In the last century there were isolated tribes on remote Pacific islands that tried to keep the bounty of Western goods coming by building wooden replicas of cargo planes. They maintained their jungle runways, and when explorers later visited these islands they were dumbfounded to find that a whole system of pseudo-religious beliefs had grown up around these islanders’ naïve misconceptions about reality.
Those cargo-cult delusions were the first thing I thought of when I read that similarly deluded scientists based at Harvard University have – Ahem! – begun to figure out how the brain generates consciousness. They have determined by looking for areas of damage in the brains of patients in comas that three specific areas seem to be essential in order for people to be conscious and aware. They consider this to be a great first step, but the article’s authors cheerfully add that “Independent teams will also need to confirm their results before we can say for sure that these three regions are the physical source of consciousness in our brains.” Of course, the brain doesn’t generate consciousness any more than runways generate trade goods, but the scientists – like their Melanesian brethren – are so caught up in their bogus understanding that they cannot envision a reality that might exist beyond their intellectual island.
Even scientists who have come to understand that consciousness can exist apart from the body are often stuck in the materialist paradigm. Sir Roger Penrose, an eminent British mathematical physicist, believes that consciousness is “just a packet of information stored at a quantum – or sub-atomic – level… Sensationally, he claims to have found evidence that this information, which is stored in microtubules within human cells, leaves the body after a person dies.” According to the article, Sir Roger even speculates that if the body “dies temporarily, this quantum information is released into the universe, only to return to the body’s cells if the host is brought back to life.” Thereby he fits his theory of consciousness stored in cellular microtubules with the phenomenon of near-death experiences, without apparently the slightest curiosity about what NDEs actually are or what consciousness really is.
And apparently there are physicists at the ironically named Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich, Germany, who share these views. Dr Hans-Peter Dürr, former head of the institute, has said, “What we consider the here and now, this world, it is actually just the material level that is comprehensible… The beyond is an infinite reality that is much bigger… The body dies but the spiritual quantum field continues. In this way, I am immortal.”
We can only sputter, “But what does that mean? How does it tell us one blessed thing about what consciousness is, where it comes from, or how it works? Does ‘in this way, I am immortal’ mean that I will be myself and aware forever?”
This is the kind of thing that can make you pull your hair out in frustration. Looking for a source of consciousness in the brain is like disassembling your laptop to try to figure out how it generates the Internet! The evidence for the fact that the relationship between your mind and your brain is essentially the same relationship that the Internet has to your laptop is so abundant now, and so consistent, that the fact that research like the Harvard study mentioned above still continues in the twenty-first century is as jaw-dropping for us as was that first discovery of the Melanesian cargo-cults.
The big insight that all these bright people miss is that everything is energy. Nothing is solid. They must have learned this in their physics classes, since it has been well known for nearly a century! More than seventy years ago the great quantum physicist Max Planck said, “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.” And Albert Einstein said at about the same time, “Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”
Why is this fact so difficult for physicists to get their minds around? Everything is energy. There is no solid matter. What makes your chair seem to be not the same type of phenomenon as electricity is the fact that it is energy vibrating slowly enough that your senses perceive it to seem solid. As Einstein said, “It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing — a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind.” But these Harvard researchers are supposed to have minds that are pretty far above average!
Not only is everything energy, but what we think of as human consciousness is the base creative energy. Max Planck realized this as much as a century ago. In 1931 he said, “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
So we have had for as much as a century this kernel of truth, this enormous insight that scientists could have been using to study a reality based in fact and not in science’s fallacious “fundamental dogma” of materialism. But reality has become an abstract concept to scientists. Discovering objective truth is no longer what they are about! Rather than pausing to reconsider their dogma, they continue to stumble blindly along, looking for “the special something that makes the human mind unique” and marveling at how odd it is that dying people “hallucinate visions of their deceased mothers.”
The great Serbian-American inventor and polymath Nicola Tesla summed up the problem well when he said, “Today’s scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality.” He also said, “The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.” And he said, “The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.” Tesla’s future cannot come soon enough!