REVIEW OF ..`INFORMATION AND THE NATURE OF REALITY`..BY PAUL DAVIES AND NIELS HENRIK GREGERSON.
( Reviewed by S.K.SAGAR … on Amazon)
Its the `Information` in matter … that matters.
I borrowed this book from British Library, and kept renewing for several weeks till I realized there was no choice other than to buy the book. Now, It is here on my shelf with about 60 other books on the subject of my choice… `Science and Philosophy`.
It answers some pertinent questions on quantum physics and cosmology, to the extent the questions can be answered without violating the established principles of science, to the extent these established truths are understood in our time.
It places quantum theory on a pedestal, regarding it as a description of all information.
After reading the book I am inclined to say :
“Its the information in the field that is responsible for the phenomena….“
In my first book `SIX WORDS` as well as my next “INTELLIGENT FIELD“, I talk of an all pervading `Intelligent Field` ..like an omnipresent `Infinite Mind`..Omnipresent in time as well as space.. that sometimes controls nature.. but has no control over Randomness.
And so it can be said:
“Its the information in the `Intelligent Field` that is responsible for all the phenomena. Scientists seem to know what that information was in case of many things that happened since the big bang. But no one knows what information was responsible for the Big bang.“
I have a lot to say in praise of this book, but where to begin, and what to highlight is the problem. It needs time… a lot of time. What if I select some passages from the chapters… and then talk about them. I think that will be a good idea.
So here we go :
1) “The content that constitutes mind is not in the brain, nor is it embodied in neuronal processes in bodies interacting with the outside world.“…Terrence W Deacon (from the chapter on `What is missing from theories of information`)
My response : What is implied – and I am in agreement with – is that the `I` which is identified with my brain does not include a `mind` of its own. That mind is not the exclusive property of the `I` of the brain. That `mind` is available to all the `I`s of all the brains, and is common to all. It is always on the lookout for an appropriate biochemistry to give itself consciousness, and life. “We all have the same mind“ ( the six words of my book )… Its just that our consciousness is always in the singular.
2) “The very first information processing revolution, from which all other revolutions stem, began with the beginning of the universe itself. The big bang at the beginning of time consisted of huge number of elementary particles, colliding at temperatures of billions of degrees. Each of these particles carried with it bits of information, and every time two particles bounced off each other, those bits were transformed and processed. The big bang was a bit bang“ … Seth Llyod ( from the chapter on ..`The computational universe`)
My view : Yes indeed… this universe of ours is a simulated universe.
With regard to the Big Bang… one of these explanations must hold good: Either it was an `Act of God` or an `Act of Simulation`. Perhaps both are true… provided we assume that the `God` in question is not an Anthromorphic `physical function` God. In what form can the God be, such that it is acceptable to one and all…to believers as well as atheists … and does not violate the established principles of Science ? The best bet I think is an all pervading `Intelligent Field`… or the omnipresent `Infinite Mind` …omnipresent in space as well as time.
3) “ I could draw you a map of all the tens of thousands of components in a single celled organism and put all the proper arrows connecting them (and even then) I or anybody else would look at that map and have absolutely no ability whatsoever to predict anything“ …. …. By Jesper Hoffmeyer ( from the chapter on `Semiotic Freedom: An Emerging Force)
My view and a question: But when we consider the cell as a whole…such as a single celled paramecium.. as it swims toward food we can very well predict that there is a very good probability that enroute it will retreat from danger, negotiate obstacles, and achieve its goal. But of course our ability to make these predictions is based on the information available with us which is in turn based on observations of the past.
But what can be the explanation for this ?
Now consider the `information` carried by DNA molecules.
4) “The code does provide a program for constructing an organism, but no person has constructed it and no consciousness needs to understand and apply the program. It has originated by ordinary evolutionary processes, and like a computer programme, it operates without the need for conscious interpretation“ … … By Keith Ward (from the chapter on `God As The ultimate Informational Principle`).
My view : One can of course argue that consciousness is just a random by product of the evolutionary process. But where does the `Intelligence` come from that determines the code that provides a program for constructing that organism?. What can be the explanation for this ?
Indeed we need a cosmic holistic explanation, in which the development of the parts is explained by their contribution to the existence of an integrated totality.
From the same chapter :
5) “ Taken together these considerations suggest the idea of a primordial consciousness that is ontologically prior to all physical realities, that contain the coded information for constructing any possible Universe, and that can apprehend and appreciate any physical universe that exists. It would certainly be a strong reason for creating a universe that might contain finite consciousness, that could share in appreciating, and even in creating some of the distinctive values potential in the basic structure of the universe. Whether or not one calls such a primordial consciousness `GOD` is partly a matter of taste.“
My view and a question : But of course …an Anthromorphic God … made up of atoms and molecules is too primitive and sentimental to be of any use. No harm will be done to our psyche …or our ego… if we call this `primordial consciousness` as an `Intelligent Field` or may be an `Infinite mind`. And this Intelligent field evolved over the years and is still evolving. The question may be asked : Is this `Intelligent Field` or `The information contained in it` itself a product of simulation which then simulates the universe?.
