Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually awakening people, and about spiritual topics of all kinds. We’ve done over 650 of these now, if this is new to you, and you’d like to check out previous ones, you can do that several ways, explore the YouTube channel, in fact, I encourage you to subscribe to it, we’re reaching nearly 100,000 subscribers this year, and to subscribe, click the subscribe button, obviously, and then click the little bell that pops out after you hit the subscribe button. Or you can explore it on the website, which is actually better organized than the YouTube channel because we have a whole categorical index of all the interviews and several other ways that they’re organized. This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers, so if you appreciate it and would like to help support it, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the website. Also, you’ll notice that we don’t have a discussion feature enabled on YouTube, and that’s because discussions were just very hard to moderate there and internet trolls tended to mess things up, so we have the discussion going on a Facebook group and there’s a link beneath this video to the specific discussion area for this particular interview. So if you click that and want to discuss the interview, you can do it there. Okay. My guest today is Bernard Carr. Bernard is emeritus professor of mathematics and astronomy at queen mary university of London. As an undergraduate, he read mathematics at Cambridge university and for his PhD, he studied the first second of the universe, working under Stephen Hawking. He also became a good friend of Stephens, shared an office with him, traveled with him, lived in his home, perhaps he’ll talk about that a bit as we go along. He was elected to a fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1975. And in 1980, spent a year traveling around the us as a Lindemann fellow before taking up a senior research fellowship at the institute of astronomy in Cambridge. In 1984, he was awarded the Adams prize one of the UK´s most prestigious mathematical awards. In 85, he moved to queen mary and became a professor there in 95. He also held visiting professorships at various institutes in America, Canada and Japan. His professional area of research is cosmology and astrophysics, that includes such topics as the early universe, black holes, dark matter, and the anthropic principle. He is the author of around 300 papers and books and the books universe or multiverse and quantum black holes. He is also very interested in the role of consciousness, regarding this as a fundamental rather than incidental feature of the universe. And that’s the main reason I was inspired to interview Bernard and you’ll see in a minute some of the things we’re going to talk about. In particular, he is developing a new psychophysical paradigm, linking matter and mind, which accommodates normal paranormal, and mystical experiences. He also has a long standing interest in the relationship between science and religion, especially Buddhism, having been the coholder of a grant from the Templeton foundation for a project entitled fundamental physics, cosmology and the problem of our existence. He is president of the scientific and medical network and a former president of the society for psychical research. And I’ve spent an enjoyable week listening to many of Bernard’s talks and other interviews and reading a number of things he sent me to read, and I accumulated several pages of notes. And last night, it was getting to be about 10 o’clock and I realized my notes really weren’t very well organized. So I had to go to bed, so I just sent them over to Bernard to show him what I had been accumulating, and like the story of the shoemaker and the elves:. When I woke up this morning, I discovered that Bernard had organized them very nicely into five major topics and I’m just going to read you those topics to give you a heads up on what we’re going to talk about. So the first is the multiverse and fine tunings, and obviously we’ll define these as we go along; time and consciousness; science, spirituality, and psychical research; quantum theory, and post materialist science and hyperspatial models. So we’ll try to apportion our time so as to do justice to all those different topics, and the interview will last about two hours. So welcome, Bernard. It’s wonderful to connect with you.
Bernard Carr: Thank you, rick. And first of all, thank you for spending so much time reading my articles and watching my various interviews. I hope it didn’t deprive you of too much sleep last night.
Rick Archer: Oh, I never deprive myself of sleep. And I listened to most of your interviews as while hiking in the woods, which I do on a daily basis, so, you know, killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. It’s very enjoyable, and very enlivening, and it definitely gets more of my brain cells firing. So it’s not it’s not a chore, this doesn’t feel like work by any means. So, I think the first thing we want to talk about, unless you’d like to go back to your boyhood, and how you got interested in all these things. We can do that now, or we can do that a little bit later. But we want to zero right in on fine tunings as quickly as possible. So you want to give us a little background, or shall we dive right into fine tuning?
Bernard Carr: Let me just say, because I have really three main interests, so it might be interesting just to describe how they arose.
Rick Archer: Okay.
Bernard Carr: When I was at school, I was at a public school called harrow, and on one occasion I misbehaved, and as a punishment for my misbehavior I was roomed, which meant that I couldn’t leave my room except for lessons. And so I had nothing to do except read. And I read three books. And those books, the first book was on the ABC of relativity, which was by Einstein, that got me interested in the nature of space and time and physics. Then I read a book called an experiment with time by J. W. Dunne, and that was about his precognitive dreams and that got me interested in psychical research. And then I read a book called the third eye by Lobsang rampa, who was allegedly a Tibetan lama who´d taken over the body of a Cornish fisherman or something, that got me interested in Buddhism. And really, those three books awakened my interest in science and in psychical research, and in spirituality. They really determined the course of my life and when I went up to Cambridge a few years later, as an undergraduate, I immediately joined the Cambridge university astronomical society, the society for psychical research and the Buddhist society, because I was particularly interested in Buddhism at that time. And so I really pursued those interests all my life and professionally, I became a cosmologist. So I became a scientist. As you said, I did my PhD with Stephen Hawking, but I’ve always maintained my interests in the other topics, in particular, in in psychical research, and indeed in not only religion, but more generally in religious studies and the idea of spirituality. And so, the three topics which we’ll be covering today, really all go back to that period when I was about 15, and really all resulted from by my misbehavior, which is rather ironic.
Rick Archer: I wish my misbehaviors had resulted in such a productive outcome. Unfortunately, they didn’t.
Bernard Carr: Well, I don’t want to encourage any form of misbehavior, but it’s funny how things turn out.
Rick Archer: Yeah. It’s interesting because Hawking was famously an atheist, and you were a close buddy of his. Did the two of you ever debate that topic? Or did you just steer clear of it?
Bernard Carr: Oh well, we talked about it because you see, well, I lived with the family for a while. We had very different views. I mean, of course, in terms of psychical research I took the phenomena seriously. Stephen had read the books by Rhine I think when he was a teenager, J. B Rhine, but he came to conclude there was really no evidence for it, so he didn’t believe in that. As regards his atheism, of course, I disagree with that too. Stephen believed everything will be explained by physics. People sometimes say well, why didn’t I try and persuade Stephen to be, get, more interested in spiritual matters? But I never saw that as important. Stephen was a brilliant physicist, you know, he was a genius at physics and I saw no reason to distract him by getting involved on the spiritual path. I mean, if he spent all his life sitting in meditation, which in a sense he might have been able to since he couldn’t move his body, he might have become spiritually enlightened, but he would not have made such a great contribution to physics. So I never felt any desire to actually convert him to my way of thinking. I mean, I think, you know, the world needs great scientists and very great spiritual people, but they don’t have to be the same. And it seems to me there´s only a small fraction of people who are interested in both, so the fact that steven was an atheist never really bothered me at all, and I never really wanted to dissuade him. It’s slightly ironic though, because steven was blessed by four pope’s and ended up being interred in Westminster abbey, next to Isaac Newton. So maybe if he does get to the pearly gates, let him in anyway. But he was a core skeptical, but that didn’t bother me at all.
Rick Archer: Yeah. One point we might cover today is whether spiritual endeavors can actually enhance the study of physics and vice versa, perhaps. That’s an interesting area to explore. Okay, so that’s a good introduction to how you ended up where you are. Let’s plunge right …
Bernard Carr: I can discuss how…
Rick Archer: I’m sorry, go ahead.
Bernard Carr: I can discuss how science and spirituality may support each other later on, I think.
Rick Archer: Yeah, let’s get into that, in fact, that’s in our notes. So explain to us what fine tunings are.
Bernard Carr: Well, I’m happy to start off talking about this because in some sense, this comes under the heading of my cosmological work, which, if you like, is less controversial, from a scientific perspective.
Rick Archer: And I heard one interviewer describe you as perhaps the world’s greatest expert on fine tuning, so …
Bernard Carr: I wouldn’t say that, however, what happened was that in 1979, I wrote a big review paper with Martin Rees, for nature, which was on the question of the anthropic, so called anthropic principle, which has to do with the fine tunings. And so that became quite a well-known paper because it was the first, one of the first papers, to get attention in a respectable science journal. But the idea is, it goes back to Brandon Carter, really, and people like bob dickey several years earlier, so I certainly wasn’t the founder of the idea. Well, the idea is that there are certain coincidences in nature, which seem to be necessary for our existence as observers in the universe. Most of what I’m going to say is in the context of the big bang model, but there are different sorts of fine tuning, so it might be useful just distinguish between those. These fine tunes are sometimes called the anthropic principle. Anthropic is the Greek word for man, it’s a terrible word, because these tunings aren’t specific to human beings, but nevertheless, that’s the word that Brandon carter used, and we are sort of stuck with it now. What’s called the weak anthropic principle merely says that, given the constants of nature, there is a selection effect of when and where we must exist in the universe. For example, we have to be close to a star. But a more interesting question is why you, the why you exist when the universe is as old as it is. The universe is actually 14 billion years old, 14 billion years since the big bang. And that means the size of the universe is roughly the distance largest traveled in that time, so 14 billion light years, so you might ask, well, why is the universe as big as it is, compared to human beings, who of course just exist on this very tiny planet? Well, you might just say, it’s just coincidence:. The universe happens to be roughly 10 billion years old, and therefore, it’s 10 billion light years in size. But there’s another argument which was given by a physicist called bob dickey in the 1960s, which says, in order to have human beings, you have to have heavy elements. And those heavy elements are made in stars. But stars can only burn and then explode a supernova to produce the heavy elements after their lifetime, which is something like 10 billion years. So before roughly 10 billion years, there can’t be any observers because there wouldn’t be any chemicals. On the other hand, if you wait much longer than 10 billion years, all the stars will have burnt out, and therefore there wouldn’t be any planet sustaining life either. So that was a simple argument, which said that if observers are going to exist, it can only be when the universe is something like 10 billion years old.
Rick Archer: So aside from observers, are you saying that there probably weren’t any heavy elements until 10 billion years into the life of the universe?
Bernard Carr: That is the argument. Now it isn’t really 10 billion years, I´m being rather simplistic…
Rick Archer: Roughly maybe
Bernard Carr: …the first stars are bigger than that and they wouldn’t be, use, heavy elements bigger than that. But I’m just using powers of 10.
Rick Archer: Ok
Bernard Carr: Notice this isn’t saying the universe doesn’t exist apart from 10 billion years, it’s just saying there aren’t going to be any observers around at that time.
Rick Archer: Right. But it’s going to be all stars, which are basically just fusion reactions. And you might even say, very few planets, because unless the heavy elements have been produced, we’re not going to have planets.
Bernard Carr: Well, that’s also true. I mean, that gets into the technicalities of how planets form. But the point is that this isn’t controversial. This is simply saying the existence of observers actually imposes a selection effect on when you exist. And this is just a purely logical necessity. There’s nothing controversial about that. So what’s called the weakened tropic principle, I would say is common sense. Where it becomes much more controversial, is when you ask:. Are the values of the constants themselves determined by life, whether life can arise? Now, that’s called the strong anthropic principle. Now, the evidence for that lies in a large number of strange coincidences involving the constants of physics. And I can’t go through all of them in detail, but I’ll just give you a sort of taste of the sorts of coincidents. First of all, you’ve got what to call the dimensionless coupling constants, which specify the strength of the four interactions. So, you’ve got the gravitational interaction, you’ve got the electric interaction, the strong interaction and the week interaction. And they’re all associated with coupling constants. That’s the same dimensionless numbers. And fundamental physics doesn’t tell us what the values of those constants actually are. We measure them, we know what they are, but we can’t actually predict them on the basis of any theory. I mean, particle physics is very successful in understanding relationships between the forces, it can explain the unification of forces, but it can’t actually explain the actual values of the coupling forces. But what is remarkable is that there have to be certain coincidences between those coupling constants, in order for, for example, stars and planets can exist. So to give you a simple example, though it’s very technical:. You can only have both the stars which explode a supernova, and the stars the lower mass stars, which can have planets, if the gravitational fine structure constant, which is 10 to the minus 40, is the 20th power of the electric fine structure constant, which is roughly 10 to the minus two. Okay, because 10 to the minus two times the 20th powers 10 to the minus 40. Now, that’s unexplained, and it explains why the gravitational force is so much weaker than the electric force:. You can only have supernova exploding because the neutrinos which generated in the core when the star collapses, blow off the outer envelope. And that depends on nuclear reactions. And that only happens because the weak fine structure constant is actually the fourth power of the weak fine structure constant. The weak fine structure constant is 10 to the minus 10, so if you take the fourth power of that, it’s 10 to the minus 40. But again, that’s not explained. Now, I hope it’s not getting too technical with the mathematics I’ll avoid mathematics from now on. But those are the fine coupling constants. There are also lots of relationships between the masses of the elementary particles, the neutron and the proton and the electron, between the strength of the strong interaction and the electric interaction, which are required in order to have interest in chemistry. If you didn’t have fine tuning, you’d either have no heavier, no elements at all, apart from hydrogen. Or all your elements would be as heavy as iron, and that wouldn’t work either. And finally, there are a lot of cosmological constants, which we can measure, and we know they’re crucial to understanding the big bang theory. But we don’t know what those constants are. For example, there’s what’s called the photons a baryon ratio, that’s the ratio of the number of photons in the background radiation, which is the evidence of the big bang, compared to the number of protons. And that’s a ratio of something like a billion. And again, we don’t know why it’s a billion, but it just needs to be a billion for various reasons, in order to have galaxies and stars and things like that. The point is that there are constants, and the most famous one involves what’s called the cosmological constant, which it’s a bit too technical to go into now. But this is the dark energy which pervades the universe. And this was discovered only about 20 years ago, the universe is accelerating due to this, it’s called a cosmological constant. That’s what Einstein called it, it is due to the fact, the vacuum energy in some sense, and again, we don’t really understand where this dark energy comes from. But again, it has to be finely tuned, because if it was too large – and actually speaking, it should be much larger than observed – if it was too large, then it turns out, it will stop galaxies forming, because it’s a repulsive effect. So that’s an example of two cosmological parameters. There’s also another parameter, which determines the amplitude of the fluctuations that give rise to galaxies. So there are another set of fine tunings involving the cosmological parameters. So just to summarize, because it’s a bit technical, we’ve got fine tunings associated with the fundamental interactions, we’ve got fine tunings associated with the various particles in the universe, and we’ve got fine tunings associated with cosmological parameters. And these tunings seem to be arise, necessary, in order for planets, stars, and people or maybe just complexity in general to arise in the universe. So that is the claim. It’s a controversial claim, because not everybody likes the idea that physics isn’t going to explain everything. And it comes especially when you try to ask what is the possible explanation for these fine tunings. Now, that’s another topic, which I can talk about. But that’s the sort of data if you like, that’s what we mean by the fine tunings. Some people say:. Oh, I don’t believe in the fine tunings, it’s all a coincidence, but, and likes to say, well, no, the final theory of physics will predict one day all of these constants of nature. Maybe it will, maybe the final theory will one day predict these constants of nature, but if so, it will remain a remarkable coincidence that the constants predicted are precisely what’s required for life. And, you know, it was originally hoped, for example, that string theory or m theory would explain all the different constants of nature. But that hasn’t happened. And in fact, string theory specifically predicts that we have what’s called the string landscape, which says this cosmological constant which I mentioned, rather than having a unique value, could have a huge number of value, something like 10 to the power 500. So string theory itself is sometimes invoked as an explanation for the fact that you need the fine tuning. But I now have to come on to the explanations, but I don’t know if you want me to pause.
