There is an interesting article in The Daily Beast – “How to mathematically measure consciousness” – about the scientific endeavour to understand the neurological basis of consciousness. When I majored in psychology some years ago my motivation was to understand the root or origin of consciousness. I found enough answers to sate my curiousity and have moved on to other questions, but at that time there was little or no neurological address of the mysteries of consciousness. So, I have followed the growth of the still nascent science of neuropsychology with great interest since those days.
It is not my intention to plagarise the excellently written Daily Beast article so I do recommend you read it. The part of the article that I want to comment on is the part that explains that in quantum physics the act of observation changes what you are looking at, and the article draws the parallel with neuropsychology where looking for the neurological correlates of consciousness may, because the subject has to report the experience as the measurements are made, result in the mechanics of enquiry (reporting) changing the phenomenon (consciousness) being studied.
Now this may just be a coincidental parallel, but I can suggest there are reasons why one should consider things otherwise:
Firstly in the quantum case the observations we know of that affect quantum outcomes are (necessarily) those that ultimately report back to humans. It seems there is an inescapable link between how reality works and how we perceive it, and the fact that we do perceive it.
Next let me now draw the spiritual parallel. By Him all things consist. God holds it together, God makes it exist. When (not if) He “lets go” everything will fall apart, space itself will roll up like a scroll – we all know about curvature of space eh? Nice clear scientifically accurate language in the Bible there.
We are, it is written, made in God’s image. He affects reality by causing it and holding it together in existence. As beings made in His image, is it any surprise that our observations of reality affect it? That looking at a quantum phenomenon changes it? Really that should be no surprise at all to any person with even a rudimentary understanding of the faboulous science book that is the Bible.
So, questions such as “Is consciousness a quantum phenomenon?” – which I know you are jumping up and down in your seats with raised hands desperate to ask – are somewhat on their heads. The right question is more like “Are a quantum phenomena a result of consciousness?”
We have a lot of circularity there, so clearly we are in a self-referential trap. Let’s find our way out. We often think about mind body spirit as if we are triune in nature (ho ho ho see some parallels there?). Okay, lets run with that. We need to look away from mind and body (the world and the consciousness) to the third element. Let’s see how it works with God and as we are made in His image maybe we will see how it works with us.
If in doubt, look to God – He created it all so He has the answers. More pointedly, not only is He “The Answer” in that very general country pastor homily kind of way (nothing wrong with that by the way), but He is the answer (the specifc one we are looking for) to our science question. God is a consciousness and He has a soul. As well as in Genesis hovering on waters, God’s soul gets a mention in Leviticus 26:11 – And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. This world and our minds are two sides of the same coin, they interact so intimately in a circular way you have to look outside that reality/mind circular loop for the cause of it’s existence. If you look to the soul to provide that answer you are reminded to look to that ultimate soul that we are made in the image of.
We are not a flesh image of a flesh God, our minds which arise created and sustained by God – the world of quantum phenomena and its atoms that comprise that flesh and emergent minds – are not mind images of God. That which truly comprises us is our soul. Our soul is that which God made in His image. We are soul images of God.
Our soul is that which powers and sustains our particle of mind/quantum interaction that we so easily mistake for our essence.
We are IN this world but we are not OF this world.
Things that get said more than once in the Bible are really really important so note this extract from John 17 (KJV) well:
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
He is talking about YOU. You, the bit that is really you, not the body that if you lose an arm or a leg you are still you, not the mind you that dies every night and is resurrected every morning, but the soul you, the real you that powers the mind-body illusion of you that scientists are finding it hard to study. As God powers this world “illusion” that we are in (no the world is real because God makes it so but you get my drift), so those images of God that are our souls power the mix of our minds and the quantum phenomena that science is trying to grasp.
And here’s a thing: When you consider a child affected by Zika virus with ancephaly or anyone with mental or physical disability – and have the temerity to question why God made that child or to think about murdering a foetus by abortion that in world terms might be considered imperfect (and just who among us is perfect eh – cast the first stone!) – look beyond the mind and body to the soul and see the real value of that person and know God has a purpose for them that you cannot fathom, so show some love and respect to God’s creation of that brother or sister of the triune you and your triune creator.
You and they are more wonderful than you think, you are indeed more wonderful than your thinking, and more wonderful than you are capable of thinking. Fortunately you are not your thoughts, you are your soul. You are exactly as wonderful as God spoke you into being, and as His image, exactly as wonderful as Him.