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The Quantum Enigma of Consciousness and the Identity of the Designer

In this thread, I will suggest the identity of Intelligent Designer of life. The question of the identity of the Intelligent Designer is outside of ID proper, but if a design is detected, it inspires the question, “who is the Designer?”

If the identity of the Intelligent Designer is outside of ID proper, is it outside the speculations of science? I think not. As Dawkins himself once remarked:

You then realize that the presence of a creative deity in the universe is clearly a scientific hypothesis. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more momentous hypothesis in all of science.

Richard Dawkins
as reported in Dawkins on the Discovery Institute Payroll?

In that spirit, rather than offer a theological speculation, I will offer a speculation based on inference from scientific observation. And I will argue scientific observation suggests the Intelligent Designer is a Deity of some sort.

To begin, I point out this essay in the prestigious scientific journal Nature in 2005 by physicist Richard Conn Henry:

“The ultimate cause of atheism, Newton asserted, is ‘this notion of bodies having, as it were, a complete, absolute and independent reality in themselves.’”

The 1925 discovery of quantum mechanics solved the problem of the Universe’s nature. Bright physicists were again led to believe the unbelievable — this time, that the Universe is mental.

According to Sir James Jeans: “the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter…we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.”
….
The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual.

Richard Conn Henry
The Mental Universe: Nature Volume 436


To be fair, Henry is NOT an ID proponent, but some of his further comments in connection with his Nature essay are astonishing. Is Henry arguing that one of the main pillars of atheism has been taken away by quantum mechanics? Is he saying that quantum mechanics has shown that there are no mind-independent realities, therefore the cure for atheism (to paraphrase Newton) has been found?

Now we are beginning to see that quantum mechanics might actually exclude any possibility of mind-independent reality….

Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the illusion of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism.

Richard Conn Henry and Stephen R. Palmquist
Journal of Scientific Exploration Issue 21-3

So does Henry posit a Deity? In his review of the book Quantum Enigma:Physics Encounters Consciousness Henry offers the following:

It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.

And yet, have you ever before read a sentence having meaning similar to that of my preceding sentence? Likely you have not, and the reason you have not is, in my opinion, that physicists are in a state of denial…
….
In his Gifford lectures, very shortly after the 1925 discovery of quantum mechanics, Arthur Stanley Eddington (who immediately quantum mechanics was discovered realized that this meant that the universe was purely mental, and that indeed there was no such thing as “physical”) said “it is difficult for the matter-of-fact physicist to accept the view that the substratum of everything is of mental character.” What an understatement! On this fundamental topic, physicists are mostly terrified wimps.

And what are these “terrors” that prevent the acceptance of the obvious? I think it is a combination of the fear of being ridiculed, plus the fear of the religious implications. Does that sound familiar?
….
When, not so long ago, I grew baffled that there was no concise and clear public statement concerning the most important philosophical discovery, ever, in the history of science; and, I decided, therefore, that I must make such a public statement myself and I did so, in an essay in Nature, “The mental Universe,” I knew that no such negative response could possibly occur in my case, because of the fine character of my great university;

….
“Quantum Enigma” only mentions the quantum Zeno effect in passing, which surprises me. Despite their timidity, it is quite clear that our shivering authors know darned well that mind is central and nothing shows the truth of that more clearly than does the quantum Zeno effect.
….

For an atheist such as myself, the result is simultaneously enormous, and minor. I have made the leap of faith that MY mind is not the universe: well, you will not be surprised to learn that I sure don’t accept that YOURS is! So, I am forced to meet the Great omniscient Spirit, GoS. How do you do! Pleased to meet you! I am here not at all joking; as I go for my hour of walking each day, I not infrequently hold hands with GoS.

You can see what I mean by “enormous.” Of fundamental importance to me. But minor at the same time, because that is the end of it. The first ten Presidents of the United States were all Deists, not Christians. As was Lincoln. I join them in that belief.

The authors make the critical point that religious belief flowing out of quantum mechanics does not in any way validate “intelligent design.” (Indeed, in my view ID is insulting to GoS, who is surely not, as the authors emphasize, a tinkerer.)

