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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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I. Our Earthuman Edition: A 21st Century, PhiloSophia, eLibrary of eCosmos, PediaPedia Resource

B. An Earthropo to Ecosmo Sapience Finds a Phenomenal, Independent. UniVerse to WumanVerse

Conway Morris, Simon. The Runes of Evolution: How the Universe Became Self-Aware. West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Press, 2015. The University of Cambridge paleontologist philosopher is a veteran of academic evolutionary debates, and a clever fellow. The first page pledges allegiance to Darwinian random, aimless selection, and notes that: “humans are just one endpoint, one minute twig,” not at all “center stage.” But the rest of the work then proceeds to methodically, effectively, with myriad references, to illume and express just the opposite. Two main reasons and natural propensities sentient persons are convergence and inherency. SCM (search) has been a leading proponent for the view that along with a “coruscating extravagance,” as they evolve creatures persistently arrive at similar forms, limbs, sense organs, behaviors, and so on. Secondly, the neglected concept of inherency – that is, how waiting in the wings of the evolutionary theater are the players for the next act – reinforces the sense of evolutionary inevitability, (6) augurs for a vital, overdue revision.

By these lights, life’s emergent progression is seen as most distinguished by a ramifying intelligence and sentience. Deep commonalities link the cognitive worlds of insects and mammals. (250) Universal modes of perception and learning are enlisted by all manner of Metazoan animals. Whale songs and human compositions are “strikingly similar.” But as human beings arise from a creaturely continuity, our sapient, societal phase attains a “dawning self-awareness” of mindful consciousness. By our retrospective vantage, this “complex endpoint” can be traced to and seen in nascent forerunners. (298) We need to realize that the vested materialist view is no longer tenable.

In closing and consequence, Simon Conway Morris goes on to propose an expansive 21st century synthesis. With citations from Patricia Gray about animal music, psychologist Roger Shepard on mental universals, nonlinear dynamics by physician Peter Macklem, and others, it is averred that an independent source must be in effect from which every animate entity springs and exemplifies. By any imagination, an oriented evolutionary emergence appears to be written into a quickening cosmos. The neoDarwin sterility the book opened with is thus leavened with an idealist Platonic realm. A new “biological revolution” is advocated going forward to witness a phenomenal universe to human genesis.

Let us then suppose that biological evolution is simply the search engine that allows the universe to become self-aware. Seen from one perspective it simply looks like emergence. By itself this qualifies as a narrative, but scarcely an explanation. We are left now the wiser as to how biological systems actually achieve any sort of mental state, let alone are in a position to make claims that is comprehensible, let alone rational. If, however we concede that what we perceive is not all there is – that is, there are deeper structures within the Universe – then we might make some progress. (295) If correct, this concept has a number of implications. First, however challenging the prospect, we will continue to uncover ever-deeper sets of order in the organization of the Universe. (295) At one level at least our mental world draws on information from the sensory realm. Studded with convergences, often with extraordinary sensitivities that take us to the limits of the physical universe. (295)

I would argue that our inability to provide any adequate explanation for the nature of consciousness is paradoxically quite encouraging. We are certainly dealing with unfinished business. Put simply, it is high time that just as Einstein transmogrified the Newtonian world, so we need to move beyond evolution. Any more that gravity, neither the reality of evolution nor its importance is in any doubt, but we still need a new biology. In effect, the additive approach of the Darwinian paradigm has enjoyed immense success, but its reductionist program has now led us into the sands. (299)

Conway Morris, Simon, ed. The Deep Structure of Biology: Is Convergence Sufficiently Ubiquitous to Give a Directional Signal? West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Foundation Press, 2008. Twelve papers across the biological sciences from evolutionary morphology and plant intelligence to corvidae, cetacean, and primate sociality affirm an innate natural propensity to arrive at the same form, faculty, and behavior over and over. While this is no longer in question, a problem arises because the Darwinian paradigm of blind selection only, sans any guiding pathway, cannot assimilate these results. As also beset by a postmodernism which denies any abiding reality at all, as Conway Morris notes, the task is to conceive a new “metaphysic” of life’s oriented development toward our human-like personage. But to do so would revive an excluded ‘teleology,’ in the sense of an embryonic gestation or orthogenesis. The array of authors spans scientists such as Richard Lenski, George McGhee, Karl Niklas, Anthony Trewavas, Nigel Franks, Nicola Clayton, Nathan Emery, Hal Whitehead, and Robert Foley, complemented by theologians Celia Dean-Drummond, John Haught, and Michael Ruse.

