Jim Mastro

Writing, and all things in between

Is the Universe Conscious?


I am certainly not the first to pose this question. Philosophers and physicists have been asking it, and often answering in the affirmative, for quite some time now. In fact, here are three quotes from physicists that broach the subject:

“Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a “mental” construction. Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote: “The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. Get over it, and accept the inarguable conclusion. The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.”  – R.C. Henry, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University

“As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.” – Max Plank

“It will remain remarkable, in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the scientific conclusion that the content of the consciousness is the ultimate universal reality” – Eugene Wigner

Certainly in my own philosophical meanderings I have considered the possibility that the universe itself is a conscious entity. Then I saw these rather intriguing images. Three of them are representations of neural connections in the brain, and the other three are representations (derived from the latest astrophysical research) of the large scale structure of the universe. See if you can tell which is which:

neural net1


neural net3


neural net2


Can’t tell? The last image is what brought this on. I saw it in National Geographic a few months ago and my jaw dropped. I had seen images of neural nets before, so when I opened the page and saw this image of the large scale structure of the universe, I could hardly believe it. Suddenly, the question took on a lot more relevance. I did a little more looking recently and found additional images.

Of course, it could just be coincidence. Perhaps all complex systems organize themselves this way. Still, it is intriguing, no? It is especially intriguing in the context of quantum entanglement (see here, here, and here). Theoretically, any part of the universe could communicate with any other part instantaneously, much like nerve impulses between neurons.

Which raises the question: could one of the concepts underlying the story in the Children of Hathor trilogy actually be true? Could the universe itself be composed of pure consciousness?

I’d like to believe it’s possible.

(In case you haven’t figured it out, the images alternate, with the first one showing the brain’s neural connections and the second the structure of the universe, and so on.)

Note: If you found this post interesting, you might also like an earlier post: A New Way to Look at Quantum Strangeness.


Author: jimmastro2

I've rescued wild dolphins, trained seals and sea lions, scuba-dived in the gloom under 15 feet of ice, done stand-up comedy, directed plays, and spent winters in Antarctica. I've been a biologist, professional dancer, laboratory manager, college professor, drummer in a band, professional diver, research assistant, photographer, surfer, and water skier. Now I write full time (except when I'm directing plays -- or surfing). Originally from San Diego, I now live in New England with my wife, son, and a small dust mop masquerading as a dog.

3 thoughts on “Is the Universe Conscious?

  1. Very thought provoking! Thanks!

  2. GOOD Question. I literally had this conversation like two weeks ago. Very thought provoking. What if we are just cells in someones brain…..good story that. But you’re right. Normally things expand and atrophy, but seemingly the universe isn’t which is what makes it suggest its alive, its just growing and expanding and evolving. I think that was there argument anyway. cool post.

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