Dr. Amit Goswami is the author of the new book, Creative Evolution: A Physicist’s Resolution between Darwinism and Intelligent Design [Quest Books]. Dr. Goswami is a pioneer in using quantum physics to articulate the paradigm shift from a materialist to a consciousness-based worldview. He earned his doctorate from Calcutta University in theoretical nuclear physics. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Oregon, where he taught physics from 1968 to 2003.
Dr. Goswami first developed the premise of a consciousness vs. materialist view in his highly acclaimed The Self-Aware Universe. Books that followed include The Visionary Window, Physics of the Soul and The Quantum Doctor. His research on creativity in the 1980s led to his book Quantum Creativity. His text book on Quantum Mechanics has been used in many major universities. Dr. Gaswami is the subject of a forthcoming documentary entitled The Quantum Activist.
Mike Schwager, Editor-in-Chief of Enrichment.com, recently interviewed Amit Goswami.
MS: Dr. Amit Goswami, it’s really wonderful to have you here on Enrichment.com. Welcome.
AG: Thank you.
MS: You are an adherent to the view that it’s neither random evolution as Darwin posited, nor so-called Creationism minus Evolution, but Evolution guided by Consciousness or Intelligent Design. Is that right?
AG: Yes that is right. In fact, I point out that data, if looked upon objectively without emotion, without attachment to particular theory, has been pointing to this direction for quite some time. There are the fossil gaps, there is the absolutely indisputable biological era of time from simplicity to complexity. You just mentioned two pieces of data which cannot be understood in any other way but intelligent design through quantum evolution. For in the past, you’ve had epochs of evolution in which quantum leaps of creativity took place.
MS: I see. Doctor, do these two words, Consciousness and Intelligence, carry the same meaning for you?
AG: In my usage, I don’t make much distinction because of the following reason. When this phrase, so-called artificial intelligence was coined a long time ago in the ‘50’s, the idea was that intelligence is a characteristic of the mind which can be reciprocated by machines. The belief was probably one of the most pressing beliefs of materialism; and materialists wanted to show this and once and for all prove that the human mind is nothing more than a machine. But it turns out that in 30 years, not only that the machinists have not made much progress towards producing real intelligent machines, but the word intelligence has become clear to us. Mental intelligence has two aspects. One is of course to provide very articulate content. Machines could provide this articulate content. Artificial intelligence programmers could provide us with programs where a machine could easily fool you to think it is a sophisticated highly trained professional. For example there was a number in Canada you could call, and you would think you were talking to a California psychotherapist, only to find out after the hour that you had spoken with a machine!
But then the philosopher Don Ferrell started complaining and he pointed out with very good argument that computers cannot process meaning. Mind…mental thought…has two components. One is the content. But any amount of sophistication in the content - does that translate into the ability to process meaning? And it isn’t that subtle. Because meaning is another level – a different logical category than content. And then this was proven by Roger Penrose, the physicist/mathematician at Oxford University, with very very “kosher” mathematics – a mystery by itself called Cordell’s Theorum - that Penrose used to establish the fact on mathematical ground that meaning cannot be processed by a computer. Computers are symbol processing machines that can make representations of mental meaning, but that’s it.
MS: Let me become the visitor to this site to ask you some questions that may be in the mind of a non-scientist, okay? Intelligent Design. Are you saying that this intelligence permeates the Universe, underlies all Matter, is the ground of all Being – and actually spawned the Universe…the physical Universe?
AG: Yes. Underlies…hints at the correct word, which is a little more sophisticated and technical, but we’ll have to use it. The right word is transcendence…transcends. This intelligent consciousness which can process symbols, meaning and beyond. It also has archetypes of meaning that we’re only beginning to investigate with human intelligence developed so far. So this enormously intelligent consciousness, which not only has mental intelligence but also archetypal intelligence – this consciousness is the ground of all Being in such a way that it both transcends us and also is immanent in the world as we experience it. That’s the correct statement.
