God only knows

It is all, let’s admit, unprovable. All – reality, God, no-God, meaning, purpose etc. That’s because there is no independent starting point, no external (to the Universe) objective truth. That is, there may well be – but it isn’t available to us as humans and to our thinking minds. That being so – all is conjecture and belief. I have been irritated by the messaging from materialists and atheists that tries to claim that “science” dis-proves God. They are trying to manipulate, and they do – or should – know better. However, as atheists can’t prove Un-God, neither can other religions prove God.

However there is the small matter of probability, and it seems to me highly unlikely that there is no God. This does not speak to what God might be. Declaring my hand, I do believe in God as personal and loving – but that is belief. However, if God were defined as “that which came before” or ” the ultimate cause outside existence”, then it seems to me overwhelmingly likely that God exists.

Cosmologists agree that the chain of events that have led to this existence are not random. The likelihood that the Universe – with it’s 26 physical constants (eg the exact speed of light etc) – is a random event is vanishingly small. Think of it –  from the “Big Bang” through rapid inflation of the Universe, pausing every now and then just long enough to create stars, the elements, the conditions for life and then an aware and self-conscious mankind. At every stage, if the “laws” of physics were just fractionally different – we wouldn’t be here. You only have to read the discoveries of science – and wipe away the slant that materialists would like to put on them..

In the face of this mountain of evidence that the Universe is not random, atheists and materialists hold up a model of Multiple Universes. This is their line of defence against God, or at least a God as I defined earlier. They do this because they can then say that in an infinity of Universes there would be one that had just the right conditions for awareness and life – and we think that’s special because we happen to be in it. Let me pause here simply to contrast probabilities. All agree that this Universe is infinetly unlikely. Which is more probable? Either that there is a creative impulse that set up the Universe (I define this as God), or that infinite Universes arises all the time and we happen to keep on track with the only one where awareness is possible? Leave aside the question of what was the creative impulse behind setting up the infinite Universes.

The Multiple Universes theory is  the “alternative” explanation to the Copenhagen Interpretation of the observer effect which has been proven in Quantum Mechanics. (There is a third, a kind of fudge called Environmental Decoherence – but that anyway relies on the Universe being singular and everything in it relative).

Revisiting what these theories attempt to address. Experiments show that everything exists (at least at the quantum level) as possibility – until observed. It is the act of observation that collapses possibility into a single reality. This isn’t contentious, simply fact established by experiment time and time again. (For me this leads to the critical role of consciousness, us, as reality engines. We crystallise out reality by our observation.).

” Before observation, a particle is in a superposition state of all possible values. During measurement, what causes the reduction of this state to a single value?” (Hidden in Plain Sight: The fundamental link between relativity and quantum mechanics. Andrew Thomas). Einstein famously could not refute the conclusions of these quantum experiments, but couldn’t accept them because he couldn’t explain them – “What I am really interested in is whether God could have the world in a different way; that is, whether the necessity of logical simplicity leaves any freedom at all”.

The Many Worlds Interpretation states that all the time the world is splitting into infinite Universes. Therefore the collapse of superposition into one state of reality is not caused by the observer, it is that the observer is also splitting infinitely. There is a logical problem with this however. To work – the “observer” has to be in a state of superposition before the observation (so that it can continue to split infinitely as supposedly does the “observed”. Yet the observer is not, the observer is in a single well-defined state.

So, for what it’s worth. This is why I believe that Un-God is overwhelmingly Un-likely. There is one Universe (Uni-verse!). It is agreed by all scientists that it is almost inconceivably un-likely that the conditions within this Universe leading to conscious life is random. It it’s simplest if God is defined as the primal cause, then God exists.

God, then at least as “the Word existing beyond Time and Space”. An implication of this logic is that, here and now, the nature of God is un-knowable (since we exist IN Time and Space). The nature of God, then, and not the existence of God is a matter of belief.

For me anyway…

 

Touching the Flow

I’m bumbling  bee not its sting

Flight of the gull not its wing

Not noun or thing-y at all

‘Cos I’m the bounce of a ball

Hop of a bird and its call

The verb, I am is to be

Container containing set free

Strong brown god striving to sea

For reading click here … touching the flow

All is not as it seems. Physics and Philosophy are pointing us to integration rather than differentiation. To wholeness rather than fragmentation.

