Cosmos and Chaos

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

Cosmos is a good word to describe the world. It comes from Greek, and it means a complex orderly, and self-inclusive system.” To which I would add, from our modern understanding, that a Cosmos occurring in nature is self-generating. It creates itself in a continuous and recursive process as an environment that is the habitat for living beings.

Cosmos stands in opposition to another Greek concept called Chaos which is emptiness, the void. It is a state of affairs in which chance is supreme because there is no order. One might realize that Cosmos, is not the result of chance, as Einstein once observed, "God does not play dice with the universe.” It may well be that Chaos has a role though, however, I suspect that Cosmos and Chaos are linked together in the chain of causality. We are told that creation occurs out of the void. Thus chance and order are an eternal pairing. Were it not the case, there would be no possibility, and likewise no risk in existence. The universe would be like a closed system and not the infinite series of Ontic-Simulations that are found in our inner experience as well as in what we see existing in the world outside ourselves.  

Because the structure of language is based on the principles of logic, we tend to think in terms of simple dualities. We accept the idea that a thing in itself. We also accept that the same thing cannot be itself and not itself at the same time.  We then divide the world in terms of this basic set of identities for existence. We distinguish between is, and is-not. This is the very essence of mutually exclusive conditions found in logic, which also exist in language.

Cosmos and Chaos fit this mutually exclusive pattern very nicely. However, that may not be an accurate representation of reality as it is found in nature. Both describe how phenomenon appears when we observe it, and in a way that expresses our expectations of both certainty and probability. Yet Cosmos and Chaos are at the same time both interdependent and interpenetrating. That is the co-arise together. For example, consider this thought experiment describing this in very ordinary day-to-day life condition: 

"It is August, and as it usually is in August, it is hot and humid. Usually though it is not rainy this time of year, but this week we have had rain every single day. But not everywhere at the same time. It seems random and happens somewhere different in the local area. The television weather reporter tells us to expect extreme thunderstorms, but cannot tell us where exactly they will occur, or when exactly to expect them. Actually all the reporter can say is that there is "probability” of these storms occurring. A percentage chance is not really a certainty. However, because of this chance of rain, I carry my umbrella with me wherever I go. I am prepared, because sometimes I will need my umbrella, and sometimes I won't. I thank God that it's just some rain, and not like it is in other places where the weather pattern creates the probability of tornadoes."

Something as simple as the weather tells us how random events occur in otherwise predictable circumstances. Is it Cosmos, or Chaos, or are both equally present?

Cosmos have levels of scalability. There are Cosmos that exist at higher and lesser levels than our Cosmos. All of these levels are simultaneously present and real. These are the Macro or Micro Cosmos. When I look at the night sky, what I see is so far away that we measure distance in terms of time. These are “light years” and any 12 year old can tell you that a light-year is a distance that light travels in a year. He or she will also explain that many of these stars are not really stars at all, but are actually entire galaxies themselves. We can see these Cosmos's now as we look to the sky, but we are actually seeing something that happened millions of “earth-years” ago. The ancients did not have this knowledge of space-time, but they understood the relation of Cosmos. Thus we understand the concept of Macro-cosmos as a matter of scale in relation to us. Of course, we understand this intellectually. Our knowledge of it is conceptual, as we cannot really imagine how it appears when viewed from a level different from our own. 

We have all heard it said that there is more empty space than solid matter in a table. Can we really imagine it in its true state?  The table certainly seems solid to me! Consider this second thought experiment, which is based on actual observation.

"Recently I was working at my desk, and I observed a tiny insect smaller than the tip of my pen running across the surface of a writing tablet.  What amazed me was the extremely fast speed it was moving at in relation to its tiny size. It crossed the page in some fraction of a second.  I am an average sized person, and if I was able to run that fast I’d be traveling much faster than this body can ever go. Maybe at the speed of an automobile or even an airplane.  As an experiment, I’d put my finger down in front of it to observe its reaction.  Instantaneously, it changed course and ran at 90 degrees to my finger. I repeated the movement of my finger and once again it changed direction back in the way it originally came, and also at this very fast speed.  The third time it ran up to my finger and over it. But it slowed down and went much more slowly while it was on my finger. I could see it, but I had no sensation of it touching me.  It seemed to me that this insect could not only perceive the presence of my finger at a distance, and acted as if it "knew" that it was a solid object, but it also seemed to “choose” a reaction in response. Maybe, I imagine, a willful action.  If I imagine, I could see from this insect’s point of view. My finger may have seemed a random event appearing as kind of “chaos” out of nowhere. Actually I know that is was a willful action on my part. I took it from the cosmos at my level of scale. Now I wonder, iIs it possible that there exist forces that act upon us in much the same way? From a higher level than I can imagine. It’s an interesting question"

All this seems very conceptual, but it does have bearing on our understanding of how life occurs at the level of scale upon which we exist.  Here are some basic facts that I assert that we can recognize that distinguish what we think we know to be true about the world Cosmos that we experience. 

We have been born into an already existing physical and multidimensional Cosmos. It occurs to us that it as always existed. It is also populated by various types of embodied living beings, of which we are only one species. 

This Cosmos is an organic and living environment in which the existence of life is continually challenged and in no way assured.  Without action on our part to ensure its conservation, through instinctive and conscious behavior, we would surely die, as is the case with every other living species.

Our Cosmos is an exceedingly suitable environment in which we exist. It provides us with a material and energetically alive body, which is a biological apparatus for the transformation of various matters and energies. We are equipped with a nervous system capable of sensation, motion, and a unique capacity for awareness, object-recognition, symbolic thought, and ultimately language.

As living beings, we are born into already existing families within societies that we share a genetic destiny with, and that form the basis of our physical survival, the education of our personality, and the development of our social interactions with others.

Our Cosmos also includes the already existing culture we are born into. This culture establishes how we interact with each other, and also with the world, in order to continue our existence. The totality of culture contains the language, customs, beliefs, values, and the shared body of knowledge inherited in human societies.

In effect, all of this describes a living Cosmos. That is our human dimension. It is the world in which we live, and which seems to us to be eternal. It is completely cultural biology, and it is also part of a greater universal cosmology. One that from our level of scale we can only imagine. It is as if there is an order in the Cosmos's, both above us and below us. We believe it has a structure that can be trusted and depended upon. This orderly mechanism for life has a history though, and that history is filled with hazards, that seem to occur chaotically. Evidence from the geological record, that shows the calamities that have occurred on our planet in the past suggests that both Cosmos and Chaos are the natural order of things in the universe. We live somehow in between the two sources of creation and destruction. Our life happens to us in a balance between what seems to us to be certainty and probability. In actual fact, we live upon a foundation of prior cause and effect and with a constant uncertainty of conditions and hazards outside our awareness that present both the certainty of our present existence and the probability of a future of non-existence. This is the balance between the order of Cosmos and the disorder of Chaos, in which we are equally at the effect of forces greater than ourselves that we do not, and cannot understand. 

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

© Copyright 2008 Robert Fertman, All Rights Reserved

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