vol 6: Essays
Green theology: a path to heaven
Table of contents:
6: The application of natural theology
6.1: Love God = Love the Universe?
6.2: The will of God is implicit in nature
6.3: Power: Warlords, monarchs and government
6.4: The political economy of war
6.6: Theology: the science of everything
6.7: Symmetry, law and human rights
6.8: Education and democracy
We proceed here on the assumption that the Universe is divine. From this we conclude that the observable Universe is God's body. We assume that the Universe executes all the functions traditionally attributed to God: creator, sustainer and judge. Since we, too are agents of God, our actions are part of God's action. The premise of green theology is that life is, to a large degree, what we make it. Ancient religions promise heaven and hell in an afterlife. In reality we die. We experience heaven and hell in this life. The role of green theology is to guide us toward the experience of heaven and away from hell.
1: Introduction: Just for us
Christians have a very high opinion of themselves. On the whole, they believe that the world was created just for them. A written record of this belief is to be found in the first book of the Hebrew Bible, Genesis. There it is written that God said:
. . . Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. Genesis
We now know that the Universe came into existence about fourteen billion years ago. The Sun and the Earth are about five billion years old. Our species is one of millions of species that have evolved since life began on Earth. Modern Homo sapiens emerged in Africa about two and three hundred thousand years ago. In our early days we lived pretty much like any wild species. Chronology of the universe - Wikipedia, Renaud Joannes-Boyau: New Moroccan fossils suggest humans lived and evolved across Africa 100,000 years earlier than we thought
Our first step toward the domination of the global ecosystem that we now enjoy came when we learned to control fire. For hundreds of thousands of years we used fire for cooking, heating, light and hunting of and protection from other animals. Fire probably helped the expansion of human species into colder regions of the Earth. A few thousand years ago, fire began to be used for the mining and smelting of metals. All these practices continue today. Control of fire by early humans - Wikipedia
The definitive modern use of fire began with the development of heat engines which converted heat energy into mechanical power. Hear engines began to supplement our muscular effort and our beasts of burden. Heat engines gradually expanded from running pumps in mines to locomotives, ships, motor vehicles, and electric power stations. The basic human energy requirement is about 100 Watts. The average modern human in an advanced economy consumes about 100 times as much, 10 000 Watts. Thomais Vlachogianni and Athanasios Valavanidis: Energy and Environment Impact on the Biosphere Energy Flow, Storage and Conversion in Human Civilization
In the early days heat engines were driven by burning wood, leading to the destruction of millions of hectares of forest. Later fossil fuels, first coal and then oil and gas became our staple technological diet. Now we have reached the point where we are burning about 10 billion tonnes of fossil fuel per annum, and the resulting carbon dioxide emissions are causing significant and dangerous changes in global climate. Australian Bureau of Meteorology: State of the climate
The huge amounts of energy that we have at our disposal have also enabled us to destroy forests, dam rivers, build railways, roads, and cities. We are covering large areas of the earth in hard unproductive surfaces like concrete and asphalt. We are polluting the world with the byproducts of our industry, many of which are exceedingly toxic or interfere with life processes in more subtle ways. In a nutshell, we are destroying the natural systems which make the Earth inhabitable. World Wildlife Fund: Pollution, Sophie Jamieson: Fish become transgender from contraceptive pill chemicals being flushed down household drains
We have two choices. The first, favoured by many who profit from the way thing are, is business as usual. The second is to radically reduce our footprint on Earth so as to restore the health of the systems upon which we are absolutely dependent for life. We have two motivations for this latter course. The first is to save ourselves. The second is to recognise the divine truth and beauty of our planet and treat it accordingly. Diamond: Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
This essay concentrates on the second motivation. The new God does not say reproduce, populate the world and subdue it. It says understand the divinity that enfolds us and use this understanding to work toward creating life in a sustainable paradise
I call this green theology because it sees that we grow out of the Earth just as all other living things do. It is theology because the home on Earth is our local revelation of God. The essence of greenness is to recognize the role that the Earth plays on our existence and to treat it with due respect. In reality, the Universe fulfills for us all the roles that have traditionally been given to God, creator, parent, provider, and judge. The respect due to the Universe in green religion parallels the worship of God in the old religion. Green Politics - Wikipedia
God reveals the world, not by some ancient fiat but by a steady process of evolution. Science tells us how this happened and reveals the beauty and consistency of the world we live in. We need to study this process and apply it to our own lives if we are to survive in peace and happiness.
2: The Christian 'Good News' is largely untested fiction
2.1: A syllabus of errors
My starting point is the theology of the Roman Catholic Church. I do this first, because I have been a member of the church for seventy years and know it well; second, because its doctrines are relatively well defined and widely followed; and third, because its followers represent on the whole the wealthiest and best educated sections of the world population, and so are best placed to respond to the changes I will suggest. Catholic Church - Wikipedia
The Catholic Church has an unbeatable marketing plan based on the denial of death. The basic problem of theology is the problem of evil, and the basic evil that we all face is death, of our selves and those we know and love. The fact that ultimately we all live under a death sentence becomes clearer as we get older. The incentive for denial increases.
Timor mortis conturbat me: The fear of death upsets me but I know I will die. There are two ways to deal with death, to deny it or deal with it. The Catholic Church denies it, attributing to its members immortal souls. Our fate in the afterlife is said to depend on how we behave in this life: eternal bliss for the good, eternal torture for the bad. This doctrine was drilled into me from birth. It took me until I was about 40 to reject it completely. Timor mortis conturbat me - Wikipedia
People obviously die, but Christianity says death is not really real. We must be accept this on faith. The Christian writer Paul of Tarsus defined Faith as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not. This definition suggests that faith replaces evidence. On the other hand, evidence strengthens faith. We have faith that the Sun will rise in the morning because it has risen so often before. Aquinas, Summa: Is this a fitting definition of faith: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not?" (Hebrews I:11)
The Christian Churches trace their origin to Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is said to have been murdered by the Romans and to have come alive again three days later. Christians wrote the story of Jesus in the century after his death. This document is the New Testament or Gospel, and is framed as a sequel to the Hebrew Bible, known to Christians as the Old Testament. Hebrew Bible - Wikipedia
The Old Testament documents the relationship between the Hebrew people and their God, Yahweh. It begins with the creation, goes on to document the Fall of sinful humanity and passes though a series of exiles, reconciliations and breakdowns between the people and God until they occupied the Promised Land. Old Testament - Wikipedia
The Romans occupied Judea in 63 bce, a disastrous event for the Jews. The Christian writers then added a happy ending to the Old Testament. Jesus, they said, was the Son of God, both human and divine. By becoming a human sacrifice, Jesus reconciled his Father to humanity. Ultimately the world would be returned to its pristine state before the fall. Joseph Sollier: Redemption (Catholic Encyclopedia)
This new doctrine spread through the Roman Empire and was elaborated by Jewish, Greek and Roman writers. Three hundred years later the Emperor Constantine established Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire. Constantine ordered a concise codification of Christian belief which became the Nicene Creed. Nicene Creed - Wikipedia
With the corpus of Christianity reduced to a simple Creed Christianity became bound to a fixed set of doctrines. Those who did not comply were branded heretics and might be excommunicated, tortured or killed. As had happened to Judaism in Jesus' time, the bureaucracy micromanaged the belief system, introducing a forest of detail. The Catholic Catechism released by Pope John Paul II in 1992 is approximately a thousand times longer than the Nicene Creed. Woes of the Pharisees - Wikipedia, Pope John Paul II: The Catechism of the Catholic Church
At that time Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, "Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Joshua: 10:12-13
The Galileo affair became a significant episode in the Catholic confrontation between empirical science and authority. This problem probably became inevitable when the books of Aristotle entered the new Christian universities of Europe. Galileo affair - Wikipedia
Things came to a head in the nineteen century with the application of modern critical methods to Biblical texts, questioning many of the Church's magisterial interpretations. In 1864 Pope Pius IX condemned the 'great perversity of depraved opinions' that arose from this work in his encyclical Quanta cura. He also published a Syllabus of Errors with this encyclical which listed 80 errors that he attributed to the 'modernists'. Pope Pius IX: Quanta curaThe Modernist Crisis has occupied the Church since the middle of the nineteenth century. I indirectly became a victim because the Dominican Order used the 24 Philosophical Theses of Thomas Aquinas as a ground for dismissing me from the order. From my point of view the modernists are on the right track. My error was (and continues to be) the first item condemned in the Syllabus:
The first error in the syllabus claimed that the modernists denied the existence of the Catholic God:
. There exists no Supreme, all-wise, all-provident Divine Being, distinct from the universe, and God is identical with the nature of things, and is, therefore, subject to changes. In effect, God is produced in man and in the world, and all things are God and have the very substance of God, and God is one and the same thing with the world, and, therefore, spirit with matter, necessity with liberty, good with evil, justice with injustice. Pius IX: Syllabus of errors
Piius X continued the attack with his encyclical Pascendi which characterized modernism as 'the synthesis of all heresies'. To counter modernism, the church went so far as to infallibly declare itself infallible, books were banned, and many theologians were forbidden to teach. Pius X: On the doctrines of the modernists
I was expelled from the Dominican Order for maintaining that there is no real distinction between God and the Universe. Since then I have explored the very close link between theology, religion and politics. Military politics usually culminates in absolute rulers: queens, kings, emperors and warlords. Many of these people try to legitimize their position by claiming a divine right. The classical God is modelled on such people, who exercise power of life and death over their subjects. The Catholic Pope plays one of the most imperial roles on Earth. The Code of Canon law tells us that No appeal or recourse is permitted against a sentence or decree of the Roman Pontiff. John Paul II: Code of Canon Law, Canon 333 §3
In the Christian West we see the close coupling between religion and politics in the world of Islam. We are inclined to believe that our constitutional arrangements which formally separate Church and State have broken this coupling, and that this break is a good thing. This is largely a delusion. The majority of our politicians and their apparatchiks are Christian. It is very clear that religion has a strong influence on politics through the democratic process, because many citizens are believers. Mr Trumps's war against Islam is a clear attempt to identify Islam with terrorism. Nevertheless, Christian America is certainly doing its share of terrorising and killing people. James Risen and Tom Risen: Donald Trump Does His Best Joe McCarthy Impression
2.2: A Babel of religions
Like the thin skinned dictators of every age, Yahweh was inclined to throw a tantrum whenever the people became too independent. This happened in the Garden of Eden. He was provoked again by the 'Tower of Babel':
And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. Tower of Babel - Wikipedia
We now understand the multiplicity of human language to have evolved during the hundreds of thousands of years it took us to populate the Earth. Although our multitude of languages causes some difficulty, we can readily translate from one language to another because they all refer to common foundation of human experience.
