Intelligent Design Philosophy Science

Why you can be sure electrons are not conscious

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File:HAtomOrbitals.png
Hydrogen atom orbitals at different energy levels. An electron is most likely in a brighter one/FlorianMarquardt, GNU

In which case, panpsychism (you are conscious and so is your coffee mug), despite its popularity, is wrong. Here’s a simple but serious explanation:

Thus, to have a mind, an object must have sense organs. Animals with eyes and ears can grasp forms and think about them. Objects without sense organs have no access to forms and thus cannot think. Interestingly, this implies that living things with rudimentary sensation (photoreceptors on plants, chemoreceptors on bacteria) do have the potential for rudimentary thought.

That raises interesting questions about the nature and quality of thought in lower forms of life. But it is at least reasonable to infer that thought is possible for any living thing that has the ability to sense the environment. In fact, “sensation” implies experience of some sort, however rudimentary. So particles like electrons and larger inanimate things aren’t conscious because they have no sense organs, and thus have no access to forms external to themselves. They cannot think about anything because they cannot sense their environment and cannot access information external to them. Consciousness presupposes content and subatomic particles, like all inanimate things, lack access to content. Michael Egnor, “Are electrons conscious?” at Mind Matters

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Also by Michael Egnor: In one sense, consciousness is an illusion But read the fine print.

Does Your Brain Construct Your Conscious Reality? Part I A reply to computational neuroscientist Anil Seth’s recent TED talk

Does Your Brain Construct Your Conscious Reality? Part II In a word, no. Your brain doesn’t “think”; YOU think, using your brain

and

Before you go: Panpsychism: You are conscious but so is your coffee mug Materialists have a solution to the problem of consciousness, and it may startle you

7 Replies to “Why you can be sure electrons are not conscious

  1. 1
    Pater Kimbridge says:

    Sense organs ? The most obvious reason an electron is probably not conscious (in the sense that we believe people are conscious) is that it does not have the bit-holders needed to process the information needed for consciousness. In other words, it does not have a complex brain, or any brain for that matter.

    I don’t think I would let that guy operate on MY brain.

  2. 2
    PeterA says:

    The level of absurdity (or should I say stupidity) we have reached as humans, believing that kind of things like conscious inanimate objects, ideas that seem taken off the blue sky just like that, is pathetically depressing.

  3. 3
    AaronS1978 says:

    The reason why he says sense organs or anything that has an ability to sense it’s surroundings can have consciousness. Recent discoveries that cells are capable of sensing their surroundings,they have some kind of sense organs, and seem to exhibit levels of intelligence which suggests that they are even capable of consciousness and they do not have a brain

  4. 4
    AaronS1978 says:

    The reason why he says sense organs or anything that has an ability to sense it’s surroundings can have consciousness. Recent discoveries that cells are capable of sensing their surroundings,they have some kind of sense organs, and seem to exhibit levels of intelligence which suggests that they are even capable of consciousness and they do not have a brain

  5. 5

    The electron does appear to have freedom, it can appear many different places from one moment to the next. But it does not appear to have autonomy, left on it’s own the state of the electron is undecided.

    The term “conscious” should be reserved for when a system is like a universe in it’s own right, capable to make representations through sense input of what is in the universe proper. The term conscious, does not appear to apply to the electron.

    The term spirit still applies to the electron. For any of the decisions where the electron ends up it may be asked, what it was that made decision turn out the way it did, instead of the decision turning out some other way. The answer to that question must be a chosen answer, resulting in a subjective opinion on what it was that made the decision turn out the way it did.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    In the following video, John Wheeler mentions that the delayed choice experiment can be done with electrons as well as with photons

    John Wheeler – The Delayed Choice experiment
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u54IPWqF6no

    This following experiment extended Wheeler’s Delayed Choice experiment to include, not only photons, but atoms themselves, and also showed us that quote unquote ‘reality does not exist if you are not looking at it’:

