Theology vs. Atheology; Supernatural vs. Transcendent
The term, “theology,” is from the Latin “theologia,” meaning, “the study of the divine.” Theology is that branch of philosophy which deals with such issues as: the possible existence and nature of God or some sort of “higher power”, however that “higher power” is defined; the possibility and nature of the “afterlife,” whether this be some sort of “heaven” or “hell,” or some type of reincarnation, or whatever; the possible existence and nature of the “soul;” and so on. One way of viewing such issues is as relating to the “supernatural;” however, as described in 1.1 SCIONICS: Science Versus Mysticism, everything that we can experience is part of the natural (rather than supernatural) world and only natural methods such as observation, measurement and mathematical modeling (as opposed to some sort of supernatural methods) are valid for studying the world. Supernatural concepts are counter to reason and reality, and essentially represent mystical nonsense rather than scientific understanding.
Supernatural concepts such as “gods” or “God,” the “afterlife,” and so on, emerged during primitive superstitious times. These concepts were an attempt to explain, add meaning, and even gain some sense of control over the often frightening, brutal and confusing reality they inhabited. Over time these evolved into more complex and all-embracing frameworks which provided: explanations for the origins of the world and the things in it, including humans, and moral guidance, often ultimately focused on bringing the individual to the best possible afterlife. These explanations and moral guidance were based upon superstition, myth and misunderstanding rather than fact, reason and understanding. Thus their actual explanatory value was negative; any sense of certainty, security or hope they provided was ultimately false; and their guidance for behavior was often just plain wrong, counterproductive and harmful.
Scionics replaces the mystical concept of the “supernatural” with the empiricorational concept of the “transcendent:” this is used in Scionics in the non-mystical sense of “that which is beyond the normal.” Scionics also replaces the word “theology” with the term “atheology,” to reflect the rejection of anything supernatural, including the concept of an eternal “God.” Scionics atheology, as will be revealed later, reveals a unifying “Transcendent View of Reality,” a set of inter-related transcendent concepts which are completely consistent with current scientific knowledge. To fully appreciate this understand these transcendent concepts, however, one must first be familiar with certain scientific truths.
There has been a long and somewhat adversarial relationship between science and religion, because the findings of science seem to contradict more and more of the beliefs propagated by traditional religions. One would think that the truly devout would be happy to have their beliefs informed by the actual study and understanding of reality, because if God does exist and did create the universe, then to study and understand the universe would be to study and understand God's creation – and science does exactly that: it studies and understands the universe. One would think the devout would embrace such study and understanding, i.e., science, but they often actively reject it. This is because traditional religions put dogma ahead of proven fact, and deeply condition the “faithful” to do the same. The reason the leaders of tradition religions have done this, and continue to do this, is because their power lies not in leading the “faithful” to the light of truth, but in keeping them in mystical darkness. The power of Scionics, on the other hand, lies firmly and uncompromisingly in the profoundly brilliant illumination of knowledge.
The Infinite, Eternal and Ever-expanding Nature of Reality
If one asks an adherent of most traditional, God-based religions, “Where did the world come from?” the typical answer will be “God made the world.” If then pressed further with the question, “Where did God come from?” the typical answer will be “God always existed.”
“God” thus “transcends” the need to be created: “God” is eternal and therefore always existed. Furthermore, as the “creator” of the world, “God” becomes the ultimate “first cause” and explanation for everything which exists in the world.
Science actually offers a much more rational, coherent and in a sense even more transcendent explanation for the creation of the world than “God.” To understand this requires a simple understanding of the standard “Big Bang Theory,” and then to go further and gain a simple understanding of the Eternal Inflation Theory which has replace the Big Bang Theory.
The Big Bang
This explanation will be as simple as possible. In 1929, the astronomer Edwin Hubble observed that every galaxy in the universe is moving away from every other galaxy. To put it simply, he observed that the universe is expanding. This observation was confirmed in many different ways since then, and is considered scientific fact.
It follows that, if the universe is expanding now, it must have been smaller in the past; in fact, at some time it must have been at its minimum size, which is now thought to have been much smaller than an atom. In the original formulation of the Big Bang Theory, this tiny smaller-than-an-atom universe essentially “exploded” outward at the moment now called the “Big Bang,” and has been expanding ever since. This expansion was fastest at the exact moment of the Big Bang, and has been slowing down ever since, due to the gravitational attraction of all the matter in the universe.
Eventually it was realized, based upon further observations and mathematical modeling, that there was a very brief period just after the initial moment of the Big Bang when the expansion did not slow down but actually exponentially increased enormously in speed. This brief of enormously accelerating expansion period was dubbed the “inflationary” period. After this initial inflationary period the expansion then began to slow again.
In 1998 observations were made which indicated that the current expansion of the universe is now not slowing down as originally thought, but is actually slowly accelerating. This acceleration is currently not anywhere near as fast as that which occurred just after the Big Bang, but given enough time (on the order of trillions of years) as this acceleration continues the universe will ultimately be expanding again as quickly as it did just after the Big Bang. In essence, this means that the beginning of the universe looks almost exactly like its end: both are characterized by tremendous inflation.
All of this has lead to a new view of the life of the universe. The inflationary period at the beginning of our universe may now be understood as the inflationary period at the end of a preceding universe. The super-tiny bit of space that expanded to become our entire universe was simply a tiny bit of space in the preceding universe which underwent inflationary expansion. In a similar fashion, the inflationary period at the end of our own universe will give rise to innumerable future universes, each starting as a tiny bit of space in our universe which inflates to create an entire universe in its own right.
This cycle of enormous inflation, followed by slower expansion, followed by enormous inflation, ad infinitum, has no ending – and no beginning! Reality itself is eternal. Since it has been expanding for an infinite amount of time, reality is also infinitely large. Furthermore, if something infinitely large expands, it is expanding infinitely fast. Reality is thus infinitely old, infinity large, and expanding infinitely fast!
Of course, all of this has been simplified as much as possible to make it as accessible and understandable as possible. That said, the picture presented is valid, and fully consistent with the best science available.
It is now possible to rephrase the question, “Where did the world come from?” as “Where did reality come from?” and to answer it in light of Eternal Inflation: “The world/reality always existed.” There is no need of some extra eternal thing called “God” to create the world – The world/reality itself is already eternal! Reality itself is an eternally expanding infinity.
It is important to note that, even in the complete absence of any sort of scientific knowledge, rational thinkers have long questioned the need for some extra eternal thing, “God” or otherwise, to create the universe. Various thinkers throughout the ages have simply held that reality itself must be both eternal and changeable. It had to be eternal because it is logically impossible to derive something from nothing, and it had to be changeable because nothing could actually happen if the reality and the things in it did not move and change over time. Such thinkers were absolutely correct, but Scionics has now informed their original logical and philosophical ideas with empiricorational science.
Classical and Relativistic Physics
Classical physics is the type of stuff one generally learns about in elementary and high school. It is the type of physics that Isaac Newton did, as characterized by his famous “Three Laws of Motion” which describe the various ways that things are observed to move in the universe. His three laws, stated as simply as possible, are:
A body in motion will continue in uniform motion in a straight line, unless acted upon by some external force; conversely, a body at rest will continue to stay at rest, unless acted upon by some external force.
Force equals mass times acceleration. This can be expressed by the simple equation, F=ma. The same equation can also be rewritten as, a=F/m. All this means is that a body will accelerate (or change its speed of motion) as determined by the force acting upon it, divided by its mass. So, if the body had a large force applied to it, it would undergo a large change in acceleration, whereas if it had a small force applied to it, it would undergo a smaller change in acceleration. Likewise, if the body had a small mass, it would undergo a larger change in acceleration, and if it had a large mass it would undergo a smaller change in acceleration.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This simply means that when one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body exerts an equal and opposite force on the first.
