October 9, 2016

Did Consciousness Manifest the Physical Universe?

Supernova with gas and dust clouds

Are we willing to accept the materialist-reductionist view of cosmology in which minuscule particles all just happened to bump up against each other despite being in an infinitely large space? Can we really accept without question that random chemical process will inevitably spawn life from pools of damp mineral sludge? Surely there are better theories to these important areas of thought?

The commonly accepted scientific theories about the young universe regard it as a cold and lifeless place. During the first few billion years that followed its birth all the physical matter existed in the form of free floating dust particles and gas molecules, drifting disparately in the void. It is posited that electrical attraction, along with gravitational forces and centrifugal motion, over vast periods of time, eventually conspired to bring these specs of matter together.

Once enough material had gathered, around 100 million years after the Big Bang, the first generation of stars burst into light. These first generation stars were unfathomably large cosmic bodies made up of hydrogen and helium, these being the only elements readily available in the young universe (they remain the most abundant elements in the observable universe). These super-massive and super-luminous bodies were doomed to comparatively short lifespans, when in comparison to the span of later stars, partly due to the incredible forces that work on bodies of immense size and mass. The chemical processes deep within these stars created new forms of matter, which could then be distributed throughout the cosmos during the explosive supernova events marking their eventual deaths.

In my own, perhaps simplistic, logical thinking I would have rather expected all of the initial gas particles, zooming around the young universe, to separate further and further apart as the early universe expanded. It seems hard to follow the idea these diffuse gas particles would all bump up against each other, what with the universe being so very large (infinite as best we know), and gas particles being so very small (a helium nucleus is just 10-15 m across)

Even the known forces do little to influence the course of gas particles, especially amidst an infinite void. The chances of any two such particles meeting each other would seem infinitesimal, personally, I wouldn’t even bet a single dollar on it happening once, let alone many quadrillions of times. Eventually, these many ‘chance’ meetings in space gave us billions of unfathomably enormous stars. What spectacular luck!

The atoms which form our physical bodies passed through all of this chaos in the early universe, they resided within the cores of the vast proto-stars and were accelerated outwards to near light speed during the subsequent supernova events. These particles then spent countless eons whirling about as part of the vast dust cloud and nebulae. There is a reasonable chance some of these particles even hitched rides on icy comets at some time or other. We should always remember that we humans truly have stars as our distant ancestors.[i]

Long after the first generation of stars died and produced new types of matter, some of this free floating material, now in the form of cosmic dust, came together again (yet more good fortune) to form a new generation of longer-lived stars. Around many of these stars then formed planets. After much more chaos and a dash of good fortune, the young Earth took shape. Current geological calculations place this event at 4.5 billion years before present. Essentially, the proto-Earth was a big smoking ball of magma and scorched rock, surrounded by a mixture of noxious hot gasses.

Gas clouds

Dense filaments of gas in the IC5146 interstellar cloud (Image credit: NASA).

After this great cosmic journey, stretching over vast eons, the material destined to become the building blocks for all life on Earth, had, at last, reached a new home. Evan though the planet would remain dead, in the biological sense at least, for several million years to come, amongst all of that fire and smoke the particles that would become our current physical bodies, waited patiently.

Exactly how life gained its first foothold here on Earth, or perhaps anywhere else for that matter, mainstream scientists are yet to discover. The existing theories are all rather weak, at least in my estimation. From a materialist perspective, the pre-life Earth was simply a soup of minerals, gasses, and super hot liquids, there was nothing that we might strongly associate to living things as we know them today. The liveliest reproductive chemical processes would have been those associated with self-replicating minerals such as silicon crystal and certain clays. There would have been some of the required chemical building blocks that life utilises, but not much else.

Recent findings suggest that Earth stabilized very quickly, from barren hellscape to ‘liveable’ within just a few hundred thousand years. It now appears that by 4.1 billion years ago, Earth’s sludge of wet minerals had already  spawned the first generations of primitive photosynthetic organisms,  life had arrived quickly and inexplicably. The current consensus paradigm in science seems unable to credit this event to any discernible process or cause. From the materialist-reductionist perspective, all life is just complex formations of damp mineral sludge, animated from the filth by some mysterious chemical miracle. One popular theory is that lightning strikes might have hit chemical compounds in pools of water thus bringing about animation, but all experiments attempting to recreate such a ‘cosmic Frankenstein’ scenario have failed to produce any signs of life.

It is my own opinion, shared by a growing number of highly credentialed scientists, that the current failure to find any explanation for the transition from inanimate matter to animate organisms, is due to dismissing the possibility that consciousness was already present in the universe before biological life arose. That perhaps consciousness directed the whole show.

If we take the highly logical leap that some form of consciousness was present within the singularity at the heart of the Big Bang, then passing into the early universe during the Big Bang, things start to make a lot more sense. Rather than biological life arising from inert matter via chance chemical interaction alone, we can instead hypothesise that biological life arose due to the interaction between primal consciousness, which existed beyond physical form, and physical matter. The fact that non-physical fields of consciousness can inhabit and animate physical matter should be self-evident to all of us!

The nature of consciousness is such a vast, ongoing, discussion. We could easily spend a great deal of time examining the conversations between consciousness researchers. For now, let us just suffice with a very simple summary, that consciousness is as its most basic description an incredibly coherent, non-physical, field of energy, able to operate beyond the limits of the time-space continuum. Being non-physical, it is not bound to the laws governing physical matter, yet experiments have shown time after time that consciousness can interact with physical matter, normally by affecting the quantum components of matter. In brief, we can say that at the quantum level everything is fluidic, in waves of energy, until consciousness causes those waves to collapse and become fixed particles. Quantum wave-particle duality allows an ‘easy in road’ for consciousness to a physical realm.

Before we move onwards with the story of life let us just contrast for a moment the mainstream materialist consensus view with the alternative being offered here. Did particles of gas and dust, floating in a vast and ever expanding universe somehow, through pure chance, collide so often that billions of vast stars formed? Did a lucky bolt of lightning hit some minerals in a rock pool to bring us the first Frankenstein’s amoeba?

Or perhaps was consciousness always present, initially operating on the micro scale to affect the direction of those particles, then at just the right moment crossing through to inhabit the physical forms it had played a hand in forming?

Perhaps our human journey begins with a revised version of Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning, primal consciousness manifested the universe, and then the earth.” – Bruce Fenton

[i] This is an extremely simplified version of the description of the early universe given by theoretical physicist Lawrence M. Krauss in his excellent book, ‘Atom: An Odyssey from the Big Bang to Life on Earth… and Beyond’.

Bruce Fenton By Bruce Fenton

Bruce is a researcher of ancient mysteries, human origins, unusual states of consciousness  and all things peculiar.


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