The word was left for you


Chapter 5 Life as we know it

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life and that life was the light of all mankind.
St John 1 verse 2.

Please note this continues the ideas expressed in "What is thought?"  Where the definition of thinking was stretched down to the quantum level and up to the cosmos and life was attributed to anything that can think, that is pretty much everything.  This chapter is looking at the history of what most people would call being alive.

I am not using the definition that to be alive you must be able to reproduce, because mules cannot reproduce but it is hard to deny that they are alive.  There are many hybrid animals that think react and live but cannot reproduce. There are many eunuchs natural and man made that live but cannot reproduce. This is why I do not think that being able to reproduce is not necessary to be alive.

The biological definition of being alive is a being that has DNA and RNA in every cell of their body.  That is how scientist define Life, but this is not the definition I am using either. As it is too restrictive to what I think is the fundamental definition of being alive.

To me the distinguishing thing that makes something alive is that it reacts to it surroundings and that usually it is made of many parts and those parts cooperate to continue the life of the whole.

Please bear with me as the concept of thinking is still stretched well beyond its normal usage. Possibly cooperation or reaction might be better words at different levels but none of them cover all the possibilities. I am taking life, as we recognise it, is the part of the Universe that learnt to cooperate. 

Let us take a look at what the difference is moving the foundation of the existence from numbers to the Word means. Mathematics has no meaning in itself it is just a self consistent structure useful for understanding creation. To imply a meaning you need words.  The scope of words is far larger than that of mathematics.

If you look at two robots on a factory floor it is a lot easier to understand their actions, if you understand the instructions they have been told to follow, their programming.  If you were trying to model this just with a physical description of how the electrons were whizzing around in their electronic brains it would be almost impossible to follow.

The words give the meaning.  Adding words to physics does not make the numbers meaningless it just makes the physics easier to understand.

Living things are full of thoughts and life itself is very difficult to understand unless you include the words.  You can only start to make sense of humans if you understand their words, their thoughts. For any true “Theory of Everything” you must include words as well as mathematics just to describe life. e.g. Understand terrorists whether that is Isis and the Koran or The IRA and their Catholic Bible fighting the UDP with their protestant abbreviated Bible.  You need to understand the words they believe in.

The whole of evolution can be seen as one slow building process in better and better forms of cooperation through communication; that is using communal love, to share knowledge.  With the invention of the Word that progress exploded!  Each human civilization is richer or poorer directly in proportion to the amount they communicate and with the freedom with which they communicate, with the amount they cooperate.  It seems that without both love and knowledge, none of creation could happen, with both love and knowledge all of it has to happen.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

Again the words give the meaning.

Going back to the question "What is thought?" at the low sub-atomic level: This is the question all the theoretical physicists are studying the question they call “The Theory of Everything!”.  In that most basic of quantum particle collisions  what is “The decision making machine” in the middle of it all.  What is it?  What are “The Laws of Physics”?  As yet we do not know. We may never know.

Some say it is life some say it is not.  For all our understanding of it, it might as well be.  It is currently best described by quantum theory.  It may better be described by M-theory one of several theories put forward as to what is happening.  Not being a physicist, I cannot tell you and suspect neither can they.  I think of this "whatever it is" as the Breath of life also known as the Holy Spirit. It is where God gets his word in.

So let me tell you a story, it is a very long story but it takes a comparatively short time to tell.

In the beginning was a big bang! This produced an awful lot of energy and eventually light.  This condensed quickly into hydrogen, stars and galaxies.  Within a few billion years these first stars died and scattered the other elements they had been making deep in their depths such as carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen; all the building blocks of life as we know it across the whole Universe.

The two most important compounds are water and the amino-acids.

Water is important because it freezes on the surface while staying liquid underneath which gives a good place for chemicals to meet and interact and in particular it is a great place for amino-acids to communicate.

Amino-acids are important because they are easy to make and have an internal electric charge, which can easily be used as an internal memory. They can also change their external acidity, which can easily be used as an output, especially in water.  The modern ones are all good at making membranes, which is another useful feature as we will come to see later on.  Their other advantage is they can survive in space.
Now what is curious about these tiny thinkers, which is what they are, is that quite probably at the bottom of the ocean there were huge numbers of them just because the right chemicals were sloshing around to create them.  Here I am talking billions or possibly trillions of very small molecules.  They do not actively reproduce but what they can do in their very, very basic way is think.

