consciousness, the big questions, Uncategorized

What Connects Matter and Consciousness?

This is one of the “big questions”. A lot of people have thought about it. Current thinking on the question is dominated by science. We are told by science that matter is primary, and consciousness secondary. Specifically, we are asked to believe that consciousness is a product of the brain (which is made of matter!), and located only in the brain. You will not be surprised to hear that I take a different view. For me, the key connecting link between matter and consciousness is energy. My reasoning is as follows.

Matter is not made of tiny solid things. It is made of energy. And energy is not a thing.

I have found it helpful to define energy as “that which consist simply in its own movement and order”. If you like, energy is “moving order”. It is only because it sometimes moves very quickly indeed, at the sub-atomic level, that it appears solid to us. As we shall, matter is a matter of perception!

The “movement” component of energy comes in many forms, such as cycles, rhythms and frequencies. Absolutely everything is in a state of movement, even those things that appear static to us. Things appear static to us only because they are far away – a star, for example – or because the movement is extremely slow, as in the case of a flower opening.

The “order” component of energy is why things make sense to us. In fact, we can usefully define order as “that which makes sense to us, now or at some time in the future”. If things were not ordered, we would not be able to make sense of them, now or at any time in the future. The fact that human knowledge is very extensive and constantly growing tells that many things make sense to us now, and many more things will make sense in the future. We know a lot! But we know a lot only because things are inherently “knowable”, and they are knowable because they are made of energy, which is “moving order”. Does this all make sense?

Let’s now look at consciousness.

Consciousness has been defined in many ways. For me, it is simply awareness. It comes in two forms – outer perception and inner perception. We perceive things outside us, in the world around us, such as matter. For this, we use our five senses, hearing and seeing etc. But we also perceive things inside us, such as our thoughts, our feelings, and the workings of our mind in general. For this, we use another kind of perception, for which there is no widely accepted term. In my opinion, consciousness is one and the same as perception.

Now here is the important key. Perception is possible only if there is something to be perceived. If there was nothing to be perceived – no world of matter out there, and no thoughts and feeling in here – we would not, and could not, be conscious. We are conscious only because the world enables consciousness, and it does this by being ordered, which makes it perceptible and knowable.

I am starting to think there are the makings of a book here!

 

christhomson1000@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

being natural, global change, human being, inner cosmos, Intelligence, less is better, natural, simplicity, Taoist, the big questions, Uncategorized

Joining the Dots

This is not the first time I have used this title. I assume I am using it again today because I want to solve the mystery. I want to see what the picture looks like, when all the dots are joined.

I had this thought this morning because I have just completed six long articles – three on The Inner Cosmos, and three on Intelligent Simplicity. They are part of plan to publicise my work more effectively. The plan is to publish a series of three articles every month on topics that best reflect my work. These include a very unusual range: the two mentioned above, as well as A Science of the Whole, the New Economics, Energy and Consciousness, and The 21st Century Taoist. My question to myself this morning is Why this range of topics?

I believe that part of the reason is that I have studied an unusual range – the natural science, economics, Chinese, and law, and all at university level. I also think it is because I am a heretic! I challenge orthodoxy wherever I find it…in economics, in science and medicine, as well as modernity itself, from which all current orthodoxy springs.

Some might say that I do this because I want to stand out, to be different, to be noticed. I think it goes much deeper than this. I think it is rooted in own deep sense of what the world is and what a human being is. Whatever they turn out to be, they far transcend the pictures of them painted by science. Although science may have some of the physical aspects of the world and the human being correct, it falls far short when it comes to their non-physical aspects, for the very simple reason that science denies that these aspects exist.

That’s it! That’s the picture the joined dots will paint. The dots will reveal what I have been trying to say all these many years, ever since the 60s. Some of my work attempts to describe the world and the human being, as I see them. Other parts of my work describe how our lives could be if the world and the human being were as I see them. Hence, the New Economics, A Science of the Whole, and The 21st Century Taoist.

