Bahá'í Library Online
. . . .
.
>>   Books
TAGS: Biology; Evolution; Paleontology; Science
> add/edit tags

Origin of Complex Order in Biology:
Abdu'l-Baha's concept of the originality of species compared to concepts in modern biology

by Eberhard von Kitzing

previous chapter chapter 4 start page single page chapter 6 next chapter

Chapter 5

Discussion

Today it is commonly accepted that the introduction of general relativity by Albert Einstein and quantum mechanics by Max Planck led to and still requires a reorganization of our philosophical concepts about the universe as a whole and our understanding of space, time and matter (Gell-Mann, 1994; von Weizsäcker, 1986). That the consequences of modern biology may bring about an even more drastic reformulation of our understanding of our existence is the central theme of Dennett's recent book Darwin's Dangerous Idea (Dennett, 1995). According to Mayr (Mayr, 1991), Darwin changed not only the science of biology but our complete way of thinking: "for no one has influenced our modern world view--both within and beyond science--to a greater extent than has this extraordinary Victorian. We turn to his work again and again, because as a bold and intelligent thinker he raised some of the most profound questions about our origins that have been asked, and as a devoted and innovative scientist he provided brilliant, often world-shaking answers." The far reaching, but often neglected implications of natural selection for philosophy are emphasized by Dawkins (Dawkins, 1989, p. 1): "Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun, but the full implications of Darwin's revolution have yet to be widely realized... Philosophy and the subjects known as `humanities' are still taught almost as if Darwin had never lived."

The time, `Abdu'l-Bahá spent on the subject of evolution, indicates that He was aware of the far-reaching consequences of this new approach. As the spiritual leader of the Bahá'í Faith, He explained cosmological and biological evolution in the light of the teachings of His father, as the actualization of complex order encoded in the God given laws of nature, as the unfolding of the names and attributes of God within time. In this essay it is assumed that the statements of `Abdu'l-Bahá presented above do not formulate detailed sentences about cosmogony and biological evolution but establish an open framework for a "Bahá'í" philosophy to be developed by future generations. Based on those corner stones defined by `Abdu'l-Bahá, some speculations are presented in this discussion how a non-trivial origin of our universe and life on earth may be formulated in the language of modern natural sciences. In this work, fundamental concepts are considered about the origin of actual complex order. It is important to note that the question of particular mechanisms of evolution as such is not addressed.

An important aspect of the discussion of biological evolution is the question of the origin of complex biological order. How can such well adapted, highly balanced biosphere come to existence? Is the order in our universe trivial? Than the resulting order should be likewise trivial! Is it the outcome of an ad hoc, self-creative system? In this case, the order should be characterized by arbitrariness on the physical, biological and social level. Or could it be created by means of an "outer", inherently complex force? As shown above `Abdu'l-Bahá addresses these questions in many of His writings, e.g., in SAQ and in several talks recorded in PUP. The ultimate origin of complex order, proposed by `Abdu'l-Bahá, differs considerably from those often suggested in popular scientific texts from the 19th as well as from the 20th century. It also distinguished characteristicly from more traditional, creationistic approaches. According to `Abdu'l-Bahá, the complex order found in our universe reflects the eternal names and attributes of God. Our universe is essentially complex from the very beginning, a complex order encoded in the time invariant laws of nature, in timeless essences. In contrast to most classical approaches from the time before Darwin, the order considered by `Abdu'l-Bahá is not static, but it is dynamic, it is substantially evolving.

This chapter is organized as follows. First several concepts about the origin of complex order are discussed. The question is addressed whether the findings of modern biology definitely rule out the existence of species essences. Speculations about a non-trivial complex origin are presented. And finally, the consequences of the different concepts of the origin of complex order on social laws and moral value systems are considered.

5.1) Origin of complex order in our universe

Concepts of the origin of complex order in this universe generally try to avoid to get trapped in the problem of the infinite regression described above. The classical solution for this problem is to assume the existence of a willful Creator Who designed this order. A similar conclusion was drawn by `Abdu'l-Bahá that accidental and necessary causations are insufficient to explain the order in this world and that, consequently, Will is required to root the chain of causation of a timeless essentialistic order. Within the Bahá'í faith, the creative will of God is considered to dwell beyond human powers of explanations.

Today this kind of solution of the problem of the infinite regression is rather unpopular. Alternative, often self-creative solutions to the infinite regression problem are proposed. In this essay ad hoc self-creation of complex order is contrasted with essentialistic dynamics, i.e., the unfolding of inherent complex order encoded in the time invariant laws of nature. In this section several ideas concerning such selforganizing universes and evolving biospheres are presented and critically discussed. First, the argument of the three causes is reconsidered.

5.1.1) The argument of the three causes

`Abdu'l-Bahá postulates in accordance with many traditions that the origin of order must depend on one of the three possible driving forces: chance, necessity or will. That the origin of order in our universe could be purely accidental is generally no longer claimed by the scientific community. Dawkins conclusive arguments that the "essence of life is statistical improbability on a colossal scale" make such an assumption rather unlikely. Thus, the necessary and voluntary causes are left.

But can we definitely rule out necessary laws of the evolution of our universe? Because Büchner and Haeckel lived before the discovery of quantum mechanics they accepted only necessary causes as the fundamental driving forces of evolution. Consequently, for them evolution was the necessary outcome of the fundamental laws of nature. Would such a concept not solve the problem of evolution without inventing external forces or creative design? In the Letter to Forel (`Abdu'l-Bahá, 1984), `Abdu'l-Bahá refutes this necessary evolution model by two arguments. In the argument of the three causes He concludes that if evolution would be a necessary characteristics of our universe one should see only upward development. The other counter argument is based on the hierarchical version of the infinite regression. The inherent complexity of a set of laws which is able to produce a particular form of order, e.g., the particular universe we live in, is certainly not smaller than the complex order it produces. Now the question for the origin is iterated one level. What is the origin of the natural laws ruling our universe and implicitly coding for the complex order produced by these laws? In principle one can assume a set of meta-laws which rule the origin of all possible universes and which once originated the particular laws ruling our universe. Because these meta-laws have to be more general, more encompassing than the laws of our universe, which they ground, they cannot be less complex. I.e., the iteration from laws to meta-laws to meta-meta-laws etc. simply does not solve the problem of the origin of the universe and the order therein. /1/ Such an iteration only "shifts" the problem of the origin from a level to a meta-level, where this problem does not become simpler but even more complex. This kind of argument applies to deterministic laws, but for stochastic rules as well.

