- Education and Science
The Unity-Consciousness Paradigm, Part 2: Creation
So... How did we get here?
The physical materialist answers the question, "Where did we come from" with a discussion of the physical processes that went into creating the physical universe. The universe began with a big bang, and through the interaction of the forces such as gravitational attraction on matter and energy, galaxies, stars and planets formed. The process of evolution by natural selection acted on the physical matter of the planet earth over billions of years leading to the appearance of more and more complex physical, chemical, and finally biological reactions leading to the evolution of life and homo-sapiens.
That's about the jist of it.There are very rigid and dogmatic theoretical explanations that scientists use to attempt to fill in all the details of exactly how this happened, when it reached this is or that point, why evolution took this turn or that turn etc. Specific theories of the "Big Bang" and evolution are often cited as facts, when in fact they are theories. Some people, Stephen Hawking for instance, have claimed that the dominant scientific paradigm has pretty much explained everything we need to know about how we got here, much as others before him have claimed that "religion" has explained everything about how we got here.
We have only the dimmest idea of what went on before our own lifetimes, let alone what was going on 13.75 ( +/- .13, if its in Wikipedia it must be a fact) billion years ago. All throughout history there have been widely accepted scientific, religious, and mythological explanations for how we got here, none of which are widely accepted today. I would say that there is a very, very, very strong possibility that the most widely accepted explanations today will not be accepted in the future, they may be considered primitive, infantile, silly, superstitious or mundane.
Who knows? Maybe the theories of the big bang and evolution as taught by Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins and found in modern college textbooks are close to the describing the truth in terms of the physical formation of this time/space. But this is only a small part of the big picture. The dominant paradigm is not, and never can be, a full description of who we are and how we got here, because these theories by and large ignore consciousness (which is a fundamental part of who are) and the role it may have played in evolution and the formation of the universe (which is fundamental to how we got here). The dominant paradigm describes how our physical bodies may have formed, but consciousness is not physical. And, as we discussed in the last essay, consciousness is the only thing we know with certainty to exist. All that we perceive and experience could be illusion, but we at least know that we are perceiving and experiencing without necessarily knowing what.
You don't know what its like...
A philosophy professor at the old alma mater once told me that consciousness is something that exists in humans, higher primates, dolphins, and some dogs. I read an article by a philosopher who believed that infants under a certain age did not possess consciousness, which lead to the interesting conclusion that they weren't technically deserving of what we call "human rights," as they did not fulfill the conditions of person-hood. I found this all a bit hard to swallow.
One way of thinking of consciousness is that it is a "what it's like to be" condition. For anything possessing consciousness, we can imagine it having a subjective experience, we can imagine being it and going through the experiences it goes through. So basically, my teacher was telling me that there is a "what it's like to be" a primate, a dolphin, some dogs, but not a "what it's like to be" other dogs, mice, birds, fish, infants 3 weeks old. She didn't even mention cats. (This teacher also told me to stay out of the metaphysics section of Powell's bookstore. It wasn't real metaphysics, she said. Funny how science and religion sometimes agree on where you shouldn't go, what you shouldn't be looking at...)
It really seems to me that there is a "what it's like" to be a bat, or a bird, or an infant in the womb. At this point, I have no idea how my philosophy teacher came to the conclusion that there wasn't, and perhaps she had a vastly different definition of consciousness than I do, she seemed like a fairly logical lady. Still, the line between conscious and not conscious she depicted seems completely arbitrary to me, to the point where I find it humorous.
But then, where do I draw the line? Do fish have consciousness? Insects? Vegetables? Rocks? Electrons?
The answer is, I don't draw the line. Consciousness exists in everyone and everything, it is the fundamental stuff of the universe. The difficulty arises in thinking of consciousness as something arising only out of the physical. For billions of years physical material has been evolving to more and more complex forms without any conscious involvement whatsoever, and then one day, poof! consciousness appears, as if by magic. This seems ridiculous to me.
Of course, it also seems ridiculous to say that something so apparently tiny and insignificant as an electron for instance, has consciousness - that there is a "what its like"-ness to being an electron. But then again, is a conscious electron more mysterious than a conscious animal or conscious human?
