Biocentrism’s theory that consciousness underlies and creates reality definitely strikes a chord with me, as that is what I think. The theory is based on the fundamental findings of quantum physics and the mysterious collapse of the wave function. Quantum physics experiments suggest that the presence or absence of ‘data’ is responsible for the manifestation of matter. Before we have ‘data’ on an elementary particle, it cannot be said to exist in any real way. It exists in all possible states as a wave of probability. However, that’s just a mathematical construct and has no definite existence in space and time. The particle, or photon, manifests particular characteristics and a specific location only when it is ‘observed’—we have information about it. Data could be collected–it could be observed–with the eyes and brain or a device we have created. But if there is no data–there is no observation—the particle or photon cannot be said to exist in any meaningful way. The particle is not ‘rendered’, to use a video game term, until it is observed.
Physicists will pop a nut (or an ovary) when non-physicists try to commandeer their experimental results to support some new-age concept of reality. However, experimental results themselves are easy to understand. The hard part, for physicists as well as laymen, is trying to interpret those results and find out what that actually implies about reality. That’s because the experimental results themselves don’t make sense to our conventional understanding and experience of reality. So I’m just going to lay out the experimental results and give you my interpretation of what that implies about reality. You may have a different interpretation and that’s fine. I’d love to hear about it in the comments. So let’s unpack all this starting with the famous double slit experiment. The experiment showed that if you shot light or elementary particles through a screen with 2 slits with a detector screen behind it, you would see a wave interference pattern on the detector screen:
What this means is that the light is acting as a wave and going through both slits at the same time. Only once it hits the detector screen behind the slits does it collapse to a discreet particle/photon located at one point in space and time. So, the wave of the photon splits to go through both slits at the same time. Where either the peaks or the troughs of the waves coming out of each slit coincide is where you might see a detection, or mark on the screen, but where a peak meets a trough there is a cancellation effect and no particle will be detected there—hence the light and dark bands. Exactly where each electron or photon is detected on the screen could be anywhere in the wave probability distribution. But before it hit it acted as a spread out wave of all possibilities; it was everywhere and nowhere.
The next step is to add detectors to the slits to detect which slit the photons/electrons go through:
Now we’re ‘watching’ the light as it goes through the slits to see which slit each photon/electron goes through. Then the wave interference pattern disappears and we see a big clump of detections on the screen behind each slit as if the photons/electrons each went through only one slit like a little billiard ball and hit the screen directly behind the slit accordingly. Hence if we’re not looking it acts like a spread out wave, but if we are looking it acts as a discreet particle, with a defined and localized position in space flying through space in more or less a straight line. That’s called the collapse of the wave function—going from wave to particle like nature.
The problem is that so far we still don’t know what’s causing the collapse. It could be that the detectors at the slits are somehow interfering with the photons by bouncing something off them in order to take a measurement. So it could be this interaction with the detectors that’s causing the waves to collapse to discreet particles. Luckily, experiments have been designed to eliminate detectors at the slits altogether and instead determine which slit information indirectly via which detector screen the particle eventually ends up at. Here is a picture of the experimental design:
Although it looks complicated, it can be explained and understood easily. The implications, mind you, of that understanding are bizarre, but the experiment itself is not that complicated. So here is the explanation. The photon of light goes through the slit(s) and right after going through the slit(s) it’s split into two entangled photons by a barium borate crystal. Being entangled means that they share complimentary attributes, so a measurement of one will give information about the other. One of the entangled photons will travel to Detector D0, whilst the other goes through the maze of beam splitters (BS) and reflecting mirrors (Ma/Mb) to arrive at either D1, D2, D3, or D4. Photons from either slit could end up at detectors D1 or D2. However, only photons that went through the top slit could end up at D4, while only photons from the bottom slit could end up at D3.
Therefore we can infer which slit the original photon (before it was split into two entangled photons) went through if the photon hits D3 or D4. But if it hits D1 or D2 we don’t know which slit it originally came through because it could have ended up at those detectors from either slit. The kicker is that if we know which slit one of the entangled photons went through, then we of course know which slit its entangled cousin came through to arrive at D0. However, the entangled cousin that always hits D0 does so before the other photon it’s entangled with arrives at D1-D4. So we have a back in time collapse of the wave function. We get a particle pattern at D0 when a photon hits D3/D4. We get a wave interference pattern at D0 when a photon hits D1/D2.
Ok, I admit, that may have been a little complex and hard to understand if you are new to these concepts. But the gist of it is this: The mere presence/record of information about which slit the photon went through collapses the wave function. We know for an absolute fact that nothing in the experimental setup is causing the collapse. There’s no detector at the slit “interfering” with the photon. The photons are going through beam splitters and/or reflecting mirrors regardless of which detector the photon ends up at, so we know those aren’t causing collapse. The final detectors are all the same, just in different locations in the experimental setup. The only thing that could be causing the photon to act like a ‘particle’, or discreet packet of light, rather than a spread out wave of possibility is our knowledge about which slit it went through.
