Fantastisch, over het universum in ons hoofd
Comments on Kris Verburgh's Fantastisch! (Fantastic, about the universe in our head)
On Kris Verburgh's website, there's also a detailed description of the book with links to online book stores.
Fantastisch! not only deals with the universe, or Darwin, or the brain, but unifies all three realms of research into one fantastic story, covering fourteen billion years, in order to give an answer to the question: what does it mean to be human ?
Fantastisch! deals with the emergence of life, about the evolution theory, about how the brain works, consciousness, thinking computers, quantum mechanics and religion. Due also to recent scientific discoveries, Fantastisch! also wants to answer the last, ultimate question: does a supreme being exist? Is there more than just matter and energy? To that end the author introduces a new concept, the context story, built on three pillars, to enable the reader in that way to reach his/her own ultimate decision by him/herself. Fantastisch! not only deals with science, but is also a philosophical and spiritual book, trying to evoke feelings of wonder, just as the capacity to put ourselves into perspective. That way the reader is triggered to experience reality in a new and different way.
Kris published this book in 2007. It contains a general overview of the world we live in and the way we humans tic. It is scientifically sound and thorough, but nevertheless quite easy to read and to grasp by a broad public. It is in fact the most attractive and comprehensive treatise on the how and the why of our existence hat I ever encountered. Written by a 21 years old student from Belgium, it is fresh and clean, not contaminated by any of our contemporary ruling systems of belief and superstition. Kris is a free-thinker and it shows. He also shows to be remarkably erudite and his depicting of the world is rather exhaustive and complete in view of what is known as of today and what is scientifically well established. Still, in spite of the completeness of Verburgh's picture, based on what is scientifically known, we would like to add at least two important notions that we consider crucial for a complete understanding of the human position in this world at this time. These two notions will increase the power of Kris' comprehensive overview even further and will give humanity even better tools to take its own future into its own hands, to the advantage of all. Before discussing these two additional chunks of information, we'll quote some paragraphs of Kris' book that illustrate the general line of his thinking.
- 1 Quote from "Fantastic, about the universe in our head"
- 2 The Context Story
- 3 Knowledge versus Belief
- 4 A beautiful world
- 5 Universal consciousness
- 6 Purpose
- 7 Why this strong need for purpose ?
- 8 Ego, science and spirituality
- 9 Why the evolution of intelligence needs / needed this phase of mass delusion and superstition
- 10 Fear and superstition versus the rapture of reality; about science and spirituality
- 11 Completing the picture of ourselves and of our world
- 12 Point Omega: intelligence finally understanding itself
Quote from "Fantastic, about the universe in our head"
What would be the result if we now put together our capacity for fantasy, for self-conceit and for gullibility? The result is not Homo sapiens or the wise man, but Homo fantasia or man, extolling itself in gullible fantasies. (Those who know Latin will note that fantasia is not a correct Latin word, but Homo fantasia probably wouldn't care: it sounds good.) Maybe you think I am exaggerating. After all, man seems more 'wise' than 'full of fantasies'? For sure, man is endowed with enormous cognitive skills. But these skills blind us to such an extent that we end up believing that man merely is 'wise'. The insight that we are peculiarly sensitive to dreams and illusions, in my view is an important discovery. People are beings that are willing to die for their 'truths'. If we then note that we are not designed to know the ultimate truths and that we very readily believe all sorts of un-truths, then this entails quite some revelation. This explains many phenomena in our society that we can find all over the place, from horoscopes in newspapers till the capacity to let ourselves be carried away to other fantasy worlds by looking at some tiny letters on paper or pictures on large cinema screens. Thus, Homo fantasia is a species, mad for fantastic stories and made-up creativity. Moreover, we are a species the members of which like to overestimate themselves, indulging in pride and vanity. We are creatures who believe that we are the purposefully created products of a superior being, thinking that after death we are fully entitled to live on for ever, trying to find a meaning behind everything, frantically searching continuously for spectacular experiences that might lift us out of daily reality, highly upward into heaven. We are creatures that are staying permanently in a rush of unconscious self-aggrandizing illusions, who believe that they are predestined for playing a role in grand affairs. This sense of universal megalomania can even be found in great philosophers.
