INTERLUDE

 

 

 

 

At the present day the scientific universe is more mysterious than it has ever been before in the history of thought.  Although our knowledge of natural processes is greater than it has ever been, this knowledge is, in a way, less satisfactory, for in every direction we are faced by ambiguities and contradictions. (J.W.N. Sullivan, The Limitations of Science)

  

 

 

We have placed a man on the moon by knowing the effects of gravity, yet we do not know what gravity is, or where it comes from. The apple still falls, but we can only describe it, not explain it.

 

We have created pure magic in the electronic world, a highly sophisticated quantum mechanical information explosion. Yet in most cases, we do not even understand how these fantastic new products can even work.  We don't even know why quantum mechanics works: “Like a magician who has inherited a wonderful magic wand that works every time without knowing why, the physicist is at a loss to explain quantum theory's marvelous success.”1 (Herbert) 

 

We have established an intellectually stimulating – though highly dubious – cosmic drama that begins with some huge explosion and ends in a ubiquitous heat death. But we do this without knowing where inertia comes from, what matter really is, what energy is, what space is or even what time is: “In experiment as much as in theory, the laboratory is powerless to reveal the flow of time.”2 (Davies) We cannot explain any of our primary existential metaphors; we can only describe them.

 

So what are we doing wrong?  We have dissected, mutilated, measured, compiled, computed, categorized and identified our world piece by piece and fact after fact. And all to accomplish what?  We gain a warehouse of knowledge where “in every direction we are faced by ambiguities and contradictions.” (Sullivan, see above) And much of this knowledge is an affront to our intuition. For instance, our astronomers tell us with much certainty that we live on an insignificant planet in an insignificant star system in an insignificant galaxy. And this is all contained in an astronomically large world of galaxies that may stretch over a hundred billion light years in some yet undetermined direction.

 

Our biologists, geologists, and atomic physicists tell us with equal certainty, that we're a linear evolving, random accident, living on a randomly developed world, built from random cosmic particles. And all this with absolutely no meaning to existence except insofar as we give it one. Man's only salvation, we are told, lies in supporting more research and to have more faith in this unfathomable mathematical world created by an indifferent god called SCIENCE.

 

And consider the religious alternative. Modern Christianity presents a world taught to us using the fear of death and eternal damnation. We are born guilty and condemned as sinners. We're a long time dead and a very short time alive, with no certainty and meaning to life except for salvation. This, we are told, lies both in filling their coffers and having faith in a principle no more acceptable to our intuition than a child's belief in Santa Claus. And to openly question the validity of either brand of salvation offered above is to invite a measure of your credentials, your sanity or your affinity with Satan.

 

Religion and science have presented us with two sides of a counterfeit coin. We may have an avaricious intellect, but our intelligence is duly spent. We're broke! Because any picture we can distill from these two systems is destined to be wrong. Throughout history the popular world-view, while at all times able to provide a system that worked (and some that have lasted for millennia), has nevertheless always been wrong. Although there must be elements of truth in all belief systems, how do we know which truths combine to give us the real truth? Is there such a thing as “the real truth”?  Or is it, as St. Exupery said, “truth is not what we discover but what we create”?

 

We have found the fundamental constants, but are deprived of the meaning of their values:  “Quantum theory cannot explain the value used for the mass of the electron, nor field theory the magnitude of the electron's charge, nor relativity theory that of the speed of light.”3 (F. Capra) Quantum theory can't even explain the value of the quanta itself:

 

Although Planck's constant has dominated the computations of atomic physics for...[over a century]...its magnitude cannot be explained any more than the magnitude of the speed of light can be explained.  Like other universal constants it is simply a mathematical fact for which no explanation has been given.4 (L. Barnett)

 

Our understanding of nature seems to be inversely proportional to our warehouse full of facts: we are “choking on truth”. We have indeed allowed a tool to become our master. And because of the convictions put forward by our modern-day “church of reason”, we have subsequently allowed ourselves to adopt a philosophy of despair. A random, purposeless and ultimately meaningless existence is all too easily adopted in today's highly competitive intellectual climate; a climate brought about almost entirely by the scientific epistemology.

