Worldview versus religion.

An interesting story came out in The Journal of Religion and Society: "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies."

The author, Gregory S. Paul, posits the following in his introduction:
  • "That radically differing worldviews can have measurable impact upon societal conditions is plausible according to a number of mainstream researchers (Bainbridge; Barro; Barro and McCleary; Beeghley; Groeneman and Tobin; Huntington; Inglehart and Baker; Putman; Stark and Bainbridge).
  • Agreement with the hypothesis that belief in a creator is beneficial to societies is largely based on assumption, anecdotal accounts, and on studies of limited scope and quality restricted to one population (Benson .; Hummer .; Idler and Kasl; Stark and Bainbridge).
  • The twentieth century acted, for the first time in human history, as a vast Darwinian global societal experiment in which a wide variety of dramatically differing social-religious-political-economic systems competed with one another, with varying degrees of success. A quantitative cross-national analysis is feasible because a large body of survey and census data on rates of religiosity, secularization, and societal indicators has become available in the prosperous developed democracies including the United States."

The conclusions highlight the following points:
  • The United States' deep social problems are all the more disturbing because the nation enjoys exceptional per capita wealth among the major western nations (Barro and McCleary; Kasman; PEW; UN Development Programme, 2000, 2004).
  • Spending on health care is much higher as a portion of the GDP and per capita, by a factor of a third to two or more, than in any other developed democracy (UN Development Programme, 2000, 2004). The U.S. is therefore the least efficient western nation in terms of converting wealth into cultural and physical health. Understanding the reasons for this failure is urgent, and doing so requires considering the degree to which cause versus effect is responsible for the observed correlations between social conditions and religiosity versus secularism.
  • Pressing questions include the reasons, whether theistic or non-theistic, that the exceptionally wealthy U.S. is so inefficient that it is experiencing a much higher degree of societal distress than are less religious, less wealthy prosperous democracies.
  • Conversely, how do the latter achieve superior societal health while having little in the way of the religious values or institutions?
  • There is evidence that within the U.S. strong disparities in religious belief versus acceptance of evolution are correlated with similarly varying rates of societal dysfunction, the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west having markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms (Aral and Holmes; Beeghley, Doyle, 2002).

Gregory S. Paul then concludes:
"It is the responsibility of the research community to address controversial issues and provide the information that the citizens of democracies need to chart their future courses."
  • the data examined in this study demonstrates that only the more secular, pro-evolution democracies have, for the first time in history, come closest to achieving practical "cultures of life" that feature low rates of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex related dysfunction, and even abortion. The least theistic secular developed democracies such as Japan, France, and Scandinavia have been most successful in these regards.
  • The non-religious, pro-evolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator. The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.
  • Contradicting these conclusions requires demonstrating a positive link between theism and societal conditions in the first world with a similarly large body of data - a doubtful possibility in view of the observable trends.

I just discovered the following post If You're a Christian, Muslim or Jew - You are Wrong that illustrates the topic of this post. The comments are most interesting too.

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Science imaging + philosophy = my personal approach in creating visual signs.

My last posts were illustrating the kinds of images that will most profoundly impact on the formation of the future worldview that will be shared around the global village in the coming future zooming-in the micro levels of reality, zooming-out into the macro levels of reality and zooming in abstraction, the pure abstraction of mathematical models.

My basic thesis in ARTSENSE is that the forming of that future truly global worldview will form out of the interaction between these 3 forms of zoomings and... with philosophic wisdoms from around the world that will help us to see from a distance the reality described by these 3 different forms of zooming and also will help us to see ourselves in all of that.

This thesis forms the content of my book ARTSENSE that just came out of the presses. It is available here presently and shall be available within a few weeks on Amazon, Borders and other.

Here follow some of my visual signs that I give as a trial at illustrating the coming global worldview that I'm speaking about:

Transformation from order to chaos.

Expansion and opportunities: many potential roads are arising but only one will materialize.

One road materialzes: life in the form of a first cell.

Nature's urge for more complexity or the strategic principle of the transformation of reality

Competitive growth or the tactical principle of the transformation of reality.

Coming out of 6 months of writing.

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Science imaging: towards new patterns out of mathematical knowledge.