The Context Story
(Quote from "Fantastic, about the universe in our head")
The context story is a concept, composed of knowledge, accumulated by innumerable researchers. It is a pattern of thinking, strong enough to show, even without experimental proof, that many made up ideas of Homo fantasia are merely fantasy indeed, from ancestral ghosts and gods to our descendants, who will influence the destiny of the universe. The context story is based on three pillars: a cosmological, an evolutionary and a neurological pillar. These pillars each consist of the most important scientific discoveries of the past centuries and are putting mankind with two feet on solid ground again.
The cosmological pillar tells us about the emergence and the development of the universe and the way it works. This shows us that we do not need a God to create the universe, earth and life on it. This pillar tells us how the universe emerged from nothing and could create innumerable stars without using any energy for the process. This "emergence from nothing" does not violate the laws of physics and comparable processes can even be demonstrated to occur in the laboratory. The cosmological pillar covers billions of years of cosmological evolution. That evolution started with the big bang, spreading around gases. Gases out of which stars condensated. Stars, that subsequently created new chemical elements. Elements like Iron and Silicium, from which materials subsequently planets were born, new worlds on which life could develop and prosper, like Earth.
The second pillar, the evolutionary pillar, covers the emergence and the subsequent evolution of life. This contains the mighty story of atoms that cluster together, down to collections of molecules that can duplicate themselves. That primordial and simple form of life would gradually become more and more complex until it finally became able to think about itself. Also here, there is no need for a God. Not to create life, not to make life evolve and not even for putting morality, creativity or language in alive beings.
The third pillar is the neurological pillar. This is about the human brain and about how it works. Mind and body are not two separate affairs, but it is the body that produces the mind. The neurological pillar tells us about the innumerable nerve tracts and neurons, strung like looms in our head, weaving the magnificent patterns that form our consciousness. The neurological pillar states clearly that immaterial and intangible feelings are the inextricable result of the firing of neurons under our skull, the movements of innumerable chemical substances in our brain and the incessant interaction with the world within and outside of us, through the five senses and many more sensors. There is no ghost in the machine. The soul is the machine itself.
All in all the context story describes the place of humanity in the universe. That story is humbling, but it is a fascinating story about humanity and the universe, telling about a history, not centuries old, but billions of years. The context story is about the human race, which is a cosmological product. A beautiful, magnificent, but inadvertant by-product from the stars. A being that, together with its fellow beings, is swarming on a small speck of dust, floating in an endlessly deep black abyss. The context story tells us that there were no gods and ghosts needed to create this universe and, in the end, sentient and thinking beings. And, what is more important, how these gods and ghosts basically are products of a mind that in turn is the result of hundreds of millions of years of evolution. It also tells us about solar systems being born and falling apart into dark cinders, about how life forms develop on any world and perish again, about how beings are being born to die. Some of these sentient beings are capable of sincere goodness, because morality is a property which is part of nature. Just like art, creativity and intelligence. Human beings are capable of experiencing beauty, in the form of heavenly music or memorable words, and the context story tells us why this is so. This mighty story however, does not intent to reduce everything to the firing of neurons below our skull, and annihilate every tremendous feeling by explaining it in terms of chemicals and electric currents. The context story is the fascinating story of brains that produce creativity, memories and feelings. And about how a hundred thousand billion of neuronal connections can succeed in producing these heavenly gifts. How can one speak of 'reduction' when speaking about the human brain, a structure containing an equal amount of synapses as there are stars in thousands of galaxies? There is a universe in each of our heads.
This book is but one big summary of this context story.
Knowledge versus Belief
(Quote from "Fantastic, about the universe in our head")
Knowledge and belief are diametrically opposed to one another. A believer needs to ignore quite a lot of knowledge to reach congruence of his world view with his belief. The concept of the context story just adds to that problem. Believers are saying that it is impossible to proof whether gods do or do not exist, but in the context of the cosmological, evolutionary and neurological pillars gods are no more than one other invention of Homo fantasia.
Some people have found a way to defend themselves against that all too meddlesome human knowledge. They exclaim that belief surpasses science. They know quite well that gods and such were not quite necessary to make us, or even the universe, appear. Therefore they say that those gods in fact do not need to explain that sort of scientific facts, because such an explanation is already covered by the laws of nature themselves. Gods stand far above this universe and the laws of nature. But, why then still believe in gods who have nothing to do with this universe and thus with ourselves? Why not better call God nature in view of the fact that laws of nature control the movements of every atom and the course of every light beam in this universe?
