I could cite a lot of scientists that aren’t freaked out by the old ideas developed in the oriental philosophies.

            One of them is that consciousness is uncreated. “Ooooh, this is so spooky, if it was the case, I would know” is a common reaction.

            The link I put above provides detailed information on how and why consciousness cannot “conscious” itself, and how and why, under our dual mode of perception, we cannot realize that our self is an individualized fragment of the Self.

            You also have to understand that the scientific method isn’t useful here because there is in reality no distance between your self and the Self and only you, directly, by your self, is able to see this. That just can’t be measured. It is truly a technical issue…

          • “By refusing to understand how and why our limited dual perspective prevents us the see directly by our self the true nature of the Self, you also prevent a pursuit of knowledge to continue in a way that you cannot imagine.”

            I do not believe anyone is “refusing to understand”, rather asking you to define consciousness or what it means to be sentient by the only parameters that can guard us from our own cognitive biases, the scientific method.

          • Be-Bop-A-Lula

            To Joe below:

            When I say “refusing to understand” I refer to the possibility that consciousness isn’t something that can be defined, like Brahman in the Vedanta. Trying to reduce consciousness to an object is the equivalent to try to wet water with water. It can’t be done.

            Uncreated means that it has no past and no future, it is outside time, in a constant now (no duality). The problem is that everything we experience begins and finishes. Language also reinforces the unconscious thought that reality must be like it appears to us. Words are dual objects that literally shape our way to think, and the dual cannot approach the non-dual, just like a 2 dimensional being cannot see or feel height.

            It is hard to realize that we are under a certain mode of perception. To be able to realize this, you have to be able to compare. Only then you could see that you grasp the world through opposites (dual mode) and that it forces the uncreated awareness present in your body to think it is separated from everyone else since it experiences individually thoughts and sensations.

            It is tempting to deduce that when looking at a brain with MRI, you are seeing the self in action and that it confirms that consciousness is matter interacting. But if you go the other way, you could also say that this is just consciousness leaving traces of the path it uses when incarnated.

            Anyway, there is no way I can convince you. You have to see this by your self. But a first step would be to keep an open mind. And try to imagine other ways than the one you were told. Maybe then, ideas that now seem spooky wouldn’t look like this anymore…

            That is how things usually change anyway.
            All that, of course, in respect of science. But where science leaves space for interpretation (like in QM or Consciousness), why not endorse, just to play, a different position than what the last decades told were pointing to..?

          • To Be-Bop-A-Lula below:

            “But where science leaves space for interpretation (like in QM or Consciousness), why not endorse, just to play, a different position than what the last decades told were pointing to..?”

            Science hasn’t left any space for the interpretation of consciousness. That is left to non-science as non-science fills in gaps with subjective assumptions based on nothing.

            Why not endorse such a position?

            “Because it leads to Quantum Mysticism, like Lanza and Chopra, and that collaboration lends a false image of justification to pseudoscience.”
            Gene Vincent, Professor Emeritus Institue of Be-Bop

          • Be-Bop-A-Lula

            At least you have a good sense of humor…

          • Be-Bop-A-Lula

            You know like that there are a lot of scientists and physicists who don’t endorse the materialistic dogma. The list is too long, I won’t start it. But i’ll quote one I like, Richard Conn Henry:

            “As Sir Arthur Eddington explained: “It is difficult for the matter-of-fact physicist to accept the view that the substratum of everything is of mental character.

            “(…)Physicists shy from the truth because the truth is so alien to everyday physics. A common way to evade the mental Universe is to invoke ‘decoherence’ — the notion that ‘the physical environment’ is sufficient to create reality, independent of the human mind. Yet the idea that any irreversible act of amplification is necessary to collapse the wave function is known to be wrong: in ‘Renninger-type’ experiments, the wave function is collapsed simply by your human mind seeing nothing. The Universe is entirely mental.”

            The Mental Universe
            http://www.newdualism.org/papers/R.Henry/436029a.html

            Richard Conn Henry is a Professor in the Henry A. Rowland Department of Physics and Astronomy, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA.

          • Be-Bop-A-Lula

            I’m afraid we have to add STEPHEN HAWKING to The Long and Embarrassing List of The Spooky Scientists. Here is what we can read on Amazon about his new book that will come out in september:

            “In The Grand Design they explain that according to quantum theory, the cosmos does not have just a single existence or history, but rather that every possible history of the universe exists simultaneously. When applied to the universe as a whole, this idea calls into question the very notion of cause and effect.

            But the “top-down” approach to cosmology that Hawking and Mlodinow describe would say that the fact that the past takes no definite form means that WE CREATE HISTORY BY OBSERVING IT, RATHER THAN THAT HISTORY CREATES US.

            The authors further explain that we ourselves are the product of quantum fluctuations in the very early universe, and show how quantum theory predicts the “multiverse”—the idea that ours is just one of many universes that appeared spontaneously out of nothing, each with different laws of nature…”

  • Thanks for your article. I am very intrigued by another aspect of these theories, why do these theories get popular. Is it because of the notions that people have about things find support from “scientists”?

    • Be-Bop-A-Lula

      “Is it because of the notions that people have about things find support from “scientists”?”

      That helps for sure. Those aren’t hippie-new-ager that want badly to believe in such things. At least they don’t look like this. That Lanza is truly a scientist that uses the scientific method and makes a living out of it (cell research). It didn’t prevent him to question what is it exactly that makes him use that method (if you know what “I” means…)?

      It looks like you can be formed by prestigious schools and get a prestigious PhD and think in a way that goes against the materialist dogmas (sorry, the common sense). Those scientists just take the space left by what the interpretation of the facts give… And it looks like consciousness and QM are fertile ground for that.

      The web is no stranger to that too. It is possible now to find anything that goes in the direction you want, with studies and facts to support it! That has no choice to create a new context where what was considered to be the truth slowly loses its basis. That is how things changed for thousands of years, the difference is that it goes now faster than ever.

      Perception truly builds the common sense. But what defined that common sense has no choice to be built on paradox and contradiction that in return, have no choice to emerge. It is a never ending spinning wheel…

  • I quote from the concluding part of my article on consciousness:

    Consciousness is subjective and internal; perhaps a ‘virtual reality.’ In this article I have briefly discussed a few models of consciousness. The clear message is that there is nothing mystical or supernatural about consciousness. In fact, conscious superintelligent machines (robots) are likely to be a reality in the present century itself.

    How did consciousness arise out of no-consciousness? It did so via the complexity-evolution route as an emergent property. Through self-organization and through cumulative natural selection, neurons emerged as a means of more efficient communication among the various parts of the brain. Interactions among neurons led to a further increase in complexity in the form of memory and prediction, and thence intelligence. From intelligence to consciousness is a difficult conceptual step because in science we have place only for testable or falsifiable statements, made in terms of symbols or words with a preassigned unambiguous meaning. But there is no agreement on what exactly we mean by the word ‘consciousness.’ There is a whole spectrum of definitions of this word.

    Richard Dawkins takes the stand that, if you take a set of statements made about consciousness, and replace this word by some meaningless word like hkzisrkjd everywhere, you would have lost or gained nothing in understanding the meaning of that set of statements!

    The philosopher Daniel Dennett takes consciousness very seriously. And he ends up saying that nonhuman animals and prelinguistic children are not really conscious (in the ‘strong’ sense of the word). He admits that this assertion will shock many people, but also says that ‘. . . of course, the truth of the empirical hypothesis is in any case strictly independent of its ethical implications, whatever they are.’

    Marvin Minsky uses the word ‘myth’ for describing consciousness. Like any complex adaptive system, the human brain functions in a way that cannot always be understood in terms of a few simple fundamental rules or laws. To quote Marvin Minsky (2006): ‘… every brain has hundreds of parts, each of which evolved to do certain particular kinds of jobs; some of them recognize situations, others tell muscles to execute actions, others formulate goals and plans, and yet others accumulate and use enormous bodies of knowledge. And though we don’t yet know enough about how each of those brain-centres works, we do know their construction is based on information that is contained in tens of thousands of inherited genes, so that each brain-part works in a way that depends on a somewhat different set of laws.’ According to him, none of the popular psychology words like ‘feelings,’ ‘emotions,’ and ‘consciousness’ is about any single and definite process. Each such ‘suitcase word’ vaguely refers to the effects of a large network of processes in the brain. Minsky argues that feelings are not basic at all, but are processes made of many parts. Similarly he demonstrates that ‘consciousness’ refers to more than 20 different processes (e.g. the process of reasoning and making decisions; the process of how the brain represents ‘our’ intentions; the process of how the brain knows what it has done recently; and so on).

    Jeff Hawkins takes the view that ‘reality’ is largely a matter of how accurately our cortical model of the world reflects the true nature of the world.

    As Douglas Hofstadter has explained in detail, consciousness emerges in a system that is powerful enough to have a sort of self-referential, self-modelling capability (‘strange loops’ is the term he uses in this context). The stage for this conclusion of his was set by Kurt Gödel’s discovery in 1931 that even things as simple as integers are powerful enough to be used for representing (at a different level) statements about themselves. Hofstadter builds on this fact to argue how conscious beings can think about and represent themselves.

  • “. . . our intelligence is not disembodied, but is instantiated in physical objects: our brains. Their structure is due to the long process of evolution, and their operations are governed by the laws of physics. Since they are physical entities, our brains run without being told how to run.”

    Douglas Hofstadter, ‘Gödel, Escher, Bach’

    • A scientific news report dated 15th July 2010, today claims that they have resolved what came first.

      The Hen or the Egg?

      A protein necessary for making the shell is produced by hen, and that this paper claims has decided for sure that Hen came first.

      This kind of science is what one may call the “in your face” determinism. With this one is afraid that all the complexity theories and all the evolutionary theories from “molecules-to-man” variety will go flying.

      Perhaps they should have asked

      What came first? the dynasor or the egg?

      Then the ‘enormity’ of molecule-to-dynasor riddle would have been more apparent.

      Any ways, I have no proofs for my beliefs : but a monotonic sequence of ‘self-organisation’ of absolute nature is absolutely counter-intuitive and is not warranted by observations of at least half of the sensible world; And that concerns the mind-stuff and forms substance of all of the art, and beauty & mystery of the world.

      It would certainly be a sad day when a monkey hitting the piono keys will eventually create the sonatas and the religious hymns automatically.

  • Dear Dr. Wadhawan,

    If you read my different posts, I have independently said what Wolfram’s view says (more coherently) quoted from your article below.

    I have posed a question ” is mathematical model a necessity for the observations to be true reflection of bigger reality?”

    The computational irreducibility, as Wolfram points out, can make reality look incomprehensible.

    Computational physics experience is vital in coming to this kind of understanding of nature of things. Or should we call it ‘nature of nature’.

    [ [ Wolfram’s Universe
    Stephen Wolfram has emphasized the role of computational irreducibility when it comes to trying to understand our universe. The notion of probability (as opposed to certainty) is inherent in our worldview if quantum theory is a valid theory. Wolfram argues that this may not be a correct worldview. He does not rule out the possibility that there really is just a single, definite, rule for our universe which, in a sense, deterministically specifies how everything in our universe happens. Things only look probabilistic because of the high degree of complexity involved, particularly regarding the very structure and connectivity of space and time. It is computational irreducibility that sometimes makes certain things look incomprehensible or probabilistic, rather than deterministic. Since we are restricted to doing the computational work within the universe, we cannot expect to ‘outrun’ the universe, and derive knowledge any faster than just by watching what the universe actually does.
    Wolfram points out that there is relief from this tyranny of computational irreducibility only in the patches or islands of computational reducibility. It is in those patches that essentially all of our current physics lies. In natural science we usually have to be content with making models that are approximations. Of course, we have to try to make sure that we have managed to capture all the features that are essential for some particular purpose. But when it comes to finding an ultimate model for the universe, we must find a precise and exact representation of the universe, with no approximations. This would amount to reducing all physics to mathematics. But even if we could do that and know the ultimate rule, we are still going to be confronted with the problem of computational irreducibility. So, at some level, to know what will happen, we just have to watch and see history unfold. ] ]

  • To Be-Bop-A-Lula

    “The Long and Embarrassing List of The Spooky Scientists”

    Is that the title of your essay or do you dot your i’s with heart shapes.

    The review (and it is a review,not an examination of text in context) of the Hawking co-authorship begins with:

    “When and how did the universe begin? Why are we here? Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the nature of reality? Why are the laws of nature so finely tuned as to allow for the existence of beings like ourselves? And, finally, is the apparent “grand design” of our universe EVIDENCE OF A BENEVOLENT CREATOR who set things in motion—OR DOES SCIENCE OFFER ANOTHER EXPLANATION? (See, I can do it too, heart heart heart)

    You answered the question posed to you twice to please give an explanation of consciousness with “it doesn’t fit with your assumptions” which was in turn responded to by “Not only does this line of thought not provide any useful information, it also blatantly refuses to indulge in the pursuit of knowledge. What a wonderfully asinine idea.” Something I agree with.

    Richard Conn Henry is a controversial non-materialist and has many contradictors even within his own statements:
    “We have no idea what this mental nature implies, but — the great thing is — it is true.”
    Huh? okay, I guess I’ll just have to take his word on that since it’s unfalsifiable.
    “Historically, we have looked to our religious leaders to understand the meaning of our lives; the nature of our world. With Galileo Galilei, this changed. In establishing that the Earth goes around the Sun, Galileo not only succeeded in believing the unbelievable himself, but also convinced almost everyone else to do the same.”
    Yes it change, but it took modernity and reason to hobble what was accepted as “truth” based on scripture.
    It also took 377 years before Galileo was pardoned. Henry continues:
    “This was a stunning accomplishment in ‘physics outreach’ and, with the subsequent work of Isaac Newton, physics joined religion in seeking to explain our place in the Universe.”
    There’s a leap of cognitive bias! Is this before or after Newton turned lead in gold? Sounds a lot like Lanza. Who sounds a lot like Chopra. Who sounds a lot like a character from the Hobbit.
    Here’s one of your own:
    ” That just can’t be measured. It is truly a technical issue…”
    I’ll take the scientific method over gibberish.

    • Be-Bop-A-Lula

      We are in 2010 and the scientific method isn’t able yet to find a single ounce of consciousness… Do you at least agree that there is a problem with defining and explaining consciousness, even among materialist scientists. I am not inventing that… It is funny that put together the words “non-materialist” and “controversial”. Aren’t those synonyms?

      I love science and I have no problem with the scientific method, except when it comes to know who we are. I don’t think science alone cannot answer that.

      You don’t want yo consider that consciousness may be uncreated. But it is not that spooky when you calmly think about it… If you go this way, you could find rational reasons why your “I” thinks like it thinks and cannot figure things outside his dual, discontinuous, mode of perception…

      Anyway, it is a fact that more and more physicists and scientists are considering the option of an uncreated Consciousness. But because it goes against the common sense, what we learn at school and our everyday perceptions, the idea just seems too odd.

      But that wouldn’t the first time in History that a revolutionary concept would become a new truth. That will be later challenged by its own paradox. That is how things work in Dualistan…

      • “Do you at least agree that there is a problem with defining and explaining consciousness, even among materialist scientists.”

        I don’t have a problem with there not being a feasible explanation. I do have a problem with those who would fill the void with an unfalsifiable explanation.

        I’m not sure in what sense you mean “uncreated”. Maybe because it’s in Dualistanese and I’m from Determineslam.

        • Be-Bop-A-Lula

          You should find a way to escape Determineslam, which is btw a province of Dualistan This place can only condemn you to dual understanding/perceptions.

          In Dualistan, you can only see/feel/think in discontinuity, on a dual mode where everything seems to begin and finish. This is why a word like “uncreated” hardly makes sense. How can something be outside time by having no beginning so no end when everything, every sensation, every thought around is just a succession of beginnings and ends?

          But escaping Dualistan is not an easy thing to do. Specially if you don’t care about the other places, or that you don’t believe there are other places. But by thinking like this, you miss the opportunity to see for yourself that what seems unfalsifiable here only looks like that because we can’t see it right…

          • Spoken like a prophet. You are mistaken about determinism and have it mistaken with fatalism.

          • Be-Bop-A-Lula

            Determinism is the philosophical view that every event, including human cognition, behaviour, decision, and action, is causally determined by previous events. Determinism proposes there is a predetermined unbroken chain of prior occurrences back to the origin of the universe.
            -Wiki

            I won’t start with that now (it is 2 am here) but in a few words, to be able to remain permanently in a non-dual state means that you broke the chain reaction of causes and effects. You are in a constant Now where there is no doer anymore, just awareness in the Now. But words can’t talk about that since they are dual objects and what is dual cannot talk about the non-dual…

          • Once again a partial explanation;
            Determinism is the philosophical view that every event, including human cognition, behaviour, decision, and action, is causally determined by previous events. Determinism proposes there is a predetermined unbroken chain of prior occurrences back to the origin of the universe.

            Determinists believe the universe is fully governed by causal laws resulting in only one possible state at any point in time. With numerous historical debates, many varieties and philosophical positions on the subject of determinism exist, most prominently the free will debates involving compatibilism and incompatibilism.

            Determinism should not be confused with determination of human actions by reasons, motives, and desires, or with predestination, which specifically factors the existence of God into its tenets.
            Wiki

          • Be-Bop-A-Lula

            I don’t see what I didn’t copy changes something to determinism.

            The point was to show how and why non-dualism addresses determinism. I left aside the last part because what I’m explaining doesn’t need the existence of God into its tenet.

            That Consciousness is uncreated may be just a natural phenomenon… that has extraordinary implications from our relative partial limited dual perspective only…

          • Dr. Wadhawan put it succinctly when he stated that it is very important when communicating ideas to understand the definitions of the words we use. The first half of the definition from Wiki, if you stop there, makes it read like fatalism, which it is not. But I understand your point (up to a point) and have enjoyed our banter.

          • Be-Bop-A-Lula

            Thanks for the precision. It was nice exchanging with you.

  • Regarding Hawking, I quote from our article:

    ‘It so happens that we have no knowledge of the set of initial boundary conditions at the moment of the big bang. Moreover, as Hawking and Hertog said in 2006, things could be a little simpler ‘if one knew that the universe was set going in a particular way in either the finite or infinite past.’ Therefore Hawking and coworkers argued that it is not possible to adopt the bottom up approach to cosmology wherein one starts at the beginning of time, applies the laws of physics, calculates how the universe would evolve with time, and then just hopes that it would turn out to be something like the universe we live in. Consequently a top down approach has been advocated by them (remember, this is just a model), wherein we start with the present and work our way backwards into the past. According to Hawking and Hertog (2006), there are many possible histories (corresponding to successive unpredictable bifurcations in phase space), and the universe has lived them all. Not only that, there is also an anthropic angle to this scenario:

    As mentioned above, Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose had proved that the moment of the big bang was a singularity, i.e. a point where gravity must have been so strong as to curve space and time in an unimaginably strong way. Under such extreme conditions our present formulation of general relativity would be inadequate. A proper quantum theory of gravity is still an elusive proposition. But, as suggested by Hawking and Hertog in 2006, because of the small size of the universe at and just after the big bang, quantum effects must have been very important. The origin of the universe must have been a quantum event. This statement has several weird-looking consequences. The basic idea is to incorporate the consequences of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle when considering the evolution of the (very small) early universe, and combine it with Feynman’s sum-over-histories approach. This means that, starting from configuration A, the early universe could go not only to B, but also to other configurations B’, B”, etc. (as permitted by the quantum-mechanical uncertainty principle), and one has to do a sum-over-histories for each of the possibilities AB, AB’, AB”, … And each such branch corresponds to a different evolution of the universe (with different cosmological and other fundamental constants), only one or a few of them corresponding to a universe in which we humans could evolve and survive. This provides a satisfactory answer to the question: ‘why does the universe have these values for the fundamental constants, and not some other set of values?’

    The statement ‘humans exist in a universe in which their existence is possible’ is practically a tautology. How can humans exist in a universe which has values of fundamental constants which are not compatible with their existence?! Stop joking, Dr. Lanza.

    The other possible universes (or histories) also exist, each with a specific probability. Our observations of the world are determining the history THAT WE SEE. THE FACT THAT WE ARE THERE AND MAKING OBSERVATIONS ASSIGNS TO OURSELVES A PARTICULAR HISTORY.

    Let A denote the beginning of time (if there is any), and B denote now. The state of the universe at point B can be broadly specified by recognising the important aspects of the world around us: There are three large dimensions in space, the geometry of space is almost flat, the universe is expanding, etc. The problem is that we have no way of specifying point A. So how do we perform the various sums over histories? An interesting point of the quantum mechanical sums-over-histories theory is that the answers come out right when we work with imaginary (or complex) time, rather than real time. The work of Hawking and Hertog (2006) has shown that the imaginary-time approach is crucial for understanding the origin of the universe. When the histories of the universe are added up in imaginary time, time gets transformed into space. It follows from this work that when the universe was very small, it had four spatial dimensions, and none for time. In terms of the history of the universe, it means that there is no point A, and that the universe has no definable starting point or initial boundary conditions. In this no-boundary scheme of things, we can only start from point B and work our way backwards (the top-down approach).

    This approach also solves the fine-tuning problem of cosmology. Why has the universe a particular inflation history? Why does the cosmological constant (which determines the rate of inflation) have the value it has? Why did the early universe have a particular ‘fine-tuned’ initial configuration and a specific (fast) initial rate of inflation? In the no-boundary scenario there is no need to define an initial state. And there is no need for any fine tuning. What is more, the very fact of inflation, as against no inflation, follows from the theory as the most probable scenario.

    String theory defines a near-infinity of multiple universes. This goes well with the anthropic-principle idea that, out of the multiple choices for the fundamental constants (including the cosmological constant) for each such universe, we live in the universe that makes our existence possible. In the language of string theory, there are multiple ‘pocket’ universes that branch off from one another, each branch having a different set of fundamental constants. Naturally, we are living in one with just the right fundamental constants for our existence.

    While many physicists feel uncomfortable with this unconfirmed world view, Hawking and Hertog (2006) have pointed out that the picture of a never-ending proliferation of pocket universes is meaningful only from the point of view of an observer outside a universe, and that situation (observer outside a universe) is impossible. THIS MEANS THAT PARALLEL POCKET UNIVERSES CAN HAVE NO EFFECT ON AN ACTUAL OBSERVER INSIDE A PARTICULAR POCKET.

    Hawking’s work has several other implications as well. For example, in his scheme of things the string theory ‘landscape’ is populated by the set of all possible histories. All possible versions of a universe exist in a state of quantum superposition. When we humans choose to make a measurement, a subset of histories that share the specific property measured gets selected. OUR VERSION OF THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE IS DETERMINED BY THAT SUBSET OF HISTORIES.’

    Te last sentence says it all, and should help dispel any attempts to misinterpret Hawking.

    • Be-Bop-A-Lula

      Thank you Mr. Wadhawan for your explanations. I don’t get everything but it helped. But that doesn’t make me change my mystic approach about the universe. Mysticism doesn’t deny that Consciousness is subjected to the laws of nature, no matter how we can theorize about them. I don’t think either that a definitive answer can be found because the answers we find are linked with the observations we can make and the time we live in. The boundaries are always pushed further by the new discoveries which makes constantly appear a new unknown that in return will redefine our understanding of the universe…

      Because consciousness has no boundaries and has an extreme plasticity, new theories can only constantly appear. I am not saying that our material universe cannot end, but Consciousness can’t since it is uncreated… But no instrument is able to see that. Only you by yourself can experience it.

      Now, I’m no scientist so I’d like to ask you a question: Can the Godel’s theorem of incompleteness be applied to Consciousness? In other words, isn’t impossible for Consciousness to valid itself, no matter the material evidence we think we have?

      • The debate on consciousness is not likely to end anytime soon!

        Regarding the question you asked about Gödel’s theorem, a long answer is given by Douglas Hofstadter in his book ‘Gödel, Escher, Bach.’ It is an old book, and Hofstadter has written more on that theme, but I have not been in touch with that. He tends to give a confusing answer to this question. This is not surprising, because nobody can have a clear answer about something which we do not even define properly and uniquely.

        I am inclined to agree with Marvin Minsky’s approach, which I have already described in my article on consciousness. To investigate anything properly, you have to begin by posing a question properly. And that means that every word in the question must have a clear, unambiguous meaning. Human language is not always good for that, so one tries to pose the question in a mathematical language. This is explained in Hofstadter’s book.

        Self-referential systems are likely to remain an enigma for quite some time. Let us keep an open mind, and avoid making unfalsifiable statements in the meanwhile. Minsky describes consciousness as a ‘suitcase word’, and I agree with him.

        I also believe that consciousness is an EMERGENT property, arising because of the relentless evolution of complexity. This evolution of complexity first resulted in the emergence of life out of nonlife and then, in due course, consciousness. I have put together this narrative in my just-released book ‘COMPLEXITY SCIENCE: Tackling the Difficult Questions We Ask about Ourselves and about Our Universe’,
        LAP Lambert Academic Publishing Co., Saarbrücken (2010). ISBN 9783838377544.

        • Be-Bop-A-Lula

          Thanks again.

          As you said, human language poses some problems. I would say that this is because language shapes our way to think on a dual mode where things can only be reasoned through opposites. The problem with that is that “reality” isn’t like that. What we call “unfalsiable statements” may be unfalsiable only because of language, not reality.

          In a non-dual state of mind, language is bypassed, and so are our dual perceptions. You’ll understand that if this is possible, words cannot talk about that, words being dual objects and what is dual cannot talk about what is not dual…

          So of course this is also an unfalsiable statement, but as far as I know, reality isn’t bothered by that…

  • Mr. Universe

    Don’t think I’m conscious? Just watch me flex my Andromeda biceps and slap you all silly (might take a few billion years)

  • Dear wonderers,

    My name is Mark Maloney. I am writing to invite you to visit my website Epluribusunum56.com. This website has eight subject synopses:

    1 – The origin of the “Universe.”
    2 – The nature of “Light and Colors.”
    3 – The nature of “Time.”
    4 – The nature of “Dreams.”
    5 – The nature of “Human Behavior.”
    6 – The nature of “Technological Discovery.”
    7 – The nature of “Morals.”
    8 – The nature of “Religion.”

    Epluribusunum56.com is a high-end interactive website; it has a posting board that allows you to use whatever materials you wish to compose your response, i.e. text, illustrations, pictures, animations, PowerPoint presentations, and video, to clearly make your point. In addition, it has a live video conferencing platform where you can directly interact in real time face to face discussion with others; in any one of the eight subject synopses.

    The primary subject of this website is to introduce and teach entirely new physics and cosmology; discussed in the synapse “The origin of the Universe;” as a prelude to “DSFF (Dimensional Symmetry Field Formations,)” which are the complete mechanics composing every aspect of both the physical and material universe in absolute extreme detail. The other seven synapses deal with cognition.

    This website is a place where you can teach the world… or a place where you can learn new conceptualizations.

    Knowledge grows best – when fertile minds are not at rest. Bring your intelligence when you visit.

    Sincerely, Mark Maloney

    This website has no, spammers, porners, advertising, or soliciting; it is strictly a clean discussion forum. It is absolutely free.

  • Thanks so much for this article. As a non-academic layman, it’s often tempting to throw my arms up and just listen to the mystics. It’s articles like this that help us to stay on the path of reason.

  • Hi,

    There is one more person who used to say that universe had a consciousness… Its Vedathri… And he also tries to BLABBER physics into it (I write blabber in caps because the thing he spoke has nothing convincing in physics)… Its strange that the govt. releases a stamp for him but not for an Indian who has a space telescope in his name…

  • This was a weak refute and this comment shows the real issue here and worldview of the authors: “Both authors show thinly-veiled disdain for Darwin”

  • “This apparent collapse of the wave function does not follow from the mathematics of the Schrödinger equation, and was, in the early stages of the history of quantum mechanics, introduced ‘by hand’ as an additional postulate. That is, one chose to introduce the interpretation that there is a collapse of the wave function to the state actually detected by the measurement in the ‘real’ world, to the exclusion of other states represented in the original wave function. This (unsatisfactory) dualistic interpretation of quantum mechanics for dealing with the measurement problem was suggested by Bohr and Heisenberg at a conference in Copenhagen in 1927, and is known as the Copenhagen interpretation.”

    ………………………………………………………..

    What about the interference patterns of a wave that are observed when an observer does not observe the electron or photon???

    an interference pattern of a wave is formed when the observer does not observe and does not have knowledge of the location of the wave..

    but when the observer observes the wave and is aware of the position an interference pattern of a particle is formed it is observable proof of the breakdown of the wave function this is not something that exists in our mind the interference patterns are observable.. only a conscious observer can collapse the wave into a particle a stone in the place of the observer cannot collapse the wave ????

    • Vinod Wadhawan

      Your question on interference patterns is answered in great detail by Hawking in his recent great book THE GRAND DESIGN. The answer lies in summing over all possible Feynman histories. The important point is that there is no need to introduce one more postulate, in contrast to the Copenhagen interpretation.

      Every educated person MUST read this book by Hawking. It is very low-priced too.

      For me it is a matter of great personal satisfaction that our article on biocentrism, which appeared long before Hawking’s book, described almost all the key ingredients of the modern scientific understanding of the big questions about our universe, except M-theory. In particular, Feynman’s genius has been given due place in the history of human thought.

      • Hawking huh in his first book he stretched the possibility of god now he says that gravity can manifest matter?? I hold his collegue Roger penrose in high regard not hawking check out Penroses orchestrated objective reduction theory both equally credible one accepts consciousness the other one is confused only consciousness can accurately predict the wave breakdown function even in the delayed choice quantum erazer consciousness connects the dots perfectly no other explanation seems to make sense of this phenomenon.

        Lets weigh hawkings proposal that gravity can manifest matter Hawking believes a source of infinite gravity Black holes were possibly the source of creation refer to hawking radiation to understand how particles can escape this force but he doesn’t seem to tell us how this matter manifested..

        now the question comes forth how is gravity created if you see a black hole is created when a star has too little fuel left to maintain its temperature the current gravitational force exerted by the star is not sufficient so it implodes the gravitational force doesn’t go away it becomes a black hole this is a documented phenomenon so if u observe a forming star there is no gravity before the star is formed only stellar dust and dense parts of molecular clouds in very large quantities interact with each other and fuse to form plasma this creates magnetic fields which influences other molecules to combine over a very long period of time u got a star with a gravitational field.

