Worlds Within Worlds

This morning a reader in Arizona kindly sent me an excerpt from Hidden Beauty: Microworlds Revealed, by France Bourély.  This book seems to be one which, like The Science Delusion and The Machinery of Life should be on everyone’s bookshelf, recommending as it does a much wider and view of evolution, and one more in accordance with observed fact.

This marvellous essay from it – embellished with a few purely random photos from my files – is called “Chance or Beauty”:

Why, if beauty is universal, would it not have played a role in evolution?  yet, not one university has proposed to conduct a scientific study.  Differing from the Darwinists, I do not believe that life can be reduced solely to competition between species that are more or less adapted.  It is time to bring a few “mutations” to this theory that is significantly more stable than the “variations” on which it is based.  Symbiosis, cooperation, and interdependence also deserve to be acknowledged as engines of evolution.  However, more than chance, they obey beauty.

Beauty is indeed a powerful force and a law of life.  A billion years ago, the first “organised” living beings were born from a combination of numerous individual cells that joined forces and combined their abilities to meld into a new being from which emerged new talents that until then were unknown.  These original qualities gradually favoured the adaptation of the new organism.  Forms of life that were progressively more sophisticated developed, and natural selection eliminated those less able.  If there is strength in unity, it is indeed innovation that maintains it. 

Darwin, the youngest son of an Anglican pastor, befroe establishing himself as a naturalist of genius proportions, experienced the rivalries within his own family, as he later would the secret tensions in his parish and those more public between individuals in his village.  His acute observations of nature would always retain this idea of competition.  Struggle, conflict, and above all, survival are weapons of Darwinian strategy. 

In the context of England as a colonizer, and in the throes of the Industrial Revolution, the weak were held in contempt and Darwin eased the conscience of the strong.  I refuse to reduce life to the principles of war.  Einstein said, “God is subtle but not malicious!”  No, even if it is true that life, the eternal pioneer, likes border disputes, it cannot be reduced to a factory managed by military leaders who would manufacture “weakness” to fill the ranks.

Life is above all an artist who, in keeping with creative desire, takes the time to invent.  Over millions of years, it has created union, symbiosis, cohabitation, and interdependence, and for weapons, it has provided love and beauty.

It is high time we bestow upon science more femininity, so that we finally recognise that, within nature, there is a form of ceullular affinity and attraction.  Life’s favourite assistance is not chance.  More than the risks of variation, the allies that it cherishes are bonds, coupling, and the union that precedes all birth.  The universe has been pairing electrons within atoms since their inception.  There are duos in every fundamental stage of the living.  Is not DNA itself, with its paired chromosones, an alliance of two complementary chains that in addition to the close bond of their links, interlace into a double helix suggesting a ritual between two serpents in love?

The first bacterium that dared to unite with another instead of killing it and absorbing it did more for the evolution of the species than all mutations in the world.  I like to think that a certain form of beauty, even archaic, played a role in this primordial affinity.  Symbiosis is a sacred bond that unites often profoundly different beings.  Despite Darwin’s views, life, like the woman who bears it, will always prefer marriage to war.

..France Bourély, translated by Laurel Hirsch


About iain carstairs

I have a great interest in both scientific advances and the beauty of religion, and created about 15 years ago with the aim of finding common ground between the scientist and the believer, and to encourage debate between the two sides.
This entry was posted in Butterflies, Designs in nature, Evolution, France Bourély, Hidden Beauty, Nanotechnology, Natural Intelligence, The Machinery of Life, The Science Delusion and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Worlds Within Worlds

  1. donsalmon says:

    (From “Yoga Psychology and the Transformation of Consciousness: Seeing Through the Eyes of Infinity”)

    Some parapsychologists – observing that nonlocality challenges the classical understanding of time and space – suggest it might be used to explain psi findings which seem to imply that consciousness is capable of transcending time and space. By transforming our understanding of how matter works, quantum physics has presented us with a view of the universe more compatible with psi phenomena than that of classical physics. But physical theories – quantum or otherwise – can give us, at best, only an indirect understanding of the nature of consciousness. [Freeman] Dyson himself is careful to say that he is not claiming that his view “is supported or proved by scientific evidence… [but] only… that it is consistent with scientific evidence.” And, as physicist Arthur Zajonc points out, the objective approach of physics “remains silent on… the experience of a perceiving subject.”

    If neither psychology nor the findings of physics provide us with any fundamental understanding of consciousness, where might we look – and how should we look – to gain a new view? We can start by looking directly at the subjective experience of the individuals engaged in parapsychology experiments.

    For many years, psi researchers have noticed that subjects who are passionately involved in an experiment tend to be the most successful. We saw in the Grinberg-Zylberbaum experiments that the young couple in love showed the highest level of brain wave synchronization. While this may not be so surprising with regard to communication between humans, experiments show this to be the case even in the relationship between a human being and a machine.