In addition to these Three Laws of Motion, Isaac Newton also devised the “Law of Universal Attraction,” which mathematically describes the force of gravity. It states that any two bodies in the universe attract each other with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses, and inversely proportional to the square of their distances.
Isaac Newton's Three Laws of Motion and his Law of Universal Attraction were accepted by scientists for about 300 years as explaining essentially every type of motion and phenomena in the universe. All physical systems were seen to be completely predictable in principle, leading scientists and philosophers to speak about the “clockwork universe” which was metaphorically “wound up” at some time in the past and has operated in a manner similar to a mechanical automaton ever since. They would also speak of the “billiard ball universe,” where the motions of everything in the universe could, in principle, be calculated with arbitrarily high precision, much like the motions of billiard balls can be calculated.
Despite the phenomenal success of Newton's physics, there were a few questions which it could not adequately address. Among these were the mystery of why the speed of light is identical to all observers everywhere, regardless of the relative motions of these observers or of the sources of light themselves. Albert Einstein solved this mystery with his introduction of relativistic physics. Relativistic physics ultimately came to encompass curved space-time, time dilation, space dilation, black holes, and so on. These are all things which were absent from the earlier classical physics of the type introduced by Newton. Einstein's relativistic physics did not “negate” Newtonian classical physics; it would be more accurate to say that it “expanded” upon classical physics, and served to explain situations of extreme speed and mass. Newtonian classical physics suffices extraordinarily well for speeds and masses of such scales as typify normal human experience (and even for much higher speeds and masses) and has the advantage of being much simpler and easier to use than Einstein's relativistic physics.
The terms “classical physics” and “relativistic physics” are often used as contrasting terms, but there is much in common between them, particularly in that many of the “odd” features of quantum physics which will be explored below, such as “quantization,” “the uncertainty principle,” “non-locality,” and “entanglement” apply to neither Newtonian classical physics nor to Einstein's relativistic physics. Because of these similarities, the term “classical physics” will be used henceforth to collectively refer to both.
Quantum physics is often contrasted with classical physics, because it often goes counter to the predictions and concepts of classical physics and even of “common sense;” despite this, it is actually the most accurate and successful of all scientific theories. Not surprisingly, then, quantum physics has some features which are not found in classical physics; among these are “quantization,” the “uncertainty principle,” “non-locality,” “entanglement,” and “quantum collapse.”
An important characteristic of classical physics is that when things move or change they do so “smoothly.” As an example, when a billiard ball moves across a table, it doesn't “jump” from one spot to another, but moves along in a straight line, smoothly transitioning from point to point along the line. Viewed mathematically, the ball must move through an infinite number of points to traverse the line between two spots on the table; furthermore, between any two points, no matter how close together, there is always another point – actually an infinite number of them.
The same “smoothness” which applies to space also applies to essentially all other values in classical physics: time, energy, mass, and so on. Thus, between any two instants of time, there is always another instant – again, actually an infinite number of them. For any two amounts of energy, or of matter, it is always possible to produce another amount somewhere between them – once again, actually an infinite number of them.
Things are very different in quantum mechanics. In quantum mechanics, physical values such as space, time, energy, mass and so on are “quantized.” This means that they can only exists as discrete amounts; the word “quantum” comes from Latin, meaning “how much.” Thus when things change in quantum mechanics, they do not move smoothly from one position, moment, energy, mass or other state to another; instead these values in discrete “steps,” without the possibility of there being “smaller steps” between two that are already next to each other.
These “steps,” or “quantum states” are unimaginably small: enormously smaller than the smallest atom. This is why we don't actually see a billiard ball progressively occupying “jumping” from position to position as it moves along its path, completely “skipping” the locations between the “jumps:” it actually does jump along in just such a fashion, but the jumps are just too small to ever be observed.
While such quantization is typically impossible to observe at normal scales, such effects do have real observable consequences at the subatomic level. It has been determined that “photons,” the individual “particles” of light, cannot possess just any arbitrary amount of energy, but can only exist at very specific energies. These specific energies correspond to specific frequencies, and thus photons can vibrate only at specific frequencies. When one is looking at a rainbow, for example, it seems like the colors smoothly transition from one to the next, but in reality the colors transition in imperceptibly tiny steps from one to another.
Sometimes this quantization manifests itself in very strange and counter-intuitive ways. One of the simplest of quantum mechanical systems involves a property of electrons called “spin.” The measurement of “spin” can either be completely “up” or completely “down” in relation to whatever device measures it, and nothing in between. This two-state quantization of an electron's spin is what makes this such a simple quantum system; this simplicity, however, should not be taken to imply that the behavior of an electron's spin is in accord with the “common sense” of classical physics, for it most certainly is not.
In classical (non-quantum) physics, an electron may be thought of as something like a tiny spinning charged particle; as such it has a magnetic orientation along its axis, such that one direction of the electron's axis is also the electron's magnetic north pole, and the opposite direction is the electron's south pole. Rather than getting bogged down with the technicalities, for our purposes here it is permissible to simply think of the electron as a tiny magnet; like all magnets it has a north and south pole. Since the north and south poles of an electron are oriented along the axis of its spin, measuring the orientation of its magnetic field is identical to measuring its spin.
Any classical magnet may be physically oriented in any direction, and the same goes for the electron itself, although measuring an electron's orientation is associated with a strange quantum effect. An electron can be put into a magnetic field, and it will orient itself in the direction of the field. It can also be put into a magnetic field as a way of testing its orientation. If the electron is already oriented in the same direction as the field, nothing will happen. If it is not oriented in the direction of the field it will emit a bit of energy (in the form of a photon) as it orients itself with the field.
If the electron were a classical object, it would emit less energy if it started out oriented slightly off from the magnetic field, more energy if it were oriented more off from the magnetic field, and the maximum energy if it were oriented completely opposite from the magnetic field. This is not what happens though. Whenever the orientation of an electron is measured, one of two things happens: it either releases absolutely no energy at all, in which case the orientation of the electron's spin was already oriented the same as the magnetic field, or “up;” or it releases the maximum required to reverse the orientation of the electron's spin completely from “down” to “up,” which would indicate the the orientation of the electron's spin were opposite from that of the magnetic field prior to measurement, and then reversed from “down” to “up” upon measurement. Thus it is that whenever the spin of an electron is measured, it is always measured as having been either “up” or “down” in relation to the measuring device, prior to the act of measurement, and is always “up” after the measurement. The measured spin of an electron is thus quantized into only two steps, up or down.
It is important to understand the above. It is not that the electron cannot be oriented in any particular direction – it can. It is when this direction is actually measured in some way, however, that it can only be oriented either “spin-up” or “spin-down” in relation to the measuring device. The measuring device itself (and its associated magnetic field) can be oriented in any direction, but the measured spin of the electron will only be either up or down, and not anything in between, in relation to the measuring device.
An electron's spin is not only manifested when it is being intentionally measured. Anytime that it interacts with any other particle at all, that it manifests itself as being either spin-up or spin-down in relation to the other particle. Thus, all throughout the universe, every time an electron interacts with another particle, it manifests as either spin-up or spin-down, and nothing else.
One of the interesting mathematical consequences of quantization is that it allows any finite part of reality to be represented by an enormous yet finite amount of information. In classical physics it would require infinite mathematical precision simply to describe the exact location of a randomly located ball on a billiards table; classically, it would also require infinite mathematical precision to describe the exact orientation of an electron's spin. Quantization, however, means that the location of a billiard ball can only be in one of a finite number of locations; likewise, the spin of an electron can only be in one of two states. So, while it would still take an infinite amount of information to represent the entirety of infinite reality, any physically finite subset of reality can be finitely represented. One could reasonably conjecture that if an infinite amount of information were required to represent a finite subset of reality, that existence itself would be impossible.