A beautiful world
On a cosmic consciousness, on transiency, happiness, self-knowledge, creativity and purpose (Quote from "Fantastic, about the universe in our head")
What a horrible universe, isn't it? We are living in an endless universe that does not care about us whatsoever and with billions of conspecifics we are trapped on a stony speck of dust, surrounded by dark, icy cold emptiness, without any hope to ever surpass earth or the universe, because man is the product of a purposeless evolution which is fully guided by coincidence. We live to die and then there is nothing left forever. No heaven, no eternal hunting fields, not even hell. And then, what in fact is a human being? Nothing more than a survival machine of the genes, a chemical vessel at the mercy of those same genes, that are the result of an evolution that only revolves around egoism, cruelty, aggression and sex. Of course, this cannot be right. This should not be right, because without gods, heavens and other dreams this universe and life itself are completely useless. This is an unbearable thought. Therefore we say that logics, knowledge and science do not prove anything. They just describe things without specifying how we wish reality to look like. Because, we say, our vision surpasses reality. But, then there is the context story. That context story considers all these grand ideas of humanity, his longing for eternal life, godliness, or the magic mysticism, still hidden in all that undeveloped knowledge, as not fitting in the 'context' of what we already know about reality. And science not just destroys the grand dreams. It ruins also the small ones. Science wants to reduce everything to the movements of atoms. Emotion and love have become just a matter of neurotransmitters and spiritual experiences are reduced to the operations of neurons. Science is nihilistic, reductionist materialism, stealing the beauty from the world, cutting and dissecting it in cold laboratory light.
But enough of those histrionics. This chapter is about purpose, happiness, spirituality and how to find them in a universe that, according to some, only has a purpose if they can believe in their own creative concoctions. But also without gods and other universal purposes this universe still does have incomprehensibly much purpose, splendour and beauty. What knowledge and science take away, they give back in another form.
(Quote from "Fantastic, about the universe in our head")
This exciting view on the universe and on ourselves is the result of so called cold scientific discoveries, pushing humanity from its pedestal, but at the same time it puts humanity back on another pedestal. Man, or rather the universe, thinking about itself.
The more people cooperate, help each other, educate each other and thus discover more and more, the more we come to know about ourselves, about nature, about matter and consciousness, and about the destiny and future of the universe. Thus, mankind represents a thinking layer around earth, a kind of brain in which every other human being communicates like a neuron with tens of thousands of other human beings, through language.
(Quote from "Fantastic, about the universe in our head")
.................. That is a reason why we are searching so frantically for grand purpose that should surpass our life. The purpose of life is a product of fantasy-man, trying desperately to free itself from the bony skull, enclosing his mind. Apart from this fantasy-thinking there is also this intentional thinking, which explains our instinctive need for purpose. The world around us is full of purposes and therefore we think that also the universe itself should have a purpose. Besides, our minds have been created to think in causal terms. We do think that all phenomena do have a cause. And in case there is no cause, we prefer to dream up a cause. There must be something behind all this?
Understanding why we, as members of Homo fantasia, like to think that life has purpose, in fact is quite revealing. That insight pierces all those legends, myths, religions and theories saying that our mind is exalted and our destiny special. We now grasp the universe. A universe as it is.
Why this strong need for purpose ?
(Comments on "Fantastic, about the universe in our head")
According to other contributions on this Wiki (see: Impersonal power structures ruling our world) there is a very clear reason for this all overruling human tendency to attach purpose to every phenomenon it encounters. This reason is in the over-dominance of the telic, or goal-oriented meta-motivational state. This overdominance of the telic state has been plaguing humanity since some ten thousand years, but should not be considered an innate human condition that cannot be overcome. This telic over-dominance can be considered the consequence of the state of mass neurosis we are living in today, which is an unavoidable, but transitory state in our evolution. As explained in the chapter about Point Omega humanity most probably is at the brink of mass enlightenment, after which telic overdominance will give way to a restoration of a healthier meta-motivational equilibrium. That will then automatically make the all overruling need for purpose, a fruit of telic, goal directed thinking, dissolve. That, in turn, will automatically make the need for gods, myths and religion disappear, creating space instead for authentic spiritual awareness or cosmic consciousness for all.