Rick Archer: I do have a question. How many fine tunings are constants, are there altogether? Approximately?
Bernard Carr: Well, I mean, the number of fundamental constants in physics, I mean, there are something like 30 40 fundamental constants, so we know what they are. They’re constants, which arise in particle physics, and they’re constants which arise in cosmology. But the real question is, how many of those constants are related? Because that some of those constants are inevitably interrelated. So they’re not independent constants. So the really important question is, how many of these constants are fundamental in the sense that they are independently determined? And that might only be something like a dozen or something. I mean, we don’t know because we don’t have the final theory. And the whole point about unification is that the more unified the model, the fewer the number of fundamental parameters. But there are, at least, the cosmological parameters. For example, as far as we know, they’re what we call contingent. They’re not predicted by a fundamental theory. And likewise in particle physics. So there may be about 12 constants which are involved in these fine tunings. The number of fine tunings themselves, again, I would, I could give you something like 20. But I mean, obviously, they have different statistical significance. The question is really:. How fine is the tuning? If constants are just given to an order of magnitude, it is not so interesting. What’s interesting is when the fine tunings have to be at, you know, they have to obeyed to something like a fraction of a percent, that’s when it gets interesting. So I will, let me just say that the number of fine tunings, and then the degree of fine tuning, is sufficiently impressive. There’s something weird going on, in my opinion.
Rick Archer: Yeah, so let’s say there’s 12 or 20 variables, and if we can imagine them as being like a Las Vegas slot machine with 12 or 20 wheels, and each of those wheels has, many of them have vast number of possible values, then we pull the handle on the slot machine, and somehow rather, all of these have lined up just right for us to have the kind of universe we have. And the statistical probability of that is probably mind bogglingly small. And yet we … Go ahead!
Bernard Carr: It’s an appropriate analogy, the casino one, because the analogy I like to give is, let’s imagine we’re buying lottery tickets. Okay, so you buy a lottery ticket, and of course there are millions of people buying a lottery ticket, you win the lottery, and you won, you know, a million dollars. And you think, wow, that’s a miracle. But actually, it isn’t a miracle. It simply means that a million people have bought lottery tickets, and you happened to be the one who was lucky enough to find it. And that’s precisely the analogy which most physicists like as an explanation for the fine tunings. They say:. Well, maybe we got lots of universes, a multiverse, and we necessarily have to be in one of the universes where the constants are right for life. So we’re not saying the other universes don’t exist, we’re just saying that there’s a selection effect on what sort of universe we can be in. And so in that sense, what’s called the strong anthropic principle just becomes a reflection of what I earlier called the weak anthropic principle. Because remember, the weak anthropic principle merely says, the existence of observers imposes a selection effect on when and where you are in this particular universe. If you’ve got a multiverse, it’s saying the existence of observers imposes a restriction on which universe you’re in. And in that sense, the strong anthropic principle, which is controversial, becomes an aspect of the weak anthropic principle, which is not so controversial, because it becomes a logical necessity. But then, of course, it depends on whether you believe in the multiverse, which is another question.
Rick Archer: So it seems to me that the idea of the multiverse is kind of a cop out for those who are, feel, uncomfortable about the suggestion that this, that all these fine tunings turned out just right, might be symptomatic of some organizing or underlying intelligence, you know, that gives rise to the universe. They can say:. Okay, if there are a gazillion other universes, we just happened. Most of them are duds, we just happened to end up in the good one, so we’re lucky then, it was a matter of random chance there, we don’t need to resort to some kind of theological explanation.
Bernard Carr: Well, rick, you put your finger on a very important point, because the reason, when I first wrote this paper with Martin Rees, it was very controversial, a lot of visitors hated the idea. One of my physicist friends even said it was obscene. The reason it was seen as obscene was partly because it was seen as philosophy rather than physics. And that’s fair enough, because it is on the borders of physics and philosophy.
Rick Archer: I´m just thinking of … you could have a book called pornography for physicists, and it would just be all these formulae and explanations.
Bernard Carr: Yes, I’ve never heard it described as pornography, but it would be a good analogy, but I don’t want to seem to be justifying pornography. However, the real reason I think it got such an adverse reaction was that it also smelled of theology. Because if you’ve got the fine tuning, the alternative explanation is obviously that there was a tuner, that in some sense a creator had tailormade the universe for our convenience. In other words, you have this, the idea if you like, there was God. You imagine a space of all coupling constants, and God, in some sense, puts his pin in this space at the right value to produce human beings. Now, that’s of course very different from the view in which you say there are millions of universes or large numbers of universes, and we just have to happen to be in one of the small ones which produce life. So there has always been the controversy as to whether these anthropic tunings should be attributed to God, or whatever word you want to use, or to a multiverse. Now, obviously, theologians would prefer it to be God. Physicists would much prefer it to be the multiverse, because it in some sense, the multiverse does away with the need for a fine tuner. Now, this is still a controversy. There are still some people who prefer to think that fine tuning reflect the existence of a view like a divine intelligence. But of course, most physicists don’t like that. Most physicists don’t want to resort to God. Even if they believe in God, they want to keep him out of physics. And so there are a lot of atheist physicists, who converted to the idea of the anthropic principle precisely because of the multiverse. So you have people like Stephen Hawking, you have people like steven Weinberg, people like martin Rees, people like Leonard Susskind, all of these people are atheists, who might at one stage have been very anti the anthropic principle, but now that they’re supporters of the anthropic principle, some of them are dead, but they are supporters of the anthropic principle, precisely because it is naturally explained by the multiverse. So in some sense, the fine tuning is almost become evidence for the multiverse. But I have to say that not all physicists think that. Some physicists think the multiverse is also rather too mystical. There are a lot of physicists who would like to think there’s only one universe, and there’s no God. And so they think that the multiverse is just as mysterious and unpalatable as the idea of God. So I shouldn’t give the impression that everybody, all physicists, now accept the multiverse, but at least it is respectable. And when the word anthropic 40 years ago, when I first wrote about it with martin, was really a taboo topic. Now, it’s become relatively respectable, and the fact that variable physicists now, well, what used to be called the a-word, anthropic, a lot of people wouldn´t even use the word because it was almost pornographic if you like, but now, it’s much more respectable. I mean, the field is, physicists are still split about it. But nevertheless, there are a lot of eminence supporters. And it’s really, I would say, all because of the multiverse. You can argue about whether the multiverse is actually proper physics. I mean, most of the critics don’t so much disagree the possibility of a multiverse, they just say it’s not in the domain of science, because you can’t see the other observable, you know, you can’t see the other universes, there’s no evidence for the other universes, and therefore, they should be classified as philosophy rather than physics. I sort of have some sympathy with that view, but on the other hand, the frontiers of cosmology and particle physics have always been on the border of physics and philosophy. Because there is always a period in the development of physics on either the macroscopic or the microscopic frontier, where your theories go beyond the data, where you haven’t actually got the data to confirm your ideas. And that, if you like, lead you into the domain of philosophy. And so it is true, at the moment we don’t have any direct evidence for the multiverse. But nevertheless, I don’t see, in principle, why there shouldn’t come one day evidence for the multiverse. In the meantime, we’re in a sort of state of purgatory between philosophy and physics, I call it between cosmology. Cosmology is a branch of physics that I refer to meta cosmology, which is on the border between cosmology and philosophy. So I’m happy to regard the multiverse as part of the domain of meta cosmology as a compromise with those people who don’t think it’s proper physics. But the point is, I would like to stress, is that new ideas in cosmology have always been on the border, I’ve always been in the domain of meta cosmology. Originally, cosmology was just dismissed as a branch of physics, until we got the evidence for the microwave background and big bang nucleosynthesis and the expansion of the universe. So yesterday’s meta cosmology is today’s cosmology. Today’s meta cosmology, as the multiverse, I think, will be tomorrow’s respectable cosmology.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I heard you give a talk in which you traced the history of science in terms of its dismissal of things outside its purview as being metaphysical. And then it, science, evolved to incorporate them and to find evidence for them. And therefore, they were no longer metaphysical. But then there were other things outside that periphery and, and it just continued to grow. So I think when a scientist makes a statement like that they’re really making a statement about the limitations of their discipline rather than about the limitations of the universe.
Bernard Carr: Absolutely. And the important thing to stress is that it’s not just the universe is getting bigger as we expand our knowledge of it. The nature of science is changing, you know, because the history of astronomy is you go from the geocentric to the heliocentric to the galactocentric, to the cosmocentric, and maybe now even to the multiverse view. But at each, and that’s on the macroscopic scale, and of course on the microscopic domain, we’ve also changed our view on the universe as we’ve discovered, you know, atomic physics, which says the objects aren’t really solid, they’re just mainly vacuum particles, and then we go on to quantum theory, which says that you don’t have particles, but waves. And then we go into even more exotic ideas such as higher dimensions and things like that. So in either the macroscopic or the microscopic domain, our view of the universe is constantly changing. And not only the view of the universe, what we regard as legitimate science is always changing. So to give a simple example, I mean Auguste Comte was a philosopher in the 18th century who said that there may be stars outside the solar system, but it will never be part of mainstream science, for the simple reason that we can never study these outside stars in the normal way of astronomy. And so he wasn’t denying the existence of other stars, he was just saying, there’ll be outside the domain of science. However, just a few decades later, they discovered spectroscopy, which of course, meant we could get information about other stars. And so immediately, the domain of science expanded to the whole of the galaxy. And then there was a time when people said, well, the galaxy is silent, but we will never see beyond the galaxy, we don’t even know if there’s anything beyond the galaxy. You know, there was arguments about whether the galaxy was the universe, you know, some people thought all those nebulae were inside the galaxy. And there was a big debate about that in the 1920s. But then, Hubble came along in, you know, the end of the 1920s, and showed that actually, there were these galaxies outside our galaxy, the milky way, and indeed they extend from billions of light years. And now, of course, we’re seeing them with incredible detail and the James Webb telescope. So the point is that all these developments are expanding the domain of science. And, although I’m talking about a problem in the domain of cosmology, I think this is an important message for the topics we’re going to go on to talk about, that the domain of science itself is always changing in the time. And science may resist that, scientists themselves may resist that. The cosmology has been controversial at the center of it, at every stage it’s developed, there be more conservative scientists that even stronger saying this isn’t science. So far, they’ve always proved to be wrong.
Rick Archer: I think it was Max Planck, who said that science progresses through a series of funerals?
Bernard Carr: Yes, well, there is, of course, that science, of course, goes through these paradigm shifts, as Kuhn famously wrote about, these paradigm shifts arise when there are little anomalies, which can’t be explained. But inevitably, the mainstream people initially are going to defend the current paradigm. They’re not keen to overthrow the paradigm, because after all, they spent most of their lives working in the current paradigm, and if you accept that´s wrong, they might have wasted most of their lives. And so the idea has been that it’s no good trying to convert some of these people. I’m not talking so much about the multiverse now, I’m talking about the topics we’re going to go on to talk about later, more controversial topics, like, you know, consciousness, and parapsychology, and things like that. But even within the context of more traditional science, in the long run you you’re not going to persuade a lot of people, you just have to wait for them to die off. And that’s why he made that remark that, you know, science proceeds funeral at a time.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Upton Sinclair said, “you can’t get a man to understand something, if his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
Bernard Carr: Well, that is true. I mean, and you know, but this is part of science. I mean, in my professional field of research, I’m very interested in the dark matter problem. And this is what we’re going to discuss. But I have my own theory, that the dark matter existed primordial black holes which formed in the early Universe. This is something I worked on with Stephen Hawking for my PhD. And this is, again, this was a minority view. Not many people took it seriously. Now it´s becoming much more popular. Because … partly because we haven’t found the particle physics dark matter, and partly because of the detection of gravitational waves, which might conceivably have come from primordial black holes. We know black holes exist, there’s no, there’s lots of evidence for that. But we don’t know the primordial black holes, because these are the ones that form in the very early universe. And so it’s a strange thing I’ve spent 50 years working on these things, is a minority view. If primordial black holes turn out to be the dark matter, then I’ve done something quite important. If they don’t turn out to be the dark matter, then I wasted a lot of my life. But the strange thing is, I probably won’t know within my lifetime, and sciences like that. You just don’t know what’s right or wrong in a way that what makes it interesting. But the point is, if the dark matter is black holes, primordial black holes, then there are 1000s of physicists who devoted their lives to showing this elementary particles. And they’re going to be very upset, because that means they wasted a lot of their lives and the billions of dollars, trying to find these particles. So this is a strange thing about science. You never quite know the truth until you get there. And when you do get there, you’re inevitably going to find that many people have been wasting their time. But it doesn’t matter because the joy of science isn’t necessarily being true, because it takes a long time to discover the truth, the joy of science is actually working your way to the truth. And even if an idea turns out to be wrong, it very often turns out to be useful.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I mean, Columbus was actually a horrible man, when you look at what he did, but you know, he thought he was finding India when he sailed across the Atlantic, and he was wrong. But hey, look, what we got.
Bernard Carr: Yeah, well look at the great contribution he made. So I don’t think you should judge scientists by whether their ideas are right or wrong.
Rick Archer: Right
Bernard Carr: Because the point is, are the ideas useful? And you know, and for example, primordial black holes, even if they don’t exist, even if they didn’t form in the early universe, they’ve been incredibly important, because these black holes are small, very small, much less than the mass of the sun. And this is what Stephen Hawking, why Stephen Hawking, started studying their quantum effects. And Hawking came up with this remarkable result, the black holes aren’t black at all, they radiate like black bodies with a temperature. And the temperature is inversely proportional to the mass. So it’s tiny for something like a star, the sun, but this was an incredibly important result, one of the most important results in 20th century physics, because it unified relativity theory, quantum theory, and thermodynamics. Now, ironically, we still don’t have direct experimental evidence for this. This was discovered in 1974, you know, so it’s nearly 50 years old, we still don’t have any evidence, but it’s such a beautiful idea that almost everybody accepts it must be true.
Rick Archer: So it worked out mathematically, I guess.
Bernard Carr: It just is so beautiful mathematically. John wheeler, who coined the word black hole, he once told me, it was such a beautiful theory that talking about it was like rolling candy on the tongue. Not the idea. But the point is that even if primordial black holes don’t exist, thinking about them has led to this enormously important development in physics. So there’s just a small example of how an idea can be useful, even if it’s, it doesn’t turn out, the idea of primordial black holes can be useful, even if they don’t actually exist.
