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Continuing Discussion - Anthropic Principle - Second Try

Aug 27, 1993 08:56 PM
by Gerald Schueler


Thanks for your last.  I am continuing our themes:

<chaos theory is not chaos in the sense of chaos versus order>
Agreed.  But chaos theory is useless stuff if not applicable
in more meaningful ways than mathematics and science.  Virtually
all great scientists have attempted to widen their lab and
mathematical findings into a meaningful theory, with various
results.  Call it <speculative science> if you will, but it is
necessary.  Similarly with <I think you are overstepping the
limits of chaos theory by paralleling the mathematical theory
with the idea of the duality of order and chaos>  True, but I
didn't do it.  Glieck and several others did, with their
insightful books that do just what you are protesting.  Besides,
how else can we compare and contrast science with occultism?
Speaking of books, you mentioned Ilya Prigogine.  Have you read
his book ORDER OUT OF CHAOS yet?  Its a good read.  On page 37 he
says, "Like myths and cosmologies, science's endeavor is to
understand the nature of the world, the way it is organized, and
man's place in it."

<Events may appear random to an observer>  This was not nice,
Don, throwing my own words back on me.  (Not that I blame you.  I
can't wait for your book to come out so I can do the same to
you).  And yes, I stick with what I wrote in EP.

You have touched (albeit by using my own words) on the very heart
of the entire matter, and probably the real root of our little
debate here.  Chaos, statistics, and duality, and lots of other
things, all exist as such, only relative to an observer.  I don't
think that they have any ultimate or independent existence in the
Zen sense of suchness or thing-in-itself-ness.  Thus all of our
debate is a lot of hot air.  I assume you are familiar with the
Anthropic Principle (?)  Have you read THE ANTHROPIC COSMOLOGICAL
PRINCIPLE by John Barrow and Frank Tippler?  I think its great,
and I agree with most of it.

I like your quotes from van der Lleuw although I have not read
his book.  The quotations are very very Zenish (I just made up
this word! but it seems to work), and I would expect any good Zen
Master to say much the same thing.  When two Zen Masters get
together, they don't debate or argue - they serve tea.  Because,
as you pointed out, <Words and ideas are only minor outposts,
like oasises in the flux of life>.  In this atmosphere, I will
recind all of my earlier words and replace them with a knowing
smile, which is closer to the truth anyway. (:-)

But in the interest of verbage and communicating in words, which
we are rather stuck with doing, I will continue.

<The idea of the universe winding down is a misconception,
speculative science, with no basis in actual fact>  The *facts*
so far are all derived by science itself, so I can't agree with
the last part of your sentence.  As to the idea, it dovetails
nicely with HPB's teachings, so I tend to agree with it - but
only in the sense of *portions* of the universe, or perhaps of
one universe as opposed to multiple universes.  Why?  Because she
said that as above so below, and that the principle of physical
things being born, living for a time, and dying, is true with
people, with atoms, and with solar systems, and with virtually
all physical phenomena.  I have assumed the principle to also be
true with galaxies, clusters, and universes, albeit on a much
larger time scale as we move outward.

"Winding down" is equivalent to aging, and all living things age
and eventually will die (some Adepts can postpone their death,
but eventually, death comes to all).  According to HPB, our
universe (or at least our solar system) and everything in it is a
living thing.  I don't *know* this to be true.  But it has the
ring of intuitive rightness for me, and so I accept it.  Just as
I was born, age, and will die, so with *our* universe.

<dispensing with dualisms>  This is great if you can do it.
Dualism is the way we human beings look at things.  It is the way
that our universe is observed below the Abyss (as we cross the
Abyss downward into matter, the One becomes Two).  It is not a
good way to view things, and leads to a lot of mental anguish and
suffering.  Buddha pointed out his Eightfold Way in which to
eliminate such wrong thinking, but so far, only Adepts can really
do it.  I think that probably Zen tries the hardest to overcome
dualism, or at least to see it and work with it, rather than
confusing the forest for the trees.  Many people get locked into
dualisms without a clue that they are doing so - especially the
one about right and wrong, or good and evil.  I hate to throw
stones, but most Christians and Muslims tend to do this in their
writings to excess.  I was a Christian Scientist for years.  I
discovered that it works - healings and such happen - but not for
the reasons that they believe.  They think that health is always
*right* and disease is always *wrong*, for example (and most feel
guilt when they get sick).  They try to hang onto health and
throw away sickness (and who doesn't ?) forgetting that they are
two sides of a duality and you can't have one without the other.
Probably theose there could be) are moralistic, and
they teach right from wrong behavior and clearly define good from
evil.  The Adept learns to view the world from the point of
nonduality and thus realizes the unity between right and wrong as
well as the social conventions that go into such definitions.
The Adept is said to be amoral.  This amoral behavior (and HPB
was no exception, her smoking and cussing, etc, in a most unlady-
like fashion still raises eyebrows today) is hard for most folks
to accept, and few understand it.  What I am saying here is that
while dualism can indeed be dispensed with, it is seldom done in
practice and usually only by full Adepts who must revert back to
dualism if they want to communicate with non-Adepts (because
words themselves convey dualism as a given).

<I really feel that we are shooting arrows in the same direction
and that all our differences reflect differences in our life
experiences as human beings>  I am not so sure that our
differences are even that much.  Most are semantics.  If you
accept the Anthropic Principle, then I think we are on the same
track.  If not, then I guess we are at some odds.  Thats enough
for now.