The problem of the infinite regression severely challenges concept proposing necessary causes as the fundamental origin of order in our universe. `Abdu'l-Bahá (and others long time before Him) concludes from this situation that the origin of this order must come from an external source, i.e., something outside of such a ladder of formal iterations from a certain level to a meta-level to a meta-meta-level, etc. In this situation, the origin of order due to a mixture of random mutations and natural selection may appear as a way out of the "dilemma" to have to choose voluntary design as the fundamental cause of this universe. This kind of "solution" was first proposed for the origin of biological order, Dennett extends this concept to cosmology. Now, this "fourth" kind of origin is analyzed in greater detail.

5.1.2) Cosmological order

Dennett tries to escape the problem of the infinite regression not in a single step as Atkins or Wheeler do, but in many small gradual steps. As the biological order is obtained via natural selection, he considers the cosmological order to be generated by cosmological selection. In biology the concept of natural selection is explained by random variation of the genotype and selection by means of survival or death of the phenotype. Dennett does not explain what is varied and which are the criteria for selection. In principle his concept implies the existence of a meta-universe where meta-genotypes (the laws of the different cosmosses) are varied and meta-phenotypes (the different cosmosses themselves) survive or die according to rules of meta-selection. Thus, Dennett adds only an element in the hierarchical regression without explaining the existence of the meta-universe and the origin of the meta-selection rules.

Apparently, Dennett proposes a type of self-creative laws of nature as envisioned by Monod for the self-creation of biological characteristics. In this sense, the laws of nature are not preexistent but selected for during cosmology. This at least appears to be the message of the minimal requirement of his cosmology: "a timeless Platonic possibility of order." Accordingly, the laws ruling the existence and interaction of elementary particles must have been selected for at some time, because the selection step always needs some time. The launching of the chemical laws must have taken place at a very early stage of the universe. Otherwise one would expect that the chemistry of the early phase of the universe would have been different from today. If the form of the laws are not predetermined by any kind of essentialism, or any kind of timeless reality, one would expect different chemistries in different parts of the universe. In addition, without some "essentialistic binding" of the laws of nature, anew creations may change them at any time point and at any place within our universe. Dennett would have to explain why apparently the chemical laws are the same everywhere and all the time in the known universe. /2/ As pointed out correctly by Ward, the gradual appearance of order begs the same level of explanation as it's sudden emergence:

It is false to suggest that is is somehow less puzzling to have a long step-by-step building up of complexity than to have an instantaneous origin of complexity. If lots of bits of metal slowly assemble themselves on my doorstep by simple stages into an automobile engine, that is just as puzzling as the sudden appearance of an automobile engine on my doorstep... If complexity needs explaining, it needs explaining, however long it took to get there! (Ward, 1996, p. 18)

5.1.3) An ad hoc origin of complex biological order

The concept of the modern biological species, which is based on population thinking, parallels Aristotle's species concept, where the species is defined and maintained by the actually existing members of it's population. In the same sense, Mayr and others consider species to be not an implicitly preexisting entity, not a revelation of an implicit order, and certainly not the product of a purposeful plan. But the biological species is thought to be defined only by actually existing members of the species, by a living reproductively related community occupying an ecological niche, by a common gene pool (Mayr, 1978). As this gene pool changes due to the stabilization of favorable mutations, the species changes accordingly. The fidelity of gene reproduction keeps most species virtually constant over a time long compared to human life and human written history, such that we human beings generally perceive species as universal, time invariant entities. Mutations in the genome induce small changes in the DNA sequence. Cumulative selection omits unfavorable mutations, and preserves neutral and favorable changes. On the long run, those gradual changes drives the evolution of our biosphere.

Mayr (Mayr, 1982) describes natural selection as a two step process: (1) random variation and (2) the selection step. Many evolution biologist assume that the selection step requires no further explanation, and that no particular selective force is necessary to explain evolution. If this step is trivial, selection would be an elegant name for the tautology of the survival of the survivor (Popper, 1972). If this step is non-trivial, as indicated by mathematical evolution models (Kauffman, 1996), than proponents of self-creative evolution have to explain the rules for selection. If, on the one hand, those rules can be given they would define a kind of essentialistic evolution, where the fitness function is defined by timeless laws. Any evolution theory, where selection designates not only the tautology of the surviver of the surviver, requires some essentialistic input. Selection can work only on actually existing organisms, only after they appeared on this planet. Thus, selection does not have any "creative" role in evolution. If, on the other hand, selection is assumed to be essentially unpredictable and irreproducible, /3/ self-creative evolution would introduce a concept of the origin of complex order which resists any scientific investigation and which, therefore, would be no scientific explanation at all. The self-creative concept of the evolution thus claims that a scientific explanation does not exist! /4/ For such kind of evolution it appears to be reasonable as well to assume an external force, such as the creative force of a willful Creator (Hatcher and Hatcher, 1996; Ward, 1996).

There is an other problem related to self-creative evolution. If the selected biological characteristic are created anew, if life exists more than once in our universe, and if these anew creation are not the unfolding of inherent potentials hidden in the laws of nature, then one should expect essentially different biologies in different parts of the universe. With "essentially different biologies" it is not meant different biological solutions, but essentially different laws ruling different life forms. Consequently, similar as in the case of self-creative cosmology, the same biological systems, the same composition of chemical elements would have different biological characteristics in different parts of the universe. /5/ This strange behavior is a simple consequence of assuming anew creations. If this evolution theory is true, we should expect future anew creations of biological characteristics. Thus in future, myoglobin may perhaps preferably bind nitrogen instead of oxygen.

If a consequent self-creative concept of evolution would correspond to reality, a scientific theory of evolution would be impossible. Essential unpredictability cannot be the foundation to formulate laws to predict certain outcomes. An irreproducible reality does not allow to formulate statements about reproducible experiments. Reproducibility is, however, one of the essential requirements for modern scientific theories (Popper, 1972). Even if one does not accept the strict rules set up by Popper for a scientific theory, the unpredictable change of essential characteristics during evolution severely restrains our ability to reconstruct the past. If a certain composition of chemical elements which today produces a human being in the past would have produced something else, we have no way to know what this composition in the past actually was. Or to use a simpler example, since when could myoglobin bind oxygen and what function had it before, if it had any? In this situation, we would have nearly no means to reconstruct the past from the present, because we do not know which of the biological laws relevant today are applicable to past organisms. For those rules which did change we would not know their "ancient" forms. /6/ In such a world palaeontology would be impossible.

