Another nail in the coffin of materialism

© Maarten Ruijters

Quantum physics is a big problem for those who advocate the materialistic view of the world. Experiments, such as Bell tests and delayed choice experiments, show this time and again. The physicists are scrambling to fit the results of these experiments into their materialistic theories, which they can’t really do without metaphysical assumptions, such as a spooky non-local quantum field from which matter spontaneously emerges and disappears into it again.

On this website I am usually dealing with quantum physics and often how it conflicts with the materialistic paradigm. As long as we hold on to this paradigm, we will end up in paradoxes. A new challenge for that materialistic paradigm has now arisen, DNA is not the carrier of form and function. That’s why I like to write today about that in my quantum physics and consciousness blog.

DNA, function and form

Since its discovery in 1953, DNA has been the ultimate explanation for heredity, so also the explanation for all facets of living nature, including the form and functioning of living beings and plants. Now, through experiments with simple life forms, in this case mostly a simple worm, that idea has been turned on its head, literally . In the Michael Levine laboratory, extensive research has been done on how the shape of living things is changed by influencing the bioelectric fields in these organisms.

The production of the proteins that the living being needs to function is encoded in its DNA. But how its form is created, how specialist cells go exactly where they are needed is still an unanswered question. How symmetry comes about is still a complete mystery. Why is my nose in the front and not on the side of my head?

Cells communicate electrically

How do the cells of the organism cooperate to create something like your face? And last but not least, how do they know when and where to stop? What is it that regulates this process? It turns out that this cooperation between cells is regulated by an electric field, or at least that an electric field is involved. Cells communicate with each other via electrical signals. With a growing embryo, it is electrically communicated and coordinated which cells shall perform which functions. Cells use an electrical communication language.

A technique to view these electric fields in living embryos was developed in the Michael Levine laboratory . On top of that, they are also able to manipulate the development of the organism in a different direction by manipulating those electric fields. They did this, among other living species, with a simple animal, the flatworm (planaria). This animal is already quite complex, it has a head with eyes and a brain, a torso and a tail. The critter is also exceedingly regenerative, much to the chagrin of aquarium owners. You can chop it into a hundred pieces and each piece develops into a new perfect complete planaria. And when the new animal is complete, the development stops. Each piece must therefore contain the complete information about the shape of the whole worm. Until now it was believed that this information was stored somewhere in the DNA of the organism.

Planaria Torva © Holger Brandl, HongKee Moon, Miquel Vila-Farré, Shang-Yun Liu, Ian Henry, and Jochen C. Rink

The lab discovered that an electric field is involved in the development of form. Where the head and where the tail goes depends on an electrical gradient running from head to tail. The lab learned how to influence this gradient in the cells themselves. No external electric field was applied. The result was flatworms with two heads, or with two tails.

Two-headed planaria © Michael Levine Lab

And now comes the truly amazing thing. If you chop such a two-headed planaria into pieces, each piece regenerates into a two-headed planaria again. Now remember that nothing had been changed in the DNA of the animal! The building plan is therefore NOT residing in the DNA!

In the fascinating TedTalk below, Levine talks about morphogenetic fields that direct the build of the animal. Confirmation of Rupert Sheldrake’s morphogenetic fields here?

TEDTalk. This conversation, hosted by TED’s Chris Anderson, was recorded June 2020

This doesn’t just work in flatworms. In the above TEDTalk, Levine shows examples of tadpoles with extra eyes on their gut that they can also use to see, extra hearts, and extra swimming legs. They’ve even made clumps of cells, without tinkering with the DNA, that exhibit intelligent behavior, such as finding the way through a maze.

This is where an important article of faith of the materialist paradigm – we are our DNA – is completely destroyed.

Electrical form and function of organisms and inanimated matter

Following these results from the Michael Levine lab, Michael Clarage, someone who is usually more concerned with the role of electricity on at least the scale of planets and solar systems, suggests that electricity also appears to play a more important role in the development of all forms on the human scale and below, than was thought until now. He gives also special attention to the way in which cancer develops.

