Is God alive?
What is the most revered or sacrosanct aspect of life? To so many people the answer will be God but then how do we conceive of such entity? How sure are we that god exists somewhere, everywhere or nowhere? Tell a very small child about god and he or she will have no hesitation of accepting god, in the same way as a child can accept its mother or father. Yet there is a big difference; god does not reveal himself to us though we are in no doubt that he exists. It is almost tantamount to being coded in our DNA yet it is a concept that grows in our minds as we get older, which implies it is mental in nature rather than physical. Most people go as far as a certain limit of picturing him beyond which they grant him a kind of secret existence that is unquestioned. For the few intellectuals, who choose to probe further, they may eventually succumb to god being outside the realm of logical probing or scientific investigation and end up with separate compartmentalisations in their brains or else they relinquish any allegiance to god and declare him to be an imposter, similar to the mythical father Christmas, whom we can see through him as we copy the spirit of his benevolence to our children. Such a non-believer in god is referred to as an atheist, which was coined by the believers as a somewhat derogatory term. I have not come across anyone who is proud of calling himself an atheist instead they prefer to be referred to as a scientist.
If god is a concept that we have in our minds then we ought to examine it with the right tools that apply to our minds, namely Psychology. The software mechanisms inside our brains are too complex to decipher. There is no one specific cell or group of cells in the brain that is responsible for any single concept. There is a kind of a holistic un-localised approach to the storage and retrieval of information in the brain. Add to that the fact that brain mimics its perceived external world as a model in which new concepts are being integrated with old established concepts to enhance their scope, meaning and relevance to external situations. Most psychologists prefer to treat the mind as a black box and set about to conduct experiments to discover observed associations relating to external triggers applied, which has lead to a major branch of psychology labelled behavioural psychology; it has helped so many patients discover the relationship of their fears to external stimuli and through a gradual process of desensitisation, it was possible to cure their fears. The concept of god somehow cannot be elicited by a certain input or trigger into the brain; it can only be perceived in the same way as a maternal or parental figure, as a source of nourishment to the spirit, which is yet another elusive concept that refers to the immortal part of the self.
We are not likely to find out exactly where god sits in our brain or lives in our mind, though we are sure of one thing and that is he is very much at the boundary of our microcosm inside our brain. This is the world as we understand it and subject to our belief in god, we will always encounter god whenever we try to step out of our own world. We feel rewarded whenever we obey his command and feel a twinge of guilt when we inadvertently disobey his command. If we choose to do away with god then subject to how effective the negation can be, we may still encounter some resistance coming from the more primitive aspects in our psyche, refusing to give up the idea, which is tied up with so many cherished events from the past. This may cause some atheists to experience a split as they become compulsive in their denunciation of god. Because the concept of god is holistically mapped in our brains, it cannot be easily wiped out, as it is embedded in a long history of evolution in the brain. There are bound to be a lot of happy memories entangled with the love of god and all the close relatives and friends who shared their love and beliefs with us over the years. In other words it is very difficult to divorce god from love or vice versa. If we think that the concept of god as perceived in our minds is outmoded then we can enhance it with more plausible ideas without severing the relation between god and love. We could never guess where god actually lives in the outside world but we know for sure where he lives in our own world and we know that our own world is connected to other people’s world by a web of social culture. Therefore together we enact the concept of god, which can take care of us through the cumulative efforts of the group. That group could be as small as the immediate group or as large as the whole nation, the whole world or the whole universe.
It is more poetical to invoke aspects of love to the heart, therefore if anyone asks me where god can be found. I would instinctively say in our hearts, as any other specific place is bound to be meaningless. After all the heart is also depicted as the seat of love, which is a relevant choice for a perfect answer. Not everybody can accept this trick, which could be seen by some as an attempt to make god less omnipotent or mysterious than they believe, however it is more convincing and therefore satisfying than admitting ignorance. There is no doubt that we are making inroads into scientific discoveries, god or whatever entity that has absolute knowledge of the universe does not seem to be preventing us from achieving the wholly grail, only then will we know that the universe is a gigantic clockwork, following a specific path in a spontaneous manner that one day we will fully understand. Therefore we are not likely to encounter god at the edge of the universe but we should have realised that he is so close to our hearts and the only way to feel his presence among us is through love to one another and learn to live in peace. We can talk about sins as the evil deeds we indulge into, which impact on our lives and other people’s lives. If anyone is going to punish us for our sins it is the system we live in, as it is some kind of a god, as it tries to gently coerce us into consideration for other people’s feelings.
