by Dr. Yitzhak I. Hayutman,
Cybernetician and Urban Planner,
Dean of Research & Development,
The Academy of Jerusalem.

This paper appeared originally in Hebrew in Mudaut (Consciouseness) Number 29, June 1988.


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This paper presents the Biblical story of the formation of Adam as the appropriate myth for our times, the age of scientific and technological development, of the population explosion, of the urbanization of humankind, when urbanization is changing the face of the earth, and a time where the whole global ecology is likely to change due to human intervention. The meaning of "appropriate myth" is to present the great wisdom inherent in the Biblical story, wisdom which can guide humankind facing hard decisions.

The conventional claim, in view of the great changes of our time, is that the Biblical story is obviousely irrelevant to our times and that we no longer need myths since our lives are guided nowadays by scientific truths. Scientific geology, for instance, shows that the age of the universe is many billions of years and even life on earth are about three and a half billions of years old.

In Darwin's time there where public trials about this issue, and even nowadays the US courts are sometimes called to decide which version of the creation of the world should be taught in scholls, the evolutionist or the creationist. Tp my mind, the debate and criticism are irrelevant because they are based on the most simplistic notions of the concept of Time, World, and Humankind, whereas these concepts in the (Hebrew) Biblical story. especially as understood and interpreted in the Jewish tradition of the Midrash and the Kabbalah, are far more sophisticated than those of the disputants from both camps. I shall try to present these three concepts as they are implied from the Jewish tradition in light of the knowledge and reality of our time.

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1. TIME:

One of the superstitions that were adopted as aid for scientific development since "the Enlightenement" and persists almost to the present is that there exists uniform and unidirectional time, from an (almost) infinite past to an infinite future in which the present moment is just an infinitsimal marking point. Research in the history of ideas shows that this type of time is a fairly recent invention and that during most of human history there were other notions of time. Also modern philosophy (e.g. Bergson's) knows much more complex and rich concepts of time. I shall present just one example of the folly of the prevalent concept: Let's say that I want to be "really scientific" and characterise the present instant, I shall thus not say that the year is 1992 for the birth of Jesus (a wrong account in any event) or that it is "tashnab" (or 5752 years) to the account of creation (see below) but, say, that it is the 9,375,192,708th year since "the Big Bang". This account will be absurd not only because it is not possible to give a yearly precision to this hypothetical event, whereas human needs require precision of years, days and minutes - but even because the age of this "Big Bang" is in fact function of the conventional human accounting. This event was "discovered" in a certain year. In the 70's, the age of this event was a certain number of billions of years, whereas almost each year of further astronomic observations adds quite a few millions of years to its age. Thus he who wants to be precise about the age of the universe should relate to "the age of the universe in 1960" versus "the age of the universe in 1980", and the difference will amount to billions of years. One can make many more additions to this paradox.

Logically, the physical universe could not have formed dozens of billions of "years" (Hebrew "shanim") ago, from the simple reason that our "year" (shana) is derived from the circling of the earth around the sun, so that no such "years" existed before the sun and earth were formed and the latter's movement stabilized. It is thus possibile to immediately deduct about 2/3 of the purpurted period because of this inner contradiction. If we go on to examine the terms logically, we shall observe that "year" (shana) is a human term which is indeed connected to the circulation of the earth around the sun, but even more with the human proclivity to count one's own years by this natural clock. Animals surely do not count their age, and human counting is an evidence to our seld- consciouseness as persistent entity in spite of one's development and changes as well as awareness of death - of one's personal death and the possibility of the death of one's reference group, the tribe, the culture or even all humankind.

Counted time is a human invention which happened in a specific time. Was there time before time was invented? The force of habit and the routine of thought will claim that there obviousely was. I can only ask the reader to repeat asking this seemingly simple question, like a Zen koan, untill (s)he finds, probably with a sense of wonder and even enlightenement - that something basic has changed in his/her mind. If you have never thought about this paradox before, it is fairly certain that this enlightenment will not come at once and that the question may seem ridiculous at first - but I plead with you to repeat and ask untill that new view comes.

