Tag: Astrology

Finding Order in Chaos: A Bleak Speculation on the Human Time-line

Last week I wrote about the ties between religion and astrology, suggesting that perhaps we are asking too many questions pertaining to the ‘how’, and less of the ‘why’. I concluded with a loose suggestion that perhaps astrology and our pursuit of a proof-based origin story mirrors religious endeavors to instill comfort and confidence with a sense of understanding. After this week, I stand by that theory. However, I am left with a sublime sense of our aimless and haphazard existence. On the grand scheme of the cosmos, a human life span is a speck within a spec on a grain of the sands of time. Excuse my melodramatic angst, but we are nothing (relatively). But that’s not what I write about today.

Today, I write about the concept that systems, when starved/burned/ or otherwise introduced to chaos, find order. They adapt. Of course I find comfort in this, especially when I noticed this phenomenon on every scale. In the macro theatre, post gravitational collapse, space dust hurries to accumulate mass (and thus gravitational force) to overcome the pull of the collapsing star. The dust, and soon planets, are introduced to the star’s rotational axis and follow suit. On a micro scale, post big bang, the hydrogen molecules among the gaseous soup cool enough to form bonds, and soon life. Even on a human scale, after 59 individuals were shot dead at a Las Vegas music festival, hospitals fill with volunteers waiting to give blood. We organized among the chaos. The 18th century Industrial Revolution led to the organization of labor unions, the American Civil War drafted the Lieber Code, and World War II gave birth to the United Nations. While these examples are quite generalized, they serve to highlight systems bathed in chaos finding order.

Bringing it back to our lecture…

When media discusses global warming, they treat it as though the world were coming to an end (of course depending on what news program you watch), and, for many, the end of the human race is the end of the world. But, as I mentioned earlier, the end of the human race, by means of environmental shifts beyond the sufficient condition of the human species, is indeed not the end of the world. In fact, for the earth, humans are a relatively only a short blip in time. The earth has fostered the growth and reproduction of humans, and, as we upset the stability of our atmosphere by artificially releasing stored carbon, it must correct. To return to a stable state, as we discussed, the environment will make the necessary alterations to counteract the abundance of carbon-dioxide. Now this is not to say that we as humans will not find order within our new-found chaos, but will it be enough?

Will I be dead? Most definitely. Will I have left an impact or made a difference? We hope, and most likely on a local, relative scale. Will my carbon footprint have mattered? Now I dabble into question of morality. The earth will correct, that much we know. Will it do so fast enough to spare the human population? No, not unless we change our trajectory and artificially apply the carbon-hand brake. So it really boils down to one question, how does my environmental ignorance deviate from the trajectory of mankind? Is Asiimov accurate in his predictions of an everlasting, entropy-reversing walk of life, or are we destined to remain a spec within a spec on a grain of the sands of time.

Is Astrology a Religion?

I’m not an astronomer. I’m a computer scientist and fiction writer. So after Monday night’s lecture I was grasping for a take away, and I was struggling. I left the lecture with new found knowledge on red shifting, deuterium, and the hubble effect, but I had no new, definite insight on origins — the topic of this years humanities lab. After some thought, it dawned on me that I was approaching it from the wrong angle. I was asking myself the “how”, and no the “why”. I was asking “how was the universe derived from such confined origins” and “if the big bang was truly the creation of all, then what was before? What is nothing?”. I should have been asking “why do we need to seek for an origin in the stars” and “why do we cling to the belief that the big bang was the start of the universe?”.

My immediate answer: our obsessive need to define our origin through physics derives from our need for affirmation — a confirmation bias. That’s why Steven Hawking’s No Boundary proposal has ruffled so many feathers: it upends the commonly accepted, preexisting hypothesis of absolute creation. Similar to the general public’s reaction when proposing the world is not indeed flat (but rather continues on the ‘other side’), we have a hard time digesting that our universe may simply be a string of a higher-dimensional cosmos or a galactic reflection mirrored across this opaque primordial soup.

Of course, this is not unlike our desire to color our origin story with all shades of religion. A simple rule of thumb I carry as a fairly agnostic individual: we can neither positively confirm nor deny a Gods existence, thus claiming God is real is just as ignorant as claiming He is a farse. Similarly, we can neither confirm nor deny that the ‘big bang’ was the creation our universe. Moreover, just as religious individuals cling to their beliefs for the comfort, faith, or sanity, the scientifically minded cling to cosmic events. Disproving the big bang’s role in the creation of our universe would be adjacent to debunking religion.

But where does this leave us in the realm of our humanities lab? Obviously we’re are grounded many million years later on an apparently stable planet in an apparently stable galaxy. I arrive at the conclusion that all origins are hierarchical. The origins of man making fire led to the origins of cooking food over a fire, which in turn lead to the origins of gastronomy. Similarly, the origins of language led to the origins of story, which in turn lead to the origins of religion and so much more. My point is this: if origins can be traces up a lineage tree, it is only natural for human curiosity to trace it to the top — the origins of all origins. So, to come full circle, perhaps the greatest question to ask, and the question religion and astronomy alike attempt to answer, is “what is the origin of origins”?