5.1.4) Chance and necessity

Monod designated his famous book Chance and Necessity. This title formulates a phrase for the two steps of evolution, as explained by Mayr (see previous section): (1) mutation and random recombination and (2) natural selection. Often the natural selection step is presented as a trivial one in that one has only to look for the survivors. But the survivors are the result of selection and, consequently does not explain the process of selection. The selection step can be compared with the final examination of students at the university. The distinction between better and lesser qualified students requires skillful examiners and cannot be done by a "blind, mindless algorithm". The examiners must encompass the students in knowledge if they want to give a fair judgment, if the outcome is supposed to reflect the students knowledge. Analogously, the selection for complex biological order requires a respective complex fitness function. Biological evolution is possible not because many die, but because there exist particular complex assemblies of chemical elements which form well adapted organisms. /7/ In other words, evolution can be described as the revelation of this complex order defined by a time invariant fitness function which is implicitly encoded in the laws of nature. Because in this model the fitness function is a timeless entity it may be a good candidate for `Abdu'l-Bahá's species essences. Thus, at a fundamental level, the appearance of biological order is not a problem of probability, as for instance discussed by Hatcher (Hatcher and Hatcher, 1996) or Ward (Ward, 1996), but a question of the genuine source of this order.

Thus, even the "forth" alternative provides no way out from the problem of the infinite regression. If the selection step is considered to be objective and reproducible in a statistical sense, than one introduces a timeless reality defining the laws of nature and particularly the laws of selection. In such a model the fitness function is defined from the "very beginning". In principle, Dennett proposes such a concept in describing evolution as an algorithmic process. A typical mathematical evolution algorithm consists in a mutation step ("chance") and in a selection step where the members of populations are selected according to predefined fitness functions ("necessity"). Also Dawkins model of the sequence space representing all possible forms of life, refers to such kind of evolution models. Consequently, the apparently gradually and cumulatively appearing order exists potentially, but complete in form of an in principle objective and reproducible fitness function. This complex and complete order, however, does suffer from the infinite regression, and from Gödel's incompleteness theorem. To escape this conclusion one has to introduce a "back door", some creative principle in addition to pure chance and necessity: ad hoc creation, élan vital or God's creative power. Independent of the name given to this process, it is not based on chance and necessity alone. Thus, we are back to `Abdu'l-Bahá's argument of the three causes, that accidental and necessary causes alone are insufficient to explain life. `Abdu'l-Bahá designates this third alternative voluntary cause, implying God's creation.

5.2) Can species essences definitely be ruled out?

As shown above, the classical concept of species essences was designed to fit into a static world. As explained by Cuvier, the species essences were thought to account for a particular biological population forming a reproductive community (see page pageref{CuviersSpecies}) and remaining virtually unchanged in their outer appearance since their original creation. This particular view was increasingly challenged by the findings of biologists and paleontologists, and finally it became clear that this particular understanding of species essences is untenable, resulting in a complete rejection of any kind of species concepts based on essences. Of course, the classical species concepts cannot explain the known facts in biology! But do these facts definitely rule out any kind of essence based species concept?

5.2.1) Essentialistic concepts in modern evolution biological

Those biologists trying to formulate mathematical models of biological evolution generally favor essentialistic concepts. In the essentialistic position it is assumed that there exists an independent reality behind our every day experiences. The time invariant laws of nature formulated by human scientists are considered to approximate at least parts of this eternal reality. In the case of evolution it is unlikely that humanity can ever design a theory which reproduces all the details of biological evolution on this planet (Gould, 1994). One can, however, study the principles, the general rules which are necessary for biological evolution. In recent years mathematical models of evolution became the target of intensive, rigorous analytical and numerical research (Eigen, 1992; Kauffman, 1995; Prigogine and Stengers, 1981; Ruthen, 1993).

Concepts of essentialistic evolution agree with ad hoc evolution with respect to the variation step. Mutations are considered to be purely random, to be irreproducible in a stochastic sense. /8/ Both concepts differentiate in the selection step. The fitness of a certain DNA sequence in a given environment is described in mathematical biology by an objective function. At least in average the DNA sequences which produce the best adapted phenotypes wins the competition against lesser qualified competitors. In principle at least in an gedankenexperiment, this situation is thought to be reproducible. Because the physical, chemical and biological properties, which define the fitness functions of the diverse forms of life, are understood to be determined by objective and reproducible laws of nature, such a concept of evolution describes the unfolding of inherent, timeless potentials of nature and, therefore, is designated essentialistic throughout this essay. Within particular evolution experiments, one can produce a situation where even the classical species definition becomes applicable. /9/

5.2.2) The originality of the human species

At the time of `Abdu'l-Bahá there was nearly no mathematical modeling of evolution and consequently the dominantly accepted philosophy of evolution biology discussed in the general public was either the concept of self-creative evolution, or mechanistic evolution as a necessary outcome of the mechanic laws of nature. The German Naturphilosophen, proposing species essences as the form giving entities in biology, considered concepts with nearly no relation to the problems of practical biology and had no exchange of ideas with the scientific community of biologists. Many biologists, by various reasons, were kept by the classical concept and could not support their view by the body of biological facts and theories. Thus, the concepts of self-creative or mechanistic evolution won the competition among possible alternatives. Later, also the mechanistic evolution concepts were abandoned as an emancipation of biology from physics. `Abdu'l-Bahá during His talks in Palestine, Europe and the USA criticizes these ideas. In support of the concept of the originality of the human species `Abdu'l-Bahá presents two arguments which rebuts specific objections certain "European philosophers" would raise against an essentialistic concept of evolution.

In support of the existence of timeless species essences `Abdu'l-Bahá refers to the arguments of a perfectly harmonious universe originating from Plato, and a timeless universal law of nature which was firmly accepted in physics and chemistry in the second half of the 19th century, and which represents one of the most fundamental concepts in classical as well as in modern physics. The two arguments address the same idea, they are two sides of the same coin formulated within two different conceptual backgrounds, that of neo-Platonism and that of modern physics and chemistry. The concept of the perfect harmonious universe implies that all possible forms of life exist from the very beginning. As God is timelessly perfect, His creation, reflecting His names and attributes, is eternally complete. Consequently, the origin of the universe is presupposed to be essentially complex. `Abdu'l-Bahá's argument of the perfectly harmonious universe differentiates from from it's classical variant in that the perfections needs to exist only potentially. Thus, `Abdu'l-Bahá generalized this old concept to include evolution. By referring to the time invariant laws of nature `Abdu'l-Bahá severely criticizes the philosophy of creating absolutely new biological characteristics and discloses some strange properties of those theories. `Abdu'l-Bahá considers it evident that a certain composition of chemical elements which today results in a human being (or a myoglobin molecule) some time ago would have produced the same human being (or the same kind of myoglobin molecule) and nothing else.$^{ref{TimeInvariantChemistry}}$ But the concept of anew self-creations of biological characteristics during evolution implies that the composition which today leads to a human organism some times ago (e.g., 10 or 100 million years) would have produced something different because those characteristics essential for human beings were not yet self-created at the previous time point. If one accepts the idea, however, that the same composition under the same boundary conditions always produces the same outcome then evolution of humanity is not a principally unpredictable, irreproducible outcome of haphazard self-creations, but the unfolding of implicit potential characteristics inherent in the laws of nature. In the neo-Platonic language, evolution translates the timeless species essences into reality, and in the Bahá'í terminology, evolution realizes mirrors reflecting the names and attributes of God.