The Uncertainty Principle
When the spin of an electron has been determined as described above, it can then be measured again by a second device whose orientation is arbitrarily different from the first. The second measurement of the electron's spin will then either be completely up or completely down relative to the second device, and not anything in between. The same will be true for any subsequent measurements of the electron's spin.
The only relationship between one measurement of an electron's spin and the next such measurement is the probability that the subsequent will be the same or different. If one measuring device and the next are oriented in the exact same way, then the second measured spin will be up (because the first act of measurement will have reoriented a spin-down electron into a spin-up electron) with complete certainty. If the second device is oriented slightly differently from the first, then the probability that the second measurement will be spin-up will be high, but less than absolute certainty. The more differently that the two devices are oriented, the less likely it is that the second measurement will be spin-up. If the two devices are oriented in opposite directions, then the second measurement will be spin-down.
Because it is impossible to know in advance the spin which an electron will manifest in anything other than the probabilistic way described above, there is a level of “uncertainty” regarding the state of the electron's spin. It should be pointed out that it is not merely that the spin is “unknown” until it has manifested itself in some way, but that the spin is essentially “undecided” at all until it has been manifested. It is as if the electron “decides” upon its spin (in a probabilistic manner) at the moment it interacts in such a way that its spin is manifested. This “uncertainty” about the quantum state of an electron's spin is just one example of what is known as the “uncertainty principle” in quantum physics.
There are actually many types of quantum uncertainty. Another type of quantum uncertainty which also involves the electron (but also all other particles as well) is uncertainty regarding the location and momentum. Although it may seem extremely counter-intuitive, the more precisely the location of a particle is known, the more imprecisely its momentum is known; conversely the more precisely its momentum is known, the more imprecisely its location known. The location and momentum of an electron (and other particles) are related in a probabilistic way, such that while they may be known with varying degrees of precision or imprecision, the probabilities of a particle being found in any particular location, or having any particular momentum can be calculated. Thus, while one may not know if some electron is here or there, a “probability distribution” can be calculated for every position in the universe, such that the probability of finding the electron in any particular location in the universe can be determined. In a similar fashion, while one may not know the momentum of the electron, a “probability distribution” can be calculated for every possible momentum, such that the probability of each possible momentum can be determined.
The quantum uncertainty principle is counter to the determinism of classical physics. In classical physics, the “spin” or “orientation” of a billiard ball or any other object can, in principle, be known with any arbitrarily high precision; the same goes for its location and momentum. Furthermore, once these things are known in classical physics, calculations can be made to determine exactly what they will be at any particular time in the future. In quantum physics, the values of these things are often indeterminate and uncertain in principle; furthermore knowing these values at one time provides absolutely no certainty with regard to what they will be at any time in the future.
In a very real sense, the uncertainty principle allows the universe, on the most fundamental levels, some room to “choose” (within certain probabilistic parameters) how it changes over time. The use of the term “choose” may not be simply metaphorical. The physicist Roger Penrose, for example, has proposed that consciousness arises at the moment any physical system undergoes a “collapse” of quantum indeterminacy, i.e., when they transition from an indeterminate to a determinate state. These moments would be associated with (and would be essentially equivalent to) an instant of consciousness or of "choice." For non-living physical systems such moments would be very simple in terms of informational content because of the relative simplicity of non-living physical systems in comparison with the complexity of living organisms. Such conscious moments within non-living systems would thus be more properly classified as “proto-conscious” moments, due to this limited informational content. Conscious moments within living organisms would tend to be far more informationally rich than the proto-conscious moments experienced by non-living systems, due to the vastly greater complexity of living organisms. Thus it may well be that quantum uncertainty is necessary for consciousness itself.
Non-locality and Entanglement
In classical physics, all physical processes are characterized by “locality.” This means that all things are only affected by other things which are in their immediate local vicinity. These “things” can be physical objects, such as atoms, rocks, planets or people, or they may be “fields,” such as gravitational, magnetic or electrical fields. Thus, for example, one body can simply push against a second body with which it has come into direct contact; it could also move another body at a distance by means of its gravitational field, but then it would be the part of its gravitational field which the second body is moving through which is actually having the local effect.
An important thing about locality is that it always operates at the speed of light or slower – never faster. One body can never push another body faster than the speed of light. All mater travels slower than the speed of light, regardless of how hard it is “pushed.” Gravitational and electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light.
It was Einstein who originally determined that the speed of light was essentially the unbreakable “speed limit” of the universe, as put forth in his Special and General Theories of Relativity, collectively referred to as simply “The Theory of Relativity.” (Actually, the General Theory of Relativity is a more all-encompassing theory, which essentially subsumes the Special Theory of Relativity.) It is not necessary to explore these theories for our purposes here, other than to say that it has been confirmed by countless observations for generations, and is considered to be a scientific fact.
That being said, there are certain quantum effects which seem to defy the locality of classical physics, where effects seem to propagate across vast distances not only faster than light but actually instantaneously. While quantum non-locality affects all sorts of particles, we will once again illustrate this by means of the electron.
If two electrons are brought close together, their spins will become oriented in opposite directions. This is much like what happens when two normal magnets are brought together in certain ways: they will “flip” so that the north pole of on is near the south pole of the other, and vice versa. A similar thing happens with electrons, such that if the spin of one is measured relative to some particular spatial orientation, the spin of the other will be the opposite relative to the same spatial orientation. We can say that electrons which have been thus brought together and oppositely oriented are “paired” and “anti-correlated” electrons. (They are “anti-correlated” because they always show opposite spins, whenever their spins are measured relative to the same orientation.)
One can imagine setting up an experiment using three different components: a “source” of paired electrons, and two identical “detectors” for determining an electron's spin in some orientation. The internal construction and operation of the source is irrelevant: it can simply be viewed as a “black box” with two openings, one on one side of the box, and another on the opposite side. The only other pertinent feature of the source is that it has a button, which when pressed will caused two paired anti-correlated electrons to be emitted from the source at nearly the speed of light, one from one opening, and one from the opening on the opposite side.
The internal construction of the detectors is also irrelevant: they can also be viewed as “black boxes,” although their external features and controls differ from that of the source. The detectors are identical to one another. Each has an opening on one side, which is where an electron can enter the device. On the side opposite the opening is a switch with three positions, labeled “1,” “2,” and “3.” These switches refer to three different spin orientations which the detectors can detect. These three different orientations are each set 120º from the other two. On the top of the box are two lights, one labeled “up,” and the other labeled “down.” For convenience of referring to the detectors separately, one is labeled “A” and the other is labeled “B.”
Having specified the components of the experiment, it is now possible to describe how the experiment is performed. The switches on the two detectors are set randomly, and then the button on the source is pressed. Two paired electrons are then emitted from the source in opposite directions at nearly the speed of light, and are subsequently received at each of the detectors. On each of the detectors one of the two lights, “up” or “down,” will then flash, indicating whether the electron which has been received at that detector is measured as spin-up or spin-down. This is one “run” of the experiment. The experiment is then run many times – millions or billions of times, or even more. (The experiment can be automated to facilitate making numerous runs.)
A record is kept for each run. This record will include the switch settings of each detector, as well as the which light which turned on for each detector. After a large number of runs, a few prominent statistical features of the recorded results begin to emerge. One feature is that every time the switches on A and B are set the same, the lights are opposite. A second statistical feature is that, for all runs taken together, the lights are opposite almost exactly the same amount as they match. A third statistical features is that when the switches don't match, the lights are opposite 1/4 of the time, and the same 3/4 of the time. This is laid out as follows:
All runs, switches matched and unmatched:
50% of the time, opposite lights.
50% of the time, lights the same.
Switches matched; 1/3 (33.333%) of all runs:
100% of the time, opposite lights = 33.333% of all runs; 66.666% of runs with opposite lights.
Switches unmatched: 2/3 (66.667%) of all runs:
25% of the time, opposite lights = 16.667% of all runs; 33.333% of runs with opposite lights
75% of the time, lights the same = 50% of all runs; 100% of runs with lights the same.
