Friday, May 29, 2015
Is Nature indifferent to us? And is that a good part of why it can be so frightening?
I am currently reading one of Michael Crichton's more recent books, "Micro." It's a decent read and I do recommend it.
This is a story about nano tech taken to an astonishing extreme; the shrinking of not only machines, but people, down to very small sizes. The purpose here is so that a given section of Hawaiian rain forest can be cataloged to the minutest level of soil and plant biota. Every creature down to the very microbes in precisely collected trays of soil.
The why of course is that nature has already spent millions of years cooking up drugs we haven't even imagined yet. If you could sift out a comprehensive database of what was there, as well as what each living thing could synthesize naturally, you would undoubtedly be sitting on a gold mine.
Which is also why the usual greed, and cast of psychopathic, sociopathic, and just plain evil, characters come into play so as to fulfill their dreams of power, and ego gratification.
The story does present, though, an interesting juxtaposition of minute mechanization, the vast array of living activity at small scales, and the contrast of how small we are in comparison to nature, even when we aren't shrunk down to the size of a thumb nail.
There is, in particular, one paragraph of dialogue spoken by one of the male characters that really got me to thinking:
"...What is it about nature that is so terrifying to the modern mind? Why is it so intolerable? Because nature is fundamentally indifferent. It’s unforgiving, uninterested. If you live or die, succeed or fail, feel pleasure or pain, it doesn’t care. That’s intolerable to us. How can we live in a world so indifferent to us. So we redefine nature. We call it Mother Nature when it’s not a parent in any real sense of the term. We put gods in trees and air and the ocean, we put them in our households to protect us. We need these human gods for many things, luck, health, freedom, but one thing above all—one reason stands out—we need the gods to protect us from loneliness..."
Certainly nature is a process after all. And it stands to reason that a process can't have any real inclinations as we might consider them. Any proclivity towards hope, or favoritism towards one species or another, let alone one individual or another within a species.
It is a process that simply works to create ever more complex arrangements of interaction. Interaction whose flows can become self sustaining so that information can be retained, built upon, and, through experience association, have ever greater layers of abstracted meaning that can be accumulated.
That this ultimately results in something that can not only contemplate the factors for future choices, but the implications of its own existence, as well as the wonder of awareness, imagination, or intuition in the first place, ought to make us pause for a moment.
This gets especially more important when you start considering that a meaning processor (as singular meaning reference point), such as any sentient being is, might be quite fundamental to the ability to have a reality (the arrow of sequence and arbitrary moment where anything can interact and associate to begin with) at all.
This sort of thing is why I wonder if realities are the strings in string theory; only experienced from a different dimentional scale. They say that one of the main characteristics of such strings is that they vibrate, to provide a host of quantum fundamentals. You have to wonder then at what form of harmonic modulation would be at work to make this vibration go. Could it perhaps be the sum total of all of the life interaction energies, and all of the celestial bodies moving, as well as the collective thoughts and emotions of those sentients living inside? Could there be a tone there, or perhaps even a melody, that is meant to resonate with a good deal more than mere indifference? I, for one, would like to think so. It is certainly why I ponder things under the heading of a philosophy.