There are probably about as many theologies and religions as there are languages. The world is in turmoil because theology and religion are failing. Athough we know there is but one God and one Universe, our religions have revealed themselves as sectarian rather than inclusive. They have become sources of war rather than causes of peace. They are in conflict because many incompatible fictions are held as a matters of indisputable faith.
The plan here is to make theology into a real science in two steps. First, we assume that the Universe is divine, so that all human experience is experience of God, so that theology can become empirical. Second, we use mathematics to build theological models because it is a universal language that loses nothing in translation.
Because the only property constraining God is consistency, and this same constraint operates in mathematics, we guess that there must be a link between God and mathematics. We bring this into focus by applying fixed point theory to God and guessing that the fixed points in the divine dynamics can be mapped onto mathematics, ie an isomorphism. This ideas is supported by Wigner's observation. Eugene Wigner: The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences
Christians believe that the writers of the Bible was inspired by God. This inspiration is considered to be the guarantee that the Bible is truly the word of God. Since God is held to be invisible, we have no scientific way of checking the credibility of this claim. The prophets may be in fact just like like any other writers, recording their mental states to communicate them to others. If the Universe is divine, their thoughts and feelings, like those of everybody else, are derived from their experiences of God. In this they are similar to everybody else, and have no special authority to guide us.
I talk about the Catholic Church and its defects, because it is the one I know. But I feel that there are lessons here for all ancient institutions which base themselves on historical documents rather than contemporary observation. Using scientific methods, we are able to reconstruct some of the undocumented history of our ancestors and see how they slowly climbed the literary, technological and scientific ladder toward our present state. History of writing - Wikipedia
2.3: Friction at the boundaries
The key to human survival is cooperation. One of the foundations of cooperation is shared language, culture and religion. It is not easy to cooperate with someone if you do not share the same language. If you share the same language, cooperation is still difficult if you are do not share goals and an understanding of how the world works.
Cooperation requires the sharing of resources, which may difficult when resources are limited. The wisdom to see that cooperation may be the best way to deal with hardship is not easy to establish. We are more inclined to share with our families, friends and people who are 'one of us'.
It is not surprising that conflicts are likely to arise at the meeting points of religions, particularly if the religions involved are militant, like Christianity and Islam. We often see hostility between extreme members of both these religions. These people feel that they are defending positions that are not negotiable. When diplomacy fails, violence becomes an option
Over the centuries scientists around the world have reached consensus on many issues because the Universe they study is one and consistent. By making God visible theology can become a real science so might expect a similar convergence in theological belief. All doctors can work together because they share a common knowledge of human anatomy, physiology and psychology. We might expect all religions to work together when they share common knowledge of God.
3: The evolution of theology
3.1: Aquinas on God
Christian theology is built on Jewish theology which drew many of its ideas from the other theologies of the ancient near East. Alexander the Great's conquest of the Persian Empire beginning in 334 bce opened a path to Greek culture to spread, leading to widespread Hellenisation of the Jews and other people in conquered territories. Centuries later, Greek ideas played a significant role in the development and spread of Christianity. Miles: God, A Biography
In its first millennium, Christian theology was elaborated using ideas derived from Greek Platonic philosophy. The Platonic theory of forms was used to add substance to the ancient personalities of God and the angels. Theory of Forms - Wikipedia
Toward the end of the eleventh century pope Urban II initiated the first Crusade to oppose the spread of Islam in Palestine. One effect of this was to bring the writings of Aristotle, which had been preserved in the East, to the attention of Western Christianity. Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas upgraded the Platonic philosophical foundations of Christian theology with the Aristotelian picture. Albertus Magnus - Wikipedia
Aristotle was a a student of Plato, more scientfically inclined than his master. He based much of his thought on observation and wrote extensively on physics, cosmology, logic, biology, ethics, politics, and many other subjects. He extended his physical ideas to argue for the existence of a first unmoved mover which is responsible for all motion and change in the Universe. In his Metaphysics he described this mover to be pure activity, an eternal living entity which existed in a state of bliss. Aristotle: Metaphysics 1072b3 sqq
Aquinas used Aristotle's theory of the unmoved mover to develop a new model of God which is now established in the Church and sanctioned by Canon law. The most significant difference between Aristotle and Aquinas is that while Aristotle saw the unmoved mover as part of the Cosmos, Aquinas was compelled by Catholic dogma to place God outside the Universe. God remained invisible to us, as it had been since the beginning of the Bible. Code of Canon Law, 252: The formation of clerics
Aristotle thought all motion in the Cosmos was caused by the first mover. He explained this idea using the metaphysical terms potency and act. Potency covers everything that might be; act covers everything that actually exists. Aristotle defined motion the transition from potency to act. This is a very general definition, covering generation and corruption as well as psychological and physical motion. Actus et potentia - Wikipedia
Aristotle took it to be axiomatic that no potency can actualize itself. Since we can see that there is motion, we must therefore be able to trace a chain of movers back to a first unmoved mover. This unmoved mover must be by definition pure actuality.
The existence of God can be proved in five ways.
The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God. Aquinas: Summa: I, 2, 3: Does God exist?
Given the existence of God, the next step it to examine its properties. Here Thomas followed an ancient mystical tradition. God is so far beyond our powers of understanding that we are not capable of saying what God is, only what it is not, the via negativa. Apophatic theology - Wikipedia
The traditional God is not complex like the world. Aquinas argues instead that because God is pure actuality it is absolutely simple omnino simplex. This is hard line to understand. Insofar as God is actual, it is everything. But absolute simplicity seems to imply that it is nothing. Fifty years ago that was a mystery to me but now I think that the mathematical theory of fixed points may provide some insight.
3.2: Bernard Lonergan
I was awed by Aquinas and completely trusting until I read Bernard Lonergan's Insight. Insight is a long and difficult book, and it took me a few readings to see that Lonergan undermined Aquinas's argument for the existence of a God outside the Universe.
Aristotle made the leap from physics to metaphysics by generalising his theory of matter and form into a theory of potency and act. Matter and form applied to physical changes. Potency and act gave Aristotle (and Aquinas) words to talk about psychology.
Lonergan follows the ancient Platonic tradition of using a theory of knowledge to explain the properties of the world. Plato's forms were intended to explain not only the nature of the world, but how we know it. The existence of knowledge proves that knowledge is possible in this Universe, but how does it work? Lonergan's model is based on the act of insight, the moment at which we 'see' or 'get' the meaning of some body of data.
Aquinas' proofs for the existence of God (= the non-divinity of the Universe) might be called physical, in that he starts each proof from a physical observation and uses his metaphysical theory of the world to show how this physical observation implies that the Universe cannot account for itself. Lonergan moves the question into the psychological realm:
The existence of God . . . is known as the conclusion to an argument, and while such arguments are many, all of them, I believe, are included in the following general form.
If the real is completely intelligible, God exists. But the real is completely intelligible. Therefore God exists. Lonergan: Insight, page 695
The Universe, however, is not God, because it is not completely intelligible. This, Lonergan claims, is because there are positively given empirical data which lack intelligibility, the 'empirical residue' detected by 'inverse insight'. Insight, pp 43-56
. . . the five ways in which Aquinas proves the existence of God are so many particular cases of the general statement that the proportionate Universe is incompletely intelligible and that complete intelligibility is demanded. Insight, p 700
Lonergan's position is developed with subtlety and some insight into the results of modern science. It is based on a careful study of the psychology of Thomas Aquinas as applied to Trinity. Lonergan's interpretation of Aquinas was my starting point for this work. Lonergan: Verbum : Word and Idea in Aquinas
He falls down, I believe, in his affirmation of the empirical residue. It is an historical accident that we do not yet fully understand the Universe, but this is no reason to assert that it is not fully intelligible. In particular, Lonergan seems to mistake scientific conjectures (such as the theory of relativity) for the concrete realities of which they an are abstract (formal) representations.
In the abstract, symmetries may be meaningless but in reality every symmetry is broken, that is made concrete, and every concrete act in the Universe stands at the end of a chain of acts stretching back to the beginning, and this history gives it meaning. There is, consequently, no empirical residue.