The idea of a god in the making may seem somewhat small than the kind of god that rules over the universe. If god is a concept then he does not have a body as such, which is the same as saying software is volatile and can only live in a computer’s memory without affecting its weight or mass. The god that lives in our hearts is the same as the software that lives in a computer but just as the software can make the computer come alive, the god in our hearts makes us come alive too. The god that lives in our hearts could be much bigger than we can imagine because we can’t be sure that animals and plants, who appear to be in tune with us are not included in a bigger god of life on earth, which appears to be highly tuned for us to share with all other forms of life. We can move out further to include the entire solar system with so many advantages to us. Some ancient cultures worshipped the sun for the obvious advantages it bestows on us. The Milky Way galaxy is the next level up in our relation with a common god and finally the universe with its highly tuned laws of physics that appear to have been aware of our appearance on the scene. The only trouble with these extra levels of life promoting hierarchy is that we are not on the same wavelength when it comes to making contact, for where our clocks move in minutes and hours, the universe’s clock moves in billions of years.
So far the god that I am proposing lives here with us inside our own universe and therefore that means he did not exist before the universe came into existence 13.7 billion years ago but he has evolved in time inside the universe bubble and has now finally handed control to us. Our level of consciousness may be sufficiently unique to enable us to contribute to the destiny of the universe in the far future however the final fate of the universe seems bleak even though we are talking about trillions of years in the future. So far the idea of a god that lives inside the universe is appealing because it makes us and everything around us connected in a godly manner. If god is outside our universe then we are back to a fully fledged entity that lies totally outside our universe, whose job was to ignite the big bang and then go to sleep. That is not a satisfying picture for it means we are nothing more than his knowledge undergoing yet another expansion subject to the laws of the universe. In this picture we are totally divorced from him, as he will not have access to our own space or time from outside the universe. Such god may not even be aware that we exist, let alone count our sins and blessings.
Some people may object to the idea of the universe being alive and therefore connected to all other forms of life including us, for the universe may seem chaotic and ruled by so many destructive mindless forces. The truth of the matter is that such chaotic processes may be necessary in a higher frame of reference, just as volcanoes here on earth have brought useful minerals to help start exotic forms of life even though the devastation caused to other forms of life was unavoidable. It is important also to realise that random mutations is caused by mindless chemical reactions, which on the whole proved disastrous but occasionally gave life an advantage that was latched on by natural selection. If we are to look at the universe on a very large scale we can easily see the beauty and purpose it created but when we look on a small scale we are bound to see so much random and chaotic processes taking place but if we wait for a sufficiently long time we may see how a chaotic cloud of gas could eventually become a shining star.
I have been careful not to ditch the idea of god completely out of hand as some scientists have done, for we can’t live without the relationship with a god that takes care of us. The only thing that I have taken away from god is the power to create life because life turned out to be a property of matter that lay dormant for billions of years until the right conditions were established here on earth to enable organic chemistry to synthesise the molecules of life and with the aid of some feedback mechanisms, animation got started. It took more than 4 billion years to reach the level of sophistication that brought us here using nothing more than random mutations and natural selection. Where do we go from here depends on us and how we remain connected with a web of love and care to a glorious bright future. Type your paragraph here.
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This is a philosophical excursion in the realm of all aspects of life. It deals with the formidably large, the incredibly small and all that is in between including us. I pay special attention to our own role in the scheme of evolution, with emphasis on our own man-made cultures, scientific achievements and artistic creativity. The views echoed here are naturally personal even though I have cited other people’s ideas to create a more stimulating two sided argument. All criticism or praise is expressed with some justification but no real prejudice. When all is said and done, it remains a positive appraisal of our place under the sun, our strengths, weaknesses and aspirations, if we are to march forward indefinitely in time.
