Saturday, January 11, 2020


Public atheists -- usually old white males -- have told us "God" is dead but are vague about where to go from there, like how to account for humans.  What I'm doing is completely different and might not called either "religion" or "science" but a sort of theory of existence using the latest high-tech assisting instruments.  It doesn't "feel" like anything we've known before, but profoundly informs what we do on this planet.

We "know" that everything is composed of atoms, which are whirling bits of energy according to a chart of elements, and which can then be structured into molecules which compose everything we can sense.  We know that whatever "everything" is, we can only perceive any of it by using our senses which are far more than five or six, but are of different kinds, all of them contained in the flesh arranged inside the boundary of our skin.  Some are evolved organs like ears, noses, tongues and the skin itself.  Others are single-cells or clusters that tell us where our bodies are and monitor the state of our insides.  

There is only one moral command: survive.  It's not really moral or a command: it's a consequence, a self-enforcing set of rules.  "Good" is continuing to exist.  "Bad" left an imprint on the galaxy but is no more.  Still, the contribution of its existence may affect us all an aeon later, like the first water creatures who came on land or the multitude of oxygen-creating plants who consume carbon dioxide.  Creatures that don't live long enough to reproduce may have an impact through the others around them.

Humans have two basic strategies for survival.  One is adaptability to changing circumstances and the other is forming groups that can do as a cluster what they could never accomplish as individuals.  I've heard theories about Beethoven playing the piano though deaf, and what he would have done without pianos existing, but never about the people who invented and constructed the piano, why they did it, and what would have happened if Beethoven's music was never heard by anyone else or written out to be renewed by others.

Many papers now are considering what mega-climate changes have required evolution of hominins until we reach the present, because now we know that our climate continues to change, quite drastically.  Our "religion" has been first based on agriculture so that if climate destroys growing food we may not survive, and second based on business, the structure of money symbolism so that we can move resources around the planet.  If the ocean rises again, if the great travel paths around the planet defined by water and wind are changed again, we will not be able to sustain as many people through trade.  Now morality enters the picture as we decide who is discardable.  Already many people are succumbing to economic despair.

Two elements of individuals that promote survival are attachment (love) and empathy (the ability to understand others so as to communicate).  These are not just emotional or imagined aspects of living, but physical conserved events in the bodily cells of humans that are able to project outside the skin to where we live and whom we know.  It is clear that outside our skins are phenomena we can only perceive (not even understand) unless our senses encode them into electrochemical messages that will travel our neural networks to our brains.  It is the brain that recomposes them (like reading sheet music written by Beethoven) into the symphony that is our reality.  Like music, we are a time art.

We come closer to understanding that the brain IS the whole sensory system and neural network that guides us to survival -- or not.  Ultimately and strictly speaking, our bodies are an assembly of one-celled animals that cooperate by specializing into muscle, bone, fat, and certain abilities.  But a one-celled animal can be very complex.  Most recently we learn that because cells also have skins, they have "ports of entry" based on the actions of ions, which are certain kinds of atoms. Inside their skins are ways of dealing with elements and molecules. 

"Proteins are macromolecules formed by amino acids. Proteins are large size molecules (macromolecules), polymers of structural units called amino acids. A total of 20 different amino acids exist in proteins and hundreds to thousands of these amino acids are attached to each other in long chains to form a protein."  (Sciencedirect)  

Proteins are assembled according to the recipes in genes and proteins are the substance of cells.  So, like a child's rhyme, the electrons circle the element nucleus, the elements make the molecules, the molecules make the cells, the cells make the creature, and the skin holds it all !  Heigh, ho, the skin holds it all!

So much happens on so many levels that something has to keep order, which are the neurons plus their insulation and nourishment.  In the great concentration of these in the brain, the codes of the senses form circuits.  The great majority are not conscious and simply run the body so that it maintains homeostasis: just enough and not too much of oxygen, heat, salt, water, certain messenger solutions, and so on.  But other circuits are conscious and are recognized as "thought", which a "built" virtual understanding of what the world "is" and how we feel about it, which can communicate with the actions of the whole body.  There is much more to learn about the brain, which looks like slush but operates as cleverly as a computer (though I hurry to say it is NOT a computer and works with a different "code" which may or may not be binary).

Something about the brain allows humans to recognize beauty, which seems to be a kind of mysterious aspect of existence that might be embracing or terrifying, which we can both create and recognize, which evokes strong emotions, and  which is palpably virtual and yet can seem more real than anything else.  This is the realm of the Sacred, what is felt as Holy.  More than simply venerated -- in addition to tradition or history or experience -- some humans can feel something they cannot name.  This is what I want to know more about.   I call it "structured tumult."

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