Life is a strange phenomenon. We are born in this Universe, we exist in this Universe, we perceive this Universe, we die in this Universe. Many accept this as a certainty and give it no more thought. Some question the nature of our reality as they learn more about the world around us. A few understand that our current path is leading us to the eventual destruction of our society. In my mind that is not even a questionable fact, the evidence of global and social catastrophe loom in the horizon like a fork in a river. The choice has to be made or the current will lead us to a waterfall and our eventual doom. Many have given up, seeing the prophesized Armageddon and the ensuing ‘Rapture’ as an easy out from the problems of the world – “Why worry about the destruction of Mother Earth if I’m not going to be here?” The problem is that it’s not that easy. In the end we’re all human and we all have to deal with our choices; I just wish that more people would realize that their choices have profound ramifications on future generations.
In many ways it’s hard to disassociate oneself from the static value patterns that have been ingrained into us since our youth. The ideas and values that we grow up with are easily imprinted because our young brains are basically undeveloped neural networks. The first ideas that are introduced become the ones that are most strongly associated and the hardest to dislodge. The power to modify our mindset is the absolute power of our consciousness – we can ‘will-to-power’ our current perception to align with a new set of ideals, however it takes a certain type of individual to evoke that kind of drastic change to our ‘core’ being. Nonetheless, the resilience of the brain is our greatest asset as it continues to adapt with our every changing environmental situation.
Ultimately I have faith in humanity because no matter what happens to this world, I believe in our skills of adaptation. This is a fundamental trait that has allowed us to evolve in many ways. From turning a stone and a stick into a weapon all the way to turning logical math into functional computers, we’re a pretty impressive species.
We’ve done a lot since our brief journey into consciousness began. We’ve established societies that (somewhat) represent the needs of the majority. We’ve developed medicine and surgery that allow us a greater chance of surviving the hardships of living. We’ve discovered some of the fundamentals of the Universe around us; how vast and near infinite it is in both space and time. We’ve discovered things about our brains and bodies that would have astounded Victorian physicians. We have made a lot of progress yet we are still doing many things the wrong way. We have endless potential but we are endlessly making the wrong choices on some fundamental questions in our collective lives. Most of the time we forget that there are so many other people with their own perception of the world. Much has been done to bring these perceptions into alignment, but much work is still ahead of us. We’ve got a long way to go as a species.
Too few of us are concerned with the fate of our grandchildren’s children. We know that there is little chance that we’ll ever see them so how can one truly care about this abstract future generation of your DNA? If we did care, we might do a little more to make sure that our grandchildren’s children had a world to grow up in, a world that wasn’t drained and spoiled, abused and used and then thrown away. You may think I’m an extremist but in reality our current course of action is only leading us to more consumption, less conservation and an always-greater division between the haves and the have-nots. That’s not the way it should be. We should be able to see the connection between over consumption, lack of balance, and backlash. Our current lifestyle will eventually destroy us because it’s not in check with anything, and will eventually be rejected by the ecosystem that is Earth. Humanity is a tumour that’s spreading over this world exponentially with time.
All is not lost however. Humanity is an interesting species because we’ve evolved with the notion that we’ve been guided by a greater being, a presence that is more powerful than us and will lead us on the proper path. This belief has been held true by people of all different religions for millennia; it is a BLUE meme that infects us at an early age and in the majority of cases it is never questioned. “Why bother questioning when all of my ‘big questions’ are answered?” It is the Truth, a bastion of stability in a turbulent existence, a trusty paddle when you’re cruising down shit creek. I guess all of us really just need to find the right paddle.
I found my paddle, and it is complexity. It is global consciousness.
Right around the time I started my blog Wally posted an interesting link to a Wired article entitled A Globe, Clothing Itself with a Brain. A Jesuit priest named Pierre Teillhard De Chardin was the main contributor of this idea; the basics revolving around the concept of increasing complexity leading to increasing awareness. From this assumption he realized that we ourselves, as humans, can view our interactions with each other as creating another order of complexity. What emerges from this new connectivity is in fact the Noosphere, or ‘God’.
What I believe is that we have been doing this since we started interacting with each other more explicitly than other animals. This interaction was rooted in communication, the passing of ideas back and forth while learning from the experiences others have endured to enrich our own lives. This interaction leads to the formation of our societies, to our struggles with our existence and to our invention of Gods to explain the unexplainable. Perhaps these Gods were reflections of the temperament of society. An angry wrathful God emerges when our society was cruel and harsh; a more benevolent God when possibilities for peace emerge through avenues like philosophy and science. I’d say these were echoes of a mass sentiment, and that the touch of that mindset still lives with us today.
