Last week’s New Scientist featured a cover story on the Multiverse, a curious concept born out of the head-scratching improbability of this Universe accidentally having the exact and precise parameters needed for matter and stars to exist, let alone things like us.
Perhaps in centuries to come we will look back on physicists’ estimates of a multiverse (26 November, p.42) containing 10^500 universes in the same light as we see early theologians arguing over angel counts per pinhead. It was those theologians who set the template for the physicists’ dilemma by sweeping away a common assumption of the ancient world and its scientists – the assumption that other aspects of this world also experienced consciousness. It was the Church that decreed only humans enjoyed this special experience, together with God, angels and the devil, replacing the notion of a living world with that of a dead unconscious place created by some imaginary external Character.
Science still clings to this unfounded religious restriction on consciousness, though it may have removed the devil, angels and God from the club. In your following article on consciousness and anaesthesia (p.49) you state that “Consciousness has long been one of the great mysteries of life, the universe and everything…yet we cannot agree on how to define it.” Most would agree, though, that it is not a physical thing but an invisible energetic phenomenon. How can we know enough about consciousness to be sure that only we are equipped to experience it?
If consciousness is energetic, then our Universe’s most common occupant has all the qualifications for being able to experience it. This appeared obvious to all pre-monotheistic cultures and their scientists, though they knew nothing of the complex activities powering the Sun and other stars. They knew nothing of stars’ invisible energetic coronas, or of the enormous electro-magnetic fields linking stars and even galaxies together.
Perhaps if we embraced what was once a universal concept, instead of remaining in thrall to religious taboo, we would be equipped to arrive at a far simpler solution to this special Universe’s fine tuning.
see the Universe in a new light