Dear Dr. Peterson, In your third lecture concerning the psychological significance of the Biblical stories, you stated some difficulty in resolving why the individual that voluntarily accepts suffering would be the same as the individual that is invited to participate in (and therefore may rise to the top of) any given competence hierarchy. I believe the theory presented here provides an answer while also reconciling some of the disagreements you have with Sam Harris. It additionally provides some ancillary insight into the symbolic representations of DNA, a subject for which I recall you having significant curiosity. Should this be of sufficient interest I would be delighted and honored to continue the conversation. I have included my contact information at the end of this brief essay. Thank you in advance for giving this a read. It is my sincere hope you find it compelling and thought provoking. Introductory Note To begin, there are two axioms forming the basis of this theory merging science and divinity. The first is wave function collapse, the second is the obvious yet unnamed force working against entropy. For sake of explanation, we will call that force the ordering principle. This paper will primarily discuss the interaction of these truths, how those interactions manifest in narrative and symbolic representation, and finally, the abiding ethic that is given rise by this interaction. A brief introductory portion will attempt to explain in layman’s terms what these fundamental principles technically are. The Ordering Principle: That Which Works Against Entropy If it was the case that entropy and the four forces were the only constants in the universe, it could not be that the universe began as an unorganized mass of quantum bits, existing neither in time nor space, and proceeded to form the being that we inhabit and generate today. The four forces do get us part of the way there. It is thanks to their interactions that the pre-cosmogonic chaos of unorganized quantum bits began to order itself into the first subatomic particles, that those particles began to order themselves into atoms, those atoms into molecules, and those molecules into the first protein-based molecular machines. Yet given strictly entropy and the four forces, we cannot begin to explain how or why the stable, repeatable patterns in which these molecular machines engaged became encoded into nucleotide structures, such that these patterns may continually persist. We are equally unable to explain why random yet precisely restrained mutation and variation was introduced into these nucleotide structures, such that a sliver of their iterations may persist through the chaos of an unpredictably changing environment. Clearly, there is something working against entropy, and something augmenting the four basic (yet precisely defined) forces of gravity, electromagnetism, and strong/weak nuclear interaction. This ordering progression moves from a more chaotic organization of particles to a less chaotic organization of particles, and from rudimentary patterns to patterns with increasingly meaningful complexity, all while increasing through various methods, primarily biological evolution, the effectiveness with which patterns can be recognized, controlled, and brought into being. This is evident in the increasing complexity and functional capability of life, eventually evolving into something as complex and adept at recognizing patterns as the human mind, which can even generate and recognize “true” patterns (what we call beauty) in music, artwork, and fiction.1 Basic observation therefore tells us that this meta-pattern exists, and to the extent that we can assume an empirically true meta-pattern says something empirically true about the nature or purpose of being, we can perhaps conclude that the generation of order and meaningful patterns (i.e., the generation of truth) is central to the purpose of existence. If such is the case, no doubt the human mind plays an integral role in advancing such a purpose. This particularly holds with respect to the next phenomenon discussed. On Wave Function Collapse (The Observer Effect) As early as 1801 physicist Thomas Young demonstrated that light behaves differently when it is observed versus when it is unobserved. Successors to his line of inquiry later ascertained that light only exists as a concrete particle, a photon, when it is observed, and that every photon has a defined linear trajectory and starting point only after the temporal act of observation. Outside of observation, light only exists as a wave function, with each unobserved photon existing as a super-positioned, theoretical probability, rather than any physical, true, reality. To date, this phenomenon of wave function collapse has been observed in experiments not just involving electrons and other subatomic particles, but also in experiments involving entire molecular structures. To physicists, the reality of wave function collapse suggested that even when light exits a distant star as a wave, the photons that constitute its observable light only come into being once we observe them here on Earth. Subsequent experiments found this to hold true. That indeed, it is the contemporaneous act of observation that places photons on their initial trajectory, even when the precise moment the photon exits a star precedes the act of observation by millions of years.2 Every temporal