So, what we see here in ourselves nowadays, is the final stage of a typically human mass delusion of dreamed up purposes. This is an inextricable and unavoidable characteristic of the present phase of evolution we are in these days, which state will however eventually disappear. This evolutionary phase has been necessary and unavoidable, but will most likely disappear shortly, together with all concomitant religions and other paraphernalia of involuntary purpose needs and resulting run-away fantasies. All these fantasies require enormous amounts of personal and collective energy and keep us blindfolded for reality. Once we manage to shed these fantasies and delusions, humanity will get back on its feet, with two feet on solid ground, back into real life. That will release unheard of amounts of energy, personally as well as collectively, not needed any more to maintain all these artful concoctions and belief-systems requiring enormous energies to be maintained against a perpetual avalanche of reality, besieging the cherished fairy tales. At the same time the customary state of mass neurosis will then dissolve, releasing even more time and energy to be spent on more positive and creative purposes. This transition is called Point Omega in the words of Teilhard de Chardin. In view of what is explained in the chapter about the significance of the Point Omega transition, this prediction is not the fruit of exaggerated religious fervour, but rather the ending of all that, heralding a new, less neurotic and more pleasant and creative phase in human evolution.
Ego, science and spirituality
(Quote from "Fantastic, about the universe in our head")
The happier we wish to be, the more we need to forget that we exist. A person is for instance carried to the highest spheres of happiness when he is so involved in a creative work (of art) that he is forgetting the time and also himself. At such a moment it is only thát piece of work that counts. The notion of a self, which is mostly a hindrance for this type of experiences, is on the other hand of course a necessity to function properly in daily life. The "I" is a tool of the brain for making simulations of the future. In order to know what you will do, you in fact better first imagine what to do. For instance, when thinking about going to the supermarket, you very briefly imagine how in fact to walk towards it. Depending on the pleasant or unpleasant feelings you get from this simulation, you will decide whether you will go there or not. But in order to make this simulation, you need a notion of self: you need the notion that the being entering the supermarket is you. A notion of 'me' is therefore quite handy for knowing what to do in the future. Disadvantage however is that the "me" can also be a source of stressful thoughts: 'tomorrow I need to do this', 'if I say such and such, what will they think of me?', 'if only I can achieve that, then I'll be happy', etcetera. Somebody who wishes to lead a happy and useful life [Verburgh concludes], would do good to suppress that notion of 'me' as much as possible, by thinking as little as possible about oneself and to live as much as possible in the 'now', in order to live with less concerns and to enjoy more the moment itself, the here and now. In case that all-pervading 'me' disappears as much as possible to the background, a person is less egoistic and egocentric. And that can only be to the advantage of our fellow human beings. The more we live in the now, the less we fear death. Being dead is something in a far, future period that we will not experience anyway: for after all no one can be aware of being dead. And why be afraid for something that we will never experience?
Of course it is not possible to switch off our sense of self completely and forever. It will always be there, sometimes pushed back completely to the background when we lose ourselves in a tremendously gratifying experience, and sometimes in the foreground when we are overstressed because of all the goals we want to achieve, social obligations we have to meet, and future situations that might cause problems. On this planet there are probably quite a number of beings that do not have a 'me', a self awareness, like babies, and probably also mammals like cats and dogs. These beings probably experience the world in a different, almost spiritual, way. When a baby sees a flower, then he does not experience that flower as something outside of himself, because there is no 'himself'. There is not a 'me' in the centre of the world. That flower and the world around him, are the total experience of the baby. The world encompasses all being. It is not me and the world, but the 'me' then is the world. Of course it is difficult for us to experience that feeling, because, while growing up, a notion of 'me' sneaks into our ripening brain; fertile soil in which agitated thoughts and inflated ego's can grow. The monk of the previous chapter comes closest to what a baby feels all day long, by switching off his sense of 'me'. Or, to say it in the words of the neuro-scientist and Nobelprice winner Gerald Edelman: A mystic is a person trying to think like a dog. The less 'me', the more we can merge in pleasant experiences, the more we lose sight of the passing of time, the less we are concerned about the future, and the less egoistic we are.
