Intelligence Engineering Department
Item: Beyond Theology!
The Science of Godmanship - Annotated Edition
- by Robert Anton Wilson
One day in 1909, Dr. Sigmund Freud and Dr. Carl Jung were arguing about extrasensory perception. Freud - I imagine him with the inevitable cigar clenched between his teeth, was insisting that all that stuff was nonsense, and Jung was arguing that there was something in it, really, although he didn't know what. As the argument heated up and the emotional energy began to crackle, there suddenly came an explosive bang from Freud's bookcase. "There," said Jung, "that is an example of a so-called catalytic phenomenon." "Oh, come!" Freud exclaimed. "That is sheer bosh!"
"It is not," Jung replied firmly, feeling possessed by an intuitive conviction he could not understand. "You are mistaken, Herr Professor. And to prove my point, I now predict that in a moment there will be another bud report!"
No sooner had Jung spoken, than the same detonation went off again in the bookcase. Freud looked so aghast that Jung, who was a bit unsettled himself, dropped the subject at once. In his autobiography, Jung says he and Freud never discussed the incident again.
What are we to make of such a yarn? The skeptic will label it "mere coincidence", or, even more strongly, "sheer coincidence", and forget about it. This does not really satisfy anybody but the skeptic himself, and leaves most of us thinking of Ring Lardner's immortal line: "Shut up," he explained.
Parapsychologists will offer two alternative pseudo-explanations. Some of them will say that the bangs might have been caused by something as banal as seismic tremors in the earth or traffic in the street, and the paranormal aspect of the incident was just that Jung suddenly exhibited precognition, the ability to see ahead in time. Other parapsychologists will suggest instead that what happened was psycho-kinesis (PK), what laymen call "mind over matter." According to this theory, Jung's unconscious somehow made the second explosion happen. Those who believe in this explanation say it also accounts for poltergeists (a German word for "noisy ghosts"), who allegedly afflict some houses with crashes and bangs for months on end, and even make the furniture fly. The noisy ghost, they say, is emotional-psychic energy accidentally unleashed by one of the people living in the house.
The trouble with these explanations is that, like coincidence, they are only words. The term precognition does not tell us what any scientist would want to know, which is how Jung saw ahead in time. And the word psycho-kinesis does not tell us how Jung's mind caused the second boom.
But there is an explanation for it, and for all the other paranormal events you've read about: the spoon bending, the out-of-body experiences, the faith healers, even the eyes of Laura Mars. And the explanation lies in physics.
"I am inclined to believe in telepathy," Albert Einstein once said, "but I suspect it has more to do with physics than with psychology." When Einstein said this back in the Twenties, nobody in either physics or psychology understood what he was suggesting. Today, new breakthroughs in a far-out branch of physics called Quantum Theory indicate that Einstein was, as usual, fifty years ahead of his contemporaries. These new discoveries seem to offer a single scientific explanation for all the weird events that parapsychologists have classified under such conflicting labels as ESP, direct-brain perception, clairvoyance, distant viewing, psycho-kinesis, out-of-body experience, and cosmic consciousness (Illumination).
What some physicists are suggesting is that all such mystical brain functions are aspects of one phenomenon: a subatomic but universal intelligence system that receives, integrates, and transmits information at a level much deeper than the sensory appearances of what we call space, time, and separateness. And this intelligence system, although outside space-time as we know it, manifests itself within space and time as electrons, atoms, molecules, cells, complicated critters like you and me, planets, stars, and whole galaxies.
So, what is quantum mechanics? A quantum is a unit of action, just as a foot is a unit of length or a gram is a unit of weight.
Quantum physics first appeared as a theory in the 1890s, when Philipp Lenard observed that light travels in distinctly timed, choppy units like the beats of a drum, not in smooth, continuous waves like the singing of a violin. These distinct units are called quanta; the single unit is a quantum; and quantum theory is the body of experiment and mathematics dealing with such discontinuous actions. Furthermore, it is now known that all subatomic events occur in this quantum, or jumpy manner - a miniature psychedelic light show.
If the world of large things seen by our senses is like a straight line ( _____ ), the quantum world is like a dotted line (-------- ). Or, to employ three artistic analogies, a painter would describe the quantum world as collage, not portrait. A musician would call it staccato, not legato. A filmmaker would say it was montage, not linear narrative.