Since I brought up the subject of the Anthropic principle, I am
including the following annex, that I wrote for PeaceNet:


The ancients called the universe a macrocosm, and man a
microcosm.  They taught that we are a reflection in miniature of
the universe in which we live.  The ancients also taught that man
is at the center of the universe.  The Copernican principle
reversed this idea, teaching us that our Earth is not positioned
at the center of our solar system.  Modern astronomy teaches that
our solar system is but one of countless billions in the
universe, and that we are not even at the center of our galaxy,
but in a rather obscure region between two of its arms.  This,
and the Darwinian theory of evolution, has given many of us a
feeling of inferiority.  For many, life has lost its meaning.
The great teachings of the ancients have been reduced to humorous
stories by modern science.  But now a new theory has entered the
scientific community which challenges the scientific view of a
mechanical universe, and implies that perhaps the ancients
weren't so wrong after all.  The new theory, coined by Brandon
Carter, is called the Anthropic Principle.  It implies that the
entire universe has evolved deliberately and systematically in
such a way as to create and sustain man.

The Anthropic Principle is detailed in a powerful new book,
J. Tipler (Oxford University Press, 1988).  Three principles are
given:  the Weak Anthropic Principle or WAP, the Strong Anthropic
Principle or SAP, and the Final Anthropic Principle or FAP.

The WAP states that "the observed values of all physical and
cosmological quantities are not equally probable but they take on
values restricted by the requirements that there exist sites
where carbon-based life can evolve and by the requirement that
the universe be old enough for it to have already done so."  This
principle expresses the idea that we can only observe those
phenomena and events which are consistent with our own evolution
and present circumstances of existence.  In other words, the
observer inevitably influences his or her observations and
conversely, every observation is influenced by its observer.  Our
physical bodies are carbon based.  Our cultures, civilizations,
and life-styles are carbon based.  Our thoughts and emotions are
tempered and highly influenced by our carbon-based bodies.
Modern quantum mechanics has clearly shown the truth of this
principle on the scale of subatomic particles.  Every observation
of subatomic particles influences the results in some way, making
an unbiased observation impossible.

Most theosophists would be in full agreement with the WAP.
The fact that our world is influenced by our observations and
expectations of it, and that in general, we only see what we
expect to see, are in full accord with the ancient teaching that
man is a microcosm of the macrocosmic universe, as well as with
the well-known doctrine of karma.  Theosophy also teaches that
all things are alive, including our Earth.  The modern theory of
Gaia, the world as a living mother, introduced by J.E. Lovelock,
dovetails in scientific terms the theosophical teachings of a
living Earth.  If man is indeed the microcosm of the macrocosmic
world, then man would observe himself in his surroundings in
accordance with the WAP.

The SAP states that "the universe must have those properties
which allow life to develop within it at some stage in its
history."  According to the SAP, the basic physical laws of the
universe must allow for the development and cultivation of life.
While most scientists will agree with the WAP, few today accept
the SAP.  However, it would be considered as common sense by any

The scientific community generally regards life as a quirk
or aberration in the evolutionary scheme of things.  Many think
that carbon-based life, as we know it on Earth, is limited only
to Earth, or at least only to a few planets in the galaxy.  Most
theosophists would willingly embrace the SAP and say that
evolution applies not only to physical things, but to emotional,
mental, and spiritual things as well.  Life and the universe came
into existence together, evolve through time together, and will
eventually die together.  According to the teachings of
theosophy, all things are alive, not just carbon-based plants and
animals as we know them on Earth.

An important corollary to the SAP is that "Observers are
necessary to bring the universe into being."  This idea has found
favor with many of the world's leading mystics and poets.  In
H.P. Blavatsky's THE SECRET DOCTRINE we find that a multitude of
conscious beings helped to form the Earth and populate it.  THE
SECRET DOCTRINE shows that living beings (observers) who
developed on the moon (which has since died) began reincarnating
on the Earth as a continuation of their evolution.  They also
helped in the development of new observers.  For example, the
Manasaputras or "Sons of Mind" ignited the self-consciousness of
man millions of years ago.  The main purpose of Earth is to serve
as an evolutionary stage for the physical and spiritual
development of man and other living beings who one day will be
equivalent to man.  According to H.P.B., everything is alive, and
every living entity must pass through a man-like stage of
evolutionary development.  Thus all things in the universe sooner
or later will become observers of the universe.

The FAP states that "intelligent information-processing must
come into existence in the universe, and, once it comes into
existence, it will never die out."  The FAP implies, among other
things, that all conscious beings gather and process information,
and are thus somewhat like computers.  If our physical body is
likened to a computer, then the human being is its software
program.  The FAP requires intelligent life to continue in some
form or another forever.  Obviously if life could die out, then
the Anthropic principle would be thwarted, and the purpose of the
universe would be unfulfilled.  The FAP also implies an inherent
code of ethics or morals because only with a strong sense of
morals could observers work together processing information, and
not eliminate each other at some point.

The SAP suggests that man and the universe came into
existence together.  The WAP suggests that man and the universe,
having come into being together, are intimately linked together,
and that our universe will grow as we learn more about ourselves.
The FAP suggests that once consciousness is developed it will
continue to exist in the universe forever.  These three parts of
the Anthropic Principle can find their counterparts in the
theosophical literature.  It is heartening to see that modern
science is slowly merging with the theosophical viewpoint.

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