        So as you have seen from matter magnetic fields and gravitational fields are formed gravity cannot form independent of particulate matter this is as per our current observations so what came before gravity matter before particulate matter?? in quantum mechanics every particle is a probability wave until it is collapsed what is a probability wave ?? pulsating vibrations,, so what collapses the probability wave???? Is it Consciousness??like the Vedas tell us vibration is the root of creation from vibration comes matter??? Tachyons have been a candidate for entanglement but have no provable evidence for the same exists and quantum physicists have refuted their existence the possibility of a faster than light instant information transfer medium is invalidated by quantum physicists to be tachyons Eugene Wigner, Max planck, Wernier Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Roger penrose and many more notable theoretical and quantum physicists all of these people suggest that it is most probably consciousness all of these individuals are the fathers of modern day quantum mechanics and you want me to trust Hawking whose only notable contribution to quantum mechanics is an incomplete integrated theory of quantum gravity which has been questioned by close to 12 alternate theories???and these scientists are no less credible than Richard Feynman.

        Could it be like the Upanishads tell us consciousness is the only reality be something meaningful or equivalent to Stephen hawking who states that if there is gravity matter can manifest itself from nothing??

        • I’d appreciate it if you could post your response again with better punctuation. It is quite difficult to follow as it is now.

          I’d wait for someone more knowledgeable in physics to answer your questions, but I have one point to make. Nobody is asking to you accept what Hawking says just because he said so. Evidence is what matters. Blindly following a figure of authority is the domain of religion. The domain of science is questioning everything.

          So if there is evidence that consciousness does indeed generate reality, we’d gladly accept it. But in the absence of that, jumping to such a conclusion just because authority figures (especially the Upanishads which fail abysmally in modelling nature) had said so is foolish.

          • Im not stating that every piece of crap in the Upanishads or vedas is the truth no questions asked ,…
            but there are some things which are really crazy and surprisingly accurate in the vedic scriptures

            the vedas change ur world view in a really upside down perspective some of the worlds greatest scientists were heavily influences by the Hindu scriptures some verses when accurately interpreted really convey scientific meaning may be we interpret them like that??,
            but some of the worlds greatest minds right from Tesla who based his research on vedic thought revolutionized free energy with his akansha concept while refering to matter, and from Heisenberg to Oppenheimer even carl sagen was in awe of how close the Hindu scriptures came to estimating the time scales of the universe one can regard these concepts as coincidence if they want to, or chose another perspective im not forcing u to believe anything.

            I suggest u go through a couple of books by physicists who consider alternate possibilities the tao of physics by capra is a start, the dancing woo li masters by zukov is also something u should read, the self aware universe and the visionary window by amit goswami,key to the vedas by MI & NS Mikhailovs state that the Vedas reveals behind a supercode a computer operational system with a large digital database only thing needed is the right programmer to decode it??

            These are some nice books to consider they offer another frame of thought open to every possibility I dont discount the fact that there is no creator as invalid i like to consider all possibilities but we have too many gaps in scientific theories right from the big bang to quantum mechanics to evolution to be biased to only one possibility lets consider all possibilities until all of our gaps in science are filled??.

            Like in quantum mechanics physicists regard circumstances as waves of possibilities and the world we are in is just one of many possibilities which could have materialized…

          • I alluded to the argument from authority fallacy in my previous comment and yet you start another post filled with it. All I need is a little evidence. I could interpret The Lord Of The Rings in my own way and you’d be surprised to know that the entire phylogenetic tree of life is encoded in it. See how important evidence is?

          • @Satish
            If I may, I would add that the evidence you are looking for cannot be seen through your “common dual perception” of reality. Because this is the only one you know, you have no choice to think that the way you are experiencing reality is, unconsciously or not, an absolute.

            And how could you know that your mode of perception is dual? You would realize it if you could experience a non-dual mode of perception. Only then you could compare and understand more about what buddhism, taoism or hinduism are telling, without contradicting science.

            Experiencing such a mode would change a lot of the things you take for granted and could ultimately reveal that what you think your “I” is is a pure product of an imagination.

            The advaïta (non-dual) vedas are all about that.
            Science works. Science is great. But there is a greater “part” of us and the universe that cannot be measured or seen because of our common mode of perception. To escape that dual mode is what most spiritual teachings are trying to teach us. And for some reasons, the East is more technical than the West about this…

          • Satish is correct:

            “some of the worlds greatest scientists were heavily influences by”
            “some of the worlds greatest minds”
            “books by physicists”
            “physicists regard”

            All un based argument from authority. Then you claim the authors you do cite affirm your claims without any evidence by presenting what they actually say in a context.

  • Anirudh Kumar Satsangi

    Radhasoami Faith View of Modus Operandi of Creation of Universe

    Stephen Hawking writes in The Grand Design, “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.” Hawking said the Big Bang was merely the consequence of the law of gravity. In A Brief History of Time, Hawking had suggested that the idea of God or a divine being was not necessarily incompatible with a scientific understanding of the Universe.

    Although Hawking is very close to Truth yet he is not perfect in his views while discarding the role of divine being. I consider the role of eternal gravity uppermost but I strongly differ with Hawking on the role of divine being. I consider Divine Ordainment is the cause of Creation of Universe.

    Now I give Radhasoami Faith view of Creation Theory. In Sar Bachan (Poetry) composed by His Holiness Soamiji Maharaj the August Founder of Radhasoami Faith the details of creation and dissolution has been described very scientifically. It is written in Jeth Mahina (name of Hindi moth) in this Holy Book: Only He Himself (Supreme Father)and none else was there. There issued forth a great current of spirituality, love and grace (In scientific terminology we may call this current as gravitational wave). This is called His Mauj (Divine Ordainment). This was the first manifestation of Supreme Being. This Divine Ordainment brought into being three regions, viz., Agam, Alakh, and Satnam of eternal bliss. Then a current emerged with a powerful sound. It brought forth the creation of seven Surats or currents of various shades and colours (in scientific terminology we may call it electromagnetic waves). Here the true Jaman or coagulant was given (in scientific terminology this coagulant may be called as weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force). Surats, among themselves, brought the creation into being.

    These currents descended down further and brought the whole universe/multi verse into being i.e. black holes, galaxies etc. were born.

    I would like to add further that sound energy and gravitational force current are non polar entity and electromagnetic force is bi-polar. Hence spiritual polarization, if occurred, is occurred in the region of Sat Lok and region below to it only.

    • I prefer a creation theory that is more inline with this.

      • One of the amazing results of Darwin’s concept of evolution is that he was able to observe the results of evolution and postulate the process before there was the technology to confirm it, such as the existence DNA or chromosomes, a remarkable feat of intellect, no divining needed. As a species we also seem to have evolved the ability to have an internal dialogue which is our mechanism to plan for the future, and if an organism can plan for the future, it lives with expectation and often, in humans, this may be come in the form of hope. Most world views are based upon the hope to extend one’s existence into some future existence. Any challenge to that future existence is a threat to the world view belief system and as a species we have found that it’s easier to survive in groups of like mindedness than not. Darwin new this and was not published until his death. It took 300 years for the church to officially pardon Galileo even after he was proven correct. Modernity, in most cases, has at least hobbled official retributions to the advancement of mankind’s world view through science. But individuals live with and need hope, and if your world view is based upon a metaphor, you will be living a dualistic life with one foot firmly based in daily life, and the other floating away not confined by the laws of nature. There is just as much majesty and beauty in the strong nuclear force, or natural selection as there is a big blue elephant.

        Here in the US we are a puritanical nation, but we were fortunate to have a document which supersedes divine right. We struggle to keep it that way in the face of those who wish to ride a dinosaur to the Congress.

        • Evolution and the Divine aren’t necessary contradictory. De Chardin or Ken Wilber (to name a few) explain with eloquence how Evolution is the mode par excellence by which the Divine manifests itself on a material level. And because our true nature is made of that divine stuff, it is possible for us to see that by our self…

          We are now at a stage of Evolution where the increase of self awareness reached a point where the process of Evolution itself is gonna be more and more a matter of self awareness.

          You can look at Evolution as a way for consciousness to know itself. Patiently, consciousness settled the geosphere that led to the biosphere that finally led to what De Chardin called the noosphere (noos = mind in ancient greek).
          The noosphere is quite young compare to the other phases but we could say that it began to be engaged in its exponential part of its curve because of the power of the technology it now is able to produce…

          Of course, materialists can’t give any credit to that interpretation of Evolution, even if it has the advantage to give meaning to meaning and conciliate science and the divine.
          But we have to realize that nothing, philosophically or scientifically speaking, can refute that
          interpretation. It is truly a matter of belief.

          So I’ll go with Evolution and I’ll choose what I find useful…

          • ‘Evolution and the Divine aren’t necessary contradictory. De Chardin or Ken Wilber (to name a few) explain with eloquence how Evolution is the mode par excellence by which the Divine manifests itself on a material level. And because our true nature is made of that divine stuff, it is possible for us to see that by our self…”

            Actually to name 2. An argument from authority without citing evidence. You need to define “divine” other than “stuff” and make a prediction about it. Materialists or any person of reason “can’t” give any credit to mystic non-sense like this because it doesn’t have any credibility.

          • I don’t want you to be impressed with names, I am only giving you 2 authors who wrote about Evolution from a theist perspective with elaborated argumentations and rational propositions. Wilber (A brief history of everything) is a well known american philosopher and De Chardin (The Phenomenon of Man) a well known french paleontologist, biologist, and philosopher…

            Now, you want me to define the divine but at the same time, you won’t accept the reasons and the arguments why your limited perspective prevents you to grasp it.

            So I’ll lose my time again and I’ll try to explain why the evidence you are looking for can’t be given externally but has to be experienced internally…

            If it is true that the core of your Self is uncreated, that words can’t describe it (because words are dual objects and what is dual can’t talk about what is non-dual) why isn’t it obvious?

            It is because when an uncreated part of the whole uncreated consciousness (the divine) is trapped into an organic machine like a human, the consciousness trapped in it has no choice to think that space and time are real for real and that his self is truly separated from the others self.

            That egotic condition implies a dual mode of perception in which things are grasped separately, through opposites and discontinuity. But these are not absolutes.

            Only if you are able to escape that common dual perception, only then you would be able to see for yourself that your Self isn’t limited to the contextual social familial physical construction you think it is, but is rather an intangible uncreated “I” that allows everything to exist, that there can’t be nothing because even nothing is conceptual, just like end/beginning, high/low, good/evil, +/- are conceptual ideas that have no reality outside the dual mode of perception our education and space/time world lead us to take for granted.

            From our “common dual” perspective, that consciousness may be uncreated can’t make sense because everything we experience is based on discontinuity. Something uncreated means that there is no discontinuity because it can’t begin or end, it can’t oscillate.

            Scientific inquiry can’t witness or translate that because any machine that is built is made to extract, isolate information. It can’t grasp what is non-dual just like a bi-dimensional creature can’t grasp height even if it is surrounded by height…

          • I actually happen to admire de Chardin.

            “Now, you want me to define the divine but at the same time, you won’t accept the reasons and the arguments why your limited perspective prevents you to grasp it.”

            Sorry to waste your time asking you to explain something that you can’t. Your word was “stuff”.

            “If it is true that the core of your Self is uncreated, that words can’t describe it (because words are dual objects and what is dual can’t talk about what is non-dual) why isn’t it obvious?”

            Let’s just answer the question “if” with “no it isn’t” then we can discard the rest of your gibberish. But even if allowed the ridiculous premise we I also say that I do not see a dualism in the materialist mind and everything it perceives regardless of that fact that the seat of consciousness has yet to be defined except by those who wish to fill it with presupposed mysticism without any basis except unsubstantiated conjecture.

  • Himangsu Sekhar Pal

    A CRITIQUE OF THE VOID

    A.Circular Reasoning

    In his article ‘The other side of time’ (2000) scientist Victor J. Stenger has written that as per the theory of quantum electrodynamics electron-positron (anti-electron) pairs can appear spontaneously for brief periods of time practically out of nothing, which clearly shows that anything that has a beginning need not have to have a cause of that beginning.
    From here he has concluded that our universe may also come literally out of nothing due to quantum fluctuation in the void, and therefore we need not have to imagine that God has done this job.
    But is it true that electron-positron (anti-electron) pairs are appearing literally out of “nothing”? Are scientists absolutely certain that the so-called void is a true void indeed? Because here there is a counter-claim also: God is there, and that God is everywhere. So actually nothing is coming out of “nothing”, only something is coming out of something. Here they will perhaps say: as there is no proof for God’s existence so far, so why should one have to believe that the void here is not a true void? But even if there is no proof for God’s existence, still then it can be shown that scientists’ claim that the universe has literally come out of nothing is a pure case of circular reasoning. If believers say that the void is not a true void at all, and if scientists still then hold that it is nothing but a void, then this is only because they are absolutely certain that God does not exist, and also because they think that God’s non-existence is so well-established a fact that it needs no further proof for substantiation. But if they are absolutely certain that God does not exist, then they are also absolutely certain that God is not the architect, designer, creator of our universe, because it is quite obvious that a non-existent God cannot be the architect, designer, etc. So their starting premise is this: God does not exist, and therefore our universe is definitely not the creation of a God. But if they start from the above premise, then will it be very difficult to reach to the same conclusion?
    But their approach here could have been somehow different. They could have said: well, regarding void, it is found that there is some controversy. Therefore we will not assume that it is a void, rather we will prove that it is such. Then they could have proceeded to give an alternate explanation for the origin of the universe, in which there will be neither any quantum fluctuation in the void, nor any hand of God to be seen anywhere. And their success here could have settled the matter for all time to come.
    By simply ignoring a rumour one cannot kill it, rather it will remain as it is. But if one takes some more trouble on him and exposes that it is nothing but a rumour, then it will die a natural death with no further chance of revival. Let us say that the saying that there is a God and that He is everywhere is nothing but a rumour persisting for thousands of years among mankind. What scientists have done here is this: they have simply ignored the rumour and thus kept it alive. But it would have been far better for them if they could have killed it, as suggested by me.

    B. “Circular Reasoning” Case Reexamined

    There can be basically two types of universe: (1) universe created by God, supposing that there is a God; (2) universe not created by God, supposing that there is no God. Again universe created by God can also be of three types:
    (1a) Universe in which God need not have to intervene at all after its creation. This is the best type of universe that can be created by God.
    (1b) Universe in which God has actually intervened from time to time, but his intervention is a bare minimum.
    (1c) Universe that cannot function at all without God’s very frequent intervention. This is the worst type of universe that can be created by God.
    Therefore we see that there can be four distinct types of universes, and our universe may be any one of the above four types: (1a), (1b), (1c), (2). In case of (1a), scientists will be able to give natural explanation for each and every physical event that has happened in the universe after its origin, because after its creation there is no intervention by God at any moment of its functioning. Only giving natural explanation for its coming into existence will be problematic. In case of (1b) also, most of the events will be easily explained away, without imagining that there is any hand of God behind these events. But for those events where God had actually intervened, scientists will never be able to give any natural explanation. Also explaining origin of the universe will be equally problematic. But in case of (1c), most of the events will remain unexplained, as in this case God had to intervene very frequently. This type of universe will be just like the one as envisaged by Newton: “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.” So we can with confidence say that our universe is not of this type, otherwise scientists could not have found natural explanation for most of the physical events. In case of type (2) universe, here also there will be natural explanation for each and every physical event, and there will be natural explanation for the origin of the universe also. So from the mere fact that scientists have so far been able to give natural explanation for each and every physical event, it cannot be concluded that our universe is a type (2) universe, because this can be a type (1a) universe as well. The only difference between type (1a) and type (2) universe is this: whereas in case of (1a) no natural explanation will ever be possible for the origin of the universe, it will not be so in case of (2). Therefore until and unless scientists can give a natural explanation for the origin of the universe, they cannot claim that it is a type (2) universe. And so, until and unless scientists can give this explanation, they can neither claim that the so-called void is a true void. So scientists cannot proceed to give a natural explanation for the origin of the universe with an a priori assumption that the void is a real void, because their failure or success in giving this explanation will only determine as to whether this is a real void or not.

    C. Scientists have taken a forbidden step

    This is about scientists’ claim that our universe has originated from nothing due to a vacuum fluctuation. Here I want to show again that this claim cannot be sustained by reason.
    Abbreviation: origin of the universe from nothing due to vacuum fluctuation (OUNVF)
    We all know that the theorems in Euclidean geometry generally start with some basic assumptions that are accepted as true without any proof. These basic assumptions are called axioms. Similarly scientific theories also start with some basic assumptions. These are called postulates. So far these postulates of scientific theories were all God-independent. I am going to explain what I want to mean by the term “God-independent”. Let us suppose that P is a postulate. Now it may be the case that there is a God. Or it may be the case that there is no God. Now let us suppose it is the case that there is a God, and we find that P is not affected. Again let us further suppose that it is the case there is no God, and again we find that in this case also P is not affected. Then we can say P is God-independent. But in the case under consideration the basic assumption with which scientists start is not at all God-independent. Rather we can say that it is very much God-dependent. Their basic assumption here is this: the void is a real void, and it is nothing but a void. Now if it is the case that there is a God, then this assumption is very much affected, because the void is no longer a real void. If, and only if, it is the case that there is no God, then only it is a real void. Therefore when scientists are saying that the void is a real void, then they are also saying it indirectly that it is the case there is no God, or, that it is a fact there is no God. But my question here is this: are these scientists now in a position to say so? Have their knowledge of the empirical world and its laws and its workings up till now made them competent enough to declare at this stage that there is no God? Because here two points will have to be considered:
    1) They have not yet been able to give a natural explanation for the origin of the universe.
    2) Similarly they have not yet been able to give a natural explanation for the fact that our universe has become habitable for life, whereas it could have been barren and lifeless as well.
    Now it may so happen that scientists completely fail to give any natural explanation for both 1) and 2). In that case will it not be too early for them to suppose that the void is a real void? Because if they are unsuccessful, then they do not know whether there is a God or not, and therefore neither do they know whether the void is a real void or not. But if they are successful, then they definitely know that there is no God. Then only they can say that the void is a real void. So we can say that 1) and 2) are two hurdles that the scientists must have to cross before they can arrive at a place from where they can boldly declare that God does not exist. This is the place that may be called scientists’ heaven. Because once they can reach there, then they will have no hesitation to deny the existence of God. Because now they have explained the alpha and omega of this universe, starting from its origin up to the coming of man on earth and further beyond, and nowhere they have found any hand of God influencing the course of events in any way. But, to arrive at that place can they take any undue advantage? Or, can they try to reach there by any unfair means? Can they already assume that there is no God, and based on that assumption, can they try to cross any one, or both, of these two hurdles? But in case of 1) they have just done that. That is why I want to say that OUNVF is a pure case of circular reasoning.

    D, Properties of a Whole Thing

    If at the beginning there was something at all, and if that something was the whole thing, then it can be shown that by logical necessity that something will have to be spaceless, timeless, changeless, deathless. This is by virtue of that something being the whole thing. Something is the whole thing means there cannot be anything at all outside of that something; neither space, nor time, nor matter, nor anything else. It is the alpha and omega of existence. But, if it is the whole thing, then it must have to be spaceless, timeless, changeless, deathless. Otherwise it will be merely a part of a bigger whole thing. Now let us denote this something by a big X. Now, can this X be in any space? No, it cannot be. If it is, then where is that space itself located? It must have to be in another world outside of X. But by definition there cannot be anything outside of X. Therefore X cannot be in any space. Again, can this X have any space? No, it cannot have. If we say that it can have, then we will again be in a logical contradiction. Because if X can have any space, then that space must have to be outside of it. Therefore when we consider X as a whole, then we will have to say that neither can it be in any space, nor can it have any space. In every respect it will be spaceless. For something to have space it must already have to be in some space. Even a prisoner has some space, although this space is confined within the four walls of his prison cell. But the whole thing, if it is really the whole thing, cannot have any space. If it can have, then it no longer remains the whole thing. It will be self-contradictory for a whole thing to have any space. Similarly it can be shown that this X can neither be in time, nor have any time. For a whole thing there cannot be any ‘before’, any ‘after’. For it there can be only an eternal ‘present’. It will be in a timeless state. If the whole thing is in time, then it is already placed in a world where there is a past, a present, and a future, and therefore it is no longer the whole thing. Now, if X as a whole is spaceless, timeless, then that X as a whole will also be changeless. There might always be some changes going on inside X, but when the question comes as to whether X itself is changing as a whole, then we are in a dilemma. How will we measure that change? In which time-scale shall we have to put that X in order for us to be able to measure that change? That time-scale must necessarily have to be outside of X. But there cannot be any such time-scale. So it is better not to say anything about its change as a whole. For the same reason X as a whole can never cease to be. It cannot die, because death is also a change. Therefore we see that if X is the first thing and the whole thing, then X will have the properties of spacelessness, timelessness, changelessness, deathlessness by virtue of its being the whole thing. It is a logical necessity. Now, this X may be anything; it may be light, it may be sound, or it may be any other thing. Whatever it may be, it will have the above four properties of X. Now, if we find that there is nothing in this universe that possesses the above four properties of X, then we can safely conclude that at the beginning there was nothing at all, and that therefore scientists are absolutely correct in asserting that the entire universe has simply originated out of nothing. But if we find that there is at least one thing in the universe that possesses these properties, then we will be forced to conclude that that thing was the first thing, and that therefore scientists are wrong in their assertion that at the beginning there was nothing. This is only because a thing can have the above four properties by virtue of its being the first thing and by virtue of this first thing being the whole thing, and not for any other reason. Scientists have shown that in this universe light, and light only, is having the above four properties. They have shown that for light time, as well as distance, become unreal. I have already shown elsewhere that a timeless world is a deathless, changeless world. For light even infinite distance becomes zero, and therefore volume of an infinite space also becomes zero. So the only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that at the beginning there was light, and that therefore scientists are wrong in asserting that at the beginning there was nothing.
    Another very strong reason can be given in support of our belief that at the beginning there was light. The whole thing will have another very crucial and important property: immobility. Whole thing as a whole thing cannot move at all, because it has nowhere to go. Movement means going from one place to another place, movement means changing of position with respect to something else. But if the whole thing is really the whole thing, then there cannot be anything else other than the whole thing. Therefore if the whole thing moves at all, then with respect to which other thing is it changing its position? And therefore it cannot have any movement, it is immobile. Now, if light is the whole thing, then light will also have this property of immobility. Now let us suppose that the whole thing occupies an infinite space, and that light is the whole thing. As light is the whole thing, and as space is also infinite here, then within this infinite space light can have the property of immobility if, and only if, for light even the infinite distance is reduced to zero. Scientists have shown that this is just the case. From special theory of relativity we come to know that for light even infinite distance becomes zero, and that therefore it cannot have any movement, because it has nowhere to go. It simply becomes immobile. This gives us another reason to believe that at the beginning there was light, and that therefore scientists are wrong in asserting that at the beginning there was nothing.
    I know very well that an objection will be raised here, and that it will be a very severe objection. I also know what will be the content of that objection: can a whole thing beget another whole thing? I have said that at the beginning there was light, and that light was the whole thing. Again I am saying that the created light is also the whole thing, that is why it has all the properties of the whole thing. So the whole matter comes to this: a whole thing has given birth to another whole thing, which is logically impossible. If the first thing is the whole thing, then there cannot be a second whole thing, but within the whole thing there can be many other created things, none of which will be a whole thing. So the created light can in no way be a whole thing, it is logically impossible. But is it logically impossible for the created light to have all the properties of the whole thing? So what I intend to say here is this: created light is not the original light, but created light has been given all the properties of the original light, so that through the created light we can have a glimpse of the original light. If the created light was not having all these properties, then who would have believed that in this universe it is quite possible to be spaceless, timeless, changeless, deathless? If nobody believes in Scriptures, and if no one has any faith in personal revelation or mystical experience, and if no one wants to depend on any kind of authority here, and if no one even tries to know Him through meditation, then how can the presence of God be made known to man, if not through a created thing only? So, not through Vedas, nor through Bible, nor through Koran, nor through any other religious books, but through light and light only, God has revealed himself to man. That is why we find in created light all the most essential properties of God: spacelessness, timelessness, changelessness, deathlessness.

    Footnote: If the universe is treated as one whole unit, then it can be said to be spaceless, timeless. I first got this idea from an article by Dr. Lee Smolin read in the internet. Rest things I have developed. This is as an acknowledgement.

    E. CLIMAX

    I think we need no further proof for the existence of God. That light has all the five properties of the whole thing is sufficient. I will have to explain.
    Scientists are trying to establish that our universe has started from nothing. We want to contradict it by saying that it has started from something. When we are saying that at the beginning there was something, we are saying that there was something. We are not saying that there was some other thing also other than that something. Therefore when we are saying that at the beginning there was something, we are saying that at the beginning there was a whole thing. Therefore we are contradicting the statement that our universe has started from nothing by the statement that our universe has started from a whole thing.
    I have already shown that a whole thing will have the properties of spacelessness, timelessness, changelessness, deathlessness, immobility (STCDI). This is by logical necessity alone. It is logically contradictory to say that a whole thing can have space. Let us suppose that the whole thing is having space. Then the so-called whole thing along with the space that it is having will constitute the real whole thing. If my arguments that I have offered so far to show that the whole thing will always have the above five properties by virtue of its being the whole thing are sound, and if they cannot be faulted from any angle, then I can make the following statements:
    1. In this universe only a whole thing can have the properties of STCDI by logical necessity alone.
    2. If the universe has started from nothing, then nothing in this universe will have the properties of STCDI.
    3. If the universe has started from a whole thing, then also nothing other than the initial whole thing will have the properties of STCDI. This is only because a whole thing cannot beget another whole thing.
    4. But in this universe we find that light, in spite of its not being a whole thing, is still having the properties of STCDI.
    5. This can only happen if, and only if, the initial whole thing itself has purposefully given its own properties to light, in order to make its presence known to us through light.
    6. But for that the initial whole thing must have to have consciousness.
    7. So, from above we can come to the following conclusion: the fact that light, in spite of its not being a whole thing, still possesses the properties of STCDI, is itself a sufficient proof for the fact that the universe has started from a conscious whole thing, and that this conscious whole thing is none other than God.

    • “They could have said: well, regarding void, it is found that there is some controversy. Therefore we will not assume that it is a void, rather we will prove that it is such. Then they could have proceeded to give an alternate explanation for the origin of the universe, in which there will be neither any quantum fluctuation in the void, nor any hand of God to be seen anywhere. And their success here could have settled the matter for all time to come.”

      I don’t know which scientists you are referring to as you have not cited any sources at all! As far I as I know no one of any scientific substance has reach a final conclusion that something comes from nothing, but rather “yet to be determined”. How can you make such ridiculous and unsubstantiated statements followed by an extensive exercise in gibberish?

    • Vinod Wadhawan

      Most of the points raised by you have been attended to by Stephen Hawking in his recent book THE GRAND DESIGN.

