Arguing for a Human Universe
Here's a science book that is of urgent interest to non-scientists, because it can change the way we live by helping us change the paradigm with which we see the world. Throughout Deepak Chopra's career, he has believed that many aspects of everyday life need to be re-examined. He was proved right when he argued for the mind-body connection thirty years ago, at a time when mainstream medicine either rejected or ridiculed the idea that our thoughts influence our bodies.
Mainstream physicists might reject or ridicule the concept that our thoughts influence the cosmos, which is the main theme of this book, but the book was written with physics professor Menas Kafatos, so the science is solid. You Are the Universe means what its title says. The reality we inhabit is shaped by our own experience, and if there is such a thing as another reality apart from our raw experience, we will never know it. And what would it even mean to say reality can be independent of experience? Such a radical thesis puts the physics establishment on notice, using its own methods. The book outlines the key mysteries that physics hasn't solved, such as what came before the big bang, which is like asking what happened before the beginning of time. Chopra and Kafatos are bold enough to broach forbidden and politically incorrect questions like whether there is design of the universe (while strictly distancing themselves from any religious view, especially Intelligent Design).
What surprised me is how deep the unsolved mysteries go and how credible a human universe actually is. In the tradition of quantum physics, as the authors point out, physical reality was radically revised, and some of the pioneers of quantum physics seriously doubted the things we take for granted about existence--matter, energy, space, and time--are even remotely like what our common-sense ideas of them are. Solid physical objects, for example, turn into clouds of energy at the quantum level before dissolving into probability waves and finally vanishing into the quantum void. The fact that the universe was born out of nothing--the quantum vacuum--opens the way for describing the pre-created state in many ways.
Chopra and Kafatos touch on some of the current theories in physics as well. They point out that modern physics theories provide descriptions that are based on arcane mathematics, such as superstring theory, and which have almost zero empirical evidence to prove the case one way or the other. The same holds true for the fashionable multiverse theory, which theorizes trillions of alternate universes that will never be seen or measured. The authors argue that the pre-created state of existence is consciousness, the source of not only everything physical but everything mental as well. While the idea of a conscious universe may not be new, even among some highly-respected cosmologists, but I don’t believe the case has been made anywhere else so thoroughly and so closely directed at personal transformation.
Despite the presence of Chopra's name, this isn't a spiritual book. It is highly readable pop science that exposes the hidden presumptions behind subject-object based knowledge, so that the role and presence of consciousness is recognized for what it is. The authors conclude with a plea for a new paradigm based on this reality that can save the planet and open the door to the next step in human evolution. Higher consciousness won't become widespread, they say, until we absorb a deep yet simple truth. Everything in creation is an activity in consciousness, and we humans sit at the center of a universe tailored to our awareness. We are thus co-creators of our own reality, at this very moment. It's an inspiring and an empowering message, that feels more relevant and urgent than ever.