The Nobel prize physicist David Bohm proposed that language is reshaped to focus on verbs, rather than nouns (subjects & objects). He calls this a “rheomode”, reflecting a reality of flow, of movement. He also picks up the insight of existential philosopher Martin Buber that we are the sum of our relationships – each to each.

And it’s relationship of waves not matter. In recent work Milo Wolff has shown that when thought of as intersecting standing waves, then reality can be described by simple equations. It is no longer necessary to invent a veritable zoo of exotic particles – and “dark” matter and energy. Wolff’s work is not new, but based on work by Maxwell, Schrodinger and Einstein.

Our watchwords, or better – watching words – and focus is shifting..

From nouns – to verbs..From quanta – to waves..From individuals – to connections..From fragmentation – to wholeness

.. or as Teilhard de Chardin would say – to the Omega Point – where humanity awakens to the reality of the whole, love.

Joy beyond angst?

It is politically correct to assume a materialistic existence built on a series of microscopic random events unfolding in intransitive time. We live in the ship of our ego, afloat on an ocean of materialism. No wonder we are full of loneliness and fear.

Sigmund Freud observed that the more you avoid a fear, or abyss, the unhealthier you become. All of the mechanisms of dealing with unconscious pain (projection, avoidance, repression etc) simply lead at best to neurosis, at worst to psychosis.

The big fear, the monster lurking in the deeps is existential angst. The terror of nothingness inside the tiny baby inside each of us. How, then, to deal with that? It’s worth tackling, since our insecurity is rooted right there. The more secure a person is, then the more listening, creative, compassionate, generous, talented and capable of joy they are. Insecurity spawns withdrawal, narcissism, unhappiness and disconnection. So that horizons contract to world as prison.

How then does security arise?  Where do we find an ability to live in confidence? (Con Fides; with trust)? Some simply have faith. Probably they were securely attached as children. What about the rest of us?

Science is uncovering deep meaning at the most fundamental level. Experiments on matter at the most microscopic levels shows that existence is an infinite series of possibilities, potential – until observed. It is the act of observation that, in effect, crystallises out this particular existence from the cloud of possibilities. What then is this act of becoming, of creation that we are engaged upon together? . Surely there must be an “observer” to create this particular reality. Sure enough, our species are the most efficient engines of observation, whether through science or the arts. We each of us spend our life in observation (or as some would call it – witness, some knowledge). Interestingly our gathering of knowledge is escalating in a geometric progression. (Are we approaching Teilhard de Chardin’s “Omega Point”?)

It appears to me our purpose as humans is to be just this – engines of observation crystallising out existence; and we do this together. That puts the onus on us collectively. It is OUR task to work for “good effect” – rather than trying to live with our eyes tight closed against the fear that we float on a sea of random meaninglessness.

…and then comfort comes; and connection and joy. Atman replaces ego, and angst evaporates. Until we forget and have to realise it all over again.

Let us become conscious of infinity

Humanity is only half conscious, because conscious only of finity. Collectively we are unconscious. Surely, we are in the process of birth into consciousness, together, of infinity.

Now.  Humanity is conscious of itself, himself, herself. Self-conscious. Even that is a marvel,  the “phenomenon” which distinguishes our species.

But, within that -we are generally conscious only of finity. (Death is certain, our ego will cease). Ego does NOT want to be conscious of infinity. (Have you ever experienced the terror of existential angst?)

Yet, in glimpses – “through a glass darkly” – I (and thus surely many of us) have been conscious of infinity as pure love. “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well” according to Eliot. I wish for each and all of us that we die to sorrow and are born to joy. Infinity as the “word existing beyond time” as the Book of Common Prayer has it, or the release from the cycle of birth and death as Buddhists and Hindus express it.

Now, being conscious only of finity we are still trapped in the cycle of death and birth. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin describes an approaching Omega Point as a supreme consciousness. Then, being conscious of infinity, we will have arrived. Together.