Richard Conn Henry
Review Quantum Enigma

Henry anticipated a backlash from his colleagues from his essay in Nature, but none came about possibly because of his prestigious affiliations. He disavows ID, but he apparently regards himself as a Deist now, and that would suggest he thinks there is a Supreme Being of sorts since:

Deism is a religious and philosophical belief that a supreme being created the universe, and that this (and religious truth in general) can be determined using reason and observation of the natural world alone, without a need for either faith or organized religion

Wikipedia

So Henry believes the Great Omnipresent Spirit (GoS) is the creator, but he thinks it would be insulting to suggest that GoS is also the Intelligent Designer.

Far be it for me to disagree with Dr. Henry, but it’s hard not to think that the Great Omnipresent Sprit is also the Intelligent Designer of the universe and life. But if the Great Omnipresent Sprit, dare I say God, is not the Intelligent Designer of life, He would at least have the proper skill sets to make life.

NOTES:
Henry’s idea has been mentioned indirectly earlier. Here is a photo of an Review in Nature 19 years earlier of a book by John Barrow and Frank Tipler.

In the thread Peer Reviewed Stealth ID Classic I point out Tipler’s comment:

I discovered this the hard way when I published my book The Physics of Immortality. The entire book is devoted to describing what the known laws of physics predict the far future of the universe will be like. Not once in the entire book do I use anything but the known physical laws, the laws of physics that are in all the textbooks, and which agree with all experiments conducted to date. Unfortunately, in the book I gave reasons for believing that the final state of the universe, a state outside of space and time, and not material should be identified with the Judeo-Christian God. (It would take a book to explain why!) My scientific colleagues, atheists to a man, were outraged. Even though the theory of the final state of the universe involved only known physics, my fellow physicists refused even to discuss the theory. If the known laws of physics imply that God exists, then in their opinion, this can only mean that the laws of physics have to be wrong. This past September, at a conference held at Windsor Castle, I asked the well known cosmologist Paul Davies what he thought of my theory. He replied that he could find nothing wrong with it mathematically, but he asked what justified my assumption that the known laws of physics were correct.

Frank Tipler
Uncommon Dissent

The idea is actually simple. It is the physics version of a theological argument often used by William Lane Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument.

Barrow and Tipler’s variant of the Kalam Cosmological Argument uses quantum mechanics. The Orthodox interpretation of quantum mechanics is that features of a system which did not previously exist are created through the process of observation. This is described in a college text for physics students:

The orthodox position raises even more disturbing problems, for if the act of measurement forces the system to “take a stand,” helping to create an attribute that was not there previously, then there is something very peculiar about the measurement process.

p. 420
Quantum Mechanics 2nd Edition
David Griffiths

Barrow and Tipler argue that not just features of small quantum systems but ALL the features of the universe come about because some Observer creates all the attributes of the universe. Barrow and Tipler argue that this inference (although speculative) proceeds directly from the laws of physics (independent of any theology). Barrow and Tipler call the Observer who creates the universe “The Ultimate Observer”. Tipler later identified “The Ultimate Observer” as God.

Oddly, Barrow and Tipler’s work has been criticized from ID quarters (partly because they advocate Many Worlds). But I think their work is more ID-friendly than most realize!

On top of that, there is the reasonable inference that consciousness must be somehow at the root of what make quantum observations real. That was the thesis of Quantum Enigma (which Henry references). Here is what the authors Kuttner and Rosenbulm had to say at www.QuantumEnigma.com:

Quantum mechanics is the most battle-tested theory in all of science. It is also practical. (One third of our economy depends on things designed with it.) But, with the advent of quantum mechanics, physicists, unexpectedly, felt the need to talk of reality, connectedness, and even “consciousness.”

Reality: Undisputed experimental results challenge any common-sense view of physical reality. By your free choice you can establish either of two contradictory prior physical realities. What existed before your observation? Experts in the foundations of quantum mechanics still puzzle about and argue about this.

While the creation of physical reality can be demonstrated only for small things, like molecules, or “simple” situations, only technology sets the limit. Quantum theory is seamless. It presumably applies to everything (including us?). Cosmologists apply quantum mechanics to black holes and the Big Bang.

Click here for a compact description of experiments demonstrating reality creation.

Connectedness: Quantum theory tells that all things that have ever interacted are forever connected. For example, your friend’s freely made decision of what to do in Moscow (or on Mars) can instantaneously influence what you find in Manhattan. And this happens without any physical force being involved. Einstein called such influences “spooky actions.” They have now been demonstrated to exist. So far just for small things, but they are no less spooky.


