Consciousness and TDVP: Welcome to a New World
Elders often remind their grandchildren, usually to their eye-rolling boredom, “I was there when….” The reference may be to the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, the war in Vietnam, Woodstock, civil-rights marches, or something else that history books have recorded. There is a recent development, however, that may surpass all of these memorable events in importance. It will likely affect the way our grandchildren live their lives and perhaps whether they shall have a life, and about which they are likely to tell their grandchildren.
THE WHITING AWARD
In August 2016, neuropsychiatrist Vernon M. Neppe, MD, PhD and mathematician Dr. Edward R. Close, PhD were awarded the prestigious Whiting Memorial Award for “expanding boundaries of scientific understanding.” Administered by the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE), the Whiting Memorial Fund is a philanthropic entity whose purpose is to reward individuals and groups whose accomplishments exemplify “someone who strives to benefit society in general through advanced inquiry, original research and/or creative contributions, and who has demonstrated significant progress in these endeavors.” The specific mission of the ISPE is “to attract the world’s most intellectually gifted individuals and hopefully direct their achievements for the betterment of all humankind.” The ISPE promotes no political, religious, racial, gender, ethnic, activist or academic agenda. As Stephen Levin, the president of ISPE, summarizes, “This is what ISPE is all about: making our world better by encouraging profound excellence.” In essence, Neppe and Close have been honored for making our world better a better place. How have they done so?
Neppe and Close’s contribution deals with how life, our world and the universe function. They call their proposal the Triadic Dimensional Distinction Vortical Paradigm (TDVP). These two scholars collaborated for eight years constructing their unfunded, paradigm-shifting work. Their efforts are stunningly transdisciplinary. They involve theoretical and empirical findings in quantum physics, mathematical logic, philosophy, biology, psychology and consciousness research, often requiring leaps into the unknown. This multidisciplinary work has been examined by hundreds of scientists worldwide. The intricacy of their thesis is formidable; it is said that only a few scientists are expert enough to critique it.
Neppe and Close have shown how Space, Time and Consciousness (STC) are all fundamental, separate and not derivative of each other and how, although separate, they are tethered together in union, thereby constituting a triadic construction of reality.
The concept that space and time are united is not new, of course; this insight dates to developments in physics in the early twentieth century, including Einstein’s famous space-time continuum. But the union of space and time with consciousness is a colossal departure from current scientific thinking. Consciousness is overwhelmingly assumed by scientists not to be fundamental, but derivative and contingent, mysteriously produced by the physiology and neurochemistry of the brain. Although unexplained, this view has become a widely accepted part of the scientific canon. In contrast, Neppe and Close offer evidence for a fundamental status for consciousness. They assert that conscious life and order have links with the infinite, and that meaning is universal and can be found even in the inanimate. Their work, anchored in empiricism, logic and mathematics, is a departure from the hegemony of the so-called blind, meaningless laws of nature currently endorsed by most paid-up, respectable scientists.
Neppe and Close’s TDVP paradigm adds additional layers of reality to those that meet our physical senses. As Neppe says, “Our day-to-day experience is one of experiencing our physical reality — the length, breadth, and height of objects.” But in addition to these familiar four dimensions, TDVP shows that there are a total of nine spinning dimensions, “which means that much of our actual reality is hidden.” An analogy is the electromagnetic spectrum, only a sliver of which we are consciously aware. Not only does reality involve nine spinning dimensions, but all particles are seen in union with a mass-less and energy-less third property Neppe and Close designate as “gimmel,” which is thought to be consciousness at least in part. As a result of this new status for consciousness, Neppe and Close assert that their work “goes a long way to show that spiritualty and science are linked together and that mathematics is part of the broader reality of our existence, not just a way of calculating.”7
The Neppe-Close TDVP model of reality is profoundly different from string theory, a leading contender in the contest for a TOE, a Theory of Everything. As Close explains:
The “strings” in the various string theories generally involve the “curling” or “folding” into extra dimensions, and do not usually regard “spin” as the major requirement for more dimensions. It’s an irony, too, that the string theories apparently remain unproven mathematically. Some would say that’s why they are still theories. In addition, no string theories I know of have a total of nine dimensions but, perhaps most pertinent of all, string theories do not involve any kind of consciousness, and do not generally specifically postulate multidimensional time, often speaking of poorly defined space-like or time-like spaces. By contrast, our TDVP model is based on sound logic, scientific evidence, and mathematics. It produces strong empirical evidence for more than one dimension of time, and argues for the profound need for consciousness to be included in any equation describing reality.7
The TDVP paradigm has performed some heavy lifting involving logical and empirical proof. As journalist Erin J. Morgart states in her report of the Neppe-Close model:
The Close-Neppe mathematical derivation allows these scientists to demonstrate the solution to some of physics’ most remarkable mysteries, including elucidating the Cabibbo angle and intrinsic spin. The Cabibbo angle, a measure of the probability of a certain kind of particle decay, had been found to persist at a very strange angle (13.04 degrees). The reason why it was that specific size could not be explained by the Standard Model of Particle Physics and, consequently, it had remained unsolved for 50 years since its discovery by Nicola Cabibbo in 1963. It only could be solved by applying the correct number of spinning dimensions (namely nine).
