Quotes Tagged "emergence"
A rock, a large piece of rock weathers off a cliff and dives deep into a pool of gushing water. Back washed, It journeys roughly and knocks of other rocks, smashing through the waves as it loses itself in scattered pieces except for its core. That core travels far and wide, it coarsely gets ground by gravel pieces smaller than itself and bullied by boulders all of which it bears up as it withstands the pressure of a distant journey off the shore. At some point, it gets dry and it encounters mud, it gets smeared dirty but the mud doesn't stick, the rain washes of the mud and it rolls off into the sand. It dances in the sand and dives into the bottom of the waves. Rising like a phoenix through the ashes, it emerges polished, looking more beautiful than it did when it got edged of the cliff. It rises a pebble, smooth and sleek. Coveted by rocks starting their dive. To be a pebble you have to run the turbulent tidal race.
Pick up a pinecone and count the spiral rows of scales. You may find eight spirals winding up to the left and 13 spirals winding up to the right, or 13 left and 21 right spirals, or other pairs of numbers. The striking fact is that these pairs of numbers are adjacent numbers in the famous Fibonacci series: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21... Here, each term is the sum of the previous two terms. The phenomenon is well known and called phyllotaxis. Many are the efforts of biologists to understand why pinecones, sunflowers, and many other plants exhibit this remarkable pattern. Organisms do the strangest things, but all these odd things need not reflect selection or historical accident. Some of the best efforts to understand phyllotaxis appeal to a form of self-organization. Paul Green, at Stanford, has argued persuasively that the Fibonacci series is just what one would expects as the simplest self-repeating pattern that can be generated by the particular growth processes in the growing tips of the tissues that form sunflowers, pinecones, and so forth. Like a snowflake and its sixfold symmetry, the pinecone and its phyllotaxis may be part of order for free
So which is more probable: That today's atheist apocalyptans are unique and right? Or that they are like their many predecessors—at the very least, in their motivations? If anything, the vehemence with which the believers in emergent complexity debunk all religion may betray their own creeping awareness of the religious underpinnings and precedents for their declarations. In fact, the concept of Armageddon first emerged in response to the invention of monotheism by the ancient Persian priest Zoroaster, around the tenth or eleventh century BCE. Until that time, the dominant religions maintained a pantheon of gods reigning in a cyclical precession along with the heavens, so there was little need for absolutes. As religions began focusing on a single god, things got a bit trickier. For if there is only one god, and that god has absolute power, then why do bad things happen? Why does evil still exist? If one's god is fighting for control of the universe against the gods of other people, then there's no problem. Just as in polytheism, the great achievements of one god can be undermined by the destructive acts of another. But what if a religion, such as Judaism of the First and Second Temple era, calls for one god and one god alone? How do its priests and followers explain the persistence of evil and suffering? They do it the same way Zoroaster did: by introducing time into the equation. The imperfection of the universe is a product of its incompleteness. There's only one true god, but he's not done yet. In the monotheist version, the precession of the gods was no longer a continuous cycle of seasonal deities or metaphors. It was nor a linear story with a clear endpoint in the victory of the one true and literal god. Once this happens, time can end. Creation is the Alpha, and the Return is the Omega. It's all good. This worked well enough to assuage the anxieties of both the civilization of the calendar and that of the clock. But what about us? Without time, without a future, how to we contend with the lingering imperfections in our reality? As members of a monotheist culture—however reluctant—we can't help but seek to apply its foundational framework to our current dilemma. The less aware we are of this process—or the more we refuse to admit its legacy in our construction of new models—the more vulnerable we become to its excesses. Repression and extremism are two sides of the same coin. In spite of their determination to avoid such constructs, even the most scientifically minded futurists apply the Alpha-Omega framework of messianic time to their upgraded apocalypse narratives. Emergence takes the place of the hand of God, mysteriously transforming a chaotic system into a self-organized one, with coherence and cooperation. Nobody seems able to explain how this actually happens.