Read an Excerpt
How Quantum Activism Can Save Civilization
A Few People Can Change Human Evolution
By Amit Goswami
Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Amit Goswami, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
Scientific Evidence for Spirituality Is Here, So What Are You Doing about It?
Science has discovered spirituality: there is now a logically consistent scientific theory of God and spirituality based on quantum physics and the primacy of consciousness (the idea that consciousness, not matter, is the ground of all being). And there is replicated experimental data in support of the theory. In other words, although still largely unsung in the media, we now have a viable science of spirituality that is threatening a paradigm shift from today's matter-based science that exclusively encourages materiality (Goswami 2008a). You can call the new science a science of God, but you don't have to. In the new science, there is no God that is an almighty emperor doling out judgments on us; instead, there is a pervasive intelligence that is also the creative agent of consciousness that you can call God if you want to. But this God is objective; it is scientific.
So what should we do about all this? What can we do to bring God, our own higher source of causation (really!), and spirituality back into our lives and our society? My answer in this book is quantum activism.
So this book is about a new kind of activism. I call it quantum activism because the purpose of this activism is threefold. First, we employ activism to bring media attention to quantum and primacy-of-consciousness thinking and the new paradigm; this will bring grant support for further research and bring about applications of the new paradigm of such undeniable weight and value that the old paradigm will crash under it. Second, we use the transformative power of quantum physics to renew ourselves individually to become exemplars and harbingers for social change in the appropriate direction. Third, we recognize that the current materialism-dominated structures of our social systems are heavily biased against ordinary people pursuing a meaningful life of creativity and transformation. Accordingly, we use activism to change our social systems in such a way that ordinary people can live transformative meaningful lives and fulfill their human potential, and even pursue the happiness that only creative and spiritual pursuits can bring.
But I am getting ahead of myself; let me begin at the beginning. Several years ago, I was giving a lecture in Brazil about the aborning paradigm of science based on quantum physics that brings God (defined in the new way as the source of our own causal efficacy) and spirituality back into our worldview. One student challenged me, saying, "I have heard a great deal about new paradigms that integrate science and spirituality. But isn't it all theory? When can we expect you guys to get busy and give us some verification, some data?"
I was taken aback for a moment and then the answer popped from my mouth: "Actually, we have done our job. The scientific evidence for spirituality that includes experimental data is already here. My question to you is: what are you doing about it?"
That created a lot of enthusiastic discussion in the audience. Here are some samples from that exchange:
* If science has established spirituality, then we should do what spirituality dictates. My religious upbringing says that spirituality is about being virtuous. I'd like to develop virtues—to be able to love, to appreciate beauty, to be truthful, to pursue justice, to be good to my neighbor. But I have already tried that and I am confused. Do I have free will to change? I need guidance. Can the new science give me guidance?
* I admit when I think of spirituality I think of God and I have doubts about God, a reaction to my simplistic religious upbringing, no doubt. These doubts have made me pursue material goals that I know have not made me any happier. If science can show me convincing proof, then I would like to try the spirituality that traditions say will bring me happiness. What does the new science say?
* If spirituality is real, then does it mean that we give up material pursuits in favor of spirituality? What if I want to explore my creative potential? Spirituality and God can wait awhile. What does the new science say about that? Can it help?
* I gave up on God because how can a good God allow so many bad things to happen. I can't swallow popular Christianity's good-evil split. Can the new science help me resolve my confusion?
* I'd like to work on solutions to our social problems. Is that spiritual?
Lots of people today are confused about ethics, about the value of religion and spirituality, even about free will and creativity for the pursuit of human potential because of exorbitant claims from mainstream scientists in favor of scientific materialism—the idea that all things, material objects, thoughts, and even ideas such as that of spirituality and God can be reduced to elementary particles of matter and their interactions. Because of its simplistic ideas, popular Christianity does not help in countering these claims. So the view that God is a delusion we would be better off giving up on is gaining ground. In 2009, there was even an advertisement on London buses: "God probably does not exist. So relax and enjoy life." Implicit in this advice is the encouragement: since there is no God to punish you, why not enjoy the pleasures of a hedonistic life rather than suffer the disciplines (since the chance of missing out on spiritual joy is minuscule) of an ethical, let alone spiritual life?
