Bare Bones Biology 300 – Responsibility

At the turn of the century, with the help and support of others in my communities, I finalized my scientific “life’s work,” a holistic description of a mammalian system, and preserved the mouse colony so that it would be available for others, and collaborated in the writing and publication of the book.

 

160219-Mountain-asc_2790s copyAnd then I stepped out into a strange new world, in which people for the most part seem not to like each other, nor to understand naturally evolved holistic systems, including collaborative human relationships aimed toward common goals.

 

Except for war. Of course that is why we enjoy war. It is our community. Our naturally evolved system, the corposystem, the worldwide corpo-political-social system. A world where people mostly enjoy hating each other and/or fighting and bullying, or fleeing the devastation. Where people believe that we can solve problems by pretending they do not exist or by blaming someone else, or by sacrificing ourselves to individual human goals that are impossible to achieve. 

 

So I spent about another decade, more or less, studying the genetics or rather the evolution of our human corposystem behaviors, while looking for a role I can play that conceivably might succeed and to help solve our human survival problem. Which of course is real, serious and imminent – and relates to natural law, so it does not respond to human bullying and does not care about our excuses, denial or reasons why we can’t do what is necessary and do-able.

 

160219-Mountain-asc_2764RLSs copyIt was obvious to me from day one of this century, when I stopped thinking about mice and turned my attention to people, that we humans are behaving, as a group, in a way that makes no sense within our environment, and we cannot survive outside our environment.   And I know WHY.

 

Because the other half of ourselves – individually, mentally and physically — IS our naturally evolved environmental systems, and we do not care about our environmental systems in the same way that we care about our physiological subsystems.

 

Even most or many scientists, activists and educators do not understand WHY our corposystem behaviors do not make good survival sense; therefore, for the most part, we all are doing more harm than good, no matter our intentions. We are working for growth, money and dominance, rather than survival. Nearly all of us. At this time in our development, that kind of behavior is counter-productive within the environmental systems of which we are a part.   It is my misfortunate that my life and career rather uniquely prepared me to be one of the knowledge-holders within our current social system, the corposystem.

 

M'Donna-IMG_20151003_125919151LSsAny knowledge-holder within a social group or species has a responsibility to make her knowledge available to the whole group, whether or not people want to hear about it, so this is my responsibility – it is our responsibility – it is what we must do, if we want to save our species:

 

1- We must take control over our population growth in some other way than requiring people to be born and then trying to reduce the population – and the problems caused by overpopulation — by killing people off. The killing is not a solution to anyone’s problems. We do have birth control. I know all the excuses; don’t bother to tell me; the universe does not care about excuses. The universe cares about HOW naturally evolved systems function together to survive.  We reduce the population or we die off as a species.

 

And while we are doing that, we can proceed to develop a human future that is sustainable.

 

2-   We all, and particularly the world of religion, need to understand how the living earth system was formed by evolution of increasingly complex naturally evolved, interacting systems, and incorporate this knowledge into the religions.

 

All religions focus on the same light, AS DOES SCIENCE, and it is time to begin acting as though the light is more important than our human wars/debates/dominance behaviors and rituals that do not relate to our current human environment. We can take a lesson from the responsible leadership of His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Not necessarily his Buddhism, but the wisdom of his leadership.

 

3-   We need to learn how to discuss problems and then discuss them. We ALL need to align our worldviews with factual reality as best we can. That does NOT and should not require either debate or silence. Debate is practice for war, and silence is abdication of our responsibilities to our others. Good outcomes of discussion require good research, good listening, and communal discussion of our current Limiting Factors within our naturally evolved Biosystem Environment. It’s not supposed to be easy, or fun, or happy-face — but it can be rewarding if our genuine goal is survival of our species rather than being better than other people and other species.

 

4- My personal responsibility is to keep myself healthy and solvent until I can make available a description of how naturally evolved systems function to maintain themselves, and propose one possible recipe for how we can, or could, align our worldviews with the factual reality of natural law by good research and communal discussion.

 

When this is done — then it will be up to all of you: heads or tails, do we want to grow a future, or just pretend to be happy trashing the future that my parents’ generation tried to give to us?

