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RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Is the Universe responsible for Consciousness, or is Consciousness responsible for the Universe?

Asked by RealEyesRealizeRealLies (30877points) June 8th, 2010

In his book, The God Theory Astrophysicist Dr. Bernard Haisch states:
“I offer a genuine insight into how you can, and should, be a rational, science-believing human being and at the same time know that you are also an immortal spiritual being, a spark of God. I propose a worldview that offers a way out of the hate and fear-driven violence engulfing the planet.”

Haisch is no lightweight. He’s been Chief Science Officer, Director, and Founder of numerous physics institutions over the years. Check out his CV here.

His newest book, The Purpose Guided Universe: Believing in Einstein, Darwin, and God suggests that mainstream materialistic science has it all wrong. The Universe cannot explain intricacies of Consciousness, and he builds a case to support the opposing view that Consciousness can, and does in fact, have the capacity to explain the existence of the Universe.

He specifically separates his views from Intelligent Design:
“The intelligence I am proposing – and we might as well call it God – has nothing to do with the anti-evolutionary view called “intelligent design”... Big Bang… (old Earth)... and Darwinian evolution are the essential ingredients of a purposeful universe in the view I present. This God needs Darwin to carry out his plan.”

Is this guy Haisch out of his mind? Could Consciousness really be responsible for the Universe?

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20 Answers

ItsAHabit's avatar

Consciousness is responsible for our understanding of the universe.

ragingloli's avatar

Putting a consciousnous at the beginning of the Universe does not offer answers to anything, yet creates more problems and questions.
How did this consciousness emerge? Where does it come from? Where does it exist? Where did the environment it exists in come to be? How does it interact with physical reality? How did it create the universe? What mechanisms did it use? How did it implement these mechanisms? Where is the evidence for all that?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I guess you’ll need to read the books to get answers to your questions. I don’t think you’ll accept answers from me.

the100thmonkey's avatar

Well, given the inevitable questions your post brings forth, I’d suggest you should at least attempt to answer the questions and accept responses they generate. Refusing to answer hostile questions seems like a bit of a cop out.

You never know, it might even deepen your understanding of the book.

tinyfaery's avatar

This is an unanswerable question; there is no way we can know. Everything else is speculation.

eden2eve's avatar

Bingo! This is exactly what I believe.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies , thank you very much for the resource. It’s very good to know that a scientist can propose this.

the100thmonkey's avatar

I also notice that he has no previous publications or evident study in fields such as epistemology, metaphysics, logic, neuroscience, psychology, theology or divinity.

Why should we listen to him on these matters? He’s a scientist – a very well-respected one – that doesn’t mean he’s automatically “right”, or even not totally talking out of his arse.

ragingloli's avatar

If the guy has something to say about physics, then I will gladly listen. But when phycisists delve into philosophy, and in general, fields that lie outside of the area of expertise, then I become suspicious. I am not simply going to believe something a medical doctor says about my home’s electrical wiring just because of his doctor title. I will consult the local electrician.
The man is an astrophysicist. Not a biologist, not an evolutionary biologist, not a neuroscientist. He does not have the expertise in the necessary fields to say that the Universe can not explain the emergence of consciousness.
In my mind he is just another scientist that invokes a form of intelligent design at the limit of his knowledge. Ptolemy did it after creating the geocentric model. Newton did it after he could not solve the 3 body problem of gravitational interaction. Some consciousness must guide it. It is the same thing this man does when he invokes a consciousness to “explain” the existence of the universe at the limit of his knowledge. It is not ID as popularly known. But it is a form of intelligent design.

CMaz's avatar

Consciousness responsible for the Universe.

If a tree falls in the woods and you are not there to hear it. Does it still make a sound?

No, because there is no significance to it.

Coloma's avatar

I believe so from my many years of study and experience… always…I do not know anything with authority.

I happen to really like the non-dual philosophies which point to this.

