Asteroid, Conciousness, Life, Prof John Barrow, Raj Persaud, Science, Universe

This appeared yesterday in Guardian G2 from the Hay Festival, I found it very interesting and would like to share it with you….

Raj Persaud, psychiatrist and broadcaster asks Professor John Barrow, mathematician, physicist and cosmologist

Q Would the universe exist if there was no consciousness available to become conscious of it? In other words, do all universes have embedded within their very existence the notion of eventual evolution of intelligent consciousness?
A We have direct evidence that the expanding universe was once so hot and dense that there was a time before which there were no minds in the visible universe. We can also easily imagine how life on planet Earth could extinguish itself and the whole evolutionary process would have to begin again. Planets are common; we expect simple forms of life on planetary surfaces to be common; but the likelihood of complex conscious life is an open question. I suspect it is very rare. We don’t understand how and why it arose on Earth, whether it was a lucky accident, and whether it is just a passing evolutionary phase. Cometary and asteroidal impacts make survival difficult over millions of years. Advanced technological civilisations such as ours exhaust their resources, poison their environments and threaten their own stability. Eventually, all forms of information processing and life look set to die out in the universe as its expansion accelerates into the far future. So, although the laws of physics are such as to allow consciousness to evolve in the universe, they do not seem to require its indefinite survival.