Coole, Diana and Samantha Frost, eds. New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010. At the entry to the 2010s, critical scholars began to explore better appreciations of a grounded, encompassing natural reality from which peoples and societies appear and abide. With old mechanical, passive matter now set aside, amidst the organic turn, the editors and authors such as Jane Bennett, Phena Cheah, and Rosi Braidotti sense an “immanent vitality,” an “active materialization of which humans are an integral part.” Still an “ontology,” not yet an intended phenomenon, but via innate propensities for dynamic self-organization and transformation, an emergent Becoming accrues.

Curry, Michael. Royal Wedding Sermon. Google keywords. We quote these excerpts by the US Episcopal Bishop from the May 19, 2018 marriage of Meghan and Harry for its closing reference to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955). With colleagues such as Thomas Berry, Ewert Cousins, Thomas King SJ, Mary Evelyn Tucker, John Grim, Kathleen Duffy SSJ, and Donald Gray, I was a facilitator of the American Teilhard Association since the early 1980s - editing its Newsletter and Studies series, running a lecture series, and more. With Donald St. John, I was coeditor of Teilhard in the 21st Century: The Emerging Spirit of Earth, which was the 2004 Catholic spirituality book of the year. We also note Rediscovering Teilhard’s Fire (2010) by Prof. Dr. Duffy on this luminous theme in his writings. It was grandly rewarding to hear this turn to Teilhard with an avowal of Love energy that we now so need to heal and bring us together. One might add that the dual phases or modes of fire and love appear much as masculine and feminine archetypes, which need be brought into palliative complementary balance and accord.

French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was arguably one of the great minds, great spirits of the 20th century. Jesuit, Roman Catholic priest, scientist, a scholar, a mystic. In some of his writings, he said, from his scientific background as well as his theological one, in some of his writings he said - as others have - that the discovery, or invention, or harnessing of fire was one of the great scientific and technological discoveries in all of human history.

Fire to a great extent made human civilization possible. Fire made it possible to heat warm environments and thereby made human migration around the world a possibility, even into colder climates. Controlled fire in that plane got me here. Fire makes it possible for us to text and tweet and email and Instagram and Facebook and socially be dysfunctional with each other.

Fire made all of that possible, and de Chardin said fire was one of the greatest discoveries in all of human history. And he then went on to say that if humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the energy of love - it will be the second time in the history of the world that we have discovered fire. (MC excerpts)

Damasio, Antonio, et al, eds. Unity of Knowledge: The Convergence of Natural and Human Science. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Vol. 9, 2001. Conference papers which generally contrast the views of Edward O. Wilson of an indifferent cosmos reducible to chemistry and physics with those of Stuart Kauffman who advocates an innately self-organizing universe.

Dantas, Christine. The Ultimate Tactics of Self-Referential Systems. fqxi.org/community/essay/winners/2015.1. A Third Prize winning paper by a Brazilian astrophysicist in the Foundational Questions Institute 2015 Essay Contest entitled Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection between Physics and Mathematics. The MIT physicist Max Tegmark is FQI founding and present director. All award papers are posted at this site such as grand winner Children of the Cosmos by Sylvia Wenmackers, along with The Deeper Roles of Mathematics in Physical Laws by Kevin Knuth, Genesis of a Pythagorean Universe by Alexey and Lev Burov, Sara Walker’s The Descent of Math, and others. But many entries are fraught with abstractions since the current paradigm does not or cannot imagine a greater phenomenal reality and creation.

We highlight this paper because it offers a unique take on a dynamic universe which mathematically references itself going forward. This is accomplished by autonomous, metabolic entities, whom lately are human cerebral beings. As the quotes allude, a “self-intelligibility” thus arises, which we add, seems to augur for a self-reading and realizing genesis cosmos. And as many similar works, it closes with Galileo’s timeless paragraph on the great book of nature.

PRINCIPLE: Mathematics is an existence condition for autonomous self-referential systems, in particular, the Universe. What it means: This principle provides a synthesis of both conjectures in the sense that mathematics uncovers the autonomous self-referentiality of the Universe, providing, more than a language, a metabolism between conscience and nature. In a stronger sense, mathematics should arise “with" (note: not “in") any autonomous self-referential universe, that is, any universe with conditions for the emergence of conscious beings. (6)

In the present view, mathematics acts as a conditioner" of all logical possibilities. It is seen as a language only within the act of making assertions about what is manifested in the physical world. I believe that this knowability indicates that the “reality of mathematics" arises with the “reality of the Universe", as a single act. This act is completely crystallized, waiting to be discovered. This self-intelligibility is a manifestation of the Universe, within ourselves. Mathematics is our tactics to navigate in the ocean that can be known. (6)

