Back Goldfinch looking backwards

Bernard Haisch gives us a good companion to Sheldrake’s Science Set Free, exactly agreeing with the view that science today is highly dogmatic and, in fact, a kind of scientism. The main difference appears to lie in his determination to play Aquinas with God — to spell out exactly what and how the ultimate source of things is. That is, he is a crypto theologian where Sheldrake in his writings, likely not in his private thoughts, is just a scientist trying to get the rest of the scientific world to take a look at some stuff they really should be open to, but are not because of their dogmatism.

Haisch is somewhat more aggressively confrontational with his reductionist colleagues than the more reserved, but deftly needling, Sheldrake. Haisch writes, for instance, this rather telling comparison:

It is acceptable today, even fashionable, to publish scientific papers that propound theories of invisible universes that may be adjacent to our own in other dimensions. Some have even postulated universes right on top of our own, interpenetrating the space we inhabit, supporting their claims with impressive mathematics that invoke, for example, opposite chirality particles and interactions. These theories, called superstring and M-brane theories, are among the most exciting and prestigious frontiers of modern physics. They have served as foundation for many coveted reputations and many successful academic careers. I myself have had postdocs working for me who are experts in these areas.

If a religious person talks about transcendent spiritual realities, however, he or she is scoffed at. For some reason, the eleven- or twenty-six-dimensional string worlds of scientific theory are plausible, but the supernatural realms of mysticism are judged to be mere superstition. (Kindle Locations 646-654, 28%.)

Besides tone, there is the difference that Haisch is not much drawn to the historical sources of science’s dogmas whereas that is a favorite subject of Sheldrake.

As for the theologian, we have this:

What I propose is an infinite conscious intelligence— so let's call it God— who has infinite potential, whose ideas become the laws of physics of our universe and others, and whose purpose in so doing is the transformation of potential into experience. The difference between being able to do something and actually doing it is vast: making it happen, experiencing what it feels like, savoring the sensations are the tremendous difference between theory and practice. Playing the game is far more satisfying than reading the rules.

Astrophysicist Sir James Jeans wrote in the 1930s, “. . .the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.” So, too, I am proposing, in The God Theory, that ultimately it is consciousness that is the origin of matter, energy, and the laws of nature in this universe and all others that may exist. And the purpose is for God to experience his potential. God's ideas and abilities become God's experience in the life of every sentient being. What greater purpose could there be for each of us humans than that of creating God's experience? God experiences the richness of his potential through us because we are the incarnations of him in the physical realm.

That's what it’s all about. (Preface, my emphasis)

When Raisch says “that, before too long, we will understand how consciousness, at a fundamental level, creates matter, not vice versa,” he reminds me of Max Planck (“I regard consciousness as fundamental; I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”) and many others, like Amit Goswami.

Speaking from the soul of his own thirty plus years in the most prestigious trenches of modern science in the US, Haisch has a lot to say that confirms the claims of Sheldrake. For instance:

There certainly are many hardcore dogmatic reductionists who scoff at the idea of any reality other than the purely physical reality of atoms and molecules and the four known forces of physics (electromagnetism, gravitation, and the strong and weak interactions). I use the term “reductionist” here to indicate someone who truly believes there is nothing beyond the physical.

Reductionists, for our purposes, are those who believe that the greatest achievement of mankind will be to uncover some ultimate equation or set of equations that govern the fundamental particles of matter, and thereby, the entire universe— including us. Reductionists believe that complex things or processes can always be reduced to the actions of their parts. To them, consciousness is nothing more than brain chemistry.... In fact, in its most rigid form, reductionism becomes essentially a matter of faith and simply another kind of orthodoxy that goes by the name of scientism. (Kindle Locations 509-518, 23%.)