Origin and Physics of the Sentient Universe
Within the whole of reality, within the vast domains of philosophy and science, can there be anything more vital and important than finding the answers to the meaning of life? Is there any intrinsic relationship between the existence of mind and the universe itself? Scientists have come up with very convincing theories, backed by calculations, that describe the origin of the universe; unfortunately, mankind as a whole seems to come out of these theories as some sort of accident, rather than with any kind of intent. Alan Guth at MIT states: “We have no cosmic purpose, we should find meaning within our lives, and be content with that,” he tells us. On the other hand, it is very likely that Mind was present at the formation of the universe, and more important, the reason for the existence of the universe itself.
The explanation rests within philosophy and scientific theory; philosophy describes the metaphysical reality, and science describes its physical structure, although they often don’t seem to have anything in common, as yet. Since Mind plays the primary role in this essay, and because the mind manifests in various ways, it is necessary to find definitions specific to its nature. Mind can be referred to as: psyche, anima, Nous, intellect, thought, conscience, soul, spirit, quintessence, sentience, and in older theories the fabled fifth element, the aether. Also, for graphical and explanatory purposes, Mind: henceforth M-theory, is divided into three categories, or states, or functions; they are: Mind-flux or M-flux, Mind-field or M-field, and Mind-factor or M-factor. M-flux refers to primordial mind, to mind without content; mind as an ontological foundation or function. M-field refers to stellar entities, such as stars and galaxies, the life source often occurring in many planetary systems. M-factor pertains to living organisms, probably from the level of cells to intelligent beings. In this critique they are not considered unique just to the planet Earth; life most likely thrives throughout the universe. Mind is a form of mass/energy, probably associated with gravity; this is referred to as the M-force.
The latest and most convincing idea concerning the formation of the universe come from inflation theory. The prominent physicist Alan Guth worked out the basic idea. Physicists predicted as early as 1922 and confirmed in the 1960s that the universe came from a tiny point that exploded into a fireball of extreme heat and density. This point became known as a singularity, it is believed that at the time of the singularity all the known forces of the universe were unified. The four forces are gravity, electromagnetism, the strong, and the weak nuclear forces. Fairly recently all of these forces, except gravity, have been unified in what is now called a grand unified theory or GUT. Understanding gravity at the atomic level has been elusive; gravity at the cosmic plane is well known having been described by Newton several centuries ago. At the level of stars and galaxies, gravity is a powerful force pervading the universe, but is almost undetectable at subatomic levels. A theory of quantum gravity will have to be understood before all four forces of nature can be unified. Nonetheless, gravity is essential to holding everything together, and from coming apart.
Prior to inflation theory scientists knew little about how the Big Bang, as it is called, came into being. Inflation solved many riddles about the beginning of creation that have come to be accepted by most physicists and cosmologists today. Within a second of this explosive period the universe expanded by 25 orders of magnitude. This means that the universe expanded from a point a billionth the size of a proton, which is one of the building blocks of matter, to the size of a marble. It then slowed and cooled over time to the size it is today, and is still expanding. This is equivalent to a pearl exploding to the size of the Milky Way. The power of this fireball is unimaginable, within the first fraction of a second (approximately a decimal point followed by 33 zeros and a one) the forces of raw energy began splitting apart.
Guth surmises that the whole universe may be a “free lunch.” 23 This is not an easy concept to explain. One reason is that it comes out of the weird world of quantum mechanics. Quantum theory holds that in any physical system probability rules over absolutes. It is impossible to predict the properties of an atom, although one can predict the properties of atoms in general. Now think of a pure vacuum; it seems counter intuitive, and even contradictory to say that something can come out of nothing, but due to quantum uncertainties something can come out of nothing. In cloud chamber experiments particles do materialize out of a vacuum and disappear back into it, but only for a micro second. Physicists call it a vacuum fluctuation. Even empty space contains a slight energy field. Out of this primordial vacuum came a hot plasmic stew from which bubbled subatomic particles that existed for only a short time. Inflation theorists call this eruption a false vacuum. Since the universe is still expanding from the initial Big Bang, the false vacuum is considered to have a repulsive gravitational force. As the expansion doubled exponentially, so too did the energy of gravity, and hence the doubling of matter, such as particles of electrons, positrons, and neutrinos. To explain the emergence of matter, cosmologists say that some state of the false vacuum decayed; this is an important aspect of creation. Einstein recognized this possibility when he realized that energy and matter are essentially equivalent–as in E=mc2. After about 300,000 years, the universe cooled sufficiently to allow simple atoms to form, like hydrogen, helium, and lithium. The dense fog that existed before dissipated, and the universe became very dark; there were as yet no stars.