 

A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_300_-_Responsibility.mp3

 

 

References

Lamoreux et al. 2010. The Colors of Mice: A model Genetic Network. Wiley-Blackwell.

The Dalai Lama. 2010. Toward a True Kinship of Faiths. Doubleday.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bare Bones Biology 296 – Suicide by Corposystem

160215-mapletreebud-asc_2612_1RSsThe universe we live in is composed of interacting, naturally evolved systems. We did not create this miracle, but we are part of it; and there are rules, laws of nature that we are slowly learning to understand. And the worst part — it seems we must ever and again, both as individuals with thinking minds, and as social systems, relearn all the same old painful lessons that have been learned the hard way so many times before by others of our kind. We have guides to the “laws” of human behaviors encoded in the structures of our wisdom traditions.

 

The Law of Life itself on this earth is basically simple and is framed by the balance of energy and entropy; of work and information; and the systems that naturally arise within that frame. This universe is what it is; we add our own complications. In fact it is part of our nature as living things to add complications. Complications are a part of evolution. But we have this nice brain and all those wisdom traditions to help us, not to mention modern science, all studying the same universe. You’d think we would learn the rules.

 

As individuals, we humans are naturally evolved systems. We are composed of naturally evolved systems and we are parts of the whole naturally evolved system that maintains itself by balancing the relationships among energy and entropy using the natural laws that regulate work and information. This fact has implications.

One of these implications is that we embody functions within and among the systems. Whether or not we want to. And the better we can manage these functions the less suffering we will cause to others. Or actually, I should say the more suffering we will prevent, because if we were to use our beautiful brain to manage our behaviors within the wisdom traditions and the wisdom of science (I am not talking about technology here, but our knowledge of cause and effect) we could be preventing suffering rather than causing it.

 

You already know my personal prime directive to do more good than harm in my time on this earth. This kind of aspiration is not possible to accomplish if we refuse to see the downside as well as the up side of our behaviors. For me, figuring out the meaning of good and harm is enough of a challenge to keep me going until someone else takes over, but I do have one important guide in the effort. I know that I cannot change the natural laws, and therefore I must align my plans and behaviors with what is, and not with what I wish it were.

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I am tempted to say the four noble laws of nature, but some out there may not have a sufficient sense of humor, or is it irony, to enjoy that line. Oh, let’s leave it. It is not likely to do more harm than good. How many people will read this anyhow??

 

One of the primary functions of a system is to maintain itself. You and I are naturally evolved systems composed of other systems that all function together to maintain the whole. Our respective liver, heart, digestive system, excretory system, and above all, in humans, our most highly evolved subsystem, our brain. And our mind. Part of our job of life is to take very good care of all the systems of which we are composed. For the benefit of the whole. That is, for ourselves individually, for the social systems of which we are a part: family, tribe, and now a new system that, like it or not, we are creating together, the global corposystem.

Another primary function of each naturally evolved system is to do no harm to the larger systems of which it is a part. To do good if possible. Because these are our environment, and our environment is the other half of who we are.

 

Now here’s the downside of that magnificent brain of ours and the corposystem that it is creating. The corposystem, that is us, rather than to helping to form a collaborative whole, is determined to establish domination over the Biosystem. The corposystem – in its war against the Biosystem, is making us choose.

 

In this kind of triangle, we cannot do more good than harm unless we think very deeply about the “unexpected” but not unexpectable consequences of our actions.

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This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com

 

The podcast of this blog is available at:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_296_-_Suicide_by_Corposystem.mp3

 

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Bare Bones Biology 295 – The Hub

Last week, on the back of the bulletin in the Episcopal church, we read the following:

 

“God is the hub of the wheel of life. The closer we come to God, the closer we come to each other. The basis of community is not primarily our ideas, feelings, and emotions about each other, but our common search for God. When we keep our minds and hearts directed toward God, we will come more fully ‘together.’”       Henri J. M. Nouwen.

 

imagesIf you have followed Bare Bones Biology for a while, you have heard me say from time to time that that I believe The Creation consists of one reality that is factually true, and searching for that factual reality is one of the more direct routes toward truth — from wherever we begin our path.