And when the answer comes, another thing will be realized - that it took time to wander out in questions and to return with an answer. The acquisition of understanding required time, time of effort and wonder. This type of time - connected with question and answer and acquisition of understanding, in other words with development, is an essentially different time from the cyclical time of the yearly seasons or of birth and death of exemplars.

Over the generations, hundreds and thousands of systems of counting history were used, be they based on thesome cosmological cyclical system or on an historical consciouseness of some event since which, according to the particular teaching, another kind of human history begins. The great cosmic cycles are bound to lead to despair. The Indian count of Brahma Yugas, for example, is of billions of years, much like the current scientistic account. The result is a pessimistic and fatalistic cosmology which does not indicate a place, time, or reason for human advancement in the world, and the only hope is of a liberation from the world - Nirvana.

More optimistic system, like of the "Christian and the Moslem calendar are also disappointing: was the world really already saved some two thousands years ago, as the Christian dogma claims? or does each year since Mohamad left his birth place and his father's house, over forteen centuries ago, in order to propagate the message of Allah, increase the pride of Islam and its hope for a better world? While the 75th anniversary celebrations to the October Revolution certainly showed every observant person that this was an obsolete system with no message for humankind. In addition to the administrative need to mark the date of documents, there is a cultural ned for a counting system that gives meaning to the time we live in; and as I shall try to show, it is "davka" the particular system used officially in the State of Israel which is meaningful and appropriate - even for all humankind.

The Hebrew calendar which is used in Israel assumes that almost six thousand years ago happened some event - which we call "the creation of the world" - since which it makes sense to make an account of history. The most basic event from which it is possible to count history is, as hinted above, the very "invention of time". It is only from the moment that time exists that it is also possible to creat history. So, when were history and time invented? As I see it, they begin only when human consciousness is faced with the crucial question which is: what is the meaning and what is the purpose of human existence?

In order for this question to be raised and asked, several pre-requisits are needed. There is a need for consciousness of:

1. Personal death (but this is something which Neandarthal man apparently had and perhaps even some animals have).
2. Belonging to humankind, or at least to an inclusive culture.
3. Possibility of demise of this culture.

For these, there is a need for a memory which is beyond individual human life. There is a need for a system of script that endures. My claim, to which I shall return later, is that the important type of inscription that humanity does upon the earth is in building houses and cities. People who have built their city with a great pride, and so in it a proof of their own greatness, but then suddenly found remnants of former cities about which no memory endured, these people could have raised the question of the meaning and purpose of collective human endeavor, namely of history.

If we accept this script we take the initiaton of historic consciouseness to be the time that cities were built, or rather since cities were built and became ruins were forgotten and then rebuilt. The ancient Jericho, for example, was built about 9000 "years" ago, and got ruined and rebuilt several times. By this historic calendar we can regard as "history" a period of several thousands of years, whereas the periods preceding it would be labelled "prehistory". This has indeed been the accepted concepts for several hundreds of years, and also corresponds to the Hebrew account (and is probably derived from it). It seems that the Biblical story of creation has echoes of this change and is not a mere repetition of the Acadian and Babilonian creation myths. It is told, for example, about Cain that he built a city, and later, according to the Book of Genesis humankind was wiped from the face of the earth (in the flood) and soon after this united again to build a city and a tower, event which even the Lord of the universe deemed significant. It is worth, therefore, to regard the Biblical concept of the process of the creation of a world, namely a concept which is already several thousands years old and to reach a better understanding of the meaning of that "world" which was created then and how it changes throughout history.

The story of Genesis, if we observe it carefully, is not "the Story of the Creation of the World", because the word "world" does not appear in it at all. There are there two stories, parallel and seemingly contradictory, and three distinct processes: Creation, Formation and Making, these are different processes which are not neccessarily parallel as regard execution and timing. (A person who executes, i.e. writes a paper today, executes something which might have formed in his mind during years of thinking, which in turn is done on the basis of a nervous system which evolved during millions of "years". Similar arguments abound in the Kabbalah, which regards Creation, Formation and Making as completely different accounts).

