The Primacy of Consciousness
Updated: Jul 20, 2019
“Why do you insist the universe is not a conscious intelligence,
When it gives birth to conscious intelligences?” - Cicero, c 44 BC
Cicero’s question is as relevant today as it was circa 44 BC. In fact, the 20th and 21st centuries have seen a resurgence of scientific interest in challenging an unproven assertion that consciousness is derived from matter. Once the opposing view by modern enlightened scientists, that ‘consciousness creates matter’ becomes mainstream, they will represent a paradigm not changing the world, but the eyes and beliefs with which we will forever view our world.
David Chalmers, probably the greatest expert on mind/consciousness matters today and currently Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science at New York University, has this to say:
“The materialist viewpoint states that consciousness is derived entirely from physical matter. It’s unclear, though, exactly how this could work. It’s very hard to get consciousness out of non-consciousness, physics is just structure. It can explain biology, but there’s a gap – ‘Consciousness’. Dualism holds that consciousness is separate and distinct from physical matter - but that then raises the question of how consciousness interacts and has an effect on the physical world”.
Definition of Consciousness
Perhaps the simplest definition, is that a conscious state is an inner qualitative subjective state of awareness i.e. sentience - the ability to experience sensations or perceive anything.
The qualitative aspect indicates that there are also degrees of awareness, alertness or focus intensity, associated with consciousness. Self-consciousness (or self-awareness) is a very special form of consciousness, which may be peculiar to humans and the higher animals. Other important attributes are also associated with consciousness, such as a sense of individuality or selfhood and the ability to reason, have feelings (including moods, emotions and sensations), and also a sense of intent (or will). Clearly this is all ‘mind stuff’ and it is these attributes, together with memory, that we associate with the mind.
i.e. mind = consciousness + memory
Most of the time we are involved in unconscious thought where we operate automatically or intuitively, making judgments and arriving at conclusions without knowing why.
The fact is, that consciousness in whatever form it exists, is difficult to explain - as the ability to have self-awareness at all, is itself a conundrum. As Professor Chalmers points out, rather than have self-awareness, one can easily imagine a simpler alternative – a zombie who would act as an automaton and exist without any sense of awareness at all, yet still act instinctively in a manner to optimise survival. The fact that we have self-awareness is surely suggestive of our origin being possibly conceived by a creator/God - wishing all life to be thoughtful, self-reliant while both cooperative, sensitive to the wishes and needs of others, but also creatively innovative.
Planck the father of Quantum Mechanics, postulated consciousness “as the fundamental basis of reality” in 1931. He said:
“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
How Consciousness Interacts and has an Effect on the Physical World.
Every student who studies quantum physics studies the famous “double-slit” experiment, which was first carried out by Thomas Young in 1903. It was originally aimed at determining whether electrons exhibit a wave characteristic as well as a particle nature. It involves the firing of electron(s) aimed at a double slit and observing the light pattern produced on a background screen.
The surprising experimental results, have since been confirmed by other experiments. It was not the fact that the experiment successfully revealed that all sub atomic particles can exhibit either a wave or a particle nature, but the fact that the experiment showed that until such time as the experimenter observed the outcome on the target screen, the electrons merely existed as probabilities. When a particle goes through the apertures, it behaves like a bullet, passing through one slit or the other. But if no one observes the particle, it exhibits the behaviour of a wave and can pass through both slits at the same time. This, and other experiments tell us that unobserved particles exist only as waves of probability. When observed by a conscious observer, the wave function collapses and the electron is actualised into reality.
Robert Jahn, a highly respected researcher and plasma physicist who founded the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (PEAR) in 1979, relates this to a useful concept of consciousness - space and time, by explaining that pure energy, as it exists at the quantum level, does not have the separateness of space or time, but exists as a vast continuum of fluctuating charge. In contrast, our consciousness has the dual capability of exhibiting either a particle type nature with a definite position in space or time, or a quantum probability wave characteristic, independent of space or time. By the simple act of conscious perception and choice, we bring our conscious energy to create individually and collectively separate objects, that exist in space and time. By this means, we continuously and unconsciously create our own perceived separateness and physical reality based in time.
