Did Freeman Dyson Really Say That Atoms Have Awareness?

First, I want to say that I am not very knowledgeable on Deepak Chopras’ work. I see his books in Indigo all the time but have never picked one up.

That being said I came across the clip I have attached below. It is a conversation with the famous atheist, evolutionary biologist and writer Richard Dawkins. They discuss consciousness, specifically, whether cells and atoms have awareness. Deepak Chopra believes they do and cites Freeman Dyson in his reasoning.

Richard Dawkins, confident as ever is sure that Freeman Dyson could not possibly believe cells and atoms have awareness. Well here are quotes from the physicist and man himself, Freeman Dyson.

1. The universe shows evidence of the operations of mind on three levels. The first level is the level of elementary physical processes in quantum mechanics.

Freeman Dyson2. It is remarkable that mind enters into our awareness of nature on two separate levels. At the highest level, the level of human consciousness, our minds are somehow directly aware of the complicated flow of electrical and chemical patterns in our brains. At the lowest level, the level of single atoms and electrons, the mind of an observer is again involved in the description of events.

3. In other words, mind is already inherent in every electron, and the processes of human consciousness differ only in degree but not in kind from the processes of choice between quantum states which we call “chance” when they are made by electrons.

4. It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every atom.

5. So I am thinking that atoms and humans and God may have minds that differ in degree but not in kind.

6. Atoms in the laboratory are weird stuff, behaving like active agents rather than inert substances.

7. The peculiar harmony between the structure of the universe and the needs of life and intelligence is a third manifestation of the importance of mind in the scheme of things. This is as far as we can go as scientists. We have evidence that mind is important on three levels. We have no evidence for any deeper unifying hypothesis that would tie these three levels together. As individuals, some of us may be willing to go further. Some of us may be willing to entertain the hypothesis that there exists a universal mind or world soul which underlies the manifestations of mind that we observe. If we take this hypothesis seriously, we are, according to Monod’s definition, animists. The existence of a world soul is a question that belongs to religion and not to science.

8. I do not claim that the architecture of the universe proves the existence of God. I claim only that the architecture of the universe is consistent with the hypothesis that mind plays an essential role in its functioning. – Freeman Dyson

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