Category Archives: Classic Bill

The Meaning of Life: A Theory of Everything including Consciousness and “God” Pt. 1

Created December 2, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

The Meaning of Life
A Theory of Everything including Consciousness and “God” Pt. 1

As we transition from one year to the next, I’ll be sharing with you here a serialization of my newest shortest book The Meaning of Life: A Theory of Everything including Consciousness and “God”. I wrote this short book mainly for physicists but also for everyone. I’d like physicists to accept the scientific possibility of something very much like God, and to prioritize the subject. This book explains why. Hope you enjoy it and feel what Freud called “the Oceanic feeling”. –Bill

Preface

It is long past time to discuss the ultimate questions. We set those questions aside because things were interesting enough in the world of the senses and the everyday pleasures.

Now when things have gotten rough and the existential challenges are many, we remember that homework not done. Now we need the answers to why we are keeping up on our daily routines, in order to have the guts to stand up and do whatever it takes to overcome all the new challenges.

Inner Life

From the start, many of us could not shake off a strong compulsion to know more about who we are and why we are here.

Early aspirants to self-knowledge attained high levels of sophistication in contemplation of the self, remembering key ideas from generation to generation as lyrics in songs. Spirit and mind were regarded as the same thing then, so that psychology and spirituality were in the same category. Most of these key ideas being saved relate to the Oneness of all things. The Rig Veda, Egyptian Book of the Dead, Torah, Tao Te Ching are classic examples.

Science ought to consider this as evidence of a long-running human intuition that there is a far greater intelligence overseeing the universe, and that we are all parts of That. Just because almost everyone at some point experiences such an intuition does not prove that there is anything scientific about it. However, it is a reason to keep an open mind. Science is supposed to do that all the time anyway, the only exception appears to be in this one subject domain, “God”. As if a flinch reaction to having been “deluded” by it for so many millennia – that is the implied script. Hopefully most scientists do have open minds. Because this subject needs more attention stat.

The “inner life” tradition continued alongside every step forward we made in “outward” science and technology. In the world of 2022, meditation and yoga are practiced worldwide, and represent the 101 course of self-examination and thought experiments into what the world might be. The most advanced thinkers of every Age gave us (sometimes only through their followers) the findings of their own inner explorations.

For 6000 years of written history describing as far back as 10,000 BC based upon oral “records”, the ideas of materialism and spiritualism were always of nearly equal importance in explaining people’s behavior. That healthy balance took an odd turn a few hundred years ago and there has been a shrinkage first in the average person’s own spirituality, and then in the outward self-identification people give in surveys. This last drop took place only in the past 20 years, in which self-proclaimed spirituality (an exaggeration of true spirituality) dropped for example in the U.S. from 90% to 70%.

Eisenhower’s speech as he left office described Americans as “a free and religious people”. The absurdity of saying that in 2022 is obvious. The daily news paints all of humanity as running amok. People invoke God to sanctify deeds of extreme hostility. They must be thinking of the old vengeful images of God we first had while hiding in caves.

The “hip” thing to say since around 1970 is a bit like “I believe in something – some kind of force – it may be nothing like us – it may not care about us – but it is there.” This is the way to announce that you are a spiritual, and therefore a good, person. That is another concept of God.

The deists who founded the USA believed that whatever God was, was supremely benevolent, had our best interests at heart, and the teachings of Judeo-Christianity and Islam well described what God would want of us, for our own good. We trust in God. Even though we don’t know what “He” is.

Except that nowadays, even with the social pressure to go along with the herd, a third of us boldly state that we don’t trust God or acknowledge that “He” exists.

Eisenhower was not alone in his association of spirituality with the economic, social, and political success of a nation. He did trust God. A plausible social science theorem would be that the degree of law and order in a culture is predicted by its degree of trust in God.

All of this by way of explaining why a short book like this had to be written.

If we are to trust God in this modern cynical age where we are mostly ruled by violent mood swings, we cannot avoid discussing the nature of God within a scientific framework. If God cannot be reconciled within science, the game is over. The denouement shall not be pretty. The cards are stacked against us. Hedonism, material accidentalism, cynicism, selfishness, ego, scarcity of wealth (only a few have it), power, hate, racism, misogynism, xenophobia, fear, weapons of mass destruction, collapsing environment, dying species, fiat money, superficial education systems, unmoderated systems of social mass communication, all of which are the self-destructive negative forms of creative expression in the absence of spirituality.

