Created December 9, 2022
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.
Unified Field Theory – Theories of Everything
Einstein died before completing his Unified Field Theory, which would have explained how gravitation, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces fit together and why each of those four forces existed at all.
He did not explicitly state any intention to include consciousness with the four physical forces (“physical” meaning matter and energy). However, without connecting the dots for us, his thought experiments which led to his relativity theories always included an observer. Somehow, he needed to use an observer in order to describe how reality works.
Einstein was intuitively certain that all scientific discoveries, which revealed to him beautiful complexities beneath the appearance of things, proved that there was an incredible intelligence behind the universe. To him it was highly unlikely that everything came together to form this universe completely by the accidental crashing of matter and energy.
John Wheeler, who had been highly influenced by Einstein when they collaborated on the building of the first atom bombs, went further than his mentor in drawing connections between consciousness and matter-energy. His theories of consciousness within a quantum physics framework evolved in two phases.
“Bits Before Its”
Wheeler concluded that the substrate underpinning matter-energy – asteroids, people, dogs, mountains, etc. – which he called “Its” – was preceded by encoded information (“Bits”) which was the blueprint for the It and its cause of existence.
This is eerily similar to the words of the Bible in Genesis, in which the matter-energy universe was created by a “Word”. A word is a form of encoded information.
The Participatory Anthropic Principle
Wheeler’s ultimate view of reality was that matter-energy preceded the existence of consciousness, and existed as probability waves rather than as concrete “Its”. It was not yet what we apprehend as matter and energy, it only became what we see and feel after our consciousness came into existence.
Wheeler did not comment on whether the universe was random or guided in its development of consciousness, but he did state that it was as if the universe somehow knew it needed to develop consciousness in order to collapse probability waves into the universe that we are able to behold.
What Changed During the History of Science
Reading about Wheeler and making inferences by reading between the lines, it seems that Wheeler did not want to risk his reputation by defying what has gradually become an unwritten convention of modern science. That convention is to assume that the human mind’s intuition of (and/or belief in) an intelligence as the source of the universe is “magical thinking”, “superstition”, and “anti-scientific”.
It had not always been that way. Going back to the earliest scientists (originally called “natural philosophers”) there was an easy coexistence between the idea which was named “God” long ago, and goes back much further than written language. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, Leibniz, the list goes on and on, there was never a binary schism where a person was forced to choose between spirituality and science, until the last few centuries when that hard line has been drawn. We take that dichotomy for granted due to our cultural conditioning. But the dichotomy is itself a theory, not a proven fact: no scientific proof exists that rules out the existence of an intelligence in the universe itself.
The denial of “God” (intelligence in the universe itself) became a style that was fashionable among scientists. It was fairly easy to convince many people to give up on that old-fashioned notion of God. The wars and injustices going around us at all times seemed supportive of the idea that the whole reality was an accident in the first place, and that we are left to deal with the “dog eat dog” bar brawl however we can.
Deeper thinkers rationalized the ability of crashing matter and energy to build complex and self-reproducing structures by accident by saying “In infinite time, everything has to occur” like a million monkeys playing with typewriters eventually writing “Hamlet”. But we have never observed crashing waves on a beach building a turreted, arch-windowed sand castle. Nor does probability theory inherently contain any mathematics that would require all possibilities to come to pass.
Nevertheless, the public absorbs the biased information they receive, and each individual makes a worldview out of it. Collectively at the present time (2022) the human race appears to largely pay lip service to the idea of “God” if they live in a place where this is the tradition, or they call themselves “atheists” if their personal community (e.g., most scientists today) has greater respect for that side of the dichotomy.
The Meaning of Life
A human being has the choice of what their purpose shall be in life. This choice can be made independently of the choice of what to think about the question of “God”. However, there is a covariance between these internal personal decisions. People who actually feel that God exists tend to choose more noble purposes in life, whereas people who are certain that God is a fiction tend to be motivated by money, power, sex, fame, and being treated with respect more than anything else.
With the U.S. for example moving from being 90% to 70% spiritual in the last 20 years, and knowing that the truly “spiritual behaving” people are a subset of even the 70%, the motivations we might refer to as “baser” (less noble) are on the rise. We’ve already seen the consequences of this and such consequences are not going away just because individual leaders are being cancelled.
Having an open mind rather than a prejudged bias about whether the universe is intelligent would appear to have a lot to do with the existential challenges the species now faces.
Separating God from Organized Religion
Organized religion has done more good than harm, but has done its share of harm. The cultural cancelling of “God” has apparently subconsciously undermined even clerics, causing some of them to behave as if they too are motivated by money, power, sex, fame, and being treated with respect, from which we might infer that their mental/emotional grip on the concept of God has been loosened. The Bible reports that even thousands of years ago well before modern science, clerics could go wrong in these ways. Today’s atmosphere of materialist accidentalism in science only feeds such derelictions within religious organizations.
The sense in which the writer suggests separating “God” from organized religion is this: many people jump to the hasty closure of throwing out the baby God with the bathwater organized religion. In considering that the universe may be intelligent and may have had a role in bringing about our conscious existence, we need to peel away that objective reconsideration from irrelevant side issues like the good vs. harm done by organized religions. One has nothing to do with the other in terms of logical rational thought, they are separate questions, and must not be muddled together.
Love to all,