Life is not an easy subject to do it justice in a tiny book like this. I have touched on so many seemingly unrelated subjects and disciplines in the hope of being able to see life from all its angles. That does not mean I am an expert on all of these subjects but I have made a concerted effort to look up some references. As a human being, I did however indulge myself in some of my own personal points of view, idealism and fantasies. In my scientific perusal, I am perplexed by some of the material I came across and tried to express some of my own doubts about its validity. I am therefore unable to make any apologies about any inaccuracies or misunderstanding of the scientific jargon, for I am sure no one will treat this as a text book. In the fields of social and political arena, I did stick my neck out in certain areas, to express some of my own dissatisfactions, personal feelings and idealism, including some utopia. For those who may find it controversial in places, I offer my sincere and humble apologies, as I am no revolutionary with any radical ideas or any antagonistic views; it could be regarded as some form of intellectual romanticism. It is no more than an attempt to address a subject as complex as life itself to bring it home to those who are blissfully unaware of the underlying force that propagates through us. At the same time it is addressed to those who are experts in their own special fields to enable them to put across their criticism or appraisal, to enable me to edit this book and present it in a more accurate and fully integrated manner. In fact any meaningful feedback from anyone is greatly appreciated. My email address is: - firstname.lastname@example.org
Life is just a down to earth four letter word, bursting with so much joy and drama. The story of life cannot be told for it has been badly lost over the years but surprisingly enough we unearthed some of it through our ingenuous detective work, we have managed to uncover some of its missing chapters. We may never get to know the full story but that does not stop us from padding it with bits of our own plausible scenarios, in the same way as we do with the future. They say that ignorance is bliss, so why are we concerned about finding the truth, with all its problems? The trouble with bliss is that we miss out on a lot of excitement that could make the difference between the joyful struggle for knowledge and purpose as opposed to the resigned acceptance that leads to stagnation and sorrow. We have got no guarantee or assurances from anyone, including god, for our lives; we only have an unsigned lease for life, which is often terminated without our consent. I often wondered what the highest goal of all living beings is. At first I assumed it to be procreation but then procreation must be serving something else, for it only guarantees continuity to achieve a higher goal. It finally dawned on me it has to be knowledge, pure and absolute, for it has been undergoing tremendous progress, since the dawn of humanity. You may then wonder what about all the millions of other forms of life. I am fairly sure that even animals seek knowledge about their environment in order to maximise their chances of survival. The kind of knowledge we seek goes beyond the need to find food and shelter, which have become fairly secure in our social settings. What we need is more in the way of widening our horizons, to get to see what lies behind the obvious, who is orchestrating our existence and ultimately the reason or the wisdom, if any, of the universe around us. Evolution does not go in a straight line to achieve a specific goal. Evolution does not even know what goal it must achieve but evolution is driven by random mutations and natural selection, the two pillars that will enable it to stumble on successful adaptations to its environment, based on the properties of matter. Desirable features in a given environment provide a positive advantage or benefit to its bearer, who passes on their successful genes more favourably to their offspring and in some cases an assisted propagation is encouraged by members of the group, who have the vision to recognise the better qualities they wish to promote. For most territorial animals, the top brass alpha male has exclusive access to all the harems (females) in the group in an effort to propagate and preserve his good genes. However, the selection criteria in this case is limited to the qualities of the alpha male, who is invariably more aggressive and dominant than the rest of the males in the group but may not be the most intelligent, fastest or smartest member of the group and this is where our strategy of allowing all our genes to be propagated, can yield a broad spectrum of human qualities, which enables us to complement each other to create greater social civilisations. In the wild, nature does not stop to give a hand to a disabled or weak animal, for the law of the jungle is survival for the fittest. In most advanced social communities, we extend a lot of help to those who are less fortunate then ourselves, for no matter how disabled or unfortunate a person may be they can contribute to the diversity of our spices, in a uniquely beneficial manner to the community.
