Thursday, April 10, 2008

Order in the Chaos

I started writing this post in response to this post and realized I needed an entry on my own blog today. The two posts may not be linked in anyone else's mind but my own, but I still like to give credit when I am inspired to think of something.

One novel, which was part of a series, that I really enjoyed when it came to the perspective of interconnectivity was Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card (it is the concluding novel in the Ender's Game series, the first of which happens to be the book I recommended to my wife when we first met, for anyone who read yesterday's post). In the book, he describes how there are points of energy, or spirits, or some other term he used which escapes me at the moment, but some of those points of energy live outside the universe, and then choose to live within it. Each point of is somewhat like the nucleus of an atom, and those atoms that choose to form into a molecule decide to work together, and those molecules might agree to form a cell, and those cells might decide to be part of a body controlled by one agreed upon center point of energy - which, again, might be the "soul" of that body.

It provided an entirely new paradigm to consider questions like "what is life" or "how does it all work together?". The whole explanation was a fascinating discourse on the interconnectivity of matter, worlds, life, and all the rest. When I consider the absolute complexity of something as simple as a single celled organism, I can see some of what Card is describing. Without those materials within the cell "agreeing" to work together, the cell would not function properly (which science would call cancer or some other malady). Perhaps cancer cells have simply decided they no longer want to play along, or they want to do things differently. Whatever the case, it makes for an intriguing metaphysical discussion. What controls the "me" that makes my body do what I want (or at least try to do what I want)? What overarching structure controls the world in which I live? The solar system, the galaxy, the universe... everything? What is the ordering mechanism that makes sense of the chaos? I obviously believe in such an ordering power, because I am a person of faith and my particular faith gives me a great deal of wonderful explanation to satisfy those questions for me.

All the same, my simple mind gets overwhelmed when I consider that there are greater forces at work just within my own body that I don't completely understand, let alone control. "Something" makes it all work (or not work), and that something is not necessarily me. I long for the day when I understand more fully how it all works. And no, I don't expect to read about it in a scientific journal. I think science has a long way to go to catch up with anything approaching real understanding. Science fascinates me, though, and I do not consider it as something I fear or am against. I think science is how thinking people approach problems to better understand them and attempt to find solutions. Science is a method more than an answer, in other words. I simply don't look to science as the only method of finding answers to my questions.

Hopefully this post makes sense to more than just me.


Julie Pippert said...

Ah a variation on the Gaia Hypothesis from the sounds of it, with a bit of Butterfly Effect thrown in. It is an interesting metaphysical discussion and I like how you consider science.

Robert said...

I'm sure Card may have used those sorts of things in coming up with what he wrote in the book. He brings in a lot of different research to his novels to make them authentic. I am definitely a big fan of examining what science brings to the table, but I do not bow down to it as gospel because too much of it changes so rapidly. I have a healthy respect for science, in other words, but a healthy dose of skepticism about some of it, too.

Suki said...

I like this idea.

The Ender's Game series goes onto my reading list right away.

And yes, I tend to agree with your views on Science. It's been two years since I quit being a science student and started on a different journey of knowledge. I have learned a lot, and among that I've learned that science has got me exactly nowhere in all of my childhood and teenage. It is beautiful and addictive, but it is - as a much loved teacher of mine once said - a mere tool.

Robert said...

Yes, when Science becomes the "god" of its adherents, they have forgotten something important, I think. I was very turned off in my education by science teachers who taught certain theories as if they were known fact, foregone conclusions. And now we're not even sure how many planets are in our solar system (granted, that's a complete aside, but still a point to be made). Enjoy your journey, Suki. I don't encourage you to give up science completely, but I am glad you don't bow to it as so many do.