The pictures are getting clearer every day.

global change, human being, the big questions, Uncategorized

A New Story – Part One

The story I am about to tell you is not all that new. It has been emerging for quite a long time, probably since the 1920s, when quantum physics arrived on the scene. Although some parts of the story are already established, it has still not entered the consciousness of the general public, and it is actively rejected by academia and mainstream media. It is rejected because it contradicts the “science story” – the account given by science of the nature and history of the universe and the human being. Although you may have never heard the science story in its entirety, some of it will be familiar to you. If we want to know what the new story is, there is probably no better place to start than the science story. What follows does not claim to be comprehensive, but I believe that I have captured the essentials. I should add that, although this is this is still the prevailing view in science, an increasing number of individual scientists are warming to the new story. The science story is as follows…

The universe began from nothing. To be fair, science tells us that it was not exactly nothing. It was a “singularity”, which existed before space time. In other words, it had no dimensions. Difficult to imagine? Yes. And difficult believe that the vast universe, including this planet with its myriad forms of life, came effectively from nothing? Sure. But let’s get on with the story.

The “laws of nature”, such as the laws of physics and chemistry, all came into existence in the first few nanoseconds of the life of the universe. This is what scientists seem to agree on. Clearly, it begs some big questions. For example, how do they know this? And how did it happen? How is it possible for a large set of complex principles, which did not exist a nanosecond earlier, suddenly to come into being? Although I can just about stretch my mind to imagine a singularity, I have to say that this part of the science story takes us into the realms of fantasy. This is by no means to suggest that I know how or when the laws of nature came into being, but I am reasonably sure that it did not happen this way. I will say more about this when we come to the new story.

The universe has no intrinsic meaning. It began for no apparent reason. If this is true, then we have to wonder why it bothered coming into being in the first place. In any event, presumably this absence of meaning applies to us too, because we are surely products of the universe. It is little comfort to tell ourselves that if everything is basically meaningless, then this statement must be meaningless too! In any event, is meaning a purely human construct? If so, are we sole exceptions in the universe? Highly unlikely, I would have thought.

Everything is physical.  Although scientists do not define the word “physical”, we know what it means. According to science, the whole universe is physical, and everything in it, including us. We are nothing more than our bodies. This implies that we do not exist before conception or after the death of our bodies. It also means that anything that, at first, appears not to be physical – such as consciousness – will eventually be shown to be physical in nature. It should be self-evident, but perhaps it needs to be stated that scientists believe everything is physical because they use only the physical mode of perception to explore the world and the human being. In other words, they rely only on their five physical senses, and on extensions to these senses, such as telescopes and microscopes. When we think about it, we realise that all scientific instruments are, ultimately, extensions to one or more of our five senses. If scientists used other, “non-physical” modes of perception to explore the world, the world would respond accordingly, by appearing to non-physical. This is a central feature of the new story. Meanwhile, the next part of the story follows naturally from this part.

Matter is primary, and consciousness is secondary. In other words, consciousness is believed a product of matter. This is why scientists say that consciousness is an “epiphenomenon of the brain”. This, too, has some far-reaching implications, such as the belief that consciousness can exist only within the brain. As we shall see, when we look at the new story, there is a lot of compelling evidence that consciousness can exist well beyond the brain.

Science’s emphasis of the physical and the material leads it to believe that the world and the human being can best be understood as “mechanisms”. This suggests that, if you really want to understand something, you take it apart, and see how its parts fit together and interact with each other – just like a machine. This “mechanistic worldview” is very evident in medicine and in pharmacology.

Science also wants us to believe that the universe contains disorder, chance and randomness. They tell us that some things happen by chance – such as life on this planet – and that some things lack order. The important point of this part of the science story is the claim that disorder and chance are inherent characteristics of the universe. This means that some things can never be explained. They just happen!

Science’s focus on mechanisms and parts takes us to the next part of its story – that the primary reality is to be found at the level of the very small – at the level of particles, waves and quanta. From this, it is a short step to the belief that causality is upwards. In other words, “prime causes” take place at the sub-atomic level. Everything else is secondary, a consequence of primary causes.

We are almost there! Although this may be obvious by now, it is worth stating explicitly that science believes that things are basically separate from each other, and connected only by physical forces, such as gravity and electromagnetism. This belief persists, despite long-standing evidence of “quantum entanglement”, which strongly suggests that things are anything but separate. This belief is separateness runs deep in our lives. It may, for example, be at the root of the loneliness and isolation many of us feel from time to time.