That's it. At first this experiment doesn't seem to have demonstrated much of anything, although further analysis will reveal the above results to be quite mysterious. In particular, questions may arise as to the “mechanism” by which each of the paired electrons “communicates” its spin to the detectors; specifically, how each detector should determine whether the electron will be measured as spin-up or spin-down for each of its three orientations as determined by the three switch settings. Since setting the switches on A and B the same always results in the opposite light flashing, it initially makes sense to think the paired anti-correlated electrons must essentially carry some anti-correlated “information” or some other feature or features that are anti-correlated, so that they each would cause the opposite lights to flash on the detectors, when the switches are matched. This information (or these features, or whatever) could be represented by three letters, one for each spin-orientation relative to each of the three possible detector orientations. Thus one electron pair might have one electron's information represented by UDD, while the other electron's information would be DUU; again, the electrons in each anti-correlated pair would have to carry anti-correlated information, in order for matching switch settings on A and B to result in opposite light flashes. There are only eight different ways in which an electron pair's spin-information can be coded:
UUU – DDD
UUD – DDU
UDU – DUD
UDD – DUU
DUU – UDD
DUD – UDU
DDU – UUD
DDD – UUU
This works perfectly for situations where the switches on A and B are set the same. Now it is necessary to calculate the results for those situation where the switches are not set the same. There are six different ways that each instruction set can be handled by the experiment when the switches on A and B are unmatched. Thus the percentage of times each instruction set will result in opposite lights when the switches are unmatched can be calculated as followed: List all eight anti-correlated instruction sets, and then simply count the number of opposite instructions for each set, for unmatched switch positions; then divide by six and multiply by 100 to get the percentage.
UUU – DDD 100.00% opposite lights
UUD – DDU 33.333% opposite lights
UDU – DUD 33.333% opposite lights
UDD – DUU 33.333% opposite lights
DUU – UDD 33.333% opposite lights
DUD – UDU 33.333% opposite lights
DDU – UUD 33.333% opposite lights
DDD – UUU 100.00% opposite lights
To get the overall percentage of times that all the instruction sets would result in opposite lights when the switches are unmatched, simply find the average of all the above percentages; this turns out to be 50%. Here is where we find a discrepancy between the predicted percentage of opposite lights when the switches are unmatched and it is assumed that the electron pairs somehow carry anti-correlated information about their spin-orientations, and the actual percentage of opposite lights for unmatched switches as derived from experiment: the predicted percentage is 50%, while the experimentally derived percentage is only 25%. Thus it is that the electrons don't somehow carry “information” or have some feature or features which would account for the experimental results. This has been extensively investigated by physicists, and it is now considered scientific fact.
This experiment is a demonstration of the very important and mysterious effects of quantum “non-locality” and “entanglement.” The term “non-locality” refers to the fact that there is no possible way that the paired electrons can carry “local” anti-correlated information regarding their spins. The only way for the results of the experiment to be as they are is if somehow the electrons can communicate information about their states in some “non-local” or faster-than-light means; in fact, as far as anyone can tell, it seems that once the information about the state of one paired electron is measured or manifested in some way, that information is instantly available to the other electron, no matter how far apart the two electrons may be.
The term “entanglement” refers to the state of the paired electrons prior to the sate of either one being manifested. While the two electron are in an entangled state they seem to be intimately connected in a way that defies locality, almost as if they are actually two parts or aspects of a single entity. Such entanglement is not at all affected by distance or time: it persists regardless of how far apart the electrons are separated in space, and regardless of the length of time which has passed since they first became entangled.
Non-locality and entanglement seem to allow certain information to be shared instantaneously between widely separated locations in the universe, in violation of the “speed limit” of light-speed. This also seems to allow separate parts of the universe to act, in certain ways, as a single unit, at least for as long as they remain entangled.
Quantum Collapse: The Collapse of the Wave Function
All of the various types of “quantum weirdness” which have just been explored are associated with something which is referred to by several different names, such as “quantum collapse,” “collapse of the wave function,” “collapse of quantum state,” or so on. The term “wave function” refers to the mathematical description of an indeterminate quantum state; The wave function “collapses” when the indeterminacy of the quantum state under consideration vanishes, for example, after some measurement or observation of the system. The electron will once again be used to illustrate and explain the concept of quantum collapse, but again, the same process applies to all particles and all quantum systems.
When speaking of the quantization of an electron's spin, one is referring to the fact that the spin can only be manifest in one of two states, relative to the orientation of the device which is measuring the state. Prior to such measurement, however, the quantization of the electron's spin is in an “indeterminate state” and could be either spin-up or spin-down; after the measurement, however, the indeterminacy vanishes and the electron is known to be either spin-up or spin-down, in relation to the orientation of the device. The moment the spin is detected or measured, the indeterminate state of the electron is said to undergo “quantum collapse.” When any quantum system undergoes quantum collapse, some previously indeterminate aspect of the system instantly becomes known. Quantum collapse takes place whenever the state of some quantum system becomes physically manifested, such as when it measured or observed.
In the experiment, described earlier, involving entangled anti-correlated electrons, the moment of quantum collapse is precisely the moment when both electrons simultaneously “communicate” their states to one another. Prior to the moment of quantum collapse the entangled electrons seem to exist together as a single entity.
It should be noted that while experiments are designed in ways which attempt to isolate the experiment from the rest of the universe as much as possible, part of the non-local nature of quantum physics stipulates that essentially the entire universe may be viewed as one enormous quantum system. In this sense, the entire universe may be described by a single “universal wave function.” As will be seen next, entanglement goes even beyond this universe alone.
Entanglement is an established phenomenon in quantum physics. Particles and physical systems become entangled when they are brought into close proximity with one another. At the time of the Big Bang the entirety of the universe was crammed into an unimaginably small volume of space – so small that every part of the universe was in such close proximity to every other part that in a very real sense every part of the universe became entangled with every other part.
It must be remembered that the Big Bang was not the beginning of the entirety of reality, but merely the beginning of this particular universe within the totality of the expanding, eternal infinity of reality. To be more precise, the Big Bang was an unimaginably small volume of space which existed in the universe prior to this universe, and which explosively and exponentially expanded into the current universe during the inflationary period at the end of the previous universe. The inflationary period at the end of this universe will likewise give rise to infinite future Big Bangs and infinite future universes.
Because our entire universe is entangled since the Big Bang, all of the future universes which it will spawn will also be entangled – not only with themselves, but also with one another. In a similar fashion, our universe is also entangled with all of the universes which were spawned from the previous universe. In fact, any two universes within the infinity of universes existing within reality must ultimately be entangled, because they must ultimately have some common “ancestor” universe. Thus, again, the entirety of reality is entangled with itself.
It should be noted that there is no single universe which is the ancestor of all others. Every universe has a “parent” with infinite “children.” This is part of the eternal nature of reality. Reality is eternal in “both directions,” both into the past and into the future, without beginning or end.
It should also be remembered that in a previous section, titled “Quantum Collapse: The Collapse of the Wave Function,” the entire universe may be described by a single “wave function.” Due to the fact of “universal entanglement,” i.e., the fact that all of reality is entangled with itself, the “universal wave function” does not only describe this universe alone, but the very entirety of all reality.
One of the great unanswered questions in science and philosophy is how a flow of "physical stuff," i.e., matter and energy (specifically electrochemical signals in the brain) can be directly correlated with a flow of "mental stuff," i.e., thoughts. Another question is whether this correlation between the physical (brain) and the mental (mind) reflects a one-way influence of the physical upon the mental, or if is the other way around, with the mental affecting the physical, or if there is actually a two-way influence between the physical and mental.
