Place yourself in a completely empty space, pitch black; no indication of walls, ceilings, or floors.
Suddenly, a mass appears before you, somewhat cloudy, and vibrating to a resonance you can’t explain with words. You would never guess, but it’s a water molecule. Soon, another appears – they collide and seem to lock in orientation. More appear, streaming in from all sides and a structure begins to expand – at first only containing a few, then dozens, then hundreds, thousand.
Your vision zooms out as this continuous barrage of water molecules jet in to your view. You’ve zoomed out so far you lose the ability to distinguish individual water molecules. As time flows on, the structure grows still, perhaps now with millions of molecules, if not billions. Small patterns begin to form – a smooth edge here, a small spike there. An even longer duration of time and you find yourself completely in awe at the number of molecules that lay before you, a number larger than anything you’ve ever encountered before: thousands of billions, millions of billions.
Suddenly something amazing happens, what seems instantaneous and coordinated. The mass no longer is growing in a random pattern; the globular mass is gone and you see a hexagon taking form. “How?”, you wonder. The hexagon grows with its 6 sides jutting out and separating from one another, the structure is growing faster, and faster. Trillions of trillions of molecules, building off one another, at the smallest scale, seemingly random, yet here, behold in front of you, a crystal is forming It so ordered and so perfect, you cannot help but imagine something of magic.
Chaos Becomes Orderly
Fast forwarding in time, and zooming out to the scale of the human eye, we see a snowflake before us. 10^18 molecules have appeared, that is one million million million molecules. Imagine a chest with a million boxes in it, each box containing 1 million dollars. Now imagine owning 1 million chests.
How can we possibly explain what we have just witnessed? The emergence of order from seeming chaos – a crystalline snowflake forming which resembles nothing of the water molecules themselves! This ‘order from chaos’ is called emergence and is one of the most interesting phenomena in our universe.
Emergence is not exclusive to snowflakes, however; all of life itself seems to be an emergent property. The most complicated, complex object in the universe – the body and brain – are emergent. They have formed from a billion years of ‘crystallization’ of a chemical soup, most of which was carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen. We also see emergence in psychology and sociology. One of the current accepted definitions of consciousness itself is derived from emergence from our collective neurons. (Organized) religion, capitalism, and governments are also emergent phenomenon. Most paradigms dealing with more than a million people are emergent phenomena.
But the Illuminati may still elude you in this context. There is an order in our society, which, however, at its fundamental level seems to be chaotic. We have murders, rape, vandalism, and stealing as well as potlucks, charities, marathons, and homeless shelters existent in nearly every community, side by side. At the individual level we are chaotic – each person varying to a great degree from the next, be it in sexuality, creed, ideology, wealth, or personality. At the national level we see stability and order; laws are followed, jobs are done, appointments are made, roads are driven on, and cities are built.
At a young age, this seems ‘just how things are’ – the world seems to be ordered at the level of millions, regardless of how chaotic your neighborhood, school, or work can be. Upon maturing, however, many of us start to question this – how can things be so ordered? How can so many people be employed at nearly identical jobs, getting nearly identical pay rates, seeking the same dreams, and partaking in the same pleasures? How is it that the world turns without serious hiccups and bumps in our population? Even in war, there seems to be order and logic.
There is no fathoming a million chests each containing a million boxes each containing a million dollars. There is no fathoming how the miraculous crystal of a snowflake is formed from a random barrage of water molecules. It is not a far leap, then, that the brain cannot fathom the structure and evolution of society. Our society, our culture, our world is incredibly ordered. Shipments get shipped, money is exchanged, buildings are built, food is prepared, water is purified, energy is produced, clothing is created, education is taught, governments are run, wars are waged, peace is preached all continuously and simultaneously.
Are We Unique Snowflakes or Water Molecules?
One way of dealing with the phenomenal organization of the world is putting the order in the hands of a select few; an attempt to explain that this order of business, of money, of capitalism, is run by only a handful of people, when in actuality, those at the top may believe they are in control, just as much as those at the bottom preach “illuminati!” In reality, however, those people at the top are simply filling an inevitable space in our society. If they didn’t fill it, someone else would have, and as our paradigms shift, so will this ‘illuminati’, however physically relevant it may be.
The belief in the illuminati is identical in reason to the belief in magic forming a snowflake. The actual order and construction of society or a snowflake is impossible to comprehend, because it is dependent on millions of millions of interactions, decisions, choices, and ideas. Just as the order of a snowflake disappears at the level of the molecule, the order of our society disappears at the level of the individual (or even group of individuals). The paradigm that things are run by a handful of people is simply a mechanism for the mind to try to understand the emergent order of society and it’s populous.
As proteins, DNA, and other molecules randomly collide with the nutrients, poisons, and chemicals that make you function, your body quietly continues its conquest for order amid the chaos of this ocean of life. Evolution strives for the most ordered, efficient organism, within an infinite amount of variation and mutation. And, our society is contested and supported constantly, as we struggle to understand who is actually responsible for what. Yet it is no single person, group, or corporation – it is all of us, intertwined in a matrix of relationships, sweet or sour, quiet or loud; You are the illuminati, and you are a snowflake.