Now the words transcendence and immanence, agreed, is complicated, but I’ll simplify it. Quantum physics allows us to simplify it. Transcendence has two components. One applies in space and time. This is the component where interactions occur through the exchange of signals. I’m talking to you now with local signals of sound passing from me to you and you to me. But another kind of communications exists in the world which in quantum physics is called non-local. Communication without signals.
MS: Does that also mean outside of space and time?
AG: Yes, it also means outside of space and time, but you have to put the word outside within quotes because if you just say “outside” the materialists can say well we can always enlarge space and time to include the outside because – so it’s “outside” meaning it’s really outside the premise of space and time, and trans-space and time. It’s outside the premise because in space and time all interactions, as Einstein proved long ago, must occur through the intermediary of signals. But it is without signals, so it is outside of the very premise in which space and time occurs.
MS: Yes. Tell me, is intention a characteristic of consciousness?
AG: Intention is a fundamental characteristic of consciousness. It is through intention that evolution goes on…evolution starts and goes on until that intention is manifested. That intention is for consciousness to see itself in manifestation.
MS: I would assume you would adhere to the current view that the Universe was spawned in an instantaneous flash called The Big Bang?
AG: Well The Big Bang fits within this model but there are some interesting twists. What we say in quantum physics is that The Big Bang first begins, or is anchored, as possibility. In other words, the Universe of quantum possibilities must exist before the self-aware Beings develop.
MS: Does that mean a propensity to actualize?
AG: The propensity to actualize was created, but the ball of actualization does not manifest until a certain sophistication in the material arrangements of molecules is permitted by Evolution. So Evolution first begins as possibility, and when that sophistication in the arrangement of molecular configurations exist in an environment that is conducive to life, then the first living cells are created along with the world of the experience of that first living cell; and that event of transformation of quantum possibility into actuality, going all the way to The Big Bang – going back 13.7 or whatever the calculation is, billion years ago. Going back that long. Going backward in time. Manifesting the entire chain of events – Big Bang to galaxies to stars to planets to…
MS: It’s literally mind-boggling!
AG: (Laughing). Yes, it’s mind-boggling. But you know we have verified this effect of dealer choice, our dealer choice effecting the state of molecules and electrons…
MS: My curiosity is aroused. I’d like to ask you…regarding the arrangement of that molecularization that made the possibility likely…even that…was there a purposiveness behind that do you think?
AG: Of course. It is the sole purpose of that original intention.
MS: So it was not an accident that the molecularization arrangement occurred?
AG: There is no accident in the new view. In the new view, Evolution has to proceed in kind, because the rules are that the entire game will take place within the strict rules of the game that we call Science. So it’s a game that this time around Consciousness plays within laws that we call Science, and it is that which makes it so fascinating this time.
AG: And so subject to misinterpretation, and that is to be expected.
MS: Let me ask you, Doctor, would it be correct to presuppose that Intelligence, this high extraordinary Intelligence, preceded The Big Bang? That whatever there was prior to The Big Bang – there was this Intelligence already existent?
AG: Of course. Notice that this solves a fundamental paradox that will always confront you if you don’t solve it this way. And the paradox is…I’ve got to tell you this story about Augustine, St. Augustine. He always used to teach about God and Heaven and Hell and all that. So one day, it is said, a parishioner, a back bencher, a heckler, started heckling him, saying, “Hey Augustine, you’re always talking about God and how He created heaven and hell. What was God doing before He created Heaven and Earth? Augustine was taken aback for a moment, but only a moment, saying “He was creating Hell but only for people who ask such questions!” (Laughs).
AG: But be that as it may, the question remains, what existed before The Big Bang? You can always ask that. And today we have theories of the inflationary Universe that lamely gives us a scenario – but again we can ask what existed before the inflation?
If we recognize that Consciousness as the Ground of Being is an Eternity in which all possibilities past, present and future simultaneously co-exist, we easily recognize that in that reality there is no Time. Because Past-Present-Future, all possibilities co-exist, so there is no movement and there is no Time. And this is what philosophers, especially spiritual philosophers mean by Eternity. Nothing happens. Nothing ever happens. Literally. And this Eternity is always present. It was present before The Big Bang. It was present at the moment of The Big Bang. It is present now. And what we have, how we experience the world as we see it in Space and Time, is created moment to moment, by transforming quantum possibilities into actual events of experience.