slice of observation by a concrete, physical observer thereby collapses a set of probabilistically super-positioned particles into a similarly concrete, physical reality. In effect, this entangles the quantum eigenstates of observed particles with the eigenstates of those particles under the observer’s dominion and control.3, 4 This entangling act of synchronization represents a one-to-one mapping between the observer and the observed; a mapping akin to the identity property underlying conceptual truth itself. Unsurprisingly, it is also this one-to-one entangling effect that gives rise to the generation of truth, and indeed, what we consider to be objectively true (that which we observe). Ordering Observer (The Interaction) If it is the case that matter is being progressively ordered, and that the capability of controlling, recognizing, and generating patterns within that matter becomes increasingly sophisticated, there is clearly a linear trajectory moving the evolution of the matter towards not only a maximally ordered state, but also a maximally ordered thing, one that is also maximally adept at controlling, recognizing, and generating stable patterns. This maximally ordered thing, whether existing as a singularity or not, and whether we can consider it sentient or not, no doubt still has the basic capacity of the observer; the same capacity possessed by humans as well as the universe’s most primitive lifeforms. 1 For a musical representation of the patterns iteratively generated by the ordering principle, from the nascent stage of pre-cosmogonic chaos to the birth of consciousness (and subsequently, The Fall into ego-fueled conflict), see Henryk Gorecki’s canonical Symphony No. 3, Op. 36: 1. Lento. I recommend the version performed by David Zinman and the London Sinfonietta. 2 You will recall this point from the second lecture in your Biblical series. As you likely know, the theory underlying this finding stems from a thought experiment conducted by John Wheeler in the 1990s; what he called Delayed Choice, choice referring to the wave or particle composition of interstellar photons. What you may not know is that his hypothesis was proven in 2017 using a 3,500 km ground to satellite interferometer. Vedovato, et al. Extending Wheeler’s delayed-choice experiment to space. Sci. Adv.3, e1701180; 2017 3 Relative extent of observer’s dominion and control based on the degree of biological evolution and selection enjoyed by observer up to that point in time. 4 An eigenstate is a defined value with respect to either a particle’s momentum or position in space and time. Here, at the point of observation particles achieve a fixed eigenstate with respect to their position in space and time. When comprised in a wave function, particles only have a fixed eigenstate with respect to their momentum, thereby making their positional eigenstates mere probabilities rather than particularized realities. If this maximally ordered thing similarly collapses the wave function through its act of observation, occurring at what we may consider the “end of time,” such an action clearly necessitates everything that preceded it; the same way the individual act of observing a star necessarily places a photon on its trajectory millions of years in the past. The maximally ordered thing’s act of observation assembles being on its necessary trajectory such that this inevitable maximally ordered observer may exist. It is therefore no wonder that the four forces were so precisely calibrated, that the atmospheric conditions of Earth were so carefully constituted to enable life. The maximally ordered observer functions as an absolute that both sufficiently and necessarily establishes these exact preconditions for its existence. It is its alpha act of observation that gives rise to the ordering principle compelling life to evolve and persist (despite monumental odds against such success) up to the maximally ordered thing’s point of specific observation. Imperative to the trajectory moving towards both a maximally ordered state and a maximally ordered observer is the primacy placed by the ordering principle on the generation of truth, as well as on the truth that is manifest in meaningful patterns. In this effort the human mind (or something approximating it) has thus far proved absolutely integral. This may also provide some explanation as to precisely why the Earth has a protective shield of asteroids, why atmospheric oxygen was just barely diffuse enough at abiogenesis to avoid planetary combustion, why the apex of reptilian life was brought to an abrupt halt only to make way for mammalian evolution, and finally why the human population, once numbering in the few thousands at its lowest point, still persists today despite every famine, war, plague, and cataclysm that has ever attempted to snuff out not just life, but as we can now understand with respect to the ordering observer, being itself. The Ordering Observer in Symbolic Representation The archetypal ouroboros discussed by Neuman in the first chapter of his Origins and History of Consciousness represents this paradoxical starting state of the maximally ordered thing and the universe it begins to observe and thereby manifest. Described quite literally as the beginning and the end (alpha and omega), Neuman ascribes this sometimes helical symbol to representations of creation at various points along the continuum of