I would say:
`Yes, It is simulated … and then it simulates …is simulated … and then it simulates … and it goes on and on … step by step … trillions and trillions of intermediate steps, through trillions of years and countless eons of the universe. It could be that we the human beings are an intermediate step. And with each simulation the complexities increase. It must have been very very very simple in the very very very beginning.`
Could it be that the very first simulation was just a `thought`.
6) “the recent developments in physics (non locality in particular) briefly summarized here provide a powerful empirical refutation of a materialistic world view.“ It looks like… “Reality is more energy –like than matter-like.“
Even so …“The conundrums are not resolved by turning one`s back on the mysterious nature of objects and particles in physics. Idealists who abandon the scientific study of the physical world in favour of mentalism and spiritualism `solve` the dilemma by ignoring the very fields in which it can be most fruitfully studied.“ … “what is necessary, I suggest is that we pursue this path of natural science as far as it can take us. Neither over- quick leaps into metaphysics, nor refusing to acknowledge the complex philosophical issues raised by today`s science will help“…Philip Clayton (from the chapter on `Unsolved Dilemmas..the concept of matter in the history of philosophy and contemporary physics)
My view : This is the subject most discussed in the various chapters of the book. I couldn`t agree more with Philip Clayton and others who have written on it. Scientist, philosophers, and theologians must be partners and should have a common ground in understanding and formulating an adequate post- materialistic theory of the natural world.
In my view, `Matter and energy` ( MAE) and `Mind and Consciousness` (MAC) are the primary components of reality and they are of importance in equal measure.
But who is the controlling authority?
Is MAE the primary player that is responsible for the occasional appearance of MAC at various locations and times, whenever – and wherever – it has `randomly` created a certain biochemistry for MAC to arrive?
I doubt very much if this can be true. Randomness will be paramount in this kind of universe. And millions and millions of universes will be required so that at least one universe has absolutely the precise mathematical constants of nature so that life and consciousness will appear and then understand the universe. Not at all a cost effective design. Also in this alternative, the universe in the deep future – with the kind help of dark energy ( a major part of MAE) – will proceed towards perpetual nothingness…and that’s it. No more universes – in that universe – , no more MAE, let alone MAC.There will be no information available in the `Field` to create a phase transition or to reduce entropy from near maximum to near zero, to usher in a new big bang
If a choice is given to me …I would not like to come back to such a universe….after I am gone.
I would rather go with the second alternative, Where MAC is the primary player and has full control over MAE. Information in the field is continuously building up, the degree of consciousness is increasing all the time. Reaching a state of ultimate superconsciousness is inevitable with the kind help of the rising information content in the field , which in this case is an `INTELLIGENT FIELD`. The universe as on date is still in its infancy, even the Stelliferous era – where stars are shining and life and consciousness is flourishing – will last for trillions of years, and there is ample time to reach that superconsciousness stage where it can prepare the programme and then switch on the computer and usher in the next eon of the universe.
7) “Quantum Mechanics then demolished the concept of an external state of reality in which all meaningful physical variables could be assigned well defined values at all times. So a subtle shift occurred, at least among theoretical physicists, in which the ground of reality first became transferred to the laws of physics themselves, and then to their mathematical surrogates, such as Lagrangians, Hilbert spaces etc. The logical conclusion of going down that path is to treat the physical universe as if it simply ` is ` mathematics.“…
“The traditional relationship, between mathemetics, physics, and information, may be expressed symbolically as follows:
MATHEMETICS à PHYSICS à INFORMATION “
….Paul Davies ( from the chapter on `Universe from bit`)
My views : Given below is an extract from my book “Six Words“. If you read this you will realize how absolutely delighted I was to read the Paul Davies` lines given above. Indeed `Mathematics` is the President and the company is called `The Universe`
And there are many such laws where Mathemetics is giving Orders on how to proceed …and they were well crafted with nicely designed `constants` to create good enough probabilities for lives and consciousnesses to evolve at millions of locations and theoretical physicists to arrive and then understand these laws.
Laws such as the `Uncertainty Principle` where `Mathemetics` has played such a trick that it does not allow the quanta to get created out of nothing except for the shortest possible – and thus irrelevant – period of time.
Laws such as `Quantum entanglement` where `Mathemetics`has played such a trick that it permits entanglement but does not permit information to be sent faster than at speed of light.
And both these tricks have been played out by the Mathematician by incorporating a certain randomness in the nature of reality… In the former case ..the vacuum randomly fluctuates between being and nothingness…and in the latter case the Mathematician keeps shuffling the deck of nature in such a way that the randomness remains intact .