The facts described in our book are completely undisputed. But mentioning “consciousness” is controversial. The encounter of physics with “non-physical” stuff like consciousness has been called our “skeleton in the closet.” Look at the undisputed facts, and think for yourself about what they mean.

Quantum Enigma in a Nutshell

and

in our teaching of quantum mechanics, we tacitly deny the mystery physics has encountered. We hardly mention Bohr’s grappling with physics’ encounter with the observer and von Neumann’s demonstration that the encounter is, in principle, inevitable. We largely avoid the still-unresolved issues raised by Einstein, Schrödinger, Wigner, Bohm, and Bell. Outside the physics classroom, physicists increasingly address these issues and often go beyond the purely “physical.” Consciousness, for example, comes up explicitly in almost every one of today’s proliferating interpretations of quantum mechanics, if only to show why physics itself need not deal with it. The many worlds interpretation, for example, is also referred to as the “many minds” interpretation, and a major treatment of decoherence concludes that an ultimate understanding would involve a model of consciousness.

The Copenhagen interpretation is, of course, all we need to describe the world, for all practical purposes. And for a physics class, practical purposes are generally all that matter. But a physics student confronting someone inclined to take the implications of quantum mechanics to unjustified places will find Copenhagen’s for-all-practical-purposes treatment an ineffective argument.

Our physics discipline is unable to present a reasonable-seeming picture of what’s going on in the physical world, one that goes beyond merely practical purposes. But a lecture or two can succinctly expose the mystery physics has encountered, admit the limits of our understanding, and identify as speculation whatever goes beyond those limits. It would enable students to effectively confront the quantum nonsense. Such a presentation is possible even in a “physics for poets” class, where it may even be most crucial. Physics’ encounter with the observer and consciousness can be embarrassing, but that’s not a good reason for avoiding it. The analogy with sex education comes to mind.

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HT: my good friend and mentor Mike Gene for the Dawkins quote

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29 Responses to The Quantum Enigma of Consciousness and the Identity of the Designer

  1. Excellent post Sal!

    In this video, Dr. Strauss comments on Barrow and Tippler’s book:

    Anthropic Principle – God Created The Universe – Michael Strauss – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/.....rauss_phd/

    In conjunction with the mathematical necessity of an “Uncaused Cause” to explain the beginning of the universe, in philosophy it has been shown that,,,

    “The ‘First Mover’ is necessary for change occurring at each moment.”
    Michael Egnor – Aquinas’ First Way
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....first.html

    I find this centuries old philosophical argument, for the necessity of a “First Mover” accounting for change occurring at each moment, to be validated by quantum mechanics. This is since the possibility for the universe to be considered a “closed system” of cause and effect is removed with the refutation of the “hidden variable” argument. i.e. There must be a sufficient transcendent cause (God/First Mover) to explain the quantum wave collapse to the “uncertain” 3D effect for “each moment” of the universe.

    Dr. Quantum – Double Slit Experiment & Entanglement – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/.....anglement/

    “Why, who makes much of a miracle? As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles, Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
    Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,,,”
    Walt Whitman – Miracles

    Moreover, the transcendent cause must be sufficient to explain the semi-unique effect of 3D centrality witnessed by each individual observer in the universe.

    That the “mind” of a individual observer would play such an integral yet not complete “closed system role”, in the instantaneous quantum wave collapse of the universe to “3D centrality”, gives us clear evidence that our “mind” is a unique entity. A unique entity with a superior quality of existence when compared to the “uncertain 3D particles” of the “material” universe. This is clear evidence for the existence of the “higher dimensional soul” of man that supersedes any “material basis” that the soul/mind has been purported to “emerge” from by materialists.
    This video highlights the mystery of the question of exactly what in our brain is doing the observing?:

    Blind Woman Can See During Near Death Experience – Pim Lommel – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/.....ommel_nde/

    Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper (1997) conducted a study of 31 blind people, many of who reported vision during their NDEs. 21 of these people had had an NDE while the remaining 10 had had an out-of-body experience (OBE), but no NDE. It was found that in the NDE sample, about half had been blind from birth.
    http://findarticles.com/p/arti....._65076875/

  2. I studied Quantum Mechanics and I always found it strange that people claimed that ‘measurement forces the universe to make a choice’. There is something in this, the collapse of the wavefunction, but in fact all it takes is the right kind of interaction. E.g. in the double slit experiment, a photon interacting with an electron ‘resets’ the wavefunction of the electron preventing an interference pattern. The stream of photons might be due to a conscious intent to measure something, but actually, physically the interaction will take place whether anyone is watching it or not.