No cause-and-effect relationship has yet been found between one quantum action and the next. Most physicists are convinced that there is no cause and effect on that level. It is as if Law and Order function only above the atomic level; inside the atom, die surrealists, crapshooters, and anarchists have taken over the shop.
To the ordinary citizen, everything in modern physics is as queer as a three-legged duck anyway, and this lack of causality in the quantum wonderland is no stranger than anything else physicists tell us. To the physicists themselves, quantum mechanics has done to traditional science what Sitting Bull did to George Armstrong Custer. One of the greatest quantum physicists, Nobel Laureate Erwin Schrodinger, was so distressed by his own equations that he denounced "this damned quantum jumping" (verdammte Quantumspringerei) in a letter to Einstein. Science, you see, is supposed to be able to yield accurate predictions, based on the iron law of cause and effect; and the breakdown of causality within the atom makes it look as if science itself may be an arbitrary human attempt to impose order on a disorderly or chaotic universe.
Rising from the wreckage of causality, three lines of thought have attempted to make sense of the seemingly senseless facts. These are known as the Copenhagen interpretation, the multiple-universe model, and the hidden-variable theory.
The Copenhagen Interpretation was devised in the Twenties by Nobel Laureate Niels Bohr and named after his hometown, where he lived in the middle of the Carls-berg brewery, in a house given him by the crown. (Yes, Virginia, the commercials are true: Carlsberg really is the official brewer for the King of Denmark.)
The breakdown of causality in quantum mechanics is expressed mathematically in the concept of "the collapse of the state vector." You don't need to know what that means technically: roughly, a vector is a mathematical expression telling you the direction and magnitude of a force. It is enough to know that in ordinary (large-scale) mechanics, the vector tells you what will happen next, and in quantum mechanics, the state vector only tells you what might happen next. There is thus a great gaping hole between what science should be able to predict and what quantum theory does allow us to predict, and it is a hole big enough to fly a 747 through.
Bohr filled in the hole by saying the collapse of the state vector exists only in our minds. No, that is not a misprint, and, no, I am not oversimplifying. Another physicist, Bryce DeWitt, tells us bluntly, "The Copenhagen view promotes the impression that the collapse of the state vector and even the state vector (itself) are all in the mind." To the ordinary person who doesn't know the state vector from Finnegan's feet, this may not sound too alarming, but to traditional physicists, Bohr sounds like a man saying the brick wall you banged your head on is only in your mind.
Bohr was not a solipsist; he didn't claim the state vector was only in his mind. But his theory does seem, at least to his critics, to imply a kind of group solipsism, a notion that the universe known to science is not a model of the real universe but something once removed from that: a reflection of how the human mind goes about building models of the real universe. As Sir Arthur Eddington, an astronomer much influenced by Bohr, states this position: "We have found a strange footprint on the shores of the unknown. We have devised profound and elaborate theories, one after another, to account for its origin. At last, we have succeeded in reconstructing the creature that made the footprint. And lo! It is our own."
The Multiple-Universe Model has its roots in science fiction, and some physicists think it should have been left there. It is, however, a logical and consistent alternative explanation of what the hell collapses that unpredictable state vector. Briefly: everything that can happen to it, does happen to it.
This is also known as the Everett-Wheeler-Graham model, having been devised by three Princeton University physicists, Hugh Everett, John Archibald Wheeler, and Neil Graham. I don't know what they were smoking at the time, but this view holds, in effect, that if you toss a coin, it lands both heads and tails - in different universes. The state vector collapses every which way, as the actual quantum equations imply. We see only one result, because we are in only one universe; but in the universe next door, another you and another I will see a different result. And there are an incredible number of such possible (and by this fundamentalist reading of quantum math, real) alternative universes.
As Bryce DeWitt has written in Physics Today: "I still recall vividly the shock I experienced on first encountering this multi-world concept... The idea of 10¹ºº+ slightly imperfect copies of oneself constantly splitting into further copies... is not easy to reconcile with common sense." Indeed it is not, but DeWitt and others have accepted it as the least absurd way out of the quantum uncertainty problem.