Rick Archer: Okay. I see some questions have come in, but we won’t get to them quite yet.
Bernard Carr: We obviously, we spent a long time on this, what, surely respectable in inverted commas, discussion of physical ideas, but that’s good
Rick Archer: Yeah
Bernard Carr: I don´t want people to think I only work on controversial, crazy ideas.
Rick Archer: I’ve been playing with the thought that what if we could somehow verify the existence of the multiverse? And we, lo and behold, we discovered that all these other universes are fine tuned for life also. I mean, what then, would there have to be some kind of super multiverse that we would jump, to in order to … you know?
Bernard Carr: Well, that is interesting. I mean, of course, in a certain sense, if all the universe had, the universities had, the fine tuning, you wouldn’t have needed the universe in the multiverse in the first place. Tentatively, you could say, you could say the constants are fixed by the final laws of physics, but there are just lots of universes in which all the constants are going to have those fixed values.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Bernard Carr: You know, the point is, cosmology is trying to explain the big bang. That’s what quantum cosmology does. If it can explain one big bang, it can make other big bangs. If the fundamental theory of physics is going to uniquely determine the constants, you’re simply going to have the constants being the same in all the universes. But you’re asking a question, well, what your question really comes down to is this:. Is the … are the fraction of universes containing life really very, very small? Because you see, the assumption in the arguments I’ve given you is that you’ve got the millions of universes, we haven’t said actually how many, you’ve got all these universes, they have different constants. But the idea is only a very tiny probability that we get the constants are going to be right for life. So we’re going to be only one of the tiny fraction of the universe, universes, which can produce life. However, that doesn’t imply that there’s only one. For example, one isn’t saying that the constants may be uniquely determined, there might be different values of the constants, which would allow life of a different form. For example, we are carbon based life, and maybe life could be based on something else. Or maybe there could be some form of life, it doesn’t even depend upon planets. So one isn’t saying that, you know, it’s only one small set of concepts make life, there could be other sets of constants. But the idea, at least, is that it’s only a small fraction of islands, if you like, in this multiverse where life can arise. So it’s a tiny fraction. That’s the idea. It’s a tiny fraction of the multiverse, which can allow life to arise. But I have to say, that’s not the only view. There is another physicist called lee Smolin, and he has a different view of the multiverse. I’ll briefly describe, he says that, you form black holes, the black holes form baby universes, and they create another universe. And then they form black holes, which create more universes. And he has the idea that every time you form a baby universe, you mutate the values of the constants. So this is a sort of analogy to evolution. And he argues that what happens is, therefore the universe naturally evolves to one in which all the constants have values, which optimize the production of black holes. So that, this you see, of course he’s putting the emphasis on black holes rather than observers, but this has an interesting feature that most of the universes end up being found, well, having been required for black holes. So that’s an interesting … it is not the view I favor, it’s another view, which says that, you know, in fact, most of the multiverses have got the right tunes, but for black holes, rather than …
Rick Archer: Interesting. But by the same token, they could also be fine-tuned for some form of life. And black holes are just the physical mechanism through which new universes are spawned.
Bernard Carr: Exactly. The point is, he’s got, I think it’s more natural within the fine tuning universe for the life rather than black holes, but the point about the black holes is that he has a particular mechanism for creating the multiverse. But then the point is that we have other models, we have plenty of mechanisms for making multiverses anyway. They can come out of cosmology, out of what’s called inflation, they can come out of string theory, out of what’s called a string landscape theory, they can come because you’ve got, come out of the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. So there are lots of scenarios, which would predict the multiverse. And in fact, although it’s true that we don’t have direct evidence for the multiverse, unless you regard the fine tunings as evidence, but the point is that there are theories which predict the multiverse, and that’s the reason physicists take it seriously. There are theories coming from both cosmology and particle physics, which seem to predict the existence of a multiverse. That’s why physicists take it seriously. It may be disconcerting if we don’t have direct evidence for the other universes, but that happens a lot in physics. I mean, you know, there’s no evidence, no one can see a quark, because you can’t see a quark in isolation, but nobody doubts the quarks and the fundamental particles that make up protons and things. Nobody can see inside a black hole, by definition, but that doesn’t leave without regard of black holes on physics.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and the Webb has taken us back to perhaps 200 million years after the big bang, but that’s, even that’s a pretty great distance, and we can’t see outside this universe to see other universes out there.
Bernard Carr: That’s absolutely true. I mean, what is undoubtedly true within the concepts of the big bang, is that the universe doesn’t end, the edge of what’s called the observable, at what’s called the horizon, which is how light can, how light can propagate since the big bang, there is no doubt that the universe, there is a bigger reality that goes beyond our observable universe. And indeed, that there are different types of multiverses. But I won’t get into that it becomes a bit too technical. But just to go back to your original point about intelligence, you know, is it evidence of intelligence? This has been a long running debate, I want to organize a day a workshop on, entitled God or multiverse, because obviously, theologians wanted to see the fine tuning as evidence of God, the physicists wants to see the multiverse as the explanation of those fine tunings. But I’ve always said that it’s not as simple as that. It’s not a choice of God or the multiverse because, as we’ll hear later when we talk about other topics, I’m not against God at all, whatever, whatever the term means. And it seems to me that if you’re going to believe in God or some great intelligence, I see no reason why that great intelligence can’t create a multiverse as well as create a universe. I think the problem is, if there’s only one universe, you do, may, maybe you do have to invoke some special tuner. But if there’s a multiverse, it doesn’t exclude the possibility of achieving. It merely says you don’t necessarily need one.
Rick Archer: Well, the Hindus have this image of Vishnu lying on a couch and just sort of almost like blowing bubbles churning out multiple universes. Yeah, so they have the idea.
Bernard Carr: That’s a nice image, I felt I should use that in one of my articles. It’s a beautiful image blowing bubbles, creating different multiverses, and in fact, you know, in some of the inflationary scenarios, that’s what you have, your universe correspond to different bubbles, all of which you have different values of the constants, but it’s just the standard picture doesn’t include vision.
Rick Archer: You´ll have to work that in. You may have heard the quote from Brian, cosmologist Brian Swimme, whom I’m going to interview in September. He says:. You leave hydrogen alone for 14 billion years, and you end up with giraffes, rose bushes, and opera, something like that. I have a question to tag on to that:. However the constants in our universe or any universe may be configured, why should there be any constants? Or anything at all? Why wouldn’t any constants or laws of nature be expressions of some form of orderliness? Or one might argue intelligence? So if the constants in other universes don’t give rise, rise for life as we know it, doesn’t the emergence of any degree of complexity suggest some form of organizing intelligence?
Bernard Carr: Well, you raise a lot of issues there. First of all, I’m glad you use the word complexity because I don’t like the word anthropic when we talk about the anthropic principle, I tend to think of it in terms of the complexity principle, because these fine tunings aren’t specific to human beings, I mean, they will be required even for making television sets or something like that. But the key thing is the big bang, the history of the big bang has manifested the created complexity, it´s created a hierarchy of complexity. And that’s indisputable, we can see what happens, you know, we start off with the void or whatever and then we create elementary particles, hadrons. And then as the time goes on, the hadrons, you know, you’ve got the atoms, the hydrogen undergoes nuclear interactions and produces the light elements like deuterium and helium, then you produce the stars, and the stars then produce the planets and heavy elements, and then you get molecules and biomolecules. And then you end up with the human beings and then making brains and things like that. So this is, embodies, the quote you gave before. There’s no doubt that there is this hierarchical buildup of complexity. But what isn’t always appreciated is that that buildup of complexity only arises because you have fine tunings. Unless you have the fine tunings, which I’ve talked about, you won’t end up with that. I call it a pyramid of complexity with, if you like, mines at the top. Without the fine tunings won’t go through the various critical stages, end up at that at the top of the pyramid. So for example, you won’t have any chemistry elements, unless you have the fine tunings between the strong and the electric coupling constants, for example. But, so to me, the crucial issue is complexity. But then you, and then you got to ask the question what, how does complexity arise? Now a lot of people say, well, doesn’t this go against the second law of thermodynamics, because the second law of thermodynamics, also says the universe should be you know, the entropy should increase. In other words the order decreases. And so for a long time, if you go back to the 19th century, people used to say, well, you will have a heat death, the universe inevitably will run down and any form of life will disappear. However, we know that’s not the case, because what actually happens is that we know there are nonlinear processes, which inevitably generate complexes, complex structures, this is called chaos theory. And this doesn’t go against the second law of thermodynamics because although you’re locally producing order, increasing degrees of order, the entropy is increasing in the outside in the rest of the universe. Okay, so the total entropy of the universe is increasing. But it’s just that in a small fraction of the universe, the order is increasing. And as … that’s why it’s a pyramid, because as you go up towards the top, the fraction of the universe in this assembled order is going down, but the total entropy of the universe is still increasing. So the idea is you get pockets of low entropy, pockets of order, which are folding in a universe where the total entropy is increasing. So there isn’t a direct conflict, and with the thermodynamics, and it means the original view of a heat death, which people used to talk about a long time ago, fortunately, that turns out not to be correct. There’s no reason why the order can’t continue to grow, at least if the universe has got these fine tunings. But actually, you started off with an even deeper question. I think. And you were asking the question, I think, quite apart from the fine tunings, why is there anything here at all?
Rick Archer: Yeah, yeah. Like I’ve had this discussion with this guy for some time. And he says, well, you know, we don’t know how the laws of nature came to be. But if you grant us the laws of nature, we can explain how the universe evolved. But I won’t grant him the laws of nature, because why should those arise? If everything is just random billiard balls, why should there be these local pockets of order? Why, you know, what is the force which forms those? And to me, it’s, I keep resorting back to the idea of a field of intelligence rising in impulses of intelligence, and giving rise to order against all, you know, forces to the contrary?
Bernard Carr: Well, yes, but I think you have to be careful here. Because really, it comes down to the question of what came first, you know, matter or mind. Ultimately you’re asking how did the universe arise? I mean, I don’t like to address the universe, I don’t like to address the question why is the universe here, because that is a clearly philosophical question, which I’m not qualified to answer. But I think you can ask the question. When you ask, you’re really asking the question, is there an intelligence that underlies the universe?
Rick Archer: And by mind, yeah, the word mind often has an individual connotation, but we’re talking about some kind of cosmic mind or oceanic field of pure intelligence.
Bernard Carr: Absolutely. When you study, you know, physics has been triumphant in coming to understand the laws of physics, the way everything is connected, you’ve got the links between the macro domain and the micro domain, we know then there’s interactions between all the forces of nature, we even think we’re close to a final theory of physics. Now, I don’t believe, I think that’s a rather pretentious claim. But what is remarkable is that this, these laws, that the universe is all put together in this coherent beautiful way. I mean, it’s all, I think it was ingenious. And it’s almost like there’s a, it’s a great thought, you know, that the universe in some sense, smells of some great intelligence, simply because the laws of physics are so clever, if you like. And so now I’m deliberately not invoking God, but I’m just saying there is, there is a, you do get the impression that there´s a great intelligence.
Rick Archer: You can invoke God, but we just have to define the term because most people’s perception of it is so, you know, anthropomorphic, or …
Bernard Carr: That’s why I didn’t, I don’t, like to use the word God, because it’s so provocative, at least to my cosmology friends. But the point is, I think, there are many reasons for thinking that mind is a fundamental feature of the universe and not an incidental feature. I mean, the normal view is, you know, that you’ve got this buildup of complexity, which is all going on at the level of matter. But then when you get to a certain degree of complexity, you would use brains, and then brains would use consciousness and minds. So one sees mind as simply the sort of, the end product, as a combination of complexity if you like. And that’s clearly true that minds are what I call a little m, a result of that process. However, I think you have to distinguish between mind with a little m, which is our individual minds, and what I would call mind with a big m, you know, which is some collective mind. Now, we will probably get onto this later. But so, for me, there’s a big distinction between mind with a big m and the mind with a little m, which is the billions of us. Now, clearly minds with the little m did not exist until whatever it was, 10 billion years after the big bang. We know that because we understand how minds whit the little m did evolve through the brain. But that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be some form of mind with a big m that preexisted, the big bang, because physics is still going to answer the question what happened before the big bang. So I don’t really …
Rick Archer: Let me just throw in here there could be minds with little m, but bigger minds, because they are the minds of beings who don’t need meat, meat puppet suits, you know, carbon units that, you know, celestial beings, things like that, who would still exist now. And you get into this in some of your talks when you use the phrase, what was it … specious present. You know, beings which might have lifetimes of millions of years and so on, but who existed in subtler realms, and who could actually be instrumental in some way in the formation of the universe, like the agents as it were of cosmic mind. Anyway, throws a monkey wrench in the works.
Bernard Carr: Well, yes, I’m not sure if I should get into that part of the discussion now, because it sort of goes off on a tangent, but you’re quite right to raise this point because when I make a distinction between mind with a little m and mind with a big m, that’s rather simplistic, because I’m actually arguing that there is a hierarchy of consciousness, which corresponds to a hierarchy of minds. And so when I’m talking about mind with a big m, I’m really talking about the final step of the, of the hierarchy, really, there are a series of minds with ever increasing, decreasing, the size of the m, if you like,
Rick Archer: Yeah, we could think of it as like the ocean versus various waves or various little ripples, big waves, and so on. But they’re all just expressions of one vast ocean.
Bernard Carr: Yes. But I think maybe I should get into that is a separate topic later. But the point I’m making is that I see no reason in principle, why mind with a big m should not have preexisted the big bang. And therefore I see no reason, because it might not only that, in my own perspective, I think there are levels of reality that go beyond ordinary physical reality anyway. Now I’m going against the mainstream view of physics, I think there is an extended reality, which would not be described by normal physics at all. And which, if you like, is a mindlike reality. And that mindlike reality, I don’t see why that, the universe itself, shouldn’t have come out of that. Indeed, the physical universe shouldn’t have emerged from that. And of course, that is the view which you get in the standard, esoteric doctrines, you know:. That you started off with mind, and in some sense, it cascaded down to the level of physical creation. So all I’m saying is, one has to be very careful, because if mind, what you asked about intelligence, you see, if mind with a capital m, preceded the universe, in principle, I suppose, you could say intelligence with a capital I, might have proceeded the universe. But then of course, you’re very, you’re getting very close to invoking God. And this is where I get into big trouble, of course, with all my scientist friends. So I make a distinction between, I’m not an advocate of intelligence, intelligent design. Of course, intelligent design, as fundamentalist Christians use the word, is really saying there is one universe and there’s one God, who is very intelligent and created the universe with his great talent for our benefit. I’m not saying that. All I’m saying is that because I’m not saying there’s only one universe, I’m just saying that you don’t, because you’ve got a multiverse, you don’t necessarily need to invoke God. I said that before, there’s no need to invoke God. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some form of mind. And my personal view is that there is a form of mind. And therefore, you could say there is a form of intelligence, because whatever there’s, I mean, you can ask the question, how intelligent is God? You know, I don’t think anyone could ever measure his IQ. But, I mean, there is a question about whether it’s even meaningful to ask what is if there is such a thing as a God, what is God’s intelligence quota. So, you have to be very, very careful and so in these conversations, I try and be as, as some conventional as possible. I mean, I make a distinction between intelligent design and the possibility that there is some level of mind and some level of intelligence which preceded the universe, because if you do that, the intelligent design somehow suggested everything was done for our benefit. Okay, that implies that humans are unique and the whole universe is here for our benefit. This is certainly not the, my view, because in my view, even if mind is fundamental, mankind is not particularly special. You know, I mean, there could be civilized consciousness all over the galaxy. There could be consciousness, all sorts of different levels. And it’s really just a question of how much emphasis you put on mankind. Humanity, I should say, rather than mankind. How unique is humanity? So that’s, there is a subtle distinction between these, between this this view and normal intelligent design.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I would say the way things are going here, if humanity is unique and special, then God isn’t a very good designer.