  • Himangsu Sekhar Pal

    ON GOD AND TIMELESS

    Today’s scientists are like religious gurus of earlier times. Whatever they say are accepted as divine truths by lay public as well as the philosophers. When mystics have said that time is unreal, nobody has paid any heed to them. Rather there were some violent reactions against it from eminent philosophers. Richard M. Gale has said that if time is unreal, then 1) there are no temporal facts, 2) nothing is past, present or future and 3) nothing is earlier or later than anything else (Book: The philosophy of time, 1962). Bertrand Russell has also said something similar to that. But he went so far as to say that science, prudence, hope effort, morality-everything becomes meaningless if we accept the view that time is unreal (Mysticism, Book: religion and science, 1961).
    But when scientists have shown that at the speed of light time becomes unreal, these same philosophers have simply kept mum. Here also they could have raised their voice of protest. They could have said something like this: “What is your purpose here? Are you trying to popularize mystical world-view amongst us? If not, then why are you wasting your valuable time, money, and energy by explaining to us as to how time can become unreal? Are you mad?” Had they reacted like this, then that would have been consistent with their earlier outbursts. But they had not. This clearly indicates that a blind faith in science is working here. If mystics were mistaken in saying that time is unreal, then why is the same mistake being repeated by the scientists? Why are they now saying that there is no real division of time as past, present and future in the actual world? If there is no such division of time, then is time real, or, unreal? When his lifelong friend Michele Besso died, Einstein wrote in a letter to his widow that “the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Another scientist Paul Davies has also written in one of his books that time does not pass and that there is no such thing as past, present and future (Other Worlds, 1980). Is this very recent statement made by a scientist that “time does not pass” anything different from the much earlier statement made by the mystics that “time is unreal”?
    Now some scientists are trying to establish that mystics did not get their sense of spacelessness, timelessness through their meeting with a real divine being. Rather they got this sense from their own brain. But these scientists have forgotten one thing. They have forgotten that scientists are only concerned with the actual world, not with what some fools and idiots might have uttered while they were in deep trance. So if they at all explain as to how something can be timeless, then they will do so not because the parietal lobe of these mystics’ brain was almost completely shut down when they received their sense of timelessness, but because, and only because, there was, or, there was and still is, a timeless state in this universe.
    God is said to be spaceless, timeless. If someone now says that God does not exist, then the sentence “God is said to be spaceless, timeless” (S) can have three different meanings. S can mean:
    a) Nothing was/is spaceless, timeless in this universe (A),
    b) Not God, but someone else has been said to be spaceless, timeless here (B),
    c) Not God, but something else has been said to be spaceless, timeless here (C).
    It can be shown that if it is true that God does not exist, and if S is also true, then S can only mean C, but neither A nor B. If S means A, then the two words “spaceless” and “timeless” become two meaningless words, because by these two words we cannot indicate anyone or anything, simply because in this universe never there was, is, and will be, anyone or anything that could be properly called spaceless, timeless. Now the very big question is: how can some scientists find meaning and significance in a word like “timeless” that has got no meaning and significance in the real world? If nothing was timeless in the past, then time was not unreal in the past. If nothing is timeless at present, then time is not unreal at present. If nothing will be timeless in future, then time will not be unreal in future. If in this universe time was never unreal, if it is not now, and if it will never be, then why was it necessary for them to show as to how time could be unreal? If nothing was/is/will be timeless, then it can in no way be the business, concern, or headache of the scientists to show how anything can be timeless. If no one in this universe is immortal, then it can in no way be the business, concern, or headache of the scientists to show how anyone can be immortal. Simply, it is none of their business. So, what compelling reason was there behind their action here? If we cannot find any such compelling reason here, then we will be forced to conclude that scientists are involved in some useless activities here that have got no connection whatsoever with the actual world, and thus we lose complete faith in science. Therefore we cannot accept A as the proper meaning of S, as this will reduce some activities of the scientists to simply useless activities.
    Now can we accept B as the proper meaning of S? No, we cannot. Because there is no real difference in meaning between this sentence and S. Here one supernatural being has been merely replaced by another supernatural being. So, if S is true, then it can only mean that not God, but something else has been said to be spaceless, timeless. Now, what is this “something else” (SE)? Is it still in the universe? Or, was it in the past? Here there are two possibilities:
    a) In the past there was something in this universe that was spaceless, timeless,
    b) That spaceless, timeless thing (STT) is still there.
    We know that the second possibility will not be acceptable to atheists and scientists. So we will proceed with the first one. If STT was in the past, then was it in the very recent past? Or, was it in the universe billions and billions of years ago? Was only a tiny portion of the universe in spaceless, timeless condition? Or, was the whole universe in that condition? Modern science tells us that before the big bang that took place 13.7 billion years ago there was neither space, nor time. Space and time came into being along with the big bang only. So we can say that before the big bang this universe was in a spaceless, timeless state. So it may be that this is the STT. Is this STT then that SE of which mystics spoke when they said that God is spaceless, timeless? But this STT cannot be SE for several reasons. Because it was there 13.7 billion years ago. And man has appeared on earth only 2 to 3 million years ago. And mystical literatures are at the most 2500 years old, if not even less than that. So, if we now say that STT is SE, then we will have to admit that mystics have somehow come to know that almost 13.7 billion years ago this universe was in a spaceless, timeless condition, which is unbelievable. Therefore we cannot accept that STT is SE. The only other alternative is that this SE was not in the external world at all. As scientist Victor J. Stenger has said, so we can also say that this SE was in mystics’ head only. But if SE was in mystics’ head only, then why was it not kept buried there? Why was it necessary for the scientists to drag it in the outside world, and then to show as to how a state of timelessness could be reached? If mystics’ sense of timelessness was in no way connected with the external world, then how will one justify scientists’ action here? Did these scientists think that the inside portion of the mystics’ head is the real world? And so, when these mystics got their sense of timelessness from their head only and not from any other external source, then that should only be construed as a state of timelessness in the real world? And therefore, as scientists they were obliged to show as to how that state could be reached?
    We can conclude this essay with the following observations: If mystical experience is a hallucination, then SE cannot be in the external world. Because in that case mystics’ sense of spacelessness, timelessness will have a correspondence with some external fact, and therefore it will no longer remain a hallucination. But if SE is in mystics’ head only, then that will also create a severe problem. Because in that case we are admitting that the inside portion of mystics’ head is the real world for the scientists. That is why when mystics get their sense of timelessness from their brain, that sense is treated by these scientists as a state of timelessness in the real world, and accordingly they proceed to explain as to how that state can be reached. And we end up this essay with this absurd statement: If mystical experience is a hallucination, then the inside portion of mystics’ head is the real world for the scientists.

    • “Today’s scientists are like religious gurus of earlier times. Whatever they say are accepted as divine truths by lay public as well as the philosophers.”

      Your opening premise is simply and irrevocably NOT TRUE.

      Scientists, or anyone who takes the scientific process seriously, do not accept anything that cannot be falsifiable and repeated. For example, the charlatan Hendrik Schon had first excited the world with his nanotechnology until two other scientists at the same time on opposite sides of the world came the conclusion that he had falsified his findings and his experiments could not be reproduced. He was refuted and rebuked by the same community that had originally embraced his work because he betrayed and lied.

      But you cannot falsify a mystic because by definition only they know what they know. Their claims cannot be reproduced or verified because they are the only authority on something they experience, something not observable. To fill every void the pre-existing notion “…well that MUST be God,” is what every religion does to justify their world view.

      • explain the “decline effect.” a rather new phenomenon in which many scientific experiments cannot be replicated. the results of many experiments have declined over time undermining the reliability of the so called scientific data which came from the original experiments.

        if all of science is testable, what about string theory? how would you test that? it is literally impossible to test some of these theories. and yes many scientists give them credence? what is that, if not belief?

        science assumes that it possesses an “objective view” from which to make conclusions about reality. the truth is that objective reality is a human concept. objective reality or objective truth does not exist except in the mind of the scientist. science, like any other human intellectual construction, is based on observations made through the human senses and intellect. the very nanosecond that human perception is engaged you are now in the subjective realm and objectivity is gone. every machine, measuring tool, computer, electronic device, etc. are all designed by humans and, therefore, the product of the subjectivity of the human intellect. and all data that comes from such devices must be interpreted by a human being and it then squeezed thru human subjectivity. objective reality is a human conceit. in fact, it is a fabrication of the human ego and intellect.

        the open minded scientist will understand this and acknowledge that everything perceived by humans is filtered through an inherent subjectivity. in fact, the distortions produced by the human senses and intellect are being explored and examined at this very moment by many in science.

        perhaps we may see a much more expansive view from science in the very near future. i would hope so. the rigid materialist paradigm of science has been cracking under the weight of it’s own presumptive dogma for many decades.

        • I would love to explain the decline effect to you as it seems that you do not understand its implications nor its limitations. Firstly, it does not imply that experiments cannot be replicated. It states that over time, with better methods of research, old data becomes less valid as new data is more compelling. In that respect, it is actually points to good science. And as I have stated before in different words, in science, peer review is part of the methodology of science. This “decline” also speaks toward publication bias; the tendency to publish only positive articles which is in itself a valid argument about the business of science. It hard to justify an article about an extensive study about a hypothesis leading to no positive results. But it is an unjustified leap to extend this so called effect and blanket all of science with a conclusion that you can never really know anything because the observer has a bias towards the outcome. That, again, is why science is a method and not a belief, regardless of the shortcomings of the individual scientist. The next time you stub you toe on a curb and start to fall (and I wont say “down” because that’s redundant unless your subjectivity thinks you’ll fall “up” for a change) do not brace yourself. Who knows for sure? Maybe the strong nuclear forces wont be working and you will fall through the earth instead of breaking something. But if you do brace yourself, how arrogant of you to think you know something for sure!

          • if no human consciousness has perceived the universe, no such universe as we know it ever existed. The more we know, the more don’t know, isn’t it? the science you know is nothing if your consciousness didn’t exist. The existence of everything came to you on the existence of your consciousness. if you didn’t exist, or your consciousness never existed, the science and the universe that you know now is NOTHING… it NEVER EXISTED AT ALL.

  • Scientists are not religious gurus of today. I think you are wrong on that. The difference is massive. Religious leaders/gurus don’t use logic as a fund of their believe. Scientists comply with the rules of logic, they thoughts are testable and verifiable by other scientists.

    • i have two words for you, string theory. let see if science can test that and verify it.

      science is as much a system of belief as any other invention of the human intellect. only those who worship at the altar of science are blind to it. to everyone else, that fact is obvious. just as many christians are arrogantly convinced that their god is real. many scientists are arrogantly convinced that science is objective reality.

      the rest of us are sitting here laughing at how ridiculous it is that anyone would assume they have the correct way of perceiving reality.

      • “science is as much a system of belief as any other invention of the human intellect.”

        Actually science is not a system of belief rather a methodology. It’s the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

        Your argument fails against science itself so you have reverted to an ad hominem attack not against the subject but the subjects.

    • This message is for Vincent.
      respected Vincent
      I would suggest you to read Vedanta. It is the highest indian philosopy which is totaly based on logical arguements. you may start with Upanishads or consult Ramakrishna Vivekananda literature. I hope you will find there completely logical approach. It is my duty to inform you that truths realised by one through spiritual practices can be verified by any other (even by you) through the same spiritual practice. Please read RAJAYOGA writtten by Sw Vivekananda.
      Best wishes.

      • Vinod Wadhawan

        There has been so much ‘spiritualism’ in the air, water, and soil of India, and in the minds of Indians. And for so long. Then why is India one of the most corrupt nations of the world? Why there is so much social injustice?

        One may start with a wrong or weak premise, and then be brilliantly and strictly logical after that, all the way. But the end results are bound to be wrong.

        • Dr. Wadhawan,

          I read your book. Congratulations ! You have made difficult topics far more easy.

          Perhaps I can try answering your query a bit.

          The trouble is, we have not been very spiritual ourselves, whether we belonged to purely rationalist category, or not. The kind that believed in no God, to the verity that believed that “the world it self is a collective vision, and ‘the god’ is it-self a manifestation of the entire universe, AND beyond”.

          I will reiterate – none of us are actually good, whether rational or not.

          We would not be right in assuming that we should be better informed practically.

          The Charvaks’ went on to say that- we have but one life. Live it to full. Even if you have to take loans for it ( and never pay them back etc. )

          The Punjab terrorist, according to the police chief who tackled them, believed in this. They enjoyed physical pleasures even if their life was very short.

          Most people in India are led to believe, on the other hand that you HAVE TO TAKE next birth to return what you have taken in previous births.

          This has some bearing to bloodless protest in our country though. And equally an answer to our miseries.

          • Satish Chandra

            The trouble is, we have not been very spiritual ourselves, whether we belonged to purely rationalist category, or not. The kind that believed in no God, to the verity that believed that “the world it self is a collective vision, and ‘the god’ is it-self a manifestation of the entire universe, AND beyond”.

            What you are saying boils down to “to be human is to be human”. There is no new information to be gleaned from that.

            But what we can do is, identify a problem and ask ourselves how best to solve it. The past gives us plenty of evidence of how some systems turned out to be. For example, one of the much vaunted spiritual system with its lofty ideals of gunas and karma cannot help but lead to a birth based Varna system. Ignoring such consequences and using revisionist narratives which turn a blind eye to hard data isn’t helpful at all.

      • I know that you addressed this to Vincent, but if I might inject, you are seemingly suggesting that the book you refer to is able to justify a subjective result about a metaphysical issuance that is offered in the book itself. This is a little like proving Christianity is valid by quoting the Christian Bible.

  • My comments are to the mystics, who counter argue that scientists in their research of ‘the big questions’ are little more than mystics themselves. And kudos to Joe Isuzu, your responses clarify and correct the flummery composed to appear as reasoned logic. Well, the flaws in any argument are always revealed, however reasonable, or tortured, the logic appears. There’s been much torture from Himangsu. I’m not talking about his ‘logic 101′ failures, necessarily, but more to his point that science cannot explain some things and therefore has insufficient tools to reveal the truth behind ‘the big questions’. But can you imagine the tools that mystics might bring to a scientific study seeking to verify or refute the existence of God? What sort of mathematics would be applied to form a coherent theory that reveals underlying structure. And from structure, a functional process to verify what is observed? What thought experiments does mysticism have, on a par with gravitational lensing predictions? What predictions of mystics can mystics verify? As to the question ‘how could the precision involved to produce life, and our universe, be anything other than by the hand of an intelligence of some sort?’ There is this elegant answer: We are limited by the precision of our calculations. We may find our mathematics, not as precise as we think. There may be a chasm of possibilities for a universe just like ours. There may be a margin revealed from a new way of quantification… as in ‘what does the difference between 1 Kilometer and 1.2 Kilometers on earth, look like from space? It all depends on the magnification.

  • I have nothing against Science,infact I admire great Scientists like Shroedinger,Feynmann(I’m mentioning the ones people are less familiar with) but I have to say based on the scientific researches and developments but the Universe on the whole seems to be too complex a place where there are so many hidden variables.What goes on the macroscopic and microscopic levels seems to be puzzling,only the place inbetween seems to make sense.

    Ofcourse, all these hidden variables doesnt necessarily mean there has to be a God or something but the concept of materialism,the concept that everything is matter seems questionable

    • I quote from the book by Hawking and Mlodinow (H&M).
      There are several umbrella words like ‘consciousness’, ‘reality’, etc., which have never been defined rigorously and unambiguously. H&M argue that we can only have ‘model-dependent reality’, and that any other notion of reality is meaningless.
      Does an object exist when we are not viewing it? Suppose there are two opposite models or theories for answering this question (and indeed there are!). Which model of ‘reality’ is better? Naturally the one which is simpler and more successful in terms of its predicted consequences. If a model makes my head spin and entangles me in a web of crazy complications and contradictory conclusions, I would rather stay away from it. This is where MATERIALISM wins hands down. The materialistic model is that the object exists even when nobody is observing it. This model is far more successful in explaining ‘reality’ than the opposite model. And we can do no better than build MODELS of whatever there is understand
      and explain.

      In fact, we adopt this approach in science all the time. There is no point in going into the question of what is absolute and unique ‘reality’. There can only be a model-dependent reality. We can only build models and theories, and we accept those which are most successful in explaining what we humans observe collectively. I said ‘most successful’. Quantum mechanics is an example of what that means. In spite of being so crazily counter-intuitive, it is the most successful and the most repeatedly tested theory ever propounded. (I mention quantum mechanics here because the origin of the universe, like every other natural phenomenon, was/is governed by the laws of quantum mechanics. The origin of the universe was a quantum event.)

      A model is a good model if: it is elegant; it contains few arbitrary or adjustable parameters; it agrees with and explains all the existing observations; and it makes detailed and falsifiable predictions.

      • So its a question of which is simpler and successful?….materialism seems to work for things related to direct human experiences and I should frankly say that most people dont have to worry too deep into the nature of reality be it materialistic or non materialistic

        But when trying to explain more complex things like how the universe works keeping materialism,it starts to become self defeating.

        Like I said before,I’d rather ask people to be materialistic because if they were to be non materialistic,their minds starts building imaginations and starts seeing things they dont

        So for day to day human life,materialism is fine

  • Dear Mr.Vinod,

    I recently read the book by Lanza on Biocentrism and found it very interesting. What drew me to the concept has less to do with Lanza’s theory but the inexplicable nature of the quantum experiments that he has quoted- Double slit experiment and the one on entangled particles which seem to clearly indicate the role of the observer and the lack of a space and time. Do you have any thoughts on these?

    Thanks!

  • If we only believe that what we see, feel or experience in time is the only reality, we won’t have the chance to see further. Thanks for sharing this information. Very interesting.

    • Vinod Wadhawan

      What makes you believe that there is anything ‘further’?

      • When you see, feel, experience “something” that is outside time, you can grasp that our average reality is conditioned, that it doesn’t exist by itself, that it has layers.

        • I agree with what you’re saying about conditioning and layered perception (see my website) but it’s a little ambiguous to say “WHEN” you experience something that is outside of time. If ‘when’ is the condition of that experience, then it can’t really be ‘outside’ of time completely. Timelessness too is a matter of perspective.

      • “So what Lanza says in this book is not new,” Richard Conn Henry, a physics and astronomy professor at Johns Hopkins University, said in a book review. “Then why does Robert have to say it at all? It is because we, the physicists, do not say it – or if we do say it, we only whisper it, and in private – furiously blushing as we mouth the words. True, yes; politically correct, hell no!”

        There is something that is being said in hush-hush tones in physics for fear of sounding (the horror of it) spiritual. Although Chopras’ view is indeed a new-Age Hinduism, the traditional Vedic view does not talk about subjective idealism in this manner. This almost touches on solipsism. The objects of the senses very well do exist in the absence of the observer, however for the observer himself the objects are recognizable through sense faculties ascribing properties that only the sense organs can give. Now, if you think that all forms of sensory perception possible have been given to the sense organs, the discussion is done. No further comment.

  • what is something without nothing what is god without no god what is up without down

  • V. Balakrishnan

    A truly excellent article. I’m sorry I got to know about it so long after it
    was written, but better late than never! So many of the quotes from
    Messrs. Chopra and Lanza reminded me forcefully of the quotes (and non
    seqiturs) from pseudoscientists and cultists of yesteryears, immortalised
    in Martin Gardner’s all-time classic, “Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science”.
    It seems that some things never change. Human gullibility and the predators who
    exploit it may be as persistent as humankind itself! “But one must try” [incessantly
    to spread the message of reason], to borrow Dirac’s remark made in a different
    context.

  • Quantum electrodynamics + Biology = Who am I ?
    ==.
    Cells make copies of themselves.
    Different cells make different copies of themselves.
    Cells come in all shapes and sizes.
    Somehow these different cells are tied between themselves
    and during pregnancy process of 9 months gradually ( ! )
    and by chance ( or not by chance ) they change own
    geometrical form from zygote to a child.
    Cells come in all shapes and sizes, and then . . . they are you.
    Cells they are you ( !? )
    This is modern biomechanical /chemical point of view.
    #
    Maybe 99% agree that ‘Cells – they are you .’
    But this explanation is not complete.
    Cells have an energy / electrical potential.
    Cells have an electromagnetic field.
    Therefore we need to say:
    ‘ Cells and electromagnetic field – they are you.’
    ===.
    Is this formulation correct?
    Of course it is correct.
    Why?
    Because:
    Bioelectromagnetism (sometimes equated with bioelectricity)
    refers to the electrical, magnetic or electromagnetic fields
    produced by living cells, tissues or organisms.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioelectromagnetism

    What does it mean?
    It means there isn’t biological cell without electromagnetic fields.
    It means that in the cell we have two ( 2 ) substances:
    matter and electromagnetic fields.
    And in 1985 Richard P. Feynman wrote book:
    QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter

    The idea of book – the interaction between light
    ( electromagnetic fields ) and matter is strange.

    He wrote: ‘ The theory of quantum electrodynamics
    describes Nature as absurd from the point of view
    of common sense. And it agrees fully with experiment.
    So I hope you accept Nature as She is — absurd. ‘
    / page 10. /
    #
    Once again:
    1.
    Cells and electromagnetic field – they are you.
    2.
    We cannot understand their interaction and therefore
    we don’t know the answer to the question: ‘ who am I ?’
    ==.
    Where does electromagnetic field come from ?
    =.
    In 1904 Lorentz proved: there isn’t electromagnetic field
    ( em waves ) without Electron
    It means the source of these em waves must be an Electron
    The electron and the em waves they are physical reality
    Can evolution of consciousness begin on electron’s level?
    ==.
    Origin of life is a result of physical laws that govern Universe
    Electron takes important part in this work.
    #
    1900, 1905
    Planck and Einstein found the energy of electron: E=h*f.
    1916
    Sommerfeld found the formula of electron : e^2=ah*c,
    it means: e = +ah*c and e = -ah*c.
    1928
    Dirac found two more formulas of electron’s energy:
    +E=Mc^2 and -E=Mc^2.
    According to QED in interaction with vacuum electron’s
    energy is infinite: E= ∞
    Questions.
    Why does the simplest particle – electron have six ( 6 ) formulas ?
    Why does electron obey five ( 5) Laws ?
    a) Law of conservation and transformation energy/ mass
    b) Maxwell’s equations
    c) Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle / Law
    d) Pauli Exclusion Principle/ Law
    e) Fermi-Dirac statistics.

    Nobody knows.
    ====.
    What is an electron ?
    Now nobody knows
    In the internet we can read hundreds theories about electron
    All of them are problematical.
    We can read hundreds books about philosophy of physics.
    But how can we trust them if we don’t know what is an electron ?
    ====.
    Quote by Heinrich Hertz on Maxwell’s equations:

    “One cannot escape the feeling that these mathematical formulae
    have an independent existence and an intelligence of their own,
    that they are wiser than we are, wiser even than their discoverers,
    that we get more out of them than was originally put into them.”
    ==.
    Ladies and Gentlemen !
    Friends !
    The banal Electron is not as simple as we think and, maybe,
    he is wiser than we are.
    =====.
    According to Pauli Exclusion Principle
    only one single electron can be in the atom.
    This electron reanimates the atom.
    This electron manages the atom.
    If the atom contains more than one electron (for example – two)
    then this atom represents a ” Siamese twins”.
    Save us, the Great God, of having such atoms, such children. ( ! )
    Each of us has an Electron, but we do not know it. ( ! )
    ==.
    Brain and Electron.
    Human brain works on two levels:
    consciousness and subconsciousness. The neurons of brain
    create these two levels. So, that it means consciousness and
    subconsciousness from physical point of view ( interaction
    between billions and billions neurons and electron).
    It can only mean that the state of neurons in these two
    situations is different.
    How can we understand these different states of neurons?
    How does the brain generate consciousness?
    We can understand this situation only on the quantum level,
    only using Quantum theory. But there isn’t QT without
    Quantum of Light and Electron. So, what is interaction between
    Quantum of Light, Electron and brain ? Nobody knows.
    #
    Conclusion:
    We are cells + Electron. ( ! )
    We must understand not only the cells, brain but electron too.
    And when we understand the Electron
    we will know the Ultimate Nature of Reality.
    ===.
    Best wishes.
    Israel Sadovnik Socratus
    ===========.

  • I wouldn’t say that I agree with what Lanza wrote either (and definitely not Deepak Chopra!), but I think a major weakness about *this* article is that it’s yet another one promoting the myth that we must choose between the Dawkins/Dennett model and some nutty idea about consciousness. Not so. Stephen Jay Gould outlined an entirely different (and much more logical) view of the evolutionary basis of human consciousness in *The Structure of Evolutionary* theory. And one of the few points of commonality between Gould and Lanza is that neither one of them has had any time for Dawkins/Dennett/Blackmore et al and their reductionistic and incorrect views on consciousness.

    The reality is that consciousness is shockingly random and came about almost entirely by the result of chance. It is not very adaptive, would make for a terrible evolutionary strategy, and certainly can’t be “reverse engineered.” If you start to argue that it could be (what the Dawkins/Steven Pinker et al crew does), then you’re arguing that it could be *forward* engineered as well, and each step in its evolutionary process neatly traced out. But that cannot be done. That group of thinkers really might just as well be pushing for intelligent design, because that’s what their arguments boil down to.

    The worldview of Gould, Steven Rose, Vrba, Niles Eldridge, etc., has not been as popular, because it doesn’t offer the false emotional comfort of convincing us that we’ve got it “all figured out” when it comes to consciousness. We don’t, we never will, it isn’t possible, and really, Lanza and Chopra aren’t any sillier than the currently popular “scientific” bunch who keep trying to tell us that we can.

      • What you address in the first two links doesn’t address the hard problem of consciousness. It would be as if you explained the existence of radio programs and pop music on the need for radio tranceivers to multiply, and that given sufficient complexity of hardware which broadcasts through the tower, music inevitably arises to fill the airwaves.

        It’s easy to to look at the hard problem and want to turn it into the easy problem, as consciousness is very much ‘The Elephant in Every Room’. Our every thought and experience, every idea about the world, every truth or logic, is all supervene upon consciousness. We can’t escape it, and we can’t help denying that we can’t escape it. What we can’t do is explain it in simpler terms. All explanation supervenes upon awareness.

        The assumption of existence outside of some form of detection, sense, awareness, or consciousness I think is the ultimate oversight. While the materialist-functionalist-mechanemorphic perspective attacks perceptual naive realism in explaining the experience of color, it clings to it ferociously in the belief in disbelief. It assumes that the ideas of spheres, particles, evolution, because they are logically compelling rather than emotionally reassuring that the attachment to them is free from cognitive bias and soft-headed sentimentality.

        To the contrary, arch-materialism strikes me as a sentimentality of the most precious and patriarchal variety. It favors reliance on authoritative models on a very narrow band of epistemology popular in the 19th century and consistently ignores the deeper implications of relativity, psychology, semiotics, blindsight, the placebo effect, as well as centuries of natural philosophy and anthropologically universal insights.

        As far as free will goes, that is always a long argument with no resolution. Why? Because the very act of denying free will requires free will and no amount of evidence and common sense examples can force someone to see that their opinion is nothing but an expression of free will. They will never admit that they are exercising some small measure of free will in their every waking moment of controlling their own attention because free will gives them the power to determine for themselves what description of reality they invest themselves in.

      • That was a really nice piece of writing I think you make a good point regarding Lanza’s mistakes in even trying to begin to define consciousness.

        I am interested in how an external universe can be experimentally seperated when it’s been proven that wave functions will collapse in the inexplicable knowing that you will observe the results afterwards? I’m not so well learned in the sciences but I am eager to understand; I’ve read Biocentrism and although I saw the obvious gaps it was even moreso obvious to me that Dr Lanza was perfectly aware of them. It seemed more a pure recognition of the intangible aspects of our experience and you don’t even mention them in a debunking of a theory so universal it takes into account your very own limited filter of comprehension and leaves room for which it seems you are prepared to debunk these things whether you can explain them or not. I feel more insight into your own personal understanding would give me more certainty in you than citing many other well known scientists and their understanding. I think Lanza wrote that book to help remodel the current societal (nevermind scientific, it is so undecided it is not worth mentioning in terms of global understanding) material worldview of existence, not to appease any groundbreaking scientific theory as such as help people. You fail to do this from what I read. You write to be admired and to bring Lanza down, not to push anything new, exciting or hopeful.

        • Also I think because of the particular branches of science Lanza was attempting to give more meaning to he was forced to neglect any mention of (para)psychological research, although I dislike the prefix as it instills an instant dissonance for most people. To say these things are beyond consideration or exempt from attributing to conclusive ideas relating to the nature of reality is to assume that what we know as science now will even exist as it does in 200 years.

          Sorry if you were looking for more educated responses but this is kind of following the same questioning I sense in Lanzas debate and I feel you have much to add.

  • I’ll read them if you’ll read Stephen Jay Gould’s *Structure of Evolutionary Theory*, especially *Challenges to Neo-Darwinism and Their Meaning for a Revised View of Human Consciousness.* Also, please respond to what I actually said. One big reason for the success of the Dawkins/Dennett school is that their opponents won’t debate them for fear of giving ammunition to New Agers and creationists.(Gould and Dawkins agreed to never debate each other publicly, for instance.) But that is an unfair advantage, and there needs to be public debate on these issues no matter who takes it as an excuse to range into nuttiness.

  • The “now-discredited Copenhagen interpretation”???

    Really?

    “According to a poll at a Quantum Mechanics workshop in 1997, the Copenhagen interpretation is the most widely-accepted specific interpretation of quantum mechanics”
    (from Wikipedia)

    • Vinod Wadhawan

      Dear Mr. John:

      I had dealt with this is another article:
      http://nirmukta.com/2010/07/14/science-and-scientists-a-response-to-critics/
      Here is the relevant excerpt:

      ‘There was this well-known debate between Einstein and Bohr about the foundations of quantum mechanics. Bohr’s viewpoint prevailed, and this gave him enormous, even undue, authority in scientific circles. If a proof is needed, look at the so-called ‘Copenhagen interpretation’ (CI) of quantum mechanics he gave in 1927, jointly with Heisenberg (another venerated scientist). According to the CI, people and the equipment they use exist in a classical world which is different from the quantum world. A quantum state is a superposition of two or more states, but when it interfaces with the classical world (at the moment of measurement), there is a collapse of the wave function (randomly) to one of the alternatives, and the other alternatives disappear. The CI was put in ‘by hand’ as an additional postulate of quantum mechanics.

      I have given some more details of the CI in an article on ‘biocentrism’ I coauthored with Ajita Kamal. What was done in that article was to juxtapose the CI with a number of later interpretations. To me it is clear that the CI has been superseded by better interpretations.

      So much for science. Now let us look at the scientists part of it.

      Among the earliest persons to openly challenge the CI was Hugh Everett III, when he put forward his ‘many worlds’ interpretation. But on the scientific scene at that time he was just a kid (a student at Princeton University in the mid-1950s) compared to stalwarts like Bohr and Heisenberg. [To us in India this is reminiscent of the Chandrasekhar vs. Eddington episode in cosmology.] A. H. Wheeler was the Ph.D. supervisor of Everett. Peter Byrne has written about this story in an article in the December 2007 issue of Scientific American. In 1956 Wheeler took the draft dissertation of Everett to Copenhagen to convince the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences to accept it and publish it. He had ‘three long and strong discussions about it’ with Bohr and Petersen. He also showed the work to many others at the Bohr Institute for Theoretical Physics, including A. S. Stern.

      Stern dismissed the work as ‘theology,’ and Wheeler himself was reluctant to challenge Bohr. The thesis had to be whittled down to a quarter of its original length. This abridged version also appeared in Reviews of Modern Physics. Young Everett eagerly looked forward to the reactions of the physics community. All he got was stony silence, such was the awe that the name Bohr inspired (and that continues in some quarters even today). Discouraged, Everett left physics and worked on military and industrial mathematics and computing. As the Editors of Scientific American wrote, ‘He died when he was just 51, not living to see the recent respect accorded to his ideas by physicists.’
      .. .. ..

      The philosopher Ockham advocated the use of simplest possible explanations for natural phenomena: ‘Plurality should not be posited without necessity‘. The proverbial Ockham’s razor cuts away complicated and long explanations. Ockham declared that simple explanations are the most plausible.
      In science, as also in mathematics, we always have some axioms to start with, from which we derive theorems etc. Axioms are something we accept without questioning. If we choose wrong axioms, we get theorems which contradict experiment, so this is not so serious a problem because it is self-correcting. The more serious problem is: How many axioms we should choose?
      An extreme situation is wherein we ‘explain’ everything in terms of axioms only, so we have a huge number of axioms, and there is no theory worth the name. Leibniz (1675) was amongst the earliest known investigators of this situation. He argued that a worthwhile theory of anything has to be ‘simpler than’ the data it explains. Otherwise, either the theory is useless, or the data are ‘lawless’. The criterion ‘simpler than’ is best understood in terms of information theory, particularly its more recently developed offshoot, namely algorithmic information theory (AIT).

