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« Happy Autumnal Equinox | Main | Occupy Home Street »

October 01, 2011

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Kal

I think it does not change your point, but: " What is the length in meters of a standard 300 foot football field? 300 feet equates to 91.44 meters"

George Mobus

Kal,

Knowing absolutely nothing about football, I looked it up on Wikipedia. Perhaps the measurement includes the end zones? I rounded. I thought this might be an easy way to visualize the scale issues.

George

Sari

Excellent post!
I am looking forward to your book on systems science.

Your writing reminds me of Olaf Stapledon's "Last and First Men" and Teilhard's work on spiritual evolution.

Bruce

Michael E. Mills's Peak Oil and Evolutionary Psychology: http://www.drmillslmu.com/peakoil.htm

Nathan Chattaway

Hi George,
I appreciate all of your systems work as it applies to physics and energy, but as a disciple of Christ and a believer in the divine inspiration of the canon of the Holy Bible, I cannot buy into the theory of evolution. Have you proved it? Have you proved that carbon dating is a valid method of dating objects? I know the evolution theory is pretty much accepted in the scientific community but it is just still a theory (and as I understand it, refuted by Darwin prior to his death)

Where you talk of big bangs and billions of years, I chuckle, shake my head and think "But God created it in 6 days, around 6000 years ago give or take". As a believer in the existence of God, I only require to know Him personally as my proof. But an athiest must prove nobody in the world knows God personally to at least claim there might be no proof that He *does* exist. Since I know He guides my life actively, how can you ever prove He doesn't exist?

I don't expect to win any logic based argument with you here. But you might enjoy reading Matthew from chapter 25 to the end and the entire book of Revelation in the Bible. If you don't see those prophecies coming true in the world today I'll be surprised. Also, Revelation contains a fairly good description of a catastrophic meteor impact or nuclear weapon detonation that a physics minded intellectual like you might appreciate. Revelation was written around AD 100. Revelation 14 describes the current global financial meltdown in some detail.
Keep up the good work describing living arrangements for current and future humans, but remember there is a book that contains the future of humanity already in existence!
Cheers.

James

Nathan does have a point George, the same message is repeated to many millions of Americans every Sunday, and they believe it. Of course, this will not be overcome unless you can walk on water or display some similar magic. Sometimes I feel like an anachronism, that I should be living in another time and place. Whereever I look the human libido and other appetites seem to be making a mess of things. I have only two fears, poverty and being governed by numbskulls like Nathan. Perhaps your text will be accepted as gospel by some future sentient race. Good luck.

Bruce

Nathan, George, et al., evolution manifests myriad mutations and selective adaptations, one of which is the adaptation of the human ape's mind for thought to evolve a belief or conscious perception or cognitive construction of "God" (or what many are socially and culturally conditioned to describe as "God").

Consider that thought is incapable of conceiving of its own ending; that is, thought imagining itself as the thinker (the observer) cannot construct an image (the observed) of the thinker ceasing to think, i.e., no longer existing to think or to be conscious of thinking. IOW, without the thinker there is no thought and thus no thinker to think.*** See note at the bottom.

Therefore, thought evolved to construct an image of the thinker first existing in the present and then existing in "the future" (a cognitive construct that does not exist but is imagined) and surviving the inevitable demise of the physical body, e.g., Heaven and Hell, life after death, reincarnation, Paradise, eternal life, Olam Ha-Ba, etc.

Thus, in order for the thinker to imagine escaping the inevitable ending of thought which is the product of the biochemical/biophysical process of the brain/mind/body, the thinker must think itself into an existence beyond the ending of the process on which the thinker is utterly dependent for existence.

That the thinker inherently realizes from living in the physical world that the thinker is incapable of manifesting this process on its own, the thinker must therefore construct a being or consciousness or supra-human force to which the thinker surrenders its fate (or imagines this force directing the thinker's actions and fate) and future existence to achieve the desired perpetual existence beyond the limited physical form: "God" (or gods).

But "God" (or "gods") need not manifest in the image of the near eastern angry, jealous, vengeful, genocidal tribal desert sky god of the Hebrew/Israelites/Judeans, Christians, or Muslims. "God" and the system of belief that creates and sustains the image can take the form of such constructs as "democracy", "capitalism", "socialism", "communism", "free markets", "economic growth", "progress", "techo-utopianism", "imperialism", "Transhumanism" (the human consciousness joining with biomachines and becoming immortal), etc.

