Quantum Gods

My colleague Victor Stenger has a new book called Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness. It’ll be published in May by Prometheus Books. Chapter 4, The Guru of GUTS, is about TM and the Maharishi Effect. It includes a number of quotes from my work. Prometheus asked me to write an editorial review, which I’m reproducing below. It’ll appear on the book’s back cover.


“Lots of biologists defend evolution against creationism. Unfortunately, few scientists in the physics community speak up about the pseudoscience in their own field. The public understanding of modern physics is seriously out of whack, thanks largely to pop junk like The Secret and What the BLEEP Do We Know?

“These books and movies promote a bogus version of quantum mechanics—the belief that “you create your own reality” by controlling the laws of physics with your mind. They offer instant wealth and happiness, but they deliver medieval superstition. The sad part is that so many scientists are willing to let the public get their knowledge of physics from celebrity quacks.

“That’s why we’re so lucky to have Victor Stenger. He knows quantum theory as well as anybody and, unlike most of his colleagues, he’s willing to step outside the ivory tower and face those who misuse science. In Quantum Gods, Stenger confronts mainstream theologians and New Age gurus—anyone who tries to link physics to mysticism. He takes their theories seriously enough to examine them in detail and he finds that, so far, none of them live up to the standards of scientific truth. As we accompany him on his investigation, he guides us through the most important concepts in modern physics from relativity to string theory.

“The world has needed a book like this for a long time. If you care about scientific literacy, Quantum Gods is not optional.”


Posted in: The Maharishi Effect

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  1. graham smetham April 17, 2009

    I was intrigued to find the New Scientist review of Victor Stenger’s book `Quantum Gods` as that very afternoon I had sent of a manuscript of my own book `Dancing in Emptiness: Reality Revealed at the Interface of Science and Buddhist Philosophy` off to a publisher. On the face of it one might expect that my book is completely opposed to to Stenger’s position, so I should say that this is not the case. I agree about the absurd claims made by the `What the Bleep` fiasco and various `New Age` presentations of the implications of quantum theory. However, the reason for my distaste for such glib appropriations is not that they are completely false (although I have not read Stenger’s book yet because it is not yet published, I have read other essays) but rather, they are over-simplifications which run into the territory of misrepresentation. Stenger and you, for instance, are compleletely correct to upbraid the `What the Bleep` perspective for the completely absurd implication that a simple flexing of mental intentionality can spectaculary transform even material reality (some might question whether this claim was explicitly made however, but the cartoon antics of the Dr Quantum persona of Fred Alan Wolf certainly seems to move in this direction).

    Having said that, however, it reamins the case that most, if not all, of the major founding fathers of quantum theory came to the conclusion that the nature of reality was Mind not Matter. The significant physicist Henry Stapp comes to this conclusion as do other modern physicists – the latest offering in that direction is of course Rosneblum and Kuttner’s `Quantum Enigma`.

    My own book shows in minute detail that fundamental quantum processes were prefigured in Buddhist philosophy, especially the Yogacara. For instance the Yogacara account of the functioning of consciousness exactly prefigures the quantum Zeno effect. Further more when the quantum account is augmented with Yogacara insights, an astonishing metaphysical account of the origin and functioning of the universe can be constructed.

    The following is a short extract which gives a flavour of the remarkable precision of the overlapping of detail between the Yogacara and quantum perspectives:

    According to the Yogacara view a fundamental feature of consciousness is that even the tiniest movement of energy within the structure of consciousness leaves a trace within the ground consciousness which increases the probability that the same movement of energy will occur at a later point in time. This reinforcing process takes place at all levels of consciousness, including those deep structures of psychophysical embodiment not available to direct awareness. This quantum mechanism, which is precisely described by Yogacara Buddhist philosophy, is exactly the quantum mechanism which produces the probability distribution within wavefunctions. As Stapp expresses this point:

    …each quantum choice injects meaning, in the form of enduring structure, into the physical universe.

    The repeated quantum activity of perception, a mechanism which is clearly indicated by the collapse of the wavefunction, and a mechanism thorough which meaning is ‘injected’ into the universe, is the fundamental mechanism of the self-creation of the universe.

    The potentialities within wavefunctions which have the greater probabilities are precisely those which have been reinforced more often by perceptual movements within individual consciousnesses, which have then left a reinforcing trace in the ground consciousness, which is the domain of the wavefunction. This viewpoint clearly resonates with Stapp’s description of the fundamental nature of the appearance of ‘physical’ reality:

    According to the revised notion, physical reality behaves more like spatially encoded information that governs tendencies for experiential events to occur than like anything resembling material substance.

    Every perception that is made by any sentient being leaves a trace which strengthens the probability of the same perception manifesting at a later point. This karmic mechanism within the fundamental ground consciousness, then, provides a coherent explanation of the nature of the wavefunction. A wavefunction contains the probabilities of perceptual possibilities built up over an extraordinary period of time by vast numbers of sentient beings; the most likely ‘collapse’ will be in the direction of the most reinforced perception. This process has been going on for eons, involving numberless beings. And so, bit by bit, it provides the groundwork for the appearance of it from bit, and the appearance of an external ‘material’ reality manifests. The entire edifice of material reality is the result of continuous perceptual karmic reinforcement within the ground consciousness. The mechanism most effectively envisaged as underlying this process is that of quantum karmic resonance. This view correspsond to the view proposed by Wheeler:

    `Directly opposite to the concept of universe as machine built on law is the vision of a world self-synthesized. On this view, the notes struck out on a piano by the observer participants of all times and all places, bits though they are in and by themselves, constitute the great wide world of space and time and things.`

    It also correpsonds precisely to the view of `quantum Darwinism` proposed by Wojcieck Zurek.

    In a recent article in the New Scientist a physicist writes that:

    … we now have to face the possibility that there is nothing inherently real about the properties of an object that we measure. In other words measuring those properties is what brings them into existence.

    The recently performed experiments that have demonstrated lack of inherent reality of the measured properties involve testing a special formula at the quantum level; if the ‘numbers add up’ then ‘we have to abandon the idea of an objective reality’. When the experiments were performed the numbers did add up and the conclusion that has to be drawn, according to one of the quantum physicists involved, is that:

    Rather than passively observing it, we in fact create reality.

    This insight into the lack of ‘inherent existence,’ as you obviously know, is the hallmark of emptiness. The Mind-Only, school adds to this the insight that it is the mind that is interdependently instrumental in bringing phenomena into existence:

    ..all these various appearances,
    Do not exist as sensory objects which are other than consciousness.
    Their arising is like the experience of self knowledge.
    All appearances, from indivisible particles to vast forms, are mind.

    It would be easy to think that such interconnections are coincidental and intriguing but not necessarily indicative of any deep connection. My research, however, shows that this is not the case. I was astonished to find that when the quantum perspectives of physicists such as Henry Stapp, David Bohm, Amit Goswami and John Wheeler were interwoven with the Mind-Only Buddhist discourse a scientific-metaphysical ‘theory of everything’ of astonishing detail, precision and depth resulted. More details can be found at http://www.quantumbuddhism.COM. The .com is important as I am surrounded my less rigorous websites! I have wriiten my book in order to present the evidence in as rigorous and precise form as possible and it is my intention to submit it to evaluation and criticism by experts generally ill disposed towards my viewpoint (I have already had positive feedback from Professor Stapp and others, who are well-disposed). Once I have read Victor Stenger’s book I intend to contact him and hopefully get his opinion. Having found this blog I wondered if you might wish to have a look?

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