Skip to content

Letter to Adam Becker, Author, What Is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics
Visiting Scholar, Office for History of Science and Technology
University of California, Berkeley
Adam@freelanceastro.com

Science has staked its legitimacy on sensory perception -- the observation and measurement of quantifiable matter -- as the sole arbiter of reality. Matter at the level of quanta has revealed that it is not bound by the reality so defined. The logical foundation that science has chosen for itself, and the material reality it stands for, is called into question.

There being no alternative reality for which sensory perception can serve as proof, science must turn to systems thinking to understand its discoveries. Metaphysics, the branch of philosophy concerned with the logic of reality, belongs in the conversation. This should include ontology, the branch of metaphysics concerned with the logic of being. The dynamics of human motivation, personal growth, feelings, and relationships come into play, and this involves psychology. Yet another field to consult is theology, because it offers insights into mind that orders all forms of creation.

Yesterday, I submitted a letter to the Mind / Brain Editor of Scientific American commenting on an article by a neuroscientist, Christof Koch. His article, “Tales of the Dying Brain,” prompted my letter because it adheres to the article of faith in sensory perception that has rooted science in subjectivity and irrationality from the beginning, and I believe the time has come to place it on firmer logical ground.

My letter cites two invaluable sources: Your own What Is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics and Carlo Rovelli’s Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity. Both you and Rovelli appear troubled, as Einstein was, by matter that doesn’t respect science’s article of faith. Both, commendably, encourage physics to follow the trail wherever it leads, Rovelli with an open appeal for help from philosophy. But while you're both alert to the question of material reality, neither appears willing to question your faith -- to question the role of traditional physics and its dependence on sensory perception.

My letter to Scientific American suggests that the world revealed beyond matter, through quantum mechanics, and the dying brain, through near-death experiences, is one of two competing realities, only one of which can be real. Hawking was unapologetic in championing his profession's bias in favor of sensory perception. It was his, and yours and Rovelli’s prerogative, to do so. But it comes at a cost. Science insisting on the incorrect reality, in service to its institutional purposes, leads human understanding down the wrong road.

It leads to incorrect conclusions devoid of meaning and purpose. Add to this the cost of not leading human understanding toward correct conclusions that awaken us to meaning and purpose. Quantitative science measures. It doesn't evaluate. The courageous and talented physicists whose work is highlighted in your book are an inspiration. But they and their work -- their profession -- can't be the source of "meaning" in quantum physics. For this, we need other sources.

Weaning science off rigid dependence on sensory perception must be a paradigm shift too far or it would have happened over a century ago. I do not make light of yours or science’s institutional self-interests. But more than Professor Koch’s article, it is the state of our world that says it’s time for change, and what must change is our thinking. What must change is for theorists in every field, like yourself, to state the obvious: that humanity is succumbing not only to mass irrationality but also to mass extinction, that it’s flawed reasoning that got us here, and we must shift to a new paradigm of thinking before it’s too late.

My letter to Scientific American alludes to attributes of mind -- “intuition” and “reason beyond appearances” – that can access the objectivity this new paradigm will need. They deserve an explanation, and, hopefully, they will get it in the book I’m preparing for publication, tentatively titled The Story of the Child. I have criticized science for overplaying the story of matter when it’s the story of mind that can guide us. My book is an attempt, from one individual’s perspective, to explain what it means to “tell the story of mind.”

With integrity, honesty, and humanity, you are no doubt making great progress in your work. I would be honored if my letter to Scientific American, which follows, and my book were any help. Science needs help from philosophy, and I am pleased to humbly offer one response.

David C. Harrison
June 1, 2020

Humanity needs to re-engineer the structure, to re-design the architecture, of its Reasoning so that it works.

Human antics and foibles provide a rich source of material for the Holy Spirit’s sense of humor, none more than what passes for human “reasoning.”
Connections are the genius of Creation.
It’s precisely in the sleeping Child’s bungling of connections, our halting attempts to heal the ego’s disconnections, that we reveal the extent of our unreasoning, our irrationality, our slapstick incompetence.