Some amino-acids improve the acidity to make creation of that amino-acid more likely and some make it less likely.  This is in itself a Darwinian event.  Amino-acids which help themselves reproduce produce more of that Amino acid and so their community grew, compared to those that hinder reproduction.  This is not an intelligent decision per se but a good one for that amino-acid to out grow the others. The amino-acids are already “learning” to cooperate.

What is interesting here is the amino-acids are creating a community of similar amino-acids and making the same decision.

As seen in the previous chapter communities of like minded "thinkers" are important to making intelligent decisions.  Not that every amino–acid will connect with another but they could.  If it were a community of a billion that would 5 x 1017 potential connections
Because of this, once we have communities of amino-acids we have the first chance at the very first, if tiny, genuine intelligence.

Once you have a community which has the possibility of thinking there are real reasons why the community should actively encourage reproduction:

The larger the community the better the communal brain.
High reproduction replaces amino-acids that are washed away or destroyed.
It provides a more consistent way of thinking than if you rely on different amino-acids or the rocks around you.

It is a defensive mechanism, like shoals of fish. Indeed electric charge can be used as a form of rejection. Or if it is used to oppositely charge both ends of an amino-acid it could cause them to form long chains.

One of the best forms of defence is to have a protective perimeter.  A membrane around the community.  The amino-acids we know today are almost all good at making membranes.  This probably dates back to these early days.

The advantages of an external membrane are enormous:

   Firstly it keeps the colony together and they are no longer at the mercy of the currents.
   Secondly it gives the colony a defence mechanism.
   Thirdly it gives the colony the option and pushes the colony towards specialization.

So any community of amino-acids which does start communicating between them accelerates the cooperation and accelerates the growth even further.  Now this is another event that could be called Darwinian but this time, it is a deliberate thoughtful one.

A community of amino-acids wanting to survive are almost bound eventually to lead to single cell organisms.  That does not mean the less prosperous amino-acids are not still out there.  Just we have got to simple single cell life through nothing more than applying the concept of the Word, through a desire to cooperate.  A desire born of knowledge that life is always better in a community, a desire born in the very simplest form of love.

The Word is gaining a meaning.

This love of the community came way before sex.  Love of community and the need to be a part of that community is still a far more basic instinct to us and a fundamental foundation of our life style than sex.  Every nation and every culture and every religion teaches it.  The community is the first priority having children is a lower priority.  Suicide bombers prove it.  American heroes prove it. Every soldier in every army in the world. Dying for your country is more important than having Children.

As thought is a precursor to reproduction I think of thought as the most fundamental Breath of Life and the definition of something that is thinking as being alive, not reproduction.  A man with a vasectomy or a woman after menopause is still alive even though they cannot reproduce.  Although I must admit I do not see individual rocks as being very alive, many books talk of the living rock.  There is vast range of how much things can think. The more they think the more alive they become. The Bible speaks of dying to sin and living by the Spirit or Life otherwise known as the Word.  Living by the Bible makes you an enemy of selfish people.   Wisdom gives life.

As a guess at the beginnings of life as we know it:
Once a hypothetical colony of amino acids can create a membrane the first specialisaton.  Then you can imagine the amino acids doing something they could not do before specialize!

Specialization in defence the cell wall
Specialize in moving initially using the cell wall and later internal muscles and external fins.
Specialize in letting food in and refuse out still the cell wall
Specialize in getting energy from the food
Specialize in thinking.
Specialize in sensing and seeing.
Specialize in almost anything!

What is also important is these communities can become communities of communities and so become even more complex and have even more brain power. 

The easiest way for a cell to divide is to elongate and twist, look at a butcher’s sausage.   However, if anything is specialised within a membrane it needs to split too then elongating and twisting seems a simple way to split the specialization. At the twist the specializations need to split too.  This may have been where the origins of the double helix came from, that seriously twisted chemical.

Then they can become communities of communities by being multi-cellular.

They can be become communities of communities of communities in herds and as seen in the previous chapter the limits are boundless with a true intelligence.  Indeed for a planets ecosystem to be successful the different forms of life must learn to balance their needs if the whole system is not going to die.

If you notice the stories from the Old Testament this is very much what the Old Testament God did.  If you were kind to each other and stuck together as a team you survived and did well.  If you ignored the laws of God and went your own way and committed adultery and were selfish and abandoned the appreciation of the Great I am which provides everything, the societies became unstable and fell to their enemies.