3.3: Losing the old faith, creating the new
The Church makes an unbeatable pitch based on the biggest possible delusion, the denial of death. From an empirical point of view death seems completely obvious to everyone who has reached a certain age. We cannot deny it. Nevertheless Aristotle and Aquinas both maintain that the intellectual part of the human soul is a pure form without matter. Because it is immaterial it is both incorruptible and invisible.
Apart from dogmatic and political considerations, they reach this conclusion by applying the philosophical model of potency and act. They argue that the intellect is immaterial because we can, in principle, understand all material things. If the intellect was itself material it would have a definite material nature which would inhibit it from understanding everything, for to understand something is to assimilate its form.
Aristotle's theory of generation and corruption maintains that composite things can die because the parts can come apart, killing the living system. These arguments seem quite logical and once made a lot of sense to me, but they depended on a notions of life and immateriality that did not make sense. How can a God or an intellect with no structure be omniscient, or have any knowledge at all. The consequent denial of death was very comforting, but was it true? I had gambled my life on it, entering a monastery in the hope of guaranteeing my eternal salvation by supererogation. Supererogation - Wikipedia
Losing the promise of immortality and an eternity of heavenly bliss was the worst part of losing my faith after I left the Order. For about twenty years I explored what I knew of physics to find a way to accomodate immortality in the scientific view of the world. I began to write a science fiction book, based on the notion that a cold neutron star, comprising an enormous number of fermions, had quite enough storage capacity represent every quantum event in my life. Not only that, it was likely to last for the life of the Universe. If I could upload my life to such a star I might reboot myself in a network complex enough to hold every person that ever lived forever. I think this is impossible, but the exercise reconciled me to permanent death and I have not looked back.
Why is there death in the Universe? Aristotle was right. Complex systems can fall apart. Errors creep in because every system experiences noise because it is coupled, however lightly, to the rest of the Universe. Noise for one system may be signal for another. Eventually the errors will build up to a fatal error, and then I will die.
Our traditional theology is based on the writings of inspired individuals who mostly lived thousands of years ago. They lived in a different world. It would be surprising if their ideas have not been overtaken by new developments.
Traditionally, God is both everything and nothing. The traditional mystical view is that from our point of view God is nothing. In Aquinas' model, God is omnino simplex. Absolutely simple. No distinguishing marks to provide a hold for the human mind or store information. A mystery totally beyond our ken.
On the other hand Christianity also claims that God is everything, present all the time everywhere micromanaging every event, omnisicient, omnipotent, ubiquitous and eternal.
Neither of these pictures is very helpful by itself, but taken together they have been and remain a potent source of inspiration for billions of people. First, the simplicity of God shows that God is one. There are no divisions in it. From this we derive the fundamental act of human faith: whatever happens is part of some huge system which works, so don't worry.
The devil, on the other hand, is in the details. How do we fit in with this divine system of control if we want to survive? The ancient view is listen to the prophets. The modern view is listen to the scientists. Modern civilization, insofar as it works, is based on scientific understanding of how the world works. Once we could not live in cities because the filth and disease overwhelmed us. Then we developed sewerage. The enormous expense of digging up a whole city and laying pipes was amply justified by the resulting improvements in human health.
So lets put the religious discussion on a scientific footing. Religious freedom can go too far. If our religion does not respect reality we are ultimately doomed
Whatever the prophets say about creation, we can be pretty certain that it evolved from a simple beginning, just like the mystical paradigm of God. Hawking and Ellis predicted the existence of this singularity and all the evidence suggests that their prediction is true. Hawking & Ellis: The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time
One thing we can learn from evolution is that complicated things are made out of simple parts. The world is built on a platform of fundamental particles that combine and interact to give us atoms, molecules, cells, planets, galaxies and so on. This hierarchy of structure provides us with a way to understand the world. The initial singularity predicted by cosmologists is effectively identical to the classical God: both are without structure, and both are the source of the Universe.
Of coure, many of the adherents of the old God find the identification of God and the Universe impossible. Their God controls everything. We have very little responsibility for our own fate. All is preordained, a history of salvation that relies entirely on the notion that God is a very loving and very helicopter parent who makes everything come out right in the end. We can go on chewing up the resources of the planet like there is no tomorrow because our God takes care of everything.
The green god is nothing like this. The old god is invulnerable. We are all subsystems of the new God. Our lives are part of the life of God, and what we do has consequences for ourselves.
3.4: A new model of god: fixed points
There are two enabling conditions for the establishment of scientific theology: First we must suspend ancient beliefs and open our minds to new possibility; and second, we must introduce a mathematical model that reconciles the absolute simplicity of the classical God with the extraordinary complexity of the universal God.
The formal answer to this second condition is mathematical fixed point theory. We often use mathematical structures to model the world. The whole of our trade, banking and engineering industry could not proceed without the help if arithmetic. More generally we describe the world with mathematical functions that mimic the behaviour of the world. Galileo found that the velocity of a falling object depended on how long it has been falling, and physicists use thousands of other equations (functions) to describe other features of the observable world. Fixed point theorem - Wikipedia
A function is a mapping, and we model motion in a certain space by mapping a certain set of points onto itself, so that here becomes there and so on. Mathematics shows that under certain conditions such mappings are logically bound to have a point which is unchanged by the mapping, f(x) = x. So mathematically we should expect to find fixed points in a Universe of pure action pictured as mapping itself onto itself. It maps onto itself because there is nothing outside the Universe to map to.
Now we would like explore this idea to build a new model of God drawing on our critique of the old model. This model, we hope, will fit both the classical conception of God contained in the old model, and the creative nature of life in the Universe we inhabit.
The principal feature of this model is that it reconciles the ancient mystical idea that God is absolutely simple and the modern scientific observation that the world is exceedingly complex. This reconciliation is made possible by the mathematical theory of fixed points. Every motion within God may generate a fixed point. We observe this process in quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics may work in spaces of any dimension, so there is no limit on the complexity of such fixed points (section 5.2). Such fixed points do not break the simplicity of the divine life, they are simply points in God which do not move. Their source is the dynamic wave function assumed in quantum mechanics to underlie every event.
The Christian God is a living God, which means that it must be the source of its own life. For Aristotle and Aquinas, life is self motion. How can an eternal God move? Aquinas and Aristotle both distinguish two kinds of motion. Ordinary physical motion is the process that makes a potential situation actual. This can only happen if there is an actual efficient cause to drive the transition from potency to act. This sort of motion is alien to God, since God is pure actuality.
Is life is properly attributed to God?
Objection 1. It seems that life is not properly attributed to God. For things are said to live inasmuch as they move themselves, as previously stated. But movement does not belong to God. Neither therefore does life.
Reply to Objection 1. As stated in [Aristotle's] Metaphysics ix, 16, [1050a22 sqq] action is twofold. Actions of one kind pass out to external matter, as to heat or to cut; whilst actions of the other kind remain in the agent, as to understand, to sense and to will. The difference between them is this, that the former action is the perfection not of the agent that moves, but of the thing moved; whereas the latter action is the perfection of the agent. Hence, because movement is an act of the thing in movement, the latter action, in so far as it is the act of the operator, is called its movement, by this similitude, that as movement is an act of the thing moved, so an act of this kind is the act of the agent, although movement is an act of the imperfect, that is, of what is in potentiality; while this kind of act is an act of the perfect, that is to say, of what is in act as stated in De Anima iii, 28. In the sense, therefore, in which understanding is movement, that which understands itself is said to move itself. It is in this sense that Plato also taught that God moves Himself; not in the sense in which movement is an act of the imperfect. Thomas Summa I, 18, 3: Is life propery attributed to God?
Observation and logic only apply to fixed points since there is nothing in between the fixed points for them to get a grip on. From an engineering point of view (including software engineering), we use fixed points (algorithms, crankshafts etc) to control dynamics, but we use the desired dynamics to guide our choice of fixed points, what we might call intelligent design. Intelligent design is design intended to achieve a certain dynamic end, like a steam engine. The relationship of genotype and phenotype is a relationship between fixed genes and the dynamics of life. The role of intelligent design is played by variation and selection. Every designer works like this, producing a model, varying it to find improvements, and selecting a good one.
We may ask how the Christian doctrine of ideas in God relates to the emergence of fixed points in the divine dynamics, which we interpret physically as the creation of the Universe of our experience. The classical God is omniscient and its knowledge is identical to its substance. Part of God's knowledge is the form or idea of the world which he intends to create, just as a builder has in mind an idea of the building she wishes to construct. From our point of view, we may identify such ideas with the fixed points in the divine dynamics. Thomas sees the world as other than God, so that the ideas in Gods intellect are realized as the world. Because we identify God and the World, we identify the classical notion of God's ideas with the world that we observe and experience. Aquinas: Are there ideas of all things that God knows?