There’s “reasoning” to support any proposition – democracy, monarchy, fascism, communism, dualism, non-dualism, civilization, anarchy, and so on.
The Child keeps experimenting with reasoning at the collective-community level, building up experience and expertise, a track record of experiments to add to the data base, to add to understanding of the Child’s human mind from observation of human behavior, the results of human thinking.

Always with a view toward isolating flaws in thinking-reasoning that cause wrong-undesired effects.
Namely, conditions that promote and facilitate disorder and conflict.
Conditions that promote and facilitate imbalance among the self-interests that compose the dysfunctional community of humanity.
Conditions that favor the opposites of our values rather than the values themselves
For example, unfairness rather than fairness; harm rather than safety; vulnerability rather than protection-security; deprivation rather than abundance; disempowerment rather than empowerment; taking rather than sharing; contempt rather than respect; oppression, confinement, and dictatorship rather than freedom to think, explore, and invent; rule by the few rather than governance by the many; and so on.

Reasoning flows from its premises.
Premises are only so good as the base of knowledge-information and understanding they’re drawn from.

If the architecture-structure of Reasoning Child-humanity has built so far seems to be delivering choices with alarming results – suffering, unhappiness, and threats to our survival -- then the Logic of Reasoning suggests that the first order of business can’t be our usual response.
It can’t be to discredit flawed ideologies, attack their corrupt institutions, and replace them with yet more flawed ideologies and corrupt institutions.

If the human mind is corrupt yet endowed with the power to Reason, our ideologies and institutions will always be flawed until we develop the ability to Reason, by re-examining its information base and premises, and by nailing both.
We won’t get anywhere until we exercise our minds and learn how to Reason.

The first order of business must then be for Reasoning to examine itself.
To question its structure, beginning with its premises and their knowledge-information base.

When Child-humanity acts, when we attempt to move forward, when we put all that we value at risk with the choices we make, are we confident that our choices will be supported by the Logic of who we are, where we are, what brought us here, why we are here, and how we can move forward?

If the premises that support our Reasoning continue to deliver alarming-unsatisfactory results, are we certain that these are the right premises, the best premises, the only premises possible?
Are we certain that the thinking that’s gone into the premises we’ve relied upon is the best we’re capable of?
That the knowledge-information base from our experiments, to date, can’t be expanded and improved upon?

Are we so frightened by our prospects, so immobilized by the fear we project onto our future, that we can only seek comfort by sheltering thoughtlessly in the familiarity of the past?
A past that brought no better than what we fear for the future?
That brought temporary relief for some at the expense of others?
That brought freedom for some and oppression for the rest?
That took as much as it gave?

Are we sure that the perspective we’ve been handed to view ourselves and our predicament is the only one possible?
That the context our embodied minds have constructed for making sense of things is actually doing its job?
Is leading us forward?
Is doing what we’ve asked it to do?
Isn’t fatally compromised by narrow self-interest?

Or is the perspective we’ve inherited showing signs of weakness?
Is the architecture, the structure of our Reasoning, standing firm?
Or are those the cracks, the snaps, the moans that we are now hearing of it giving way?

Is the building we occupy – the architectural marvel that scrapes the sky -- coming down?
Is the dam we built – that engineering marvel for the ages – about to burst?
The volcanic mountain we thought was dormant about to explode?
The earth beneath us that we imagined was solid about to quake?

Or is it a house of cards about to collapse under a whiff of air?

Are we so locked into circular “reasoning” by our cultures, by our careers and personalities, by group-think, that we’ve strapped ourselves into a plane crash unable to move?
What does it take for us to awaken?

The purpose of my book is to reflect upon Child-humanity’s Reasoning, to experiment with an interpretation of humanity’s knowledge base implied by principles and insights taken mainly from A Course In Miracles, to come up with a fresh look at premises that guide our Reasoning.
To examine what these premises imply about human behavior; what light they can shed on causes of our frustration with our lack of progress; and what contribution they can make to better Reasoning about the context of our efforts. about our situation, from a different perspective.
To examine what contribution they can make toward engineering a better structural design for Reasoning that will stand firm, that won’t collapse around us as our current structure may well be doing.

