Gavin Rowland

Mind Beyond Matter

It is a commonly held view that science has delivered a fairly accurate view of our reality. Small surprises may be in store, but on the whole we can safely view ourselves as biological products of evolution, entirely composed of atoms and molecules. By the same argument, the nature of our minds is presumably the same, and our subjective reality is therefore entirely the product of our material brain.

But scratch the surface of this issue and the picture is a lot murkier. Many experts in the study of subjective awareness, otherwise known as consciousness, will admit that there are serious problems that aren’t readily explained by merely saying that brains create minds. And those who look for the biological causes of the mental illnesses will admit that, despite the billions of dollars spent on research, we haven’t yet been able to demonstrate that mental illnesses are merely brain disorders. Such illnesses, on the contrary, seem generally to originate from assaults on our conscious self, in various types of psychological stress and trauma.

And beyond these areas of study there are also the problems of fundamental physics, which are far from worked out. For example, only five percent of the universe is made of ordinary atoms. The rest of the universe is made of stuff about which we know very little. This stuff is termed “dark” because scientists cannot see it. About one third is dark matter and the remaining two thirds is dark energy. Dark energy is not matter at all, but a totally different non-material substance.

We know very little about dark energy, but because it is expanding our universe in a fairly uniform way, it appears to occupy all space. As our brains at the atomic level are greater than 99% empty space, we presumably consist of not only atoms and molecules, but dark energy as well.

Could dark energy be the missing ingredient in our search for an understanding of minds? Could dark energy be the stuff of consciousness itself? Mind Beyond Matter is an exploration of this possibility.