The second question seems much easier to answer than the first. It is obvious that the physical affects the mental. In the event of physical damage or of stimulation to some area of the brain, there will immediately be corresponding damage or activity in the mind. It certainly also seems that the mental can affect the physical. One can simply think about or reflect upon whether one is conscious, and then report the result of this reflection to another, or simply write it down. So, it is fairly obvious that there is a two-way correlation between body and mind, the physical and the mental.
This mutual interaction between the physical and mental indicates that reality has a “psycho-physical” nature. This raises almost as many questions as it answers, however. One of the most prominent is whether, strictly speaking, mind or consciousness is only present in certain physical systems (such as brains) or whether there is a sort of fundamental "proto-consciousness" which is present within certain simple physical systems or even fundamental particles. Such proto-consciousness would be an extremely limited form of consciousness or a form of nascent consciousness, simply reflecting the immediate present state of the physical system to which it is correlated. There would be nothing at all like introspection, planning, or any type of "thought" at all in the way we understand it.
The reason that this nascent or proto-consciousness would remain at such an extremely low level in most physical systems (if it exists at all) but would develop into recognizable minds within living organisms, may well be due, at least in part, to the fantastic complexity and unifying organization of living organisms in general, and of brains in particular. (On earth, such complex unifying organization has reached its highest form in human brains, as evidenced by the unmatched conceptual abilities of humans.) Non-living physical systems do not possess the requisite complex unifying organization necessary for the proto-consciousness of the various parts to combine in any meaningful way which would provide for the emergence of "mind." In non-living systems the various parts tend to be "connected," or to affect or "relate" to one another, in very simple ways.
In the physical structure of biological organisms there are certain aspects of biological systems in which the various component parts do begin to "work together" such that they begin to participate in or form a more unified complex organization which is characterized by such higher level consciousness as that which we are familiar. In other words, there is a unifying complex organization to these parts such that the system as a whole is able to combine information about the various parts of the system into a conscious, integrated whole. This type of unified complex organization exists in nervous systems and brains, although it may be possible that it also exists to some degree in other systems within an organism.
The “unifying complex organization” or “working together” which certainly takes place within nervous systems and brains, and which also may take place in other systems, seems to require more than can be achieved by the mere physical interaction of merely physical things, where such “physical interaction” takes place only in the manner described by classical physics. Scientists and philosophers have long sought in vain to discover how “non-conscious” matter, arranged in any way conceivable, could ever result in consciousness of any type at all; this has proven so difficult and intractable an issue that it has become known as “the hard problem of consciousness.”
While classical physics seems to be completely inadequate for describing how physical systems could ever give rise to consciousness, regardless of any level of “unifying complex organization” or “working together” of physical parts, quantum physics does seem to provide a plausible means by which this could take place. “Quantum entanglement” and “non-locality” do seem to provide mechanisms by which various parts of a system, such as in a brain, could develop a type of “unifying complex organization” which would otherwise simply not be possible at all.
Many scientists and philosophers have proposed various different ways in which quantum effects, in conjunction with the physical structure of the brain, could produce exactly the type of consciousness experienced by humans. The great physicist Roger Penrose, for example, has proposed that consciousness arises whenever any physical system undergoes "objective reduction" of quantum indeterminacy; “objective reduction” is essentially a type of quantum collapse. These moments of objective reduction would be associated with (and would be essentially equivalent to) an instant of consciousness or of "choice." This would be the source of the psycho-physical nature of reality. For non-living physical systems such moments would be very simple in terms of informational content because of the relative simplicity of non-living physical systems in comparison with the complexity of living organisms. Such conscious moments within non-living systems would thus be more properly classified as proto-conscious moments, due to this limited informational content. Conscious moments within living organisms, on the other hand, would tend to be far more informationally rich due to the vastly greater complexity of living organisms.
Penrose hypothesized that living organisms (and specifically brains) evolved to control or "orchestrate" this objective reduction; Penrose called this hypothetical process within living organisms "orchestrated objective reduction," or "Orch-OR." When Penrose initially developed and proposed this hypothesis he had not identified those specific structures within the brain which could allow for quantum objective reduction (or Orch-OR) to take place. Stuart Hameroff, an anesthesiologist, upon learning of Penrose's hypothesis, suggested that tubulin microtubules, located within neurons (and in fact throughout all eukaryotic cells) would provide a suitable candidate as a physical structure within which quantum objective reduction could indeed take place.
The Penrose-Hameroff hypothesis has not yet been fully experimentally confirmed and remains controversial, and many of the details still need to be worked out. As more evidence has become available, however, Orch-OR is gaining support as a viable hypothesis as the specific mechanism for consciousness, and for the psycho-physical nature of reality. Time will tell, of course, whether or not this turns out to be the case, although it does seem extremely likely that consciousness, and the psycho-physical nature of reality, will hinge upon specifically quantum effects.
The entire universe and all of reality may be described by a single universal wave function. Because the psycho-physical nature of reality appears to be contingent upon quantum events, the evolution of this wave function may well be associated with a form of consciousness. It has been proposed that the universe or reality is conscious as a single integrated whole, different from but somewhat analogous to the way in which a person seems to be conscious as a single integrated whole.
Some have wrongly identified this “universal consciousness” as something like (or even equivalent to) the type of personal god described by many traditional religions. Such a “god” would be a being which could “intentionally” create the universe, and could “intentionally” intervene with events. Such a “god” could even go so far as to “reward” and “punish” those behaviors which it determined to be “good” or “bad.”
This would certainly be the wrong conception of such a “universal consciousness,” however. Human consciousness is dependent upon the physical brain integrating vast amounts of information in a highly organized way, with quantum physical effects being behind both the consciousness and (certain aspects of) the propagation of this information. There is no analogous physical structure on the universal scale with which to integrate information in an organized way, and therefore no organized informational structure for quantum effects to be conscious of, or to affect the propagation of. A highly organized conscious mind requires a highly organized physical structure – such as a brain.
The “universal consciousness” lacks any such highly organized physical structure analogous to a brain. In the absence of such a structure, this universal consciousness would be a sort of undifferentiated awareness based upon the current state of the universal wave function. This would be a universal, eternal, infinite awareness, a sort of endless “ocean of awareness” but without an overarching integrated intelligence.
It should be noted that human brains are, in a way, the opposite of such a universal consciousness. Whereas this universal consciousness is aware of everything everywhere, human consciousness is limited to the information content of a human brain. On the other hand, whereas human consciousness is highly organized and highly intelligent, the universal consciousness is non-organized and non-intelligent.
Since all things contribute to the universal wave function, however, it should be noted that human brains, as well as the brains of all other species all throughout reality, also participate in and contribute to the “universal consciousness.” It is as if these individual consciousness are essentially isolated islands of “concentrated intelligence” in the otherwise non-intelligent “ocean of awareness.” It is also the case that these essentially isolated islands of “concentrated intelligence” are also isolated islands of “concentrated awareness.”
As mentioned above, the universal consciousness lacks a physical structure on the universal scale by which it could integrate information in an organized way, and therefor no mechanism for the organized, meaningful mediation of information. Thus there is no mechanism for the individual islands of concentrated intelligence (such as human beings) to interact or communicate with one another or with the universal consciousness in any meaningful, purposeful way, via consciousness or “thought” itself. In other words, this rules out such things as telepathy, telekinesis, “astral projection,” “the law of attraction,” the “transmigration of souls,” and so on.
Consciousness is an Organizing and Guiding Principle of Reality
Although the universe does not have an overall unifying intelligence, it does have overall organizing principles. This is explained, in large part, by the Axiom of Existential Logic: “Existence is non-contradictory,” or “Existence is logical.” This implies that reality must evolve over time according to logical, mathematical laws. Furthermore, it has been mathematically demonstrated that it is often possible for simplicity to evolve into complexity, and for chaos to evolve into order. Thus it is that reality is able to evolve from simpler states to more complex states, and from chaotic states into more orderly and organized states.
