The Mysteries & Consequences
of Quantum Exploration
By: Mark Bancroft, MA
Humankind's most accepted understanding of the world, of space and of microcosmic realms have been forged from the laborious, oftentimes frustrating efforts of scientific explorers. The advent of quantum theory at the turn of the century has evolved into a source of wonder, awe, frustration, and division for these dignified adventurers. As methods and technologies for subatomic world exploration developed scientists discovered that this world is remarkably strange. What was thought to be a structured and sensible domain supporting macrocosmic existence soon became regarded as its own universe with: no intention to obey causal law; no willingness to openly reveal its mysteries; no desire to fit into humankind's accepted worldview. The realization set in that the maps and compasses which had so well guided past scientific explorations had failed- an unforeseen threshold was unknowingly crossed, the adventurers entered the quantum universe.
The fact that our deterministic universe is superimposed, its roots entrenched within this strange new universe, could not be ignored. Our understanding of the causal world was soon regarded as severely inadequate for deriving meaning from the quantum realm. For the quest of knowledge to continue the perilous quantum universe would need to be charted.
Mapping the quantum realm has proven to be among the most challenging scientific endeavors ever. Agreement about what is seen in this unique domain remains speculative. Theories to explain recognized events fringe upon Eastern philosophy and Western mysticism. To a sixteenth-century physicist it would appear that today's scientists had evolved into poetic story tellers fueled by subjective fascination. Our time-traveling physicist would be greeted with theories (stories) such as: advanced waves traveling backwards in time; conscious observations manifesting the physical universe; parallel worlds; pre-destined events; anthrophic reality; physicality emerging from a unified field. Our visitor would surely ask, "How can you people, who call yourselves scientists of all things, engage in such ridiculous nonsense?" Our explanation would be incoherent, at best an elaborate metaphor of subjective meanderings.
However diverse and incredulous the theories appear, certain consistencies appear throughout the quantum world. The reason for such seemingly un-scientific explanations are due to the strangeness of these quantum consistencies. Photons and electrons are observed to behave as both particles andwaves, creating speculation about what were thought of to be solid, definite objects. The use of probabilities, rather than discrete, causal events, has given quantum theory exceptional precision; thus adding to the impression that definite objects simply do not, cannot, exist- the world as we perceive it literally is an illusion.
After wading through an enormous amount of experiments, theories, and observations our sixteenth-century visitor would ultimately be challenged with reconciling John Bells' theorem. Although not intended, John Bell created a viable postulate which, based upon observable fact, demonstrates that all models of reality which rely upon locality are inaccurate. The world of physicality is not created from local, cause and effect events; it is a world created from a unified source, or at least something along those lines. Supposing that non-locality is reality has unprecedented consequences.
A non-local reality is one in which there is no separateness. Everything is joined and connected to everything else; our experience of separateness is not real; life as we perceive it ultimately emerges from unification. The implications of a non-local reality makes it apparent that we inhabit a phenomenal world; a world appearing vividly real but one which is not itself reality. If this is the case it becomes clear that humankind's very existence is structured between two worlds- our phenomenal world of separateness and the world of non-local, interconnected reality.
Science has explored the phenomenal world with vivacity, assuming that what was being mapped out and understood was reality. In phenomenal reality subjective exploration is not considered a worthy endeavor for those concerned with the factual operations of "reality". It now appears that what is considered to be objective science is turning in upon itself, being forced to acknowledge the subjective processes in order continue the explanation of what reality is. In the book The End of Science, by John Horgan, compelling evidence indicates that science is reaching an end. Demonstrated by the world's most influential scientists is the fact that science is running out of applicable and practical discoveries from which to draw. As science continues its quest for knowledge it is traversing a path which leads further away from phenomenal reality and into the deep realms of subjectivity. Apparently, the days of doing strict-objective science are numbered.
Although language is proving to be insufficient for describing modern scientific observations, another type of language already exists which is eerily similar to the descriptions scientific explorers are presenting. The words of poets, mystics, and philosophers have been created from perceptions of oneness, unification, wholeness, and illusionary separateness for centuries. Attempts to better understand the apparent non-local operations of the quantum realm are demanding scientists to re-examine the value of subjective interpretation. The realms of subjectivity, having been stripped of their perceived importance for centuries, are now finding new value as objective science ventures away from the phenomenal world into non-local reality in search for answers. The phenomenal world of separateness does appear to exist upon the foundation of non-local reality; the objective world as we know it may actually arise from the depths of the subjective realm.
As science approaches the end of this millennium it is also approaching the end of the objective ideal which has dictated value and importance to nearly every human endeavor. The implications of non-locality imply that while science has for centuries argued to be objective, its existence has actually been structured upon a subjective (unknown) framework. Such implications will have profound effects upon the very nature of human thought, perceptions, and our notions concerning reality. Objective science may indeed be in its dying hours. But, this does not mean that 'science', the quest for knowledge driven by curiosity, will be buried by its side- exiled to the dreary graveyard of discarded and worn out truths, worldviews, and past realities. To exist in a non-local reality the form of science will change significantly. The acknowledgment of a non-local reality while we exist in a phenomenal world is powerful, dynamic, and may prove to become the greatest scientific discovery of all ages.
First of all, the inner experience of conscious awareness, the experience of "I" and "We" (cultural dimensions) will be freed from the oppressive context of relegating all such experiences to objective "It" language. Emotion, subjective meaning, and inner experiences will find clearer expression once such realms are no longer stripped of their importance through the once considered "It"/objectifying methods of definition. Experiencing a heart-felt connection through someone else's suffering no longer need be classified as delusional byproducts of a mechanical brain. If the phenomenal world is based upon a non-local reality there may indeed be a 'real' connection with those in distant lands suffering from starvation, war, violence, and injustice. Acknowledging that we may not exist as isolated particles will make the experience of compassion more accepted, more meaningful, more real.
Secondly, to examine the quantum world will ultimately mean to examine the phenomenal world. How can the experience of separateness arise from a unified reality? How does our particle-like, causal existence arise from a non-particle, wave-like reality? Why do we experience the world, ourselves, and the universe as separateness? Have we created this phenomenal reality? If so, can we change it? By exploring the phenomenal world we will be exploring our innermost nature.
The third consequence of where quantum theory is taking us has to do with the quest of knowledge. Once restricted to outer regions of the phenomenal world, the quest will more than likely lead us to examine consciousness. Rather than viewing it as a distraction from the truth- consciousness may very well become thetruth.
Finally, in questioning the assumptions upon which our phenomenal world is founded, we will be giving ourselves the choice as to what kind of reality we want to live in. What kind of world do we want to experience? If we are creating the phenomenal world from within, if its all illusionary regardless, a new worldview will emerge. A worldview where values, morals, our experience of ourselves and others, will be consciously understood and consciously created- not unconsciously dictated by a few individuals or established institutions. Western religion and Eastern philosophy has promised such gifts, yet have proven insufficient in their ability to establish fundamental freedoms. With the inclusion of conscious decision such a process of creating an expanded reality appears feasible. This is not a regression, is not delusional and wishful thinking- it may very well be the next evolutionary step in the expanding complexity of human nature. To exist consciously between two worlds, to be given the choice of what kind of world (of reality) we choose, and to know why we are choosing it may be the most significant treasure science can bestow.
Mark Bancroft, MA, CHT
Nevada City, CA
Article: Copyright (C) 1998. Mark Bancroft, MA, CHT, Nevada City, CA, 95959. All rights reserved.