    Robert G. Jahn, as director of the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research laboratory (PEAR), observed hundreds of trials in which individuals successfully influenced the workings of highly sensitive electronic instruments. As described on the PEAR website:

    “In these studies human operators attempt to bias the output of a variety of mechanical, electronic, optical, acoustical, and fluid devices to conform to pre-stated intentions, without recourse to any known physical influences. In unattended calibrations all of these sophisticated machines produce strictly random data, yet the experimental results display increases in information content that can only be attributed to the consciousness of their human operators. ”

    Jahn, explaining these results, writes, “The most common subjective report of our most successful human/machine experimental operators is some sense of ‘resonance’ with the devices – some sacrifice of personal identity in the interaction – a ‘merging,’ or bonding with the apparatus.” [Physician and complementary medicine researcher] Larry Dossey adds, “The highest scores are seen when emotionally bonded couples, who share unusually deep love and empathy, interact together with the electronic devices. They achieve scores up to eight times higher than those of individuals who try to influence the devices alone.”

    In a rather radical departure from the typically impersonal stance of the view from nowhere, Dossey suggests there may be an extremely close relationship between the nonlocal connections of subatomic particles and the feelings of empathy described above. “Nonlocal connectedness… is manifested between subatomic particles, mechanical systems, humans and machines, humans and animals, and humans themselves. When this nonlocal bond operates between people, we call it love. When it unites distant subatomic particles, what should we call this manifestation? Should we choose a safe, aseptic term such as nonlocally correlated behavior, or bite the bullet and call it a rudimentary form of love?” Dossey is not claiming that human beings and subatomic particles have the same experience of love. Rather, he suggests that what manifests as a purely impersonal connection at the level of matter may be, in essence, the same phenomenon as that which occurs between loving human beings.

    Perhaps this is what William James was hinting at when he wrote:

    “We with our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest. The maple and pine may whisper to each other with their leaves…but the trees also commingle their roots in the darkness underground, and the islands hang together through the oceans’ bottom. Just so there is a continuum of cosmic consciousness, against which our individuality builds but accidental fences, and into which our several minds plunge as into a mother sea… “

    • I successfully influence software all the time! I swear I only have to get into the car to make the phone ring. In fact I once conducted a study when I logged each time I had to leave the office for any random reason, along with the call rate during the day and any attempted deliveries which failed by virtue of me being out for a few moments. It was so much fun seeing the precisely matched spikes in exit time and incoming calls that I kept it going for some weeks.

      The results were clear as a bell, and even worse if I had to leave the town for any reason, at which time the urgency of the calls also dramatically spiked. I concluded that I had built a closed system in which the clients’ greatest need for me was precisely the moment I was not there. When I thought about it, it made perfect sense: in a bucket, no matter how large or strong, if you have one tiny hole, the water always rushes out right there, at the exact point of the hole. It’s no use complaining about it, any more than trying to move the hole elsewhere in the hopes the water will avoid it!

      The only solution was to reduce the pressure and make the system much more tolerable: fewer clients, each with their own IT resource and capabilities onsite. Problem solved

  2. susan grace says:

    What a beautiful blog! As consciousness evolves, competition, war, division, separateness seem to be primitive vestiges that are yielding to something more advanced, harmonious and beautiful, producing a realization that we are all connected and that each one of us is a drop in a cosmic ocean of intelligence. The spiritual and artistic genius, and sometimes the scientist as well, dive into this vast cosmic sea of unimaginable depth and bring us back some hopeful clues. So let us, while we have breath and during our very short sojourn on this planet, create beauty and focus on love.

    • donsalmon says:

      Is it just me or is this a very rare spot on the net? thank you all.

      • I’m not sure – but then, I thought it was the only spot on the net!

      • donsalmon says:

        uh oh, Iain – you’ve given me an opening for my solipsist jokes – get ready to groan:

        A woman who was herself a solipsist said, on meeting a professor of the same philosophic orientation, “Solipsism is such a wonderful philosophy. I can’t understand why there aren’t more of us.”


        A philosopher was giving a presentation to a fairly large audience. At one point, he announced that he was a solipsist. Immediately, a man in the audience leapt to his feet and shouted out, “Thank God! I thought I was the only one.”


  3. These sorts of events are more common than you think. At university, Woody Allen actually failed an existentialist exam, after looking into the soul of the student next to him

  4. Brock Haussamen says:

    Bourely’s eloquence helps bring some needed balance to our view of evolution. For billions of years, survival has indeed not been solely about competition and killing but about “symbiosis, cooperation, and interdependence” as well. Reproduction and interdependence have been the drivers of life’s continuity, with competition as the gatekeeper, yet it is the role of the last that is highlighted in the label of “natural selection.”

    But there is another issue that is raised by such observations. In general, science is considered to be stuff of fact and theory and not of morality, of good and bad behaviors. Religions, on the other hand, often specialize in guidance about right and wrong. This assignment of morality to one domain but not the other may be weakening. As Bourely makes clear, evolutionary biology describes the full range from symbiotic to deadly behaviors. Aren’t these opposites the rudiments of the duality of good and evil? Perhaps human morality is binary because it is descended from the two complementary avenues for survival. For me, subjectively, my feelings of love/generosity on the one hand and anger/competitiveness on the other don’t seem too far from the duality of affection and antagonism that our dog displays, nor from the green competition for sunlight in our back yard. As Bourely suggests, science offers a richer source of perspectives on morality than we thought.

