Christmas Day 2020 - some humanist thoughts in bleak mid-winter
Skipper Mick Sheeran M.V. "Blasket Princess"
Wildlife Name 2
Sagittarius A* at the Centre of our Home Galaxy The Milky Way
Christmas Day 2019 - Some Humanist Thoughts in the Bleak Mid-Winter, from the Dockside
In the deep mid-winter is a good time for rethinking some old ideas and concepts.
At Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours we watch and study a lot of species and are also probably in a unique position to watch the behaviour and attitudes of humans as they interact with various animals on our trips. We try to put in context our small place as humans in the complex web of biodiversity that surrounds us and also our small place on the earth on which we live as in a bubble, as it is the atmosphere that surrounds us that makes life possible and prevents us falling off into space - Although it is obviously the force of gravity that keeps us grounded on earth, the atmosphere shields us from the apparent wind from the earth's own rotation around its axis at approx. 1,000 m.p.h. and also from the force of the velocity of the earth on its annual orbit around the sun at approx. 66,000 m.p.h. Then there is the speed of our solar system, including earth, whirling around the supermassive black hole(s ) - with a mass 4 million times that of our sun - at the centre of our galaxy at approx. 450,000 m.p.h. (taking 250 million years to complete one orbit), while our galaxy itself travels at approx. 1,000 kilometres per second through space, making the combined astronomical speed of our little bubble of earth, with us on it, hurtling through space, and accelerating as it goes due to a mysterious attractive / repulsive force known as "dark energy" - made up of immeasurable particles of quantum energy / matter appearing and disappearing from / to nowhere - towards the direction of the constellation of Leo, at approx. 395,000 kilometres per second! It is reassuring to note that we are travelling in a known direction and known (increasing) speed rather than wandering aimlessly in space. One wonders if we will ever reach our destination safely but perhaps it is the journey that counts...................................
Our atmosphere is a very important shield making all life possible and we should do everything we can to preserve it.
People are often also fascinated when we explain the simple facts of evolutionary life to them and how short a period of time that we are around in our present form. The first human like animals or hominids date back to about 4.5 million years ago, but modern humans in their present form - Homo sapiens sapiens - only date back about 60,000 years when they both preyed on and interbred with their closest competing species - Homo sapiens neanderthalensis - until they were the sole survivor, except in our genes where traits of Neanderthal man are still evident (about 1.5 to 2.1%). Compare that to sharks who evolved about 450 million years ago and survived five mass extinction events on the planet (one eliminating 96% of all species); or birds who evolved from theropod dinosaurs about 165 million years ago and diversified rapidly about 66 million years ago after the mass extinction of non-avian dinosaurs and you can see that sharks have existed 100 times longer than humans and birds almost 40 times longer, yet, some of our visitors look at animals like shark, birds and many other species as if they are somehow inferior species!
"Quo Vadis Homo Sapiens?" ["To Where are you Going, Wise Man?"(Humanity?)]
We are also unique among species in that we routinely breed and herd millions of other species, just in order to eat them later; breed and keep other different species for pets or for sport and for sporting occasions; and breed and keep millions of other mammalian species for milk which we feed to our babies and to make food products for ourselves. From the other species point of view all this human behaviour must seem very bizarre!
The nearest animals we are close to in this behavioural mode of existence are perhaps lichens and various diverse inhabitants of coral reefs who also engage in symbiotic relationships where one species co-exists and cultivates the other in a mutually beneficial symbiosis named mutualism. But human cultivation of other animal species is an artificially symbiotic one, basically refined predation, with some elements of refined commensalism, and is all one way, with benefits to humans that are not reciprocated back to domesticated animals.
In the new information era of Big Data and instant communication, humans now appear to be moving closer and closer to the behavioural existence mode of bee and ant colonies with ongoing instant communication and external examination of data gathering, leading to autonomous decisions for us that are "best for us" and "best for the colony as a whole (unit)". In a bee or an ant colony the queen is at the centre but on further examination she is merely the reproductive centre of the colony and not the "brains" of the colony as such.
The "brains" of a colony appears to be an intuitive intelligence, gained by continuous real time data harvesting that seems to inform each member of the colony of its own particular function.
