What is the relationship between God and the computer? The second seems to have stolen the virtue of ubiquity from the first. The term comes from the Latin “everywhere” and means omnipresence. But today it is also a technical qualifier that refers to the fact that computers are more and more hidden, almost invisible, while all over the place in the multiple environments that make up our daily lives.
Divine omnipresence is the first scheme of all religions. The first human beings one day looked around and they saw stones, animals, trees, other men, women, children, stones again, the sun, the stars. The first question that is probably at the origin of intelligence is: what unites all these realities? What is common to all these phenomena? What is the same everywhere? Thus was born religion, then philosophy, then mathematics.
We enter a world where it seems that the common, the same, is the digital, computational language; zeros, ones, electrons and photons. It’s such a fascinating world that eminent researchers in cosmology, such as Leonard Susskind, have proposed that the universe is nothing but a hologram, a vast computer simulation. Everything would be information and bits. This vision unveils our current obsession with computers. The consequence here is the idea that a transcendence of the Same or the Other is an illusion. Everything is the same everywhere, say the apologists of informationism, and it is nothing spiritual. They choose to ignore the underlying contradiction of such reductionism: if we say that our values and beliefs are illusions generated by information arrangements, we have not moved a step forward in explaining the phenomenon of cognition. Illusion and belief are not material data. The theory that the ubiquitous is merely digital or data-based contradicts itself because it cannot explain the mind, as a philosopher like David Chalmers among others has been repeating lately. One cannot deny the mind, call it cognition or spirit, even if it is only an illusion: illusion itself is a phenomenon that demonstrates the existence of mind, some form of subjectivity, the fooled observer, the deceived being. This is a logic that Descartes follows, roughly, to demonstrate his cogito: I have illusions that I question, so I think. I think, so my mind exists.
Spirit or mind is ubiquitous. Religion and philosophy agree on this. What mathematics and physics have added is that order is everywhere, regularities that can be quantified and predicted. Einstein thought that E = mc2 revealed that God “did not play dice” – no doubt God has a more interesting game at her disposal. The Creal – a word I prefer to God – is an oscillation between creation and order, between the multiple (the Other) and the One (the Same).
If it is true that the universe is a dance between the creative becoming that Descartes called “continuous creation” and the tendency to ordered unification that characterises the inertia of bodies when they are not jostled by this creation, then this dynamic tension is everywhere, in each of us too. This amounts to suggesting that the Same and the Other, the One and the Multiple are two sides of the same energy. Any tendency to favor one aspect of this polarity against the other introduces a deadly imbalance. Hyper-order is death by crystallisation – and that might be what awaits us if we let computers in charge of our destiny. Hyper-creation is death by constant reconfiguration, in the sense that Spinoza said that any determination is also a negation and vice versa, or in the sense that Schumpeter spoke of creative destruction. This leads to a wisdom that the Greeks, especially the Stoics, but also Aristotle, already advocated, and which was recently rehabilitated by philosopher Gilles Deleuze: the golden mean.
The middle ground or golden mean is this ubiquitous balance between creation and order, difference and repetition, which governs the stability of a living system. As equilibrium, it is almost nothing, it is an invisible, an infinitesimal point between two forces, a strange attractor, a “dark precursor”. When a system reaches this balance, a new reality can emerge: hence it is not necessarily the sum of the parts that generates the whole, but balance points of tense equilibrium (that elsewhere I have called, speculatively, crealia). Crealia would be those moments of vibratory equilibrium between creation and order that actualise a phenomenon. Theoretical physicists sometimes call them “strings”, which according to their vibration would generate a particular particle or sub-particle.
The man or woman of the golden mean will be ubiquitous; they will live in the universal balance between matter and spirit, where illusion and reality are one, and where everything communicates secretly within a body-mind relationship, an alchemical version of esprit de corps.