Physics shedding light on the crisis (Part I)

End of January already and 2012 seems normal enough so far: the euro hasn’t collapsed, Greece hasn’t defaulted, Israelis haven’t bombed Iran, and climate change is not particularly extreme.

But through your sensitive antennas you can feel that the negative and the positive are both getting more intense. It’s momentous time all right on our planet.

And the increasing depth and complexity of the global crisis make the need to think differently ever more urgent.

This blog is dedicated to sharing thoughts out of the box that may prove useful at this extraordinary historical juncture.

Today I submit to your attention the first part of a reflexion starting from the perspective of science, with a particular focus on physics.

The reason for this approach is that science is widely regarded as the most rigorous form of knowledge.

If it can be viewed as rigorous, science does not provide a full understanding of reality. In fact, science is only a patchwork of theories and models applicable to limited fragments of reality.

These theories and models shouldn’t be taken for the “truth”; they are just tools which appear to be useful when dealing with certain aspects of perceived reality.

The core science is physics, which studies the bases of the physical universe. There are three broad approaches in physics: classical Newtonian, relativity and quantum mechanics.

Classical physics is used in everyday situations at the scale of ordinary perception. It is consistent with a mechanistic view of the universe: separate things moving in time and space according to fixed laws with repeatable outcomes.

In contrast, relativity applies at the large scale of the universe and quantum mechanics at the subatomic level. At these extremely large and small scales, direct perceptions and experiments are not possible.

Therefore, relativity and quantum mechanics rely entirely on advanced mathematics and involve assumptions and concepts which may appear incomprehensible to the ordinary person’s common sense.

For modern physics, it is no longer evident that time flows only in one direction or that a particle cannot be in two places at the same time. There is no certainty that matter exists, other than as a manifestation of energy, and a physical process may lead to different possible outcomes depending on the observer.

One thing is clear: the simple mechanistic view of the universe used by classical Newtonian physics is only a crude instrument providing no reliable insight into the infinite subtlety of reality.

This said, the theories used in relativity and quantum physics, however intellectually impressive, are themselves fraught with gaps and inconsistencies and come far short of a comprehensive understanding of the universe.

One of their main difficulties revolves around the observer of physical phenomena.

What or who is an observer? Presumably a creature aware of its own existence and of the existence of things around itself.

An observer must possess consciousness. But what exactly is consciousness? Is it a faculty that only human beings enjoy? Where is it located? In brain cells? Within molecules, atoms, elementary particles?

By and large science simply ignores consciousness and does not involve it in its reasoning. In fact, science doesn’t even have a serious theory of consciousness.

So, human logic goes round in circles: without consciousness, there can be no perception, no thinking, no theory, and therefore no science. Science only exists out of consciousness. And yet science has no idea about consciousness.

We have to be honest and concede that reality is infinitely more subtle than human deductive intelligence is able to comprehend. Our logic, for all the brilliant theories and models it can generate, has clear limits.

At this point of analysis, it seems only fair and reasonable to turn to the other mode of thinking that nature has put at our disposal: intuition.

But this may appear tricky, because intuition, unlike logic, is a totally uncontrolled mechanism providing bits of knowledge that cannot be explained or “justified” through step by step reasoning.

Resorting to intuition involves trust, and even faith. Faith in the fact that intuition puts us in touch with an otherwise inaccessible depth of reality.

This, of course, sends materialists screaming. How can we trust intuition, which appears so elusive and unpredictable?

We could retort that there is absolutely no proof or assurance that deductive logic – on which all scientific theories are based – should be, any more than intuition, in line with the unknown higher levels of intelligence that most probably exist in the universe.

In the final analysis, we humans have to accept that reality is a mystery that our intelligence cannot pierce.

But we have to get by in our lives. And for this we need practical tools.

Two modes of thinking are at our disposal: deductive logic and intuition. As there is no guarantee that one of the two at least is totally reliable, we just have to take a chance, make assumptions, and then believe in our assumptions.

In other words, to live we need belief systems. These may be explicit or unconscious, but they have to be there.

Western civilisation’s mainstream belief system is based on the crude mechanistic view of the universe associated to classical Newtonian physics.

