posted on Mar, 5 2006 @ 04:45 PM
I’m just kickin’ back on a lazy Sunday afternoon, chillin’, digging the first bit of quiet time I’ve had since my kid was born. I’m not
coming down on anybody, riding the ego trip or trying to prove anything. What I’m doing more than anything is just writing a paper. I like to
write. I find it more relaxing than playing video games and more productive than watching reruns of Star Trek.
This will probably be a little disjointed… I’m eating chocolate covered pretzels, listening to ACDC, and having Fun. I would suggest you do the
same if you choose to read this (at least the have Fun part)
One of the things I’m seeing tossed around here (and elsewhere) is the concept of Higher Form Of Life… That’s pretty funky if you think about
it. Where did THAT come from?
I’m assuming it comes from the Darwinian pyramid chart of evolution, yes? Single celled slimy things are at the bottom, followed by clusters of
cells that group together and swim around in a drop of pond water, more complex creatures, things like invertebrates, finally, at the top of the
pyramid you have mammalian vertebrates.
The “lowest” forms of life are the single celled things; the “highest” forms are the things at the top of the pyramid… bunny rabbits,
chickens, you and me, yes?
If that’s the case, then couldn’t it be argued that the “higher” forms of life are, in fact, the most immature forms? They are the youngest,
the new kids on the block. They are the ones that have faced the fewest challenges and have survived the shortest amount of time. The “lower”
forms, on the other hand, have faced more global changes, more conflicts, and have had more generations to perfect and adapt themselves to their place
in the universe…
Perhaps by “higher” life form people mean those creatures which alter their environment in order to create a more hospitable place to live…
virtually all land based and many water based creatures do that though, don’t they? Creatures build habitats for themselves or shelters for their
Tool use? Again, we don’t have a monopoly on that one. Even some birds use a lever to pry up rocks in order to get the grubs that live
underneath… If a lever isn’t considered to be a highly advanced tool and one of the things that put us into the realm of being “clever
creatures” then I don’t know what is.
Communication? Again, no monopoly there. It would seem that every living thing communicates via some form or another. A wide range of the
electromagnetic spectrum and a whole slough of chemicals are used not only by single celled creatures but also multi celled life forms for the purpose
of communication. Not to mention the rather primitive form of oscillating air waves we laughing call speech.
What makes one form “higher” than another? The ability to wage war? The ability to feel and express emotions? Being inquisitive? Memory? Very
curious concept, this “higher life form” thing…
Some people will probably argue that technology is what determines a “higher life form”… digital watches and atomic bombs and stuff… This
sounds plausible on the surface but when I scratch at it it doesn’t seem to hold water… Our ten thousand year old ancestors had the same DNA as
we do but hadn’t figured out how to bang the rocks together yet… no wheel, no fire, no lever…
The more I ponder it, the more that line from the movie The Matrix rings true… the only other life form on this planet that is like us is a virus.
Most folks would probably consider a virus to be a pretty lowly form of life…
Let’s think about trees for a minute. You ever think about trees? Think about a tree. Think about a nice big groovy thousand year old Redwood
tree. Why is it alive? In fact, why is any tree anywhere alive?
You’re not really getting into the tree, are you? *grins* Okay…
A tree is rooted into the ground. It is completely at the mercy of the elements. It has no arms or tentacles or whatevers to use to build shelters.
It has no legs or wings, so it can’t run away, so not only are trees at the mercy of the elements, they are also at the mercy of predators.
The biggest predators of trees are insects. Many of the insects that prey upon trees experience more than one generation per year. So a thousand
year old tree has two, three, maybe even Ten Thousand generations of evolving, mutating predators chomping on it. Each successive generation of
predator is evolving and mutating into a better and better tree chomper, yet that tree began its life a thousand years ago. It sprang from a single
seed, and grew from a single set of genetic instructions…
By rights the bugs should have won out a long time ago and there shouldn’t BE any trees left on the face of this planet, right?
*looks out the window*
And yet, there they are… What’s With THAT?
The theory of evolution goes something like each successive generation of mutants either lives or dies based upon the survival value of said mutation
within its given environment, right? Survival of the fittest.
And yet here we have a long lived organism (the tree) that some how Knew, a thousand years ago, that Today it would need to be able to generate this
specific set of chemical defenses in order to defend itself from a predator that did not exist when it was created…
WOW. That’s pretty funky.
Perhaps the theory of evolution is flawed. Perhaps it doesn’t take successive generations to evolve. Perhaps long lived organisms, (like trees)
can evolve Without procreating. Perhaps they evolve During their life times (which is what I believe to be the case)
If that really is the case, trees then become a more highly evolved creature than say, you or me, having gone through more evolutionary processes
during the course of their lives…
And what about just single cells? Rip a cell out of your body and throw it into a dish of nutrients and it just sorta sits there, apparently quite
content to just simply be (and be well fed in the process *grins*) Put it back where it came from though, and it becomes an entirely different
entity. It now has purpose and function, it communicates, not only with its neighbors with but also with other groups of cells many "miles" away.
It becomes an aware and active member of a society.
For some crazy unknown reason, some single cells, brainless, senseless single cells, seem to get together. They organize into organs, which in turn
organize into organisms (like you and me, or a tree) Taken individually those cells don’t seem to posses the capability of doing that… they just
sit there in the laboratory dish… alive but a disorganized mass of goo.
Under the right (and as yet undiscovered) set of conditions, that goo pulls itself together and forms a society which is Me.
Does it stop there? Is that as far as the organizational process goes? Is there any validity to the Gaia hypothesis? Does this organizational
process continue past me to include the tree, and the spider, and you?
And if so, could it be That entity that an alien race might find interesting and worthy of study… not just the liver or the heart or the bones which
is you and me and the trees, but the entire planet as a whole…
*eyes the empty glass*
Obviously it’s time to go now.
[edit on 5-3-2006 by torbjon]
[edit on 5-3-2006 by torbjon]