      Gregory Chaitin is a pioneer of AIT. To understand the essence of the AIT, consider a very simple example. Take the set of all positive integers, and ask the question: How many bits of information are needed to specify all these integers? The answer is an absurdly large number. But the fact is that this set of data has very little information content. It has a structure which we can exploit to write an algorithm which can generate all the integers, and the number of bits of information needed to write the algorithm is indeed not large. So the algorithmic information content in this problem is small.

      One can generalize and say that, in terms of computer algorithms, the best theory is that which requires the smallest computer program for calculating (and hence explaining) the observations. The more compact the theory, the smaller is the length of this computer program. Chaitin’s work has shown that the Ockham razor is not just a matter of philosophy; it has deep algorithmic-information underpinnings. If there are competing descriptions or theories of reality, the more compact one has a higher probability of being correct. Ockham’s razor cuts away all the flab. Let us see why.

      In AIT, an important concept is that of algorithmic probability (AP). It is the probability that a random program of a given length fed into a computer will give a desired output, say the first million digits of π. Following Bennett and Chaitin’s pioneering work done in the 1970s, let us assume that the random program has been produced by a monkey. The AP in this case is the same as the probability that the monkey would type out the same bit string, i.e. the same computer program as, say, a Java program suitable for generating the first million digits of π. The probability that the monkey would press the first key on the keyboard correctly is 0.5. The probability that the first two keys would be pressed correctly is (0.5)2 or 0.25. And so on. Thus the probability gets smaller and smaller very rapidly as the number of correctly sequenced bits increases. The longer the program, the less likely it is that the monkey will crank it out correctly. This means that the AP is the highest for the shortest programs or the most compact theories. The best theory has the smallest number of axioms.

      In the present context, suppose we are having a bit string representing a set of data, and we want to understand the mechanism responsible for the creation of that set of data. In other words, we want to discover the computer program (or the best theory), among many we could generate randomly, which is responsible for that set of data. The validation of Ockham’s philosophy comes from the fact that the shortest such program is the most plausible guess because it has the highest AP.

      In the Copenhagen interpretation described above, Bohr’s action of ADDING ONE MORE POSTULATE BY HAND was unwarranted, as later developments in quantum theory have demonstrated.’

      Please read the full article for more details.

  • Dear Vinod,

    I read your article with great interest and, for the most part, found myself agreeing with your argument. I’ve long struggled with the concept of reality, and the subsequent nature and place of consciousness therein. I’ve placed a significant amount of hope in the notion that, perhaps, the uncertainty of quantim mechanics may grant the possibility that human beings possess a free will. However, the harder and deeper I probe the concept, the more (reluctantly) I find myself coming to the conclusion that human life is nothing more than a deterministic, mechanistic process. Essentially, I am terrified by the prospect that the entirety of existence is fundamentally meaningless. If every aspect of human life that we have traditionally associated with freedom (art, love, morality, etc.)is dictated by rigid causality, then how can you make the following statement: “It is also our view that one can find much meaning, beauty and purpose in a naturalistic view of the universe, without having to resort to mystical notions of reality.” I hope the nature of my confusion is apparent, but it’s quite a difficult concept to express. I guess my most pressing question is this: If reality is nothing more than the transfer of energy over time, then why, once we’ve come to fully comprehend such a truth, should we do anything at all? Doesn’t such a stunning truth, by its very nature, dishearten one and lead him to an oppressive, unrelenting nihilistic despair (which, again, would mean nothing)?

    I suppose I’m primarily curious as to how one can reconcile the observations which you describe in this article with a rich, full, meaningful, sane life. How can one love and laugh in concert with the belief that each is completely illusory and, thus, hollow?

    Sincerely,

    Patrick

    • Patrick,
      I know you addressed this to Vinod but I’m curious as to why you think

      “the entirety of existence is fundamentally meaningless”

      if it doesn’t revolve around you?

      • Joe,

        I was primarily referring to human existence, but meaninglessness would extend to the cosmos as well. I hate to answer a question with a question, but in what way could the Universe have meaning?

        Anyway, I do not mean to imply that existence does or should revolve around me, or anyone else. My point is simply this: if every action, thought, dream, desire, hope, passion, care, memory I have ever had or will have are nothing more than complex illusions which result from highly complex interactions of matter, over which I have no control or input–in fact, “I” would not then exist–what is the point of living? Let me assure you that I’m in no way suicidal, I’m just extremely interested by the full extent of the implications of an entirely material, deterministic Universe. If it’s true, essentially the Universe is conversing with itself right now, and none of us on this message board actually “exist” in the way we’ve been led to believe by our experiences. It all makes my head spin when I think about it deeply enough. I hope it’s wrong and that, in the end, science must yield to a certain amount of mystery. (Just to be clear, I don’t mean God, as I don’t believe in one; I simply mean that I hope consciousness, ultimately, is irreducible and fundamentally unempirical.)

        Sincerely,

        Patrick

        • Patrick,

          Thanks for your cogent response.

          I agree somewhat that the struggle for meaning may seem daunting. Of course science is more about the “how” and not the “why” and whenever I see the “quantum” question invoked, especially when someone (not in your case) is trying to justify a world view I see it as a gap filler since as a species we evolved in a Newtonian environment, not a quantum one, even though hypothetically it’s still there. Dr. Wadhawan has had this blog up for several years and I’ve been following it since it’s inception. So many of the responses have been about trying to utilize quantum mechanics to justify faith based beliefs, which I always find ironic because in the light of actual proof, a faith based belief becomes irrelevant. Also the anthropic bias belief simplifies biological evolution so much that it dead ends with bipedal humanoids as it’s ultimate conclusion, which in itself is the same hubris as God creating man in his own image including all his/our capricious qualities.

          I apologize if I was acrimonious.

    • Vinod Wadhawan

      Thank you, Patrick, for your comments. This article was written long ago. For the last few months I have been writing a weekly post at my blog. I invite you to have a look at the following posts, wherein many of the points mentioned by you were discussed from a somewhat different perspective: reality; free will; causality.

      http://vinodwadhawan.blogspot.in/2012/05/26-scientific-determinism-effective.html

      http://vinodwadhawan.blogspot.in/2012/05/27-actions-reactions-interactions-and.html

      http://vinodwadhawan.blogspot.in/2012/05/28-free-will-is-illusion.html

      http://vinodwadhawan.blogspot.in/2012/05/29-what-is-reality.html

      A sense of self, the illusion of a free will, and the tendency to hang on to dear life are probably evolutionary necessities. Individuals who lacked them were weeded out by Darwinian natural selection.

      We should do what makes us feel good; for example, helping others. Or spreading cheer.

  • The article above states that “Evolutionary biology upholds the materialist view of modern science that consciousness is a product of purely inanimate matter assembling in highly complex states. Such a view is disillusioning to anyone who craves a more central role for the human ego in determining one’s reality.”

    James Rachels in the book Created from Animals upholds a Darwinian worldview and argues that it has profound moral implications. He argues against the ‘principle of the dignity of man’ but for ‘moral individualism’ with respect to both human and non-human sentient beings, because as Darwin noted there is “no higher or lower” in evolution.

    In other words, we can be moral beings without regarding our species as the centre of the universe, or the top of some imagined evolutionary ladder (called ‘evolutionism’ – an anthropocentric corruption of Darwinism), or resorting to a strong anthropic principle or philosophical idealism.

    In fact, the strong anthropic principle and Berkelean idealism are inimical to true morality, which requires consideration of others – and Rachels argues this would include non-human others, which makes perfect sense in a world in which we represent only one species out of 8.7 million, and many of these species are sentient and emotive, just as we are. Not surprising insofar as we are animals of a kind and the differences are not one of type but of degree, as Darwin noted.

    Another issue no one seems to have picked up on is that Lanza’s pseudo-mysticism can be traced back to the concept of the “noosphere” and the philosopher Teilhard de Chardin. I think Lanza owes as much to that concept as to Capra, though I do not know if he mentions the noosphere. It is consistent with strong anthrocentrism, and argues that human consciousness is the consciousness of the universe.

    It was picked up by Thomas Berry, who popularized the term “biocentric” in 1988 in his book The Dream of the Earth — but paradoxically he was arguing against anthropocentrism (a human-centered worldviews) and for biocetrism (an Earth-centered worldviews). Subscribing to the noosphere and de Chardin’s evolutionism was perhaps the one area where Berry was really wrong, but the rest of his books and ideas paid great respect to science and to the perspective that humans are recent arrivals on Earth and not the centre of things.

    • Vinod Wadhawan

      Thank you, Paul, for the well-reasoned and informed comment. Recent developments in science have put the anthropic principle on firmer ground. Please see my blog post at http://vinodwadhawan.blogspot.in/2012/03/20-anthropic-principle.html

      • But ‘idealism’ does not imply solipsism, nor anthropocentrism. A fully realized idealism does not see the world in terms of ‘self and other’, but, through compassion, sees self as other, and other as self, as per Shantideva’s ‘The Way of the Bodhisattva’.

        Again, if evolutionary materialism argues that intelligence is nothing other than the action of matter, then it has no grounds for a notion of truth as such. All it can point to is the effectiveness of certain beliefs for the propagation of the genome. But that propagation is ultimately meaningless, because everything ends in death.

  • there’s a very basic thing you’re not seeing in all this, which is that a viewpoint is required for any kind of science, measurement, and indeed existence. Science likes to imagine that we are seeing ‘a view from nowhere’ but in fact, that would not be ‘a view’. Science is a human undertaking, and there is no problem with that. The alternative is the conceit of false objectivity, which you only indulge in to provide a sense of subjectivity within which you can continue to exist as a separate self. This is all a cultural construct.

    • That was my first thought exactly after the first paragraph of reading this article. Except my only concern is that this line of reasoning would not allow for any objective understanding at all, including this article, your reply, my reply, etc.

      • Danielle,
        Your point is well taken about that particular line of reasoning where the reasoner is not able to know anything for sure. This usually is invoked with “quantum mechanics” as it’s justification. I’ve always been very wary of anyone using this line of reasoning because 1st, we did not evolve in a quantum world rather a Newtonian one. So if you cannot know anything for sure, don’t try to brace yourself the next time you trip and fall. 2nd, 99 out of a 100 people who use this line of reasoning don’t understand reasoning and especially quantum mechanics. The arguments about quantum mechanics exists, for now at least, within the quantum world and between the particle physicists.

      • Not so! Objectivity is perfectly valid, to a point, and within limits. We can do all manner of things with pinpoint accuracy utilizing our knowledge of objective laws. But these do not yield any ultimate truths.

        Reason cannot be ‘the product’ of material interactions. The underlying ‘logos’ gives rise to the conditions which make such material interactions possible – evolution included. Number and logical and scientific laws are not explicable in material terms, but are themselves used to explain the nature of material objects, because they precede and underlie them.

        • “But these do not yield any ultimate truths”… so are you saying this statement isn’t an ultimate truth?

          I understand that objectivity to you may have its limits, but then, how would we know what those limits are or must be? Your understanding may not be someone else’s. Would that mean that one has the “correct” objecive stance and the other is clouded by a subjective cloud through which they see that stance?

          • “but then, how would we know what those limits are or must be?”

            We can’t always know how things are, but we can use our senses to make sense of how things seem.

            The amazing thing about sense is that we can detect some truths even though we don’t understand them, and this gives us a way to make more and more sense of the truths that we do understand. Truth is like a momentum of translucence to increasingly reveal its own translucence.

        • “Reason cannot be ‘the product’ of material interactions.”

          Says who?

          “Number and logical and scientific laws are not explicable in material terms”

          Actually they are. Reason is a judgement, reasoning process. Both come from the meat of the mind.

          • ““Reason cannot be ‘the product’ of material interactions.”

            Says who? ”

            Says who is not an appeal to reason. In our reasoning, we have experience of materials, and we have no observation of materials which indicates that any reasoning would or could arise from their interaction.

            “Actually they are. Reason is a judgement, reasoning process. Both come from the meat of the mind.”

            That’s begging the question. You assume the mind is meat from the beginning, then it follows that anything that comes from the mind comes from meat. It doesn’t though. Nothing comes from the brain but neurotransmitters and electrical activity. Nothing in our reasoning resembles any biochemical interaction that is associated with it. It is only our projection of our own subjective significance onto the brain that makes it much different from a cauliflower or piece of coral.

          • “Says who is not an appeal to reason.”
            Point taken, lol. Rephrase: on what basis can the claim that reason cannot be a process of the material, a special material granted, but without this material there will be no reasoning process.

            “That’s begging the question.”
            Close to a logical fallacy but more closely related to just plain bluntness.

            “Nothing in our reasoning resembles any biochemical interaction that is associated with it. It is only our projection of our own subjective significance onto the brain that makes it much different from a cauliflower or piece of coral.”

            Could you please elaborate on what you mean in context to what I wrote as it is not clear to me the correlation you are attempting to make. Reasoning is a byproduct of biochemical processes and I do not understand why it should or even could “resemble”: have qualities or features, especially those of appearance, in common with anything.
            Thanks.

          • ” In our reasoning, we have experience of materials, ” should read *no* experience of materials. In writing this my experience of choosing of words is not illuminating any details of neurochemical processes.

  • One parting shot. The theory of evolution *is not* a ‘theory of everything’, which is what it has become – the basis of a secular philosophy, practically a secular religion in its own right. But it can serve its purpose perfectly well, as a biological theory of the origin of species, WITHOUT being all of that. It is when it is pressed into the role as the ‘alpha and omega’, the beginning and the end, that it oversteps the mark and tries to become something that it was never intended to be.

    It’s a pity that the intelligent, well-read and very sophisticated author of this website has his chips on the wrong side of the table.

    Cheerio.

    • “The theory of evolution *is not* a ‘theory of everything’, which is what it has become – the basis of a secular philosophy, practically a secular religion in its own right.”

      The theory of evolution, which was incomplete at the time Darwin among others proposed it, is the best observable explanation for the diversity of life, not the origin of life or the theory of everything. Anyone who understands it has never suggested that.

  • Mayank Agrawal

    Mr Vinod,I am completely amazed by the brilliance of your simple words to explain the most complex things.

    “Biocentrism” as they call it now, was one of the ideas that actually occurred to my malnourished mind too some years back and I was really holding on to that idea as something special.
    And since I really started to believe in it, I actually started connecting it to the Buddhist and other mystical philosophies about “All is One and One is all”, that the consciousness is the creator of everything and being “truly aware” of that fact is when you attain enlightenment.
    But now I actually see, how I was conveniently skipping through the harder questions.
    It actually reminds me of when science shocked people when it announced that “No Sir, Earth is not the center of universe!” , which troubled the church so much that they went on a killing spree! They just can’t accept the fact that we are nothing but powerless and helpless piece of meat in the middle of this beautiful cosmic storm called Existence!
    I may sounding a rookie cos I am one but thanks a lot for the much needed protein!

  • a practical extension of lanza’s theory: assume that a terrorist hurls a grenade at lanza,and destroys him.if that happens ,there will be no lanza and therefore no associated world created with it that held the terrorist.with lanza’s brain and thus the associated world gone,will anyone press charges against the imaginary terrorist.

  • It’s Father is the Sun, it’s Mother the Moon; The Wind carries it in it’s belly, it’s Nurse is the Earth. It is the origin of all, the consecration of the Universe. It’s inherent strength is perfected, when it is turned into Earth.

  • After reading about ~20% of this article i understand for one thing the author is attempting to falsify a model that by his own words is scientifically unfalsifiable. Is there any reason why i should read the remaining ~80% of the article. And then again, from me only adding on to all thats unfalsifiable, going by Darwin’s theories of evolution would that mean they are all only applicable to life and not to the universe par se.

    • Jokh,
      I’m not sure what part of which article, Lanza’s or Waghawan, you are referring to. Wadhawan is refuting both Lanza’s false premise and the false dichotomy he concludes with. Darwin’s theory, though incomplete at the time like most science, explains the diversity of life, not its origin.
      Could you clarify please.
      Thanks

      • Oh Thanks Isuzu, Though i’ve no idea who or what Waghawan is, I sure got to apologise over what i’d got to type out on about Darwin’s theory not being applicable to the evolution of the universe par se. Not too sure now what got me to say that. But now that i do say so the point is that i for one cannot imagine how this universe got to be without the as yet non-existant answer to the question ‘How come there is existance?’.
        Well i could have a valid plain and simple answer to that, but then there would be no point for me to state that out now as per my understanding of whats, lets say again, now, under the realism of live, may i say, biocentrism.

        • “i’ve no idea who or what Waghawan is…” Sorry for my typo.

          Vinod Wadhawan is the co-author of the article you are reading.

  • ” Lanza announces that reality itself does not exist unless created by the act of observation. Some cheek!”
    Even mathematical proof is assimilated inside the observation mechanism of the one studying it.Please try going into one without paying attention and see where we get :-).The whole point of the inner search is what that attention itself is.And,just like rigorous proof is the only way to understand objective reality,only attention can understand itself.Really, there is no contradiction in the objective and subjective reality to begin with. Who made this bifurfication? Nature? Laws of physics? Or is it part of our own perception?

  • Copied from the article: “How can consciousness create the universe if it doesn’t exist? How can the “living, biological creature” exist if the universe has not been created yet?”

    Well lets say consciousness was there right from before the beginning and right from before the beginning it suddenly evolved became aware of itself was lonely and then discovered anti-consciousness, that that sort to blind it out. So it decided to lift itself out and at that moment decided to be the perfect organism, man. The organism had to be somewhere and so there arose space, it had to have company and also be a companion and so out cropped out companions etc etc and things began to get messy and so there was need for them to be segregated as male and female etc etc and finally then there was a now, a you, they and of course likewise me.
    It was a lot like but much more than what can be termed as magic and even now is except that the magic is the consciousness itself and that is obviously well hidden.

    • The thing about gravity is not only that it applies on most known parts of the universe. It’s that all these “dead” stars and planets actually follow it to the nth decimal digit. How do they know that they need to have a gravitational pull and that G exists?? In a way, is this not consciousness?

      The cell phone or the TV are instruments.What makes them come alive is the content being recieved from thin air. This is so called common sense. If a yogi says that the body is an instrument recieving content from thin air, it’s “anti-science”, “gibberish” or whatever else. My request to people who love rigor is:

      Why not investigate for your own self?Leave aside whatever any guru has ever said.Do you need assistance in knowing your own consciousness?? That would be truly absurd! Secondly, if I say that a subamrine is not designed to traverse the desert, it would be common sense. But if I say that logic cannot grasp consciousness, it would be airy-fairy in the views of many. Isn’t this also a kind of straitjacketed perspective?
      Just like there are idiosyncratic professors who are actually top of tops (the ones all our dear “free minded” people might have come across), there ARE idiosyncratic gurus who’ve mastered nothing else but their own consciousness.It’s just that the former case would never be put out in front coz we’re invested in their teaching. Actually, both are driving home points in differnet ways.

      In short, nobody is stopping you from actually becoming an Einstein and a Buddha and a Carlos Santana at the same time. But you can’t logically ascertain the guitar, you have to BE ONE with it. Same is the case with fundamental enquiry into one’s own nature. All contradictaions between “scientific”and “spiritual” knowledge are imaginary.

      • Satish Chandra

        Actually, cell phones and TV’s don’t even need thin air to receive. That’s what will happen when you rely on common sense and not on science. As to investigating our selves, you are just being smug and pretentious. I and other freethinkers did investigate our selves.

        • No, Ashmant is right. You are the one being smug and pretentious pointing out that electromagnetism doesn’t need air as a medium. The use of the idiom ‘thin air’ doesn’t imply ignorance about that fact to me. I would not say that our own understanding of our consciousness is *all* we need, but I agree with him that our own awareness is an infinitely more subtle and discerning instrument for understanding consciousness than second hand measurements of inanimate objects.

          • Satish Chandra

            I may well be wrong in assuming that Ashmant doesn’t know how electromagnetism works. But there really can’t be any question of him being smug and pretentious in suggesting that people here don’t understand their own self. He is demanding that his own understanding of consciousness should be agreed upon by everyone when he hasn’t even bothered to establish a common ground. (Not surprising since he can’t even see the glaring contradiction in claiming that anyone can be an Einstein and that “scientific”and “spiritual” have no contradictions.)

          • Demand and pretension is your reading. I am simply stating that consciousness as a phenomenon runs across all human beings (scientific minded, irrational, insane, romantic…ANY human being).It is also there in other spicies. Even viruses have a “sense” that tells them that they are inside a host now and need to increase in numbers.And as stated in another post, even non-living objects (planets, galaxies, even black holes) follow patterns of physical behaviour. They’ve even been doing the same when humans had not discovered many laws of physics, and are still following many laws that we are yet to discover. This thing is a kind of “sense”.

            The same universal “sense” is in us too. Discovering the same is the point behind spiritual traditions. In the process of time, lot of bullshit has been added on to it in the name of religion. I am not denying that one bit. But to term the basic concept as airy fairy would be limiting our own enquiry.

            “Glaring contradiction”? Leaonardo Da vinci is considered the greatest genius ever, and was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. Is that not empirical evidence of what I said?

          • Satish Chandra

            Not my reading. That’s just the way you are. You might believe something else about yourself, but what you are doing is make up your own definition of consciousness and pretend that everyone agrees to it and hence if anyone doesn’t, they haven’t investigated their self.

          • “Can Lanza deny all the evidence that, whereas we humans emerged on the scene very recently, our Earth and the solar system and the universe at large have been there all along?”- Human beings didn’t pop out of a vaccum.In any human body,there is a SUMMATION of effects, ranging from non-living hydrocarbon chains (chop them off the body and it won’t take long for them to be non living again.They’re alive in the sense of being part of one body), to evoultion (All living beings are borne out of previous living beings, thus part of a continous chain. If there were the first “living” beings, even they didn’t pop out of a vaccum)to genetics (heridatory changes that are more recent).The entire information, from the materials to be used (calcium, iron,etc…) to the design (bone density, skin thickness, body cetering) are right there in the DNA of any NON-EXTINCT species. Point is, humans, being a non-extinct species are carrying the properties of living and non living matter right from the very early days of life right inside their DNA. Even the hydrocarbons chains that make our bodies are a result of chemical ‘evolvement’ if I may use that term (Don’t argue on usage of terms later, that’s NOT my point). So the human body is NOT recent in a sense of being disconnected with any past developments. Even an “individaul” has all cultural imprints of language, logic, social classes etc passed on from generation to generation. Any faction, free thinker, no thinker, god fearing, god hating..any faction is one tiny dot in this intricate maze that sapans form the non living to the livng to the evolved. I am NOT interested in posotponing my seeing this simple fact unless I master atleast 6 different sciences till the point I would have died and so would have my enquiry. I am simply saying that when mystics say that You are the one who was there before this body and after it, they’ve not smoked hash. They’re pointing out this to this continous undercurrent of life that always has been and always will be. If the species goes extinct, there would still be transformation of the physical entities. This is driven by packing of information in the very living DNA. In this way, we have not arrived recently, we were always here. I am sure this will sound baffling.But look at it this way: What if one, for hypotehtical purposes let’s say realizes that the thing he calls “I” is not the body, not the personality, but the very undercurrent itself, then for him, beginings and end woul mean ZILCH. Hence there would be no time. And what if (excuse me if I might be testing your patience here, but my point deserves some) one realizes that that same undercurrent is parallely operatin everywhere, then for him, that part of spatial sensation that tells “me” form “not me” would cease to have relevance. Then he can say that he’s everywhere and in all times.Then, he can say that all exists in his own consciousness. The fundamental thing that we all take for granted is that “we” exist as seperate entities from the space-time contium surrounding us.

            Look, I care a damn about “demystifying” anything or making even one single soul agree to me.This might be the last time I post here too, coz I find the approach being followed here mostly reactive.But trust me if you can, I have seen what Tolle is saying first hand.

            I am just putting up a hypothesis (which means you can chew on this for the rest of your life, but only stop when you’re sure of what you see yourself).What if, it is catually true that there are layers to your own self-awarness, which when probed deeper and deeper still, take you to that undercurrent which is all pervasive?? What if you find this out?? You’d get what Tolle has said DIRECTLY.

            As far as common ground goes, I am a fairly educated guy working in a fairly good setup. But my life is entirely dedicated every single moment to understanding the self.I am not leaning on any second hand learning on that. However, for all things financial,technological or otherwise, I simply understand the game and make good efforts for the benifit of all around.

            It’s been a good few days of active posting here. Hope it struck a chord.

      • “How do they know that they need to have a gravitational pull and that G exists?? In a way, is this not consciousness?’

        Really? Really really really? The strong and weak nuclear forces are self aware?

        “But you can’t logically ascertain the guitar, you have to BE ONE with it.”
        Really? Really really really?

        I love listening to Carlos Santana’s music. Is that because I have become one with my iTunes? Because I can’t play any musical interment. But I sure do appreciate some who do. I can also logically ascertain that if I trip and fall on planet earth, I’m going to fall in the same direction I always have since I was a kid which is towards it and not away from it because of nuclear forces. Those same forces have over time shown me through experience and not intuition that my mass the the mass of the earth are not going to meld, and if I don’t try and stave my fall, this is going to hurt. Nothing transcendent about that. I can appreciate the cosmos without making ME the reason it exists.

        • “Really? Really really really? The strong and weak nuclear forces are self aware? ”

          They don’t need to be ‘self’ aware, rather they are the footprint of some semblance of awareness. There is no actual ‘force’ or ‘field’ floating around in space – all is sensorimotor experience presented and re-presented from different perspectives.

          ““But you can’t logically ascertain the guitar, you have to BE ONE with it.”
          Really? Really really really? ”

          Why the derision? Have you not heard of the idiom of ‘becoming one’ with something as a way to indicate an unmediated personal connection?

          “I can appreciate the cosmos without making ME the reason it exists.”

          Which frees you up to be infinitely more egotistical. Now you identify with logic itself, and view the universe from the perspective of a hypothetical detached voyeur. Your ability to see your own insignificance makes *you feel superior*.

          • “rather they are the footprint of some semblance of awareness”

            Just “sorta” “kinda” aware?…which is just moving the goal posts to where the ball was kicked.

            sensorimotor:adjective [ attrib. ] Physiology
            (of nerves or their actions) having or involving both sensory and motor functions or pathways.

            Nuff said.

            “Have you not heard of the idiom of ‘becoming one’ with something”
            Sure. But the statement was “You can’t logically ascertain the guitar, you have to BE ONE with it” which is a completely different concept from from fingers, mind, and instrument flowing together to make beautiful music. That I can appreciate with my “infinite ego”. Don’t forget “timeless”.

        • All particles are FOLLOWING the strong and wek nuclear forces aren’t they? How? Beacuse you told them..look..this is my theory on nuclear forces,and you’re supposed to be a particle following it? And did they not follow the electromagnetic laws PRIOR to the laws being discovered?

          I didn’t say antything about “listening” to Sanatana. I said “being” like Santana. It’s an example only. You could name any activity. You get into “rythum” with any activity when you are so aligned to it that it’s hardly perceptible where the action stops and the actor starts.

          Please read betwen lines and behing words :-)

          • Not sure if this comment will pass through the ‘Nirmukta’ moderation rules, since pro-Nirmukta comments are warmly screened through while those against meet an adverse fate. And the claim is at rationalism!

