I am not sure that what I have thus far posted will stimulate a lot of discussion. Therefore, I am herewith submitting my opinion about the ultimate nature and origin of physical reality for the consideration of all who access this blog. I covet your comments.
Paul said, “…we have the mind of Christ,” and Stephen Hawking has said he seeks the mind of God through physics and cosmology. Arthur Eddington, a famous astrophysicist of the earlier part of the twentieth century, said, “The stuff of the universe is mind-stuff,” and the book of Genesis repeatedly states that “God said, ‘Let there be ….,’” in describing creation. Who did He say it to? Apparently to Himself, and that makes these proclamations thoughts, albeit formally expressed thoughts. Expression, wherein the Godhead is concerned, is by way of the Person of God=s executive aspect, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word, the Logos, the Son, Jesus.
Similarly, Sir James Jeans, a physicist and mathematician who worked with astronomer Edwin Hubble (who discovered that our universe is expanding and was honored several years ago in having a well-known space telescope named after him), said, “The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter; we are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter….We discover that the universe shows evidence of a designing or controlling power that has something in common with our own individual minds….” Here we have a scientist of excellence bothering to express that which had been impressed upon him by years of searching the heavens and trying to find a common denominator for all he observed. And he came up with Mind. (My book, Things Are Not As They Seem, explains why I strongly believe that mind is primary in the universe, much more so than space, time or matter.)
Cecil B. DeMille said, “Let the divine mind flow through your mind, and you will be happier. I have found the greatest power in the world in the power of prayer. There is no shadow of doubt of that. I speak from my own experience.” Even the pessimistic philosopher, Schopenhauer, thought of the universe in terms of will and idea. Then, most piercing — I am struggling to resist more emotional and melodramatic words — we have a recent trend among theoretical physicists, initiated by the late John Archibald Wheeler of Princeton, to regard the physical world as information, with energy and matter as incidentals! (I cannot recall who I am quoting here, but the explanation point is mine.) Here we have a man who was the dean of the theoretical physicists of the entire world, the mentor of two or three generations of scientists, including Richard Feynman and Hugh Everett III of the “Many Worlds Interpretation” of quantum physics, and who worked with both Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein, echoing Jeans= concept of the universe. It appears, moreover, that he arrived seventy years later at what amounts to the same opinion that Eddington had expressed in 1927, during the same year in which Hubble made his momentous discovery. And — Stephen Hawking, the best known theoretical physicist in the world today, essentially, it seems to me, expresses a belief which is the same as Wheeler’s in the following excerpt from A Brief History of Time: “Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing? Is the unified theory so compelling that it brings about its own existence? Or does it need a creator, and, if so, does he have any other effect on the universe? And who created him?”
When I combine the idea of the universe as information with all this supporting material, I feel overwhelmed, bowled over — with realization, clarity and reverence. I feel like C.S. Lewis must have on the specific day he was able to identify when He first felt certain about the existence of God; the day in which, in his thirties, he knelt and prayed for the first time since his childhood. (See his autobiography, Surprised By Joy.) Information is not synonymous with thought, with one exception. If the thinker is omniscient, His thought will be pure information. Also, we who are in the process of becoming what we will be in eternity are able to plan projects with our minds and then produce them using our minds and our extremities. How much more is an omnipotent Being — in fact Being itself — able to complete production of anything by way of nothing more than thought itself? I could hardly believe more strongly that the universe and all its contents, including us humans, is indeed information, which can only be the thought of a Great Mind, the Great Mind, the Greatest Mind, the true God, He of the Bible.
There can certainly be no information without an informer, and the Informer who endows us with the information, which is all the physical reality of which we are aware, can only be this one God, the Source of all goodness, reason and worthwhile information.
Michelangelo seems to have expressed his belief in the primacy of mind in the universe when he painted God reaching out to Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel against a background shaped exactly like a sagittal section of a human brain (as an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association of several years ago pointed out quite convincingly). In this masterpiece, he represents the creation of mind by Mind. Furthermore, Bishop George Berkeley, in the eighteenth century, said that any object is merely a bundle of perceptions — no matter how we struggle to claim it is really “out there,” existing independently, we know absolutely nothing of it except through our senses which feed into our minds. “Thus, even something as obtrusive as a hammer striking your thumb ultimately consists for you only of your brain’s interpretation of the pain impulses streaming up your arm to the parietal cortex and impulses via the retina and optic nerve to the occipital area of your cerebrum, as you watch in horror.@ (Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy.) Presaging Jeans= views of two centuries later, this theologian and philosopher of the 1700’s saw mind as primary in the universe, matter as shadowy in its existence, and our senses as undependable with regard to the revelation of ultimate reality. It is reason and faith that allows us to perceive this to the degree that it can be perceived.
Quite a bit earlier there was Xenophanes of Colophon, who lived during the sixth century B.C. in a town in ionian Greece near Miletus. He reasoned that the arche= is a single God, who moves all things by way of his Mind. (“Arche’” means Ruling Principle, the entity that got everything else going.) Finally, Aristotle, giant of study and thought, saw the Creator of all as the Unmoved Mover, whose sole activity he believed to be thought.
The primacy of mind in the universe also fits well with the mysteries of quantum mechanics, wherein our examining a system affects what happens in it, and it is possible, as I have written, that nothing can really happen until a cogent mind is aware of the event in question. (The following wonderful limerick appears in Frank J. Tipler’s book, The Physics of Immortality — which, if read, should be approached in a highly skeptical manner: “There once was a man who said, “God Must think it exceedingly odd If He finds that this tree Continues to be When there’s no one about in the Quad. Reply: Dear Sir: Your astonishment’s odd. I am always about in the Quad. And that’s why the tree Will continue to be, Since observed by Your’s faithfully, God.”) As DeMille said, God=s thought flows through our minds, when we allow, and, as Jeans put it, we have something in common with God=s Mind. The information of the Informer is all of reality except for the abstract. It streams from the Mind of the Beginner, He Who begot and maintains the world, He Who is uncreated Truth. The universe is the Thought of God.