Freedom: Expanded Book 1–The Old Biology
Part 4:4B Secondly, upset humans have had to deny the truth of Integrative Meaning
The second unbearable truth that upset humans have had to deny is the most fundamental of all truths–Integrative Meaning. While the concept of Integrative Meaning was briefly touched upon in Part 3:4, it now needs to be more fully explained. (This topic will also be looked at in even greater detail in Part 8:1, as part of the overall description provided there of the development of order of matter on Earth.)
If we look around, everything we see is a hierarchy of ordered matter. A tree is a hierarchy of ordered matter, a collection of parts–it has a trunk, limbs, roots, leaves, bark and wood cells. Our bodies are a collection of parts. Our homes are an assemblage of parts. Everywhere we look there are hierarchies of ordered matter, collections of elements or parts. Furthermore, what we see happening across these collection of parts or arrangements of matter or wholes is a tendency to develop ever larger and more stable wholes. Overall, everywhere we look matter is integrating. Indeed, it’s even apparent that over the eons a chaotic universe has organised, and continues to organise, itself into stars, planets and galaxies.
The above chart summarises the very obvious development of order of matter on Earth. Our world is constructed from some 94 naturally occurring elements–hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, etc. These elements came together to form stable arrangements. For example, two hydrogen atoms with their single positive charges came together with one oxygen atom with its double negative charge to form the stable relationship known as water. Over time larger molecules and compounds developed. Eventually macro compounds formed. These subsequently integrated to form virus-like organisms, which in turn came together or integrated to form single-celled organisms, which in turn integrated to form multicellular organisms, which in turn integrated to form societies of single species, which in turn integrate to form stable, ordered arrangements of different species.
The law of physics that accounts for this integration of matter is known as the ‘Second Path of the Second Law of Thermodynamics’, or ‘Negative Entropy’, which states that in an open system, such as that which exists on Earth, where energy can come into the system from outside it (in Earth’s case, from the sun), matter integrates; it develops order. Thus, subject to the influence of Negative Entropy, the 94 elements from which our world is built develop ever larger and more stable wholes.
So what is happening everywhere we look is that order is developing–larger in space and more stable in time arrangements of matter are forming. It is as plain as day that that is what is happening in our world. Everything is a hierarchy of ordered matter and everywhere matter is integrating, and yet we have denied this truth–but we have done so for an extremely good reason, which is that the truth of Integrative Meaning has, in fact, been the most confronting and condemning of all truths for the upset human race.
The reason it has been so confronting and condemning is that for a collection of parts to stay together as a whole the parts of the whole must cooperate, behave selflessly, place the maintenance of the whole above the maintenance of themselves. For a larger whole to form and hold together, for matter to integrate, the parts of the developing whole have to, in effect, consider the welfare of the larger whole over their own because if they don’t cooperate, if they behave selfishly, then the whole disintegrates–the parts break down into the elementary building blocks of matter from which they were assembled. Put simply, selfishness is divisive or disintegrative while selflessness is integrative.
Selflessness is actually the theme of existence because it is the glue that holds wholes together; it is, in fact, the true meaning of the word ‘love’–with the old Christian word for love being ‘caritas’, meaning charity or giving or selflessness (see Col. 3:14, 1 Cor. 13:1-13, 10:24 and John 15:13). Of these biblical references, Colossians 3:14 perfectly summarises the integrative significance of love: ‘And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.’ In John 15:13 we also see that Christ emphasised the unconditionally selfless significance of the word ‘love’ when he said, ‘Greater love has no-one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.’ Yes, ‘love’ is cooperative selflessness–and not just selflessness, but unconditional selflessness or altruism, the capacity, if called upon, to make a full, self-sacrificing commitment to the maintenance of the larger whole. The problem with this truth of the theme of the integrative process being selflessness, ideally unconditional selflessness, is that it confronts us humans squarely with the issue of the human condition. If the meaning of existence is to be cooperative, loving and selfless, then why are we humans competitive, aggressive and selfish? If the theme of existence is to be integrative, why are we divisively behaved? Despite it being such an obvious truth, Integrative Meaning has been so condemning of the upset human race that we have had no choice but to live in deep denial of it.
The simple fact is, for a larger whole to form and hold together, for matter to integrate, the parts must cooperate not compete, they must be selfless not selfish. But since the competitive, aggressive and selfish divisive behaviour of upset humans is the polar opposite of cooperative, loving and selfless integrative behaviour, this truth of Integrative Meaning has been the most horrifically condemning of truths for upset humans. No other truth raised the issue of the human condition, the issue of the lack of ideal behaviour in our lives, as completely as the truth of Integrative Meaning.
