Doomed To Destroy Each Other?

Another person makes a pertinent point on this: “If viruses
control us then we as a species are doomed due to our disposition to
destroy.”

Yes, and that’s the point. Viruses act to cut and past across a spectrum of DNA to constantly inform the DNA of each species. While we consciously seek to organize and establish unchanging identities for ourselves, we act in parallel to the immune system, which seeks to maintain stability and order even as it seeks information from the environment. The organisms within a species are constantly forced to identify and adapt to these viral invasions.

It is, in fact, these constant viral invasios that cause the immune system to “take stock” and re-assess its “identity” in the environment. The process of viral invasion is basically simple: A protein encasede virus discovers a n interlocki ng “port” o n the outside of a cell, and “docks” with that cell. The cell then allows the virus to enter, where it is then escorted to the nucleus, which then exposes the cellular DNA to the virus. We may compare this to sex in a remote way, with the cell, in female-like fashion, exposing its DNA “naKedness” to the viral DNA. Both cellular DNA and viral DNA  combine, creating a union of the two, providing a RNA “blueprint” which then replicates itself in the cell, which then ruptures and allows other such “mutants” into other  cells, which then take this modified RNA/DNA mix and replicate more mutant verisions, until the immune system identifies and tags the invader, creating antiodies to recognize all such invaders and neutralize the damage to the organism.

Two positive things occurred:

1.The immune system has increased its “intelligence” by enlarging its “databse” of invaders, thereby creating its identity in such a way as to react and overcome its environment. The identity of the organism, its overall reactions, bridge the effects of the invader. This “bridging” is a kind of “analog” response to a “digital” invasion.

2. The behavior has been altered in the organism, since the immune system has developed a new repertoire of responses to the viral DNA

 

Otherwise, their reproduction would probably become cancer-like , replicating but not responding to external environment, since the organism would be forced to replicate with  no information from the external environment to process. Overspecialization.  In the same sense, based on the insight of the Tower of Babel story, a culture that has only one language and one way of justifying its world is extremely overspecialized and unable to adapt.

The approach of the organism is a kind of “best guess” process, in which the immune system has to respo nd to its environment  by the latest available i nformation. If there is no viral DNA with which to  interact, the immune system will allow cellular reproduction to occur in cancer-like fashion, as cells that have no regard for their surrounding environment.Howard Bloom describes this “best guess” process in “Global Brain“:

“The immune system contains between 10 million and 10 billion different antibody types. Each one is a guess, preconfigured to snag the weak points of an enemy. If one antibody isn’t properly shaped to lock onto an invader, another will have to sink its specialized hooks into the raider. It’s vital for defensive flexibility to have numerous fallback antibodies on the scene.”

This massive “database” of antibodies are applied until a pattern is matched, so we see the same basic process of intelligence working in the immune system as the brain. It is said that chance favors the prepared mind. It also favors the prepared immune system. Humans accumulate knowledge for future reference and application, connecting to those external references the same as the immune system keeps “junk DNA” as a database for connections with viral invaders. The brain empowers itself with this enhanced database, just as the immune system is empowered by cross referencing and connecting to new DNA configurations. This is a very basic function of intelligence.

Empires and god-kings formed from Egypt through Rome, as human  bodies developed immune responses sufficient for them to band together and organize. Their capacity to overcome their environment, however, was dependent on forms of organization that discouraged diversity , and reduced everyone to similar patterns of behavior. While this succeeded short term, it failed long term as populations grew and spread, and encountered other central population s with their own empires and god-kings. The response was  not individualist infoltration and adaptatio n as we see with viruses, but collective processes of war and collective destruction, with resulting empires overcoming and a bsorbing smaller kingdoms.

It became beneficial, in fact, for large  bodies of soldiers to ignore their own personal survival and act in unison for the good of the empire. Philip Slater poi nts out in “EarthWalk” that this “machine-like” response in the face of danger had  no value until men began to make war on each other, so that war, the machine, and sacrifice to one goal had an evolutionary effect on civilization. This form of war-like, sacrificial behavior is cellular in nature. Like cells, individuals sacrificed themselves for the greater growth a nd power of the nation or empire, but the problem was that as the empire absorbed these diverse populations and cultures, it experienced “indigestion”.