Indeed, we first learn the language. But, going beyond the language, we turn around to
ourselves and see that we, nature, are the book, written inside a book, inside another book... A dark labyrinth gives its place to a beautiful spiral. Or a dot. Or a number. Or the infinite. The “effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences" is unreasonable and will always be. That is our tactics to keep on turning the pages. (7)

Davies, Paul. BEYOND: the Centre for Fundamental Concepts in Science. www.beyond.asu.edu. After some 16 years in Australia, physicist, cosmic thinker, and author Davies has relocated to Arizona State University in Tempe and has opened this auspicious institute. Its new website is a portal for expansive scientific frontiers, and Davies’ interests, here is a sampling: Origin of the Universe and Dark Energy, Multiverse Cosmology, Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, Quantum Biology, Emergent Complexity. A new BEYOND journal is also accessible on the site.

Davies’ latest imaginations can be broached in the article Laying Down the Laws in The New Scientist for June 30, 2007, and also in the Australian science magazine Cosmos, Issue 14, 2007. If physical laws are seen as not forever fixed but malleable, an inherent “bio-friendliness,” a “cosmic self-sufficiency,” can accrue which is not possible in the multiverse scheme. Quantum physics is thus said to have a “retro-causation” whereby parametric conditions at the universe’s origin can be influenced by future moments of human observation. Such “quantum post-selection” serves to give human beings a phenomenal creative role so as to skew lawful properties to make them favorable for life. Visionary indeed. A reference is cited for Yakir Aharonov and Jeff Tollaksen New Insights on Time-Symmetry in Quantum Mechanics at www.arxiv.org/abs/0706.1232.

Davies, Paul. E.T. and God. Atlantic Monthly. September, 2003. Two great options – sheer chance or a lawlike, ordained evolution – are concisely reviewed in light of the growing evidence in favor of an inherently developmental creation. In this nascent view, life is no longer a contingent afterthought but the essential, risen quality.

The more one accepts the formation of life as a natural process (that is, the more deeply embedded one believes it is in the overall cosmic scheme), the more ingenious and contrived (dare one say designed?), the universe appears to be. (118)

Davies, Paul. Emergent Complexity, Teleology, and the Arrow of Time. Dembski, William and Michael Ruse, eds. Debating Design. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. A notable article because it definitively sets aside the old heat death model in light of a new expansive universe which innately develops into viable complexity. Physicist Davies own words exemplify the imminent cosmic Copernican Revolution. Also cited in A Thermodynamics of Life.

The history of the universe, then, is one of entropy rising but chasing a moving target, because the expanding universe is raising the maximum entropy at the same time. (200) As I have explained, the rapid expansion of the universe just after the Big Bang created a huge entropy gap, which has been funding the accumulating complexification ever since, and which will continue to do so for a long while yet. Thus the history of the universe is not so much one of entropic degeneration and decay as a story of the progressive enrichment of systems on all scales, from atoms to galaxies. (203)

However, this picture of a dying universe, which for 150 years has provoked nihilistic and atheistic commentary, may be overly simplistic. Modern cosmology reveals that the universe is expanding, and that it is subject to subtle gravitational effects that complicate the traditional “order into chaos” theme. Moreover, the discovery of self-organizing and self-complexifying processes in nature suggests that alongside the degenerative arrow of time there exists a creative arrow, pointing in the direction of increasing richness, diversity, and potential. (208)

Davies, Paul. The Demon in the Machine: How Hidden Webs of Information are Solving the Mystery of Life. London: Allen Lane, 2019. This latest volume since 2010 by the British physicist and popular author presently at Arizona State University as director of the BEYOND Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science is reviewed much more in The Information Computation Turn section.

Davies, Paul. The Goldilocks Enigma. London: Allan Lane, 2006. In his latest work, astrophysicist and author Davies tours the widest cosmic expanses now reaching to ensembles of universes, which constitute a multiverse, and to the deepest issues this vista may imply. To set the scene, the first half of the book proceeds apace through the physics of string theory, dark matter and energy, anthropic principles, paths to unification, and so on. But Davies’ interest, following upon earlier volumes, is to explain “A Universe Fit for Life.” How can a cosmos which gives rise to earthly nature, mind and humans, seemingly due to innate properties, be squared with a moribund physical milieu? Many options are duly considered, including a Divine designer, and at some length that the “just right” conditions of our universe are a lucky dice roll out of an infinity of possibilities.

