A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-Y4xseftgQ
Last entry we talked about the "daily parrying" that would cause some people to look at a blog titled "God 2.0" and automatically assume that what is going to be talked about will be non-scientific meandering about the world of the spiritual and the metaphysical. If you're familiar with my blog or my book, you will already know that I am more interested in the middle ground - a place where philosophy and physics, spirituality and science can find ways to agree that they are really thinking about the same things.
Michael Shermer is the well-known publisher of Skeptic Magazine, and Michael's goal has been to poke holes in the questionable claims of fringe science, the paranormal, and a wide range of other areas that he has targeted with his razor-sharp debunking skills. This is why I found it quite marvelous when I picked up the July issue of Scientific American, and found that Mr. Shermer's regular column this issue is entitled "Sacred Science: can emergence break the spell of reductionism and put spirituality back into nature?".
Reinventing the Sacred
Mr. Shermer's article is about a fellow who comes from my neighboring province of Alberta, Canada: Stuart Kauffman, founding director of the Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics at the University of Calgary, who has written a book called "Reinventing the Sacred". To quote from Michael Shermer's article about the book:
Kauffman reverses the reductionist's causal arrow with a comprehensive theory of emergence and self-organization that he says 'breaks no laws of physics' and yet cannot be explained by them. God 'is our chosen name for the ceaseless creativity in the natural universe, biosphere and human cultures,' Kauffman declares.
I have spent time with Stu Kauffman... he is one of the most spiritual scientists I know, a man of inestimable warmth and ecumenical tolerance, and his God 2.0 is a deity worthy of worship. But I am skeptical that it will displace God 1.0, Yahweh, whose Bronze Age program has been running for 6,000 years on the software of our brains and culture.Creativity and the "now"
I've talked many times here about the role of creativity in our universe, and how ideas from quantum physicist John Wheeler and professor of cognitive science Douglas Hofstadter can be tied together to show us how a self-excited loop can create not just a universe but life and consciousness as well. In my book I used physicist Richard Feynman's sum over paths idea to show how the past is just as probabilistic as we know the future to be. Now that Anton Zeilinger is publishing the results of experiments he and his team in Vienna have conducted that prove that we are operating in a probabilistic cloud where the only thing that is truly real for us is the constantly moving "now" of our observed reality, the ideas I proposed are being confirmed: and as John Wheeler suggested, this means that there are some indeterminate elements of the past that can be changed by our current observation. As I've been saying here, this means we can all select new trajectories from our current "now" at any time that launch us off on a new path, and accepting the indeterminate nature of the past is key to understanding how much power we are talking about here. As I discussed in Changing Your Genes, the scientific study that shows we are able to switch off and on various genes simply through changes in lifestyle and changes in attitude gives us a glimpse of how the past is not as carved in stone as we've been led to believe: because quantum physics is proving that our currently observed reality is derived from a multiverse of possible choices that exist in both the future and the past for our universe at any particular "now".
Scientists like Sean Carroll, David Deutsch, and (of course) Richard Dawkins are atheists. I reference their work regularly with this project. I believe the Dawkins concept of genes as a "River Out of Eden" and memes as ideas that can be transmitted or shared without loss across time and space are both very useful and enlightened ways of imagining the underlying timelessness of our reality. My way of imagining how our reality is constructed agrees with Dr. Carroll's ideas about an equilibrium state which is "outside the system". My project also agrees with the Deutsch team's proof that the parallel worlds resulting from chance and choice are directly equivalent to the probabilistic results of quantum mechanics. Now, here's something new: the June 14 2008 issue of New Scientist Magazine has an article about the award-winning work of mathematicians John Thompson and Jacques Tits, who have offered some mind-expanding proofs about how our amazing universe is derived from symmetries in the higher dimensions. This idea is related to Garrett Lisi's eight-dimensional E8 symmetry group, which I've referred to a number of times in this blog, and which I believe ties back into my project as well: by the time you have imagined an Omniverse which expresses all possible patterns of mass and energy, there is an equilibrium state where all of those possible patterns enfold back into a balance, where everything fits together into a perfect symmetry, which is the natural underlying state. Our universe is defined by higher dimensional patterns which give it its unique laws of physics and its breathtaking intricacy, right from the quarks and neutrinos up to the universe as a whole and all of its possible "spacetime tree" of expressions. In that sense, our cosmos is just a temporary deviation which has been set in motion by the breaking of that symmetry, and our line of time is a return to that perfectly balanced zero which existed before our universe began and which we'll return to after our universe has run its course.
So, while some would object to calling Stuart Kauffman's patterns of emergence that feed back on themselves to create our beautiful and complex universe "God", perhaps "God 2.0" is a useful way to reset our thinking about all this: all we are really talking about here is how higher dimensional patterns could be responsible for the universe we find ourselves in to be selected from the multiverse of all other possible universes, which ultimately, are all part of the Omniverse, where information equals reality. And that is a beautiful thing, worthy of our praise and our wonder.
Here is a song about that very idea: "Thankful".
A direct link to this video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvROwf2KeOg
Enjoy the journey,
How to Make a Universe
Infinity and the Boltzmann Brains
Is God in the Seventh Dimension?