conscious reality. These include the point of initial creation (what we may consider the big bang), the point of abiogenesis, the point at which the first hominid attained consciousness, and the point at which the individual reading this text came into being. What is consistently true about all these points in time is that each of these represent a unique and novel point of observation, necessarily snapping into place everything that preceded it, in the precise orientation that necessarily preceded it.5 Specific observation by the omega maximally ordered observer, iterative generation by the ordering principle itself, as well as the process of wave function collapse more broadly, all take their symbolic form in the hero myth – the narrative of God slaying the Leviathan at the beginning of time, as well as that myth’s Mesopotamian (and likely far more ancient) precursors. The accuracy of this myth comes as no surprise. As you are well aware, the most fundamental patterns of being canonically repeat themselves progressively and concurrently at every level of analysis. Early lifeforms to whatever extent possible observed and modeled one another in the act of confronting chaos. At every instant of conscious existence, beyond merely collapsing the wave function, living beings are continually confronting intrinsic and extrinsic unknowns, and periodically integrating them into the ordered schema that we inhabit. Even sociologically, any time a border is made more permeable to the exchange of information, the ensuing chaos must be confronted and challenged by an ordering force before it can form a stable pattern that is absent destructive influence; a challenge we are facing on many fronts in the information age. The primacy of this myth even extends to DNA and the technological role it plays in creation. 5 Technically speaking this occurs at every single point of observation on the existential continuum. The primacy and utility of speech (and the integral role it plays in consciousness) may therefore serve as a harmonizing force between multiple observers all generating being at multiple points of observation. The Unique Role of DNA An individual’s interaction with being starts at the very point of conception. It is then that a unique encoded structure is injected into being. That encoded nucleotide structure represents an absolute singularity, one that exists at a solitary point in a truly infinite sea of possibilities within space and time.6 For such an encoded structure to exist, a monumentally complex series of interactions had to take place exactly as they did so that such a monumentally specific code could exist. Given the complexity and unlikelihood of these necessary interactions, each unique strand of DNA represents an individual maximally ordered observer up to that point in time. The process of creation and the ordering principle underlying it have made a determination as to what has worked so far, and thrust that code into the reality the code itself necessitates, such that it may be tested for its ability to continually generate truth and meaningful order. 7 It is both apt and telling that this code’s first acts of observation, its first acts of ordering chaos, occur within the womb of the maternal source symbolically representing chaos itself. Within the broader purposes of the ordering principle, each unique set of code is thereby tested against chaos; a necessarily exacting task, and one for which the chaos of suffering, and equally, the suffering of chaos, provide the ultimate incentives for movement forward. For this code to be deemed integral to the ongoing endeavor of creation, it is not sufficient that it merely survives in the presence of chaos; the code must additionally conquer chaos. It is the act of ordering chaos, embodying the hero myth specifically, that demonstrates the ultimate contribution to the creation of being. The ordering principle holds its ultimate objective as the generation of truth and meaning. Such a principle naturally gives rise to a selection process which holds characteristics grounded in truth as instrumental in the ongoing creation of being. We can begin to see why the thing that voluntarily accepts suffering and confronts chaos forthrightly is also the thing that can rise to the top of any given hierarchy. Characteristics foundationally integral to both these endeavors, courage and skill, can be accurately conceptualized as the embodiment of truth itself. 8 Individuals engage in acts of courage when they know what must be done, when they honestly and accurately appraise themselves as being capable of executing what must be done, and they then determine to act on these two criteria alone. Operating under a framework of courage, the risk of personal cost or harm does not serve as a confounding deterrent. Any fear prompted by such a risk does not motivate the dishonest manifestation of inaction when the actor is aware of both what must be done and the probability that they are capable of doing what must be done. Proceeding under this dutifully burdened awareness, success in the hierarchy then requires adept execution through the performance of the correct actions, i.e., those actions that synchronize accurately with demands and exigencies of the reality presented. Manifest in such an endeavor is a synchronization between the individual’s actions and the structure of being; a reflection of the same entangling synchronization present in the process of wave function collapse itself. Truth: The Abiding Ethic The human capacity to appreciate beauty stems from its affinity for pattern recognition, existing to carry out the same function as the ordering principle. It is the progression towards patterned complexity that underscore why the spirals of a conch as well as musical scales can both be modeled mathematically – both these phenomena find their basis in conceptual truth, and both also inspire among observers an appreciation of their beauty. Most notably, recent studies have also indicated the same parts of the human mind activate when confronted with physical beauty 6 Or, in functionally identical cybernetic space. 