How can one explain the true meaning of life? Can we actually find the answer that connects ourselves, our planet, the universe and everything else together? How does a modern status of earth as Gaia help us understand the meaning of it all?
After billions of years, the appearance of the humble bacteria has turned earth into a giant living organism. It may take another few billion years but without being outmatched, earth itself as a primitive bacteria with respect to the whole universe will do the same. With the help of humans it will eventually turn this universe into a even bigger living entity in the form of a cosmic living organism. In that sense, our Cosmos with its living status is in every way a life itself. As one complete living being, it is only logical to think that the origin of life must have started at the beginning of the universe, which is at the time of the Big Bang. How could this be?
Obviously for all we know, it is impossible for life to appear at the time of the Big Bang when only energy existed in a cosmic soup with no stars or galaxies to be seen. With that kind of a condition, there is no chance life could form in any shape or size. The painstaking research done by scientists over the years pictures a scene of a lifeless earth slowly being transformed and not until all vital materials were available did life in the form of cells and bacteria emerge. For planets like earth to appear, a sun and its solar system have to be in place before earth could and they did not come into being until more than ten billion years after the Big Bang. If there were no stars or galaxies and if planets were nowhere in sight, how could any form of life possibly survive in such an environment where only fundamental particles could be offered? What happened? Did life begin at the time of the Big Bang, or did it come into being on earth three and a half billion years ago? While both cases seem to be correct to a certain degree, they can't be both valid at the same time or they will be contradicting each other. How can this be explained?
First and foremost, if this universe is to become a living entity, then life's beginning at the time of the Big Bang is a fact. Any argument must go around this fact if there is any chance for a solution. The next step to approach the problem is to admit that scientists must be wrong to determine that life started on earth three and a half billion years ago even though it is difficult to change this sacred belief that has been held by all those brilliantly educated scholars for so many years. The reason for such long held but erroneous belief to prevail may lie on our wrong perception of the universe and therefore what life is supposed to be. The common belief is the universe and life are two separate things as if this universe is used as a physical premise for any form of life to inhabit. Earth was once looked upon the same way as a physical place for humans and other living things to reside.
When we consider ourselves as life, then life is supposed to be something like us that comprises of cells; and when cells began to appear three and a half billion years ago, life naturally began three and a half billion years ago. It is for the same reason many are reluctant to accept the notion that earth is a living organism because it does not fit into the profile of our perception of what life is.
If our universe is a life and if this phenomenon called life on earth is not exactly life except it is very different from the rest of the universe, then what is happening on earth must only be a small part of life's development. In another word, life of this universe must be developing in stages. All these so called life activities on earth is simply one of many stages of true life's incredible acts. The ten billion or so years of energy and matters' existence before earth must be one earlier act life performs. This period, from the Big Bang until the time when the first organic life on earth appeared, can be called the initial stage of life. There may be many different smaller and less obvious ones within this initial period but it is quite safe to assume there is only one stage at this time where life is the world of atoms and molecules interacting with each other until a later stage when organic molecules are available to begin the second phase which is the period when animals and plants on earth begin to take over the developmental process until the present time.
That is easy enough to say. But where is the evidence to prove this is the case? Many others firmly believe god single handedly created all lives and he is the sole reason for all things' existence. Still others are equally adamant lives were seeded by aliens and everything that exists on earth is their work. Amid all these speculations, how can one tell the truth apart from others? Maybe atoms and molecules are real dead matters and life did begin on earth a few billion years earlier because the universe actually functions for another reason and its existence before and after earth serves another purpose. There has to be some signs or clues to prove the universe truly exists for the sole purpose of life and it indeed develops in stages. Where can one look for these signs to confirm the case in order to settle the issue once and for all?
The human mind is a giveaway. Some three and a half billion years ago, something happened on earth that significantly altered the scenery of this part of the universe. Matters began to come together into some form of a cellular structure. With this thing called life coming into existence, these cells have the ability to grow and maintain their highly complicated structure. On top of that, they also know how to utilize the proteins they manufacture to multiply and develop into new and more complex living organisms. The process continues on for a few billion years until the whole earth turns into a functional living system. Then something happens again. Intelligent humans arrive and they immediately alter the scenery. With the possession of the mind, advanced tools and machineries are built and subsequently earth is able to replicate itself. The reason why it is able to do so is because of tool making human genes; and the reason why the tool making human genes are capable of performing such wonder is because of the possession of something everyone refers to as the intelligent mind.
