The Ancients did not see the split between Science & Religion that has pervaded society since the Enlightenment. Pythagoras was a mathematician and a scientist. But he was equally if not better known as a philosopher, spiritualist and owner of multiple “mystery schools.”
The mechanism of Newton’s physics with its laws of nature able to predict the outcome of every action and reaction has been disproved. The finality and provability of the information fed to us by the five senses has vanished.
“A single consciousness, an all-encompassing wisdom pervades the universe. The discoveries of science, those that search the quantum nature of subatomic matter, those that explore the molecular complexity of biology and those that probe the brain/mind interface, have moved us to the brink of a startling realization: all existence is the expression of this wisdom.”
Then Schroeder sets about to prove his claims through scientific data and a preponderance of the evidence. What Schroeder is talking about is a universal consciousness arising from wisdom, that is present in what we habitually refer to as inert matter. That conclusion, he says, finds support in a range of scientific evidence.
Schroeder will take us through quantum physics and the decision making made by subatomic particles, through molecular biology and the wonders of cells and cell support systems, into the brain/mind connection where there is no scientific explanation for what occurs and finally we will learn about the mysteries of DNA. Through it all the hidden face of God will become more and more evident.
Scientific man of the modern era has relied on the senses for information and for laying the basis for how the universe operates. “Seeing is believing” is a phrase that express this outlook. Schroeder says –
“But how do I hear the sound? Up to and including the storage of the data in the brain, it’s all biochemistry. But I don’t hear biochemistry. I hear sound. Where’s the consciousness? Just which of those formerly inert atoms of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and on and on, in my head have become so clever that they can produce thought or reconstitute an image? How those stored biochemical data points are recalled and replayed into sentience remains an enigmatic mystery.”
Schroeder skirts the Evolution-Creationist argument by first accepting the Big Bang theory and then by declaring that The Beginning necessitates a Beginner.
“First consider the laws of physics that made it all happen (the Big Bang). Did they precede the universe? That would mean laws of physics existed without the physical material upon which to act……physics without the physical.”
“The further philosophical problem of there having been a beginning arises with the idea that the beginning of our universe marks the beginning of time, space and matter. Before our universe came into being, there is every scientific indication that time did not exist. Whatever brought the universe into existence must of course predate the universe, which in turn means that whatever brought the universe into existence must predate time. That which predates time is not bound by time, not inside time. In other words, it is eternal.”
“Today we have another seemingly logical, but quite likely erroneous, piece of accepted wisdom forcing itself upon our paradigm of existence: that the physical world is a closed system; that every physical event has a correspondingly physical cause preceding it. It’s not a question as to whether or not we can predict the exact effect of a given cause. Quantum physics says we cannot. But our logic insists that each physical effect must be initiated by a physical cause. How could it be otherwise?”
“The very knowledge of the Big Bang provides proof otherwise. The physical system we refer to as our universe is not closed to the nonphysical. Its total beginning required a nonphysical act. Call it creation. Let the creating force be a potential field if the idea of God is bothersome to you, but realize the fact that the nonphysical gave rise to the Physical.”
“Even the particles that make up the atom, the protons, neurons, electrons, may not be solids after all. They may all be extended forms of energy. If indeed matter is the conscious expression of information, then the idea of mind over matter requires a revision. It must read the consciousness of the mind over the consciousness of matter. Anyone who has witnessed the holder of a black belt in Karate shatter a brick while barely touching it (referred to as a soft break) will find nothing new in this idea. It’s done more by concentrated thought (chi than by physical force. “
But there is evidence elsewhere. By investigating the wondrous workings of our body we can see the hidden face of God.
“In speech, for you to differentiate between the enunciation of a ‘b’ and a ‘p,’ your lips must open some thirty thousandths of a second before you cause your vocal cords to vibrate for the ‘p’ sound to emerge rather than a ‘b’ sound, which occurs when you open your lips and vibrate your vocal cords simultaneously. Thirty thousandths of a second. Consider what this reveals concerning the precision inherent in mental and neurological processing. It’s a sliver of time that makes the difference between bat and ball and Pat and Paul. Your brain determines this phenomenally tight timing and you don’t even have to ‘think’ about it. It’s probably controlled by the brain part located close to the brain stem known as the cerebellum. The entire sequence is encrypted when the signal to vocalize a ‘p’ or a ‘b’ arises in your thoughts. Could this complex yet ordered precision have evolved without guidance?”
“The insights of molecular biology have revealed a complexity at every stage of life’s processes such that, if we were forced to rely on random mutations to produce them step by step, in the word of Nobel laureate deDuve ‘eternity would not suffice.’”
“We’ve surveyed the science and discovered a complex ordered wisdom expressed in the molecular functioning of life nowhere evident in the structures from which life is built or in the laws of nature that govern the interactions of those structures. That wisdom in life is the imprint of the metaphysical.”
We can go through all the elements in the body, we can describe all the interactions of these elements and describe all the processes but what we cannot explain is who the director is. Who or what orchestrates the split second decision making that constitutes the everyday functioning of the human body?
“All told, once we take some givens, we can predict much of the chemical world. But that is where our predictions would cease. We can predict all the elements used in life, but there is no indication that we can predict amino acids joining together in chains of hundreds and thousands of units to form proteins and then proteins combining into the symbiotic relationships we refer to as life.”
“I wish I knew what I meant when I agree with my colleague Dennis Turner that there is a ghost in the system. I’m a scientist. Studying nature is what has put bread on my family’s table for a good number of decades. I want nature to work like nature. But at several key stages in the development of our universe, nature seems to have behaved most unnaturally. It’s what Nobel Prize winning physicist, and avowed atheist, Steven Weinberg referred to in his excellent book ‘The First Three Minutes’ as the ‘embarrassing vagueness……the unwelcome necessity of fixing initial conditions,’ of having to accept a batch of initial conditions simply as ‘givens.’ ‘Givens’ in scientific jargon is the sophisticated way of saying that’s the way it is and so let’s start the discussion from those givens without understanding how they got there.”
