Howard Bloom, in his excellent, “The God Problem” [ISBN 161614551X] starts by highlighting what he calls “five heresies”, or “five tools” which we can use to try and understand how our universe of everything was created, apparently, from nothing. I think they are all useful. Here they are –
1. A does not equal A
This is a challenge to dominant Aristotlean logic. Aristotle couldn’t accept Heraclitus’ view that you can’t step in the same river twice. He wanted to nail reality down by reducing it to a simple logic of A = A. Trouble is, the universe is a dynamic, evolving universe, so nothing stays the same. Even once you’ve named something, that something has already changed since you named it. This is what I was referring to when I wrote “waves not things“.
2. One plus one does not equal two. Here, he is referring to the fact that complex systems cannot be explained by simply adding up their parts. When a vast number of components join together, they begin to exhibit behaviours which could never have been predicted by any of the parts themselves. This is the main reason I refuse reductionism. To reduce a human, is to deal with something subhuman. A whole human being cannot be understood by adding together his or her bits!
3. “The second law of thermodynamics, that all things tend toward disorder, that all things tend toward entropy, is wrong” Just consider how a human being grows from a single cell, and continues to develop ever greater order and complexity as it matures. Or consider what’s happened from the perspective of the universe story – where the universe hasn’t demonstrated a path towards ever greater disorder, but rather to ever greater complexity and order.
4. “The concept of randomness is a mistake”. The popular view that we live in a totally random universe is not supported by what we know about the universe. The Big Bang did not create a billion DIFFERENT elements. Our entire physical universe is made of the elements we’ve laid out on our Periodic Table – a surprisingly small number of elements for a totally random process! It’s not totally random, of course, chaos has been seriously misunderstood. There are underlying patterns influencing the creation of the details – from galaxies, to worlds, to human beings. The underlying pattern is not total randomness.
5. “Information theory is not really about information”….instead “meaning….which believe it or not is not covered by information theory….is central to the cosmos. Central to quarks, protons, photons, galaxies, stars, lizards, lobsters, puppies, bees and human beings”
The bottom line? Sociality. This is a profoundly social cosmos. A profoundly conversational cosmos. In a social cosmos, a talking cosmos, a muttering, whispering, singing, wooing, and order-shouting cosmos, relationships count. Things can’t exist without each other.
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