With this mysterious but priceless possession, earth is now able to do something like the ancient cell did. Human as its genes will replicate this planetary cell by transforming other planets into earth like, thus making copies of ourselves and thus turning the universe or life's development into a newer and higher stage than those organic lives on earth, a move that is quite similar to the initial process of cellular development which in itself is a more advanced stage than atoms and molecules, the so called dead matter world.
What makes earth capable of replicating is this mysterious thing called mind. What makes a cell capable of replicating or turning itself from one of dead matters into a pulsing living organism is this mysterious thing called life. Life is said to emerge when cells have the ability to build proteins and replicate themselves. This is the beginning of life of sort in human terms but to be more precise, it should be the beginning of a new stage, just like what earth as a planetary cell is presently experiencing because when a bigger part of the universe like the Milky Way or even the solar system is taken into consideration, it will be equally appropriate to say life begins a new stage when earth has the ability to build its own proteins and replicate itself. By endowing a mind into a human, planet earth is turned into a true living cell, similar to what the first bacteria experienced when organic life was first endowed upon them three and a half billion years ago.
As animals and plants are different from dead matters, a human with his mind is also vastly different from animals and plants. Compare them to the complexity of future interaction of living planets, they are the equivalence of dead matters. Depending on the frame of reference used, both instances can be considered as correct and referred to as the beginning of life in some way. In reality if the whole Cosmos itself is used as reference, they are only different stages of real life's development.
Life's different stages of development can be compared to the appearance of a light spectrum. The colourful part of the spectrum that is visible to the human eyes only comprises of a very small portion of the whole length of a bigger spectrum. Beyond one end of this visible light, there are other frequencies in the form of radio waves, microwaves and infrared while at the other end of the colourful segment, frequencies continue in the form of ultraviolet, x-rays and gamma rays except that these frequencies are not visible to the human eyes and require equipments to detect. Nonetheless they exist and form part of the complete picture. Lives on earth can be compared to the visible part of the light spectrum and consist of only a minute portion of the whole structure. Before it there exists the life of matters and energy, atoms and molecules and after what happens on earth, there must be other higher forms of lives in the future that have yet to evolve and develop.
It is with our human thinking and wrong perception that we look down on those atoms and molecules and consider them as dead matters. They surely live in a world of their own. Before the first cell arrived the scene when there were only atoms and molecules, these dead particles would probably consider themselves as the life of the universe if they are conscious enough to think in their own way. Anything more than their existence they will likely deny. If some imaginative atom came along and proclaimed that in a few billion years time out of their existence and interaction with one another they would combine into something called animals and plants and even humans with a mind, he would surely be branded crazy by his contemporaries.
At the present time, the human species simply becomes conscious and aware of his share of the universe's existence. Just because we are conscious the universe is not going to act and develop any differently in any other formula. Other than starting a brand new stage of life's development, it is business as usual to begin the process of evolution of life all over again except this time, it happens on a galactic or even cosmic scale with a more potent force altering other stars and galaxies and even the whole universe in a way that none of us can even begin to imagine.
This repeated pattern utilized by life to advance in stages can offer many clues to some of the questions that cannot be answered in the past using normal conventional methods. That most important question of organic life's origin on earth may be difficult to tackle, but since its appearance is similar to the appearance of the human mind, human evolution history can offer some insight to determine or at least trace the event that happened three and a half billion years ago. The emergence of the mind happened relatively recently compared to the organic life's appearance billion years ago. Consequently a better picture can be acquired by using more detail and comprehensive studies of our human development.
Our ancient ancestors in the form of an ape or primate initially left the jungle behind to start walking upright million years ago before they gradually developed a bigger brain. Forelimbs became hands with opposing thumbs. Fire was discovered, along with tools that became more sophisticated as time passed. The use of arts and languages were comparatively more recent before the true human emerged and marched on to our modern day civilization. The process lasted hundreds and thousands may be millions of years. Looking at history this way, we cannot pinpoint when our species acquired his intelligence and new consciousness.
