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Is the Universe conscious and intelligent?

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    Is the Universe conscious and intelligent?

    Here is a book review of some of the latest speculations from western scientists. Anyone knows what is the view of the Universe being conscious and intelligent in Islam?

    *********************************************
    Book Review
    The Non-Local Universe: The New Physics and Matters of the Mind by Robert Nadeau and Menas Kafatos, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999; 240 pages, ISBN 0-19-513254-6, hardcover, $27.50.

    This extraordinary book by a historian of science and a physicist reports and reflects upon experiments conducted with light particles in 1997. Based on similar work done in 1982 at the University of Paris-South, the experiments' results indicate that photons, having been ejected in opposite directions from a single source, somehow interacted instantly with one another while traveling to detectors seven miles apart -- a vast distance in quantum terms. This implies that the speed of light is not an absolute limit, as a report in the current issue of Nature appears to corroborate. The physicists concluded, moreover,

    that "even if experiments could somehow be conducted in which the distance between the detectors was halfway across the known universe, the results would indicate that interaction or communication between the photons would be instantaneous," that is, that the foundation of physical reality is actually "non-local" -- a discovery the authors view as "the most momentous in the history of science."

    In order to give background to the non-specialist, the authors describe the rise of quantum physics, wave-particle dualism, complementarity as found in the new biology, and the metaphysical implications of quantum physics and non-locality. The fundamental conclusion they draw from the non-local experiments is that physical reality on the most basic level is an undivided whole, and that complex physical and biological processes are extremely interdependent, displaying properties and behaviors that cannot be explained in terms of the sum of the parts involved. Rather, it is the whole which "exists in some sense within all parts (quanta)." Since human consciousness is a property of this whole, they argue that "it is not unreasonable to conclude, in philosophical terms at least, that the universe is conscious" (pp. 197-8). Lest this be taken as a scientific proof, the authors are careful to point out that

    While we have consistently tried to distinguish between scientific knowledge and philosophical speculation based on this knowledge, let us be quite clear on one point -- there is no empirically valid causal linkage between the former and the latter. Those who wish to dismiss the speculations on this basis are obviously free to do so. But there is another conclusion to be drawn here that is firmly grounded in scientific theory and experiment -- there is no basis in the scientific description of nature for believing in the radical Cartesian division between mind and world sanctioned by classical physics. It now seems clear that this radical separation between mind and world was a macro-level illusion fostered by limited awareness of the actual character of physical reality and by mathematical idealizations that were extended beyond the realm of their applicability. -- p. 198
    The ideas presented by the authors harmonize with views on the interconnection of the components of the universe expressed in material we have inherited from remote antiquity. These sources see each human being as a miniature cosmos, a microcosm mirroring in the small scale what prevails in the large. Even Western religious texts, which claim that the human being was "made" by the creative Divinity in His image, imply that, since we have "mind," mind or intelligence is also present in the cosmos as a whole. In any case, the human mind was intended to be used: no viewpoint, religious or scientific, should be accepted on blind faith merely because an authority tells us "to believe." Sir W. Grove's dictum remains as true today, for all fields of knowledge, as it was in the 19th century: "Science should have neither desires nor prejudices. Truth should be her sole aim." Written in this spirit, The Non-Local Universe is a fascinating book well worth studying. -- I. M. Oderberg

    #2
    Old Lahori,

    Quantum Physics & stuff is not my cup of tea.
    Maybe, you can xplain what the term 'Universe is Conscious' means?

    I did relate to the following part:

    Even Western religious texts, which claim that the human being was "made" by the creative Divinity in His image, imply that, since we have "mind," mind or intelligence is also present in the cosmos as a whole. In any case, the human mind was intended to be used: no viewpoint, religious or scientific, should be accepted on blind faith merely because an authority tells us "to believe." Sir W. Grove's dictum remains as true today, for all fields of knowledge, as it was in the 19th century: "Science should have neither desires nor prejudices. Truth should be her sole aim." Written in this spirit, The Non-Local Universe is a fascinating book well worth studying. -- I. M. Oderberg

    Comment


      #3
      Hafeez123:

      When one works on a simple mathematical problem and ends up with the wrong answer more often than not, and getting the right answer is usually the 'unusual' event and that is when one knows what the right answer is supposed to be, it is very easy to understand why issues of faith are nearly impossible to be decided by common sense and logic. It is also not very difficult to see that most of our 'common sense' and logic is built upon our understanding of things. One of these things that is accepted as given is that there is space that has dimensions which causes us to state that it is very very large, the second is that there is time which we state by saying that this very very large Universe is very very old. We know our history, and we see the 'arrow of time' operating around us that causes us to ask questions like where did this Universe come from and etc. The realisation that we are asking questions also causes us to ask who we are, and where we came from, etc. The answers to these questions are important because they form the reference frame within which we construct our rules to live. The view that life springs from matter and then under the dictates of evolution gives rise to consciousness is equivalent to stating that mind and body are one and the same, and for every 'spiritual' event there is a 'material' correlate is what most 'modern' humans accept as common sense. Again this is because it is a very concise representation of scientific 'common sense'.
      However it is becoming clearer that the notion of time and space itself breaks down for many physical phenomanan, and it is just silly to apply our 'common sense' to regions that are not within our purview like the region of the quantum or that of the Cosmos. Recent experiments in physics that are referred to in the book I cited demonstrate without any reservations that 'distance' does not exist for certain type particles. These particles can be literally 'everywhere'!! People are about to make devices that are going to be exploiting such properties. For example it is now thought very possible that within our life time we will have working quantal computers that will have computing capacities that are millions of times greater than any super computer of today.
      Anyway, the issue that is being raised is that if the underlying universe is 'non-local' really then it truely is a single whole, and if that is the case then should biology be re-examined by physicist to test that 'consciousness' is as much a property of this universe as matter, space, and time. In this view the Universe may be considered as either 'Mind' which gives rise to matter, as equally well as that it is all matter that gives rise to 'mind'. A different principle of complementarity!. Pure conjecture at this time, mind you.

      [This message has been edited by OldLahori (edited August 11, 2002).]

      Comment


        #4
        [quiote]from Old Lahori:
        "The view that life springs from matter and then under the dictates of evolution gives rise to consciousness is equivalent to stating that mind and body are one and the same, and for every 'spiritual' event there is a 'material' correlate is what most 'modern' humans accept as common sense.

        Again this is because it is a very concise representation of scientific 'common sense'.[/quote]

        The mind & body are one in the sense that they are from the same source or the Cosmos!

        A more appropo description in religious context is:
        "There is nothing but Allah!"
        or,
        Allah is the COSMOS!

        "we are from this COSMOS and to this COSMOS is our return."

        from Old Lahori:
        "Anyway, the issue that is being raised is that if the underlying universe is 'non-local' really then it truely is a single whole, and if that is the case then should biology be re-examined by physicist to test that 'consciousness' is as much a property of this universe as matter, space, and time. In this view the Universe may be considered as either 'Mind' which gives rise to matter, as equally well as that it is all matter that gives rise to 'mind'. A different principle of complementarity!. Pure conjecture at this time, mind you."
        Not quite sure what you are saying here!


        Comment


          #5
          Hafeez123:

          I am hesitant to invoke any religious symbolism in discussing results of physics since mixing science and religion always leads to confusion.

          When we as humans say anything exists, we always imply that as perceived by our 'minds' the 'objectivity' of some entity is 'real' or has an existence 'outside' our minds. One view is that somehow matter and universe comes into existence and then eons later somehow mind and conciousness arises, and it is this conciousness that we refer to when we humans say 'I am alive and I know matter is real because I have logically and scientifically demonstrated that to be the case'. What is possible is that just as time and space are inseperable from matter, so could conciousness and mind. I do not know how to explain any better than that.

          Now some people may like to invoke God or Allha with all of this, and that is yours or theirs prerogative. Personally, I think we are better off leaving Allha or God completely 'transcendent'. Again my main point is that we as humans do not really know some very basic concepts like space, time, distance, identity, etc., and a little bit of humility that we do not have the answers. Unfortunately, as you point out that there are many people in all cultures from time immemorial who are more than happy to tell everyone what to think, what to feel, and what is real and what is not.

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