As Close elaborates, “This nine-dimensional spin finding opens the door to demonstrating a radical new concept of reality. Our recent findings suggest we can now move beyond this seemingly strange and inexplicable angle of elementary particles to understand the interaction with the observer’s consciousness. That is why the nine-dimensional spin finding appears to be so significant.”7
THE IMPORTANCE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
I am not a physicist or mathematician, so my views on the technical aspects of TDVP are not important. But as an internal medicine physician who for decades has had intimate contact with sick and dying individuals in hospitals, critical care units, and on battlefields, I resonate especially with the consciousness-related implications of TDVP. I believe they stand supreme among the many contributions of TDVP to science in general. Let me explain.
It may be no accident that the Neppe-Close vision of TDVP has arisen at this particular time in human history. There is an ancient view that the cosmos “throws up” or produces breakthroughs in understanding when they are urgently needed on Earth. I do not know if this is true; there are good arguments against it. But in any case humanity, at this precarious stage of our existence, has never needed a paradigm shift such as TDVP more than now.
The TDVP breakthrough has arisen at a moment in history in which, many believe, a “crisis of consciousness” exists. As one example among many, anthropologist and author Richard Grossinger states:
What is the crisis of consciousness? …[I]t is the general crisis of human civilization: its inability or unwillingness (which amount to the same) to reverse its own systemic social injustice or systematic destruction of the habitability of the planet on which it has arisen and alone abides [emphasis added].
As a culture, we are living out our breaking of the natural bond between macrocosm and microcosm, which leads directly to a breaking of the bond between our habitation of the planet and its ecosystems.
Contributing to this crisis is the fact that modern science has essentially closed its account of consciousness. Scientists, as mentioned, widely accept the doctrine that consciousness is produced by the brain, is confined to the brain, and perishes with the death of the brain and body — total annihilation of personhood. Prominent scientists sometimes ridicule the possibility that consciousness might survive the death of the body. For example, cosmologist Stephen Hawking says, “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” Astrophysicist David Lindley adds, “We humans are just crumbs of organic matter clinging to the surface of one tiny rock. Cosmically, we are no more significant than mold on a shower curtain.” According to this outlook, meaning, direction, purpose and free will are fictitious. As the influential materialist philosopher Daniel Dennett puts it, “When we consider whether free will is an illusion or reality, we are looking into an abyss. What seems to confront us is a plunge into nihilism and despair.”
Proponents of this materialistic view allow no exception: nothing of consciousness survives physical death; annihilation is total. This results in a scorched-earth strategy, because a single exception would sunder materialism’s foundation. Not only does nothing of consciousness survive, nothing can be permitted to survive.
This view has ossified into dogma. As physicist Bernard Haisch says:
Modern western science regards consciousness as an epiphenomenon that cannot be anything but a byproduct of the neurology and biochemistry of the brain…. While this perspective is viewed within modern science as a fact, it is in reality far stronger than a mere fact: it is a dogma. Facts can be overturned by evidence, whereas dogma is impervious to mere evidence.
A growing number of observers believe the materialist view of consciousness has potentially lethal consequences for civilization, and is a major contributor to “the destruction of the habitability of the planet.”8 Among these is Buddhist scholar Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. He observes:
Believing fundamentally that this life is the only one, modern people have developed no long-term vision. So there is nothing to restrain them from plundering the planet for their own immediate ends and from living in a selfish way that could prove fatal for the future.
David Ray Griffin, philosopher of religion and theology at Claremont School of Theology, agrees:
I believe the human race now faces the greatest challenge in its history. If it continues on its present course, widespread misery and death of unprecedented proportions is a certainty within the next century or two. Annihilation of human life, and of millions of other species as well, is probable. Only, I am convinced, if we come to see human life as primarily a spiritual adventure, an adventurous journey that continues beyond this life, will we have a chance of becoming sufficiently free from destructive motivations to effect a transition to a sustainable global order (emphasis added).