It looks as if the modern human arrives gradually one step at a time into modern existence. However there is also something happening in that extended long journey that cannot be overlooked. Human civilization seems to appear so abruptly out of nowhere that many people consider the duration of this event a blink of the eyes in evolution terms. Virtually overnight humanity transforms itself into societies with cities, writings, complex infrastructures and all those ingredients found in true human and in our own modern times. There seems to be a time or an occasion when the possession of the intelligent mind finally draw a definite line to separate animals from man and stop them from crossing this threshold.
The history of how organic life first appears bears a similar story. The path leading to the development of organic life can mostly be traced and documented except for that one moment when dead matters cross the threshold and switch to become a living entity. This is another momentous event that puzzles everyone for as long as one can remember despite all the efforts, time, energy, knowledge, techno know-how are put in to search for an answer. Nobody seems to be able to provide a satisfactory explanation other than saying that it must have happened quickly and when it did, a barrier is being erected to separate the world of atoms and molecules from living matters. It is a barrier no scientists can tear down or explain despite all other impossible tasks they have accomplished and many impossible questions they have answered in the past. Any further probe into the puzzle will only end in more frustrations.
One plausible explanation for such major events to happen so abruptly other than a divine miracle is life development in this universe must have taken a quantum leap. They happen at such an extreme fast pace that it is almost instantaneous. By doing that, it leaves behind almost nothing for anyone to examine. The event is so drastic it is more of an endowment than a normal part of any of life's evolutionary process.
To understand how this works, this universe can be looked upon as a huge laboratory where trillions of experiments are going on endlessly every minute of the time since its birth. From the so called dead matters using gravity and other forces to animals and plants using life endowed in them to human with his intelligent mind, everyone will participate one way or the other in these experiments until the right combination hits. With the right amount of ingredients, new phenomena and sometimes big things happen, similar to those experiments done again and again in any man made laboratories.
Most people tend to believe experiments and reactions are exclusively reserved for the atomic world where different elements when mixed properly will instantaneously create new substances. These kinds of experiments and reactions are in truth the properties of the universe. If they occur in atomic level, it can also occur at organic life and human level, only with a more in depth twist added to the results. Part of the reason some people do not think such phenomenon as possible is because of a common strong religious overtone attached to these kinds of events where some devoted individuals insist a divine force must be at work playing the role of a king maker by arbitrarily appointing certain chosen individuals to do the job and therefore a life or a mind is endowed upon them.
In reality, the mind does not lead us to the emergence of intelligence, language or tools. All these special features developed in us - walking upright, large brain, etc are prerequisites for mind to appear, similar to the appearance of a cellular structure before it turns living or the ingredients required to put in a test tube in a laboratory before chemical reactions can be observed. It is not as if there is a divine hand mysteriously handing a mind to a monkey so this animal is immediately mobilized to shred its hair and leave the tree to walk upright and grow opposing thumbs and bigger brain which eventually put him on the road to become human with all the abilities he possesses today. These special qualities and ingredients must have to be there in the first place before something significant is going to happen.
The difference between living cells and dead matters is the thing called life acting inside this cellular body that makes it a living thing. The difference between a human and a monkey is this something called mind inside all of us that gives us the ability to do things monkey won't. For something to be able to make a cell act in direct opposite of the status quo of the universe, which is the law of entropy , this something must be a force. The same goes with the mind in all humans that makes us behave so differently from all other animals. By leaping from one stage to another, life of this universe actually creates new forces. What makes organic life and the human mind so mysterious and unsolvable is our failure to recognize these two existences as a force acting on the bodies to make them either a living animal or a thinking human. When this organic force is gone or not there, a living cell will return to a pile of atomic matters, to be governed only by the general laws of physics and chemistry. As with human, were it not for the presence of the mind, our status would just be another species of upright apes that is a shade more intelligent than our closest cousin the chimpanzees.
