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Jonathan Tweet

That’s quite an interesting conundrum that the IBHA is facing. It doesn’t surprise me that a number of scientific people want to create a bright line between themselves and people who interpret Big History spiritually. A lot of what science does is challenge our intuitive expectations, so I can see them not wanting to open the door to BH ideas that are intuitively appealing but lack scientific rigor. As for “living systems,” that’s the sort  of intuitively appealing idea that scientists are often on guard against. Personally, I get all misty-eyed thinking of how natural selection has created systems of living organisms. Systems that weren’t created by natural selection shouldn’t be expected to be “alive” the way organisms are alive. Natural selection is unique because it creates meaning. Poetically, I can think of the universe as being alive, but literally living things got they way they are through natural selection, and there’s no natural selection driving the universe at large to do what living things do. I believe in science and poetry, so I can say scientifically that only evolving things are alive, and I can say poetically that the whole earth is alive. It’s easy to imagine scientists not wanting people to take poetic talk literally. To me, saying that the earth is literally alive the way an animal is alive, that robs natural selection of its unique power. I’d like to see the IBHA embrace spiritual perspectives. Maybe the distinction could be between science and art. Spiritual interpretations are artistic. Art moves the soul. I’d like to think that the IBHA would be open to people using the concepts of Big History to inspire people as well as inform them.