Before getting too far ahead, it is necessary to incorporate M-theory into the scenario being created in this essay. The purpose is to present the latest ideas and theories in physics and cosmology that are consistent with M-theory. It should be very important that any attempt to explain ultimate reality cannot be complete until it includes the very consciousness that formulates the explanation. It should be emphasized that this is a theory without much evidence to back it up; other than it makes logical sense, and brings metaphysics and physics together in a common purpose.
As discussed in the Exegesis, theoretically, all the energy being sucked into a black hole disappears as it passes through the event horizon, and comes out as a singularity forming a new universe. M-flux comes through as the source of cosmic consciousness carrying with it the universal laws. Gravity manifests both as a repulsive force driving the expansion, and the attractive force pulling matter together. The brief period before inflation has been referred to as the era of quantum gravity. Quantum gravity has never been detected, but has to be assumed for the sake of theory, once its nature is discerned it should fit in with the other three known forces; this will be a rare moment for science. The repulsive gravitational field, or M-force, or false vacuum, had the power to explode from an incredibly dense point into a universe. With the doubling of energy and its subsequent decay into particles of simple matter, we might think of this as the first act of creation. Matter and energy separated out of the M-force to become opposing entities. After the inflationary period ended the M-force returned to a less energetic state, forming the primordial M-flux as stars were born, now governed by the classic laws of Newtonian mechanics.
About a century ago Albert Einstein observed the universe as it appeared, unmoving and static with stars and galaxies fixed in their positions. But he also realized that the gravitational attraction between these bodies would slowly pull them together, although that did not seem to be happening. So he introduced a few calculations into his General Theory of Relativity that created an opposing force to counter gravity. He called it Lambda, and it later became known as the Cosmological Constant. In 1929 Edwin Hubble using the new 100-inch telescope on Mt. Wilson discovered that the stars and galaxies were actually moving away from each other, and that the universe was expanding. Einstein quickly dropped Lambda.
Soon new ideas arose concerning the shape of the universe and the geometries that determine it. Einstein’s theory of relativity entailed a non-Euclidean geometry that resulted in a closed universe because space bends in on itself; it has a finite volume and the shape of a sphere. Ironically, a spaceship traveling in a straight line will eventually return to where it started. In a closed universe gravity will overcome the expansion and begin to contract; all the stars and galaxies will be pulled back into what is called a Big Crunch. In another cosmological model, a universe with very little mass will lack enough gravitational force to stop the expansion, so space is open, or infinite in volume, and the universe will expand forever. There is a third model that is precisely the borderline between a closed and an open universe. It is the exact point between eternal expansion and eventual collapse; cosmologists say that it has reached critical mass density. Amazingly the universe is at that point today; amazing because theorists are at a loss to explain why those values are so precise, and because there is no compelling necessity that they should be. When in perfect balance scientists say that Omega equals one; if less than one, an open universe results; if more, a closed universe. A universe in which Omega equals one is said to be flat. (Referring to its Euclidean geometry). The conservation of energy in a flat universe is maintained due to the perfect equilibrium of all the negative energy of gravity and all the positive energy of matter. Precise measurements of the energy left over from the Big Bang, called the cosmic background radiation, confirmed that Omega equals one. If energy and mass are equivalent, then enough gravity will preserve the balance required to keep Omega at one.
“Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University theorizes that the delicate balance between energy and matter would be suspicious if there were no communication between the two. He proposes that repulsive energy senses the presence of matter and changes its strength and distribution to maintain a balance of densities.” 24 This is consistent with M-theory, and may hint at something mystical going on.
While this may all be very interesting, it is crucial to understanding how M-flux, here associated with dark matter, came to be identified, and why its role is so important in this discussion. When astronomers attempt to tally up all the matter in the universe they come up 90 to 99 percent short of what should be out there. It is interesting to wonder what astronomers are thinking when they look through their telescopes, knowing that maybe they are only seeing one percent of what is in the heavens. The M-flux, or dark matter, exists throughout the universe, but remains elusive until revealing itself through its gravity. This is most apparent around galaxies and clusters of galaxies. As galaxies bunch within huge clumps of dark matter, the light coming from behind these galaxies bends to reveal the outline of this invisible stuff. Super computer simulations predict that bright galaxies will group tightly together under powerful gravitational forces within huge concentrations of dark matter. It is almost as if a parent were gathering its children unto itself.
