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In this article, we will understand the holonomic brain theory and contrast this with the holographic universe theory to see what these theories tell us about everything being connected.
The holonomic brain theory
“The human brain can be seen as a device for constructing an internal representation of reality based on sensory input. This representation is not static but dynamic; it changes as new information becomes available. The brain does this by using a process similar to holography.” (Pribram & Bradley, 1998)
The holonomic brain theory is a branch of neuroscience that proposes that human consciousness is formed by quantum effects in or between brain cells (Wikipedia, n.d.). Holonomic refers to representations in a Hilbert phase space defined by both spectral and space-time coordinates (Wikipedia, n.d.). The theory was developed by Karl Pribram in collaboration with David Bohm, based on the mathematical model of holograms by Dennis Gabor (Wikipedia, n.d.).
The theory suggests that the brain functions as a holographic storage network, where memory is encoded and distributed over the entire network, rather than localized in specific regions (Wikipedia, n.d.). This allows for fast associative memory, non-locality of memory storage, and integration of information from different modalities (Wikipedia, n.d.).
One of the main arguments for the holonomic brain theory is that it can explain some of the phenomena that are difficult to account for by conventional neuroscience, such as the persistence of memory after extensive brain damage, the subjective experience of qualia, and the binding problem (how different aspects of sensory perception are integrated into a coherent whole) (Wikipedia, n.d.). Pribram and Bohm also claimed that the holonomic brain theory is compatible with quantum physics, and that it can provide a bridge between the physical and mental realms (Wikipedia, n.d.).
An example of how the holonomic brain theory works is the experience of listening to music. Pribram suggested that the feeling of movement and change that make up our experience of music derive from holding the immediate past and the present in the brain together (Wikipedia, n.d.). He said that “the musical notes from the past are transformations rather than memories. The notes that were implicated in the immediate past become explicate in the present” (Wikipedia, n.d.). This implies that the brain processes information in a dynamic and holistic way, rather than in a static and linear way.
The holonomic brain theory is not widely accepted by mainstream neuroscience, as it lacks empirical evidence and testable predictions. It also faces several challenges and criticisms, such as the lack of a clear definition of consciousness, the difficulty of measuring quantum effects in the brain, the possibility of alternative explanations for the observed phenomena, and the inconsistency with some of the established principles of neuroscience and physics (Wikipedia, n.d.).
The holographic universe theory
“The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” (Haldane, 1927)
“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.” (Sagan, 1980)
The holographic universe theory, based on the holographic principle in string theory, suggests that the entire physical universe is a projection of a two-dimensional boundary that encodes all the information of the three-dimensional space.
The holographic principle is a property of quantum gravity that states that the description of a volume of space can be thought of as encoded on a lower-dimensional boundary to the region, such as a light-like boundary like a gravitational horizon. The principle implies that there is a limit to the amount of information that can be stored in any region of space, given by the area of its boundary. The principle also implies that there is an equivalence between two different theories that describe the same physical system: one with gravity in a higher-dimensional space, and one without gravity in a lower-dimensional space.
Contrasting the holonomic brain with the holographic universe
One possible connection between these two theories is that they both imply that reality is not fixed and objective, but rather dynamic and subjective, depending on the observer’s perspective and state of consciousness. Moreover, they both suggest that reality is ultimately composed of patterns of information or energy that can be mathematically described by a fourier transform or a hologram.
However, there are also significant differences between these two theories. The holonomic brain theory focuses on the human brain and its cognitive functions, while the holographic universe theory applies to the whole cosmos and its physical laws. The holonomic brain theory does not necessarily imply that the brain creates reality, but rather that it interprets reality through a holographic process. The holographic universe theory does not necessarily imply that consciousness is fundamental, but rather that it is emergent from the underlying information or energy.
Another way to contrast these two theories is to consider their relation to the concept of God or a higher intelligence. Some proponents of the holonomic brain theory, such as Pribram, have argued that the brain’s holographic nature reflects the mind of God, who is also holographic and non-local. They have also suggested that mystical experiences, such as near-death experiences or astral projection, are possible because of the brain’s ability to access other dimensions or levels of reality through its holographic structure.
Some proponents of the holographic universe theory, such as Michael Talbot and J Selbie, have argued that the universe is a hologram projected by God or a higher intelligence, who resides in a higher dimension or realm. They have also suggested that heaven is a hologram, and that we can access it through our own personal holograms or astral bodies.
The role of quantum mechanics
“The birth of quantum holography—making holograms of single light particles.” (University of Warsaw, 2016)
“Could quantum gravity models arising from holography explain cosmological phenomena?” (University of Maryland and University of British Columbia, 2023)
quantum mechanics plays an important role in both these theories, as it provides the mathematical framework and the physical phenomena that support their claims. For instance, quantum mechanics shows that light can behave as both waves and particles, which enables the creation of holograms using laser beams. quantum mechanics also shows that matter can behave as waves, which suggests that everything in nature has a wave-like nature that can be encoded in a hologram.
Furthermore, quantum mechanics reveals that physical systems can exist in superpositions of states until they are measured by an observer, which implies that reality depends on observation and is not predetermined. quantum mechanics also reveals that entangled particles can influence each other instantaneously across any distance, which implies that reality is non-local and connected at a deeper level.
These quantum features are essential for both the holonomic brain theory and the holographic universe theory to work. The holonomic brain theory relies on quantum effects in the neural networks to explain how information is stored and processed in a holographic way. The holographic universe theory relies on quantum effects in the boundary of spacetime to explain how information is projected into a three-dimensional space.
All in the mind of God?