The disappearing 'me', altruism, creativity and self-knowledge melt together into the sense and purpose of being. They are intricately intertwined. The egoistic and coercing 'me' that turns us into eternal seekers who never are satisfied, is the antipode of this. We are most happy whenever we are forgetting that 'me' and merge with the world around us. This does not always need to happen through meditation, through self reflection, or by seeking solitude, but may happen by simply now and then stopping and considering the wondrous reality around us and our place in it. That way we are talking about a different type of spirituality, fed by science and knowledge. Science is not reductionistic, since our knowledge turns reality into the most magnificent work of art in existence.
Why the evolution of intelligence needs / needed this phase of mass delusion and superstition
(Comments on "Fantastic, about the universe in our head")
This Wiki can add important bits and pieces to the magnificent grand picture that Kris Verburgh presents us in his Magnum Opus "Fantastic, about the universe in our head". Adding these extra chunks of information, the total picture of us humans in this universe becomes even more clearly understandable and transparent. It adds even more logical consistence and simple directness to our understanding of it all.
In particular it can add understanding of the typically human, seemingly eternal, problems we have with grasping our own behaviour and in particular the human propensity for religion and other forms of mass delusion (see: Self Blindness and Social-role Blindness). In the chapter, quoted above, Kris deals with the 'ego'. The ego of course is an indispensable part of our picture of the world, since it depicts the position of the thinking individual in it. As such it is an essential cognitive tool. However, in discussions and writings about human behavioural problems, neuroses, spirituality etc., the term 'ego' refers to the (over)dominant role the ego usually plays in daily human life, a role that can be labelled rightfully as "sick". In that customary use of the term 'ego', it stands in particular for a cluster of behavioural patterns that go with neurotic, and truncated behaviour, the un-intelligent expression of primordial social reflexes of aggression and fear and for the concomitant phobia's and behaviour blocks that go with a too permanent fear motivation.
Verburgh remarks that there is a (cor)relation between on the one hand a prominent ego, stress, neuroses and unhappiness and on the other hand religious narrowmindedness. Parallel to that there is a correlation between on the one hand unawareness of ego and on the other hand altruism, happiness and authentic spirituality. What Kris does not clarify, is the causal relationships that produce these correlations. How does it all work and why is this so ? This Wiki explains these correlations, where they stem from and how it exactly works. What came first: the chicken or the egg? What came first: neurotic unhappiness and fear or the ego? What came first: mass neuroses or religion?
This Wiki explains those correlations by referring back to the human evolutionary context. It is shown that these phenomena, no matter how unpleasant and malfunctional they may seem at first sight, do serve a distinct purpose in the evolution of intelligence, of any evolving intelligence that is.
In fact, there are two pieces of information needed to complete the picture, two novel ideas to put it all in a comprehensive and logically consistent grand perspective. These two notions are: 1) The hereditary knack in humans for self-delusion and blindness for the self, needed evolutionarily for intelligence to expand, and 2) The around 10.000 year old rule of power structures on the Meme-level, controlling human societies, causing mass neurosis.
Once clarified, the total mechanism predicts also that we may expect a major shift in human evolution shortly, causing a transition into a next evolutionary phase in humans, which transition we may label with Teilhard de Chardin's term Point Omega.
Fear and superstition versus the rapture of reality; about science and spirituality
(Last page from "Fantastic, about the universe in our head")
Science does not reduce reality and it's goal is not to destroy human emotions. On the contrary, science makes reality richer and more intriguing. We not only derive wonder and entertainment from movie pictures, computer games, exciting stories, disco's or good books. No movie director, writer or composer could ever have produced the idea of inventing colors, the skies, birds, brooks, time, trees and solar systems. All this is of another order of magnitude, this is the result of billions of years of time passed, spread out over a space of billions of light years distance. All equally incomprehensible as wondrous. The simple, ordinary reality is, through our knowledge, the greatest work of art in existence.