    Now I work with Quantum Mechanics. It is all about Hilbert spaces and operators; abstract mathematical forms for which it is difficult to see how they could be underpinned by a material reality. Therefore, I am happy to say that the universe is fundamentally ‘made of’ abstract mathematics, and this certainly has implications regarding the creation of such a universe (by defining the mathematics – a kind of Logos). However, I dont like the idea that the universe *is* a mind or is mental in nature; that goes beyond the physics, and tends towards pantheism.

    The judaeo-christian / deistic view of the universe is that it is created and thus works by laws and is inherently limited. The pantheistic / atheistic / evolutionary view of the universe says that laws are not fundamental but emerge and there is within itself unlimited potential for new complexity. Given the abundant evidence for ID, I wouldnt be surprised if atheists to move to a kind of pantheism and suggest that the universe ID’s itself; an idea not a million miles away from where they are now.

  3. Thanks BornAgain77 for the additional info!

  4. Instead of ‘creation of such a universe’, I should have said ‘creation and continued existence of such a universe’.

  5. Andy,

    Thank you for your input. I’m appreciative of people reading my posts who have a physics background.

    I’m passingly familiar with QM: operators, hilbert spaces, commutators, eigenfunctions, Schrodinger’s equations…

    I’ve not matured to deeper stuff like the Klein-Gordon equations, Quantum Electrodynamics, Quantum Chromo Dynamics, Lie-Algebras, etc….

    The reason I put forward some of the links and reference was for those more familiar with QM to have access to the material that I used to offer my speculation. I’m not really competent to argue if the source material I use is correct, but it seems it would be hard to argue the physicists who connect consciousness and physics are incompetent.

    With respect to the double-slit experiment or even more poignantly the “self-collapse” systems, it would appear that there is no need for a consciousness, a autonomous mechanical measuring device would suffice.

    But Physics Nobel Laureate Wigner claimed that even though the measurement was made through material surrogates, somehow there must be a regress to at least some sort of localized “first cause” in a conscious mind.

    Physics Nobel Wigner claimed that a purely physical system (something purely enslaved to the laws of QM) cannot itself precipitate a chain of “events” which cause a breakdown (aka collapse) of the wave function. It was something of a proof of contradiction. I do not have the original paper by Wigner, but it is often cited by others like Morowitz.

    Henry refers to the Renninger experiment. Very strange experiment! It seems relevant to the issue of autonomous measurement where the mind doesn’t seem directly involved….

    Richard Conn Henry, Kuttner and Rosenblum, go through a long list of the competing interpretations of QM. The issues are way above my head, but I leave it to people like them to argue the details.

    Given the abundant evidence for ID, I wouldnt be surprised if atheists to move to a kind of pantheism

    Agreed. That is what happened to Hoyle who wrote Intelligent Design and who was among the first to re-coin the phrase “Intelligent Design” (actually Darwin uses the phrase in his writings). Hoyle inspired Barrow and Tipler.

    and suggest that the universe ID’s itself; an idea not a million miles away from where they are now.

    That was one of the criticisms of Tipler’s work (surprisingly from ID quarters).

    He was an atheist, then argued for the possibility of theism. One reviewer at Amazon said, Tipler discovered a God that even “an atheist could love”. Over time Tipler has come closer and closer to an orthodox view of God (I don’t think he’s quite there all the way, but closer than most).

    Tipler was considered fringe. It’s encouraging that those who would be considered less fringe (like Richard Conn Henry) are now joining the fray.

    It’s also encouraging that those who were never fringe (Wigner) are now being remembered for their contribution to the topic.

    Oddly, some YEC creationists hate QM since some think it unscriptural.

    I think the investigation in these topics has only begun.

  6. For the reader’s benefit, here is one of my favorite essays (in mostly plain english) describing Quantum Mechanics:

    One Hundred Years of Quantum Physics.