It is also interesting to realise that what this experiment indicates is similar to what we already accept as characteristic of our daily life i.e., that unconsciously, we make an instant choice between probabilities to determine our probable future as an automatic unconscious action, typically by making many unconscious decisions daily and instantly e.g. deciding to drive down the road to go shopping, but without any conscious awareness. Thus, we have no awareness whatsoever of the millions of incredible decisions our unconsciousness makes for us daily in operating our body protecting us from harm by instinctive and automatic actions, none of which rise to our conscious mind. This double-slit experiment indicates that in addition, that as a consequence of our unconscious participation in the world around us, we have the capability to form ourselves actual physical particles as well, as Professor Robert Jahn describes above.
Consciousness observation/participation therefore makes us creators of our reality, both for ourselves and collectively with others within our universe system.
The double-slit experiment has been repeated thousands of times using not just subatomic particles like electrons, but particles as large as small molecules (“buckyballs“), and in every case the results were the same. Since molecules and all subatomic particles form all matter in the universe including all life itself, all solid physical reality including our individual “events”, are created by consciousness.
Mind therefore is primary and matter a creation of mind. In other words: “consciousness creates reality”.
Thus, since we have determined that mind must be primary, and all material objects formed by mind, we have reached (using scientific experiments and laws), the same ancient philosopher’s Cicero’s conclusion in 44 BC., that the universal conscious intelligence (i.e. the non-anthropic descriptor often used for God) gives birth to conscious intelligences - us!
Professor Robert Lanza, the inventor of cloning and heralded as the modern Einstein of Biology, has this to say about mind/consciousness in an Appendix of his book “Beyond Biocentrism: Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness and the Illusion of Death.”
“The brain is a physical object occupying a specific location. It exists as a spatio-temporal construction, and other objects like tables and chairs are also constructions, which are located outside the brain.
However, brain, tables and chairs also exist in the “mind.”
The mind is what generates the spatio-temporal construction in the first place. Thus, the mind refers to pre-spatio-temporal.
You experience your mind’s image of your body, including your brain, just as you experience trees and galaxies. Thus, those galaxies are no further away than the brain or your fingertips. But, the mind is everywhere. It is everything you see, hear, and sense – otherwise you couldn’t be conscious of it.
The brain is where the brain is, and the tree is where the tree is. But the mind has no location. It is everywhere you observe, smell or hear anything”.
Since Lanza states that mind is “everywhere”, it’s reasonable to assume that he considers our minds are non-physical entities, and therefore (unlike our bodies), subject to the laws of quantum physics. One of the amazing properties of quantum physics is that distance is irrelevant, as in this mode the universe acts like a hologram, in which every tiny portion contains all the information of the whole, and in a sense, everything is adjacent to everything else (“entangled”). Also, time is non-existent! - exhibited by the fact that it forms no part in quantum equations.
When we die therefore, our body being subject to Newtonian and Einsteinian physics and laws, decays. However, mind/ consciousness/soul being non-physical, survives unaffected by death or decay. Therefore, our mind continues on unscathed. Equipped with mind/consciousness and soul and, instead of a body, presenting as a non-physical entity, it is therefore very easy to argue scientifically that we could easily experience an afterlife and be immortal for, as “light beings” - (just as is the case of an individual or collective group of photons) we would simply not experience time, except again during another physical reincarnation.
Summarising, two important principles follow from the above:
1 Consciousness is prime, therefore a superior consciousness must have established the universe including all life.
2 Minds and consciousness, being non-physical are separate from the brain and are therefore unaffected by death. We are most likely immortal.
Correspondence should be sent to Alastair Bruce Scott-Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org