Further, biological reproduction of offspring is a tangible means by which "the thinker" can perceive surviving the demise of its individual body. The more offspring, the higher the likelihood some will survive, and thus the higher the probability that the thinker will perceive itself surviving into the future. Self-identifying with the survival and perpetuation of the offspring is an evolutionary adaptation of the human ape mind (and other organisms).

Moreover, that the thinker needs sufficient resources (the more the better) to reproduce and to perpetuate itself indefinitely into "the future" via its offspring, and the more offspring are perceived as necessary to accomplished self-perpetuation, the more resources per capita must be secured.

Therefore, if the thinker is to succeed via "eternal life" or "growth", and that the thinker is incapable alone of achieving this physically in perpetuity, the "God" the thinker must imagine and with which it must self-identify must be constructed to possess power over the forces of the physical world that might prohibit the thinker's efforts for "eternal life" via biological reproduction and cognitive projection of the thinker existing into the future.

Now consider 7 billion human apes fearing the thinker ceasing to exist in the future and thus desperately desiring instead to exist forever in Heaven, Olam Ha-Ba, or Paradise but being challenged to accomplish this objective on a finite spherical planet.

What kind of "God" or "gods" would design a world such as this in which human apes were destined to reproduce and consume themselves (and the thinkers) to much smaller numbers or even to extinction? Well, perhaps a "God" of thermodynamics/biophysics, Nature, or the evolutionary process about which George writes.

If so, is there another way of perceiving "the thinker" and its purpose and to redirect its efforts in order to avoid the seemingly natural evolutionary process of eventual species die-off or extinction?

Might the human ape live in balance with Nature's limits and thought not be compelled to construct images of itself existing perpetually and thus reproducing and competing for resources in perpetuity at ever-increasing scale?

Do the competing angry, jealous, vengeful, genocidal tribal desert sky gods of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims serve this purpose? Perhaps they do in precipitating a die-off of large enough scale to advance the next stage of human ape evolution by way of a new (or no) "God" consciousness; orperhaps not.

***It should be said that in Zen the state of consciousness in which exists "no-mind", "no-thingness", "the Void" or "consciousness conscious of consciousness conscious of itself" is the perfectly natural state of mind or being and is to be experienced in each moment, not avoided, i.e., "the Void" filled up with illusory thought-forms that distract the mind from its natural state of being.

Bruce

James, I empathize. But consider that these "numbskulls" might just be manifesting what I attempted above to describe as a natural evolutionary process by which thought attempts (and imagines succeeding) to survive the demise of the physical body.

And thought does this in myriad ways (ethnic/racial/religious/political tribalism, nationalism, classism, etc.) which do not manifest as Jehovah, Jesus, Allah, Heaven, eternal life, and so on.

Thus, one might propose that sapiens use the understanding of this evolutionary process of the human ape mind and of sustainable ecological, social, and technological systems to socialize or condition a select minority of human apes to consciously evolve a new consciousness beyond that which has put us where we are today, i.e., yeast in a test tube reproducing and consuming to mass die-off.

The tribal desert sky gods are determined to battle to the death trying to best each other in compelling human apes to reproduce, arm, and slaughter one another for the privilege of consuming the planet and themselves to extinction.

This is the result of the planetary evolutionary process having progressed for millions of millennia.

The tribal desert sky god religions promote the belief in a terminal "End Times" period for the sub-species after which one tribal desert sky god will win over all others and rule the planet from his favorite desert or mountain-top venue.

This is one definition of mass insanity and self-destruction, and certainly not an example of human ape sapience.

Yet, again, might sapiens want to utilize the human ape's tendency for overpopulation and unsustainable consumption and thus self-destruction to advance the next stage of human ape evolution that presumably would emphasize ecological balance and sustainable, low-load, low-entropy human populations?

If so, how might it be done? If the "numbskulls" persist in their beliefs, behavior, and predictable outcomes for themselves and sapiens alike, what is the "wise" course of action?

Might not wisdom and the interest of evolution and survival of human sapience at some point dictate actions to be taken against the "numbskulls" heretofore perceived as indefensible, even unspeakable?

