If the meaning behind them medium is immaterial, then how do we perceive it?
The questions that we ask can make all the difference. If a guy doesn’t ask a girl out, he won’t hear her answer. If an employee doesn’t ask for a raise, he won’t advance. And if a scientist insists that students not ask certain questions—that they “just shut up and calculate”—then the students won’t be able to hear the answers.
In this case, the question students are never supposed to ask is, “How do we perceive the meaning behind the medium?” Instead, as we have seen, we are supposed to take this ability for granted as innate, intrinsic, and instinctive. Even our ability to count to 10—which is basic to most any measure of intelligence—must be presupposed as a given and not require any special provision from God. (I would compare this to a teenager demanding that he be allowed to live on his own and yet fully expecting his parents to provide a monthly allowance of $5K.) For example, listen to Harvard Professor Steven Pinker explain how we should take our ability to perceive the meaning of the word three (not the English morpheme but the concept itself) as innate. How do we perceive that the meaning of 3 any more than does a dictionary—or any more than do our fingers or an abacus or a smartphone or a supercomputer?
Humans…appear to have an innate sense of number, which can be explained by the advantages of reasoning about numerosity during our evolutionary history. (For example, if three bears go into a cave and two come out, is it safe to enter?) But the mere fact that a number faculty evolved does not mean that numbers are hallucinations. According to the Platonist conception of number favored by many mathematicians and philosophers, entities such as numbers and shapes have an existence independent of minds. The number three is not invented out of whole cloth; it has real properties that can be discovered and explored. No rational creature equipped with circuitry to understand the concept “two” and the concept of addition could discover that two plus one equals anything other than three.[i]
What? What in the world might be the “real properties” of the number three? Does it have size or texture or temperature or…? Pinker doesn’t say. And if his explanation isn’t confusing enough, we need to recognize that even though he is a zealous materialist—having declared in 2007 that “Scientists have exorcised the ghost [i.e., your soul] from the machine [i.e., your brain]”[ii]—nevertheless, when he resorts to Platonist philosophy, he is doing a 180-degree turnabout. Plato (428-348 BC) taught his followers that the physical world was just a shadowy image of a perfect nonphysical world of souls and ideas—phenomena which philosophers call Platonic Forms. So how can a devout materialist like Pinker get away with using Platonism?
Darwinists do this all…the…time.
As Brown University mathematics professor, Philip J. Davis, and University of New Mexico mathematics professor, Reuben Hersh, explained in 1981, Darwinists have no other choice but to flat out insist on having it both ways—on having their immaterial cake and eating it, too:
Most writers on the subject seem to agree that the typical working mathematician is a Platonist on weekdays and a formalist on Sundays. That is, when he is doing mathematics, he is convinced that he is dealing with an objective reality whose properties he is attempting to determine. But then, when challenged to give a philosophical account of this reality, he finds it easiest to pretend that he does not believe in it after all.[iii]
It is hard to overstate the absurdity of this flip-flop. It would be like inviting someone over for dinner every Sunday and then hearing them repeatedly declare that they are a vegetarian even though, Monday through Friday, you have seen them gorging on meat. They have often boasted about their favorite recipes for wild chinook salmon, free-range Cornish hens, and wagyu bavette steaks. Nevertheless, every Sunday they identify as vegetarian and speak passionately about its socio-economic, environmental, and health benefits.
So why do Darwinists preach materialism and then suddenly resort to Platonism? Why “pretend”, as Davis and Hersh put it? Why insist on a world of make-believe? Remember that Darwinism is dependent upon the presuppositions of materialism. There simply cannot be any immaterial/nonphysical phenomena in the universe, for that would open wide the door to spirituality, which is unacceptable.
Therefore, Pinker buries the mystery under philosophical fog and expects students to take it all for granted. After all, it is just so easy to do! One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten!
Now if obfuscation doesn’t work, then another strategy Darwinists use is to blatantly insist that we not ask certain questions.
Pinker is no neuroscientist—he’s a cognitive psychologist specializing in psycholinguistics—so let’s listen to one of the world’s leading cognitive neuroscientists who specializes in mathematics.
