Cosmic Mind And The Holographic Paradigm
The present day concept we hold of the Universe is far beyond anything the early Greek Philosophers such as Aristotle had in mind. In ancient geocentric views of the Universe, the earth held a primary position and the stars and planets (wanderers) of the heavens were just lights in a celestial sphere. There was no concept of a galaxy, supergalaxy, or cluster or supercluster in those ancient days. So the first thing we know about our Universe today is that we have a greatly enhanced concept of its size and its complexity. There are many more objects in our Universe than dreamt of by our ancient ancestors.
As concepts in Cosmology* improve, our understanding of the origin of our Universe and life in the Universe at large increase. When we consider our stature as humans, we may feel overwhelmed by the immensity of not just the visible universe, but the prospect of multiple universes. We then proceed from big U to little u. The prevailing scenario for the creation of the universe in Cosmology is called Inflation.** This model developed by Alan Guth of M.I.T. goes beyond the Big Bang. Essentially, Guth says that in the initial stages of creation the universe underwent a period of rapid inflation as if a balloon were expanded by a helium pump. There are up to 50 variations of this theory with little prospect of proving any one of them except by extremely delicate measurements made by instrumented satellites.
Not only are theories of creation of our universe being contemplated by cosmologists, but theories on the creation of many universes. These new theories seem to reflect an older idea that perhaps there was no beginning and no end to the creation of universes. That several universes may exist is a conclusion reached both in the world of macrophysics and microphysics, the world predominated by quantum theory.
In the philosophy of science books have been written about the Anthropic Principle. This principle states that if any of the physical constants were to vary from the fine-tuned values we have determined for them that life in the universe would be impossible. It is reasoned that the properties of our universe are special and conducive to life. Speculation has ensued on the whys and wherefores.
Finally we come to the gist of our thesis. The late Fred Hoyle, who died recently at age 86, will be remembered as one of the most distinguished and controversial scientists of the 20th century. Soon after the end of the second world war he became widely known both by scientists and the public as one of the originators of a new theory of the universe. He was a fluent writer and speaker and became the main expositor of this new theory of the steady state, or continuous creation, according to which the universe had existed for an infinite past time and would continue infinitely into the future, as opposed to what Hoyle styled the "big bang" theory.
Hoyle wrote a seminal book he titled The Intelligent Universe. He made many controversial statements in his book that raised the ire of the scientific community, but he was never one to shy away from a good argument and he engaged his critics with challenges that were impossible to ignore.
Central to the debate is whether life in the universe is a matter of accident, whether unguided events led to the evolution of all forms of life on earth. Hoyle concludes that random events and chance occurrences are insufficient to account for the complexity of living organisms and that a cosmic control system exists, that there is a hierarchy of intelligences beyond human up to a limit we call God. This was a most disturbing statement to make as a scientist and a former atheist.
According to Hoyle, "Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly minuscule as to make it absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favorable properties of physics, on which life depends, are in every respect DELIBERATE... It is therefore, almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect higher intelligences.. even to the limit of God."
He also said, "The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein... I am at a loss to understand biologists' widespread compulsion to deny what seems to me to be obvious."
And further, "I don't know how long it is going to be before astronomers generally recognize that the combinatorial arrangement of not even one among the many thousands of biopolymers on which life depends could have been arrived at by natural processes here on the earth. Astronomers will have a little difficulty in understanding this because they will be assured by biologists that it is not so, the biologists having been assured in their turn by others that it is not so. The 'others' are a group of persons who believe, quite openly, in mathematical miracles. They advocate the belief that tucked away in nature, outside of normal physics, there is a law which performs miracles (provided the miracles are in the aid of biology). This curious situation sits oddly on a profession that for long has been dedicated to coming up with logical explanations of biblical miracles... It is quite otherwise, however, with the modern miracle workers, who are always to be found living in the twilight fringes of thermodynamics."
He even wrote a further book titled The Mathematics of Evolution. In this he attempts to show with mathematics the constraints imposed on any Darwinian theory of evolution. Again critics attacked his work and even called his conclusions wrong.
Was Hoyle wrong or do we live in an intelligent universe, not one governed solely by blind chance?
The newest discoveries indicate that the expansion of our universe is accelerating and that our universe is filled with a mysterious dark energy and an equally mysterious quantity of dark matter.
