1 month 6 days ago - 1 month 4 days ago#61184by gnomon
I think, therefore I am cosmic
___A theory of Cosmic Consciousness is associated with most New Age religious philosophies. But it is also a component of my own Deist worldview. So I was interested in the recent book by New Age author Deepak Chopra, and physicist Menas Kafatos, You Are The Universe : Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why It Matters. I haven't read this book, although I have read similar books by Chopra, so this commentary is based on a review article by Physicist Leonard Mlodinaw and Psychologist Michael Shermer. Like me, both are skeptical of some of the supernatural & paranormal assumptions of New Ageism. But unlike me, both are Agnostic/Atheists. So I have a foot on both sides of the natural/supernatural fence.
___The key notion proposed in the book is what Chopra calls “the participatory universe”. By that they mean the physical universe is living & conscious, and responds to human thoughts and prayers. The reviewers agree that humans are affected by the physical processes of the Cosmos, but they see no evidence that the Universe is aware of human minds, or that the world is empathically responsive to human needs. As far as I know, Deists are divided on that same subject. Some may believe that Consciousness is like a form of abstract energy (The Force) to be used by sentient beings to direct their lives, but others may think of Consciousness as a personal being (God) of some kind, with a paternal interest in the lives of humans. Others seem to think that the Deity is all-powerful Nature, and possibly evolving toward sentience, but completely indifferent to human fate & feelings. I don't know which view is closest to the truth, so my worldview contains elements of all three concepts.
___The authors gain their understanding of Cosmic Consciousness, not by conversations with God, or by mundane scientific experiments, but by the methods of “introspection”, typically known as meditation. Yet the reviewers note that, << introspection fell into disuse in the late 19th century as we began to uncover the role of the unconscious, which is inaccessible to introspection.>> Chopra may disagree with that statement, but in any case, any knowledge gained by meditation is by definition subjective, and is inaccessible to authentication. So, you'll have to take his word for the veracity of his inward “observations”. Unfortunately, different meditative traditions have resulted in a discordant array of incompatible worldviews, such as the distinctive traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jewish/Christian/Muslim Mysticism. So, I must remain respectfully skeptical of all individual introspections, including my own, that are not vetted by the public bias-detection methods of objective science. /see Nature of Existence below/
___Chopra employs the language of modern science, if not its empirical methods, to support his interpretation of “nine ultimate mysteries”, such as : 1> What came before the Big bang? 2> Why does the universe fit together so perfectly? 3> Where did time come from? 4> What is the universe made of? 5> Is there design in the universe? How did life first begin? 6> Does the brain create the mind? My own Deist answers to those questions are slightly different from Chopra's, since my understanding of God is different. For example, 1> God has existed ideally & eternally, and the BB was an act of creation of a space-time world, where reality can evolve toward an ultimate solution to a divine experiment in finite reality. 2> The fine tuning of cosmic constants and other features of physics is due to a creation program designed, in part, to produce sentient beings. 3> Linear Time did not exist before the creation event --- and the simultaneous emergence of unified space-time in conjunction with matter-energy --- but it was invented by humans as a way to measure the changes brought about by exchanges of energy. 4> The universe is made of Information (the power to enform, both physically and mentally); which led to my term for the creative power of EnFormAction; an attribute of God's omnipotence. /see Information below/
5> The universe is designed, but not pre-ordained; because the program of evolution follows natural laws that are scrambled by Chance, like shaking dice before rolling them; which introduces an element of randomness into an otherwise deterministic process. 6> The physical Brain creates the meta-physical Mind in the same sense that a car's motor creates Transportation; Mind is what the Brain does; Mind is a function of Brain, not a standalone entity. Both brains & minds are forms of energy (EnFormAction), which is the creative power of Cosmic Consciousness, i.e. God.
___The biggest mystery of this world is why do sentient beings possess the power of consciousness. Is it a self-deceptive illusion, as asserted by Daniel Dennett, or is it our primary link to God-mind, as assumed by Chopra and many Deists? Artificial Intelligence researchers have noted that most animals, and robots get along fine without the kind of self-reflective consciousness found in questioning homo sapiens. Philosophers have also debated the evolutionary purpose of self-awareness and “inner experience”. One possibility is that humans learned to intro-spect in order to predict the future, and hence to gain some control over their destiny. But unless the mechanics of Evolution were guided by finely-tuned laws & initial conditions amenable to self-consciousness, the odds of such an “energy wasting” development would be astronomical, perhaps requiring more than 14 billion years to accidentally stumble upon the precise combination of physical & mental features necessary to turn vision inward; from physical to meta-physical; from real to ideal. I suspect that the emergence of sentient beings was pre-ordained in the code of the evolutionary program, but the exact form of those entities was not specified in advance. Instead, the program was designed to try many alternatives, limited in available space & time only by the constraints of Natural Laws & Initial Conditions, pre-set in the Big Bang. Anyway, since we do know the world via our filter of self-consciousness, it's only natural to assume that Nature itself is conscious in some sense. Exactly what that sense is, is what scientists, philosophers, and theologians have debated from time immemorial.
___The authors of this book append a list of corollaries based on their “participatory universe” theory. Since some Deists might share some of these notions, I'll list a few of them here : 1> Whenever we use the word “we” or “I” it is consciousness that is being referred to.
2> Mind/Body/Universe are experiences in consciousness.
3> Consciousness is that in which all experience occurs . . . it is the knowing element . . .
4> Consciousness is non-local and therefore formless, timeless, and spaceless.
5> Humans are a species of consciousness that have created models out of basic experiences or qualia
6> The real You is not the Body/Mind/universe (they go together) but the formless being who experiences Body/Mind/Universe as an intermittent stream of sensations, images, feelings, thoughts, perceptions. [i.e. the Soul?]
7> By objectifying experience we created an external world, learned to quantify it, measure it, tabulate it, . . . all human constructs around raw experience.
8> The goal of experience is to know who we are.
This understanding and experience could lead to a more peaceful, just, sustainable, healthier, and happier world.
___The reviewers reject that “we are the world” theory, and assert that human consciousness is merely an unplanned emergent property of neural activity in the brain. And from a local objective analytic perspective, that is true. However, for those who take a cosmic subjective holistic view of the world, there is no clear line of demarcation between the whole system and the various parts. Just as electrons on the quantum level are entangled with each other into an undifferentiated field, humans on the cosmic level are integral parts of the whole system --- and probably the only parts capable of asking questions about the one thing that most animals take for granted : consciousness.
Information : "Equivalence to energy is not only a property of mass. Information is also a form of energy. Knowledge really is power." . . . . "If there exists a being who is truly all knowing, that being would necessarily be all powerful as well. This is a consequence of the equivalence of information and energy; infinite information would equate to infinite power." ______Christopher Davis : "Designed to Evolve: Discovering God through Modern Science