Saturday, December 26, 2009

One Thousand Monkeys

Something Is Happening

(excerpt from " A Brief History of Everything" by Ken Wilber)

The big bang has made idealists out of anybody who thinks. First there was absolutely nothing, then Bang! Something. This is beyond weird. Out of sheerest Emptiness, manifestation arises.

This is a nightmare for traditional science, because it puts a time limit on the silly chance mutations that were supposed to explain the universe. Remember the thousand monkeys and Shakespeare - an example of how chance could give rise to the ordered universe?

"Given enough time, the randomly typing monkeys would manage to type out a Shakespeare play".

Given enough time! One computation showed that the chance for monkey power to produce a single Shakespeare play was one in ten thousand million million million million million million. So maybe that would happen in a billion billion years. But the universe doesn't have a billion billion years. It only has twelve billion years.

Well, this changes everything. Calculations done by scientists from Fred Hoyle to F.B. Salisbury consistently show that twelve billion years isn't even enough to produce a single enzyme by chance.

In other words, something other that chance is pushing the universe. For traditional scientists, chance was their salvation. Chance was their god. Chance would explain all. Chance plus unending time would produce the universe. But they don't have unending time, and so their god fails miserably. That god is dead. Chance is not what explains the universe; in fact, chance is what the universe is laboring mightily to overcome. Chance is exactly what the self transcending drive of the Cosmos overcomes.

Now the "religious creationists" have made quite a big deal out of this. They say it fits with the Bible and Genesis. They have seized upon the increasingly obvious truth that the traditional scientific explanation will not cut it. Creativity, not chance, builds a Cosmos. But it does not follow that you can then equate creativity with your favorite and particular God. It does not follow that into this void you can postulate a God with all the specific characteristics that make you happy - God is the God of only the Jews, or only the Hindus, or only the indigenous peoples, and God is watching over me, and is kind, and just, and merciful, and so on. We have to be careful about these types of limited and anthropomorphic characteristics, which is one of the reasons I prefer "Emptiness," which means unbounded or unclassifiable.

But the fundamentalists, the "creationists," seize upon these vacancies in the scientific hotel to pack the conference with their delegates. They see the opening - creativity is an absolute - and they equate that absolute with their mythic god, and they stuff this god with all the characteristics that promote their own ego inclinations, starting with the fact that if you don't believe in this particular god, you fry in hell forever, which exactly reflects the state of mind of those who believe this brutal notion.

So we have to start simple, I think, and be very careful. There is a spiritual opening in the Cosmos. Let us be careful how we fill it. the simplest is: Spirit or Emptiness is unclassifiable, but it is not inert and unyielding, for it gives rise to manifestation itself: new forms emerge, and that creativity is ultimate.

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