The mainstream scientists are not entirely wrong because the God they denigrate is the God of simplistic popular belief: a God that sits like an emperor on a throne in heaven (wherever that is!) and doles out judgment on people when they die, sending good people to heaven and bad guys to hell; a God that created the world and all living species in it, all at once, a mere six thousand years ago; a God that allows bad things to happen to good people; a God that is supposed to be perfect, and yet His images, us, are so very imperfect.
On top of this, there is the additional valid criticism of what is called dualism: how does the duo—the material world and a nonmaterial God— interact? For interaction, signals carrying energies must mediate. But the energy of the material world alone is always a constant; this is the sacrosanct law of conservation of energy. How could this be if there were energycarrying signals mediating the interaction of matter and nonmatter? This is the paradox of dualism.
Face it—say the proponents of scientific materialism—there is no God, there is only matter and its interactions, which are the only source of causation. Like God, our free will, freedom to choose God, is also delusion. Get real!—admonish the behavioral psychologists of our revered academe— the behavior of people, by and large, is predictable behavior conditioned by genes and the environment.
So, in view of all this, we have to be clear. What is the nature of the God that quantum physics and primacy-of-consciousness thinking posit? Is the God of the new science compatible with the God of the great religious traditions? I discussed these issues in my recent book, God Is Not Dead (Goswami 2008a). Here is a quick summary of the book's most basic point. In materialist science, there is only one source of causation: material interactions. This is called upward causation since cause rises upward from the base level of the elementary particles to atoms, to molecules, and to bulkier matter that includes the living cells and the brain (Figure 1). This is fine, except that, according to quantum physics, objects are waves of possibility and all that material interactions can do is change possibility into possibility but never into the actuality that we experience. Like the paradox of dualism, this, too, is a paradox.
To change possibility into actuality, a new source of causation is needed; we can call this downward causation. When we realize that consciousness is the ground of all being and material objects are possibilities of consciousness, then we also recognize the nature of downward causation: it consists of choosing one of the facets of the multifaceted object of the possibility wave that then becomes manifest as actuality. Since consciousness is choosing from its own possibilities, not something separate, there is no dualism.
An example will make this clear. If we release an electron in a room, the electron's wave spreads quickly all over the room, in possibility. In possibility, the electron can simultaneously be all over the room, in all those different places. But when we measure, we find the electron in a particular place in a given experiment, the place we have chosen for it in that particular instant (Figure 2). In another instant, for another measurement, we may choose differently. For many measurement events involving identical electrons in identical experiments, the sum total of all the individual measurements conforms to a probabilistic bell curve as predicted by quantum mathematics (Figure 3). In this way, quantum physics is predictive and deterministic for large numbers of events and things. Yet for individual events and / or individual objects, there is room for freedom of choice and creativity.
"Why can't I use my freedom of choice to make my own reality and make good stuff happen all the time?" you might ask. Why aren't you even aware of making choices in the way I suggest? The answer is crucial. The state of consciousness from which we choose is a subtler, nonordinary state of one interconnected consciousness in which we are all one, a "higher" quantum consciousness. Hence the appropriateness of calling causation from it "downward causation" and its source "God."
Mind you, in the interconnected oneness of consciousness, connections happen without signals; the technical name for such signal-less connections is quantum nonlocality. As you may know, in Einstein's theory of relativity, all interactions in space and time must occur via signals. Hence, to use the physicist Henry Stapp's words, nonlocal downward causation must take place from "outside" space and time, yet it can bring about an effect, the actuality, in space and time.
If you see a parallel between this idea and the evocative statement often made in high-level spiritual discussions—God is both transcendent of the world and immanent in the world—that is good. Before the advent of quantum physics, spiritual masters attempted to convey that the relation between God and the world is not one of dualism. When people complained about the vagueness of such statements, they would say, God is ineffable, which would only augment ordinary practical people's difficulty in understanding spiritual wisdom.
In the new science, the relation of God consciousness and ordinary ego consciousness is clear: in the latter, connections and communications must use signals; in the former, signal-less communication is the going thing.