Eminent scientists who have disagreed with a materialistic, brain-derived view of consciousness are generally ignored. For example, Max Planck, the founder of quantum mechanics, observed, “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” Erwin Schrödinger, another Nobel Prize-winning physicist, agreed: “Although I think that life may be the result of an accident, I do not think that of consciousness. Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.” More recently, mathematician-philosopher David Chalmers has stated, “I propose that conscious experience be considered a fundamental feature, irreducible to anything more basic….” And neuroscientist Christof Koch: “I believe that consciousness is a fundamental, an elementary, property of living matter. It can’t be derived from anything else.” But in spite of this impressive pedigree, the view of consciousness as a fundamental, primary, transcendent entity has not carried the day.
Other observers believe that the death-centric perspective of materialism comes with a huge psychological cost to humanity. Among them was psychiatrist C. G. Jung: “The decisive question for man is: Is he related to something infinite or not? That is the telling question of his life.” Author George Orwell agreed: “The major problem of our time is the decay of the belief in personal immortality.”
The twenty-first century will be spiritual, or it will not be.
— Andre Malraux
A 2009 poll by the Pew Research Center called “Public Views of Science and Scientists” found that “Americans believe overwhelmingly that science has benefited society and has helped make life easier for most people. More than eight-in-ten (84%) say that science’s impact on society has been mostly positive….” But amid this appreciation of science, there is troubling side: spirituality and the concept of soul remain on science’s chopping block. Many people sense that science has stolen something precious from them — a spiritual, soul-oriented aspect of existence that has provided comfort throughout human history and which helps sustain hope in any circumstance. As a 24-year-old man responded in the Pew poll, “ I don’t know what is going to happen to me after I pass. Religion tells me one thing and science tells me something completely different.”
So, alongside their appreciation of science, many laypersons regard science as a wrecking project for anything spiritual, that sense of connectedness with something that transcends the individual self and ego. It seems to many that scientists have worked overtime to purge the concepts of soul and spirit from the modern mind. This attitude may function at an entirely unconscious level. In any case, it is not without merit. As physicist Roger S. Jones states in his book Physics as Metaphor:
Despite the towering intellectual and technological achievements of twentieth-century science, its spell over us has been irreversibly weakened. There are at least two important reasons for this. First, scientist and layman alike have become aware of the limits and shortcomings of scientific knowledge. Second, we realize that our perpetual hunger for spiritual understanding is real and undeniable. It can neither be defined away by subtle logic, nor be satisfied by viewing the universe as sterile, mechanistic, and accidental.
What has been diminished is something far more elementary than mere religion, but something vital for human flourishing — a spiritual or mystical yearning, a hunger for intimate contact with the Divine Ground or the Absolute, however conceived. British novelist and futurist Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, The Perennial Philosophy, The Doors of Perception, and many other insightful works, described the dreary alternative:
A totally unmystical world would be a world totally blind and insane. From the beginnings of the eighteenth century onwards, the sources of mystical knowledge have been steadily diminishing in number all over the planet. We are dangerously far advanced into the darkness….
Far advanced, indeed. We have already seen how the survival of consciousness, meaning, purpose, and free will are widely equated in science with self-deception, fantasy, hallucination, or sheer stupidity. Even consciousness itself is often dismissed as an illusion. As one materialist claims, “Thinking is just the meat talking to itself. It’s generated by the brain and when we die, unfortunately that dies with us. We can state that categorically.” And as philosopher Daniel Dennett, already mentioned, says in his book Consciousness Explained, “We’re all zombies. Nobody is conscious.” This is materialism with the lid off. The consequence of this creed is a bleak vision in which, as Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg has said, “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.”
Although prevalent within science, this view has fortunately never been unanimous. Scientists of the highest caliber have sometimes criticized it. Sir John Eccles (1903-1997), the Nobel Prize-winning neurophysiologist, was one of its most vigorous opponents. He believed the outlook of materialism was flawed and that belief in it required extreme arrogance, which he considered pathological — literally a disease. His judgment was harsh:
Arrogance is one of the worst diseases of scientists and it gives rise to statements of authority and finality which are expressed usually in fields that are completely beyond the scientific competence of the dogmatist. It is important to realize that dogmatism has now become a disease of scientists rather than of theologians.