    Experiment confirms quantum theory weirdness – May 27, 2015
    Excerpt: The bizarre nature of reality as laid out by quantum theory has survived another test, with scientists performing a famous experiment and proving that reality does not exist until it is measured.
    Physicists at The Australian National University (ANU) have conducted John Wheeler’s delayed-choice thought experiment, which involves a moving object that is given the choice to act like a particle or a wave. Wheeler’s experiment then asks – at which point does the object decide?
    Common sense says the object is either wave-like or particle-like, independent of how we measure it. But quantum physics predicts that whether you observe wave like behavior (interference) or particle behavior (no interference) depends only on how it is actually measured at the end of its journey. This is exactly what the ANU team found.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said Associate Professor Andrew Truscott from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.
    Despite the apparent weirdness, the results confirm the validity of quantum theory, which,, has enabled the development of many technologies such as LEDs, lasers and computer chips.
    The ANU team not only succeeded in building the experiment, which seemed nearly impossible when it was proposed in 1978, but reversed Wheeler’s original concept of light beams being bounced by mirrors, and instead used atoms scattered by laser light.
    “Quantum physics’ predictions about interference seem odd enough when applied to light, which seems more like a wave, but to have done the experiment with atoms, which are complicated things that have mass and interact with electric fields and so on, adds to the weirdness,” said Roman Khakimov, PhD student at the Research School of Physics and Engineering.
    http://phys.org/news/2015-05-q.....dness.html

    Thus, not only is the electron not conscious, apparently the electron is not even there if you are not looking at it.

    Of supplemental note to the delayed choice experiment:

    “Thus one decides the photon shall have come by one route or by both routes after it has already done its travel”
    – John A. Wheeler
    “J.A. Wheeler and W.H. Zurek Eds. Princeton University Press, 1983.
    “Quantum theory and measurement.”page 182.

    “It begins to look as we ourselves, by our last minute decision, have an influence on what a photon will do when it has already accomplished most of its doing… we have to say that we ourselves have an undeniable part in what we have always called the past. The past is not really the past until is has been registered. Or to put it another way, the past has no meaning or existence unless it exists as a record in the present.”
    – John Wheeler
    – The Ghost In The Atom – Page 66-68 – P. C. W. Davies, Julian R. Brown – Cambridge University Press, Jul 30, 1993

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: Now, for many billions of years the photon is in transit in region 3. Yet we can choose (many billions of years later) which experimental set up to employ – the single wide-focus, or the two narrowly focused instruments. We have chosen whether to know which side of the galaxy the photon passed by (by choosing whether to use the two-telescope set up or not, which are the instruments that would give us the information about which side of the galaxy the photon passed). We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles “have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy,” so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment has now been demonstrated for thousands of kilometers in space

    Reflecting light off satellite backs up Wheeler’s quantum theory thought experiment – October 26, 2017 – Bob Yirka
    Excerpt: Back in the late 1970s, physicist John Wheeler tossed around a thought experiment in which he asked what would happen if tests allowed researchers to change parameters after a photon was fired, but before it had reached a sensor for testing—would it somehow alter its behavior mid-course? He also considered the possibilities as light from a distant quasar made its way through space, being lensed by gravity. Was it possible that the light could somehow choose to behave as a wave or a particle depending on what scientists here on Earth did in trying to measure it?,,,
    The experiment consisted of shooting a laser beam at a beam splitter, which aimed the beam at a satellite traveling in low Earth orbit, which reflected it back to Earth. But as the light traveled back to Earth, the researchers had time to make a choice whether or not to activate a second beam splitter as the light was en route. Thus, they could test whether the light was able to sense what they were doing and respond accordingly. The team reports that the light behaved just as Wheeler had predicted—demonstrating either particle-like or wave-like behavior, depending on the behavior of those studying it.
    https://phys.org/news/2017-10-satellite-wheeler-quantum-theory-thought.html

    Extending Wheeler’s delayed-choice experiment to space – Oct. 25, 2017
    Excerpt: We implement Wheeler’s idea along a satellite-ground interferometer that extends for thousands of kilometers in space.,,,
    http://advances.sciencemag.org.....0/e1701180

  7. 7
    doubter says:

    Egnor’s article seems a little conflicted. Do souls have sensory organs? I suppose not. Then to say electrons don’t have intentionality ( a primary marker for consciousness ) because they lack the necessary parts for sensation is reasonable, but it seems to imply an argument against the existence of souls.

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