Our worldview is clearly being shaken under the impact of evolving scientific understanding but I think that more than scientific discoveries, the science images in direction of the infinite and those in the direction of the infinitesimal are having a more direct telling impact upon our psyche. Scientific discoveries remain rather abstract but eventually gain in visual strength at the contact of what we make out of those pictures from space and from the infinitesimal.
"Day by day, in a world beyond human vision, we explore fascinating forms and structures write the members of Eye of Science. Space imaging is thus going to directly impact upon humanity's conscience of the interconnectedness and interdependence of life on Earth with the Universe.

The Frenchman Mandelbrot became convinced that a common theme of structures runs through all of these real-world problems. In 1975 he coined the term fractal to describe these structures, and published his ideas in "Les objets fractals, forme, hasard et dimension" (translated into English as Fractals: form, chance and dimension in 1977). He emphasized the use of fractals as realistic and useful models of many natural phenomena and he held the view that fractals were, in many ways, more intuitive and natural than the artificially smooth objects of traditional Euclidean geometry.

Artists sized with enthusiasm on Mendelbrot's approach and they are churning images out of their programs at the speed of breads baked in industrial baking factories. The profusion of fractal images available on the net is simply astounding.
Notwithstanding the popularity of fractals and other pixel manipulation programs artists digital works are still not generally recognized as being art works by the managers and the bureaucracy of the arts. But it makes no doubt in my mind that digital techniques are nothing more than the 21st century brush and pencil of the Middle-Age painter so I do not see how digital techniques could be held at the margins of what is considered art for much longer.

The cultural reassessment of the visual arts, that is engendered today under the pressure of the exponential rise in scientific imaging, is pulling humanity to awaken at the dawn of what will be seen a few centuries from now as the greatest of renaissances, as the unification of humanity under the banner of "citizens for an earth humanity".

In the past tribes have been unified under the banner of Nations and then States today we see the day pointing when Nations and States shall be unified at the level of the earth. How should we coin this new reality of the citizenry of the world, the cells of Gaia?

Some usefull links:
URL: The Fractal Art Manifesto (by Kerry Mitchell)
URL: Fractal Art Contests
URL: Software tools
URL: Fractal links page by Paul Lee

Some fractals.

Rotating Swirls. By Michael Trott, published by Wolfram Research, Inc.

Surface of Revolution of a Logarithmic Spiral. By Sándor Kabai, published by Wolfram Research, Inc.

Inverted Array of Spheres. By Michael Trott, published by Wolfram Research, Inc.

Inverted Periodic Surface. By Michael Trott, published by Wolfram Research, Inc.

Harmageddon. Fractal of the Day by Jim Muth

Mask - Rumored to be a celeb going incognito.

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Science imaging: Towards the microcosm

Science gives us to see further than the first degree image that projects on our retinas and ... when it comes to seeing more, science holds a marvelous tool-chest of techniques. Science has indeed drastically demultiplied the potential of first degree images that our retinas can absorb. Basically science helps us enlarging our vision of reality in three directions:
  • towards the microscopic,
  • towards the macroscopic
  • towards the abstraction emerging out of mathematical formulas.

The visual imaging derived from scientific approaches is now transforming what has been our visual normality until very recently I mean this first degree image of reality projecting on our retina. It will gradually expands humanity's visual horizons towards the micro and macro infinites while giving us the tools that will allow us to dwell into the patterns of the real resulting from the non-ending changes that constitute the deep reality of our universe.

One thing is for sure we will more and more be inundated under visual signs and images that are not resulting directly from the direct projection of an "existing" on our retinas. I mean the proportion of images that are derived from environments not directly accessible to the human eye but made accessible through the intervention of some technological captioning device is become absolutely dominant and this will not go without dramatic consequences for the individuals and their societies.

