Thursday, February 21, 2008

Once Upon a Post

Once upon a post, I questioned a statement, and stated a question. Finding no answer the thought was left to drift upon the wind. But now, a bout with geologic thermodynamics has brought it back.

Life is

There is is again, that unpunctuated mystery of the grand cosmic scheme of things. We will make our round to it once again, but first, we will start with the geology.

Earth is alive. This idea is called the Gaia Hypothesis. It was developed in 1978 and the argument is as follows. Life is a property that makes possible growth, cycling of nutrients, adaptation to surroundings, and enables reproduction. Growth-a process of development. Ok let's see. Earth started as a cloud of dust. It developed into a molten solid. From this water and land developed. Life. Air, oxygen, plants, etc soon followed (give or take a few billion). Though it may not have necessarily gotten bigger Earth has grown. Earth is not the same as it was when it first started, it has developed significantly since. Ergo, growth.

Ah but what about the cycling of nutrients--Carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle, phosphorus cycle, sulfur, nitrogen, water cycle, rock cycle--Earth recycles (so remind me again why aren't we?)!

Ok, but is Earth adapting? Yes. During the period nearly 2 billion years ago life developed a taste for a highly toxic substance known as oxygen. So much of it was released, so quickly it actually rusted the entirety of our planet.

Exhibit A. A chunk of alternating rusted and non-rusted Iron. The only explaination for this is oxygen and lots of it, which killed of the creatures who made it leaving a period where there wasn't as much leading to another period of developement where we as life forms produced it again making it red again then having it build up and kill us repeating for a few million years until Earth finally adapted reached a suitable mixture of both and has never looked back. Oxygen now consists of 21% of the composition of Earth's air. Yet Earth has not shut down, it has not ceased functioning even though a major component of its composition Carbon dioxide is now a trace compound. Nor did it shut off when a formerlly trace element such as oxygen now dominates the scene. No. Earth has adapted, and continues to exist in its new role as an oxygen rich carbon poor planet. It exists just as life still exists despite the cataclysmic changes.
Growth, Check! Nutrient Cycling, Check!, Adaptation, Check! So far so good, but what about reproduction? Check! The moon. Earth's moon is composed of the same materials as Earth. It is a weird way of thinking about it, but our moon is a budding of the mother planet Earth. I will freely admit, Earth is not a life form as we are used to thinking of them, but she is alive nonetheless. By definition she meets every criterion for life. She is a single cell of enormous proportions and we are the mitochondria and organelles that make her go.

[ If instead you would prefer a somewhat more religious argument, then consider this, How many cultures have personafied her? She is "Mother Earth" and "Gaia" to name just two. For those of you who are of the LDS persuasion peruse the Book of Moses chapter 7 or so. Admittedly, these claims do not prove that Earth is alive, but it does show that it is at least a very old idea that has been pased around before.]

If you will but permit me, I am going to take the claim that, Earth really is a form of life, as an axiom, and for kicks and giggles, let us see what develops if we do. We have developed axiom 1, Earth can be thought of as something living. Something living composed of smaller individual units who are themselves living, whose interactions make up the whole. There is another example that also follows this pattern. Us. We too are large organisms existing because of the contributions of literally trillions of smaller living wholes. Ahh!! My brain hurts tiny wholes making up the big wholes filling in the holes. This post is getting as bad THIS one. I need to go get something to eat. You should too.

Munch ...munch...munch.

Ah good! You're back! Consider what just happened there. You decided that you would uncork yourself from your formerly seated position. Stroll over to your designated food source. Reach out, open it or buy it. Make it. Eat it. And now you are enjoying your contented post consumption bliss. I must say, a very well planned action. But you must admit, it was pretty spontaneous too, just getting up like that and eating spur of the moment. There aren't too many laws of the US government that at precisely X:03 must grab something to eat. It was your own free will that compelled you to do that. But, and this one is the kicker, let's go a step further. What were your cells doing? One cell gets a signal from another, its just a faint signal an increase in this ion triggering a release of that compound. That's no big deal says that cell I make this every day. Another day, another compound. I don't know why I do this. I don't know where it goes. I just secrete this. I just do what I'm told. That substance made by Stan over in cubical 127365 is sent to the muscles. Joe down the lane got a letter from some cell named Stan it says flex. Ok says Joe, I'll flex. Martha, Billy, Roberta all got similar messages. Some from Stan, some from all of the others over in the neuron division. They go about doing their thing and the leg muscles flex and extend. But there are a few trouble makers. Those clowns over in adductor longus had a late night last night and just aren't up to contracting. That's cool. They can choose to do that. They have just as much free will as you or I, but what happens if they do? Your leg cramps up, your ability to complete your plan is hindered--you have a cramp. Now at this juncture you have several options. You can go on painfully, you still get food, it hurt, but you have forced you will upon the leg. Food comes and happiness resumes. You could try to work with the fellas in adductor longus cell block B reach a compromise after some rubbing and continue when they choose to cooperate. You could change your plans and not go get food. You could have someone else help you and have them go get food. The food was attained. Happiness achieved, but how did it happen?

What would happen if we took this analogy and instead applied it to religion? The body is God. The freewill of God is our small subtle command the ion that told stan to secrete an extra potassium. Stan's part was but a small one. Individually Stan may not have been needed. He probably could have done something else. But what if every cell acted this way? Could anything get done? Billions of cells a day die. Some die horrible deaths, some die after their energy stores wear out quitely in passing, but everyone of them had a purpose, played a part. The actions of one affect the actions of another. Yet, if we will choose to follow the plan, great food, new stores of glycogen, and glucogone await us all. Because of one cramp no one is willing to amputate the leg, but what about continous pain?

Hmm, our example holds on so many levels. We are the cells of God, his conscience is a will that will lead us to great rewards. But why must the analogy stop? Could not Earth be the single cell of the universe as a whole? Are not the atoms the cells held sway by the organelles.

Hamlet once said that he could hold himself the master of a nutshell and consider himself content. I am of the LDS faith. My faith says that when we die we too will become Gods. Perhaps in death the realization comes that in a way we already are. Why must we be good, do good? Because if we are not concerned for the health of our cells, the health of our subjects we too may die! If we are but the cells of a great and grand God, how very inspiring to note that perhaps if we do not follow his will we are the cancers of God, If my hairbrained ideas hold true sin may literally be the death of God! In a way it was. Christ died for our sins! Maybe instead, he died BECAUSE of them! Sobering thoughts, but we are not done, not yet. What is this property of life, this property that allows us to grow, develop, change, adapt, reproduce and seek happiness? What if this property is an aspect of the Holy Ghost? We showed earlier that the Holy Ghost stems from an integral taken over our entire lives--That would count all of our cells that we have ever had, what if his power comes from the power of life even the tiniest life smaller than a cell, and yet everywhere at once. If the power of the Holy Ghost is intimately tied in with life, it would explain why the Holy Ghost has so many aspects of a heavenly mother. Not because it IS the heavenly mother, but because it is the force of life, a force strongly in tune in mothers.

Good ideas, the lot of them, but how do I test it? And where did that bit about thermodynamics come in how does that relate? Well the ideas for this post stemmed from the conservation of energy, but before I tackle that, I am going to need to do a bit more reading. More posts to come. I hope you enjoy. Good luck! Good night.


Charla the Great said...

"Yet, if we will choose to follow the plan, great food, new stores of glycogen, and glucogone await us all."

Isn't it appropriate, then, that Christ is the Bread of Life and the Living Water?

Very thought provoking..

Charla the Great said...

And, let's face it. Christ is also our Chunky Peanut Butter... (Isaiah 30:10)