Stanislas Dehaene, a professor at the Collège de France, agrees with Pinker’s assumption that we are our brains. However, Dehaene disagrees with the notion that numbers are Platonic forms existing independently of minds. Why does he disagree? Because he is acutely aware of the dilemma. If numbers really existed outside of our skulls, then there would be no way to explain how the brain perceives them. “If these objects are real but immaterial,” he asks, “in what extrasensory ways does a mathematician perceive them?”[iv]
That’s an excellent question! So, what is Dehaene’s solution for maintaining materialism? How does he get past this seeming impasse? By arguing that mathematics only exists in our heads—that our brains literally create it. The title of one of his books is The Number Sense: How the Mind Creates Mathematics.
The evolution of mathematics is a fact. Science historians have recorded its slow rise, through trial and error, to greater efficiency. It may not be necessary, then, to postulate that the universe was designed to conform to mathematical laws. Isn’t it rather our mathematical laws, and the organizing principles of our brain before them, that were selected according to how closely they fit the structure of the universe?[v]
(Now let’s just set aside the fact that this conclusion eviscerates all of science, since science operates on the assumption that objective data saturates the cosmos—as we saw in chapter 2, “Where do words occur?”) If the brain creates mathematics, does that mean that the number three, for example, is a clump of neurons? Is it literally gray and squishy? Surely not. That would be about as coherent as saying, like Pinker, that numbers have “real properties that can be discovered and explored”. We might as well be talking about Lucy in the sky with diamonds, right? But seriously, if numbers only exist inside our skulls, what exactly are they?
Don’t ask that question! No, seriously, Dehaene insists (“If I insist so strongly on this…”) that we not ask what numbers are. “Providing a univocal formal definition of what we call numbers is essentially impossible: The concept of number is primitive and undefinable.”[vi] He sees the contradiction and so insists upon ignoring it altogether. Isn’t that rather astonishing?
Now Dehaene is a brilliant scientist and has done fascinating research on the brain. Just as a computer scientist could write a book explaining how your laptop processes mathematical data, so also Dehaene explains the latest scientific understanding on how the brain processes mathematical data. It’s truly dazzling science.
But at the end of the book, in the final chapter, titled “What is a Number?”, he insists that we not ask that question. Because when it comes to explaining how we actually perceive math—something which no abacus or thermometer or speedometer or calculator or laptop or supercomputer can do—he says we must simply take it all for granted as intuitive, just like Pinker said we have to take our sense of numerosity for granted as innate, just like the neuroscientist Christof Koch and the physicist Sean Carroll said that consciousness is simply intrinsic, just like linguist Noam Chomsky said that our ability to perceive words is innate.
Okay, what reason does Dehaene give for insisting that we not ask some questions? (Is it because otherwise evolutionary theory would die a violent and fiery death? Is it because we cannot, under any circumstances, open the door to spirituality?) It’s because we would be torturing students and practicing poor pedagogy.
Ironically, any 5-year-old has an intimate understanding of those very numbers that the brightest logicians struggle to define. No need for a formal definition….If I insist so strongly on this point, it is because of its important implications for education in mathematics. If educational psychologists had paid enough attention to the primacy of intuition over formal axioms in the human mind, a breakdown without precedent in the history of mathematics might have been avoided. I am referring to the infamous episode of “modern mathematics,” which has left scars in the minds of many schoolchildren in France, as well as in many other countries.[vii]
Note that even though he isn’t writing a textbook—so there’s no danger of torturing students—Dehaene still doesn’t want to talk about it. He simply concludes our understanding is natural. “The human baby is born with innate mechanisms for individuating objects and for extracting the numerosity of small sets.”[viii]
Babies can extract the numerosity of small sets? As simple as that sounds, it is a profoundly glorious ability! It’s what Einstein called “the eternal mystery of the universe”. And although it is impossible to explain, Darwinists have found all sorts of ways of dancing around the question so that they can cling to the presuppositions of materialism.
TAKE INTELLIGENCE FOR GRANTED
Pick up any book on the subject. Last spring neuroscientist Jeff Hawkins wrote A Thousand Brains, in which he tried to explain how the brain stores mathematical equations:
For mathematics, the brain must discover useful reference frames in which to store equations and numbers, and it must learn how mathematical behaviors, such as operations and transformations, move to new locations within the reference frames. To a mathematician, equations are familiar objects, similar to how you and I see a smartphone or a bicycle.[ix]
Equations are familiar objects—as objective as a smartphone or a bicycle? I can ride a bike while talking on the phone because both are physical objects made of metal. Is Hawkins suggesting that equations are objects with, as Pinker said, “real properties that can be discovered and explored”? He doesn’t say. He just wants to take our perception of words and numbers totally and completely for granted.