The 20th century took flaws in our Reasoning from the past, a thoroughly misunderstood Reality, gross perversions of the Truth, ignorance and irrationality, bull-headed ideologies, their servile followers and passive victims, and erupted into ruinous global conflicts, a burst of sheer madness, that would have wiped out our species if it could.

“We got through it, so we will get through whatever is threatening our survival today” is a mindless response that is of one piece with the corrupted reasoning, the rationalizing, that perpetrated the conflagration in the first place.
It is the anthem of gratitude, the wishful thinking, the youthful fantasy, from those who happened not to have been its victims and refuse to grow up.

The voices of those who were its victims may beg to differ, and it is those voices we need to hear.
It is to give them a fair hearing that this book is being written.

Survivors of history’s conflagrations will always be voices of false hope, reassuring themselves that “everything will be OK” forever so long as they get away with excluding those who didn’t survive from the conversation.
It is to shift the conversation away from false hope to true Hope that these thoughts are offered.

Reassuring ourselves that “everything will be OK” in the midst of an unfolding calamity is only another instance of circular reasoning that humanity has relied upon since the dawn of civilization: consulting ourselves for answers to questions about the facts of our “existence,” the Truth, that can only come from another perspective.

Instead of asking if matter -- our bodies and their material environment – are real, and relying on our bodies’ senses to assure us that, yes, of course they are real, why don’t we try asking if Mind is real?
Why don’t we try going to Mind for answers that has a different perspective, that clearly isn’t matter?

Instead of tracing matter to its origins and destination – an effort that’s brought us to questions that are beyond “scientific” answers – why don’t we try tracing Thought to its origins and destination?
Why don’t we “resurrect” philosophy that Stephen Hawking famously declared to be “dead” and get serious about finding answers?
Why don't we try Reasoning?

Since the study of matter is leading nowhere and our habitat is becoming uninhabitable, why don’t we rethink the nature of Reality, the relationship between Mind and matter, the attributes of Creation, and the meaning of our circumstances, the value of our gifts, instead of trusting to dumb luck?
Why don’t we use the occasion of our spectacular 20th century eruptions and 21st century horrors – the rise of racist fascism, global warming, vanishing water supplies, vanishing forests, pandemics, collapsing economies, rampant misinformation, gun violence insanity, and so on -- to get serious about our thinking, about our metaphysics?
About the theories we rely upon to understand, predict, and manage events?

Let’s not stop there.
Let’s go back and reexamine the very nature of Being, our origin.
Let’s get serious about ontology, and maybe then we will awaken to the harm we do to our prospects by circular reasoning – by “reasoning” that isn’t Reasoning.

What our bodies' senses produce is a series of appearances that time erases.
What physics produces is journeys that start from any arbitrary coordinates in our universe and finish at the same place -- no “place.”
What our finite material “reality” is telling us is what Einstein’s relativity discovered, that spacetime is curved, that it’s circular, the source of Newton’s gravity, the force that produces black holes where the laws of science are suspended.

What it’s telling us is that it makes no sense, that it’s pointless.
That reasoning that’s dictated by our bodies and their material environment can only be circular, a perversion of the Logic that governs infinite Reality.
A Reality where infinite Oneness has Real Causes and Real Effects; where Creation has Real Purpose and Real Meaning; where there is Real Value, Real Stakes and Real Worth; where there is Real Substance distinguished by Real Attributes; where there is Real Being in timelessness, that time cannot erase.

And the Child that we are has Real Worth, a role in Creation more important than we could ever imagine.
That centers on Free Choice, the E=MC2 of Creation.
The marriage between Mother Love-Freedom-Creativity and Father Mind-Logic-Reason.
Our Parents and their Gift of Purpose: Mother-Free and Father-Choice.
Their Gift of Happiness that could not be without Purpose.
The Gift of Free Choice: the province of Love, the province of Reason.

Stay with me -- we're just getting started.