A REVIEW OF THE UNIFYING FACTORS OF ALL BEINGS
- The existence of all physical beings (The Origin, Nature and the End)
- Pre-determinism of all physical beings (The Effect of the Laws and Forces of Nature)
- The existence of all living beings (The Origin and Nature)
- The quintessence of being human ( The Social Animal and Individuality)
All previous articles of this Website intended to deal at first with individual items of general interest; from a global point of view, however, it appears in hindsight as if they would have been describing the principal components of an imaginary edifice that is our physical Universe. This article intends to consider further, from the philosophical point of view, the enigmatic forces that bind human beings with the essential elements of the same Universe.
The essential elements of the Universe comprise the three inter-related, scientifically paradoxical events that are shared indiscriminately with all beings of the physical reality. These are: The fiery beginning (at the Big Bang) of all matter and energy, the illusive atomic basis of all animate and inanimate beings, which matter and energy are ultimately, the rock-bottom foundation even for the transcendental nature of all human beings in our physical world.
The content of this article is not scientific, nor even semi-scientific; it is only a philosophical view of our physical world. Since all technical data quoted here may already be known to the general public, therefore those data were taken partly from my earlier articles and partly from the open publications by eminent authors of science and cosmology. There are three principal items that epitomise the intention of this article, namely:-
First, the established view of the physical reality is that it contains solid matter, gaseous and fluid substances. However, the greatest paradox of physical reality lies, to start with, in how we understand and interpret reality. This is problematic because according to modern science, whatever there exists in the reality, it is only an ‘illusion’ to our intellect, as perceived through our five physical senses. The reason behind this statement is said to be the following:-
The physical Universe is made up of atoms clustered in chemical elements. The combination of these elements forms molecules that give us ultimately the illusion of solid matter, gaseous and fluid substances. And why is it an illusion? Because the basic constituent of every molecule is the ‘atom’ that contains more empty space than solid substance.
This phenomenon is typically characterised by the analogy of St. Paul Cathedral, in London, that if it could represent the size of an atom then a grain of sand in its center would be its only solid substance. Similarly, scientists say about our body that it contains 75% of water molecules, and in addition to that, consider that all our physical substance comprise those atoms. How much solid matter is left in a human body then? The answer is practically nothing, except for what is left is: energy.
Energy, on the other hand, is invisible, its essence cannot even be described; it only can be identified through its mechanical, chemical, biological and thermal ‘effects’ in the physical reality. It is perhaps the ultimate simplicity, because it cannot be reduced to the laws of physics or chemistry. The modern science’s revolutionary theory of Quantum Mechanics deals with the world of sub-atomic particles and their energies.
An other scientist demonstrates our illusory view of the material world in the following way: If we could gather all the 6.2 billion human beings and remove the solid substance of their atoms, all that solid substance left would fit into one single sugar cube. This illusory ‘nothingness’ applies equally to all other solid materials, gaseous and fluid substances.
Second, science confirmed that there are three basic levels of existence on planet Earth:- When viewed from the substance of physical beings, we find that the universal base for all such beings is, without exception, the inanimate matter. Hence, as long as living beings are made of inanimate matter, they all share unavoidably in some form or other in this lowest common level of physical existence. This means that in a practical sense, all material beings, (which includes on their atomic bases human beings together with all living beings), who are subject to the pre-determining processes of physical, chemical and biological laws, and predominantly to the three fundamental Forces of Nature, throughout their material origin, nature, existence and decay.
Third, this article intends to demonstrate that contrary to the universal action of the physically pre-deterministic laws and forces of nature that control indiscriminately the lowest common level of material existence, most human beings are able to supervene their material essence and even certain parts of deterministic controls over them, through the transcendental nature of their intellect and nature-given instincts.
1. THE EXISTENCE OF ALL PHYSICAL BEINGS. (The Origin, Nature and the End)
a) The origin of all physical beings: The physical beginning of all matter/energy is described by the Standard Cosmological Model, (SCM), in the Big Bang (B.B.) theory of the physical Universe, as follows:-
After all its atomic energy of the young Universe emerged from the violent explosion of the (B.B.), in a physical state of vacuum that occurred 13.75 billion years ago, the three Forces of Nature were unified until 10−43 seconds after the B.B., after which first gravity and then strong nuclear force separated from the electromagnetic force, (i.e. the weak nuclear force).