Human evolution happened more or less as Darwin described it. I might agree with this, if we were talking only about the evolution of our physical body. For scientists, this is all we are, our physical body. For me, and for the new story, we are much more than that. T If we are much more than that, this puts the whole of evolutionary biology into question.

Finally, and although this is not a formal part of the science story, it is implied that, while some religious and spiritual traditions can offer useful moral guidance, they cannot give us facts. Only science can give us facts! Yet, when we stop to think about it, we realise that most of the facts of our own lives come not from science. They come from our personal experience. The new story differs from the science story in many respects. Most importantly, it places us – human beings – right at the centre of the story.

Many scientists – indeed many people in general – think that the science story is a set of facts. As such, they are beyond argument. This is very evident when you hear Richard Dawkins speaking! The reality is that the science story is merely a set of beliefs. While it is true that some of these are based on careful observations and complex calculations, they are still beliefs. This is because science is always provisional. Its “facts” are not set in stone. They are not eternal truths. All of them are subject to change. Thus, the science story is believed to be true. This is significant, because it means that, as a set of beliefs, the science story is a worldview – a worldview that profoundly influences all aspects of our lives.

It influences our lives more than you might imagine. Most obviously, it is the basis of our knowledge. This, in turn, makes it the basis for our education. This is because a worldview tells us what is true and what is possible. The untrue and the impossible is very unlikely to be taught in our schools and our universities. Bu it goes much deeper than this. The science story is at the root of our values – what we believe to be important – and our behaviour. It follows that if we change our worldview, our core beliefs, then everything else changes. This is why the new story so important. It is because it will change our core beliefs, our values and our behaviour. Few will deny that the planet is crying out for us to change.

christhomson1000@gmail.com

 

 

 

human being, inner cosmos, the big questions, Uncategorized

The Very Big and the Very Small

Note to the reader: this is very much work in progress. These are all new thoughts. Please tell me where I might be mistaken and what you think is missing

 I am writing a book about the “inner cosmos”. It explores the relationship between the macrocosm and the microcosm, in line with the idea of “as above, so below”. It specifically looks at how this relationship affects us. Recently, I have begun to wonder whether science has its own version of “as above, so below”. I have done a lot of reading about this, and note that science has difficulty in connecting the very big with the very small. What do I mean by this? Scientists believe that the behaviour of the very big – galaxies, stars and planets – can be explained in terms of relativity. And they believe that the behaviour of the very small – atoms and particles – can be explained in terms of quantum physics. Despite many attempts over the last 100 years, scientists have been unable to connect relativity with quantum physics. For example, they cannot integrate gravity with the strong and weak nuclear forces. This remains one of the great quests in science.

I believe that scientists have been unsuccessful in this endeavour for one reason. They have not included us. They have focused their attention exclusively on the “outer, objective world”, and not taken account of the “inner subjective world”. They have not recognised that what seems to be “objective” can only ever be subjective. This is because the world “out there” is ultimately a product of the world “in here”. It is ultimately the world as seen through our eyes, from our human viewpoint.

Arguably, the defining characteristic of the very big is distance. The big things are distant from each other. Therefore, it takes time for things to happen. Time is clearly an important component of the very big. As you may know, relativity is all about the interplay of space and time. One form of this interplay is the bending of space-time in the presence of mass (such as planets and stars). Scientists have a name for this “warping” of space-time. They call it “gravity.” One of Einstein’s main contributions was to connect gravity with space and time.

In contrast, the defining characteristic of the very small is no distance! So, it takes no time for things to happen. This apparent absence of time is one of the central features of quantum physics, and it is one of the reasons why the behaviour of the very small seems weird.

Since it takes time for things to happen at the level of the very big, things appear to be disconnected, separate from each other. Conversely, since it takes no time for things to happen at the level of the very small, because distance is negligible, things happen instantaneously. Thus, things seem to be totally connected to each other. This “strange connectedness” is another important feature of quantum physics.

