The “Meaningfulness” of Meaning

Satisfying the imperatives of both scientific and spiritual systems of thought.

  • The continuing process of approximating truth must ultimately deal with the most fundamental point of disagreement – that between religion and science.

That there is fundamental disagreement is not surprising since:

Reality clearly functions according to patterns of relatedness which science can describe, and yet:

The experience of being alive and experiencing meaning is clearly the experience that aspects of reality are having as the result of being aspects of reality. The very reality which science seeks to explain.

Truth then, is ultimately the understanding of what all of us are as one system. Whenever one aspect of reality tries to explain what “it” is, it must simultaneously apply the explanation to it’s reality, which includes “everyone else”.

This represents environmental fluctuation from that point of view, and therefor response must be expected (refer to the final comments regarding the generalized adaptive feedback loop of the previous section).

Each of us is truthfully an aspect of reality, and we acquire our beliefs through the functioning of reality. In this very real sense, the expression of all belief has legitimacy.

The progenitor of religion could be thought of as the desire to understand experience, while the progenitor of science could be thought of as the desire to understand the relatedness of physical reality.

They are therefor sub branches of the same enquiry since mind and matter are undeniably  linked in some system of relatedness.

The only known place in the universe where any sense of “meaning” to such relationship is understood is in experience.

A major point of difference between science and religion is what this “meaningfulness” means.

It must have some place within the inter related functioning of reality.

Religion insists that the experience of meaning must be meaningful, while:

A common historical scientific conclusion is that it arises from entirely random adaptive interactions between aspects of reality.

This deprives the experience of meaning of meaning.

Many religious explanations however deprive the mind of it’s own common sense.

The historical scientific explanation needs only minor adjustment in order to become “meaningful”:

“Meaning” as an experience seems to be very closely aligned with a “sense” of “relatedness”.

Evolution did not “evolve” relatedness but rather is one expression of the relatedness by which reality functions.

The manner in which cause and effect are transmitted through the communicating medium which is reality is utilized by evolution to produce relational strategy. This interacts with the surounding environmental fluctuations within the medium in order to protect the information (Such as DNA) expressing it.

Evolution in no way creates relatedness but operates by it. It is therefore a more fundamental aspect of who we are and how we function and cannot be assigned to any kind of truly “random” (and therefor meaningless) evolutionary development.

Rather selection forces will “naturally” select for those methods of relationship both within the organism, and between organism and environment which are the most effective at utilizing the relatedness by which reality actually functions.

Cooperative behavior, and the “meaningfulness” of connection and inter relationship have evolved since they are adaptive, but they are highly adaptive only because they reflect what we essentially already were.

We are aspects of a reality which only functions through the “agreement” of every aspect to accommodate to the movements of every other aspect simply because they are aspects of one reality and therefor must.

The evolutionary process simply organizes these accommodations between aspects to interact in a manner which is “greater than the sum of parts”, and it is only this which allows evolution to occur at all. Cooperative behavior is simply one expression of this activity.

The observation that “meaningful experiences” appear to be encountered in conjunction with forms of cooperative behavior then, is equivalently:

The observation that behaviors which are in relative alignment with the patterns of related interaction by which our reality functions, also appear to directly correlate with the experiences which aspects of reality (us) have of being in alignment.

As does our experience of “disconnection” tightly correspond with “self” ish behavior.

This is equally true of the relationship between thought about experience and experience: If the correct apprehending of the “relationships between aspects of reality using thought” can be considered as synonymous with “truthful thought about reality”, and if part of this truthful thought must come to include us as a fully integrated aspect of this reality, then:

It seems logically satisfying that these “fully integrated aspects” (That is us) would “experience” a greater sense of rightness and alignment as “thought about reality” increasingly identifies our relatedness as it truthfully is.

These experiences of alignment in turn then, might be considered a hallmark of “truth as experienced”. (Recall the previously linked video of astronauts discussing their experiences.)

The powerful need we have for connection and relatedness amongst ourselves and the need we have to experience what it means to be part of a greater whole – be it via science or religion – therefor flows inevitably from this fundamental aspect of what we are and also cannot be assigned to any truly “random” evolutionary development.

It seems inevitable that we as expressions of this process, must have experiences of “value” and “love” regarding it. And what is love but the experience of relationship.

In other words, the adaptive utilization of the relatedness by which reality functions leads unwaveringly to … relationship.

  • The particular strategies an “individual” employs can be justified as an “inevitable” consequence of the realities of evolution. However, although our bodies and interactional strategies are the product of past evolution and are in this sense predetermined, the very word “evolution” actually means change.

Individual organisms appear to have such different interests. Temptations towards selfish behavior can be extreme, and those in the “right place at the right time” can and do advance the continued manifestation of the DNA which expresses them within reality via such behavior.

Yet the cause and effect by which our actions translate to environmental fluctuation for others is an extremely simple truth. Actions of minds which perceive their interests as separate and act accordingly can only produce conflicted environmental fluctuation for themselves and reality in general, and this conflict will only intensify into the future.

The truth is we are joined within a single system of relatedness. This may not classify as an “organism” as we typically think of it, but it nonetheless joins us into a system of relatedness with an entirety that interacts with our actions in a way which is absolutely impossible to avoid.

Honest introspection demonstrates that we do have the ability to choose between co-operative or selfish strategies. That which is interpreted as lack of choice is in reality the action of emotion such as attraction and aversion.

All this provides a justification (which seems entirely compatible with both scientific and spiritual thought), for the benefits of relational methods such as compassion and radical forgiveness. It also represents congruence with the aspirations of most people.

Surely this is both spiritually and scientifically satisfying.

2013 Peter Sillifant

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