MS: And do you believe…well first let me backtrack…the so-called String Theory which gives some evidence or plausality to the possibility that there are multiple Universes and Dimensions. Do you feel that is a possibility?
AG: I don’t think that is not a possibility but I don’t think that is relevant in this context.
Because these other dimensions of Space and Time are ( ) anyway. And we’re still talking about the manifest Universe. I’m talking about the unmanifest.
MS: That’s right. Now you were reared in the sacred Hindu tradition. Did the Hindu religion and culture inform your later scientific findings and views?
AG: They did but at a later stage. In the initial stage, I must confess, I became a complete materialist following the enormous power of the materialist view.
MS: So you almost rebelled against the spiritual view?
AG: For a very good reason. When I learned Newton’s work I could not but rebel. It made totally good sense to me. I remember I used to argue with my elder brother who used to say, “Electrons are making causal jumps from one orbit to another. How do you explain that?” And I would respond, “Only an ignorant like you (I used to talk to him like that) will talk like that. There is a very profound explanation. We say it’s a concept. We don’t say that electrons have free will. We say it’s a causal event. So quantum physics has a causal event.”
MS: I’m curious. Did your spiritual view really come initially as the result of your later findings in physics?
AG: My spiritual view took place as a sort of a discontent that I was living a very unhappy life as a physicist of the old paradigm of scientific materialism. Because I could not find any happiness there, and because my inherent belief, my intuitive belief was that it is possible to integrate life between science and everyday living, and until that integration happens there will be no happiness for me.
So it is in that spirit that my journey began in 1973 and the fruition came in 1985. So during that 12 years, I gradually felt attracted towards spiritual practices that spiritual traditions suggest, and I certainly did practices in Hinduism, also Buddhism…
MS: So it all came together for you, so to speak?
AG: It all came together for me in that recognition that Consciousness is the ground of all Being.
MS: Doctor, this Consciousness, this Intelligence, am I correct in stating that it is a supra-intelligence, that in some spiritual circles we would call Divine Mind or God?
AG: Yes, it is a super Intelligence that is indeed called Divine Mind and God, but a lot of misconceptions exist. For example, as soon as you have used the word “super” it will ring warning bells in the mind of a materialist who will immediately say that you are talking about super Nature, not about Nature. The word “super” has to be used with extreme caution. There is no super Nature in the new view, because quantum physics is already suggesting that quantum possibilities reside transcending ordinary Space-Time. This is just ordinary physics. Even Heisenberg said that. Heisenberg introduced the concept of Potentia, in which these possibility waves of quantum objects reside. And that is outside of “Space-Time” in the way I explained before.
MS: Yes. Now on planet Earth, where we see the manifestation of Life, my own simple layman’s observation is…which is becoming more acute…that all life carries intelligence, all life is intelligent.
AG: Yes. All life carries intelligence, though if you define intelligence as mental intelligence, the ability to discern and process meaning – the meaning processing capacity develops at a much later stage.
MS: Yes, I see. Right.
AG: But if you allow feelings…feelings also have rudimentary meaning…
MS: Feelings, but also a certain awareness.
AG: Yes, a certain basic awareness.
MS: All life has a certain basic awareness…
AG: A basic ability to cognate. This was recognized in fact, without using quantum physics. This was intuitive by the great Chilean biologist, Umberto Maturana.
MS: I read in your book your reference to Jung’s comment that the purpose of life is to move from unconsciousness to consciousness. Are you also saying that the intelligence in Intelligent Design has an unconscious aspect to it? We just spoke about Supra Intelligence, but is there an unconscious aspect to Intelligent Design?
AG: Absolutely. This word “unconscious” is a little bit confusing because psychologists use it in a slightly different sense than we tend to use it in quantum physics. In quantum physics “unconscious” is whenever awareness - subject object awareness - is not present. In that sense, the unmanifest is unconscious. In psychology, there is a tendency to use it in slightly different form in the sense that it must be connected with memory. So in Freud’s philosophy it comes from personal memory. In Jung’s philosophy, it comes from collective memory. And so Jung’s collective unconscious is much more general than Freud’s and is very compatible with what spiritual traditions say.