            Just wanted to share an article –

            Is it Possible? Seeking The Truth
            *by Swami Sunirmalananda

            Can you ride a bicycle and lift it simultaneously? Can you see or know
            the
            source of a river while rushing along its current? You may call this
            silly,
            and say nobody does that. But we are doing this all the time.
            To explain. Where did we come from? Who or what created this universe?
            Such
            questions have been puzzling us since time immemorial. We are trying
            to
            discover this truth even now. Physicists are busy finding the source,
            just
            like those scientists of ancient times did. But we classify and give
            names.
            Whatever research was done in the past we call philosophy and
            religion, and
            hence superstition. But what we do now is science—‘modern’ science.
            And for
            the endless quarrel between science and philosophy! Human beings have
            a
            tendency to believe ‘modern’ things and decry ancient things. This is
            what
            is happening even today. What all research was done in the past has
            been
            ignored, and what is being done now is honored.
            The Indian sages of ancient times were very active about astronomy
            and
            astrophysics. The same things were perhaps discovered by these
            ancient
            Indian sages long, long ago. But that doesn’t matter. New research
            should be
            done. Thus the world goes on. And the enquiry goes on.
            *THE MODERN METHOD*
            Before going to the ancient discoveries concerning the origins of the
            universe, we should comment on the modern methods. Physics claims to
            have
            gone far into the origins of the universe. Yet why hasn’t it succeeded
            in
            its attempts to know the ultimate Source of everything, whatever it
            might
            be? True, there are claims that the puzzle has been solved—big bang,
            steady
            state theory, and so on have been put forth. But the doubt remains.
            They say
            that the first three seconds were vital because there was a big bang
            and its
            echo is heard even today, and that this created everything. The worlds
            were
            created, the stars were created, and thus matter came into being.
            Matter
            came into existence, true. But how did consciousness in matter come
            into
            being. I and you are not mere dead matters. We are conscious living
            beings.
            How did consciousness come into existence. The difference between me
            and a
            dead body is in consciousness. How did this come into being?
            Scientists say
            that chemical reactions brought that about. Can such a thing ever
            happen?
            Until the doubt is solved, the truth remains far away, and research
            goes on.
            Science has been unable break into the thick, iron wall of truth. Why
            hasn’t
            science succeeded in finding out the source of consciousness?
            *REASONS FOR FAILURE
            *There could be several reasons. Reason number one, science itself
            agrees
            that our sense organs are limited in their capacities. The human ear,
            for
            instance, is said to be capable of hearing vibrations between 20 hertz
            and
            20 kilohertz. So with the human eye. If our sense organs are limited,
            how
            are we to comprehend the unlimited using them and also using our
            manmade
            instruments? Reason number two, the human intellect has its upper
            limit.
            Though modern science as a discipline may have the cut and thrust, it
            has
            the impregnable wall of the intellect. It is not given to the human
            intellect to be all-knowing. The intellect, however sharp, has its
            limitations. Reason Number three, the brilliant and most wonderful
            gadgets
            of modern science are bringing excellent information, true. But
            perhaps
            modern science appears to be rushing into conclusions. The big bang
            theory
            is nothing but a conclusion, reached initially in the 1940s by George
            Gamov
            and others. We hold on to not-so-perfect proofs in order to put forth
            such
            theories. There is the big crunch theory too, and other theories in
            the
            offing. Though these theories are intellectual exercises and have
            tremendous
            scientific work behind them, they cannot be called absolute verdicts
            about
            the Creator and His creation–whoever He or It might be. Reason number
            four,
            there is the lack of finer instruments and nicer disciplines. The
            creation
            process is so subtle that in spite of the best instruments, the
            impregnable
            walls haven’t been conquered by science yet.
            Reason Number five, science is still in its youth. We discovered that
            the
            nine planets revolve round the sun only yesterday. There is a lot to
            be
            known.
            *THE GREAT REASON*
            Finally, as the reason number six, we come to the question we posed in
            the
            beginning. To be rushing down the river and to know its source, which
            is far
            behind, is impossible. To sit on a bicycle and lift it is impossible.
            Similarly, to be in the universe and to know it is impossible. That
            is, just
            as Einstein’s relativity put it, if you are inside a closed cubicle,
            which
            is falling down in space, you will not be aware of its motion at all,
            unless
            you have something to compare notes. You will think you are
            stationary. Why?
            There’s nothing relative to compare with the motion. Some stationary
            object
            should be your reference point. It is in relation to some steady,
            stationary
            object that we can compare motion.
            This universe follows the relativity principle. To study the source,
            origins, and methods of creation of the universe, then, we should not
            ‘rush
            with the tide’. We should stand apart, on the riverbank.
            Scientists who are studying the origins of the universe should stand
            apart
            to study its source. They cannot know the source of the universe by
            flowing
            with the current. Are not scientists standing apart now? Perhaps not.
            The
            reason is, to think that we people are separate and the universe is
            separate–and that we shall study the universe objectively–is wrong.
            This
            is the fundamental mistake. Once we understand that we are one single
            whole—that the universe and all of us are one single unit—made up of
            some
            elements in large or small quantities—we have begun working along the
            right
            path.
            Why should we search for something separate? We said about the
            relativity
            principle: we are all one–the universe, ourselves, everything is one
            single
            whole. Call it, for convenience, ‘the created’. We are all one
            projection.
            So we can’t know if we are ‘falling’ or ‘rising’. To know that, we
            should
            have some reference point. There should be some separate thing, which
            stands
            apart, and which doesn’t flow with the current like us. And that
            separate
            thing is our reference point, the riverbank for the flowing river.
            *THE REFERENCE POINT*
            What could be such a reference point? The whole universe—including
            our
            bodies, minds, etc—has been created, and they shall be destroyed one
            day.
            Everything is rushing towards the sea of destruction. We are inside a
            capsule—the entire cosmos and us. We are heading towards destruction.
            But
            some of us, scientists, are searching for the source of this cosmos
            while
            heading towards destruction—trying to see the source of the river
            while in
            the river and flowing with it. When everything is flowing towards this
            end,
            is there anything that is not? There should certainly be something
            else.
            When everything is heading towards destruction, surely there is
            something
            that is stationary. What is that something? And where is it?
            This, precisely, was the question that bothered our ancient Indian
            scientists, called Rishis, too. They too looked out as far as
            possible. They
            too searched in the sky. At last they laughed at themselves: they
            were
            looking at the pictures on the screen and searching for the source
            there.
            The pictures were falling on the screen because there was a projector
            behind
            them. So they ‘came back’ to the projector of the universe. Where was
            it
            located? Inside them! ‘That which is within me, and that which is
            pervading
            all this cosmos, is verily the source of everything,’ they declared.
            Instead
            of searching for the Source, the Cause, the Ultimate, outside through
            the
            most powerful telescopes, the sages looked within. And they found
            answers.
            They got wonderful answers. Beyond and behind the changing
            multiplicity,
            there is one unchanging, ever-permanent, eternal, constant, One. That,
            then,
            is the source of the universe.
            That something is within all of us, and within every little cell in
            the
            universe. That is the real ‘we’.
            That is the Atman, the Self. That is the Source. That is the
            stationary
            Subject, while everything else is in motion. Beyond the body and
            mind,
            beyond the intellect is the Atman. This, again, is called Brahman.
            Atman is
            Brahman—the cosmic is the individual. The individual is the cosmic.
            There is
            no difference. One is the many–many is the One. The source is one.
            This
            Atman alone should be our reference point to study the universe. This
            is
            because while everything is flowing towards its end, the Self is
            stationary
            and eternal. Hence the great Indian Vedic records, called Upanishads,
            which
            are nothing but scientific records of our ancient discoveries, tell
            us
            repeatedly that the Atman alone is the witness, the source, the
            Unchanging
            Principle, the End and the Beginning, the Middle and the Everything,
            etc.
            *KNOW THE ATMAN, YOU KNOW ALL*
            The Upanishadic truths are ancient scientific discoveries, conducted
            by
            persons of utmost mental discipline. Their methods too were initially
            like
            ours. Gradually they discovered the truth through a different set of
            discipline. The truly scientific spirit is one where all pet notions
            and
            ideas are sacrificed to know the truth. To hold on to our own
            notions,
            instruments, and ideas, and say all else is superstition is not
            scientific
            spirit, but ignorance.
            So modern scientists too could hold on to that stationary thing, the
            Atman,
            to study the universe. Then everything becomes easy. Then they too
            could
            understand the complex structures of the universe.
            Already the hint has come to them with the announcement, in the 1930s,
            of
            the Uncertainty Principle.
            The simple truth is, to know the source of the universe, we should
            know
            ourselves. Instead of searching and gazing at the cosmos, the true
            scientist
            should venture inwards. Once science holds on to the Atman, the search
            will
            end.
            Unfortunately for science, if it begins its journey inwards, it will
            also
            become ‘religion’ like the ancient discoveries. The ancient Indian
            discoveries were recorded in the most scientific and long-lasting
            language,
            Sanskrit. Had they recorded their discoveries in any other language,
            they
            would have been lost to us. Since these discoveries are in Sanskrit,
            people
            have a tendency to call anything in Sanskrit as religious literature.
            You
            write a book on computers in Sanskrit. Perhaps after a few days it
            will be
            called a religious work.
            So our modern scientists should study the Upanishads. However, science
            too
            will become ‘religious’ then. But nomenclatures are not important for
            the
            scientist. He wants the truth.
            This was what happened in ancient times, at least in Greece, the
            student of
            India. There was only one subject—philosophy—before, which included
            physics
            too. Later on, philosophy and physics were separated.
            *So, if we really want to know the Truth, we should give up all pet
            notions. Science means rationality. Rationality means openness to
            ideas. We
            should not be iron walls for ideas to be bounced back. Science should
            be
            open. It should open its Eastern window as much as it is opening its
            Western
            window. Then it can see the light of the morning Sun.
            *
            Modern physics, if it really wants to know the truth of the origins of
            the
            universe, will do well to open itself to traditional scientific ideas.
            There
            is no harm if science admits that we are looking the wrong way. As
            Vivekananda said: ‘Truth will never bow down to society, ancient or
            modern.
            Society will have to bow down to truth or die.’
            Our ancient Indian scientists, the Rishis, were such great masters
            that they
            were ready for any sacrifice. They were ready to renounce any notions
            to
            know the Truth. Thus did they succeed and became immortal. And what
            did they
            discover? They discovered that the Source of the universe is nowhere
            else,
            but within each one of us. So the Vedas and the Upanishads are the
            summits
            of science.

          • Captain Mandrake

            SThoreau,

            Thanks for that cut & paste. But IMO providing the link would have sufficed.

            They discovered that the Source of the universe is nowhere else, but within each one of us.

            Again can you explain how did they know that they have in fact discovered that the source of the universe with in them? Is it possible that they confused a bit of indigestion with the source of the universe?

          • For one, posting a link to an article rather than treating this comment-trail as paste-bin can help keep things more readable.

            As for questions about the ‘ultimate source’ or a ‘theory of everything’, here is Feynman’s response.

            Here is an earlier comment on the dead-end of solipsism which spiritualists seem to beckon the rest towards.

  • The role of consciousness is constructing reality is NOT that the universe suddenly springs into existence when it is view by a conscious subject. That is not it. What it means is that a perspective is necessary in order for there to be any relatedness, scale, time, connection, and so on, between all the disparate objects that are found in it. The mind brings that organizing capability to the scene, but that capability is not in itself amongst the objects or relationships which we see. (this is all explained in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.)

    Second, ultimately, *we are not outside of the universe*. The universe is not ultimately an object, within which we are subjects. Mind – not your mind, or my mind, but mind generally – synthesizes the notion of ‘object and subject’ at a deeper, pre-conscious level. This apprarent separation is re-inforced by our sense of separate ego – and there you have the ‘human condition’.

    Recall this quote by Einstein, in a letter sent to a grieving father:

    ‘A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.’

    There is nothing ‘anti-scientific’ about that. It is simply a matter of understanding the role of science, and where that role no longer has any traction.

    • Outstanding. I regularly try to make these points about subjectivity to people but it is often hard for me to put into words why the dependency of realism on subjective perception is not an idealist magic but a concrete ontology. The assumption of physical conditions as objectively real is so deeply ingrained that it is impossible for a lot of people to understand that participatory detection and interpretation is as much a part of physics as quantitative measurements.

      I don’t know if I agree that compassion is the sure antidote to solipsism in the sense that you can still be compassionate towards other things even if you think that underneath it all they are really part of you. In practice though, you might be right…I just don’t know that many people are actually practicing solipsists.

      • Johh alias Jokh

        Well, was not to sure of what ontology meant so i googled and dropped in at http://www.jfsowa.com/ontology/ where from the first few paragraphs it gets to be a subject on ‘the study of the categories of things that exist or may exist in some domain’, which gets to be a whole lot of things that all boil down to words, phrases and verses, thanks to logic may i add.

        It so happens that its just a few weeks now since i’ve come across the word solipsism too, so i googled it and find that by definition it makes sense, just that at times its actually practiced kind of as a way of life so much so that most of these practitioners then make an attempt to ignore the rest and forget that they then actually ignore, by definition, a large part of themselves. As for me i guess i’m a non-practicing solipsist. Thanks.

  • One more thing – compassion is a sure antidote to solipsism.

  • Just sharing the link in case you havent researched it, yet:

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Complete_Works_of_Swami_Vivekananda/Volume_1/Raja-Yoga/Introductory

    It wont harm anyone to just go through it, on the contrary it might benefit :)

    • “Just sharing the link in case you havent researched it, yet:”

      Well, as with anything of great length, there is a great deal in this intro to to deal with. The swami uses a great deal of metaphor in his “opinion” of what knowledge consists of. There are, however, many false dichotomies, he confabulates psychiatry with physics, and really has no idea of the difference between a hypothesis and a theory. Other than that I’m sure he’d be great to have a sit down discussion over a shot of tequila and a beer.

      • Well, that was only the intro, you can scroll to the next pages using the link at the bottom of the page and he goes deeper into the subject.

        About the divisions of psychiatry and physics – he is actually saying that the conclusion of the whole experiment of Raja Yoga is that the difference between internal and external words is fictional. The main thing to be noted is, you will need to look into your internal world, your mind using your own analytical methods or the ones mentioned by the Sages of yore – otherwise this just remains a theory. Like he says each science must be studied in it’s own way, here the subject of study is the mind, the same mind& intellect combination which the material scientist uses to ascertain his hypothesis & ideas is the thing being studied. That in itself is challenging – because in the normal course we are not aware of some point beyond the mind & intellect, from where we can study these two faculties, isnt it? Think about it.

        • “isn’t it? Think about it.”

          I have. Sorry and no offense but NO it’s not. This is part Cartesian Dualism (regardless of how much the swami claims that it isn’t dualistic nor how much mysticism he claims it isn’t) and part filling gaps, aka the limits of what we may know so far about consciousness which is expanding yearly regardless. He’s got the same problems he accuses all religions of having and one could easily change his name to Tony Robbins, Werner Erhard, JZ Knight, L Ron Hubbard, Ayn Rand, and on and on…

          But that was only the intro and you beseech me to scroll on…I have already in other arenas.

          “The main thing to be noted is, you will need to look into your internal world, your mind using your own analytical methods or the ones mentioned by the Sages of yore – otherwise this just remains a theory.”

          It’s not a theory. It’s an argument from authority and from antiquity. But he seems as well meant as you do. Good luck.

          • Well, dear friend. Honestly I dont know what the theory of Cartesian dualism is :), is it yet another theory logically ascertaining things? Its easy to trip because this area under study is first the mind and then beyond it. We cannot remain within the mind/intellect realm and still see how it works, I can understand the difficulty about this as we are not used to dealing with something beyond the mind and it’s reasoning.

            I was only suggesting if you can venture into yourself when the mind doesnt operate, I have done this and the findings about my own self has widened out of the limited person with a body-mind perception – for one thing it cannot be put into words or described because there is nothing in the objective world to which the experience can be compared.

            I noticed it being mentioned in one or more of the articles here that consciousness is a function of a chemical reaction that takes place with the brain as it’s focal point. Well, my own findings were the reverse, the mind exists even without the body and there is even a state where even the mind doesnt exist.

            Anyway if somehow you dont get it, its alright. I can understand how the intellect stands in the way, I have been in the same place years back.

  • I am currently reading the book now. I don’t think Lanza is really trying to tell us that physics is flat out.

    All he is saying is that in order for us to continue our understanding of the Universe we are going to have to accept that the conscious observer is simply an entangled part of that reality. He doesn’t speak using new-age, religious, or spiritual pseudo science.

    I think people get the sense that he is blowing off physics and that’s not what I am getting from it. Quantum physics has shown us that the observer can effect outcome. There is “spooky action at a distance” and we need deeper understanding of physics and that of consciousness to put the entire thing together. And not from a mystical perspective but from a neuroscientific empirical perspective on what the brain and what being conscious actually means.

  • Science can only explain “how”. It cannot explain “why”.

    • Captain Mandrake

      Rudra,

      Science can only explain “how”. It cannot explain “why”.

      And your implication being religion answers the “why”. But “how” the hell do you know whether or not the answer given by religion is correct? You see, we too can play games with words like “why” and “how”.

      Anyway, “Science can only explain “how”. It cannot explain “why”” is a statement routinely made by religious apologists. There are some nice responses in the comments trail in here (http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/1792-science-can-answer-how-questions-but-only-religion-can-answer-why-questions) to this ridiculous statement. Please read those comments. You might learn something.

      • Did I say religion answers ‘why’? Did I even make a case for religion? You are reading too much into a simple statement. I find it funny that so-called “rationalists” like you label everyone as “Religious apologists”. I do not care what you call me, the thing is you are as much a victim of your fundamentalist thought, as a religious fanatic trying to prove his way to be the true one. Before asking me to learn, you got to unlearn some stuff buddy.

        Science can only explain a certain phenomena, an event, a happening in a certain way but it lacks the discipline to explain

        • Captain Mandrake

          Rudra,

          Science can only explain a certain phenomena, an event, a happening in a certain way but it lacks the discipline to explain

          Is there some other entity/institution that has the discipline to explain what ever is that you think science lacks the discipline to explain? If so what is that entity/institution?

          Please answer these two questions.

          • Captain,

            It is the nature of science to tell how things happen, it can tell how the genes mutate, manipulate themselves, how the virus attack our immune system, causing us to fall sick. We all stand firm on the surface of the Earth, because of the gravity. Science explains this very well, but why is it in the nature of gravity to attract atoms, particles and objects? Science can tell us how and when the “Big Bang” happened that resulted in the creation of Universe but it does not tell you why did the event even happen. I think our approach and our understanding of Universe and Life is still in its infancy and our science is primitive still, modern only in comparison to our past understanding of it. I am not alluding a super powerful authority, entity or institution, I am just saying that science is still handicapped by the “why”. Years into the distant future when we can actually answer the “whys”, our understanding of the natural phenomena would have gone one or several notches up.

          • Captain Mandrake

            Rudra,

            Glad to know that you are not alluding to supernatural authority. Cos that would have been stupid.

            Anyway, some of the why questions make no sense. For example, “Why does gravity work the way it works?” is a meaningless question if the word “Why” in that question meant the samething as the word “Why” in “Why did the chicken cross the road?”. The infancy of science has nothing to do with the lack of answer to the first “Why” question. It has more to do with the inability of some people to frame a meaningful question.

          • “For example, “Why does gravity work the way it works?” is a meaningless question if the word “Why” in that question meant the samething as the word “Why” in “Why did the chicken cross the road?”.”

            Captain, you have used the chicken analogy incorrectly. The chickens may or may not cross the road, given myriad circumstances but the gravity will “act” the same way in each and every circumstance i.e. to be an attracting and a binding force.

            “The infancy of science has nothing to do with the lack of answer to the first “Why” question.”

            It does.

            “It has more to do with the inability of some people to frame a meaningful question.”

            A religious apologist will perhaps say the same thing, when asked about why and what and how of God. :)

  • Well, the fact is absorption spectra are information we get as humans from a system. Of course, regular patterns of behaviour (which we can perceive as absorption, here) are already observed at “non-living” levels. But it is the visual area in our brain that allows us to see color. In the process, meaning was generated, which allows us to read this screen, understand this words or enjoy a work of art.By creating meaning, the universe is creating itself,or rather sculpting itself, as a layer of fuzzyness is peeled-down from it. Nobody is saying things come out of the blue, Lanza himself denies that in his book, explicitly. The same could be said about time, even though it’s impossible (by definition) to imag-ine what it would be like at, say, the physical level of reality (as in physical->chemical->biological->psycological, as in hyerarchy theory), which is what you claim to do through you understanding of physics, and not what Lanza avoids doing.

  • kandavar mindathilae, mindavur kandathilae – this is a tamil quote of shaiva siddhantha, let me translate – “those who have seen will not speak, those who speak have not seen”
    What if there are other sense which our body is not equipped which can comprehend other realities? if there is a whole intelligent species who are blind, how can you explain seeing, light colour? What exists?
    Even if there is one well documented history of reincarnation, ESP, Telekinises, science should give a proper explanation. Fact that it cannot, does not show what we study in colleges as wrong, but that there other higher realms which we still haven’t studied well.
    Bitter arguments such as these shows even such intellectuals have concreted their intellect to what they know-that is against science itself.
    Others in the past have also attempted to answer such questions – kashmiri saivism is one example.

  • One thing I don’t understand . Why do all think that we are nor our universe is a finished product . It’s all an on going process . We are in the throes of change, ever changing conundrum . What we are , our conscience , consciousness , the physics , the sciences etc are all transitory . Like in cellular mathematics one event lead to another, one relationship lead to another in simple elementary iterative steps over long periods of time ( say billions of years ) to become complexities . Again these complexities interact with one another to create further relationships or to reduce existing relationships or to modify, de- modify , randomize and so on in endless chains, at random spontaneously. We need bother about , (maximum of 100 to 200 years from the time we are born), the conditions according to which we live our life without any guarantee of perpetuity for even of the laws of nature. Within this brief conscious life – span enjoy life.
    Quantum science says that the future can shape the present and the past too!. If there is a modicum of truth in that , then no one need worry about anything al all!

    • Anything discernible by Physical senses falls under the category of subjectivity .
      Objective reality can only lie in the realm of”awareness” ,ie, that which transcends palpability via physical senses.

      Let me try to amplify my statements by some examples (as metaphors ).

      For example, Atom understood as a continuous “quantum wave function” ( probability wave function ) via our “awareness” and not visualized in terms of discrete particles (which we can sense with our senses or sensing physical devices) is a more fundamental reality than it’s particle imagery.

      Measurable material particles are subjective or, imaginary as they are the products or constructs of our mind and situation ( ie, state of motion ) . Those that are NOT material particles which have no physical existence fall under the category of objective reality.

      To show another example, The “numbers” on the number line are objective realities while the “number line” itself is a human construct and subjective . The sequencing of numbers on the number line, the four arithmetical operatives viz, addition , subtraction, multiplication and division etc are subjective realities. They have no fundamental objectivity .

      Therefore it follows that relationships that could be expressed in terms of these numbers or in terms of a combination of numbers with these operatives have no real objectivity , they are subjective and not fundamental realities..

      In other words , Any measurable, quantifiable entities has no reality or has only subjective reality .

      Doesn’t it follow therefore, that those “unquantifiable qualities ” have more objectivity than subjectivity ? . Qualities like “awareness” , “concepts”, that exist a priori which are discernible by our pure mind ( not fed by our senses ) ie that fall within our awareness, are the only entities that could fall under the category of objective reality .

      As yet another example from mathematics , entities such as “imaginary numbers” , (square root of minus one) , transcendental numbers such as “pie” ,”e”, etc are more objective than subjective although to express them approximately for our use, we employ subjective real numbers.

      In terms of the above, continuous “processes” ( probability wave functions , uncertainties, chaos , quantum entanglement etc ) , are more real than discrete “finished products” ( like material particles or objects ) which precipitate ( or crystallize ) occasionally as a result of these energy-processes which are in continuous operation.

      Concepts such as “Possibilities” , “potentials”, “probabilities”,”uncertainties”, “chaos”( as in the theory of chaos in maths ) , “quantum vacuum energy” , “mathematical logic” etc which are used as modeling tools are more real than the real number system or the subjective ( which implies imaginary ) universe visible to our senses itself .

      Objective Reality remains transcendental to our senses and only remain approachable via our “awareness” only which is the realm of ” cosmic consciousness ” .

      These aspects of reality ( ie it’s objective and it’s subjective aspects ) will be more clearly brought out when we study ” Life ” ( a continuous entity involving the study of mind as distinct from matter ), by Biologists and Life scientists employing brand new paradigms peeling off from the confines of the paradigms that physicists employ now to reduce everything to particle sizes or digitizing even continuous entities.

      ( By the way, massless ” particle ” is an oxymoron that post Einstenian physicists are compelled to live with . When I say ” mind ” it is not the brain neuron activity generated by our physical brain cells that I mean . The physical brain and neurons are ( like the optic nerves in our eyes that are for receiving light waves) , just bio- instruments for receiving waves of cosmic consciousness which are spewing out continuously in cosmos .
      To mistake that our physical brain is what generates our awareness of cosmic consciousness is like mistaking that it’s purr eyes that is creating light for us to see.
      Cosmic consciousness is not an emergent phenomenon but it’s the most fundamental entity that creates the illusion of matter ( or space and time that accompany matter to enable the temporal and spacial extension of matter in our mind ), which is a highly subjective entity.
      Why this duality? Where is it’s origin ?
      Our physical “mind” is like a glass triangular prism ( of Newton ) that splits the white radiance of light into a colorful spectrum. Our awareness is roughly similar to holding a second prism inversely adjacent to the first one that unites the colored spectrum to retrieve the white light in all it’s unified glory . “Mind” , in this example is the analyser ,a splitter of reality to it’s “subbjective smithereens” and “awareness” is the synthesizer that straightens it all out back to it’s objective wholeness .

      It’s wonderful and great that humans are endowed with such a spectral view of the universe which might not be what’s given to microbes or other life- forms like plants and animals, fish and birds ,and insects for instance .

      Are we blessed because of that ?
      Yes we are , provided we don’t confuse between subjective and objective realities .
      We should keep our mind open but not so open that our awareness falls off and gets lost )

      .

  • There is ‘frequency soup’ (aka the cosmos),
    and there is ‘consciousness’.

    Which came first ? That is a chicken and egg sort of question.
    They coexist.

    I think what Lanza, and others, are trying to say is : Without consciousness, there is only ‘frequency soup’, i.e. what we think is the world ‘out there’ is, in fact a product of our perceptual apparatus. Biocentrism is in its infancy as a theory. It’s no more ridiculous than the Big Bang theory, or anything else. There’s actually a comforting elegance to it.

    Let’s give it a chance and not throw out the baby (consciousness) with the bathwater
    (frequency soup). There’s more bathwater where that came from . . .

    • “I think what Lanza, and others, are trying to say is : Without consciousness, there is only ‘frequency soup’”

      What they are trying to say is the same thing as the purloined Anthropic Principle (which was a bastardization itself), that the cosmos is designed specifically to have us, humanoids, exist to recognized that it, the cosmos, exists. It’s Chopra’s spiritual version of Christian Creationism, which is now called Intelligent Design.

  • Thank you for this interesting post. I am not a scientist and found it hard going, but think it is a great comfort to live in a universe which is fundamentally indifferent to my existence. Once people disengage themselves from their teddy-bear God, they should realise what immense freedom there is in being alive.

    • I’m not sure what freedom there can possibly be in the materialist world. According to Daniel Dennett and those who believe in the brain as simply a computer made of meat, we don’t even have free will. It is an illusion. What “freedom” can there be with no free will?

      In any case, I wonder where your God comment comes from. Biocentrism does not address the issue of a “God” at all.

      • “Biocentrism does not address the issue of a “God” at all.”

        Very true. Deepak Chopra does not believe in a “god” or any deity. He believes in spirituality.

        “What “freedom” can there be with no free will?”
        The freedom to “believe” in free will maybe?

        The language to conceptualize something that is counter intuitive, especially to a species such as ourselves that has evolved using our intuitive abilities so very well to survive, has always been a problem for the scientific community. It always ends up with “The Big Bang” or “The God Particle” as inaccurate metaphors.

        • I actually read Dr. Lanza’s book. Deepak Chopra may like some of what he has to say, but it is not his theory. I wouldn’t have described the book as “spiritual.” In fact, Dr. Lanza indicates in the book that there is no free will. I know Deepak doesn’t agree with that.

          • I can highly recommend “War Of The World Views- Where Science and Spirituality Meet-And Do Not” which is more of a point and counter point between physicist Leonard Mlodinow and Deepak Chopra. It gives a better insight into what Chopra professes to believe. Chopra, being such a prolific writer and speaker, has this ability to attract science oriented individuals, who when listening to Chopra’s inanity, like Mlodinow who offered to teach him some basic physics and is the basis for this book, and attach himself to them giving him the appearance of being more credible than he actually deserves.

  • Thanks for this. Not being a scientist, some if it was a tough a read, but I tried.

    Having a bit of an existential crisis, I’ve been reading a lot about the nature of reality lately. Something about materialism feels quite accurate. It lands with a dreadful, horrible thud, but it does make sense.

    On the other hand, I also cannot help but observe how incredibly limited we are. We are sensory animals and our observable truths are bound to those senses. I am of the mind that there could possibly be something to the “hard problem” of consciousness. Maybe not. But maybe so. I am amazed, really, that anyone can for certain feel there is nothing that cannot be known by a materialist world view. After all, if there was, how would we know? [Perhaps this makes the effort to think about it fruitless, but not stupid.]

    What does seem interesting about Dr. Lanza’s thoughts, to me, is the reminder that everything we believe about the world is ultimately our perceptions. And who knows how or if we ought to trust those?

    • “I am amazed, really, that anyone can for certain feel there is nothing that cannot be known by a materialist world view.”

      I’m confused by your double negative. Are you saying that there are things that can “only be known” through a non-materialistc world view? Or are you saying that “everything” can be known through a materialistic world view?

      • I’m saying that I don’t understand how a person could be certain that there is nothing beyond what we can observe.

        Maybe things are just as they seem (we are meat computers, and we die). Maybe not. I have no idea and I am always confused if anyone feels sure they do.

        • “I’m saying that I don’t understand how a person could be certain that there is nothing beyond what we can observe.”

          Me too. But that is subjective and not all individuals claiming to rely (as opposed to “believe”) on the materialistic world view are equal.

          Now all you need to do is define “observe” in context.

        • I’m not certain that there is nothing beyond what we can observe. Nobody from the scientific community is certain of that. However, we only believe in what we *can* observe, and are certain of.

          We believe things are exactly as they seem, unless proven otherwise, with the burden of proof on those making the contrary claim (that things are not as they seem). We’re not ‘sure’ about our views, but the combined experience of scientists and philosophers over many centuries makes it very unlikely that we’re completely wrong. However, we’re always open to new evidence to the contrary (evidence, not theories).

          If someone believes there is surely more to the world that can be perceived by humans, let them prove it.

    • “I also cannot help but observe how incredibly limited we are. We are sensory animals and our observable truths are bound to those senses. I am of the mind that there could possibly be something to the “hard problem” of consciousness.”

      Yes, I think that you are on the right track. The problem with materialism is that it cherry picks which kinds of sensory experiences are deemed to be fundamentally real (X) and then presumes to classify all sensory experiences which fall outside of that range to be f(X). f = epiphenomena, illusions, interpretations, emergent properties, or ‘information’, all of which rely on precisely the kind of metaphysical handwaving which materialism supposedly seeks to expose. Dualism is reborn as a material machine which is phenomenal and real, causally closed and requiring nothing whatsoever non-physical, which nonetheless requires a never-never land of unexplained qualia to stand in for the very data which is already being processed effectively by the physical mechanism. This unlikely detour into a never-never land of private non-physics is the Explanatory Gap, but the Hard Problem is even more fundamental. The question is not how and where this detour takes place, but why is it there in the first place, since materialism already defines itself as being necessary and sufficient to explain all phenomena (…except any of the phenomena which we actually experience first hand).

      “I am amazed, really, that anyone can for certain feel there is nothing that cannot be known by a materialist world view.”

      I used to have the materialist worldview. It’s not very hard to conceptualize, but you really have to take all forms of experience for granted from the start. We spend a lot of time in front of computers these days so that the idea of a pattern on a video screen representing an electronic process, or some data in memory, is a natural way to think of consciousness. The problem is that the computer does not need a video screen, we do. There is no advantage to having any kind of aesthetic experience in a computer and indeed, the entire utility of computation rests on its anesthetic universal automation – digital is a medium which maximizes versatility by reducing all phenomena to generic sequences. Digital is an encoding system which need never be decoded, and never would be were it not for the aesthetic agendas of natural participants (such as human users).

