April 9, 2010

Giantess: A Possibilian Tale

I came across the Possibilian from a tweet. The Neuroscientist, David Eagleman coined the term to describe someone who is actively open to different ideas. In a nutshell,

"Our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism, and yet we know too much to commit to a particular religion. A third position, agnosticism, is often an uninteresting stance in which a person simply questions whether his traditional religious story (say, a man with a beard on a cloud) is true or not true. But with Possibilianism I'm hoping to define a new position -- one that emphasizes the exploration of new, unconsidered possibilities. Possibilianism is comfortable holding multiple ideas in mind; it is not interested in committing to any particular story."

The idea of "Possibilianism" appealed to me because it aligns quite well with my twitter manifesto regarding my stance about God (check the last portion of my twanifesto). So I dug deeper into this worldview, finding clues as to how this neuroscientist arrived at a similar view that I hold.
Apparently, David introduced this term during an interview about his book, Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives. I am now reading this book because I was curious as to the kind of work that a Possibilian would share to the world.
And so I found Sum quite enjoyable, being a collection of short metaphysical stories, it suited my reading style of digesting bite-sized portions, reading one story at a time.
And so I came across a story that gave me a reason to write about it on this blog. The story is called Giantess.
In a nutshell, the story illustrates emergence on a grand scale. An enormity that is expressed only via a metaphor using cellular biology wherein planets, ah yes, exoplanets are merely proteins within a cell we call "The Milky Way", which is one among billions of galaxies within an immeasurable living mass called the Giantess.
On this grand cosmic scale, our tiny solar system dont matter much to the uber-emergent entity, like how we casually wipe away a tiny drop of blood from a pinprick. Life on planets can be wiped away by a rain of asteroids, and entire galaxies would be devoured by blackholes, and the Giantess couldn't care less.
Here's some tidbits from the story to give you a feel of Eagleman's style of writing,

"To be clear," he says to you, "I am not your God. Instead, you and I are galactic neighbors; I am from a planet associated with the star you call Terzan Four..."

"For a long time, we have been studying our neighbors: You Earthlings and thirty seven other planets besides. We have developed highly accurate systems of equations to predict the future growth and social directions of your planets."

The common theme of the book revolves around hypothetical afterlife scenarios and the different playful manifestations of God. But collectively, the stories in Sum covers a wide range of topics that any enthusiast or scholar in many fields (Philosophy, Spirituality, Psychology, Theology, Computer Science, Physics and Metaphysics, Cosmology, etc) will find a 'connecting point' or their own metaphor, and a reason to write about it in their blogs, the same way I did for exoplanetology.
As I keep a close watch over the ongoing march of the Plurality of Worlds, the ever-growing discovery of exoplanets opens up a lot of possibilities, and synthesizes different fields--that the best way to tread is to simply maintain fresh eyes on fascinating wonders of new discoveries, and to keep an open mind to the challenges it would bring to long-held worldviews and beliefs.
Is there life out there? Are there intelligent, conscious beings on other worlds? How does their existence affect humanity's concept of God? How will it affect my Faith?
In light of those kinds of questions, the kind of attitude suggested by Eagleman's book is summed up by it's simple meta-message: We don't know...

David Eagleman 40 Afterlives
Exoplanetology Twitter Manifesto

Photo Credit:
The Final April Fools, Light & Illusion – Art by Randall Klopping