Monday, May 21, 2018

Science Moving From Materialism To Panpsychism

                                                                                                written 14 April, 2018
                                                                                                published 21 April 18

             Modern science began four centuries ago, in response to the dogma of the church, which defined the world by faith and tradition.  Scientific investigation focused on measurable, objective, physical conditions, which could be examined with less controversy than the spiritual or philosophic subjects.  The success of scientific materialism led to technological advances, and transformed the planet with the industrial revolution. 
            The basic assumptions of materialism are: objectivism (only what is external to the mind is real), positivism (only what can be measured is real), and reductionism (the whole can be completely determined by examining the parts).  Consciousness is not considered relevant, and if described at all, is considered an "emergent phenomenon", arising from complex material form.  This view of mindless matter, has led to debasement of the planet and oppression and extinction of other species.
            Continued investigation of the deep nature of matter, however, resulted in quantum physics a little over a century ago.  Experimental results challenged the assumptions of materialism, and showed that consciousness, while subjective, could not be ignored, because observation affects matter.  The mind/matter issue has raged for millennia, as different eras valued one over the other. 
            Panpsychism, proposes that every speck of matter has an element of consciousness associated with it.  First suggested over 2500 years ago, it reflects eastern Vedic science, and is currently experiencing a revival in western science.
            Physics describes how matter works in the four-dimensional world of space/time, but can't say why it is. As dimensionality is increased, different qualities will arise.  One-dimensional lines have extent, two-dimensional planes have area, three-dimensional volumes have density, and the fourth dimension of time adds duration.  
            In materialism, consciousness is assumed to be bounded by four dimensions, but it may be a quality of a higher dimensionality.  Research has shown that consciousness is non-local, a scientific way of describing a connection within a higher dimensional order.  Matter has also been shown to be non-local, which follows if matter is an expression of consciousness. 
            Quantum physics tells us the energy of each speck of mass is a relative peak in an ocean of energy.  Just as patterns within the three-dimensional atmosphere and ocean, create shapes in the two-dimensional ocean surface, perhaps patterns in the volume of consciousness shape the energy waves we experience as matter.  That would mean matter is the expression of conscious patterns, but may not embody consciousness itself.
            Consciousness can be defined as a combination of awareness and volition.  All life, even as simple as bacteria and viruses, exhibit awareness of the environment and volition in response.  Experiments done in the '90s, showed that bacteria can modify their DNA in response to environmental change.  Placebo studies show physical healing can be affected by state of mind, and we know stress can be a killer.
            It seems a stretch to say that rocks are aware, but if living systems are simply complicated collections of the same elements as rocks, when does awareness arise?  This is a fundamental question for materialists: how does awareness arise from non-awareness?  By assuming that awareness is always associated with matter, there is no question about how it arises as things get more complicated.  Instead we can start to examine how awareness, and self-awareness, manifest with increasing material complexity and relationship. 
            The founders of Findhorn, in Scotland, described making connection in meditation with the "over-soul" of vegetables, self-aware entities associated with each crop.  By working with these entities, Findhorn grew quantities of large vegetables on barren soil, which brought world renown to this spiritual community.  A carrot is too simple an organism to embody awareness, but is nevertheless the material expression of such awareness in a higher dimension. 
            As complexity increases, particularly neural networks, organisms have the ability to materially embody awareness, even to the point where we have personal self-awareness as humans.  We also have access to patterns of higher order awareness in the form of reincarnation, intuition, and psychic capacities.
            The unity of reality lies in these higher dimensions, which encompass the material world.  We are spiritual beings having a material experience.