The Benefits New Science Can Bring

If science shows that “God” is on the scientific agenda, humanity shall experience the strongest upsurge in positive emotion in hisandherstory. Science’s acknowledgement of possibilities very similar to the existence of God makes each of us important again. We were important enough to have been created by something like God. Life is important, has great meaning, is not to be treated frivolously.

Better behavior will steadily take over. Working together in a friendly way will become the norm. Doing things that you enjoy shall be the employment principle, inspiration and creativity and compromise shall all blossom, love will flower.

What Exactly Is Needed

These are the upside benefits to humanity if science decides that there is no scientific basis for ruling out a benevolent God whom we are right to trust. And taking a fresh look through the lens of science at how consciousness might be related to matter and energy, for that is the experimental direction to determining what “God” there truly is.

A “fresh” look means not again and again solving for the matter-energy quantum brain phenomena which generate the epiphenomenon of consciousness. But explaining why we experience consciousness, why there is Flow state, why there are other states of consciousness and powers of mind that come and go.

And theoretical scientists are needed to focus on all of the possibilities for how the universe came to be, without any presuppositions.

For example, could Wheeler’s first cause “quantum foam of probabilities” exist within a consciousness?

A Role for Individuals 

There is a second experimental path for individuals described in the last Chapter of this book. How an individual can test various ways of using his or her own consciousness, and observe what the results might be. These results may not be of use to science, but could turn out to give you useful new tools and possibly even a profound spiritual feeling.

Love to all,

Bill

 

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Thanks For the Memories

Created November 24, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

This time every year I write a column about gratitude.

Gratitude has a lot going for it as an emotion and as an attitude. The mood of gratitude encompasses both an attitude mix (gladness and recognition of a benefactor) which can be expressed in words, as well as emotions which can only be spoken of metaphorically or described physiologically. The whole package not only makes us feel good, it emanates outward to those around us and makes them feel good too. According to the Mayo Clinic, a daily gratitude practice increases feelings of wellbeing and calm while decreasing stress levels.

We are spoiled by life. It is so taken for granted that we cease to realize we might never have existed, and so we see no need to feel gratitude just having had life for as long as we have had it.

Spoiled brats that we are, we never put two and two together: how can we be so intensely attached to continuing to live, without seeing how that implies how much we worship living.

Perhaps for many of us who have taken on the multi-century pandemic doubts about a Supreme Creator, since we doubt that there is anyone to be grateful to, we assume that a generalized gratitude feeling might be irrelevant. But that is short sighted: rationally we can direct gratitude to the people that raised us, shaped us, helped us get to where we are today.

Science of any stripe would not go so far as to prohibit feelings of gratitude toward Nature, most scientists would say that it’s none of their business, has nothing to do with science, and humanist scientists would say that to deny loving Nature and being part of it is anti-life.

When I was very young and thinking about these things – childishly siding with science and the Yankees, rather skeptical about God at the time – I could not rule out the possibility of God. A moment came during these contemplations when I had admitted to myself that God could exist and might be listening in to my thoughts right now. Strangely I felt a huge sadness descend upon me and I felt that God must feel very sad and rejected to see how lost His creation is, as if I were to turn and slap my mother, how would she feel, that must be how God feels, if He exists, I thought. In my mind I comforted Him before laughing at myself and moving on.

I’m grateful for all my memories including my worst moments, they have taught me so much. If I hadn’t made those mistakes then, I’m afraid to think about who I would be now, still driven about by mechanically conditioned behaviors. Learning from our own mistakes is salvation from being a robot.

I’m grateful for all the people I’ve meet and am to meet.

Most of us reading this ought to be more grateful that they are living in a democracy. We proud Americans savor the fact that the USA was one of the significant leaders in bringing democracy to what is now one in five human beings alive on Earth today. Pretty lucky you made it into the one in five this time around.

To you readers who are not living in a free country, what are you to be grateful for? You are living. You are in some degree of equilibrium with your environment. If you are a warrior, you remain free inside. If you are truly to win over the situation you must not let your own principles be corrupted by it. Be grateful you have the strength and adaptability to survive. Be grateful for all of these things, and for the things to come. Be grateful for these amazing younger generations we all share, the young are a global community, they see the truth, they see what must be done, and they will free us all.

Be grateful for all that.