 

“More specifically, when one looks at things from the perspective of the rim, then the spokes connecting the rim with the center seem very separate from one another . . . as do the various religious traditions when viewed  through the glasses of their respective theologies, rituals, and so on. However, when one reaches the  center of the wheel where all of the spokes come together, then one appreciates the principles of unity which govern the function of the wheel despite the apparent disparities of the individual spokes and, similarly, when one is opened to the mysteries of Self-realization, then, one experiences, in direct fashion, the unity which underlies and glues together the apparently disparate aspects of life …”   Shayk Tariq Knecht.

 

But certainly we can’t get there exclusively on the back of measurable facts and the scientific method. The Creation is very much more than that, and contains many kinds of reality.  facts are facts, but they are not sufficient because truths cannot be comprehended by humans at the level of literalism. The Creation is very much more than facts, especially reductionist facts, because, for one example that is or can be purely physical, The Creation is a system composed of systems.  And there are not many kinds of measurable facts.   Nevertheless, real facts, and the road toward our understanding of real facts and our responsible use of them, do indeed carry us closer to the hub of truth. Similarly, our other modes of truth-seeking, if they are valid and if we make the honest effort, must meet at the hub of reality, mingled among the facts of science.

 

Our culture is nowhere near that hub, and of course we will not get there, to the center, if we can’t tell the difference between real facts, our own world views, the nuggets of truth that lie at the heart of our myths and metaphors, and our opinions that are never omniscient. There are many things that humans cannot understand:

 

“One of the striking peculiarities of common man is that, while he now has abundant scientific evidence to the contrary, he finds it intensely difficult to   understand that his beliefs are by no means always linked with his intelligence, his culture, or his values.” Indries Shah.

 

And we cannot draw near to any truth until we learn to discuss the issues that divide us and connect us, because:

 

“Discussion, like an army, serves no human master, but harnesses the force of argument and the power of personality to the common goal of growing understanding.” Paul Woodruff.

 

And our culture is unwilling to discuss he critical issues. So I defer to His Holiness The Dalai Lama, who has accepted, with incredibly compassionate wisdom, the enormous “cross” of the golden wheel (that wheel in the picture is supposed to be golden) that represents the eightfold path of his heritage, and has expanded that responsibility to encompass the world of all science, all religion, and all sentient beings. He quotes Shantideva:

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“May the fearful become fearless;

May those oppressed by grief find joy;

May those who are anxious

Be rid of their anxiety and feel secure.

 

“May health come to the sick;

May they be free from every bondage;

May those who are weak find strength,

Their minds tender toward each other.

 

“As long as space remains,

As long as sentient beings remain,

Until then, may I too remain

And help dispel the miseries of the world.”

(sound familiar?)

 

In our corposystem culture, we have replaced that golden wheel, and its eightfold path that reaches toward the hub of Life, replaced it with the grimy threefold cycle of co-dependence that generates and re-generates the fairy-tale of human supremacy uber alles.

 

I do not wish in any way to demean the “parts” of the system of human aspirations in favor of the whole. No more than Shantideva demeans the parts in the above quote. In any case that would not work, because the whole is clearly an emergent reality that is dependant for its very existence upon its parts. (Donella H. Meadows. Thinking in Systems, 2008, Chelsea Green; Huston Smith, Why Religion Matters, 2001, Harper One).

 

But for myself, I do not wish to spend my own short personal time in reverence for the parts over the whole emergent miracle of the ongoing creation of Life of Earth.

 

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Worpress.com. A copy of the podcast may be found at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_295_-_The_Hub.mp3

The Blog address is: https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2016/02/12/bare-bones-biology-295-the-hub/

References

Henri J. M. Nouwen. The Genesis Diary.

Shayk Tariq Knecht. 2010. Journal of a Sufi Odyssey.

Indries Shah. 1968. The Way of the Sufi, Penguin Books.

Paul Woodruff. 2001. Reverence, Oxford University Press.

Shantideva. 2008. A translation of the Bodhicharyavatara, Revised Edition, translated from the Tibetan by the Padmakara Translation Group, Shambala.

