The Center for 

Cooperative Phenomena


About Us




Nonlinear Science

Science Education

Science and Religion


Giving and Partnerships
About Us

Explanation of the logo
We all know that it is easier to take things apart than to put them back together. For the past 400 years science has been successful in taking the Universe apart but it still has little inkling as to how to put it back together. The Universe remains as mysterious as ever. The Center for Cooperative Phenomena is dedicated to putting Reality back together, to the “re-assembly” of the Universe. As our motto, we could adopt the following excerpt from A Course of Love, “No atoms do battle. No molecules compete for dominance. The universe is a dance of cooperation. You are but asked to rejoin the dance.” (p.186).

Current Goals
Our group is still in the early stages of recruitment and fund-raising. The hope is that the Center will evolve from a Local Society organized around the talks given by the visiting speakers and  local faculty, to a think tank dealing with policy and educational issues, and perhaps eventually toward an institute devoted to scholarly and educational activities.

- Study the limitations of reductionism;

- Encourage the cultivation of nonlinear science. The latter is less hostile to spirituality as both see all things in the universe as existing in unity and in reciprocal relationship;

- Promote the inclusion of nonlinear and emergent phenomena in science education;

- Write reports on scientific and educational issues, including those at the science/religion interface;

- Promote the proper understanding of spirituality. Spirituality as understood here consists of the following four injunctions: (1) quiet the mind; (2) open the heart; (3) unite the mind with the heart; (4) transform your relationship to the world through sharing in unity;

- Promote the vision of science and spirituality as relationship-centered;

- Present science as a liberal art that has deep things to say about the nature of reality, to attract philosophers, theologians, and social scientists to our end of the campus so we can all join in the conversation about the great issues of our time;

- Adopt the attitude of epistemic humility in both science and religion.

A simplified chart of the current tension in science between reductionism and emergentism is given below:


    Social sciences: psychology, sociology, anthropology,           societies
            economics, etc.                                                               
      Boudary Problem: “Origin of consciousness”(mind-body)                                                                                              

    Biomedical sciences: biology, botany, zoology,                     organisms
            physiology, ecology, etc.   


Boundary Problem: “Origin of life” 

    Physical sciences: physics, chemistry, astronomy,                  molecules
    geology, etc.   
                                                                                                    nuclei, electrons

p, n, e

quarks, gluons

                              superstrings (?)

   Boundary Problem: “Origin of the universe”


As the level of organizational complexity increases, (1) sciences become less quantitative and less precise; (2) phenomena become less predictable and more chaotic, (3) sciences become less objective and more subjective (i.e., more dependent on interpretation), (4) the amount of reliable knowledge decreases and scientific consensus becomes harder to reach.

is a research program that attempts to explain the properties of complex systems in terms of their simpler components. Reductionism has been the dominant approach in science since its beginnings five hundred years ago. Extreme reductionism is often “nothing but” thought, i.e., psychology is nothing but biology, biology is nothing but chemistry, and chemistry is nothing but physics. Reductionism is associated with the view that the whole is equal to the sum of its parts, as is true for linear systems.

is a more recent approach that recognizes that  complex systems are nonlinear, i.e., for them the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (synergy). Examples include emergent structures (e.g., atoms, molecules, crystals, black holes, the Internet, Wikipedia),  chaotic phenomena (e.g., the Butterfly Effect, turbulence, strange attractors), synchronization (e.g., schools of fish, flocks of birds, entrainment, resonance, cyclical phenomena,  pendulum clocks, circadian rhythms, Earth and Moon system),  spontaneous pattern formation  (e.g., hurricanes, tornadoes, rivers), cooperative phenomena (e.g., superconductivity, superfluidity), tipping points (e.g., collapse of buildings and bridges, phase transitions, critical mass, chain reaction, explosions, epidemics, revolutions, wars).

Cooperative Phenomena

Do cooperative phenomena in science
indicate that we are reaching the limits of the reductionist program in science? Examples to think about:

  • relational holism in quantum physics (e.g., the laser, superconductivity, Bose-Einstein condensation, soliton solutions in quantum field theories);
  • solitons, synchronization (e.g, grandfather clocks, schools of fish), and other nonlinear phenomena in classical physics;
  • self-organizing systems in physics, chemistry, and biology (e.g., crystal growth, star formation, molecular self-assembly, homeostasis, creation of structures by social animals);
  • networks (e.g., the Internet);
  • self-sustaining ecologies;
  • altruism in ethology and evolutionary biology (at the boundary between science and spirituality),


S. Strogatz,  Sync – The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order, 2003;
A. Barabasi,  Linked – How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and
What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life, 2002;
M. Mitchell Waldrop, Complexity – The Emerging Science at the Edge of
Order and Chaos, 1992.


As an integral part of the Center’s activities the Visiting Speaker series strives to serve in the public interest by inviting guest speakers who think deeply about the foundations of their subject rather than those who do low-risk incremental type of research. The talks have been widely attended not only by the faculty but also by many students.

While the talks are designed to be accessible to a wider audience, we also started an interview program in which the speakers would be free to delve into more technical issues. The interviews are available on the Center website.