05/15/2005: A New Kind Of Science...
Got this in my-email yesterday from the website updates of Dr. Steven Wolfram about his book "A New Kind Of Science" (2002):
"Today it is three years since I published my book A New Kind of
Science. It seems like a lot longer than that--so much has
happened in the intervening time. What started as a book is
steadily emerging as a major intellectual movement with its own
structure and community.
The first year after the book came out was dominated by a
certain amount of "paradigm shift turbulence." But by the second
year, many serious projects were starting, and indicators like
the publication rate of NKS-based papers began to climb.
Now, in the third year, a recurring theme has been the emergence
of a growing group of exceptional individuals who are planning
to base their careers on NKS. There are scores of NKS-based
Ph.D. theses underway, and all sorts of NKS-based corporate
ventures--as well as our own growing NKS R&D operation in
Later this year, the first full-length independent book based on
NKS will be published, and the first independent NKS conference
will be held. In late June, we will be holding our third annual
NKS Summer School--for which there were a record number of
exceptional applicants. We are planning to have our next major
NKS conference in spring 2006; we'll be announcing the details
shortly. There will also be an NKS mini-course at our Wolfram
Technology Conference this October.
This year I myself have mostly been in a tool-building phase,
working on major new Mathematica technology that, among other
things, will be very important for NKS research--and which I
can't wait to use.
There's a lot more in the pipeline too. We're developing plans
for a new kind of publishing medium for NKS (partly based on the
Complex Systems journal that I've been publishing since 1986).
We're also planning later this year to start regular "live
experiments," in which I'll be leading public web-conferenced
explorations into the computational universe.
Also in the next few months we're planning to release a rather
unexpected consumer-oriented application of NKS, which I expect
we'll all be hearing quite a bit about.
As we begin the fourth year of NKS, I feel more optimistic than
ever before about its promise--and its significance in science,
technology, the arts, and beyond. It will be fascinating to see
where the most important NKS-based breakthroughs come from, and
what they will be.
I hope you'll have the opportunity to take part in the
excitement of the upcoming years of early NKS growth."
Click on the "more" button to see what I posted last fall about this subject (in the since "eaten by the Vicious Attack Internets archive" of DBV).
Creational Infinity v. Vanity
About two years ago, Dr. Steven Wolfram's "A New Kind Of Science" published in 2002. Dr. Wolfram created a program "mathematica" of simple mathematical programs which run and mimic complex processes found in nature.
Take a look through it's 1293 pages (but I am not a mathematician so many of the sophisticated equations are beyond my understanding) and you can find them at this link. The whole book is available for review and you might want to check it our yourself like pp's 402,403, 426, 427, 415,416 about some of the patterns. What I felt, after seeing many of these patterns, is how this kind of spectacular understanding could fit, in my own mind with a concept of God's Creational Infinity.
I'm not claiming I have some special "TRUTH" because I don’t know and can't know what's there. While I can have faith...that's not the same as claiming to KNOW. But what this does for me is "fit" in that it neither "admits nor denies" of a Divine plan, yet appears to fit within my own intelligence and things I can see and know in the world/universe around me. It doesn't require that I ignore what I know, that I reject what I can see, that I avoid things and accept some *simplistic rationale* based on a human generated book of faith.
Wolfram himself avoids the "God" implications in either Creationism or Intelligent Design, except by suggestion that if one believes in God as proved by the immeasurable complexity and variety found in nature, the truth may be that if there was a divine "plan" it may have been a "simple plan" after all. (This is the direct opposite concept of the Intelligent Design people who posit an intelligent creator because of the diversity visible in the world.)
The basic principles he explains and the models he illustrates are amazing.
The interesting point about the "simple plan" is how it can fit both views if one wishes to see a divine force or merely the work of nature. However, in my opinion, what is doesn't fit is the usual Religious narrative that attempts to squash that "infinite" creativity to the idea of a "human inspired" creation of only 6000 years in a theme of biblical literalism of creationism. I fail to find a reason for "Biblical Literalism" in all its forms. It reject so much of science, knowledge and even of my own intellectual inquiry and, for me anyway, doesn't provide all the answers to things I see and wish to know about my own faith and the world around me.
As I mentioned before...it's not my FAITH that is the problem...but my feelings about organized religions and how so much their agendas is motivated as the propaganda of so many organized religions as used to justify policies for themselves and against others (both other religious and non-religious groups.)
These policies and “man inspired” interpretations have been the genesis of so much death, destruction, wars, clashes amongst peoples throughout history. To me it's "telling" that the Bible and Koran (and other religions stories) were written by other mere mortal men years after events and wish to present their views based on God's benevolent interest in them as the "only special group of humans" on the face of the planet, seems mostly mere mortal vanity. (Now why didn't Jesus or Mohammed write down their own "talking points" or have their words scribed by others since they must have known the import of them to their adherents?) And if there was a benevolent interest in us "getting it right" it would be so easy for an omniscient being with omnipotent powers to clear all this up. Yet 2000 years later, it's just as foggy and misinterpreted as ever - by man again.
However, if one conceived of an infinite being, to whom time is infinite, processes unlimited, why would it make sense to limit its' "creativity" in creation to this unnaturally narrow frame of possibilities as described in the Bible by men? It fits so much better that this may have been the process of a few simple rules (if one like the notion of a divine plan) that can then spin out over endlessly vast amounts of time and space, evolving and following these paths into the most spectacular array of things…as we can see around us. What is the billions of years it would take - in comparison to this infinity of time to let this all take place. How much more beautiful it becomes as a whole if one can "ignore" the organized religious views as expressed so narrowly and see beyond to the fullest possibilities yet to come.
This notion of "simple becoming diverse" is not heretical, anti-God idea. But it may be anti-Biblical if one wishes to claim the Bible as Fact rather than Faith. I see the Bible stories, and I call them "stories" -not absolute "literal" facts, as the mission to describe the Faith. Jesus himself taught by parables/stories/examples. Not by lists of laws or facts or strict constructionist terms. It was through this way, one could realize the purpose and meaning of the ideals and Christian faith. Not by being "literalists" and actually denying "infinity" in the creationist myths and God's creational powers to fit their own designs and ends. And these purposes don't fit those of Jesus himself, as it is said he he taught the faith.
On the opposite end, if one were an atheist, this simple plan also fits as perhaps the fruitful outcome of some simple rules and the natural/organic processes inherent in formation of the Earth which has begun simply and, again, spins out over endlessly vast amounts of time and space, turning and following these paths into the most spectacular array of things…as we can see around us. (Again, it neither admits nor denies.)
That because of these processes, played out over the millennium, we somehow arrived at modern, thinking, reflective humans can be an amazing thing, but why not part of a process of this "infinite" set of possibilities rather than the "penultimate" reason for all creation? - which begins to look more like that vanity of the human creation myth than God's creational infinity.
Hope you get a chance to look over Wolfram's work.
Karen on 05.15.05 @ 07:39 AM CST