Bernard Carr: Well, that’s true, I mean, yes, we were apparently created with the ability of having free will, but he doesn’t seem to be going so well, because, but that’s why I don’t think we should put too much emphasis on humanity, you know. We just happen to be top dog at the moment, but you know, we could get wiped out by an asteroid, we know from the history of evolution that there’ve been these catastrophes 60 million years ago when dinosaurs was wiped out. We face far more immediate dangers here on earth, which would wipe out humanity, I mean, asteroids or viruses, or nuclear war, or natural catastrophes, so I’m just not putting too much emphasis on humanity. But even that’s controversial, because most people now take the view that the probably, you know, we know the galaxy is teeming with planets, okay, and so there could be, and those planets, many are going to be like … so I see no reason why there shouldn’t be extraterrestrial intelligence within our galaxy. We don’t know because we haven’t detected it yet. So I take the view that there could be many forms of intelligence, and, therefore we’re not so special. But there is another view, which actually says that we are unique after all, that will be a bit of a detour. Brandon carter himself, who coined the word anthropic principle, he had an argument that life is very, very rare, and we’re probably unique in the galaxy. So there is another view. Either way, it’s very important, either way unique, in which case, you know, we have to preserve ourselves, it’s really important. Or there are 1000s of civilizations, and that’s exciting, too, because it means that eventually, we will become part of some greater galactic level of consciousness, if you like.
Rick Archer: Yeah, even if we’re unique in the galaxy, which I doubt, there are at least a couple of trillion galaxies, so …
Bernard Carr: Exactly.
Rick Archer: You know, there’s a song that’s one of the lines is:. God is watching us from a distance, I won’t try to sing it, and my conception of God is not like that. I mean, somewhere in various scriptures, it says, you know, it describes God as omnipresent. And if you look at Vedanta, they would say, and many other traditions would say, that it’s all God, you know, and within the omnipresence of God, there are all sorts of self-interacting dynamics taking place, which give rise to the appearance of various types of manifestation. And I don’t know, the reason I find that inspiring is that whenever I look at anything, a blade of grass, or one of those animated, you know, displays of the mechanics of a cell or something. It’s just, I just feel like God is hiding in plain sight by God, I mean, this omnipresent intelligence, and the thought that any of this is happening randomly or accidentally, or … just seems so alien to me. What do you think?
Bernard Carr: Yeah, and I, but I think that raises an important point, because I’m not a theologian, so any theological remarks, I may be naive, but I can only express my view. And that is that I talk about our little minds being part of the bigger mind, or our little consciousness being part of a bigger consciousness. But the idea of this is that the bigger mind is here and now. It’s not just at the beginning of the universe, we are part of the bigger mind here and now. So I mean, whatever one’s view, I don’t like using the word God because it means so many different things, but whatever one’s view of God or this greater …
Rick Archer: … can call it Cosmic Intelligence or whatever,
Bernard Carr: Cosmic Consciousness, whatever it is
Rick Archer: Or brahman, whatever.
Bernard Carr: Exactly, I feel it has to be evolving. So it’s the big consciousness which is evolving along with all the little consciousnesses. The little consciousnesses are born and die off and they contribute some illumination, but it’s the big consciousness which is evolving. And so to me, this pyramid of complexity, it’s, it represents the evolution, if you like, of divine consciousness itself. That is my perspective. And that, and in fact, so, one shouldn’t think of, from this view you don’t just think of cosmic consciousness that´s there in the background, you know, it kicked things off and then, and stood outside as the universe carried on, and human beings arose and carried on doing all their own things and destroying themselves. You have to think of this cosmic consciousness as being there all along. Because from a philosophical perspective, I like the idea, you know, you can ask the question:. Well, why did God create the universe? Why has Consciousness with a big C fragmented into billions of consciousnesses with a little c? The only answer I can give is the answer, which is given in many religious traditions, that God was in some sense, he was trying to understand himself. He was creating all these billions of beings to view the universe, because this is how he was understanding himself, coming to know himself and coming to evolve himself. So from my perspective, it’s not only, it’s God’s consciousness itself in some sense, which is evolving. Now, that may sound heretical from some religious perspectives because God is perfect, but it’s not a unique view, of course Teilhard de Chardin has similar views, and in some sense, consciousness is evolving, and conscious with a big c is evolving as well.
Rick Archer: Yeah, St. Teresa of Avila actually said, “It appears that God himself is on the journey”.
Bernard Carr: Well she’s put it, I didn’t hear that, I hadn’t heard that phrase, but that’s exactly what, God himself is on the journey. In fact, I will use that phrase in some future writing, because it’s a lovely …
Rick Archer: I’ll look it up and make sure that it’s exactly as I stated it, because I made a paraphrase. But it’s, that’s, basically what she said, yeah.
Bernard Carr: Because I think that’s so important, because we mentioned earlier how in science, it doesn’t matter whether you’re right, it’s the journey, which is important, not the destination, because we may never reach the destination, we may never have a final physics. And what you’re saying or what St. Teresa is saying is that, well, actually, God is on the journey too, which is a nice idea. Of course we’ve now gone way beyond my professional cosmological expertise.
Rick Archer: Okay, a bunch of questions came in, I want to try to get some of them in…
Bernard Carr: OK
Rick Archer: …and at the same time have us continue on in the points that we’re planning to talk about here. But let me just throw them out, and you know, you don’t have to give long answers to them, or you might even say I don’t want to answer that one. So let’s just see here. So, Elizabeth Mila-Now in Colorado asks:. What is the implication of Gödel’s incompleteness theorem on the search by physicists for a theory of everything? And would it be fair to say that the incompleteness theorem allows us to posit realms of spiritual truth that the conceptual mind will never, and can never, have access to?
Bernard Carr: Well, I mean, this is something which there’s been much debate about. I mean, Gödel’s theorem is a statement within the context of mathematics, you know, that there are certain statements that can either be proved true, or untrue. And that was a remarkable revelation by Gödel, but undoubtedly true. So then the question is, does Gödel’s theorem transfer to physics? Are there things in your physical model, which will never be known to be true or untrue? And, and again, one has got to bear in mind that physics basically is described in terms of mathematics. I mean, all the equations of physics do relate to mathematics. Mathematics is the language of physics. And indeed, in some sense, that’s one reason for thinking that the universe is mindlike, you know, because math is in the domain of mind, and it’s one of the great miracles, you know, why is, what is the … why is it mathematic is so extraordinary effective? So then you might think, well, Gödel’s incompleteness theorem in mathematics should imply that there’s an incompleteness theory in physics. I don’t think I’ve heard it argued either way, it depends on what your final theory of physics is like, and what’s the final mathematical theory. I don’t think it necessarily implies that a final theory of physics is incomplete. But the question that I think, was it Elizabeth?
Rick Archer: Elizabeth, yes.
Bernard Carr: …is raising, is really … the deeper question, independent of Gödel’s theorem, is:. Can you hope for physics to give a complete description of all experience? And, of course, that´s far from certain. I mean, physicists claim rather arrogantly they´re close to a theory of everything. I’ve never believed that, because it’s only a theory of physics. And the theory of everything … it´s a theory of fundamental particles and things and their interactions. The theory of physics makes no references to consciousness or my own internal world. So I want an expansion of physics which accommodates the mind as well as that matter. And, so it’s clear that the theory of everything so called, will not do that. Now, there may be a bigger theory of everything and an extension of physics will do it. Will do that. And that’s, and I´d like to work towards that. However, I would never claim that whatever that final theory is, that it’s going to explain everything in experience. I’d never explain that all mystical experiences can be reduced to equations or anything like that. So personally, I fully accept that there is a limit to what can be explained in terms of physics. I guess, I just feel because I’m a physicist, and I’ve seen how successful physics is, I just feel that once you push the frontiers as far as possible, and I feel they can be pushed much further than they have been so far, I feel you can push the frontiers into the domain of mind and spirit. But I’m not arguing that everything will then be reused to physics and mathematics. But that’s sort of independent of Gödel’s theorem, I mean, you might be able to use Gödel’s theorem as a subtle argument for why physics is incomplete. But I don’t think you need to use Gödel’s theorem to come to that conclusion. You can simply say mystical experiences are ineffable and go beyond rationality.
Rick Archer: I like to think that a time will come when the science of consciousness, if we want to call it that, and physics and other sciences will merge in a way. And the best of all, both worlds, will form a single science, which will, you know, properly integrate consciousness with the methods of physics. And I think maybe then we’ll be able to have something like a theory of everything.
Bernard Carr: Rick, that is my own dream. And maybe we can come on to that in more details. It’s one of our five topics.
Rick Archer: We can go a little long if you want, and so …
Bernard Carr: Anyway, thank you to Elizabeth for that question, which I hope I partly answered.
Rick Archer: Good. And remember, since we’re pinched for time, you don’t have to give long answers to these questions. Just answer them as much as you want, or you don’t even have to answer them if you don’t think some of these are relevant. This one is from Tristan Hanlon in Manchester, UK:. What is the significance of the cosmological axis of evil? Does that mean anything to you?
Bernard Carr: Well, this is a more technical question it´s to do with, you see the standard cosmological model, I mean, it says that the universe began with the big bang. But it also says the universe should be what’s called isotropic, it should look the same in all directions. I mean, obviously, this is only on a large scale. Obviously, there’s all sorts of structure on the scale of galaxies and clusters of galaxies. This is what the James Webb telescope is looking at. But the assumption of mainstream cosmology is that on a large enough scale, the universe looks exactly the same everywhere. And in particular, when you look at what’s called the cosmic microwave background, you’re looking back to a very hot early stage of the big bang. And this has the same temperature roughly 2.7 degrees everywhere, apart from small fluctuations, and these small fluctuations are what eventually give rise to density fluctuations, which generate galaxies and planets and eventually people. So that’s the standard picture. And it’s all based on what is said to be this standard Friedmann-Robertson-Walker’s model, which is a solution which has this property of homogeneity and isotropy. Maybe that’s too technical. It’s basically saying the universe looks the same everywhere if you look on a large enough scale, and that underlies all our big bang cosmology. But all along, people have been worried about little anomalies which arise, which suggests that the standard picture, while very successful, may not be completely successful. For example, those little fluctuations in temperature in the microwave background. They fit in beautifully with what is predicted by the inflationary scenario. The inflationary scenario says that the early universe went through an accelerated expansion phase, which generated the fluctuations. And one of the triumphs of this picture is that it was confirmed by the temperature fluctuations of the microwave background. However, there are other anomalies associated with observations of the microwave background which don’t fit in so nicely with the standard picture. And this axis of evil is saying that, instead of the universe looking the same in every direction, there seems to be a preferential direction, a sort of a symmetry, or there’s what sometimes called the cold spot, you know, in other words, the universe doesn’t seem to be exactly the same on all scales. In other words, that seems to be suggesting that the standard picture is not, does not, work completely. Now, this will get into too technical of a discussion. Let me just say that I think there’s no doubt that in some qualities of sense that the big bang picture seem to be correct in the sense that the universe started off in a more condensed state, and probably went through this early inflational phase. But we certainly don’t understand everything about it, we certainly don’t understand what happened when you go right back to the, you know, the initial singularity, T equals naught if you like. We don’t know what happened there, the universe may have bounced, there were all sorts of quantum gravity effects. And of course, if we believe we´re part of a multiverse, there could be other universes or other bubbles with which we interact and cause anomalies. So the point is, from this perspective, the multiverse, you know, I’m not saying the multiverse explains the axis of evil, but I’m saying we don’t understand everything about standard cosmology. And that could even be, and some of the things we don’t understand might even indicate that there are other universes as well. So, but you will occasionally read in the press, you know, the big bang theory is dead, and it’s facing a crisis, and, of course, there are little problems which will arise and we still don’t know what the dark matter is and we don’t know what the dark energy is, there’s a huge amount we don’t understand. So, no one would say the big bang theory is the final theory. But at least I think the basic idea that we started with a hot condensed stage, I think that’s incontrovertible.
Rick Archer: Okay. My old friend Bill Cote from Maui sent in a question. He said:. “What are some of the proofs required to verify the existence of the multiverse?”
Bernard Carr: Well, I mean, the point is this, that what do you mean by proof, since you can’t see the other universes in the standard picture, you can’t directly prove, all you can hope to do is to prove the theories that predict them. Now, for example, the multiverse may be predicted by m theory, this is the idea that you’ve got all these extra dimensions. And that, and this is what predict the so called, you know, the string landscape scenario. And so you might say, well, okay, m theory is perfectly respectable, in the sense of some of the biggest brains in the planet work on it, you know, and it’s respectable physics in the sense that right physicists work on it. But one has to say that there is no direct evidence for string theory, either. It was originally hoped that that string or m theory would explain all the constants, but after 30 years, it hasn’t done so. And so some people therefore say, well, therefore, this isn’t physics, it’s just mathematics. And so therefore, we can’t count that as proof. And it’s true, we don’t have yet proof that m theory is correct, and therefore we can’t say that m theory has revised proof of the multiverse, because we haven’t yet proven. But it’s just a question of time. You know, the idea that you’re going to solve all these equations in 20 years is just wishful thinking, it may take 100 years before we can prove, find the solutions of M theory, if answer is correct. You just have to be patient. This is what I earlier called meta cosmology, you know, the time gap between having a theory and verifying it. And, you know, bear in mind that everything in physics takes time and gravitational waves were predicted in 1916 but weren’t detected until a 100 years later. Black holes were predicted at roughly the same time but weren’t discovered for 50 years. The Higgs particle was predicted in 60s but wasn’t discovered for 50 years. So you just have to wait a long time for the proofs you like to arise. Now, so I would say at the moment, you don’t have proof, you’ve only got indirect evidence. I said I regard fine tuning as indirect evidence, but it’s indirect, it’s not proof. Now, that’s not to say that there could never be proof. Some people think you could have stars in the microwave background, but it could relate to collisions with other universes. This relates to the previous question about the axis of evil. Who’s to say. We know in relativity theory you can have wormholes, you can go to distances which you shouldn’t be able to go to, you know, because the light travel time is too long. But who’s to say one day we won’t go through a wormhole into one of these other universes. So I think people who say we can never provide proof of these other universes are too pessimistic. It may turn out to be true, which would be a shame. But it’s far too early to say that. I think that, I think eventually there may be proof but there isn’t proof at the moment. At the moment, it’s just speculation.
