Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bernard Haisch’s God Theory (I)

In a previous blog to do with the problems of Theodicy (good and evil, and why an allegedly “omnipotent” or infinite God doesn’t act) I mentioned the God Theory formulated by Bernard Haisch. For those who may not know, Haisch is an astrophysicist and was formerly the Editor of the prestigious Astrophysical Journal for ten years. He was also Editor-in-chief of The Journal for Scientific Exploration. In other words, he’s no intellectual flyweight, nor is he a long lost "hippie" from Woodstock still toking on his stash.

Haisch, in the course of his scientific work became increasingly fed up and impatient with the reductionism of his colleagues. (Reductionism is the entire basis of empirical science as currently practiced, by which we analytically reduce a system or phenomenon to its components, then look closely at how those components function. It is reductionism which in large measure eliminates the need to posit a "supernatural".)

Haisch, like yours truly, grew up a Roman Catholic and even spent a year in minor seminary (I applied to the St. John Vianney Minor Seminary but was refused entry for being too ‘introverted”). However, like me, he soon found that Catholicism didn’t have all the answers and the deity it posited (like that for most orthodox Christian religions or sects) was too severely diminished and anthropomorphized.

As he notes (The God Theory, page 1):

Much of today’s religious dogma concerning God and the nature and destiny of mankind is flawed and irrational. It fails to resolve basic paradoxes, like why bad things happen to good people – and why some are born into riches and other, starvation and misery”

Now, as I have repeatedly noted over and over and over again, no serious God theory is worthy of even passing interest unless it can address the basic ontological questions, primarily by positing the necessary and sufficient conditions for proposed divinity to exist. I don’t care how many bible quotes a person has memorized, or how often he reads his KJV or whatever, if he’s unable to nail down the ontology he could as well be a madman babbling on a street corner. In other words, he can’t be taken seriously nor can the book from which he attempts to mine his reality.

What do I mean by nailing down the ontology? Consider:

If “nothing” be the simpler state, in which an already perfect, infinite deity could still exist as “spirit” then why “create” a universe? Especially one which would be fraught with violence, despair, “sin” and all the rest. Also one which an ominiscient God would have to know (IF it was judgmental) that it would have to condemn billions before he even created them. This itself makes the act of creation an act of violence against those created- who would not be able (for whatever reason, including where born) to live up to its standards.

Thus, we would have to question on an a fortiori basis any judgmental deity that created the cosmos. It could not have good will at its core, since it would know (via its property of omniscience) that its act would condemn billions it would have to know about before it even began.

Leibniz himself used two premises: 1) the principle of sufficient reason, and 2) an a priori argument from simplicity for the presupposition that – spontaneously – the universe features nothing contingent at all, because the Null universe (nothingness) is the most natural of all.

As he put it:

“the great principle of sufficient reason holds that nothing takes place without sufficient reason…a reason (or condition) to determine why it is thus and not otherwise”

Thus, the principle having been laid down the first question one must ask is: Why is there something rather than nothing? (For ‘nothing’ is simpler, easier and less problematic than something. NO need for pain, sacrifice, crucifixions, saviors, death, sin, horrors etc. so why create something that in effect destroys an already PERFECT world and Being?)

Unlike most god mongers who dodge such questions (because they know they’re incapable of answering them) Haisch does address this one. His answer (p. 43):

“Under the God Theory, an Infinite Intelligence turns potential into experience, actualizes the merely possible, lets things happen that otherwise would not, lets novelty arise. Under the God Theory, the universe is not the wind-up and let is run fabrication that Newton envisaged but rather a dynamic experiment in which all sorts of dynamic things are generated”.

But why did God have to vacate nothingness to “turn potential into experience”? This is the key for Leibniz central question!

Haisch’s solution is brilliant, though in fact it is not his original conception, but grounded in the Perennial philosophy known for eons. In a nutshell here’s how it is explicated:

As nothing (No-thing) God was infinite but unknowing. He existed in all places but lacked any knowledge of himself or his potentialities because nothingness is devoid of experience. (In the same way a giant, uniform ball of wax has no features.) Consider the analogy of being placed into a sensory deprivation tank for a month – fed only with IVs. You have no touch, no smell, no taste, and soon- you forget who and what or where you are. In nothingness, you descend to nothing and ultimately know nothing (since most people lose their mind).

In the same way, God had to vacate nothingness and jump start his road to potentiality and self-knowing. As Haisch borrows the words from ‘Conversations with God’:

“All That Is could not know Itself because All That Is was All There Was- and there was NOTHING else. And so, ALL THAT IS was NOT”

How did the primal escape from nothingness occur? It was rendered by a pure act of consciousness, which was also an act of WILL. An act of the divine willing itself to be in a manifest rather than unmanifest form.

The mythical Genesis command “Let there be light” (“creation”) was in effect, God’s command to himself to manifest as individualities in an evolving universe- in order to make himself known to himself. As an infinity this was impossible, since all one has is one vast uniform Glop, changeless and featureless. In an evolving manifest universe, however, gazillions of forms including conscious sub-manifestations appear which embody quantums of the divine.

