An interesting read on science and universal consciousness
Posted 13 January 2004 - 09:07 AM
too much there to browse...
Posted 13 January 2004 - 12:26 PM
he sez that god is just now becoming 'aware' thru us.
but i see that as a very narrow human-centric view when one considers the 100,000 yrs or so man has been aware here on earth versus the trillions of other planetary systems over the last 12+ billions years.
seems likely to me that if 'god' needed intelligent beings to 'create' himself then it proly happened long, long ago
on the planet of a star far, far away.
Posted 13 January 2004 - 03:46 PM
Posted 13 January 2004 - 03:49 PM
This book is about the nature of existence. As such it is about philosophy, mathematics and physics and the relationship between these. The starting point for this work is replacing the matter and spirit conceptual framework with one based on structure and essence. Structure describes how a complex object is made out of simpler ones. For example, the structure of a house includes a foundation, walls and a roof. Essence is the fundamental irreducible nature of a thing. Bertrand Russell was perhaps the first to observe that the only essence or intrinsic nature we know of exists in conscious experience.
As regards the world in general, both physical and mental, everything that we know of its intrinsic character is derived from the mental side, and almost everything that we know of its causal laws is derived from the physical side. But from the standpoint of philosophy the distinction between physical and mental is superficial and unreal[42, p. 402].
This book aims to remove this ``superficial and unreal distinction''. The remainder of this chapter tells three stories. The first describes how mathematicians came to explicitly reject the use of fundamental entities with an intrinsic nature such as lines or planes in geometry. The other two stories are personal. The first is about some exciting results in mathematics and computer science that converged in my young undergraduate mind to create a way of looking at reality that is the foundation of this book. The third story is about the evolution of these ideas over the years. The emphasis expanded form mathematics and physics to an integrated view of reality in which the spiritual is physical and the physical is spiritual.
Posted 13 January 2004 - 03:50 PM
The answer I came up with stems from the observation that the one thing we know is structured is our own conscious experience. In contrast to the abstractions of mathematics and physics, conscious experience has an intrinsic nature. The experience of the color blue is an irreducible reality that cannot be analyzed into constituent parts. In the technical language of philosophy it is a `quale'. (The plural of quale is qualia.) It feels like something to experience blue.
I thought about the connection between the structure of physical reality and the intrinsic nature in immediate experience. I realized that this was a question like the fundamental laws of physics. These cannot be derived from more fundamental principles. They are instead the simplest possible description that explain a wide range of diverse experiments. So I sought the simplest possible assumption consistent with what we know to be true.
This assumption was that there was nothing special about the matter in our brain that seemed to embody human conscious experience. I assumed that the essence and totality of the existence of physical structure is immediate awareness in some form. Qualia were universal in all that exists. Obviously simpler brains would have simpler experiences and I extrapolated this all the way down to inanimate matter. But I assumed more that just the universality of some form of immediate awareness or consciousness. I assumed `immediate awareness in some form' was all that existed. Once one can explain the structure of conscious experience including the experience of the external world there is nothing remaining that requires explanation. The physical world was the transformation of conscious experience and nothing but the transformation of conscious experience.
This assumption which is part of the Totality Axiom of Section 4.1 came to me in an advanced philosophy course. The instructor was sufficiently impressed that he urged me to write the philosopher whose work we were studying. I did, but his response indicated to me that he had not understood what I was saying.
My focus at the time was not on philosophy but mathematics and especially physics. If all that existed was the abstract structure of mathematics made real as immediate awareness than physics at its core must be discrete and not continuous. For consciousness is finite. We seem to experience continuity in vision but that is an illusion created by the brain. Our eye detects light as discrete pixels just as a video camera does. It is only subsequent processing in the brain that groups these pixels and creates the illusion of continuous structures like lines.
I majored in physics as an undergraduate and wanted to work on the possibility that discrete models might be the solution to some of the paradoxical aspects of quantum mechanics. I entered graduate school in computer science because I felt the background research needed could qualify as computer science long before and whether or not it led to new physics. I got a thesis adviser to sponsor me on this line of research but after about six months I was not making enough progress and had to find a different topic and I also chose a different adviser. But doing conventional computer science research had little energy for me. It was only in pursuing my `crazy' ideas that I found real satisfaction. I completed the course work for my doctorate but was not making much progress on my thesis. For personal reasons I wanted to get away from central Illinois where I had lived all my life. With the help of my thesis adviser I got an appointment as an Acting Assistant Professor at UCLA. The idea was that this could lead to a tenure track position once I finished my thesis.
I enjoyed teaching at UCLA even though I hated sitting in lectures myself. Instead of lecturing I would outline the material to be covered in the next class and then would spend the entire class responding to students' questions. That seemed to work out well for both me and the students. I received a good rating from the students for a new professor. But I had no energy for my thesis. I tried to talk to some fellow faculty about my wilder ideas but that did not get me very far. With no progress on my thesis or work relationships with other faculty I was not asked to stay for the next year. I returned to Illinois for a year and supervised my thesis advisor's graduate students while he was on sabbatical. At the end of that year I had enough savings that I simply took off and moved to Northern California with no job and knowing no one in the area. Something was calling me there. For about a year I lived off savings and worked on my ideas. I loved it.