But in physics, the word “unconscious” means even more generally a place where possibilities interact with possibilities, but no collapse of the possibilities into actual events of experience takes place. So that includes then the kind of unconscious processing that is a precursor to the creative experience of insight.
MS: You know, Doctor, I’ve always had this kind of intuition that indeed Consciousness was the ground of Being, and that it preceded materiality; that indeed, it made sense to me that materiality emerges out of Consciousness. I’ve always felt that way.
The person who launched me on my own spiritual path – and you mention him in your book – is Teilhard de Chardin and his book, The Phenomenon of Man.
MS: I found the book, even though I didn’t agree with all the theology, very appealing in that it posited the idea that there was an intersection between Science and Spirituality.
AG: It is a great book.
MS: And he was a great man, wasn’t he? Truly great.
AG: Yes, he was a great man. Along with Sri Aurobindo of India, who in the last century already had the idea of creative evolution taking us towards the supramental intelligence. Long before quantum physics interpreted it this way. Quantum physics was already around when they were alive. But the importance of quantum physics was not investigated properly. World War II stopped the progression of quantum physics towards this interpretation that came into vogue only in the 1 990s. And that is so unfortunate. Materialism evolved in the 1950s because we needed materialistic knowledge to come out of all the problems that were created.
MS: What was very appealing to me about Teilhard and his book was when he developed a cosmology that referred to the Intelligent Design, obviously in Evolution, that he called the geosphere, out of which rose the biosphere, out of which rose the noosphere, or thought or human existence – and that it is going somewhere towards what he calls a convergence towards an Omega Point. How do you feel about that kind of cosmology?
AG: I feel just fine. Except I don’t think the Omega Point will be a point. I think when we develop the capacity of making direct representations of the supramental archetypes in matter…this word sounds so vague today because of our limited evolution up until now…but the point is that why can’t I love you because you are you and I am me because of that? We are two fellow human beings.
The reason is this: I cannot love you because I don’t have the capacity of making the representation of the intution of love that I do occasionally have. I make a mental representation and then I try to live my mental representation but that representation is going to be limited. It does not allow me to love any person just like that. It allows me to love only if you satisfy certain criteria. So it’s a conditional love.
So this intuition of unconditional love…until that comes to us as a direct experience as oneness with you…I cannot truly love you. And this is of course what divides us into fractions because only if you agree with me it is easier to love you.
MS: The non-egoic kind of love…the altruistic love.
AG: The non-egoic kind of love which depends on a direct experience of the archetypes in a way that human beings rarely do.
MS: And all the primary great Realized Masters, whether it was Buddha, or Jesus, or Krishna – they existed asthe founders of the great Wisdom Religions - they all spoke to this kind of love, right?
AG: They all spoke to it, and they showed how to live like that.
AG: But we can’t because we don’t have the capacity of living like them, and really evolutionarily speaking, we don’t have capacity of directly representing the supramental archetypes in matter. Which they didn’t have either, but they bypassed that requirement by developing a way of living that took them directly to experience and bring that experience to manifestation in every moment of their life. Which requires an enormous capacity of surrendering the ego that no ordinary mortal – myself included – can really aspire.
MS: Doctor, don’t you see though, the beginnings of a critical mass where you can see the yearning for this?
AG: I envision it. And I certainly have a yearning for it. And if our practices ever reach a critical mass, and that is what I have proposed in Creative Evolution. In truth, the amount of practice that we have to do, not only in a personal way, but in a collective way, still boggles my mind. I aspire to it. I’ve begun a movement called Quantum Activism to move towards it, but it still completely awes me to ever think about how we can become like that. But we might.
MS: Won’t it happen organically out of the evolutionary process?
AG: It has to happen. It’s got to boggle your mind. It’s amazing that we can be born with the capacity of balancing our negative emotions.