With the argument of the three causes `Abdu'l-Bahá also rejects evolution concepts based on classical physics as proposed by Büchner or Haeckel. Because Newtonian mechanics knows only necessary causes, within such a model evolution would be the necessary result of the laws of nature. According to `Abdu'l-Bahá, if evolution would be necessary, decay and retrogression as frequently found in nature would be impossible.

In Platonism the species designates the form giving principles of biological populations. For clarity, this Platonic "species" is annotated "species essence" throughout this work. In the classical view, in the West as well as in the East, the world was thought to be static, and biological populations were assumed to directly reflect their respective species essences. In Western forms of neo-Platonism, which influenced the evolution of concepts in modern biology, this static concept of species dominated until the middle of the 19th century. Because this picture is at variance with the biological facts, in modern biology the concept of species essences is rejected altogether. In the East, however, Mullá Sadra developed the concept of substantial evolution. He considered eternal species essences which unfold their time invariant potential within time. /10/

`Abdu'l-Bahá explicitly supports the concept of substantial evolution in SAQ chapter 63. To overcome the prejudice hold in classical and modern biology, that timeless species essences are principally incompatible with evolution, `Abdu'l-Bahá presents the analogy between embryonic ontogeny and human phylogeny. Starting from a single cell the embryo passes through very different biological stages and forms, but all the way through it is human, its development is determined by the same genome, by the same chromosomes, by the same DNA chains. Analogously, timeless species essences can be assumed to guide evolution on earth and to rule its dynamics. Without the translation of the information stored in the genes no complex, living organism could develop. Analogously, the species essences does not account only for the actual appearance of a population, but it must define all possible directions of its evolution as well, such as the DNA directs ontogenesis. Thus, such a species essences is not only related to a single biological species, according to modern species definitions, but it must represent a whole spectrum of forms, of possible biological shapes. The analogy between ontogeny and phylogeny may help to shed some light on `Abdu'l-Bahá's view of the species essence. The information stored in the DNA chains determines the biological development of the embryo. Analogously, the species essences may be understood as representations of the information of which life forms are possible and which are not, of which composition of the chemical elements leads to living organisms. Indeed, non-arbitrary transformations describing the evolution of a system within time can be formulated mathematically only within a time invariant framework.

The material from the writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá accessible to the author and partly presented in this essay is not sufficient to develop a unique picture how `Abdu'l-Bahá may have understood the relation between biological populations and their respective species essences. Even the possibility that `Abdu'l-Bahá proposes a concept of parallel evolution, as some Bahá'í understand the respective Bahá'í writings, cannot be excluded if only the Bahá'í writings are considered. The objection, raised by the author, against parallel evolution originate from difficulties to translate parallel evolution into applied biology.

5.3) A non-trivial origin of order

One of the central arguments of natural theology against the physicalization of biology is the manifold diversity of life: "Here [i.e., in biology] such a diversity of individual actions and interactions is observed that it becomes inconceivable to explain it by a limited number of basic laws." (Mayr, 1982, p. 103, the text in square bracket is added by the author). Mayr concludes from this findings that evolution cannot be the result of the unfolding of the potential order encoded in the laws of nature. In contrast, the Bahá'í writings propose a non-trivial origin of our universe: the names and attributes of God. In this section a model is outlined which relates a complex origin of our universe to modern sciences.

The Bahá'í writings describe the universe and particularly humanity as mirrors of the names and attributes of God. These names and attributes can be considered as the "eternal building blocks", the "elementary units" of our universe. According to this view, this universe is a mirror image of the eternal reality and depends on the emanation of God's grace: "There can be no doubt whatever that if for one moment the tide of His mercy and grace were to be withheld from the world, it would completely perish". (Gleanings 27:6) This means that the fundamental order of this universe is complex from the very beginning. Cosmological and biological evolution realizes this preexisting order. In this view, evolution means the unfolding of possible complex order into actual complex order.

5.3.1) The kingdoms: a hierarchy describing increasing complexity

If this assumed non-trivial origin of order in our cosmos and in biology is thought to correspond to reality one should expect practical consequences for our physical world. The kingdoms introduced by Aristotle and considered in the writings and talks of `Abdu'l-Bahá may serve as a model of how reality may have a non-trivial origin without being in conflict with the laws of modern physics (see also Conow (Conow, 1990)).

`Abdu'l-Bahá describes the order in this material universe in form of a hierarchy, consisting of the mineral, vegetable, animal and human kingdoms. The higher kingdoms build upon the lower ones. One should bear in mind that the classification into the kingdoms as presented by `Abdu'l-Bahá was introduced by Aristotle. Their use by `Abdu'l-Bahá does not follow the common nomenclature in modern biology where the kingdoms designate different taxa. In this essay a concept is proposed that relates the kingdoms as they are used by `Abdu'l-Bahá to hierarchical levels of information processing. The mineral shows no processing at all. The vegetable kingdom represents information processing on the molecular level; the genetic plan regulates the molecular organization in the cell. Replication transfers the knowledge encoded in the genes from one generation to the next. The process of natural selection results in adaptations to the environment, to "learning" on a molecular level. The animal kingdom consists in information processing on the intra cellular level; the central nervous system (or other forms of neural networks or biological information processing systems) enables the animal to take advantage of the sensual input and to react instantaneously to it. It also provides the means for learning and simple forms of tradition.

Then, in the human kingdom reason appears. The human mind constructs an intellectual model of the surrounding environment. Speech provides the means to live and work in large, complex human societies. Learned traditions and later writings transfer knowledge from one generation to the next. Knowledge is not only stored on the cellular level in the genes (vegetable kingdom) or in the pattern of neuronal connectivity (animal kingdom), it became largely independent from it's individual biological carrier in the form of stories and myths in earlier history and more recently in form of scriptures, films and disks. The human intellect supports sophisticated interactions among individuals resulting in a complex global society.

