The New Heretics
When Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg were developing the Copenhagen Interpretation, heresy was probably the furthest thing from their minds. Yet, their findings (and those of other, autre garde physicists of the early twentieth century) was an assault on established scientific dogma… Heresy.
The process by which a seemingly radical theory becomes accepted and eventually appropriated by the mainstream has always fascinated me — whether we’re talking about the heliocentric cosmology of Copernicus, Darwin’s “Origin of Species,” or the Copenhagen Interpretation. There are phases to this process. At first, a new theory which challenges the status quo is derided as ridiculous. Next, it is acknowledged as possible or even probable, yet considered to be of little or no utility — “knowledge for knowledge’s sake.” Gradually, what was once heresy becomes widely accepted as truth, at which point unlocking its practical applications can (and often does) impact how we live our daily lives.
Quantum Theory is arguably the most successful scientific theory in human history. The math that supports it can be calculated with mind-boggling accuracy; its experiments have been verified again and again. Its practical applications — superconductors, computers, transistors, lasers, medical imaging, the development of the World Wide Web — are far-reaching. As a result, the challenge QT faces is not an argument regarding its scientific basis or utility, but a lack of consensus regarding its conceptual and philosophical connotations. This is where heresy enters the picture in contemporary discussions about Quantum Theory.
Who are the new heretics? What, specifically, is the nature of their heresy? And what practical applications and benefits might eventually be realized from their forays into forbidden intellectual territory?
Roger Penrose, Eugene Wigner, Dean Radin, Deepak Chopra, Bruce Lipton, Fred Alan Wolf, Bruce Rosenblum, Brenda Dunne, Robert Jahn, Evan Harris Walker, Attila Grandpierre, Roger Nelson and Matthieu Ricard are but a few of these pioneers. Some of them are physicists; some are biologists (one a biologist-turned-monk!), neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists, doctors and philosophers. The heresy they share is the belief that consciousness plays an important role in the construction of the material universe.
The practical applications of their research and hypotheses are yet to be fully acknowledged, understood or employed by the majority of the scientific community, let alone the the rest of society. Nevertheless, they are such stuff dreams as dreams stuff is made on.
In future posts, I’ll be discussing these theorists and providing links to their websites, papers, books, and online videos. While some of them may be forgotten eventually, and their hypotheses cast aside, undoubtedly there are also those whose research and ideas will shift our understanding of the workings of the universe, and, in so doing, alter the course of humankind.