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Thursday, February 25, 2010

So, What IS Going On?

Is the universe a collection of random mutations and accidental assemblies? As I pointed out before, new evidence suggests that there is a process of intelligence that seems to transcend individual decisions. So what's the process? If we could figure it out, then we'd have the meaning of life.

Recently there was the discovery of what is known as "mirror neurons" in the brain. Scientists discovered some amazing things about these mirror neurons. For example, if you see someone pick up a glass of water, the mirror neurons in your brain will be stimulated exactly as if you picked up the glass yourself. Behavior is learned and adapted into the brain by this method, and infants can quickly learn to control certain actions by mimicry, simply because observing the actions trigger the same sections of the brain required to perform that action.

This happens throughout our lives as we observe others. The reason why we know it is not "us" that performs the action is that our skin has sensors that send messages to our brain and allows us to realize that it was another arm, and not our own, that performed the action.

However, it was discovered that if the arms are numbed so that there is no sensory message to the brain, there is no difference at all in the brain as to whether "you" pick an object, or whether someone else did it.

If you keep up with the TV series "House", you might have seen an episode where a man had his hand blown off as he was reaching to grab a child. His muscles remained in that clenched, spasmed conditions for many years after. Dr. House "cured" the problem by taking the man's good arm in front of a mirror in a box, and his stub arm was also in the box, but he only saw the mirror reflection of his good arm. House asked him to then clench and relax his good fist.

Within seconds, the man's muscles on his stub arm began to relax. This has actually been performed as a cure for such people, but not so miraculously as on the TV series. People actually were able to relax muscles on disabled limbs simply by flexing the muscles in their good limbs and watching that same action in the mirror image, which their brain told them was the other limb!

This is so powerful that when we select heroes or leaders, we not only "identify with" them, but we develop actual mirror images so that we "become what we behold"!

This collective identification with "American Idols" can lead to what Hoffer called "estrangement from the self". The power of mimicry is so powerful that certain behaviors are selected and coordinated to the exclusion of other behaviors, leading to ultimate death of a species or culture.

As we see from history, humans have little problem with organizing and centralizing cultures. They're quite good at it. There's Egypt, Babylon, Persia, etc, all of which showed greater capacity for larger organization.

The problem is, the greater the capacity for imitation and centralization, the less ability for freedom to adapt to change as individuals. If there is a "higher intelligence" that directs such activities, that intelligence would actually tend to produce, no collective centralism, but an increasing tendency toward diversity.

In other words, if human intelligence naturally tends to centralize its knowledge and eliminate diversity, there would have to be a kind of "antibody" or "inoculation" that would tend to cause a reversal of the process.

In short, all attempts to discover order and harmony in the universe would tend to reveal that "God throws dice", as Einstein said.

In "Guns, Germs, and Steel", Jared Diamond points out that empires grew from the Middle Eastern sections around Sumer and Babylon because of geography. The environment favored a type of grain that was gradually harvested, and in the harvest, the people naturally selected those grains with the biggest heads and healthiest "fruit" for re-planting. Wheat and oats went through a natural selection process that created larger, healthier crops.

At the same time, said Diamond, the people domesticated various animals such as cows, oxen, horses, chickens, pigs, sheep, and in living alongside them, the people exchanged "germs" and viruses with the farm animals, so that when they invade other countries, they actually caused widespread death and destruction among cultures that had not raised such animals.

In this growth and adaptation of favorable environments that led to empires, we have the history of the Jews, who developed strict dietary, religious, and civil laws as a result of the harsh, demanding environment of the desert. It was, in fact, these very wandering Bedouin types that became highly influential in their cultures because they were, in fact, not able to completely integrate with a fixed, specific environment..

While these Bedouin societies did carry their animals with them and were "cross pollinated" with the germs of the animals, they develop certain resistance to infectious diseases as they traveled to new areas, and their strict dietary laws allowed them to maintain certain resistance to diseases caused by less strict observance.

The general difference between Jewish culture and the usual cultures, is that, while other cultures developed alongside their environment, Israel was not allowed to inhabit a "Promised Land" until they learned to behave in a way deserving of the land. This is a reversal of the general process of social evolutionary development.

Their history suggests they were unable to keep the laws they were given, so they were forced to constantly adapt to their environments in which they found themselves. Not only to the environment, but to the cultures in which they found themselves.

If, in fact, as Paul said, the natural mind is enmity against God and cannot keep God's laws, the natural result would be a continual increase in diversity and individual responses toward external problems. As we see in the biblical book of "Judges", every man did what was right in his own eyes.

This very inability to adapt to a collective ideology by a "stubborn and stiff necked" people, actually created a kind of cultural "antibody" to the various empires and god-kings that had evolved by natural processes of growth. As historian Max DiMont points out in "The Indestructible Jews":

"First, there have been twenty to thirty civilized societies in the history of mankind, the number depending on how one defines a civilization....Then the civilization has either stagnated or disintegrated. The Jews are seemingly the only exception to this 'rule'.
"Second, the moment a people lost its country through war or some other calamity, that people either disappeared as an ethnic entity or regressed into a meaningless existence....Against the odds of history(Jews)survived for two thousand years without a country of their own.
"Finally, no people except the Jews have ever managed to create a culture in exile. The Jews, however, in exile, created not just one, but six different cultures, one in each of the six major civilizations within which their history flowed".

