Systems Science and The Reality of "Spiritual Agency"
New Science of Purposeful Systems
From forest ecologies to cities, corporations, and families, feedback networks have been shown to purposefully self-organize and adapt these systems to sustain them. There is now scientific evidence for how this network activity constitutes agency which animates and orders the world--in ways we cannot control. It also shows how our ignorance of it is causing us to destroy the biosphere.
New Naturalistic Spirituality
To be truly scientific, we must now learn to perceive these networks as 'autonomous actors' which interact like living creatures to create and animate the biosphere. As such, the self-directing operations of these networks makes them 'spiritual agents.' We are, thereby, confronted by a self-animating world and a fact-based naturalistic spirituality.
New Sacred Reality
In the sense that "sacredness" derives from "willful agency" which is beyond full explanation, this science establishes an empirical basis for a sacred world-view. One scientist has termed this "the reinvention of the sacred." In re-establishing human awareness of purposefully creative agency in Nature that is beyond human control--and must thereby be respected--the science can also be seen as "the return of the sacred."
So What Do We Do With This Unexpected Knowledge?
The Cultural Transformation
The surprising evidence for spiritual agency in Nature is a stunning challenge to modern cultural beliefs about reality. Nature is no longer "mere machinery" that we define and control. It shows how human actions have disabled Nature's agency, resulting in catastrophic climate change and ecological collapse. Culture must now make a profound shift of paradigm for 'how the world works'--from an exclusively mechanical world view to an animistic one based on naturalistic spirituality. That will require a new mythic imagination.
New Reality of Mythic Symbolism
How self-organizing feedback networks animate natural and human systems reveals that mythic symbols of souls, spirits, gods, goddesses, and monsters model something real. Such imagination of network agency once made a spiritually animated world palpable as sacred reality. This new view is not a matter of superstitious belief but of fact--not religious but scientific. Spiritual symbolism and science now have a common reference.
New Science of Symbols
Aspects of symbolism can now be engaged as metaphors for the self-organizing dynamics of complex systems. By exploring how these symbols make the agency of feedback networks more tangible we can reclaim ancient wisdom while better comprehending our own systems science. This combination of science and symbolism is the basis for a new culture of naturalistic spirituality--a culture of fact-based animism that acts to facilitate the self-sustaining agency of natural systems.