Here is an extract from the Wikipedia entry on “The Phenomenon of Man” by Teilhard de Chardin. The book is wonderful – floridly French and yet scientifically profound. If you have time it really repays to consider it together with Harari’s “Homo Deus”. We should welcome Artificial Intelligence but struggle to keep learning and knowledge in our common, societal hands….

“Teilhard views evolution as a process that leads to increasing complexity. From the cell to the thinking animal, a process of psychical concentration leads to greater consciousness. The emergence of Homo sapiens marks the beginning of a new age, as the power acquired by consciousness to turn in upon itself raises mankind to a new sphere. Borrowing Huxley’s expression, Teilhard describes humankind as evolution becoming conscious of itself.
In Teilhard’s conception of the evolution of the species, a collective identity begins to develop as trade and the transmission of ideas increases Knowledge accumulates and is transmitted in increasing levels of depth and complexity. This leads to a further augmentation of consciousness and the emergence of a thinking layer that envelops the earth.Teilhard calls the new membrane the “noosphere” (from the Greek “nous”, meaning mind), a term first coined by Vladimir Vernadsky. The noosphere is the collective consciousness of humanity, the networks of thought and emotion in which all are immersed.
The development of science and technology causes an expansion of the human sphere of influence, allowing a person to be simultaneously present in every corner of the world. Teilhard argues that humanity has thus become cosmopolitan, stretching a single organized membrane over the Earth. Teilhard describes the process by which this happens as a “gigantic psychobiological operation, a sort of mega-synthesis, the “super-arrangement” to which all the thinking elements of the earth find themselves today individually and collectively subject”. The rapid expansion of the noosphere requires a new domain of psychical expansion, which “is staring us in the face if we would only raise our heads to look at it”.
In Teilhard’s view, evolution will culminate in the Omega Point, a sort of supreme consciousness. Layers of consciousness will converge in Omega, fusing and consuming them in itself. The concentration of a conscious universe will reassemble in itself all consciousnesses as well as all that we are conscious of. Teilhard emphasizes that each individual facet of consciousness will remain conscious of itself at the end of the process.”

Touching the Flow

Poetically…

No no I’m never no thing

I’m bumbling  bee not its sting

Flight of the gull not its wing

Not noun or thing-y at all

‘Cos I’m the bounce of a ball

Hop of a bird and its call

The verb, I am is to be

Container containing set free

Strong brown god striving to sea

Prosaically…

All is not as it seems. Physics and Philosophy are pointing us to integration rather than differentiation. To wholeness rather than fragmentation. This requires that we change the way we relate to each other. In the language of neural networking – to focus on edges and synapses rather than points and neutrons.

David Bohm proposes (“Wholeness and the Implicate Order”) that language is reshaped to focus on verbs, rather than nouns (subjects & objects). He calls this a “rheomode”, reflecting a reality of flow, of movement. Elsewhere, for instance in “On Dialogue” he picks up the insight of existential philosopher Martin Buber – that reality is in relation, not the thing (“Ich-Du”).

The world, as Buber says, is two-fold. Everything can be described simultaneously either as bits – quanta – or waves. We appear to have achieved mastery by conceiving reality in terms of the material. To be investigated by smashing into fragments. However consider, just for a moment, the REAL basis of a theory – the standard model – which purports to explain material reality; but depends on conjuring “dark matter” and “dark energy”. For “dark” read – “we don’t know, but we need it to make our equations work”. How much of this “dark” stuff is necessary for the equations to work? 95% of all that is… You have to say that physicists have chutzpah. Not only does this dark stuff account for 95% of everything – but these guys are really precise about what they don’t know – Dark matter accounts for 23.3 percent of the cosmos, and dark energy fills in 72.1 percent [source: NASA]

Meanwhile, fortunately, considering reality as a wave is much more productive. In recent work Milo Wolff has shown that when described as intersecting standing waves, then reality can be described by simple equations. It is no longer necessary to invent a veritable zoo of exotic particles – and “dark” matter and energy. Wolff’s work is not new, but based on work by Maxwell, Schrodinger and Einstein.

Our watchwords, or better – watching words – and focus is shifting..

