The Phenomenon of Life and What are Possibilities and What it Requires of Us
The Phenomenon of Life and What are Possibilities and What it Requires of Us
A dominant consciousness that's been with us for over 2500 years is shifting. A fundamentally new worldview is emerging. It demands new ways of knowing. A time of such fundamental shifts bring possibilities as well as confusion. Now new discoveries are revealing the arena we live in to be a living organism. Indeed it appears the cosmos is a living organism. A new understanding of what life is and the organizing principles in life are being revealed during the past two decades as never before. Ironically, as humans, it seems we have much to learn about what it means to be alive because a majority of effort by humanity has gone into learning more about things, technology and matter, not life-itself.
The current reality change is making a transition from a rigid, mechanistic, and materialistic worldview to one that is built on a foundation of interconnectedness, cooperation, and the intersection of science and spirituality. What used to work no longer will. We can find evidence everywhere. Scientific materialism has dominated every fabric of our existence so much so that few people today even know that is was a philosophical metaphysical choice so many years ago (at least 2500) that took science in the direction it has. Unfortunately, today, the nature of science has been totally lost. We need to restore real science to provide help for us now in confusing times. Read on the full thesis of Cosmology as Life Process here and let's get talking.
Introduction to Cosmology as Life Process by Norm Hirst
The current paradigm change is making a transition from a rigid, mechanistic, and materialistic worldview to one that is built on a foundation of interconnectedness, cooperation, and the intersection of science and spirituality. What used to work no longer will. We can find evidence everywhere. Without awareness and meaning, consciousness becomes a random thought and sound-bite generator.
Living entities can initiate acts. In acting they add an uncontrollable quality that cannot be calculated through any physical laws of force. Living entities do not passively await an external force to do something. For life there is no cause and effect. No determinism. Life is wholistic from bottom to top. Using reductionism destroys knowledge of our living organization and how best to work with it; the very aspect we should be trying to understand.
So a shift in the consciousness that’s been with us for 25 centuries is occurring. It demands new ways of knowing. A time of such fundamental shifts bring possibilities as well as confusion. Now new discoveries are revealing the arena we live in to be a living organism. Indeed it appears the cosmos is a living organism. In structure, an organism may appear to have many parts, but in process and function organism consists of societies of actors, acting on the basis of communication and coordination with all that organism’s societies and actors. Thus organisms function as a single holism. A new understanding of what life is and the organizing principles in life are being revealed during the past two decades as never before. Living entities are self-creating. They are autopoietic. A self-knowing process creates them.
Ironically, as humans, it seems we have much to learn about what it means to be alive because a majority of effort by humanity has gone into learning more about things, technology and matter, not life-itself. Scientific materialism has dominated every fabric of our existence so much so that few people today even know that it was a philosophical, metaphysical choice so many years ago (at least 2500 years) that took science in the direction it has. Unfortunately, today, the nature of science has been totally lost. I've learned that today’s philosophy has lost the analytic and synthetic, an unfortunate regression. The practice of science has been thoroughly corrupted by greedy sponsors who suppress scientists from speaking truth. I hate to mention science; but we do need to restore real science to provide help for us now in confusing times.
In the old paradigm of scientific materialism is the belief that we exist as material beings in a material world, all of whose phenomena are the consequences of material relations among material entities caught in a life destroying trap. From that perspective, as we explore the arena we live in and try to make sense of it, all we can assume is matter is senseless, valueless, and purposeless. There has been no room for understanding values beyond thinking of them as Sunday-School virtues. In the new paradigm conscious awareness of value processes become essential to the way living entities choose their acts and assert their will. Since, as yet, we do not have sufficient understanding of the role of value processes we think force makes sense. Politicians stand up and promise to be tough. This is just futile posturing because under the heading “tough” there is nothing they can do that doesn’t exacerbate the problem they are trying to solve. Where life cannot find ways to fulfill itself, results will be abhorrent, unhealthy work-arounds. If subverted long enough, violence is inevitable. Life will not be controlled by any degree of force.