4.1: Malthus and natural selection
Reproduction is a form of chain reaction, and is capable of growing exponentially. Since each newborn individual requires resources to live, and the resources of Earth are finite, unbounded reproduction will eventually be halted by famine, overcrowding, pollution or some other constraint. In such a situation, not all the offspring can survive and there will be a selective process which will favour those better able acquire the resources for life. Malthusianism - WikipediaCharles Darwin knew that centuries of selective breeding created a wide variety of domesticated animals and plants. He imagined that natural selection could do the same in the wild world. In the domestic realm the breeder seeks to mate individuals that are tending in the desired direction. This selection is guided with an eye on the desired end result. Darwin: The Origin of Species
In the wild mating is rather more random, since in the wild there is often room for choice by the participants themselves. In a divine world, natural selection is effectively a judgement from God, and it operates at all scales from the quantum of action to the Universe as a whole. Every time I act, my action is judged. If I make a fatal error, the action will fail. A lesser error may lead to a limited result, an error which may need to be repaired. In each case, the individual action is judged by its interaction with its environment.
Our scientific understanding of the tree of life exhibits the work of natural selection. Darwin had far less information to go on, but was able to discern the general pattern and publish it in The Origin of Species. His work stirred even greater controversy when he applied his theory in The Descent of Man. This work was understood to directly contradict the Catholic doctrine that God creates a new immortal soul for every child born. Darwin: The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, Catholic Catechism: 366: Every spiritual soul is created immediately by God
Variation and selection enable organisms to adapt to environmental change. If the change is so fast that a species cannot keep up it will probably become extinct through failure to reproduce. Human anthropocene activity, by making swift and massive changes in the planetary environment, may have been been responsible for tens thousands of extinctions since our footprint began to explode. Anthropocene - Wikipedia, Fred Pearce: Global Extinction Rates: Why Do Estimates Vary So Widely?
In the theological language suggested here, adaptation means listening to God and acting on what we hear. We listen through the sciences that tell us how God works, and the arts that communicate these ideas to us in images, symbols and machinery.
Variation and selection apply in all environments where competition is induced by a shortage of resources. In general survivors are the ones who can gather abundant resources or learn to live with less. Creatures adapt through the slow process of genetic evolution, the faster process of the epigenetic emergence of instincts, and the fastest process, cultural development.
4.2: Competition and cooperation
The phrase 'survival of the fittest' suggests that nature 'red in tooth and claw' is a ceaseless battle for existence. From this point of view, it is very difficult to understand the widespread prevalence of cooperation in the world. The simple answer is that cooperation is the most powerful strategy for survival. Kipling: In Memoriam, Axelrod: The Evolution of Cooperation
Axelrod asks 'Under what conditions will cooperation emerge in a world without central authority?' We can apply this question at all levels of complexity, ranging from the first particles to emerge in the creation of the world to ourselves, to nations and ultimately to the largest structures in the Universe. By 'without central authority' we understand that the only constraint acting upon the egotistical actors that we are thinking about is local consistency. We may understand this generally to mean that suicide is not considered to be a viable option.
The basic question for selfish individuals is whether they will be better off cooperating. From a physical point of view, we may think of cooperation as bonding or communication, and we find that particles tend to bind when their energy is lower in the bonded than the isolated state. Thus we find that it takes a lot of energy to separate a rocket from Earth or an electron from an atom.
Axelrod's research is based on game theory. He assumed the existence of intelligent agents and set out to explore the effects of different rewards and penalties for cooperation and defection. He invited players to submit algorithms designed to maximize the payoff for a particular player. In the game called Prisoners' Dilemma, he found that the simplest algorithm, Tit for Tat, was the most effective in creating cooperation in a repetitive two player game where the players remember previous moves. Without memory the first player will always get the maximum payoff by defecting. Many variations of the game have been devised and it is used in many disciplines to explore the probability cooperation.
One of the critical areas of cooperations is where life is at stake. Should we passively starve to death, or it better to turn to plunder and take the resources for survival from someone else?
Reality is, of course, much more complex than this simple game, and cooperation is about more than just a payoff, it also has a psychological and a spiritual dimension. The political and social function of theology and religion is to improve cooperation, a tendency called meliorism. Meliorism - Wikipedia
4.3: Error and death
'The wages of sin is death.' Here we are looking scientifically rather than morally, so that we see death as a consequence of error rather than sin. All fatal disease is the result of some physiological error in our bodies, as are the accidents that kill motorists, workers and children playing with guns. There is also the deliberate killing of war and murder. These deaths are a consequence of error at a higher level, failed diplomacy and the breakdown of personal, religious and racial harmony. A very important but almost invisible killer is domestic violence. The ultimate killer, old age, follows a breakdown of living systems, usually by an accumulation of errors. Paul, Romans 6:23
The errors of the Catholic Church are killers at many levels, rather like those companies that sell adulterated baby food to unsuspecting parents. The root of these errors is the worship a false God inherited from the Old Testament. The God of the Christians worship is a crusty and vindictive old man, modelled on contemporary kings and warlords who are completely unaware human rights. The Bible records many of Yahweh's vicious actions: The Fall, the Flood, the Exodus, Abraham and Jacob, the genocide in Palestine and the crucifixion of Jesus. Yahweh is very thin skinned, and many of his worst deeds are retribution for supposed slights. Flood myth - Wikipedia
For much of its history the Church has held itself to be above human law, and it has often proven itself a thorn in the side of civil society. I feel that its root political error is sexism. Women carry no weight in the political sphere of the Church. The glass ceiling is well below the rank of priest, the footsoldiers of Catholic propaganda. This sexism is a symptom of the much wider failure of the duty of care. The Church considers itself a loving and just shepherd guiding its sheep to a happy life. What is omitted from the story is that the shepherd is being nice to the sheep because this maximizes the quantity and quality of clothing and food he can derive from each sheep. John Paul II: Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 22 May 1994
In other words, it may be that the Catholic 'history of salvation' is an unsafe doctrine from a practical point of view. The Church embodies a moral hazard, that we should all love our conspecifics because if we do we earn an eternity of bliss in heaven, A dream. A religion has a duty of care, it is an embodiment of care, and we can see in history many instances of the struggles of the poor being mitigated by religious motives in the wealthy, ie those with adequate fulfillment of their needs, like me.
Duty of care implies a duty of truth, since one must truthfully recognize what is going on when caring for someone. Knowing when and how to change the nappy, finding the right food and shelter and all the the necessities of life. In formal terms actions based on truth are instances of engineering. Reliable engineering must be based on reliable properties and knowledge of these properties for each element of engineered structure. The history of engineering is a history of the disasters we have learnt to avoid. From this point of view religion is social engineering. Insofar as engineers seek useful stability rather than dangerous failure, religion is the technology of peace. Its tool is the law, the genotype of society written in the legislature, executed in the executive, and tested by the judiciary.
The emotional problem I faced in the Church is reflected in the Church between the two halves of its personality: the pastoral and the dogmatic. The Church exercises its pastoral mission within a dogmatic framework that asserts that the Universe is not divine, that females are inferior to males, that enjoying sex for any reason other than procreation is forbidden, that the Universe and in particular human nature is flawed by original sin, and so on. Many of these dogmatic positions are simply wrong, that is they do not conform to reality. The alternative is simple. We do away with dogmatism by the assumption that the Universe is divine, that all experience is experience of God, and that the scientific method generates reliable knowledge of God.
In the Church the pastoral duty of care is in conflict with the dogmatic duty of 'truth', and the result is unnatural pressure on people which leads to unnatural behaviour.
Correcting the fraudulent trajectory of the Church is not going to be easy. Because it has tremendous momentum it needs a great force to deflect it, a force much greater than can be directly exerted by one individual. The generation of this force is a political task, a numbers game which requires the establishment of new and attractive policy. Jesus served as an attractor in his day. The scientific community performs a similar role now. Scientific Community - Wikipedia
4.4: Network ecology
The Universe comprises an enormous number distinct entities. These distinct entities interact with one another through communication networks. Such a network comprises sources and channels. We may think of it as a network of pipes, with water going in and out to various sources and sinks. Here we call them all sources. A sink is a source that receives rather than transmits, a negative source, if you like. If the pipes do not leak, the sum of the positive and negative is zero. In communication networks the flow is not water but information, which is just as real as water.
We measure the flow of water in litres per second. We measure the flow of information in in bits per second, a quantity usually called bandwidth. Although we may represent information by continuous functions like modulated waves, the information flowing in a network is necessarily digitial. This is a consequence of the mathematical theory of communication invented by Claude Shannon. He showed that in order to transmit information without error we must make it digital, that is a sequence of distinct symbols that are too far apart to be confused with one another. Claude Shannon: Communication in the Presence of Noise, Bandwidth (computing) - Wikipedia
Ecology studies the interactions of organisms with one another. If we are thinking of living things, we have biological ecology. Living things also interact with the sunlight, earth, air, and water and all the physical elements of the world, some being useful to them, others neutral or dangerous. Inanimate particles also communicate through networks, and have their own ecology which is the subject of physics, chemistry and cosmology. Cosmology - Wikipedia
The history of Earth tells us how it was built, and explains the relationships between all the parts of the Universe, and how the small parts get together to form larger parts, including ourselves. The foundation of this construction is cybernetics. Communication and control are in effect two sides of the same coin. I am communicating with you, and by doing so I am in some way controlling you, putting information into your mind through the internet. This communication is one way. I am not yet ready to introduce comments on this site
Communication and control correlate things. The Book of Genesis recounts that everything began from something like nothing, chaos. The creator brought order to the chaos, beginning with the command 'Let there be light'. Tohu wa-bohu - Wikipedia
5: Universal cooperation: Physics
Human consciousness awoke in a new world. We were attuned to survival in our environment by billions of years of evolution, but the curiosity to ask what it all meant must have been, at some stage, new. The ancient religions, with a history stretching back to the origin of consciousness, are answers to these questions.