It makes no doubt at all that such a multiplication of visual images of things that are so largely unknown today by the citizens of the world will have an incalculable impact upon the perception of reality and its understanding by future generations:
  • scientific imaging is bound to modify our perception of what reality is all about. Those images will be giving to all a visual innate understanding of aspects of reality that earlier were only accessible to highly educated and specialized people. Something as an innate basic understanding of the complexity of reality will be made possible from the systemic nature of our cosmos to the systemic nature of the microscopic.
  • scientific imaging will enlarge the scope of the visual forms and colors that are accepted by humans. Forms that were unknown earlier will gradually be "normalized" in the psyche of all on earth. This abundance and richness of forms and colors is bound to to have an immense effect on future visual representations in the arts and in design.
  • scientific imaging will enhance the sense that some "hard-wiring" must be at work deep inside the "mechanics" of change that, in the end, is resulting in the coating of reality under a surface layer made of patterns that are somehow giving us the harmony and rhythm of the lines forms colors and sounds found in our reality.

See here some examples about scientific imaging towards the microscopic. These are all images representing a snapshot of reality... albeit at a level that is inacessible to our naked eye. What is represented here is thus as much real as the face of a person represented in a portrait or a landscape brushed on a canvas.

1. From the "Microscopic Wood Anatomy of Central European species website". This site hosts a giant archive of high resolution images open to the public.

Radius section of Pinus Strobus L. White Pine

Radial section. Prunus armeniaca L. Stone Fruit: Apricot

2. From the site "Molecular expressions". The Molecular Expressions website features photo galleries that explore the fascinating world of optical microscopy offering one of the Web's largest collections of color photographs taken through an optical microscope (commonly referred to as "photo-micro-graphs").

Photomicrograph and digital image (photographs taken through an optical microscope) of the World's most famous beers: Budweiser (US).

Photomicrograph and digital image (photographs taken through an optical microscope) of the World's most famous beers: Busch (US).

Photomicrograph and digital image (photographs taken through an optical microscope) of the World's most famous beers: Becks (Germany)

Photomicrograph and digital image (photographs taken through an optical microscope) of the World's most famous beers: Fischer LaBelle Strasbourgeoise (France).

3. From "MicroAngela": a creation of Tina (Weatherby) Carvalho of the Biological Electron Microscope Facility, (BEMF), part of the Pacific Biomedical Research Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

This is a house fly, Musca domestica. The mouthparts of the fly (the proboscis) are complex structures specially adapted for sucking up fluids. Its head is about half centimeter across. Check now a zoom on its mouth...

Cuticle Around Insect Gland
Insects often have intricately sculptured cuticles. This fly had a pretty smooth exoskeleton, except for this area around a pheromone gland. Probably the cuticle has this shape to provide for more surface area for the hormone that is secreted to flow and then evaorate. Pheremones are used to attract the other gender of the same species for mating.

Insect Eye
Many insects have large compound eyes, made up of many six-sided compartments called ommatidia. Each ommatidium has a lens, a crystalline rod, and a collection of light-sensitive cells. Each ommatidium functions as a on/off and bright/dim detector. Insects with the best eyes can probably form a pretty good image, but they are best at detecting movement, for finding prey or for avoiding predators. Dragonflies may have as many as 36,000 ommatidia in each eye. Some insects, like bees and butterflies, can see colors well.

Over time the proliferation of images out of the treasure trove of scientific imaging will have a lasting impact on our perception of reality and thus also on the shaping of the future visual arts. The acceptance of scientific imaging will transform the knowledge behind it into a hegemonic culture and its values will be taken over as the common sense values of all. Thus a consensus culture will develop in which everybody will come to identify the knowledge of the men of knowledge with his own system of belief ...and the present-time culture sucker power-art triumvirate will not make his mea-culpa but will run to follow the worldview of the time.

The cultural reassessment of the visual arts, that is engendered today under the pressure of the exponential rise in scientific imaging, is pulling humanity to awaken at the dawn of what will be seen a few centuries from now as the greatest of renaissances, as the unification of humanity under the banner of "the citizenry of the earth".

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Science imaging: Towards the macrocosm

The 20th century visual art world has been characterized by trials and essays at surpassing the limitations artists felt landscapes and portraits, those first degree images that project on the retina, were imposing on their creations. Different schools of thought and style succeeded one another presenting an evolving landscape of the visual arts and eventually the adventure concluded with the death of painting around the 1980th when the art world lost complete conscience of its historical functionality at diffusing the visual signs of the worldview of the day.