At 10−12 seconds after the B.B., electromagnetism separated from the strong nuclear force, and the universe was filled with hot quark-gluon plasma. At 10−6 seconds hadrons (i.e. matter) began to evolve.
The Universe was dominated by photons, created by all of the matter/antimatter annihilation, whereby the predominance of matter over antimatter had been established. Between 3 and 20 minutes after the B.B. protons and neutrons began to combine to form atomic nuclei. A plasma of electrons and nuclei (ionized hydrogen and helium) existed for about 300,000 years until the temperature dropped to 5,000 Deg. C., when hydrogen and helium atoms formed.
Parallel with this SCM., the following scenario describes the ‘origin’ of the physical Universe by the Standard Model of Particle Physics:-
Preamble: If we can accept the modern scientific maxim of Quantum Mechanics, (Q.M.) that physical reality cannot exist ‘independently’ of a scientific theory and/or observation, then we will have no difficulty either in accepting the following two scientific statements: first, the physical Universe (i.e. matter/energy) had its beginning at 13.75 billion years ago at the moment of B.B., because before this event nothing existed; and second, the Universe came into existence from ‘nothing’, i.e. from quantum-fluctuation. The above statements will require three comments:-
The first comment: The mystery of the perceived ‘nothingness’ that preceded the Big Bang, (B.B.), initially did not bother the cosmologists, as their majority interchanged the idea of ‘beginning’ with the word ‘origin’. However, they became very much aware lately of the adversaries’ critiques and began to explain anxiously that some physical event must have happened in deed, which preceded the ‘beginning’ at the time of the B.B.
Even this explanation of a newly-found ‘origin’ appears to contradict the time-honoured scientific precept that science deals only with causalities that are associated with physical entities (beings) and events (change) and those that are observable and can be measured. Cosmologists are now going way beyond their self-declared domain to prove that something really happened before the B.B.
The second comment: Although philosophy states categorically that from ‘nothing’ can only come nothing, and yet, cosmologists now use this same concept of ‘nothing’ to explain ‘something’, which is the ‘origin’ of the Universe.
The following is a brief account of and comments about the ‘origin’ of matter/energy (that is the physical Universe), as described with Q.M. by the modern-day cosmologists:-
The Universe is believed to have a physical ‘origin’ (that preceded its ‘beginning’ at the moment of the B.B.), and this origin was caused by a ‘quantum fluctuation’ from the vacuum. Stephen Hawking writes: “….The answer is that, in quantum theory, particles can be created out of energy in the form of particle/antiparticle pairs. But that just raises the question of where the energy came from. The answer is that the total energy of the universe is exactly zero.”
The claim of a “zero energy” the cause of origin is based, not on direct measurements, but upon a hypothetical interpretation of the existing theory of the B.B. and from inflation theory , which states that the universe underwent a brief, accelerated period of expansion shortly after the B.B. But again, ‘inflation’ is a purely hypothetical idea that was attached to the original B.B. model in order to solve a number of other cosmological difficulties.
The quantum theory states the greater the energy of fluctuation, the shorter the time that it may last. It is for this reason that virtual particles appear and then disappear after very short intervals.
However, the claim presents an apparent difficulty: One would intuitively expect the energy content of the entire universe to be enormous. Hence, even if one were to argue that the Universe did have its origin from a quantum fluctuation, the energy content of the universe would be so large that the correspondingly elapsed time would be vanishingly small, and the newly born universe would then immediately vanish back into nothingness. It is, therefore, difficult to imagine how our physical Universe could have originated from such a quantum fluctuation.
Our knowledge of the laws of conservation of momentum and energy come from scientific observations made from numerous experiments. No one has ever observed any universe coming into existence. This means that laws of physics that would allow a universe to come into existence would be completely beyond scientific experience and even understanding.
Philosophy refers to this problem of ‘physical creation’ as being a ‘singular’ event; therefore it ought to be outside the domain of physical sciences. On the other hand, the laws of physics, as we know them, would not be applicable here. Also the spontaneous creation of a universe out of nothing would require higher quality laws of nature that might not be anything like the laws known to modern physical sciences and cosmology.