One of the most powerful forces for survival is cooperation. United we stand, divided we fall. Complex systems have an advantage over simple systems. We see this at work in the history of the Universe. Over billlions of years it has constructed itself from a gas of fundamental particles to complex systems like the Earth.
A key idea in traditional religion is that the Supreme Being is benevolent and loves us, guiding everything for our welfare. Although this may not always be obvious, it becomes a matter of faith. The evolutionary paradigm puts a slightly different interpretation on this: we are here because we survived because we fitted our environment. If the Universe is divine, our existence suggests that God is on our side. Anthropic principle - Wikipedia
History shows that the world has constructed itself from a formless initial singularity to its present state. Our aim is to find out how it did this so that we can apply the same lessons to our human development, from simple human individuals to a complex and peaceful global society.
Norbert Wiener defined cybernetics as the science of communication and control in the animal and the machine. Wiener: Cybernetics
The construction of complex organisms in the Universe requires communication and control. One of the core processes in this construction is feedback. A source or personality observes the consequences of its action and uses this information to modify its behaviour. This feedback may be almost instantaneous, as when I hit my finger with a hammer. Or it may take millions of years, as we observe in the slow evolution of species through the feedback called selection.
In business, if a new product is observed to sell well, the manufacturer will be encouraged to make more of them. This is positive feedback. It makes thing grow. An outstanding example is the chain reaction that releases the energy of a nuclear weapon. The fission of one nucleus releases two neutrons which cause two more nuclei to fission, which release four neutrons, and so on. The process only ends when all the nuclei in the weapon have split.
Negative feedback, on the other hand, controls things. So I drive along looking at the road. When I see that I am getting out of my lane, I steer back toward the centre. The evolution of the world is an interplay between positive and negative feedback. We see it in evolution. Growth can be explosive. In some species two adults can have millions of babies, but very few of these can grow up to reproduce because resources are limited.
Each of these children must avoid predation and obtain enough resources to grow and reproduce to continue the chain reaction, but few do. Other species have very few babies and nurture them carefully. In both cases, the result is usually a relatively stable population. We are acutely aware of the need to stabilize our own population so that we do not collide violently with the limits established by our finite environment.
We model the predictable elements of the world as a computer network. Finite versions of this model are found in engineered networks such as the internet. The infinitely expanded transfinite version serves as a model of the observable fixed points God.
The mathematical theories necessary for designing engineered networks were developed by Claude Shannon and Alan Turing. The transfinite expansion of these ideas from finite engineering to the infinite divinity may be constructed in Cantor's universe of transfinite cardinal and ordinal numbers. Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem
Control requires error free communication. Shannon showed how to transmit information over a noisy network. The speed of this communication depends on the level of noise. The noise level in a channel imposes an upper limit on the speed of communication. The central idea of the theory is to place legitimate messages in the communication space so far apart that there is very little chance of them being confused.
The conquest of noise requires coding messages to make them distinct. Coding (and the corresponding decoding) are mathematical algorithms which may be executed by a digital computer. Since a computer is itself a network, it must be digital to implement error free communication within itself. Turing showed that there are limits to the power of a such a machine.
A system must stay within the limits imposed by the noise in its environment and its own computing power if it is to control itself. This is what a careful driver tries to do. If the vehicle gets out of control, extreme negative feedback in the form of a crash may being the vehicle back under control.
The bodily systems that sustain are lives are studied in physiology. Physiological questions are all matters of communication and control: how do the trillions of cells in our bodies work together to make us what we are? It must be possible because we are alive.
Many see the contemporary world as out of control. Does it have to be so? It seems that the Earth got along pretty well before we came along. Now we are in a mess. Can we have missed something? I think so. There is a massive defect in our theology. Or more accurately, we no longer have a theology. Theology is the traditional science of everything and provides the fundamental references system we use navigate our way through life.
In the old religions, God is in control and we trust Him to look after us. Green theology suggests that a green religion will recognize that our own fate depends on what we do. The old religions are essentially monarchies. One or a few prophets speak for God and control the behaviour of everybody else, by violence if necessary. This approach introduces noise into the society as people revolt against arbitrary control, and reduces the processing power of the community to the mind of very few people.
The Roman Catholic Church is an absolute monarchy. There is no recourse from any judgement of the Pope. Over its two thousand year history the Church has demonstrated all the bloodthirsty characteristics of those who maintain doctrine by authority rather than conformity to reality. Violence and monarchy are intimately related.
My feeling is that peace on Earth will be greatly facilitated when the Roman Catholic Church becomes a scientifically based democracy. Democracy has two benefits. First, by involving everybody, it nurtures peace in the society, bringing down the noise level and increasing the speed of communication. Second, by bringing the everybody's mind to bear on the problems facing us, we increase the probability of finding a viable solution.
This idea is relevant to the human world, but also applies at every level of complexity in the universal network. We now apply it in the physical world which is very well described by quantum mechanics.
5.2: Quantum mechanics
The foundation of modern physics is quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics was developed to explain the fixed points observed in the Universe. It began when people tried to explain the spectra of atoms. These spectra reveal many fixed frequencies, called lines.
The modern technology of clocks depends upon the precision of these lines. We can now make atomic clocks, which depend on spectral lines, accurate to one second in 100 million years. This suggests that the natural frequencies of spectral lines may be defined with absolute precision: they are determinate fixed points in the Universe. Atoms are just one of may sources of spectral lines. Quantum mechanics applies to all these sources. Atomic clock - Wikipedia
In the last few decades, we have come to see quantum mechanics less as a 'mechanical' theory describing the collisions of little particles something like billiard balls, and more as a description of information processing, transmission and computation. The first piece of evidence is quantization itself. Although physicists ancient and modern use continuous (geometrical) mathematics to describe the world, all observable events are discrete, non overlapping entities. Quantization arises, we guess, because the mathematical theory of information tells us that error free communication requires quantized signals. Feynman: Feynman Lectures on ComputationQuantum mechanics equates energy E and frequency f through the Planck-Einstein relation, E = hf where h is Planck's constant, the measure of the atom of action. Quantum mechanics enables us to calculate the nature and frequency of the messages we receive from the physical world. Spectral lines are such messages. Physicists try to picture the underlying processes that generate these fixed points. Planck-Einstein relation - Wikipedia
The scale of quantization places limits on the precision with which things can be observed, the uncertainty principle. Frequency is the inverse of time, and the uncertainty principle tells us that the precision of our measurement of time is inversely proportional to the precision of our measurement of frequency, the constant of proportionality being the quantum of action, in symbols ΔE.Δt ≈ h. This uncertainty arises from the digitization of communication. We cannot see or measure between quanta of action.
Quantum mechanics gets its answers from two mathematical procedures. The first is symbolized by the proper value equation, traditionally known (in German) as the eigenvalue equation, Mψ = mψ. M is a measurement operator embodied in some instrument. We may think of it as a set of computers represented by vectors in a multi-dimensional space. ψ is the unknown state of the system to be measured. The equation tells us that the result will always be a simple number m, the eigenvalue of a vector which remains fixed under the action of M. This eigenvalue represents the frequency of a spectral line. Eigenvalues and eigenvectors - Wikipedia
The spectral messages in the quantum network are characterized not just by their frequencies, but by their frequency of occurrence, sometimes called line weight. This frequency is calculated using the Born rule. This rule implements the quantum mechanical principle of superposition. Because quantum mechanics works at the simplest layer in the universe, its computations are very simple, basically just addition. If we add two waves, we get another wave in which each of the constituent waves its maintains its identity. If we listen carefully to an orchestra, for instance we can often pick out individual instruments. The Born rule in effect picks out how strongly each instrument is represented in the universal music. Born rule - Wikipedia, Quantum superposition - Wikipedia
Quantum mechanics shows us how the world controls itself. The formalism picks out the fixed points that enable communication in the world. Our transfinite network model suggests that these fixed points correspond to the integers in our number system, discrete entities. The theory of communication tells us that error free communication is only possible if the symbols shared are discrete. The underlying wave equation of quantum mechanics is constructed using continuous mathematics. It took a long struggle, culminating in the work of Cantor, to show that a continuum per se is meaningless, and that the Universe can only communicate meanings by sharing discrete units of information physically embodied as particles. Particle here embraces all discrete entities from fundamental particles to galaxies and beyond.
Our experiences of the world are spread out in space and time. We see that no two real things can exist in the same region of space at the same time. Quantum mechanics deals with time and energy. Space adds three new dimensions, often known as x, y and z, to time to give us spacetime. Space and time are related by the fact that it takes time to move a distance through space. The faster one travels, the shorter the time to get there, but there is a physical maximum speed, the velocity of light.
According to our hypothesis, the creation of the world is the emergence of fixed points in the divine dynamics. We understand these fixed points to be carriers of information in the universal network.
Quantum mechanics describes the lowest physical layer of this network. Although the quantum formalism is usually applied in space-time, all its essential features can be realized in the energy-time domain. Quantum mechanics identifies energy and time through the Planck-Einstein equation E = hf, where f is frequency, inverse time. Quantum mechanics does not see absolute energies, only energy differences, that is frequency differences, which determine the outcome when the wave functions are added according to the Born rule.
