Monday, May 30, 2011

Freeman Dyson: On Matter, Mind and God

Anyone who has looked into the "new physics" - relativity and quantum theory - cannot but help be impressed or awed by the apparent fuzziness between matter, energy, mind and consciousness. It has been said that within every physicist lurks a would-be metaphysicist. Indeed, Sir Isaac Newton, himself, likely spent more time on metaphysics and alchemy then he ever spent on the development of calculus and writing his masterwork, "The Principia." How much more closely might he have come to understanding the workings of the universe as a whole, inner and outer, if he had been exposed to the realities of the cosmos and the microcosmos that relativity and the quantum theory have demonstrated? Would he have then found the God he sought?

With the benefits of the "new physics," the highly respected theoretical physicist and mathematician, Freeman Dyson, observed the following:
"When we examine matter in the finest details in the experiments of particle physics, we see it behaving as an active agent rather than as an inert substance. Its actions are in the strict sense unpredictable. It makes what appears to be arbitrary choices between alternative possibilities. Between matter as we observe it in the laboratory and mind as we observe it in our own consciousness, there seems to be only a difference in degree not kind. If God exists and is accessible to us, then his mind and our may likewise differ from each other only in degree and not kind. We stand, in a manner of speaking, midway between the unpredictability of matter and the unpredictability of God."
[Freeman Dyson, "Infinite In All Directions," p. 8.]
 "Our minds," Dyson speculates, "may receive inputs equally from matter and from God."

"God," he reluctantly explains in one interview, in his view, "is simply a mind that has gone beyond the scale of our understanding."

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