Sunday, 8 May 2011

Patterns and Boundaries...

First off let me apologise for the looong break. I spent the best part of four months in New Zealand (aka home) over the Northern hemisphere winter, been back, done a bit of house-moving and so on. Anyway...

This is a thought-piece that I've bashed together on the back of some ideas I've had recently. I'd like to expand on this significantly in the future, so I'm interested to get opinions on any/all of it.


Patterns and Boundaries...

As a species we look for patterns in the chaos (but the chaos is just order of a different magnitude - but more about that some other time). Once we've seen a pattern we try and super-impose those patterns over other things; we try and force these patterns onto other often disparate aspects of our existence.

As adults we like to delude ourselves that we are better or more or above children, we're not. Just as almost all child-rearing literature talks about children needing even craving boundaries and rules and patterns and logical consequence so too do adults. Given that children raised without boundaries and discipline often have trouble 'getting on', it seems that this is an essential nature of humanity, It is not raising in a nurturing environment with adequate rules and boundaries that leads to abject failure (or, ironically, great thinking and creativity). It's our ability to establish or adopt rules that genuinely work for us that defines our success (for a given value of success). To complicate this (as only humans can), the other set of people that succeed are the people who create or perpetuate rules that other people take up.

Humanity's knowledge of the world (and the cosmos) around it has increased over time as more and more of the patterns, rules and guidelines we've intuited or invented have proven to be true, or at least to work, even if only in a limited sense.

As a story-telling primate we have gradually moved from stories that define micro-realities (good for familial or tribal groups) to clever but ultimately ignorant savages with massive egos super-imposing anthropomorphic rules on nature and existence: the majority of human religions. We are now, and increasingly, mapping the macro-realities with science and reason.

The part that religion has had to play in the evolution of the establishing of rules that work for humanity can not be ignored. Though one could readily argue that it was a codification of instinctual human ethics many of the rules for living with your fellow human contained in the books of the Abrahamic religions are as relevant today as they were 2000 years ago. Many, however, are not. And it is religion's inherent intransigence, its all-too-human unwillingness to be proven wrong, that assures the eventual and long-overdue demise of its current form.