MS: Here on planet Earth you see so much complexity and so many diversionary tracks; but one of these tracks seems to be – and of course the opposite exists sadly enough – the rise of compassion for, for example, the poor in the developing world.
MS: I’ve worked for various humanitarian organizations, some of which are Christian, which are very involved in this arena. Isn’t this the laying of track of that compassionate vision that you see?
AG: Well, yes and no. It is of course a great phenomenon that is taking place. Celebrities really feeling compassionate, and really devoting their time and effort into removing world hunger. Very worthwhile.
MS: Yes. Celebrities like Bono and Angelina Jolie and her husband Brad Pitt.
AG: Exactly. One problem that people still face is not only to have the compassion in that way – which is great already – but even greater it would be if the compassion transferred as brain circuits. So that that kind of love could always manifest whenever needed, to balance all the negativity that also is present in their lives.
In other words, it’s to continue with this opening – to make the opening wider; to include
all people, not just the poor people…not just the hungry. All people.
AG: Then not only will they be transformed, but they will start a revolution in the world where the forms which biologist Rupert Sheldrake called morphic fields, which is prior to our access groupings for biological form – the modifications in that world, that subtle world – is essential. Because it is that modification that quantum physics shows is non-local; and because of the non-local nature, it can propagate beyond space and time to future generations and help create a future generation of people with automically transformed brain circuits.
MS: And that’s how you conclude your book, isn’t it?
AG: That’s how I conclude my book.
MS: Tell me, just to take a step back for a moment on this…and this is all fascinating and wonderful…the word “soul” – and you adhere to a certain view of reincarnation, do you not?
AG: Yes I do.
MS: The word “soul” – obviously when our physical form dies – I say “obviously”…I believe this, and I think you posit this…the consciousness survives.
AG: Yes, absolutely. That is obvious, because consciousness is the ground of Being. Where would it go?
MS: Yes. And that consciousness – and I’m talking now about the individual consciousness - is the soul?
AG: Individual consciousness has aspects of it which correspond to the propensities that this individual consciousness develops. Not the content. There’s also a lot of content of consciousness that comes up. Like you are so and so, you were born there, and you grew up like this, you married so and so…this is content.
MS: In my own life, Doctor, I’m born Jewish, I’m the son of Holocaust survivors, but ever since I was a little boy I’ve been very attracted to statues of St. Francis. And I have statues in my home of St. Francis. And St. Francis, who was a lover of animals – I am that too. Now I’m not saying I was St. Francis but in my own…I had a regression where I saw that I was a Franciscan priest in my prior life. And interestingly I was a Franciscan priest who may have saved Jews on the way to the camps. And it resonates for me because of this fascination and feeling of comfort I’ve had with the image of St. Francis since I was a little boy. And also here I am born Jewish.
So there is some content that survives.
AG: But the content was not present in your mind. You remembered it because…there is of course…we have the non-local capacity of remembering memories when we were born. At that point, which can be theorized, we do remember all lives simultaneously. A lot of memories that have stored in the brain very early on in our lives.
MS: I’m curious about your viewpoint. In between physical lifetimes, where are we?
AG: Impossibility. We are in the transcendent Potentia.
MS: It is a no-local place. It is not a place?
AG: Right. It’s non-local. It’s everywhere and nowhere. Another paradoxical way of thinking about it.
MS: In human evolution, I assume that you would think that the moral evolution of the soul is in a way part of the purpose of human existence?
MS: So reincarnation – the progression of the soul towards enlightenment if you want to say – is the trajectory of the human experience?
AG: It seems to be the trajectory of human experience at this stage of our evolution. At the next level of evolution, it might be a different trajectory. We will have the capacity of what we aspire towards today as those archetypes – love, beauty, justice, truth and goodness – to manifest them in our lives. But when we have the capacity of manifesting them and to present them in matter, in some sort of super brain, then that part of the journey will be much easier. Just as today, processing of meaning, that part of the journey we do more or less automatically.
MS: Do you see an ultimate, and of course this would be in the far distant future, an ultimate end to physical human form?