Furthermore, the integrative, cooperative, loving theme of existence is also actually what ‘God’ is the personification of–a truth we recognise when we say ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8,16). Monotheism, the belief that there is only one God, is an insight that goes back as far as 4,000 years ago to two very great denial-free thinkers or prophets, the pharaoh Akhenaton, who reigned in Egypt from approximately 1,350 to 1,335, and the Hebrew prophet Abraham, who was alive around 2,000 . With the human condition explained and our divisive state understood, all humans can now safely admit and recognise that there has only been one God, one all-dominating truth, which is Integrative Meaning. Integration and the selflessness or love that enables it to occur is the theme of existence, is ‘God’, is the all-dominating and all-pervading universal truth about our world.
The problem was that until we could explain why we have been divisive and not integrative (we were, by all appearances, ‘unlovable’), we couldn’t afford to demystify our concept of God and explain that God is Integrative Meaning. Until we could explain our human condition we had no choice but to leave the concept of God in a safely abstract, undefined state, but with our divisive, non-integrative behaviour now defended we can safely demystify this religious concept of God and explain in first-principle-based, scientific terms who, or more precisely, what, God is–the personification of the Negative Entropy-driven integrative, cooperative, loving, selfless, order-developing ideals, theme, purpose and meaning of life.
So although the truth of Integrative Meaning is extremely obvious, with evidence of the hierarchy of the order of matter everywhere we look, it was important for humanity that denial-complying mechanistic science found a way to deny what seemed such a totally condemning truth. This was easily achieved through the simple assertion that there is no meaning or purpose or theme in existence and that while change does occur it is a random, purposeless, directionless, meaningless, blind process. And, as stated, to cope with the imbued recognition of integrative ideality and meaning in the religious concept of ‘God’, science simply left the concept of ‘God’ undefined, maintaining it was a strictly abstract, metaphysical and spiritual concept unrelated to the scientific domain–an inexplicable deity seated on a throne somewhere high above the clouds in a remote blue heaven who we can worship as someone superior to us while avoiding any direct comparisons with our divisively behaved selves. Religion and science were firmly demarcated as two entirely unrelated subjects.
Only when understanding of the human condition was found, as it now is, would it be safe to demystify God–and reconcile religion and science. As the visionary French Jesuit palaeontologist and philosopher (he was actually a denial-free thinker or prophet) Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) once said, ‘I can see a direction and a line of progress for life, a line and a direction which are in fact so well marked that I am convinced their reality will be universally admitted by the science of tomorrow’ (The Phenomenon of Man, 1938, p.142 of 320). With this statement, de Chardin was recognising firstly how obvious the truth of the integrative, order-of-matter-developing theme of existence really is. And secondly that this truth of the integrative ‘direction’ or theme or purpose or meaning of existence wouldn’t be able to be ‘admitted’ until the human-condition-resolved ‘science of tomorrow’ emerged. Yes, ‘yesterday’s’ mechanistic scientists have been reductionist and mechanistic, not teleological and holistic; they couldn’t admit to Integrative Meaning because it was a suicidally depressing truth.
It should be noted that despite this need to deny the development of order of matter on Earth, or Integrative Meaning, and acknowledge that it is what we mean by ‘God’, there have been a rare few scientists who have courageously acknowledged both. The very great German-born physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and British physicist Stephen Hawking (1942-) are two such scientists. As Hawking once said, ‘I would use the term God as the embodiment of the laws of physics’ (Master of the Universe, BBC, 1989). Three years later Hawking went further, saying, ‘The overwhelming impression is of order [in the universe]. The more we discover about the universe, the more we find that it is governed by rational laws. If one liked, one could say that this order was the work of God. Einstein thought so…We could call order by the name of God’ (‘The Time of His Life’ by Gregory Benford, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 Apr. 2002). The 1997 PBS documentary Einstein Revealed reported Einstein as saying that ‘over time, I have come to realise that behind anything, behind everything is an order that we glimpse only indirectly [because it’s unbearably confronting/condemning!]. This is religiousness. In this sense, I am a religious man.’ ‘Holism’ is also a term that recognises Integrative Meaning. Coined by the great South African denial-free thinker or prophet Jan Smuts (1870-1950), it means ‘the tendency in nature to form wholes’ (Concise Oxford Dict. 5th edn, 1964). ‘Teleology’, another term that recognises Integrative Meaning, means ‘the belief that purpose and design are a part of nature’ (Macquarie Dict. 3rd edn, 1998).