And the nicest of it all is that all this did not need to be. Your and my life were not necessary at all, but still we are here. If evolution would have taken a slightly different course, or if your parents would not have felt lust at some particular point in time, then you would not have been here. And, given the fact that they were turned on at that specific moment in time, then there were billions of ways in which the DNA could combine, that was in the two cells that merged to the one cell from which you developed. So, there were billions of different possibilities, and you are but one of them. Still, you are yourself and for a while you may be a spectator of this grand, eternal cosmic vista. After more than hundred and thirty million centuries, a lump of atoms has woken up, calling itself 'me', that may be testimony for some decades of something tremendous. That is verily a splendid gift. The most cherished gifts are after all those gifts that were not necessary; that are just given to you, not because it is a special day or because you did something special. This honour with which we are bestowed, can be experienced every day of our life. In a sense we lead thirty thousand lives, because every morning, every time we wake up and that consciousness creeps in through our eyes, we may wonder again about reality, about how this society of ours operates, in the middle of stars and galaxies. Every breath, every sigh, every picture on our retina, is a present that was not necessary, and that feeling does not fade away easily. The more we know about the world around us, the stronger this feeling of awe and gratitude will be. Gratitude towards a universe surpassing every form of human comprehension, but in which in the middle of emptiness and stars, there is also room for us. As living, conscious organisms we exist on a different level than that emptiness and the dead materials that form the bulk of the matter this universe is made of. Our body, and our mind, are the greatest privilege we can imagine. In comparison with all that dead matter, our situation as conscious beings is the same as humans compared to gods. We are gods in comparison to the unconscious rocks and the grasses all around us. We can say that, thanks to the universe in our head, the universe around us is basically already heaven on earth.
Completing the picture of ourselves and of our world
(General comments on Kris Verburgh's book "Fantastic, about the universe in our head")
Kris Verburgh has given us a magnificent overview of our own existence, of the origin and evolution of the world we live in and are part of and the origin and evolution of ourselves. This comprehensive and logically simple and coherent picture is beautifully written and is the best introduction to "everything" we ever read. As explained in the pages above, we need only two principal concepts to make the total picture even more consistent and complete, at the same time explaining some strange anomalies in our behavioural system that have riddled mankind since centuries and that stay unresolved, also in Kris' work.
1) One of these notions is the fact that humans are peculiarly bad at looking objectively and intelligently at one's own behaviour. There are libraries full of scientific documentation of experiments demonstrating a variety of different aspects of this blindness. This blindness for the self can be seen as an adaptation to an expanding intelligence. Ordinarily, in the evolution of species one sees some sort of 'maximum' to intelligence developing in species. This can be seen in many phyla of species on earth. Humanity is an exception, in the sense that in our species intelligence has increased very recently, some odd million years ago, to higher levels. This could only happen after a reflex had been built in, preventing intelligence to be utilized on one's own (social) behaviour. The reason why this was necessary is that intelligence, if too strong, tends to muddle up the relationship between short term purposes of behaviour (proximal causes) and long term purposes of behaviour (ultimate causes).
Intelligence in principle gives the opportunity to its possessor to find short cuts to satisfy short term needs (proximal causes) at the expense of the ultimate reasons for the same behaviour. That way the evolutionary purpose of the behaviour in question is not met and this tendency to short cut proximal satisfaction will thus be selected against. Without any further provision that selection always automatically boils down to a selection against intelligence itself, unless there is some special provision to prevent intelligence to be utilized on one's own behaviour. As we can see in other phyla, such a provision has never been available. Look for instance to mollusks (Octopus), to other primates (Chimpanzee, Bonobo, Orang Utan), to crows, to parrots, to whales and dolphins.
In all those species intelligence developed independently, but stopped at roughly the same level. Apparently, the development of intelligence is something one may expect as a logical evolutionary phase in any evolving phylum where enough hardware can be built in for generating such intelligence. But also it is apparently a standard evolutionary development, that such a development of intelligence stops at the level where it can in principle start interfering with the ultimate reasons for the evolved innate behavioural tendencies. Proximal cleverness should not disable ultimate purposes.