The unproven hypothesis continues…

On some of the stars where life has started the star dies before intelligence really got off the ground but in doing so it flings amino-acids across space to form new life on new planets around new stars but life which has already got a head start.  The ones that survive that death are more likely to succeed in the future.  Survival of the death of a star is almost essential to continued survival of these amino-acids which are just as at home in space as in water.

On other planets intelligence starts to blossom and it may reach the state of human intelligence or even higher where would they go from there?

Humans get the invention of the word they can be families in a community in a county in a country in alliance.  Once we got to here it is very unlikely that the usefulness of knowledge and the usefulness of spreading that knowledge freely is not obvious to  these intelligent people to get the best possible thinking culture.

How would these hypothetical intelligent beings explore space cheaply?  Launch space ships across the void to visit planet by planet individually?  I would suggest that this is a very dangerous and quite possibly unfruitful hobby.

On the other hand they could use the amino-acids they came from; the ones that came very probably from a dying star and are already scattering themselves across the galaxy.

Spamming the Universe with amino-acids and waiting a few million years will reveal oxygen bearing planets as they develop. Any civilisation who is interested can watch for them in their telescopes and be more selective as to where they go.  This is a lot safer route.  Of course the search for oxygen does assume that they are our ancestors and they want to breathe oxygen.  Once spotted, they can hop to a known life bearing planet to say hello and welcome a new civilization to their culture. 

A civilization that is very probably based on the same amino-acids that their life form came from and could very probably give the new life forms a helping hand.

By this point in the story we are definitely in touch with our ancient culture.

Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose,
Genesis 6:1-2
This method of exploration has huge benefits in that the life you find is likely to be based on the same basis as yours, which is where the double helix and sex come in. They are everywhere and I suspect it is because they out competed every other amino-acid building block that was ever blasted out into space.  Because they had already invented the Word at a much lower level in their RNA and genes.
The Spiral helix of RNA, DNA and genes are unbelievably successful.

Why? Because RNA and genes use Words.

With just 23 genes of 4 letter alphabet that is already 423 = 279841 different designs for cells.  A human has nearer 23,000 letters in the alphabet of DNA, a vast number of possibilities.

With about 23,000 we humans have nearer 2 x 1017 blue prints for new cells.  Imagine the population of the world as being one human body we would still give us about 400,000 different people.  That is more thoughts and words than you are likely to say in your life time held in each and every cell of your body.  If you ever thought of a cell as simple, think again. They are vastly complex and can easily think for themselves.

From multi-cellular animals, to herds of mammals, to talking humans, glossing over billions of years of evolution one slow step at a time it took to get us to a talking human with and another acceleration in evolution the word the spoken and then the written word. 

This process as described here could have taken millions or even billions of years even the life of one of those early stars to take place and may have happened many, many times before!  This is not necessarily a fast process but it is an inevitable process.  Darwin says so.  The Great I am says so. 

This process is not only true of individual species of amino-acids or indeed animals or plants. It is true of the whole community on that planet or for inter-galactic empires.  If the community is unbalanced it fails if it is well balanced it succeeds.  Not only do the animals evolve but the ecosystems they are in evolves too.

If any animal is too successful it can start damaging the ecosystems and without the ecosystem the animal will die off.  The bubonic plague died out because it ran out of humans to infect, balance is key.  For balance you need inter-species cooperation.  If we are not careful we may go the same way as the bubonic plague.

Given that even two passing particles colliding can think and this proposal for the development of life and intelligence it then becomes clear that planets can think and once the planets have developed interstellar travel in the form of their most intelligence species then inter-stellar communities become possible and eventually the whole Universe could be thinking as one great big think machine.  This is a very real scientific theory similar to one proposed by Seth Lloyd.  I will go into this more in the next chapter.

This story is speculation and may be science fiction but then again may be it is not.  It does not step out side of known science and so it is a theory just as much as any theoretical physicist’s.  It has one major difference; it is based on the Word and that made the history of life so much easier.

The Word that every animal and Eco-system agree on is that Word is love.
God is Love.  If you cooperate you succeed.   If you do not you die or at best, you do not thrive.
If we want to survive the oil wars, the lack of food caused by over population, global warming and global dimming then we as a global community need to cooperate as never before.

Please, love your neighbour as yourself and love the great I am that is the whole of existence with all your mind soul and body.