Yet, were one to find this unacceptable, is not one then left to a kind of fatalism for the human ape sub-species not unlike that which the "numbskulls" have been conditioned to believe their tribal desert sky gods have in store for us all?

James

Bruce, there's no doubt in my mind that God and religion are fairly late additions to human prefrontal cortex development and serve a cohesive role in maintaining social structure. Religion can be considered a manifestation of the superego and serves to dampen the more compulsive and socially reprehensible behaviors of the Id. However, the Id is powerful and must be pacified with promises of eternal life in paradise in exchange for good behavior. Without religion it may be that a repressive autocratic government is necessary to maintain control or some combination of both religion and secular codified law.

After so many years of self-repression and worship, it becomes all but impossible to abandon the religious precepts and accept anything outside the catechism of the faithful. Perhaps I should have called Nathan a “different skull”, not necessarily numb. But I do find the emphasis on deliverance to heaven very threatening to life on earth. Why show the slightest concern regarding our habitat when deliverance is just around the corner or will be brought closer by our own destructive behaviors?

Only the religious impulse could have led to the concentration of great populations in one area, working in unison to build great temples. Only to God, the unknown and the afterlife could many thousands work towards appeasement of this powerful although largely imaginary force. It is the Id making mischief within the social order that often seems to make the social organization disband. A Mayan priest that spills too much blood, a Roman emperor embracing evil, a clergy person that enjoys those pleasures which are off limits for the flock.

Enough for now, my God Bacchus has benevolently delivered a Guinness draught from which I will obtain much earthly pleasure.

Nathan Chattaway

James,
Why show the slightest concern regarding our habitat? Because God commands us to do so. If you haven't read and absorbed the Bible, yet purport to criticise those who have, that's not a very scientific approach now is it? The Bible is very clear that we are to live a life of Agrarian separation from the world's industrial system. Sadly, the vast majority of people who call themselves "christians" have not actually read and understood the Bible and do no such thing in their lives. It is because I am a disciple of Christ and strive to obey God's word that I am establishing a permaculture food forest for my family. To not be a good husbandman of this earth would be to directly disobey God's command. The Bible clearly teaches us NOT to gather in mega cities and build systems of self dependance. When God destroyed the tower of Babel, it was specifically to put man back into his place and to scatter them throughout the earth. Guess what builds great temples? Human heads of state, using oppressed human slave labour. The first city was built in direct disobedience to God, by a murderer (Cain).
You're entitled to your worldview, in which I am a dangerous numbskull. I think you'll find my original comment places no such emphasis on deliverence to heaven, so you sir are guilty of gross assumption.

Tom

More wars have been fought over religion than for any other reason, Nathan. So take your religious claptrap someplace else,
mkay, 'cause i don't buy the Christian version of reality with its pre-edited book written by people designing a religion a few millenia ago (and the others are of similar bent - sway the people to a particular myth so that the idea can perpetuate itself).

If religion could have done the job of making people better stewards of the planet we wouldn't be in this mess today.

Your statement of God's will is nonsense - for example: "The Bible clearly teaches us NOT to gather in mega cities and build systems of self dependance." Yeah, right -then what do you think suburbia has done for the planet? And putting yourself up as an outstanding example of the Christian way is nothing less than self-promotion and hubris.

Go do your thing in preparation for the collapse and good luck to you, but leave the preaching to your choir.

So Very Doomed

Hello George

No doubt this is a major eugenic selection event.

This link may provide some pointers as to which individuals may have the greatest survival potential:

http://www.paulcooijmans.com/genius/genius.html

Check out the Conscientiousness and Associative Horizon traits. Very Special Forces. Very INTJ.

George Mobus

All,

The premise of this blog is that we should all continually question everything, but especially those things that are often taken for granted or asserted by authority. And the preferred methodology is scientific inquiry and presentation of evidence.

I do not want to get into censoring discussion (other than clearly commercial messages or spam) but I would ask two things. First can we all be respectful of others and not use name calling (though I might make exceptions here in the case of staunch neoclassical economists and the tea party arm of the republican party!)? Second I really don't want QE to become a site for religious argumentation. I would appreciate dispensing with assertions from either side of the argument.

As for Nathan's challenge I simply say this. I do not have to prove anything. Science isn't about proof anyway. The evidence for evolution is growing daily, it seems, and is totally available to anyone who want to investigate it in the spirit of questioning everything.