Wheeler (Wheeler, 1989) and Weizsäcker (von Weizsäcker, 1986) propose to base physics not on energy as what is the case today but to ground it on information. /11/ With information as the fundamental entity of our universe where energy and matter are only it's derivatives, the concept of the kingdoms offers a model for a non-trivial, hierarchical, fundamental order of our universe. Whereas today's physics refers mainly to the level of the mineral kingdom, the "influence" of the higher levels of the hierarchy would become detectable only in complex biological systems. /12/

If the kingdoms are understood to refer to levels of information processing than the kingdoms provide a hierarchy of increasing complexity. Each higher level build on all the lower ones. The human body is ruled by the animal kingdom, the principal organization of its cells compares to the vegetable kingdom and its atoms belong to the mineral world. There is no distinction in principle between human, animal, vegetable, and mineral atoms, between human, animal, vegetable cells, or between human and animal bodies. Humanity, however, is not defined by vegetable nor by animal characteristics. The human kingdom is distinct phenomenologically from the animal world through the human intellect, an attribute of the human soul.

5.3.2) Possibility of goal directed evolution

Now the question is considered whether the known body of biological data definitely excludes goal directed evolution. Today, teleological evolution is generally considered to be incompatible with the known facts of biology and the evolution of life. This is one the central messages of Monod's famous book Le Hazard et la Necessité that evolution has no purpose, no goal: "Message qui, par tous les critères possibles, semble avoir été écrit au hasard... D'un jeu totalement aveugle, tout, par définition, peut sortir, y compris la vision elle-même" (Monod, 1970, pp. 111-112). This leads him to his conclusion that life is a strange phenomena in our universe and we are the strangers:
S'il accepte ce message dans son entière signification, il faut bien que l'Homme enfin se réveille de son rêve millénaire pour découvrir sa totale solitude, son étrangeté radicale. Il sait maintenant que, comme un Tzigane, il est en marge de l'univers où il doit vivre. Univers sourd à sa musique, indifférent à ses espoirs comme à ses suffrances ou à ses crimes. (Monod, 1970, pp. 187-188)
Gould explains that for the evolution of the individual species no directionality in its development can be detected. One finds complexification as well as drastic simplifications, e.g., in the case of some parasites (Gould, 1994). Dawkins suggests that evolution is absolutely blind, without any final goal. He formulates this position rather drastically in his Blind Watchmaker (Dawkins, 1986, p. 50):
Evolution has no long-term goal. There is no long-distance target, no final perfection to serve as a criterion for selection, although human vanity cherishes the absurd notion that our species is the final goal of evolution. In real life, the criterion for selection is always short-term, either simple survival or, more generally, reproductive success... The `watchmaker' that is cumulative natural selection is blind to the future and has no long-term goal."
Those statements indicate that there is at least no obvious trend in evolution, no final goal which is necessarily implied by our biological knowledge. Consequently, at least on the scientific level there is no obvious need to introduce finality into biology. Apparently, deterministic and probabilistic processes (necessity and chance) are sufficient to model all those aspects of reality which are known to a reasonable degree of precision. The problem of first causes is generally neglected at this level.

Now the question is addressed whether the obvious absence of a clear directionality implies that evolution definitely excludes any directionality, any finality which could represent a Creator's purpose. The fact that the apparent randomness of a sequence of numbers does not imply that they are created randomly /13/ makes any conclusion questionable which deduces from the apparent randomness of evolution that evolution as a whole must be random, without any direction, lacking finality. If each mutation step would be random indeed, even than the directionality of evolution as a whole cannot be excluded. An illustrative counterexample is the diffusion of a spoon of crystalline sugar from the bottom to the top in a glass of tea. /14/ Here the random thermal motion directs sugar molecules towards the upper part of the glass. An other excellent example for evolution is the refolding of denaturated proteins into their native state. The thermal motion of the folding protein is restricted by the form of the conformational free energies to only a very small subspace of the whole conformational space (Baldwin, 1990). The important aspect of protein folding in this discussion is that even random driving forces can effectively result in directedness if there is an additional guiding force, e.g., the free energy of folding. In the case of evolution the random mutations and recombinations may be guided by the structure of the selectivity of the mutations, by the landscape of the fitness functions, by the species essences.

The question whether cosmogony and evolution follow a pregiven plan may be further obscured by the problem of how to evaluate the directedness. To detect a direction in evolution one needs a measure for the direction, some kind of "compass". For instance increasing the complexity could be a possible direction of evolution. But what means complexity in terms of a clear unique definition? Is it the number of nucleic acids required to code for the organism? Is it the degree of adaptedness of an organism to a certain environment? As noted by Gould, on the average the complexification grows simply due to the fact the non-artificial inanimate systems are generally simpler than living systems and consequently they can evolve only towards complexity. Such "diffusion" into "empty" complex regions, however, requires that those "regions" of sophisticated forms of life actually exist that complex organism may be at least equally equipped to face the needs of our world as the simpler ones.

What happens if the purpose of our universe is something completely beyond our imagination? Are we sure that we understand the "language of nature"? Why should our understanding of progress agree with the direction our universe may possibly be designed to follow? What measures do we have to evaluate progress if we do not know the final purpose of this universe, if such a purpose exists? Perhaps we discover some intermediate achievements obtained during evolution still far away from their intended goal?

Of course complex finality in evolution is rather unlikely, if one assumes a trivial self-creative origin. If the origin is assumed to be essentially complex other options become possible. The "complexity" of the origin may for instance by far exceed any level of complexity to be obtained by any particular organism or civilization at any time point during evolution. Such situation is stated in the Bahá'í writings:

For whatever such strivings may accomplish, they never can hope to transcend the limitations imposed upon Thy creatures, inasmuch as these efforts are actuated by Thy decree, and are begotten of Thine invention. The loftiest sentiments which the holiest of saints can express in praise of Thee, and the deepest wisdom which the most learned of men can utter in their attempts to comprehend Thy nature, all revolve around that Center Which is wholly subjected to Thy sovereignty, Which adoreth Thy Beauty, and is propelled through the movement of Thy Pen. (Gleanings 1:3)

The complexity of the final goal of evolution may simply surpass the imagination of all evolving civilizations. In such a situation directionality in cosmogony, evolution and even history might remain undetectable for humanity because we have no measure to evaluate the direction of the development and to detect possible progress. Of course this line of argument does not prove that finality exists in our universe but it shows that the claim for the absence of directionality is not well founded, it is a statement of faith. The argument proposes that finality even, if it exists, might remain indiscernible due to inherent limitations of the human mind, as stated by Bahá'u'lláh:

O Son of Beauty! By My spirit and by My favor! By My mercy and by My beauty! All that I have revealed unto thee with the tongue of power, and have written for thee with the pen of might, hath been in accordance with thy capacity and understanding, not with My state and the melody of My voice. (Hidden Words, Arab. 67)