It is getting a bit ahead of the sequence of concepts being presented, nevertheless, it should at least be briefly pointed out that coming off such a fundamentally false base as mechanistic science has been–in denying such a fundamental truth as Integrative Meaning–has meant its ability to interpret its own findings has been deeply compromised, which is why it has struggled to make much sense of the real nature of life on Earth, specifically human nature. Denial-complying mechanistic science has been a very superficial and thus ineffective form of enquiry, which is why so much of the world has lost faith in science. The American General Omar Bradley, who rose to eminence during the Second World War, highlighted the extreme deficiency of mechanistic science when he said, ‘The world has achieved brilliance…without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants’ (Armistice Day Address, 10 Nov. 1948, Collected Writings of General Omar N. Bradley, Vol.1). Carl Jung also recognised science’s failure to provide us with enlightening information about ourselves when he said that ‘Man everywhere is dangerously unaware of himself. We really know nothing about the nature of man, and unless we hurry to get to know ourselves we are in dangerous trouble’ (Jung and the Story of Our Time, Laurens van der Post, 1976, p.239 of 275). My professor of biology at Sydney University, Charles Birch (1918-2009), was another who bravely spoke the truth when he said, ‘[mechanistic] science can’t deal with subjectivity…what we were all taught in universities is pretty much a dead end’ (From recording of Birch’s 1993 FHA/WTM Open Day address). In short, mechanistic science hasn’t been able to deal with the truth about ourselves and our world. The renowned English physicist and science writer Paul Davies (1946-) recognised this deficiency when he said, ‘For 300 years science has been dominated by extremely mechanistic thinking. According to this view of the world all physical systems are regarded as basically machines…I have little doubt that much of the alienation and demoralisation that people feel in our so-called scientific age stems from the bleak sterility of mechanistic thought’ (‘Living in a non-material world–the new scientific consciousness’, The Australian, 9 Oct. 1991).
Plato also recognised the destructive effect denial–especially denial of Integrative Meaning–has had on our intellect’s capacity to think effectively, writing that ‘when the soul [which, as will be explained when the fourth unconfrontable truth is described, is our species’ integratively orientated original instinctual self] uses the instrumentality of the body [uses the body’s intellect with its preoccupation with denial] for any inquiry…it is drawn away by the body into the realm of the variable, and loses its way and becomes confused and dizzy, as though it were fuddled [drunk]…But when it investigates by itself [free of human-condition-avoiding, intellectual denial], it passes into the realm of the pure and everlasting and immortal and changeless, and being of a kindred nature, when it is once independent and free from interference, consorts with it always and strays no longer, but remains, in that realm of the absolute [Integrative Meaning], constant and invariable’ (Phaedo, tr. H. Tredennick).
Plato also referred to the need to be able ‘to look straight at reality’ if we are to effectively ‘learn’ when he wrote that ‘this capacity [of a mind…to see clearly] is innate in each man’s mind [we are born with a truthful, instinctive orientation to the cooperative, loving, integrative meaning of existence], and that the faculty by which he learns is like an eye which cannot be turned from darkness to light unless the whole body is turned; in the same way the mind as a whole must be turned away from the world of change until it can bear to look straight at reality, and at the brightest of all realities which is what we call the Good [Integrative Meaning or God]’ (The Republic, tr. H.D.P. Lee, 1955, p.283 of 405).
Mechanistic science has suffered very greatly from an inability to think truthfully and thus effectively–as we will see, it certainly has ‘los[t] its way and become confused and dizzy, as though it were fuddled [drunk]’. Arthur Schopenhauer’s description of how dishonesty blocks access to the truth has already been referred to, but his wise words are worth repeating here: ‘the discovery of truth is prevented most effectively…by prejudice, which…stands in the path of truth and is then like a contrary wind driving a ship away from land.’ As will be explained, we were never going to get to the liberating truth about the crux problem facing our species of the human condition through lies, most especially the denial of Integrative Meaning.
When Birch said that ‘what we were all taught in universities is pretty much a dead end’, he was prescient in his choice of words, because ‘dead end’ is an apt description for the stalled state of science today, in particular, as we will see, of the stalled state of that discipline within science of biology. In fact, he also once said, ‘Biology has not made any real advance since Darwin’ (In recorded conversation with this author, 20 Mar. 1987). The overall situation faced by mechanistic science was summarised in this further quote from Birch: ‘the traditional framework of thinking in science is not adequate for solving the really hard problems’ (ABC Radio National, Ockham’s Razor, 16 Apr. 1997). As we will see, the ‘hard[est] problem’ of all for denial-complying mechanistic science to solve has been the all-important issue of the human condition.
It will become apparent as this presentation continues that living in denial of Integrative Meaning, and many other important truths, has been very necessary, but it has also had tragic consequences in terms of making progress in understanding our world and our place in it.