      • ” I am of the mind that there could possibly be something to the “hard problem” of consciousness.””

        And there are those that argue that the hard problem of consciousness itself is illusory, and that you cannot be dualistic with the hard problem and the soft. Of course critics of that view protest that this ignores the importance of subjectivity, which it does. Which it must because subjectivity is not a mechanism.

        • Dr. Vinod Kumar Wadhawan seems to be a particle physicist . He would never ever conceive of a universe without matter .For particle physicists matter is the most fundamental phenomena .The rest are all emergent phenomena .They will never accept that matter is an emergent phenomena , and, “awareness” ( or in modern terminology “information” ) is the fundamental phenomena. Even quarks configure themselves into atoms according to the influence of “information” ( whatever that be and wherever it gathers that from ) .For particle physicists the root “cause” of everything including the continuous space-time fabric is matter .They try to dissect and digitize cosmic continuities including light waves into photon particles and space-time distortions ( gravity ) into gravitons.

          Life is a quantum phenomena and creation of matter tough to manifest in our material dimensions , life needs matter just as light ,to manifest it can do through reflection from matter .But that does not make continuous light-energy same as discrete matter particles. its convenient to “explain” some phenomena like photoelectric effecr if we think of light as “quantum particles” or packets of a minimum possible energy content .But with that concept you cant explain the phenomena of ” interference patterns ” for which we have to accept that light is a wave .

          if matter is everything , particle physicists even with the help of bio-sciences have not so far been able to create a single isolated cell “quickened” with life ,from raw inorganic chemical materials although they have been trying hard — harder than they were trying to create Higgs particle.

          But would they learn their lessons ? would they make a paradigm shift in their concepts and thinking ? Sadly, no. However fast you run without wings to give you lift , you cannot fly . Particile physicists have gained a lot , covered a lot of ground but they cannot hope to cover the whole of cosmic field without changing their methods, paradigms and maths . They keep beating the dead horse of particle physics which has reached its limits and cannot deal with more fundamental phenomena as, “life” or life-energy which is radically different from matter-based energies .

          There are more things in cosmos than just matter which after all is a minor component of cosmos as the particle physicists were forced to accept .New maths, newer units of measurements , newer metaphors to understand , newer paradigms are needed to tackle the much more fundamental “life -energy “.

          The old version of “elan vital” suggested by the French philosopher Henri Bergson in 1907 need to be taken out,brushed up qnd given new life preferably by BIO-SCIENTISTS without trusting the project into the hands of material physicists .

          Serious attempts by scientists on fresh concepts where matter is not considered the fundamental entity is afoot .I quote from a research paper .
          “A more recent work entitled Explaining Consciousness, the Hard Problem, which is a series of papers by various renowned authors edited by Jonathan Shear and published by MIT Press, contains a treatise entitled Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness written by Daniel J. Chalmers. Chalmers and a number of other contemporary physicists have concluded that more broadly than mathematics, information in general is the fundamental element comprising reality as we perceive it. In his paper Chalmers states: “Wheeler (1990) has suggested that information is fundamental to the physics of the universe. According to this ‘it from bit’ doctrine, the laws of physics can be cast in terms of information, postulating different states that gave rise to different issues without actually saying what those states are. It is only their position in an information space that counts.”

          then again, here is a picture

          For more go through

          Bill Duncan (Bill Duncan is currently Director Information Systems at Boeing Aircraft & Missile Systems in St. Louis),concludes thus his paper .

          I quote

          “The similarity of processes which appear to underpin our perceived universe is apparent from microcosm to macrocosm. If, as so many are beginning to say, information is indeed the fundamental “element” in our universe”,unquote and , mind you “information” is not a material entity .

          The basic building blocks of matter is NOT quarks, atoms or strings or superstrings , but it is “information” content in continuously vibrating energy manifesting in blobs of matter in a material universe .The existence of “information” is in the plane of “awareness” and is independent of “matter” .Its a’priori to matter .

          THIS IS NO MORE METAPHYSICS OR EASTERN MYSTICISM , ITS HARDCORE SCIENCE , BUT NOT MATERIAL SCIENCE BUT “LIFE-SCIENCE”.

          • I’ll work backwards…

            “mind you “information” is not a material entity”

            This is a dualistic notion, same as DAVID J. CHALMERS (I’m not sure who you are referring to with DANIEL J. CHALMERS unless your mixing you people like DANIEL DENNET with DAVID CHALMERS, and Chalmers is a philosopher and not a physicist, like you do your metaphors) who also does not have an answer for the hard problem of consciousness but a hypothesis. But your approach to Duncan and Chalmers are an appeal to authority, dropping quotes, as opposed to positing an argument, which they actually do in their writings. There are plenty of plus/minus arguments about Chalmers. I’ll not drop a quote but make reference to a good book about the correlation between the materialistic universe and information called “Decoding The Universe” by Charles Seife.

            Here are a few of your comments which are gobble goop:

            “harder than they were trying to create Higgs particle.”
            Physicist were trying to find a particle which would help solve part of the answer of how matter becomes such. They are not alchemists.

            “life” or life-energy which is radically different from matter-based energies”

            and

            “Life is a quantum phenomena and creation of matter tough to manifest in our material dimensions , life needs matter just as light ,to manifest it can do through reflection from matter”

            Both worthy of Deepak Chopra’s random noise.

            You are more than welcome to fill your personal gaps with unprovable declarations. But stop pretending that what you believe has anything to do with a mechanism.

          • Hey Isuzu, lets say that the basic building blocks of matter are in the domain of sound that is crafted into words which then get strung to form phrase and verse. We can then say that countless copies of quarks, atoms, molecules, objects and beings are nothing but vowels, consonants, words, phrases, verse, beats, miss beats and music all consisting of information in the medium of sound that we finally poetically and surprisingly term as the uni-verse itself, irrespectively or otherwise. Because this makes more sense to me than the Higgs particle and would still make more sense to me even if it does get to be found.

          • Hey Johh,
            “…even if it does get to be found.”

            The Higgs particle was tentatively confirmed to exist on March 14, 2013. That’s only took 40 years between the time of it’s initial theoretical proposal and the ability to create something like the particle accelerator at CERN to prove it it does. It will take a few more years to recalibrate the machine to more accurately figure out what it’s field is.

            LOL, I understand the tendency for using a metaphor, like words and sentences, vowels and consonants, to describe its behavior because it’s really a difficult concept to grasp. And perhaps that’s why it was miss named The God Particle, because it’s a mechanism for why things work.

            dadster was calling for a whole new paradigm in scientific thinking, where science includes subjective mysticism. But that’s really not so new because that’s just the old way of thinking, about explaining something that doesn’t yet have an explanation, and assigning to it some subjective biases like God. And I think he just likes the word paradigm. New ways of thinking in science happen, but they don’t throw out everything and start over like dadster suggests. Rather it sits on the shoulders of the thinking that came before and adds or subtracts ideas and information. That’s my metaphor. And you don’t have to relinquish a sense of beauty if you can appreciate the wonder.

          • “I’ll work backwards…

            “mind you “information” is not a material entity”

            This is a dualistic notion…”

            No, it isn’t (under any interpretation of dualism). It would be dualistic to say matter and information are to incommensurable entities. The statement you quote is one that could be reformulated as saying that matter is an emergent property of certain informational systems as our universe. It’s not a dualistic view, but the opposite, it’s entirely up to you to confuse exact opposites, which is ironic given that you pretend to throw dualism on the table.

          • Leo
            This is a dualistic notion…”

            “No, it isn’t (under any interpretation of dualism). It would be dualistic to say matter and information are to incommensurable entities. The statement you quote is one that could be reformulated as saying that matter is an emergent property of certain informational systems as our universe. It’s not a dualistic view, but the opposite, it’s entirely up to you to confuse exact opposites, which is ironic given that you pretend to throw dualism on the table.”

            I did not quote any statements about dualism in that thread. I did mock some of the things dadster said as nonsense. dadster made the comment that “mind you, information is not a material entity” which separates information from the material it comes from and that is dualism and not the opposite as you claim.

            dualism |ˈd(y)o͞oəˌlizəm|
            noun
            1 the division of something conceptually into two opposed or contrasted aspects, or the state of being so divided: a dualism between man and nature.
            • Philosophy a theory or system of thought that regards a domain of reality in terms of two independent principles, esp. mind and matter (Cartesian dualism). Compare with idealism, materialism, and monism.
            • the religious doctrine that the universe contains opposed powers of good and evil, esp. seen as balanced equals.
            • in Christian theology, the heresy that in the incarnate Christ there were two coexisting persons, human and divine.
            2 the quality or condition of being dual; duality.

            incommensurable |ˌinkəˈmensərəbəl, -SHər-|
            adjective
            1 not able to be judged by the same standard as something; having no common standard of measurement: the two types of science are incommensurable.
            2 Mathematics (of numbers) in a ratio that cannot be expressed as a ratio of integers.
            • irrational.

  • Hopeless Case

    There seems to be lots of misunderstanding in this article. To simplify it, here are several points:

    Our brain sees different “colors” (blue, red,…), however electromagnetic spectrum does not contain any true color, e.g. it is only a ‘wave’ with different frequency. Our brain interprets certain wavelenghts as “color”. How do we know that colors outside of our brain really exists? True, we can measure different shades of the same Color, but Color outside of our brains doesn’t exist. There are no colors and no black or white.

    Same with temperature, it is only slower or faster “movement of molecules”. We can measure this movement with thermometer, however, temperature outside of our brains doesn’t exist. There is no hot or cold.

    What about time? True, we can measure Time with our watches. But does it really exist? We only live at the present moment. Past doesn’t exist (it is only our brain memory), and future doesn’t exist (only in our brain imagination). Remove memory and imagination, and all you are left with is present moment. According to clock, we lived in the past and we might live in the future, however, in reality we only live at the present moment no matter what our watches say. We always live at present moment, there is no future and no past. There is no time, only our brain perceives time as real.

    Just because we can measure something (color, temperature, lenght, time,…) with great precision, it doesn’t really mean that it exists in objective reality (i.e. outside of our brains). These measurements are true, however they are only valid in our subjective reality crated by our brains. These things don’t exist outside of our brains.

    Based on the above, our brains construct totally different reality than it might exist around us. Even better, there might not be any World – outside of our brains. We just don’t know, what we perceive and “see” in our brains may not be real.

    How can we really be sure that electromagnetic waves, kinetic energy of molecules, and something that represents changes of “time” exists in objective reality? How can we be sure that these are not “creations” of our brains as well? We just can’t, all that we perceive as real is a misconstruct of our brains.

    Consciousness. Everything that we perceive as our life is contained in our consciousness. The amount of pleasure or pain is reflected in our consciousness. We “see” those colors in our consciousness, we feel the hot or cold in it. We can smell and taste, I can be aware of danger, and all this is reflected in consciousness. But how can we measure it scientifically? How do we measure pain, pleasure, desire or disgust that are clearly reflected in our consciousness? We can’t. Science cannot measure these things, but at the same time it cannot claim that they don’t exist. These things are real, perhaps more real than matter, time and space itself, yet science has no clue how to measure them without using meters, kilograms or seconds. Those are old tools, from past centuries, new tools are needed to confront reality, essence of our existence…

    Furthermore, we can seporate consciousness – from ourselves. I can feel “my hand” and I can say “I have a hand”. But my hand is not me, it is only reflected in my consciousness. I can say that my heart is beating – but it is not really part of “me” – with medical technology I can live without it. With little bit of fantasy and medical advances, I can say that I don’t need “my body”, rather my whole body is only reflected in my consciousness. Similarly with thoughts – I have many thoughts, memories, imaginations but they are seporated from my consciousness. I have feelings, desires, will, pains and pleasures, awarness of different things – but they are not part of “me”, they are seporated. Consciousness only reflects all of these, the same way as it reflect “colors” or “heat”.

    So when I say “I am”, everybody knows exactly what I mean, everybody can say the same. But what does that mean? It means that all that I perceive as “me”, that is my personality, memories, thoughts, pains, my bodily parts and so on is only reflected in consciousness. Yet we can go further than that. What is “me”, what is “I”? Of course you know exactly what does it mean when you say “I”. But can you be sure that “I” is not another misconstruction of your brain? You can seporate “I” from consciousness as well, the same way as you seporate all the above. And without “you” all there is left is consciousness…

    Consciousness is real, it is part of us and we are part of it, it reflects all that we perceive as our being. The only question left is, how can science measure consciousness – without good old meters, kilograms and seconds…

    • its all a matter of “scale”.at certain scales ocean waves does not exist .Our world surface is a as smooth as a glass marble , looking from the moon.if you travel on the tip of a ray of light at the speed of light , time ceases to exist . You can travel from earth to Andromeda galaxy in zero time.Since “time” does not exist for you ,it follows that space too has vanished .whats left can be called anything you want to call it; call it “Cosmic Consciousness”, “Quantum Vacuum Energy” or what you will.

      As for “measurement”, science has so far come up with the means of measuring “quantifiable” material objects and not non-quantifiable qualities . For quantifying anything that entity needs to be digitalis-ed , ie, dissected into pieces or, must lend itself to be dissected into discontinuities.Matter as we conceived it has this property of discontinuity ,or discreteness whereas emotions , feelings,space-time continuum , even electromagnetic waves are continuities and hence for the purpose of measurement by our instruments or measuring devices they need to be discretized or quantized like they did with light ( which propogate as continuous waves) into discrete packets of energy ( like bullets or matter=particles but without mass ). But then they had to accept the new phenomena of duality which means that light is to be considered both as a particle as well as a waves ( self contradictory in itself as per old material science) .They called light as “wavicles”. But they needed two different types of instrumentation to measure these qualities of light .They cant measure both these features with the same set of instruments . In fact, before they measure they had to decide which property they want to measure and set up their instruments accordingly, as they couldn’t measure both the qualities simultaneously .
      This necessitated the need to accept that measurement involves “intention of the observer “thus throwing “objectivity” in scientific observations out of the window ,ushering in dreaded “subjectivity” into the sacred space of scientific measurement, for all time to come.In the process of scientific measurement, the”Observer” ( or the intention of the observer ) played as important a role as the “observed” and the “process of observation”, thus classic science had to accept that material science is absolutely subjective.

      Moreover , quantum science which is the basis of all phenomena was forced to accept as a result of experimental evidences that causality is no more valid as “spontaneity ” is , which meant that fundamental events happen on observable and measurable universe without it having to have any “cause” or “reason” but “spontaneously ” enough .The whole universe as we know it today was created out of spontaneous quantum fluctuations that occurred at random in “quantum vacuum energy”.

      This made material scientists to accept that complexities arise out of repeated iterations of simplicities , that opposites like continuities and discontinuities can co- exist without contradictions bringing the new concept of “simplexities” into fashion in hard core science.

      The point being made is that hard core science has woken up to the fact that “reality” ( whatever that is ) , is not what could be objectively “measured” but there is much more to it .In fact dark energy matters more than palpably measurable matter itself.

      A word more about “measurement” . For measuring anything first that need to be quantifiable ( or digitalis-able),at least artificially .Then one has to set up “units of measurement” like, for example, for measuring the quality of “electricity” ( charge,volts , ohms,watt hours etc ) and, for measuring magnetism ( Tesla, Weber etc ) . Next step could be to conceptualize measurement-environments as ” energy fields “( such as “electric field and magnetic fields etc), which were not needed to measure kinetic energy or potential energy of matter particles in just limited material digitized environments .To measure cosmic space-time fabric itself material scientists had to invent “frames of reference’ and invent / develop new mathematics , the maths of “tensors ” apart from Newtonian “calculus”.Then to cope with the “uncertainties” inherent in the quantum field they had to introduce “wave equations” ( such as Schrodinger’s “wave equations”the mathematics of probability waves ).

      The point that I am making is that now they have to invent new units of measurement, new new logic , new maths to express the observati0ns and findings of life-sciences and, for dealing with “mind” and “life” which is very much part of reality and cannot anymore be relegated to the field of meta science or meta physics where material scientists were keeping it so far .

      Time to develop Bio=science with a radical “paradigms shift” from those of the material scientists’, now dominated by particle-physicists.

      • “if you travel on the tip of a ray of light at the speed of light , time ceases to exist . You can travel from earth to Andromeda galaxy in zero time.Since “time” does not exist for you ,it follows that space too has vanished .whats left can be called anything you want to call it; call it “Cosmic Consciousness”, “Quantum Vacuum Energy” or what you will.”

        I’m not sure you’d call it anything because you’d have no mass, you’d be an insentient photon. You need to to have a physical brain to make that conflation or everything else you’ve written.

        • Subject: Re: There is a new comment to Biocentrism Demystified: A Response to Deepak Chopra and Robert Lanza’s Notion of a Conscious Universe

          Anything discernible by Physical senses falls under the category of subjectivity .
          Objective reality can only lie in the realm of”awareness” ,ie, that which transcends palpability via physical senses.

          Let me try to amplify my statements by some examples (as metaphors ).

          For example, Atom understood as a continuous  “quantum wave function” ( probability wave function )  via our “awareness” and not visualized in terms of discrete particles (which we can sense with our senses or sensing physical devices)  is a more fundamental reality than it’s particle imagery.  

          Measurable material particles are subjective  or, imaginary as they are  the products or constructs of our mind and situation ( ie, state of motion ) . Those that are  NOT material particles which have  no physical existence fall under the category of objective reality.

          To show another example, The “numbers” on the number line are objective realities while  the “number line” itself is a human construct and subjective . The sequencing of numbers on the number line, the four  arithmetical operatives viz, addition , subtraction, multiplication and division etc are subjective realities. They have no fundamental objectivity .

          Therefore it follows that relationships that could  be expressed in terms of these numbers or in terms of a combination of numbers with these operatives have no real objectivity , they are subjective and not fundamental realities..

          In other words , Any measurable, quantifiable entities has no reality or has only subjective reality .

          Doesn’t it follow therefore, that those “unquantifiable qualities ” have more objectivity than subjectivity ? . Qualities like “awareness” , “concepts”, that exist a priori which are discernible by our pure mind ( not fed by our  senses )  ie that fall within our awareness, are the only entities that could fall under the category of  objective reality .

          As yet another example from mathematics ,  entities such as  “imaginary numbers” , (square root of minus one) , transcendental numbers such as “pie” ,”e”, etc are more objective than subjective although to express them approximately for our use, we employ subjective real numbers.

          In terms of the above, continuous “processes” ( probability wave functions , uncertainties, chaos , quantum entanglement etc ) , are more real than discrete “finished products” ( like material particles or objects ) which  precipitate ( or crystallize )  occasionally as a result of these energy-processes which are in  continuous operation.    

          Concepts such as “Possibilities” , “potentials”, “probabilities”,”uncertainties”, “chaos”( as in the theory of chaos in maths ) , “quantum vacuum energy” , “mathematical logic”  etc which are used as modeling tools  are more real than the real number system or the subjective ( which implies imaginary ) universe visible to our senses  itself .

          Objective Reality remains transcendental to our senses and only remain approachable via our “awareness” only which is the realm of ” cosmic consciousness ” .

          These aspects of reality ( ie it’s objective and it’s subjective aspects ) will be more clearly brought out when we study ” Life ” ( a continuous entity involving the study of mind as distinct from matter  ), by Biologists and Life scientists employing brand new paradigms peeling off from the confines of the paradigms that physicists employ now to reduce everything to particle sizes or digitizing even continuous entities.

          ( By the way, massless ” particle ” is an oxymoron that post Einstenian physicists are compelled to live with . When I say ” mind ” it is not the brain neuron activity generated by our physical brain cells that I mean . The physical brain and neurons are ( like the optic nerves in our eyes that are for receiving light waves)  , just bio- instruments for receiving waves of cosmic consciousness which are spewing out continuously in cosmos .
          To mistake that our physical brain is what generates our awareness of cosmic consciousness is like mistaking that it’s purr eyes that is creating light for us to see.
          Cosmic consciousness is not an emergent phenomenon but it’s the most fundamental entity that creates the illusion of matter ( or space and time that accompany matter to enable the temporal and spacial extension of matter in our mind  ), which is a highly subjective entity.
          Why this duality? Where is it’s origin ?  
          Our physical “mind” is like a glass triangular prism ( of Newton ) that splits the white radiance of light into a colorful  spectrum. Our awareness is roughly similar to holding a second prism inversely adjacent to the first one that unites the colored spectrum to retrieve the white light in all it’s unified glory . “Mind” , in this example is the analyser ,a splitter  of reality to it’s “subbjective smithereens” and “awareness” is the synthesizer that straightens it all out back to it’s objective wholeness .

          It’s wonderful and great  that humans are endowed with such a spectral view of the universe which might not be what’s given to microbes or other life- forms like plants and animals, fish and birds ,and insects for instance .

          Are we blessed because of that ?
          Yes we are , provided we don’t confuse between subjective and objective realities .
          We should keep our mind open but not so open that our awareness falls off and gets lost ) .         

          • “Therefore it follows that…” no it does NOT. That is you being subjective about a false premise.

            “… provided we don’t confuse between subjective and objective realities.”

            Something you continue to conflate. You want to “transcend” materialism into quantum mysticism.

        • According to you , Joe, light waves don’t exist because to see light, you need matter ( reflection or refraction,polarization, interference etc etc ) . Ergo , according to your logic , “light is matter” . To be sentient about light you need a ” meat brain” . Ergo , according to you, light is brain or it’s material structure.
          Soft ware engineers need hardware to exhibit their software . Hence , according to you Joe, software is the same as hardware or product of hardware or emergent from hardware .
          It’s true that software programming might have to be modified or tailored to the limitations of the platform or hardware technology available but that doesn’t mean that software is emergent phenomena .
          Even before hardware originated software had emerged .it’s for the purpose of presenting software that hardware was designed .

          Hope you get the point . It’s for the presentation of certain aspects of information that ” meat brain ” took shape. But even then because the inherent limitations of matter all the cosmic information could not manifest .Perhaps “information ” is continuously trying to create new
          entities ( some of them even having nothing to do with matter or material ) that can help a fuller manifestation of “information” ( or, Cosmic Consciousness ) of which we are ,with our material
          meat brain , becoming ” aware ” of. Even now we are in the process of ” DEMATERIALISING ” all information contained in matter into ” cyber- realm” . Joe , I hope you can see the writing on the wall.
          Universe is NOT a product, but an on- going process and , what gets evidenced through matter is like the tip of an iceberg . Much lie underneath at quantum levels, where randomness , uncertainties, probabilities, superimposition of continuous ever vibrating wave frequencies and spontaneities rule , which at present we can at best represent with SQUIGGLY lines in Feynman Diagrams .

          • Captain Mandrake

            Dadster,

            According to you , Joe, light waves don’t exist because to see light, you need matter ( reflection or refraction,polarization, interference etc etc ) .

            What part of Joe’s post led you to that absurd conclusion?

          • “According to you , Joe, light waves don’t exist because to see light, you need matter ( reflection or refraction,polarization, interference etc etc )”

            I actually agree. Light waves do not exist independently of matter. Light is the visual presentation of matter’s sensitivity to itself across distance.

          • “According to you , Joe, light waves don’t exist because to see light, you need matter ( reflection or refraction,polarization, interference etc etc )”

            That’s not even close to what I wrote or responded to.

  • All that material physicists ( particle physicists ) need to realize that there is more to cosmos than just ordinary matter .

    here is the latest picture regarding Estimated distribution of matter and energy in the universe, today (top) and when the CMB was released (bottom)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:080998_Universe_Content_240.jpg

    Dark energy dominates cosmos and we and our material physicists were all concerned with 4 % of ordinary matter and think that every entity in cosmos could be reduced to ordinary matter and the the universe works on the rules of ordinary matter !

    Times have changed , science has transcended from the science of ordinary matter . Matter is no more considered as a fundamental entity of cosmos . Einstein , the doyen of material scientists though he literally kick started quantum science with its “spooky action at a distance” could not come to terms with it declaring ‘God Does not play dice” that every event follows from a previous cause and its furtue trajectory could be calculated when we collect all the necessary data which we would be able to do inevitably.one day.
    But then Richard Feynman in his exposition of Quantum Electro Dynamics truly rebut-ts Einstein by the words ” God not only plays dice, but hides it too at times” .

    here is another conclusion arrived at from the analysis of Cosmic Microwave Background radiation from which the age of the universe is calculated ;

    Here is what NASA says ,I quote
    “The cosmic microwave background is remarkably uniform over the entire sky, but tiny variations reveal the imprints of sound waves triggered by quantum fluctuations in the universe just moments after it was born. These imprints, appearing as splotches in the Planck map, are the seeds from which matter grew, forming stars and galaxies” unquote.

    For the fuller report on this aspect in Cosmos go to.
    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/21mar_cmb/.

    The point being made is that its time we invent new maths models to model cosmos not sticking to modelling it with ordinary “clay”..
    quantum fluctuations
    Science is set on a more adventurous journey into the depths of cosmos peeling itself off from dogmatic radicalism of beliefs rooted in “matter” and in matter-based energies.

    Life sciences where we have to deal with “consciousness’ and “awareness” which could be felt with our mind (structured in physical neurons ) just as light can be felt with our eyes only .

    But Material sciences has its limited fields of application just as Newton’s laws of motion has in terrestrial environments . But don’t be carried away by Newton’s gravitational theories when you travel in space or by his laws of motion when you measure the speed of electrons. Newton did not even know the existence of electrons .

    The material scientists though they have heard of mind, Life etc haven’t even started recognizing mind as anything to do with science because they cannot create emotions from sand particles . Life has been shunted into the realm of metaphysics because they haven’t been able to ignite matter with life-energy ; they cant generate life in the lab from matter although life manifests through matter and nature produces life prolifically every day .

    Hard core Material scientists will do well if they are not so dogmatic in their belief that matter is everything , the be all and end all of cosmos and everything can be explained and understood in terms of matter even after coming to know that matter constitutes a very insignificant component of cosmos, even in thei interpretation of their calculations .

    We cant understand cosmos from lab experiments or from LHC s. We have to step out into cosmos itself and start thinking afresh from the very beginning onwards, “a very good place to start “.

    • Which one of your mystic non-materialistic philosophers theorized, then came up with the mathematical equations for dark mater and dark energy? Oh,… wait,… it was those darn material particle physicists! “Oh, the hypocrisy.”

      “He was one of that countless and multifarious legion of vulgar persons, sickly abortions and half-educated petty tyrants who like a flash attach themselves to the current ideas that are most fashionable in order, again like a flash,to vulgarize them, caricaturing the very cause they seek to serve, sometimes with great genuineness.”
      ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

  • Cloud-Nine

    I agree to many points expressed by Robert Lanza, leave alone he has not come out with scientific Proofs to substantiate most of his claims. But many of his expressions goes perfectly Logical. In my opinion, that which can not be proved Scientifically can only be concluded Logically or felt experientially. We are left with no other options.

    Let me put a basic question to those opposing Robert Lanza’s Theories:

    The Object world in Reality is not the same subjective world we experience. For example take a Rose. In reality a Rose is nothing but a conglomerations of sub atomic particles like Quarks, leptons, muons, bosons etc. But, why should the Brain do the gimmick of creating a Rose like appearance to us, instead of showing it as original Subatomic particles?

    This very well proves that whatever we perceive is nothing but a Simulation, which is nothing but Maya. The simulation occurs inside the 6″ skull, using the Hardware and Software of the Brain. If the Objects that we perceive are only simulation, like a movie, will space and Time be independent of the simulation? Naturally all the contents of our perception and understanding must be purely an imagined reality including Space and Time. This includes our own physical body and brain, which are also imagined. So space and Time can not be logically an independent existential criteria outside the subjective realm where all simulations occur.

  • Cloud-Nine

    A Research Paper appeared in a Scientific Journal :

    Stars, other Bodies, Particle displacement and thinking emit Torsion (Heat) Waves our Brain interprets as Reality

    http://gsjournal.net/Science-Journals/Essays/View/4842

    http://gsjournal.net/Science-Journals/Research%20Papers-Mind%20and%20Consciousness/Download/4842

    • Cloud-nine
      “…a Scientific Journal”

      Torsion Wave and Field Theory was debunked back in 1991 in it’s country of origin, Russia, as a fraud making scam making false and unverifiable claims which could not be reproduced. Like many pseudo sciences it still receives funding from gullible people, mostly in Bangkok, which is offering phony medical services based on this nonsense which deals from everything from homoeopathy to anti gravity.

      Anyone on the internet can cal themselves a “scientific journal”, publish countless articles about anything without any peer review, or worse, create a false peer review from criteria they establish themselves without having any credibility.

      From Wiki:
      “Despite the fact that several contradictions have been identified in the basic postulates of these theories[9] (as have several statements that are considered nonsensical by mainstream science[9]), torsion field theory has been embraced by some as the scientific explanation of homeopathy, telepathy, telekinesis, levitation, clairvoyance, ESP, and other paranormal phenomena.[10] The harnessing of torsion fields has been claimed to make everything possible from miracle cure devices (including devices that cure alcohol addiction[11]) to working perpetual motion machines, stargates,[12] UFO propulsion analogs, and weapons of mass destruction( WMDs).[13] Some such devices, in particular the miracle cure boxes, have been patented.”

      • Vinod Wadhawan

        Gentlemen, I apologise for not being able to join the discussion. I am making a presentation of my views here, and shall disappear (!) after that. You are welcome to discuss what I am going to say here, but please do not feel offended if I do not respond.

        1. I hope we all agree that our information about facts is incomplete, and will always remain so, at least in the foreseeable future.

        2. The only reality that makes sense to me is what Stephen Hawking calls ‘model-dependent reality’ (MDR).

        3. Other uses of the word ‘reality’ (other than MDR) imply ‘absolute reality’. If you disagree with this statement, please try defining ‘absolute reality’ in a logical way, using words which mean the same thing to everybody. My belief is that you will not be able to do that, and that means that MDR is all you have for discussion purposes.