5.4) The spiritual dimension of the human origin discussion

Since the publication of Darwin's Origins it was obvious that his concept of evolution undermined the classical, largely biblical world view in the Occident. The widely accepted concept of Creation based on a literal biblical interpretation was severely challenged by this new theory. In natural theology, the well adapted complex forms of life were considered to directly support the biblical picture that the world was created by a potent and benevolent Creator. Because Darwin reduced creation to a "mindless, algorithmic process of evolution" (Dennett, 1995, p. 63) the philosophy of modern biology together with other influences destroyed the foundation of natural theology and concepts of creation. Mayr clearly sees this situation:
Biology has an awesome responsibility. It can hardly be denied that it has helped to undermine traditional beliefs and value systems. Many of the most optimistic ideas of the Enlightenment, including equality and the possibility of a perfect society, were ultimately (although very subconsciously) part of physico-theology. It was god who had made this near-perfect world. A belief in such a world was bound to collapse when the belief in god as designer was undermined. (Mayr, 1982, p. 80-81)
Thus, this new theory revolutionized not only biology but it challenged whole world views, particularly the concepts of the purpose and destiny of humanity. These far-reaching consequences were seen and discussed soon after the publication of Darwin's Origins. Many of the more popularized publications about Darwin's theory very directly addressed religious and philosophical issues, and often claim that those new world views are the direct consequences of the "new facts" in biological sciences.

Why should particular biological results challenge world views and "threatened to leak out, offering answers--welcome or not--to questions in cosmology (going in one direction) and psychology (going in the other direction)"? (Dennett, 1995, p. 63) This challenge is a direct consequence of the idea of the unity of nature. To escape the consequences of materialism, many protestant theologians divided the world into disconnected parts: in a materialistic and a spiritual one. By this separation religion was thought to become immune against the attacks of materialistic philosophy (Albert, 1991; von Kitzing, 1997). Haeckel bases his concept of the unity of nature in the agreement of the physical and chemical forces in the inorganic as well as organic world. From this he concludes "the unity of natural forces or alternatively the `monism of energy'." (Haeckel, 1984, p. 325) Weizsäcker (von Weizsäcker, 1986) formulates this principle in more traditional physical terms, whereas Dennett applies the concept of evolution to cosmology as well as to psychology "going in one ... and ... in the other direction." (Dennett, 1995, p. 63) Thus, if we have such a unity of nature, the rules which bring forth the complex order of our biosphere should be relevant in all "directions". Consequently, if we assume that our universe does not divide into many disconnected parts of reality, than we should assume a unity in the fundamental principles ruling this universe. Also the Bahá'í Faith proclaims the unity of our reality. In SAQ `Abdu'l-Bahá explains that everything in our universe stems from a single root: "for there is no doubt that in the beginning the origin was one" (SAQ 47:2). In monotheistic religions the unity of nature is considered to be a direct consequence of the unity of God: "Regard thou the one true God as One Who is apart from, and immeasurably exalted above, all created things. The whole universe reflecteth His glory, while He is Himself independent of, and transcendeth His creatures. This is the true meaning of Divine unity." (Gleanings 84:1) Thus, if the unity of nature is assumed, the fundamental driving forces should be the same in particle physics, evolution of life, or cultural and scientific development.

5.4.1) Self-creative evolution and human values

Since Laplace, mechanics were considered to be "atheistic" as formulated by Haeckel (Haeckel, 1984, p. 331): "Once Laplace based the fundamental laws of our world in mathematics, all inorganic natural sciences became mechanistic and consequently purely atheistic". The complex order of the biosphere, however, still required an explanation which could not be given by mechanics alone. The complex forms of life still were understood as a good argument to support the existence of a benevolent Creator. Darwin's natural selection filled this `gap'. It apparently provided the means to explain complex biological order on mechanistic grounds.

Thus, many of Darwin's contemporaries understood Darwinism such that also the complex biological order no longer needs some external origin: "Neither does nature know a supernatural beginning, nor a supernatural continuation; as all begetting and all devouring, she is in herself origin and end, birth and death. On her own resources, she procreated the socalled creation and humanity as its apex, ..." (Büchner, 1904, p. 178). For instance, Haeckel presents atheism as a direct consequence of Darwin's discovery, although he himself preferred the term monism for his new belief. Explaining the concept of atheism he states that "this `kern -2ptgodless world view' essentially agrees with the monism and pantheism of our modern natural sciences; emphasizing its negative aspect, it is only an other expression for the non-existence of an outworldly, supernatural deity." (Haeckel, 1984, p. 369) From the very beginning Darwinism was understood to challenge the foundation of the classical world views. This consequence of this new theory was seen by friend and foe alike. Societies were founded to support and distribute these new, "scientific" ideas. In 1881, Ludwig Büchner cofounded the Deutschen Freidenkerbund. To spread his monistic religion Haeckel promoted the Deutschen Monistenbund 1906 in Jena. He himself considered the "new faith" as a competitor against Christianity (Haeckel, 1984, p. 429): "It is obvious that the Christian world view must be replaced by the monistic philosophy." According to Büchner (Büchner, 1904, p. 411), "science must replace religion, faith in a natural and absolute world order substitute the belief in spirits and ghosts, natural moral overcome artificial dogmas." In Great Britain similar campaigns were supported by Huxley and Spencer.

The existence of final cause, of a plan, goal or destiny of evolution has been denied by many Darwinists, such as Büchner (Büchner, 1904, p. 76). But not only in the past, also today Darwinism is often presented to imply deep religious (un)beliefs. Dawkins formulates the rejection of interpreting nature as a gift of our Creator rather drastically. He claims that only "scientifically illiterate" (Dawkins, 1989) would assume a purpose in nature:

... Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose... In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference. (Dawkins, 1995)
According to modern (meta)-biology, life and finally humanity is the "product of a blind, algorithmic process" (Dennett, 1995). It has to escape the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in a tough external world." (Gould, 1994)

If all biological characteristics did develop on the path of evolution, this should also be true for instincts and social behavior. Following Herbert Spencer, Haeckel considers human social behavior as the consequence of instincts: "Social duties ... are only highly developed forms of social instincts which we found with all higher animal living in social groups." (Haeckel, 1984, p. 446-7) Similar positions are also formulated by Büchner (Büchner, 1904, p. 407). Haeckel applies the rule of the survival of the fittest to human history. From the obvious lack of morality in most historical events he concludes that no higher moral order exists.

