a speculative exploration of the post-revolution landscape
PARTIAL DRAFT FOR REVIEW
Science and its domains
Scientific inquiry is pursued more or less independently in each of its domains – the various branches of science. In each domain there is a standard model – the ‘consensus view’ in that branch of science. In cosmology, for example, the standard model is the big-bang model, based on gravitational forces and nuclear-powered stars. In anthropology the standard model could be called the ‘linear progress’ model, based on the assumption that humans had always been hunter-gatherers until about 10,000 years ago, when agriculture, herding, and civilization began to emerge.
Many of the important standard models of science are today in a state of flux. That is, the latest research in the domain is coming up with more and more observations that the model is unable to account for. Standard-model scientists respond to this troublesome evidence by seeking ways to elaborate their models. They invent new assumptions in order to account for the observations, like cosmologists have done by assuming the existence of dark matter and dark energy.
There is a quite understandable attachment that develops, between the scientists in a domain, and their standard model. Careers and reputations have been based on work done within that model, and the model has presumably served to explain a great many things. The choice to keep trying, to fix the model, is much more attractive, psychologically, than the choice to abandon the model based on the new evidence. Abandonment of the model would be tantamount to abandoning ones professional identity.
While a new body of evidence may be disruptive to one group of scientists, that same evidence may represent opportunity for some other group of scientists. We see a good example of this in cosmology, where the standard model is being challenged by the electric model (See: The Thunderbolts Project).
The scientists of the Thunderbolts Project do not come out of the cosmology or astronomy communities. They come more from electrical engineering and plasma research. They are pointing to the troublesome data being returned by space probes, and showing how their model accounts for all of it in a very elegant way. If the electric model is accepted as the new standard model, which seems inevitable, these scientists will gain in prestige and in access to research resources. Meanwhile the old-model cosmologists would presumably face some degree of disruption as regards their professional work and identity.
This pattern is typical of what’s happening in many domains of science these days. In each case, some ‘outside group’ is developing a promising new model, and is threatening to invade and take over leadership of the domain from the old guard. The threat is real from a scientific perspective, but you’d never know it from the standard-model researchers, who continue to elaborate their models, completely ignoring the outside invaders and their models.
Among the domains that are now under serious attack by promising new models we can count cosmology, human history, archeology, geology, physics, consciousness, genetics & evolution, weather, climate, and electrodynamics. From an objective scientific perspective, each of these new models has become the best working hypothesis for that domain – based on its ability to better explain the data of the domain, as compared to the current standard model. Nonetheless, the various standard models are still accepted as ‘truth’ by mainstream science.
The emergence of a new scientific landscape
As a result of all this, we are on the verge of an historic scientific revolution, affecting every branch of science – and mainstream scientists don’t seem to see it coming. This presents a rare opportunity for independent researchers to ‘get in the game’ and help expand the boundaries of human understanding. The opportunities are greatest for the generalist, who takes the time to look at all the emerging new models, and can then go on to explore the implications of the post-revolution scientific landscape – even though the revolution itself is still in its formative stages.
Just as mainstream science is pursued separately in each of its domains, so are the new models being pursued independently of one another. Each of the ‘outside groups’ is focused on trying to gain ground for its model – elaborating the model further, gathering more evidence for it, presenting it at conferences, etc. Each of these groups is on a mission to claim a domain, and has neither the time nor the inclination to keep up with the skirmishes going on in the other domains.
Even though the new models are being pursued independently, the models themselves have inherent connections to one another. They are pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, and the image when the puzzle is assembled cannot be perceived by looking at the pieces one by one. That image is the post-revolution scientific landscape, and it turns out to be dramatically different than the standard-models landscape. As dramatically different as the changes that occurred in the landscape due to the combined influence of Copernicus, Newton, and Darwin.
In this paper I’ll be taking a few of the new puzzle pieces, exploring how they fit together, and speculating, in a reasoned way, on what the implications might be. The new models collectively challenge some of the most fundamental assumptions of mainstream science. The new landscape will be not only different in form, it will also be an expanded landscape, bringing in realms that have heretofore been off-limits to serious consideration.
Science, materialism, and consciousness
At the very core of mainstream science is the assumption that the universe is entirely materialistic. Atoms and molecules lead to cells and organisms, and consciousness emerges as a function of neural activity, when that activity evolves to a sufficient level of complexity. There is no meaning or purpose to the universe, apart from the imaginings and delusions of humans and their religions – there is only the more or less random evolution of material configurations. Richard Dawkins is the most vocal and prolific expounder of this materialist perspective, a perspective that mainstream scientists subscribe to without ever thinking to question it.
