Donnerstag, 19. Mai 2011

Three Big Bangs

The winner of the 2003 Templeton Prize, Holmes Ralston III has blazed a long and distinguished career exploring the relationship between nature, science, and religious inspiration. In his latest work, Three Big Bangs: Matter-Energy, Life, Mind, Ralston takes on the biggest of the big subjects—the foundations of matter, life, and mind. He suggests that there have been three big bangs in the history of our universe. Science has given us the primordial big bang, the genesis of matter, and has documented the genesis of life on Earth. But Ralston is determined to give equal weight to the third singularity, the human singularity, the internal big bang that gave birth to the mind of the Homo sapiens. He writes:
"We can take Albert Einstein as an icon of discovering the first big bang in the astronomical heavens (or at least of contemporary physics); we can take Charles Darwin as an icon of discovering the second big bang, evolutionary life on earth. But then the third big bang inescapably confronts us. Continuing to take Einstein and Darwin as icons, the marvel is not just in the heavens above or Earth beneath; the marvel is equally, indeed more so, the human minds capable of such knowledge."
By dividing the creation of matter, energy, life, and mind into three big bangs, Holmes Rolston III brings into focus a history of the universe that respects both scientific discovery and the potential presence of an underlying intelligence. Matter-energy appears, initially in simpler forms but with a remarkable capacity for generating heavier elements. The size and expansion rate of the universe, the nature of electromagnetism, gravity, and nuclear forces enable the the explosion of life on Earth. DNA discovers, stores, and transfers information generating billions of species. Cognitive capacities escalate, and with neural sentience this results in human genius.
A massive singularity, the human mind gives birth to language and culture, increasing the brain's complexity and promoting the spread of ideas. Ideas generate ideals, which lead life to take on spirit. The nature of matter-energy, genes, and their genesis therefore encourages humans to wonder where they are, who they are, and what they should do.
Think About This, 18.5.11

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