“……what we see here is far more significant than fine-tuning. We see the consistent emergence of wisdom, of ordered complex information that is nowhere hinted at either in the governing laws of nature or in the particles of matter that form the brain that lies below the mind’s thought.”
And that takes us to Schroeder’s next fascination, the brain/mind interaction. He takes us into the world of THINKING, first with some description of the physical process of the brain.
“The huge concentrated input of neurotransmitters released into the synapse causes them to diffuse rapidly across the synaptic gap. In less than a millisecond they reach the dendrite surface. If the neurotransmitter is the correct one for the job, its shape will complement the shape of a receptor on the dendrite membrane and it will bond. The right key in the right lock – only one fits and nature designed it just so. It is either the result of chance random reactions among rocks and water or the expression of an underlying wisdom poking its head through into the physics of life. Those are the only two choices available.”
Now comes the interesting part. How do we go from brain to mind?
“We talk about missing links evolution. We have a missing link right in our heads at the brain/mind connection. The move from brain to mind is not one of quantity – a few more neurons and we’ll tie the sensation to the awareness of it. It’s a qualitative transition, a change in type. The mind is neither data crunching nor emotional response. Those are brain functions. Mind functions are self-experience, seeing, hearing, smelling. The replay of what came in. These are phenomena totally different from the acquisition of the information. That is why adding up the synaptic data would predict a brain, but not a mind.”
“There is no hint of how we physically view and hear and smell the messages of the brain. Yet a metaphysical solution is untenable to a materialist school steeped to believe only that which can be seen or measured, the summing of the individually observable parts. Unfortunately, at the brain/mind interface, this reductionist approach misses the crucially holistic nature of the mind. Quantum mechanics required a paradigm shift from classical mechanics, a shift even more extreme than accepting a universe with a beginning. Quantum mechanics necessitated replacing logical observable processes with the ‘illogical’ phenomena of the subatomic world. The very existence of our universe calls out for a metaphysical explanation, an explanation that by definition is illogical in physical terms. The undisputed yet enigmatic existence of our self-awareness, our consciousness, does the same. The mind may be our only link to the reality of the metaphysical.”
“Every particle is an expression of information, of wisdom. The self-awareness we experience is the emergent offspring of that wisdom. The more complex the entity, the more complex the information stored within. We tap into it via our brain. Because information is present in all existence, the consciousness I feel as my self-awareness has a cosmic history. It does not arise from my brain de novo. Aspects of it have been present from the start, the very start, the Big Bang. Consciousness, as wisdom, is as fundamental as existence itself.”
“Within the brain we perceive the consciousness of the mind, and via the mind we can touch a consciousness that pervades the universe. At those treasured moments our individual self dissolves into an eternal unity within which our universe is embedded. That is the both of physics and of metaphysics.”
“The mind is our link to the unity that pervades all existence. Though we need our brain to access our mind, neither a single synapse nor the entire brain contains a hint of the mind. And yet the consciousness of the mind is what makes us aware that we are humans; that I am I and you are you. The most constant aspect of our lives is that we are aware of being ourselves. Even in the illogical jumble of a dream, filled as it may be with fantasy, the constant is that we are ourselves.”
“From what we have seen of brain function, whether the mind is purely physical or partly metaphysical – call it divine if you wish – the brain’s very existence is quite simply mind-boggling and quite possible miraculous. There is brilliant design in the brain, and to make it requires the nature of our universe, which means we need a metaphysical force, a potential not composed of time, space, or matter that created the time, space and matter of our universe. It’s worth reemphasizing: the inequality between cosmology and theology is not whether there was a metaphysical creation. That is given. The debate is whether the metaphysical whatever-it-is, or was, that produced our universe manifests interest in the physical reality it created.”
Schroeder ends his book with a discussion of DNA as his piece de la resistance!
“In general, simple laws, such as the laws of nature, cannot give rise to complex information that exceeds their own unless that complexity is a fractal extension, a duplication in number and type of the base law. This is simply not the case with the genetic code. The information therein is apparent neither in the atoms and molecules from which DNA is formed nor in the laws and physics and chemistry that govern the interactions among the molecules. And yet if the fossil record is correct, the endowed wisdom of DNA seems to have been present from the very earliest stages of life on earth. How the coding that drives all sprang into existence remains a mystery.”
“……the problem of how the entire process originally got started. The first stage in making ATP requires a dozen or so intricately dovetailed protein enzymes, each one picking up the action just as the previous one leaves off. These enzymes are manufactured using information stored in the DNA. Retrieving and deciphering the wisdom held within the DNA in order to make the enzymes requires a good deal of energy. Get the problem? For the energy we need ATP. For ATP we need enzymes. But to make the enzymes we need the information held in the DNA and to get that information we need the energy supplied by the ATP. I guess if you buy a car at the top of a hill, you can drive away without a battery. It runs by itself. But something had to get the car to the top of the hill in the first place.”
We have only scratched the surface of what this book holds. Much intricate detail and complex explanations have been left for the reader to discover when the whole book is read. This article is only a tease. Once again the beginning needs a beginner or as Schroeder tells us:
“If we could see within as easily as we see without, every aspect of existence would be an unfolding encounter with awe; almost a religious experience even for a secular spectator.”
“Yet as remarkable as the underlying unity of the physical world may be, science is on the brink of discovering an even more sensational reality, one predicted almost three thousand years ago, that wisdom is the basis of all existence.”