My last post was a little vague, a little short, but it had a great title. I feel I should explain. Well, that’s not it exactly, I want to expound, to work out some thoughts. No, I want to sort through a confluence of ideas.
I posted a link to a short video clip that shows how ribosomes make protein, maybe I should say assemble protein. The video describes the ribosome as a little machine but that’s not exactly true. I can understand the metaphor because the ribosome takes chemicals and assembles them into a chain of protein. It looks like something you would see in a factory. But what’s really going on is a chemical reaction. It’s just fascinating. I first saw the video in a biology class way back in 2005. It amazed me but mostly just sat in the back of my mind.
Many years before I saw the video I read a book (I can’t remember the title) about a scientist who gets a weird message and travels to some exotic mountain country – Tibet maybe? – where he encounters a computer made of aquariums, plants, and an old terminal. The earth speaks to him through this computer. She takes the name Gaia and explains that everything is connected to everything else. It was of course a fiction based on James Lovelock’s Gaia theory. It made me wonder if the Earth is complex enough to be conscious. I wondered if maybe that consciousness was so broad or so diffused that we couldn’t comprehend it. Then I decided that although the Earth probably does regulate itself, much like a giant chemical reaction, it probably doesn’t really KNOW that it’s regulating itself, which would be my definition of consciousness.
Then in the midst of my re-submersion in Christianity I began not to doubt but to think that something about the direction of the belief system was not quite right. Not bad or even wrong (I don’t think there’s any benefit to arguing whether Christ rose from the dead or not, what matters is the meaning behind the teaching) just misdirected. I began to think it takes us too far out of the Earth, or off the Earth, however one would say it. There’s not enough emphasis on the ground, too much in the air. Maybe that’s due to the inevitable evolution of the religion, I don’t know.
Then one day I had a stray thought about how babies are made and it all kind of came together. When I say “how babies are made” I don’t mean how babies are made. I mean where the mass that makes up our bodies comes from. I pictured a sperm and an egg and how minuscule, microscopic actually, they are and how fast they grow. Now since mass is neither created nor destroyed, just like energy, it has to come from somewhere. That’s where the ribosomes come in. Ribosomes take microscopic pieces of matter and join them together to create protein. Literally they build our bodies out of matter. That matter comes from the food we eat. It doesn’t spontaneously appear. The food we eat, whether it’s vegetable or animal, comes from the soil. We are literally assembled out of Earth and animated by the energy of the sun.
Then it struck me.
The Earth is conscious. Because we are conscious and we are literally the Earth. I don’t know exactly what to do with that epiphany yet but I’m working on it.