George

Bruce

Major themes of Daniel Quinn's "Ishmael" novel regarding "Leavers" (man belongs to the world), "Takers" (the world belongs to man), "The Law of Limited Competition" (compete to the full extent of one's capabilities, but do not hunt down competitors or destroy their food or deny access to food), and "the gods" (laws of Nature):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishmael_%28novel%29#Major_themes

'In evolution, observes Ishmael's student, there seems to be a tendency toward complexity and self-awareness and intelligence. Perhaps the gods intend the world to be filled with intelligent, self-aware creatures, and man's destiny following the Leavers' story is "to be the first without being the last" to learn and then to be a role model and teacher for all those capable of becoming what he's become.'

Matt Holbert

Those who continue to question everything might have an interest in a book that I just checked out of the local Jesuit university: "Darwin, God and the Meaning of Life: How Evolutionary Theory Undermines Everything You Knew". Amazon link:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521762782/milloutcom
A thorough review can be found here: http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/EP09438448.pdf

Nathan Chattaway

George,
I respect your right as the owner of this blog to guide discussion. My original comment to this blog entry was in the spirit of questioning everything, in this case the majority (official?) scientific view of evolution. I haven't engaged in name calling. I would think that your blog has plenty of room for commentary discussion without requiring censoring of QE topics, wide ranging as they may get. If you were to censor comments when most of your posts only receive a handful of comments in total, that could seem quite closed minded.
Tom, to clarify, the Bible calls us to live an Agrarian life, not one that is industrial system dependant (whether city of suburban, they both depend on man's systems). I don't know why you think I argued in support of suburban sprawl. Suburbs are the worst of both worlds.
Christianity should be much more practical and helpful than most people seem to believe and act on. No hubris intended, sorry if it came across that way.

Dave Kimble

In Dawkin's "Climbing Mount Improbable" he makes the observation that 'you can only get there from here', in other words we can only evolve using the existing gene pool, including its variations and the selection forces that apply.

Since we will be undergoing a radical change over the next century that will reduce the 'civilised' gene pool a lot more than the rainforest-dwellers' gene pool, I foresee a sinking back of H. sapiens to its roots. And without the benefit of easy fossil fuels, easy fertilisers and so on, I don't think it is very likely that there will be much meta-evolution taking place.

What can we teach the rainforest-dwellers about how to live their lives?
As a civilised rainforest ecologist I would have to answer - not much. I think the Aloe Vera plant would be a valuable addition to any local ecology, for its antiseptic properties on scratches and abrasions, but maybe they have something better already.

I could tell them about how to count populations of species so that they don't over-hunt them by mistake, but when they have hungry children to feed, will they make the wise decision and let their children die instead of eating the last whatever? I think not - my 'wise' society cannot be persuaded by all the facts at our disposal and the grand view we have gained by means of education, TV and the internet, so I can't see us evolving past that point.

Had you something else in mind?

Nathan Chattaway

George,

You said "Science isn't about proof anyway". Isn't testing a theory/hypothesis with available evidence to prove (reproduce) or disprove the theory, central to the commonly accepted scientific method?

alex todorov

George,

Excellent post!

I have e-mailed you separately about our group.

Here I would only say one thing:
You are right and you do not have to prove anything!

The subspeciation of homo sapiens into homo cogitans is well under way and those who can see it happenning cannot help but organize together to think about what is coming and how to preserve knowledge over "population bottleneck" (or die-off, or rebalancing, or peak-everything, - the names are plentyful!)

alex todorov
for DH group

George Mobus

Bruce and Matt,

Thanks for the links.

------------------------------------
Nathan,

I didn't point any fingers re: name calling. In so far as you questioning the "majority view" my response was and is: there is such an abundance of documented evidence in the literature that any one who is truly seeking answers will be able to find out for themselves. That is what you need to do. Educate yourself rather than take the rhetoric of the religious right as gospel.

As to your second question, the testing of hypotheses with experiment or controlled observation is science, of course. Proof is what mathematicians do. Scientist devise experiments that could disprove an hypothesis but cannot ever claim to have proved one. As with evolution you would do well to get better educated in the scientific program/methods.

---------------------------------
Alex,

Am hoping to get to it this weekend. Thanks.

George

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