Staying True to Natural Law
Contrary to artificial laws (manmade laws) based in positive law theory, which require no justification other than that of consensus, artificial laws based in natural law theory require there be some correlative indication provided by nature as to its justness. However, as, with natural law theory, it is the natural consequences provided by nature in conjunction with particular acts that is used as justification for artificial law enactment, unless the artificial law provides the exact same consequence for said act (which is either impossible or indicative of there being no need of a corresponding artificial law), the reasoning used in an attempt to justify the justness of an artificial law in fact serves to negate its justness. For example: Not wearing a seatbelt carries with it a high likelihood of being killed or seriously injured. This is a natural consequence of not wearing a seatbelt. Those who choose to break this natural law will be far less likely to procreate and propagate this bad decision making tendency. Throughout all of evolution, this has been the fundamental principle that has strengthened all species on the planet. Now, as there is a natural indicator of “not wearing a seatbelt” as being an incorrect action, are we now justified in creating an artificial law enforcing the usage of seatbelts? To answer this and if we are to hold true to the basic premise that nature will show us the truth, we must consider if the artificial consequences will be equivalent to those nature would impose. Again, as I explained already, if the artificial consequences are the same, there’s no need of artificial ones; if they aren’t the same, we are not looking to nature to show us the truth. Perhaps it would be prudent to take a closer look at what the true nature of our existence most likely is if we are to stay true to this notion of Natural Law.
I believe the initial Descartesian method to be sound as it indicates nothing beyond our own awareness can be known to exist. This is the fundamental place to start if any derivement of truth, for which to build an understanding of ourselves, the universe and the laws that govern it and us, is to be found. Where I believe Descartes and many other philosophers faulted, was in taking further steps without admitting to a leap of faith having been taken. It seemed very important to them that one conclusion logically followed the previous. This is a practical impossibility. If the only thing that can be known to exist is one’s own awareness, then that and that alone is all that can truly be known. As stopping here would prevent any further consideration, an assumption or leap of faith must be taken. The objective should be to make this one and only one assumption or leap of faith as simple, reasonable and, preferably, agreed upon as possible. I believe this satisfies these requirements; “As I am a sentient being that perceives others existing as I, these perceived others are sentient beings as I.” From this one assumption that can, in no way, be proven, I can begin to build a philosophy. If I am to continue from here in an effort to understand these perceived others and, eventually, what cooperative structures justly collate with this reasoning, I must first define what I am; and what am I? From my point of view, which is all I know to be real, I am the universe itself. All I have experienced, imagined (if there is a difference) and know is from one actual perspective. If I cease to exist, the universe ceases to exist. If these perceived others are as I, every individual person is the entire universe and should be respected as being so. It would take far too long to continue this philosophical build so, in order to better understand the nature of self; I will take reality as being as I perceive it, a materialistic metaphysical position and seek scientific corroboration.
What my perceptions have shown me is that modern science has mapped the human brain, told us from where our emotions arise, devaluated spiritual experience as the number of neurons firing and, basically, shown us that our every action is quantifiable as a series of electro-chemical reactions. So, if I’m to seek scientific corroboration of a higher reality of self and others as relatable to nature and, in turn, natural law, I’ll have to dig a little deeper.
Adopting a materialistic philosophy requires I take on certain problems. One being that matter/energy always follows Newton’s laws of motion within all inertial frames. This problem led a French scientist, Marquis Pierre Simon de Laplace, to conclude that if we knew the positions and velocities of all the particles in the universe at one time, the laws of physics should allow us to predict what the state of the universe would be at any other time in the past or future. This would suggest that our material brains must follow a deterministic pattern, disallowing for the possibility of free will. Another materialistic problem to contend with is the issue of conscious existence beyond the brain, which most of us would understandably like to believe in.
Quantum physics may hold the solutions to both of these problems. First, let’s deal with the problem of determinism. Although it is true that matter/energy always follows Newton’s laws of motion within all inertial frames, there is also a principle of probability when dealing with momentum vectors at the subatomic level that requires that there be a degree of uncertainty. A subatomic event, that has as much likelihood of doing one thing or another, must therefore be considered to have done both in an inertial frame that hasn’t exhibited the results of one or the other. This makes subatomic prediction impossible even if all variables are known. Because the behavior of the macro-universe is dependent on the behavior of the micro-universe, there isn’t only one way in which the future must unfold. This argument alone allows for the possibility of free will, but what if it could be shown that the brain actually operates at the quantum level?