Classically, God is pure action. In modern physics energy is the time rate of action, so that we can imagine the first act of creation was the emergence of two orthogonal entities, energy and time, from action. Because they are distinct, a region of uncertainty lies between them.
Relativity is concerned with the emergence of the next layer of structure in the Universe, space-time. This introduces a new duality, space and time, with two properties: space is not time; and it takes time to move in space. Einstein developed the special theory of relativity when he realized that Maxwell’s equations are not consistent with the Galilean transformations used in Newtonian physics . The velocity of light, c, is fixed locally by Maxwell’s equations and is completely independent of the velocity of either the source or the observer of the light. This leads to the equation c+c = c, a counterintuitive result that is nevertheless consistent with observed reality. It is explained by the Lorentz transformation. This transformation is the fixed point or algorithm which governs the local structure of space-time. Albert Einstein: On the Elecrodynamics of Moving Bodies, Lorentz transformation - Wikipedia
Relativity inherits the conservation of energy from quantum mechanics. The Universe as a whole, we believe, contains a constant amount of energy, which may in fact be zero, the physical equivalent of eternity. This is because in space-time we can distinguish potential energy and kinetic energy. Conservation holds if we count kinetic energy as positive and potential energy us negative. A frictionless pendulum would swing forever converting potential energy into kinetic energy and back again. Feynman: Lectures on Gravitation
The special theory deals with inertial motion, that is systems in free fall. In this system, Newton’s first law of motion holds: a body at rest remains at rest and a body in motion continues to move in a straight line unless it is acted upon by a force. The general theory takes force (like gravitation) into account. It corresponds to Newton’s second law: that a body with mass m acted upon by force F accelerates at a rate a, ie a = F/m.
Einstein began his study of gravitation with the insight that a person in free fall does not feel their own weight. This led to the equivalence principle, that there is no way to distinguish between weight and acceleration, between gravitational mass and inertial mass. Gravitation sees only energy regardless of its form. Einstein: Relativity
Two constraints bind the general theory of relativity. First, that we live in a four dimensional space-time. And second, that energy is conserved. A world with three spatial dimensions is the simplest world in which a network can be completely connected without ‘crossed wires’, that is with messages interfering with one another and becoming confused.
Formally, general relativity describes a dynamic space-time which may expand or contract. At present we see an expanding Universe, and can extrapolate this expansion back to a singular point which we see as the source of the ‘big bang’ which created the current Universe. The inverse process, which occurs in regions of concentrated energy, is the formation of black holes. General relativity may be the only consistent implementation of conservation of energy in 4D space-time, having been selected from all those possibilities that entail inconsistency in some way.
5.4: Symmetry and wildness
A symmetry is something that stays the same while other things change. Physics is built on a number of symmetries, each of which adds a new layer of structure to the world. The fundamental symmetry is the act. All events, no matter what their content, are acts. There is an atomic act, an indivisible event measured by the the quantum of action. All actions comprise one or more quanta of action. Because the quantum is so small, most actions at the human scale comprise many trillions of quanta. Because act is fundamental it is the measure of all events, but nothing measures it. This implies that there is no inconsistency between the classical definition of God as pure act and the quantum of action. All events are acts of God.
The Universe is wild. It is also full of symmetries, and symmetry and wildness are closely connected. We may see the basic characteristic of wildness as unpredictability. This uncertainty is based on symmetry. A fair die, for instance is symmetrical, and because of this symmetry we cannot tell which face will land upwards when we throw it. All we can say is the the probability of each of the numbers from 1 to 6 is 1/6. Kolmogorov: Foundations of the Theory of Probability
In a layered network, the lower layers are the symmetries of the layers above themselves. The energy layer described by quantum mechanics establishes the symmetry known as conservation of energy for all subsequent layers. No matter how complex a system may be, it conserves energy.
In human affairs the basic symmetry is provided by our common humanity. This symmetry is the basis for all the statements of human rights that have developed over the last few centuries. A consequence of this symmetry is that gender, colour, wealth and all the other breaks in human symmetry are given an equal chance of realization. Nobody is barred from fulfilling their dreams, we face a wilderness of possibilities. United Nations: Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Wilderness maximizes entropy and so maximises stability and peace. Instead of dictatorial rulers using violence to limit human behaviour, everyone is free to do anything humanly possible as long as it does not impinge on the human rights of others.
5.5: Quantum field theory: bonding
A key relationship arising from the special theory is the equation of mass and energy: E = mc2. Massive particles can be created from energy and energy is released when they are annihilated. One of the most successful applications of quantum field theory is quantum electrodynamics, the theory of the interactions between photons and electrically charged particles like electrons. Most of the macroscopic phenomena we observe are explained by quantum electrodynamics, with the particular exception of gravitation, which has so far eluded incorporation into the standard model that embraces the other three interactions. Feynman: QED
Particles fall into two classes, bosons and fermions. Bosons serve as messenger particles, fermions as structural particles. Identical bosons tend to congregate together. Identical fermions, on the other hand, obey the Pauli exclusion principle: only one fermion is allowed in any quantum state. This leads to the spatial extension of structures like atoms and everything made from atoms. Quantum field theory understands this differentiation by the spin-statistics theorem. Streater & Wightman: PCT, Spin, Statistics and All That
Classical physicists thought that information could be transmitted instantaneously through space. The special theory of relativity tell us that it takes time to move a distance. This fact leads to the time ordering of causality and the effective isolation of events that are outside one another’s ‘light cones’ and cannot communicate with one another. Light cone - Wikipedia
The emergence of spacetime enabled the creation of particles. We model this process using quantum field theory (QFT) which lies at the intersection of quantum mechanics and special relativity. Particle Data Group. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
One of the key ingredients of modern physics is Emmy Noether's explanation of the close relationship between symmetries and conservation laws such as the conservation of energy. Many other physical quantities are conserved, and we find that these symmetries define the nature of possible particles, that is possible messages in the physical world. Neuenschwander: Emmy Noether's Wonderful Theorem.
Particles are the observable fixed points in the divine dynamics. On the whole, they are observed by one another rather than by physicists. Particles interact with one another through the underlying, largely invisible processes which we represent by quantum wave functions, analogous to computer software. These processes are invisible, since to be visible, they must communicate. Since communication is itself a process, the overhead of communication would bring every process to a standstill if it tried to communicate a real time history of every step it took. For the purposes of our model, these fixed points correspond to transfinite numbers and the underlying processes are modelled by Turing machines.
Quantum mechanics becomes creative when we introduce 'measurement', ie systems communicating with one another. The act of communication takes place in a product of the Hilbert spaces of the communicating particles This product space is in effect a new creation. Zurek explains that communication can only take place if the two particles share an orthogonal basis, that is a common code, as we should expect from Shannon’s theory. Networks extend themselves by creating new network addresses, that is new space. Quantum communication or measurement has a similar effect. Wojciech Hubert Zurek: The QuantumOrigin of Quantum Jumps
Fermions bind to one another by exchanging bosons. We can see layer after layer of this structure, beginning with fundamental particles and moving up through atoms, molecules, cells, organisms, ourselves, ecosystems, planets and galaxies to the Universe as a whole. This process is governed by natural selection or, as we have noted above, divine judgement.
The fundamental network in the Universe is the gravitational network which, like quantum mechanics, sees only energy. It is indifferent to the form which energy states. Gravity sees me and an 85 kg boulder as identical. The symmetry of gravitation treats every particle the same, a condition known as general covariance which means that any consistent reference frame will do for gravitation. In linguistic terms, this means that anything can mean anything, any two symbols can be bonded together, like (for instance) words in a dictionary bound by their spatial order.
Most attempts to develop a quantum theory of gravitation have run into trouble, suggesting that perhaps gravitation may not be quantized so that gravitons do not exist. The general theory of relativity describes four dimensional spacetime using the continuous space described by differential geometry. A continuum carries no marks, and so cannot carry information. This continuity serves as an interface between the classical God of pure dynamic simplicity and the fixed points that we observe being created and annihilated within this dynamic. Differential geometry - Wikipedia
An inertial reference body is inertial because it is being subject to no force, the definition of inertial. Gravitation, therefore, carries no information and does not exert a force on inertial frames. Since it carries no information, it has no need to be quantized. We only feel the gravity on Earth because the ground we are standing on stops is from following our inertial inclination. The structure of the Earth is maintained by the electromagnetic, weak and strong forces.
Gravitation is exceedingly weak. The electromagnetic force is is approximately 1040 times stronger than gravitation. The next step in the construction of the Universe may have been be the emergence of electromagnetism, photons and charged particle like electrons and quarks. Photons are bosons and charged particles like the elecron are mostly fermions. Electromagnetism explains most of the features of the macroscopic observable world. Electromagnetism - Wikipedia, Physics Forums
Gravitation does not change things since it communicates no information. Inertial frames remain inertial under the action of gravitation. The other three forces do transmit information. They do not simply push things around but change them, just as we are changed when we talk to one another. Electromagnetic interactions changes the state of changed particles through the exchange of photons. Because the photon is massless, it travels at the velocity of light and has an infinite range. We can now detect photons that were created a few hundred thousand years after the Universe began 14 billion years ago. Cosmic microwave background - Wikipedia
The weak force is very similar to the elecromagnetic force. The three 'vector bosons' particles exchanged by the force are massive and so have a very short range and lifetime, dictated by the uncertainty principle. This force operates on quarks, changing one flavour into another. It is responsible for radioactive decay. It also interacts with electrons and neutrinos. Weak interaction - Wikipedia
Each new generation of particles arises through the breaking of a pre-existing symmetry. The similarities of the electromagnetic interaction and the weak interaction are explained by seeing them both as examples of an electroweak interaction at high energies whose symmetry is broken at lower energies to give the photon and the three vector bosons.
