Is the universe a collection of random mutations and accidental assemblies? As I pointed out before, new evidence suggests that there is a process of intelligence that seems to transcend individual decisions. So what’s the process? If we could figure it out, then we’d have the meaning of life.
Recently there was the discovery of what is known as “mirror neurons” in the brain. Scientists discovered some amazing things about these mirror neurons. For example, if you see someone pick up a glass of water, the mirror neurons in your brain will be stimulated exactly as if you picked up the glass yourself. Behavior is learned and adapted into the brain by this method, and infants can quickly learn to control certain actions by mimicry, simply because observing the actions trigger the same sections of the brain required to perform that action.
This happens throughout our lives as we observe others. The reason why we know it is not “us” that performs the action is that our skin has sensors that send messages to our brain and allows us to realize that it was another arm, and not our own, that performed the action.
However, it was discovered that if the arms are numbed so that there is no sensory message to the brain, there is no difference at all in the brain as to whether “you” pick an object, or whether someone else did it.
If you keep up with the TV series “House”, you might have seen an episode where a man had his hand blown off as he was reaching to grab a child. His muscles remained in that clenched, spasmed conditions for many years after. Dr. House “cured” the problem by taking the man’s good arm in front of a mirror in a box, and his stub arm was also in the box, but he only saw the mirror reflection of his good arm. House asked him to then clench and relax his good fist.
Within seconds, the man’s muscles on his stub arm began to relax. This has actually been performed as a cure for such people, but not so miraculously as on the TV series. People actually were able to relax muscles on disabled limbs simply by flexing the muscles in their good limbs and watching that same action in the mirror image, which their brain told them was the other limb!
This is so powerful that when we select heroes or leaders, we not only “identify with” them, but we develop actual mirror images so that we “become what we behold”!
This collective identification with “American Idols” can lead to what Hoffer called “estrangement from the self”. The power of mimicry is so powerful that certain behaviors are selected and coordinated to the exclusion of other behaviors, leading to ultimate death of a species or culture.
As we see from history, humans have little problem with organizing and centralizing cultures. They’re quite good at it. There’s Egypt, Babylon, Persia, etc, all of which showed greater capacity for larger organization.
The problem is, the greater the capacity for imitation and centralization, the less ability for freedom to adapt to change as individuals. If there is a “higher intelligence” that directs such activities, that intelligence would actually tend to produce, no collective centralism, but an increasing tendency toward diversity.
In other words, if human intelligence naturally tends to centralize its knowledge and eliminate diversity, there would have to be a kind of “antibody” or “inoculation” that would tend to cause a reversal of the process.
In short, all attempts to discover order and harmony in the universe would tend to reveal that “God throws dice”, as Einstein said.
In “Guns, Germs, and Steel”, Jared Diamond points out that empires grew from the Middle Eastern sections around Sumer and Babylon because of geography. The environment favored a type of grain that was gradually harvested, and in the harvest, the people naturally selected those grains with the biggest heads and healthiest “fruit” for re-planting. Wheat and oats went through a natural selection process that created larger, healthier crops.
At the same time, said Diamond, the people domesticated various animals such as cows, oxen, horses, chickens, pigs, sheep, and in living alongside them, the people exchanged “germs” and viruses with the farm animals, so that when they invade other countries, they actually caused widespread death and destruction among cultures that had not raised such animals.
In this growth and adaptation of favorable environments that led to empires, we have the history of the Jews, who developed strict dietary, religious, and civil laws as a result of the harsh, demanding environment of the desert. It was, in fact, these very wandering Bedouin types that became highly influential in their cultures because they were, in fact, not able to completely integrate with a fixed, specific environment..
While these Bedouin societies did carry their animals with them and were “cross pollinated” with the germs of the animals, they develop certain resistance to infectious diseases as they traveled to new areas, and their strict dietary laws allowed them to maintain certain resistance to diseases caused by less strict observance.
The general difference between Jewish culture and the usual cultures, is that, while other cultures developed alongside their environment, Israel was not allowed to inhabit a “Promised Land” until they learned to behave in a way deserving of the land. This is a reversal of the general process of social evolutionary development.
Their history suggests they were unable to keep the laws they were given, so they were forced to constantly adapt to their environments in which they found themselves. Not only to the environment, but to the cultures in which they found themselves.
If, in fact, as Paul said, the natural mind is enmity against God and cannot keep God’s laws, the natural result would be a continual increase in diversity and individual responses toward external problems. As we see in the biblical book of “Judges”, every man did what was right in his own eyes.
This very inability to adapt to a collective ideology by a “stubborn and stiff necked” people, actually created a kind of cultural “antibody” to the various empires and god-kings that had evolved by natural processes of growth. As historian Max DiMont points out in “The Indestructible Jews”:
“First, there have been twenty to thirty civilized societies in the history of mankind, the number depending on how one defines a civilization….Then the civilization has either stagnated or disintegrated. The Jews are seemingly the only exception to this ‘rule’.
“Second, the moment a people lost its country through war or some other calamity, that people either disappeared as an ethnic entity or regressed into a meaningless existence….Against the odds of history(Jews)survived for two thousand years without a country of their own.
“Finally, no people except the Jews have ever managed to create a culture in exile. The Jews, however, in exile, created not just one, but six different cultures, one in each of the six major civilizations within which their history flowed”.
In fact, it is DiMont’s thesis that the Jews were actually created to be scattered, to become a “diaspora” that spread the basis of their culture around the world. If so, it makes a lot of sense, because it was a process that forced groups to constantly re-adapt to their environment in more individualized ways, to “repent” as it were.
In more modern language, we might say that the Jews were created to “inform” civilizations, to act as the “salt” that retarded the “leaven” of excessive growth.
What is “sin” called in the Old testament? Leaven. What does leaven do? It expands and grows until it consumes all available fuel, and then it collapses of its own weight. And if those who seek truth are the “salt of the earth”, we know that salt acts to retard the excessive growth of leavening.
What emerges is NOT the traditional ideas of growth, proselytizing, and narcissistic expansion of centralized “God-Kings” as Christianity tries to tell us, but rather its opposite, a constant tendency toward greater individuality, uncertainty, breakdown, and re-forming according to new information.
In short, Christianity and government is the “Borg”, while intelligence favors individual adaptation to changes within the environment.