The Influence Idea
There are only two logical solutions that solves this paradox. Firstly, If life runs counter to entropy, and entropy governs all physical objects in the Universe, then the physical activities that we call Life must be being influenced by something non-physical.
The second possible conclusion is that we exist in a universe that makes no sense. It is not internally consistent. It must therefore be nothing more than an irrational illusion as it cannot be a functioning mechanism. We must also, therefore, have no free will as we are not perceiving a functioning system and so cannot change it. We are in a mad dream.
If we want to still believe that science is possible and we want to believe that we have free will, then we have to choose the first option and accept that we are non-physical spirits, ghosts, entities that influence our physical bodies. But this inevitable leads to a question; how is it possible for a non-physical entity to influence a physical body?
This 'solidity of reality' issue and how our conscious minds interact with it took a strange and fascinating turn with the birth of Quantum Physics. Quantum Physicists made the surprising discovery that the universe isn't even physical in the sense that you or I understand it. According to Quantum Physics, all fundamental particles exist in an indeterminate, ghostly state until they are observed. The particles that make up the universe aren't physical until someone observes them. When someone observes a particle, that act of observation turns the particle from a statistical probability into an actual object.
Von Neumann's idea leads us to a fascinating connection between Minds, Reality and Life. The connection works in the following way:
Step 1) John Von Neumann said that minds positively influence the quantum events in a physics lab; the act of mental observation causes real particles to come into existence out of the ghostly quantum realm.
If that is the case, then our minds must logically be able to influence all quantum behaviour. There is no sensible reason why our minds' affect on quantum behaviour should be restricted to a physics lab. This doesn't sound like much of an ability; influencing the behaviour of subatomic particles doesn't exactly sound like a super-hero power, but the ability of minds to alter quantum-influenced events has some surprising consequences.
Step 3) As mentioned earlier, living systems need some external, non-physical influence to keep them staying highly organised and help them multiply and reproduce and thereby increase order in the universe. Thanks to Von Neumann's logic and the latest scientific research, it can be concluded that minds can perform all the influencing work that helps Life overcome Entropy. Minds can do this job because they can positively influence quantum behaviour and by doing this, they are able to make Life happen in a Universe where, according to the Laws of Physics and Probability, Life should not exist. By continually influencing the quantum events that affect the behaviour of all the key components of living systems, our minds enable Life to emerge, spread and flourish; that's the Influence Idea in a nutshell. If it's true (and I still haven't found a flaw in it after five years) then there are lots of fun consequences. To start with let's look at the beginning of our universe, the so-called Big Bang…
The Big Bang
Currently, scientists believe that our universe began in The Big Bang. This event was originally called it the Primeval Atom. The name 'Big Bang' was invented by Sir Fred Hoyle, the British astronomer, who didn't like the idea that everything started from one point. He chose 'the Big Bang' to mock the idea. He thought this was sufficiently silly and ridiculous, since space and time started at the Big Bang and so there was actually no space to 'bang' into; everything was 'bang', and that nothing goes 'bang' in space as there's no air. His plan sort of worked; the name was evocative and stuck, which Fred probably liked, but the Big Bang theory is now regarded as established fact, which he probably hated.
The Influence Idea is compatible with the Big Bang, but it has a slightly different twist. If the Influence Idea is correct, then minds create reality from the quantum realm. If this is the case, then, logically, the first mind that existed must have created the first reality. If this is correct, then the universe was therefore created at the moment of the Big Bang by the Original Mind. Since then, other, lesser minds have added to that reality by turning more of the ghostly quantum realm into real, 'physical' particles.
Although it seems far-fetched that a mind could have created the universe simply by tapping into a store of quantum energy, this is actually possible, at least from the point of view of available energy. There is enough potential energy in every cubic centimetre of space to create all the matter in the universe. This is known as the vacuum energy, or zero-point energy. It is a mind-boggling fact but it is supported by quantum theory. If a mind could fully utilise the energy present in the quantum realm, that mind would have access to almost infinite power. So far, no one has worked out a way to tap this incredible source of energy but if the influence idea is correct, and minds can influence quantum events, then a mind with sufficient ability could theoretically create another universe of equivalent size to our own out of a thimbleful of space. Fortunately, even if the Influence Idea is correct, it would seem that only a mind of the incredible scale of the Original Mind might actually be able to harness this energy.
But is there any evidence to indicate that a mind did create our universe?
Scientists at CERN and other places have tried to solve this glaring problem. They've conducted experiments to see if they can prove that more matter is created, on average, than anti-matter in particle events. If this was true, then they could conclude that our universe did produce matter and anti-matter when it started but there was more matter than anti-matter created, and so there was some left over to make our universe. So far, there's no sign that this is true. As far as the scientists can tell, matter and anti-matter are created in equal amounts. This is known as the Baryon Asymmetry problem and it's a Big problem with the Big Bang theory. It's a big enough problem to scupper the whole Big Bang idea entirely, but as there's so much other evidence that supports the theory of the Big Bang, most scientists have been quietly passing over this matter-antimatter-annihilation problem.
Fortunately, the influence idea solves this problem. If a mind created the universe in the Big Bang event, then that mind would have had a positive bias, thus explaining why matter (or an excess of positive matter) was created rather than equal amounts of matter and anti-matter. Oddly enough, the Big Bang theory needs the Influence Idea to fix its own, critical flaw. In this sense, the influence idea rescues the Big Bang theory from destruction and gives it a much more solid foundation. Hooray! But, if an Original Mind created the universe, what does that tell us about God?
