Robert Gilman is an astrophysicist turned thinker. He founded The Context Institute with his wife in the 1970s, and has recently revitalised it. He calls himself a planetary midwife, aiming to ease the birthing of the new era of human culture, which has been on its way since the Renaissance.

The Foundation Stones Project

Spend time in nature and you will be in the company of the lesser beings, and you will meet the higher beings later in your sleep.

Consume chemicals in your food, surround yourself with wireless radiation, and stare at screens emitting blue light, and you will render yourself blind, deaf and dumb to the guidance of spiritual world.

Experience that blindness, deafness and dumbness, and you will experience lethargy, purposelessness, misery, despair and insanity.

Consciously control the technology that is a barrier between you and the spirit world and you will gain a new awareness: of the existence of your spiritual senses, of the loss that you experienced when they were numbed, of at last taking the place in the universe that was waiting for you.

And you will be Human in an entirely new and meaningful way.

The man who faces no temptation cannot claim to be good. The man who turns his back on temptation cannot claim to be strong. The man who welcomes temptation and overcomes it cannot be defeated.

There is a famous paradox from Zeno of Alea, in Ancient Greece, called the Dichotomy Paradox. It ‘proves’ that motion is impossible by pointing out that before you can arrive somewhere you have to get half way there, and then you have to cover half of the remaining distance, and half of the distance then remaining, and so on – thereby never actually reaching your destination. If you are familiar with infinite series you will know that by definition, according to mathematicians, the sum of 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/32… is 1, which means that you will arrive at your destination – although to me there has always been an infinitely small piece missing from that bit of maths. A sort of a priori requirement that we devise a system in which the answer is 1, because if it isn’t, our understanding of our world quickly falls to pieces. Who says there’s no need for faith in maths.

But that isn’t really what I wanted to write about today. I was thinking about the infernal muddle that scientists get themselves in when they try to answer seemingly simple questions, and for some reason it put me in mind of Zeno’s Paradox.

Suppose a scientist asks a question. He breaks the problem down into pieces, as every good scientist does, and sets up an experiment to try to find the answer to his question. But in the process he finds that he can’t answer the question until he has answered two new questions which he hadn’t realised needed answering. Attempting to answer these two new questions, he designs two new experiments. But now he finds himself with four unanswered questions – and the process continues, with 8, 16, 32, 64 and 128 questions to answer, at which point he calls for help. He trains new scientists and shares out the questions, but still, with every attempt to find answers the number of questions increases exponentially, until each of the new scientists is forced to train more scientists to work under them. And so eventually we have an infinite number of scientists, and yet the original question remains unanswered.

This illustration is perhaps just as contrary to our experience as Zeno’s Paradox (although far less elegant in it’s falsity); clearly science has answered quite a few questions over the years. But generation after generation of scientists are trained and set to work on exceptionally specific aspects of science, with very little idea of what is being studied in the lab next door, never mind in other fields – even though they are usually being studied in adjacent buildings on the same university campuses.

The original scientist who asked the original question died long ago. So is it time we started asking today’s scientists to step back from their work, and once again ask that first question?

Science has proclaimed to the world many times over the last few hundred years that “we’ve nearly solved it”, “we know almost all there is to know”, and that soon “nothing will be beyond the understanding of science”. But any scientist who’s being honest with you will say that it’s become apparent that there is no endpoint to scientific enquiry. Even an infinite number of pieces can still be divided by two (and yes, you can double¬†infinity, a rather fascinating idea which I remember being brushed under the carpet in first year calculus at university).

Of course the fact that there is no end to the process of enquiry doesn’t invalidate that process, but surely if you are on a path that has no end it would be wise to remember why you are walking that path – to shift your gaze to the horizon regularly, and see that the fragments of your enquiry are parts of one perfect whole, and that they only make sense in the context of that whole.

When zoos were invented, the animals were housed – and if born in captivity, raised – in artificial environments. They became mentally unstable, behaved abnormally, and died young.

As time went by, zookeepers realised that the only way to keep healthy and happy animals in captivity is to simulate their natural environment.

The same is now happening to children, and adults. Our environment is so far from being natural to a human that it is preventing normal development in children and causing real harm to all of us. We need to wake up to the fact that raising children on iPads and exposing them to nothing but artificial pictures and sounds must cause developmental problems and prevent them from reaching their potential as normal human beings.

I am interested in studying the effect of technology specifically on the development of vision and hearing, and how that then affects the development of the brain and the nervous system, and consequently behaviour and academic potential.

When Steiner looked ahead to the future that would become reality if humanity didn’t rise to the occasion and rediscover their spiritual selves last century, he saw a world of decadence and sexual depravity, including homosexuality.

This is of course happening. We are now seeing a move not just towards accepting (even admiring / aspiring to?) homosexuality, but also bisexuality, trans-gender identity…

But perhaps these are necessary steps, not necessarily signs of disaster.

Surely our spiritual selves don’t have gender? So surely if we are going to cast off our physical chains, one of the things that has to go is the binding of gender roles and relationships? Perhaps it is too big a step for humanity to cease to be bound by gender and simultaneously rise above sexuality completely. If that were the case, surely there would be an evolutionary step where we would still experience sexuality but not the strict gender roles – so it would be natural for gender lines to be blurred and new types of relationships to form.

It’s hard enough for me to conceive of the idea that what we are witnessing around us could be called spiritual progress. So I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if Steiner had felt the same but even more strongly, and misinterpreted his insight!

The gender divide was first breached after World War One with the emancipation of women, when they started working and wearing men’s clothes because their dresses were impractical. What a shock to a 1920s family to see their daughter wearing trousers! In the sixties men started wearing more feminine clothes too, but they stopped in the eighties. Perhaps when they reached a certain age and discovered that they wanted power in their jobs and their families and re asserted their masculine dominance.

Now, so many young men have no need to demonstrate masculinity to further a career – there are no careers for them – so perhaps that is ‘freeing’ them to allow the gender barrier to break down a bit more. Of course this is all unconscious, but surely the deeds of the unconscious masses are like an indicator paper.

I think I will see the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender ‘movement’ in a different light now, and try to better understand it and what it signifies for humanity.