In concluding this Chapter, it is instructive to see what ‘light’ modern science, beginning with classical mechanics and ending with quantum mechanics, can shed upon the subject of the Creation and its underlying ‘world of energies’ and non-observables.
Classical, deterministic mechanics began with the writings of the French philosopher, Rene Descartes, in the 17th century. Descartes divided all of Nature into two, distinct realms, a domain of thought and a domain of material things. He proposed, in general, that the motion of things are unaffected by thoughts–except through the actions of the pineal gland or the ‘third eye’ (an important neuroendocrine structure located in the center of the head). Descartes believed that this structure was the only place were thoughts were allowed to influence matter. Outside of this unique ‘home for the soul’, the motions of all material things are governed by strict mathematical laws of cause and effect.
Isaac Newton carried forward this radical idea of Descartes by deriving a set of mathematical rules describing the motion of planets and terrestrial objects when exposed to outside forces. Newton’s rules allow no place for thoughts or consciousness (although Newton was a firm mystic). These ideas were further developed by the French school of Laplace who taught that the universe was simply a large, perfect, perpetual motion machine placed into motion by an outside God.
This deterministic viewpoint infected psychological thought, dividing it into two schools. The mechanistic school believed that thoughts were not unitary ‘events’, but simply composed of deterministic parts such that the whole is equal to the sum of the parts. The other school, best typified by the American, Harvard psychologist, Williams James, saw that thoughts were a holistic and unitary ‘event’ such that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.
William James wrote, “Our mental states always have an essential unity, such that each state of apprehension, however variously compounded, is a single whole of which every component is, therefore, strictly apprehended as a part. Such is the elementary bases from which all our intellectual operations commence.”6
By the mid-19th century, research into the science of heat energy and engines (thermodynamics) demonstrated that classical mechanics was limited at best and that other laws were required to explain how Nature works. Classical mechanics could not explain why certain physical processes preceded in one direction and not another towards a state of equilibrium; why time, as reflected in the internal changes of a system, is unidirectional; why many chemical and physical processes are irreversible in ‘real life’. Expanded formulations for thermodynamic systems ‘far from equilibrium’ even allow for the creation of new, unexpected states of stable ‘self-organization’.
Although William James showed that classical mechanics was an incomplete theory of nature because it failed to explain the phenomenon of conscious awareness, its final demise (outside the limited sphere of macroscopic motion) transpired when it failed to correctly predict energy exchanges occurring at the atomic level. Energy was found to be quantized and not continuous. Studies of atomic phenomena led to the development of quantum mechanics.
Quantum mechanics replaced the deterministic world of classical mechanics (given the position and momentum coordinates for each member of a set of particles at a time t, the position and momentum of each particle can be predicted at any time in the past or the future) with an indeterministic set of rules–rules which do not actually fix or solidify which events will transpire, but only the probabilities for how various events could happen.
During the early years of quantum mechanics, physicists resisted providing ontological explanations for quantum theory. The first interpretation of quantum theory was a pragmatic one proposed by Bohr and Heisenberg in the late 1920s and is known as the Copenhagen interpretation. To avoid metaphysical speculation, they stated only two assertions: (1) quantum theory is to be interpreted pragmatically and (2) quantum theory provides a complete scientific account of atomic phenomena. Initially they felt that quantum mechanics could not be applied to living systems.
Opinions as to ontological interpretations for quantum mechanics began to arise in the 1950s. Currently, three basic models exist. The first two models will only be discussed briefly since they are less than ideal. Both theories lack parsimoniousness, requiring several additional and unnecessary assumptions to be satisfied. Moreover, both theories are entirely mechanical and cannot adequately explain the presence of conscious awareness in our universe.
The earliest theory was announced in 1952, by David Bohm (who was a friend and co-researcher with J. G. Bennett) when he proposed his ‘pilot-wave’ ontology.7 In the Bohm model, both the classical and the quantum worlds exist simultaneously. These worlds exist as physically realizable entities (including the quantum probability distribution) and are not constructions only within the minds of the observer. To interface the two worlds, Bohm proposed that an ‘extra force’ exists that acts of the particles of the classical world to cause them to behave in a manner compatible with the statistical laws of quantum mechanics.
