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Rupert Sheldrake

invisible memory connecting up crystals throughout the world. There’s already evidence that new crystals, new compounds, do get easier to crystallize as time goes on.

DJB: What are morphic fields made of, and how is it that they can exist everywhere all at once? Do they work on a principle similar to Bell’s Theorem?

RUPERT: Well, you could ask the question, what are any fields made of? You know, what is the electromagnetic field made of, or what is the gravitational field made of? Nobody knows, even in the case of the known fields of physics. It was thought in the nineteenth century that they were made of ether. But then Einstein showed that the concept of the ether was superfluous; he said the electromagnetic field isn’t made out of ether, it’s made out of itself. It just is. The magnetic field around a magnet, for example, is not made of air, and it’s not made of matter. When you scatter iron fillings, you can reveal this field, but it’s not made of anything except the field. And then if you say, well maybe all fields have some common substance, or common property, then that’s the quest for a unified field theory.

Then if you say, “Well, what is it that all fields are made of?” the only answer that can be given is space-time, or space and time. The substance of fields is space; fields are modifications of space or of the vacuum. And according to Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the gravitational field, the structure of space-time in the whole universe, is not in space and time; it is space-time. There’s no space and time other than the structure of fields. So fields are patterns of space-time. And so the morphic field, like other fields, will be structures in space and time. They have their own kind of ontological status, the same kind of status as electromagnetic and gravitational fields.

DJB: Wait. But those are localized aren’t they? I mean, you sprinkle iron fillings about a magnet, and you can see the field around it. How is it that a morphic field can exist everywhere all at once?

RUPERT: It doesn’t. The morphic fields are localized. They’re in and around the system they organize. So the morphic field of you is in and around your body. The morphic field around a tomato plant is in and around that plant. What I’m suggesting is that morphic fields in different tomato plants resonate with each other across space and time. I’m not suggesting that the field itself is delocalized over the whole of space and time. It’s suggesting that one field influences another field through space and time. Now, the medium of transmission is obscure. I call it morphic resonance, this process of resonating. What this is replacing in conventional physics is the so-called “laws of nature,” which are believed to be present in all places, and at all times.

So, what is the substance of a law of nature? And how are laws of nature present in all places and at all times? These are the alternative questions to the idea of morphic resonance. It’s not as if ordinary physics has something that’s more “common sense” than morphic resonance; it has something that’s less common sense. It has the idea of invisible mathematical laws, which are not material or energetic, yet present everywhere and always, utterly mysterious. Morphic resonance is mysterious, but it involves not a pattern imposed from outside space and time everywhere, but rather a pattern that can spread through space and time, by the process I call morphic resonance.

RMN: You suggest that the hypothesis of formative causation does not refute orthodox theory but actually incorporates and complements it. How is this so?

RUPERT: The orthodox theory in biology and in chemistry, and indeed in science, is the mechanistic theory of nature that says all natural systems are like machines, and are made up of physical and chemical processes. What I’m saying is that you can, if you like, think of aspects of nature as being machine-like, but this doesn’t explain them. Nature isn’t a machine. You and I are not machines. We may be like machines in certain respects. Our hearts may be like pumps, and our brains, in some sense, like computers.

Mechanistic theory is providing machine analogies for nature, and it’s

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