The third comment: Contrary to the previous science-based explanation of the idea of a physical ‘origin’, cosmologists claim also that the physical Universe, (that is: matter/energy, space and time included), is ‘infinite’ and eternal. Of course, as will be shown, this contradicts both above claims that the Universe had an ‘origin’ caused by quantum fluctuation, and it had a ‘beginning’ at the time of the B.B. There is, of course, dead silence about the question of where ultimately the ‘quantum fluctuation’ came from.
Cosmologists, as trying to extricate themselves from the above contradictions, find an even bigger problem by their following hypothesis:- Some modern cosmologists claim that the greater universe as a whole comprising ‘infinite’ number of ‘causally’ connected,individual universes (as a consequence of modern inflation theory). According to this view, it is only our particular Universe that began 13.75 billion years ago. Thus the existence of other perceived (and unobservable) universes clearly ‘explains’ to us the existence of all physical beings in our present Universe.
The reason given by cosmologists lies in the hypothetical concept of ‘multiverse’ that contains infinite number and variety of other universes. They explain further that the laws of physics and chemistry in at least some of the parallel universes would possess properties (and more importantly sufficient time) necessary for the development and evolution of all inanimate and animate beings in our physical Universe. Thus, as they say, the existence of all inanimate and animate beings is satisfactorily explained because we just happen to live in such a fortunate Universe. And as someone added, if you repeat some fallacy again and again, it will be accepted as truth.
Apparently, here are three difficulties with this hypothesis:-
First, while physical sciences and cosmology reject the philosophical concept of ‘causality’, at the same time those scientists try to explain the existence of an infinite, ‘causally’ inter-connected functioning of a hypothetical ‘multiverse’.
Second, biologists say, while the laws of physics and chemistry in our Universe allow biological life toexist , they do not allow life to evolve. The pre-historic records of extinct species indicate clearly that the laws of physics and chemistry simply are not favourable to the uninterrupted evolution of life on Earth.
Third, there is the question of who or what does the co-ordination of ‘creating’ a viable universe, like ours, from among the infinite number of ‘parallel’ universes.
Some eminent scientists claim that whenever the conclusion in any physical theory is based on the use of infinities, it is time to question the veracity of that theory. Others put it more directly: When a theory concludes in something absurd, it is time to wonder if the theory is not absurd itself.
This summarises the present cosmological view of the physical origin of matter, the first common level of existence for all physical beings in the Universe.
b) The physical nature of all beings: The basic composition of every inanimate and animate physical being comprising atoms and molecules, whose changes are initiated and being controlled by chemical processes.
The nature of the atom is described by the Standard Model of Particle Physics. According to the present-day knowledge, an atom comprises approximately 200 particles, of which their interactions use 17 fundamental particles, known as fermions or bosons, i.e.:- 6 quarks (fermions), 6 leptons (also called fermions), 4 force-carrying particles (gauge bosons), and the so called elusive Higgs boson.
A few words about Energy: A system possesses energy if it has the ability to do work; and work shifts energy from one system to another. There are different ways that an object or a system can possess energy. Although energy cannot be made or destroyed it can be changed into different forms. All forms of energy are either kinetic or potential. The energy associated with motion is called kinetic energy that is an object has when it is in motion.
The energy associated with position is called ‘potential’ energy. Potential energy is not “stored energy”. Energy can be stored in motion just as well as it can be stored in position.
Following are the types of ‘kinetic’ energy (i.e. motion): Mechanical (machines and all physical wave-lengths caused by movement); Chemical; Electrical motion of charges (household current and lightning); Electromagnetic radiation (disturbance of electric and magnetic fields -classical physics- or the motion of photons -quantum mechanics- radio waves, microwaves, infrared, light, ultraviolet, xrays, gamma rays solar energy), Gravitational; Thermal and Nuclear energy.
Bonding holds atoms together to form physical materials. The interaction energy at equilibrium is called the bonding energy between atoms. There are two types of bonding:- Primary bonding: ionic, covalent and metallic. Secondary or van der Waals bonding: this type of bonding is weaker than Primary bonding, and exists between all atoms and molecules. Materials with large bonding energies usually have high melting temperatures, and solids have large bonding energies. Liquids tend to have relatively lower energies.