If the influence idea is true, then God exists. Sort of. The god that the influence idea produces isn't a physical person, or even male or female. The nature of God that arises logically of the Influence Idea is one of a positive, supremely powerful, non-physical Original Mind. This entity is more like the Monad, the universal, spiritual creator described by the Gnostics, an early Christian sect. It-he-she is also a lot like the Tao, the primal source of reality referred to cryptically by the Taoists. Logically, the Original Mind must be outside of Time (which is just a property of the physical universe), and so is still in existence and always will be, which is quite appealing.
The relationship between ourselves, the natural world and the Original Mind is also very different from that of many religions. According to the logic of the influence idea, we, the Original Mind and all living things are the same. The only difference is one of scale and influence. We can conjure photons and electrons from the quantum realm, shaping the physical world. We're like micro-gods, using the energy present at the quantum scale to alter reality in a positive way.
The other crucial consequence of the Influence Idea, in terms of spirit vs matter, is that reality isn't just a bunch of atoms bouncing around, along with some light zinging from place to place. Being conscious in this reality isn't experiencing a spiritless realm. Our universe is the creation of a Mind and there are many, many myriad minds currently active in it. We, among these lesser minds, experience this physical realm through the senses of the bodies we inhabit and maintain, thanks to our positive quantum influence, but the reality we perceive is still only a physical construction, made by minds.
Interestingly, this idea that God is an Original Mind that created the universe at the moment of the Big Bang by making use of the almost limitless energy available in every part of space isn't actually a new idea. There is an Ancient Egyptian book called the Hermetica. it was supposedly written by Hermes Trismegistus, the legendary scholar of Ancient Egypt, who was also known as Thoth and assumed by some ancient writers to be the Biblical prophet Enoch. We are lucky to be able to read this book in the twenty-first century, as its survival through the last two millennia has been far from assured.
This period of scientific open-ness and secular freedom in Alexandria did not last. In the early fifth century AD, the strengthening Christian Holy Roman Empire put a forceful and violent end to all non-Christian knowledge. To quote from Freke and Gandy’s introduction:
“In 415 AD, Hypatia, one of the last great scientists and Pagan philosophers of Alexandria, was seized by a mob of Christians who removed her flesh with scallop shells and burnt her remains. The mob’s leader, Bishop Cyril, was later canonized St Cyril. Alexandria’s great library was finally destroyed as so much Pagan superstition and this wealth of knowledge was scattered to the four winds. The Christian Roman Emperor Theodosius closed Pagan temples across the empire and began the previously unknown phenomena of book-burning. For the West, the fifth century ushered in the thousand-year period appropriately known as the Dark Ages.”
It is ironic that the word ‘pagan’ - which literally means ‘country dweller’ - is nowadays associated with superstition and barbaric behaviour, since it was originally used by Christians as a derogatory term for the secular scholars using the great Library of Alexandria.
Fortunately, some important ancient documents survived this disaster, including the Hermetica. The Christian Empire was violently intolerant of the book’s content, but the new religion of Islam was more amenable. The Hermetica was kept alive and studied in the Arab world for the next millennium, until a new generation of islamic leaders grew hostile to its viewpoint. The Hermetica, along with other Greek works such as the writings of Plato, were once again dangerous books to own. Because of this, in the early fifteenth century, the Byzantine scholar Gemisto Plethon travelled to the tolerant city-state of Florence in Italy with the entire works of Plato. They were a source of marvel to the learned citizens of Florence. The works were translated into Latin and, to encourage their reading and scientific implications, Cosimo de Medici, the ruler of Florence, established a New Platonic Academy. The European Renaissance was born. Twenty years later, Cosimo funded an expedition to search for new works. The researchers found a copy of the Hermetica. European scholars, after a thousand year delay, could once again read its contents. Since then, as Freke and Gandy’s introduction states, the Hermetica’s influence has been widespread and profound. It’s been a key philosophical work for Great Thinkers such as Leonardo da Vinci, John Dee, Shakespeare, Durer, Botticelli, Roger Bacon, Paracelsus, Thomas More, William Blake, Johann Kepler, Nicolai Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Sir Walter Raleigh, Milton, Ben Johnson, Daniel Defoe, Victor Hugo and Carl Jung. It is clearly a major historical work.
The Hermetica includes a description of the beginning of the universe. Here's ‘The Initiation of Hermes’ on pg11:
‘The Light - the Mind of God - existed before the chaotic waters of potentiality. The Mind of God’s calming Word is the Son of God - the idea of beautiful order; the harmony of all things with all things. The Primal Mind is the parent of the Word, just as in your own experience, your human mind gives birth to speech.’
Here’s the Hermetica’s description of the creation of the universe:
‘I saw in thought limitless power within the Light, to form an infinite yet ordered world. I saw in the darkness of the deep, chaotic waters without form, permeated with a subtle intelligent breath of divine power. Atum’s Word fell on the fertile waters making them pregnant with all forms. Ordered by the harmony of the Word, the four elements came into being.’
Hermes’ guide then states:
‘You have perceived the boundless primal idea, which is before the beginning. By Atum’s will, the elements of nature were born as reflections of this primal thought in the waters of potentiality. These are the primary things, the prior things, the first principles of all in the universe. Atum’s Word is the creative idea - the supreme limitless power which nurtures and provides for all the things that through it are created.’
'Waves of potentiality' is a wonderful way to describe the quantum realm, with its inherent zero-point energy or the vacuum energy. The Word is also a simple yet complete description of an instruction, containing within it the settings or parameters of what is being created. The Influence Idea indicates that a mind of sufficient power should be able to create literally anything from the quantum realm. It seems that's exactly how God (or Atum) created the universe.