But in searching for actual truth about our world, we find that scientific knowledge is not only uncertain, narrowly focused, statistical and interpretive, but that it's also “a relative matter” (Tarnas).  Like most other forms of knowledge, it's relative to the surrounding beliefs, opinions, convictions (convicts) and definitions of the field it’s interpreted within.  And this is why a system that provides utility, expediency and material success, plus a plethora of usable but relative and virtual truths (“facts”), should not be viewed as a system that necessarily provides actual truth, and so philosophical understanding.

 

In fact, science has just about gone the entire circular path. For it is now face to face with the same “anthropic principle” it eliminated at its birth over 500 years ago. By its own statistical reasoning, there is virtually no possibility that our universe could have been created by random, highly coincidental, quantum mechanical processes. Add the existence of life and intelligence and the possibilities soar so far out of sight that it becomes obvious:  the universe must be constructed in such a way so as to be aware of itself.  The probability for this to be otherwise is so great so as to be non-existent.

 

The anthropic principle comes from physics. From the field of biology we have two more of these teleological ideas (nature by design). First is the Gaia Hypothesis, the theory that the earth is alive; that its atmosphere is a “biological construction”: “The entire range of living matter on earth, from whales to viruses, can be regarded as a single entity, capable of manipulating the environment to suit its needs” (Lovelock). 5

 

Also from biology comes the theory of “formative causation”, or “morphic resonance”; the idea that once a process, function, ability or an idea is introduced into nature, it sets up a memory or resonance called a morphogenetic field.6   This field could foster the continuation of a new ability or idea and, among other things, may explain so many of the meaningful coincidences (synchronicity) that we all encounter. If gravity and the electromagnetic spectrum can exist in a field, why not memory?

 

Another more recent addition from biology is the theory of Biocentrism:

Our understanding of the universe as a whole has reached a dead-end. In our view, current physics-based theories of the material world do not work, and can never be made to work, until they fully account for life and consciousness. We call this new perspective biocentrism.

 

 …the universe has a long list of traits that make it appear as if everything from atoms to stars were tailor-made just for us. There are over 200 physical parameters so exact that it strains credulity to propose that they are random. These fundamental constants of the universe are not predicted by any theory – they all seem carefully chosen, often with great precision, to allow for existence of life. Tweak any of them and you never existed. Some scientists call this revelation the “Goldilocks Principle,” because the cosmos is not “too this” or “too that,” but rather “just right” for life…

Our entire education system assumes that we perceive external pre-existing realities and play little or no role in their appearance. Scientists and non-scientists alike typically imagine an external world existing on its own; with an appearance that more or less resembles what we see [no small thanks to Descartes]. By this reasoning, the human eye and brain allow us to cognize the actual visual appearance of things, and to alter nothing. Not so, says biocentrism.7

These authors dare to steal the thunder from physics and astronomy. And who can blame them? It's about time consciousness was brought into the fold. They make a good case for the world of appearance, but, of course, like physics and astronomy, have yet to account for the world of substance, gravitation and weight plus a few more cardinal metaphors like universal process.

No matter how good they ‘prove’ their case it will still be incomplete. The problem, of course, is that they base so much of their account on the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, which fails miserably in our updated epistemology. And of course, it is based on finitude.

 

So again, what in the world are we doing wrong?

 

For more than 99 percent of human history, the world was enchanted and man saw himself as an integral part of it.  The complete reversal of this perception in a mere four hundred years or so has destroyed the continuity of the human experience and the integrity of the human psyche.  It has very nearly wrecked the planet as well.  The only hope, or so it seems to me, lies in the reenchantment of the world.8

 

Can this be possible?  Despite all the advancements of the human intellect and the level of material sophistication we enjoy--literally, the fruits of the scientific-mechanistic epistemology—can this possibly be true:  that the world is enchanted?  That just like us, the world is alive, conscious and has a memory?  That the world is not a random accident, but a designed--perhaps self-designed--construct with some unknown purpose?  Can that which was denied for lack of scientific credibility be reaffirmed because of it?