The first of the two stories emphasises the issue of "the six days" - an orderly progression which leads to the creation of a creature called "Adam". In the second story that "Adam" is already acting and creating and his action is a consition for the Good and the Evil and to the fertility of the living earth - the Adama.

The concept of world is called in Hebrew "Olam" and appears with the Jewish sages of the second Temple period, and they distinguish between two types of olam: Olam Haze (This World) versus Olam Haba (Coming World - see below). The world-olam which has formed a few thousands of years ago is, apparently, Olam Haze - This World - which is bound to pass, to be replaced by Olam Haba - the Coming World. The meaning of history, according to out sages of blessed memory, is the passage from another kind of Olam-world.

Judaism invests huge efforts in fixing the characteristics of Olam Haba witin Olam Haze. The Shabbat (Sabbath), for example, is considered as "one in sixty of Olam Haba" already within Olam Haze, and the technology used to advance Olam Haba is known as "Halakha" or "Talmud". Tractate Sanhedrin in the Talmud deals with rules of government within Olam Haze and it finishes, as it logically should, with the question of what is the duration of these arrangements, namely, what is the duration of Olam Haze. The answer (Tr. Sanhedrin 97, p.1) is that this Olam endures for six thousand years and is divided into three periods: Two thausand years of "Tohu, chaos or wonder (until Abraham who recognized the Creator and came with an answer to the wonder), Two thousand years of Torah (until the fixing of the Mishna, c. 3rd century CE) and two thausand years the days of the Messiah (from the Misna till the end of Olam Haze).

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What, then, ins this historic world in which we live and which began, according to our sages, about 5750 years ago and which is bound to pass within two hundred and fifty years at most? I sall try to explain its characteristics from its literal meaning and from the philosophical inquiry of the former generation - the theories of Franz Rosenzweig and Martin Buber, distinguished European pilosophers who were, however, steeped in the Jewish tradition.

"Olam" (ٍضمه) is a word derived from the root "A.L.M" (ٍمه), and a sister word to "Ta'aluma" (mystery). The primal stuff from whic the world was created, formed or made is hiden (ne'elam) from us. The great mystery, as was already argued, is the meaning and purpose of human existence. History is the chronicle of the attempts to solve this mystery. When the mystery is solved, also history will end; or, as we formulated it above, This world - Olam Haze - will pass and Olam haba will come or be in effect.

Rosenzweig's Magnum Opus. "The Star of Redemption", presents the Hebrew cosmological scheme in philosophical terms. There is a former world "protocosmos" and there is a future world, that we know not what will its characteristics be, and we live in the cosmic middle age which is, in Jewish tradition, Olam Haze. Rosenzweig describes the transition between the protocosmos and the prevailing cosmos in cultural and psychological criteria, and gives a reasonable image of the future world and of the endeavour to realize it, which he regards as the purpose of Jewish existence{1}

The books of Martin Buber, and especially his seminal work "I-and-Thou", allow us, it seems to me, to distinguish with better precision between Olam Haze and Olam Haba, using criteria which are meaningful to the individual and communal life of any educated reader, be (s)he Christian or Jew, religious or secular or even an agnostic.

In his "I-and-Thou", Buber distinguishes between two types of human existence which are characterised by two kinds of relationship: "I-Thou" and "I-It". Taking exception to the way Buber's originally German book was translated to Hebrew, I propose that what he calls "it" is what is in Biblical and Modern Hebrew "Ze" to denote "that", and denotes a form of distancing and alienation. From the alienated relationship between self and other or self and environment grows an alienated world. It is possible to point at different types of alienation, and they seem to multiply. Buber was concerned both with alienation between people and the alienation between humans and God, which is, of course, the alienation that concerned the author of Genesis and our sages of blessed memory. "Olam Haze" is precisely that world of alienation from God and from nature, a world where God is hidden. I figure that Buber's greatness and the relevance of is teachings to our time is that he has shown that the other relationsip, the relationship of direct acceptance, a relation of "I-Thou" is essentially no different to different objects and is the same relation to another person, to the world of animals and of plants and also to God who is, in essence, "the Eternal Thou".

