self organization

Date: Thu Jan 13 2000 - 11:55:18 EST

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    Self organization

    The few "facts" known about evolution should not be incompatible with
    anyone's philosophy. Conclusive evidence for either randomness or God will
    never be found, and the existence of purpose --or lack of purpose-- in nature
    should not be part of a scientific debate. I don't ridicule anyone's God,
    and could be as tolerant of atheists if they didn't try to impose "lack of
    purpose in nature" upon me as scientific truth. Explanation for the
    unexplainable seems a pressing human need, and we agnostics are not immune,
    although our explanations are sometimes more personal and individualized.
    "Self organization" is one such explanation, and the evidence for it will
    remain similar to the evidence for God or for randomness. Self organization
    is also as impossible to define as God and randomness.

    Rupert Sheldrake refers to the laws of nature as habits. Most have existed
    so long as to be comparatively stable. Life, a newcomer in the universe, is
    far from stable. One might guess the laws governing life could change more
    easily. They "self-organize". Any change in the "habits" or laws of nature
    governing life, which have persisted for billions of years, would still be so
    gradual as to be imperceptible to humans. Habits, as we know them, are
    changed by will. Many atheists deny the existence of free will, even for
    humans, but I see the ability to make choices as what distinguishes life from
    non-life. The most primitive bacteria has a choice of turning right or left.
     We have decided "mind" is synonymous with our brains, and that "mind" is an
    almost exclusively human attribute. Some people acknowledge a diminished
    portion of mind for some mammals, but most people would declare a cut-off
    point for mind (or free-will) somewhere above bacteria. Even those who admit
    bacteria make choices would insist it is a mindless choice. How can anyone
    know that? Until science can define "mind", which I don't anticipate, any
    "cut off" seems unwarranted to me.

    I suspect many religious people would not be offended by such views, but I
    expect most atheists to be as outraged as they are by the concept of God.


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