An intricate web connects us to myriad people, places and things.
Erase all those connections: how much of you is left?
Individuals can be very misguided.
So can societies.
Individuals can go mad.
So can societies.
If the population of the earth were to double every 100 years,
in roughly 4000 years all the mass of the earth would be people.
It is physically impossible for this to happen.
Things will occur to prevent it.
That is certain.
In the USA there are presently three dominant political parties:
Democratic, Republican, Fascistic.
The latter is a political party in every nation on earth,
and has been throughout history.
It hovers like disease in the background,
awaiting a weakened immune system.
It is generally fatal.
Under the heading of things we should not be surprised at:
Any group in an organization that produces something praiseworthy
will find near the end of their efforts
that non-participants of whom they may never have heard
have positioned themselves to receive the praise
at the expense of those whose efforts generated the praise.
I'm pretty sure certainty is a mental illness.
Dogmatic faith, whether religious, cultural, or intellectual,
is open to but one appeal: become one with the body.
The collective is a complex system, a living memetic entity
whose power increases with its numbers, so maintaining and
augmenting those numbers becomes of great importance.
In being a spiritual person you do not find common ground
with the committed Catholic, Evangelical or Muslim.
In being an intellectual and/or physicist you do not
find common ground with the string theorist -
unless, of course, you join.
There's your common ground.
However benign its beginnings,
the ultimate goal of any authority lacking oversight
will be maintaining its existence and influence
at the expense of those subject to its power,
and who may even have approved of its birth.
Let's suppose a god or gods created the world and all that's in it a few thousand years ago,
and that chimpanzee DNA is as close to human DNA as it is because the gods were simply being
efficient with the tools at hand. We now know enough about sociology, biology, chemistry,
atomic and quantum physics, and mathematics, to be quite certain that from this point onward
mutations are inevitable from generation to generation. No one alive today, save perhaps
identical twins, has the same genome as anyone else alive, or who has ever lived. The odds are
just too small. Consequently the human population now is different genetically than it was
at the time of its purported inception, and mutations will ensure that as time goes on the overall
difference will increase. This genetic drift away from where we were is evolution. It's not
as dramatic as it can be, but over aeons the odds are it will be dramatic indeed. Our science,
which is used to run nuclear power plants, make iPhones, allows us to develop mutated bacteria
that can release disease fighting chemicals, and helps us understand the origin of genetic diseases,
implies with a probability of essentially 1 (100% certainty) that from this day onward the human genome,
and the genomes of all species, will evolve. For myself, the evidence is overwhelming that today
is not the first day evolving will occur, and that it started billions of years ago with the
beginnings of life. But it doesn't matter. Even if humans were created by god(s) a few thousand
years ago, evolution as a process is still a fact. We can make it happen in the laboratory.
The science of life's origins contains many unanswered
questions. For those opposed to the idea that life arose
without the aid of a deity, every unanswered question
is evidence for their viewpoint. The problem with this is
that science does not stand still. Throughout history
science has been solving the riddles of phenomena whose
source had at one time been ascribed to a deity or deities.
But none of this matters. Even if all questions are eventually
answered, and we come to understand the series of events
that needed to occur to give rise to cellular life, it is still
possible to ascribe this to a deity. For whatever reason,
be it the existence of an actual deity, or that tendency to
faith in deities gives individuals/societies survival benefits,
we will never ever be without those carrying such faith,
and they will always be in the majority. Still, it should be
possible to develop an educational curriculum that
explains the divergence of the finches of the Galapagos
from a biochemical point of view that allows for religious
addenda (taught in a separate venue) to posit such scientific
explanations as evidence for the subtlety of a deity or deities.
While I myself believe that science is sufficient, I of course
can not prove it - which reminds me of a Steve Martin routine ...
"What if you died, and you woke up, and you were in heaven?
Just like they always told you? Everybody had wings on,
and pearly gates...wouldn't you feel stupid? 'Oh nooo!
You mean that this is what...Awww. In college they said this
was all bullshit.' "
The intent of much of humor is to make the participants
feel more comfortable with the baser sides of their natures.
Protect your democracy: lie to pollsters.
To the vast majority who find it difficult to accept the
existence of those who do not share your beliefs:
"These are not the droids you're looking for."
The tired tribe, beleaguered, wasted,
too dumb for distress,
too besieged for resignation -
beset by its very own venal ineptitude ...
deluded, boring, precarious ...
deluded ... deluded ...
a fairy world of self-congratulatory illusion
into which we are born ...
there is no Santa Claus,
and following that line
to its logical conclusion,
the reality outside of Santa Claus ...
every bit as much illusion,
every bit as much a story -
to make us happy,
to keep us quiet,
a foundation of fog on which to carry on.
Ah, but then, most of us
never lose Santa Claus ...
so no worries.
Sometimes I think the world is keeping a secret:
That it has nothing to hide -
The arrogance of youth is founded on
potentially unwarranted optimism, and
the arrogance of maturity is founded on
a potentially fallacious interpretation
of accumulated knowledge.
And here, some arrogance of maturity, inspired by reading On Space and Time,
with contributions from Connes, Heller, Majid, Penrose, Polkinghorne and Taylor:
Ultimately, assuming the existence of a 'correct' view, something to which all our
modelling is theoretically leading us, many or most of its consequences could be
untestable. The Truth, in all its full glory, and like the universe it describes,
may have vast regions beyond our vision. One may hope that the Truth would be
recognized, even if unverifiable, but it is more likely, as is true of religion,
and as is true of present day physics, we will continue to support many conflicting
views, each resonating with the intuition of some, and not others, this resonance
crystallising in our psyches as faith.
For thirty years or so String Theory has dominated many of the best minds
and most of the funding in theoretical physics. And according to Brian
Greene, writing in Wired magazine, String Theory has at last succeeded -
in fact, if I am interpreting what he wrote correctly, it succeeded some
30 odd years ago, and since then has become, with each year of hope-filled
failure since, an ever more refulgent success. You see, according to Greene,
any theoretical pursuit, in succeeding, actually fails, for this science is not
about goals, but about journeys. Achieving the former is "comforting", but
it is the "endless chaotic dance" of fruitless research that makes the "life
of exploration worth living". String theory, in no longer having any hope
of ultimate success, and, better still, there evidently being no way of
ultimately proving it wrong, deserves to be funded in perpetuity, as long as
our civilization and its funding agencies should survive.
** Tip of the Day **
Think like a sheep,
expect sheep-like accomplishments.
We are all provincial.
We live on a ball
narrow and confined,
floating in a space
Still, we are less provincial than your average rabbit,
and we may rightfully view this average rabbit with disdain.
Snub it if you like: you'll feel better, and it won't understand.
The internet and other electronic means of diverting human attention are
radically altering societal and individual consciousness. One may hope
that as the planet becomes increasingly stressed by the effects of human
population growth, our ability to quickly transform global apathy into
educated concern and action may be enhanced by this interconnectedness.
Even so, much may be lost by this transformation.
Anything lost will not be seen as lost,
for it will not be understood that it was ever there.
If you go into a gold mine in an obsessive search for oil,
you are likely to find neither.