If the Influence Idea has an answer to the birth of the universe, what about death?
Many people, over the centuries, have regarded physical death with a lot of foreboding. During Christian religious times, death was seen as the point when your life ended. Soon after that, you were Judged, either to be granted eternal life in Heaven or be pitched down to the eternal fires of Hell and Damnation. This Draconian trial wasn't a new idea; it had been part of Egyptian spiritual beliefs two-thousand years before Christ. The Ancient Egyptians had called it Ma-at, and their version of the Judgement was Anubis weighing of the feather of Ma-at (the scales of the person's deeds). Regardless of who's been pushing it as a view, the Afterlife-Judgement has been going a long time.
More recently, atheists and some agnostics have adopted a very different view. They regard the universe as entirely physical and there are no minds and spirits in it. We are just chemical activity in physical organisms. There won't be anything for us to experience at all after our physical death. We'll just cease to exist. Materialists and humanists are of the opinion that this is the rational view, one based on scientific knowledge rather than religious dogma. They feel they're being intelligent and pragmatic whereas the religious people are being deluded and irrational.
Death then, according to the Influence Idea, is a transition, the time when we abandon our failing bodies. For us, that moment is when the play (or the puppet show) ends and we leave the stage. What then?
His research resulted in a paper in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet. His study's conclusion were clear; the patients' minds had been active when their bodies were effectively dead. Their bodies had no heartbeat, no oxygen supply to the brain and no detectable brain activity, and yet their minds were experiencing things. According to a materialist view, there is no way they could have been conscious, and yet they were. In addition, the NDE subjects' reports were highly consistent, indicating that their experiences were not subjective hallucinations but that they were simply experiencing what happens to every person when their body dies.
Does this mean we're immortal?
It seems so. One reason for concluding this is that Time, as we perceive it in our lives, is a property of the physical universe. According to the Influence Idea, we're not actually part of this physical universe and so we're beyond Time. We just experience time passing because we're using our body's physical senses.
But if that's the case, how do minds and time work?
Time used be so simple. Up until the beginning of the twentieth century, Time was regarded as absolute; it passed at a steady rate everywhere and would do so for eternity. Then, in 1887, an experiment took place that threw up a niggly problem with this idea. Michelson and Morley discovered that the speed of light was constant. Not only that but it was constant in every direction. This didn't make any sense. Scientists knew that the Earth was orbitting around the sun and so was moving through space at a huge rate of knots. As this was the case, light should be observed on Earth to be moving slower in the direction of Earth's orbit, as Earth was already going in that direction anyway. Light should also be observed on Earth to be moving faster in the direction that Earth was coming from, since it was getting a speed boost from Earth's own velocity. The experiment conclusively reported that it did neither. Light always moved at a fixed speed in every direction.
Since those heady days of discovery, Einstein's theory of Relativity has been supported and enhanced by further and more sophisticated experiments. His view on Time has stood the test of time brilliantly.
But there is a niggly problem in modern physics that's giving a lot of current theoretical physicists big headaches. Currently, scientists view the universe as being everything. There isn't anything other than the universe and within it exists the laws of relativity and quantum physics. Quantum physics explains beautifully how particles behave at the smallest scales in our universe and Relativity explains beautifully how objects behave at the largest scales. It all sounds happy and harmonious.
The only problem is, Relativity and Quantum Physics don't fit together, and it's all because of Time.
For Relativity, time is relative, but for Quantum physics, time isn't. In the Hilbert Space, the rather strange domain of quantum events, time behaves in an absolute way, with all elements operating under the same passage of time. This is a big problem for physicists. They've been trying to fit Relativity and Quantum Physics together for nearly a century and they still haven't found a solution.
But, according to the Influence Idea, the universe is constructed out of the quantum realm by minds. If this is correct, then things look crucially different. In this scenario, the universe isn't everything and the quantum realm isn't one of its strange properties, along with Relativity.
In one sense, this idea of minds creating the universe, that brings with it its own properties, is a little like someone sculpting and firing a jar from clay. Although the jar is made of clay, its properties - such as hardness, brittleness, capacity and shape - are entirely alien to the clay from which it has been made. In the same way, the physical universe has the Laws of Relativity as one of its properties, even though it has been created from the quantum realm, whose laws are fundamentally incompatible to Relativity.
This puts us, as conscious humans, in a strange situation. According to the Influence Idea, we do not originate in the physical world. Instead, we originate somewhere else but perceive the physical world through the senses of the bodies we influence. It would therefore seem possible that we could perceive reality unconstrained by the physical world's limitations, that we could 'step out of the box', so to say. In other words, we could defy Time.
Is it really possible that our minds are not constrained by time?
To answer this, here's two interesting pieces of research:
1. Daryl Bern
In January 2012, a fascinating article appeared in the New Scientist magazine. It reported on the experiments of Daryl Bem, a psychologist working at Cornell University, New York. His research created a big stir and was discussed again in a later article in the same magazine.
Bem was studying the effects of training on exam success. He knew that training students in particular aspects of a test on the day before the test should improve their results. If not, nobody would ever revise. Out of curiosity one day, Bern decided to do the tests again. This time, he kept all aspects of the experiment the same but switched the sequence of the events. Instead of the students revising before the test, he got them to revise after the test, then checked whether there was a pattern between the test scores and what the students revised. Clearly, according to what we know, there should have been no correlation. There's no point revising a test after you've taken it since it should have no effect on the results.