Michael Clarage: Electrical Shaping of Biology
Michael Clarage: Electrical Form & Function

The link with quantum physics

This morphogenetic field manifests itself in the Levine Lab experiments as an electrical gradient, but it does not have to be itself electric. It could easily be only a correlation. When these experiments show that the form and function of organisms are a result of the action of this morphogenetic field, then this can of course be extended to all organisms without any problems. Why would planaria be the exception? Isn’t it obvious to suppose that form and function of everything, including the inorganic, is the result of such a field. This is what Clarage tries to communicate. He mentions crystals, planets and solar systems in ‘Electrical Form and Function’. In that case, the quantum state of atomic objects like an electron, proton, atom, and so on is probably nothing more than this morfogenetic field. Quantum state waves are then the simplest elementary forms of this field. If we realize this, we can clearly see the link of this experiment to quantum physics.

Consciousness taken to court

It is the neurologists who still largely believe in classical physics, through which they want to explain consciousness as an emergent phenomenon of the brain. European neurologists are busy working on the Human Brain Project. This is one of the largest research projects in the world. In its final phase (April 2020 – March 2023) the HBP’s focus is to advance three core scientific areas – brain networks, their role in consciousness, and artificial neural nets – while further expanding EBRAINS. They expect – and hope – that their digital copy of the neural netwerk that we harbor in our skulls will become aware. For the sake of this emerging digital awareness, I hope not. In the main media I regularly come across articles that subscribe, rather uncritically, to this emergence idea. Fortunately, I also come across critical reviews, such as here in The Telegraph.

The neurologist’s message: your consciousness is a hallucination. It’s a recursive pattern within a pattern within a pattern of neuronal activity.

If you repeat a message often enough, a significant portion of the recipients will simply believe it. Just look at Donald Trump, about 43% of the male residents of the US currently believe that large-scale vote fraud has been committed in the presidential elections of 2020. The other male 57% are just looking uncomprehending at such a belief, since it can only survive if you completely ignore the facts. Apparently this is also the case with this neurological ‘We are our Brains’ brainwashing. It’s a belief. Verified facts are completely ignored. Entire tribes believe it. Of course you are free to believe what you want, but this is a belief with major consequences for science, humanity and its future.

A lawsuit

Suppose the question of the origin of consciousness were the subject of case law. In such a fictitious case, consciousness is accused of masquerading as an objectively existent thing when, according to the indictment, it is just a hallucination of our neurons. Therefore, its right to exist as an original phenomenon is dubious and unfounded. A verdict would have major consequences for our society. Fortunately, there are facts to consider, both for and against consciousness as a product of our neurons. So let’s put consciousness in the dock, and ask the judge to make a legal decision based on scientifically established facts.

The prosecution:

Your Honor, if I get a blow on the head, I lose consciousness. If I drink a lot of alcohol, my consciousness will behave less well. When I get demented and my brain is affected I forget who I am and who my husband is. With a dose of LSD or DMT I experience the most fantastic hallucinations. These are all examples where the cohesion and/or the chemistry in my neurons is affected. I am my brain. My consciousness pretends to be real, but it is only an illusion.

The defense:

Your Honor, what has been put forth is by no means conclusive evidence that consciousness is produced by the brain. The correlation of the electrical behavior of neurons with thoughts and sensations has been demonstrated, but a correlation is not a causal relationship. The fact that many firefighters are usually present at a fire does not mean that their joint presence causes fires. There is no question that the brain plays a role in our consciousness, but it is arguable that the brain is only an instrument of consciousness, to be able to interact with the world, a receiver of awareness with a very advanced filtering capacity.

When I crash my iPhone, it stops functioning, but the content that was ready to be shown or to be played is still there. When I buy and install a new iPhone, this content can be revived again. Much to the amazement and unbelief of someone of the 19th century. Furthermore, fMRI research has shown that when people use drugs such as LSD and DMT, their neuronal activity decreases while the intensity of the hallucination increases. This contradicts the idea that the brain produces their intense experiences and directly supports the filter hypothesis. Finally, you can also ask yourself what it is that experiences that illusion. Those neurons?