This extra force allows for instantaneous, global action at a distance (faster-than-the-speed of light) between one specified particle and all of the others within the universe. Consequently, it explains the EPR paradox without violating the relativistic restriction that ‘no control of one event by another event or decision can occur faster-than-the-speed of light.9 While this model satisfactorily explains many aspects of reality, it remains mechanistic and does not allow for the phenomenon of consciousness.
H. Everett proposed a model in 1957, which has come to be called the ‘many worlds’ interpretation. Everett’s deals with the problem of explaining how quantum mechanical potentialities are actualized by denying that actualization occurs, similar to the Newtonian problem of determining which among a number of inertial frames is objectively the rest frame by denying that a rest frame actually exists. According to Everett, any closed system, such as the universe, is at any time in a pure quantum state, the temporal development of which is governed by a group of continuous, unitary operators U(t). Since the universe is evolving exclusively as predicted by the Schrodinger equation, then at any moment of time the properties of nature are continually splitting into a statistical mixture of classical worlds. Contrary to the proposal of Heisenberg which states that Nature will single out and actualize only one observable world, Everett proposes that Nature never makes a choice and all possibilities continue to exist. Everett feels that the character of human consciousness is such that individuals can only encompass a single classical world, even though ‘others’ may be experiencing these other classical solutions to the collapse of the wave function. Similar to the Bohm model, the only choice Nature needs to make is in the initial state at the beginning.
In 1958, Heisenberg introduced an economical, ontological theory consistent with quantum mechanics and ancient, traditional knowledge. Heisenberg, following the suggestions of Einstein, divides Nature into two domains (similar to the ancient scholars), one accounting for the wave-like aspects (Yetzirah or the alam-i-arvah) and the other the particle-like aspects (Assiah or the alam-i-ajsam) of Nature. The wave-like properties of Nature, the probability distributions, seen in the Schrodinger equation are not subjectively related to human perceptions as proposed by Everett, but represent the ‘objective tendencies’ for certain solutions of the temporal wave function to actualize in time and space. The wave-like domain describes the potential states of the universe, separating the possible from the impossible, at any chosen dimensional coordinates (see discussion of space, time, eternity and hyparxis in Chapter 9) when taken in conjunction with the associated mathematical operators. These operators are labeled by space-time points such that ‘expectation values’ exist for these operators, operating upon the wave function, for all past and future space-time points.
The actualization of a quantum event results in the appearance of the particle-like, or observable, aspects of Nature. In distinction to Everett, Heisenberg teaches that the actualization or collapse of the wave function into a discrete event, eliminates the other potential events. The reason humans observe only one occurrence is only because only one event has been recorded by Nature, be it a scientific instrument or changes in the synaptic interconnections of neurons in the human brain.
Actual events within the Heisenberg ontology are represented by abrupt changes in the objective state of the Heisenberg matrix or the Schrodinger wave function, i.e., the wave functions become objectified when they collapse so to manifest a particular and discrete event.
Heisenberg describes the conditions under which actualization occurs when he writes, “The observation itself changes the probability function discontinuously; it selects of all possible events the actual one that has taken place… It applies to the physical not the psychical act of observation, and we may say that the transition from ‘possible’ to ‘actual’ takes place as soon as the interaction of the object with the measuring device, and thereby the rest of the world, has come into play; it is not connected with the act of registration of the result in the mind of the observer.”
The Heisenberg ontology, like the ones of the ancients, is not solely mechanical for it allows for the possibility of ongoing choices guiding the process of evolution.
The Heisenberg ontology is extremely pragmatic, allowing us to perceive our physical reality as a ‘real world’ of things and energies. When a photon strikes a silver halide grain on a photographic plate, it actually causes it to darken; whether or not a human observer is present. When a tree falls in the forest, it creates auditory vibrations; whether or not an ear ‘hears’ it. The world of the scientist is the same world as the bus driver, actor, mother, singer and so on. The ongoing sequence of events occurring in our lives, locally and globally, is simply the result of conscious or unconscious choices interacting with the wave function.
On significant distinction, important for adding meaning to our lives, between the Heisenberg, Bohm, and Everett models is that the Heisenberg model, like that of the ancients, postulates that Nature makes choices throughout evolution. This model answers the question, ‘What is man’s purpose in Nature?” Man’s purpose is to make new choices, in a sense helping God escape from the limitations of the Creation, each new, conscious choice redirecting the collapse of the wave function in unpredictable ways–decreasing the loss of volume of the Sun Absolute”.