A song which comes to mind:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love,

Bill

 

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USA: Nine of the Most Probable Scenarios

Created November 7, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

On the eve of the most important election in at least the last 100 years, three writers have compellingly described a scenario in which the US at the time of the 2024 election goes into a period of guerilla civil war driven by the burning desire by some to forever live in a state of White supremacy. The writers cite history including very recent events around the world linked by a fear of losing White majority. They centrally point out that the playbook was put into the form of a novel called The Turner Diaries written by a neo-Nazi in 1978.

Barbara F. Walter writes:

Pages of The Turner Diaries were found in Timothy McVeigh’s truck after he attacked a federal building in Oklahoma City in April 1995. Patrick Crusius, the alleged El Paso Walmart gunman, and John Timothy Earnest, the accused shooter at a synagogue in Poway, California, echoed the book’s ideas in their manifestos. A member of the Proud Boys can be seen on video during the insurrection on 6 January 2021 telling a journalist to read The Turner Diaries.
The US is not yet in a civil war. But a 2012 declassified report by the CIA on insurgencies outlines the signs. According to the report, a country is experiencing an open insurgency when sustained violence by increasingly active extremists has become the norm.
In this early stage of civil war, extremists are trying to force the population to choose sides, in part by demonstrating to citizens that the government cannot keep them safe or provide basic necessities. The goal is to incite a broader civil war by denigrating the state and growing support for violent measures. Voter suppression bills have been introduced in almost every state since 6 January. Election deniers are running for office in 48 of the 50 states and now represent a majority of all Republicans running for Congressional and state offices in the US midterm elections this week.
Civil wars almost never happen in full, healthy, strong democracies. They also seldom happen in full autocracies. Violence almost always breaks out in countries in the middle – those with weak and unstable pseudo-democracies. We are already seeing elements of this in Europe, where rightwing anti-immigrant parties such as the Sweden Democrats, the Brothers of ItalyAlternative für Deutschland in Germany, the Vlaams Belang in Belgium, the National Rally in France and the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs in Austria have all seen their support increase in recent years.
Regulate social media, and in particular the algorithms that disproportionately push the more incendiary, extreme, threatening and fear-inducing information into people’s feeds. Take away the social media bullhorn and you turn down the volume on bullies, conspiracy theorists, bots, trolls, disinformation machines, hate-mongers and enemies of democracy. The result would be a drop in everyone’s collective anger, distrust and feelings of threat, giving us all time to rebuild.

Stephan Marche writes:

Any failure to recognise electoral outcomes, even in a few states, could result in a contested election in which nobody reaches the threshold of 270 electoral college votes. In that case, the constitution stipulates a “contingent election” – acclimatise yourself to this phrase now – in which each state gets a single vote. That’s right: if no candidate in an American presidential election reaches the threshold of 270 electoral college votes, the state legislatures, overwhelmingly dominated by Republicans, pick the president, with each state having one vote.

Christopher Sebastian Parker writes:

Election-related violence generally takes place when the following four factors are present: a highly competitive election that can shift power; partisan division based on identity; winner-takes-all two-party election systems in which political identities are polarised; and an unwillingness to punish violence on the part of the dominant group. All four are present in America now, and will be more amplified in 2024.

These disturbing notions caused my mind to imagine the various ways this situation might be headed off at the pass. Of course, I agree with Barbara F. Walter that social media must be regulated to permit free speech that is respectful and does not concoct baseless fantasies to stir fear and loathing. This is not too much to ask.

But I do not have the feeling that social media regulation to permit “free fair speech” removing lies and hatemongering is sufficient to move us out of the reap of the whirlwind that these writers portray in their respective articles. More action is needed to curtail the tragic downfall of the USA which to some intelligent observers is near at hand.

What action would that be? My immediate urgent recommendation is that you vote, and do so with these possible scenarios in mind.

What I am also doing here is laying out a few ways this could go.

Scenario A and B: It goes down exactly as these writers describe. The US is taken over by one party, which although a minority, retains power and uses it, leading to an ongoing civil war (Scenario A), or to a pogrom to ethnically cleanse America (Scenario B).

Scenario C: Before the 2024 election, a national referendum is held, leading to a three-tier federated USA. Instead of just States and Federal government, the USA modifies its Constitution to allow a middle federation level consisting of Blue States and Red States. The Supreme Court might be in this level, so that the Blue States have one Supreme Court and the Red States have another. The Federal level would have as its main areas of control the State and Defense Departments, plus the Intelligence agencies. In order to keep all of us safe from outsiders, centralized power would be necessary. The main point of this scenario would be to neuter the need for violence against ourselves.