The manner these forces acting out on lives can be described as a catalyst being added to this never ending life experiment. They help life to process things faster by a thousand folds. The presence does not necessarily change the appearance of physical matters. There is no obvious difference between a living and a dead cell. Humans may not be much different from other animals but imagine if chimpanzees are given a chance to continue to develop and evolve using the normal channel without the benefit of the mind, how much time do they need to get to the point to have the capacity and intelligence to invent computers and drive a rocket to the moon? It could probably take them millions of years to accomplish if it could happen at all. But for this invisible agent in us all and in every living cell, goals that are supposed to be impossible to reach become a reality. It is very similar to the force of gravity. It is something that cannot be seen but by observing the behaviour of matters, we know it is there.
Direct evidence may not be readily available to show how a quantum leap can happen in life's development. During the transition when something jumps from one plane to another it is almost impossible to observe or feel the effect. Nobody knows what happens during this short period of time because it cannot be seen or detected, nor can it be analyzed or measured. If any information needed to trace its path for analysis is available, it will not be a quantum leap. About the only thing for certain is everyone knows it has happened, with a result. Consequently, evidence of such a leap can only be detected using other indirect observations.
In the two cases of organic life and mind, both are clean cut black and white issues with no grey areas in between. There is no such thing as half a life. Either something is living, or it is not. Human is also light years apart from even the species closest to us. We can treat all the animals in the world, be it a dolphin, a pig, a bird or chimpanzee to be like us. But if anyone ever tries to train them even remotely close to become a human, he will only encounter failure after failure because in the end, it will only be a futile attempt to make them cross this formidable line separating humans from animals. It would be the same as trying to turn a piece of rock alive, or bring back life to a dead cell.
Real life begins at the beginning of the universe which is at the time of the Big Bang. Life did not begin its journey in the form of planets with human as its genes. Nor should anyone consider life as cells and bacteria that appear on earth three and a half billion years ago. The appearance of so called life on earth, or the appearance of the mind is simply two of the many distinct stages in real life's drama. This typical way life uses to advance itself is not being programmed by any means but is because so far life's blind path only knows one way to develop. And as it did in the past, it happens again and again with the same pattern in the form of stages where it will grow and organize to a pinnacle point and then it simply explodes to another more advanced stage without the benefit of any knowledge, precise steps or intelligence to instruct it otherwise.
From bacteria to humans to planet earth, they are not created as something of an outsider invading this universe and subsequently residing in it. Cells being so different from dead matters is not because they compose of exotic materials that originate beyond the realm of this universe. Their whole existence comprises the same materials as dead matters do. A human body does not have a trace of alien materials other than a combination of billions of living cells. Compare a human to a monkey, their physical body bears no significant difference, with both equipped with basically the same body parts and sharing a majority of the genetic makeup. All these materials that make up all living things, from atoms and molecules to ling cells in us humans are the properties of the universe.
Major incidents like the explosion of organic life and human mind will not be that difficult a thing to happen in our universe where experiments and reactions are so commonplace. There will be more of these big events separating different stages of the universe's development. One can only wonder what other phenomena and forces are to be endowed upon this living Cosmos. The fact that just a tiny little planet can host two major events only signifies one thing: there must have been many others happening in the past that are less intensive and heaven is our guarantee the current mind phenomenon will not be the last. There must be more spectacular ones in store for everyone to witness in the future. How these future miracles can enrich lives in this universe is anybody's guess.
Our Milky Way with its billion stars seems to be an appropriate candidate to become life's next complete milestone in its long and mysterious journey. May be by then when it is fully matured there will be another quantum leap of galactic proportion to bring life into another era of a more advanced super mind, which will be far more superior than anything seen on earth. Whatever life forms existing then will show a new kind of appreciation toward this matured Milky Way which will inevitably become the next super living system. Hopefully when these newer and more sophisticated forms of lives higher than ourselves appear, they will not tread into the same pitfall as we do today by marveling at our accomplishment like we do to the work of cells in our body and debate among themselves if all the hard work done on this planet to make their species possible are actually an accident or god's supernatural hand at work or worse yet, concluding humans and all other living things are not actually intelligent living beings except for themselves.