Its not that consciousness is something that things have or don't have, but the degree to which consciousness manifests through a thing. We could say the consciousness of a person is very bright, and the consciousness of an insect much less so, and the consciousness of an electron perhaps one hundred billionth as bright as that of a person.
The story of creation is the story of consciousness experiencing and interacting with itself, through innumerable individuated points of view, from the dimmest (say that of an photon) to the somewhat brighter (human beings) to extraordinarily bright, for the purpose of improving its overall quality and reducing its overall entropy (randomness, chaos, disorder). Allow me to attempt to explain...
Is all we see or seem, but a dream within a dream?
Every creation story I've heard begins with one thing that is the source of all things. The existence of this thing just has to be taken for granted and there is no explanation for where it came from. In the standard big bang cosmological model, this thing is an extremely hot and dense ball of matter and energy.
This hot dense thing is a what Thomas Campbell (writer of My Big T.O.E., a very big book which contains many of the theories I am restating in this essay series) calls a "mystical" explanation. Meaning, there is no explanation for why it is there, it just happens to be there, how it got there is beyond our understanding.
For some reason, this thing goes (big) bang and expands into the universe you see before you today. This is mystical explanation number two. What caused the sudden rapid expansion? Why would the thing change at all, instead of just staying the way it was? Change itself is mystical - we don't know why it ever had to occur in the first place, but obviously, it did.
I'm not bashing these mystical explanations. According to Campbell, they are a necessary part of forming any Theory of Everything (T.O.E.). If we don't take something for granted, then we're stuck with nothing, and its hard to imagine how nothing could ever lead to anything. But we should try to limit ourselves to as few "mystical" explanations as possible, which will hopefully be the necessary ones.
In the Unity-Consciousness Paradigm, we start with the following "mystical" hypothesis: In the beginning, there was a unified, high-entropy, undifferentiated, conscious energy thing. We could call this thing "The Source." Like in the big bang, we have to postulate the "mystical" hypothesis that changes occurred, and The Source, began to evolve. (I would say, that what we call evolution is the natural result of the change occurring in consciousness.)
The Source began as a state of apparently limitless, unrealized, high entropy, high potential consciousness/energy stuff which through the process of evolution developed internal mutations or deviations, which at first were probably random and sporadic, but eventually evolved into patterns, rhythms, regularities and - being a part of the overall consciousness- the ability to divide, differentiate, limit, and portion itself, store information (memory), and replicate patterns. The most simple of microorganisms had to go through loosely analogous processes to evolve from free floating chemicals to self replicating amino acids to d.n.a. carrying self-replicating biological cells. In a similar manner, the Source developed experiential "reality cells" within itself capable of conveying and storing information, perhaps in a binary pattern. If it helps, you can imagine that this process took trillions of years, although these events predate or occur outside of our time/space.
The act of dividing, or perhaps more appropriately, limiting or differentiating portions of itself, allowed for interaction between the portions, allowing for greater experience of energetic/informational interactions which facilitated more rapid and complex evolutionary possibilities and changes in the scope, quality, and entropy level of the Source's overall consciousness. This became the modus operandi for the Source's self-directed evolution towards lower entropy . (A parallel of this can be seen in Hegel's Dialectic involving the interactions of thesis, antithesis, and the resultant synthesis.)
The possibilities for division and interaction that the Source is capable of initiating appear to be infinite. Like a fractal pattern, the limited and individuated portions of the Source's consciousness replicate the properties of the The Source itself on smaller and smaller scales, so that each division or individuation creates a more limited sub-Source, which we can call a Logos.
A Logos, like the Source, is capable of differentiating portions of itself to create experience, evolve consciousness, lower entropy, etc. Through evolutionary trial and error, a Logos will eventually create a highly ordered, logically patterned, self-interactive process that will allow for a vast number of potential experiences and interactions.
Each experience involves an exchange of information/energy between an individuated portion of consciousness and its environment which affects the level of entropy of the individuated consciousness, the Logos that created it, and the Source that created the Logos, as they are all the same consciousness. A Logos is a platform for a differentiated dimension of reality through which the Source can have experiences. Time/Space environments such as ours are created when a Logos patterns, programs, or evolves its internal experiences to give them order, rhythm, continuity, freedom of interaction for individuated units of consciousness, and a wide array of evolutionary possibilities. Time/space allows for sequential directed evolution and linear progress towards less overall entropy.