In the case of special characteristics of a myoglobin molecule it is certainly only of academic interest whether this particular characteristic is the result of ad hoc self-creation or whether it reveals the timeless properties of the chemical elements. But in the case of social laws it is certainly important for everyone whether those laws are arbitrary, mere conventions introduced by powerful groups within our society to serve their particular interests, or whether they reflect some objective, perhaps God given order. If social laws and concepts are not grounded in a fundamental structure of nature or some higher order, but are arbitrary ad hoc creations, than "anything goes" as formulated by the German philosopher Paul Feyerabend (Feyerabend, 1980). On the one hand, social norms are than partly based on social instincts inherited from our predecessors. In this case, a "natural social order" would be determined by our social instincts adapted to an environment which was inhabited by human beings several million years ago. For instance, the ability of humanity to address the problems of racism, environmental pollution or war is often evaluated on the basis of our animal heritage: "... uncritical assent is given to the proposition that human beings are incorrigibly selfish and aggressive and thus incapable of erecting a social system at once progressive and peaceful, dynamic and harmonious, a system giving free play to individual creativity and initiative but based on co-operation and reciprocity." (Peace Message 1:8) On the other hand, the part of our norms which are not bound by archaic pattern of behavior are absolutely arbitrary and very likely serves the interests of certain influential groups. Than the deconstructivists (Derrida, 1970) are correct in stating that any concept of our world has the same level a validity. Some are not better than others. Alan Sokal (Sokal, 1996) caricatured such a view by considering the situation that even the laws of nature are the result of social agreements and lack objectivity.

The problem of morality within a materialistic Darwinism was seen rather early. Many of the 19th century materialists, however, assumed that reason would be sufficient to formulate generally accepted moral values: "This monistic religion and ethics differentiates from all others in that we base it exclusively on pure reason. It is a world view grounded in science, experience and reasonable beliefs." (Haeckel, 1984, p. 507) Büchner considers the Golden rule as the fundament of any ethics. For him, solidarity is the quintessence of morality (Büchner, 1904, p. 411). Also Mayr suggests human values based on Darwinism:

If, instead of defining man as the personal ego or merely a biological creature, one defines man as mankind, an entirely different ethics and ideology is possible. It would be an ideology that is quite compatible with the traditional values of wanting to "better mankind" and yet which is compatible with any of the new findings of biology. If this approach is chosen, there will be not conflict between science and the most profound human values. (Mayr, 1982, p. 81)
Ward, however, severely doubts that "metaphysical Darwinism" is sufficient to ground human values:
Only a theory that is completely certain should be allowed to undermine this moral sense. Metaphysical Darwinism is far from being such a theory. Indeed, its inability to account for the moral consciousness in a satisfactory way is one of the strongest arguments for its incompleteness as a total explanation of human behavior, and therefore of the evolution of life. (Ward, 1996, p. 178)

5.4.2) "At home in our universe"

But what if moral values are not arbitrary? There are certainly moral values which are constructive and others which destabilize a society. Within an essentialistic world view /15/ this may be understood that some value systems are more appropriate for a given situation than others. In a reality, which is the mirror image of the names and attributes of God, human behavior is not captured by the achievements of the past, but it can change according to human destiny, to be realized during evolution. If evolution serves a God given destiny, the evolutionary achievements not only reflect the history of evolution but also its goals. Than our behavior is not only determined by our animal heritage, which undoubtedly exists according to the Bahá'í writings, but also by our evolutionary destiny.

But do we really have an alternative? Does such an approach helps us to formulate social concepts and moral value systems which solve the actual problems of our time? Provides the recourse to mostly traditional religious value systems, as proposed by the leading body of the Bahá'í Faith, /16/ any definitely new insight and solution for the question of the "natural social order"? Whereas the interactions between electrons or planets are fixed by the laws of nature, laws of social interactions are (at least to some extend) not fixed, apparently they can be willfully modified and they are known to have changed throughout history. What freedom do we have to choose our values compatible with a peaceful, progressive society? Are there objective sources for human values? It is certainly difficult if not impossible to study a possible purpose or destiny for humanity by scientific means. Our social concepts, however, create facts in this real world by means of our deeds /17/ and in this real world we have to manage our lives.

But if such a natural social order exists how can we know about it? Should we simply trust in our "traditional values"? This solution may work locally, but world wide there are too many traditional value systems that each one could apply to a world society. Thus, lastly, we have to refer to some kind of trial and error, to an evolutionary strategy. If social interactions are dependent on a timeless reality, the success of a community depends on the particular social laws prevalent in the society, on their "fitness" to foster a lively community. In this case, the social laws are subject to the "survival of the fittest" where the fitness would be set by an unknown, but objective "function". Thus, the multiple value systems which are offered on the market of the world have to be tested whether they serve their purpose. Christ proposed to measure the truthfulness of prophets according to the "fruits" of their teachings (Matth. 7:16-18, 20). According to the Bahá'í Faith the purpose of religion is to educate humanity: "The Prophets and Messengers of God have been sent down for the sole purpose of guiding mankind to the straight Path of Truth. The purpose underlying Their revelation hath been to educate all men..." (Gleanings 81:1) and similarly: "The purpose underlying the revelation of every heavenly Book, nay, of every divinely-revealed verse, is to endue all men with righteousness and understanding, so that peace and tranquillity may be firmly established amongst them." (Gleanings 101:1)

Teachings about the purpose and destiny of life is one of the central subjects of every religion. For instance Bahá'u'lláh, the prophet founder of the Bahá'í Faith states:

O Son of Man! Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to thee My beauty.

O Son of Man! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life. (Hidden Words, 3-4)

If mankind has a non-trivial destiny, and if we believe in this destiny, we may be able overcome archaic pattern of aggressive behavior, the destructive aspects of our "social instincts" inherited from our predecessors. The conviction of a destiny of a peaceful future invests us with the necessary means of understanding and the consequential necessary actions to establish a peaceful society. Perhaps we are not the gipsies at the edge of our universe (Monod, 1970, pp. 187-188), perhaps we really may feel "At Home in Our Universe" (Kauffman, 1995). The future will demonstrate whether the "meme" /18/ of the "selfish gene" or the meme of "All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization" (Gleanings 109:2) will enable humanity to create a "progressive and peaceful, dynamic and harmonious" society.



Notes

    /1/ This situation may be elucidated by the watchmaker argument: the existence of a watch requires the existence of a watchmaker. The opponent may reply that his particular watch was not made by a watchmaker but by an automatic appliance. This appliance would be able not only to produce watches automatically, but would contain a mechanism to improve the design and function of the produced watches. This appliance certainly would have to be much more complicated than a single watch. It would require designers more skillful than common watchmakers. In a similar way one can argue, natural laws which can produce highly complex systems have a higher need of explanation than the particular complex structures they produce.