The strong force binds quarks together to give us nucleons like the proton and the neutron and mesons. It also serve to bind nucleons into atomic nuclei. It is carries by massless particles called gluons which interact through colour charge. The strong force is so strong that any attempt to break the bond between quarks takes so much energy that new quarks are created in the process, making it impossible to isolate a single quark. Nevertheless the variety of quarks and colour charges provides a very satisfactory explanation of the large number of heavy particles observed in high energy interactions. Strong interaction - Wikipedia
6: Application: the commandment of love
Religion is applied theology in the same way as engineering is applied physics and medicine is applied biology. Religions have traditionally been sources of values and have developed codes of behaviour to guide their followers. Billions pf people have been guided by the ten commandments of Yahweh. These codes are often motivated by a reward like an eternal life of blessedness. If practical terms, religions foster communication and cooperation within groups of people which improve their fitness. Ten Commandments - Wikipedia
In the time of Jesus, the priestly bureaucracy of Judaism had produced a forest of regulation that seemed to benefit the priesthood at the cost of the people. Jesus revolted against this, using strong language. Matthew devotes a whole chapter of his Gospel to the woes of the priests, listing their hypocrisy in detail:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Matthew 23
Naturally they wanted to kill him. Self appointed priesthoods have been righteously condemning people to death, often horrible, for at least as long as we have historical evidence. With the help of the Romans, the priests ultimately had Jesus crucified. By rising from the dead, he proved his divinity. The writers of the Gospel portrayed their work as a happy ending to the disasters of the Old Testament. God had received recompense by the sacrifice of his Son. Now he will eventually repair the damage he did to the world in his fit of anger at the first people. Catholic Catechism: He will come again in glory
Jesus took them back to the beginning of the Law by quoting from the Deuteronomy 6:5: 'Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength', words written down about 600 years previously. To this Jesus added: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34) This radical simplification of the Law might be enough to explain why Christianity has since grown to be about 100 times more popular than Judaism. Deuteronomy 6:1-9, John 13:33-35: Love one another
Elsewhere, Jesus set a standard for this love: 'Love your neighbour as yourself'. He used the Parable of the Good Samaritan to explain the meaning of 'neighbour'. New Commandment - Wikipedia, Mark 12:30-31, Luke: The Parable of the Good Samaritan
There are people such as Margaret Thatcher who say that there is no such thing as society and that we are all on our own. This makes no sense, of course. Very few of us live alone incommunicado. Most of us are in constant contact with other people, and this is the communication that forms a society.
6.1: Love God = love the Universe
If the Universe is God, love God means love the Universe. As we pointed out above, the Catholic Church depends for its existence on the hypothesis that God is invisible to us so that it is the sole channel of reliable communication between ourselves and God.
Here we explore the alternative, that God is biggest, most powerful and awesome thing we can see, ranging from the whole Universe to every moment of our lives. If the Universe is divine, every experience is experience of God, what Christianity calls revelation.
The Universe fulfills all the traditional roles of God, creator, sustainer, provider and judge. From this point of view, the Universe deserves the same worship and care as we traditionally devote to our fictional Gods. To care passionately for the planetary systems that preserve and enhance our lives is to be green. Green theology puts greenness on on a sound theological footing.
6.2: The will of God is implicit in nature
We want to know the will of God. This is the quest of all religions. Different cultures have had different approaches to acquiring this knowledge. Institutions like the Catholic Church claim that they know the will of God through books they have written themselves. They claim the sole right and ability to tell us what God wants.
They motivate us to trust them by their promise that people who do as they are told qualify for an eternal afterlife of divine bliss. On the other hand disobedience will be punished by an eternity of suffering in Hell. A strong motivation which deeply affected me for the first 25 years of my life.
None of us want to die, the survival instinct is too strong, so there comes point in a time of stress where the natural course is to avoid starvation by taking resources from other people, at the risk that if they resist our attempts at plunder they may harm, perhaps kill us. Our motivation is that we would die of starvation anyway. None are so dangerous as those who have nothing to lose.
Does God want us to kill to live? Yes, if resources are limited, there may be no choice. On the other hand, we have long since learnt that a bit of foresight can prevent conflict. We need to set aside our surplusses for hard times, as Joseph taught the Egyptian Pharoah long ago (as if he did not know that already!). If it is the will of God to kill when necessary, it also the will of God to prevent conflict by careful management and communication. Genesis 41:1-39: Pharoah's dreams
The classical God is eternal, omniscient and omnipotent. One the other had, we are parts of the universal God, and our actions are God's actions. As we learn how to maintain our lives with less violence, love should motivate us to seek to lighten our footprint on our planet. Ways to do this include voluntary poverty, recycling, vegetarianism and renewable energy. Ecological footprint - Wikipedia
6.3: Power: Warlords, monarchs and government
One of the realities of life noted in the Book of Genesis is the need to work. For most of us work is a pain and better avoided. This has led, over many thousands of years to institutions such as slavery, military conquest, rape and plunder, all aimed at reducing the workload of those powerful enough to command the labour of others.
We might measure power of a person by the aggregate amount of change they can produce in the lives of his subjects. At one extreme all the subjects are slaves of a monarch who has an arbitrary power of life and death. At the other end we have an ideal society ruled by laws so agreeable that people are inclined to obey them without force. The aim of democracy might be use the collective wisdom of the people to craft laws that as many people as possible see as just and necessary. Citizens wish to have a say in the way their tax money is spent.
One important sphere of power is the upbringing of children, filing their minds with models of self control which improve the chances of profitable outcomes of the events of their lives. This why religions like to control education. The Catholic education I received was partly an abuse of power because much of the theology I was taught was wrong. The question here is whether we are breeding people who live by evidence or people who live by ego and instant gratification.
There are two general approaches to truth. The first is faith: believe what you are told by the authorities; the second is observation. If you want to know what is actually happening, look. It seems true that truth is stranger than fiction. The sayings of the authorities, like the dogma of the Catholic church, are often fictions, made up to promote their political agenda and make certain that they maintain their authority. This battle between traditional authoritarianism and the modern search for evidence based opinions seems to have always been with us.
'And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.' (John 8:32, KJV). Conversely, error imprisons us. Scientists use the natural world as their touchstone, as Christian theologians use the Bible. Christians believe the Bible, and the task of theologians is to decode this information using the tools approved by their institutional masters. The Biblical ‘deposit of faith’ is less than a million words. Although Christian theologians allow that world teaches us something about God, this knowledge is severely limited and definitely not the full story of our existence.
There is a selective pressure toward the scientific approach, simply because it is more likely to show us how the world really works so that we can devise technological strategies and tactics to help ourselves. Fictions like divine grace, homeopathic medicine and trial by battle have no place in an evidence based world.
The Catholic Church claims to have received the gift of truth from its God, but it is definitely wrong on one obvious matter: that women are precisely equal to men in the theological sphere and cannot therefore be barred from the priesthood. True education replaces these ancient fictions with facts about the nature of God. John Paul II: Fides et Ratio
Christianity is a meliorist religion. It would like to make things better. There is the ultimate betterment of eternity in heaven, but the doctrine of loving your neighbour as yourself has probably done much for good and benevolent government in those countries that take social security, health care and education seriously.
One valuable consequence of this approach is the peace and freedom that have allowed science and technology to flourish, leading to improvements in the physical sides of life, communication, transport, housing, food, health care and so on. In adverse poltical circumstances, these benefits may not yet be realized, but the fact that they are possible remains an aspiration for oppressed people.
Here we come to a problem with systems of sharing and cooperation: control of the impact of 'free loaders'. Taxpayers are often worried that their money is being used to support people who do not deserve it. Looking after everybody is good for business, however, and we can rely on poorer people to spend their income quickly to the benefit of the economy.
[People] are qualified for civil liberty, in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites; in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity; in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption; in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Edmund Burke
Creatures produced by evolution are inclined not only to minimise the costs of survival, but also to survive at any cost. We need energy to live and the principal source of energy on Earth is the Sun. Because we are incapable of photosynthesis ourselves, we have had to get our food from a food chain rooted in the Sun, eating either vegetables, herbivorous animals, or animals that feed on herbivorous animals.
The search for food can often lead to conflict. All species which hunt and gather and reproduce sexually gather must protect their resources from interlopers. People who live by horticulture and agriculture must protect their produce from from vermin and plunderers. On the other hand, there is a tendency to rape and plunder since from an evolutionary point of view it gets ones genes into the next generation. For those who are skilled and equipped for violence it may be any easy way to acquire resources. It is therefore necessary to curtail some of our ancient instincts to maintain peaceful society. Civilization and Its Discontents - Wikipedia
Here we conceive the world as a layered network. Physics explores the lowest layer of this network. Physics explains many of the violent events in the Universe, and this knowledge has both shown us the evolution of the Universe from the initial singularity and taught us how to make nuclear weapons.
Life on Earth became possible first because we live a long way from supernovas and black holes, and secondly because it is a mineral rich planet near a star whose energy spectrum is just right to promote the chemistry of life. We do not know how life started, but we have some history of its evolution over the last few billion years.