It is common nowadays to think that alienation is a phenomenon which keeps growing in the present "modern" period, and that in the past people lived in greater amity and mutual belonging. Buber thinks so, as well as the classical sociologists who studied alienation (such as Durkhein, Weber and Marx). In my humble opinion this is not neccessarily so. There exist, for example, alienation between humans and nature which manifests in environmental destruction, and there were past cultures which have degraded their environment more than our culture did (the Roman empire and the Atztec kingdoms for example). Since I regard the God of Israel as the Lord of the universe, I find significance also in the fact that the recognition of the Lord increases through the march of history (since also Islam and a great portion of Christianity believes in essentialy the same One Deity), even though the personal and direct relating is possibly weakening. The most crucial question is perhaps the amount of alienation in inter-human relation and the recognotion of each person as a brother and a "thou". (Many traditional societies which might had an extremely strong inner solidarity probably did not recognize the native of the next village or next valley as a human identical to themselves and certainly not the native of another continent with a different skin color). The real test, in my opinion, to the emergence from the "Olam Haze" state of alienation to "Olam Haba"(world to come) is that each human being receives any other one as "welcome".

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The weakness of most utopias and ideologies is that it is easy for them to describe and analyze the shortcomings of this world, but it is difficult to describe the alternative, which is not a simple theoretical and schematic reversal of the faults. Such a description is not very convincing as a theoretical construct and generally fails in attempts to realize it. The deliniation of "Olam Haba" presented here perhaps allows the setting of a more clear and convincing alternative. It is true that the legends of the sages about Olam Haba and even the prophets' descriptions of the end of days, as exciting as they might be, are not so convincing for the contemporary reader. But it is the very basic quality of Olam Haba - precisely that it is the world of the Coming, of that which is palpably present in front of you and is acknowledged, of that which is not alien; it is this quality which is so concrete ("mamash") - this is the very quality of concretness. All the Biblical visions about the end of days are derived from prophecy and revelation, and the phenomena of revelation is the very thing, I believe, which characterized Olam Haba. The revelation of God to humans, the revelation of self to other, namely human intimacy, bodily and spiritual. And a revelation which characterises the revelational system of Olam Haba is, as I see it, the revelation of Adamah to Adam, after the later has possibly already forgotten her existence.

Revelation means the possibility of good and profound communication on the basis of interpersonal and intercultural understanding. It feels stronger than the ongoing routine acquaintance, which lacks the thrill of revelation. Understanding is the reaching of the recognition of the similarity and unity which is beyond (the acknowledged) differences and conflicts of Olam Haze/this world, whic is the place where the primal unity and identity have disappeared and each phenomenon seems like a separate entity.

The explicit identification of Olam Haba with understanding is made, in Jewish tradition, in the Kabbalah. I sall not enter here into details of Kabbalistic meta-historical schemes (of which several exist), but only mention the most basic distinction in the theory of the Sephirot. The seven lower Sephirot ("the Sephirot of Binyan" - building) are ascribed to Olam Haze{2}, whereas the Sephira above them, the Sephira of Bibah (Understanding), is ascribed to Olam Haba. Bina-understanding is thus a quality of Olam Haba and her penetration into Olam Haze is through the quality of "Tvunah" (the Malkhut of Binah, roughly "intelligence") which aloows to build understandings.

The contemporary universe of images gives more respect to technology and physics than to metaphysics, and it is therefore good to indicate the physical phenomena which seem to parallel the state of Binah. I refer to phenomena of synchronization and coherence, especially in laser beams whose light does not diminish with distance, and to superconductivity where energy does not diminish. The cybernetic assertion is that this state parallels, and is probably identical with, the state of cognitive coherence, namely: a state of a system where all the neccessary components can be reproduced within it without further input of information (e.g. a mathematical formula) and therefore hardly requires further energy input.

It is true that a coherent domain of understanding requires first input of time and effort in thinking and learning, but when the understandings have been acquired, it is easy to master the domain of understandings and move smoothly from topic to topic. Required is a time of confrontation with different topics which may seem a-priory as unrelated to each other, or even as conflicting - a period of Olam Haze. But following it, when understanding prevails then each topic comes and is derivable from related and self-evident topics - a period of Olam Haba.