Rick Archer: Okay, good. Here’s a question from Robert Bonomo in Tunis, I guess that’s Italy, or is it? What do you think of the idea of spacetime having been proven to be not fundamental? Donald Hoffman argues this saying that while they work well as qualities of existence, they are not truly there. Any thoughts?
Bernard Carr: Yes indeed. But this really goes on to like the major topic. But let me just say that the idea of space and time are purely classical concepts. And of course, in relativity theory, space and time emerged as part of spacetime before dimensional continuum. But the whole point is, we know that general relativity itself must break down at sufficiently high densities. So the idea of space and time must break down at the big bang itself. And this was the significance of the work of Stephen Hawking and roger Penrose, who showed that there must be a singularity not only in the black hole, but at the beginning of the universe. It’s a point where general relativity break down where space and time no longer exist. So whatever our final theory of physics is, it’s got to be the theory which is going to marry up relativity theory and quantum theory, whatever that final theory of quantum gravity is, space and time will no longer have the standard behavior. And space and time may not even exist. And physicists argue about whether space will turn out to be fundamental and time is emergent, or whether time is fundamental and space is emergent, or whether space and time are both emergent. So we don’t know the answer, because we don’t yet have a final theory of quantum gravity. But what is clear, is that space and time are not going to maintain their standard form in our final theory of physics. Now, how that relates to Donald Hoffman’s ideas is more subtle, because he’s talking about the nature of perception or the nature of mind. And I think that’s another reason to say you have to go beyond space and time because when you’re talking about experience, mental experience, you have to go beyond normal physical space and time as well. But I think I’ll postpone that to the later topic.
Rick Archer: Okay. Might have a break for lunch before we get the later topics, no, we’ll get to them. Here’s a question from Cedric Orange in Sacramento, California:. What’s the possibility of the James Webb space telescope revealing new, quote, God particle information, or much more updated big bang theory information? Do you think those new discoveries might be related to spirituality from a metaphysical perspective?
Bernard Carr: Well, when you’re talking about the God particle, you’re really talking about discoveries made with accelerators, like the large hadron collider. Now the large hadron collider was, is, what detected the God particle. As opposed to teles…I mean, telescopes are looking out to the largest distances in the macro domain. Accelerators are looking to the smallest distances in the micro domain. Because you know, to go to smaller scales, you have to have more and more energy. So the God particle itself, is not being discovered by the James Webb telescope, that’s been discovered by accelerators. But what is interesting about cosmology is that the very large meets the very small at the big bang. This is because when you look at a great distance you’re looking at in the past, into the past, you look a million light years away, you’re looking a million years in the past. So when you look to 10 billion light years, or more precisely 14 billion light years, you’re actually looking back 14 billion years in the past when the universe was very small. So in some funny way, the very large merges with the very small. So there is a link between particle physics if you like, which is probed by large hadron collider, and cosmology, which is probed by telescopes. Now, that said, the James tell us, the James Webb telescope is going to provide all sorts of indirect evidence, is going to tell us about the history of the universe, the history of galaxy formation, that’s going to throw light on the nature of the dark matter and the nature of the dark energy. And we don’t know what the dark matter is, we don’t know what the dark energy is. The dark matter might be some elementary particle, which is going to be, which we´re looking for at the large hadron collider, and other accelerators, or it might be a primordial black hole, which I like. In which case, we’re more likely to discover it through astronomical observations. But whatever the problem is, you never know in advance what these new telescopes together discover, it’s always the unexpected, which is exciting. But we can be confident that the James Webb telescope size, providing these beautiful, detailed pictures, is going to give us fresh insights into the history of the universe, how galaxies formed, you know how the big black holes in the center have been formed. And everything is linked together in cosmology, all these problems, the nature of the dark matter, the nature of the dark energy, the existence of the black holes, the big black holes and galactic nuclei, everything is linked together. And all, it’s like a detective story where the clues come from all directions. So it’s a combination of something like the James Webb telescope and something like the large hadron collider, it’s the two together which are going to provide the answers. So that’s what’s so exciting.
Rick Archer: And interesting. Well, I hope the Webb telescope lasts a long time. One of its mirrors got dinged by a rock the other day
Bernard Carr: I heard that.
Rick Archer: Oh God, it would be so tragic if …
Bernard Carr: I was away when this was announced so I read the paper. But the point is, it’s a million miles away and if anything goes wrong, it…
Rick Archer: It can’t be fixed
Bernard Carr: …unlike the Hubble telescope, where we just sent the space shuttle up to repair it
Rick Archer: right, right
Bernard Carr: So let’s hope there’s not too much damage.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay, this question might, your answer might be technical and we want to save time for other things, but I’ll ask it quickly and you can tell me whether you want to answer it or not. Ian Mannings from the US is asking:. “What is the expected range of masses for primordial black holes? And how might they have formed?”
Bernard Carr: Well, this is my field of specialty so I’m delighted to answer this question, though, I could talk about it for hours, which I resist the temptation. Essentially, a black hole can form at any time in the early universe. And its mass is essentially what’s called the mass within the horizon when it forms, that’s to say the distance light can travel, and its mass can be anything as follows:. If it forms at the very beginning of the universe, what’s called the Planck time, it would have the Planck mass, which is 10 to the minus five grams. Okay, that’s a macroscopic object, it’s like the, you know, massive a grain of sand, but it’s small. On the other hand, if it forms at one seconds, it would have a mass of about 100,000 solar masses, which is very large. And so really primordial black holes, in principle, could have the whole range from microscopic black holes, 10 to the minus five grams, all the way up to say a million solar masses, the sort of black holes which exist in galactic nuclei, for example. And in particular, there’s a very special mass, it’s a mass of 10 to the 15 grams, which is about the mass of a mountain, but it’s the size, is about a femi, the size of a proton. And this is the mass of the black hole, which is evaporating today, due to Hawking radiation. Because Hawking says that the black hole has a temperature inversely proportional to its mass, that means that it evaporates on a timescale proportional to the cube of the mass. Now, for something like the mass of the sun, this is ridiculous, the law, the temperature is a millionth of a degree and it’s something like 10 to the 64 years. But if you take a black hole with a mass of 10 to the 15 grams, then the lifetime is precisely the age of the universe. So we were very interested in black holes of 10 to the 15 grams, because these are the ones which will be completing their evaporation and exploding today. Now, the fact is, we haven’t seen them, but we hope we will see these black holes exploding because if we did, it would be evidence for primordial black holes and an evidence for Hawking radiation, either of which we’ve gotten the Nobel prize. But unfortunately, we didn’t find the evidence. But, so we make a distinction between the black holes which are less than about 10 to the 15 grams, which are no longer around, and the ones that are above 10 to 15 grams, which haven’t evaporated and could, in principle, make up the dark mass. So I personally love the idea that the dark matter would be primordial black holes, but there could actually be a range of masses. So you could have one solar mass black holes, which make up the dark matter, you could have somewhat bigger, primordial black holes, which could explain the gravitational wave detections at LIGO and Virgo. And you could even have million solar mass black holes, which are making the seeds for the black holes and galaxies, we know they’re supermassive black holes and galaxies. You asked how do they form? Well, there are many scenarios, that the most natural scenario is that the density fluctuations, which are generated by inflation, which make galaxies on a smaller scale, are somewhat bigger, and may make these primordial black holes, but there are actually quite a lot of similarities. So that’s summarized in a few minutes what is sort of a lifetime’s work, so …
Rick Archer: Yeah, I’d love to discuss it more with you but we want to move on to these other topics. One thing about dark matter, I wondered, is, you know how in various traditions they speak of other dimensions or other realms, like, for instance, in the Vedic tradition, they have 14 logos, or realms, and we’re, we occupy only one of them. Do you think that there’s any way that all this unseen matter in the universe could actually be those other realms? Or is that just, is it really impossible to say?
Bernard Carr: It has been suggested, I mean, the point is in these theories, that there can be other dimensions. And for example, in one of these higher dimensional theories, how physical world is just one, it’s called a brane
Rick Archer: Like a memory.
Bernard Carr: A brane in a higher dimensional bulk, it’s called b-u-l-k, and so, in these models, you could assume that you have not only one brane, you could assume you have lots of branes, you could have, this is one of the multiverse scenarios where you have lots of branes in this extra dimension. And in this case, you can have a theory of the dark matter where you´re, it’s called shadow matter, where in some sense, the dark matter is associated with the other branes. Now, this isn’t my own favorite scenario, but as I say, we don’t know what the dark matter is, so all bets are still on in a certain sense. But later on, if we ever get to the later on, I’m going to argue these extra dimensions are very important for accommodating mental phenomena. In other words, I’m associating the higher dimensional space with mind rather than matter. Whereas this other idea is saying that these hard, you know, these higher, these other brains are in some sense just different levels of matter. But I just wanted to stress that, you know, it is a possibility that these higher dimensions have got some connection with the dark matter. It’s just not my favorite picture because I prefer to use these higher dimensions for other reasons.
Rick Archer: Okay, good. Now, our other headings that we want to talk about and we’ve already covered some bits from these other headings, but let me just read them too quickly, and you can decide where we want to go next. The second one was time and consciousness, another was science, spirituality and psychical research, another was quantum theory and another was post materialist science and hyperspatial models. So of all that, where should we go next?
Bernard Carr: Well, I think because of its generality, should we, let’s talk about science, spirituality and psychical research.
Rick Archer: Ok, good.
Bernard Carr: So let me explain where I’m coming from. Because, you know, I mentioned when I talked about my initial interest in these subjects arising from reading these three books about, you know:. Einstein’s relativity, Dunne’s experiment with time and the pamphlet and the third eye. Those are my three interests:. Science, psychical research and spirituality. And I very much saw psychical researchers as bridging those two. I’ve always been passionately interested in connecting those three domains. Because I am a professional scientist, I’m very impressed with how successful science, and in particular physics has been, in explaining the material domain. It´s the natural to me to try and expand science to accommodate not only matter but also mental phenomena and spiritual phenomena. Now, there are two separate steps there, and I guess it’s important to differentiate them. The idea that you can expand science to accommodate mind is relatively uncontroversial now. I mean, obviously, the whole of psychology is based on the assumption that there is a science of mind. There is also developments in cognitive science which connects that, but in particular, what interested me originally, was my interest in psychical research. Because psychical research were very controversial among scientists, it suggests that there is, that consciousness can directly interact with the physical world. Well, obviously consciousness, it does interact with the brains. And we don’t understand that either. But the idea is that there can be an interaction with the physical world, which doesn’t go through the brain. So for example, if I here have, you know, here’s a little bear. And if I’m able to focus on this bear and make it levitate without holding it, there is an interaction with the physical world, which is not explained by current physics. And yet if there is an interaction with the physical world, and if you believe that physics can explain all of the physical domain, there has to be an expansion of physics. So to me, that is one reason why I think one needs to expand science to accommodate consciousness. Because psychical research suggests there is interaction with the physical world, that’s why it provides a link if you like, psychical research provides a link between matter and mind. But even if you don’t believe in psi, in psychic phenomena, I think there are other reasons to think that consciousness should be part of physics. I have already argued, you know, that in some sense consciousness is fundamental. And I’ve argued against the idea that all, you know, ordinary physics is close to a theory of everything, because although it’s been tremendously successful, current physics is describing a universe without any reference to mind. It’s basically a mindless universe, okay, it’s a study of mindlessness, as opposed to mindfulness, which meditators, obviously, are more interested in. And so, a description, I want, half my experiences in the world are not in the material domain. They’re the experiences in my memories, my dreams, my psychedelic experiences, my out of body experiences, my mystical … I don’t have many mystical experiences but people do. And I want to, I want a description of a real theory of everything. I want a description of mind, and if possible, I want to expand physics to accommodate those, they´re some aspects of mental experience. And so, I, and that’s, I feel very strongly that that should be done and can be done. And of course, I’m in good company. There are many other great physicists who believe that eventually, physics must expand to accommodate consciousness. They’re a minority, but I mean, you know, someone of the prestige of, like roger Penrose, for example, clearly believes that you’ve, your final theory of physics must somehow make reference to consciousness. On the other hand, I have to say that people like roger Penrose aren’t interested in mystical experiences, so, and probably doesn’t believe in psychic phenomenon. But as a first step, at least, you have to expand science to accommodate mental experience. And not only that, I mean, physics itself is really only providing a mental model, you know, classical, clear, the normal materialistic physics of Newtonian theory. And indeed, Einstein’s theory that died with quantum theory. We know the normal materialistic view died, you know, early in the 20th century. So in any case, we have to have an expanded physics, because of quantum theory, and we´ll need more so when we get on for things like quantum gravity. So the question is whether can that accommodate consciousness? And I personally think it can. I personally think that, I don’t think that ordinary quantum theory can explain it. I think there is a link between quantum theory and consciousness in the sense that, for the first time, quantum theory suggests that the observer may play a role in physics. We may get onto this topic in greater detail later, because you know, the idea that the observer consciousness may collapse the wave function. So there is at least a hint from quantum theory, that consciousness, the observer, mind does play a role in physics. And so it’s very important. And of course, that’s a link, which is very much stressed. Personally, I don’t think quantum theory is going to provide a full theory of mind. I mean, I think it may be relevant to mind, but I don’t think you’re going to explain my out of body experience, my near death experience, or even my existence in my perceptual experiences, in terms of quantum theory. It’s clear that you need a deeper theory, which is going to underlie both quantum theory and mentality. Because the point is, we don’t understand quantum theory anyway. I mean, there are lots of, we know quantum theory works, the equations work, but we know that there’s no unique interpretation. And of course, people have been arguing about this for 100 years. There are many interpretations of quantum theory. It’s a mystery. And to me saying, well, to say quantum theory explains mentality, it’s just replacing one mystery with another mystery. What we need is a deeper theory, which underlies quantum theory and mentality. But the whole point is, that’s going to happen anyway, because we know quantum theory and relativity theory are incompatible. They work very well with amazing precision in their own domains. Relativity theory works in the macroscopic domain. Quantum theory works in the microscopic domain with amazing precision, you know, 12 places or decimals or whatever. But we know these theories are fundamentally incompatible, has been known for 100 years. And so the aim in physics is to find a unified theory which marries up quantum theory and relativity theory. And my point is that it’s in that final unified theory that you’ll get to find consciousness. Not in relativity theory alone, not in quantum theory alone, it will be in the final theory. So for example, when you hear physicists like Sean Carroll saying the existence of psi is incompatible with physics, to me that makes no sense, it may be incompatible with known physics. But we know that no physics is the final story, we cannot possibly say what will be compatible with the final theory of physics. So, all I would say is that if you want an extension of physics to accommodate mind and consciousness, it better be at the level of that final theory which marries up quantum theory and relativity theory, not at the theory of quantum theory alone. So, I know a lot of people are very enthusiastic about quantum theory, because it’s got many weird phenomena like entanglement and nonlocality. And that’s good, because it all hints that mind is important, but it’s not in my view, the final solution. The final solution has got to be there with your final theory of physics. Now, all of this has to do with expanding science to accommodate the domain of mind. Now, I want to go even further, I want to expand science to accommodate the domain of spirit. Now, that, of course, is much more controversial. But the trouble is, it seems to me that there is no clear cut distinction between a psychic experience and a mystical experience. In other words, once you accept that mind is fundamental, it’s the first step on a slippery slope to spirit. Because I mean, just to take a simple example. I mean, obviously, I’m interested in spiritual experience, I told you how I got interested in religion at a young age, but also I’ve meditated, and, I’m not very mystical, but I’ve had some, you know, very modest spiritual experiences, which convinced me that there is a deeper reality out there. And so I want to accommodate, I want to expand science, and physics even, to accommodate these as well. And my argument is that I can’t see how I can make, the phenomena with mind and spirit are sometimes called transpersonal, the domain of transpersonal psychology. And if you look at, and transpersonal experiences include, in some sense, psychic experiences, but they also include things like out of body experiences and near death experiences and psychedelic experiences, and mystical experiences. And so the point is, where do you draw the line between a psychical and a mystical experience? I don’t think there is a clear cut distinction. You see, if you have a, you could have an out of body, let’s say somebody levitates, okay, Theresa of Avila levitates. And you can say that’s a psychic experience, because the levitation is what we call the psychical experience, a physical body raises from the ground. And you could say, that’s psi, okay, but it’s not, because we know from her perspective, it was a mystical experience, she is having a mystical experience when she levitates. So there is a link between that mystical experience and the levitation. If I have a near death experience, if I have an out of body experience, it’s not only a paranormal experience in the sense that I seem to be wandering around the physical world, it’s also a very spiritual experience, it can lead into a very spiritual experience, you know, you may encounter other intelligences, you may enter other domains of reality. So from my perspective, there is no clear cut distinction between, if you like, psychic and mystical, there is no clear cut distinction, if you like between mind and spirit. And indeed, it’s because I have my own view as to how I can expand physics to accommodate spiritual phenomena that I take this view seriously. But even without reference to a particular theory, it’s very hard to see how you can have an expansion of science accommodate mind without also accommodating spirit.