From nouns – to verbs..From quanta – to waves..From individuals – to connections..From fragmentation – to wholeness

.. or as Teilhard de Chardin would say – to the Omega Point – where humanity awakens to the reality of the whole.

Teilhard calls the contributing universal energy that generates the Omega Point “forces of compression”. Unlike the scientific definition, which incorporates gravity and mass, Teilhard’s forces of compression sources from communication and contact between human beings. This value is limitless and directly correlated with entropy. It suggests that as humans continue to interact, consciousness evolves and grows.

The (ephemeral) phenomenon of man

De Chardin wrote his “Phenomenon of Man” in the 1930s. I read it at University where I studied evolution, and it has been a constant influence since then. Like Jung and Buber he speaks to a unity of spirit and material. Indeed he saw the whole evolution of the universe as a story of coalescence of consciousness driven by the force of Love (aka God). Marked by phase transitions from physical evolution to chemical through biological now to the world of pure ideas, Homo Sapiens is a waypoint. A phenomenon, yes – because in us consciousness has become self aware; but ephemeral. A stage and not the end, or final purpose.

Around the same time Wilfred Bion identified the mind as simply a developing apparatus to help humans tolerate and organize experience.

“The apparatus for thinking, the capacity to have thoughts “has to be called into existence to cope with thoughts” (1967, p. 111). Thoughts exist prior to their realization. Thinking, the capacity to think the thoughts which already exist, develops through another mind providing α-function (1962, p. 83)—through the “container” role of maternal reverie.”

Our mind is the mechanism by which thoughts are made concrete.

Richard Dawkins simply stole these ideas, regurgitating them as his “memes”. Unfortunately he stripped them of context and hence of their meaning. Bions context was maternal reverie and de Chardins was Love – “the most powerful and most unknown energy in the world”. Rather than originality Dawkins simply displays through his evangelism a childlike rage against what he conceives of as God (in the image of his own father perhaps?).

I believe absolutely in purpose and progress; that there is meaning to existence and to our part in an unfolding story. I would wish that we each set aside our personal imagining of God (even when we label this “Science” or “Humanity”) and instead share this fundamental premise, and wonder together about miraculous existence.

What then of the darkness of Man? Of our destruction of the planet, of the holocaust, of loss of society to the maw of technology?

Perhaps we should look forward to a next chapter where humans are recombined with machines and connected in a giant web. Perhaps rather than contemplating that with fear – we should embrace this future as Love’s path to the Omega Point.?

Here below is Wikipedia’s summary of the book. A work of prophesy if ever there were one.

Reprint of Wikipedia ..

“The Phenomenon of Man (Le phénomène humain) is a 1955 book written by the French philosopher, paleontologist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. In this work, Teilhard describes evolution as a process that leads to increasing complexity, culminating in the unification of consciousness

The book was finished in the 1930s, but was published posthumously in 1955, and translated into English in 1959. The Roman Catholic Church initially prohibited the publication of some of Teilhard’s writings on the grounds that they contradicted orthodoxy.

The foreword to the book was written by one of the key advocates for natural selection and evolution of the 20th century, and a co-developer of the modern synthesis in biology, Julian Huxley.

Teilhard views evolution as a process that leads to increasing complexity. From the cell to the thinking animal, a process of psychical concentration leads to greater consciousness.[3] The emergence of Homo sapiens marks the beginning of a new age, as the power acquired by consciousness to turn in upon itself raises mankind to a new sphere.[4] Borrowing Huxley’s expression, Teilhard describes humankind as evolution becoming conscious of itself.[5]

In Teilhard’s conception of the evolution of the species, a collective identity begins to develop as trade and the transmission of ideas increases.[6] Knowledge accumulates and is transmitted in increasing levels of depth and complexity.[7] This leads to a further augmentation of consciousness and the emergence of a thinking layer that envelops the earth.[8] Teilhard calls the new membrane the “noosphere” (from the Greek nous”, meaning mind), a term first coined by Vladimir Vernadsky. The noosphere is the collective consciousness of humanity, the networks of thought and emotion in which all are immersed.[9]