These two perspectives raise an interesting question: If man is made in God’s image, do these theories suggest we have the same brain structure?
One possible answer is yes, if we assume that God’s mind is also holographic and quantum, and that we share some aspects of its consciousness and creativity.
“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)
“In this path of loving, how can it possibly be. That we see the world through You, and yet we don’t see You?” (Rumi)
“Material existence is only a shadow of that higher, finer dimension of reality. This world is the result of the astral world.” (Yogananda, 1946)
Another possible answer is no, if we assume that God’s mind is beyond our comprehension and that we only have a limited reflection of its intelligence and power.
Is everything connected?
The holonomic brain theory proposes that quantum effects play a role in the formation of consciousness (Wikipedia, n.d.). One of the implications of this theory is that there may be some form of connectivity between brains, as well as between the brain and the rest of reality. This idea resonates with the notion that everything is connected, which is a common theme in many philosophical, spiritual and scientific perspectives.
One way to explore this connectivity is to examine the phenomenon of quantum entanglement, which occurs when two or more particles share a quantum state and behave as a single system, even when they are separated by large distances.
One of the quantum effects that may be relevant for this theory is quantum entanglement, which occurs when two or more particles share a quantum state and behave as a single system, even when they are separated by large distances (Live Science, 2021).
Quantum entanglement can be created in different ways, such as by cooling the particles and placing them close enough together so that their quantum states overlap, or by relying on some subatomic process that automatically produces entangled particles (Live Science, 2021). Once entangled, the particles remain correlated, meaning that measuring one particle’s property, such as spin or polarization, will reveal the property of the other particle, regardless of how far apart they are (Wikipedia, n.d.).
According to Bohm (1980), quantum entanglement implies that reality is an undivided wholeness, where every part is in immediate contact with every other part. He suggested that this wholeness could also apply to consciousness, and that the brain could act as a “receiver” of information from the quantum field. He wrote:
“The brain is not an isolated system but rather one that is in constant communication with the rest of the universe through these quantum processes. Thus, it may be that such processes are involved in the relationship of consciousness to matter in general” (p. 201).
Another way to explore this connectivity is to look at the evidence for psi phenomena, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis. These phenomena suggest that the mind can transcend the limitations of space and time, and interact with other minds and physical systems without any physical mediation. Some researchers have proposed that psi phenomena are manifestations of the holographic nature of reality and consciousness, and that they can be explained by the holonomic brain theory. For example, Radin (2006) argued that:
“The holographic model implies that information about any aspect of reality is available everywhere within the hologram. Thus, it may be possible for our brains to access information about distant or future events by tuning into the appropriate frequency or location within the hologram” (p. 156).
Therefore, the holonomic brain theory suggests connectivity between brains, which would tend to support the theory that everything is connected, and that this theory is illustrating some aspects of that connectivity. By incorporating quantum physics and psi phenomena into its framework, it offers a novel and holistic perspective on the nature of reality and consciousness.
Two theories trying to describe different aspects of the same thing?
If one accepts that everything is connected, does this mean that the holonomic brain theory is describing the micro level of the holographic universe theory? The reasoning being, that to be connected, everything must have the same basic structure.
One possible way to answer this question is to explore the similarities and differences between these two theories, and to examine the evidence and arguments for and against their validity.
For example, one similarity is that both theories use the concept of holography to explain complex phenomena in terms of simpler principles.
Both theories also suggest that reality is not fixed or deterministic, but rather probabilistic and dynamic, depending on the observer’s perspective and measurement (Bohm & Hiley, 1993).
However, one difference is that the holonomic brain theory is based on empirical observations and experiments on the brain’s neural activity and behaviour, while the holographic universe theory is based on theoretical calculations and predictions that are not yet empirically verified.
Another difference is that the holonomic brain theory focuses on how information is stored and processed in the brain, while the holographic universe theory focuses on how information is encoded and projected in the universe.
Therefore, one could argue that the holonomic brain theory and the holographic universe theory are not necessarily describing the same phenomenon at different scales, but rather different aspects of reality that may or may not be compatible or complementary.
One could also argue that the connection between everything does not imply a common structure, but rather a common source or origin.
For instance, Bohm (1980) proposed an ontological interpretation of quantum mechanics that postulates an underlying implicate order that gives rise to the explicate order of observable phenomena. In this view, everything is connected by being enfolded in the implicate order, but not necessarily having the same structure as it unfolds in the explicate order.
In other words, one way to understand quantum mechanics is to think of a hidden layer of reality that creates what we see. Bohm (1980) called this layer the implicate (hidden) order, and what we see the explicate (visible) order. He said that everything is part of the implicate order, but it may look different when it comes out in the explicate order.
Similarly, Pribram (1991) suggested that the brain’s holographic processing is not limited to its physical structure, but rather extends to its interaction with the environment and other brains. In this view, everything is connected by being part of a larger holographic network, but not necessarily having the same structure as it manifests in different contexts.
This suggests that the brain does not just work like a hologram inside itself, but also with the outside world and other brains. This means that everything is linked by being part of a bigger hologram, but not always having the same shape as it shows up in different situations.
In conclusion, the question of whether the holonomic brain theory is describing the micro level of the holographic universe theory is not a simple yes or no answer, but rather a complex and open-ended inquiry that requires further investigation and dialogue. Both theories are intriguing and provocative models that challenge our conventional understanding of reality and cognition, and invite us to explore new possibilities and perspectives. However, both theories also face limitations and criticisms that need to be addressed and resolved before they can be accepted or rejected as valid descriptions of reality.
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John 14:2 (King James Version)
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