Humans are the only species that has escaped from the usual boundaries of intelligence, but, logically and apparently, only after having developed an effective block on the use of intelligence on the self. We could call this the "self-awareness block" or the "mirror block reflex", because this reflex blocks the intelligence as it were in front of a mirror (if it would have existed). This ancient mirror block reflex, which must be some odd million years old at least, accounts for a wide range of human behavioural peculiarities that have puzzled and concerned people for thousands of years and - almost by definition - to no avail. The unconsciousness regarding our own behaviour has by and large continued in spite of the innumerable serious and tenacious attempts to bring order, sense and civilization in human behaviour. No matter how "civilized", as soon as it really counts, in the end, the savage reflexes always prevail. For more about this typically human tendency to be blind for the self, see "Self Blindness and Social-role Blindness" on this Wiki.
2) The second of these notions is the fact that since the agricultural revolution, some 10.000 years ago, a cultural evolution took off at an increasing speed, causing power structures at the information level, the meme-level, to take over the lead in human evolution. (See also: Impersonal power structures ruling our world.) This means that since that time we humans are being torn between the requirements from two different levels of evolutionary pression, one requirement from the Gene level and one requirement from the Meme level. Since the evolution at the meme level proceeds much faster than evolution on the gene level, in humans the feelings and emotional tendencies, as ingrained by our premordial genetic behavioural basis (gene level) tend to lag behind in comparison to the requirements from the cultural level, the dictates stemming from the meme level. Our natural tendencies and feelings are therefore naturally not in line with - lagging behind - the demands of our society. And that, of course, produces continuous stress.
But this is not the worst part of this evolutionary split ruling human existence. The worst part is that since those 10.000 years the leading evolutionary force is the evolution of power structures on the meme level. Since this evolution is running so much faster than the more basic evolution on the level of genes, it not only exerts a strong evolutionary pull on the human genes, but it also "runs the show". Any human genome that does not fit well the requirements of some winning meme level power structure, will be weeded out one way or the other. This means that by and large we have been selected for all those millennia to be better slaves for the power structures in charge, maybe more stupid, but at least also more docile.
Those power structures are basically impersonal, so it is by definition a fallacy to think that some individuals can be in charge at all of such a power structure. The "leaders" or "commanders" or even "dictators" are just better slaves, that can be rewarded better, because they are more valuable to the power structure in question. Therefore the old sociologists saying that "a king is more dependent (on his people) than the people (on their king)" is generally very true. Who wants to be high up in the hierarchy, needs to follow the rules of the system in question better than others can do. But in no way can it be the system of the leading person itself. That's not how it works. The leader serves the system, willy nilly and whether he/she is aware of it or not. The system only cares about the outcome of the leader's behaviour, not about his private fantasies of power and status.
The reason why this situation is so unpleasant for human beings, is that these power structures are more interested in malleable, obedient pawns, even when their effective work-output is only limited, than in self-actualized, fully mature humans. The reason is that whereas such self actualizers may be more creative and more effective in what they do, they have the tendency to do what they like, following their innate ("P") tendencies, not being very malleable through fear. That makes them less predictable and often less useful than neurotic wrecks would be. The latter may produce a lower effective outcome, but they are at least effectively malleable and programmable for the power structure to be, and they wil 'fit in' properly. This preference of the meme-power-structures for neurotic wrecks is an unavoidable result of the lagging behind of the human genetic evolution to the requirements ("N"-demands) of the evolving meme-power-structures.
In other words: "we are biologically not made to be slaves of the modern power structures". Our innate tendencies and emotions ("P"-feelings) by definition do not fit modern society (power structures), and that produces stress. Therefore neurotization on a massive scale is a very usual standard trick of any successful modern meme-power-structure. That guarantees that the individuals, the carriers, will do their job, directed by all sorts of fears, even if at a lower individual level of useful output. It also guarantees that a chaos of motivational directions is prevented, for instance in a direction that would be more in line with what humans really like to do. Because that would imply going back to a pre-power-structure era, more 'natural' to human beings, but not what the power structure needs most ("N"-demands). Trough this strategy of mass neurotization the power structure 'owns' more obedient carriers and can outnumber competing power systems better and can easier multiply, itself as well as its carriers, which is what it is all about.
Point Omega: intelligence finally understanding itself
With these two additional notions in our hands, the blindness for the self and the neuroticizing rule of the meme-power-structures in charge, we can now tackle and explain much easier a number of intriguing questions that are left after digesting Kris Verburgh's exciting book. The result has led us to a total picture that is so complete on some crucial points, that it not only allows us to fully understand our present position, but also to predict our (near) future.