All Chemical Elements are made up of atoms, and atoms in a chemical element may differ in the number of their neutrons. Chemical elements form the molecules. Ultimately, the ‘form’ of a physical ‘entity’ that constitutes its ‘identity ‘ of solid matter, gaseous, fluid and living substance in the reality, is a result of chemical bond within and between the individual molecules.
Molecules make up all inanimate and animate beings. Molecules in living organism are made from only about 25 of more than 100 known atoms in the Universe. Molecules may comprise in general from as few as two to hundreds of millions of atoms. Some scientists claim that there are more molecules in a human body than there are stars in the Universe. Each molecule has a unique shape that allows it to interact with other molecules.
The Standard Cosmological Model describes the physical Universe in terms of Matter and Force:-
Our Universe is believed to consist of matter, i.e. 4% atoms, (3.6% of which is in intergalactic dust and gas), of which we can see only 10%, while the remaining 90% is ‘unseen’: (20% dark matter and 70% dark energy). Dark energy uniformly fills all of space with a density of 10−29 grams per cubic centimeter, and is believed the source of a repulsive force causing the Universe to expand.
Dark matter clumps in the same galaxies as other matter, and consists of particles which happen to not interact with our type of particles except by gravity. The vast expanses of intergalactic space appear to be filled with a haze of tiny, smoke-like ‘dust’ particles, most of it formed in the outer regions of dying Super-Giant stars. We can see dust hundreds of thousands of light-years outside of the galaxies, in intergalactic space. Cosmologists explain that Supernova explosions from massive stars drive gas out of some galaxies, and this gas may also carry dust with it. Alternatively, the dust may even be pushed directly by starlight (i.e. solar wind).
The Standard Model of Particle Physics is based on two quantum field theories. The quantum field theory is based on electromagnetic quanta called quantum electrodynamics (QED), which explains how electrons, positrons and photons interact. The quantum field theory is also based on the strong force quanta that are called quantum chromodynamics (QCD), which further explains how quarks and gluons interact, but in practice this term is rarely used because the weak force, as explained above, is best understood in terms of electro-weak theory.
A note of interest: Scientists say it would take about as many human bodies to make up the mass of the Sun as there are atoms in one human body. The geometric mean of the mass of a proton and the mass of the Sun is about 55 kilograms, not far of the mass of an average human body. It is not surprising that the most complicated things in nature are on this intermediate scale between cosmos and micro-world.
Finally, the nature of matter, as outlined above, is also the basic, common level of existence, shared by all physical beings in the Universe.
c) The end of all physical beings: Every existing being in the physical Universe, (this includes all inanimate and animate beings), that had a beginning, must eventually have an end.
Since all material being were created and will disintegrate, and all living beings are born and will die, they are called contingent. The opposite of contingency is necessity. Contingent beings although can exist, but they do not have to exist, therefore, they are in a metaphysical sense non-necessary beings. Furthermore, any existing being that can change has no necessity in being because it depends on its physical causes of chance. Hence, it is hovering constantly between the state of existence and non-existence.
One of nature’s characteristics is the so called Law of Proportionality. This law posits that the principal properties of constituent parts of a physical system must apply equally to its entire system. Hence, if the constituent parts of our physical Universe are contingent, (such as natter and living beings), then the entire universe must also be equally contingent; which means that it will also have an end
Therefore, the end-state of all contingent beings is synonymous with the dying of the Universe. The contingent fate of the Universe was imprinted right at the Big Bang, which we could decipher if we would have enough knowledge of the quality of the material particles and its quantity, (i.e. its density). The fate of matter then depends on how long the Universe will exist, for the hitherto unknown cosmological processes to work themselves out.
Cosmologists reason that the Universe could continue expanding forever, thus getting very cold and very dark as space temperature approaching absolute zero, and all material beings disintegrate into an increasingly dilute sea of elementary particles, called a ‘big freeze’. Alternatively, it would eventually stop expanding and collapse back upon itself in a fiery, all-annihilating implosion, called the ‘heat death’. An other hypothesis stipulates an ever-recurring cyclic universe, drawing its energy for an eternal and ‘gradual’ recycling from the ‘quantum-energy’ of space. This idea appears to be similar to the ‘origin’ of matter from quantum-fluctuation.
