The Next Big Bang: Human Consciousness & the Universe (The limitations of science)

by dhw, Thursday, June 29, 2017, 13:02 (53 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: “[Wheeler] called his theory the “participatory anthropic principle,” which posits that a human observer is key to the process. […] In his view, much like the Buddhist one, nothing exists unless there is a consciousness to apprehend it.”
Dhw: While acknowledging the mysteries of the quantum world, I find this so contrary to everyday experience, history and common sense that I reject it totally. I do not believe the universe, dinosaurs and the Grand Canyon do not/did not exist until or unless we observe(d) them. My usual response to this is to invite the believer to step in front of a bus, and then kid himself it did not exist until he got hit.
DAVID: Wheeler has to be understood from delayed choice experiments. Our conscious choices determine the result.

That is why I acknowledged the mysteries of the quantum world, but it's a zillion miles away from proving that “nothing exists unless there is a consciousness to apprehend it.

QUOTE: "Neuroscientist Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, is another supporter of panpsychism. Koch says that the only theory we have to date about consciousness is, it’s a level of awareness about one’s self and the world. Biological organisms are conscious because when they approach a new situation, they can change their behavior in order to navigate it, in this view.”
Dhw: This is crucial to my own “cellular intelligence” hypothesis concerning evolution, except that I would restrict “awareness about one’s self” to humans and perhaps some of our fellow animals. Organisms know what they are doing, but it seems unlikely that they know that they know what they are doing.
DAVID: I would go further. None of our fellow animals are self-aware except in a physical sense. And they do not know why they are doing what they are doing.

I’m hesitant on both counts, partly because I don’t like to underestimate the degree to which our fellow animals suffer. I have absolutely no doubt that some of them experience emotions such as grief (the suffering caused by the loss of a loved one), and we know that some of them teach their young, so although they don’t talk our language, I’m not sure where their consciousness level finishes. But I agree that the degree of self-awareness would be nothing like ours.

dhw: It would perhaps be interesting to know how he [Dr Tononi] separates consciousness from intelligence and from sheer physical limitations during his observations of how much control, say, bacteria have over themselves and the objects around them.
DAVID: Bacteria do not control objects around them.

Try telling that to someone suffering from a bacterial disease.

DAVID’s comment: And I believe in panentheism, God within and without the universe.
The expression is far too glib for me. I would like to know what you mean by “without” (presumably = outside)
DAVID: The definition of panentheism I've found is that God is both inside and outside the universe He created. Pantheism means He is just inside. I am a panentheist because the universe has a beginning and God is eternal.

You still haven’t explained what you mean by being “outside” the universe. Most religions I know share your belief that God is eternal and created the universe.

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