Knowledge requires a Knower. Why should the fundamental particles of physics act differently—indeed manifest—depending on whether or not we have data about them? The indirectly obtained which-slit information from detectors D3 and D4 from the experiment described above should be completely irrelevant to how a physical particle behaves. Logically, since it’s not being interfered with by some detector at the slits and it’s going through beam splitters and/or reflecting mirrors regardless of which detector it ends up at, we should see the same pattern (wave or particulate) at all detectors. But we don’t, and the only thing that changes is knowledge of which slit it must have gone through. That which-slit knowledge has absolutely no relevance except to a mind.
This tells us that we live in an information based reality. We are collecting information all the time via our senses. We also collect information through devices like cameras or audio recorders. What quantum mechanics tells us, in my opinion, is that reality manifests—is rendered—when we have information about it. Otherwise it exists as a mysterious cloud of possibility.
Now we can leave physics behind and go way off the deep end!
The question then becomes who, or what, is doing the rendering? I believe the answer is consciousness. As Einstein once quipped, “There must be something behind the energy.” Consciousness forms and informs matter. This is a virtual playground for consciousness. It is a virtual world to experience what we call physicality. Consciousness creates the ruleset which governs this reality and these rules are imbedded in each of our minds so that we experience an objective reality we can agree upon. But in the final analysis it’s all a data stream. The data is used by the mind to project the 3-dimensional world we see and experience.
We can look no further than to dreams to see what’s going on. Incidentally our brain wave activity during dreaming is very similar to activity while we’re awake.1 That makes perfect sense because when we are dreaming we’re simply in another virtual world like this one. Now of course this dream virtual world has a different rule set and doesn’t last as long, but that has nothing to do with the main point here. In both cases a stream of data flowing through the brain is causing us to project a 3 dimensional space around us and experience, as the data stipulates, whatever objects or things permeate that space.
The mystery of consciousness has in no way been solved. Consciousness must by its very nature transcend the material virtual world it has created. We’re never going to locate consciousness in the material world and say “See, look under that microscope. There’s Consciousness. Yah, we found it!” No, that’s ludicrous. Consciousness is nowhere and everywhere—kind of like particles before they are ‘observed’. Hmmm…did I just figure something out? I don’t think so, but that is interesting.
I like the panpsychic view that all things have an experiential, or conscious, component. In other words, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask the question, “What’s it like to be an electron?” An electron is not just a material particle; it’s also conscious and there’s an experience component to it as there is with all of material reality. So we could ask “What’s it like to be a rock?” There’s some experience of being a rock.
The view draws and intrigues me because of reports in the transpersonal psychological literature of experiences of being other things. In one of Stanislav Grof’s books he told of one patient who experienced being a sperm cell traveling to fertilize a woman’s egg. There was an actual experience of being a sperm cell. It’s easy to say that this is all imagination, but it does make sense on some level because if consciousness creates reality and pervades it, then all things are available to conscious experience. This is based on the view that Consciousness is ALL. Everything there is—is part of consciousness. How could you not ‘feel’, or experience, a part of yourself? My leg goes numb and I can’t feel it anymore when I sit on the toilet too long. Ok, get out of here with your mind body problems. I don’t need that shit taking up space in my blog!
Anyway, consciousness experiences its material creations—like the body and brain. However consciousness is not the brain; it isn’t generated by the brain. It’s the other way around. Consciousness generates the brain which it then experiences through while it is functioning. Thus we can each be players imbedded in the actual game world as opposed to merely watching the game from the outside like gamers watching the game on their monitors.
We, as localized aspects of consciousness in the material world, are making decisions to raise an arm, open a door, walk around or whatever, and the larger consciousness we are a part of computes the consequences and renders reality around us accordingly—that, or feeds us the data to render/project it ourselves. Anybody interested in this idea should check out Tom Campbell, author of My Big Toe.
That ‘world around us’ is ultimately illusory just like the ‘world around us’ in a dream is illusory. It’s all a projection. And that’s some hard shit to wrap your head around. It’s totally counter intuitive. I don’t even know if I fully believe it. Intuitively, we think something like this: The table is actually ‘out there’; it’s actually in front of me. The light from the sun has actually traveled across the solar system to reach my eyes. It’s ‘out there’. And so it seems.
Well it is ‘out there’, only ‘out there’ is an illusion because it’s all ‘in here’—in the mind. It’s ‘out there’ to us because we are localized aspects of the larger Source Consciousness embedded in the projected world. Source consciousness renders the world as needed based on our observations and collected data. So to us the world is ‘out there’ but if we could raise our awareness to that of Source Consciousness we would see that reality is an inner projection.
Alas, limited to brain-based perception and knowledge we can never fully grasp these concepts. The only way to truly ‘know’ is to elevate consciousness—go back into the ocean of the One and experience from that point of view. Only then will we experience all things as part of ourselves and all reality for what it truly is.
A Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser: https://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/9903047