In fact, there was a difference. Students did do better at a test, on average, if they studied it the day after they took it. The difference wasn't great; a matter of only around 3%, but Bern did a lot of tests to make sure that random chance was not a significant factor. He also ran another test. This test, to quote the New Scientist, 'focused on a psychological effect known as habituation; if volunteers are asked to choose between two similar images, they will tend to prefer an image they have seen before over one they have not. Again, Bem reversed the sequence - he showed subjects two new images, and asked them to choose which one they liked better, before showing them one of the images again immediately afterwards. Bem found that about 54 per cent of the time, people preferred the image they would end up seeing again later. Bem found that about 54 per cent of the time, people preferred the image they would end up seeing again later.'
The difference, he established with thorough effort, could not be simply down to chance. The students results were being affected by their own future. This was a ground-breaking piece of evidence and, not surprisingly, a lot of academics were very sceptical but Bern's reputation and the thoroughness of his experiments left little room for anyone to dismiss the results. So far, no one, to my knowledge, has found a flaw with his work. His work is also supported by the work of Henry Stapp of the University of California at Berkeley. He built on work done by Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas at Austin and pointed out that introducing non-linear equations into quantum theory could explain how minds influence quantum events. it would also have the consequence that our minds could influence the past (and future). For more info, check out this fascinating article from 1994.
It would therefore seem from Bern's work that our minds are not constrained by time.
Back in the ancient times of Space Invaders and huge car phones - i.e. the early 80's - a graduate student at Harvard decided to investigate whether the mind could affect physical events. He set up an electronic random number generator and attempted to influence the numbers it produced. Much to his surprise, the readings indicated he had affected its results. He showed the results to his supervising professor, Robert Jahn, Dean of the Engineering Department. Jahn was intrigued. He carried out the same experiments. His results were the same as his student's; they showed that a person could affect the output of a random number generator in a positive or negative way (the choice being declared at the beginning of the tests). Jahn found the effect was consistent, universal and beyond chance. This effect tallies with the Influence Idea, as the output of the devices they used is affected by quantum events.
It would seem from Jahn and Dunne's work that our minds' influence is not constrained by our physical bodies or by time.
But if that’s true, what is time? What is the relationship between time, minds and the universe?
At the smallest scales of reality, all subatomic particles are quantum entities and obey the strange rules of quantum physics. It’s important not to think of quantum physics and subatomic particles as some strange aspects of reality; they are reality. Everything we see around us, everything we perceive with our senses are built from these particles. Reality, is a sense, is constructed out of weird, tiny ghosts.
Quantum physics, the science that describes this strange subatomic reality, was developed during the early twentieth century by such brilliant physicists as Max Planck, Erwin Schrödinger, Neils Bohr, Paul Dirac and Albert Einstein. They established its groundwork, it’s fundamental principles. During the second world war and beyond, a second generation of physicists took over and began extending and developing the field.
Here’s an example Feynmann diagram. In the diagram, an electron and a positron (an anti-matter electron) collide to produce a photon of electromagnetic radiation.This photon then turns into a new pair of particles, in this case a quark and an anti-quark (quarks are the particles that protons and neutrons are made of). IParticles appearing and disappearing and turning into other particles spontaneously is pretty weird, but it goes on all the time. It’s the normal day-to-day world of the subatomic realm.
While developing his theories, Feynmann pointed out a strange fact. According to the maths, there is no difference between an electron moving forward in time and a positron (an anti-matter electron) moving backwards in time. They are one and the same thing. Matter and anti-matter aren’t intrinsically different, they’re just the same matter going in opposite time directions.
This fact puts the diagram into a new light. Normally, we read the diagram as an electron and a positron colliding, which causes the creation of a photon which then turns into a quark anti-quark pair. But this is just our viewpoint. According to the maths, nothing actually follows anything else and nothing causes anything else. It is simply a pattern that obeys certain rules. If the viewer moves from left to right, with a belief in cause and effect, the pattern appears to be an electron and positron colliding and producing a photon etc, but there is no reason to do this. You could just as easily view it as an electron going forward in time, then changing direction by producing a photon and going back in time as a result. It’s just as valid as the normal viewpoint.
It would therefore seem that the whole idea and perception of time passing is something we do, not something out there in reality. It’s tempting to say that we're only talking about the weird world of subatomic events and that's got little to do with the real world of mountains and lakes and stars, but this would be wrong. The macro-world that we see around us every day is the subatomic world, just seen from a different viewpoint.
To help get a clearer idea on what’s going on with the whole idea of time passing, let's think a bit more about Feynmann diagrams. A Feynmann diagram usually shows a particular subatomic event. But, logically, you could draw a Feynmann diagram for all subatomic events. If your drawing surface was big enough, you could draw a Feynmann diagram for every subatomic reaction in the Universe, following them back all the way back to the Big Bang and all the way forward to the End of Time.
If we wanted to, we could draw an arrow beside this subatomic pattern of reality, pointing one way, and call it ‘time passing’, but that’s just to help us; it doesn’t change the pattern at all. It’s still just an enormous network whose nodes and connectors obey a series of rules. Nothing in that pattern causes anything else and nothing follows anything else; those ideas are just our qualitative descriptions, like saying the pattern is beautiful.
This could be a really depressing idea, as it implies that we can’t change reality; it’s just one big fixed pattern from the Big Bang onwards and we’re all deluded to think we can change anything. Fortunately, the Influence Idea comes to our rescue.
