On space, time, consciousness and free will: the strange statue.
Nothing moves in the complete state-matrix of space-time, the one that spans all space, all time, and any more dimensions we may need to model reality as accurately as we can. In that space, all reality is one giant, still statue, exploding out from its root at the big bang. We are outside “our” time in this view, remember, and looking at all of it at once, from bang to bust. Still and silent, that is, except when a consciousness executes its inalienable right to the expression of its free will. And at the instant (in our view of time) of that expression of will, the entire state-statue changes shape, save the one tiny slice of that instant, within our notion of time. An odd notion you say?
Consider the second law of thermodynamics, that states that in any closed thermodynamic system entropy must always increase as time moves “forward”. Pretend we can build a big enough box to house the universe so that we”close” our thermodynamic experiment so that the second law applies. All physical processes in the universe must then necessarily move us from a less-probable, more ordered state, to a more probable, less ordered state. You see, it isn’t impossible, according to the second law, that the various bits of white, yolk, and shell lying on the floor jump together, assemble themselves into an ovoid, and spring up onto the table to gently roll to a stop. It is just very, very unlikely. All physical processes (absent the will of a consciousness) move the universe’s state (in our notion of time) from the more to the less ordered, from the less to the more likely.
If I do not accept determinism (and I don’t, within my notion of time, though at another level things might be different) then I must accept that the expression of my free will alters the future, and that by will alone I affect the physical processes around me (and, because of quantum super-positioning, all of space-time as well). If by exertion of will alone I change the future state of the universe, I must somehow have created a new and different prior state that, given the application of the laws of physics over time, and passing through the universe’s state at the instant of the exertion of my will, would result in the new state that I willed, instead of the one that I didn’t. That different prior state must in turn have had a different prior state, and the entire state-statue, all the way back to the Big Bang, must necessarily change so that my future can be different. When I exert my will, I thus change the arrangement of matter at the instant of the Bang. Not much, but just enough.
Absent consciousness to observe (and create reality?) and exert will (and alter reality?) the entire state-space of the universe is pretty static, bleak and boring, but with it, that space is dynamic and vibrant, in some notion of “time” outside of and containing our notion.
So is an electron conscious? They do seem to make decisions, at least, whenever we decide to peek at them they do. And we already know that when a single electron decides its fate, all of the universe changes, as our electron has finally decided where it wants to be observed. Are we any different?