[S]cience has gone too far in breaking down man’s belief in his spiritual greatness… and has given him the belief that he is merely an insignificant animal that has arisen by chance and necessity in an insignificant planet lost in the great cosmic immensity…. The principal trouble with mankind today is that the intellectual leaders are too arrogant in their self-sufficiency. We must realize the great unknowns in the material makeup and operation of our brains, in the relationship of brain to mind, in our creative imagination, and in the uniqueness of the psyche. When we think of these unknowns as well as the unknown of how we come to be in the first place, we should be much more humble.
RECOVERING THE SOUL
The brain rules, because the soul abdicates.
— Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West
One of the great misfortunes of our day is the belief among scientists that they bear no responsibility for spiritual matters such as soul. Their job, they believe, is to discover the workings of nature, not to cater to anyone’s spiritual needs. The folly of this view is not that their perceived mission of discovery is wrong, but that it is incomplete. Scientists have bungled the job where matters of soul are concerned.
How? “Soul” may be spiritual, but is more than that. The data pointing to a nonlocal, spatiotemporally infinite, soul-like quality of human consciousness has been demonstrated with such impressive statistical significance in an array of experiments that, in my judgment, it has become unscientific to deny., ,, Yet most scientists have become so intellectually allergic to this evidence they refuse to acknowledge it. Can science redeem itself in the eyes of a populace from which it has stripped soul?
It may seem disrespectful to suggest that scientists are slackers where evidence is concerned, because the stereotypical view is that scientists courageously and dispassionately follow data and evidence wherever it leads. Yet this idealized view is violated regularly whenever scientific views ossify into dogma, including the modern era. This pattern has been documented by historian of science Thomas Kuhn in his classic book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Currently, scientists can be as hide-bound as the most ideological climate-change deniers where spirituality and consciousness research are concerned.
The irony is that, by denying the findings of consciousness research regarding a soul-like quality of the human psyche, which appears increasingly necessary for responsible planetary decision making, scientists may be insuring their own demise; for if our present descent into an environmental doomsday persists, scientists will not be able to escape victimhood any more successfully than the most inveterate science denier.
ENTER NEPPE AND CLOSE
Researchers Vernon Neppe and Edward Close did not develop TDVP to fill a vacuum for consciousness, spirituality, and soul; that is simply one of the happy consequences of their TDVP. In their concept of STC — SpaceTimeConsciousness — immortality for some soul-like aspect of consciousness is implied, buttressed by mathematical and empirical rigor. This is an enormous contribution whose significance may surpass, even, the profound implications of TDVP for cosmology and physics in general. Why? As we’ve seen, belief in the survival of consciousness is likely tethered to the survival of the environment itself; and if so, technical arguments among physicists, cosmologists and mathematicians about TDVP won’t matter much if our planetary environment becomes incompatible with the survival of our species.
Neppe and Close have reversed the dismal conclusions of materialistic science toward consciousness and have made the concept of immortality and the survival of bodily death scientifically respectable. As Buddhist scholar Alan Watts humorously said in another context, they have managed to “eff the ineffable and screw the inscrutable.” They have performed CPR on modernity’s grim verdict on consciousness.
Henceforth those who believe in immortality and the nonlocal manifestations of consciousness will hopefully be spared the opprobrium of materialists as traitors to the scientific tradition. From now on, it may well be materialists who will be on the defensive. Whether this results in some degree of reconciliation between science and spirituality remains to be seen, but following TDVP this possibility seems more likely than ever before.
Dogma is not easily given up within science, and materialistic pushback against the TDVP view of consciousness will be fierce. This is nothing new, of course. During the early twentieth century, plate tectonics and continental drift were hotly debated in the field of geophysics. Looking back on this debate from the mid-1970s, the eminent geophysicist Sir Edward Bullard observed, in words that apply to the inevitable opposition to the TDVP perspective on consciousness:
There is always a strong inclination for a body of professionals to oppose an unorthodox view. Such a group has a considerable investment in orthodoxy: they have learned to interpret a large body of data in terms of the old view, and they have prepared lectures and perhaps written books with the old background. To think the whole subject through again when one is no longer young is not easy and involves admitting a partially misspent youth. . . . Clearly it is more prudent to keep quiet, to be a moderate defender of orthodoxy, or to maintain that all is doubtful, sit on the fence, and wait in statesmanlike ambiguity for more data….
Those who instinctively bridle at TDVP and its role for consciousness might benefit from the following maxim, variously attributed: “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”
It would be needlessly tendentious at this point to require Neppe and Close to fill in the specifics of what immortality-for-consciousness looks like on close inspection. The main contribution has been made, the deed is done. This may make all the difference in humanity’s psychospiritual equipoise and whether we shall survive on this particular planet.
It is difficult to imagine a greater contribution.