- Education and Science»
- Astronomy & Space Exploration
The Big Bang, Consciousness and God
The Layman's Tale
I am no physicist, and even have trouble adding up my grocery bill, so much of what I have read and understood about the emerging physics of consciousness has had to be taken on trust. Moreover I am not really qualified to explain the various theories about what consciousness is on a level that would convince a scientist. But I do have a layman's grasp on what some of the essentials are and what the implications might be.
Accordingly I shall attempt to rough out what has been proposed and leave the detailed exegesis to the experts (a reading list appears at the end of this hub).
Most 20th-century attempts at explaining consciousness have likened the brain to a computer - the machine inside which the 'ghost' of consciousness resides. More radical theorists deny that the brain 'produces' consciousness by means of classical computations and, moreover, deride the idea of an Artificial Intellegence (strong AI† to be specific) derived from some form of super-duper classical computer. Rather, they suggest that consciousness may derive from quantum computations taking place not only in the microtubules of the brain, but in the universe at large.
This has profound implications, some of which are explicitly posited by Paola Zizzi, as well as others latterly posited by me.
The Big Bang, Cosmic Inflation and Emergent Consciousness
In the chapter entitled 'Consciousness and Logic in a Quantum Computing Universe' (), Professor Zizzi suggests that shortly after the Big Bang, in the period known as Cosmic Inflation, 'the Universe experienced a moment of consciousness,' colloquially known as "The Big Wow." The Emerging Physics of Consciousness
Let me run that by you again, this time a little more explicitly - during inflation, when the Universe underwent a rapid and massive expansion, there was 'computational complexity sufficient for the emergence of consciousness.' In other words, the Universe, as a whole, achieved self-awareness!
It doesn't take much thought or imagination to realise what this statement may imply.
What's omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient, apart from God? Well, a conscious, self-aware universe I suggest. Like God, it's everywhere (it is everywhere); it's, presumably, omnipotent (in the sense that all 'power' is concentrated in itself); and if it's conscious, one might reasonably suppose that it's omniscient (in that it knows of itself, itself being everything that is to be known).
These are big claims (to say the least), but seem quite obvious to me - indeed the thought came to me in a flash, with very little conscious cogitation. I know that that is not a proof by any means, but it does seem blindingly obvious. Indeed, on the basis that a difference which makes no difference is not a difference at all, it's not hard to conjecture that the conscious Universe is God, as we ordinarily understand 'him', and vice versa.
Pantheism, Gnosticism and Wild Speculation
Spinoza is the philosopher most clearly identified with the notion of Pantheism (although there is, of course, some dispute about exactly what he meant). Nevertheless,to say that 'the universe (or nature) is identical with divinity' is to sum up his theory in a nutshell. It therefore goes without saying that an exploration of Spinoza's philosophy might well shed some more light on this 'Big Wow' proposal.
But it is also worth considering just what kind of God/Universe we are talking about. Is He/It self-created, or a product of other forces acting behind the scenes (such as branes colliding to produce the Big Bang)?
Or to speak in theological terms that will be familiar to Gnostics, is this Universe, this God the primordial Self-Creating Creator? Or is 'the Ruler of this World' under the illusion that He/It is all there is and ever was, whereas His origin is to be found in an unauthorised deviation from the non-materiality of a higher God?
These are probably matters to be considered in another Hub, so before I ruin the good opinion you may have of me and my thoughts, I shall cease this speculation and simply invite readers to further explore the subject, ruminate and comment.
Fascinating programme about our role in the universe
- BBC Radio 4 Extra - Cosmic Quest, Design or Accident
Heather Couper looks at arguments over the laws of physics and the universe's creation.
Is the idea that a conscious universe is coterminous with God just nonsense?
© 2013 KevinStantonMcClintockMACantab