7 This insertion similarly occurs with respect to the abiogenic nucleotide structure, and considering the evolutionary process given rise by the ordering principle, it is likely that the maximally ordered observer is based on a similarly encoded nucleotide structure. Reflecting on the archetypal primacy of such a structure, it is possible though far from definite that the same mystical and dream-like mechanisms that have generated circular symbolic representations of the ouroboros as the beginning and the end have also generated their helical counterparts, those reflective of the meta-structure necessarily existing at the beginning and the end. 8 “Skill” in this case encompassing not just dexterity but also multi-dimensional competence or intelligence, which evolved thanks to a selection process that recognized the utility in divining truth through reason. as when confronted with acts of virtue9,10 – virtue simply being the embodiment of an ultimately stable (true) behavioral pattern. Humans perceive as virtuous the patterns of behavior demonstrably and most soundly synchronized with the contingencies of being. Generally, as one extends the period over which they are forecasting the consequences of their actions, their planned behavior will necessarily move from the expedient and functionally dishonest to virtuous and functionally honest. This is also why the answer to the postmodern dilemma is something approximating that which serves the most functional utility over the longest possible time horizon and in the most diverse set of scenarios. An ethic of such nature can only functionally be defined as true, as it hinges on an individual’s actions accurately synchronizing with the nature and exigencies of being. Predictably, the converse of such an ethic, the denial of reality as it is presented, coupled with Cain-like refusal to synchronize with its demands, produces the sort of resentment to which we can attribute some of humanity’s greatest atrocities; crimes against the “unfairness” of reality itself. Such a principle naturally finds an analog in biological evolution. The thing that persists over the longest period, say the conch shell, say bilateral symmetry, say the maximally ordered observer at the theoretical end of time, is that which represents something most closely approximating what is true. It is not a coincidence that these most stable patterns (even our conception of the maximally ordered observer) are also perceived as beautiful by the human mind. Even the golden rule, the most unambiguous basis for functional morality, is grounded in truth. If we’re honest with ourselves, we know how we want to be treated. Therefore, we know how people generally want to be treated. Treating others the same is therefore simply exercising the synchronization of one’s outward behavior with one’s knowledge of how they (and therefore others generally) want to be treated. The objectives of the ordering principle, whatever their specificity, are undeniably rooted in the creation of truth. This is also why every human virtue can find its basis in such a concept, and why despite efforts to the contrary (and there are many), truth, and its manifestations in beauty and meaning, ultimately prevail under the arc of human history. Still, your core message that we must remain acutely aware of the suffering attendant to being, while bearing it stoically as we confront chaos forthrightly, is a necessary component of this positive trajectory. It is purely by the grace of existence that humans, with all our acute sensitivities to the suffering inherent to being, at the very least also possess the capacity to appreciate the meaning and beauty manifest in the order we generate. Dr. Peterson, it is for sharing this core message and many other reasons that you have my sincerest gratitude. Not merely for the work that you do (or for reading this essay), but also for the profoundly positive impact you have had on my life, and the beauty and meaning that I’ve been able to generate within it thanks to your guiding wisdom. For the good of humanity, I hope and pray you remain in good health and positive spirit. With Respect, Admiration, and Gratitude, Hari V. Iyer email@example.com linkedin.com/in/hiyer1 571-215-1642 9 Cheng, Q., Wen, X., Ye, G. et al. Neural underpinnings of morality judgment and moral aesthetic judgment. Sci Rep 11, 18232 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-97782-7 10 Immordino-Yang, Mary & Sylvan, Lesley. (2010). Admiration for virtue: Neuroscientific perspectives on a motivating emotion. Contemporary Educational Psychology. 35. 110-115. 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2010.03.003.