    The opening excerpt:

    An informed list of the most profound scientific developments of the 20th century is likely to include general relativity, quantum mechanics, big bang cosmology, the unraveling of the genetic code….and perhaps a few other topics of the reader’s choice. Among these, quantum mechanics is unique because of its profoundly radical quality. Quantum mechanics forced physicists to reshape their ideas of reality, to rethink the nature of things at the deepest level, and to revise their concepts of position and speed, as well as their notions of cause and effect.
    Although quantum mechanics was created to describe an abstract atomic world far removed from daily experience, its impact on our daily lives could hardly be greater. The spectacular advances in chemistry, biology, and medicine—and in essentially every other science—could not have occurred without the tools that quantum mechanics made possible. Without quantum mechanics there would be no global economy to speak of,….

    The rest of the essay is superb. One would expect as much from professors at MIT!

  7. You might find this video interesting Sal:

    The “unification” between what is in essence the “infinite world of Quantum Mechanics” and the “finite world of the space-time of General Relativity”, though very frustrating to mathematicians to “unify” into a theory of everything, seems to be directly related to what Jesus apparently joined together with His resurrection, i.e. related to the unification of infinite God with finite man:

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/.....e_is_life/

    The End Of Christianity – Finding a Good God in an Evil World – Pg.31 – William Dembski
    Excerpt: “In mathematics there are two ways to go to infinity. One is to grow large without measure. The other is to form a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero. The Cross is a path of humility in which the infinite God becomes finite and then contracts to zero, only to resurrect and thereby unite a finite humanity within a newfound infinity.” http://www.designinference.com.....of_xty.pdf

  8. I’m no physicist, or scientist of any stripe for that matter. Not even a philospher. So FWIW…

    The danger that Deism poses (especially, it seems, to one’s scientific career) when approaching it from the opposite direction that some of the Founders approached it, the trail happens to lead straight back to the man from Galilee.

    Having escaped, on the New World shores, oppressive establishments of religion in the Old World that dated to medieval times, God nevertheless remained a given for the Deists of yore. Especially considering that they not only believed that the scientific order of the world had to be the product of an intelligence. A lot of them were unwilling to abandon a belief in things like beauty, truth, love, and whatnot — subjective though they may be.

    Approaching Deism backwards, from a materialist point of view, if the whole universe has prvoen itself to be the product of “mind” after all, and therefore “subjective,” then “the subjective nature” of things like beauty, truth, love, and whatnot has to be abandoned as a pejoritive to argue against the independent reality of their existence beyond mere emergent and naturally-selected placeholders.

    Retrace this logic long enough (throwing in all the studies in comparitive religion you’d like) and you come to the conclusion — or at least I did — that either the man from Galilee was right, or at best, the universe is God’s brain f*rt. At worst, it is a cruel joke.

  9. scordova @6,

    That article is an eye-opening wonderful read.

    What really struck me was this line at the end:

    ..we cannot fully predict the properties of the elementary constituents of matter, we must measure them.

    Because we cannot predict the properties of matter, we cannot predict the improbabilty of any event.

    Quantum mechanics suggests that life arising solely from unaided physical forces is possible.

  10. Retrace this logic long enough (throwing in all the studies in comparitive religion you’d like) and you come to the conclusion — or at least I did — that either the man from Galilee was right, or at best, the universe is God’s brain f*rt. At worst, it is a cruel joke.

    I think science has given reasonable evidence that there could be a Deity. I accept God’s existence on faith (sometimes with many doubts), but science has made God’s existence more believable.

    The question is whether God really cares given the cruelty we see in the world.

    I’ve argued that Darwin’s bad design argument is illogical. The refutation of the “bad design argument” implies an Intelligent Designer who can be quite cruel. Yikes!

    The question of whether the Christian faith is the correct description of reality is another topic altogether and the Jewish ID proponents (like Schroeder) might have much to say on the topic!!!

    Physcist John Polkinghorne said Christianity is bold in that it makes bold claims of history.

    My personal research interest is in the Genealogy of Luke Chapter 3. John Sanford believes the DNA evidence is suggestive that the genealogy is accruate, thus it would lend credence to one faith over another.

    Evolutionary biology has lent us the tools (population biology, population genetics) to see if Sanford’s thesis is correct.

    I’ve concluded the origin of life had to be a very unique event involving an intelligence far beyond our comprehnsion. Beyond that, we sort of grope for scientific evidence for what happened in between then and now.

    I’m inclined to believe a literal reading of the BIble but there are numerous problems in terms of physics. So on those matters I remain open minded with my biases.

    One thing though that I’ve concluded: There is no salvation in Darwin, salvation must surely come from elsewhere.