If you can deal with the idea that in the universe next door, Hitler is remembered as a popular artist who never went into politics, and in the next universe over, John F. Kennedy decided not to go to Dallas on November 22,1963, and lived to a ripe old age; and in another universe, you don't exist because your parents never met ”you can take the multi-world path out of quantum anarchy. Otherwise, it is back to Copenhagen, where the universe we know is inside our heads, or onward to the hidden variable, where space and time do not really exist.
The Hidden-Variable Theory was started by Albert Einstein, even though he never explicitly used the term "hidden variable." Nevertheless, Einstein was always annoyed by quantum uncertainty, and attacked quantum mechanics from every angle possible, summing up his view in the famous dictum: "God does not play dice with the universe." In 1952, Dr. David Bohm, then considered the most brilliant pupil of J. Robert Oppenheimer, showed explicitly that Einstein's criticisms of quantum theory were valid only if there were a sub-quantum level: a world below the quantum world. Bohm also showed that this sub-quantum world could be the hidden variable that collapses the otherwise anarchistic state vector, but only if the supposed variable functioned "non-locally." This means, in effect, only if space and time do not exist as we think they do.
The trouble with the Copenhagen solution is that, however much Niels Bohr and his defenders may deny it, this path ultimately leads to the conclusion that everything we think we know is only a construct of our brains. Physics then becomes a branch of psychology; it tells us not what the universe does, but what our brains do in organizing their impressions into ideas. The trouble with the multiple-universe model is that, however elegantly it may fit the quantum equation for the state vector, most of us simply can't believe in skillions and skillions of universes - each as vast in space and time as the one we think we're in - where everything that can happen really does happen.
And the trouble with the hidden-variable theory has always been that nobody dared claim they had found any sub-quantum world, beyond space and time, in which the hidden variables could function.
"Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true." - Niels Bohr to a young physicist
In 1964, Dr. John S. Bell published a demonstration that still has physicists reeling. What Bell seemed to prove was that quantum effects are "nonlocal" in Bohm's sense: that is, they are not just here or there, but both. What this apparently means is that space and time are only real to our mammalian sense organs: they are not really real.
This was the first step toward solving the mystery of Freud's exploding bookcase and similar enigmas of parapsychology, but nobody realized it immediately. The next step came - as is often the case in science - from three sources at once.
In the early to mid-Sixties, Charles Muses, a mathematician interested in para-psychology, Dr. Timothy Leary, the LSD researcher, and Cleve Backster, a polygraph expert who had been investigating ESP in plants, all proposed that consciousness does not reside in the brain alone. Rather, they all proposed that consciousness goes down to the cellular level, to the molecules, to the atoms, and maybe even deeper.
The first to construct a complete quantum theory on this basis was Dr. Evan Harris Walker, a physicist working for the US Army in weapons research. Dr. Walker explains this theory in a paper written with Dr. Nick Herbert: "The hidden-variable theory of consciousness asserts: (1) there is a sub-quantal level beneath the observational/theoretical structure of ordinary quantum mechanics; (2) events occurring on this sub-quantal level are the elements of sentient being. This being the case, we find that our consciousness controls physical events through the laws of quantum mechanics."
That couldn't possibly mean what it seems to say, could it? Yes, by all the potbellied gods of Burma, it means exactly what it says: our consciousness controls physical events through the laws of quantum mechanics. We are the hidden variable - or parts of it.
There hasn't been a more radical proposition since the Psalms proclaimed (and Jesus repeated), "I said, you are Gods" (John 10:34).
Walker and Herbert have specifically applied this theory to psycho-kinesis - and here we are getting close to explaining Freud's exploding bookcase. Using an equation devised by Walker to predict the amount of quantum wobble that can be produced by the human mind, they have compared the results predicted with those actually obtained in one classic, long-range 98 investigation of the alleged PK function. The experiments were conducted by Haakon Forwald, a retired electrical engineer, from 1949 to 1970. Forwald's results exactly fit the prediction of Walker's equation. Subjects trying to control randomly falling cubes produced results as far above chance as they should have, according to Walker's math.
Dr. Herbert has carried this line of thought one step further. Director of the C-LIFE Institute (a conscious robot job-shop), Herbert is a soft-spoken fellow who dresses like Einstein did (or a Sixties hippie). He had developed Bell's Theorem into the idea of the "cosmic glue," which holds, in effect, that everything is the cause of everything.
