Consciousness and Matter Co-Evolve

A major advantage of a cosmological theory that starts with awareness as an irreducible aspect of the primordial energy is the possibility to explain how the laws of physics co-evolved from simple to complex via the interaction between the matter and the awareness aspects of the unified primordial energy.

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This feature provides a major explanatory advantage over theories that have no cognitive precursor at the origin of the universe. The basic idea here is that:

1. The order in the material structure is a representation of the self-knowing of consciousness.

2. Thus, by increasing the self-knowledge of consciousness, order is increased.

Therefore, assuming that consciousness has a way to interact with matter to increase its order, a virtuous cycle can be established between material order and the self-knowing of consciousness.

In more detail, this process would work as follows:

1. Self-knowledge has an inner structure that is isomorphic with the order, or complexity, found in matter (physical laws describe the order, the regularities that exist in the physical universe)

2. There is a particular way in which consciousness can affect matter to produce an increase of its order, which is then reflected in an increased self-knowing of consciousness.

Therefore, self-knowing progressively increases with the growing complexity found in the material structures, which is partly driven by the increased self-knowing of consciousness. Incidentally, this discussion would suggest the following definition of complexity of a material structure: the measure of complexity of a material structure is the degree of self-knowing possible by a consciousness embodied in that material structure.

There is a type of reentrant feedback here, which is a hallmark of living systems and intelligence. It suggests a fundamental bootstrapping process that can explain how consciousness and the physical world co-evolve into ever more complex structures that ultimately reflect the nature of consciousness to itself. This line of reasoning also supports the assumption that the purpose of the physical universe is for consciousness to know itself.

Current cosmological theories assume that the same laws that we have discovered in the last few centuries were also operating at the beginning of the universe. This assumption begs the question of how did those laws, with their fine adjustments of the physical constants, come into being in their final form, all at once.

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This position is untenable and produces pseudo-explanations such as, “we have the laws that we observe because we live in a universe where we can exist and observe such laws.” Explanations based on co-evolution, such as the one offered here, are much more appealing and sound, and they beautifully accord with the observed processes of evolution by adding a sorely missing cognitive element to the Big Bang mix, the absence of which has prompted all kinds of valid objections for which no good answers have been given.

Without awareness as an irreducible property of the fabric of reality it is impossible to satisfactorily explain the growing complexity of living systems, the creativity that we observe in nature, and the deeper reasons for the natural evolution we observe. This conjecture makes it possible to introduce an additional mechanism beyond randomness as a source of variation, because the interactions between material forms and consciousness that increase the self-knowing of the conscious universe can also guide the evolutionary process through choices that are based on an ever increasing understanding. This critical point will be further explored below.

Science has found no contradiction between its principles and the observation that complexity increases in living systems, yet the lack of contradiction is far from providing a satisfactory explanation of why complexity increases and entropy decreases when all physical processes are supposed to increase entropy. What is really driving this creative process?

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Likewise, an evolutionary theory that places the burden of creativity entirely in the hands of a purely random process followed by environmental selection, cannot explain how the astounding level of the observed complexity can be reached in the short time that evolution has taken.

Living systems represent the frontier of the self-knowing of consciousness in our planet; the boundary between known and not known. Once self-knowing has been consolidated in a lower organizational tier, there is no more to know there, therefore the order we observe in the inorganic matter is reflected in the mathematical laws of the physics we know. To see in action the operation of the interactions between consciousness and matter at the current stage of the evolution of the universe, we have to observe living systems, and in particular humans, the highest evolutionary form we know.

Looking at the operation of natural selection for systems of the complexity of a human being – made of approximately 1029 elementary particles harmoniously working together — one can immediately see that the number of possible random variations is huge, and out of this set, only a few variations have the potential to improve the fitness function of a human being. Therefore the time needed for the selection process to produce fitter phenotypes is extremely long, much longer than what is observed.

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However, if the pool of variations that need to be selected contains a much higher percentage of potentially successful variations, then the selection process can succeed in a far shorter time than what’s needed for purely random variations. This concentrate of potentially successful variations can be achieved only if such variations are due to choices based on the understanding, or self-knowing, achieved by the co-evolving consciousness. Only in this way is it possible to climb the probability mountain to the hugely improbable peaks that we observe in nature, within a time frame commensurate with the time scale of environmental changes that require adaptation.

Without this informed mechanism, the age and environmental stability of the universe would have to be far larger than are known to allow for purely random variations to produce the observed complexity. Unquestionably, we have a tendency to undervalue the vastness of the space of possible combinations that need to be weeded out by a selection process, based on a dynamic fitness function driven by environmental pressure.

This explanation may smell like creationism at first sight, but it couldn’t be further from it. It simply means that there is a gradually increasing element of intelligence added to the evolutionary process that helps it overcome the combinatorial-explosion barrier that is the major unanswered criticism to the current evolutionary theory. This hypothesis takes the same experimental evidence that strongly supports Darwinian evolution, and adds a sorely needed non-random feedback element to speed up the process that otherwise would be impossibly slow with purely feed-forward random variations.

The claim here is that, as natural selection progresses, the mix of variations that need to be selected contains at least the same percentage of variations with the potential to improve fitness that was present for a much less complex system; the primary source of these variations coming from the increased self-knowing of consciousness. Otherwise new structures whose probability of existence is infinitesimally small could not come into existence in the relatively short time that has been observed.

Part 1: A Framework for the Union of Science and Spirituality
Part 2: The Nature of Consciousness
Part 3: Consciousness and Matter Co-evolve
Part 4: Explaining Consciousness
Part 5: What is Union?