At any rate, there are three related things worth mentioning here:-
First, according to the present scientific theory, the age of electrons are not expected to decay since they are the lightest charged particle that does not interact via the quark-binding force. The latest, experimental lower bound for the electron’s mean lifetime is 4.6×1026 years, and the life of protons is 1030 years, and comparing these numbers with the calculated age of the physical Universe, the result for the Universe is endless, (i.e. a meaningless long number).
There are, however, elementary particles that spontaneously decaying into less massive particles. Those particles can break down through decay or disintegrate, releasing energy or radiation in the form of alpha, beta and gamma rays, or in the form of free or loose, random moving and fast moving electrons, protons and neutrons; thus effectively turning themselves into another atom or element.
Second, The nature of the end-state, common to all existing beings, (which ultimately includes here all living beings as well), is being governed by an other contingent property of the Universe, the physical “energy-levelling” process, called Entropy. This entropic property emphasises greatly the temporal nature of the physical Universe in making its existence from its very beginning accelerate irreversibly, through the qualitative degradation of its total energy, towards the end-stage, (similarly to an unwinding clock). Paradoxically, this degrading process of physical beings appears analogous to the biological ‘dying’ process of all living beings; in that, these two distinct processes begin similarly at the respective beginning of their existence; one at the Big Bang, the other at every new ‘birth’ of life.
Third, scientists comment that in spite of the above long-term speculations about the end of the Universe, there could be an entirely unexpected scenario that would cause an earlier end to the Universe. They also wonder which of the three forces of nature could be the primary cause for such a cataclysmic event and if that force would have already begun acting towards that end.
Meanwhile, the concluding act, which is running parallel with the inexorable march of the Universe towards its unknown end, seems to be played out in the ultimate struggle between the Gravitational Force and Entropy.
2. PRE-DETERMINISM OF ALL PHYSICAL BEINGS. (The Effect of the Laws and Forces of Nature).
The gradual understanding of physical nature is based on the scientific observation of celestial objects and events, the scientific analyses of natural laws, forces and the mathematically deducted universal constants. These investigations turned our attention to the approximate, comparative scale of cosmic dimensions that placed the measured magnitude of human beings at the center position, i.e. lying surprisingly between the two extreme opposites of nano- (10-9 m. of bio-molecules) and the giga-measures (109 m. of stars).
Among the hundreds of laws and forces that govern the physical Universe, three forces of nature play the principal role, from under whose control no material being, not even the sub-atomic particles of living beings, can escape. These Forces are: the Strong Force (and the Weak nuclear forces), the Electromagnetic force and the Gravitational force. It is astonishing how accurately, consistently and in a co-ordinated way these forces function throughout their existence, from the beginning of the Universe, 13.75 billion years ago. These Laws of the Universe were set immutable in that all physical beings must conform to them, but being unable to react back on them or alter them. The following are the forces of nature:-
The Strong Nuclear Force (due to ‘gluon’ exchange between quarks) occurs only within protons and neutrons and acts only across distances smaller than the atomic nucleus. A comparison of the strength of the nuclear interactions between two protons, for instance, reveals that the weak force is some 10 million times weaker than the electromagnetic force. Yet one of the major discoveries of the 20th century has been that these two forces are different facets of a single, more-fundamental electroweak force. At very high energies and very small scales the strong nuclear and the electromagnetic forces become almost identical. The weak nuclear force is hence, identified lately as the electromagnetic force.
The Electromagnetic Force is a special force in that it affects every physical change in the Universe and it has nominally an infinite range, but follows the inverse-square law. As all materials in solid and liquid forms are made through electrical charges by this force, their hardness, structural strength and physical shape are also governed by this force. The electromagnetic force can be generated by threetypes of fields known as the electrostatic field, magnetic field, and the electromagnetic field. The strength of the electromagnetic force is approximately 10-36 times greater than the earth’s gravitational force.