Rick Archer: Well, you know, when the lewis and Clark expedition explored the western united states, they ended up drawing a very, very crude map of the topology, topography, of the country. And of course, these days we have it mapped down, you know, with satellites and everything else, just to the cubic foot, everything we know precisely where everything is. So I think that in a sense, various traditions have given us maps of the territory of consciousness and of mind. And, you know, a lot of them are couched in ancient terminology. And they all have, they’ve gone through various translations, and they all have varying degrees of clarity and accuracy perhaps, or correspondence to what actually exists. But I do think that there are subtler levels of mind, a great range of them, and the various experiences you alluded to might fall at various points on those within that spectrum. And then there’s a level which transcends mind altogether, which we could say is some kind of ground state or field of consciousness, which is like the ocean without ripples. The yoga sutras talks about that yoga, or union, with that field is the cessation of the fluctuations of mind. And people have been exploring this whole territory throughout history, and people are exploring it currently. But there’s so much work to be done to just completely map it out and put it in modern terminology. And one more thing I want to say before I bounce it back to you is that like, if you were to levitate that ceramic bear that’s on your desk, or if you were to levitate yourself, as reportedly, you know, many people throughout history have done. And, you know, we can brush those authors as myth. But if someone were actually to perform it, or to demonstrate it, it would be a huge anomaly. And, you know, you can call it a psychic or mystical experience, subjectively, for the person doing it. But they are in great violation of the laws of nature, as physics currently understands them, you know, and so how in the heck would physicists come to terms of that, presuming it could be verified, and they could observe it and everything else. They would, seems to me they would have to completely rewrite the paradigm of the relationship between consciousness and the laws of the physical universe.
Bernard Carr: Well, absolutely. So, I mean, this comes down to what your particular theory is, what your extension of physics is, and whether that can explain something such as levitation. And I could address that question within my own technical approach, and maybe we’ll come to that later. But of course, it all comes down to whether you believe the phenomena. Now, many physicists, of course, would not believe in levitation. And therefore they say:. We don’t need to expand physics to explain it because it can’t possibly be a real phenomenon because it´s newton’s law says that you can’t have levitation, you have to feel gravity. But …
Rick Archer: Well, they say that even now, with the stuff dean Radin is coming up with, they say:. Well, I’m not gonna look at your research, because it can’t be true. But if you had enough people doing it, that they couldn’t avoid it, then …
Bernard Carr: To me it´s an absurdly narrow view, and people take this view, you know, they say:. Well, I don’t need to look at the evidence, because it can’t possibly happen, according to my theory. But we don’t have the final theory, it is completely absurd, to me, it goes against the very concept of science, which is that you should be open to all phenomena. But if you take something like levitation, I have to say, for example, that I was, I used to, I was somewhat skeptical of levitation. On the other hand, I was interested in out of body experiences, because I had out of body experiences. And I could, so in that sense, I would experience a levitation in the sense that you, you rise from your physical body. But of course, it’s not a levitation of the physical body, it’s a levitation, if you like, of the mental body. So I was always open to that. But I was a little bit skeptical of physical levitation, because I’ve never physically levitated and I’ve never levitated even the bear. However, I have to say I somewhat changed my mind, because you read some of the literature. For example, you read about Joseph of Cupertino, and he was witnessed by hundreds of people levitating. I believe it’s even true that at one stage, there were so many monks levitating that the pope declared it will only be a miracle if they weighed more than 10 stone or something ridiculous like that. But I mean, the point is that you have to be open for, you know, when you’re talking about psychic phenomena, there’s a whole range of these phenomena, and I’ve always had the view don’t accept or reject anything, you know. So, I don’t reject the possibility of levitation, even though I’ve never seen it. The only view I would say, because when you read the literature on something like joseph of Cupertino, which is well recorded, it’s almost as though he will be in a mystical trance, a mystical state, as he was levitating, it was like he was in a bubble. Like he was like in a dream bubble, in which the normal laws of physics didn’t apply.
Rick Archer: You mean it would appear that way to observers that he was in some kind of bubble?
Bernard Carr: Not like you’d see the bubble, but for example, his clothes, he would go through fire and his clothes wouldn’t burn. If he was holding somebody, I think there’s a case where he was holding a child or something, and the child also was levitating. So it’s some, it’s though there’s a region, which is, in some sense, doesn’t abide by the normal laws of physics. So it’s what I always call fancifully a dream bubble, because I’m interested in relating dream space, the physical space. And so as we’ll be getting onto it later, the idea is that this dream bubble is associated with a higher dimensional space. So you’ve got an intrusion from a higher dimension, in which the normal laws of physics don’t apply, there may still be laws, as in a dream, but not the normal laws of physics. So that’s a sort of glimmer of how you might begin to explain something like this. But of course, there’s no doubt that if levitation does occur is a tremendously rare phenomenon. I mean, at least to people, it’s never been observed in the laboratory, for example. And so, and I’m not saying whether I believe or disbelieve in levitation, because you know, all of these phenomena, you have a sort of boggle threshold as to what you’re prepared to believe. And I really don’t know for certain whether I believe in levitation, but I don´t completely reject it. On the other hand, I do believe quite strongly, at least attribute high probability, to certain psychic phenomena like telepathy and precognition and micro-pk, the sorts of stuff that Dean Radin does, for example. I’m fairly relatively convinced that those phenomena exist. But in some sense, the more macroscopic the phenomena, the more you have to question it, obviously.
Rick Archer: I think also the more, the higher level of spiritual mastery you have to have to perform it.
Bernard Carr: That is also true. And what is interesting, of course, one reason why one wants to draw this link between psi and mysticism is because traditionally, there always has been a link. I mean, you know, within the mystical tradition, the idea that as you evolve, you develop so called siddhis, or psychic powers is really standard, you know, and so it’s accepted within a mystical tradition or a spiritual tradition that you do develop psychic powers. It’s just that it’s not encouraged, you know, because the psychic powers are a distraction, a fire on the wayside. So, although I like to think there is a link between psi and mysticism, there is a sort of bridge between them, it´s not a bridge. Either side, they’re very keen on, psychical researchers don’t like to refer to mysticism because they want to give the impression they’re scientists are not mystics, and they know if they started talking about mysticism, they’re gonna get rejected by their mainstream science colleagues. On the other hand, mystics aren’t too keen on psychical phenomena, because it seems to be it’s too reductionist, it tends to reducing everything to physics. So neither side is so keen on making this bridge, but I just think you have to build that bridge. This is the bridge, if you like, between mind and spirit.
Rick Archer: So let’s say that, for instance, let’s just say that levitation were actually more common right now, to the point where they didn’t bother to report it on the evening news anymore, you know, because it just kept happening and anybody who really wanted to witness it could do so. So what you’re saying, your best guess at an explanation for it is that there might be some higher dimensional principles of physics, which are somehow descending to apply to the particular you know, the person levitating.
Bernard Carr: Yes, but I mean, that, I haven’t yet gone, I can talk later about my own particular approach at this time, which is what I call the hyperspatial approach.
Rick Archer: You can do it now, if you want, we can get into it if you want.
Bernard Carr: Yes. Okay.
Rick Archer: Well, that takes us away from something we wanted to finish here.
Bernard Carr: Before we get into the technical, but yes, absolutely, but the key point I’m making is that:. If levitation were true, and again, I’m not saying it is, but if it were true, you would need a theory of physics to accommodate it, you’d need expansion of physics to accommodate it. Now, regardless of whether my particular model is the right one, I would stick by that statement. Now, of course, you could simply say I don’t believe the phenomenon. But that is in general not the way to go, because if …
Rick Archer: … but if it became that common, you couldn’t say that anymore.
Bernard Carr: Well, you’d never expand science beyond matter, it would always be connected to the physical. And the fact of the matter is, some of the phenomena which arise in physics are just as weird as some of the phenomenon that’s arise in psi, in a sense. But you made another point, which is really that, in some sense, that trying to make a link between science and spirituality is nothing new. I mean, of course, the ancient religions have been doing that for 1000s of years. More recently, the occult traditions, you know, have had quite sophisticated, be it theosophy or kabbalah or whatever. They’re quite sophisticated models, which accept there are different levels of reality that go beyond the normal material reality. And, so I think that’s the key message, I’m trying to get across at this point, that the assumption that the only level of reality is material reality, which is actually what many scientists assume, I don’t think is justified. I mean, it’s very simplistic. Ordinary materialistic physics died 100 years ago anyway, with quantum theory. Physics anyway, introduces all these weird ideas like fields and, you know, quantum wave functions and extra dimensions where we have to go beyond materialism anyway. And so I think you have to be open to that sort of, to that expansion. And you know, traditionally you always see science and religion as being in opposition. You know, ever since the days of Galileo, you have this vision, that science is progressing, despite the efforts of the church to hold back, because they want to believe in, you know, that God is behind everything. And there was, you know, therefore, this antipathy between science and religion. And historically that’s true, but I don’t think there does need to be an antipathy between science and religion, I think they both represent valid levels of reality, and which only appear to be in conflict. I think you’ve got matter, mind and spirit and they form a coherent whole
Rick Archer: Yeah
Bernard Carr: And you have to try and unify them, they’re not in conflict. And in some sense, when you talk about the conflict between matter and spirit, science and spirituality, science and religion, it’s helpful to think of this third, this third world, the world of mind, because that’s what links them, you know. So it’s not just reconciling science and spirituality, it´s reconciling science and mind and spirituality, the three things go together.
Rick Archer: Swivel your chair just slightly, because the sun’s peeking over your left shoulder, and if you just swivel slightly, you’ll block it. A little bit more.
Bernard Carr: You mean the sun?
Rick Archer: Yeah, the sun coming through the skylight is just … there, okay, perfect. A little bit back the other way, perfect. Okay.
Bernard Carr: It looks like my halo if I’m like this, which may impress people.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it could increase the view count here. You know, when we talk about science versus religion, I think that the two can be reconciled, and I think that some so called religions are really very scientific, they are empirical, they don’t place emphasis on belief. If certain things are taught, that people haven’t experienced yet, the teacher is generally not saying believe in these things, or you’re doomed. He’s saying, okay, here’s a vision of possibilities. Now, do your research, you know, do your practice and see if you can confirm this experientially, for yourself. So the eastern religions tend to be that way a little bit more, at least in their pure forms. Whereas the western, you know, kind of got corrupted in my opinion, and became all about believing things and, you know, that you can’t ever necessarily experience until perhaps after you die.
Bernard Carr: Well, as you know, I mean, I have a bit of a Buddhist background, I’m a Christian, but I’ve also been very interested in Buddhism and the eastern religion in general. And I think that science and religion help each other
Rick Archer: Yeah
Bernard Carr: And they do it in various ways. For example, one, psychical research, for example, helps religion, I would say, by providing evidence for certain spiritual beliefs. For example, I think one of the evidence you get from psychical research is that our minds are connected, you know, evidence that there’s a level of reality that goes beyond the physical, beyond the material evidence, even perhaps the survival of consciousness after death. I mean, obviously, that’s controversial, but evidence for reincarnation, things like this. The whole point about psychical research is that it does purport to be a science. It’s using the methods of science to study phenomena which cannot be explained. So in that sense, psychical research as a science is providing support for religious beliefs. Not saying all religious beliefs, but some aspects of religious beliefs. On the other hand, I would say the religious beliefs, or religious philosophy, can help science. Now this is more controversial, but for example, I’ve been fascinated in some of the insights of the buddha into the nature of the visible world, through what he would call clairvoyance. Because the buddha would claim that he could get clairvoyant insights into the nature of the physical world, you know, that he could, he would get information about the nature of interstellar space galaxies, the cosmos. He would talk about visions of the cycles of the cosmos, you know, the universe expanding and recollapsing and things like this. And this is actually quite very reminiscent of some of the ideas of, in, modern cosmology even now. Of course, you have to be careful because there’s a lot of scope for interpreting the ancient texts with the wisdom of hindsight to make it look like modern cosmology. But I have to confess I don’t see in principle, if you believe in such a thing as clairvoyance, in other words, that the mind can get information about the physical world directly, I don’t see in principle why an evolved spiritual person shouldn’t get information about the physical universe. And so, you know, you can even, in principle, if you read the sutras, those texts which are coming directly from these quotations, in principle, you can predict the timescale of the cosmic cycles, you can work it out. And it turns out to be something like 40 billion years or something. Well, of course, any modern cosmologist would be very skeptical. They’re going to say, well, how could someone in 500 BC have all this information, which we’re only today discovering through the Hubble telescope and the James Webb telescope? And of course, it just sounds a bit crazy. Nevertheless, that is the claim. So I don’t, in principle see why, if you believe in clairvoyance, why a spiritually evolved person shouldn’t get clairvoyant knowledge about the nature of physical reality. And you get the same claims in theosophy, for example. So that’s an example of how spirituality, if you like, can help science, as well as how science can help spirituality, despite the fact that by and large, most scientists are completely skeptical of anything becoming spirituality, and vice versa.