If we pursue this cognitive interpretation of the formation of Olam Haba, and allow ourselves a small variation - to call the Hebrew word "Mashiah" (Messiah), much as in English, as "Massiah", namely "generator of conversation" - then the scheme of the sages about the process of Olam Haze will fit exactly the notion of building Olam Haba as a world-wide domain of understandings. First there is the stage of Tohu, or of wondering, later a stage of Torah, instruction, in wich guidance is needed; and only then a stage of conversation in which there is autonomic navigation in the domain of knowledge until complete mastery, that is until the passage into the domain of Binah, the domain of Olam Haba where all information comes as if on its own accord without striving and resistance.

Who is the learner who needs six thousand years to reach understanding? According to the Biblical story there are six stages in the formation of the world-Olam and in the sixth and final stage appears the creature called Adam{3}. According to what we have posited before, Olam Haze was formed almost six thousand years ago, a state of wondering about the mystery of the meaning of human existence. We shall better understand the process of the penetration of Olam Haba into the alienated world of Tohu, Olam Haze, if we understand the nature of this "Adam".

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4. ADAM:

It is entirely possible that the physical origin of the human race was from the mamals and from creatures like the primates and that the present human race developed from races like the Cro-magnion and Neandarthal during hundreds of thousands of years. To my mind, not this is what interests the author of the Book of Genesis, and the simple-minded devotees of "the Good Book" who have argued, and still argue, with the prevailing scientific theories (which I find also full of lapses and contradictions) are wasting their energy in vain. The Bible heralds, no less that Nitzsche's Zaratustra, the appearance of a new human being, and that is the one called "Adam". This Adam is, in one aspect, all of humankind connected together as a single superorganism. Adam differs from the anthropoids at least to the extent that the ants or the bees differ from mere insects. Biology identifies over a million species of insects, and the potential intelligence of all of them is limited, they are simple automatons. But the anthill or the beehive or the termites as a colective creature is an intelligent being which can learn and develop. The Adam we are discussing already appears in the dawn of the periods of "Olam Haze" as constituent of the civilizations which are developing towards the state of "Olam Haba" which is a stable and enlightened planetary civilization.

The image of the anthill and its comparison to the human city may raise objection and worry that the unification of humankind to some man-like giant will lead to uniformity and the loss of human uniqueness. A partial answer to this worry is in a better understanding of the anthill and the removal of its prevalent negative image, as has been done, for instance, by the Biologist Lewis Thomas in his book "Lives of a Cell", one of the classical "New Age" books.

The main answer, however, is in understanding the processes of social crystalization and the building of civilization. It is entirely possible, and in fact common, that as society grows, it gives more room for special and unique types. In the Jewish tradition, a big enough city which is worth living in is defined by there being ten "Batlanim" (literally "idle fellows"), namely people who do not have to work for their sustenance and can dedicate their days to the study of the Torah for its own sake. Psychologist A. Maslow, who studied human development to its peak, found that the most well developed humans (those who really merit the name "Adam") and who have the most universal outlook are really the most individualized and unique.

Also our sages of blessed memory already recognized that the description of the formation of Adam in Genesis, and making them (sic!) in the image of the creator, was designed to emphasis the significance of the individual person. Therefore they said that whoever saves a single soul it is as if (s)he saved a whole world, and that the greatness of the Lord is in that each child of Adam was minted in God's stamp and formed in God's image, and each child of Adam is different from any other one.

The very word "Adam" has a multitude of meanings. Adam means both the individual person and the whole of humankind without any exception. The sages also expounded that the source of the word is from the faculty of imagination: "Adameh le'Elyon" (I shall resemble the High Lord - Isiah 14:14). The human person, and the human species, merit the name "Adam" only when desiring to resemble God and adhering to the divine attributes. One of the marked characteristics of Olam Haze, or of history compared with prehistory, is that there appear people who have the quality of "Adam", model people of renown; and their number increase, let us hope, the more that civilization draws near to Olam Haba. In fact it is the increase of the number of people who merit the name "Adam" which brings the Olam Haba into Olam Haze.