If the Influence Idea is correct, we are able to influence quantum events. We can therefore change this enormous pattern of reality. Our minds can tweak and twist its nodes. We can travel across this pattern, moving forward in time (as we see it), altering the pattern. We have free will and can cause things to happen, but it’s our cause and effect. Outside of minds, there is no cause and effect, just a great space-time mosaic.
Life, existence, time and reality is therefore like a group of craftsman working their way across a large mosaic floor, with the craftsmen representing our minds and the mosaic floor representing the pattern of subatomic events that make up reality. The craftsmen make their way across this mosaic, travelling in a chosen direction, looking down at the mosaic all the time. This movement in a chosen direction gives them the feeling of time passing.
If the craftsmen couldn’t change the tiny mosaic tiles beneath their feet, their journey across the mosaic floor would be pointless but, fortunately, they can change those tiny tiles. The craftsmen reach down, as they go, and alter individual tiles, turning the initial random pattern on the mosaic into a beautiful picture, a creation entitled ‘Life’. It's a magical idea. :-)
According to the Influence Idea, consciousness is not a side-effect of the brain's functioning. Instead, our minds influence our brains' functioning. The net result is the same - an active brain - but the cause is fundamentally different. We are not the ticking of our brain clocks but their operators and maintainers. There is a theory as to how this is carried out. Our non-physical minds could influence our brains through the microtubules in the neurons of our brains. All our brain cells connect up through their spindly arms or axons, which connect to other brain cells at synaptic connections. Inside the arms of the neurons are a bundle of even narrower tubes called microtubules. These tubes are so small that transmission of electrons through them is affected by quantum behaviour. In this way, if the Influence Idea is correct, minds would be able to influence all electrical signalling in the brain by affecting the electron movement in these microtubulin. As a result, a mind could influence and govern the activity of the brain he or she 'inhabits'.
This view of mind and brain has one or two odd consequences. For one thing, it would be possible, as a result, for a mind to operate their body without needing an intact brain, or at least a large part of it. Such an individual would still be a living person, their mind influencing their body to work, but they would be walking around with little brain matter in their skull.
Strangely enough, there is evidence to support this idea. For example, here's an article [Science, Vol 210, 12th Dec 1980, "Is your brain really necessary?"] from the prestigious journal Science; it has a very interesting report about Professor John Lorber, who holds a research chair in paediatrics at Sheffield University:
"Lorber believes that his observations on a series of hydrocephalics who have severely reduced brain tissue throws into question many traditional notions about the brain, both in clinical and scientific terms. "There's a young student at this university," says Lorber, "who has an I.Q. of 126, has gained a first-class honours degree in mathematics, and is socially completely normal. And yet the boy has virtually no brain." The student's physician at the university noticed that the youth had a slightly larger than normal head, and so referred him to Lorber, simply out of interest. "When we did a brain scan on him," Lorber recalls, "we saw that instead of the normal 4,5-centimeter thickness of brain tissue between the ventricles and the cortical surface, there was just a thin layer of mantle measuring a millimeter or so. His cranium is filled mainly with cerebrospinal fluid."
This is dramatic by any standards, and Lorber clearly enjoys retelling the story. But, startling as it may seem, this case is nothing new to the medical world. "Scores of similar accounts litter the medical literature and they go back a long way," observes Patrick Wall, professor of anatomy at University College, London, "but the important thing about Lorber is that he's done a long series of systematic scanning, rather than just dealing with anecdotes. He has gathered a remarkable set of data and he challenges, 'How do we explain it?'"
A second example of a situation where the mind comes first is in Near Death Experiences. Prof Pim Van Lommel, a cardiac surgeon, recorded his patient's brain activity when they were undergoing critical operations in the trauma department. Several of them experienced NDE's. Afterwards, their testimonies about their experiences were compared with the brain activity readings during the NDE episode. It was clear from the results that their minds were active when their brains were effectively dead (More information on this study is available in the article about death).
A third example of a mind being active in an inactive brain is in a very strange mental condition known as Cotard's Syndrome. An article in the New Scientist magazine reported on the strange story of a man called Graham. He attempted suicide by electrocuting himself but his bid failed. Afterwards, he suffered an unusual consequence. He told everyone around him that he regarded himself as dead. He no longer gained any joy from life, from normally pleasurable activities, and saw no point in continuing to exist.
What made the story both odd and fascinating was that the researchers took the step of analysing Graham’s brain using the latest scanning techniques. They found that portions of his brain that should have been active, since he was clearly alive, showed virtually no activity at all. He had the brain activity of someone who was unconscious or in a coma, and yet he was walking around conscious and living like anyone else. Only his depression and his view of the world was different.
If the brain creates the mind, which is the current orthodox view, then Graham's situation would be flat-out impossible. In that scenario, his brain's electrical activity would decide everything; no activity, no consciousness, but Graham was conscious and active while have virtually no brain activity in much of his head. He was walking around, talking and visiting graveyards (he told the researchers that was the only place he felt he belonged). But if the Influence Idea is correct, then Graham's condition is perfectly possible. His mind is still operating his body, but he is unable to influence large parts of his brain due to the high voltage damage incurred from his suicide bid. This dislocation from part of his brain caused him emotional distress and a strong sense of personal death.
There's another interesting side-effect if we accept that the mind influences the brain rather than the brain creates the mind; it gives us a whole new way of looking at free will. Most people like to think that they are in control of their brains and their bodies, that they can affect the world. If we couldn't affect our brains and our bodies, then we would only have the illusion that we were deciding anything and in fact, that we were actually helpless, passive observers of reality, which many people would find depressing.