Recent studies have surprised the scientific community with the realization that the expansion of the universe is not slowing down as expected, in fact, it is accelerating. Some unknown and unseen force, now being called dark energy, is behind this discovery. The repulsive force of inflation may well explain the acceleration.
The early universe was smooth and uniform, and very nearly without structure or features. The gravity of M-flux, or dark matter, evenly and smoothly distributed throughout space, remained quietly still for millions of years. Eventually slight perturbations of gravity began to grow from tiny primordial fluctuations. These became the seeds of later galaxy formation once stars began forming. The M-flux slowly clumped and formed halos around regions that had grown to slightly higher concentrations of gaseous matter. As the halos grew more massive, they pulled in and confined small amounts of hydrogen and helium gas; exactly what the first stars were made from. This happened rapidly enough that the material did not fragment, but instead grew into massive hot stars. Light flooded through the universe, ending the cosmic dark ages. Soon numerous other stars flashed into existence. These first stars differed from many stars that exist today because they lacked any heavy elements such as iron and gold, but within their hot cores, under intense pressure and heat, the simple atoms were crushed into more complex heavy elements. These first stars, being as heavy and massive as they were, tended to have short lives, and ended by exploding their outer shells into space. Such stars are called supernovas. Future generations of stars, such as our sun, could now form from this new material. Without heavy metals, life could not have evolved on Earth. We, quite literally, along with our cars and televisions, are the products of stellar forces, not only physically but as sentient beings as well. In our nomenclature this is the transition from negative M-flux to positive M-field. In terms of physics the negative false vacuum decayed into matter that accreted into stars with an attractive gravitational force.
The M-flux, as defined, may have had nothing more than a vague intent or purpose. With the intent now further realized in the M-field of stars, the means took shape with the power and the material to act. Certain individual stars were born with an objective that contained a plan; from universal M-flux to particular M-field, M-factor, sentience, now became possible. In plain terms, life emerging from the cosmos is much more than an accident. As a single mushroom produces millions of spores, only a few ever produce mushrooms. It is the same with stars, they spawn life, but only a few ever do so; conditions are rather exacting. When an astronomer observes the heavens, she sees stars, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies. This arrangement enhances the possibility for life. It took billions of years for stars to form life supporting planets, and those planets must be at the right distance from the star, in what's called the habitable zone. The star must also be in the right place within the galaxy; too close to the center or too far from the outer edge would make life impossible.
Our star is more than a burning ball of gas. The M-field of the Sun, now governed by the metaphysics of Plotinus, turns to Earth and through heat and light M-factor merges into living organisms of matter, energy and sentience. The process gives back to the cosmos what it has taken in, never cut off from its source, returning to itself what it has always been in eternal perpetuation, in living legacy to be born again.
What has been said so far may sound reasonable, but if it’s true, then it has profound implications. M-theory puts Mind at the beginning of creation. Cosmologists put Mind at the end of creation. M-theory in our system is based on the Platonic philosophy of Plotinus, but the scientific view is consistent with Genesis, which tells how God made everything first, then added Adam and Eve; finally He gave them choice, or sentience. Oddly enough, science doesn’t need a God as creator since everything can pretty well be explained without Him. Our theory is mystical, but doesn't need Genesis, yet somehow requires a spiritual something or source that gives rise to the Idea of creation through the laws of physics. M-theory presumes that the Big Bang erupted from something prior, rather than nothing, suggesting an eternal cycle.
Big Bang theory postulates a beginning of time and space in our universe giving it a sense of temporality and finiteness that occurred about thirteen thousand million years ago. Life on Earth began between one and two thousand million years ago. Humans diverged from primates about seven or eight million years ago. The development of human intelligence has taken many thousands of years, but it has only been in recent times that early civilizations began to use mathematics as a tool to improvise new theories and methods of construction. In the last few thousand years alone the leap in knowledge has been exponential.
M-factor, sentient life, rests on three pillars: mind, matter, and energy. Like the universe, they are in perfect balance, proportion, and unity. While we may think of ourselves as being rather insignificant in the vast scheme of things, it may actually be the other way around. On the Following page is a graphic representation of how this hypothetical theory might work in the Diagram of the Three Circles. It depicts our inner relationship to the outer world that gives existence a meaning and purpose. The center where the three circles overlap represents a Mandala of the soul, the Self is the dot at that center.
I want to thank to Dr. Gary Bowman of the Physics and Astronomy Dept. at Northern Arizona University for his helpful suggestions and comments.