  11. Toronto,

    Quantum mechanics suggests that life arising solely from unaided physical forces is possible.

    I thought “poof” did not constitute a valid scientific explanation?

  12. Sal:

    Have you heard any word from Dr. Sanford on the ancient bacteria that he is testing? Remember you told me about this topic several months ago? I would be very interested to hear the results if you know anything.

  13. scordova: Thanks for taking time out to write a thought-provoking answer to a pleb.

    John Sanford’s work on Luke sounds interesting. I appreciate you mentioning it, and I will keep an eye out for what pops up aimed at a general audience.

    Unless I’m reading the post crooked, it looks to this general reader as if science — kicking and screaming — is nudging toward the idea that there has to be a deity, or at least an incorporeal intelligence of some sort that designed the universe.

    The point I am trying to make is, if not only things like truth, beauty, and love — or cruelty, for that matter, or faith — are “the abstract product of ‘mind’,” but what physics formerly held as concrete in the world turns out also to be “the abstract product of ‘mind’,” maybe the former aren’t as abstract as they are painted to be.

    I am not arguing for a Platonic realm wherein reside the absolutes. But rather, if there is a designer responsible for the whole scope of creation, what is the overall purpose of that design? If the question itself — which it seems as if human beings were designed to ask — is more than just an evolutionary artifact, what is it?

    Maybe answering it is a mission. Maybe answering it a duty. Maybe for some reason, faith is required to discover the right answer.

    If Christianity is true, it is.

  14. Clive Hayden @11,

    But that is not “poof” as it is supported by Quantum Mechanics, (QM), and thus MN.

  15. Clive, at least Toronto is being somewhat consistent to the proper line of argumentation that a materialist should take considering what we now know from quantum mechanics. What he fails to realize, much like Koonin failed to realize in his Biological Big Bang paper, is that calling on unfettered access to the infinite probabilistic resources of the many world’s scenario actually greatly increases the amount of totally chaotic information one would expect to see appearing in the fossil record. i.e. one would expect to see far more bizarre events “popping” into existence, than the nice tidy “ecologically complete” appearance of fossil forms we do see (where are all those failed experiments of evolution by the way?). What Toronto lacks is a sufficient “cause” in quantum mechanics for the “3 dimensional effect” he wishes to explain. I fully believe once the full implications of Quantum Mechanics is properly incorporated into mainstream scientific thought, Then the necessity of the Logos of John 1:1 as a sufficient transcendent cause will be clear. At least it will be clear to those who are not predisposed to philosophically reject the notion of a higher dimensional cause. i.e. God

  16. Unless I’m reading the post crooked, it looks to this general reader as if science — kicking and screaming — is nudging toward the idea that there has to be a deity, or at least an incorporeal intelligence of some sort that designed the universe.

    Yes. That is my take as well.

    1. It is reasonable to say that the root of intelligence is incorporeal. This argument was put forward by Physics Nobel Laureate Eugene Wigner. He claimed only get consistency if out of quantum mechanics if he supposed the existence of non-physical, non-material entities. The argument is quite involved and the math deep. I don’t have Wigner’s original paper, but it is mentioned by other physicists. The fact the some one of Richard Conn Henry’s reputation echoes Wigner suggests that many accept Wigner’s derivations. Physics professors like Kuttner and Rosenbulm’s book attempts to make the argument in plain English. This is controversial, but considered reasonable in various physics circles.

    2. The idea of a Deity proceeds easily from the Kalam Cosmological Argument (quite easy to understand in plain English). Adding the language of Quantum Mechanics gave the argument teeth, and that the Deity is a non-material conscious intelligent being. This of course is roundly rejected, even though, as Tipler noted, it would seem to follow naturally from the laws of physics!

    To be exact, in Quantum Mechanics the Cause can be a Final Cause (where future observations have effect on past events!).

    As a physicist, I am aware that quantum mechanics, the central theory of modern physics, is even more deterministic that was the classical mechanics of which Darwin was aware. More than this, quantum mechanics is actually teleological, though physicists don’t use this loaded word (we call it “unitarity” instead of “teleology”). That is, quantum mechanics says that it is completely correct to say that the universe’s evolution is determined not by how it started in the Big Bang, but by the final state of the universe. Every stage of universal history, including every stage of biological and human history, is determined by the ultimate goal of the universe. And if I am correct that the universal final state is indeed God, then every stage of universal history, in particular every mutation that has ever occurred, or ever will occur in any living being, is determined by the action of God.

