God & the Quantum. Who’s Afraid of the Quantum?
The Quantum has long been a staple of popular culture. It has the cachet of mystery and intrigue, putting it along side the X-Files in the popular consciousness. Needless to say, professional scientists are not amused by this unruly guest at their banquet of rationality. It is simply staggering to contemplate the amount of academic ink that has been spilt in the increasingly desperate attempts to discipline this unruly guest.
Why this tempest in a teapot? To grasp what is a stake, you have to go back 350 years to the founding father of Rationality, René Descartes. Descartes drew a line in the sand between mind and matter; it was rather like the decision of Solomon who offered to cut the baby in half to placate the disputing mothers. The irony here was that both the theologians and the scientists agreed to take the ‘Devil’s’ offer, each went home with half of the baby. And so we have the dualism that is the hallmark of modern civilization.
What is incredible has been the fruitfulness of our bargain with the Devil. In fact it is the very success of Scientific Materialism that now threatens to expose its own dubious origins. A very significant part of the Scientific Establishment, namely the physics community, is feeling marginalized after effectively producing a Theory of Everything. They cannot just leave well enough alone, they feel compelled to reexamine their own roots in that Cartesian compromise. Thus do we have the nascent consciousness movement that is now spreading beyond physics.
The lynch pin, the exhibit A, of the consciousness movement is that same unruly Quantum. They have rediscovered the Cartesian Grail, the ‘pineal gland’ that was supposed to be the missing link between mind and matter.
More sober minds are very wary of this new metaphysical enthusiasm. It threatens to shake the foundations of Modern Mechanistic/Analytic Rationality. I agree. When you go back and open the ancient family heirloom, you never now what skeletons may be lurking in that closet. The Quantumnauts are fearless. They can handle it. Wiser counsel is much less sanguine. They try to stop up this metaphysical leak with their collective finger. It is a futile gesture.
Who’s afraid of the big bad Quantum? After all, the quantum is just a little atomic fuzziness. How is this atomic lint going to threaten Modern Civilization? OK, I will tell you.
When Madame Curie saw the very first evidence that an atom could be split, she might have wondered the same thing. The problem is that there are a lot of atoms out there and we don’t have to split very many before we all wind up with a splitting headache.
Now with the Conscious Quantum, I am suggesting the possibility of a psychic bomb that will be tantamount to the Eschaton. It is one thing to allow a psychiatrist to meddle with the mind of a person on a couch. It is another thing to invite the whole physics community to join in. But that is just part of the problem.
The real problem is what else the physicists are going to find when they peak behind the Quantum door. Sure as shootin’, they are going to find God. Wonderful, there will be more physicists going to church. The problem is that the physicists are not going to sit quietly in the pews. They are going to be getting into the theology act, and it won’t be theology 101 anymore.
Remember folks, I was once just a quantum physicist. Then I saw God behind the Quantum, and it has been a trip, as a few fellow travelers can attest. You have to make up your own theology as you go along. What will we do with all the Jesus wannabes who come tripping out of the physics departments and then out of every other department? It looks like a major paradigm shift, to say the least.
Once we let God get her foot back in the door of the mundane world, the world will not be the same. The bottom line of the paradigm shift will be immaterialism. Then, you see, the paradigm shift becomes a pole shift. Don’t just take it from me. Stick God and the Quantum in your own little computer and see what you come up with. Do I hear silence from the Lambs?
But wait. Help is coming. Jack Sarfatti comes riding in on his White Horse he calls ‘Back-action.’ Jack is going to chain the Quantum to the bedrock of the material world. The world will be safe for Science and good old Rationality. Ah, saved at last! But wait, where are his soldiers? Why are all the other physicists still hiding in the bushes? What is this rag-tag army? Are we going to have to save the world all by ourselves? Well, yes and no.
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