This agent, or catalyst, or force, whatever it is or whoever he or she may be has made such an impact, and such a difference in the configuration of this universe, it creates untold controversies and arguments throughout the history of the human world. The transition from atoms and molecules to organic lives is so drastic, scientists insist on separating this living Cosmos into a world of dead matters and another of living things. The same thing happens when the human mind appears. It was so abrupt and unexpected the scene must have been dramatic like hell for those around who witnessed it and were able to comprehend its significant meaning. For those who refused to accept the new reality, the incident must have been a devastating blow and traumatic to a life that they have been so accustomed to. Still for many others, the turn of the event convinced them that they must be single handedly created by a supernatural god with his supernatural hands. Interestingly enough, this momentous occasion quite coincides with the timeless classic involving a man named Adam, whoever this individual may be. He is described as a true human emerged through a divine hand that endows upon him with a special power to claim dominion over the rest of the natural world.
Whoever this mysterious agent is, he has been playing tricks on us for so long, the world is badly fooled. Now after years of unrelenting work of the human mind, men begin to wonder and become suspicious about his work and his existence. Bit by bit, generation by generation, his creation is getting more and more intelligent. With more knowledge acquired, his secret begins to unravel by the collective mind of this human species, his newest invention. The first time around when he was to endow new life on this planet, he did not leave a clue except by showing off a little of his mystique in such elegant style he made everyone of us marvel and wonder; and he managed to keep everybody in the dark by hiding himself so well. Happily, through his own work, he falls victim to his own cleverness. His own invention becomes too intelligent for him to disguise his secret act any further. Therefore when he returns to put on a second show, he is caught in the middle of the act. This time, he has no place to hide. The irrefutable evidence is undeniably exposed to us all to see.
For all that is happening in this grand scheme of things, if there is an almighty deity in high heaven looking on, he must be observing the drama unfolded as earnest as everyone else. Since the beginning of time, his work moves on continuously for tens of billions of years until finally living souls appear across the expanse of the surface of the earth. They continue on to be fruitful and multiply for another few billion years until a living planet is fully developed. With the human genes arriving and promptly endowed with a mind, this planetary cell is ready to replicate again. From that prestige point of view, seeing that his creation that starts with a big bang has since proceeded smoothly according to schedule without a hitch, everything must look very good indeed.
Then comes those humans, who only know how to look at things from their own individual perspective, who only know how to look at the smallest details without learning how to observe the bigger picture and who only know how cruel the world is out there with all its violence and turmoil where everybody has to fight and struggle to survive. From the past history they observe, they witness a pathetic scene of massive extinction, destructions and calamities of global proportion where trillions and trillions of animals and humans die in extreme pain and agony. They start questioning the validity of their own existence and the integrity of this deity as if only they know what life is all about.
Like a new born infant being delivered into a new world, to those casual uneducated and uninformed onlookers, he is a dirty poor little fellow being hanged upside down and manhandled by some faceless figures. Absolutely helpless and possibly suffering in pain and agony, it surely looks like an ugly scene and definitely some form of child abuse. But to the professionals who know better and who have been there, only they realize how this pathetic scene of a dirty looking creature freshly out of his mother's womb into the world is the most beautiful and joyous thing one can ever experience.
All these times, this intelligent human species thinks he is the one who knows but aside from the superficial intelligence he claims he possess, he basically does not have a clue to what is going on around him. Using his ignorance and self centerness he blinds himself by imposing his own values for things to behave before he will consider them as life. He is so hung up with his own image, he only acknowledges those resembling him as life. Anything else, even the grand Cosmos itself is nothing but dead rocks and energies. By concentrating and directing his attention on earth and its apparent beauty, he misses the bigger picture and forever wonders how things all get started. Old habits die hard. He is still the center of the universe.
All these times, he keeps looking at the wrong places for answers under a bad perception of a universe which he diligently divides up into different disciplines to study in the hope of unraveling its secrets only to find himself tangled into more and more mysteries and puzzles. Without accepting the notion of earth as a living system, how can he possibly perceive the universe as a life? Without realizing the universe as a life, how can he ever realize life starts at the beginning of the universe and not begins itself as a bacteria on earth? Without realizing that life begins at the beginning of the universe, he will forever wonder the true meaning of it all.
All these times, all these years, using untold number of brilliant minds studying everything under the sun for a better understanding of the world around us and in the end we still have no answer to what life is. Amazingly with such level of ignorance, many of us still insist we know what life is when we see one.
Copyright © 1996-2002 Anatoni Tamanaki
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