More Than the Sum of Our Parts

LOOKING FORWARD FROM BACK THEN

Last blog I took you back to the beginning of life on earth. I will not speculate on whether it was the beginning of life in the universe. As improbable as that sounds, anything is possible… Well, almost anything…

Back at the beginning, when the first cell was splitting for the very first time, what was happening? Are we going to assume that the first living cell made a conscious decision to live beyond its upcoming death by cloning itself. As ridiculous as that sounds, again, anything is possible. The thing is, the first cell did clone itself, and immortality began. One split led to another split led to another split. These splits are still happening today, billions of years later. What is it that drives a cell to go on surviving, motivating it to reproduce itself over and over and over. Look at our own bodies. Yes, we start by the joining of a sperm with an ova, but then what happens. The cell thus formed reverts back to its time-immemorable task of splitting itself to create another cell, and those two cells splitting to make two more cells, then those four cells splitting to make to make eight cells. Somewhere along the line, an order comes from our DNA, I guess you could say, and instead of one cell reproducing itself exactly, it changes itself and splits into a new kind of cell, say, for argument’s sake, a fuel-consuming cell. Consuming fuels immediately requires yet another type of cell, a waste-eliminating cell. Now, suddenly, we need a fourth type of cell, an energy-transporting cell. You can see where I am going with this, I hope. I am describing the growth of a multi-billion, or maybe even multi-trillion, celled being, possibly even a human being–starting from one cell. But as of yet, neither you or I cannot know what type of being is growing out of that first combined sperm+ova cell. A kitten, a baby whale, or a baby human, the what does not matter in this discussion. For matters most, for me, is the how, and the why. And even the how is just a curiosity for scientific study. The why cannot be explained by science, other than to say our DNA requires the cells thus growing to become a certain species of being, related, of course, to its parentage. But really, that is the story of how. Nothing in our understanding of life can give us the why of life.

But let’s try, and it is here my own mind is engaged in two opposite, and not necessarily connected processes. One, the drive to survive. This feature of life, I don’t know that it was a motivating factor or not in the original cell-splitting event, but likely the more the cell reproduced itself the more it wanted to go on reproducing itself until it became a drive to survive. And this drive led to the first mutation of a cell–an attempt to find an even better way to survive. First, I would argue, a different cell, a cell that could last longer than its predecessors. Later, symbiotic cells, or possibly parasitic cells. (Here, a discussion of virions might be helpful, so if you don’t know about virions I hope you will take a quick look.) Whatever the reason, cells started working together, which made for longer-living cells–specifically longer-surviving cells.

Is that a how or a why? The primordial soup is beginning to get fuzzy. That was process one. Process two is from a different point-of-view, the idea that there is an unseeable factor affecting this survival process. That factor is life, the idea or condition that there is more to cells than we can learn about through science, the existence of life spirit. Here I suspect, if I were standing beside or behind you as you read this, is where I would start to hear you laugh. I know some of you will be, but I expect that. Life for you is the process of living, not an actual spiritual condition, or addition. But remember, we are working on the assumption that anything is possible. For me, not only is life a possibility, it too is a probability. The drive to purpose, the drive to be different, the drive to be better than one was previously. I do not see any drive, except survival, coming from a cell all by itself, and even survival might be a stretch.

But enter life, a condition totally unrelated to physical or material processes, and things start to make sense. Well, at least they do to me. Atoms and their building blocks are not capable of wanting to survive, they are what they are and nothing more. No matter how many electrons, protons, or nucleons make up a thing, it is still a thing. It is not capable of any movement except that caused by physical forces such as gravity or centrifugal force. Yet, these proto-motivations, if I may call them that, are real, just not in a physical sense, but in a life sense, or–my words–a spiritual sense.

What that means to me, even if to no one else, is cosmic, to say the least. And the purpose of this post was to introduce the concept of spirituality to those who don’t know much it, or who may have never even considered it.

And for now I will leave this concept here, and to allow you, if you are so inclined, to wonder what the hell I am even talking about. Hopefully, that discussion will come soon.

Author: rawgod

A man with a lot of strange experiences in my life. Haven't traveled that much per se, but have lived in a lot of different areas. English is the only language I have mastered, and the older I get, the more of it I lose. Seniorhood gives me more time to self-reflect, but since time seems to go much faster, it feels like I don't have as much time for living as my younger selves did. I believe in spiritual atheism and responsible anarchy. These do not have to be oxymorons. Imagination is an incredible tool. I can imagine a lot of things.

