I have had many personal experiences that defy the scientific paradigm. (For example I once had a psychic connection with another person that truly rocked my world.1) This led me to an ongoing commitment to “Explore my Relationship with the Mystery”. Scientists and philosophers are also intent on solving this relationship of consciousness, the universe and everything, with a number of theories battling it out for supremacy.
Recently, the metaphor of a horse race occurred to me; ‘The Theory of Everything Stakes.’ Here’s the call: “The scientific twins, Supersymmetry and Multiverse are nose to nose, battling it out for the lead. Ahead for most centuries of the race, due to Darwinism the Yaweh/God/Allah steed is losing pace, resulting in its cousin, Intelligent Design making rapid strides. The two late entrants, Biocentrism and Panpsychism are making a nuisance of themselves, changing lanes mid race and causing much confusion among the punters…”
So who are some of these contenders for the Theory of Everything Stakes? Let’s start with the leaders. Science has been somewhat pulled apart about over the years by the mathematical challenge of proving a theory of everything, but that doesn’t stop them from trying.
Supersymmetry and the Multiverse
The idea of the standard model or supersymmetryis that you can identify the building blocks (emerging from the Big Bang) that allow matter to form in the universe. However, the tiniest variation in these four original forces, (gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear) would stop matter forming and life would have no starting point.
What’s more, recent cosmological measurements have indicated a minor error in these calculations. To the power of a hundred billion, billion, billion, billion, billion, billion. 2Oops.
I understand few of the specifics, but this error upset physicists enormously because they were faced with accepting what is untenable to a scientist – that there was some form of intelligence shaping these forces to ensure matter could form and life would evolve.
One mathematical alternative that satisfied scientific calculations is the multiverse, an infinity of universes, all with hostile conditions, except for ours. We would be the random single beneficiary of this chaos. (Frankly it is easier for me to accept some degree of intelligence in this mystery of which we are part, but maybe that’s why I’m not a scientist)
One of the key missing links in these scientific theories of everything was the Higgs Boson, a particle that would hold the math together. Recently, physicists appeared to prove the existence of the Higgs particle using the Hadron collider near Geneva. Unfortunately, its size (125 Gevic) caused yet another ripple in the scientific community, because it is mid-way between the value that would have supported the standard model and the one that would have supported the multiverse.
Back to the drawing board, scientists.
Biocentrism and Panpsychism
Recently, discussions of consciousness have bridged from science into philosophy. Dr. Robert Lanza, in his theory of Biocentrism has proposed that in fact it is consciousness that precedes everything else. He states that, “This theory explains that life and biology are the central pieces to being, reality and the cosmos. It explains how life creates the universe rather than the other way around.”
Lanza then cites evidence from quantum physics that the observer influences the behaviour of object, and concludes that the universe is created backwards from consciousness.
I listened to a podcast on Biocentrism on Ideas and was intrigued but disappointed that the interviewer did not ask what existed 100,000 years ago when homo sapiens was still in Africa.
I discovered Panpsychism on another Ideas podcast presented by a Dr. Phillip Goff of Durham University. He argues that every particle in the universe contains consciousness of some form and this provides the building blocks for everything. He argues that consciousness is neither physical or dual and states, “On the basis of this, I defend a form of panpsychism, the view that consciousness is a fundamental and ubiquitous feature of the physical world.”
Yaweh/God/Allah, Intelligent Design and Darwinism I will leave you to explore on your own.
Who will win?
James Hollis reminds us that part of living an examined life is to construct a mature spirituality which requires taking responsibility for our choice and ensure that whatever it is resonates deeply.
So I’d like to introduce a contestant that has not yet been born (and may never become a starter) but for now is my personal choice. The progeny of science, religion andphilosophy, I call it Super Mystery.
It is perhaps best described in Jung’s words from one of the Terry lectures at Yale University.
“No one can know what the ultimate things are. We must therefore take them as we experience them. And if such experience helps to make life healthier, more beautiful, more complete, and more satisfactory to yourself and to those you love, you may safely say: ‘This was the grace of God.”
And they’re coming into the stretch…..
Thanks to the amazing Lorne Craig (unitoons.ca) for his cartoon and editing.
2 Particle Fever broadcast on PBS and available on Youtube