        4. Naturally, there can be many models of reality. So which of the MDRs is the right one, and who will decide that? In view of (1) above, this is a hopeless situation, and that is why I avoid getting into philosophical discussions.

        5. At any time in human history, there are more humans favouring a particular MDR over other MDRs. Let us call it the majority MDR (MMDR).

        6. An MMDR may well prove to be wrong when we humans acquire more information; from then we have a new MMDR, till even that gets demolished.

        7. I believe that materialism is a better MDR than its opposite (called idealism, subjectivism, or whatever). For more on this, please read my article at http://nirmukta.com/2011/06/19/stephen-hawkings-grand-design-for-us/. Here is an excerpt from that article:

        ‘ There are several umbrella words like ‘consciousness’, ‘reality’, etc., which have never been defined rigorously and unambiguously. H&M argue that we can only have ‘model-dependent reality’, and that any other notion of reality is meaningless.

        Does an object exist when we are not viewing it? Suppose there are two opposite models or theories for answering this question (and indeed there are!). Which model of ‘reality’ is better? Naturally the one which is simpler and more successful in terms of its predicted consequences. If a model makes my head spin and entangles me in a web of crazy complications and contradictory conclusions, I would rather stay away from it. This is where materialism wins hands down. The materialistic model is that the object exists even when nobody is observing it. This model is far more successful in explaining ‘reality’ than the opposite model. And we can do no better than build models of whatever there is understand and explain.

        In fact, we adopt this approach in science all the time. There is no point in going into the question of what is absolute and unique ‘reality’. There can only be a model-dependent reality. We can only build models and theories, and we accept those which are most successful in explaining what we humans observe collectively. I said ‘most successful’. Quantum mechanics is an example of what that means. In spite of being so crazily counter-intuitive, it is the most successful and the most repeatedly tested theory ever propounded. I challenge the creationists and their ilk to come with an alternative and more successful model of ‘reality’ than that provided by quantum mechanics. (I mention quantum mechanics here because the origin of the universe, like every other natural phenomenon, was/is governed by the laws of quantum mechanics. The origin of the universe was a quantum event.)

        A model is a good model if: it is elegant; it contains few arbitrary or adjustable parameters; it agrees with and explains all the existing observations; and it makes detailed and falsifiable predictions.’

        • “Other uses of the word ‘reality’ (other than MDR) imply ‘absolute reality’. If you disagree with this statement, please try defining ‘absolute reality’ in a logical way,”

          Absolute reality is the capacity for perceptual participation, aka, sensory-motor presentation, aka qua(lia-nta). That is the bare-metal prerequisite for all forms of order or matter, subject or object. Not only metaphysics but meta-ontology. The cosmos is not something which is, the cosmos actually invents “is” by “seeming not to merely seem”.

          Please try defining ‘model’ a way that does not assume some form of sensory presentation and participation. What is a model except a sensory experience which seems to refer our minds to another?

          While I agree that no participant within a given experience has an absolute perspective of that experience, I disagree that the MDR is a solipsistic ‘model’ which is generated locally. The fact that we recognize the relativism of perceptual inertial frames (PIF = my term for MDR) is itself a clue that the deeper reality is this very capacity for relativism of perspective. Although the relativism itself may be the only final commonality among all perspectives, that commonality is not a tabula rasa. We can say things about this ‘common sense’ – things which have to do with contrasts and inverted symmetry, with proximity and intensity, relationship, identity, and division. These principles are beneath all forms and functions, all sensations and ideas, substances and patterns, and through them, we can infer more elusive fundamentals. Pattern recognition which is beyond pattern. Gestalt habits which are beyond mereology or cardinality…higher octaves of simplicity. Trans-rational, non-quantitative properties.

          All mechanisms and all physics rely on a root expectation of sanity and continuity – of causality and memory, position, recursive enumeration, input/output, etc. If you are going to get rid of absolute reality, then you have to explain the emergence of the first MDR – what is modeling? Why does the universe model itself rather than simply ‘be’ what it is?

          My solution is to accept that this assumed ‘modeling’ is physics itself, and that physics is experienced-embodied relativity. In the absolute sense, matter a special case of a more general (non-human) perception or sense. Not a continuum or a ZPE vacuum flux, but ordinary readiness to experience private sensory affects and produce (intentionally or not) public facing motor effects. What the universe uses to model is not a mathematical abstraction floating in a vacuum, but a concrete participatory phenomena, which we know as human beings to be sensory-motor participation. Not everything is alive biologically, but everything that seems to us to exist naturally as matter probably has a panexperiential interaction associated with it on some level of description. It’s about turning the field-force model inside out, turning away from the de-personalized objectivity of the last few centuries and toward a realization of personal involvement in genuine presentations (customized and filtered though they may be) rather than assembled representations.

          The MMDR should not embrace materialism or idealism by default because one seems simpler than the other. We should accept only a solution which honors the full spectrum of possible experiences in the cosmos, from the most empirically public to the most esoterically private. This does not mean weighting the ravings of one lunatic the same as a law of gravity, but rather acknowledging that if there is a lunatic, then the universe is in some sense potentially crazy also, and within that crazy is something even more interesting and universal than gravity…an agenda for aesthetic proliferation… a Multisense Realism.

          Illusion is a meaningless term in science as far as I can see. Illusion is about an experience failing to meet expectations of consistency across perceptual frames (models)…except that we know that inconsistency is likely the only such consistency, beyond the root common sense. Whatever illusions we experience as people are not necessarily absent on other levels of inspection. Quantum illusions, classical illusions, biological illusions, etc. Every instrument relies on conditions which create their own confirmation bias, including the human mind. We should not, however, make the mistake of allowing non-human, inanimate instruments tell us what our reality is. They can’t see our consciousness in the first place, remember? Our human equipment is not as sensitive in detecting public phenomena, we cannot see more than a small range of E-M, etc, but neither is a gas spectrometer sensitive in detecting human privacy.

          We see that when we adopt the frame of mechanism, idealism seems pathologically naive and if we adopt the frame of mechanism, idealism seems pathologically cynical. This should be regarded along the lines of the double-slit test: evidence that our assumptions are not the whole story, and to seek a deeper unity than mechanistic or idealistic appearances.

          • “…and if we adopt the frame of mechanism, idealism seems pathologically cynical. ”

            “Strike that, reverse it.” – William Wonka

            I meant to write “if we adopt the frame of idealism, mechanism seems pathologically cynical.”.

          • …please try defining ‘absolute reality’ in a logical way…

            “Absolute reality is the capacity for perceptual participation, aka, sensory-motor presentation, aka qua(lia-nta). That is the bare-metal prerequisite for all forms of order or matter, subject or object. Not only metaphysics but meta-ontology. The cosmos is not something which is, the cosmos actually invents “is” by “seeming not to merely seem”.”

            Mission NOT accomplished. Also you speak of “consciousness” as if the reader agreed on what that is. False premise.

            “We should accept only a solution which honors the full spectrum of possible experiences in the cosmos, from the most empirically public to the most esoterically private.”
            Subjective speculation especially since there is no way in hell to define “the most esoterically private”.

          • When I admonished “Mission NOT accomplished” I was referring to Mr. Wadhawan’s request of…”please try defining ‘absolute reality’ in a logical way, using words which mean the same thing to everybody” that in my view you did not even come close to doing in your response to what you believed to be absolute reality.

            “esoteric and private…”
            “Why would it need to be defined any more than that? Particularly in the context that I put it in, as the counterpoint to ‘empirically public’, it should be understandable that I’m talking about all phenomena in the universe – even that which we cannot understand within ourselves, is part of the universe – is physics.”

            Because that is just blatantly NOT true in YOUR context because you have lumped the physics of observation and prediction in with subjective conjecture.

            “…on semantic details to quibble over”

            Exactly Mr. Wadhawan’s original point. Everything has model dependent reality and you picked one that you believe to be the correct one, the best on one, or the majority model dependent reality in YOUR context. But your context depends upon your interpretation of the meaning of your words, which rely upon your premise, which I disagree with.

            As far as consciousness is concerned,

            “Is there any other way to use a word than as if the reader agreed on what it is? Why would that constitute a false premise?”

            even though we have gained exponential understanding in how the material brain functions in it’s relationship to consciousness, we are no where close to defining or agreeing upon it’s meaning it as you have assumed in your statement.

            “The cosmos is not something which is, the cosmos actually invents “is” by “seeming not to merely seem”.

            What the hell does that mean?

            “things which have to do with contrasts and inverted symmetry, with proximity and intensity, relationship, identity, and division. These principles are beneath all forms and functions, all sensations and ideas, substances and patterns, and through them, we can infer more elusive fundamentals”

            What the hell does this mean? What principles? What’s the mechanism? Because it came out of your mind you can infer “elusive fundamentals” of what? Gibberish.

        • ‘ There are several umbrella words like ‘consciousness’, ‘reality’, etc., which have never been defined rigorously and unambiguously.- No need really for any strict, unambiguos definition.By the time you “define” it, you’ve already lost it.The underlying idea behind any “model” is to predict the behaviour of a system under a set of circumstances. Direct consciousness is not interested in modelling or forming patterns. It simply exists.

          ‘There is no point in going into the question of what is absolute and unique ‘reality’. There can only be a model-dependent reality. We can only build models and theories, and we accept those which are most successful in explaining what we humans observe collectively.’- Why collective observations only? Humans evolved in groups for survival purposes, not for any special discovery.Firstly, it is conceptualization of experiences that leads to any “collective” observations. No observation really is collective. When you invent a model to describe and define it, only then that becomes a collective observation or whatever else we may want to call it. So every model will essentially pick out the commonalities but at the same time leave out the peculiarities that accompany individual observations.Otherwise its ability to predict will be compromised.So fundamentally any model is looking at common patterns and screening out outliers.Consciousness consists of outliers, inliers and everything else in between and can hence not be defined. SO what? Truth, defined or undefined, exists with us and our models very much implicit into it.

      • Thanks for your Enlightening Reply!

  • “Mission NOT accomplished.”

    Can you be more specific. This is where you have the opportunity to show that you are actually considering my response rather than rejecting it out of unscientific sentiment.

    I would also appreciate a response to my request:

    Please try defining ‘model’ a way that does not assume some form of sensory presentation and participation.

    “Subjective speculation especially since there is no way in hell to define “the most esoterically private”.”

    Why would it need to be defined any more than that? Particularly in the context that I put it in, as the counterpoint to ’empirically public’, it should be understandable that I’m talking about all phenomena in the universe – even that which we cannot understand within ourselves, is part of the universe – is physics.

    “Also you speak of “consciousness” as if the reader agreed on what that is. False premise. ”

    Is there any other way to use a word than as if the reader agreed on what it is? Why would that constitute a false premise? I have presented a lot of significant ir at least unusual ideas in my comment, yet you are focusing only on semantic details to quibble over. Why is that? What if we skipped the debating formalism and just discussed the common sense truth of physics and consciousness?

  • “Can you be more specific. This is where you have the opportunity to show that you are actually considering my response rather than rejecting it out of unscientific sentiment. ”

    Sure, finally a decent request, but give me a day or so because I got busy.

    • “When I admonished “Mission NOT accomplished” I was referring to Mr. Wadhawan’s request of…”please try defining ‘absolute reality’ in a logical way, using words which mean the same thing to everybody” that in my view you did not even come close to doing in your response to what you believed to be absolute reality. ”

      What specifically was not logical or used words which do not mean the same thing to everybody? I don’t think that the concept of ‘words that mean the same thing to everybody’ is even viable, certainly not in a scientific sense. Logical though, is viable… so what did I say in defining absolute reality as the capacity for sensory perception and motor participation is illogical?

      “Because that is just blatantly NOT true in YOUR context because you have lumped the physics of observation and prediction in with subjective conjecture. ”

      If I lump them together, it’s because the universe lumps them together never separates them in the first place. This is how we can communicate and think using a brain. This is how metaphor works, bridging private experiences and public experiences. That the two are separate is a sentimental, down-Rev assumption as far as I can see. Prediction and observation are nothing but sensory experiences which can be applied to other sensory experiences.

      “But your context depends upon your interpretation of the meaning of your words, which rely upon your premise, which I disagree with. ”

      You aren’t addressing my premise at all though, you are disqualifying my method of expressing it. If you disagree with my premise I would be interested in discussing what your disagree with. Can ‘models’ exist without a sensory presentation? Why would they? Why would physics develop any kind of aesthetic experience?

      “we are no where close to defining or agreeing upon it’s meaning it as you have assumed in your statement.”

      My statement was about words, not the brain. We can communicate because words have the versatility to accommodate both precise, literal definitions and ranges of figurative usage. This is relevant to consciousness itself, so that insistence upon a the most literal usage actually contaminates the explanation. It frames the discussion in an ideologically loaded way, i.e. it under-signifies subjectivity – which is the source of figurative understanding.

      >>“The cosmos is not something which is, the cosmos actually invents “is” by “seeming not to merely seem”.

      “What the hell does that mean?”

      It means that you are assuming that realism is fundamental and experience is derived from that. In my understanding, that isn’t possible. The realism of public observation is relative to modes of perception and measurement. What we observe is basically ‘past’ – a fixed, lowest entropy version of what is, from an absolute perspective, not only high entropy, but a capacity to discern between high from low entropy, to receive signals by eliding (removing) the entropy and project motive action by exporting it. The universe is an ocean of experience, and experiences look like forms and functions from a distance.

      >>“things which have to do with contrasts and inverted symmetry, with proximity and intensity, relationship, identity, and division. These principles are beneath all forms and functions, all sensations and ideas, substances and patterns, and through them, we can infer more elusive fundamentals”

      “What the hell does this mean? What principles?”

      The principles that I listed: contrasts and inverted symmetry, proximity and intensity, relationship, identity, and division…

      ” What’s the mechanism? ”
      Why would there be a mechanism? Mechanism supervenes on these principles, but the principles are the fabric of ontology – they have no mechanism, they make mechanism.

      Because it came out of your mind you can infer “elusive fundamentals” of what? Gibberish.”

      Fundamentals of physics and subjectivity. Gibberish can go both ways. If something doesn’t make sense to you, it could be that you aren’t ready or willing to understand what is being said. This is all part of what I’m talking about – dispelling this antiquated assumption of objectivity as fundamental. It begins with being curious enough about what is true to look through the other person’s view for a while and question your own.

  • You do realise that by subscribing to this particular brand of methaysical direct, though representational, realism, you fall pry to exactly the same issues your critising.

  • science must be befuddled by the fact of consciousnes, which is totally apart from energy, and therefore matter itself. conscious must have come first, as energy and matter, by scientific definition, cannot be eternal.

    • Science as a methodology has to have the ability to build upon existing knowledge by adding new and better information and reassigning values. If it can’t be adjusted, it’s not science. Scientists may for a while be befuddled, as opposed to “science” itself, but that’s the exciting part of asking the question “why” opposite to assigning an assumption through ignorance.
      You say consciousness is totally apart from energy. All you need to do now is have a definition of consciousness that everyone can agree upon (which hasn’t happened yet), define what YOU mean by energy, what the source of the energy is, and why it doesn’t have matter.

      “by scientific definition, cannot be eternal”

      It seems you abuse many words’ meaning.

      • “All you need to do now is have a definition of consciousness that everyone can agree upon (which hasn’t happened yet)”

        This is a fallacy. We don’t have to have a definition of breathing that everyone can agree upon to be able to approach it scientifically. Do plants breathe? does breathing happen to an animal, or to their lungs, or cells, or molecules? Linguistic formalism is not an argument against a physical phenomenon.

        ” that’s the exciting part of asking the question “why” opposite to assigning an assumption through ignorance”

        Ignorance can also take the form of discarding an ordinary fact because it seems to disagree with successful theories. The simple reality of participating directly in one’s own life consciously, in feeling something simple like pain or pleasure, is incomprehensible to physics, which tries to disqualify the fact with extraordinary prejudice. What is meant be ‘force’, or ‘charge’ – surely what these words are no less exotic, vague, and metaphysicsl than ‘consciousness’.

        • “This is a fallacy. We don’t have to have a definition of breathing that everyone can agree upon to be able to approach it scientifically.”

          It’s not fallacious because the writer had already offered a subjective judgement that consciousness is apart from energy. I was asking in the writer to justify their statement in context to the writers own standard by offering an empirical qualifier other than “because I say it is”. The writer was not, as you suggested, approaching it with the purpose of finding an answer with a methodology. The writer was offering a conclusion. I was challenging the writer to show how they came to it.

          Force and Charge are not exotic, vague nor mystical. They can be completely qualified in context with math.

          • I’m not disagreeing with your asking the writer to justify their statement, I’m disagreeing that this justification requires the writer to come up with a “definition of consciousness that everyone can agree upon”. The two things are unrelated.

            “The writer was not, as you suggested, approaching it with the purpose of finding an answer with a methodology”

            I didn’t suggest anything about the writer at all. I’m suggesting that linguistic formalism is irrelevant to understanding nature scientifically.

            “Force and Charge are not exotic, vague nor mystical. They can be completely qualified in context with math.”

            But math is not qualified in any other context except its own. To assert ‘charge’ is no less mystical than to assert ‘spirit’. Where did charge come from? What is it made out of? How does it regulate itself? To me, the idea that disembodied ‘forces’ and ‘charges’ haunt the emptiness of an unconscious universe is profoundly mysterious and makes no sense other than as a mathematical abstraction.

          • multisenserealism

            “The two things are unrelated” I agree. One is science and one isn’t.

            “But math is not qualified in any other context except its own”

            Not sure about that. I’ll have to ponder what you’ve said. But it certainly can be appreciated in trying to find a unified theory of everything. Spiritualists try to use a subjective, unqualified, argument from ignorance to explain something, that for now, they wouldn’t even be arguing about except for the math.

  • I find none of the recent post here even so much as comprehensible so lets get down to basics, like, for instance how come the moon has not crashed on to the earth and the earth together with the other planets etc. not crashed on to the Sun, when gravity is all about the force of attraction that is as a result of the curvature of space so then what is the force of repulsion other than the so called centripetal force that was once believed to be what countered the force of gravity but now never ever mentioned as as gravity is due to the curvature of space it is presumably also a repulsive force for other wise all heavenly bodies would be crashing on to themselves and each other.

    • Captain Mandrake

      Tokh,

      I find none of the recent post here even so much as comprehensible so lets get down to basics, like, for instance how come the moon has not crashed on to the earth and the earth together with the other planets etc. not crashed on to the Sun

      Unfortunately that is the only part of your post that is comprehensible. The rest of the post is difficult to follow. I understand that you talk about gravity, centripetal force and curvature of space, but what is not clear is the specific issue you are raising in your post.

      Anyway if you are wondering why is that moon does not crash into the earth or why doesn’t earth crashed into the sun then you can find the answer in high school text books (probably around 9 or 10 grade level). Thanks to the internet you can also find it here on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYiS9ObD3u4 ).

      Now if your question is about the way earth’a motion is explained then yes there are two ways to explain it.

      1) Motion of earth around the sun can be explained by centripetal force (gravity in this case) keeping the earth in a orbit around the sun. This is similar to the centripetal force supplied by you on a ball that you are spinning with a thread attached to it.

      2) Motion of earth can also be explained in a different way. The mass of the sun curves the spacetime. And earth travel in a straight line in that curved spacetime. This write-up (http://einstein.stanford.edu/content/education/lithos/litho-spacetime.pdf ) explains how and why this explanation came about.

      Now what really is your question? Can you be more specific? Also please explain why are you raising this question in the comment thread in an article debunking the notion of a conscious universe?

      • Captain Oh My Captain,
        you’re much more patient than I in this instance.
        Great response.

        • Silly footnote,
          “how come the moon has not crashed on to the earth”
          Because it’s moving away.
          Gravitational coupling between the Moon and the tidal bulge nearest the Moon acts as a torque on the Earth’s rotation, draining angular momentum and rotational kinetic energy from the Earth’s spin. In turn, angular momentum is added to the Moon’s orbit, accelerating it, which lifts the Moon into a higher orbit with a longer period. As a result, the distance between the Earth and Moon is increasing, and the Earth’s spin slowing down.
          In fewer words: it is the tides.

          Edit: I am copying from a comment:

          To show the right sign, one must show that the orbital angular momentum of the Moon actually increases with the radius – despite the decreasing velocity as the function of the radius For a 1/r potential, mv2∝m/r says v∝1/r√, so the angular momentum L=rp=mrv=mr/r√∝r√ which increases with r. – Luboš Motl
          In addition I found this better link by googling.

        • Captain Mandrake

          Thanks Joe. These science doubters and pseudoscience peddlers give one an opportunity to brush up on simple scientific concepts. I should thank them as well.

          I enjoy your posts as well.

      • Capt mandrake and Joe, together you seem to gang up to become the sole apostles of science .
        But, scientific minds are supposed to be open and not dogmatic in their blind faith , not even that faith is in the completeness of material science itself . What others here are telling is to open up minds to the existence of energies that transcends matter that have significant influence on matter and in shaping the defining characteristics of material entities . Like the Goedel’s incompleteness theorem , you cannot explain everything happening to matter or of every event within material horizons by resorting to materialism only or by remaining within the region of matter only or , rather without transcending into regions that lie beyond matter. These energies might not be quantifiable and measurable or even observable by human instruments , devices but only fall into the abstract region of their ” awareness ” and it’s really a blissful experience to ” feel ” the power of it . These energies in cosmos ( different from individual universes nd collective multiverses ) is what’s termed as
        ” Cosmic Consciousness “. Our “awareness”. is a subset of this postulated “Cosmic Consciousness ” and it’s because of that, that we become aware of such transcendental energies . Materialists who remain closed in like nuns in their cloisters will never get that feeling of transcendental bliss . Material Science is valid within matter- related transactions like a correction to two decimals are valid for a banker , but here we are talking of Consciousness which is not an emergent phenomena as materialists want to believe it. Materialists have so far not been able to create a single live cell from raw matter ( or raw inorganic chemicals ) . Today Quantum science points into directions that transcends pure matter . The higher material science climbs up the more loose- ends they are finding many of them they couldn’t tie up without approximations (a’la bankers ) . Feynman’s Diagrams have quiggly lines which cannot be straightened up . The logic of Biology or life sciences still remain outside physics and chemistry or mathematics, despite the best efforts of physicists who try to explain by quantizing continuities but continuities remain as continuities and operates without getting descretized . It’s time for human- kind to step out of the paradigmns of physical sciences and seek out new ways of thinking to get into grips with the continuities of Conscioisness that refuses to be confined
        to desecrate matter . Perhaps physics is finding it hard to consider Cosmic Consciousness as the fundamental entity out of which desecrate matter coagulates or emerges .

        • Captain Mandrake

          Dadster,

          There is no conspiracy against your pet claim about cosmic consciousness. All you have to do is provide verifiable evidence to back up your claim. Your blissful experience or your word salad definitions do not count as verifiable evidence. If and when you have something more than that the scientific community might take you seriously. Till then people like you should just be publicly mocked and shamed.

          • “Your blissful experience or your word salad definitions do not count as verifiable evidence”

            Can you prove that any kind of experience can ever count as verifiable evidence? Verifying evidence is nothing more than corroborating a particular experience with other experiences, it does not necessarily apply to the experiential capacity itself. You are not considering the phenomenon of consciousness objectively or scientifically – you have an expectation of what constitutes evidence which is rooted in the inspection of material forms and functions. That expectation is actually misguided since consciousness is the aesthetic appreciation of forms and the participation in functions.

            “Till then people like you should just be publicly mocked and shamed.”

            Is your vision of mocking and shaming as a part of scientific discourse limited to mere verbal lashings or will it be necessary, do you think, to escalate this tradition to a homoerotic-fraternal kind of hazing? Maybe if we can humiliate enough people who disagree with us, then nobody else will speak up and we can be ‘right’ forever!

          • Captain Mandrake

            Verifying evidence is nothing more than corroborating a particular experience with other experiences, it does not necessarily apply to the experiential capacity itself.

            Not sure what you mean by “it does not necessarily apply to the experiential capacity itself.” Please explain.

            For the record, no one is questioning whether Dadster has the capacity to experience. He is a sentient being with a brain. So yes he has the capacity to experience.

            To make thing clear let me restate what scientific community expects from you if you are to be taken seriously. If you are proposing that a cosmic consciousness exists then you will have to provide verifiable evidence for its existence.

            consciousness is the aesthetic appreciation of forms and the participation in functions.

            Such word salad definitions does nothing to convince us of the existence of this cosmic consciousness.

            Is your vision of mocking and shaming as a part of scientific discourse limited to mere verbal lashings or will it be necessary, do you think, to escalate this tradition to a homoerotic-fraternal kind of hazing?

            It is funny how you insist on making evidence-free propositions and still think that you are taking part in a scientific discourse. You are no different from creationists and intelligent design clowns. You should expect to be mocked.

          • “Not sure what you mean by “it does not necessarily apply to the experiential capacity itself.” Please explain”

            I mean that “evidence” is about satisfying an expectation within consciousness – that some mental proposition should be made evident to the senses; to be brought into awareness in some publicly accessible sensory context. There is no other evidence beyond that. This means that insisting that consciousness as a whole be treated as if it were a phenomenon within consciousness is a failed premise. It’s like trying to put North into a compass.

            “Such word salad definitions does nothing to convince us of the existence of this cosmic consciousness.”

            The point is that if you understand what consciousness is, then you will understand that it is not a form or a function. The existence of awareness on a cosmic scale is only something that we have to deduce for ourselves, not because it’s mysterious or profound but because consciousness is ontologically defined by direct participation. It’s the reason that you can’t simply explain what blue looks like to someone who is blind.

            Once you understand these details about consciousness, it makes no more sense that awareness could emerge from some particular function or at some special level of complexity. It also makes sense, once you stop taking consciousness for granted, that nothing can actually ‘exist’ in any way without some experience of detection – again, if it could, then everything would, and we could not have this conversation.

            “You are no different from creationists and intelligent design clowns. You should expect to be mocked.”

            I would love to see a neuroscientist try to pick out your fMRI from a group of fMRIs intelligent design clowns and creationist fundamentalists. Care to place any bets?

          • Captain Mandrake

            No one doubts consciousness exists or that it is mysterious. Consciousness is something that your brain does. The discussion was about cosmic consciousness.

            The existence of awareness on a cosmic scale is only something that we have to deduce for ourselves, not because it’s mysterious or profound but because consciousness is ontologically defined by direct participation

            After all that BS you now admit you do not have any evidence for this cosmic consciousness. All I see is an attempt at more word salads to define it into existence. Sorry, not acceptable.

          • Captain Mandrake

            No one doubts consciousness exists or that it is mysterious.

            Meant to say there is nothing mysterious about consciousness. Apologize for the confusion.

          • “No one doubts consciousness exists or that it is mysterious. Consciousness is something that your brain does. The discussion was about cosmic consciousness.”

            If consciousness was something that your brain does then we would not be having this conversation. Your brain does a lot of things, produce and metabolize neurotransmitters, generate electric current – all functional behaviors of forms on various scales. None of these, nor all of these put together are consciousness. In the same way, what we see of the cosmos from our scale and perspective when we look outside of our bodies is not consciousness. Cosmic consciousness is simply the existence of sense in the first place – the capacity for anything to feel like something, to be somewhere, to identify any phenomenon and to imitate it or respond to it sensibly. The evidence for this is everywhere. The only place that it is not is to your cognitive sense when you configure your knowledge in a particular way which makes it appear that the universe could be senseless. That is a powerful perspective, and has done a lot of good for civilization, but it fails spectacularly when applied to consciousness/sense/awareness/cosmos itself.

            “After all that BS you now admit you do not have any evidence for this cosmic consciousness. All I see is an attempt at more word salads to define it into existence. Sorry, not acceptable.”

            That’s not what I said. I DO have evidence for an Absolute inertial frame of awareness – it is evident to me. I cannot export my understanding to you however because you are projecting powerfully hostile biases against it. This doesn’t work. It doesn’t bother me, I understand completely. I would have reacted the same way only a few years ago had I heard someone yammering on about absolute inertial frames of self-nesting sensory-motor relativity. All that I said is that if you want to progress to this understanding, you will have to change your mind first, because it is only within your mind, your personal awareness, that any kind of understanding of consciousness, local or universal, is possible. Again – not because its maaagic, but because privacy is actually the root of publicity. You’ve got it switched around the wrong way (as does all of Western science). It’s like one of those ambiguous images. All I can do is to explain to you that the vase in the middle is not the only image that’s there, there are also two faces in profile flanking the vase, but you have to stop looking at the vase to see them. Many people like yourself, who are very knowledgeable and talented in left brain STEM disciplines and steeped in Western conditioning are not neurologically capable of doing this. It’s not your fault. You might be able to see the other side if you experimented with meditation, psychedelics, or have a brain trauma, etc. Your lens is so clear that you won’t know its there until it cracks. It’s up to you. Remain in your cognitive Kansas and harvest the wheat of the status quo, or invite the cyclone and have a look at Oz.

          • My dear Captain, This sixteenth century tactics ( ie, threatening with public ridicule or worse for want of countering with rational reasons ), was exactly what happened to Galileo Galilei, who was made to recant truth and still was placed under house arrest .
            Dogmatists like you people with closed mindset who masquerade as scientists still walk among us in 21 st century too and have not learnt from experiences over ages.
            You ask your heroes, the physical scientists to create life , or even a single live cell , from raw inorganic chemicals in their labs and tell me when that happens and, then you people might be taken a little more seriously .

            Till then at least learn to keep your mind open and watch how consciousness and even basic ‘Life” is explained in ways other than it being emergent from matter .

