Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Kabbalah Nanotech Connection

Perhaps, TNTlog, it's best not to ridicule what you do not understand. Kabbalah and nanotechnology are more similar than you think. And, no, I'm not interested in Kabbalah because some celebrities have recently discovered it. I've been studying it most of my life -- not as a practitioner, but as an amateur student of religious history.

First, just to correct an error in the TNTlog post, Kabbalah is not a religion. It's a series of teachings within Judaism. And Madonna's rabbi is certainly not the first to see the incredible similarities between Kabbalah and science. The Big Bang was actually reasoned into existence by Kabbalists centuries before science "discovered" the event. When I first became interested in nanotechnology, I was amazed at some of the similarities, in thought and method, with Kabbalah.

Let me try to give you the blogger's digest version of an incredibly complicated philosophy and world view that has its roots in ancient Judaism. This, of course, is impossible, since many spend their entire lives trying to grasp it. So, I'll open with a story:

Abut four years ago, when I lived in New York, I traveled up Broadway to Yeshiva University to listen to a lecture by Temple Grandin. I have an autistic daughter, and so was intrigued by Grandin, who is autistic yet has achieved much as an inventor and agricultural scientist.

She told the audience of primarily rabbinical students that she believes the order that comes from chaos is proof of God. Her path to God is through science. She reasoned Him into existence – using the Second Law of Thermodynamics and Chaos Theory. It's a thoroughly logical way of arriving at a conclusion that defies logic.

Autistic people supposedly are dispassionate, think in pictures, and not existentially. Everything is ordered. The universe is autistic. It takes chaos, randomness, and obsessively places it in order, numbering everything "just so." Only a thoroughly logical mind can reason God into existence. Maybe that's why Einstein believed in God.

Maybe, too, that's why the most brilliant men of Medieval Jewry, shut out of any other profession in which their intellect could be used, spent what I used to think was a complete waste of mind power, reflecting on the minutia of Jewish law – taking the Torah and extrapolating a complex system of laws. Creating, codifying, obsessively ordering and numbering a spiritual system into a logical system.

But the smaller you get, the more you see the logic and order break down. The laws of physics seem to change. The smaller the size, the deeper the mystery and the more the orderly turns chaotic. It all meets on the nanoscale and below, where spirit/spirituality meets the individual components of organisms, where sand meets wave, where analog meets digital, where spirit meets matter.

The Kabbalah teaches that the universe was created perfect, yet then was blown to smithereens, its sparks of perfection scattered to the winds and hidden by husks that comprise today's reality. The duty of humankind is to gather the sparks back together.

This brings us to the line that was ridiculed on TNTlog as "twaddle."

    Nanotechnology ... is the technology of the future. Since science discovered the atom, and revealed its composition, scientists have been penetrating deeper and deeper into the functions of the proton, neutron and electron. The closer to the seed that these scientists get, the more they realize that its not about physical matter at all, but about energy. In other words, in the future, we will be able to reprogram ourselves, our bodies, and physical matter at the root level, but under one condition: that we must first care about the other person, before we think of ourselves."

Yes, I know, this particular "Kabbalist to the Stars" is probably selling a bit of spiritual snake oil, but that statement does get to the heart of the Kabbalah. The way you "gather sparks" -- perhaps metaphorically, perhaps physically -- is by leading a righteous life, by performing mitzvot, or good deeds and acts of charity. You do it by placing the needs of your fellow man or woman above your own.

That's how we zoom our scanning tunneling microscope from the "husks" of matter to its component atoms to an energetic "spark." This energy can be discovered, replicated and harnessed by science for any purpose at all. Yet these sparks can be used to repair the world only if they are in the hands of the righteous, the unselfish.

Yes, like a nanobot.

NanoBot Backgrounder
NanoKabbalah Consciousness
Nanotech and Tikkun
The Golems of our Era