 The new cultures and behavioral processes provided new reactions and required more recognition of these practices from within the empire. It was not the conquest, but the absorption of these alien forms of behavior that allowed the empire to adapt and grow, or be forced to die if it could not properly absorb the cultures. In this fashion, conquest of other cultures acted in a general pattern similar to invasion of viruses in an organism. Either the empire developed new forms of adaptive response, or it ceased to exist. It is probably true that the law or code of Hammurabi was one such generally adaptive response, giving “universal” guidelines for cultural behavior. Behavior and adaptation for  organsims were  now generalized and externalized for cultural maintenance. This cultural maitenance required strategies of defense. Just as the immune system deployed strategies for recognizi ng and detecting the “other”, so now cultures had to deploy strategies for controlling and limiting behavior and separating it from the “other”. This means that strategies for replication and reproduction that were internalized were  now rapidly becoming externalized. Cultural “self” and separation from “other” which was practiced by the immune system, now became externalized and deployed  by the culture as an immune response. In this immune response, men could behave “mechanically”, and sacrifice themselves for the greater good of the culture. The growth and development of cultures  became dependent on mechanical, externalized, lawful strategies. Humans subordinated personal survival drives to collective survival drives, which meant that former strategies of individuals became the strategy of the culture, empire, or state. As such states or empires grew, strategies were developed consciously for the recognition of diversity. Individuals, like viruses, were absorbed and neutralized unless their “DNA” was important for expansion of the system.

War, proselytizing, religion, narcissism, these became qualities of the successful growth of human empire and power.  As we see today, however, these very processes of growth and centralization are threatened as individuals themselves are once a gain empowered  by telecommunications, and the adaptive repsonse moves away from the nation-state.

The externalization of immunity that allowed for human development over centuries is now being internalized again in the form of telecommunications across  borders and individual empowerment. This means that the individual, wherever s/he finds him/her self, will have to learn adaptive strategies at the individual level which transcend the formerly successful collective level.  Whether we are “doomed’ or not depends on a simple point:

Can we begin to respond to this emergence of individual empowerment and challenge the collective destructive power of the nation-state, or do we allow the nation-state to destroy us in its effort to preserve itself?

 

 

We Are Slime

It finally dawns on me as a consistent pattern of thought that we are no more than the accumulation of germs working cooperatively to produce a functional system for protective replication. IOW, such things as E.coli proliferate through our system and fun ction quite well until we take in some other strain of bacteria or virus that causes the E.coli to re-organize its protective strategy, and forces us to an adaptive process.

Howard Bloom gives many examples of this in “Global Brain“, and Dr Sharon Moalem gives many examples in “Survival Of The Sickest“.

Dr. Jordan Rubin, in “Patient, Heal Thyself“, points out that we are actually healthier when we open ourselves to exposure from our environment in the form of dirt, germs, and viruses, because that’s what makes up our bodies and immune systems.

Further, what is known as “junk DNA” stored in our bodies is actually the remains of former viruses that attacked us, and are now neutralized in a kind of cryogenic process in which parts of them are selected for DNA to combat the invasion of alien viral DNA. Dr. Rubin has also discovered a form of black rotting material that looks like dirt composed of bacteria in a form that remains unchanged, apparently as old as the earth itself. Simply eating this “dirt” seems to cause healing within the body.

More interesting, it seems that the brain is actually a secondary apparatus that developed when the genes could no longer store necessary information, and a self aware decision process developed from the need to act when uncertainty arose.

The gut, it seems, was the first place in which bacteria and viruses organized and developed their strategies through competition among organisms, and it was this competition that allowed for the further development of our immune system, which is also a marvelous intelligence system that recognizes, neutralizes, and incorporates viral invaders.

Dawkins has shown that certain viral invaders affect behavior. This is also shown by Dr Moalem in his book. Certain bacteria can literally parasitize the brains of ants and spiders, creating a kind of feedack loop on which ant ad spider behavior act to further the spread of the bacteria.

There is no reason to believe, therefore, that human behavior, indirectly, is not also affected by viral and bacterial collusion.

For example, cancer is a process in which cells reproduce themselves without regard to their external environment. They become, to all intents, “immortal”. Placed in a petri dish, cancer cells do not separate and show respect for neighboring property, but grow in massive disorganized lumps that care nothing for symmetry or limits.

Jared Diamond in “Guns, Germs, And Steel“, points out that Europeans spread around the world and conquered the lands of Central America as much by the spread of germs they had acquired through intimacy with domestic animals as much as by guns or steel. This suggest something indirectly: suppose the very need to spread and conquer other civilizations is nothing more than the need of those bacteria and viruses to interact, to “cut and paste” with other systems in other envrionments, to affect our behavior in such a way that we must spread ourselves and overcome other environments for social justification?

Pulitzer prize Winning author Jonathan Weiner points out in the book on early studies of genes and fruit flies that language developed as a form of justification for actions. For example, if a split brain patient is shown the word “walk”, he may get up and start walking across a room. If asked why, he will say, “I want to get a ‘Coke’ “, or “I want to stretch my legs”, etc. IOW, the language merely occurs as a conscious justification for why he acted as he did.