18 thoughts on “More Than the Sum of Our Parts”

    1. In my NDE experiences. And my continuing attempts to understand exactly what I encountered therein. I can talk about them, but I cannot make anyone know that experience. But neither can I not believe my experience just because other’s. . did not have those same or very similar experiences. Just for your edification, others have had experiences extremely similar to mine, but not all of them are willing to talk about them publicly, if even to someone such as me, who understands what they are talking about. Some think they were, or are, insane.
      More than this I cannot give you. But I can never say these things did not happen to me, nor that they did not have significant effects on who I am today. Nor am I going to ask you to start taking LSD to see if you can obtain the same scientific results.
      Science demands that an experiment be redoable. I almost died twice, on purpose, with the same result.
      But it is up to you whether you believe me, or not.

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  1. But where did the first sell come from? That is the question which keeps me from becoming an atheist (at the same time religion is the thing which keeps me from becoming a “true” believer).

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    1. I cannot tell you where the first cell came from, but if you look at today’s science, you will see there are different classes of cells, the two main classes being prokaryotes and eukaryotes, the pros being much less evolved than the eus. But in comparing them, you can see that the eus evolved from the pros. On one website, which I cannot locate on short notice, they mentioned incomplete cells, but I cannot remember what they were called. They were probably the forerunners of the pros. The rest is prehistory. And I am just theorizing
      To make a long story short, pools of highly chemicalized salt water probably collected in pools where there was a lot of heat involved. Heat is a great catalyst, as are abundant chemicals, and with other elements suspended in solutions it is not impossible to imagine all kind of things forming, unforming and reforming. There is no need to have a creator, I cannot seeing any being of any kind creating such a crude material, but were such a being to create something, I doubt they would or could create anything so crude. But that is just me.
      However it happened, something obviously did happen. We will never know.
      But to me, there is definitely no consciousness or intelligence visible in the predecessors of cells, and but a bit in prokaryote cells, yet both could reproduce through cell-splitting.

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  2. I am fascinated by all the questioned raised here. We observe, we ponder and we ask why? Our quest for answers continues, never being truly sure if we have reached an answer. One scientist on a radio programme said ‘If we were right straight away, that would be boring,’ A Jesuit priest also a scientist in cosmology when asked how he squared his faith with the evidence of science, he said he was challenged ‘every day’.
    And the one part, Life?
    Who truly knows.
    Maybe, just maybe the appearance of Life is one aspect of the vast Complexity which is the Cosmos. 100- 400 billion stars possibly in our Milky Way Galaxy; and possibly, just possibly that many galaxies in the Known Universe. That is a great number of bodies giving out energies, interacting with each other and casting out into whatever into all which surrounds them. Each aspect with its own potential. And that’s before we get around to the Dark Matter/ Dark Energy subjects
    It is therefore a possibility that all of this interaction and the echoes of interaction falling upon planets with the necessary sets of circumstances start off the processes of Life. To be lyrical, answering to ‘The Music of The Spheres.’ Thus the emergence of Life could be a simple response to the rest of the activity going on in the Cosmos. Something which will always happen in this Cosmos, and once it starts…away it goes.
    For a long time, particularly for those with a passing interest in science or reading SF, there was this idea of the ‘Vast Emptiness of Space’; as our knowledge and conjecture grows it would appear ‘There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy [science]. ‘…. (said Hamlet to his friend) .
    In the meantime, we strive on seeking out the beginnings to the start of the answers which will lead us on to grasping how to look at those questions which puzzle us so.
    And then to quote from Raymond Massey’s brilliant delivery at the end of the film ‘The Shapes of Things to Come’:
    “But for Man no rest and no ending. He must go on conquest beyond conquest. First this little planet with its winds and waves. And then all laws of mind and matter that restrain him. Then the planets about him. And at last out throughout cosmos beyond the stars And when he has conquered all the depths of space and the mysteries of time he will still only just be beginning.”
    Keep on asking.

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    1. One thing for sure, sir, there are probably more types of life in this cosmos than are looked for in all of our science.
      A few SF writers in the 50s and 60s posited lifeforms built on silica instead of carbon, though I cannot remember the authors or the names of the books. But in those books life was still something recognizable by our science. I try to imagine what kinds of life there can be that are so totally different we would not recognizable them as being alive. Mostly, I think, this would have to happen at microscopic levels, because surely if life involved develpment and growth on a macro level we would have to recognize it, would we not? But as of yet we have gone no place where such life might exist. Early SF authors had us travelling at least through the solar system by the year 2021, and here we are still mainly planetbound, barely able to send people to the moon, and completely unable to send living things as far as our closest neighbours, and keep them alive while doing it.
      What fascinates me right now is the Mars probe, Perseverance, which is supposed to have the capacity to somehow increase the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere of Mars. I don’t think any author I ever read even considered a mechanical method of terraforming, that made no sense. One needs must use terran plants and terran bacteria to change alien soil into soil able to sustain carbon-based life. Or am I blinding myself to what machines can be built to do?
      Yes, the questions are so many, the answers mostly incapable of being answerable at this time. No matter how much we think we know, it is but a pittance of what we can come to know if we can ever reach the stars.
      Meanwhile, as I hope to demonstrate in the next post in this series, we cannot even know or agree upon what we think we know right here on earth.
      So thank you for responding. It got my speculative juices running once more. Even more.