Nasrudin is out riding when he sees a group of horsemen. Thinking this may be a band of robbers, Nasrudin gallops off hastily. The other men, who are actually friends of his, say, "I wonder where Nasrudin is going in such a hurry?" and trail after him to find out. Nasrudin, feeling himself pursued, races to a graveyard, leaps the fence, and hides behind a tombstone. His friends arrive and, sitting on their horses, lean over the wall to ask, "Why are you hiding behind that tombstone, Nasrudin?"
"It's more complicated than you realize," says Nasrudin. "I'm here because of you, and you're here because of me."
In Herbert's cosmic-glue theory, every quantum event is here because of another quantum event, which is here because of the first quantum event. At this level, causality is meaningless, and Herbert prefers to speak of "influence," which acts every which way in time. All of us - past, present, and future - are bound non-locally by the cosmic glue.
Dr. Herbert claims this is the only theory of quantum causality consistent with Bell's demonstration that cause and effect are non-local, and with the Einstein-Bohm claim that nothing in the universe is truly random. In case the full implications of the cosmic glue still haven't hit you, Herbert will tell you quite bluntly: "Consciousness, non-local in space and time, is the hidden variable."
You ask at this point, "If this is true, why don't we notice it?" Why, that is, do we generally feel that our consciousness is located in one place - a few inches behind our foreheads? The physicists haven't tangled with this problem yet, but there are answers to be found in anthropology and psychology. In the first place, not all people feel that the consciousness is necessarily in the brain. The Chinese have always thought it was in the center of gravity of the body, and their ideogram for "mind" literally shows a heart and liver, not a brain. Hindus and Sufis perform daily exercises of moving consciousness all over the body, from the toes and legs and torso onward to the top of the skull and back down again. In the second place, modern psychology has demonstrated that where and how we feel our selves to be is conditioned by childhood experiences, and is not based on any innate physiological seat of ego awareness. And, finally, parapsychology and the study of other societies records ample cases of people who have experienced their consciousness as far, far removed from the physical brain.
According to the cosmic-glue theory, consciousness is everywhere and every-when; we experience it here and now only because we are trained or brainwashed to experience it that way.
"There is a sharp disagreement among competent men as to what can be proved and what cannot be proved, as well as an irreconcilable divergence of opinion as to what is sense and what is nonsense." - Eric Temple Bell, mathematican
Let us, as the Chinese say, draw our chairs closer to the fire and see what we are talking about.
The story so far: The parapsychologists have accumulated a great deal of strange data about wild, bizarre behaviors of human consciousness. Although they have labeled these strange experiences with many names, the data all seem to reduce to the phenomenon of consciousness acting as if it were not imprisoned in the brain, as if it could migrate elsewhere occasionally ("out-of-body experience"), or as if there were non-sensory openings through which information from elsewhere can leak in.
The quantum physicists, meanwhile, have found a subatomic jumpiness or randomness that cannot be reconciled with common-sense ideas of cause and effect. Aside from saying the whole problem is in our heads (the Copenhagen interpretation) or that everything that can happen does happen (the multiple-universe model), the most plausible theory that has been devised is the hidden-variable theory which, together with Bell's Theorem of cosmic glue, suggests that consciousness is non-local in space and time (not locked into the brain).
The hidden-variable theory is gaining ground because its central assumption of non-locality (Bell's Theorem) has been experimentally confirmed five times since 1974. These experiments showed that two photons (light particles), once in contact, will continue to react as if still in contact, no matter how far apart they are in space, exactly as predicted by Bell's math – and just as would be true if Walker and Herbert are right in claiming that quantum events are controlled by a consciousness which transcends space and time.
In San Francisco, Dr. Jack Sarfatti, President of the Physics/Consciousness Research Group, has gone a step beyond Walker and Herbert. "Below the space-time level of the universe we perceive," Sarfatti says, "is the sub-quantal world of minimum intelligences. Imagine them as micro-micro-microcomputers. They make up the hardware of the universe and are localized in space and time." (Each is here or there, not both.) "But," Sarfatti goes on, "the software or programming is non-local in Bell's sense." (The cosmic blueprint is here, there, and everywhere; now, then, and everywhen.) "The hidden variable," Sarfatti concludes, grinning benignly over his Mephistophelean black beard, "is not precisely consciousness, as Herbert and Walker think, but information."