The existence of nonlocal communications among people has been verified and replicated in myriad experiments. Since material interactions can never simulate nonlocality, this kind of experimental proof for the existence of God, looked upon as a higher consciousness, a nonlocal interconnectedness of all being, is definitive.
Do we have free will? To the extent that we can access our higher consciousness and choose from there, you bet there is free will, complete freedom to choose from the quantum possibilities offered in any given situation. Free will to choose the world as well as God and godliness, creativity as well as spiritual transformation.
Quantum physics is the physics of possibilities, and its indisputable message then is that we potentially have the freedom to choose outcomes to live by from among these possibilities. This is certainly helpful empowerment for making personal changes toward spiritual enlightenment or salvation, to which various traditions refer. But there are only a few of us that hear the clarion call of spiritual transformation. How about the rest of us? How about those of us who would like worldly pursuits of meaning to solve worldly problems?
The fact is, humans have been making individual acts of spiritual transformation on a small scale for millennia, but this has not helped our societies much. This was perhaps okay in the past; we were locally disconnected then. But recently, the growth of local connections among us is exponential. Local problems become global very quickly today. The solution of global problems requires no less than global creativity and transformation. How do we bring about transformational change on a global scale? A new kind of spirituality is needed. This is what quantum activism is about.
Additionally, how people earn their livelihood today keeps most people from engaging with questions of meaning and transformation. If you are an assembly-line worker and do nothing that adds meaning to your life during your working hours, after your job is done, all you want is entertainment to keep you functioning in your conditioned, predictable, and controllable lifestyle. We need to change our social systems in order to give people opportunity for transformation.
Social Problems on a Global Scale
Two problems and attempting to solve them put me on the track of writing this book. The first I have already stated: now that we have scientific evidence for spirituality and for an objective and scientific God as the causal source of creativity and spirituality, what can we do to reinstall God in our lives and our world? The second problem, or rather a set of problems, is even more urgent.
There is global warming. There are terrorism, wars, and violence everywhere; quite a few countries possess weapons of mass destruction, and the number is proliferating; nuclear warfare and nuclear terrorism are no longer far-fetched. There are economic meltdowns occurring on a global scale, and their frequency is increasing. These are the three biggies. But there are other problems that are no less important, such as:
* Capitalism was designed to bring capital to everyone, but today the practice of capitalism is recreating the same gap between the rich and the poor that was the case in feudal times. What went wrong in our practice of economics?
* Democracy arose from the idea of government "by the people and for the people." How did our politics become so besieged by media and money that power is once again concentrated in a few hands and is being used for domination?
* Liberal education was designed to encourage everyone to use the mind to process new meaning. Everyone was supposed to share the American dream to bring to fruition the meaning each saw in her or his life. But alas! Today, liberal education prepares us more for jobs that others design for us and less for exploring meaning as we see it.
And this is not all. The skyrocketing cost of health care is another problem for which no cure is in sight. Religions have become less the institutions for investigating and disseminating spirituality and spiritual values that they are supposed to be, and more like other mundane institutions lost in the search for power to dominate others. Why else should religions be so interested in politics? And last but not least, even in the face of an aborning paradigm offering serious theory and replicated data, the scientific establishment seems to be least interested in freshly examining, let alone changing, their worldview based on scientific materialism according to which all is matter; consciousness, God, and, indeed, all our internal experiences are epiphenomena, secondary to matter.
Face it. Individual creativity and the transformation of a few people are unable to make a dent in the global mind-set to initiate changes that will lead to solutions to these problems. A new kind of activism—quantum activism—in which the focus is on both individual and collective change is called for. To give impetus to creativity and transformation on a large scale, we must change the social systems and make them more conducive to people making meaningful changes in their lives.
What is both reassuring and a definitive proof that the current crises are part of a movement of consciousness intended to take us toward global investment in exploring meaning and transformation is this: the changes that our social systems need in order to make room for creativity and transformation of people on a global scale are the same changes that are necessary for the solution of the crisis situation. Finally, the movement of consciousness that we are talking about is the evolutionary movement of consciousness that begins with a paradigm shift.
Excerpted from How Quantum Activism Can Save Civilization by Amit Goswami. Copyright © 2011 Amit Goswami, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc..
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