This evolution toward complex organization does not take place everywhere in reality, but in certain “islands” of complex organization which arise amid a general “ocean” of simplicity and disorganization. In fact, the general trend, outside of these islands of complex organization, is towards greater disorganization; in physics, this is known as “entropy.” The complex organization which takes place in one part of reality must be offset by at least the same amount of disorganization elsewhere. This evolution towards complexity and organization is enhanced and guided by a particular “organizing effect” which consciousness has upon certain aspects of physical reality, due to the hedonic principle.
Consciousness is not simply aware, but also has certain preferences, based upon that of which it is aware. Consciousness prefers to avoid pain and to achieve pleasure. It is unknown what level of consciousness is necessary for the basic awareness of pleasure or pain. It is possible that the capacity for “hedonic awareness” is absolutely fundamental, in which case the most basic proto-consciousness may have such an awareness. It is also possible that such awareness requires somewhat higher organization, perhaps such as is found in some simple form of life.
What is known, however, is that pleasure and pain are strong motivators – in fact, it may well be said that they are the motivators, the ultimate motivation behind all the activity of conscious life. All entities capable both of experiencing pleasure and pain seek and of making choices in relation to such experience tend to avoid pain and to achieve pleasure; this is the hedonic principle.
Thus it is that consciousness serves as an organizing and guiding principle of reality. This is not to say that it is the only guiding principle (although it may turn out that it fundamentally is) or even the strongest and most influential among whatever various guiding principles may exist. The claim being specifically made here is that, at the minimum, it is at least one guiding principle of reality.
It is beyond a doubt that biological evolution is dependent upon the hedonic principle. The hedonic principle does not state that that which is pleasurable must be pro-survival, or that that which is painful must be anti-survival; it merely states that pain is attempted to be avoided and that pleasure is attempted to be attained. The fact that biological organism actually do tend to find pro-survival things pleasurable, and anti-survival things painful is simply due to the fact that those creatures which find pleasure in anti-survival activities, or pain in pro-survival activities, would tend to die off very quickly. Those which do find pleasure in pro-survival activities and pain in anti-survival activities would tend to survive.
Thus it is that the biological evolution of life enlists consciousness, and specifically the hedonic principle, employing it as a survival motivator. It does not do this according to some preplanned design, but essentially by trial and error, such as by the natural selection mechanism of biological evolution. Over the course of countless generations, the hedonic principle naturally becomes more and more aligned with survival.
An interesting feature of the way in which all sorts of things tend to evolve over time, from biological organisms to technological innovations, is the “S” curve. This describes a slow initial period during which something first emerges and slowly begins to improve over time. This is then followed by a period of extremely rapid improvement, and finally by a period where improvement has essentially reached its limit. To evolve beyond this point essentially requires some new innovation (whether biological or technological) which will mark the beginning of a new “S” curve.
Humanity is at the point where technological evolution is just beginning to surpass biological evolution, putting it on the brink of a technological “S” curve which will essentially change its very nature. Genetics, medical advances, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and other technologies are about to bring forth a time of unprecedented revolutionary change. Age-reversal, eternal youth and immortality will soon be realities – and this is just the start of the “S” curve. This will usher in the age of transhumanism, a time when humans will transcend many of their current biological and physical limitations, and live an existence which would have been considered essentially a paradise to past generations. This will be explored in more detail in the next section.
Body, Mind, Spirit, Soul, Life and Death
The terms "body," "mind," "spirit," "soul," "life," and "death," are often used (or misused) as the foundation for certain understandings (or misunderstandings) regarding one's own nature and the nature of the universe or reality in general. It is thus extremely important that these terms be carefully and accurately defined, in a logical and reality-based way, i.e., empiricorationally. It is important that these terms actually refer to real rather than imagined aspects of the world.
Before delving into an empiricorational investigation of these topics, however, it would be prudent to first take a moment to examine an example of a very common erroneous line of reasoning regarding the “soul” and the “afterlife.” The false assertions and logical errors can then be pointed out in the empiricorational investigation which will follow.
A False Conception of Mind, Spirit, or Soul
Matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but can merely change from one form to another; this is known in physics as the Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy.
One's mind, spirit, or soul is made of energy.
Because matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed, one's mind, spirit, or soul is immortal and eternal: it always existed and can never be destroyed.
When one's physical body dies one's mind or spirit (being made of energy) is not destroyed, but is merely changed into a different form, and one therefore continues to live on (in a mental or spiritual sense) in some different or perhaps "higher" form, forever.
There is a somewhat subtle but definite error in the line of reasoning above, which may not be quite obvious to those with a limited understanding of physics, or who don't really take the time to examine the assertions being made and their logical connection to one another. These will be exposed shortly.
Another factor leading to the acceptance of this and many other false lines of reasoning on such topics is simply the essentially emotional prejudice which many individuals bring to their "analysis" (or, more accurately, "non-analysis") of such issues. They, quite naturally, want to believe that they and their loved ones live on in some way forever, and are strongly biased to accept "explanations" which support this desire. (Wanting a thing does not make it true, however, and one is much more powerful in one's actual live when one understands and acts on truth rather than on "wishful thinking.")
By the end of this section the error of the line of reasoning presented above should become clear and obvious. This will start with precisely identifying and defining exactly what the terms "body," "mind," "spirit," "soul," "life," and "death," really refer to, and what the implications of this are.
The term "body" is probably the simplest and most straightforward to understand of the several terms now under investigation. It is simply the collection and organization of physical "stuff" which comprises one's own physical being. It is made of matter and energy. Even though matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed, and even though one's body is made of matter and energy, one's body can be destroyed. This is because one's body is not an indivisible "fundamental unit," but is made of a "collection" of countless smaller parts. It is "composite."
All composite things are capable of being "taken apart" somehow. When they are taken apart they no longer exist as the composite thing, but merely as a bunch of parts, or "components." Take a house, for example. Imagine it is made of bricks, wood, cement, and so forth. While its components are properly assembled, they take on an appearance and form which is recognized as a "house" and which provides shelter; beyond mere shelter it even may be very comfortable, warm, inviting and beautiful. It may be very well constructed, very strong and durable, but it is nonetheless "composite."
Then image a terrible storm, or earthquake. This "takes apart" the house, i.e., it separates or "decomposes" the house into its individual components: a large number of individual bricks, pieces of wood, bits of cement, and so forth. All the components are still there, but in great, unorganized pile. This is no longer a house. All the components are there, but they do not give shelter; to the contrary, the pile may actually be quite dangerous at this point.
So, a house, despite being composed of matter and energy which can neither be created nor destroyed, can itself be destroyed. In fact, all composite things are impermanent. This is a very important point.
One's body, like a house, is also composite: despite being composed of matter and energy which can neither be created nor destroyed, one's body can itself be destroyed. One's body, therefore, is not eternal or immortal. Actually this is a fairly obvious and uncontroversial point, because everyone can directly see bodies, can watch them grow and change over time, and could even see them die and decompose.
Life and Death
In the discussion above comparing houses to bodies, and mentioning the composite and impermanent nature of both, the distinction between inanimate things (such as houses) and living, animate things (such as living human bodies) was ignored. This will be addressed now.
A house is not normally considered to be "alive," in the sense that a walking, talking person is. One might be tempted at first to think that the difference between a living and a nonliving thing is "movement"; this would be partially right, but is actually more specific than that. After all, clouds move, water moves, air moves, the planets move about the sun, and the moon moves about the earth. All sorts of things move which we really would not identify as being "alive." So, movement alone is not life.
Also, there are things, such a plants, for example, which hardly move at all and which are typically considered to be alive. Plants do grow, of course, and so do other types of organisms including human beings, so it might be logical to speculate that perhaps growth is a special type of movement uniquely characteristic of life. But then one realizes that there are other things, like snowflakes, crystals, mountains, and all sorts of things which also grow but which we really would not identify as being "alive." So even growth is not equivalent with life.
