I was reading a blog post on Psychology Today entitled, Is the Universe Conscious? In this piece, the author, Steve Stewart-Williams asked some interesting questions and brought up some very thought-provoking ideas. First, the author used evolutionary theory to explain how the mind is the result of electric processes in the physical brain (a theory with which I agree). Essentially, evolution and natural selection allowed for the development of the brain, and thus, consciousness and the mind. He also continues by describing that the Universe is comprised of everything within it. In other words, our thoughts are part of the universe.
“The physical universe ceases to be an unconscious object, observed and explored by conscious minds which somehow stand above or outside it. Conscious minds are part of the physical universe, as much as rocks and potato peelers. Our consciousness is not simply consciousness of the universe; our consciousness is a part of the universe, and thus the universe itself is partially conscious. When you contemplate the universe, part of the universe becomes conscious of itself.”
What an interesting idea/explanation. The author continues to explain that the formation of consciousness and awareness of the Universe may be a part of the Universe’s evolution. Stewart-Williams even cites philosophers who claim that awareness is part of the Universe’s destiny to become all-knowing. In Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s view (described by the author), the Universe will become Christ, God, Ala, or whatever supreme being that you may believe in. The author admits that this view is not only speculation but also a bit fantastical.
However, if the Universe produces more and more conscious life, than many theorize it will learn more about itself, and possibly ascertain more control over its expansion. These ideas may seem like they came from a Theologian trying to wrangle the agnosticism out of Hawking and Darwin, but they aren’t that farfetched. After all, who’s to say we can even begin to understand the Universe? Stewarts-Williams does mention, however, that if Earth is indeed the only conscious planet in the Universe (which I greatly doubt), than our actions in the coming century will determine how long this minuscule pocket of mindfulness lasts before it self-destructs, returning the Universe to its previously unconscious state.