Years ago I heard the physicist Paul Davies give a series of talks on the universe. He’s brilliant. Brilliant in mind and also in explaining science to the general public. In one talk he explained the Second Law of Thermodynamics (there are Four Laws) and how that “law” indicates the universe is always breaking down and the inevitable conclusion is a complete break down. As such, many on hearing/ learning of such a fate think ‘why bother then, there’s no point to all this [living]’. Davies however was brilliant in describing this as the OPTOMISTIC Arrow, and most importantly that there is a POSITIVE Arrow. There was much in his talks I found interesting and much I didn’t understand but it was this idea that stayed with me most clearly and it wasn’t until I read Jeremy Griffith’s very coherent explanation of Integrated Meaning and read him introduce Negative Entropy did I learn that there is fact “A Second Path to The Second Law”!! I nearly fell off my chair! You can’t deny that. That was the beginning of my journey with this theory on the human condition which has completely changed my way of viewing the world and myself. I’m making slow progress, my mind is much more theoretical and analytical so it takes me a long while to think each part through and turn it on it’s head. Remarkably I haven’t been able to fault it yet, despite some very very high eye-brow-raising to begin with. His theory on denial of the human condition, particularly directed at mechanistic science interested me greatly and intriguingly it was the Paul Davies interviewer (referred to at the beginning of this diatribe) that insisted that Davies focus on The Negative Arrow, and now I know why.
Hah! My journey didn’t start with the second law of thermodynamics, but that’s kind of when things were taking off for me. I was researching a lot of science in the past and I watched many talks on quantum mechanics and physics. And I have probably exposed myself to a lot of pseudo science too, I have to admit. But now with the explanation of integrated meaning and the ability to read and understand it (because I know about the human condition and why we couldn’t know the true explanation before had solved our own psychological problem), everything makes perfect sense. And as you say, there is an optimistic arrow.
Right now I’m baffled by how simple the explanation really is. And despite its simplicity, we were not able to find (or admit) it, because it would have been too exposing for us. Just imagine what else we will discover once the human condition starts disappearing from this planet. I know it’s not the primary focus right now, but thinking about a world without the human condition always makes me so euphoric and I’m getting excited and have to tell it to someone. Thanks for reading it!
I totally agree Stefan, it is baffling that humanity and scientists were able to deny Negative Entropy because it is too confronting. It is SO obvious now that we have been told about it, that it is hard to believe that everyone could just deny it. But the facts are that we weren’t taught it in school. I remember reading about Prigogine and he said that he was totally persecuted after coming up with Negative Entropy or contributing to the idea or whatever exactly it was that he did. Anyway, to be able to look at the world around us with the intellectual knowledge that it is all a manifestation of negative entropy is very exciting. And understanding evolution within that context too!
enjoying the discussion
I don’t know that most scientists are actively denying negative entropy—although it is interesting to hear about Paul Davies experience, and also Prigogines. Its more an act of omission I would say.
That’s right. I don’t know of any scientists actively denying negative entropy either. It’s more like we didn’t really know what to think of it and we needed Jeremy’s explanation of the human condition and integrative meaning to realise its significance. That said, I really hope to see more science shows, talks and publications about all of this in the future because it’s really an exciting topic and I want to know more about it.
I thought I had posted this a couple of weeks ago, but it doesnt seem to have appeared so here it is again. This is a quote from Prigogine on the treatment he got from the scientific community:
“It is difficult today to give an account of the hostility that such an approach was to meet,” Prigogine wrote in his autobiography. “Towards the end of 1946, at the Brussels IUPAP meeting, after a presentation of the thermodynamics of irreversible processes, a specialist of great repute said to me, in substance: ‘I am surprised that you give more attention to irreversible phenomena, which are essentially transitory, than to the final result of their evolution, equilibrium.’ Fortunately, some eminent scientists derogated this negative attitude.”
It is funny that a lot of what I have read about in freedom are things that I feel like I already knew and could not put into words, like on an intuitive level. Some of it feels like I have already read about it somewhere else and I am just being reminded. It is very much like waking up from a dream. I have spent a lot of time searching and poured over a lot of material, who knows what is tucked away back there behind my eyes that I have just forgotten about.
Anyway one of those Déjà Vu like moments occurred in chapter four of freedom. I had to look up negative entropy, I knew what entropy was and could logically understand what negative or reverse entropy was, but I had to read it to believe it. I have a formal education in science, a degree in aquatic sciences. During which I did a number of courses that should have explained this idea of negative entropy, chemistry and biology for example. However I do not ever remember learning this. Almost like it was a deliberate omission.
In “Freedom” it was said that God is the personification of negative entropy. That humans as thinking beings are aware that there is an order to the universe and unable to explain it, call it God. I’d like to go a little further then that and say that the Goddess is real. Not just a personification of the process of negative entropy but its driver. I refer to it as Goddess because she consists of energy that is creative. However the consciousness that dwells with in everything through which energy can flow and make more ordered, is probably genderless.
I’d like to start by making a list of all the phenomenon, scientific observations etc. that have led me to our mother.
Lightning, ball lightning, St Elmos fire, whistlers, telluric currents, triboluminescence, piezoelectricity, electromagnetism, geomagnetism, sonoluminescence, sprites, auroras, nervous system electricity, genes that respond to light: the list goes on. The underlying theme of this list is energy in the form of electricity and light being an overwhelming feature of natural phenomenon. Proponents of the theory of quantum entanglement have shown that these energy connections do not depend on physical proximity, that there are underlying forces we simply do not understand. Gravity for example has never been fully explained.