The Logos that created this particular time/space, or logosphere, did so by establishing a rule set which limited and defined possibilities for experience and interaction. We know of a portion of this rule set as the laws and constants of physics, such as the "speed" of light. In the first essay, I explained (or attempted to explain) that light does not really move, and that it is the top speed at which consciousness perceives and creates time/space and the maximum rate at which light/information/experience can be exchanged within this dimension. "Light Speed" is analogous to the bit rate of a computer generated "virtual" space, it is the top speed of information processing.
Another constant is Planck's constant, which denotes the smallest possible size of information/energy in this time/space, which is called a quanta of information, or a quanta of interaction. Our friend the photon is the quantum of light, which is the most basic unit of "physical" matter, or in reality the smallest amount of consciousness/information/energy interaction possible in this logosphere. This is exactly analogous to the pixel or bit size of a computer generated virtual reality environment.
The Logos evolves/programs into its logosphere rules or instructions governing the scale and speed of things, as well as other rules such as those of gravitational, magnetic, and nuclear attraction, quantum entanglement, and so on.There is also a logic determining the orientation, interaction, and growth of objects according to mathematical and geometrical principles ("sacred geometry"). These principles govern the way information/energy manifests into "physical" forms and shapes. Among these are the value of Pi, Phi, e, the platonic solids, and other mathematical and geometric constants. This mathematical and geometric rule set may go beyond our specific time/space and be universal to all time/space environments, or have analogues in other dimensions of experience that affect what can happen in this reality. They do not appear to me to be subject to change, but perhaps my imagination is limited in this area. Whatever rule set (mathematical or otherwise) the source applies to the Logos would also affect the rule set of the sub-Logos, and the sub-sub-Logos and so on. But I digress...
Once rule sets are in place that can create a sufficiently logical and orderly time/space experience platform, the Logos can apply or portion off a sufficient amount of consciousness/energy to fuel an apparently limitless number of potential avenues for growth and energetic/informational interactions. These avenues are timelines of individuated conscious time/space experience weaving in and out, intersecting, and combining with each other into larger, longer lasting, and more complex patterns. The time/space continuum begins as one such avenue (a singularity, that old hot dense ball of energy/consciousness that existed before the big bang), then it splits into trillions of quanta size timelines, which then congeal or are subsumed into more complicated time line patterns of varying lengths and densities (depending on the qualities of the consciousness creating that timeline), until (presumably) all the timelines terminate or are subsumed into a final singularity, as all possibilities of experience in this logosphere, or the available consciousness/energy that fuels them, have been exhausted.
The thing practically drives itself. The initial consciousness/energy operating under the constraints of the time/space rule set manifest first as dim quanta of light/information/awareness, which eventually synergize to produce larger energetic interactions such as wave/particules, molecules, chemicals and eventually self replicating chemical chains, amino acids, D.N.A. and on up the ladder. With each increase in the complexity, efficiency, or organization of an individuated portion of consciousness, the possibilities for further freedom and further interaction and evolutionary potential increase exponentially. As the initial consciousness energy (ignoring for the time being the possibility of subsequent additions or losses of overall energy through inter-dimensional interaction) spread throughout the time/space logosphere, the individuated consciousness interacts with, organizes and synergizes information/energy into "physical" systems capable of facilitating greater and more complex interactions, the human body being an example of one such system.
The logosphere we inhabit can be seen as a vast time/space petri dish, one of many semi-isolated environments (logospheres) within the Source, designed/evolved to give consciousness a chance to walk around, stretch its legs and experience life as a finite, three-dimensional, self replicating body, mind and spirit complex with the potential to evolve its consciousness (a human being, for example). Consciousness evolves by living life, by experiencing and learning from "what its like to be" under the constraints and limitations placed on it which create what it perceives as the "physical world" - including birth, death, pleasure, pain,fear, love, and all the other shit life puts you through.
Thanks for reading, folks! Hope you enjoyed it! In the next part I'll go into more detail about what it means to be an individuated portion of the Source's consciousness hanging out and living it up in this here logosphere of ours. See ya then!