Intelligent Design: A new cavalry has rushed to the rescue and calls its thesis, “Intelligent Design”. This new movement, starting with life sciences, has further raised the ire of conventional scientists. Critics of this rising tide of advocates allege that those who back this concept are just the old Christian Creationist in a new suit of clothes. However, Hoyle was no Creationist, and neither is Dr. Richard Thompson who prefers Eastern Religious Philosophy to that of Western. Also, advocates of ID say they are not Creationists in the old sense of the term and only wish to present an alternate paradigm for understanding life in the universe.
Who are these leading advocates of Intelligent Design? One is William A. Dembski, a philosopher and logician and Michael Behe, a very insightful biochemist. These two have been prolific in writing on this subject and are heavily criticized by the Darwinist who will not concede to Intelligent Design as science. It is predicted that this debate will grow.
Dembski describes the theory behind ID in an abstract: “For the scientific community intelligent design represents creationism's latest grasp at scientific legitimacy. Accordingly, intelligent design is viewed as yet another ill-conceived attempt by creationists to straightjacket science within a religious ideology. But in fact intelligent design can be formulated as a scientific theory having empirical consequences and devoid of religious commitments. Intelligent design can be unpacked as a theory of information. Within such a theory, information becomes a reliable indicator of design as well as a proper object for scientific investigation. Thus, perhaps information can be reliably detected and measured, and a conservation law formulated that governs the origin and flow of information. The broad conclusion may be that information is not reducible to natural causes, and that the origin of information is best sought in intelligent causes. Intelligent design thereby becomes a theory for detecting and measuring information, explaining its origin, and tracing its flow.
Information Theory: This brings us to other considerations that have been proposed for a universe that is rich in information. Cyberneticist David Foster also wrote a book he titled The Intelligent Universe, but his concept was the universe as data, as a cybernetic entity. Some of his concepts were simplistic and speculative, but he paved the way for more sophisticated theories of a cybernetic universe. These tentative theories see the universe as information and the information is processed according to instructions as one finds in a computer program. Of course, these theories imply the hidden existence of a programmer. We have had God as an Architect, a Dreamer, a Mathematician, an Engineer, and a Programmer. All of this seems rational, but scientists prefer the non-invocation of intelligent agents in the process of creation.
Mathematics: The importance of mathematics to science is such that we would not have science without mathematics. Quantities, measurements, equations, and formulas give us exactness in science. Probability theory has been used to demonstrate the improbability of a universe by accident. The internal harmony of universal processes can be analyzed with the aid of mathematics.
PI: The recurrent use of this mathematical ratio throughout physics and all natural sciences gives us one of the fundamental bases of all dynamic processes.
PHI: The Golden Section, the Fibonacci sequence has been found throughout the biological world and was a proportion most revered by the Greeks in architecting and arts.
E: The basis of the natural logarhythms is also found in many physical equations.
The Fine Structure Constant: designated as a = 0.007297352533 is one of those ubiquitous numbers found throughout microphysics.
There are so many special numbers and equations that show up in theories of the physical world that it is a marvel that we can use the predictive power of mathematics to forecast the future.
Consciousness: The last great frontier. We know of its existence in living entities, but its source and nature remains a scientific mystery. The pundits of the East say that all reality is based on consciousness.
The Eastern view of consciousness is that it is the Supreme Reality, and though we live in a world of form and condition, it itself remains without form or condition and projects all that we witness. The western view is that consciousness is restricted to organisms, with the human as the highest expression of consciousness. New ideas treat consciousness as universal and omnipresent.
Attempts are being made to construct a science of consciousness which calls on many disciplines. A recent conference on consciousness studies lists these subjects:
- Philosophy: conceptual foundations, qualia, ontology, explanation, self, intentionality, mental causation, reality, free will
- Neuroscience: neural correlates of consciousness, neuropsychology, vision, motor control, blindsight, anesthetic and psychoactive drugs, binding/integration
- Cognitive Science and Psychology: implicit processes, attention, metacognition, memory, language, emotion, sleep, cognitive models, artificial intelligence, animal consciousness
- Physical and Biological Sciences: quantum theory, space and time, evolution, biophysics, medicine, computational theory, quantum computation and information, life
- Phenomenology and Culture: first-person methods, religion and contemplative studies, anthropology, transpersonal psychology, hypnosis, parapsychology, aesthetics.
