Friday, June 26, 2009

"God is Not Dead":
is this proved in Amit Goswami's book?

This again an ambitious book, trying to use quantum mechanics to prove that God is not dead. Does he succeed? Yes: if you accept his very limited definition of God. But No: if you acknowledge rather that God is transcendent & immmanent Person.

Goswami starts with quantum mechanics, but soon stretches it beyond recognition. He does take quantum non-locality seriously, but he wants 'quantum correlations' to enable communications between all sorts of things between which we have trouble seeing the connections. In this way, he postulates connections between our four bodies that are physical, vital, mental, and the supramental soul. (Having of course postulated that all four exist!). These 'quantum correlations' are instances of 'downward causation', and give rise to 'wave function collapses'.

There are many difficulties with his views, both from the physical and theistic points of view.

From physics, he realises (p217) that Eberhard's theorem says that no information transfer can occur by means of quantum correlations. This would appear to cripple his whole scheme, but he states that "I have repeatedly pointed out that for information transfers between brains and minds, in which consciousness collapses the synchronistic events that constitute the transfer of information, Eberhard's theorem does not apply". The apparent reason for it not applying is that Eberhard refers to physics correlations, whereas Goswami is referring to 'correlations through consciousness', and 'For such correlation, there is no reason why Eberhard's theorem should apply, and therefore, message transfer may be possible.' This is hardly a positive statement of what can actually happen!

From a theistic viewpoint, he makes some very strange claims. Some of these stem from his attempting to make a non-dualist theory (p46), but, despite his claims, his theory is never really monistic at all. That is because he has 4 kinds of bodies not reducible to each other, or to God.

Some of his strange claims are:
  1. 'God is the agent of downward causation'. One reading of this is true in theism, but Goswami turns it around. According to him, every instance of downward causation is God(!). So any experiment which demonstrates non-local correlations is therefore a proof of God. That is not God was we know him! We certainly do not believe his claim to have thereby 'rediscovered God within science'!
  2. He has a 'body of mental archetypes' (the soul), alongside the other 3 physical, vital and mental bodies. To avoid the 'dreaded dualism' like the plague, he refuses to order these four bodies in any sense of being more spiritual or more material. It is never clear why 'archetypes' in one of our bodies have control over all the others. Similarly, there is no sense of the mind eg 'encompassing' the physical body, so it is not clear whether his final monism is idealistic or materialistic.
  3. He does not want the 'superhuman' God of popular Christianity. Instead, he equates God with Brahman, with quantum vacuum, with 'quantum consciousness', and with the 'akashic field'. These last 3 are not transcendent in the religious sense.
  4. His idea of God is of consciousness but not of love; of an agent but not a will; not a person; and not someone to love or worship. Later though (pp233ff) he does talk about 'Love of God', but does not explain it, and in the end has no real sense of spirituality of love.
  5. He postulates consciousness only when we are deciding. So when we are processing information without deciding, we are not consciousness. This would imply erroneously that intellectual thought is not conscious!
  6. So God is not conscious (p109)! Nevertheless, God works by making plans 'in potentia'. God must do this unconsciously!
  7. The aim of evolution is 'play, purposive play, play of expression, the expression of all that is possible to express' (p129). There is no sense here of choosing (or even advocating) what is good to express, rather than the opposite.
  8. He says (p142) that 'dualism is untenable because of experimental data that establish the law of conservation of energy', and then goes on to talk about theories of 'vital energy' (pp149-152). In reply, we note that if vital energy exists, then physical energy cannot be all there is, so it is unlikely to be conserved by itself. And then we note that there have been no experiments to test conservation of energy within living/thinking systems, which is just where we need to know if it is true or not.
  9. He thinks that all altruism is just helping ourselves, because, by virtue of non-locality, we are all one within a monism. That is, he says we are all just selfish even when we help others! See my earlier post about monism/non-dualism.
  10. I pass over his comments on Jesus.

No comments:

Post a Comment