I should go as far as to say that `Randomeness` is the Vice President.
And then at the center of everything … there is this thing called `EQUIVALENCE` ..The cleverest of all the laws …it goes without saying that this law is out and out Mathematics and Physics is just dancing to its tune.
Paul Davies is one of my heroes… I have read his books…. and have written about him in `Six Words`.
8) “Decoherence effects are the basis both of the mechanism whereby our thoughts can affect our actions, and of the reconciliation of quantum theory with our basic intuitions“ …“The quantum state of the brain is reduced to a collection of `parallel potentialities, each of which is `essentially` a classically conceivable possible state of the brain“ … “your physically described brain is an evolving cloud of essentially classically conceivable potentialities“…Henry Stapp ( from the chapter on Minds and values in the quantum universe )
My response : If only one word allowed : WOW
These lines are of far reaching significance, they remind of the Penrose lines :
“Probabilities do not arise at the minute quantum level of particles, atoms, or molecules – these evolve deterministically – but seemingly, via some mysterious larger-scale action connected with the emergence of a classical world that we can consciously perceive“….Roger Penrose (from `Emperor`s new mind`)
Here too I link it with the `Intelligent Field` which I consider as the guiding force that links the `quantum` with the `classical`. I elaborated on this with a lengthy example in my review of the Roger Penrose book `The road to reality`. The reader may please refer to my review on `TRTR` on Amazon.
9) “The resurrected Jesus Christ is not the resuscitated pre-Easter Jesus of Nazareth.“… “the entirety of Jesus` life, his charisma and his power, is presence and efficacious in the resurrected and exulted one.“…The complete fullness of his person and his life is now present `in Spirit and faith`, but this is hard to comprehend to naturalistic and scientistic thought“…Michael Welker ( from the chapter on `What is the spiritual body` )
My response : The subject needs to be viewed in the context of the `Information theory`. People order their lives based on their beliefs which in turn are based on the information accessible to them which in turn is based on the past interactions of the rest of the world on them which has made them what they are. There is no doubt that the presence of such `information` in the field that gives solace and peace of mind in prayer and in the knowledge of Jesus` presence ( in whatever form one can imagine) is very much helpful to mankind. But when it is a question of `talking science` and discussing the subject in the context of its correlation with the `information theory`, we must ask the question : Is resurrection a possibility ? and then why is it assumed that the answer provided to this question by a `naturalist` or a `scientist` will be different from that provided by a theologian, particularly in the light of the fact that the information – the data that constitutes the input to perform their analysis – available to all of them is the same in all respects , not to mention that all three of them are made up of the same atoms and molecules.
Indeed, we must follow the teachings of the great religious leaders of the past.. but there should be no reason to believe the `rising from the dead`, `the walking on water`, or `the carrying of a mountain on a finger`.
On the other hand, it is to be realized that the presence of `Information` on religions of the world, including that on mythology and religious philosophy, which leads people to go to the churches, temples and masjids etc, or to perform rituals that provide solemnity ( even romance) to occasions such as marriages, festivals etc, has over the years given immense happiness, solace and peace of mind to the people of the world, and there is no reason to believe why they should not continue to do so. However it is also to be realized that the presence of certain `information` in the religious doctrines that permit intolerance and Jihad against other religions, is full of self-endangerment and destructive potentials, has over the years caused religious extremism, conflicts and wars, and there is no reason to believe why these doctrines should not be reformed.
All in all, when we talk science, the nature of reality is just `Information` …the information in the `Intelligent Field` or the `Infinite Mind`. We may call this `IF` or `IM` as our `God` ..but this God is just a computer. No doubt it is intelligent… it gives us everlasting consciousness (everlasting in the sense that we are unconscious of our `unconscious tenures` so they pass quickly ), it designs our bodies and their capacities to grow, and above all it designs the laws of the universe with precisely calculated mathematical constants… etc, but this intelligence in the field is limited to the sum total of information acquired and processed through time. The quantum of intelligence is of course powerful enough to sustain the universe, which is impressive of course, but whether we can call it `divine` is a matter of taste. We must take into consideration the fact that many times life can only live at the expense of other life…That most living creatures kill each other in everlasting strife.
But of course …the time spent `living` is always several million times longer than the time spent `dying`.
As for my taste, I can call it `divine` as the `information` stored in my mind tells me that I am forever conscious …
There was never a time when I could ask the question: `Where is the universe?`
In conclusion I give below a Paul Davies quote (not from this book) :
“Whatever their difference of opinion about the nature of God, I know of no religion that does not teach that God is a mind“…( from `God and the new physics` …Paul Davies)
This fits very well with the `Intelligent field`, or the `Infinite mind`, and the `Six Words`.
All in all…an Outstanding work … 5 stars of course.
This is my third review.
By … SURENDRA KUMAR SAGAR … Author of `SIX WORDS`