Omega Point

phenomene humain

Omega Point is a term coined by the French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) to describe a maximum level of complexity and consciousness towards which he believed the universe was evolving.

In this theory, developed by Teilhard in ‘The Future of Man’ (1950), the universe is constantly developing towards higher levels of material complexity and consciousness, a theory of evolution that Teilhard called the Law of Complexity/Consciousness. For Teilhard, the universe can only move in the direction of more complexity and consciousness if it is being drawn by a supreme point of complexity and consciousness.

Thus Teilhard postulates the Omega Point as this supreme point of complexity and consciousness, which in his view is the actual cause for the universe to grow in complexity and consciousness. In other words, the Omega Point exists as supremely complex and conscious, transcendent and independent of the evolving universe. Teilhard argued that the Omega Point resembles the Christian Logos, namely Christ, who draws all things into himself, who in the words of the Nicene Creed, is ‘God from God,’ ‘Light from Light,’ ‘True God from true God,’ and ‘through him all things were made.’ Teilhard’s term recurs in later writings, such as those of John David Garcia (1971), Frank Tipler (1994) or Ray Kurzweil, as well as in science fiction literature.

The increasing complexity of matter has not only led to higher forms of consciousness, but accordingly to more personalization, of which human beings are the highest attained form in the known universe. They are completely individualized, free centers of operation. It is in this way that man is said to be made in the image of God, who is the highest form of personality. Teilhard expressly stated that in the Omega Point, when the universe becomes One, human persons will not be suppressed, but super-personalized. Personality will be infinitely enriched. This is because the Omega Point unites creation, and the more it unites, the increasing complexity of the universe aids in higher levels of consciousness. Thus, as God creates, the universe evolves towards higher forms of complexity, consciousness, and finally with humans, personality, because God, who is drawing the universe towards Him, is a person.

In 1971, John David Garcia expanded on Teilhard’s Omega Point idea. In particular, he stressed that even more than the increase of intelligence, the constant increase of ethics is essential for humankind to reach the Omega Point. He applied the term creativity to the combination of intelligence and ethics and announced that increasing creativity is the correct and proper goal of human life. He specifically rejected increasing happiness as a proper ultimate goal: ‘when faced with a choice between increasing creativity and increasing happiness, a person ought to choose creativity,’ he wrote. But the two are exclusively connected to where human kind is always finding creative ways to be happy.

Frank Tipler uses the term Omega Point to describe what he maintains is the ultimate fate of the universe required by the laws of physics. Tipler identifies this concept as the Christian god and in later writing, infers correctness of Christian mythology from this concept. Key to Tipler’s exploration of the Omega Point is that the supposition of a closed universe evolving towards a future collapse. Within this universe, Tipler assumes a massive processing capability. As the universe becomes smaller, the processing capability becomes larger, due to the decreasing cost of communications as the systems shrink in size. At the same time, information from previously disconnected points in space becomes visible, giving the processors access to more and more information. Tipler’s Omega Point occurs when the processing capability effectively becomes infinite, as the processors will be able to simulate every possible future before the universe ends – a state also known as ‘Aleph.’

Within this environment, Tipler imagines that intelligent beings, human personalities, will be run as simulations within the system. As a result, after the Omega Point, humans will have omnipotence, able to see all of history and predict all of the future. Additionally, as all history becomes available, past personalities will be able to run as well. Within the simulation, this appears to be the dead rising. Tipler equates this state with the Christian heaven.

Some transhumanists argue that the accelerating technological progress inherent in the Law of Accelerating Returns will, in the relatively near future, lead to what Vernor Vinge called a technological singularity or ‘prediction wall.’ These transhumanists believe we will soon enter a time in which we must eventually make the transition to a ‘runaway positive feedback loop’ in high-level autonomous machine computation. A result will be that our technological and computational tools eventually completely surpass human capacities. Some transhumanist writings refer to this moment as the Omega Point, paying homage to Teilhard’s prior use of the term. Other transhumanists, in particular Ray Kurzweil, refer to the technological singularity as simply ‘The Singularity.’

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