Unfortunately, given a materialistic meta-physics, scientific explorers have been limited to a minor territory, the domain of the physical/non-living. But the technology produced by materialism has enabled us to see life-itself in process for the first time. Now, a great deal more of reality can be seen. However, with this new capacity, it becomes clear that the diminished perspective of materialism is destroying life. We must quickly create a philosophy and science for the 21st Century. The dominant Western worldview has no room for life! It is a world focused on nonliving matter governed by laws that require force. It is a view of mechanisms, cause and effect, and determinism. Can all those deterministic forces possibly account for our experience? Is there anyway to combine them all together in such a way as to produce what we experience? Simply, no. There is no way. So biologists explain that it’s “random processes” and survival of the fittest. There is no chance in hell that random processes can produce what we have in our experience; nor produce us for that matter. Life charged with creating novelty under conditions of great co-intelligence can create life and evolution.
But scientific materialism has provided technology by which the internal workings of living organisms can be observed as they live. But -- how living organisms work is unlike anything ever imagined! As we learn how living entities function, it turns out that it is nothing like we thought. Living entities are not machines, nor machine-like. Their workings are not subject to cause and effect, and they are not carrying out calculations. Living entities are capable of initiating their own acts based on values. They live in societies that give them maximum freedom within coherence conditions required by life. That is true even in the cells in our bodies. It is true of the molecules in cells, and, in nature. It is true of us on the living earth. Reality is not just rocks with accidental creation of life as epiphenomena here on earth. Life itself is fundamental.
In the last three decades there have been scientific discoveries that materialism cannot a account for. I mean laboratory discoveries that cannot happen if the materialism view is correct. Outside of certain scientific circles, such as some biophysicists, they are unknown. Though I often find people are not surprised when I speak of them. A change of consciousness is happening. In 1947 Schrodinger wrote his book, “What is Life,” in which he said living organisms are not subjected to entropy. It is clear today that they are not. Entropy represents a loss of order. Living organisms create order. In life, value processes replace cause and effect; it makes such a difference that living processes can increase order, thus living entities are not subject to the second law of thermodynamics.
Biology had tried to become scientific by adopting the protocols of physics. These conformed to materialism, cause and effect, and reductionism. But the living process is made up of totally interconnected and interactive organisms. An organism is a focus for coherent acts. Life requires coherence laws, not control. The coherence conditions are just now being discovered beginning with quantum coherence. Living organisms learn by acts of inquiry. Acts of inquiry are based on what reason provides. When we reason, there are necessary starting assumptions that drive how we inquire. They are metaphysical assumptions. We require drastic changes in metaphysics based on process, not matter.
Matter isn’t fundamental, energy is. Physicists have discovered the Dirac Sea; zero point energy that fills all of what we thought was empty space. The physicist, P. A. M. Dirac, made a change to Schrödinger’s quantum equations that lead to discovery of this pervasive energy; thus it is named the Dirac Sea. Much of fundamental reality occurs in the Dirac Sea from which it becomes manifest in our space-time of material. Rather than matter being fundamental, energy flows in the Sea of Dirac are fundamental. The reality underlying quantum theory is a living organism. That is why quantum theory is so difficult to interpret. The dynamics of those energy flows are, I believe, the dynamics of life. The energy flows manifest matter and living entities. All life is one, a living organism. Due to its connectedness we have primary unmediated experience.
Actually living entities is a broader category then we previously knew. For example, our bodies are composed of cells that contain molecules. Traditional biology claimed that the molecules were just jostled about; occasionally two would collide and their shapes were such that they would lock together. Now it is known that the molecules are emitting signals. They are “singing” to find one another.
To be alive is to be able to act. There is nothing in our history of ideas, whether philosophical or scientific, that deals with living self-acting entities. Everything in our philosophy and science is an attempt to imitate life with non-living entities not capable of action. We will talk about life as energies within the electronics nature of living organisms; mysteries - such as how can bodies of so many parts be holistic? The answer is: the living processes within it are holistic. The living processes within it are “metastable” and constantly have to be maintained by energy. If the living processes are gone, all that's left is hardware. What is coming out in today's research requires understanding how living processes are free to act and combine in societal unities.
It is life itself that produces evolution, not random processes or survival of the fittest. Life evolves based on values, which requires an awareness of the holism. At all the levels mentioned above, living entities are choosing acts based on values characteristic of their level. That the molecules in cells are living is contrary to what biologists have traditionally thought. Now laboratory evidence shows signals and behavior indicating that they are living and acting. In life, valuation processes are pervasive.
We have lived with materialism too long to remember the qualities of life. It seems to me that many are trying to live as if they are machines; we are not well suited to being robots. It is the adventure of living fully that gives life meaning.