There is another model of consciousness, with considerable empirical evidence to back it up, which says consciousness is not embodied in the brain. Rather consciousness exists apart from the brain, and outside the domain of physics. The function of the brain, in this model, is to serve as a kind of interface-module / computer, enabling consciousness to interact with the five senses, with the body, and with the physical world. This we can call the ‘metaphysical model’ of consciousness.
Evidence for the metaphysical model comes in the form of ‘unexplainable’ experiences. An unconscious patient, registering no electrical brain activity at all during a critical operation, reports later that he observed the operation from the ceiling, and is able to describe specific things that happened during the operation. There are many, many reliable reports of unexplainable experiences of various kinds, all of which indicate that consciousness exists apart from brain functioning, and exhibits properties that violate the rules of materialist science. Dean Radin is one of the best-known researchers in this area, and his book, The Conscious Universe, gives a good overview of the research and thinking in this area.
I submit that we also need to consider as evidence the testimony of mystics – those who claim to have experienced special states of consciousness, and who have experienced the direct ‘knowing’ that consciousness is not of this world.
One can often attribute a degree of credibility to a given mystic, on the basis that he or she was noted for a high level of wisdom and integrity in their day. And a degree of credibility can also be found in the similarity of testimonies, from mystics in different parts of the world, and in different historical eras. It would appear that they are achieving the ability to ‘see’ something real, and they all seem to be seeing the same general thing.
For the materialist model, on the other hand, there isn’t much in the way of evidence. It’s just an assumption to say that consciousness is an electrical property of the brain, and it’s an assumption that is contradicted by considerable evidence. The fact that certain parts of the brain ‘light up’, when a certain kind of activity is underway, is quite consistent with the notion that the brain is an interface module, called into play when our consciousness wants to interface with the physical world in some particular way.
In what follows I will be accepting as a working hypothesis the metaphysical model of consciousness – because it is the model that seems to be most consistent with all the evidence. That is to say, our minds are in another domain, a non-physical domain. Our brain is not conscious; it is an electro-chemical organ, whose role is to organize our body’s response to the intention of our mind.
Once we adopt this hypothesis, a rabbit hole opens, and I’m not sure yet, in terms of this investigation, how deep the rabbit hole goes. I do know it goes quite deep, and that’s what we’ll be exploring in the next few sections of this paper.
Consciousness, life, and evolution
Anyone who has ever had a pet dog has probably experienced that their dog’s consciousness is not qualitatively different than human consciousness. As regards things like ‘appreciating companionship’, ‘wanting to please’, ‘feeling guilty’, or ‘being loyal’, their consciousness seems to be of the same stuff as our own.
In any case, it makes no sense in terms of evolutionary process to think that the mind-brain system could be unique to the human species. To assume that mind first came in with humans would imply that the brain got re-engineered in the same evolutionary step. Indeed it would be saying that other animals have a more advanced brain than ours, one that can simulate the functions that we rely on consciousness for.
From an evolutionary perspective it seems we must accept (having already accepted our hypothesis) that having a mind – which exists in the domain of consciousness – is a property common to the animal kingdom. There isn’t anywhere we could mark a spot on the evolutionary tree of animals, and say ‘mind came in here’. If it was ‘here’ it must have also been ‘there’ – one step back in evolution – or the preceding species couldn’t have functioned.
So consciousness was there at the very beginning, when the first life form wiggled about in some primordial sea. But again, if consciousness was there for the wiggling, it must have also been there for the step just before wiggling began, etc. That is to say, consciousness must play a fundamental role in the evolutionary process itself.
If our minds have the power to influence the electrical functioning of our brains, then clearly that means the domain of consciousness has the power to influence the physical domain in ways that are manifested as electric and magnetic fields. By such means certain molecules could be pulled toward certain other molecules, in the primordial seas. Before the evolution of life began, there was the evolution of organic molecules. We have no real basis to be certain that this preceding evolutionary process occurred entirely randomly.
Each living organism can be seen as a vehicle enabling the interaction of a mind with the physical world – enabling a mind to experience the physical world. Or to put it in other words, a living organism is a manifestation of consciousness within the physical domain. If we step back and look at the whole picture, we can see life itself, and its evolutionary process, as a manifestation of consciousness in the physical domain.
This brings us to a reconsideration of teleology – the notion that there is some kind of purpose to life, and some kind of purpose behind the direction evolution has taken. If all of life is a manifestation of consciousness, is there any real reason to assume that it’s a random manifestation?