AG: I don’t and I do. Sometimes I think maybe this human form is all that is necessary. All we need to do is develop a neo-cortex or something. But sometimes I feel these archetypes are so refined, that to make representations of them we’ll need more refined matter than we have today.
MS: Do you have any intuition that there are other intelligent life forms on other planets, elsewhere within the Universe that are morally advanced of us?
AG: I did speculate once. This is in an appendix of my book, Physics of the Soul, that the phenomenon that sometimes is grossly misunderstood and misinterpreted, namely these UFOs – Unidentified Flying Objects – might have a component including these extremely intelligent Beings that may leave another planet who come to visit us to check upon us – because they’re not bound by the rules of Space-Time travel. Mainly that you have to travel below the speed of light in which case they could visit us from a distant galaxy. Right now that’s science fiction and science doesn’t yet allow that. But it may be possible once we develop an Omega Phase. In that phase, when you have the capacity of making direct representations for the supramental, we may be able to suspend the laws of physics locally. If we can, of course we’ll be able to travel to galaxies.
MS: Do you think it’s possible that there exists some kind of Intergallactic Club right now waiting for us to grow up, so to speak?
AG: You know, I was so influenced by science fiction at one stage in my life. I wrote a book on it. Yes, that’s a science fiction dream, and I still have a soft spot for such dreams.
MS: In Evolution, we’re still kind of being birthed, aren’t we? I mean birthing into something else?
AG: Yes, we’re always birthing into something else. Right now my vision is, which I expressed in Creative Evolution, is that we’re birthing into a new phase of human mind, which is called the Intuitive Mind. Mind will turn to study the intuitive aspects of our lives – love, beauty, truth, justice, goodness – those are the major ones. And I sure see myself only fascinated today by the possibility of this Intuitive Mind – the mind engaging with love. How can I appreciate beauty more than I do now? These are the questions that turn me on, and I’m hoping that with the movement of Quantum Activism, I can meet people and inspire people to join me in this quest of the Intuitive Mind.
This has happened, because without this we are stuck in a phase of Evolution where we are constantly faced by the negative emotions which we are helpless to handle. And that cannot stand. I just cannot stand the idea anymore of why intelligent people like me have occasional, even though occasional, bad stuff – negative emotions like anger, sorrow, sadness, negativity – why should I succumb to this?
MS: Well my father Owen, may he rest in Peace, he was a survivor of Nazism and the Holocaust…you know I give him credit that he survived it, and he was pretty much an optimist, but every now and then his memory kicked in. His mother was bayoneted and killed in the street. And it’s very difficult, isn’t it, to overcome that kind of experience. It’s challenging.
AG: The way he did it, your father, I’m just assuming it, had brain circuits that he created, nourished, into positivity.
MS: I think absolutely you’re right, and that he made a conscious decision that if we’re to build a better world, we must move away from cruelty and intolerance of other people.
AG: Isn’t that the most interesting thing of such cataclysmic events like the Holocaust? People who survived ended up to be transformed people.
MS: And kind people. Are you hopeful about the future? We have a lot of problems on the planet right now.
AG: I am very hopeful. Right now, as you called me, I was working on an article about
Spiritual Economics. I’m very hopeful that we cannot only transform our world view but we can build an economic system which will gradually solve the problems of poverty, world hunger…
MS: Do you think we may be experiencing a breakdown in order to have a breakthrough?
AG: I think so. I think that the breakdown…you know, Evolution has a very interesting aspect not often talked about because it goes against the grain of Darwinism, which is that geological catastrophes have substantially contributed towards Evolution.
MS: Yes I read that in your book.
AG: I do believe that 2012, the end of the Mayan Calendar, is a metaphor for these catastrophes, or semi-catastrophes. My vision is that we will avoid the catastrophe, but it will be a near catastrophe that will bring us to the awakening and give us this new worldview.
MS: And transformation.
AG: And transformation, yes.
MS: Well Doctor. This has been wonderful and fascinating. I want to thank you so much for your time.
AG: Your very welcome.
MS: Thank you so much. This has really been great. You are truly terrific.
AG: So are you.
MS: All the best to you.
AG: All the best to you Mike.