    I have a new blog at Please stop by. Thanks.

    Brock Haussamen

    • Yes, and thanks for the link; I like that science has now put morality into a biological perspective, with mirror neurons and oxytocin in particular, and the behaviour of sociopathic brains. From this solid point of view it should be possible to see what conditions result in genetic types who don’t care, because they can’t.

      That kind of a breakthrough would be equivalent to the discovery of germs causing the plague, or lack of simple vitamins causing scurvy. Once we’re at that point, it would be a simple matter to study different lifestyles and decide completely impartially as to which kind promotes more moral specimens and which ones do not. And then all the nonsnese about random mutations being repsonsible for all mental traits might finally, at last, at long long last, crumble into dust, and we’d be able to work towards the kind of society which would produce peace and creativity. Instead of the savage battleground it is now, which our own children will probably look back on with shame.

      • donsalmon says:

        does anyone care to tread on dangerous ground (speaking of oxytocin and psychopathic brains). There was an article by Joshua Holland over at today on recent brain research regarding overactive amygdalas in conservatives (I’m speaking of the US – it is most likely different elsewhere, I suspect) and more developed anterior cingulate cortexes in liberals (a more developed ACC is supposed to reflect a greater tolerance for complexity and ambiguity, whereas overactive amygdalas suggest a greater fear response and tendency toward black-and-white thinking). It sure seems to reflect well what is going on here. I imagine it looks like utter insanity across the pond there in England (and wherever else you folks are living, if you’re lucky to live somewhere not as utterly crazy as the US!)

  5. donsalmon says:

    by the way, on a more positive note (following up on iain’s comment just above my political dare), there’s a lovely youtube video of neuroscientist Richard Davidson predicting by 2050 all school children will routinely learn practices to reshape their brains toward greater compassion, care, empathy, self-awareness, critical and creative thinking, etc. I suspect that psi (telepathy, remote viewing etc) will be accepted by then as well, so it will truly be an almost unthinkably different (and far better) world.

  6. You know, I read just yesterday about US troops performing manouevres in quiet suburbs to prep the population for their permanent presence, or their turning up to round up dissenters. The general titles of the exercise were “rounding up terrorists”. In some of the staged scenes, actors playing ciizens were dragged away shouting, “I am American! I have rights!”

    I know Alex Jones is a bit extreme in his views, but the films were authentic and in wide circulation and left no doubt – Polish and Russian troops were part of the manouevres and the long term game plan as well.

    Generally if you want to see into the brain of a psychopath you can’t do much better than Kissinger, whose quote regarding this situation was: “Today if we sent troops into Las Angeles the public would be outraged.. tomorrow they will be grateful.”

  7. Glad to see a handful of scans from this book prompted some really positive discussion! Who would have ever thought Darwin and I had something in common – both sons of Anglican pastors. One has to wonder what Darwin would make of the modern interpretations of his work. If you actually read Origin of Species, you get the sense Darwin was a theist. He speaks of the first forms of life being breathed into existence, for example. Very biblical. But what I like best about the book is how readily Darwin admits to not having all the answers, his awareness of the limits of his knowledge. It’s a far cry from the absolute certainty of modern Darwinism. I’m not a creationist by a long shot, but it seems important that we, like Darwin, keep an awareness that we don’t have all the answers, that we can make new discoveries and revise our old assumptions, and that we must be willing to continually revise our models for understanding based on ever-expanding insights.

    • Hey, great to see you back – I didn’t know you were the son of a preacher man! better get on to dusty springfield and let her know

      I think if Darwin came back, he would be sitting, morose, with Jesus, in a bar.

      “I thought they would have moved on a litte since my day, don’t you?”

      “I say unto you, like, absolutely.”

      “I wanted to make the world a better place, eliminate slavery..”

      “What, abolish slavery? I supose it could work.. so how’s that going, anyway?”

      “275m slaves, more than ever! Doesn’t anyone listen?! We’re all equal!”

      “That’s what I told them! The same thing, exactly! I told them they were all sons of God, that they’d do much greater stuff than me. Tell unto me, which part of ‘OUR FATHER’ do they not understand? Could I have made it any simpler? In all those two thousand years – ? Oh, for me’s sake!”

      “Actually, I was never certain about my theory.. and I never claimed to be. So how can they be? It was MY theory, not theirs.. You know what’s wrong with them? I think the love of money is the root of.. ah, I mean to say, oh, alright, I confess that wasn’t one of mine..”

      “How did we gather such hateful fanatics? Where did we go wrong? verily I say unto thee, I could do with another wine.”

      “Too bad – they say they haven’t any left. But.. wha-?! Hey, how’d you do that?!”

      • That is exactly the conversation Darwin & The Nazz would have! Plus, Chuck could tweet about it: Just met this cool cat who got his line of thought butchered like I did #massdelusion

        Yes, I’ve been a PK (Preacher’s Kid) since 1978 – part of my unique perspective on religion. And, we should add, an agnostic highly influenced by the writings of Alan Watts since 1988 at age 15. The Way of Zen (c) 1957 is still the most important book I ever read.

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