|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.28(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Dark Energy and Human Consciousness
Humanity's Path to Freedom
By Tom Cahalan
Balboa PressCopyright © 2014 Tom Cahalan
All rights reserved.
The Present Reality
When we look at our world, should we be pleased with what we see, or should we be disappointed or even outraged with the world we have created?
There is no doubt that the standard of living, particularly in the western world, has substantially improved in the last three centuries. This improved standard of living has been driven primarily by science and technology, starting with the Industrial Revolution in the mid-eighteenth century and moving on to electrification in the mid-nineteenth century, the internal combustion engine in the late nineteenth century, air travel in the early twentieth century, space travel in the mid-twentieth century, and the IT revolution in the late twentieth century, to name but a few moves forward. However, in spite of all this progress, has the quality of life for the general public improved over this time?
Quality of life should not be confused with standard of living, which is based primarily on income. The term 'quality of life' refers to the general well-being of individuals and societies; it relates not just to wealth and employment but also to the physical infrastructure, physical and mental health, education, recreation, leisure time, social belonging, freedom, human rights, personal security, social justice, equality for all, and so on. In general, a good quality of life is a prerequisite for the achievement of happiness. Happiness is subjective and difficult to measure, but it is certain that it does not necessarily increase in proportion to increasing income. As a result, one's standard of living should be taken as only one of the many components that influence happiness.
However, a certain level of wealth is necessary in order to achieve a good quality of life. To quote a line from a speech former US President Bill Clinton made during one of his visits to Ireland, 'Money is not everything, but it's up there with oxygen.' Mr. Clinton's one-liner rightly suggests that we need money to survive. However, the similarities between money and oxygen end there. In the case of oxygen, there is an adequate supply available to all people, and nobody can hoard it or build up a supply in case he or she might need it in the future. Sadly, that is exactly what is happening with money; the few with the power control the money supply, leaving the vast majority with an inadequate amount on which to survive.
Distribution of Wealth
The distribution of wealth is a comparison of the wealth of various members or groups in a society or country and should not be confused with the distribution of income. Wealth consists of those items of economic value that an individual owns, while income is an inflow of items of economic value. A detailed analysis of these topics would fill many books and would only confuse the central points I wish to convey in this book, so my intention here is merely to explain that the distribution of wealth in the world is not very equitable.
In the US, 5 per cent of the population owns almost 62 per cent of the wealth, while the bottom 40 per cent owns only 0.2 per cent – not a very equitable distribution. This problem is even more lopsided if we look at the global situation, where 0.111 per cent of the population owns 81 per cent of the wealth, while the bottom 99.889 per cent owns only 19 per cent.
This inequitable distribution of wealth creates a global society where a very small percentage of people live in luxury; a large working class struggles to pay its mortgages and taxes, educate its children, and make ends meet; and a large lower class lives in poverty. Of course, there are many sub-levels in each of these three categories, but it is an accurate summation of the overall situation.
Quality of life
In addition to the inequitable distribution of wealth – and sometimes because of it – the quality of life for the vast majority of humanity is much lower than that you would expect in a civilized world. Some examples of this unacceptable quality of life follow.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people, or one in eight of the 7.1 billion people in the world, suffered from chronic undernourishment in 2010–2012. Of these 870 million undernourished people, 852 million lived in developing countries, and approximately 18 million lived in developed countries.
According to the United Nations, about 21,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes – almost fifteen people every minute, ten of whom are children. Children are the most vulnerable victims of under-nutrition. Poorly nourished children suffer up to 160 days of illness each year. Poor nutrition is the main cause of 5 million child deaths each year, which is almost ten deaths every minute.
Poverty is the principal cause of hunger. Hunger can lead to even greater poverty by reducing people's ability to work and learn, thus leading to even greater hunger, a vicious cycle.
Poverty is a major problem in the world today. There are fundamentally two types of poverty: (1) absolute poverty (or destitution), where people lack the basic human needs, such as water, food, healthcare, clothing, shelter, and education; and (2) relative poverty, which refers to economic inequality in a particular country or society and is the most useful measure for ascertaining poverty rates in wealthy developed nations.
