Button Bush getting ready to bloom, Sparkill Creek,
If we want to proceed, once again, from the narrow perspective of mechanistic rationalism, we have to come to grips with this emergence of something from nothing (leopard spots from no-spots) — this property whereby the concentration of responsibility, which is exactly what is happening when patterns form out of random matter, asserts itself.
It's built into the very fabric of the universe itself, and the nature of dissipation, dissolution, and fundamentally uniform states in which everything is “equal” by itself engenders, or gives birth, to order. If this reminds you of Genesis, it should; because what we are reading here is Genesis, described in terms of its math.
It’s interesting that the authors spent so much time in their article defining the problem in terms of biological systems, because (whether they intended to or not) what they have done is craft their argument about this matter around the nature of life.
This is logical enough, of course, because the whole point of examining the question is to discover why life is the way it is; how it organizes (think again of our first essay about the walking molecules, who are not just organizers but repair crews for the organization itself) and why it does what it does.
One can just as easily ask why the leopard has its spots as ask why molecules walk around fixing DNA. In each case, things happen because:
1. Order always emerges from chaos — it's in the nature of chaos itself to produce it, it's the helper. It can’t be any other way.
2. Following the emergence of this order, all systems forming relationship by responding to one another naturally have
⁃ a physical existence that structures itself as soon as the order emerges.
⁃ an intellectual existence: the action of perception of structure and order. The concentration of the ability to respond and to form relationship, which is what order is.
⁃ a feeling existence, that is, a caring that the order, the relationship, and the ability to respond is preserved.
Let’s remember that there is absolutely no need of any kind for uniform (undifferentiated, chaotic) systems to produce any kind of order whatsoever. It is, rather, the fundamental mathematics of the universe, such as we understand them in our own mathematics, that imposes this lawful action on material reality. Chaos itself, in other words, is built in such a way as to care enough about itself to wish to organize. From this perspective, we can argue about created (material) reality as a caring organism. This won’t please the mechanistic rationalists, but there are too many questions afoot here to ignore. And, perhaps above all — isn’t it strange that chaos cares about itself? It laments its dissolution, its dissipation, and it longs to return to order. Lest you think this is too poetic, it isn’t. It is a strange, mysterious, and beautifully true thing. All right, maybe it is poetic — but it’s not too poetic, it’s exactly the right amount of poetic.
What does this mean for our Being?
This is how life is today. I read all three of these rather brief articles, which cover vast piece of territory, in the space of around 20 minutes this morning between 5:00 and 5:30 AM.
They all came together in me as part of a tapestry that has formed in my life (an intricate pattern) assembled by my thought process, which is assembled by the molecular storage of my memory, which is assembled by the molecules encoded by my DNA. The structure appreciates its own structure.
What struck me about the three articles is how interrelated they are; and how much technical and structural light they shed on the very real and important meanings of esoteric (inner) sciences: the questions of Being, philosophy, metaphysics, and feeling itself, relative to the human enterprise.
I know that’s a big mouthful; but we can’t appreciate the universe we live in or its nature without examining it from this point of view, and the sciences are bringing us a deeper and deeper structural understanding of what are, in essence, philosophical questions. This isn’t mixing disciplines; it may be today, but in ancient times, science and philosophy went hand-in-hand. Up until the near-destruction of metaphysical humanism at the hands of the Enlightenment scientists, everyone well understood – well, more or less everyone who was properly educated in the Western, Hindu, and Arabic worlds understood— that all of the sciences were performed in service of understanding God.
While (I speak as an Episcopalian, and have liberal allowances) we may disagree on what God means or who God is, we metaphysical humanists acknowledge that there is a God – that is, a supreme being, a ”deity.”
The word God, in its primary definition means “ a superhuman person,” that is, a personhood that is greater than the personhood of a human being.
The next installment of this eight part series will publish on September 1.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.