The Red States might choose, the way South Africa did in the 20th Century, to continue to be a White Supremacist place for as long as possible. In this scenario, three things are predictable: non-White people would move out of Red States and some Whites into them – and some businesses would also move. Global companies would tend to move into Blue states – because operating globally they have to sell to everybody and most of those bodies are not White. Thirdly, the younger generations who are more inclusive in their thinking would lobby within the Red states to eliminate the supremacist tenor, and in time, they would become the leaders, and the bicolor State system would someday be repealed.

In Scenario D, following the midterms and the continuing trend away from peaceful democracy and into violent takeover, most of the people in the country decide to go the other way in 2024, keeping extremists out of power, and the FBI and all other relevant governmental agencies eliminate the domestic terrorists by force.

In Scenario E, Scenario D happens sooner, in the midterms.

In Scenario F, the current situation continues with no clear winners for a long time, but does not totally descend into the depths of hell, just ongoing sporadic violence and we all get used to it and blasé about it, like we adapted to the pandemic, and like we adapted to WWII.

Scenario G is the end of freedom for awhile practically everywhere on Earth, as a small but powerful White minority, skewed toward people with much money and/or addiction to violence, seize a degree of control unprecedented in US history (but highly precedented in all other history) and make life uncomfortable for tens or hundreds of millions of people. In this scenario the situation ends in violent overthrow of the government by a second American Revolution which re-establishes a full American democracy.

Scenario H is just like Scenario G except Americans are not able to do it on their own. Instead, the rest of the non-White world eventually takes over America and any other remaining bastions of White power. In one variation of Scenario H, the entire White race is eliminated. Today there is no faction seeking to eliminate the White race. I can see no significant probability of such a thing ever happening, except if Scenario H White Supremacy Hegemony takes over the world.

There can be other scenarios, these are just a few to choose from when you vote tomorrow.

May God protect us.

Norm Hecht comments helpfully, adding a ninth Scenario I:

“Thank you.

I hope and believe that the major Republican donors will drive the party to more sanity. The Democrats have seemingly no young bench strength, but losses next Tuesday may force sensible change to the middle and youth. We can only pray for the 2024 Presidential election will have younger moderates on both sides. Should the Democrats move to the center the increasingly large number of unaffiliated independents are likely to join the Democrats. Then the Republicans will be forced to move to the center to avoid being a permanent minority party.

Just a few thoughts.”

We’re all in this together. It can come out good for all of us, it just takes creativity and sufficient respect to enable communication.

And your vote as the starting point.

Love to all,

Bill

Note: I rearranged certain quoted sentences for flow in this context, and inserted the link on the word “feeds” because I thought the research project I linked to is very relevant to what Barbara F. Walter was saying.

 

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Take Joy Whenever You Can

Created October 28, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Life today: it would be funny if we were watching it on Saturday Night Live.

We used to say life imitates art. Now we can say life parodies itself. These events today are a satire on who we really are, what we’re really worth.

Mass hysteria creeps up on you like boiling a frog. Who knew we are experiencing mass hysteria right now? It helps to acknowledge it rather than keep mum and look away. The NPR-IBM Watson poll finds that 84% of Americans are angrier today than a generation ago, and 42% are angrier this year than before. The Washington Post just put out an article entitled “On TikTok, Nothing Goes Viral Like Rage”. We the media are feeding the rage when it would be more sensible to calm audiences where feasible. All this scary and angering content coming through the media without solutions being offered is pretty irresponsible.

Irony is that we put fear into people and that leads to suicides, crime, and increased drug and alcohol use. Then the latter things make us, realistically, even more fearful. It’s a self-accelerating equation.

“Fear is the mind-killer.”

–Frank Herbert, Dune

Those of us who can control ourselves need to resolve to not put any more fear into the system. There’s already enough. Adding more is not heading toward solution.

We are acting as if there can never be any negative consequences from pandering to rage and anger. As if it can’t induce revolutions, civil war, pockets of militia takeovers, splits in the police and military, all kinds of negative consequences that will not benefit us.

Thinking merely of money, for those of us in the media business, why do you think advertisers are cutting back on ad spend? Did the rage condition reach a certain level causing forecasters to report upside and downside scenarios with no notion of which will happen? Could rage amplification have had anything to do with that?

What’s a person to do? Rage is fear taking arms. Neither fear nor rage solve whatever problem drove you crazy in the first place. Fear and rage are dangerous signs that the victim is inducing self-harm using time that would be needed to solve whatever the catalyst problem was.