 

Intuition whispers true:  we're not dust, we're magic. (Richard Bach)

 

 

The Emperor Wears No Clothes!

 

As a practicing physicist, I had always been vaguely embarrassed by a kind of illusory quality in science and had often felt somehow part of a swindle on the human race. It was not a conspiracy but something more like the hoax in 'The Emperor's New Clothes.'
                                                           Roger S. Jones, Physics as Metaphor

 

Science is excellent at doing what it was designed to do, but it has expanded its province into all reality and seeks to pass judgment in areas where it has no real business going. It’s a very limited method that achieves its claim to universality by wildly exaggerating its accomplishments.                                                               Terrance McKenna
 

No bones about it. Something must be done to expose and defame Science; to bring them back down to earth with the rest of us mortals. But it is important to remember throughout this work that I'm not speaking of the art of science, nor doing science and certainly not most scientists in my polemics; but upper-case Science, the business, the body politic, the “tool become master” as the reigning system of thought. Since this is a self assumed status, and since Science has notoriously ignored and even belittled all other systems of thought (i.e., religion and philosophy), and since the entire occidental political conglomerate and its educational and judicial systems are so influenced, and in some cases dictated to, by science, it quite naturally invites the focus of our attention. Like religion, Science could also use a little ‘separation from state.’

To begin with, consider this:

1.   Science (biology) proclaimed as an absolute certainty, the notion of random, or chance evolution.  This had the effect of completely eliminating any other considerations on the origins and variations of life. To a man of science, no other models are seriously considered.  Case closed.

 

2.   Science (physics) proclaimed as an absolute certainty, random quantum processes, the processes that bring about the physical universe itself. Likewise, this had the effect of eliminating any considerations on the origins and movements of matter. And, adding the certainty of absolute “uncertainty,” no models or interpretations are even allowed!  (Although there are no shortage of scientific interpretations published). Further, only the observed/measured world (its own realm) has any actual meaning and existence.

 

Although it is shamelessly oversimplified, seeing the pattern here is the only thing of importance. Because, for any speculation on the entire range of physical reality, only one team is allowed on the field. And they own the field. Plus, they play by their own set of rules and definitions. They even have their own language, or “specialized vocabulary.”  So all competition has, in effect, been eliminated. Not by conclusive proof, mind you, or even a sound chain of reasoning, but simply by a majority opinion.

Since when, moreover, is a scientific thesis determined by a majority?’ [Erwin Schrödinger to Max Born]. You could perhaps answer: at least since Newton’s time (Boorse, Motz and Weaver, their biographers).

 

(In fact, the entire structure of human knowledge, from the origin and meaning of the words in our languages through history, religion, philosophy and on to the science of our time, is nothing more than the verdict of some majority opinion {I.e., peer reviews, usage panels, etc.}. Think about it. For in a world where the best advertising gimmick wins, we all know how easy a majority can be manipulated.)

 

The source of all that exists in physical reality has been given to accidental, chance, coincidental, or random activity. God does indeed play dice with the universe. This is the lynchpin of “the doctrine of uniformity,” a sort of unpublished view held with silent reverence by the pundits of a strictly scientific universe. This uniformity means sameness and normality – plus slow, gradual, linear, singular (one time only) and, above all, chance evolution.

But ask yourself, how can you build a system of rationality and order on the hypothesis of chance? Owen Barfield reminds us: “Chance, in fact, = NO Hypothesis.” And the overall answer is perhaps contained in the title of his book, Saving The Appearances.  