Our real power stems from the fact that the universe has granted us a huge potential for life, in which random mutations is the tool with which life stumbles on the built-in capabilities inherent in the properties of matter. We must consider ourselves to be very lucky indeed for there are billions of other planets where life could not even start. We are the universe’s lucky number and we may even be the only ticket to an advanced form of life. We have been blessed with a unique form of temperate conditions to set us off on the long arduous road of evolution, during which life flourished and transformed our planet to a more habitable home for us. We are still wading through a lot of our own murky back waters; any break-through we encounter has an element of random mutation to it, we call it learning by mistakes. If we are clever enough there will come a time when we will be able to secure our future by colonising more planets and assume control over our destiny instead of being at the mercy of our ignorance, which we try to disguise at times as our beliefs.
Our life is only a small chapter in the life of the universe. Life has a great number of different chapters, each with its own set of rules that only apply to a specific level. The rules that apply for atoms, molecules, cells and organs are all different right up to the rules that govern our behaviour. The rules that apply to sub-atomic particles are characterised by quantum properties, which are very different, if not strange from the rules that apply to our own world. It is no wonder that we have no way of visualising what is going on there other than on a purely statistical basis. A crude way of visualising it is to abandon individual representations and picture it as a kind of undifferentiated, un-localised collective existence that has no real substance but never the less react to our probing by eliciting a coherent physical reaction that we can measure and rely upon to build electronic gadgets. Somehow out of that unimaginable foam-like substance, our own physical world comes to life. The desire to visualise such alien world is as ambiguous as our inability to visualise objects in higher dimensions. The quest for direct visualisation has subsided and therefore is no longer relevant to our lives, yet all is not lost for we have a way of constructing models in our minds that correspond to real aspects of the underlying world with the help of mathematics. The same argument also applies to the trillions of cells that make up our bodies and although we have a way of visualising an individual cell, we never the less lose track of what they do together to create a living organism, let alone create a conscious human mind. Even when observing the next level up from a single individual to a huge social structure, we lose the thread of events that led up to the creation of a complex civilisation that could ultimately one day rule over the fate of the universe. In this little book, I will attempt to describe the different levels or hierarchies of life, which may be somewhat irrelevant to some people, I will linger more on our current social level, as I am sure most people would be more interested in finding out about the factors that directly affect their lives in the here and now.
I have touched on the subject of god for there is no doubt that we are conditioned to seek to compliment our lack of knowledge by his infinite wisdom that we bestow upon him, therefore, excusing ourselves from our ignorance. The problem is that there is no direct evidence as to whether he exists or not but the best place to look for him has to be metaphorically in our hearts. I started life as a total believer but slowly and gradually I began to realise that god is not really responsible for all the beauty and wonder we see around, for there is a more plausible and convincing explanation as to where it all came from. The universe it seems does not need a maestro with a magical baton to conduct the tune of life. I may be regarded as an atheist by some, for daring to challenge the accepted beliefs but belief is all there is in the absence of any tangible evidence. It is very understandable how our ancestors started by worshiping tangible objects; like kings, queens or statues of supernatural gods (like the Greek mythical gods), then they looked up to the heavens, and realised the role of the sun as the provider of the energy that made life possible on earth and worshipped the sun for a while. Finally we began to believe in more ethereal intangible notions like, the old white-bearded man in the sky and finally the Holy Spirit. What is next; some scientists believe god to be a brilliant mathematician, a sorcerer or an alchemist, dabbling with the universal artefacts to make it habitable for us. I humbly declare, I don’t know but for me one set of beliefs is as good as any other. I like to toy with the idea that he could be a god in the making; in other words, we collectively give him a vehicle for propagation to anchor him to our physical world and whereas we get born and then die, he on the other hand has an eternal existence through our own physical and mental continuity. We are certainly destined to become a sizeable force at least in our own galactic backyard. Life never stops and the sky is not even the limit; we choose to limit ourselves at times but that is perhaps more of a modest cautionary brake to avoid becoming too overwhelmed.
I have touched upon some scientific subjects, in the hope of making them somewhat more accessible to the average layman. Such simplifications may be presented at the expense of sounding somewhat less scientifically accurate but never the less could suffice to show the awesome, if not sometimes bizarre nature of reality, as science proper goes far beyond science fiction.
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