Now if Darwinists try to do more than simply take the perception of information for granted as an instinct—if they actually try to articulate an explanation for how matter makes mind—then they inevitably produce conclusions just as nonsensical as declaring that the number 3 is gray and squishy. If you don’t believe me, see “Majestically Beautiful Babble” in the appendix.
But now let’s consider asking the question that is not supposed to be asked—that neuroscientist Dehaene strongly insisted we not ask.
How do we perceive the meaning behind the media?
If the meaning behind the media is immaterial, then how do we comprehend it? If you cannot see, hear, feel, taste, or smell the meaning carried by these black symbols that you’re staring at, then why can you comprehend them? Even if biologists can theorize about how the brain evolved, that is completely irrelevant to the fact that we are able to use our brains to process nonphysical meaning. For example, how could the brain possibly perceive the meaning behind the word three in a way that an abacus or book or a smartphone or a laptop cannot? Or how do we perceive the meaning of the word red in a way that a camera cannot perceive it? How do we perceive the meaning of information?
Just as the establishment presupposes materialism, they also presuppose that any theory about us having immaterial souls—i.e. immaterial in the way that arithmetic is immaterial—would be unscientific and illogical. As Christof Koch, former professor of neuroscience at The California Institute of Technology and currently the president and chief scientist of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, put it:
If the soul is ineffable, how can it manipulate actual stuff such as synapses? It is easy to see causality flowing from the brain to the mind, but the reverse is difficult. Any mind-to-brain communication has to be compatible with natural laws, in particular with the principle of energy conservation. Making the brain do things, like messing with synapses, takes work that the soul would have to perform and that has to be accounted for.[x]
It’s an excellent question. But Koch’s next statement—that “it is easy to see causality flowing from the brain to the mind”—is purely wishful thinking. As we saw above, materialists always retreat to saying that the brain instinctively causes the mind—or, in Koch’s words, our brains have “intrinsic cause-effect power”.
Regardless, what if we dare to ask the question anyway: “How do we use our brains to perceive words—to perceive the meaning behind the medium?” That question is at least open to the possibility that you are not your brain. But does that lead to another dilemma? Does that imply that we can use some mystical force to move matter like Jedi Knights do in Star Wars movies or like wizards do in Harry Potter movies?
Well, here is what has been massively confirmed by tens of thousands of experiments and what has never once been refuted in a hundred years: although we cannot use mental power to move large objects like Jedi can, we can use our minds to cause quantum particles to materialize. It’s what physicists called The Measurement Problem because they discovered that when a scientist simply asked the right question (i.e., took a measurement) in the laboratory, the answer literally popped into existence. (By the way, no other species or machine can trigger The Measurement Problem.) As Bruce Rosenblum, Professor of Physics, emeritus, at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and Fred Kuttner, a Lecturer in the Department of Physics at the UC Santa Cruz, put it, “Observing an atom being at a particular place created its being there.”
This was such a bizarre discovery that the establishment decided not to talk about it, and it was such a subtle discovery that it was easy to ignore. Nevertheless, it provided a coherent, plausible explanation for how an immaterial mind could direct the brain, because subtle quantum events can cascade into much larger events—the so-called butterfly effect. Thus, although we cannot freely move rocks with our minds like Jedi can, we can cause quantum events to direct our brains to direct our hands to move rocks.
As spectacular and outrageous as that sounds, it makes sense of all the facts and does not lead to any dilemmas. Now you’re probably not going to believe me until you hear the evidence for yourself. (I wouldn’t have believed it.) So let’s slow down and listen to the scientists as they express their amazement.
THE POWER OF QUESTIONS
Again, the paradigm-shifting discovery was that when scientists asked questions about quantum particles, they caused the particles to materialize. As Austrian quantum physicist and Nobel laureate Anton Zeilinger, professor of physics emeritus at the University of Vienna and senior scientist at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, put it, “What we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure—which is a very, very deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”[xi]
Or as Arizona State University Physics Professor Paul Davies and University of Sussex Fellow John Gribben put it, “The observer plays a key role in deciding the outcome of quantum measurements—the answers, and the nature of reality depend in part on the questions asked.”[xii]
Decisions can cause the materialization of matter? Yes. First, let’s remember that sentences precede everything. Just as you can’t have a pizza without a recipe or a building without a blueprint or a cat without a DNA “blueprint”, so also you can’t have a particle without a sentence. And with our decisions we can effectively author some of those sentences. That doesn’t mean that we must be able to do quantum mechanics in order to use our brains any more than we must be able to write computer code in order to use our laptops. It means that just as scientists can make decisions in the laboratory that cause quantum particles to materialize, so also we can make decisions that can direct our brains.