    /2/ The chemistry of different galaxies can be studied by means of optical spectra of atoms and molecules. These spectra indicate the chemical properties of the atoms and molecules. If the chemical laws would be different in distant galaxies, which also means early galaxies due to the limited speed of light, one would expect to find absorption and excitation spectra different from those we find today. But according to those studies to the best of our knowledge the chemistry is the same within the know universe. A similar argument is given by Haeckel (Haeckel, 1984). From the experimental work of Kirchhoff and colleges that the atomic and molecular spectra are the same all over the known universe, he concludes the unity of the laws of nature within our universe.

    /3/ Ad hoc self-creation of complex order cannot be understood as a stochastic process because stochastic events can be predicted on statistical grounds. Such a statistical predictability would in turn lead to some type of essentialism, rejected by the adherents of ad hoc origin of order.

    /4/ Ward (Ward, 1996) argues similarly: "To say that such a very complex and well-ordered universe comes into being without any cause or reason is equivalent to throwing one's hands up in the air and just saying that anything at all might happen, that it is hardly worth bothering to look for reasons at all. And that is the death of science." Self-creative evolution of biological characteristics invents a similar kind of irreproducible forces as done in the concepts where these characteristics are the result of some élan vital or created by God or a demiurg during evolution. The major difference would be that the self-created characteristics would be accidental, whereas in vitalistic and theistic evolution the created characteristics could be goal directed. Also the creative force of a searching human mind could be the origin of order such as proposed by Rudolf Steiner. For Steiner truth is "a free creation of the human mind, a truth which has no existence if we do not bring it forth. The purpose of understanding is not to repeat by abstract reasoning something existing in any form, but to create a new concept which together with the obvious world reveals the full reality". (Basfeld, 1992; Steiner, 1980, 1892, the translation from German was done by the author)

    /5/ Alternatively, one could assume that once a new characteristic has been "created", this solution would hold for the whole universe. Such a concept, however, would require that the information of this new "creation" would travel faster than light with infinite speed. Otherwise, mutually exclusive characteristics could be created in different parts of the universe.

    /6/ In principle, self-creative evolution makes the current interpretation of fossil findings doubtful. These interpretations ground on the assumption that the physical, chemical and biological laws and principles, we know today, apply in exactly the same way to those ancient forms of life. Self-creative evolution, however, assumes the creation of essentially new characteristics.

    /7/ Selection can be compared with learning. Nobody can understand mathematics by eliminating non-mathematical thoughts, but only by learning mathematics. A removal of non-mathematical ways of thinking is of course necessary, but certainly by no means sufficient for a good mathematician.

    /8/ This means that the outcome of a single mutation cannot be predicted a priori. A large number of mutations, however, follow the rules of the appropriate statistics.

    /9/ By means of the viral enzyme Qß replicase, DNA chains can be replicated using energy rich nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA chains. The replication process has a low fidelity, it's rate depends critically on the particular DNA sequence and on the environment, e.g., salt concentrations. This system is used to simulate evolution in vitro. For a given salt concentration a certain set of DNA sequences wins the competition (Biebricher, et al., 1993; Spiegelman, 1967). This effect is reproducible, i.e., repeated experiments bring forth the same winning sequences. These experiments are certainly good examples to study fitness functions. At least in these model studies, evolution is not arbitrary, but the competition reproducibly favors certain DNA sequences. Thus, these DNA "species" exist a priori, they do not change. They reproducibly reappear under the respective conditions. For such kind of experiments, even the classical, pre-Darwinian species definition would make some sense. In this model, the "species" would remain unchanged; the populations, however, during evolution move from one "species" to the next.

    /10/ An other example for eternal laws describing continuous changes can be taken from physics. For instance, Newton dynamics unify time invariant laws, defining all possible motions of the planets, with a substantially dynamic system, representing the actual changing positions and velocities of the planets. The laws themselves don't change in time, but they describe the motion of the planets within time.

    /11/ In nonrelativistic mechanics formulated by Newton, mass points were the central objects of consideration and kinetic and potential energy were certain characteristics of these mass points. Einstein reversed this relation. Energy became the central entity and matter one possible form of energy. Today information is considered to be a form of matter. But according to the expectations of Wheeler (Wheeler, 1989) and von Weizsäcker (von Weizsäcker, 1986) one can consider an analogous reformulation of physics similar to the transformation from nonrelativistic to relativistic physics: information may become the fundamental entity of our universe, its substance, and energy and matter only particular aspects of it, it's forms.

    /12/ The deviation of relativistic physics from Newtonian mechanics are measurable only at velocities not small compared to the speed of light. Analogously, in a hierarchical order of nature, certain types of characteristics would only be detectable in sufficient complex systems, but not necessarily at the atomic or molecular level.

    /13/ Gödel proved that the randomness of a sequence of numbers cannot be ascertained. Perfect pseudo random number generators, for instance, are purely deterministic, even if they meet nearly every test for randomness.

    /14/ If one puts crystalline sugar in a glass of tea the sugar dissolves and after some time it becomes distributed all over the volume of the tea in the glass. On average the sugar performs a directed motion, from the bottom to the middle of the glass. If one would follow the path of a single sugar molecule, however, one would detect a random Brownian motion. The molecule would go up and down without preference of any direction. Only when looking at many molecules with the respective average a directionality of the sugar motion can be seen.

    /15/ Essentialism may be understood to infer a rigid system of deterministic (as in mechanics) or stochastic (as in quantum mechanics) natural laws. In the past such kind of universe was often compared with a clockwork which once was initiated by the Creator, but then the gears only follow their predetermined path. Such a view is the consequence of considering only a trivial origin. If one takes into account a substantially non-trivial origin not only necessary and random causes may rule our universe, but also free will can be included. This would also help to escape Gödel's incompleteness relation. Such a view includes God's action in this universe. Because of the finite capacity of the human mind, such action might generally not be understood as such. Ward (Ward, 1996) discusses the question whether God's action in this universe would violate the laws of nature. He concludes that these natural laws leave sufficient room for God's intervention.

    /16/ In the Peace Message, published during the UN year of peace, the Universal House of Justice stressed the importance of religious value system for the solution of the burning problems of our world: "No serious attempt to set human affairs aright, to achieve world peace, can ignore religion." (Peace Message 2:2)

    /17/ Although there exists apparently no direct way to appraise moral values, one can study the impact of certain values on human behavior. For instance, what practical consequences has the faith in a purpose of life? Ward (Ward, 1996) discusses the relation between moral values and evolution.

    /18/ Dawkins (Dawkins, 1989) proposes "memes" as entities which correspond to genes. Memes are the ideas which form our culture and which similarly to genes struggle selfishly for their replication and survival.

previous chapter chapter 4 start page single page chapter 6 next chapter
Back to:   Books
Home Site Map Forum Links Copyright About Contact
.
. .