Since I was not able to make progress on creating new physics I started focusing on the mathematical implications of these ideas. If there were no infinite structures what was the immense and important body of mathematics based on these structures about? Some nonrepeating infinite sequences can be generated by a computer program. One example is the digits of , the ratio between the diameter and circumference of a circle. Sequences like the digits of are called recursive. One can generate them with a computer program.
As I delved into the foundations of mathematics I found that most sequences of integers that can be defined mathematically can be treated as properties of computer programs. To understand this one most know that one can assign a unique integer to every possible computer program. This is called Gödel numbering and it is explained in Section 5.8. One example of a set that is not recursive is the Gödel number of computers that halt. (Today computer programs do not literally halt the computer they are running on, but they did so in the early days of computing. Today programs return control to an operating system like Linux or Windows.)
If a computer program halts it does so in some finite time. To say that it never halts is a statement about an infinite sequence of events. But these events can all be generated be a computer program. They are the sequence of instructions the program executes. Thus they have meaning in a universe they may exist forever but is finite in each moment of its existence. Such a universe is said to be potentially infinite.
Statements about infinite sequences of events enumerated by a computer are absolutely true or false. They are completely determined by the program or rules for generating the events. Yet there is no general way to determine if such a statement is true or false. This was proved by Kurt Gödel with his Incompleteness Theorem (see Section 5.8) in the 1930's. Gödel's result raised the question of how the mathematically capable human mind evolved. The one obvious way to overcome the limitations of Gödel's result is to try every possible mathematical system. One can do this in a branching process not unlike biological evolution where each species represents a node on a tree. A sequence of species where each is evolved from the previous one is a branch on the tree. I was struck by this parallel and believe it is the explanation of how the mathematically capable human mind evolved. I also think it has important implications for creativity in all domains. This way of thinking was later to connect with existing spiritual intuitions.
One could generalize the question of whether a computer halts by asking if a computer program will have an infinite number of outputs if it runs forever in a potentially infinite universe. By generalizing and iterating this property it was possible to treat most mathematically definable infinite sequences of integers as properties of computer programs that were meaningful in a finite but potentially infinite universe. I came to suspect that it was only mathematics that can be interpreted in this way that has an absolute meaning. There are mathematical questions like the Continuum Hypothesis discussed in Section 5.7 that cannot be interpreted in this way. Those questions I suspect are a little like the parallel postulate. They are not true or false in any absolute sense. Instead they are properties they may be true false or undecidable in a particular formal mathematical system.
As far as I know this is a unique approach to mathematical truth. My insight about a computer program having an infinite number of outputs as a way to define many nonrecursive sets was not new. It had been anticipated in the quantifier discussed in Section 6.1. I found this approach to mathematics compelling. It suggested that mathematics was in a sense an experimental science that dealt with properties that were not determined by a particular event but were determined by an infinite sequence of events that you can program a computer to generate. I discussed my ideas with several of the worlds leading logicians at Stanford and Berkeley at the time. There was no original mathematical content in what I was saying and they were not interested in my personal philosophy of mathematical truth. About this time I finally completed a conventional computer science Ph.D. thesis in absentia.
So I was left with ideas that totally engrossed me but seem to have little interest for others that had the technical knowledge required to understand them. I felt very different as if there was no place for me and the energy that moved me. I came across Carl Jung's Psychological Types and I began to have some insight into my weirdness. In the language of Jungian theory I am an introverted thinking type. But my most powerful function is my intuition. It was my intuition that was always pushing me off on tangents or making connections that others did not see or did not think were important. These insights helped me make sense out of my chaotic life. I become engrossed in Jung and ultimately read his collected works.
Jung's emphasis on the creative nature of psychic development was especially appealing to me. It connected with my mathematical understanding and my life experience. For me the creative nature of the universe has always been its most astounding and appealing feature.
I was raised a Catholic but rejected that and every other conventional religion as a college sophomore. But the rituals of the Catholic Church instilled a profound sense of the spiritual that never left me. My idea that consciousness was the essence and totality of all the exists implied a unity between the spiritual and physical. I began to connect ideas from other religious traditions, especially Buddhism, with the sense of spirituality that was emerging from my way of thinking.
I was born on August 6, 1945, the day the atom bomb was first used to destroy human life. One might say I was born with a sense that our science could get out of hand and destroy us. The immense cruelty that permeated the twentieth century, as I lived through and learned about it, amplified my concern. I became aware of and concerned about the disparity between the steady growth of science and technology and the chaotic development of spirituality and values. To me the reason for the disparity was clear. The objective guidance of experiments allowed science to make steady progress. This contrasted with philosophy, religion, spirituality and values which remain permeated with prejudice and superstition. Scientists are able to reach agreement about any issues that can be investigated experimentally. Philosophers, theologians and ethicists can reach agreement about nothing.
The world faces a long list of potential dangers from human activity. At their core is this disconnect between the steady progress of science and the random walk that characterizes the development of spirituality and values. As the discrepancy between these grow the danger grows. Thus the most important motivation for and biggest ambition of this book is point the way for starting to repair the split between science and meaning.
The unified view that emerges from this work is that of God as the unbounded evolutions of consciousness. This evolution is a physical process. We can measure it and characterize it mathematically. Its core and essence is experiential. We are the evolution of consciousness that is God. Why this is true is a mystery beyond explanation. But if we try to understand the reality we experience and to give the simplest possible description of what existence is than this is the vision that emerges. That is the journey that this book is intended to take you on.
Posted 13 July 2006 - 09:48 PM