It’s just that simple.
But to be sure, those wave functions are difficult to comprehend. Myself, I comprehend them about as well as I comprehend Egyptian hieroglyphics. If you wrote one of them out in plain English it would look more like a few paragraphs. You’ve got to study a whole lot of math before you can begin to understand them, like how you would have to study a whole lot of Spanish before you could understand a Mexican news broadcast.
But here is what physicists discovered: before any quantum particle (the smallest physical thing we know about) materializes from a wave—quite literally materializes—there is what is called the collapse of the wave function. The wave function is a complex mathematical process that gives the probability of finding a quantum particle in any location. And the key to understanding this explanation—the party of the mystery that so baffled scientists from the day they first discovered until now—is the word probability. The outcome of the wave function is unpredictable and so subject to the whims of the scientists doing the experimenting. Their conscious decisions affected the materialization of matter. As one of the 20th century’s leading physicists, Henry Stapp, put it:
Heisenberg’s discovery was that the process of observation—whereby an observer comes to consciously know the numerical value of a material property of an observed system—cannot be understood within the framework of materialist classical mechanics. A non-classical process is needed. This process does not construct mind out of matter, or reduce mind to matter. Instead, it explains, in mathematical terms, how a person’s immaterial conscious mind interacts with that person’s material brain.[xiii]
Stapp, now age 91, is one of the physicists who first learned to read and write them. He worked closely with such twentieth century giants Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli, and John Wheeler. He has published many papers pertaining to quantum mechanics’ non-local aspects, which reveal that an object can be moved or affected without being physically touched. He says that no physicist can deny the overwhelming empirical evidence that scientists have found for such faster-than-light action-at-a-distance. He also says that no one can deny that prior to materialization, an electron exists as a probability wave.
WAVES OF PROBABILITY?
If you think that sounds weird, take comfort that Einstein, Heisenberg, and all the other great minds agreed. We think of waves as passing through water or wind or wheat fields, but we don’t think of them as probabilities. We might talk about emotions moving in our hearts like waves, indicating how we will probably respond to someone’s words. But we don’t think of physical objects responding in probability waves.
Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg (1933-1921), former professor of physics at Harvard University and The University of Texas, said that the waves of a wave function could be compared to a musical chord. After a measurement is taken, the chosen probability is like a single note in that chord. But he clarified that electron waves are not waves of electronic matter in the way sound waves are waves of vibrating air or ocean waves are waves of moving water. “Rather, as Max Born [1882-1970] came to realize, the electron waves are waves of probability,” Weinberg said.[xiv] So when a scientist asks a question (takes a measurement) a function of probable events instantly “collapses” into a single actual event. They call that the collapse of the wave function—the switch, as Weinberg puts it, from a musical chord to a single note.
Now in classical Newtonian physics, probabilities only reflect a lack of knowledge. For example, if you have exact knowledge about the location and mass and velocity of a billiard ball, you can predict exactly what it will do. However, such knowledge is less accessible for more complex activity, such as the throwing of dice. If a gambler could have access to such knowledge, then he could know exactly what the dice will do and so conquer Las Vegas. Otherwise, with the absence of perfect knowledge, we are left with figuring the probabilities of how dice will land.
But here is what has mystified scientists for a century: the probabilities of quantum particles do not exist until people choose to take a measurement. Up to the point that a scientist asks a question in the laboratory by taking a measurement, everything is predictable. But once someone looks for an answer, probability kicks in. The scientist making the measurement introduces probability into the equations. And again, this function of probabilities is nothing but words—invisible, silent, untouchable, immaterial words. That’s why Stapp said the process “cannot be understood within the framework of materialist classical mechanics.”
