Note: The Book of Continuing Creation opposes “Creationism.”
The Laws of Thermodynamics tell us says that when energy (e.g., heat) moves through an open system, it has the ability to do work. This work may include the creation of structure within the system, structure which enables the energy to flow through the system with greater efficiency.
Water (or pebbles or rice) at an elevated level will flow to a lower level whenever it can. The force of gravity causes the water to move downward. But often this movement builds a complex structure as it moves! For example, when we pull the plug on a bathtub full of water, it can form a spiraling vortex as the water leaves the tub. Why? Because the spiral structure of the vortex moves more water faster.
Similarly, on land, flowing water creates the structures of trickles, streams, and, which also increase the speed and volume of water’s flow. If a wooden waterwheel is built on one of these flows, it can power the grinding of grain between two millstones.
With a very large drop of a great deal of water, the energy released by the force of gravity can turn gigantic steel turbine blades, and that energy can be converted to electricity for human homes and industries.
In his profound new book, The Romance of Reality: How the Universe Organizes Itself to Create Life, Consciousness, and Cosmic Complexity, Dr. Bobby Azarian explains how energy flow also creates chains of molecules, and builds chemical structures, which are then further propelled to become the earliest form of life.
Carbon’s natural ability to grow by chaining its own molecules and by combining with other elements shows the tendency of pre-biologic, non-living systems to form ordered structures, grow them, and increase their complexity. However, as Professor Robert Hazen writes, “Carbon cannot have undergone the remarkable progression from geochemistry to biochemistry by itself. All of Earth’s great transformative powers – water, heat, lightning, and the chemical energy of rocks – were brought to bear in life’s genesis.” For more on this topic, see our Essay, Flows of Energy Assemble Molecules into Life.
Dr. Azarian persuasively argues that in the right planetary environments, Energy Flow always drives systems into patterns and systems of greater complexity. He believes that this is an expansion of the Laws of Thermodynamics.
Dr. Azarian argues that this natural creation is happening on millions of Earth-like planets and moons in our Milky Way galaxy (possibly including some that do not have water). Of all those, a good number will evolve consciousness and intelligence, just as Earth has. While we humans may mis-manage our energy flows and resources so badly that we kill off our biosphere here on Earth, thousands of other suitable planets and moons in the Milky Way will be more successful. As these creative planets and moons begin to communicate with each other via a “Galactic Internet,” our Milky Way is on track to “wake-up” and become a conscious Galactic Mind.
This grand evolution of complexity may not be completely positive from a human point of view. Species do die out, and humans may end up being one of them. Machines and internet minds may evolve that subjugate humans. Some say we were happier as science-less hunter-gatherers, living without modern medicine and cellphones. On the other hand, technology, especially nuclear fusion, may solve the carbon-climate crisis. Sooner or later we humans have to get off this planet, either because we’ve killed its ecosystem, or because our Sun is about to die. But even then, “struggle” may go on. We might end up fighting the “Klingons” for dominance of our galaxy. Perhaps we humans will have educated or bio-engineered our natures away from violence and evil, and the Galactic Mind will be peaceful and fruitful. But maybe an initially good Galactic Mind will be later overcome by the evil minds of the Klingons. No one knows.
In any case, you can tell from reading my Essays and Blog Posts of Continuing Creation that I’m in the “Cure our Climate Crisis and Continue Creating” camp. When I look at the Earth’s great historical saga — chemical systems to single-cell life, to multicellular life, to communities, to consciousness, to intelligence, culture, and science — I like what I see, so far.
— J.X. Mason 8-30-22