Correspondence with Padmanabhan Krishna

From Padmanabhan Krishna 2 December 2016 at 01:52

Dear Ravi,

Thank you for sharing this fascinating exchange of letters with me. I had recently been to a conference on Science and Spirituality organized in Shimla by Dr. Bettina Baeumer of Varanasi in The Institute of Advanced study. There the question of whether matter or consciousness (as universal intelligence) is primary came up.Some participants quoted from the Hindu scriptures saying consciousness becomes matter. I raised a question about this which is as follows:

To say that consciousness becomes matter would violate the principle of conservation of energy which scientists have repeatedly verified since Einstein showed that matter is a form of energy. If consciousness does not carry energy but is a sort of intelligence or information which directs phenomena in Nature, it would not violate the law of conservation of energy. It would then be something akin to the wave function ‘psi’ in Quantum Mechanics whose development with time determines how the physical phenomenon develops without transferring any energy to the system.

It seems to me absurd what the hard core scientists believe about the origin and development of the universe from a Big Bang. To imagine that a small soup of randomly moving quarks, electrons and photons can expand and produce all the structures we see in the universe (including the human body, the trees and animals) without any intelligence guiding the phenomenon, through mere random chance with only a set of laws operating mechanically. Given infinite time any complexity is possible but the time required would be orders of magnitude more than the age of the universe as calculated by the scientists themselves.

Sir James Jeans gave the analogy of monkeys sitting at numerous typewriters and typing randomly till they produced all the sonnets of Shakespeare! At that time the Chaos theory and the knowledge of the Butterfly effect was not there, but even so it appears an absurd proposition. Consider the following every day happening:

A seed lies dormant in the soil till the rains come. If it has no living cell in it, it just dissolves into the earth as per the laws of physics and chemistry and the second law of thermodynamics. However, if it has a living cell in it, it senses the environment, then germinates, becoming a well organized tree which then lives for hundreds of years. The entire kinematics of atoms in the soil and the atmosphere changes for those hundreds of years. The laws of science are followed both by the dead seed and the living seed. What directs the kinematics of all the atoms in the environment? Is the living cell in the seed continually directing the phenomena or is there an intelligence of Nature acting locally at every point in the environment? Medical scientists have found that in our body decisions are taken by individual cells every moment without reference to the brain. They have said that a part of the brain is floating in the blood all the time.

Are we to think all this happens mechanically without any intelligence directing the phenomena? The religious mystics have ‘observed’ that there is consciousness linked to every atom even in the rocks which we consider to be dead matter. Intelligence is not the special prerogative of the human brain, it is acting everywhere in the universe through the universal consciousness. The laws the scientist has discovered are themselves a description of how that intelligence acts in Nature. The postulate of such an intelligence is not more weird than the postulate of the mathematical wave function in QM which all scientists accept for explaining natural phenomena.

with best wishes and warm regards Krishna

Reponse from Chris Thomson 02 December 2016 05:51

Dear Krishna

Thank you for this. Although I am not a scientist, I studied the basic sciences at school and at university. As a young man, I found some of science’s core assumptions absurd, and I still do! Even if one confines one’s attention to one tiny part of creation – for example, birds of prey (there are many where I live, in Catalonia) – it is abundantly clear that some vast intelligence lies behind they way they are and what they do. They certainly cannot be fully explained by mechanistic evolution alone. And as for the Big Bang theory, perhaps that is the most absurd of all.

As if this were not enough to make one doubt some of science’s “truths”, one also has one’s own experience. As with many people, I have had experiences deemed impossible by science. Yet the fact remains that I have had them, and continue to have them! So where does this leave science?

As you may know, our Commission (for Extended Science) is not attempting to find answers to questions that science is currently unable to answer (e.g. the nature of paranormal phenomena). Rather, we are attempting to find better ways to address such questions. Once there are better ways, then we will have better answers. Clearly, this implies many things. One of these, arguably the most important, is to find ways to change scientists…in several respects. They need to be open to all possibilities, including things they consider “impossible”. They need to be able to change their beliefs and assumptions, including deeply held ones. They need to use all forms of experience and perception in their explorations, rather than being confined to physical sense perception and the rational intellect. And they need to find ways to develop as human beings, on the simple basis that, the more evolved they become, the more evolved will their science be. They will be extended scientists doing extended science!

Come to think of it, perhaps I am a scientist, after all, but not in the conventional sense.

Best wishes