The interdependence of human "Yahadut"{4}, both of personal individuality and of the joining together of all humankind, is conceivable in contemporary consciouseness, in which individual and society are often regarded as contradictory and exclusive. The mystery of Yahadut entailed in the word "Adam", which is both a primary cosmic principle and the human individual in utter uniquness, can perhaps be demonstrated visually in a mathematical pattern developed recently. This is the mathematics of fractals as pioneered by Benoit Mandelbrot. There are several books on the market{5} which display the great richness of forms - including detailed landscapes of whole (simulated) "planets". When the equation of the Mandelbrot Set is calculated in a computer which displays the whole pattern graphically, there is derived a figure quite reminiscent of the sitting Buddha, an image well known in Asian art. When concentrating on a small section of the pattern and instructing the computer to calculate it in great resolution - there appears (especially if the section is from the border area of the great figure), we shall get a very complex, and generally very attractive, pattern. Within these, we shall find millions (in fact an infinite number) of figures much like the original "sitting Buddha" figure - but not identical. There is clear "family resemblance, but each one is somehow different.

According to the Kabbala, the human being Adam, as well as the whole universe - was created from a basic pattern of "Adam Kadmon" (Primal Adam) which indeed resembles the human figure - "the Image of God" - with its various details. The most common representation of this pattern is "the Tree of the Sephirot" (also called "the Tree of Life") which resembles not the sitting Buddha but the erect human form ("Homo Erectus" in the terminology of the paleontologists to one of the humanoid phenomena). The important principle is that this is not a physical pattern but a balanced system of spiritual attributes. To reach the stature of "Adam" means to reach the development and balance of all these spiritual attributes.

The subject of the Kabbalistic human pattern as model for human development justifies many articles and whole books and books are now getting published on it. (The author's thesis (Khayutman, 1981) indicates how most of the paradigms and theoretical constructs used in the social sciences nowadays are degenerate cases of the whole Kabbalistic pattern. This implies that the current scientific description of man and society reaches only "up to the belt", and does not reach "the heart of the whole human person", and certainly not to the brain of this "Adam" which is definitely in the domain of "Olam Haba".

The paleontologist and mystical Christian Teilhard de Chardin tried in his own way to describe the future common brain of humankind, the pruduct of the whole planetary civilization, as a new sphere - the "Noosphere" - which surrounds the Adamah-earth.

Also Peter Russel (198x), in his book "The Global Brain" tries to characterize the future humankind. Russel discusses a period in which the number of people upon earth (which is presently increasing alarmingly) to a steady number of about ten billion people (about twice the current number). He too claims that they will all be interconnected via the best computerized communication technoloy, as well as via telepathic connections which at present we find difficult to conceive.

The number he quotes, ten to the tenth power{6}, proves for Russel a most wonderful number which constitutes the threshold for the emergence of new levels of complexity in creation. An elementary living cell is made of about this number of atoms. The cortex of the brain where intelligence is supposed to reside is made of about that number of neurons. Russel, as noted, sees in the gathering and conneting of that number of people the formation of "the Global Brain", namely the formation of the new and whole Adam whose thoughts are completely beyond our thoughts, and perhaps all the perenial philosophical questions till now will provide him/her (?) educational games of the kindergarten stage. Russel continues to treat this wonder-number - this is also the number of stars in the galaxy and the expected number of galaxies in the universe. Probably these will provide a vast playground for the Adam of Olam Haba in which we all may have a share.

What is interesting for us at the present moment is the convergence between this world view and the Biblical world view. The precondition for any positive vision of the future is the stabilization of human population on earth to avoid total ecological disaster. The optimistic global demographic estimates are, as noted, that humankind will stabilize at about ten billion people and will reach that stable steady-state at about the middle of the twenty-second century C.E. The interesting fact is that this date is precisely the end of the six thousand years period of the Olam Haze accourding to the Jewish calendar.

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