What I have just described implies “human relativity”. This probably needs a little explanation. Everything, from the very big to the very small, is relative to us. It is the world as perceived by us, as seen through human organs of perception, and from our human standpoint. It can be no other way. The big things are big and separate, only relative to us. The small things are small and connected, only relative to us. What the big and small things appear to be relative to themselves is quite another matter. Let us now explore this.

From its own viewpoint, the very large will seem to itself to have little distance between its parts, therefore little time. From its own perspective, the very large will appear to itself to be totally interconnected, just as, from our own perspective, our bodies seem to be totally interconnected. Separateness may be a uniquely human illusion. In any event, this suggests that, when seen from its own perspective, quantum physics may apply to the very big. This is because quantum physics is relevant to situations where time and separateness are not factors.

Similarly, from its own viewpoint the very small will seem to itself to be full of distance – atoms will be the equivalent of solar systems – therefore full of time. This suggests, does it not, that seen from its own perspective, relativity can be applied to the very small. This is because relativity is relevant to situations where space and time are present.

These are very early days in this exploration, so anything I say is very tentative. That said, one of the possible implications of “the theory of human relativity” is that, at the level of the very small, the nuclear forces within the atom my be the microcosmic equivalent of gravity. I say this because it was Einstein’s genius to make the connection between gravity and space-time. Now, if space and time are actually present at the level of the very small, albeit on a scale well below our normal perception, then there are likely to forces related to this microcosmic space-time. What we currently call the “nuclear forces” could equally well be called “micro-gravity”.

global change, the big questions, Uncategorized

The Big Questions

If you Google “the big questions”, you will be referred to a UK TV programme of that name. Although it poses some important questions, it rarely asks the truly big questions. We sometimes use the phrase and we know more or less what we mean by it. Today I would like to examine the topic more closely, and for a particular reason.

My friend Frank asked me to write a booklet on what needs to happen in the world today. My very short response is “fundamental change”. But, of course, I need to explain what I mean by this and how people might be induced to change fundamentally. The most powerful change I can think of is a change in our core beliefs. Change these, and everything else changes, including our values, our goals, and our lifestyles and behaviour. Much depends on how we answer the “big questions”. This is a centrally important issue. In this short paper I will simply outline the main parameters of the discussion. In the booklet I will lay out all the arguments.

Here is my own personal list of the “big questions”, in no particular order…

Is the universe wholly physical and material, or is it non-physical and spiritual too?

Is the universe without intrinsic meaning and purpose, or is it wholly meaningful and purposeful?

Did the universe, and life, happen by chance, or are they the deliberate product of some immense intelligence and part of some great purpose?

Is there no “God”, or could “God” be one and the same as the intelligent, purposeful universe?

Is consciousness simply a product of matter (i.e. the brain), or is matter the product of some greater consciousness?

Is our home planet just a large physical ball, or is it a “being”, in the sense of being alive, intelligent and consciousness?

The same question for stars and other parts of the universe

Do we exist only after conception and until the death of our body, or do we exist before conception and after the death of our body?

Are paranormal experiences, such as telepathy, precognition and NDEs, impossible (as claimed by science), or are they not only possible but perfectly natural?

This does not claim to be a full list of the big questions, but I think it is a useful sample for this discussion. It will no doubt be obvious that if you answer in the affirmative to all or most of the first parts of the questions, then these will be your core beliefs, and you will subscribe to the materialist worldview, which is the worldview of science. I hope that it is also obvious that if you do happen to subscribe to that worldview, this will strongly influence all aspects of your life, such as your values (what you believe to important), your goals (your central purpose), and your lifestyle and behaviour. If a majority of people in society have these materialist core beliefs, then society as a whole will reflect this. It will be very materialistic, with a tendency towards atheism, and with a strong belief in the “truths” of science. I hardly need add that this is the situation in many countries today, and the consequences are clear to anyone who has been paying attention. We have created unprecedented problems. This requires unprecedented solutions.

So, yes, humanity does need to change fundamentally. For this to happen, change has to occur at the deepest level, at the level of our core beliefs. How we approach and respond to the big questions is at the heart of this change.

 

christhomson1000@gmail.com