This depressing possibility gained a new lease of life in the 1970's when Benjamin Libet performed a series of simple, but profound experiments. He wanted to find out how volition (someone deciding to do something) connected with brain activity. He sat his subjects down in front of a screen where a dot moved around a clock face. He told the subjects to decide, at some point in time of their own choosing, to press one of two buttons. They should make a mental note of where the red dot was on the clock face when they made their choice.
During the experiment, Libet had wired up the test subject to a electroencephalogram (EEG), so that he could monitor their brain activity. To everyone's surprise, Libet found that, according to the EEG, the subjects' brains were already preparing to carry out the action a fifth of a second before they actually thought they'd decided to act.
As the red dot ticks around the clock face, the back of the brain begins activity, then the front of the brain. Only after that does the subject think they've 'decided' to press the switch.
Libet's experiments were extremely challenging to the belief that we have free will. It seemed, according to his experiments, that people's belief they were deciding to do things was a fallacy. In fact, people don't decide to do things at all. Instead, they simply get the feeling from their brain that they are making a decision during a decision-making process, a process that has already been well underway seconds before they think they've decided to act. People, according to Libet's experiment, aren't really in control of their brains at all.
Some commentators have used Libet's experiment to state that we don't have free will. They say that Libet's experiments prove that our brains decide everything and our conscious minds are simply powerless epiphenomena, observing what goes on without really having a say. We might sometimes get the feeling we're deciding things, but really we aren't. We're just bystanders. This idea fits with the philosophy of Hard Determinism, in which there is no free will and everything happens like a giant programme, or like a roll of film, beyond any conscious control.
Fortunately, the Influence Idea rescues us from this bleak outcome. According to the Influence Idea, our minds influence our brains, they don't absolutely control them. Our mind and brain relationship is like someone piloting a sailboat. The weather and waves push the craft around and the pilot cannot stop prevent that happening, but he or she can guide the craft in the right direction. We do have free will but can only influence our brains to a degree, and that degree may vary significantly from one person to another.
Brains are astonishing organs. In many ways, they are a pinnacle of evolutionary development, the organising of an incredible number of cells for the purpose of higher thought. But what about creatures with smaller brains? Can we see evidence in their behaviour that the Influence Idea is correct? Let's have a look at animals…
For example, young birds form a strong emotional bond to their parent when they are born. They're not very discerning about this attachment. In fact, they'll emotionally bond to pretty much anything if that's the first thing they see when they emerge from their shell. This short-sighted behaviour is very useful as it's possible to create experiments where chicks form an emotional bond to a robot. All the experimenters need to do to make the experiment useful is to wire up the robot so that its movements are affected by quantum events. The robot then becomes a moving version of Jahn's RNG machines. Therefore, if all living things have minds and minds influence quantum events in reality, then the chicks would influence that robot's movements as part of their emotional connection with the robot; they 'pull' the robot towards them because they want to be close to the robot.
Fortunately, exactly such an experiment has been carried out by the biologist René Peoc'h. You can read the pdf of the experimental paper, called 'psychokinetic action of young chicks on the path of an illuminated source', here. Alongside is a diagram showing the path of the robot, firstly when the chicks weren't emotionally bonded to it and secondly when they were emotionally bonded.The scale of the change is pretty clear from the diagram. Once the chicks wanted the robot near them (like any chick would do with their parent), they were able to influence its movements to stay close to their cage.
On to the next interesting question; If animals have this ability, what happens further down the evolutionary ladder? Can we see evidence of the Influence Idea in something as seemingly mindless as plants?
A few months ago, a very interesting article appeared on the BBC website, reporting on some new research into how plants are able to carry out photosynthesis. To quote from the article:
The idea that plants make use of quantum physics to harvest light more efficiently has received a boost. Plants gather packets of light called photons, shuttling them deep into their cells where their energy is converted with extraordinary efficiency. A report in Science journal adds weight to the idea that an effect called a "coherence" helps determine the most efficient path for the photons. Experts have called the work "a nice proof" of some contentious ideas.
It would seem, from the research, that plants are able to achieve the impressive feat of photosynthesis because they can influence the quantum activity that underpins the behaviour of the photons of sunlight, in order to create coherence and thereby maximise the energy the sunlight supplies.
This phenomenon tallies seamlessly with the Influence Idea, which does imply that plants are influenced by minds, just as much as animals and people. All of life has to be quantum influenced in a positive way to counter the effects of entropy. If plants are influenced by plant minds, then they would be positively influencing quantum-scale events to help themselves live. This ability enables them to gather energy from the sun with such sophisticated efficiency.
There is lots more to add in this section; I'll try and put new stuff in when it pops up. Some of the studies will be from popular science publications, such as the New Scientist, but others will be scientific papers.
For example, here is a very interesting scientific paper on the 'Plausibility of Quantum Coherent States in Biological Systems' by V. Salari, J. Tuszynski, M. Rahnama, and G. Bernroider. The paper is a natural progression from earlier work by Fröhlich, who pioneered the idea that biological systems possessed quantum coherence. Up until then, scientists only thought quantum coherence was possible in the most exotic of situations, such as Bose Einstein Condensates, which existed at temperates only slightly above absolute zero. Somehow, living organisms at room-temperature were also exhibiting similar quantum coherence. Here's a quote from the paper:
For example, making and breaking of chemical bonds, absorbance of frequency specific radiation (e.g. in photosynthesis and vision), conversion of chemical energy into mechanical motion (e.g. ATP cleavage) and single electron transfer through biological polymers (e.g. in DNA or proteins) are all quantum effects. Regarding the efficient functioning of biological systems, the relevant question to ask is how can a biological system with billions of semi-autonomous components function effectively and coherently? Why providing a complete explanation remains a major challenge, quantum coherence is a plausible mechanism responsible for the efficiency and co-ordination exhibited by biological systems.