One of the first scientists who learned to translate and solve these wave functions was the Hungarian mathematical physicist John von Neumann. In 1932 he wrote a textbook, Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, in which he explained that the collapse of the probability wave resulted not from static physical laws (i.e. the sort of laws that govern bouncing dice and orbiting planets) but rather from the intervention of an observer—the scientist. Furthermore, it was clear that the observer—the scientist who was asking a question in the laboratory—was “a new entity relative to the physical environment” (i.e. nonphysical). The modern scientific establishment doesn’t use this sort of language anymore, but Neumann was simply relaying what the data revealed:
Let us now compare these circumstances with those which actually exist in nature or in its observation. First, it is inherently entirely correct that the measurement or the related process of the subjective perception is a new entity relative to the physical environment and is not reducible to the latter. Indeed, subjective perception leads us into the intellectual inner life of the individual, which is extra-observational by its very nature (since it must be taken for granted by any conceivable observation or experiment).[xv]
This original, and still orthodox, understanding of quantum mechanics (Neumann’s textbook is as useful today as it ever was) is called the Copenhagen Interpretation because it was largely outlined by German physicist Werner Heisenberg and Danish physicist Niels Bohr at the Niels Bohr Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of Copenhagen in the 1920s. Many other physicists, including Albert Einstein, Max Born, Erwin Shrödinger, and Neumann, contributed to the work. And, to be sure, they argued about what in the world it all meant. But at the end of the day, the implication that the observer/measurer is extra-physical—that implication was unavoidable.
Stapp explains it this way: “The strangle-hold of materialism was broken simply by the need to accommodate the empirical data of atomic physics, but the ontological ramifications went far deeper, into the issue of our own human nature and the power of our thoughts to influence our psycho-physical future.”[xvi]
As Stephen M. Barr, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware, put it:
Quantum theory, in its traditional, or “standard,” or “orthodox” formulation, treats “observers” as being on a different plane from the physical systems that they observe. A careful analysis of the logical structure of quantum theory suggests that for quantum theory to make sense it has to posit the existence of observers who lie, at least in part, outside of the description provided by physics.[xvii]
Again, they were all concluding that the mind of a scientist is “a new entity relative to the physical environment”, is “extra-observational” (i.e. extra-sensory), is “on a different plane from the physical systems that they observe.” In classical, traditional terms, that’s what we would call a soul.
How, you ask, how is it possible that our high school students and even most of our college students know nothing about these conclusions? Why is this glorious discovery hidden from the classroom? Because, for starters, it annihilates Darwinism. Although naturalists admit that it’s all very bizarre, they have no other choice but to suppress these discoveries, for they are absolutely and completely unacceptable to the establishment’s presuppositions about humanity, nature, and all of “reality”.
THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING
Although Darwinists cannot give a single reason why these conclusions are not true, they still insist that it should not be true. As neuroscientist Christof Koch put it:
That a conscious observer is required to convert the superposition of states of a quantum system into the single observable outcome has always troubled physicists. If QM is really a fundamental theory of reality, it shouldn’t need to invoke conscious brains and measuring devices. Instead these macroscopic objects should emerge naturally from the theory.[xviii]
Stapp calls such a view metaphysical prejudice. Darwinists have already decided what should be true for the simple reason that they refuse to acknowledge any evidence for a nonphysical or a spiritual world.
The experimental I use the term “metaphysical prejudice” because there is no theoretical or empirical evidence that supports the non-existence of the subtle sort of instantaneous action that is involved here. Indeed, both theory and the nonlocality experiments, taken at face value, seem to demand it. The denial of the possibility of any such action is a metaphysical commitment that was useful in the context of classical physical theory. But that earlier theory contains no counterpart of the informational structure upon which the putative action in question acts.[xix]
This prejudice is explicitly given by Philip Ball, an editor for the journal Nature and a columnist for Chemistry World, who wrote a fantastic book on quantum physics titled Beyond Weird. In the book he explains the Copenhagen Interpretation and then reviews several of the competing ways to deal with The Measurement Problem. But he only touches briefly on the original and most straightforward explanation—the one that Neumann, Stapp, and everyone else obsessed with—an explanation which Ball calls “mind-induced collapse”. He just summarizes it and then dismisses it. Why?
In particular, mind-induced collapse seems to demand that we attribute to the mind some feature distinct from the rest of reality: to make mind a non-physical entity that does not obey the Schrödinger equation. How else could it do something to quantum processes that nothing else can?
Perhaps most problematically of all, if wavefunction collapse depends on the intervention of a conscious being, what happened before intelligent life evolved on our planet? Did it then develop in some concatenation of quantum superpositions?[xx]
Why does Ball so easily reject this explanation—the one that Heisenberg and von Neuman and Wheeler and many others were so entranced by? He dismisses it because (1) it requires an immaterial mind, and (2) it completely contradicts evolutionary theory by making the whole universe contingent upon an intelligent “conscious being” (a.k.a. God!). Being a good Naturalist, he cannot tolerate either of those possibilities.