            Many hard core real physical scientists have come across phenomena such as”Quantum Entanglement ” which cannot be explained in any physical way.And they , being real scientific minded people , have not closed their minds to understanding what “life energy” is all about . A type of energy which was once called “elan vital” hypothesized by French philosopher Henri Bergson in his 1907 giving an explanation for evolution and development of organisms, which Bergson linked closely with consciousness.
            Since material science had not developed to its present stage when it has, by encountering quantum field , met with strange phenomena that transcends normal material universe such as messages being transmitted instantaneously ( speedier than light speed ) , therefore Bergson’s ” philosophy had powerful detractors at that time .
            Since then lots of research papers have come out on Consciousness .which if you are a scientist of any denomination might like to go though , if not done already .One that immediately comes to my mind is,
            Doug Renselle’s Research Review
            of
            David Bohm’s 1980 Paper
            The Enfolding-Unfolding Universe and Consciousness
            in
            Chapter 3
            of
            Lee Nichol’s
            The Essential David Bohm

            http://www.quantonics.com/Bohm_EUUaC_Research_Review.html

            If you have the time ,convenience, patience ,and have a scientific mind, your reading this and other David B ohm’s books might help you to open up your clogged mind .

            And, it will help you further to read research papers , indicated by the Austrian born American Physicist , Fritjof Capra in his book “The Tao of Physics “.
            A time has arrived that in whichever way material science turns now it meets with “mysticism” , through mathematical formalism : I quote a few quotes from Capra.
            “If physics leads us today to a world view which is essentially mystical, it returns, in a way, to its beginning, 2,500 years ago. … This time, however, it is not only based on intuition, but also on experiments of great precision and sophistication, and on a rigorous and consistent mathematical formalism.”
            ― Fritjof Capra

            “Subatomic particles do not exist but rather show ‘tendencies to exist’, and atomic events do not occur with certainty at definite times and in definite ways, but rather show ‘tendencies to occur’.”
            ― Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics

            Science stands at cross roads today . “Scientists, therefore, are responsible for their research, not only intellectually but also morally. This responsibility has become an important issue in many of today’s sciences, but especially so in physics, in which the results of quantum mechanics and relativity theory have opened up two very different paths for physicists to pursue. They may lead us – to put it in extreme terms – to the Buddha or to the Bomb, and it is up to each of us to decide which path to take. ”
            ― Fritjof Capra, The Turning Point: Science, Society, And The Rising Culture

            So dear Captain , learn to keep your mind open to the exciting possibilities that’s coming up and read up more on post Newtonian and post Einstenian science of matter without getting stuck with whatever you had been learning.

            By the way, its not the role of science to find answers ( that’s for religion which has answers to everything ). Its the bounden duty and aim of science to ask questions and never to be satisfied with what might appear as answers that get thrown up occasionally . Even the questions are questioned in science .

            Personally, I am past that age to do active science in labs , but the next lot of scientists are doing it and coming up with phenomena not explainable by material relationships alone ,they are becoming “aware’ of “awareness ” or consciousness itself and attempting to explain Consciousness not with matter but by consciousness itself as a fundamental entity .

            But whats the use , if you mulishly stick with certainties , discreteness and with the outdated principle of causation refusing to look beyond , “out of the box”, to strive , to seek and to find ?

            There are plenty of authentic resources available on the net, if you are willing to learn about the exciting events happening in the field of science ( NOT NECESSARILY IN THE FIELD OF MATERIAL SCIENCE ALONE , BUT OUT THERE IN BIO-SCIENCE AND IN LIFE SCIENCES ALSO ), in which consciousness as a fundamental entity is actively and vigorously researched .

            Renowned theoretical physicist Lee Smolin’s 190 pages book , “Trouble With Physics” ( copy righted 2006 ), throws valuable insight into the fundamental nature of Consciousness’ . He boldly confesses up front in his preface itself , i quote, ” the story I will tell could be read by some as a tragedy . To put it bluntly–and to give away the punch line — we have failed .”
            After going through the development of material science from the past to the present he concludes his preface with the words “The truth lies in a direction that requires a radical rethinking of our basic ideas about space, time and the quantum field” Unquote.

            I will stop for now by this quote from Dr.Stuart Hameroff MD, in his “Overview: Could Life And Consciousness Be Related To The Fundamental Quantum Nature Of The Universe?”
            “Many view the idea of quantum consciousness as unlikely. But I view it as a “speck on the horizon”, a paradigm that will eventually dominate our view of brain, mind and reality. It is the only approach which seems capable of tying everything together”.

            Try to update yourself on Science , captain, and then come back .

            dadster.

          • Author: Captain Mandrake
            > Comment:
            > No one doubts consciousness exists or that it is mysterious. Consciousness is something that your brain does. The discussion was about cosmic consciousness.

            Response from dadster.
            ————————
            Captain, We are indeed discussing about Cosmic Consciousness only . What our psychologists like Freud deal with is the mind with reference to individual minds . The consciousness corresponding to that concept is consciousness in a lower dimension .

            CC, Cosmic Consciousness ( the word “consciousness” seems to cause the mix up ) , that we are talking of is dimensionally different from just human mind.CC is the universal mind encompassing a different concept impelling the very sentience of all animals,plants, microbes and of all sentient living beings in their infinite variety . The other consciousness of the psychologists is the anthropomorphise variance of CC. Perhaps, the term , “Cosmic awareness ” might be a better term to indicate what we discuss .

            Till now hard core material scientists were basing their reasoning on Newtonian causality principles viz, a one-to-one relationship between cause and effect ; meaning , for one particular cause there could be only one and only one particular effect and vice verse .But with the advent of Quantum Electrodynamics , this was one of the beliefs that has been conclusively upset. For a particular effect there could be a utterly different causes and, for a particular cause there could be umpteen number of different effects . In other words this one-to-one correspondence between cause and effect ceases to exist.
            To make that point clear by an easy example from economics : it’s like the causes and reasons how a rich man became rich . Another person in the same circumstances might have become rich by the same amount, through acting exactly the opposite manner than that the other one or by an entirely different way. Verily there are infinite routes from point A to point B making superimposition possible in information transmissions.

            A second belief to fall is that there has to be a cause or a reason for an event to occur. This condition is neither mandated nor obtained in quantum field.Events can occur spontaneously without cause or reason unexpectedly , unpredictably or effects could be placed on hold or in limbo, till observation- time comes. Or, events could be made to happen by constant, consistent and continuous observation ; or, in other words the very act of observation can make events to occur . These postulations are supported by the mathematics of indeterminate chaos theories too besides through observations themselves and, to boot, to a high degree of accuracy. Quantum science is the most successful theory that science has produced so far.

            A third sacred theory to fall was that information cannot be transmitted at super luminal speeds and that the speed of light is the upper ceiling limit of message-passing speeds . In experimental observations of quantum science this principle of the constancy of the speed of light has often been violated that constancy of speed of light has been modified to fit in this observed fact. In the phenomena of “quantum entanglement” ( which is put into practical applications in the design of quantum computers) , we come across situations where we have to stipulate “advance information waves” that travel instantaneously carrying information much faster than the stipulated constant velocity of light . The practical effect on the ground of this phenomena is that the future can influence the present and , by extension, can even change the past resulting in the occurrence of multiple universes !

            Another sacred principle of classic physics which had to be overthrown in quantum science is the principle of conservation of energy . In quantum events energy can be created and destroyed . The sacrosanct principle of entropy of thermodynamics does not hold good . Events / entities can self- organise and remain organised for ever like an electron for example which has no decay . Even proton decay is doubtful.Besides the big bang that created our universe was a quantum event which occurred spontaneously spurting out energy out of quantum vacuum .

            Yes, that is yet another strange but proven concept, ie the existence of vacuum energy . Cosmos is seething with dynamic ever vibrating energy. Quantum fluctuations in vacuum can create energies and can get immediately destroyed too . But occasionally spontaneously, unpredictably the energy burped out can create universes like that of ours for no rhyme or reason , absolutely randomly.

            And , so on and on .

            Where does Cosmic Consciousness come in
            —————————————-

            into all this ?
            —————-
            A good question.
            Firstly the finding that even human intentions can create events and even matter ( which is an event ) ; and, the fact that “intention” involves information, will , awareness it would mean that “matter”( which is a type of event ) , is after all a derivative of ” awareness ” ( consciousness ), created out of “awareness”at cosmic dimensions.

            And , this ” awareness ” though it might be a chaotic random type of awareness to begin with , resident in the energy of quantum vacuum when combined with all other events , interacting with other informations creates ” relationships ” that brings forth macro-phenomena such as ” life ” ( or the unquantifiable quality of ” life ” or liveliness ) and, ,quantifiable discrete form of information called “matter” , antimatter, along with it electromagnetic and nuclear energies and , space-time continuum which is our postulations to make ” measurements ” possible.

            Matter needs mind to behave like matter , just as life needs matter to manifest in our dimensions. They both have the same source of origin but they are not the same . For one thing , life is a continuous non- measurable, NON- DISCRETISABLE non- quantifiable quality of cosmos whereas ” lumpen matter ” ( ie, matter without the quality of life ) is discontinuous, discrete , quantifiable and measurable .
            >
            Unless you had looked up the books by the scientist authors , I had suggested in my earlier communication , I don’t think you will be able to follow what I say , which they too have said in a better way , perhaps.

          • Captain Mandrake

            Dadster,

            Oh, please stop comparing yourself to Gallilio. He produced evidence for his claims. You have not. So yes you deserve the same ridicule the scientific community heaps on creationists and intelligent design clowns.

          • Captain Mandrake

            **Remain in your cognitive Kansas and harvest the wheat of the status quo, or invite the cyclone and have a look at Oz.**

            However dreary and dry Kansas may be it is still the reality. However comfortable the magical land of Oz might be it is still a fantasy. Unfortunately it is this comfort seeking magical thinking that allows for cosmic consciousness and intelligent design.

          • “However dreary and dry Kansas may be it is still the reality. However comfortable the magical land of Oz might be it is still a fantasy. Unfortunately it is this comfort seeking magical thinking that allows for cosmic consciousness and intelligent design.”

            That’s the problem is that you think that you assume that the universe is ‘reality’ and that consciousness emerges from that. I would go along with that, but it doesn’t ultimately make sense. Reality cannot make consciousness, but consciousness can (and does) make reality, as you can see when you dream.

            Intelligent design is naive because it assumes that the sense of the universe is a human sense, with cognitive quality attention and humanlike intents. That’s just because by default we vastly underestimate the range of experiences which make up the universe and how narrow our personal experience really is. Cosmic consciousness too can go off the rails into oversigifying the subjective-ideal kinds of experience. I don’t make that mistake. I’m not promoting an ideology feel-good wishful thinking. My view is an impartial comparison of models through a super-model of perceptual relativity. I have no agenda in developing this other than my own curiosity and desire to share what I have found with others.

            My view finds fault with both Western mechanemorphism and Eastern anthropomorphism. I understand exactly why they are so seductive and why each camp fails to integrate the other, and, most importantly, why that illustrates the relation of consciousness to matter perfectly…not as metaphor, but as ontology. The universe is an experience, and only part of that experience is ‘reality’. Private experience without public realism is fantasy, but public realism without experience is…nothing whatsoever.

        • “scientific minds are supposed to be open and not dogmatic in their blind faith”

          Oh that that were so. But “scientists” are subject to the same prejudices and presuppositions all of our species is subject too. One of the better qualities of the scientific method and the competitive nature of science itself is others are continuing to either prove a posit true or incomplete.

          “Today Quantum science points into directions that transcends pure matter . ”

          That is simply NOT TRUE especially in your context of Cosmic Consciousness. Your analogies are jumping back and forth between species.

          • “But “scientists” are subject to the same prejudices and presuppositions all of our species is subject too.”

            Scientists might beat their children too, but that doesn’t mean that such behavior is supposed to be part of science. I think the point being made is that while critical thinking and open curiosity are both vital to science, the pursuit of unbiased factual truth is more important than any defense of any particular truth. If that defense becomes dogmatic and prejudices, it is the duty of scientists to break those presuppositions when they can. That is the most important difference between science and religion. Otherwise science is simply a belief in disbelief – a lazy and cynical faith in the denial of the authenticity of significance.

          • multisenserealism

            “If consciousness was something that your brain does then we would not be having this conversation.”

            I knew you were going to say that because you denied that in a previous life time and now you have reach a high plain. You are , how so ever, arrogant. How do I know that? I could try to explain it to you but I can see that you are filled with negative vibrations closing you off to the truth that I know something that you must accept because I say so.

            Look, after practicing Buddhism for 40+ years, there is much to said for self reflection. Looking to the connection between the sentient and insentient, such as the inherent capacity for the enlightenment of rocks and trees, may give one comfort. Much the same as a supernatural belief in non-caused god creature who creates a causal cosmos in order to not only give you life, but make it eternal as long as you behave within the parameters someone says this creature says you should. But there is no proof other than anecdotal.

            “I DO have evidence for an Absolute inertial frame of awareness – it is evident to me.” is not science. It’s personal.

          • Multi-
            “I think the point being made is that while critical thinking and open curiosity are both vital to science, the pursuit of unbiased factual truth is more important than any defense of any particular truth.”

            LOL, it’s like you’re agreeing with me but missing the whole point.

          • “Looking to the connection between the sentient and insentient, such as the inherent capacity for the enlightenment of rocks and trees, may give one comfort. ”

            For some. For others it is the denial of the inherent capacity of all phenomena to make sense or be sensed which gives them comfort.

            My views are not about comfort at all. For me it is a hypothesis deduced from the information that we have. Sentience makes no sense in an insentient universe. No matter which way you slice it, there is no plausible grounds for inclusion of something like ‘awareness’ in a universe of forms which function perfectly well without them. It’s not some sentimental longing that I have for consciousness to be important, I could care less whether I am a machine or whether machines are like me from a distant perspective, but the former cannot be true and the latter can easily be true. Physics can reduce an experience to the characteristics of a machine, but it cannot add experiential characteristics to an unconscious mechanism. Once you understand that, you can outgrow the idea of ‘complexity’ as mechina ex anima and see the promissory materialism that hardliners turn to for the hand waving rationalization that it is.

          • Multi-
            “For me it is a hypothesis deduced from the information that we have.”
            Thank you for calling it a hypothesis at least, lol!

            I think I understand what you’re trying to say. That being said, have you ever thought that the big joke might be that we use our reasoning capacities to rationalize a meaning to an irrational world instead of being reasonable? I can appreciate the irony too!

            “I named my dog Stay. I drive him crazy: Come Stay! Come Stay!”
            Steven Wright

          • Captain Mandrake

            **Sentience makes no sense in an insentient universe. No matter which way you slice it, there is no plausible grounds for inclusion of something like ‘awareness’ in a universe of forms which function perfectly well without them.**

            Interesting framing. But this is just one big argument from ignorance. You do not know how sentient beings came about in an insentient universe, so cosmic consciousness must exist. And you do not want to be put in the same category as intelligent design clowns. Hilarious!

          • Captain Mandrake

            **I DO have evidence for an Absolute inertial frame of awareness – it is evident to me**

            How do we know you are not lying to us? This is why we ask you to share your evidence for verification. You do that and scientific community will take you seriously.

          • Captain Mandrake: “You do not know how sentient beings came about in an insentient universe,”

            No, I am asserting positively that there is no possibility that sentient beings came about in an insentient universe. I assert that because if you look at the universe that physics gives us, there is no room for any kind of awareness and no justification for it. It’s not that we haven’t figured out how it works yet, its that we have figured out that anything which does what consciousness does would be completely superfluous to any physical function.

            Besides, the brain is panpsychic already…

            http://multisenserealism.com/6-panpsychism/

          • Captain Mandrake

            **Sentience makes no sense in an insentient universe**

            Well, we can take the same line of argument for other BS like the following.

            Digestion makes no sense in an universe that does not digest.

            Respiration makes no sense in an universe that does not respire.

            So following multisenserealism’s line of reasoning (if you can call that) we should now believe in cosmic digestion and cosmic respiration.

          • How do we know you are not lying to us? This is why we ask you to share your evidence for verification. You do that and scientific community will take you seriously.

            Captain, even in a solipsistic framework, what he says wouldn’t fly. His “Absolute inertial frame of awareness” isn’t something that he can observe and know to be true, it’s something that has to be deduced, and he simply hasn’t done it. So it’s not a question of whether he’s lying or not– he has to prove it to himself first!

          • Captain Mandrake

            Multisenserealism,

            **No, I am asserting positively that there is no possibility that sentient beings came about in an insentient universe. I assert that because if you look at the universe that physics gives us, there is no room for any kind of awareness and no justification for it.**

            However emphatically you assert that you have not proved anything of that sort. You are no different from ID clowns who also emphatically assert that science can not possibly explain this that and other biological phenomena that looks designed.

            Even if (can not be too careful with dishonest pseudoscience peddlers like you.) what you (and ID clowns) assert is true (which has not been demonstrated by you or the ID clowns) you have not proved that this Cosmic Consciousness (Intelligent designer in the case of ID clowns) in fact explains the awareness/consciousness (apparent design in biological systems).

            In short this is just one big argument from ignorance.

            Remember you were talking about something called a fMRI machine. I do not know what this machine does. But if it can spot an argument from ignorance then it will raise the same red flag on you and the ID clowns as is examines your brains.

          • Captain,

            I frankly don’t know what multisenserealism is trying to say– I’m not sure if he knows either.

            If you go to his blog, it reads like a technobabble generator .

        • Dadster, take a look at my hypothesis sometime http://multisenserealism.com.

          I think that I may have made some significant breakthroughs, at least conceptually, in defining the nature of awareness and matter. Even the implications of QM do not really meet us halfway. What is required is a model of physics which fully commits to sensory-motor participation as the ground of being and source of all Laws/forces.

          • Dear Multisenserealism,

            I can strongly empathize with your zeal for understanding how the universe works and appreciating the beauty of modern physics on a conceptual level.

            That being said, your blog seems to fall into the folly of postmodern jargon as evidenced by Alan Sokal.

            If you are truly interested, I encourage you to go and get a degree in theoretical physics and do some research– people with a zeal for understanding the universe, I feel, should be encouraged to go this route. But I’m afraid you aren’t making many meaningful hypotheses on your webpage.

          • “That being said, your blog seems to fall into the folly of postmodern jargon as evidenced by Alan Sokal.”

            Dear Ashwin,

            The ‘postmodern jargon’ meme is a popular talking point in the cult of mechanism. It’s a red herring. Although neologisms can certainly be annoying, and I think even more so to those who are more comfortable thinking in mathematical terms than linguistic, there is no justification to claim hat ideas are not meaningful simply because you find their manner of expression distasteful.

            There are a lot of these kinds of memes designed to protect people from having to consider any new viewpoints. Lists of excuses to disqualify and rationalize prejudice. Buzzwords to label certain scientists, philosophers, and entire categories of inquiry as heresy. It’s not surprising though, this is exactly what my hypothesis suggests. The psychological momentum on both ends of the spectrum – the spiritual fundamentalists and scientific fundamentalists, is toward pathologies of fear and aggression. It makes sense – extreme focus and specialization comes at the cost of extreme intolerance.

      • Hi Mandrake,
        Excuse the delay and the error that i intentionally did not correct. I need not add that it’s known that errors usually do catch one’s attention.
        Well I’m still not too sure of what made me do that post that you graciously responded to. Was not aware that this was as you mention, a thread debunking the notion of a conscious universe.
        That said, I am quite stunned by the spurt of posts that appear to have been triggered from what i happened to have posted underlining my poor understanding of gravity.
        But now it dawns on me after reading a lot on what all has been said about consciousness here specifically, what if I for the sake of hypothesis and from the belief that gravity of an object is directly proportional to its mass, state that gravity is actually the mass of the object. Lets keep in mind also that scientist have still not found out what gives the sub atomic particles, the building blocks of all matter, their mass. Adding on to my hypothesis so far let me now say that gravity is not just mass, gravity is actually consciousness itself if not the basis or the raw material of all consciousness.
        Besides I’m aware of the quest and failure to come up with a so called Grand Unified Theory that would then lead to the theory of everything which by definition according to me would need to include the reality of life and consciousness too and for that we would need to find how consciousness relates with matter.
        I must say that in no way do i qualify to be a scientist and neither do i wish to.

        • Captain Mandrake

          Johh,

          I would like to respond to your post. But before that can please clarify something for me.

          **gravity is actually consciousness itself**

          Why did you use the term consciousness in that hypothesis of yours. Why didn’t you say **gravity is actually respiration itself** or **gravity is actually digestion itself**.

          You see consciousness is just what your brain does much like respiration is what your lung does and digestion is what your stomach does. I don’t think science has fully explained any of these phenomena. Just because there are gaps in our understanding of these phenomena we should not corrupt our current understanding of physics by saying *gravity is consciousness*, *strong nuclear force is respiration*, and *weak nuclear force is digestion* and so on. Hope this helps.

    • It’s actually quite interesting, Tokh. Centripital force doesn’t counter gravity– in the situation in which you’re describing, the centripetal force IS gravity.

      Think about it like this: the Moon is moving tangential to the Earth at it’s own velocity. Suddenly, the gravity of the earth pulls the moon inward, which changes the direction of the velocity. At each instant at which gravity pulls inward, the velocity changes direction and you thus get circular motion. Read about Uniform Circular Motion on Wikipedia.

      This is a simplification, of course. You can have elliptical orbits which work similarly.

      You also talk about the “curvature of space.” This is a little off– it is space-time which is curved, and that is Einstein’s model of gravity, which is more precise. I don’t understand it, though, so I can’t explain that model to you. Einstein improves on the earlier model in that he accounts for the fact that force does not act instantaneously– nothing can, the upper limit for information transfer is the speed of light.

  • Multisenserealism,

    we have figured out that anything which does what consciousness does would be completely superfluous to any physical function.

    We have? Why do say that? Evolution has selected for consciousness because it does increase chances of reproduction.

    • “We have? Why do say that? Evolution has selected for consciousness because it does increase chances of reproduction.”

      I say that because we have not found any function in nature which would work better as a conscious experience than an unconscious process. If it is not necessary for our immune system to develop consciousness to perform the survival-critical function of identifying and neutralizing billions of pathogens, then it doesn’t make sense that the modest wanderings of an unremarkable hominid would demand the construction of a hallucinatory inner universe.

      Human consciousness is a human quality of experience. Evolution has certainly shaped those qualities but experience itself is not something that relates to evolution at all. If you look at the efficiency of the unconscious processes which are assumed to run everything else in the universe, including those processes which generate human consciousness itself, it should be obvious that no important task would be improved by this kind of imaginary aesthetic presentation which consciousness is (wrongly) assumed to be.

      • The ability to sense when a predator is coming after you, the ability to get yourself towards a mate to pass on your genes, the ability to communicate– these are all derivatives of consciousness.

        When you say that consciousness is not useful for humans to “function” in nature, you have to define what usefulness means. In evolution, a trait is considered “useful” if it helped previous generations of your species find mates.

        • Captain Mandrake

          Ashwin,

          I was not thinking about evolution of consciousness at all. All I saw was similarity in the arguments proposed by cosmic consciousness proponents and ID proponents. With your explanation it is becoming more and more clear to me that these two theories (if we call that) are almost identical. This CC seems to be a subset of ID.

          • My dear Captain ,

            To hold fast to the fallacy that universe is NOT sentient is hubris. Are you familiar with the theory of Gaia ? or the theory of cellular mathematics ?

            The degree and quality of sentience might differ , But that does not mean their sentience is of lesser quality than that of humans.

            What do you think gives characteristic properties like valency, and affinity for chemical reactions to chemicals .You might say its the electromagnetic properties of their atomic structure to behave in a particular way depending on temperature-pressure conditions etc .

            But how did some become structured like that, like DNA folding for example and attained stability and others did not ?

            I am not indicating any purpose that nature has .Its all random happenings for no purpose in the view of those chemicals or from their frame of reference .

            Purpose enters from the mind of life-forms including of humans and when humans quantify and measure it . Microbial actions are purposeful and NOT random.
            The purpose being survival . The fundamental characteristic quality of all life forms is that they are endowed with the instinct of survival ( survival of self and of their respective species also ) ,which instinct no lumpen matter-forms have.

            If you had read what I had written earlier you would have by now known the various differences between life- energy and matter-energies . But since you obviously had not , i would suggest you read it or find out in some other way ,yourself .

            Life energies as distinct from electromagnetic and nuclear energies energize matter to make it come “alive”.

            Matter not endowed with life in it ( like a dead body for example) ,still possesses the same quantity of Electromagnetic energy and nuclear energy and are subject to gravitational energies too as before life left that body .

            Or , in other words ,everything that has Electromagnetic , nuclear and gravitational energies are not possessed with life-energy although life -energy manifests in our dimensions through matter as its physical structure or scaffolding only.

            If you think that life comes out of matter spontaneously then why is it that material scientists are not able to breath life into matter and make one single living cell so far despite many brave attempts to achieve that. ?

            Why is it that life is not automatically coming into the mix of chemicals or raw chemical inorganic materials under any artificially created temperature pressure or environmental conditions ? Even Craig Venter has not been able to do it despite trying hard for it and we were all waiting for it to happen .

            So its time now that we change our route of inquiry , question the questions we were asking , effect some paradigm shift as
            Thomas Kuhn: the man who changed the way the world looked at science
            suggested in his seminal book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

            Biology and life -sciences were following the paradigms of physical material sciences till now. It has not reached with it anywhere near understanding life-energy.
            Hence its time that Life-scientists strike out on their own freeing themselves from the yokes of physical material scientists and seek new paths and approaches in understanding life-energy directly from life itself instead of going through the physical structure through which life manifests in our dimensions.

            Hence this discussion on BIO-CENTRISM .

            But its all overhead transmission for you and its better you safely stay out of it till you become more updated in your physical sciences before entering the much more complex bio-sciences and life-sciences

          • dadster
            “To hold fast to the fallacy that universe is NOT sentient is hubris.”
            Now that’s what I call the pot calling the kettle black!
            CM
            “With your explanation it is becoming more and more clear to me that these two theories (if we call that) are almost identical.”

            They cannot be called theories within the parameters of science. They are conjectures and at best unverifiable hypothesis. A theory needs to be able to be falsified; make a prediction based upon observable evidence or mathematical proofs. Calling evolution a theory is a compliment. Calling ID a theory is pseudo science.

          • Captain Mandrake

            Joe,

            Thanks for pointing out the error in my liberal use of the term “theory”. One can never be too careful.

          • Captain Mandrake

            Dadster,

            **To hold fast to the fallacy that universe is NOT sentient is hubris.**

            HAHA! What was that? A clumsy attempt at shifting the burden of proof?

            Let us not forget how this started. You claimed that cosmic consciousness exists. You were asked to provide verifiable evidence to back up that claim. So far we have not heard anything approximating an evidence.

            Until you provide verifiable evidence to back up your claim all you deserve is a nice Hitchslap.

            Christopher Hitchens – “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

        • “The ability to sense when a predator is coming after you, the ability to get yourself towards a mate to pass on your genes, the ability to communicate– these are all derivatives of consciousness.”

          These kinds of ad hoc just-so stories are exactly why your position has no credibility.

          Shark *embryos* sense when a predator is coming after them: http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/01/09/shark-embryo-use-electric-sense-to-avoid-danger-by-freezing/

          Any sexually reproducing organism knows how to get towards a mate to reproduce.

          Bacteria and plants communicate.

          http://1.usa.gov/17Q284f

          http://www.thingsgoneright.com/2012/06/18/scientists-confirm-that-plants-talk-and-listen-to-each-other-communication-crucial-for-survival/

          If your justification of consciousness is that it allows these rudimentary biological functions, then you have to explain how it is that humans are so impaired that they require a solipsistic phantasm projection where every other organism requires only functioning genes. More importantly, why does a solipsistic phantasm improve the effectiveness of ordinary Bayesian computations and other quantitative modeling and compression schemas? From your answer I can see that you have not given this issue much thought. You take consciousness for granted, and then reverse engineer it to some appearance of utility which matches our human experience of its utility, but you don’t see the circularity of the logic. Sure, in the real world, real humans benefit from consciousness, but that is only because consciousness does what matter cannot do. Consciousness is what matter cannot create – not because it’s magic, but because it is perception itself, and its ancestors as more primitive forms of sensory-motive participation, are the true progenitors of matter.

          • “Consciousness allows us to do these things better.”

            No, it doesn’t. It only seems that way because we are conscious. If our immune system could argue, it would say that unconsciousness is certainly superior to consciousness in every way.

            Once you have conflated your own sense of human consciousness with the principle of awareness in general, it is very hard to separate the success of the human species from that misguided equivalence. Humans have a high quality of consciousness, so we have an advantage in more cases than disadvantages. That is not to say that an unconscious creature could not behave in exactly the same ways as we do, simply by making computations and without having some kind of presentation of those computations.

            It doesn’t even have to be about consciousness. Let’s make it easy. A computer can drive a car without installing a TV screen inside the CPU to project images on. The computer need not render its detections of the outside world graphically. It certainly would not invent graphics or geometry to do such a thing, and we know that computers don’t do that already. If they did we wouldn’t need video monitors, we could just tap right into the computations themselves and look at them, or taste them, or listen to them. But it isn’t like that. Information processing is anesthetic and abstract. It has *no possible* means or motives to actualize itself aesthetically or concretely.

            So yes, richer, deeper aesthetic qualities correlate to deeper quantitative nestings, but while you can derive quantites as a base level quality, no degree of computational complexity, in and of itself, will ever have need of a single quality. Computation is one dimensional – binary. Survival only benefits by more sophisticated programming, not by any kind of qualitative experience. Why feel pain when you can simply have a physical mechanism which enforces the behavioral logic which we associate with pain? In the end, the idea that pain can cause behavior change is circular. Why do we change our behavior because something hurts? Well, because if it hurts that means it is threatening our health. How do we know that that sensation of hurting means anything at all? Well, it’s hardwired into our brain. So why does our brain need to tell itself what the message means directly instead of converting it to an unexplained “hurt” and then converting it back into a receiver of hurt who changes the behavior which could have been changed in the first place directly by the brain? Pain hurts because hurt is painful. There’s no getting under it. There’s no reason why some signal should be felt as anything at all – it’s simply information to be classified with a high priority in the processing queue, nothing more. To suggest that consciousness offers more than unconsciousness demands that we see unconsciousness from this other vantage point. From a more neutral, scientific view however, it is clear that consciousness is functionally inert and redundant.