Coinciding with the death of painting an imaging revolution was slowly put in motion in the world of science:

- in the underground of university laboratories scientists coupling lenses light and cameras were trying to render in visual images the infinitely small in biology chemistry physics in order to advance their knowledge. The visuals of the infinitely small were so surprising that they appealed to the artistic sensitivity of scientists and artists alike.

- space endeavors, pursued in the footsteps of earlier observations by astronomers, returned to earth a myriad of photographic images from the macrocosm going back in earlier times. The farther the distances the longer those images take to reach earth and it ensues thus that the farther the images have to travel the older will be the reality they represent.

- visual representations are behind our thinking mechanism, deriving the idea that natural phenomena were ordered according to recurring patterns, scientists developed mathematical formulas to give visual representations of such patterns. The visuals resulting from those formulas were so appealing that a scientific tool was born for artists to play with.

Check the following pictures, are they not worldview-changing?

Photographer/University of Wisconsin-Madison.
URL: UWMadison

Nasa astronomy picture of the ady: 2005 October 6
Spiral Galaxy NGC 1350
Credit: H. Boffin, H. Heyer, E.Janssen (ESO), FORS2, European Southern Observatory

Beautiful barred spiral galaxy NGC 613, a mere 65 million light-years away in the southern constellation Sculptor.
URL: Nasa astronomy picture of the day 2005 October 1

Staring across interstellar space, the alluring Cat's Eye nebula lies three thousand light-years from Earth.
URL: Nasa's astronomy picture of the day. 2005 September 24

URL: 2005 September 18
M42: Wisps of the Orion Nebula
Credit & Copyright: John P. Gleason
Explanation: The Great Nebula in Orion, an immense, nearby starbirth region, is probably the most famous of all astronomical nebulas.

In the same vain as those stills, please view the following videos of Nasa... they are simply stunning and brimming with truth.
entering into our galaxy
leaving our galaxy

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Some pictures of my exhibition at Vinciland Gallery in Beijing.

At the door of Vinciland Gallery.

With professor Sun of Beida University and Huo Xing a german businessman...

With my wife Sharon.

With Lao Wang a specialist of Chinese antiques and old paintings on the Chinese stock exchanges.

Four works about perception, the theory of complexity and the emergence of life. about the emergence of life.

Meditation is followed by the naming of things with signs and words

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Back from Beijing (2)

We landed in Beijing on September the 8th and went straight to the Vinciland Gallery that is located in Zone A of the East-End Art district of Beijing. What followed were really hectic days shared between family, visitors to the exhibition and professionals of the Chinese art and auction world.

What I retained from those days are lively discussions that somehow comforted me in thinking that I'm on the right track. Those of you who have been reading my posts with some regularity know by now my vision of art and more particularly of the visual arts. The discussions that I refer to were dwelling into the arcanes of that vision.
In sumary I think that art is nothing more than an illustration of reality, as it is perceived by the men of knowledge of the day, at the attention of all the members of society.

My idea that modern science somehow confirms the underlying principles espoused by Chinese traditional philosophy generally came as a total surprise for my Chinese friends. But their surprise fast transformed into interest. They never had thought indeed that modern science would one day come back confirming the axioms of their civilization.
From that point our discussions focused mostly on the intersection between the visions of scientists and the visions of philosophers, more particularly the visions of traditional Chinese philosophers.

Basically the Chinese understand that reality is not the image that our eyes are given to see but well a vast ensemble made of a complex set of factors interacting upon themselves that in finale power a chain of events precipitating change. As such they understand reality as the principle of change itself... Xieyi painting, for thousands of years, has been an exercise at rendering in visual terms the internal mechanism of the process of change particular to their subjects. But change was understood in abstract philosophical terms (civilizational axioms) while nowadays science allows to understand the physical realities that underpin those abstract principles. Herein lies, I believe, the essential differentiation with the past in terms of our present capability at understand reality.

As Xieyi painters needed to be well versed in philosophy modern painters do too, but they can not escape the necessity to be well versed also in science, for, out of science they exclude themselves from the worldview of the leading men of knowledge of the day, the scientists.
My Chinese friends generally came to agree with me, unfortunately, I can not say as much of my Western friends!

Keywords: art modern art art theory visual art power society