One might then be tempted to abandon the idea of physical movement and instead begin to imagine that something like "mental movement," or "thinking" is what is characteristic of life. But again, there are many things which don't show evidence of "thinking" at all, such as plants, bacteria, and other simple organisms, which one does classify as being "alive."
Actually, this points to a rather important fact: there really is no sharp dividing line between life and non-life. There is no one particular characteristic or attribute, which makes a thing alive. Even the concept of "soul," or "spirit," such that "possessing" or "being" a soul or spirit makes a thing alive turns out to be mistaken, as we shall see in the next section. And yet…one makes the distinction between living things and nonliving things all the time. How can this be?
What we identify or think of as living things may actually be thought of as a set of characteristic types of composite assemblies and flows of matter and energy. There is not one particular assembly, and not one particular flow, but a wide range which we identify or think of as being life. It is important to recognize the difference between identifying or thinking of something as being alive on the one hand, and some distinct quality or attribute which actually constitutes life, on the other. There is no such distinct quality or attribute.
Many concepts are like "life," in that there is no sharp dividing line between that which is identified as being an example of something to which the concept refers and that to which the concept does not refer. Take something as simple as the concept of "chair." One may think, initially, that one knows exactly what a chair is. "It is a piece of furniture having four legs, a flat upper surface for sitting on, and an upright back piece which allows one to lean one's body back for comfort." This, or some similar definition comes immediately to mind when one thinks of a "chair"; however, this definition is lacking in many ways. Some chairs don't have backs. Some chairs have only three legs. One can use a chainsaw to cut a section of a tree trunk into a comfortable thing for sitting upon. One can sit upon a rock. At this point one might think that a chair is then "anything which one can sit upon." But is the ground a chair? Is a mat or pillow a chair? And yet, this lack of a true, clear-cut definition does not prevent one from using the term and being understood by others.
The concept of "life" is like this, but even more so. Whereas a chair is an essentially "static" thing, that which we identify with “life” involves “dynamic” processes. "Motion" and "growth" have been mentioned, but just like "four legs and a back" are not really adequate for distinguishing all "chairs" from "non-chairs," so too "motion and growth" are not really adequate for distinguishing life from non-life. To restate something from earlier: What one identifies or thinks of as living things may actually be thought of as a set of characteristic types of composite assemblies and flows of matter and energy; both the assembly and the flow are required.
Something is identified as a living human body if it has a set of characteristic types of composite assemblies and flows of matter and energy. If it only only has a set of characteristic types of composite assemblies, but lacks certain characteristic flows of matter and energy, then it would be still be identified as a human body, but dead rather than alive.
Life, or at least that which is identified or thought of as life, is thus a set of certain characteristic flows of matter and energy. That is why the same body can be alive at one time and dead at another. In a healthy, living human body, all of the flows which are characteristic of human life are "flowing well," i.e., within parameters which are conducive to the continuation of such flow. There is the flow of food into the body, through the digestive system, and eventually back out again as waste. There is the flow of breath in and out of the lungs, where oxygen is absorbed by the blood and carbon dioxide is released from the blood. This blood flows throughout the body, bringing oxygen and the digested food where it is needed, providing energy and matter which are used to grow and repair one's cells. There is a flow of electrochemical energy throughout the nervous system, bringing information about the world into one's brain where it is processed, and sending signals outward to various parts of the body so that they can properly manipulate and react to the environment.
Death, on the other hand, is the cessation of such flow. When a doctor declares someone dead, he or she does not check to see if the body still "has its soul," but checks to see if all of the flows necessary for life are still present. In fact, different parts of the body can be alive or dead at different times. One can be "brain dead," in which case the flows necessary for or characteristic of mental activity have ceased, while other flows (such as blood flow, breathing, etc.) are still present. One can lose limbs, or have other organs fail (and be kept alive via either a machine or transplant producing the necessary flow) in which case those limbs or organs are dead (i.e., their flows have ceased) while the brain and the rest of the person is alive.
So, to state it simply, life is when the flows in question are taking place, and death is when the flows have ceased. Sometimes it is even possible to restart a flow which has ceased, as when someone's heart is restarted by means of CPR or by electric shock. It is only possible to restart the flows of matter and energy which are identified as life if the underlying composite assemblies required to carry out the flow are still present, i.e., they have not decomposed. Such decomposition takes place in the absence of the flows required to maintain the condition of "life," but different parts of the body decompose at different rates. Bones, for example, decompose relatively slowly, while the brain decomposes very quickly.
If there were means by which to replace, repair or reassemble decomposed parts then it would be possible to restore the characteristic flows of life, even after some degree of decomposition. For bones and essentially all of the organs of the body other than the brain, such replacement, repair or reassembly can have varying levels of difficulty, but are possible in principle, and the technologies for such things are emerging already. The brain, however, presents rather unique problems, due to its enormous complexity, although in principle these problems are also solvable, and several possible solutions have already been proposed.
Mind, Spirit, and Soul
The terms "mind," "spirit," and "soul" can be a bit more difficult to think about and understand than the term "body," because these refer to something having an intangible quality. A mind cannot be touched, for example. One cannot directly perceive the mind of another person, but can only infer its existence based upon the other person's behavior. Such intangible things are more difficult for many people to think about and understand than something tangible like a body; thus their thinking regarding such things easily becomes confused or muddled. There is also the further problem that many individuals bring their own emotional prejudices into the analysis (or misanalysis) of these terms: they essentially "want" to find justification for the idea that the “souls” or “spirits” of themselves and their loved ones will somehow "live on" after the death of their physical bodies, and this prevents them from critically examining these concepts in logical, reality-based ways which would contradict this "wishful thinking."
The purpose here, however, is not to engage in self-deception, but to very carefully and accurately uncover some basic truths regarding the nature of one's existence and reality in general. Knowing and acting upon truths, even if they are truths one "doesn't like," makes one far more effective and powerful in one's life than acting on "wishful thinking."
Let us first note that the distinction between the terms "mind," "spirit," and "soul" is a false distinction. When the usage of these terms is closely examined, it is revealed that they actually refer to exactly the same thing. This will be demonstrated now.
Many people believe in some sort of "life after death." They believe that, even though the body is dead and the flows which are characteristically identified as "life" have ceased, there is "something" which lives on afterward. This "something" is typically conceived of as retaining or preserving the person's memories and thoughts. Memories and thoughts are the province of both the physical brain and the nonphysical mind; since the body quite clearly does not survive death, it is therefore very specifically the mind which is the aspect of the person which is conjectured to continue on afterward. The "soul" or "spirit" are essentially just other words for referring to the "mind."
One has very direct evidence of one's mind, but no evidence at all of some "extra" thing which could be identified as "soul" or "spirit" which could continue afterward. References to "souls" or "spirits" are therefore either equivalent to references to "mind" or are references to nonexistent entities. For all these reasons we will tend to use only the term "mind," to refer to "mind," "spirit," and "soul." (Again, "mind," "spirit," and "soul" all refer to the same thing.)
It has been shown above that the body is composite and impermanent, even though it is made of matter and energy which can neither be created nor destroyed; this is fairly obvious. No one really thinks of the ashes of a cremated loved one as though those ashes were in any way equivalent to the living person. The composition of the loved one's body was a temporary, impermanent thing. The matter and energy from which it was composed may continue to exist forever, but the unique composition or form which they took while the person was alive is now gone. No one thinks that the body is immortal, eternal, and indestructible.
What is not necessarily so obvious is that, just like the body, the mind is also composite and impermanent. The mind, however, is exactly correlated with certain flows of matter and energy in the brain. It follows inescapably from this exact correlation that the mind ceases to exist when the brain ceases to function.