None of them can. (It makes no difference that, as Chomsky, Lewontin, and six other scientists concluded as late as 2014, “the most fundamental questions about the origins and evolution of our linguistic capacity remain as mysterious as ever.”) So what do they do instead? What do they teach students? Well, today there are a couple of dozen competing interpretations of quantum mechanics—competing theories about how to solve The Measurement Problem—including, theories about how it produces consciousness materialistically. One of the theories, called the Multiverse, is very popular in science fiction.
But none of the theories have ever come close to displacing the Copenhagen Interpretation. So instead of trying to explain the mystery away, the establishment decided to ignore it.
When they first discovered the mystery, Heisenberg and his colleagues were completely baffled by these results, but it didn’t even occur to them to challenge the prevailing materialistic worldview. Instead, they simply identified a series of principles which would guide them in their experimentation. Only later did they realize that their conclusions demanded a paradigm shift in physics. The classical, materialistic view of the world was being replaced by something radically different. As Stapp put it:
Quantum mechanics accounts with fantastic accuracy for the empirical data both old and new. The core difference between the two theories is that in the earlier classical theory all causal effects in the world of matter are reducible to the action of matter upon matter, whereas in the new theory our conscious intentions and mental efforts play an essential and irreducible causal role in the determination of the evolving material properties of the physically described world. Thus the new theory elevates our acts of conscious observation from causally impotent witnesses of a flow of physical events determined by material processes alone to irreducible mental inputs into the determination of the future of an evolving psycho-physical universe.[xxi]
AN EXPLANATION FOR FREE WILL
Although many Naturalists want to believe in free will, none of them can even begin to articulate a theory as to how a materialistic free will is possible. By contrast, Stapp says quantum mechanics reveals exactly, measurably, how an immaterial mind can cause small-scale changes in the brain that can lead to large-scale changes in the world. Quoting Stapp again:
It is exactly this problem of the connection between physically described small-scale properties and directly experienced large-scale properties that orthodox quantum theory successfully resolves. To ignore this solution, and cling to the false precepts of classical mechanics that leave mind and consciousness completely out of the causal loop, seems to be totally irrational. What fascination with the weird and the incredible impels philosophers to adhere, on the one hand, to a known-to-be-false physical theory that implies that all of our experiences of our thoughts influencing our actions are illusions, and to reject, on the other hand, the offerings of its successor, which naturally produces an image of ourselves that is fully concordant with our normal intuitions, and can explain how bodily behavior can be influenced by felt evaluations that emerge from an aspect of reality that is not adequately conceptualized in terms of the mechanistic notion of bouncing billiard balls?[xxii]
Thus quantum mechanics confirms what we intuitively know to be true: we have free will in choosing what to do with our bodies, whether that choice is as simple as raising your hand or as complex as designing and launching a rocket ship to mars. If we allow for the presence of a soul—with genuinely subjective experiences (as opposed to calling them illusions or hallucinations) and free will and intentionality, etc.—then all the scientific facts fit together beautifully.
Von Neumann explained that the boundary between the “extra-physical” observer (i.e. the nonphysical mind) and the observed physical system was arbitrary, but that the observer was located within a scientist’s physical body.
It must be possible to describe the extra-physical process of the subjective perception…That is, we must always divide the world into two parts, the one being the observed system, the other the observer. In the former, we can follow up all physical processes (in principle at least) arbitrarily precisely. In the latter, this is meaningless. The boundary between the two is arbitrary to a very large extent…but this does not change the fact that in each method of description the boundary must be put somewhere, if the method is not to proceed vacuously, i.e., if a comparison with experiment is to be possible. Indeed experience only makes statements of this type: an observer has made a certain (subjective) observation; and never any like this: a physical quantity has a certain value.[xxiii]
The Copenhagen Interpretation does not explicitly state, as von Neumann did in his textbook, that the process of subjective perception is “extra-physical”. Instead it simply says that the act of measurement—the act of a physicist deciding to ask a question or, literally, looking for a particle in a laboratory—causes a set of statistically probable answers to reduce (“collapse”) down to one answer. It states that physical systems do not have definite, measurable properties prior to being measured. But the implication that the observer/measurer is extra-physical—that implication is unavoidable regardless of whether it is articulated.