The threshold for absolute poverty is difficult to establish. For example, the absolute poverty line in the US was $15.15 per day in 2010 (for a family of four), while in India it was $1.00 per day. The World Bank has set a threshold of $1.25 per day, although some experts disagree with this number. World Bank data (2011) reveals that, in 2008, 22.4 per cent of the world's population lived on less than &8364;1.25 per day
Relative poverty is the most useful indication of poverty rates in wealthy developed nations. Relative poverty is usually measured as the percentage of population with income less than some fixed proportion of the median income in a particular country or society. It is a reflection of the cost of social inclusion and equality of opportunity in a specific location or society.
The principal cause of poverty (and, consequently, of hunger) is how the economic and political systems in the world operate. Control over food, resources, wealth, and income is normally based on the military, political, and economic power that typically ends up in the hands of a minority who live in luxury, while those at the bottom barely survive. In fact, many do not survive.
War and Conflict
War and conflict have been the cause of immense suffering, bloodshed, poverty, hunger, and deprivation for thousands of years. For example, the approximate number of fatalities in World War I was 16 million; World War II, 60 million; the Korean War (1950–1953), at least 1.2 million; the Vietnam War (1955–1975), at least 2 million; the Colombian conflict (1964–present), 600,000; the conflict in Afghanistan (1978–present), 2 million; the Somali civil war (1988–1991), 500,000; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (1948), 20,000; the Iraq War (2003–2013), 500,000; and the war in Darfur (2003–2010), up to 450,000.
When you add to these figures the numbers of wounded, the societies destroyed and left destitute, the millions of people left homeless, and the millions of children left without parents, the awful savagery of these conflicts becomes even more apparent. Many conflicts, such as those in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, continue unabated.
When the extent of hunger and poverty unrelated to war are added to the consequences of the wars and conflicts, it is clear that the quality of life for the vast majority of the world's population is far below that which you would expect from a civilized human race. In fact if you could look down on the Earth and observe all that is happening, you would conclude that the human race is an extremely dysfunctional family.
As you would expect, there are two opposing views regarding poverty and deprivation: one from the 'haves' and one from the 'have-nots'. The haves are usually right of centre politically, who can be loosely described as 'conservative'. On the other side are those who are generally left of centre politically, who can be loosely described as 'liberal'.
Many conservatives believe that the poor are poor because they are lazy and unwilling to take personal responsibility. They normally recommend that we return to traditional 'family values', that individuals assume more personal responsibility, that we tighten up slack moral standards, encourage a strong work ethic and reward achievement, and so on.
On the other hand, many liberals believe that the poor are poor because the system has let them down or that they are oppressed by society. Therefore, the liberal solution to the problem is based on social change, such as a redistribution of wealth, changes to social institutions, taxing the rich to help the poor, and so on.
Of course, there is some validity in both arguments. However, it is necessary to understand the fundamental cause of the problem before we can propose meaningful solutions. The remainder of this chapter gets to the core of the problem and outlines its root cause.
The Present Paradigm
A paradigm is a set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitute a way of viewing reality. While each society may have its own particular paradigm, they all have SCAG in common because selfishness is a human trait. When selfishness dominates in a person or society, it is quickly followed by greed, and once we enter that terrain, corruption and abuse of power naturally follow when the opportunity presents itself.
Selfishness is a natural trait in every individual, but not all people are corrupt or abuse their power; there are many honest, hardworking individuals in every walk of life. However, it is fair to say that a critical mass of people in all political, religious, financial, and public service institutions worldwide are dominated by SCAG, and this is the fundamental reason for the inequitable distribution of wealth, the high incidences of poverty and starvation, and the many wars. The best way to understand this statement is to imagine what life would be like if everybody lived his or her life with an attitude of love, care, and compassion for fellow humans. Imagine what life in your family and local community would be like if this were the case. Then imagine if the political, religious and public service institutions in your country operated based on an attitude of love, care, and compassion. Finally, imagine what life would be like if this attitude spread to every political, religious, and public service institution in the world. I think you would agree that, if this were the case, we would be living in a much happier world – a world with no wars, no poverty, no starvation, and no social, racial, or religious discrimination.
However, back in the real world, SCAG in our political, public service, financial, and religious institutions has a debilitating effect on every society on our planet:
In third-world and emerging countries it is the root cause of widespread poverty, starvation, conflict, and war.
In developed countries, it is the cause of significant poverty and starvation and also approximately doubles the tax burden on the hard-pressed working class.