It does not take on board the tentative subtle visions of relativity and quantum mechanics, even though these have been around for decades and have led to powerful applications in technical fields such as electronics.

In addition to being crudely mechanistic, the Western mainstream belief system is also profoundly anthropocentric: only humans really matter. This side of the belief system comes from the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Animals, plants, and non living things are considered secondary elements of a décor for the theatricals in which humans play the main parts and are free to use natural “resources” in the pursuit of their own needs, wants and desires.

If the décor gets a bit bashed in the process, it is sad but not too important.

In mainstream Western thinking all things and creatures are seen as separate, each following its individual path in the great mechanical clockwork of the universe. With or without a God to steer it all.

In view of advanced thinking in physics and other disciplines and given the key questioning around consciousness, such a vision of the universe as a gigantic clockwork with a special place for mankind doesn’t really make much sense.

Yet it remains the foundation of Western society’s mainstream mode of thinking.

Where does intuition come into play in this mode of thinking?

To all intents and purposes, intuition is effectively switched off. And anybody relying heavily on it tends to be regarded as superstitious or charlatan.

But we can all notice that a growing minority of people take an increasing interest in various alternative and esoteric disciplines which do rely on intuition and imply a vision of the universe that is the exact opposite of the mainstream view.

The alternative view sees oneness in the universe, sees all things interwoven and interacting, and nothing separate from the whole. It sees energy as the essence, together with universal consciousness.

Such a vision is present to a wider or lesser extent in many ancient traditions all over the world (Vedic philosophy in India, Tao in China, shamanism in aborigines societies) and it has been gradually further developed by modern alternative thinkers from the second part of the 19th century onwards.

Efforts to bring more clarity, coherence and stronger underpinning to this broad vision continue today with increased intensity.

Their focus is on interactions between three domains: the spiritual, advances in official science (physics, neuro sciences, bio-electromagnetism, astronomy,…) and observations often labelled “paranormal” (water’s memory, near death experiences, telepathy, dowsing, synchronicities, law of attraction …).

The latter observations are mostly made and recorded in ways that are different from those used by Western official science.

Which is only logical given the fact that subtle phenomena do not lend themselves easily to laboratory settings such as used for the simpler processes investigated through the relatively crude models of official science.

Open minded scientists accept this. They are capable of casting a detached view on their own discipline and see its limitations, and they are capable of taking an objective interest in disciplines arising from completely different perspectives.

The trouble is that a lot of ordinary scientific thinking is structured by the crudely mechanistic world view of classical Newtonian physics. With a major aggravating factor today: the submission of scientific activity to money and power.

Almost all university departments and research institutes are now financed directly or indirectly by big business or governments entirely controlled by multinationals through their lobbies and networks.

A key point to grasp is that the mechanistic world vision suits big business, whereas the alternative holistic subtle vision does not.

This can be readily understood through obvious examples.

Take the field of medicine: alternative forms of healing only require trained practitioners and limited resources, such as acupuncture needles, herbs, etc., whereas  prescription drugs and intrusive technologies lend themselves to large scale money making activities by multinationals.

Take the food chain: small scale organic agriculture, respect for soil, plants and animals, local distribution with few intermediaries, and home cooking are not interesting for big business, whereas intensive agriculture with fertilisers, pesticides, animal concentration camps, industrial ready made food, large scale retail are all areas where multinationals thrive and impose their standards to society.

If the entire population started to live, grow food, eat, heal, … according to practices aligned with the alternative vision, large swathes of big business would be wiped out overnight and the financial system would collapse immediately.

That is why the mechanistic world view is firmly upheld by the dominant elite and aggressively promoted through the educational system, the media, and even apparently well meaning charitable activities.

With the acceleration of the global crisis, all of the above is becoming clearer by the day.

Many people realise this, albeit in some confusion. But most have to serve the system to make a living. They find themselves trapped by a system which they increasingly perceive as not right.

But what can they do, and how could the emerging alternative vision help them?

These are the key questions today.

They will be adressed in Part II (to be posted shortly).

Come back soon.

Fear not, be free in your mind and in your heart.



Copyright © Leo Foresta  2012


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