Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Michael Redux: Quantum mechanics, consciousness and love

“Our generation and the two that preceded it have heard little but talk of the conflict between science and faith; indeed it seemed at one moment a foregone conclusion that the former was destined to take the place of the latter. But, as the tension is prolonged, the conflict visibly seems to need to be resolved in terms of an entirely different form of equilibrium — not in elimination, nor duality, but in synthesis.”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ
The Phenomenon of Man

The question of whether human consciousness is a distinct phenomenon that survives death, is at the core of most religious belief. Now, it is becoming a scientific issue as well. Science is dealing with two related phenomena: the existence of human consciousness and the nature of existence of all matter at the quantum level. Science in attempting to explain human consciousness is science attempting to define the soul. Is our consciousness a discreet process that may operate independent of space and time? Or,  is it only an accumulation of sensations that ends when the individual dies and the brain is  rendered inert and decaying? Can  our consciousness operate independent of time and space? Is there any scientific basis for eternal life? Is the Resurrection real?

Two scientists, Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff have advanced a theory that answers some of those questions and indicates, that contrary to the militant atheism now rampant in our culture and science, survival of consciousness after death is an attainable scientific proposition. Hameroff appeared on “Through the Worm Hole,” a scientific series of the Discover Channel hosted by Morgan Freeman. You can view his presentation at http://vimeo.com/39982578.

Penrose and Hameroff are not cow college savants. In its  September 2009 issue, Discover Magazine summarized Penrose’s accomplishments:

A theorist whose name will be forever linked with such giants as Hawking and Einstein, Penrose has made fundamental contributions to physics, mathematics, and geometry. He reinterpreted general relativity to prove that black holes can form from dying stars. He invented twistor theory—a novel way to look at the structure of space-time—and so led us to a deeper understanding of the nature of gravity. He discovered a remarkable family of geometric forms that came to be known as Penrose tiles. He even moonlighted as a brain researcher, coming up with a provocative theory that consciousness arises from quantum-mechanical processes.”

Hameroff is a practicing anesthesiologist and Director of the Center for Consciousness Studies at The University of Arizona, Tucson.

The  Discovery video speaks for itself. In sum, Penrose and Hameroff contend that human consciousness arises from microtubules which appear in brain cells by the trillions and function as a quantum computer. The microtubules communicate with each other by a process of quantum entanglement or non-locality. How that process works is a quantum mystery, but it exists and it does work. Einstein called the concept "spooky." Entangled particles have been demonstrated to affect each other instantaneously across huge distances, defying Einstein's theory that nothing travels faster than light.

The quantum information collected and maintained in the microtubules is collectively our consciousness. Penrose and Hammeroff theorize that this quantum information becomes a part of the quantum information that permeates existence and has permeated existence since the creation of the Universe at the Big Bang.
Hammeroff suggests that the fact that conscious information is quantum information explains many phenomena that more traditional scientists reject. Among them are near death (NDE)  and out of body experiences (OBE). Hammeroff states that at death, quantum information of consciousness is no longer stored in the body. (It's as if microtubles were a computer’s Random Access Memory (RAM) that is lost when the computer is turned off.) He then suggests that the memory is not lost but becomes a part of the quantum information that permeates the Universe. When the individual is revived and drawn back from death, the brain is recharged with the quantum information that had been saved as a part of the universal quantum information. (Cloud computing, so to speak.)

Hameroff concludes in the video: “So far, nobody has landed a serious blow to the theory. We're still very viable and evidence continues, new evidence continues to support theories we put forth 15 years ago.”
There are other scientists who are also grappling with the issue of the quantum existence of consciousness. One of them is Edgar Mitchell, a former Astronaut who also holds a Doctor of Science Degree. In a lengthy examination of the consciousness issue entitled “The Quantum Hologram And the Nature of Consciousness” published in the Journal of Cosmology, he cites Penrose and Hameroff and argues that the information is stored in holographic form – a “quantum holograph.”

Is love a quantum entanglement?

My adult son Michael passed away April 7, 2007. In October 2007 I published a piece about his death analogizing it to an event horizon which surrounds an astronomical black hole. I also discussed the reality of love and my belief that love created a joint part of the psyche of both the lover and the beloved. http://johnklotz.blogspot.com/2007_10_01_archive.html

Since that time, I have explored scientific and philosophical progress related to the issues of evolution, consciousness, and quantum mechanics. What I have now concluded is that I understated my case for love and the joint psyche. In fact, the propositions advanced by Penrose, Hameroff and Mitchell lead me to the conclusion that the concept of quantum entanglement and advances in understanding the physical reality of consciousness point the way to the existential reality of love. The joint psyche I hypothesized is real, and so is the prospect of lasting love into eternity.

My question and proposal is that survival of the psyche is dependent on its quantum entanglement through love of others and through that love entanglement with the primordial consciousness from which existence flowed.

But what then of the Christ? Whose son is He?

I also believe that there is sufficient evidence that the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ  and has become a scientific revelation not just of his existence but of the potential of his Resurrection and ultimately our own.

Is there a primordial consciousness from which all existence sprung? Is quantum information real? Is entanglement with the primordial consciousness entanglement with God? Do the great commands of the Gospel, to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, call us to a quantum entanglement beyond comprehension?

In my posting on Michael, I closed with a quotation from St. Paul that love endures forever. For this posting, perhaps, the best closing is not the Omega but the Alpha, the first verse of the Gospel of St. John:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”