This last point concern all tax payers. Cumbersome regulations, procedures, and guidelines are necessary in order to contain SCAG, not just in the government and the public service, but also at every level of society. While these regulations, procedures, and guidelines are essential just to contain SCAG at an 'acceptable' level, they drastically increase the cost and reduce the efficiency of providing all public services. Additionally, as more instances of corruption are uncovered, more layers of regulations, procedures, and bureaucracy are added and the cost of containing SCAG increases still further. Unfortunately the tax payer pays the price.
SCAG has existed for thousands of years – probably ever since humans started to think and reason. It exists at all levels of society, not just in the political, religious, financial, and public service institutions. Evidence can be seen in fraudulent behaviour by highly paid managers and executives in many companies and corporations, fraudulent insurance claims by people at all levels, fraudulent social welfare claims, poor work ethic at all levels of society, the prevalence of all types of criminal behaviour, the many people who are focussed solely on personal gain and take little or no time to help out at community level, and so on. Because SCAG dominates our political, religious, financial, and public service institutions, it has serious consequences for humanity.
The primary source of the SCAG phenomenon is the innate trait of selfishness that exists in every human being. Selfishness is a natural trait in all human beings. Understanding SCAG requires that we understand why this is so, why selfishness dominates to such an extent, whether there is another innate trait in human beings that can balance it, and how we can harness this 'balancing trait' to help lead us to a more enlightened paradigm. In other words we require a better understanding of life and how it originated and evolved.
However, before we can understand life, we must first understand how the universe originated and evolved. Therefore the universe is discussed in the next chapter and life is discussed in the following chapter.CHAPTER 2
The universe is everything that exists physically, the entirety of space and time, all forms of matter, energy, and momentum, and the physical laws and constants that govern them. The age of the universe is believed to be approximately 13.7 billion years, and scientists estimate that the diameter of the observable universe is at least 93 billion light years.
I use the term 'scientist' to include geneticists, biologists, physicists, mathematicians, astronomers, and practitioners in all professions involved in the logical research of life, matter, and energy who study the physical universe.
The Earth is part of the solar system. The solar system exists in the Milky Way galaxy. The sun is one of the stars in the Milky Way, and the only reason it looks bigger than all the other stars, is that it is so close to us. There are 100 billion (1011) stars in the Milky Way and 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, so there are approximately 1022 stars in the observable universe, and many of them have planetary systems similar to our solar system. Therefore, the possibility that life exists out there somewhere must be very high.
The Composition of the Universe
Scientists estimate that the universe is made up of 4 per cent ordinary matter, 26 per cent dark matter, and 70 per cent dark energy. (These figures may vary somewhat depending on the source.) My own belief is that the percentage of ordinary matter is much less than 4 per cent of the total and that it may actually be infinitesimal. However, for the purposes of presenting my arguments, I use the 70/26/4 per cent estimates.
The language of physics is mathematics, but physicists are unable to describe the nature of dark energy or dark matter mathematically, to observe them, or to examine them experimentally. Therefore scientists have no knowledge regarding the nature of dark energy or dark matter. How do they know that dark energy and dark matter exist?
Galaxy clusters are collections of galaxies that are bound together by gravity. However, because of their high velocities, their mutual gravitational attraction (calculated on the basis of 'ordinary' matter) seems insufficient for them to remain gravitationally bound, so there must be an invisible mass component. The invisible mass component, sometimes called the 'missing mass component', whose nature is still unknown, is given the name dark matter.
Dark Energy is a hypothetical form of energy that permeates all of space. It is the most popular way of explaining recent observations that the universe appears to be expanding at an accelerating rate.
Therefore, all the scientific knowledge we possess today refers to only 4 percent of reality, which is a sobering thought. Scientists have been aware of the existence of dark matter since 1932 and dark energy since 1998, yet they are unable to describe them mathematically.
The Origin of the Universe – The Scientific View
Most scientists believe that the universe started with the 'Big Bang', the primeval explosion that brought all space and time, all matter and energy, into being. The Big Bang theory postulates that the universe was only a few millimetres in diameter about 13.7 billion years ago. However, it is not possible for scientific theory to extrapolate what might have existed close to time zero, or prior to the Big Bang, since all the theories of cosmology break down prior to time zero.
Excerpted from Dark Energy and Human Consciousness by Tom Cahalan. Copyright © 2014 Tom Cahalan. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. The Present Reality, 1,
2. The Universe, 12,
3. The Origin and Evolution of Life, 30,
4. Reality, 43,
5. Religion, 47,
6. The Evolution of Human Consciousness, 58,
7. Summary, 97,