Rick Archer: Yeah, but most scientists are not purely scientific. They are biased. One way I look at it is that the human nervous system are, is, an instrument, which in a sense, is far more sophisticated than the large hadron collider or something. And, you know, and it has capabilities, which no manmade instrument has, if we just know how to use it, to its full capabilities, for its full potential. And in that sense, you know, we could have modern day buddha’s who would be able to do research in consciousness that could possibly reveal things about the universe that scientific instrumentation cannot yet reveal or could also reveal in its own way, and the two could corroborate.
Bernard Carr: Absolutely. I was going to say, you know, I haven’t really spoken about it explicitly yet, but my own hyperspatial model says there are these extra dimensions. Well, physicists are looking for extra dimensions, as well, they’re looking for them with the Large Hadron Collider, for example, they haven’t yet found them. But I would say that there’s more evidence for the extra dimensions that come from a spiritual experience, if you like, than there is through physical experiments. That doesn’t mean to say you will never be evidence from physical experiments. But nevertheless, the idea that the human psyche is another very sensitive instrument for probing reality is crucial, I mean, and it may not cost a billion dollars to build a brain. But that doesn’t mean the brain can’t be sensitive to these other levels of reality. And I think that’s really important. And, you know, most physicists aren’t going to accept that, because they don’t believe that the mind can possibly be sensitive to these higher realms, but I’m afraid that’s just where our views differ.
Rick Archer: Yeah, like we said, a series of funerals … and also, I mean, science might be able to detect these other dimensions, in some kind of, in some sort of way. But they wouldn’t be able to provide the experience of them. And yet, what we’re suggesting here is that human beings can actually directly experience this stuff in ways that, you know, even if an instrument could somehow tune into it, and you’re just looking at, you know, indicators on the instrument that something is happening, it’s like the, you know, you can detect through brainwaves whether a person is dreaming, and we know they’re dreaming. But that’s not like experiencing the dream. It’s just squiggles on a graph. So, science has its realm.
Bernard Carr: Nevertheless I hope that science will detect these extra dimensions. So they are looking for them in accelerators, they haven’t found them yet. But that doesn’t mean they won’t find them eventually, it’s all to do with the size of the extra dimensions. And to me, what is fascinating is, when physics finds these explanations, that is what is going to provide the potential link between physics and mental phenomena. And, so because, in my theory, which I still haven’t described in detail, the higher dimensions of modern physics link to, they provide a space for, if you like, mental experience, and that’s a weird thought. Because the point is that if you start finding higher dimensions in an accelerator, to say that that’s something to do with mind is really, you know, throwing a cat among the pigeons I mean, as you can see, that won’t go down well. But nevertheless, that does seem to be, that would seem to be the implication, that you really are, in some sense, beginning to prove mind as well as matter. Because when you get to the limits of our knowledge of matter, usually when I say that the final theory of physics is going to accommodate consciousness, that is saying that at some point proving matter in extreme conditions is going to become a prove of consciousness. And in that case, consciousness itself can prove it. So there is this link. And although I know it won’t go down well with most physicists, the idea that extra dimensions provide the arena for dimensional experience, that just happens to be the paradigm I’ve been fascinated with.
Rick Archer: There’s an old Bengali saying, which goes:. “If no one comes on your call, then go ahead alone”. So I think you’re gonna have to stop worrying about what most physicists think, you know, I mean, you’re retired, and …
Bernard Carr: I´m now emeritus said that, and at least, I understand there are at least a few other people on this call, so at least some people are listening.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And maybe you should explain your theory in full now. But let me just throw in one quick thing, before we do that, to wrap up our previous part of discussion. And that is that I also think science can help spirituality a lot, because spirituality, at least contemporary spirituality, is very prone to imagination, and all kinds of woo woo, you know. People can just go off on all kinds of crazy tangents, and think that they’re, you know, making spiritual progress, whereas, in fact, they might just be going into some fantasy land. So I think that, you know, without getting all skeptical and too hardcore about it, there are some elements of the scientific method, which can be applied to spirituality, to make it more empirical, more practical, you know, more insistent upon real, the reality of what you’re experiencing, to save you from going off into fantasies.
Bernard Carr: Yes, but you have to be careful here, because what is relative is crazy, you know, what is crazy is relative to your perspective, because I referred earlier to the boggle threshold. Now, I mean, I read, I get sent papers a lot by people from the spiritual background. And I might say to myself:. Oh, that’s crazy, they don’t understand the physics properly, that’s crazy. But I know that other people might say, my physics colleagues, they will look at what I’m writing and they will say that’s crazy
Rick Archer: Yeah
Bernard Carr: So what is crazy, it all depends on your perspective, you have to be very careful. Because I’m a cosmologist, because within my cosmological work I’m reasonably respectable, I think that sort of, in some sense, adds credibility to, maybe, towards what I’m saying about mind. On the other hand, a lot of my cosmological colleagues will maybe infer that I’m crazy after all
Rick Archer: Off the deep end.
Bernard Carr: …are crazy, or some of them will just say, oh, he’s retired, and physicists often go gaga. Maybe, all I can say is I’ve had these crazy thoughts ever since I was young, since I was 15. So if they are crazy, it’s not a result of age.
Rick Archer: Well, just maybe another way of putting it is that just like, just as science wants to understand what’s what, you know, what is, what’s actually happening? What is this world? How does it work? Spirituality, in its purest form, wants the same thing. They want, it wants to, the practitioner wants to become a knower of reality, to become aligned with the truth, you know, if there’s some deep or ultimate reality to the universe, and if we ultimately are that, they want to realize that. So, but there can be many pitfalls on that path, where people go off on tangents and become less grounded, and, or less aligned with what’s real, instead of more. That’s what I was getting at.
Bernard Carr: Yes. But the other important point is you’re referring to the eastern religious traditions. The point about that, especially within Buddhism, which I’m most familiar with:. It was an attempt to understand these other domains of reality of experiences of consciousness, from a scientific perspective. In other words, it wasn’t the idea that, you know, there’s this idea that science is rational with experiments, and mysticism is completely irrational. But the whole point of the eastern traditions is that you’re actually applying rationality to these phenomena. And they’re classifying them in a very sophisticated way, they’re classifying the experiences of consciousness in a very sophisticated way, I would say more sophisticated than in western theology, for example. And, and indeed, you know, you see references to inner science, it´s the science of inner space as opposed to outer space, and that’s important, that’s why I’m saying you should try and make it pass as science. So although you have to be careful and discriminating between what is crazy and what is sensible in this domain, because some people will say it’s all crazy. I do think a useful criteria is whether in some sense it’s part of science is whether you’re using the procedures and the rational tools associated with normal science.
Rick Archer: Good. I think we’re in agreement. All right, we’ve covered that point. So what else do we want to cover before we have to finish? Did you want to more thoroughly explain your theory?
Bernard Carr: Yes. Give me a timescale though. How long can the interview go on for?
Rick Archer: There’s no hard and fast limit, you know, we don’t want to go on for four hours. But if you want to go on for a bit more, go at it.
Bernard Carr: Okay. It´s just a question of how it fits in time, but obviously, I’m thinking about the audience. But anyway …
Rick Archer: We’ll lose some, but some will hang in there.
Bernard Carr: Let me finish up by giving my own my own particular view. I’ve explained that I think science has to be extended beyond the material domain. This is part of what is sometimes called post materialist science. There is a whole movement now. There’s an Academy of Post Materialist Science, which basically are wanting to expand science beyond the material domain into the domain of mind and spirit. And, for example, there is something called the Galileo Commission. I’m associated with what’s called the Scientific and Medical Network and am currently its president, which is basically interested in the links between science and spirituality and the role of consciousness.
Rick Archer: I’m on their mailing list, by the way, and people listening to this could get on their mailing lists, because they have lots of interesting conferences.
Bernard Carr: Absolutely. I mean, I should, maybe you could give the website, because they’re hugely active, especially during this pandemic, there are zoom meetings and discussion groups, I mean, obviously, I would like to propagate as much as I can.
Rick Archer: I’ll provide links on your BatGap page.
Bernard Carr: But the reason I mentioned in the scientific medical network now is in particular, they are pushing this post materials science idea with what’s called the Galileo Commission proper. But anyway, so I’m just putting my efforts in a broader context. But now I want to talk about why I think, how I think we can go about this. So this is my personal view. As a physicist, I’ve always been very impressed with the fact that physics invokes higher dimensions. And this, of course we know Einstein:. Newton’s theory was three dimensional, and as you know Einstein’s theory introduced the fourth dimension, time, so reality became four dimensional rather than three dimensional. In the 1920s, two physicists called Kaluza and Klein, they tried to give a geometrical interpretation of the electromagnetic interaction in terms of a fifth dimension, Einstein had given a geometrical interpretation of gravity in terms of curved space time. They said, well, we can also explain electromagnetic interactions, if we have a fifth dimension. But it has to be wrapped up very small on what’s called the Planck scale, which is tiny, 10 to the minus 33 centimeters. Now, even Einstein quite liked this idea, but people basically forgot about this, because they got distracted by quantum theory. But then in the mid-1980s, string theory came along, superstring theory came along and said we can now have a unified description of all the forces of nature if we introduce more extra dimensions. And in this, in fact string theory originally had six extra dimensions. So you had three space, one time and you had six extra dimensions, which were wrapped up, but on a very small scale. So this was 10 dimensional. And the hope was that maybe this will be the final theory of physics. There were quite a number of different theories, versions of string theory, though. And then in mid 1990s, it was realized all of these theories could be merged as part of another theory called M theory. And M theory has an extra dimension, so it has 11 dimensions, but we needn’t get into the technicality. The point is, these theories which very respectable physicists are working on, implied there are extra dimensions. Now, there’s still no extra evidence for these extra dimensions, so some people argue it’s maths rather than physics. So you get a similar debate about whether m theory is physics as you do about whether the multiverse is physics. But nevertheless, the idea of extra dimensions is very popular in physics. Not everyone believes it, but at least in certain quarters, it’s very popular. And indeed, a particular model I like is the model, which I referred to before, in which our physical world is just a brane, a four dimensional brane, b-r-a-n and e, in a higher five dimensional bulk. The idea is one of these extra dimensions, instead of being wrapped up on the Planck scale, is extended. But then you see, if we are just a slice, if the physical world is just a slice of the higher dimensional world, you’ve got to say, well, what else is there in this higher dimensional space? So let me just park that thought. But then, when we come to talk about mental phenomena, what fascinated me is the fact that nearly all mental phenomena involve some form of space. And, I mean, even ordinary perceptual space, phenomenal space, we know phenomenal space is not the same as physical space. And this is what Donald Hoffman, you know, emphasize:. The phenomenal space is just a representation in physical space. So there’s even a basic philosophical question there, the relationship between classical phenomenal space or perceptual space and physical space. But I’m talking about things like memory space, I’m talking about dream space. When I have a dream, it takes place in a space, just like physical space. In fact, I sometimes can’t even tell whether I’m awake or dreaming. I mean, I’m hoping I’m awake now. Nevertheless, I’ve done it, I have lucid dreams, and I’m sure other people listening too, I can’t sometimes tell the difference, it’s like physical space. And obviously there are anomalies in the laws, but it´s got spatial features. If you have an out of body experience, I mean, I’ve had out of body experiences, I realize most people think they’re just hallucinations, but the point of out of body experiences, you´re in a space. And it looks rather like physical space. But it’s not identical to physical space, because they’re subtle differences, and …
Rick Archer: Although a lot of times people have them and they actually see things which are later verified, you know.
Bernard Carr: You leave your physical body and you might, you go somewhere else and you see an event. That’s what you call clairvoyance, or maybe somebody even sees you, sometimes people’s body, so, but then the question is, well, is it clairvoyance or is something really leaving the body? But the point is, experientially it is a space. On near death experiences, now there’s a lot of literature on near death experiences, people, cardiac arrest or something, but they’re floating around, they go through a tunnel and they enter another realm and they meet deceased loved ones and things, it´s in a space. And even most mystical experiences, many mystical experiences, the so called extroverted ones, involve a space. And psychedelic experiences involve a space, which is sometimes even explicitly described as higher dimensional. And talk about ghosts, for example, most people assume that apparitions are just hallucinations. But it’s not as simple as that, because you have collective apparitions, where more than one person may see the apparition at the same time. So it’s in some collective sort of space. So I would say the key thing of all these phenomenon, mental phenomena, is that they involve a space. So the question is, what is the relationship between that space and physical space? It can’t be the same as physical space, because I don’t believe a ghost has existed in physical space, I don’t believe, when I have a dream, I’m actually in physical space. But I do believe I’m in some space. And I’m led to the hypothesis that you need to be in a in a higher dimensional space. And in some sense, you have a hierarchy of experiences in psychic, well, in normal, psychical and mystical experiences. And this hierarchy of spaces, in some sense, involve a hierarchy of dimensions. And I have, in my model, what’s called a universal structure, which is basically a higher dimensional reality structure, of which the physical space is just a slice. And all mental experiences are part of this structure. So if you like, it’s an expanded reality. So now you got that thought. Now go back to the original thought about physics having space as well. So to me, it seems fairly natural to marry up these two ideas and say that maybe the higher dimensions of physics can accommodate the mental space, which I’m talking about. Now, this is not an idea that most m theorists would like, they’d probably be rather horrified of the idea because they’re trying to convince people this is respectable physics, and they’re not going to like the idea is being tainted with all these mystical connotations. But that’s the way I personally, that’s the way my model goes. That you’re making a leap between higher dimensions, and that’s why it’s called hyperspatial. Because hyperspatial means beyond the normal three dimensions. And so that is my particular approach. And really what this higher dimensional space corresponds to, it corresponds, if you like, to a sort of a universal mind. Because it is, it is it’s based on mental experience, so it is mind, but it’s mind with a big m, to go back to the earlier part of our conversation. And what it’s saying is that our minds, with a little m, are not just separate bubbles inside our heads. It´s saying our minds with a little m, are all part of this big mind with a big m. And that’s why in this approach you can have things like telepathy and clairvoyance, because all our minds are connected and our two minds are connected as part of this space. But also our minds can, the physical world is part of the space, so this mind can also experience the physical world directly. So that’s my model, if you like, not only for mind, but for transpersonal experiences as well. But then you come to the question of what are the extra dimensions? And now you come on to the question of time and consciousness. Because you remember, we talked about, I’ve been talking about consciousness at various points in this discussion, the distinct from of unconscious with a big c and a little c, I’ve never really tried to define what consciousness is, because that´s rather technical, difficult, but now, when I’m talking about mind, I’m really talking about contents of consciousness, okay, these different experiences:. Dreams, out of body experiences, the contents of consciousness. But now, let’s come on to the question of consciousness itself, what is consciousness itself? Well, one of the key things about consciousness is that it involves the passage of time. Okay, we experience the flow of time from past to present to future. Now, that cannot be explained by relativity theory. Even though relativity theory is that, you know, such a success of emerging space and time, in four dimensional spacetime, it doesn’t explain the passage of time. Because in relativity theory, you have the block universe which says that the past the present and the future coexist. You might naively think, if you think of your brain as like the world liner, your brain is like a line in spacetime. And you might think that the passage of consciousness was rather like a little bead going up this wire, okay, so past becomes present becomes future, okay, future becomes present becomes past. So, but the trouble is, the passage of time cannot be explained by relativity theory, there is no passage of time. The situation in quantum theory is a little bit unclear because time, may just in a certain sense, but time, even the passage of time in quantum theory doesn’t, isn’t, well defined. So it seems to me obvious that you’ve got to go beyond relativity theory in order to explain consciousness. You cannot explain the passage of time, which is to be part of the consciousness, in terms of relativity theory, you’ve already got to go beyond relativity theory. And I argue that even the passage of time, even before you get into anything controversial, like anomalous phenomena, has to involve, I would argue, another dimension of time. Because relativity is talking about physical time, I’m arguing that you need another dimension of time to describe mental phenomena. And so I argue that you need a five dimensional model even to explain ordinary physical perception. Because ordinary, the ordinary consciousness in physical perception, requires a passage of time. So that’s the first remark. Of course, philosophers have been arguing about this for a century, you know, centuries, how you describe the passage of time, and everyone disagrees. But most people seem to agree that the passage of time is not part of standard physics, you’ve got to go beyond standard. But the other component that fascinates me, which seems to be very neglected by philosophers and physicists now, is the concept of the specious present. Now the specious present is the minimum timescale of conscious experience. Now, for humans that something like a 10th of a second, it’s the minimum timescale that you can be aware of, because of the limitations of the brain process. So for example, I give, you imagine a light going around in a circle, you see it as motion, if the light goes around more than 10 times a second you don’t see it as motion, it just becomes a continuous light. Okay, so space has become time. And that’s because basically, your temporal resolution is too low to see, it’s too big to see the motion.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s how a movie works. Really, I mean, so many frames per second and it looks like a smooth thing, even though you’re looking at static frames.
