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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Evolutionary Quantum Leaps


I am facing a serious operation this week that there is a more than 10% chance I may not survive. It has sharpened my focus and made the subject of this blog post a priority. 

Ever since I was introduced to PierreTielhard de Chardin's 'Phenomenon of Man', I have been captivated by his revelations about the processes that have taken place in the 4.6 billion years since planet Earth first formed as a huge mass of molten rock. My special interest revolves around finding clues that will help me understand how and why we humans evolved with the hope that this  knowledge will clarify for me our place in the whole grand scheme of things and more particularly why we are prone to behave in the ways that we do.

Interestingly, it appears that the laws of nature are such that evolution has happened in quantum leaps. When you study how it all has progressed, you see clearly that for long periods of time, one kind of process will be getting more and more complex until Boom - there is a new unpredictable, unimaginable and more sophisticated process that emerges - a quantum leap to a new level is reached. 
For example in the beginning, the planet finally cooled down so that the tiny basic fragments of matter were able to come together to form atoms. As the temperature cooled further and the atoms bumped into each other at slower speeds, they often interpenetrated and exchanged or shared electrons making a bond between them. A good example could be Hydrogen gas joining with Oxygen gas to form water - a totally different substance that bears no resemblance to the elements that have reacted to form it.  Boom, that kind of process, Chemistry was a quantum leap from Physics that just deals with matter and the forces that act on it. 

As Chemistry proceeded to become more and more complex, huge new compounds formed and they joined with others in chemical reactions until some systems became so large and interdependent with many self-catalyzing reactions that groups of compounds began to reproduce, and change. Boom, a quantum leap to a totally unpredictable advanced process - life occurred.  Biology is so different from the Chemistry that sustains it - it is recognizable as a quantum leap.


Single celled life forms that we call bacterium first developed and as they became more complex, intercommunicative and interdependent over a long 3 billion years, they finally cooperated and joined together to form multi-celled beings - animals and plants. Over the following 70 or 80 million years during the Cambrian explosion, the rate of evolution accelerated by orders of magnitude and major diversification of all living things occurred including the sprouting of our branch of the tree of life. A few 100 thousands of years later big brained homo sapiens evolved. Boom – a quantum leap to humans who form a whole new Psychological level so like but so different from other animals .

This is pretty broad-brush stuff that could include many more levels. These ideas have arisen from the Earth's fossil records as studied by paleontological scientists. If you are having trouble reconciling the scientific evidence and your concept of a great designer, ‘God’, you could simply change that aspect of your belief to accept ‘God’ as the Creator of the Laws of Nature. Evolution is after all just a playing out of these laws on our very stabe planet.
The sun keeps shining, fueling a push to more complexity and now logically, as we humans communicate, and become more interdependent [it's easy to see our drive and success in doing that] we are the ones pushing toward another emergence or quantum leap, For an overview of those ideas check out the highlighted site.


What can we learn from all this about ourselves and possibly our purpose? To me one of the main messages is that the looming possibility of destroying our beautiful sustaining planet, is a global crisis that we all need to cooperate in preventing. We need to support new 'green' technologies and also cooperate in working toward less adversarial societies that lead to greed and ecological destruction. Unless we support enlightened national leaders I cannot see them ever becoming globally cooperative enough to agree to the measures necessary. Let's hope nature gives us time to smarten up and prevent further global tendencies towards the destruction of our planet.    Rie


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