It would seem from the latest research that plants actively manipulate quantum behaviour to carry out vital process to stay alive. This fits precisely with the Influence Idea.
But how primitive can we go? Is there evidence of positive quantum influence by even simpler organisms? Time to look at bacteria…
According to the Influence Idea, anything living is being influenced, at the quantum level, by a mind. Such a mind who not only be capable of keeping that physical organism alive but would also be able to influence other quantum events. If bacteria were studied, according to the Influence Idea, signs should be found of them quantum-influencing DNA, proteins and nano-scale water structures to their own benefit.
Interestingly enough, this was exactly what was discovered by a Nobel-Prize-winning virologist.
Montagnier had put some cells, infected with a bacterium, in a sample of water. He then filtered the water through a grid of tiny holes. The holes were tiny, around twenty nanometres in size (0.00000002 metres), and so he knew the water could get through to the other side but the bacterium and cells couldn’t. He'd therefore only get water out the other side.
Montagnier then poured this fine-filtered water into another container that had healthy cells, free of the bacteria in his first flask. He let those cells grow and multiply. He found, to his astonishment, that they’d also become infected. The filtered water had somehow carried the bacterium from one flask to another, even though there was no way the bacteria could have physically travelled that way. Somehow, the bacteria had used to the water to cross an impossible barrier.
Montagnier was intrigued. How could this happen? He analysed the filtered water and discovered something; if the filtered water was diluted and agitated in a certain way, it gave off electromagnetic radiation. Somehow, something had 'loaded' that water with energy.
To try and work out how this had been done, Montagnier checked if the cells had 'loaded' the water. They hadn't. He then tested a wide selection of biological agents to see how they behaved. He found that the ones that caused disease produced electromagnetic radiation. For example, he found that bacterium in our gut that don't cause us harm don't produce this EM radiation.
It seemed that bacterial disease wasn't just about bacteria, but about bacteria being able to emit EM radiation and 'load' water with this energy. This somehow enabled them to use water as a carrier of their 'image'.
Montagnier carried out a new set of experiments. He wanted to find out what in the bacteria was ultimately responsible for this amazing behaviour. He chopped up the bacterium and then the lengths of genetic code inside them. Through a process of elimination he came to the following conclusion:
Sections of DNA or RNA from disease causing bacterium, or viruses, produce electromagnetic radiation. When these sections of genetic code are mixed with water, the water forms nanoscale structures that will themselves produce detectable electromagnetic radiation if diluted/shaken to a sufficient level.
It would seem that some of the logical consequences of the Influence Idea, though bizarre, are correct. Even sections of DNA have quantum-influencing powers. These DNA sections, according to Montagnier's research, are able to quantum influence water, 'loading' it with energy and making it form structures. These structures would break down at temperatures about 70 degrees centigrade or down to freezing, but could otherwise survive and be used to further the existence of those DNA sections, ultimately by enabling them to infect more cells.
Montagnier's work shows evidence for the Influence Idea at the smallest scales, but it also shows how critically important water is as a quantum-influence tool for life. 'Loaded' water, it seems, can act as a disease carrier. Logically, it must then also be able to act as a medicine. Time to talk about health…
According to the Influence Idea, minds influence the behaviour of neurons in the brain, the activity of DNA and the behaviour of water. These three processes are part of life and the last two are crucial for life. By doing this, minds, through their Quantum Influence, can make life happen, countering the disordering effects of entropy. If this idea is correct, then our minds are continually helping biological activity in our bodies; they act as a positive field of quantum influence. This would then mean that our mental state, the attitude of our mind, would have profound effects on the health of our body.
This mental influence on the body's function has been a part of medicine for centuries, if not millennia, and doctors have had a terrible time accepting-explaining its nature. This effect is described in two ways; the placebo effect refers to someone believing that a treatment or diagnosis will physically improve their health and getting better as a result. The nocebo effect is the opposite; it refers to a person's belief that they will become ill or die due to news or evidence that in fact is bogus, but their belief still causes that illness or death to come about.
A classic example of the severity of the nocebo effect appeared in an issue of the New Scientist a few years ago. It reported on a man in the United States who was told by his doctor that he had a malignant tumour. The doctor explained that the tumour was inoperable and the patient had six months to live. The man accepted the diagnosis, resigned himself to his fate and six months later, almost to the day, died. After his death, the hospital carried out a post-mortem and found, to the surprise of the medical staff, that the tumour was actually benign; the man had been in perfect health.
According to a materialistic view of the body, this shouldn't be possible. Organisms - plants and animals - have been honed by evolution for millions of years to survive and reproduce. There should be no way that an animal of any kind should be able to kill itself simply through a misguided belief, without inflicting any physical harm on itself. As can be seen from the report above, this clearly isn't the case, but if the body can only function if it has the positive mental intent of the mind occupying it, then such a scenario becomes perfectly believable.
