Micah Redding — humanity, technology & the future

Scarcity vs. Abundance

I am troubled by the rise of the belief in the "closed system".

As I see it, the world and the universe are an "open system". We are not defined by a limited set of alternatives and resources available. We are not locked into a future of repetition. But this is what the "closed system" would have you believe.

I have seen it in economics: the theory that there are only a limited number of jobs available, and they must be distributed equitably.

I have seen it in people's opinions about children: "your family is taking up more than your share of space, aren't they?"

I have seen it in people's feelings about the earth: "if we use up all of the oil, our children will live in poverty."

This world-view ultimately leaves us bitter and selfish, because it forces us to see our lives as "us vs. them". If a rich person has money, I lack money. If I want food, I have to take it from someone else. If I want a job, you can't have one.

What this world-view lacks is perspective, and an understanding of where things come from.

Natural resources are NOT finite.
Wealth is NOT finite.
Space is NOT finite.

Does this seem to fly in the face of science? Consider money, as crass as that may be. Where does it come from?

As economists know, money is just a representation of value, and value comes from the natural world. We plant seeds (which come from the natural world), and we harvest food. Food = wealth. Food = money. We trade food to our neighbors, and our neighbors in turn give us the products that they have created from natural resources.

In this system, no one suffers due to another. When we trade, no one loses. Both win.

How do we increase our wealth? Work harder, producing more food? Or work more creatively, producing more food? Humanity has chosen the latter, using technology to get more and more out of less and less.

Thus our wealth is not limited by our natural resources, but by our creativity. Apply more creativity, and more wealth is available for all.

When we consider that the amount of the earth's resources that we are tapping don't extend more than a few miles down, and that our creativity is only beginning to be explored, and that the sky above us holds INFINITELY more resources than our earth does, we begin to realize that our world is anything but a closed system.

God created us to live in an abundant universe. He created the world to be an abundant place, and he created us to look beyond the earth and see the sky above, waiting for us to embrace it.

What this means to me is that the universe is literally an infinite store of resources for humanity. Most people would find the "literally infinite" part hard to swallow, so let's just accept that at the moment, it's practically infinite.

This means that we live in an open system, not a closed system. And it means that God, and the universe, is good.

Frank Spencer:

Hi Micah,<br/><br/>Well written! Of course, as you well know, modern Christian doctrine has promulgated the idea of a "closed system" almost more than any other domain of society. Responsible foresight demands that we open the door across disciplines for creative and innovative solutions to our apparent dilemmas. If we were thinking creatively and transformationally already, we wouldn't be addicted to oil in the first place. <br/><br/>Let us promote the idea of the "open system" in everything we do! In this way, we can even change the faith drivers that "closed" the Kingdom to those who would otherwise participate with God to create new and aspirational futures!<br/><br/>Frank

micah:

Frank,<br/><br/>Thanks for the comment. I agree, and things like oil shortages don't bother me because oil is a short-term solution to our long-term problem of needing energy to support human civilization.<br/><br/>The next moves in this area will take us away from relying on fragile supply chains, and move us towards a more abundance-based energy philosophy.<br/><br/>I would dare say that our pessimism and frightened clamoring (on both sides of the political spectrum) has blinded us to many solutions.<br/><br/>-micah