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Omega point

Omega point is a term invented by French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin to describe the maximum level of complexity and consciousness to which the universe seems to be evolving. Teilhard postulates that Omega Point bears the resemblance of the Christian Logos; Christ, who draws all things into himself. In this theory, the universe is constantly developing towards higher levels of material complexity and consciousness, a theory of evolution that Teilhard calls the Law of Complexity/Consciousness. For Teilhard, the universe can only move in the direction of more complexity and consciousness if it is being drawn by a supreme point of complexity and consciousness. Thus Teilhard postulates the "Omega Point" as the supreme point of complexity and consciousness, which is not only as the term of the evolutionary process, but the actual cause for the universe to move in the direction of complexity and consciousness. In other words, Omega Point exists as supremely complex and conscious, independent of the evolving universe. I.e. Omega Point is transcendent. In interpreting the universe this way, Teilhard kept Omega Point within the orthodox views of the Christian God, who is transcendent (independent) of his creation.

For Teilhard, Omega Point is the Logos, or Jesus Christ: who is "God from God", "Light from Light", "True God from true God" and it is "through him all things were made."

Five Attributes of the Omega Point

In The Phenomenon of Man, Teilhard de Chardin describes the following five attributes of the Omega Point:

  • it must be already existing;
    this is the only way to explain the rise of the universe towards higher stages of consciousness.
  • it must be personal – an intellectual being and not an abstract idea;
    the complexification of matter has not only led to higher forms of consciousness, but accordingly to more personalization, of which human-beings are the highest attained form of this 'personalization' of the universe. They are completely individualized, free centers of operation. It is in this way that man is said to be made in the image of God, who is the highest form of personality. He expressly states that in the Omega Point, when the universe is made One by unification, human persons will not be suppressed, but super-personalized. Personality will be infinitely enriched. This is because Omega Point unites creation, and the more it unites, the more the universe complexifies and rises in consciousness. Thus, as God creates the universe evolves towards higher forms of complexity, consciousness, and finally with humans, personality, because God, who is drawing the universe towards him, is a Person.
  • it must be transcendent;
    Omega Point cannot be the result of the universe's final complexification of itself on consciousness. Omega Point, instead, must exist even before the universe's evolution, because Omega Point is responsible for the rise of the universe towards more complexity, consciousness and personality. Which essentially means, that Omega Point is outside the framework in which the universe rises, because it is by the magnetic pull of the Omega Point that the universe evolves towards Him.
  • it must be autonomous – free from the limitations of space (nonlocality) and time (atemporality);
  • it must be irreversible, that is it must be attainable.

Garcia's ever-increasing creativity

In 1971, John David Garcia expanded on Teilhard's Omega Point idea. In particular, he stressed that even more than the increase of intelligence, the constant increase of ethics is essential for humankind to reach the Omega Point. He applied the term creativity to the combination of intelligence and ethics and announced that increasing creativity is the correct and proper goal of human life. He specifically rejected increasing happiness as a proper ultimate goal: when faced with a choice between increasing creativity and increasing happiness, a person ought to choose creativity, he wrote.

Tiplerian Omega Point

Omega Point is a term used by the mathematical physicist Prof. Frank J. Tipler to describe what he maintains is a physically required cosmological scenario in the far future of the universe. According to his Omega Point Theory, as the universe comes to an end in a specific kind of Big Crunch, the computational capacity of the universe will be accelerating exponentially faster than time runs out. In principle, a simulation run on this universal computer can thus continue forever in its own terms, even though the universe the computer is in lasts only a finite time. The Omega Point Theory requires that the universe eventually contract, and that there be intelligent civilizations in existence at the appropriate time to exploit the computational capacity of such an environment.

Prof. Tipler identifies the final singularity of this asymptotic state of infinite information capacity with God. According to Prof. Tipler and Prof. David Deutsch, the implication of this theory for present-day humans is that this ultimate cosmic computer will be able to resurrect (via emulation) everyone who has ever lived, by recreating emulations of all possible quantum brain states within the master simulation (though it should be noted Prof. Deutsch agrees about the technical possibility of this 'resurrection', not that there would be motive for the Omega point consciousness to perform it). This will be manifested as a simulated reality. From the perspective of the simulated inhabitants, the Omega Point represents an infinite-duration afterlife, which could take any imaginable form due to its virtual nature.

Prof. Tipler's Omega Point Theory is predicated on an eventual Big Crunch, thought by some to be an unlikely scenario by virtue of a number of recent astronomical observations. Tipler has recently amended his views to accommodate an accelerating universe due to a positive cosmological constant. He proposes baryon tunneling as a means of propelling interstellar spacecraft. If the baryons in the universe were to be annihilated by this process, then this would force the Higgs field toward its absolute vacuum, cancelling the positive cosmological constant, stopping the acceleration, and allowing the universe to collapse into the Omega Point.

Omega point as a reference for technological singularity

Some transhumanists argue on the basis of the accelerating technological development inherent in The Law of Accelerating Returns, that within 4 years into the future (around 2012)we will arrive at what Vernor Vinge called a technological singularity or "prediction wall" in which humans will be semi-aware components of a computerised social structure of such complexity that no one person or group of persons can understand more than a tiny fraction of the whole. They believe we will soon enter a time in which we must eventually make the transition to a "runaway positive feedback loop" in high-level autonomous machine computation. The result is that our technological and computational tools eventually completely surpass human capacities. While some transhumanist literature refer to this moment as Omega point in reference to Teilhard's concept, the idea of an Omega point reached by technological means was not present in the work of the author. Instead, this moment is often referred to simply as "The Singularity," as in the work of Ray Kurzweil.