Here in the 21st century, however, we have new technologies to affect our lives in profound ways. Communication with anyone who has the means has never been so easy. This root, this founding idea of the communication of Memes, is where the start of societal evolution took off from. Now, once again, we have ‘upped the ante’ with technology. The Internet allows us a sharper blade against the struggles of survival as well as giving us a bigger hammer in which to build and learn as much about our Universe as we can. As a result of this inflation of self-enrichment and the increase in person-to-person interaction we have increased the complexity of the Noosphere. The Noosphere is thus becoming more self-aware.
-Teillhard De Chardin
We are creating a new God and its Morals will be the Morals that we hold. If our morals and value judgements are questionable, then what kind of higher entity are we creating? A monster, conquering all it sees, or a saint, learning and experiencing to its fullest potential?
The concept of the Noosphere is also rooted in some observable science. There are scientific experiements being conducted that show some interesting results, mostly surrounding the statistics of randomly generated numbers. Consider a computer that uses a device to create many successive ‘true’ random numbers, which are then processed to find the average of the data. Given a generator that creates numbers between 0 and 1, the average over time should be 0.5. The experimenters found that if a person were to concentrate on the computer performing this operation (or more specifically the random number generator) the subjects could skew the results to produces averages like 0.6. This is a small deviation, but a statistically verifiable one as well. The good people at Princeton then decided to extend this concept further by placing computers all around the world, generating and analysing these figures. Statistically significant deviations have occurred since they started, from sports events in the vicinity generating off random results, to global crises (of the past) like Y2K, and then of course the aftermath of 9/11.
Why are we able to affect random number generators? That is a very metaphysical question because it presumes an underlying connection and an individual focus that allows us to alter the nature of randomness. When we all focus on the same Meme then I believe this ability is magnified and the result is the creation of a global consciousness that perceives on a global scale the events around us. How does it affect us? Think of mob mentality. Why is it that a mob can go from peaceful to violent in a matter of minutes? Perhaps when a certain threshold is broken the mini-Noosphere envelopes all of those who are receptive to such subtle influences and the violent Meme is propagated throughout the group. Maybe some people are ‘sheep’ and some are ‘shephards’. At this point, I don’t know. What I do know is that we have all felt this influence at certain times in our lives. Think back to the last sports game or concert you attended – was that feeling of vitality purely because of the event taking place, or was it because everyone in the vicinity was concentrating on the same event and thus raising the group awareness to that of a singular consciousness?
At the end of the day most people will have trouble swallowing this concept. It’s too foreign, too outside the framework of our theistical upbringings. Rare is the individual who is willing to question the fundamental questions, that of our existence, our life, and our death. When an answer to these tough questions is provided, it seems as if the brain locks it in and throws away the key. Changing this answer requires such a will-to-power and confidence in the new concept that few will bother. It’s too much effort and can lead to personal instability. The mere act of questioning those answers is unthinkable in most. To question is to doubt, and to doubt the various religions’ answers is to throw their own ‘eternal afterlife’ into damnation. Why risk it? Safe and secure, we await our death and the ensuing afterlife.
Most will go about their day to day existence while the cyclically infecting religious Meme remains a part of their fundamental core. Every action is guided by the Morals laid out in their respective religion. This would be fine in most cases if people actually upheld some of the principals that their religions preached. What happened to love thy neighbour? How is it that the whole of Christianity is still standing while this fundamental tenet is ignored by most of its followers? But I digress.
The most interesting thing about this concept of global consciousness is that no matter what faith you hold, no matter what you do with your life, you are still influencing and being influenced by the Noosphere. If we view our society as a vast interconnected web of people, then every action we take ripples through this network in ways that we may never fully understand. Choices we make may be reflected back to us in the form of new opportunities arising or favoured paths disappearing. Is it too much of a stretch to see that if we make Good choices that affect us (and the others around us) positively, then Good things will come back to us, likewise for Bad decisions. If you believe (like me) that our collective actions affect the shape of the Global Consciousness, then it’s logical to say that if the majority of people are making Good decisions, the core Morals of the ‘higher entity’ we are creating will be Good as well.
Like I said, it really doesn’t matter if you personally believe in this entity or not, because it is still being generated in part by your interactions with others around you. At the same time, I believe the manifestation of its awareness will be more obvious if we all thought as one in this regard. Almost like the molecules aligning in a magnet, if our thoughts are aligned on the same path we can make a force-of-will that is ephemeral, yet able to alter the world around us. Until that time this will lies dormant, its capabilities never reaching its potential and the confusion and anxiety in our own individual lives growing. When the world believes together we will have reached a new level, but until that time the problems in the world continue to become more apparent, more traumatic. Like it or not, we’re all in this together. Welcome to the Noosphere.