    Notes:

    Tipler quietely came to this conclusion in a papers he published in Nature (of which he has published 8).

    Tipler has a respectable Curriculum Vitae which he describes:

    PAPERS:
    58 papers in refereed journals, including 2 (single authored) papers in Physical Review Letters, 8 papers in Nature (6 of these single authored), and 1 (single authored) in Science. The papers which I personally consider the most important are

    1. Rotating Cylinders and the Possibility of Global Causality Violation, Physical Review D9, 2203-2206 (1974).

    2. Causality Violation in Asymptotically Flat Spacetimes, Physical Review Letters, 37, 879-882 (1976).

    3. Energy Conditions and Spacetime Singularities, Physical Review, D17, 2521-2528 (1978).

    4. General Relativity and Conjugate Ordinary Differential Equations, Journal of Differential Equations, 30, 165-174 (1978).

    5. General Relativity, Thermodynamics, and the Poincaré Cycle, Nature 280, 203-205 (1979).

    6. Extraterrestrial Intelligent Beings Do Not Exist, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, 21, 267-28 (1980).

    7. Interpreting the Wave Function of the Universe, Physics Reports, 137, 231-275 (1986).

    8. Traveling to the Other Side of the Universe, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society 49, 313-318 (1996).

    9. How Far Out Must We Go to Get Into the Hubble Flow? Astrophysical Journal 511, 546-549 (1999).

    10. Intelligent Life in Cosmology, International Journal of Astrobiology 2, 141-148 (2003).

    11. Structure of the World from Pure Numbers, Reports on Progress in Physics 68, 897-964 (2005).

    12. The Star of Bethlehem: a Type Ia/Ic Supernova in the Andromeda Galaxy? Observatory 125, 168-173 (2005).

    APPOINTMENTS AT OTHER UNIVERSITIES:
    Postdoc (Math, UC Berkeley) with Abraham H. Taub, himself a postdoc of John von Neumann

    Postdoc (Astrophysics, Oxford) with Dennis Sciama, the student of Paul Dirac, and the dissertation professor of S. W. Hawking and the current Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees, PRS.

    Postdoc (Physics, UT Austin) with John A Wheeler, the dissertation professor of R. P. Feynman.

  17. Because we cannot predict the properties of matter, we cannot predict the improbabilty of any event.

    That’s not correct. QM helps us compute various probabilities.

    Quantum mechanics suggests that life arising solely from unaided physical forces is possible.

    I don’t think QM says that, however I could be wrong and you’re invited to take Schrodinger’s equation and derive something to the contrary.

  18. My work is Feynman path integrals (simple ones), which are also the basis of much of QED, QCD etc. Re advanced QM, I did a little bit of Relativistic Quantum Field Theory (Klein-Gordon), enough to know it is really weird; e.g. antiparticles are actually particles travelling ‘backwards’ through time.

    But as we both know it is possible for illustrious men (even physicists :P ) to make fools of themselves. I dont think that consciousness is a necessary part of explaining QM, (except in the sense of explaining the mathematics) but it does seem to be compatible at least.

    My concern is that theistic ID proponents shouldnt jump on any such bandwagon without critiquing. For example, some of Tipler’s statements are nonsense. Unitarity does not equal teleology in any sense. Although Relativistic QM includes wavefunctions that propagate backward and forward in time, this does NOT mean that earlier events are determined by later events. I first encountered this idea in one of Paul Davies’ books, but nothing I know about QM supports it. Causality is not violated. The law of Entropy is also obeyed.

    The bottom line is, QM is weird, but not that weird. One lesson from history: before the discovery of DNA, the illustrious Schroedinger invoked mysterious QM as a magical power that could be the cause of inheritance in organisms, but now that theory seems absurd. The answer turned out to be much more accessible: inheritance is due to a ‘written’ code. Likewise, we need to hold modern QM-mystics to a certain degree of common sense.

  19. “But as we both know it is possible for illustrious men”
    is missing a line:
    “There are many physicists who seem to regard consciousness as somehow integral to QM. But …”

  20. My concern is that theistic ID proponents shouldnt jump on any such bandwagon without critiquing.

    By all means we should be skeptical, on the other hand it would seem to me (on purely philosophical grounds) that designer doesn’t want to make His existence too difficult to detect.