As Haisch notes (p. 67):

In the God theory, consciousness is the primal stuff of reality. Consciousness is able to shape and direct matter. Consciousness in fact, has created this universe.”

And so:

Through creation, an infinite consciousness provides a kind of playground for itself. Having done that, it incarnates as individual beings: plants, animals, humans, extraterrestrials, thereby experiencing diversity and enormous ranges of complexity. In this view, we are all little pieces of the same consciousness that has deliberately fragmented itself …WHY? The initiating consciousness (GOD) creates your whole world for its own evolution, its growth and perhaps its own amusement. This is the essence of the God Theory.”

So, what it boils down to, is we are each and all “incarnations” of God, just like Yeshua, Mohammed, or Buddha were- though not to the same degree. In this way as manifest ideations of God we essentially become his “eyes, ears, hands” etc. to know himself.

Thus, we are the necessary agents at lower levels of consciousness that enable the infinite to manifest and experience itself. Why don't we know everything or why can't we do anything? Haisch argues it's because we are limited channels of flesh and consciousness. If the full force of infinity were allowed to "pour" into us unabated, we'd self destruct. Only a tiny quantum can be mediated and that only occurs very slowly at one time. Those of us more in tune and channeling that infinite see deeper - to deeper levels of reality (for example, to the stage that we are channels or media of divine consciousness).

In this sense, Oprah Winfrey in her recent spiritual episode made perfect sense: that each of us can find his or her own way to God. As Haisch notes, the reason is that we all channel or mediate the same infinite consciousness so there is no selectivity by It as to whom to choose and whom to ignore. We are all 'divine elements" (just like roaches, ants, crickets, Komodo dragons, and Meer cats) so that to ignore one or more because it isn't following a specific creed, or book of revelation, or magic salvation formula, is tantamount to ignoring its own nature. As Haisch puts it (p. 33):

"We each experience the 'Godness' of our own being, since according to the God Theory, we are each individuated manifestations of divine consciousness"

It is in each of us, in other words, that the divine potentiality plays out and is manifest. It could not do so if it remained a vacuum of nothingness. (Also, as Haisch points out, whether one believes this or not is immaterial. Just as a person may not believe the pictures appearing on his TV are transformed from far off waves, but rather the person believes the picture is really "inside the tube" somewhere.)

In the course of his God Theory, Haisch implicitly nails down the necessary and sufficient conditions for the God of which he writes.

The necessary condition is that:

Consciousness, while originally infinite, cannot experience itself as infinite. It must be mediated in discrete elements.

A good analogy from physics I can think of, is the "ultraviolet catasrophe" which emerged just before German physicist Max Planck proposed the quantum. The "catastrophe" in a nutshell, was that if an electron were allowed to continually circle an atomic nucleus, it would eventually reach an infinite acceleration and light would be emitted as an infinite quantity.

The solution of Planck was that the energy emitted by an atom be quantized, in bits of size: E = hf where h is the Planck constant, and f the frequency of the radiation. In much the same way then, we (humans or other conscious beings) elicit conscious energy in bits that are quantized and limited - not infinite. This is the only way that an infinite divinity can manifest as it evolves toward completeness.

The sufficient condition:

The human brain is not itself the source of consciousness, but more like a receiver of it. Consciousness as a divine attribute exists independently of the human brain.

Thus, if I were to buy into Haisch's theory, I'd have to jettison my Materialist Model for Mind proposed earlier. In that model I showed how consciousness arises exclusively from the brain, by an action involving deBroglie waves which are transduced into Electromagnetic waves at particular frequencies. According to Haisch, this is all wrong and reductionist. The brain as three pounds of matter cannot incept consciousness, but it can mediate it like a radio or TV antenna mediates the waves coming from the broadcast station.

Summarizing the consequences for our daily lives, based on his God Theory, Haisch notes:

1.The God of the theory cannot require anything of us for Its own happiness.

2. The God of the theory cannot dislike, and certainly cannot hate, anything that we do or are.

3. The God of the theory will never punish us, because it would ultimately amount to self-punishment.

4. There is no literal heaven or hell.

Next: Why an Atheist will have problems with the Haisch God Theory

1 comment:

janidebar said...

I must say, that of all the variations of the description of God I've seen this one makes the most sense. However, I still think much more needs to be done regarding how or why evil occurs? Or, is there such a thing as evil if everything happening is simply "God manifesting himself"?

Another disturbing aspect connected to this is when one of Haisch's "consequences" of his God theory is that there is NOTHING we can do that is "wrong". So, to use you previous example of the 11 y/o girl in FLA, was it not wrong that the sex offender beast raped her and buried her alive? Was this just God "amusing himself"?

WHY would God want to inflict such savagery on Himself(assuming we are all divine incarnations as Haisch claims)? Or is the whole of existence simply a giant virtual "play" (three parts? More?) in which no one ever really suffers or is hurt- the 6 million Jews weren't really gassed, those hundreds destroyed in the OK city bombing 15 years ago weren't really blown apart, and 9/11 didn't really wreak the havoc and deaths that it did?

I guess I would say inquiring minds want to know, but I trust this will be the crux of your next blog on the Haisch theory!