Thursday, October 01, 2009

Book Review - Bernard Haisch: The God Theory

The God Theory
Bernard Haisch
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A remarkable discovery has gradually emerged in astrophysics over the past two decades and is now essentially undisputed: that certain key physical constants have just the right values to make life possible. In principle these constants could have taken on values wildly different from what they actually are, but instead they are in some cases within a few percent of the "just right" values permitting us to exist in this universe. As Sir Martin Rees, the British Astronomer Royal and one of the world's foremost cosmologists writes in his widely read Just Six Numbers: "Our emergence and survival depend on very special 'tuning' of the cosmos -- a cosmos that may be vaster than the universe that we can actually see."
Science today is based on the premises of materialism, reductionism, and randomness. Materialism is the belief that reality consists solely of matter and energy, the things that can be measured in the laboratory or observed by a telescope. Everything else is illusion or imagination. Reductionism is the belief that complex things can be explained by examining the constituent pieces, such as the illusion of consciousness arising from elementary chemical processes in the brain. Randomness is the conviction that natural processes follow the laws of chance within their allowed range of behavior. Given those beliefs there is one and only one way to explain the fine-tuning of the universe. An infinite number of universes must exist, each with unique properties, each randomly different from the other, with ours only seemingly special because in a universe with different properties we would never have originated. Our existence is only possible in this particular universe, hence the tuning is an illusion.
This view suffers from three problems.
First of all, quantum fluctuations are a key ingredient of inflation theories that attempt to address how our universe, and myriad others, came into being. The problem is that quantum fluctuations presuppose the existence of quantum laws. If there truly were no quantum laws or any other laws whatsoever, nothing could happen. No laws, no action. The origin of universes as a result of quantum laws, inflation fields, or other arcane properties of string theory depends upon the preexistence of those laws or fields. And so even the skeptical scientist cannot avoid taking that on faith.
The second problem is that none of the other universes can ever be observed, not even in principle, since trying to measure across universes with different fundamental laws would be like using a microphone to observe the moon or using a telescope to record a rock band. So yet a second article of faith is required of the modern scientist: the existence of an infinite number of unseen universes.
The final problem is more personal. If we are nothing but physical beings originating by chance in a random universe, then there really can be no ultimate purpose in our lives. This is not only bad news for us individually, it undermines the ethical and moral underpinnings of society and civilization.
I propose a theory in this book that does provide a purpose for our lives while at the same time being completely consistent with everything we have discovered about the universe and about life on earth, in particular the Big Bang, a 4.6 billion-year-old earth, and, of course, evolution. The single difference between the theory I propose and the ideas current in modern astrophysics is that I assume that an infinite conscious intelligence preexists. You cannot get away from the preexistence of something, and whether that is an ensemble of physical laws generating infinite random universes or an infinite conscious intelligence is something present-day science cannot resolve, and indeed one view is not more rational than the other.
One might argue that one view is supported by evidence and the other is not. I would agree one hundred percent. The evidence for the existence of an infinite conscious intelligence is abundant in the accounts of the mystics and the meditative, prayerful, and sometimes spontaneous exceptional experiences of human beings throughout history. The evidence for random universes is precisely zero. Most scientists will reject the former type of evidence as merely subjective, but that simply reduces the contest of views to a draw: zero on both sides.
What I propose is an infinite conscious intelligence -- so let's call it God -- who has infinite potential, whose ideas become the laws of physics of our universe and others, and whose purpose in so doing is the transformation of potential into experience. The difference between being able to do something and actually doing it is vast: making it happen, experiencing what it feels like, savoring the sensations are the tremendous difference between theory and practice. Playing the game is far more satisfying than reading the rules.
Astrophysicist Sir James Jeans wrote in the 1930s, "...the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine." So, too, I am proposing, in The God Theory, that ultimately it is consciousness that is the origin of matter, energy, and the laws of nature in this universe and all others that may exist. And the purpose is for God to experience his potential. God's ideas and abilities become God's experience in the life of every sentient being. What greater purpose could there be for each of us humans than that of creating God's experience? God experiences the richness of his potential through us because we are the incarnations of him in the physical realm.
That's what it's all about.


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