His Holiness The Dalai Lama. 2010. Toward a True Kinship of Faiths, Doubleday.   Probably with help of his primary English translator Thupten Jinpa

Donella H. Meadows. 2008. Thinking in Systems, Chelsea Green.

Huston Smith. 2001. Why Religion Matters, Harper One.

Photo by  Urania-joseglisifilho.blogspot.com

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Picture Day – After the Storm

By the time the sun came back out there was four feet of snow on the roof. Not good for it.

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And it is beautiful on our street

 

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But Cold

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Bare Bones Biology 294 – Languages; I want to know them all

Good Morning!

 

We have about three feet of new snow on the ground (and the roof, which is not good; why they put up flattish roofs in snow country is beyond me), and the temperature has zapped down overnight to zero degrees F. Bitsy is under the covers, she ran back in as fast as she ran out, so I didn’t have to go out with her. The sunlight is just the edges of the snow, which is otherwise blue with cold, at the tips of these magnificent Lodgepole Pines, and a flock of Stellar’s Jays are (is) calling to me outside my back door.

 

I woke up this morning understanding exponents, 160130-jays-asc_1634RSs

 

I went to sleep last night reading and rereading one of the little books that comes with The Teaching Company lectures – this one certainly a college level course, but not inexplicable. Surely we are taught to use exponents some time in our required lower grades, and I can use them. You just do your calculations with the exponent instead of the base number. I understand exponent. It’s the little number above. Like 22. That means you multiply the number you started with. 22 means two times two (that would be four). 23 means two times two times two = eight. 24 means two times two times two times two. Sixteen.

 

Do not scorn me folks, I am not joking. I am trying to listen to this physics geek on a DVD, and he thinks the whole thing is as simple as ABC and is rattling on and on about “base numbers.” WHAT IS A BASE NUMBER? There are only two numbers in an ordinary exponent statement. What’s with the base number?

 

Well, I woke up this morning realizing the base number is the original number two (or ten or whatever we wanted to multiply) that we started out with, and that is my point – not the exponent math, because in the long run it doesn’t matter very much unless you are interested in numbers like 223.

 

It’s the words that confuse me. Trying to learn math from the bottom up, for me, is like trying to learn any language by memorizing the words. Like “Good Morning,” or “Buenos Dias,” or “Ohyo Gozaimous.”

 

Now I’m quite excited about some new concepts concerning Life and how it stays alive. As you know, I’m writing a book on the subject, and I got stuck. I did not KNOW the words to explain what I see as the flow of Life through time. The evolution of naturally evolved systems as a function of their interactions. When I try, in this culture, whomever I am talking to will translate the reality into the meme “survival of the fittest,” conjuring some image of “red in tooth and claw,” both images I know to be so simplistic as to be a caricature of the reality, and in fact – I would use the word blasphemous. Just as tho se numbers have no meaning by themselves, 224 means nothing. 1018, what does that mean? Just as Ohyo Gozaimous will do me no good up here in the mountains with Bitsy; equally, “Survival of the Fittest” has no meaning, indeed it is not even true, if we associate with it a picture of dominance.

 

That’s not now it works, and we are at a point in time, the human species, where we need to find out how it really does work, as we try to use our knowledge in the service of human kind.

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There I go, preaching again. I had in mind to show you the snowstorm we just enjoyed. Gorgeous! And us on a mountaintop, it was kind of scary too, lightning flashing out of the muffled peace of a heavy snow falling into deep silence, and onto deep snow crusted over with ice. I fell in up to my hips, walking where I know there is a road.   Had to call Bitsy for support to get out.

 

There are realities we need to appreciate before we go bounding off to save ourselves from ourselves. Things we cannot control, on small scale and on big scale. Maybe a little preaching can save a lot of suffering when we speak to the truth, rather than to our overblown human egos.

 

OK, I’ll do that too, the pictures, I’ll put them up on my blog on Friday or Saturday.

 

But it’s the same problem, isn’t it. Language. This is a blog; you can hear me but you cannot see. For seeing, you need to click on the blog post.

 

 

For hearing you need to click on the podcast post.

 

 

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com.