Thoughts of Freeman Dyson

Esteemed mathematician; theoretical and mathematical physicist; and statistician at Princeton, Freeman Dyson passed away just this past February, and I’ve found myself thinking of what glimpses of his work and ideas I was able to understand more often since then. Here is a short speech he made once on the idea of God. I liked it because he and I have essentially the same view, even though he was way smarter with a different background:

“The universe shows evidence of the operations of mind on three levels. The first level is elementary physical processes, as we see them when we study atoms in the laboratory. The second level is our direct human experience of our own consciousness. The third level is the universe as a whole. Atoms in the laboratory are weird stuff, behaving like active agents rather than inert substances. They make unpredictable choices between alternative possibilities according to the laws of quantum mechanics. It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every atom. The universe as a whole is also weird, with laws of nature that make it hospitable to the growth of mind. I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension. I am thinking that atoms and humans and God may have minds that differ in degree but not in kind. We stand, in a manner of speaking, midway between the unpredictability of atoms and the unpredictability of God. Atoms are small pieces of our mental apparatus, and we are small pieces of God’s mental apparatus. Our minds may receive inputs equally from atoms and from God.” For more, he wrote a book on the topic titled, “Infinite In All Directions.”

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