This is similar to not taking a problem seriously enough to actually be forced to think about how the problem could be solved and then to create and execute a plan.

We shall not soon be rid of these troubled times. They will not disappear magically with so many people and so much money polarizing emotionally. Even if the media were to lend a calming hand, some degree of trouble will still lie ahead. We need to prepare ourselves. We need to sober up from the indulgent hysteria.

The same causes as WWII, the same ideologies fighting, inclusive collaboration (Democracy) versus hierarchical meritocracy (today’s rationalization of Authoritarianism). The hierarchical part is the most obvious part of Authoritarianism, the merit part is mostly a matter of who currently has the power, the force, the money. A misleading dichotomy as all dichotomies are. The real answer we will someday realize is to balance them both together, and to do it with respect for all, not just at the end of the game, but with respect to all, at every step along the way there.

If we can sane enough of us in time, we can maybe get away with a cold war with pockets of violence and minimum fallout of all kinds, and a slow process of getting everyone to get with a gung ho program for planet Earth and a let-up of egocentric selfishness. It’s time to take seriously what the body alarms have been trying to wake us up to. The same battle of Good and Evil all over again, except both sides esteem the Good and only subconscious forces keep us apart. If God forced us at gunpoint to have a Huis Clos conversation about it (i.e., locking us up with no other option), we would probably in a matter of time see that rational discourse once it comes on the scene enables win/win scenarios to be concocted. But God is trusting us to make it work, and to make HerHim proud.

So, this is a message for those of us who would be on the side of the adults in the room to take ourselves in hand. To make contingency plans with eyes wide open and courage in our hearts. Before we can approach that we need to purge ourselves of fear and anger. In order to do that we must allocate alone time to contemplate ourselves and meditate, and learn which voices in our heads and impulses truly represent who we are, and which ones are beneath us, dead snake skin to be shorn off. Then we will be ready to lead others during the times of stress. To keep others calm and reasoning toward solutions, rather than helplessly wallowing in problem statement tantrums.

In your self-contemplation you need to first determine all of the things you are afraid of, imagine the scenes that you most do not want to see happen in your real life. Be there, feel it as deeply as you can, as if it were happening to you right now. For each downside scenario, see yourself deal with it. See how you are equal to it. You know what is right and will stand up to the moment should it ever come. Then you can feel that you are prepared and can decide actions you can take to protect your life from that scene ever happening, and then you can take those actions. Those are the sane things to do to solve the problem, do only the sane things from now on.

When you’ve done enough work on your fears to feel the courage in you and be confident of it, also visualize the scenes you would most like to live through. Appreciate those outcomes but don’t be attached to them. Because it is sane to not become attached to outcomes. Being attached to outcomes reduces the probability of experiencing those outcomes. I can’t cite proof for that but my own life has taught it to me and I hope to be able to pass it on to save others pain.

In other words, be stoic. Resigned fatalistically to whatever will come, able to deal with it sanely and constructively, wasting as little time as possible. Why be that way? Because it is pragmatic, it works in the real world, it leads to success, sanity, happiness and joy. It reduces illness and increases immunity. It lets the love out and in.

Crossing a bridge too far for some, sane stoic behavior is in tune with God’s Plan, it helps move the plan forward, whistling while we work.

The processing of fear and anger into solutions and action. The Bible speaks of any given tyrant, “but he hardened his heart” and held on to the rage bringing with it its underlying fear and attachment, and this led to his downfall. The hardening of hearts is out of control nowadays. We are privileged to live in such “interesting” times. We’re living through and collectively inputting into a historic moment – we can act shamefully or the hero/ine in us can emerge. That’s the Big Choice – the meaning of our times. The next octave of WWII, in our laps to handle.

The fear and rage are the ocean we swim in right now. It helps to tune in to your senses and be wherever you are with your environment without admitting the existence of any world beyond your senses and the immediate environment you can see. If you don’t see anything scary or that makes you angry in that scene, credit that. Cut off the thoughts and images and bad feelings associated with stuff that is not there with you right now. Only let in what is there right now. Works even better in nature. This is like an emergency switch for when you start worrying about politics and family safety. If it isn’t Here Now, stop focusing on it except when you have to prepare yourself for something specific.

Take joy at every moment when conditions permit. Choose joy. Fill your minutes and days with Joy as much as you can. Hold darkness at bay. You will be a joy lantern to others, who will like catching it.

Love to all,

Bill

 

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