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      1. I look forward to the next post, because this had me returning to Cosmology once more and all the implications therein.
        Regrading Perseverance I am a bit sceptical about one small machine having the capacity to increase the amount of Oxygen to noticeable levels on something as large as Mars. Earth’s Great Oxidation Event at about 2 billion years ago took a whole ‘race’ of cynobacteria working their little microscopic socks off for a long time. I appreciate Mars is smaller, but even so. We shall see.
        I do recall reading an SF short story concerning silicon based Life, but as usual cannot recall the title or the author; there was a great deal of imagery and the use of glass or jewels in the creatures physical bodies. Who indeed can say, how Life might form? There is speculation that in the upper atmospheres of such seemingly hostile worlds as Venus, Jupiter or Saturn life forms could exist. Once more who knows?
        As you point out, our current knowledge is indeed but a pittance, and is constantly being re-evaluated. I remember by dad telling me he had heard on a radio programme about the time I was born (1951) a respected scientist saying space travel was impossible because as Space was a vacuum there would be nothing for a rocket’s engine power to push against.
        We do seemed to have come to a halt. But I think our progress is generally stop-start. If we consider the European experience with the American continent some folk arrived there maybe in the 12th century and only in the 16th century was the venture taken up again.
        We as a species shall see…providing we don’t end up manufacturing our own extinction event.

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        1. Yes, our present position.itics are not conducive to continued 3xistence on Earth, especially the human variety. I hope we do not wipe out all life along with our own.
          Space exploration is certainly not as smooth-sailing as predicted in the 50s and 60s, but fiction does not always anticipate reality, 3cept John Brunner predicting the President of the USA in the year 2010 would be a black man named Obami. How close could such a prediction be?
          That third post will be a day or two late, life is interfering. I just hope it doesn’t disappoint.

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          1. Brunner is one of my favourites not as high profile as many, but always delivered an impact.
            We may well screw the environment and Life in general; some are already referring to Humanity as an Extinction Event…but Life will continue, it always adapts.
            And I’ll check for your second post. Yeah, Life does interfere….there’s an allegory there somewhere

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            1. Third post actually, there was one before the post you commented on, but no problem. Being the writer, I wasn’t looking for it to stand alone, but if you say it does, then it does. All the better.

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              1. Oh it does….Very evocative and thought provoking, sent me out one of my mental sojourns into the Cosmos
                Meanwhile I have to try and find the other two…WP is being flaky again…..
                (Why does it keep showing me my own posts like I am a different person)

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                  1. Thanks for the affirmation!
                    I know we disagree of several issues, however there is enough space in the Cosmos for our differing sets of views, they probably meld somewhere, somehow.
                    (However… Intolerance….I am very intolerant of Intolerance but dare not say anymore…Once in a flippant mood I wrote up what seemed to be an obvious parody of my own views- you have to self satire sometimes- and one person took me seriously!)….
                    Now back to finding your posts …

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        2. Oh, by the way, speaking of European visitors to North America, have uou been watching the TV series on Oak Island? An island off the coast of Nova Scotia that is believed to have buried treasure on it. There are finds on the island that make it seem the Templars made a number of expeditions to the island in the 13th and 14th centuries before they were almost wiped out by the French King in the 1400s. Then later the island was apparently used by some pirates to hide their treasures too. It is a reality show, involving archeologists and other experts, so I doubt it is fake. The searchers have not found any real treasure, but there are too many anomalies to say something big did not happen there before Comumbo ever sailed from Spain in 1492.
          I find it very intriguing.

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            1. I see what you mean. Spelchek does things like that to me all the time. What I really hate is when it replaces one word with another real word, those are harder to catch. Last night in a comment to Jill, I typed, totally correctly, the name Great Thunder which you know is not what I just typed. G-r-e-t-a T-h-u-n-b-e-r-g Is obviously anathema to Spelchek, as are he’ll, God, and a number of other such words, and yet fuck is mainly unchanged. I wish I could remember some others, they are just amazing!

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          1. Ooops WP sent a garbled message. Why do they keep the Send signal in such a prominent place?
            Anyway, as I was saying….I would not be surprised if more discoveries keep turning up. After all the eastern coast of the Continent from Canada down to Argentina is quite long.

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