Omega point in popular culture

In science fiction novels

  • In the Isaac Asimov short-story "The Last Question", Humanity merges its collective consciousness with its own creation: an all-powerful cosmic computer. The resulting intelligence contemplates the cyclic nature of the universe, ending with a twist.
  • In Childhood's End, a novel by Arthur C. Clarke, the destiny of humanity - as well as most of the other intelligent species in the universe - seems to merge with an overall cosmic intelligence.
  • In Dan Simmons's Hyperion Cantos, the Omega Point was used extensively. The catholic priest character Father Hoyt/Duré who is introduced to the story frame as one of the pilgrims in the first two volumes of the tetralogy (Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion) eventually becomes Pope Teilhard I.
  • In Darwinia, a novel by Robert Charles Wilson, after a mysterious event in the first decade of the twentieth century transforms Europe into an immeasurably strange place, full of hitherto unknown flora and fauna, it is revealed at the very end that the entire story is a tiny part of a virtual war inside what is effectively an Omega Point metacomputer at the end of time.
  • In the first part of Poul Anderson's novel Harvest of Stars, North America is ruled by the Avantists, an oppressive pseudo-religious regime that draws its justification from a commitment to take humanity to what they call the Omega Point. It uses the Greek infinity symbol as a logo, and it is deemed politically correct to greet each other with "alpha," to which the reply is "omega." However, since the Avantist Advisory Synod believes in social engineering and technical progress as the means to advance humanity, its teachings are in fact transhumanist.
  • In Tomorrow and Tomorrow, a novel by Charles Sheffield, the main character Drake Merlin is on a quest to cure his dying wife. He has her frozen and then freezes himself to hope the future holds the cure. Eventually, he finds that the only hope to having her back is to wait out the aeons until the Omega Point, at which time she will again be accessible.
  • George Zebrowski wrote a trilogy of space opera novellas, collectively called The Omega Point Trilogy and published as a single volume in 1983. The name appears to be a coincidence; it predates Tipler by many years and does not involve any of the Omega Point ideas listed above.
  • In a science fiction novel of Humayun Ahmed named Omega Point, Omega point does a research on Ref by making him living in two different times simultaneously. He, in one time period, is working with the theory of time, which is about to fail. To make him successful Omega Point sends him back in time to get married so that his descendant would be able to continue his research.
  • Stephen Baxter writes about the Omega Point in many books including manifold: Time.

In other novels

In games

  • In the fictional Chronicles Of Fate game universe , the primary god of goodness, Josh, derives his 'divine' power from a set-up that one would describe as an Omega Point - his mind is distributed into the fabric of spacetime itself within the galaxies his empire controls, and he can alter matter, energy, and the laws of physics in any way he wishes there. He's able to expand his sphere of divinity when his armies place giant, arcanely technological monoliths called Worldstandards on new planets, which act as signal amplifiers to extend his pattern further into space and time.
  • In the shooter game Final Fantasy VII Dirge of Cerberus, the main villain actually becomes the Omega Point by sacrificing millions of people, and is called Omega.

In music

  • The musical band Mr. Bungle references the Omega Point in the song "None of Them Knew They Were Robots" on the album "California."
  • Apollo 440 wrote a song called "Omega Point" for their debut album Millennium Fever, in which Dr. Karl Leiker of 'Church of Exude the Phenomenon' recites a quote from Barrow and Tipler's The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, pg. 676: "At the instant the Omega Point is reached, life will have gained control of all matter and forces not only in a single universe, but in all universes whose existence is logically possible; life will have spread into all spatial regions in all universes which could logically exist, and will have stored an infinite amount of information, including all bits of knowledge which it is logically possible to know."
  • Terence McKenna's monologue on The Shamen's Re:Evolution refers to the Omega point as an inevitability: "Human history represents such a radical break with the natural systems of biological organisation that preceded it that it must be the response to a kind of attractor or dwell point that lies ahead in the temporal dimension."
  • The Omega Point is referenced in the song Love On Haight Street on BT's third album Movement in Still Life.
  • Marilyn Manson's Mechanical Animals, which contains motifs of Posthumanism and transhumanism, also contains references to Omega Point, as can be deduced from lyrics and imagery of the Omega symbol. Furthermore, the main character of the concept album is named "Omega".
  • The Omega Point is the main influence for the name of a band from Argentina called Punto Omega.
  • "Omega Point" is a song by Cephalic Carnage on their album Xenosapien.

Movies and comic strips

  • There is a Dilbert comic strip in which Dogbert postulates that since everything develops from simpler forms to more complex forms, a supreme being must be our future, not our origin. His idea is that God must be the entity that will be formed when enough people are connected by the Internet.
  • In the Neon Genesis Evangelion movie End of Evangelion, which ends the story, the Human Instrumentality Project, which aims to merge all human souls (in the form of LCL) into a single mind, as a final step on evolution, is largely influenced by this theory.
  • In Eureka Seven, a similar theory called the Limit of Life exists. In the Limit of Life, the Scub Coral, an omnipotent being, must not awaken while it shares space with humans or it will collapse the Earth and the space around it in a singularity of consciousness.
  • The BotCon 2000 comic, "Reaching the Omega Point", references "Omega Point" as place where points in time, and planes of reality mesh.

See also

References

  • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, 1950. The Future of Man.
  • -----, 1955. Le Phénomène Humain (The Human Phenomenon) (1955)
  • Frank J. Tipler, 1986, "Cosmological Limits on Computation," International Journal of Theoretical Physics 25: 617-61.
  • -----, 1994. The Physics of Immortality. Doubleday.

External links

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