It’s a question as old as time, and often debated, but is the universe conscious? It depends on how you look at it.

Through a materialist lens, the answer is no, the universe is made up of things, objects, some of which may be conscious and others not. Living things have an ever-increasing capacity for self-awareness, depending upon their complexity, an earthworm not so much, a human being a whole lot more. In this model of the universe, non-living matter has no capacity for awareness.

In the grand tradition of Socratic mystics everywhere I like to undermine materialist arguments by using their weapons against them.

Yes, the universe is made up of objects but only at the macro level. A human being is undoubtedly separate to a rock but this distinction becomes less and less true at a subatomic level.

You don’t own yourself!

You do not own your atoms, they belong to the entire universe. Yesterday you gained a few more atoms, today you will lose an equivalent amount. You are not your atoms!

All that is important is that the arrangement and composition of those atoms remain roughly the same, that they adhere to a pattern. That arrangement of atomic materials is more ‘you than the atoms themselves. The authentic you is just a pattern in the universe, a holding formation for atoms. As long as the pattern maintains its integrity you will be well. If the pattern degrades or is disrupted in some way or another, illness and the physical symptoms associated with it will soon appear.

As for the universe, it’s nothing more than a cloud of atoms that varies in density from place to place, even deep space contains a few atoms, essentially meaningless to us but at the range of kiloparsecs can be seen as components of gas streams between galaxies that join them together. Galaxies form into clusters, clusters form into superclusters and superclusters aggregate into the entire universe.

You are a composite being just like the entire universe.

The entire universe is just one thing, a singular entity that’s gassy in places and solid in others depending on how you look at it. You are not separate from the universe and are not just a part of it like an isolated speck floating in the void, instead you are the entire universe in the form of a human being in whatever location you happen to be at; in exactly the same way that a wave is just a pattern of water molecules in the ocean wherever the wave happens to be.

Naturally, it follows that if you are the entire universe wherever you are, whenever you are, then you’re it, and presumably you’re conscious, so doesn’t this mean that the entire universe is conscious?

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