    Actually, it would be easy to conceal things if that were His intent. In such case, even if Design were true, the search for it would be futile.

    If this round is unsuccessful maybe another?

    Although Relativistic QM includes wavefunctions that propagate backward and forward in time, this does NOT mean that earlier events are determined by later events.

    Thank you for your response, but don’t delayed choice experiments (like the double-slit delayed choice and quantum erasure experiments) suggest future observations determine past properties?

    Wheeler’s experiment is described thus:
    Wheeler’s Delayed Choice Experiment

  21. To be fair, I had mentioned that some have offered competing views of the physical world than the picture painted by Quantum Mechanics.

    Oddly, the opposition has come from some creationist and secular quarters. A view somewhat representative of dissident theories is Stochastic Electro Dynamics (SED). Creationists and a minority secular scientists have proposed either SED or some variant thereof. A website defending the SED view can be found here:

    http://www.Calphysics.org

    It would of course be satisfying if we had all the answers, but all that can be offered at this time are competing, but well-reasoned, speculations.

  22. Sal,
    For me, I was convinced that consciousness was integral to QM reality when I started puzzling over as to exactly why the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) would form a perfect sphere around the earth:

    Earth As The Center Of The Universe – image
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc.....QydzV2OGhz

    The Known Universe – Dec. 2009 – very cool video (please note the centrality of the earth in the universe)
    http://www.youtube.com/v/17jymDn0W6U

    I realized in a thought experiment, after trying to maintain 3 dimensional (3-D) symmetry, for the entire universe, from radically different points of observation in the universe, that the only possible way for such 3-D spherical symmetry to be maintained is if the quantum waves actually do collapse, instantaneously, to their “uncertain” 3-D state for each individual point of “conscious observation” in the universe. The 4-D expanding hypersphere of the space-time of relativity was not sufficient to maintain 3-D integrity, especially given the accelerated expansion of the dark energy of the universe. And in fact the problem, in the thought experiment, became so acute that I realized the “uncertain” 3-D particles were also necessary to maintain 3-D symmetry from radically different points of observation in the universe since the 3-D geometric contortion visited on the problem is so drastic.

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Wigner
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C.....s_collapse

    Quantum Measurements: Common Sense Is Not Enough, Physicists Show – July 2009
    Excerpt: scientists have now proven comprehensively in an experiment for the first time that the experimentally observed phenomena cannot be described by non-contextual models with hidden variables. http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142824.htm

    (of note: hidden variables were postulated to remove the need for “spooky” forces, as Einstein termed them—forces that act instantaneously at great distances, thereby breaking the most cherished rule of relativity theory, that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.)

  23. scordova

    In this thread, I will suggest the identity of Intelligent Designer of life.

    Why waste nearly 2300 words if three letters would have sufficed?

  24. Far be it for me to disagree with Dr. Henry, but it’s hard not to think that the Great Omnipresent Sprit is also the Intelligent Designer of the universe and life.

    The designer of earth life may be an intermediate being that was created by the GoS. Or something like that.

  25. ‘…. “spooky” forces, as Einstein termed them—forces that act instantaneously at great distances, thereby breaking the most cherished rule of relativity theory, that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.)’

    This assumption that ‘spooky action at a distance’ entails travelling faster than the speed of light has always puzzled me. Why should it not be two remote acts of God that are simultaneous, linked via his mind?

    In the same vein, we, Christians don’t see a problem with God’s knowing every sparrow that falls, every hair on our head. So the divine ‘tinkering’ suggestion by Tipler doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense; a ‘spooky action at a distance’ might rather be one of gazillions of instances of God’s autonomic intelligence simply winging it in its habitually effortless manner. If we can have an awesome autonomic intelligence, I’m sure God could, of a rather higher order…

  26. Well, he must have, to have created the universe and be able to sustain it, 60/60/24/7.

  27. I’m thinking more in terms of God as an ambient matrix, rather than a God pulling levers, so to speak.

  28. Rather as Planck predicated, when referring to the ‘minute solar system’ of the atom.

  29. ‘“In mathematics there are two ways to go to infinity. One is to grow large without measure. The other is to form a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero. The Cross is a path of humility in which the infinite God becomes finite and then contracts to zero, only to resurrect and thereby unite a finite humanity within a newfound infinity.”

    That sounds like a mathematical formulation of ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, Philip!

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