Bernard Carr: Exactly. Right. Exactly the same thing happens with movies, I mean, there is a, whatever it is, it’s a 30th of a second or something like that, you don’t notice the individual frames because your specious present is too long. Now there’s also an upper limit to your timescale perception. If it’s too long, if the light goes around too slowly, you don’t see that either, it seems to be frozen. And that’s the timescale for that a little bit… it may be something to do with the short term, maybe timescale or something. But the point is, we only experience consciousness through a window of a specious present. Okay?
Rick Archer: I just want to tell you, there was a great Star Trek episode where some beings came into the ship who are on a different timescale. And so, from their perspective, the people on the starship enterprise looked like mannequins, they were just standing still. And from the perspective of the people on the starship enterprise, it was like mosquitoes were buzzing, they just heard this little high pitched thing, because the others were moving so fast in comparison to their …
Bernard Carr: Exactly. I was a great fan of Star Trek, though, oddly enough, I don’t remember that episode. But that’s exactly the point. Because the point I’m making is that, why do we make the assumption that consciousness can only exist on the timescale we experience it? You know, we experience a flow of time of something like a 10th of a second to 10,000 seconds, why do we assume there can’t be some form of consciousness operating on a different timescale? Why, for example, I don’t see why there couldn’t be a form of consciousness operating on a nanosecond timescale, like your computer or something. I don’t see why there couldn’t be some form of galactic consciousness, which has a specious present in a million years. It seems to me incredibly arrogant to assume that the only level of consciousness in the universe is human consciousness. And so it’s rather like the electromagnetic spectrum, we know the only visible light is just a tiny band of frequencies among a huge range of wave bands going from, you know, gamma, radio waves to gamma rays. Likewise, I don’t see why consciousness couldn’t exist on completely different timescales. Now, if it did, we wouldn’t be able to experience those other levels of consciousnesses. Well, you might have this, you know, you described the star trek episode where you’ve got beings with two different species presents. I mean, we can change our species present to some extent, for example, you know, if you’re in a car accident, time slows down. I mean, I’ve been in the car accident that many people have, or you´re falling off a mountain. Time seems to slow down, that’s to say your internal time relative to the outside time.
Rick Archer: When you have a near death experience, then your life flashes before your eyes in great detail, even though it only took a few seconds for it to do that.
Bernard Carr: In a near death experience, you can experience your whole life in one go. In other words, you don’t experience is a flow, your whole life, 100 years if you’re lucky, you see in an instant. So I think there are experiences in which the specious present changes even for human beings, I think there are mystical experiences where the specious present can change even more dramatically. I think there are mystical experiences, sorry, I’m quoting the literature, not going from experience, but it is claimed there are mystical experiences where the specious present can expand, you know, to the whole history of the universe, or where it can contract us to zero almost. So I think there’s evidence the specious present can change drastically. And that consciousness can therefore exist on all these different levels. And so when you talk about consciousness, you’re really talking about specious present. And when you’re talking about a hierarchy of consciousness, you’re talking about a hierarchy of species presence. So I don’t see why you can’t have a human consciousness, a global terrestrial consciousness, a galactic consciousness, maybe even a cosmic consciousness. So when I talked earlier about the distinction between mind with a big m and mind with a little m, or consciousness with a big c and consciousness with a little c, what I’m really saying is, it’s really a gradation, you know, that you have a gradation of levels of consciousness corresponding to a gradation of levels of specious present, which goes from our mind to a sort of great cosmic mind, and maybe even to the lowest, well, you know, maybe to the smallest specious present. Now, this is all speculation, because the whole point is that these different specious presents, you know, these consciousness of different species presents can’t actually communicate with each other. You can’t be aware of them. If I had a specious present of more than 100 years, my lifetime wouldn’t exist, you and I would not exist, our identities would make no sense, because our whole lifetime is less than the specious present in this higher level of consciousness. So, to me the whole nature of consciousness, the whole nature of self-identity, all relates to the notion of specious present. And just to put it in a nutshell, because all of this is very, is very speculative, the specious present to me, I associate with these extra dimensions in some way, in some ways these extra dimensions are compactified, and I’m associating that with different levels of specious present. So just as I invoke a higher dimension of time to explain the passage of time, I’m also invoking these compact, extra dimensions and associating them with different levels of specious present. All this is completely speculative, it made me crazy, I’ve not published it in physics journals. But I’ve just tried to give an example of how you can try and link physics to these sorts of experiences.
Rick Archer: I think there’s really something to it. In fact, in the Vedic literature, they speak of various levels of higher beings, a whole hierarchy of them. And generally, the higher you go up the hierarchy, the longer they live, and some live as long as the entire universe. And even a human, it´s said, that when they go to a heavenly realm, after death, they dwell there for a long period of time, even though it may not seem that long to them. And then maybe they come back and get reborn again, or something. But anyway, the higher, life on higher levels, is said to be very long lived.
Bernard Carr: Absolutely, I mean, and indeed, I’m partly motivated by some of the, you know, the religious literature, with ideas, especially within the Buddhist philosophy of things like that, because they do talk about beings, devas or whatever, with the different time scale uses. And so I am most, I can’t quote that in any scientific paper, but I’m partly motivated by that. But you see what, the common thing to all of these approaches, it comes down to what is the nature of consciousness, and this is where you come against the rub because the point is, most people assume that consciousness with a little c is generated by the brain. Okay, if these phenomena are correct, consciousness is not generated by the brain, what happens is that the brain is merely a filter of Consciousness. So the idea is, now you’ve got consciousness with a big C, if you like this ocean, and wherever you have a physical system, which is sufficiently complex, like the brain, that it can have memories and a model of the world and things like that, then it can act as a channel for this consciousness with the big c, and it can produce a localized consciousness with a little c. But of course, that is not the mainstream view of neuroscientists. In fact, almost all neuroscientists would reject it and say, no, the brain generates consciousness. But I would claim and many other people have claimed, that actually, it’s very interesting to study the correlates between brain function and consciousness. But it’s only evidence for correlation. It’s not evidence for causality that there is clearly, you know, if you hit someone on the head, it affects their brain, their consciousness, there’s no doubt about that. There’s no doubt that so long as consciousness is filtered through the brain, when you do something to the brain, it affects the conscious experience.
Rick Archer: Smash a radio with a hammer, the radio doesn’t work so well.
Bernard Carr: Exactly, if you smash a radio with a hammer, it doesn’t mean the station stops broadcasting
Rick Archer: Right, right
Bernard Carr: And this is basically saying that the brain is a bit like a tv set, that you know, that we experience the world through the tv set, but just because the television breaks down or gets a fuse, doesn’t mean that the transmission isn’t there. Now, of course, this then leads to all sorts of suggestions that will may be that if consciousness isn’t generated by the brain, maybe consciousness can survive the death of the brain. And then you get into even more controversial areas. But I’m afraid those are the areas I’m also interested in.
Rick Archer: Yeah, me to. And some will take it a step further to say that not only does the brain not create consciousness, but consciousness creates the brain. And by that I mean the kind of stuff I was alluding to earlier that, you know, this ubiquitous field of, of consciousness or intelligence, the whole physical universe emerges out of that and becomes increasingly complex. In order for consciousness to become a living reality, which is kind of a value added situation, it’s more than just flat ocean of consciousness, it’s consciousness embodied. So I suppose from, we could say that’s a lot of fun, for consciousness or God. Lila is often the term used in Sanskrit, the universe is a play, which is scripted or are given manifestation by divine or by, I’m trying to not use those kind of words, by the ocean of consciousness in order for it to entertain itself.
Bernard Carr: I like that idea. Because actually, I was having this discussion the other day, there is this idea that the whole world is a computer simulation, the whole universe is a computer simulation. And I suspect, probably even more crazy than some of the ideas I’ve been talking about. But the point is there’s very intelligent people talking about this. But then the question is, if we’re all in a simulation, who is the programmer?
Rick Archer: Right
Bernard Carr: Is the programmer God? And then I said to this person, I said, well, if the programmer is God, normally, when you program computers, you’re trying to solve a problem, so I remember saying, if the programmer´s God, what problem is God trying to solve? And then somebody else came in, they said, oh, no, you got it all wrong, nowadays computer programs aren’t written to solve problems. Most computer now, programs, are now written for games.
Rick Archer: Exactly. Very good.
Bernard Carr: So in other words, the purpose of this computer simulation would not be to solve a problem, it would just be to entertain, you know? Well, I’m not saying that God created this for His own entertainment. But those are the sort of amusing issues you have to confront, because it relates to what I said at the beginning, you see, if the universal structure, which is mind, if that’s the more fundamental thing, if the material world is just a slice of this higher dimensional mind, it suggests that well before the big bang itself, and the big bang is a physical description of physic, you know, the physical world, it says, well, this mind should have preexisted the physical world. Mind with the capital m, should have preexisted the physical world. And so in a way this relates to the question we started off talking about, you know, did some form of mind or some form of spirit create the universe? It all links, but the point is, this form of mind, with a capital m is, as I say, on a much longer timescale, this will be on a specious present which can tell you the whole history of the universe. So the question is, what is the ultimate level of this hierarchy? Does it transcend space and time altogether? And I think that actually, again, going from the literature, you know, the mystical literature, the final state peruser is supposed to transcend space and time altogether. So I can well except that the final state transcends any form of the space and time, because the idea of a specious present is, even when you talk about a hyperspatial approach, assuming there are some dimensions. You know, you’re gonna be on space and time, but you’re still assuming that dimensions. So the question is, is there a final description, which goes beyond any space and any time all together? And maybe that’s the level at which you get the big end?
Rick Archer: Yeah, good. Well, maybe that will be a good stopping place. Maybe if we’ve ended up where we started in this interview. We’re like that T. S. Eliot poem, you know, that at the end of all our seeking, we shall arrive from whence we started and know the place for the first time.
Bernard Carr: Well, that’s right. So there is a pleasing symmetry and that we’ve started, we´ve ended where we began. I can see we’ve really gone on for three hours. So I hope this isn’t going to cause any problems.
Rick Archer: No, no, it’s fine.
Bernard Carr: It’s only with regard to our species presents, a regard for a being with a different species present. Three hours could be nothing, or the eternity.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, I could trivialize the whole thing and quote Kermit the frog here, who said “time’s fun when you’re having flies”.
Bernard Carr: I’ve never heard that before. Yes, that´s lovely. Somebody remarked infinity´s a long time, especially when you get towards the end.
Rick Archer: Who said that?
Bernard Carr: I don’t know, but it’s a famous statement.
Rick Archer: Groucho Marx, what’d he say? He said:. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
Bernard Carr: And it’s like, now we´re exchanging jokes. I love the woody Allen jokes where he says he’s not afraid of death as long as he’s not there when it happens.
Rick Archer: Yeah. He also said, I don’t want to attain immortality through my work, I want to attain it by not dying.
Bernard Carr: Yes indeed. It’s good to end on a joke. And I really enjoyed this conversation.
Rick Archer: Me too, Bernard.
Bernard Carr: There probably other questions, which we haven’t answered from the second part.
Rick Archer: Oh, yeah, we could go on another three hours, I’m sure. But maybe we’ll do that one of these days.
Bernard Carr: Well, I enjoyed it very much anyway
Rick Archer: Me too.
Bernard Carr: And let me to let me know when you got the link.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I will. Just in a few days. So yeah, thank you so very much. And thanks to those who’ve hung in there with us, probably some of you have had to do this in separate sessions. But it’s really been a lot of fun. And it’s really been, you know, an enjoyable week for me, sort of delving into your work and then having this wonderful conversation.
Bernard Carr: I’m very flattered that you spend so much time reading all my articles
Rick Archer: I love it.
Bernard Carr: And I see we have actually more or less got through all of the topics which were on this sheet.
Rick Archer: Okay, great. Well, a lot of it was way over my head, but it kind of expands my head to try to understand what you’re saying.
Bernard Carr: Lots of it’s way over my head too. But you have to, you can only try and make your head bigger.
Rick Archer: Okay, good. All right, thanks so much and thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching and next week, I’ll be interviewing Jeffrey Mishlove, who has interviewed Bernard a number of times. And he does the thinking allowed, and then now it’s called the new thinking allowed interview show, which has been going on for a long, long time. So I think that’s going to be a fascinating conversation.
Bernard Carr: It’s another wonderful interviewer. And he of course, has also just won the Bigelow prize for the survival. So you´ve lots of interesting things to discuss. So you will be interviewing the interviewer,
Rick Archer: I will, there will be some kind of feedback loop that will be happening, he´s Jimi Hendrix or something in front of his app. All right, thanks, everybody. Thanks, Bernard.
Bernard Carr: Okay, thanks. Thanks very much, Rick. Bye bye for now.
Rick Archer: Bye for now.