The development of science and technology causes an expansion of the human sphere of influence, allowing a person to be simultaneously present in every corner of the world. Teilhard argues that humanity has thus become cosmopolitan, stretching a single organized membrane over the Earth.[10] Teilhard describes the process by which this happens as a “gigantic psychobiological operation, a sort of mega-synthesis, the “super-arrangement” to which all the thinking elements of the earth find themselves today individually and collectively subject”.[8] The rapid expansion of the noosphere requires a new domain of psychical expansion, which “is staring us in the face if we would only raise our heads to look at it”.[11]

In Teilhard’s view, evolution will culminate in the Omega Point, a sort of supreme consciousness. Layers of consciousness will converge in Omega, fusing and consuming them in itself.[12] The concentration of a conscious universe will reassemble in itself all consciousnesses as well as all that we are conscious of.[13]Teilhard emphasizes that each individual facet of consciousness will remain conscious of itself at the end of the process.[14]

..from infinity, and beyond

As we enter the world we are infinite. We have no boundary. We are also zero. At three months, or so, we begin to distinguish that there is an “other” – the breast as part object. By 6 months old the boundary between us and the other (usually mother) is clear; and often frightening. Warmth, food, security and affection can be withdrawn as well as present. Our world is strait, though we do not know it. As we age and explore we push the boundary back; and back. If we are fortunate, and conquer our fear, we realise once more that there is no boundary. We are existence and all of existence is us. Death is an illusion. When we leave the world we can then fade to white and lose the loneliness and fear that haunts life, to experience all that is directly once more.

We are inexplicably dual

“We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do”  Einstein (in relation to wave-particle duality)

Quantum mechanics has repeatedly proved that energy and matter is contradictory – it is both a wave and a particle at the same time. In addition, it is observation that crystallises out our particular reality from the infinity of possibilities.

“When bodies to their graves, souls from their graves remove” John Donne

There is almost incontrivertible evidence that there is meaning within the universe. The physical constants are incredibly finely tuned to allow even atoms to form, never mind reflective consciousness. There are those who fervently wish to deny this meaning. (Why?). Their only defence is what is called the multiple universe proposition – that there are infinity universes and we happen to live in the one that has these constants aligned. Their problems are these. Firstly, there is not a shred of evidence for the proposition. Secondly it fails the test of simplicity (this is certainly not the simplest solution).  Thirdly, even were it true – what then is the origin of the multiverses? Indeed, by definition Universe is all that is, and so multiverses are subsets of that. I personally dismiss this concept for what it is, materialist desperation. The Universe is significant and not simply material.

Material is but one aspect of reality, there is another a dual aspect. John Donne would call that “soul” as distinct from “body”…

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
.. and the great Jesuit scientist Teilhard de Chardin distinguished a Within from a Without, of all things. He posited consciousness within all matter, evolving through physical, chemical and biological realms through waves of emergent realities. Man represents a new dimension with the arrival of reflective consciousness – self awareness. It was Teilhard de Chardin who proposed that evolution has now moved from biological into the realm of ideas – what he called the noosphere. *

“The attitude of the “I” towards an “It”, towards an object that is separate in itself, which we either use or experience. The attitude of the “I” towards “Thou”, in a relationship in which the other is not separated by discrete bounds…human life finds its meaningfulness in relationships”  Ich und Du, Martin Buber

Martin Buber expresses this duality in his wonderful verse-philosophy “Ich und Du”. Not only is there duality in all-that-is, but it is in the dance – the relationships between the Within-Without, the wave-particle, the Ich-Du – that meaning exists.

People have called that meaning by all sorts of names. Who cares about semantics – a rose is still a rose by any name. If you’ve felt the connectedness of the Universe, then you’ve known joy in all its emphemerality, within the life of this body at least.

Dual, we certainly are, and inexplicably so. Although maybe…

“And all shall be well and All manner of thing shall be well When the tongues of flames are in-folded Into the crowned knot of fire And the fire and the rose are one” TS Elliot

*   There is a tradition of theft within evolutionary science. Dawkins stole the concept of evolution in the noosphere and clothed in the language of the “meme”. He did not credit Teilhard de Chardin. Charles Darwin stole the concept of evolution by natural selection from James Hutton, who in 1794 wrote “in conceiving an indefinite variety among the individuals of that species, we must be assured, that, on the one hand, those which depart most from the best adapted constitution, will be most liable to perish, while on the other hand, those organized bodies, which most approach to the best consitution for the present circumstances, will be best adapted to continue, in preserving themselves and multiplying the individuals of their race”.