Eugene Wigner (1902-1995), a Hungarian-American theoretical physicist who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963, said the experimental evidence made it clear that the scientists themselves were not simply measuring quantum events but somehow causing the events to materialize. “It follows that the being with a consciousness must have a different role in quantum mechanics than the inanimate measuring device.”[xxiv]
Or as Nobel Prize-winning Dutch Physicist Gerard t’Hooft put it:
Indeed, when one attempts to construct models that visualize what might be going on in a quantum mechanical process, one ﬁnds that deterministic interpretations usually lead to predictions that would obey his inequalities, while it is well understood that quantum mechanical predictions violate them. In attempts to get into grips with this situation, and to derive its consequences for deterministic theories, the concept of “free will” was introduced. Basically, it assumes that any ‘observer’ has the freedom, at all times and all places, to choose, at will, what variables to observe and measure.[xxv]
So although wave functions collapse all the time, the point is that scientists discovered that they themselves can freely choose to cause the collapse simply by asking questions. And so far as we know, humans are not only the only ones who can comprehend information and use it creatively—which includes using animals and machines in our projects and experiments—but also the only ones who can ask the questions in the laboratory. So this is observable, testable, falsifiable evidence that we have free will.
As Richard Muller, emeritus professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, put it, free will is our ability to make decisions using nonphysics knowledge.
Despite arguments from classical philosophers, we now know that free will is compatible with physics; those who argue otherwise are making a case based on the religion of physicalism. We can influence the future using not only scientific but also nonphysics knowledge (empathy, virtue, ethics, fairness, justice) to guide the flow of entropy to bring about a strengthening of civilization, or its destruction.
Imagine that in addition to the physical world, there is a spiritual world. This is the world in which the soul exists; it is the realm in which empathy can operate and affect decisions. Imagine that the spiritual world is somehow entangled with the physical world. Action in the spiritual world can affect wave functions in the real world. The physical world can likewise inform and influence the spiritual one. In ordinary entanglement, between two particles in the physical world, detection of one entangled particle affects the wave function of the other. Yet that entanglement is impossible to detect or measure if you are given physical access to only one particle. With both particles, you can see the correlation, but with only one, the behavior seems completely random. When I try to understand my own soul, this picture makes some sense. There is a spiritual world separate from the real world. Wave functions from the two worlds are entangled, but since the spiritual world is not amenable to physical measurement, the entanglement can’t be detected. Spirit can affect physical behavior—I can choose to build or smash a teacup; I can choose to make war or seek peace—through what we call free will. This speculation is not falsifiable, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. As Gödel taught us, there are always truths that can’t be tested.[xxvi]
A FINAL CAUSE BEHIND IT ALL
This is all such excellent news. And yet the establishment simply cannot set their presuppositions aside. But if Darwinists refuse to even acknowledge the immaterial nature of information, how much easier is it for them to ignore physicists’ more demanding discovery of a direct link between consciousness and our physical actions and behavior? Stapp is aghast:
Given this recognized major importance of the mind-brain problem, you might think that the most up-to-date, powerful, and appropriate scientific theories would be brought to bear upon it. But just the opposite is true! Most neuro-scientific studies of this problem are based on the precepts of nineteenth century classical physics, which are known to be fundamentally false. Most neuroscientists follow the recommendation of DNA co-discoverer Francis Crick, and steadfastly pursue what philosopher of science Sir Karl Popper called “Promissory Materialism”.[xxvii]
Now remember how Ball, as a good representative this naturalistic view, had given two reasons for dismissing mind-induced collapse. The first was that it requires an immaterial mind, and the second was that it contradicts evolutionary theory by making the whole universe contingent upon God. That is to say that these conclusions not only point to spirituality but also to a Creator. As Eric Holloway, a fellow at the Walter Bradley Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence, explains:
And herein lies the rub. If human observers are necessary for physical final causality to occur, how do humans come to have the capability in the first place? This question points to a yet even higher source of final causality that extends beyond the human realm, and is responsible for the final causality that humans exhibit.
Thus, these quantum physicists are showing that—far from final causality being a minor physical phenomena that can be explained away with an experiment—our entire universe is imbued with final causality within its very fabric and this final causality must come from some source beyond the universe.[xxviii]
So if we simply examine the facts, they point to a conscious, immaterial, intelligent Author for the entire universe. Stapp says that is the very straightforward extension of the interpretation of the data that Heisenberg and his colleagues discovered.