When we do anything in the physical world, the purpose and the will behind what we’re doing exists in our minds, in the domain of consciousness. Purpose and will are qualities that consciousness possesses, and which are meaningless in the physical domain. In the case of a single organism, purpose and will are indeed the most fundamental functions of consciousness, and out of those spring the ongoing mental and physical behavior of the organism.
If we see life and evolution as a manifestation of consciousness, and if purpose and will are fundamental qualities of consciousness, then it is not unreasonable to entertain the hypothesis that some purpose – in the domain of consciousness – is being pursued in the physical world by evolution as it has unfolded. We may perhaps be able to understand something of what such a purpose might be, by examining the path evolution has taken.
The coevolution of species and mind
An organism exists partly in the physical domain (body), and partly in the consciousness domain (mind). In order for the organism to function coherently, it seems self-evident that the body and mind must be in balance with one another; there must be a congruence between the morphology of the mind and the scope of behaviors of the organism.
That is to say, the scope of thought-patterns that a mind can contemplate must be closely related to the scope of behaviors that the organism can get up to in the course of its life. A butterfly has no mind-space with which to contemplate the Pythagorean Theorem.
Thus mind has coevolved with species. As species have grown in complexity and scope, minds have grown similarly in complexity and scope. The process of species evolution has enabled mind evolution. For mind to have the capacity to appreciate music, for example, there must emerge at some point a species that can make music.
Life, meaning, and purpose
The American comic & philosopher Bill Hicks used to have a sequence in his shows along the theme that “Life is just a ride”. From the perspective of the consciousness domain, the life of an organism provides a ‘ride’ for the mind of the organism, a ride that has a beginning, middle, and end – with thrills and spills along the way. Evolution, to continue the metaphor, is the ongoing development of a theme park, Gaia Land, where ever more elaborate rides and experiences are on offer.
You and I are now on a recently constructed ride, the human ride. We can thank evolution for building this ride for us. ‘We’, as I’ve used the term here, being our minds. We are our minds – we are not of this physical world. We are strangers in a strange land, born attached to baby bodies, having no idea what’s in store for us, as in our vanishing memory we hear the roller coaster going click, click, click up the incline – making the scary plunge into life unavoidable.
At one level then, we could say that the purpose of life is to enable minds to have worldly experiences, and the purpose of species evolution is to enable the emergence of minds with an increasingly elaborated capacity for consciousness. We humans, who possess the most elaborated consciousness, are then manifestations of the purpose of life and evolution. If we are thankful for being the minds we are, and for experiencing a human life, then we are certifying that these purposes have been sound ones. Good job so far, evolution.
Not meaning to attribute greater value to human life than any other life, we do need to acknowledge that humans, with our imaginations, cultures, and languages, are the ‘gem of creation’ – as regards elaboration of consciousness. We alone have the capacity of self-reflection, and the capacity to contemplate the meaning and purpose of life and the universe. This capacity, I suggest, may mean that we have a conscious role to play in evolution.
Evolution proceeds in stages. I’ve suggested earlier that the first stage was in fact the evolution of organic molecules. The emergence of plants marked another stage along the line, animals another stage, and humans are the latest stage. Each stage has provided a platform, upon which the next stage could be built.
I think it is clear that we’ve come pretty much to the end of the line as regards species evolution on Earth. The question then arises, is the mere existence of humans and other species the end purpose of evolution? Or does the existence of humans mean that a platform has now been created for evolution of another kind to be carried out? Molecules went as far as they could; species have gone as far as they can – has the baton been passed to the human minds in the physical world to carry on further with the purpose of evolution?
There is a very interesting book by the German author, Stefan Andres, We are God’s Utopia. The title itself opens up an intriguing line of inquiry. If the most evolved minds in creation can only experience themselves by living lives as humans, then where could heaven ever be, if not here? That is to say, if that thing we all yearn for – some kind of living paradise – is ever to happen, it must be made to happen here, the only place it can be experienced.
If the purpose of evolution is the emergence of paradise, then it would seem to be up to us to realize that fact, and up to us to do something about it, if anything is to be done. Or perhaps paradise is not the purpose. Perhaps ongoing human experience in a flawed world is a means of continuing to elaborate consciousness, and there is no next stage to evolution in the physical domain.
I’ve ventured as far into this particular rabbit hole as I feel capable of going. There may or may not be a next stage of evolution, and if there is it might manifest in this world, or it might manifest only in the doman of consciousness. We may not be able to determine the final meaning and purpose of life, but I, as a thankful mind, suggest that in evolution we are seeing a purposeful process, and that things of real value have been created as a result.
TO BE CONTINUED – next section:
Scalar waves and their properties