Humans are no exception to this electrical characteristic of nature. Our nervous system is electrical, our thoughts and memories are electrical and the machinery that connects our eyes to our brain converts light into electricity. Even our genes can be turned on and off with various forms of energy and light. If you talk to certain types of physicists they will tell you that everything is essentially energy, that atoms are mostly empty space. Most importantly that light can behave like a particle or a wave. Even more strange is the fact that the way it behaves depends on if it is being observed or not. In other words it is possible the physicality of everything is the way it is only because there are entities to observe it into being.
In my time searching for the truth I have spent a lot of it exploring spiritual methods, in particular altered states of consciousness. Meditation and drug use mainly. I know the term drug use tends to invalidate observations somewhat but this is a social prejudice not the truth. I’d also like to point out that by drugs I am referring to natural products only, no man made chemicals. So this has been marijuana and mushrooms basically.
On a number of those occasions, many without the benefit of plant induced euphoria, I have personally observed energy flowing between living things. The most vivid of these experiences was with a cloud of gnats. This small swarm, about the size of a beach ball at its maximum, was floating around cohesively. Each individual never straying to far from the other members of the swarm. I wondered how they could coordinate this feat. I then noticed that there were almost invisible lines, like strings made of mirage, connecting them all to each other. I put my hand through the cloud and they parted around it, instantly reforming perfectly into the one cloud. It is my belief that these gnats were connected to each other in some sort of wireless energy network.
I quickly realized that every living thing on earth is connected in this way, not to the same level of resolution as each member of the gnat swarm, but connected none the less. I began to actually feel it, I mean physically feel connected. I wondered where all this energy came from, the sun provides, light, heat and other energetic inputs but sunlight is external. What I was experiencing was something closer to home.
I started to learn about geology, how the center of the earth is probably a solid iron core spinning within a liquid iron shell. A mechanism that produces massive amounts of electrical energy, geomagnetism and so on. I learned about the conductive and insulation properties of minerals and about the waves of electrical energy that pump through the earth called telluric currents. How lightning looks like it comes from the sky but actually flows from the ground up.
I started exploring the origins of life and how proteins, the building blocks of life were produced in a lab by electrifying various mixtures of chemicals. It seemed obvious to me that the first living cell was a product of the energy that flows through the Earth. An idea that is supported by the inherently electrical nature of all subsequent life on earth. How essentially our creator was the earth on which we live. How the very blueprint on which we are based, the first gene, was organized into being by energy coming out of our planet. It occurred to me that in effect we are all an expression of that energy, a part of it, its children if you will.
I know this is all very “Avatar” but you will have to trust me when I say I came to these realizations a long time before that movie. Which is why I was so surprised and moved by it and noticed that I was not alone in those feelings. In fact I believe there was a wave of depression recorded after that movie. As if the world began to realize what we had lost, what we had cut our selves off from with modern living, with the human condition.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you to believe that the earth itself is conscious, but even if it is not directly, it is my feeling that at the very least through sentient life, it is. Almost like we are the earth experiencing itself. That bolt of lightning that helped create the first gene, set in motion a process that created instinct, conscience, intelligence and consciousness. In my mind the genetic intelligence, the instinctual conscience that tells us to love and be selfless, the very thing our intelligence has been at war with, is our mother, the goddess our Earth. Is it any wonder that we have been doing our very best to destroy her?
There is also much indirect and obfuscated evidence for this idea that comes to us from history and folk lore. I guess the most obvious and relevant is the inquisitions and witch trials that have been conducted at various places and times in our past. To this day we talk about women’s intuition, perhaps there is something about the wiring of a women that makes for a better connection to the network. So much so that they were considered a threat by the early Christian church. When lay people were supposed to be getting their information from trained priests, the only “legitimate” conduits to a conveniently male god, they couldn’t have people running around capable of proving something else. Effectively these nightmarish periods of our history eradicated those with a genetic disposition for connection to Earth net, from the human gene pool.
I’d like to leave you with this. Scientists are sort of confident that there are roughly 700 trillion connections in the human brain. These interconnected neural pathways are what allow us to think, feel and respond to the environment. How many connections of minerals, crystals etc. do you think exist in the earth? How about in the plants that grow from the earth or in the combined nervous systems of all animals connected via wireless through the air. Is it such a big leap that such a system might contain an over arching intelligence, a super consciousness? I don’t think so, I call her Shakti, which is what the Hindus call the divine mother.
If you got this far thank you and apologies for the great wall of text. Thanks again for taking the time to read my thoughts.
I think by nature I am possibly a bit more of a mechanist than you Nigel, but enjoyed your post. Your views on consciousness remind me of Teilhard de Chardin, who you are probably familiar with, and who Griffith quotes in places. He envisioned a cosmic consciousness, but explained it in a rigorous fashion. Of course, no one explains the intuitive side of things with the rationality that Griffith does. It makes it easy for an old mechanist like me to appreciate things like Avatar, and sensibilities that we have lost in the journey to find understanding. And for me, the incredible thing about that Avatar film is that the ‘mad’ general, was actually the hero. I think moviegoers all around the world should be given the nerves vs genes defence for our ‘upset’ state before they see the film, then they would not leave the film feeling depressed.
Nigel I have almost no scientific knowledge whatsoever but what struck me about your thoughts/theories above was that they blended science and spiritual ideas beautifully. Thank you for the insights.