This situation is concordant with the idea of a powerful God that creates the universe and its laws to get things started, but then bequeaths part of this power to beings created in his own image, at least with regard to their power to make physically efficacious decisions on the basis of reasons and evaluations. I see no way for contemporary science to disprove, or even render highly unlikely, this religious interpretation of quantum theory, or to provide strong evidence in support of an alternative picture of the nature of these ‘free choices’. These choices seem to be rooted in reasons that are rooted in feelings pertaining to value or worth. Thus it can be argued that quantum theory provides an opening for an idea of nature and of our role within it that is in general accord with certain religious concepts, but that, by contrast, is quite incompatible with the precepts of mechanistic deterministic classical physics. Thus the replacement of classical mechanics by quantum mechanics opens the door to religious possibilities that formerly were rationally excluded. This conception of nature, in which the consequences of our choices enter not only directly in our immediate neighborhood but also indirectly and immediately in far-flung places, alters the image of the human being relative to the one spawned by classical physics. It changes this image in a way that must tend to reduce a sense of powerlessness, separateness, and isolation, and to enhance the sense of responsibility and of belonging. Each person who understands him-or herself in this way, as a spark of the divine, with some small part of the divine power, integrally interwoven into the process of the creation of the psycho-physical universe, will be encouraged to participate in the process of plumbing the potentialities of, and shaping the form of, the unfolding quantum reality that it is his or her birthright to help create.[xxix]
Now as to our place in the world, so far as we know it is confined to our bodies. So what would a disembodied mind/soul be able to do? Where would it exist? I am quite sure that I will not try to speculate on such matters. We have these profoundly complex, amazingly powerful brains—organs which the materialists have done amazing work in studying and explaining—that we can use to put men on the moon and to compose symphonies and to compose chili. But after our bodies die?
That’s an excellent question.
[i] Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate (New York: Viking, 2002), 192.
[ii] Steven Pinker, “The Brain: The Mystery of Consciousness”, Time magazine Vol 169 No 5. January 29, 2007. http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1580394-1,00.html
[iii] Philip J. Davis and Reuben Hersh, The Mathematical Experience (Boston: Birkhäuser, 1981), 362.
[iv] Stanislas Dehaene, The Number Sense: How the Mind Creates Mathematics, Revised and Updated Edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 225.
[v] IBID, 232.
[vi] IBID, 222.
[vii] IBID, 223.
[viii] IBID, 227.
[ix] Jeff Hawkins. A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence. (New York: Basic Books, 2021) p. 82. Kindle Edition.
[x] Koch, Christof. Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist (MIT Press) (p. 151). The MIT Press. Kindle Edition
[xi] The Measurement Problem. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qB7d5V71vUE
[xii] Paul Davies and John Gribben, The Matter Myth, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007), 307.
[xiii] Henry Stapp, Quantum Theory and Free Will (Springer International Publishing, 2017), Kindle Locations 339-342.
[xiv] Steven Weinberg, Third Thoughts (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018), 126.
[xv] John von Neumann, Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, published 1932, translated from the German edition by Robert T. Beyer in 1949 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983), 418.
[xvi] Henry Stapp, Quantum Theory and Free Will (Springer International Publishing, 2017), 28.
[xvii] Stephen M. Barr, Modern Physics and Ancient Faith (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003), 27-28.
[xviii] Christof Koch, The Feeling of Life Itself (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2019). Kindle Edition.
[xix] Stapp, Quantum Theory and the Role of Mind in Nature, https://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/vnr.pdf
[xx] Philip Ball, Beyond Weird: Why everything you thought you knew about quantum physics is different (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2018), 118.
[xxi] Henry Stapp, Quantum Theory and Free Will (Springer International Publishing, Kindle Edition, 2017), Kindle Locations 47-52.
[xxii] Henry Stapp, “Minds and Values in the Quantum Universe,” in Information and the Nature of Reality, ed. by Paul Davies and Niels Henrik Gregersen (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 108.
[xxiii] IBID 419-420.
[xxiv] Eugene Wigner, “Remarks on the Mind-Body Question”, Eugene Wigner, in John Wheeler and Wojciech Hubert Zurek, Quantum Theory and Measurement (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), p. 180.
[xxv] Gerard t’Hooft, “On the Free-Will Postulate in Quantum Mechanics”, arXiv (January 15, 2007) https://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0701097v1
[xxvi] Muller, Richard A. Now: The Physics of Time. W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition, location 4019-4025.
[xxvii] Henry Stapp, Quantum Theory and Free Will (Springer International Publishing, 2017), Kindle Locations 870-874.
[xxix] Henry Stapp, “Minds and Values in the Quantum Universe,” in Information and the Nature of Reality, ed. by Paul Davies and Niels Henrik Gregersen (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 117-118.