This means that the more unwieldy the language, the more it is subject to control of an elite, the more people will accept it symbolically as controlled by that elite.

This, in fact, is what McLuhan points out in the development of heiroglyphs and ideograms as opposed to alphabetic text which is subject to constant alterations that produce relationships of sound, which are themselves based on a very simple base of letters. From simple beginnings, complexity develops.

This very problem is summed up in the story of the Tower of Babel. The people had one language, they communicated with one symbolic representation of the world, and “nothing they imagine shall be restrained from them”. IOW, the formula for accelerated entropy and cancer. The “trick”, therefore, was to create a linguistic process in which “information’ continualy separated them so that the lingusitc “excuse’ they offered could not be proven consistent with the environment itself.
This, essentially, is the proof contained in Godel’s theorem.

The myth of the Tower of Babel shows an amazing insight into a very necessary process for the evolution of human societies. The brain may be conscious of itself, but it has no mechanism by which the “software’ of conscious thought may reach into the “hardware’ of physical genetic processes. As Howard Bloom points out, the brain is like the chief executive who must make decisions after all the facts are in, but who can only rely on the way the facts are presented to him.

The most basic interaction, and the intelligence system which controls it at the cellular level, is the immune system. “Language” is the secondary process by which we organize, classify, and justify the necesary decisions made to avoid death and destruction.

I have to ask myself if the most inspiring speeches, the ones remembered for their call to sacrifice and to “higher” and lofty goals, are little more than linguistic justifications offered for the necessity of our need to conquer and interact with other environments.

War, for example. The behaviorist B.F. Skinner points out that if you hit an amoeba with a very tiny electric charge, it will attack its closest neighboring amoeba, suggesting that at the most basic levels of life organization relies on a form of warfare to control its destiny and territory. You will also notice that the very best place for “superbugs’ to develop is on the theaters of war, where soldiers are constantly exposed to antibiotics that provide a breeding ground for ever superior forms of viruses and bacteria that take the very protective information provided, and evolve themselves into ever more dangerous vehicles of expansion.

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not even of your lusts that war in your members?” James 4;1.

The simple fact is we cannot simply use willpower or our logical mind to reach in and control these “lusts’ that war in our members, because these “lusts” are driven by the necessary life extension processes of bacterial and viral interaction, the necessary exchange of information for the cells theselves to reproduce effectively. If we do manage to control them, then we ourselves behave in a socially cancerous fashion, in the form of proselytizing religions, narcissism, imperialism , etc. The linear extension of “self” expanded while destroying surrounding environment, the acceleration of chaos and entropy.

W cannot develop a language, however formal or disciplined, that represents truth of itself. Language is useful only for general descriptions based on scientific observation. Language used for justification through belief, in the form of religion, defines a “God” who is more than existence, and cultures end up sacrificing theselves to that which is not useful for reproduction. Overspecialization, which leads to extinction of both cultures and species.

To develop and worship a God subject to language, therefore, is to worship a God that is locked within the social communicative needs of human survival. Such a God will generally be selected ABOVE any God that would reflect truth, since truth often challenges the reproductive imperative.

Therefore you end with some interesting conclusions about any God of truth: “My ways are not your ways, neither are my thoughts your thoughts(isaiah 55;8)”. The natural mind is enmity against God, and cannot be subject to God(Romans 8:7). All attempts to worship and organize in God’s name will result in disunity and war(Matthew 10:34-38). There is no need to follow any person who claims such power(Matthew 24:23). In fact, as a matter of law, we are commanded NOT to organize any system symbolically or iconically as God ( 2nd comandment).

So in fact there is a necessary distinction between “spirit” and “flesh” as pointed out by Paul, who also, in Romans 7, pointed out the futility of trying to control this “flesh” by the use of willpower. Can’t be done.

Logically, therefore if we DO try to organize in God’s name by the development of symbolic, iconic representation, the result will inevitaly be war, “wars and ruors of wars”. Why? because as historians have shown, it serves an evolutionary purpose for the development iof diverse cultures. it expands the gene pool for selection of diverse options among DNA, allowing for the “cut and paste” of viral invaders. From dust we came, and to dust we shall return. The microorganisms that formed tiny civlizations also formed humans as extensons of their own civilizations. Whatever higher quality of the human mind that leads to “righteousness” will not be accesible by human govenrments or religion, since they are merely the extensions of cooperative processes emerging from our genes. The human mind and self awareness is a mid-point, a kind of “halfway house” of development, between the “lower’ states of cooperative development and the “higher” stage of civilizational development. We are not the controllers of our destiny, nor do our thoughts parallel the thoughts of God, if there is such a being.