Information in modern science has a very special mathematical meaning, more specific than in ordinary speech. Without going into the mam of it, information is coherent order, as distinguished from noise, which is incoherent chaos. Biological evolution is the gradual emergence of information out of chaos. To the biologist, it is information in the genetic code of the cherrystone that tells it to grow into a cherry tree and not a teakettle. To the modern sociologist, information is the roads, customs, and traditions that mold random individuals into a society. If Sarfatti is right, information is also coded into the quantum foam, telling it to grow into the universe of space and time we know.
Imagine that your brain is a biological computer, as most neurologists now think. Imagine further that all sub-quantal events are also computers - micro-micro-microcomputers, as Sarfatti says. Imagine finally that the universe is also a computer - a mega-mega-megacomputer. What Bell's Theorem means, according to Sarfatti, is that the hardware of this interlocking system of intelligent Chinese boxes - or computers within computers within computers - is localized in space and time; but the programming - the sub-quantal hidden variable - is everywhere and everywhen.
This sounds suspiciously like a definition of God, because God is, according to all theologians, just such a nonlocal programmer - omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.
But if this information system is a kind of God, or a scientific analog of God, it is also you and me... and the lamppost. The information, remember, is nonlocal in space and time; so the whole universe and every particle in it partakes of the information, and is thus a co-creator of the whole, but on different scales. Is this not what the pantheists have been claiming for millenniums?
Currently, Sarfatti is attempting to demonstrate this interpretation of Bell's Theorem practically by designing a faster-than-light communication system (US patent disclosure #071165, May 12, 1978). Although Dr. Carl Sagan has pontificated that this whole project seems to him "at most a playful notion," there is already a patent search afoot because of rumors that one or more other inventors are trying to patent the same device. Sarfatti also claims an unnamed intelligence agency is very interested in this, and a nuclear engineer, who has not given me permission to use his name, claims that the Russians already have such a device.
(Faster-than-light communication does not contradict Einstein, incidentally. The Theory of Relativity says only that energy cannot travel faster than light. Bell's non-local information system, as developed by Sarfatti, does not transfer energy but only information [order]. What is interesting to the layman about all this is that such a device, if built, would function precisely as the brain does in those altered states of consciousness studied by parapsychology. It would be a model of the extrasensory circuits of the brain, just as an ordinary computer is a model of the brain's logical circuits. And Sarfatti strongly suspects that, whether the Russians have this or not, advanced extraterrestrial civilizations certainly do. When Sagan says that Sarfatti's hope of contacting extraterrestrials this way is "playful," Sarfatti replies that Sagan's attempts to contact them by radio represents "electromagnetic chauvinism." So there.)
In fact, Dr. Sarfatti traces his ideas back to his early adolescence, when he received a series of mysterious phone calls from somebody (or some thing) claiming to be an extraterrestrial computer and encouraging his interest in quantum physics. The calls terminated when his mother got on the phone and told the entity (whatever it was) to stop playing jokes.
To this day, Jack Sarfatti isn't sure what to make of those phone calls. "Maybe it was an extraterrestrial," he says whimsically. "Maybe they want us to tune in to the sub-quantal, cosmic communication system. Or maybe it was just a practical joker, as my mother thought. Or maybe it was the CIA's Operation Mind Control trying to stimulate certain lines of thought among bright high-school students who were planning scientific careers...."
Sarfatti had his first jolting encounter with Jungian synchronicity when neurologist Dr. Andrija Puharich published his book, Uri, concerning his investigation of the controversial Israeli wonder-worker Uri Geller. Puharich claimed that all through his association with Geller, he had also received messages from an alleged extraterrestrial with a computer-like voice.
UFOlogist John Keel, in his books This Haunted Planet and The Mothman Prophecies, tells of hundreds of ordinary citizens who have received similar phone calls, during the past 30 years, from computer-like voices with weird extraterrestrial messages.
My favorite of Keel's cases is a housewife who got the Zen-like rebuke: Wake up, down there!
According to Sarfatti, it is premature to attribute such clusters of eerieness to actual extraterrestrials. We don't have to say that a real ghost haunted Freud's bookcase that day in 1909. And we don't have to say that the phone calls received by Sarfatti, Puharich, and Keel's subjects came from literal extraterrestrials. Rather, the sub-quantal consciousness, Sarfatti says, was agitated non-locally (beyond space and time), producing these effects within space and time. But the source of the agitation was, he says, probably human emotions and beliefs.