This intuitive intelligence also infuses humans and other animals down to the cellular level e.g. it transforms an egg and a sperm into a foetus with each individual cell being informed by intuitive intelligence of its own function whether that be a specific part of a brain, arm, liver etc. Humans, who are at the very beginning of their evolutionary journey, which may or may not last from 1 to 10 million years - which is the average evolutionary lifespan of land mammals from emergence to disappearance - seem to be evolving into a colony / urban type of existence with a central intelligence formed by vast amounts of data gathering deciding the role of each individual.
Interestingly, some evolutionists now think that mutually beneficial symbiosis between species involving mutual co-operation, networking, interaction and co-dependence may be as powerful an evolutionary tool as Darwinian competition, so the prospect of an eventual human symbiosis with A.I. [ Artificial Intelligence] - a possible Homo sapiens machinensis - may be a distinct possibility.
However on the scientific evidence so far, based on examination of known human behavioural modes, humans appear to be a completely errant species. They may possibly fulfil an evolutionary prerequisite as a corrective medium or catalyst or "event" for bringing less evolved species to the top of the evolutionary mix, in a perpetually replenishing cycle, as more evolved species and habitats are destroyed and replaced by those previously on the bottom of the evolutionary pile, and having achieved their disastrous mission may have very little chance of achieving their evolutionary potential (Think of the 450 million years evolutionary journey of sharks!).
"COGNITO, ERGO SUM" - ["I Think, Therefore I Am"] - Descartes (1596 -1650]
"COGNITO, ERGO EST...." - ["I Think, Therefore is...." (existence)]
But where does this intuitive intelligence come from?
In the 17th century the central theme of Descartes idea of absolute and basic certainty was "Cognito, ergo sum" - "I think, therefore I am". But this appears a very selfish, homo centric, non inclusive and individualistic way at looking at existence. e.g. I have just come from doing some gardening - taking the muck off the gravel drive that the flowering Montbretia create with their rotted leaves of last summer as part of their invasive colonising strategy to accommodate their underground corms- and thinking "How clever they are!" and surely their "thinking", even though they are "merely" plants, is more demonstrative of Life or Existence or Intelligence than a philosopher sitting at a desk in his study thinking about thinking, in a totally homo centric world without any reference to other life forms and species? Perhaps a more modern informed way of putting it and based on above would be "There is Life" or "There is Existence" or "There is Intelligence"
BUT IF THERE IS LIFE OR EXISTENCE OR INTELLIGENCE WHERE DID IT COME FROM? WHO / WHAT CREATED IT and WHERE AND WHEN? AND WHO / WHAT CREATED THE CREATOR?
This brings us infinitely back in time and space ( those old conundrums), even before the hypothetical "Big Bang". This journey towards a beginning and the source of Life, Existence or Intelligence would be infinitely and intrinsically futile were it not for the solutions of quantum theory which can demonstrate the existence of parallel universes and states of being which can exist simultaneously in different places at the same time. This idea of parallel universes and existences means that infinity and the beginning of creation only exist as abstract ideas and the existence of Life or Existence or Intelligence goes on forever in parallel universes where a dot, or a line - which is a series of dots - is an absurdity and only circles and curves and infinite multi-dimensional intersecting planes have any validity, and in this quantum world the one dimensional idea of a beginning or an end is itself absurd. The fact that even the most infinitesimal of dots - if it existed - is always a circle, and a line - if it existed - is only a very long series of interconnecting circles, shows the infinite flexibility of time space and its ability to bend, warp and replicate in different times pace spheres and the absurdity of thinking in linear time and space.
In quantum physics there is no such thing as infinity, only an "infinitely" small point (but existing) with an "infinitely" huge mass (but measurable) - the origin of a Big Bang like the present / past relatively recent one, in astronomical time, a mere 14 billion years ago - or an "infinitely" large space like the one towards which the universe is expanding at the moment, which, when it reaches its astronomically large maximum dispersal range begins to collapse back into itself towards an "infinitely" small point again, as before, and another Big Bang over one of the continuous life cycles of the universe, which is a series of expanding and contracting spiral eons each one lasting hundreds or thousands or billions of billions of years and beyond our comprehension.
The thought that there is no beginning to existence(s) as per quantum theory, even before the so called Big Bang a mere 13.8 billion years ago, or, that even after our sun in our solar system has died out and turned into a red giant and further transformed into the planetary nubula of a dying star encompassing our long dead earth, before finally morphing into a small white dwarf in about 6 billion years, even then, that there is no end to existence(s), is a very reassuring thought on this Christmas Day, 2019.
Log of the Whale Watching Tour Boat M.V. "Blasket Princess
Mick Sheeran Christmas Day 2019