But all this is unsatisfactory to Davies, a premier thinker in this regard, who goes on to propose an as yet fully specified “life principle” as the source of such complex, teleological emergence. But his most innovative resolve is to endorse and bring to the fore the cosmological theories of renowned Princeton physicist John Archibald Wheeler. For we seem to ultimately abide in a “self-creating, self-explaining, self-understanding universe-with-observers.” An act of human sentient observation is required, some kind of backward causation, for it to come into existence. This surmise has august ramifications for again placing the human phenomenon at the center of creation.

First published in the UK, a US edition by Houghton-Mifflin came out in 2007 with the usual sensational and inaccurate title of Cosmic Jackpot.

I am convinced that human understanding of nature through science, rational reasoning and mathematics points to a much deeper connection between life, mind and cosmos than emerges from the crude lottery of multiverse cosmology combined with the weak anthropic principle. (261-262) So our universe possesses laws and states which not only permit self-simulation, they also permit self-comprehension. The cosmic rule book, in being fit for life and in facilitating the eventual emergence of consciousness, has not only ensured that the universe has constructed its own awareness. The cosmic scheme has also constructed an understanding of the cosmic scheme. (288)

My own inclinations, it will be clear, lie in the directions of E, (The Life Principle) and F, (The Self-Explaining Universe) although there are many details to be worked out. I do take life, mind and purpose seriously, and I concede that the universe at least appears to be designed with a high level of ingenuity. I cannot accept these features as a package of marvels which just happen to be, which exists reasonlessly. It seems to me that there is a genuine scheme of things – the universe is ‘about’ something. (302)

Davies, Paul and Sara Imari Walker. The Hidden Simplicity of Biology. Reports on Progress in Physics. Online September, 2016. An Arizona State University astrophysicist and an astrobiologist seek to resolve an untenable separation and contradiction between the material cosmos and organic beings. As the Abstract says, while physical realms have reliable, common properties, a similar achievement eludes evolutionary biology. The main difference, it is proposed, is life’s informational program which serves to instruct and guide. With collaborators such as Chiara Marletto and George Ellis, living systems feature global organization, a generative agency, top-down causation, analogue and digital modes, laws and states that co-evolve, the logical structure of a universal constructor, dual hardware and software genomes, and so on. A result is a persistent repetition in kind across nested, emergent scales of vital genotype and phenotypes. By these integral theories, the presence of common patterns and processes across the tangle of flora and fauna can be discerned. A major volume to gather these many voices will appear in April 2017 as From Matter to Life: Information and Causality (Cambridge University Press), with chapters by Denis Noble, Jessica Flack, Simon DeDeo, Hector Zenil, and more. As one reads, if a greater uniVerse to humanVerse genesis could indeed be admitted, these “informational” insights could be well appear as a natural genetic code.

Life is so remarkable, and so unlike any other physical system, that it is tempting to attribute special factors to it. Physics is founded on the assumption that universal laws and principles underlie all natural phenomena, but is it far from clear that there are ‘laws of life’with serious descriptive or predictive power analogous to the laws of physics. Nor is there (yet) a ‘theoretical biology’ in the same sense as theoretical physics. Part of the obstacle in developing a universal theory of biological organization concerns the daunting complexity of living organisms. However, many attempts have been made to glimpse simplicity lurking within this complexity, and to capture this simplicity mathematically. In this paper we review a promising new line of inquiry to bring coherence and order to the realm of biology by focusing on ‘information’ as a unifying concept. (Abstract)

If we could view the world through ‘information eyes’ — that is, see bits rather than matter — organisms would glow with a ferment of information processing: genetic information in nucleic acids and proteins, chemical signaling between cells and throughout the endocrine system, electrochemical activity in neural systems, interactions within ecosystems, cities, etc. It is true that complex non-living chemical networks would also reveal swirling information patterns, but we can hope that life might stand out as having distinctive organization in the flow of information. Adopting this view, living systems may be regarded as analogous to banks of electronic or computer circuitry, with cellular components treated as modules having logical functions, networked together to process information in specialized ways refined by natural selection. (2)

Recent advances suggest that the concept of information might hold the key to unravelling the mystery of life's nature and origin. Fresh insights from a broad and authoritative range of articulate and respected experts focus on the transition from matter to life, and hence reconcile the deep conceptual schism between the way we describe physical and biological systems. A unique cross-disciplinary perspective, drawing on expertise from philosophy, biology, chemistry, physics, and cognitive and social sciences, provides a new way to look at the deepest questions of our existence. This book addresses the role of information in life, and how it can make a difference to what we know about the world. (Book summary)

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