Dr. Brian Josephson, 1973 Nobel prizewinner in physics, has taken the inevitable next step. Analyzing the puzzling differences found in certain key atomic experiments during the Sixties - in which European physicists were obtaining one set of results over and over, while American physicists were just as repeatedly obtaining opposite results - Josephson suggests that the conflicting belief systems of the experimenters were influencing the test data by unconscious PK. That is, in the most literal sense, Walker is right in claiming "our consciousness controls physical events through the laws of quantum mechanics."
"My goodness, Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas at all anymore." - L. Frank Baum
Another part of the physics/consciousness or mind/matter synthesis is emerging in Palo Alto, from the research of physicists Russell Targ and Dr. Harold Puthoff, who have been investigating "distant viewing" for several years. "Distant viewing" is Targ and Puthoff's label for one particular kind of ESP, which they have found particularly susceptible to replicable laboratory testing. It consists of seeing what is happening at a great distance from where you are located - as in The Eyes of Laura Mars.
Targ and Puthoff believe not only that their work demonstrates the reality of distant viewing, but that everybody has the talent latently. They even claim they can teach it to anybody, however skeptical, and have a standing invitation to all skeptics to come to their laboratory and have a go at it.
As Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and one of Targ/Put-hoff's experimental subjects, writes in the introduction to their book, Mind Reach, "It is too late now to burn their files; what they've found is already being duplicated and expanded in laboratories around the world. As I am coming to know more of the powers that I have, so are thousands of others, so will the readers of this book."
Puthoff and Targ explain all their results by Bell's Theorem, which they paraphrase as "parts of the universe apparently separated from each other can nonetheless act together as parts of a larger whole," which is Dr. Nick Herbert's cosmic glue all over again.
Saul-Paul Sirag, Vice-President of Jack Sarfatti's Physics/Consciousness Research Group, has his own weird tales to tell. Once, while involved in the Uri Geller investigation, Sirag took LSD to see if in that altered consciousness he could perceive the alleged extraterrestrial behind Geller. What Sirag saw was the head of a hawk, which astonished him, since Geller had never described the entity as a hawk. Six months later, this image appeared on the January 1974 cover of Sirag's favorite sci-fi magazine, Analog, illustrating a story called "The Horus Errand" (Synchronicity #1). A year later, Dr. Andrija Puharich, not knowing of Sirag's experience, claimed that Geller's extraterrestrial ally had often appeared to him as a hawk, which he nicknamed "Horus" (Synchronicity #2). Later, Sirag discovered that the face on the Analog cover was that of Ray Stanford, a Texas psychic, who also claimed mysterious experiences with Geller and a hawk (Synchronicity #3). Oddest of all, Kelly Freas, the artist who had drawn the cover, had never met Stanford and was not using his face consciously.
Like Sarfatti, Sirag does not take this (yet) as evidence of real extraterrestrial intervention. "Such synchronicities," he says, "are merely indications that Bell's nonlocal subquantal effects are occurring."
Or as Dr. Timothy Leary expresses it in conversation, "Your brain is created by the non-local sub-quantal intelligence Sarfatti and other turned-on physicists are describing. That intelligence is both centralized - inside the atoms of your brain cells - and decentralized, all over space-time."
"Oh, sure," Sarfatti agrees when this is reported to him. "By Bell's nonlocality theorem, if intelligence is anywhere in the system, it is everywhere in the system."
Everywhere... not just in you and me (which is flattering), but in the louse, the flea, the rock, and (worst of all) in the people we despise. For, as the Zen tradition has it, a monk once asked a Zen Master,
"What is the Buddha?"
"The one in the hall."
"But," the monk protested, "the one in the hall is a statue - a piece of wood!"
"That is so," the Master agreed.
"Then what is the Buddha?"
"The one in the hall."
Whereupon the monk achieved illumination, and I hope the reader does too.
"The Science of the Impossible," originally appeared in OUI Magazine; Copyright © 1979 by Playboy Publications, Inc.
- adapted from the article appearing in "The Illuminati Papers" by Robert Anton Wilson