Around 300 BCE, Aristotle developed an elaborate model of the universe that enabled the calculation of the movement of various heavenly bodies. It was not precisely accurate but was close enough to garner complete acceptance for 2, 000 years. Unfortunately, his fundamental precept that the earth was the center of the universe and was orbited by the sun, moon and stars was completely wrong. With intense opposition the Copernican model of a heliocentric universe enabled us to progressively move towards a more accurate understanding of the cosmos.
Recognizing the importance of an openness to paradigm shifts has become the cornerstone of scientific discovery. Perhaps a similar attitude about understanding God might be helpful. Is it possible that our preconceived ideas are restricting our ability to experience and harmonize with whatever cosmic entity may exist?
There was a time when considering the nature of consciousness was merely the interest of philosophers. In recent decades, however, the scientific community has increasingly taken up the task of researching this perplexing phenomenon. The prevailing view is that consciousness is a perceptual construct that is restricted to the organic brain. Others speculate that our individual awareness may, in fact, be an expression of a universal field of consciousness extending throughout the universe.
If we accept this latter view as a valid possibility, the implications present us with a flood of questions. How could awareness exist without a physical source to generate it? Is it possible that Dark Matter is some form of neural network? Is Dark Energy a related field of primal consciousness or information? If String Theory accurately represents a multidimensional universe, could one or more of those dimensions comprise a field of consciousness? As finite as we are, are we even capable of accurately perceiving or comprehending something so vast?
The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS)is an example of contemporary efforts to apply the scientific method to comprehending the ethereal aspects of our human experience. In his book, Entangled Minds, the IONS’ head scientist, Dean Radin, chronicles numerous experiments that seek to establish the validity of psi phenomena. The areas of study included telepathy, distance viewing, precognition, psychokinesis and similar aspects of parapsychology. After careful statistical analysis, it is evident that consciousness extends far beyond our physical brains, can be perceived by others at great distances and influence physical matter.
Various studies have demonstrated that this entangled consciousness does not occur among humans alone. The extensive research conducted by Rupert Sheldrake and others has revealed that our pets are capable of perceiving our intentions before we take any physical action. If you have ever felt that your furry friends are reading your mind, it is not your imagination. It is merely one more way that they instinctually perceive their environment.
Increasingly research is supporting the theory that an incredibly subtle field of consciousness envelopes our planet. Like the rest of our senses, our ability to perceive this global connectivity varies from one individual to another. Traditionally, those with the highest degree of awareness have been associated with spirituality and mysticism. However, it now appears that this phenomenon is not a transcendent mystical occurrence, but a natural aspect of physical matter.
Theories regarding this concept began to emerge during the early part of the 20th century. The noted psychologist, Karl Jung, referred to this as the “Collective Unconscious”. In 1922, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, in conjunction with Édouard Le Roy and Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky, coined the term ‘noosphere’ which suggests a global mind. Until recently, these and related theories relied primarily on social observations and conjecture. However, tremendous advances in technological sophistication are enabling theorists to develop experiments that demonstrate the plausibility of these concepts.
The Princeton Global Consciousness Project (GCP, accessible at http://noosphere.princeton.edu/)is just one example of current research efforts that are providing tangible evidence to support the existence of a noosphere. Several decades ago, the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory discovered that large groups with a common focus can apparently influence the output of random number generators (RNGs). Normally RNGs produce completely random data; however, researchers found that operating them at concerts and other group events resulted in data that exhibited a tendency towards numeric patterns.
It is theorized that the collective consciousness of groups somehow establishes an organizational resonance that affects the RNGs. The GCP is tasked with examining this phenomenon more extensively. At present, a network of more than 70 RNGs worldwide are continuously transmitting data to the GCP headquarters in Princeton. There, the information is analyzed to identify non-random patterns and any potential association with world events.
One of the highest correlations occurred during the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. More recent statistically significant occasions have included President Obama’s farewell address, President Trump’s inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington D.c. on January 21, 2017. The GCP makes no attempts to explain exactly what is taking place or why the RNGs are affected. Nevertheless, this seems to indicate that there is indeed a worldwide convergence of human thought especially when the feelings of millions of people are synchronized during great events.
Currently, these findings are not widely accepted within the scientific community. Of course, this is not at all surprising. There is an extremely long list of innovative and well established scientific discoveries that initially met strong opposition and ridicule. The fact that anyone is attempting to apply the scientific method to such an ethereal area of study is commendable.
Personally, I find the concept extremely intriguing. If we take time to pay attention, we will become aware of our ability to assess the social environment of every group encounter. Instinctually we recognize the joy, anger, frustration, confusion and other dynamics at work in the gathering. Is this merely a culmination of our visual and auditory senses, or are we intuitively aware of the collective consciousness being generated in each new situation?
If we acknowledge the very real possibility that the noosphere is an actual aspect of our physical existence, we find ourselves with many more questions than answers. Does this collective mind serve as a source of intuition, insights, inspirations and spontaneous knowledge that is available to each of us? Is it some form of supernatural being of which we are part? Or, is this a natural occurrence in which we contribute to the field of consciousness like individual cells in a gigantic brain? If it is the latter, then our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and the way we interact with others are all far more important than we currently realize.
This phenomenon may extend far beyond our planet. What if it is in fact an aspect of the entire cosmos? What if sentient beings throughout the universe are contributing to a growing field of cognition? What if, as many currently believe, the universe is becoming self-aware?
It may be that an intuitive sense of our universal interconnection has produced our concept of God. The noosphere or cosmic consciousness would certainly be compatible with the majority of eastern philosophy. However, it appears that the misconception of our western culture is a belief that that vastness is a separate and distinct entity. What if we in some way actually contribute to that totality? Then, the extraordinary awe that awaits us is the realization that in truth we are an integral aspect of the enormity of the universe.