Copernicus, Humanism and Narcissism

In 1543 Copernicus published his work – De Revolutionibus – which showed that the planets, including this Earth, revolve around the sun. This shook the foundations of the established Church, which had taught that everything revolved around the Earth.

How does this relate to humanism? Well only this – as I understand it their religion has everything revolving around mankind. Really? What is the basis for that belief system. The only rational underpinning that I can perceive would be a belief that man is the only point of consciousness in the universe, which would indeed set this particular species apart. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s insight is that humanity is the current apex of the evolution of consciousness (Phenomenon of Man), but not that humanity is all-in-all – its own context. Is humanism not then simply a kind of collective narcissism?

The Love that Reassembles the Fragments

“All manner of thing shall be well/When the tongues of flame are in-folded/Into the crowned knot of fire/And the fire and the rose are one” TS Elliot

I think that Elliot was pointing to a fundamental symmetry between the material (fire) and spiritual (rose) world. We have to think outside physics to find the answer to the apparent material asymmetry introduced by the dimension of time.

Time is the only thing that we know that is not symmetrical. We can travel backward and forward through space, but only forward in time. This flows from the second law of thermodynamics, where disorder (entropy, chaos), always increases. That in turn flows from the initial conditions of the Universe, which was highly organised.

There must, I believe, actually be a symmetrical partner to time. If you like – something that is running backward, creating order from disorder, which matches and balances the movement toward chaos that we observe in the material Universe.

Everything in the world is dual. Without boundary we could not know existence. Boundary defines by breaking one into two. Forces balance, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. When singular differentiates into dual (when one becomes two) it creates symmetry. Everything is symmetrical, and in a state either of differentiation or integration, separation or unification. This appears to me to be a fundamental truth – equally so in psychology (see all the writings of Carl Jung) and physics. Except for time. Time is different. It’s asymmetrical. It flows only forward. There is an arrow of time.

Why is that? After all – ever since Einstein’s special and general relativity was proved, we know that time is only the fourth dimension of space-time. We should in theory be able to travel forward and back in time, just as we can in space. But we can’t and don’t. We are all travelling forward at the speed of light through space-time. (Which is why there is time-dilation. If we travel rapidly through space, we use up some of the time component of that speed and therefore we travel more slowly through time). Since we’re in motion in space-time and with a direction – forward– we have momentum. Our momentum in time is simply mass multiplied by the speed of light. mc (massxspeed of light). We also know that E=mc2 (energy is mass multiplied by the square of the speed of light). That means that “we can consider energy to be momentum in the time direction” (Andrew Thomas). In turn that implies that it is the existence of time (and a time direction) that creates energy – and therefore mass and the material world.

Haven’t we heard this all before, but in a different language – long before the discoveries of physics. “Let there be light” – spoken by God, the word existing beyond time . Doesn’t this translate into – let there be a universal speed of light (168,000 miles/second) and time. From this energy and mass flows, and therefore the material Universe.

I believe that the flow of time in the material world – creating disorder from order, is matched by a flow in the spiritual world, where order is being created from disorder. I also believe that this creation of order can be observed in the evolution of consciousness. Ideas are not material. I believe, with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, that at some point (his Omega point) we will evolve to a Universal consciousness of God. I believe that God, existing beyond time, is made manifest in this material Universe by Christ; and that manifestation is perfect Love.

That, I believe, is the answer to the apparent time asymmetry. Spirit is the symmetrical partner of Energy (=matter). This makes sense for me of that great Christian poet – TS Elliot’s final lines from The Four Quartets. The fire is the material world (energy) and the rose the spiritual (love) and it is in their integration through the loving unifying sacrifice of Christ through (the crowned knot of fire), that all manner of things shall be well.

Or perhaps more simply – as Derek Walcott puts it:

“Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than the love that took its symmetry for granted when it was whole”.