The prosecution:

Your Honor, consciousness here apparently masquerades as something that exists outside the physical body and communicates with it in ways unknown to us. This is not possible given generally accepted scientific knowledge. As far as we know there is only matter and energy, and energy exchange can only take place between matter and other matter. No disembodied consciousness has ever been demonstrated in the laboratory. The Cartesian duality, a disembodied spirit in a physical body, is a misrepresentation born of outdated religious beliefs. I think the me, who thinks so, is itself an illusion.

The Judge:

Pardon me, this is an illusion addressing me? Well well, I surely want to hear more of the defence now.

The defence:

Your Honor, if the prosecutor thinks his thinking self is an illusion, I wonder why we should listen to an illusion. And that a disembodied consciousness has not been demonstrated in a laboratory is not proof of the non-existence of a such a phenomenon. The measuring instrument that would be needed is, as far as is known, not yet available. The only known way to perceive consciousness is consciousness. Current scientific knowledge is necessarily incomplete and based on materialistic models, the correctness of which in the past had to be repeatedly adjusted or even rejected. That energy exchange can only take place between matter is not a fact but an unproven dogma. Quantum physics, the most successful physical theory currently, seems to indicate strongly – by delayed choice experiments, among other things – that the observer creates the observed. Matter thus seems to become the illusion, not the perceiving consciousness. But it is not matter that is in the dock here to be defended.

There are excellently documented cases of individuals where no brain activity at all could be detected – flat EEG and ECG – while this person was observing the environment from a point of view different from the usual, that is, observing the world from somewhere outside the body. In support of this defense I offer here an excellent verified file of cases where brain and normal sensory perception could not function, but where the person concerned clearly consciously perceived and remembered details that were verified on correctness in a way that cannot be explained with a strict material model of reality. Something that means that strictly material theories are limited in their explanatory models and that full awareness at the time of the Near-Death experience cannot be a product of complex neuronal activity. A clear awareness going together with a cerebral cortex that is demonstrably no longer functioning cannot be reconciled with the idea of an emergent consciousness.

I want to present here also the case of the 44-year old man with a tiny brain. His case was published in The Lancet in 2007. The man seemed to function normally with a healthy IQ, but, as a result of hydroencephalitis, he walked around with a skull mainly filled with cerebrospinal fluid. See the x-ray for yourself.

The large black space is the fluid that built up in his brain. Feuillet et al./The Lancet.

Consciousness in this case can hardly be the result of an extremely complicated network of neurons that produce together a pattern within a pattern within a pattern.

Your Honor, finally I would like to add that if I were to say to my GP, “I think the me, who thinks this, is an illusion,” she would be concerned, write a referral to the psychiatrist and think probably, “Oh my, the poor wretch’. But when a neuroscientist says the same their audience apparently listens breathlessly. I beg you to remain critical.

The prosecution:

Your Honor, I hope you will exercise some patience in this matter and will wait until there is conclusive scientific evidence to show that consciousness is a product of the brain and thus is a hallucination. We are confident it will be produced within a few years fom now. That person with so few neurons still had quite a few, as you can see from the x-ray, so apparently not so many are needed for intelligent consciousness as we thought. That proof, that consciousness is a product of the neurons, will come, I assure you. That won’t be long. We are working on it with all our might. I implore you to have confidence in the promise of science and its devoted practitioners. In anticipation of the outcome we are already so sure of, I propose that consciousness should already be given the status of hallucination at this stage. This will, according to our belief, explain completely the emergence of consciousness from matter and, very important, in that way we only need matter to explain the world. Please, let’s not complicate matters more than necessary.

The defence:

Your Honor, it should be well known that at this time any active interest of scientists in consciousness as an independent primary cause that does not originate in matter, could be detrimental to their careers, even if they already had a Nobel Prize. Nevertheless, there is a steadily growing number of scientists who dare to defy this career risk. I therefore I ask you urgently not to base your verdict upon some vague promises, but only on documented and verified facts, even if they do not come from laboratories, and to assign consciousness rightly its status as an actual, independent and original entity. Thank you very much.