Presentation on theme: "God, Matter, and Information: What is Ultimate? What is “God”? What is “Matter”? What is “Information”? What does “Ultimate” mean?"— Presentation transcript:
God, Matter, and Information: What is Ultimate? What is “God”? What is “Matter”? What is “Information”? What does “Ultimate” mean?
What does “God” mean? 1.Suppose “God” means “the creator of all of the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of reality, and of all the relationships between them.” Such a “God”, if existing, must be in some sense “ultimate”.
What does “God” mean? 2. Suppose “God” means “the totality of nature: the totality of all the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of reality, and of all relationships between these aspects.” Such a “God” is in some sense “ultimate”, because nothing else exists!
But what if “God” is less? But what if “God” is less than the one described in points 1 or 2. Then some clarification of the meaning of the term “God” ---and also of the meaning of “ultimate”--- must be provided before any answer can be given to the question we are being asked to address. Moreover, what “matter” and what is “information” must be clarified. I, as a physicist, will discuss “Matter”
What is “Matter”? Ernan McMullin has given here a brief account of the history in philosophy and in physics of the meaning of “matter”: 1.Aristotle used it in connection with the notion of “materials for making”, such as timber. 2. The Neo-Platonists used it in contrast to the “spiritual” aspects of reality. 3. In the 17 th,18 th, & 19 th centuries it became used to denote the carrier of the small set of properties that, according to the then-ascendant “mechanical philosophy”, were the only properties that were needed to account for all changes in the visible world. These properties, called “physical properties” were considered to be “objective”, in contrast to the “subjective” properties”, which are “dependent in one way or another on the perceiver.”
Classically Conceived Matter Cannot be Ultimate! Even if, as claimed by the 17 th, 18 th, and 19 th century classical physics, the (physical) properties of matter of could explain all of the changes in visible properties, that would not make it ultimate. What fixes the initial conditions? What fixes the physical laws that matter obeys? How do our subjective experiences of the visible properties emerge from the causally and conceptually self-sufficient material/physical aspect of reality?
The properties of actual (quantum mechanical) matter: Are they counterintuitive? McMullin calls the quantum conception of matter “problematic” and “counter-intuitive.” Seth Lloyd calls the quantum mechanical properties of matter “counter-intuitive” and “weird”. Actually, it is the classical properties that are counter-intuitive, problematic, and weird. The quantum properties are the natural and intuitive ones. They appear weird only when viewed from the problematic classical standpoint
The Classical-Physics Conception of Matter is Counter-intuitive and Problematic The deepest human intuition is that ones’ own conscious subjective efforts can influence ones’ own bodily actions. Any conception of nature that claims this deep intuition to be an illusion is counter-intuitive. Any conception of reality that cannot naturally explain how our bodily actions are caused, at least in part, by our conscious thoughts, ideas, and feelings is problematic.
The Classical-Physics Idea of the Nature of the Physical World is not Innately Intuitive to Minds Untutored in Classical Physics McMullin’s account of the two millennia of wonderings by philosophers from Thales to Newton confirm this. School children need to be taught that the solid- looking table is “really” mostly empty space, in which tiny particles are buzzing around. The tight causal connectedness of mind and matter is deeply intuitive: hence The classical-physics conception of matter is a counter-intuitive theoretical construct.
The Rehabilitation of Intuition by Quantum Mechanics. The original Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory was pragmatic and epistemological: it eschewed ontology; it avoided commitments about what really exists! Von Neumann’s formulation (called “orthodox” by Wigner) prepared the way for an imbedding ontology. The quantum conception of reality is built around “events”. Each such event has a physically described aspect and a psychologically described aspect.