That such a basic subject calls upon our most developed sciences and progressive minds gives us an idea on how we are evolving toward a greater understanding of our role in the universe.
The Holographic Paradigm: The concept of the universe as a giant hologram containing both matter and consciousness as a single field will excite anyone who has asked the question, 'What is reality?'
London physicist David Bohm, a former protégé of Einstein's and one of the world's most respected quantum physicists, and Stanford neurophysiologist Karl Pribram, one of the architects of our modern understanding of the brain -- believe that the universe itself may be a giant hologram, quite literally a kind of image or construct created, at least in part, by the human mind. This remarkable new way of looking at the universe explains not only many of the unsolved puzzles of physics, but also such mysterious occurrences as telepathy, out-of-body and near-death experiences, "lucid" dreams, and even religious and mystical experiences such as feelings of cosmic unity and miraculous healings.
Borrowing ideas from holographic photography, the hologram is Bohm's favorite metaphor for conveying the structure of the Implicate Order. Holography relies upon wave interference. If two wavelengths of light are of differing frequencies, they will interfere with each other and create a pattern. "Because a hologram is recording detail down to the wavelength of light itself, it is also a dense information storage." Bohm notes that the hologram clearly reveals how a "total content--in principle extending over the whole of space and time--is enfolded in the movement of waves (electromagnetic and other kinds) in any given region." The hologram illustrates how "information about the entire holographed scene is enfolded into every part of the film." It resembles the Implicate Order in the sense that every point on the film is "completely determined by the overall configuration of the interference patterns." Even a tiny chunk of the holographic film will reveal the unfolded form of an entire three-dimensional object.
Proceeding from his holographic analogy, Bohm proposes a new order -- the Implicate Order where "everything is enfolded into everything." This is in contrast to the explicate order where things are unfolded. Bohm puts it thus:
"The actual order (the Implicate Order) itself has been recorded in the complex movement of electromagnetic fields, in the form of light waves. Such movement of light waves is present everywhere and in principle enfolds the entire universe of space and time in each region. This enfoldment and unfoldment takes place not only in the movement of the electromagnetic field but also in that of other fields (electronic, protonic, etc.). These fields obey quantum-mechanical laws, implying the properties of discontinuity and non-locality. The totality of the movement of enfoldment and unfoldment may go immensely beyond what has revealed itself to our observations. We call this totality by the name holomovement."
Bohm believes that the Implicate Order has to be extended into a multidimensional reality; in other words, the holomovement endlessly enfolds and unfolds into infinite dimensionality. Within this milieu there are independent sub-totalities (such as physical elements and human entities) with relative autonomy. The layers of the Implicate Order can go deeper and deeper to the ultimately unknown. It is this "unknown and indescribable totality" that Bohm calls the holomovement. The holomovement is the "fundamental ground of all matter."
Finally, the manifest world is part of what Bohm refers to as the "explicate order." It is secondary, derivative; it "flows out of the law of the Implicate Order." Within the Implicate Order, there is a "totality of forms that have an approximate kind of recurrence (changing), stability, and separability." It is these forms, according to Bohm, that make up our manifest world.
Bohm’s implicate order also led Bohm to consider a super intelligent agent as a causative force in the universe.
Some see the vision of a Cosmic Mind who has created, and is creating a manifold reality based on pure thought that manifests itself as order and energy, as a universe.
Cosmic Evolution: All evolution, whether particulate, galactic, biological, or mental is part of one virtually infinite progression and unfolding of an intelligent consciousness as a universe full of life. That this evolution may be charted, and studied at this stage in our sciences is remarkable and is probably one of the foremost studies that we could undertake. Science has previously left out of its purview subjects of spiritual interest such life after death or reincarnation or a search for moral and ethical laws beyond the purely mundane physical. The restrictive, reductionist approach to science is undergoing transformation with new holistic approaches and incursions into off-limit territories. Perhaps we will see the dawning of a new understanding of existence before the human race rushes to its ultimate extinction.
* Cosmology: A branch of study concerned with the origins and nature of the universe
** Inflation: Guth's startling theory states that in the billion-trillion-trillionth of a second before the big bang, there was a period of hyper-rapid "inflation" that got the big bang started.