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A Case of the Chicken Pondering About the Egg

 

 

 

A Case of the Chicken Pondering About the Egg

 

   

    A simple observation of the world surrounding us would reveal an alarming fact: the world is perfectly adjusted to sustain life. The mere presence of oxygen that allows us to breath; the exact distance of the sun that keeps us cozily warm; the existence of liquid and solid substances that function as our fuel and cooling system; all point towards the notion that such a perfect setting cannot happen by pure chance.

    A direct outcome of the above stated is even more terrifying: by the smallest change in those properties we so accustomly take for granted, life would be impossible. There is a rare common ground for agreement between science and religion on the following starting point: were the fundamental preconditions for our existence not fulfilled, life as we know it could not exist.

    However, out of this extraordinary common ground rises a chief difference; religion seems to perceive the above statement as a supporting argument for the existence of a divine being, holding it as the cause of the fulfillment of our particular existential needs. A theist would therefore infer that the complexity and fragility of life, as shown by empirical sciences, actually serves as a proof for the existence of an almighty deity.

    On the surface of it, such a stringent set of requirements for the existence of life just about demands the presence of an arch-designer. Having said that, there are two major falsies in the theist argument. Namely, the notion that life, as we know it (and here lies a crucial problem), is the only possible form of life. Followed by the intrinsic religious belief that humankind holds a singular position of importance in a universe that evolves around us.

    On the problem of life as we know it, a more detailed inquiry into the nature of our knowledge reveals that we cannot possibly conceive a life form different than our own. That is, a life form that could sustain itself without the minimal prerequisite of Carbon is a concept far beyond the scope of science. The narrowness of science in this case is obvious and legitimate for science requires observable proof, yet there is no known life form in within our observable limitations that does not require Carbon for its mere existence.

    On the notion of a universe evolving around us, it seems that a major fact has eluded the religious community. That is, the world did not in fact adjust to our needs, but the absolute opposite; life has evolved and adjusted to an ever-changing environment. It is life that has fought for existence in many different forms. Some forms have prevailed by their capability to sustain themselves on a given set of conditions; some have gone extinct.

    Does this mean that life could not exist in another form without Carbon? Or that we were hand picked by a deity to be the ones to survive? Absolutely not. The only point that the above arguments support is that we do not know why and how life, as we know it, first sparked; neither why, for there is no reason that there should be a why in the first place, nor how, for we have not yet developed the required latitude of observation. We do not know whether this spark could have, if faced with the lack of, adjusted and evolved to a life form that does not require Carbon.

    Yet we do know that our present existence is an outcome of a long and complicated set of events. For instance, was it not for a major cooling of the environment a couple of millions of years ago, it might just as well be that an Australopithecus Africanus would have still roamed the forests, instead of us, Homo Sapiens entangled in the question of existence.

The problem in the argument is essentially one of a mistaken standing point; we are standing at the end of a trail looking back, and marveling the exact rout that took place and reached to our present reality. Yet who else would stand at this very specific accumulation of a process that allows us, and only our form of life, to exist here in the first place? Were the terms and conditions different, maybe another life form would have had the privilege of marveling their unique path, and maybe not.

    There comes a point, at the current edge of scientific knowledge, where we cannot yet account for the original spark that started life (bear in mind that not too long ago we could not account for the flight of a bird). Beyond the periphery of knowledge, a crucial choice has to be taken; namely, do we have the integrity to accept it, as hard as it is to perceive, that we are an outcome of a long and arbitrary chain of events. Or do we succumb to our human need for a reason, or our intrinsic fear of nihilism, and base all that we are on an ancient account for events (with all the obstacles obscuring the notion of objective and empiric report), written by those who did not know where the sun goes at the end of the day.

   


Ohad Maiman