 

Chance simply means accident, coincidence, or ‘no apparent cause’.  But when it is anchored to nature itself (as Science has done), it has the effect of saying no cause period.  And this has the further effect of eliminating Sciences old nemesis, determinism, the philosophical principle that leads straight back to the notion of a first cause; i.e., God, or a prime mover.  But here's the clincher: the greatest and most dramatic effect of proclaiming a random universe at the most fundamental level was to eliminate what Science both longed for and feared the most, “the clue to the secret.”  

 

Which leads us to consider another gross simplification. Religion and science are theories of thought we originally invented to solve problems of our physical and moral existence;  i.e., who are we, what are we, where did we come from, where are we going and how do we get there…  But once a theory becomes a system, its first principle becomes self-preservation. And once “in business”, add self-perpetuation. Thus, a serious feedback loop arises. To solve the original problem or discover the answer is to self-destruct. In other words, if they did their job, or fulfilled their raison d’ etre, we would no longer need them.

 

We are caught in a kind of Catch-22; we search diligently for such a theory [TOE, or unified theory of everything] because it is in our nature to do so, but if we found it physics would suffer, as there would be no more goals to strive after.  (Barry Parker) 

 

So herein lay the crux of the problem.  And the solution.  For science has found the “clue to the secret.”  Not only did Science dismiss it, but in the grandest manner of obfuscation, complexity and grandiose intellection, has covered it back up again!  And with very little opposition.  

The authority of Science is so powerful and so deeply entrenched in our psychology that we forget there might be alternatives. Instead of it being considered a human invention, we tend to treat science as though its method were a necessary stage of human evolution. Much of our science-fiction literature smacks of this assumption. As if any other species–alien or otherwise–would travel this exact same road to gain knowledge at the expense of their own inherent wisdom.

 

Knowing nature at the expense of being nature is why we don’t understand nature. For why, in a world that is constantly changing, where all events are deemed relative or uncertain, where no absolutes or anything permanent has ever been found to exist, and where matter is defined entirely by aspects of motion and movement, do we individually and collectively assume–unanimously–that size and duration are absolute and permanent?

 

Beware the horrors of our ignorance. Our self-proclaimed artificiality has wholly deceived us. We have become prisoners of our own faulty belief systems; convicts, convicted by trendy, self-serving convictions; blind-sided by the light of our own tunnel-vision. Our call for specialization at the expense of comprehension, and intense competition at the expense of cooperation has given us a wealth of knowledge bereft of understanding. While we’ve succeeded in discovering most of the individual processes of nature, we have somehow and for some reason overlooked the overall universal process, the process that animates the entire physical realm.

 

Our purpose is to resurrect the logos, the original or “first philosophy”. But this Promethean task is only possible by revealing what Science has so artfully concealed from itself and, more importantly, from us. For when confronted with its long-sought Holy Grail, scientists found a frightening double-edged sword. On the one hand, was the promise of fulfillment and the beginning of closure (perfection). On the other hand, was the promise of continuance and the beginning of a whole new brand of progressive and complex thought: “the new physics.”  And as Religion has done throughout its history, Science chose the latter in pursuit of its own best interest. A very human thing to do perhaps, for why end the game when you can continue – by changing – the game?

 

Notes

1. Nick Herbert, Quantum Reality, pp 157.
2. Paul Davies, Other Worlds, pp 187. Simon and Schuster.
3. Frijtof Capra, The Tao of Physics. check on this
4. Lincoln Barnett, The Universe And Dr. Einstein, pp 24, Mentor Books (for info., write William Sloane Associates, Inc., 425 Fourth Ave, NY.
5. James Lovelock, Gaia: A New Look At Life On Earth.
6. Rupert Sheldrake, The Presence of The Past

7. Adapted from Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe by Robert Lanza with Bob Berman, BenBella Books, Dallas Texas, May 2009. .

8. Morris Berman, The Reenchantment Of The World, intro.

 

 

Next

 Sitemap