The principle of “conservation of momentum” dictates that momentum (a product of velocity and mass) can be neither created nor destroyed. Therefore, when a photon is converted into mass, two particles are created with opposite “spins.” These opposing “spins” are required to conserve the universe’s momentum. The two particles that are created are an electron and a positron. Pretty basic stuff until you consider what happens when the “spin” of one or the other particles is changed. Not only does the particle equally exchange its momentum with whatever redirected it, but the opposing particle created from the photon also changes “spin” instantaneously.
This phenomenon introduces two very interesting properties of the universe. The first being that there is a method of instantaneous communication that, in order to obey Einstein’s theory of special relativity, must lie beyond space-time and it’s restrictions. This is known as quantum non-locality. The second thing we must consider is that, if the particle exchanged its momentum with whatever redirected it and the opposing particle created from the photon changed it’s “spin” as well through quantum non-locality, in order for universal momentum to be conserved, there would have had to be another change of “spin” in another particle that in turn would require yet another particle to comply and so on and so forth. This suggests a connecting pattern with all things in the universe.
What does all of this have to do with the issue of conscious existence beyond the brain? Consider this picture.
If you see a triangle, you are seeing something that isn’t physically there. There are three dark Pac-man shaped figures made up of printer-ink. The triangle you see is an emergent property of the three Pac-man shapes. The problem with emergent properties is that they cease to exist if what they are emerging from ceases to exist. So even if it can be shown that the brain operates on a quantum level and consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, as opposed to a function of it, doesn’t it reason that if your brain ceases to exist, so will your consciousness? Not if the pattern (your consciousness/all consciousnesses) is/are a part of, if not the, connecting universal pattern, which quantum non-locality in conjunction with conservation of momentum demands exists.
So, does the brain operate on a quantum level? If we are to believe that neurons are the only things that control the sophisticated actions of animals, then the humble paramecium presents us with a profound problem. With its numerous cilia, this creature swims about its pond darting in the direction of bacterial food. It reacts at the prospect of danger by swimming off in another direction. It negotiates obstructions by swimming around them. Moreover, it can apparently even learn from its past experiences. How is this all achieved by an animal without a single neuron or synapse? Being a single cell, it has no place to accommodate such accessories.
Physicist Roger Penrose has suggested a possibility. Microtubules, which do operate on a quantum level, are found in all living cells. It may be possible that microtubules found in our neurons provide us with a synchronicity with this connecting universal pattern. If so, then consciousness, as an emergent property, would not necessarily cease with brain death. Each reaction of each microtubule with all corresponding particles would continue to react with the universe indefinitely. Not even the linear end of the universe (time) would be a barrier as quanta events react perpendicular to the space time continuum (other universes) as well as parallel to it in both positive and negative directions.
So, what does all of this imply? That in some way we are each of us connected with everyone and everything? Perhaps this connecting universal pattern is consciousness (God?) itself. Perhaps we are all just extensions of it, by nature’s design, directly aware of only the individual sensations bio-chemically provided by our bodies to our brains thereby adding to the pattern that is us. Another poignant aspect of quantum physics that should now be noted is that, at the most basic subatomic level, cause and effect have no directional aspect to there relationship. This means there’s nothing to dictate that this universal pattern is any less responsible for the universe’s existence as it is that the universe is responsible for the existence of this universal pattern. By adopting a materialistic metaphysical position, a transcendent existence of self takes form; and it would seem that the nature of self is dictated by the nature of the universe to be self-determinant.
If the foundation of natural law theory is that nature be analyzed for answers concerning social legal construct, and as social legal constructs constrain self-determinism, social legal constructs are therefore antithetical to nature. This does not mean social agreements are intrinsically antithetical to natural law; simply that any social retribution (beyond expulsion from the agreement) is. No matter how righteous the intentions, disaster will always accompany artificial law.
J. R. R. Tolkien attempted to convey this message many years ago in his “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. In it, several rings were given to the various creatures of Middle Earth to govern their particular race. But they were all of them deceived. For the giver of the rings (Sauron/archetypal devil figure) had made a ring to rule all the rings; in turn ruling every inhabitant of Middle Earth. The rings, obviously enough, represented various forms of government. The message of “the one ring” was that, despite differing forms of governments seeming differences, they are all really the same and serve the same master. Taking this message literally, it could be said that government/law is a trick of the devil to get us to fan our own flames. Historically speaking, this has always proven to inevitably be the case. In his books, Tolkien warns, even using the ring to do good, in the end, it will only bring forth unthinkable evil.
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