Quantum psycho-physical events are the building blocks of reality Heisenberg: “The probability function does not in itself represent a course of events in time. It represents a tendency for events and our knowledge of events. “(1958. p.46) “The observation… enforces the description in space and time but breaks the determined continuity by changing our knowledge.” (ibid, p. 49-50)
Quantum psycho-physical events are the building blocks of reality, cont. “The observation itself…selects of all possible events the actual one that has taken place. Since through the observation our knowledge of the system has changed discontinuously its mathematical representation has undergone a discontinuous change and we speak of a ‘quantum jump’.” (ibid. p. 54)
Psycho-physical events are the building blocks of reality, cont. “The transition from the ‘possible’ to the ‘actual’ takes place during the act of observation. If we want to describe what happens …we have to realize that the word ‘happens’ can apply only to the observation, not to the state of affairs between two observations.” (ibid, p. 54)
Reality is built of psycho-physical events and objective tendencies (potentia) for such events to occur. “The probability function combines objective and subjective elements. It contains statements about possibilities or better tendencies (‘potentia’ in Aristotelian philosopy), and these statements are completely objective, they do not depend on any observer; and it contain statements about our knowledge of the system, which of course are subjective, in so far as they may be different for different observers.
Human Beings as Players “As Bohr put it…in the drama of existence we ourselves are both players and spectators. …our own activity becomes very important…” (ibid, p. 58) “The probability function can be connected to reality only if one essential condition is fulfilled: if a new measurement is made to determine a certain property of the system. (ibid, p. 48, my italics)
Human Beings as Players Bohr: “The freedom of experimentation …corresponds to the free choice of experimental arrangement for which the mathematical structure of the quantum mechanical formalism offers the appropriate latitude.” (Bohr, 1958, p.73) This “choice on the part of the ‘observer’ ” is represented in the mathematical formalism by von Neumann’s “process 1” intervention (von Neumann, 1932/1952, p. 351, 418)
How freely chosen conscious intent can naturally cause the appropriate brain/bodily action to occur. The neural correlate of the conscious intent is a “template for action”. A “template for action” is a macroscopic (brain sized) pattern of neural activity that if held in place long enough will tend to cause the intended action to occur.
How freely chosen conscious intent can naturally cause the appropriate brain/bodily action to occur. Cont. The timing of when a particular process 1 occurs is not specified by the orthodox quantum mathematical formalism: it is part of the observer’s “free choice”. Effortful intention intensifies the experience. So I conjecture that application of effort increases the rapidity of the associated process 1 events.
The quantum Zeno effect. If the rapidity of the process 1 events associated with a given intent is great enough then the neural correlate of that intent will become almost frozen in place by the orthodox laws of physics. Hence the associated template for action will be held in place. Hence the brain/body action associated with that intent will tend to occur.
The Whitehead/Quantum ontology is rationally coherent, not-counter-intuitive, not-weird, and not-problematic. Whitehead deals with the anthropocentric character of the Copenhagen epistemological position by making the human-brain based quantum events into special cases of a non- anthropocentric general ontology, without violating the pragmatic success of the Copenhagen-von Neumann epistemology.
Not-counter-intuitivitive, continued. McMullin says: “Their properties were entangled with one another in ways quite counter-intuitive.” Only if one starts from the false classical conception of particles, as tiny versions of visible rocks and stones. Once one recognizes that reality is built out of psycho-physical events, an idea that is in close accord with our intuition that the events in our streams of consciousness are counterparts of events in the physical world, and out of objective tendencies for these events to occur, there is no conflict with intuition.
Entanglement in not counter-intuitive. The objective tendency for a quantum of energy to appear in one place naturally vanishes when that energy turns up in another place. And quantum theory shows that correlations in objective tendencies can have logical consequences that go beyond what can be achieved with correlations among realities.
Entanglement in not weird or problematic. The faster-than-the-speed-of-light transmissions of information that orthodox quantum mechanics allows, and indeed entails, is not problematic: it permits no signal (controllable message) to be sent faster than the speed of light. Entanglement is weird only insofar as one tries to impose, unjustifiably, a classical-physics ontology on invisible things.