In fact, it is DiMont's thesis that the Jews were actually created to be scattered, to become a "diaspora" that spread the basis of their culture around the world. If so, it makes a lot of sense, because it was a process that forced groups to constantly re-adapt to their environment in more individualized ways, to "repent" as it were.

In more modern language, we might say that the Jews were created to "inform" civilizations, to act as the "salt" that retarded the "leaven" of excessive growth.

What is "sin" called in the Old testament? Leaven. What does leaven do? It expands and grows until it consumes all available fuel, and then it collapses of its own weight. And if those who seek truth are the "salt of the earth", we know that salt acts to retard the excessive growth of leavening.

What emerges is NOT the traditional ideas of growth, proselytizing, and narcissistic expansion of centralized "God-Kings" as Christianity tries to tell us, but rather its opposite, a constant tendency toward greater individuality, uncertainty, breakdown, and re-forming according to new information.

In short, Christianity and government is the "Borg", while intelligence favors individual adaptation to changes within the environment.


Byker Bob said...

Good points. I've also seen dissertations on the many, many ways in which Jews enriched the cultures in which they lived, throughout the diaspora. The worlds of finance, science, art, literature and entertainment would be vastly poorer had there been no Jews. Comparisons have been made involving actual percentages, and Jews tower over all other distinct groups in terms of sheer accomplishment and enrichment of the surrounding dominant cultures into which they are introduced.


Fact Checker said...

"God throws dice", as Einstein said.

Please site source.

Ralph said...

Fact Checker, just off the top of my head, Einstein actually said something to the effect "the Lord God does NOT throw dice" with the universe, to which Neils Bohr replied "Stop telling God what to do!" or something along those lines. It's been referred to often enough. Is that picky line the only problem you have?

Ralph said...

The only problem I have with the finance part is that our preswent horrible banking system is the product primarily of Jewish practice, as DiMont shows in many circumstances.

Unfortunately, Jews have been both a "blessing" and a "curse" in history.

Fact Checker said...

Ralph said:

"Just off the top of my head..."

That is just the problem with too many of your typed ramblings. Too many in fact to attempt to respond to as you've been begging us to do.

You quoted Einstein to make a point and then the quote was wrong.
It would be too exhausting to correct your errors for so little gain.

I guess you can see the misquote isn't the only problem some of us have. Happily, your visit as guest editor is nearly up. We can hope the next editor will have a better ability and desire to check his facts.

Ralph said...

Fact checker, your response is of the usual moronic ad himinem useless boneheaded statements that serve no useful purpose for anybody. I have repeatredly pointed out to you and ANYBODY who wants to challenge me on any point to do so.

I have merely pointed to a statement of Einsten regarding God and throwing dice, and in fact, Einstein was puzzled because his attempts to demonstrate the usefulness of quantum physics actually DID result in the appearance of God throwing dice.

It's too bad you're so ignorant you have no ability to actually challenge me.

Ralph said...

Fact Checker, you just plain piss me off. You think I'm Christian? You think I'm running for office or something? or that i even give a damn what you think?

Fact Checker, imagine my face in your face, so close you can feel the spit every time I speak. let me point out to you, fact Checker, that you are an obvious wimp because you don;lt even have what it takes to challenge my conclusions. You don;t even have the courage of Ex-Android to challenge me at the outset. You're a wimp, Fact Checker because all you can do is talk About" what i say. You're not smart enough to challenge the essence or logic of my thinking, so you wait until near my time of expiration to blow smoke up everyone's skirt.

You're a wuss, fact Checker. My statements are out there in profusion, my conclusions all available for anybody to challenge, and obviously you have no ability whatever to do so.

prove me wrong, Fact Checker, PROVE ME WRONG. You can't, I know you can't and you know you can't, wimp.

PT Reader said...

"...moronic ad hominem uselss, boneheaded..."

Hey, takes one to call one.

You could have simply apologized for your error. No, you have to go on the attack. That is your ego getting in the way of your thinking.

As usual, you are wrong in your assumption. Fact Checker won't engage you as he probably has no interest in discussing anything with a Bible quoter. I know that turned me away at the beginning of your tiresome, boring harangues you so pompously called essays.

What is really too bad is that you are such an unpleasent personality you are not worthy of an intellectual challenge.

Ralph said...

What error? Are you trying to tell me that the universe is such that it demonstrates an orderly God who doesn;t throw dice?

Yes, I'm arrogant, I'm an asshole, and i make no apologies for it. You, like fact checker, have no intellect to challenge me, because of you did, you would.

No cajones.

Ralph said...

Excuses, excuses, PT Reader.

Ex-Android said...

Ralph very honestly, openly, accurately, insitefully, and with some verve stated for all to read:

"Yes, I'm arrogant, I'm an asshole, and I make no apologies for it."

This immature outcry is marvelously understated, but 'nuff said by the Great I Am in training.

Who said Ralph wouldn't learn anything here? He's a better man for walking away with his intellect in tatters before his eyeballs should burst in an apoplectic fit.

Ralph, old boy, I chose to demonstate my intellect by not wasting time in discussion with such a crippled mind as you possess.

Ralph said...

Ex-Android, again, your statements are mere ad hominem fallacy. You have yet to deal with the statements themselves.