“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius
“Life emerged, I suggest, not simple, but complex and whole, and has remained complex and whole ever since” – Stuart Kauffman: At Home in the Universe.
“If our brains were simple enough for us to understand them, we’d be so simple that we couldn’t.” – Ian Stewart: The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World
Is the world simple or complex? Ask particle physicists and they will probably try to persuade you that the world is simple and governed by the Laws of Nature or by a single Theory of Everything. Ask a biologist, an economist a social scientist or an artist and they will tell you quite the opposite: the world is a collection of complexity and chaos. So who is right? Or is that the wrong question? Is it actually more complicated than that?
New scientific perspectives on complex systems, emergence and information have taken on wider philosophical and ‘religious’ implications. This issue explores these implications and engagements within the context of science, art and theology.
What is complexity and how does it emerge? Is there a hierarchy of complexity? Is information more fundamental than particles and can it be given objective meaning? How are artists engaging with the complex? Are we at an important point in our history in terms of how we understand complexity and information? What do these answers tell us about the nature of art, science and consciousness?