But if the Influence Idea is correct and our minds can affect the behaviour of water, then water can become a medicine. There is though a caveat; such a preparation will only work if the people involved in its preparation and the person taking it both believe in its efficacy. If they are sceptical of its benefits, then their mental intent would nullify its medicinal effects. Because of this subjectivity, homeopathy cannot satisfy a key property of a scientific discovery because its effects are not fully reproducible. One lab may show evidence of homeopathy working but another lab, containing sceptical staff, might show nothing at all. As a result, scientific journals and other supervisory bodies can feel entirely in their rights to reject it as a theory. This problem isn't caused by homeopathy but by the scientific establishment's dominant belief of Objectivism; that all true phenomena are unaffected by the mind. If the Influence Idea is correct, then our universe is not, by its nature, an entirely objective realm, unaffected by our mental intent. It is affected by our mental intent in small, but significant ways.
In the sections of this article so far, the focus has been on what the Influence Idea can tell us about reality, life, health, and the hereafter. There is one more topic that deserves a look, and that involves the possibility that our quantum influence ability might even stretch to some power generation. Time to talk about fusion…
So far in this extended article, the focus has been on our minds' ability to affect hydrogen bonds through quantum influence. Apart from a short reference to RNG machines, it's all been about water, neurons, DNA and proteins.
This odd event comes into its own in the interior of the sun. The sun is powered by fusion reactions. These occur when the nuclei of lighter atoms (such as hydrogen) fuse together to form larger atoms (such as helium). One such set of fusion reactions can be seen the accompanying diagram. This transformation from hydrogen to helium releases energy, among other things, which makes the sun shine.
Nuclear fusion is a tricky process. Protons in the nucleus of atoms repel the protons in other atoms' nuclei due to the electrostatic force. The only reason protons stay together in their own nucleus is that there is an even stronger force holding them together. This strong nuclear force only works at very small distances, much smaller than the electrostatic force, but once those protons and neutrons are tight up against each other, they stay together. The trick for making fusion happen is to somehow push hydrogen nuclei hard enough together to counter the repulsive effects of the electrostatic force, at least until they're close enough for the strong nuclear force to take over. Once that is dominant, the protons fuse into a newer, larger nucleus. In the sun, this 'pushing together' is partly achieved by intense heat and pressure, but quantum tunnelling also helps out. This inherent uncertainty in a proton's location, due to quantum rules, enables some protons, every now and then, to tunnel, or 'teleport' up against the nucleus of an adjacent atom. This strange trick can avoid the repulsive effects of the electrostatic force and makes fusion occur. Although this does occur, it is a very rare event. That is why, if there isn't intense heat and pressure to 'push' the nuclei together, nothing significant will happen, for example at room temperature.
At least, that's the current view. But what if it was possible for minds to influence the quantum behaviour of these nuclei?
Interestingly, this is exactly what two leading electrochemistry scientists, Fleischmann and Pons, discovered twenty-odd years ago. They set up a flask containing heavy water and ran a current through it. They discovered that energy was being created at the palladium electrode (a natural catalyst). They announced they had discovered cold fusion, to international acclaim. Unfortunately, as their discovery made no sense according to the orthodox theories at the time, and because some other labs reported that they could not replicate the findings, Fleischmann and Pons were denounced, villified and mocked.
But if the Influence Idea is correct, then cold fusion has a similar property to homeopathy, in the sense that it is dependent on mental intent. In other words, it will work but only if the operator believes it will work. This could explain how Fleischmann and Pons (both respected scientists) were able to make the experiment succeed repeatedly, but other labs weren't. [Update: Unfortunately, after reading up more on the story, it seems that at least one other laboratory found that the experiment did produce significant effects, but decided to fudge the results as they didn't want to be villified along with Fleischmann and Pons.]
Before finishing off the Influence Idea articles, here's some last-minute comments.
The Influence Idea may be seen by some readers as controversial, but please keep in mind that the Influence Idea does not contradict any scientific theories, laws or well-established evidence. This might be hard to believe, since some of the logical consequences of the Influence Idea are quite astounding, but it's true. The Influence Idea only contradicts two current, widely-held, scientific assumptions. Firstly, that the universe is only physical. Nothing exists apart from physical objects. This view is known as Materialism. It is not a logical consequence of experimental results but actually, nothing more than a belief. Science is very good at establishing if a physical event is real, but science is only able to test physical events. Because of this, science can't say if Materialism is true or not as it is unable to test the existence of non-physical things.
The second belief is that the Influence Idea scraps is the belief that the behaviour of all phenomena in the universe is entirely unaffected by mental intent. This view is known as Objectivism. This view is also a belief, rather than a scientifically established fact. It is a little surreal that Objectivism has survived, when we've known for nearly a century that it is the act of observation that creates an event in quantum physics, but there you go.
Both of these philosophical beliefs are legacies from a period between the 16th and the 19th centuries when Natural Philosophers (an early name for scientists) were fighting hard to understand how the world really worked. They wanted to find out what was actually true, rather than just accept the religious or superstitious explanations for those phenomena. For them, Materialism and Objectivism were pragmatic and useful philosophical views to adopt in order to carry out this work. It was perfectly understandable for them to adopt these beliefs at that time and it almost certainly helped them advance our understanding of the universe.
But in the twentieth century, Quantum Physics showed that Objectivism and Materialism were both erroneous beliefs. These two beliefs had been very useful for the scientists of previous centuries but they were no longer valid. Unfortunately, since then, nothing has changed. Materialism and Objectivism have continued as the dominant scientific view. Old habits die hard. Hopefully, the beliefs of Materialism and Objectivism will fade out, although history tells us it will probably be a slow process. As Max Planck, one of the founding fathers of quantum physics, stated:
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
Max's views were never that far away from the Influence Idea. Here is another quote from him:
As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.