Friday, November 11, 2005

Consciousness: The intelligent designer

Consciousness: The intelligent designer

"We are sprits in physical form" -- a simple, dramatically powerful statement in one of Dr. Andrew Weil's best-sellers on nutrition. He offered no elaboration; but none is needed. Because he's absolutely right.

The spiritual is a new frontier of human experience. Polls show us increasingly to be "more spiritual than religious" with more of us having the mystical sense of something larger -- the sense that consciousness is not confined to our brains.

That human minds can communicate directly with one another, independent of distance, is undeniable. For thousands of years, people have had sudden, accurate sensations of events in the lives of loved ones and friends. There have been numerous experiments in which people prayed for hospital patients in distant cities -- without their knowledge -- producing distinct improvements in the patients' conditions and, in some cases, generating cures.

I have sensed events in the lives of loved ones and no doubt you have as well. There is a fantastic corollary to this in physics. It's known as quantum entanglement, the most stunning event in nature, where, if two particles are related and the nature of one is changed, the other changes instantly, no matter how far away.

Thought occurs in the firing of particles across the brain's synaptic gaps, at least 100 trillion of them. Could it be that the similarity of synapse configurations in the brains of relatives means that firing in one brain sets off firing in another?

Declares Cambridge physicist Brian Josephson, a Nobel laureate: "The arguments against ESP are not well founded." He speaks of "mental perturbations" of the "background energy state," possibly giving rise to thought transfers. We are immersed in this background state. We ourselves are electromagnetic, atomic and, likely, quantum energy.

All life, in fact, can be seen as energy fields. The background energy was created, like everything else, by the Big Bang. To those religious, this was not, of course, an unintended event. And so to us spiritual.

The universe, despite its immensity, is assembled with astonishing precision. Vast forces are calibrated, in some cases, to trillionths of degrees, such as the energy density of space, which enables matter to form stars.

Scientist-author Timothy Ferris writes that the four fundamental forces -- gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces -- are arrayed in stupendous ratios.

If gravity were a stick, it would be about an inch long. The strong nuclear force, as a stick, would be far longer than the radius of the universe. Are we to believe that this gargantuan ratio -- necessary for life as we know it -- came about randomly?

Examining such data, Steven Weinberg, Nobel physicist and uncompromising atheist, stunningly concludes: "The universe was fine-tuned for life."

This breathtaking precision of the universe forces one to conclude that it was a conscious act. Creation was a decision of a Super-Consciousness or of a Supreme Creative Force, which some, obviously, call God.

All of those titles mean the same thing: Consciousness brought forth the physical world. Consciousness brought forth and is all awareness, all thought, all sensation, inherent in all of life, pervading the universe.

This inspires physicist Amit Goswami to the profound insight that, "We don't have consciousness. It has us." Thus, the brain can be seen as not only the generator of our own consciousness but as an interface for a universal consciousness that we are all part of. Our minds exist both in and outside of our heads.

Psychiatrist Jeffery Schwartz of UCLA, analyzing PET scans, discovers that "the conscious mind differs from the brain and cannot be solely explained by the matter of the brain."

Vastly more exciting and wondrous is overwhelming evidence that our consciousness survives physical death. Appearances and interventions of spirits simply seem certain.

Images of departed loved ones, voices, other sounds, manipulation of electrical devices, and movement of objects are all too common. I have personally experienced all of those phenomena -- with the exception of images -- multiple times.

I have no doubt that spirits are present in our lives and they reveal consciousness to be transcendent.

Crazy? As the great quantum theorist Niels Bohr once said of some wild notions about the universe by a fellow physicist, "The problem is they're not crazy enough."

Hank Baughman is morning news host on WISH 99.7 FM and president of Baughman Communications, a Greensburg creative-services firm.

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