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First key to life
The miracle of life
The fact that we are alive is considered a miracle and this certainly is felt that way. We have not been able to produce life in a laboratory despite all the knowledge we have to manipulate it. We consider life to be divine yet find the strange paradox to behave and organize ourselves in a life destructive way. Climate changes, air pollution, irresponsible usage of natural resources, destruction of our habitat and the disappearance of species, show us an era that is being labeled as the anthropocene. This refers to the era in which the human species leaves such a scar on the face of our planet and among nature that it will be visible for as long as this planet exists. I have written already about this era . I also wrote about a less visible, but even more worrying era, the genetic anthropocene. This is the time period in which we affected our DNA in such a way (with cancers, illnesses, physical and behavioral distortions) that it will also have negative effects on the development of our species for many, many, many generations to come.
The question we face is whether this is normal in evolutionary sense or abnormal? Is there a logic to be found? And what will this do to us? Are we a natural threat to our own evolutionary selves? Or is all this destructive behavior part of “the bigger plan”? Will there eventually be an evolutionary wake up call that will make us understand our own selves and get us to restructure our societies and systems? Or will we become an historic educational point of reference for any future self aware species that shows “how NOT to do it?”. Even if we are aware of our dangers, what will inhibit or facilitate us to implement our awareness to avoid disaster?
If this will happen what will be the trigger? When will this happen, if it happens at all? Can we predict our own future?
Are we unique?
Are we talking about one human species or are we several? Can we talk about differentiation through awareness like we do biological qualities or differences? Can awareness be culturally affected as an evolutionary trigger or blockage? Is awareness coded genetically or in some other way? And if so how would it affect the relationships between human beings and its surroundings, our evolution and our systems of education and societal cohesion? How powerful or necessary is understanding life?
To come to answers to these questions we need an understanding to what life and awareness is in reality. Let us start with the very big initial question:
what is the missing link?
The missing link
When referring to the “missing link” you may automatically think about the missing evolutionary shackle between monkey life and human beings. I am not referring to this because now we know that we are the competitive remains of various parallel human like life forms that evolved and coexisted over time in the last 2 to 4 million years. We represent a very complex highly competitive form of life that is at the same time very delicate as well as powerful.
The missing link that I refer to is what makes “matter + energy” come alive? If I throw a pile of dirt in a jar and put sunlight on it there is little chance that it will come alive. There has to be a special “something”, a trigger that puts A + B together into a living something. So life is:
Matter + Energy + ????
Why would a bird that flies through wind and rain stick together with all its different molecules and not fall apart? Because it has “????”! We (humans) have “????” too and so does an amoeba, an insect, a bacteria, a fish, a plant, etc. When “????” disappears the molecules fall apart again to re-integrate with our environment until a new wave of the gluing “????” comes around, unites some of these molecules again together with others and creates a new life form. Until that dies too, keeping the cycle of usage of materials going around for ever, allowing maybe some progressive evolution through this getting together (life) and breaking up (death) events.
When we think of it we ourselves consist probably of matter that has been used over and over again in all kinds of life forms over time and history. Some of our molecules may well have been of a dinosaur at one time and most certainly of that chicken and salad that we ate last week. We may have molecules that were at one time part of the bodies of Michael Angelo, Jesus Christ, Jane D’Arc or Jack the Ripper. We are in fact each a little bit of everything that has occurred on Earth and ……even before Earth.
So from a pure material point of view we are just the same as our environment, assembled together in a particular unique life form for some reason, just like all the other species that surround us. Just because we have this miraculous “????”.
It is of course fun to realize that we are able to reflect about it and can ask ourselves the question:
why? and what is this “????”
In the next blog lecture we will look into matter first because it has very important characteristics that we need to become aware of in order to take the next steps in our quest for the “Secrets of Life”.
Jean-Paul Close (May 2013)
This word indicates the lasting impact of human activities on our natural surroundings. This influence has reached such a point of significance that it will leave an eternal researchable print on the surface of our planet. It resembles the geological markings that were left behind by other huge impacts on our planet and its lifeforms, s.a. climate changes, volcanic eruptions, meteorite impacts, ice-ages, etc. Those eras have received a particular name because of the unique traceable combinations of environmental impact and interaction with the existence and evolution of life, the appearance and disappearance of species and evolutionary patterns. Anthropocene is the very first era that can be attributed to the behavior of a single species, the human being.
This Anthropocene is hence the very first conscious act of destruction, pollution and manipulation. It does not mean that the consciousness is done entirely on purpose. It is a consequence of an evolutionary development of a human society that has avoided, neglected or remained unaware of the need for harmonic relationships with our universe. This awareness is now reaching the awakening consciousness of the species, demanding the intense and urgent modification of societal structuring that evolved over many millenia. The question that arises today is whether the required transformation is at all possible, considering the way the species deals with power, authority, aggression and greed in its structuring of responsibilities. Lots of modern talks consider the need to define ethics, spirituality and morality in our behavior and social organization. Hardly any reflection occurs yet on a much more serious consequence of the Anthropocene: the genetic anthropocene!
Genetic footprint of pollution
The human consists of rational intelligence which becomes aware of the Anthropocene from the traditional external sensory point of view. It is a challenge of course to translate this rational into behavioral changes that allow our species to progress in a sustainable manner. A lot of effort goes into transforming our industrial, manufacturing and logistic activities. What we have neglected in our quest for material abundance is that we are also beings with physical properties that are equivalent to those of our surroundings. From a molecular composition point of view we do not differ from our natural environment. The molecules come together to shape a human life around a purpose yet the quality of the assembly is a good as the quality of the surrounding components. Pollution in our environment is equivalently present inside our physical system. Our body is a complex machinery of harmonically interacting elements that involves the entire evolutionary complexity since the big bang. Our molecular composition and our enrichment through sensory interaction with our environment, is a mirror image of the consciousness of the surrounding universe about which we reflect. Pollution is part of that, when it occurs, and influences in exactly the same degree our composition and awareness.
What does this mean?
It means that our genetic coding is including the physical and psychological disorder that the pollution of our environment is providing. This is measurable through science. Many other species show genetic disorder already due to the Anthropocene. Some have mutuations that mutulate their existance and evolutionary chances. Others, especially on bacterial level adjust to such an extend that they become a threat to human kind.
Genetic research has found in the last few years the codes that predict the chances of any person to suffer a disorder in life. Right now this research is done from a material perspective to determine how much health insurance someone may have to pay when society becomes aware that a certain illness is more or less likely to occur. The morality of such conclusions is of course highly disputable but the same research can show that the same genetics show an Anthropocene too in our genetical footprint. In practical reality we see that more and more people suffer cancer and other types of health problems. Archaeological research on mummies, skeletons and other human remains of our history confirm this tendency.
There are of course scientists that refuse to admit this. Some simply believe that the growing problems in health are a consequence of a longer life expectancy and improved scientific level of knowledge and maintenance of statistics. This is ridiculous of course. Why accept the disorder and mutations in animals, insects and plants, and not in the human species. We are the same as our environment!
This is an even more serious consequence then the effects of the Anthropocene itself. Even if we manage to adjust our behavior we will eternally show the scars of our Anthropocene in our own genetic anthropocene, with all the related consequences in our own evolutionary quality of life. Harmony with our surroundings is therefor an issue of universal ethics that urgently needs to be introduced in our systems of law, morality and behavior.