Quantum Theory and the Expanding Boundaries of Natural Science

The Spirit of Science: From Experiment to Experience | eBay

The Spirit of Science: From Experiment to Experience

Edited by David Lorimer

Floris Books (1998)

Book Review

This fascinating book is a collection of papers presented between 1978 and 1998 at England’s annual Mystics and Scientists conference. It’s divided into Cosmology and Physics, Biology and Gaia, Consciousness and Psychology and Mysticism and Spirituality. Overall it aims to challenge a dogmatic turn Western science took during the Enlightenment and the threat this narrow dogmatism (which views human beings as mere machines) poses to finding solutions to the environmental, health and humanitarian crises confronting humanity.

The Spirit of Science begins by laying out recent changes in physicists’ understanding of the origin and make up of the universe. Most striking, in my view, is the discovery that the universe couldn’t have arisen from random events. To the contrary, according to quantum field expert David Bohm, the universe arose via the same mathematically predictable self-organization found in all natural systems.

According Bohm, the explosion of light 15-20 million years ago known as The Big Bang  led (within milliseconds) to the formation of elementary particles, which cooled and condensed out into atoms, which collected into stars, galaxies and planets. The entire process relied on an amazing sequence of just right coincidences, eg an exact rate of expansion (any slower and the matter would have collapsed back into a black hole, any faster and galaxies would have persisted as a matter-less energy field). Equally remarkable is the discovery of organic molecules dispersed throughout space, which, according to the rules of quantum mechanics, have virtually zero odds of forming from random collisions.

These and other discoveries have led many scientists to hypothesize “an invisible hand” directing this capacity for self-organization in all matter, both living and inanimate.

The book also contains fascinating essays about the role of this universal self-organizing principle in enabling plants to communicate with each other and with animals and in coordinating hive insects (and diverse human cells) in undertaking complex activities. One essay describes the unique receptivity of certain indigenous people and animals to plant signals that allow them to find healing herbs. Sadly this receptivity has been lost in the vast majority of modern humans.

There are also several excellent papers on the concept of morphic fields,* including one, “Evolutionary Habits of Mind, Behaviour and Form” by biochemist Rupert Sheldrake.

*A morphic field is defined as a force field that enables one event to lead to (via telepathic effect or sympathetic vibrations) to similar events in the future or ideas conceived in one mind to arise in another person’s mind without formal communication.



The Rise and Fall of Syriza

The latest news from Greece is that Prime Minister Tsipras has resigned and called a new election. This follows a rebellion by 1/3 of Syriza MPs, who voted against the IMF bailout Greek voters rejected in the 5 July referendum. According to the The Guardian, 25 Syriza MPs have broken away to form the anti-austerity party Popular Unity, led by former energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis. Some analysts predict the new party will call for Greece to exit the euro monetary union: see Senior Syriza MP Greece Must Exit Monetary Union

The following documentary lays out some of the economic and social realities that led to the rise of Syriza.

Greece on the Brink

Manuel Reichetseder (2014)

Film Review

Greece on the Brink is a 2014 documentary about brutal living conditions in Greece that led to the rise of the left wing Syriza government. At the time the film was made, 65% of Greek youth age 15-34 were unemployed. Millions of Greeks had no income at all and were scavenging food out of garbage cans. Twenty thousand were homeless and one third had no access to privatized health care.

The film documents that only a tiny proportion of the $206.9 billion bailout Greece received between 2010-2013 went to public services:

  • 48% went to European creditors
  • 28% went to Greek banks
  • 22% went into the national budget (of this 16% went to interest payments, most of the balance went to the Greek military)

In addition to bolstering Syriza’s rise to power, the Greek economic crisis has led to numerous experiments in worker self-organization: solidarity clinics run by health professionals volunteering their services, solidarity networks that provide free food, a journalist cooperative in which journalists run their own newspaper, various worker co-ops which have occupied and taken over shuttered factories, and TV journalists and engineers who took over the state broadcasting service after the Greek government shut it down.

Most of the commentators featured in the film are militant Syriza members who predicted a year ago  (based on compromises Tsipras made to propel his party into power) that Syriza wouldn’t solve the problems faced by the Greek working class.

The most interesting section is a Marxist analysis by British economist Allen Woods about the real cause of the 2008 “credit crunch” that triggered Greece’s sudden economic collapse. According to Woods, debt is the mechanism capitalists use to avoid the crisis of overproduction. Marx believed that overproduction was an inevitable structural defect of so-called free market capitalism. By its very nature, capitalist production always overshoots the ability of the market to regulate it.

As Marx noted 150 years ago, capitalism tries to make up for this defect by expanding credit (ie debt). Woods gives the current 30% overcapacity of the global automotive industry as an example. This is illustrated by an article that appeared in Zero Hedge a year ago about new car graveyards – see Where the World’s Unsold Cars Go to Die

Woods predicts that there will be no solution to the current global economic crisis until overproduction (and the debt that supports it) are eliminated.