We are a very successful species because we have been able to appropriate the energy forms of life for our own use. This power comes from the social networks we form to gather and share information about the world and devise ways of using this information for our welfare. The foundation of this development is peaceful government.
This is not easy, since violence often wins. We can see this at work in many countries, where violent regimes are systematically killing and imprisoning anybody who dare to dissent from government rape and pillage, eg Egypt under Morsi, Russia Putin, Syria under Bashar al Assad and so on. These violent warmongers are serious impediments to the construction of heaven on Earth.
Violence involves the release of large amounts of energy in a very short time, like punching someone in the head or exploding a bomb. Energy of itself is very simple since it is a fundamental symmetry of the universe. A fundamental symmetry of social organization is money, that is a conserved measure of value that obeys the laws of arithmetic. The analogy between money, energy and violence is that large amounts of money can cause large amounts of violence by buying weapons and mercenaries to operate them. The oligarchic lust for money and the power associated with it is a leading cause of national failure. Acemoglu
The flow of energy is transparent. At present the global money system is shrouded in secrecy. In practice government is a matter of money, taxing and spending. It is guided to some extent by the taxpayers' desire to control how their money is spent. One aspect of this control is to prevent leakage of public funds into supporting violence and corruption. Theology and religion must learn to apply the physics of energy to the flow of value and power in the human network.
Like energy, money is divine. We must learn to manage money as effectively as the Universe manages energy. This is the question for political economy.Back to toc
We rely on the input of information from our environment to guide our lives. If this information is false, we could be in trouble. Driving on a foggy night, is the road clear enough ahead for me to overtake the truck in front?
We have billions of sensors on our surfaces which are continually feeding us with the real time information necessary for dynamic processes like ding the dishes or driving in city traffic. This raw information is integrated in our central nervous system to determine what we need to do to deal with this input.
Individual life is fast and detailed. The political system works at a slower pace and takes an abstract view of the population. It also collects information and integrates it to devise courses of action. The traditional input to government is statistics. How many voted for who? how much steel are we producing? How much money are we spending on welfare, and so on. Ideally it implements human symmetry, collecting information fairly and equally. Any tendency to falsify information is dangerous, as it may lead the body politic astray. Truth in feedback is essential for stability.
Science is the source of reliable social feedback. It begins with statistics. The basic process of scientific data collection is the same as that used by government, which we call binning and counting. We picture things by devising a list of bins, and then counting how many individuals may be in each one. How many people smoke? How many are over 80 years old? The bins describe symmetries, a set of events with something in common.
Is this population of creatures healthy. The scientific approach is to count them year after year to see if their population is increasing or decreasing. We learn about fundamental physics by hitting particles together and binning and counting the particles that come out. We Decide of the Earth is warming by measuring the temperature at many points and many times.
Science can only deal with observable phenomena. In traditional theology the doings of the gods and angels are generally invisible to us, and we need to listen to a prophet to find out what is going on. If the Universe is divine, on the other hand, we can look scientifically at God and decide how best to deak with it.
We are born with enough innate knowledge to survive, to charm our carers, to find food, to shy away from danger. But there is a lot more to learn, so that we find these days that many people are only just finishing their education in their mid-twenties.
It is probably still true that most people in the world have been brought up in traditions that base values and activities on the words of an invisible god. Where the god and the findings of science differ, many of these people are inclined to believe the god. This is a dangerous misunderstanding of the nature of God.Back to toc
6.6: Theology: the science of everything
This essay suggests that there is a consistent alternative view to the Catholic dogma that God is a mysterious other known only to the Church. The data of theology are human experience, that is they lie in human consciousness and we have access to these data through the words and actions of their possessors.
At present, many people on the planet are having negative experiences, and in most cases this negativity is the result of the actions of the others, predominantly intimate partners, warlords, and all those others who get their pleasures by inflicting pain on others.
I feel that the Church is a major player in this task, disenfranchising the female half of the population, maintaining that we are sinners living in a broken world, denying current reality infavour of some future world and a host of other errors.
The alternative to an effective parliament, however, is civil war. At present religious forces are verging on civil war, and it is imperative that the Catholic Church, the wealthiest and most powerful religion on the planet, open itself to a reform which will unify the theological and religious forces on the Earth for the welfare of the planet.
Any universal theology and religion must be based on the realities of human life, not the fantasies of a lot of powerful old men. Galileo showed the way. Truth is stranger than fiction. Since Galileo's time we have learnt an enormous amount about ourselves and our Universe. The first part of this essay recalls some of this knowledge.
We have defined symmetry as something that stays the same while other things change. Human symmetry is the set of human properties and rights which remain unchanged as we move from person to person. The broadest scientific symmetry is a theory that applies to everything that exists. We propose that theology is just this theory, treating the whole Universe of observable reality from the big bang to this moment in each of our lives.
From the communication point of view, all our observations are communications between ourselves and the Universe and the messages are encoded in particles of various complexity ranging from photons and electrons to complex structures like ourselves. I am a signal propagating from my birth to my death, one of the vast traffic in human life running on the human part of the Universal network.
In this context, theology becomes the study of information flow in the divinity. It is based on the information that flows into and out of each of us. From this abstract theological point of view, we are all different but nevertheless identical particles in the world, and we must structure our societies both on human equality and fair trade with one another and our global environment.
A religion based on this theology does not need a remote central commanding authority. All the information needed for someone to fit in and have a good relationship with the divine whole is available locally, either by immediate experience or by messages through the network, like this little essay.
Theology is very practical. It shows us how to navigate through life. By studying the nature of the whole world, it gives us a global frame of reference to find our way, just as the stars show sailors which way to go in a trackless ocean.
6.7: Symmetry, law and human rights
The Catholic history of salvation claims that we are fallen species, the harmony between body and spirit broken by an ancestral sin. We are now universally inclined toward evil, and must be controlled. This control cannot come from the unreliable people themselves,but must be imposed from above, in the name of God.
There is no evidence for such an original sin. What we do know is that we adapt to the environment in which we find ourselves. If we are treated badly we will probably react strongly. We are one of the billions of species selected by the divine Universe to enjoy a few million generations in the Sun, and we are as perfect as possible given the constraints of consistency.
Cosmological history describes the complexification of the world from the initial singularity to its current complexity. We measure the complexity of the system by counting its states, to yield a number we call entropy. The second law of thermodynamics tells us that on the whole entropy tends to increase. This increase is a numerical expression of the creative power of the Universe which we understand to be the development of more complex fixed points in the divine dynamics as we move into higher transfinite spaces.
We are among these fixed points. I was created about 70 years ago and will be annihilated within the next thirty years or so. In the interim I have had a life experience, the whole set of external influences that have shaped me. On this hypothesis, all these messages from my environment are revelations of God and my actions responses to these messages.
We understand the world to be governed by divine law, which is in effect the essence of God. Here, as noted above, we think in terms of symmetry. Symmetry is built into the layered structure of networks. The lower layers appear as symmetries in the higher layers. The most basic symmetry, present in every layer is conservation of energy.
Symmetry is closely related to abstraction and meaning. A species is a symmetry, and we can take advantage of this to talk about all them at once: ‘all Homo sapiens are mortal.’ We can point to different systems in our environment and classify them into human and not-human.
Symmetry also gives us control. Many societies are built on the shared understanding that we are all equal before the law so that legislators can bind everybody with a simple statement of law.
Computing processes are bound to the real world by meanings or correspondences. So the social security system processes each of us under a unique social security identity which connects the data in the system to the individual. Manipulations of this finite set of data effectively manipulates the transfinite state of each individual referenced.
The key to this control is the global ‘symmetry with respect to complexity’ exhibited by set theory. As Cantor found, the concept of set embraces sets of all finite, infinite and transfinite cardinal and ordinal numbers. Insofar as we can develop both quantum mechanics and the dynamics of mathematics from set theory, we should expect to find some similarities.
In particular, this leads to the idea that the human psychological phenomenon of insight and the quantum mechanical phenomena of measurement are instances of the same universal process. From this point of view, human intelligence is simply an instance of the creative process that makes the world what it is. This identification is made possible by the symmetry of networks with respect to complexity.
How do these ideas couple to the political tasks of human governance? What we are looking for is an implementation of divine providence designed to run in the human layer of the transfinite network. This process is already well under way. We have all the necessary technology to live sustainably on Earth, but the deployment of this technology is greatly hindered by political fragmentation of our species which can be traced back to religious and theological fragmentation.
The scientific method was first applied to politics by Aristotle, who is said to have collected the constitutions of hundreds of city states. This work has continued so that we have a relatively clear understanding of how to manage nations with respect to human rights, the rule of law, and sustainable exploitation of the resources necessary for our existence. In particular we are fully aware of the speed with which uncontrolled political, military and financial power and cults of personality can destroy a nation. Aristotle: Politics, Acemoglu & Robinson: Why Nations Fail
The problem is to work out ways to make a set of self interested agents work for their common good. The short answer is love one another, look out for one another, work for the collective well-being. The long answer is to implement this love in a way that respects human symmetry.
6.8: Education and democracy
It is essential to the success of democratic government that the people who elect the government be guided by a true understanding of the nature of the world we live in. Education for democracy therefore, demands that people learn to seek the truth in the information made available to them by people sources acting for various financial interests. This suggests that education should be public and open to criticism.