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It’s very easy to get answers. You just have to ask the wrong questions. But if you persist in asking important questions – they’re the ones without an answer – after a while you start to get, suggestions, almost, that at least help you refine the questions.
Evolution is a theory I feel has been underrated. When Charles Darwin and Russell Wallace formulated the theory in the 40s and 50s of the nineteenth century, they did so after intensive study of animal life and its variations over long periods and in various habitats. They took it for granted that ‘life’ meant animal life.
But gradually ‘life’ has come to include plant life. Restriction to animal forms limits the activity of ‘life’. It shows how cursory our awareness, as distinct from classification, of plant forms has been. Aside from animation, ability to move freely in an environment, all plants have similar characteristics to animals. They form symbiotic relationships (some with humans), have aggressive and defensive behaviour, express what seem analogous reactions to what we call emotions, and adapt vigorously within a range of environments. They mate, and nurture new life. They have a lifespan with typical behaviour for young and old. They evolve.
If animals and plants exhibit behaviours that could be called those of lifeforms, what about water? We know next to nothing about water, currents, water temperature changes, relationship with sea animals, and movement between different areas. For now oceans are just sewage dumps for humans, which affects the other use we have for water, sustenance.
What about rock? When it comes to rock we observe tectonic plates, volcanoes, movement of continents, but we restrict our observations to predicting how behaviour of rock might affect human lives. Water and rock may have characteristics of life. All life evolves.
We are more imaginative looking at the planet. Some attempt a holistic view of earth, called Gaia, and how she has evolved from stellar dust to the blue green planet we inhabit, reacting all the while to changing behaviours of her components as they evolve. The kaleidoscopic dance of matter and energy runs its way between birth and death, and adapts itself over longer periods to changes of environment.
If animals, plants, rocks, water and planets can show signs of life, though, why stop there? Is the solar system alive, the galaxy, the universe? Surely organic forms are everywhere but at the heart of suns?
Perhaps it is all alive. At the Big Bang start of the universe, something said, not, ‘Let there be light!’, but, ‘Let there be life!’. Darwin and Russell Wallace underrated evolution because evolution has been active since the Big Bang. Life and evolution imply each other.
The noiseless ‘Big Bang’
Silly name isn’t it? There was no sound for one thing. For it to happen, change came into a closed system and opened it. That’s the greatest thing we can imagine, and an impossible one. A closed, stable system, operating in eternity and infinity, all those words we don’t understand the meaning of, developed a need for change.
What that system was we have no idea and cannot ever have one that isn’t based on the open system we live in. Was it one system, was it many, did something go wrong, how did instability develop in a stable system? Did god go, “oops!”
Whatever it was, the solution was to introduce change, and the functions we are aware of, matter, space, time and imagination, which we would call mind. Perhaps that last one is just an egotistical addition. But in any case an environment which enabled evolution, and allowed life to develop. Change, on this scale, is evolution, is life.
But the thing is, if we can observe it, it might be part of our mind. Our mind, that is, might be faulty and imagine what’s not there, and prove it. Or, our mind might be all there is, including the universe.
We have to go with concepts based on our physiology, environment and experience. This is all we have. So it’s all speculation. Or illusion.
It seems to me that to change a closed system, to open it to an environment, is a healing process, or a repair job. Open systems, dynamic agents of change and all that, are finite, involve suffering, that is, limiting experience for some components. We can’t help but think that a bad thing. It introduces death as well as life, age as well as youth, bitterness as well as experience, ardour as well as ignorance, and all the other binary extrapolations we know.
The universe created by the Big Bang could be here to heal itself, or do a repair job, like changing a spare tyre. The aim might be to get back to a stable closed system. Change (time, evolution et al) might be here to eradicate itself and create a closed system again.
Cosmic dust, galaxies and solar systems, super novae and black holes, earth from ball of fire, mantle of steam and rain to oceans with plants and life forms to human beings, including the girl with red hair I almost knew and the ones I loved and lost, onward to union with the sun and reformation in ways undreamed of until galaxy’s end. We see it as a sequence, but perhaps it’s a review, a checking of parts, looking for what went wrong.
Can we cope with being a spanner or a hoist used to get things back to normal, and put away till next needed? I mean, how reliable is the running of the universe? Should we be worried at what could be cosmic inefficiency? Maybe things can’t be fixed?
What if a universe evolves a way of fixing up the next malfunction in a way that doesn’t involve us? We wouldn’t have evolved. It might have a lot to do with whether the universe we live in is expanding or not. If it’s onward to entropy then the universe will be more than stable. It will be dead. If it’s back to another Big Bang, the repair didn’t work. Maybe we can’t win.
Could the Big Bang, change, evolution and the human animal all be here to combat entropy? Have you done your bit today? Perhaps entropy caused the Big Bang?
None of this is true, because I just made it up. But could it be true, just because I did make it up?
Is the universe all an illusion, or is the I? Does the universe tell you something about the I? Or does the I explain the universe? Just how are these two things related?
We have two views of the I. Author of illusion, it creates an alternate reality of which it is the star. Or, under the name of the soul, it is the essential foundation of all that is, and has qualities that predate the universe, eternity and stability and goodness. We tend to think in binary.
There are several views of just what the universe is, but the main two are that it is, because it needs to exist; or it doesn’t need to exist, and just is. This is the view that introduces god. But we know that we observe the universe. We just don’t know how far we create it.
How does all this impact on the man in the street trying to get the better of his fellow man (and woman)? Is morality an evolutionary force designed to help mankind play their part in combatting entropy, so that the universe can recover closed system stability?
Or are these just other terms for good, bad, sin, punishment, heaven, hell? I’ve always felt this last lot of behaviour modifiers was uncomfortably close to severe parents, wilful children and firm discipline. In other words, derived from childhood experience, not the broadest base to survey the universe.
Really, it’s not the I in itself that’s important, even if the I is the soul. It’s the relationship of the I to the universe that’s important. The I is all too happy to say “It’s all about me”. But that view eventually excludes everything else: entropy, Big Bang, evolution, life in its non animal forms. Even if the I is that important, it certainly isn’t important just because it believes so.
It would seem that evolution in itself cannot repair the open universe in which it, er, evolved. Why else would there be, quite suddenly it seems, big brains, culture and morality. These speed the process up, even if infinitesimally on a universal scale, at least, so far.
The I needs guidance to avoid branching off to egotism; and morality, the controller, needs guidance, to avoid becoming too pedantic, its all too often aberration.
Imagine a state where there is no space, just infinity. No time (or change), just eternity. No, I can’t either. We define these words in terms of what they’re not: not-space, not-time. I might as well write #%&0@ and ·*^›ﬁ‹€. This is what we have to describe the stable system before the Big Bang. Actually, in using the terms ‘infinite’ and ‘eternal’ we might be ignoring other characteristics more appropriate in describing this state. Or, ‘characteristics’ and ‘description’ might be irrelevant terms.
We do have one clue. The Big Bang is an astronomical event (to be exact it created astronomy and everything else), but it created that state in all the components it created when it happened. Change, and evolution, and the possibility of stability and the eradication of entropy are in all things.
Including the sense we have of self, of the I. The I experienced the Big Bang, and change, and is in the process of evolving like the rest of the universe. We too have a job to do.
Be careful of the questions you ask. You might get an answer.
©2016 Original material copyright Phillip Kay. Images paintings by Wassily Kandinsky and other material courtesy Creative Commons. Please inform post author of any violation.