This can be viewed from the standpoint of quantum consciousness and the psycho-physical nature of reality. Quantum consciousness entails that consciousness arises from quantum events, and that this is the basis for the psycho-physical nature of reality. Quantum events do not take place in the absence of some underlying physical system. A functioning human brain is the physical system underlying the quantum consciousness of a human mind. In the absence of a functioning brain, there is no mind; as the mind is the spirit or soul, when there is no mind, there is also no spirit or soul.
It is well-understood and easily observed and confirmed that the human body is composite and impermanent, despite the fact that it is composed of matter and energy, and that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but can merely be transformed from one form to another. It is precisely because all things are composite, and because that from which they are composed can be transformed from one form to another that they are impermanent. An egg, once broken, cannot be restored to its original state: although no matter or energy has been destroyed, the original form of the egg as a whole, unbroken unit has been transformed into an essentially irreparable, broken mess. Going further, once an egg has been cooked, it cannot be uncooked: although no matter or energy has been destroyed, irreversible changes within the proteins of the egg have taken place. Going even further, once eaten and digested, it cannot be uneaten or undigested. In other words, the matter and energy from which an egg is composed may not be destroyed, but an egg can certainly be transformed into something which is definitely not an egg.
Many individuals have a hard time understanding or accepting that mind is also composite and impermanent in nature. Due to the psycho-physical nature of reality (and whether or not Penrose-Hameroff Orch-OR turns out to be the exact mechanism of consciousness) mind is inextricably linked with matter. Mind is not some form of "energy" which exists independently of matter, but is completely dependent upon matter for its very existence. When the matter (or more specifically the brain) upon which a mind's existence depends ceases to exist or to function, the mind also ceases to exist.
Many religions offer the hope of some form of afterlife. These are all based upon non-scientific, mystical, "wishful thinking," rather than reality. There is no "spirit" or "soul" apart from the mind, and there is no mind apart from the body – or at least some type of physical "substrate" for the mind. Religions offer non-existent, false "heavens" to non-existent, false "souls." Yet it is science and human ingenuity which will ultimately provide true immortality and the possibility of a true paradise to human beings.
It is undeniable that the human lifespan has increased dramatically since the advent of science, particularly in those parts of the world where science, technology and human freedom have been allowed to take root and flourish. While great strides have been taken towards the alleviation of suffering, the extension of human life, and the general uplifting of human experience, these are just first steps in humanity's journey toward an exalted, immortal existence.
The field of nanotechnology shows particular promise for improving all aspects of human existence. “Nanotechnology” refers to the technology of the very small, where the individual “pieces” are single atoms. The goal is to build tiny “nanomachines” or “nanobots,” atom by atom, which would themselves then be able to also manipulate matter atom by atom. This would allow such machines to build copies of themselves and also to perform all sorts of seemingly miraculous feats.
On the cellular level, all organisms may be viewed as natural biological nanomachines, which evolved over time through random mutation and natural selection. A tiny apple seed, for example, may be viewed as a package of cellular nanomachines which manipulate the individual atoms and molecules in dirt, water, and air, aided by the power of sunlight, to build, atom by atom, and molecule by molecule, a large fruit-bearing tree. Even a human being is essentially a collection of biological nanomachines. The very moment of conception involves two cells – two individual nanomachines – merging together into a single cell. This single cellular nanomachine then proceeds to construct countless identical copies of itself, until its programming (contained in its DNA) instructs these nanomachines to begin to differentiate into all the various types of cells which make up the different organs and structures of the body, and to organize themselves into these organs and structures. This process takes nine months from conception to birth, and continues throughout a person's life. As a person ages however, various aspects of this process begin to break down and fail, and eventually the person dies.
Through the skillful application of nanotechnology and genetics, it may be possible to augment and possibly reprogram a person's cellular nanomachines in such a manner that life-sustaining processes continue indefinitely, leading to essentially eternal youth and immortality. Ray Kurzweil, in “The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology,” describes “human blood 1.5.” This is a form of artificial blood which has already been completely designed, atom by atom, on paper, and simply needs the technology of nanotechnology to advance to the point where its construction is possible. This would be 1000 times more efficient at transporting oxygen than natural human blood. He then goes on to describe “human blood 2.0,” which would essentially be the same artificial blood, but self-propelled; in other words, it would be able to circulate and oxygenate the body even in the absence of a beating heart!
It would also be possible to create more advanced nanobots which could be injected into a person, and which could scan the DNA of the cells it encountered, and repair any which become damaged or degraded by age or anything else. The same or similar nanobots could also target various sorts of bacterial or viral infections, and aid in the healing of damaged tissue, with an efficacy simply unobtainable by a person's own natural biological systems. Such innovations would essentially reverse aging, bringing about eternal youth and biological immortality.
It is possible to go even beyond this, however, to the preservation and restoration of one's mind beyond the death of one's body, in cases of accident or for those who die before the advent of biological immortality. Because the mind depends upon matter, it would only be necessary to preserve pertinent information about the structure of the matter upon which the mind depends; in this case, pertinent information about the structure of one's brain. This "preserving" could take the form of cryonics, i.e., a careful cryogenic freezing of one's body or even just one's head upon death, or it could take the form of a very sophisticated "brain scan" performed at some point while the person were alive.
To restore a cryogenically frozen brain would require "unfreezing" the brain and repairing (perhaps via nanotechnology) any damage it might have undergone as well as providing an environment in which it could again live. This “environment” could be the original body, similarly unfrozen and repaired, a new cloned body, or even a very technologically advanced non-biological body, with all the senses and capabilities of a human body, and essentially none of the frailties.
It would even be possible to construct a new brain (even perhaps a non-biological brain which featured those structures – such as tubulin microtubules, for example – upon which consciousness is dependent) from the "brain scan" taken while one was alive. Strictly speaking, it would not even be necessary to put a non-biologically reconstructed brain into a body, although that would still be possible if desired: it would be entirely possible for such a brain to be connected to, or to be part of, an ultra-realistic computer-simulated virtual reality, where even one's body was simulated. Furthermore, if one's brain were housed in an appropriately designed non-biological body it would also be possible to switch at will between experiencing the external world through the interface of the body, and between any number of various ultra-realistic virtual realities.
Even biological brains could be intimately connected to and integrated with computers and such ultra-realistic virtual realities by means of nanotechnology. As nanotechnology advances, it will become possible to create nanomachines which embed themselves into the brain, acting as a sort of interface between brain and computer.
These simulated realities could offer experiences impossible in "normal" reality. One could experience every fantasy one ever had – and would have eternity to dream up new ones! One could own or create certain realities, where one could essentially have god-like abilities and control, and one could visit realities owned or created by others. One could also choose to share realities with others of one's choosing, essentially "jointly-owning" them, and visiting and molding them together.
Humans could thus live glorious immortal lives, in virtual paradises of their own design, experiencing every fantasy they ever had – with eternity to dream up new ones! The possibilities are as limitless as human imagination itself, an existence far surpassing anything offered by the false “heavens” promised by all sorts of religions.
Traditional religions, when they are examined in the clear light of reason, offer only false promises and death. Scions, through science and human ingenuity, will ultimately defeat death, and replace it with an ever-expanding, glorious, eternal life.
Scionics atheology is a very wide-scope integration of all other branches of Scionics philosophy and some of the most advanced scientific concepts. All of Scionics and all of science are firmly based in reality, and are entirely naturalistic in character; Scionics atheology is thus entirely naturalistic in nature as well. In opposition to this would be not atheology, but theology: the “study” of imaginary, nonexistent supernatural beings, realms and related concepts. It is because of the profound loyalty of Scionics to knowledge and reality, and the concomitant rejection of mysticism and non-reality that the very term “theology” was rejected in favor of the more apt “atheology.” Scionics atheology would be the ultimate, invincible form of “theological naturalism,” if such a thing could honestly be said to exist; the term “theological naturalism,” however, is an oxymoron. Since Scionics atheology is actually in a class by itself, it is more accurate to simply say it is ultimate and invincible.