Looking at ourselves, we must say that it is in fact a highly peculiar state of affairs, that we humans are capable of travelling to the moon, of controlling nuclear power, of diving to the bottom of the deep seas, but that we are not capable of regulating our own behaviour, or even approach human behaviour in a somewhat intelligent way. We seem to know a lot more about nuclear physics and astronomy than about the very basics of our own mind and our daily behaviour. We are furthermore a conspicuously superstitious species. Our belief systems are utterly illogical and improbable, but nevertheless human beings stick to them like to some sort of strange addiction. From the above and from what is further explained on this Wiki, we now can understand why this is so. First of all we humans do have an innate tendency to not think intelligently about our own behaviour, nor about each other's behaviour. The evolutionary reason for that intelligence block is clear (see: Self Blindness and Social-role Blindness). The needs of the meme-power-structures ("N"-demands) subsequently push us humans in a direction that will maintain a sufficient level of fear and neurosis in its carriers, us humans.
Fairy tales and misconceptions relating to our own existence are therefore likely not to be corrected by cool and logic thinking because of the all pervading self blindness in the population. Thus the door is wide open to any made up story, religion or otherwise, that keeps its members in a state of meek slavery, defending and mollifying obedience to the systems in charge. A tendency for superstition of course enhances such tendencies. Therefore it is not very surprising that superstition is or has become such a striking characteristic of mankind. The recent evolution of mankind is therefore very much the evolution of and between competing meme-power-structures and as such a competition between fairy tales and superstitious meme sets that work best to keep the carriers, us, operating within their power system. This description of the state of affairs may seem rather cynical, but unless we start understanding its workings, we will never come to grips with it and we'll stay ignorant and unhappy slaves of the meme-level entities that are really in charge.
However, as soon as we have broken the veil of the all pervading blindness and ignorance ruling the human world, our possibilities will be unheard of indeed. After adding the above notions to the already very comprehensive, cool and clear total picture as painted by Kris Verburgh, we have a total view of our existence that will give us the opportunity to make choices that were never before within our reach. It is a natural tendency of us humans, and of any sentient being for that matter, to strive after happiness and to avoid pain. In fact, that striving is what makes us move, as it does in any animal. That implies that, once we see through the mechanisms of the blinding forces of the meme-power-structures ruling our lives, we can change direction together and regain our balance and happiness. That way we can return to the level of emotional balance and happiness that was the birthright of all sentient beings throughout history, throughout evolution. We are designed to experience pleasure, but also pain. But we were not originally designed to be in a practically continuous state of fear and stress, as has become our situation since the agricultural revolution. We can now return to "normal", claiming our primordial birthright to an emotionally balanced life. A life with pleasure and rapture, but also with sorrow and pain, but more or less in emotional (and motivational) balance and with the possiblity to develop into fully grown individuals, actualizing their full potential. The latter has been largely withheld from us since the power structures took over, some 10.000 years ago, and kept us trapped in mass neuroses and fearful obedience.
If the above considerations are correct, this misery is likely to come to an end shortly. What basically happens at that moment, is that intelligence finally comes to understand itself fully. We, the carriers of that intelligence, the carriers of the meme sets making this all possible, can now understand how intelligence, and any intelligence for that matter, evolves and what phases it has to go through in its evolution. We now find ourselves at the end of the phase of the organized slavery of the meme carriers (us) harbouring this intelligence. This will be the end of the supremacy of the impersonal meme-power-structures. The repressive, neuroticizing power structures will give way to novel power structures that do not lean that much any more on neuroticized human beings, but rather will lean on other mechanisms to make human beings cooperate with the system they are living in, allowing all individual carriers of those meme-sets to actualize to the full. The way that is experienced by the carriers (us) is a sense of 'freedom'. In the end, all emotional experiences are subject to habituation, but 'freedom' is the way human individuals will experience the transition into the new world. We are standing on the brink. We just need to choose direction, consciously. Once enough people have chosen direction, the rest will follow ever more rapidly and rapidly, because of its contagiousness, like an avalanche, like a nuclear chain reaction. In this case however, not a chain reaction of nuclear annihilation, but a chain reaction of awareness and liberation. Once the critical mass has been reached, it may happen very fast indeed. That is what is labeled as Point Omega.