We are all sparks of God, a chip off the old rampart so to speak..and…some philosophies say that everything that happens is God experiencing himself, in myriad complexity.

For instance…‘God’ ..‘consciousness’ experiencing what it is like to lose a leg.

Now, one might say, ‘but once that has been experienced once how / why would ‘God’ / ‘consciousness’ need to keep re-experiencing that?’

Because….each and every spark of human consciousness ( God consciousness ) will express the loss of it’s leg in a different manner, therefore creating infinite possibility for the manifestation of that experience for ‘God’, / ‘consciousness’ to have a different and unique experience birth from what appears to be a singular event in a singular organism…..

Okay….now that I have completely lost you…lol

To understand non-duality, ( no separation ) is one of the biggest mind fucks there is, BUT…IF you really GET IT…it is life altering! ;-)

Shuttle128's avatar

I’ve never had a problem understanding consciousness as a physical process abiding by physical laws. I don’t see where there might be a problem that needs to be addressed by assuming the universe is caused by consciousness.

CaptainHarley's avatar

You might be interested in two books that are favorites of mine:

* The Conscious Universe, by Neadu and Kofatos ( ? )

* The Web of Life, by Fritjof Capra

I happen to believe that consciousness is part of the continuing process of evolution of the universe into full consciousness, and that it is humanity’s purpose to protect and nurture life, in whatever guise we find it, in order to further that process.

gasman's avatar

There’s no reason to think that consciousness is anything magical, mystical, or supernatural—that it somehow defies or transcends the laws of physics. Nobody understands consciousness as a scientific phenomenon (yet), but one may presume that it emerges from the complexity of our brains and could (& someday will) be understood to fit into the natural scheme of the universe.

As for Bernard Haisch as an authority:

The Skeptic’s Dictionary, a debunking website run by Robert Todd Carroll, has this to say:

He [Haisch] believes [in evidence for aliens] because they made it through his credibility filter. Now, the question is, does Dr. Haisch make it through my credibility filter? Well, he has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Wisconsin (1975) and numerous publications, many in reputable journals, others in fringe journals (e.g., Noetic Sciences Review). He seems to have a special interest in subjects like zero-point energy. But the issue here is not astronomy or physics, so his credentials in those areas are irrelevant…

I would apply the same comments to the subject of this question. It seems straightforward that the universe came first, then life, then human consciousness as an epi-phenomenon of brain function. I could be wrong and Haisch right, of course, but “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.”

gasman's avatar

The last word should have been ‘evidence’, not ‘proof.’ my bad. Too late for perfecto-fish!

lloydbird's avatar


And then some.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

Haisch is out there in left field. However, this very topic was seriously broached years ago by a serious physicist: John Wheeler. His motto for it was “universe as self-excited circuit” and he gave this illustration of the idea.

“Is the very mechanism for the universe to come into being meaningless or unworkable or both unless the universe is guaranteed to produce life, consciousness and observership somewhere and for some little time in its history-to-be?”

“The universe does not exist ‘out there,’ independent of us. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to be happening. We are not only observers. We are participators. In some strange sense, this is a participatory universe. Physics is no longer satisfied with insights only into particles, fields of force, into geometry, or even into time and space. Today we demand of physics some understanding of existence itself.”

from Today in Science History: Wheeler Quotes

mattbrowne's avatar

I’d say both are responsible for each other. Human consciousness is a result of evolution which itself is a result of the laws of our universe. Our universe is bursting with evolutionary possibilities and some lead to intelligent life capable of understanding the universe and the notion of “I am”.

Does Bernard Haisch offer solutions to the body-mind problem? Or the quantum body mind problem addressing the consciousness part?"Consciousness_causes_collapse"

“The consciousness causes collapse interpretation was Wigner’s motivation for introducing Wigner’s friend by asserting that collapse occurs at the first “conscious” observer. Supporters assert this is not a revival of substance dualism, since (in a ramification of this view) consciousness and objects are “entangled” and cannot be considered separate.”

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