The Gravitational Force is the weakest of all three major forces and it acts between all physical matter in the Universe. Although this attractive force being the weakest force, like electromagnetic force, has also nominally an infinite range, but follows the inverse-square law. Any object on the Earth or at least close to Earth, will experience a gravitational force. The gravitational force on Earth represents the physical weight of an object.
As the energy locked up in an atomic particle is always positive, thus forming a ‘positive’ physical mass, hence, gravitational repulsion is a contradiction in terms. Contrary to the fact that gravitational force is the weakest of all three forces, the secret lies in that every particle tends to gravitate and that gives it universality; it even determines the shapes and sizes of all planets, stars, galaxies and super-galaxies.
We feel ultimately the cumulative gravitational effect of every atom of planet Earth. The theory of relativity, however, posits that gravity is none other than the manifestation of the curvature of space-time; thereby Einstein introduced a dilemma into our Newtonian thinking and a paradox with quantum mechanics.
Oddly enough, the Standard Cosmological Model is consistent with both, quantum mechanics and special relativity. Gravity, however, is excluded from the Standard Model — (‘gravitons’ have never been observed).
The Laws of Nature: The secret in the multitude of natural laws, as one scientist remarked, lies in the fact that if only a few laws would exist they would have to be so restrictive that they permitted only a few pattern of behaviour. Those laws would then become ‘descriptions’ of the physical world rather than true laws. The richness and complexity of the physical world is still based on relatively simple laws, like hidden principles, because there physical effects depend on an unending variety of initial conditions as well as on the infinitely variable actions of the physical forces applied.
The fundamental physical constants are numerous, and many of them considered universal, meaning they are assumed ‘constant’ throughout the Universe, i.e. being unchanged through all time.
There are many such constants in nature, often expressed also with their numerical values, apparently may have no reference to anything else, until one considers just how a small change in any one of constants and their values would make a huge difference either to our Universe itself and/or to life on Earth. It has been observed scientifically that there are many, so called ‘Large Numbers’ in the Universe, without understanding as yet anything about their causes and meaning.
Scientists observed also that the existence of certain ‘numerical values’ that physical nature has assigned not long after the Big Bang to the so called fundamental ‘constants’, assist the laws and forces in pre-determining and governing many properties and complex structures, (including size), from the sub-atomic particles to the planets and stars; including the life-span of stars, the density of the Universe, and even the physical dimensions of all living beings.
There are several groupings for the Physical Constants in general; of which the following considered to be the four (4) important groups:-
- a) Fundamental Physical Constants:- (http://physics.nist.gov/cgi/cuu/Category?view.) In this schedule “All Constants” are included, a Total of 304 No. off; Excluding the Astronomical and the Mathematical Constants.
- b) Universal Constants: (Included in a) above). These are:- Speed of Light, Avogadro constant, Boltzmann const., Gas const., Ideal gas volume, Electronic charge, Rest mass of electron, Planck const., Gravitational const., Permittivity of free space, Radiation const., Vacuum permeability.
- c) Mathematical Constants:- (http://mathcad.com/library/Constants/) Pythagoras’ constant, Golden mean, Nat’l log. Base, Archimedes’ const., Euler const., Apery’s const., Catalan’s const., Feigenbaum const., Madelung’s const., Glaisher-Klinkelin const.,Brun’s const.,Wirtinger-Sobolev isoperimetric const., Wilbraham-Gibbs const.,Laplace limit const., Gauss’ lemniscate const., Geometric probability const.
- d) Astronomical Constants:- (The Physical Universe; by: Frank Shu) Astronomical Unit, (AU), Parsec, Year, Solar mass, Solar radius, Solar luminosity, Mass of Earth, Radius of Earth.
Most of the complex sub-atomic scale and the consequently developed large-scale structures in the Universe are the outcome of intense rivalry among the competing forces. Stars, for instance, are a battleground among the three forces. While gravity tries to crush the stars, the electromagnetic energy fights against it by developing a counter-acting thermal pressure. Under these conditions, the outcome depends on the strengths of the forces, and/or on the numerical values of the above described fundamental constants.
3. THE EXISTENCE OF ALL LIVING BEINGS. (The Origin and Nature)
All living (animate) beings have a common basis for their existence with the inanimate beings, i.e. in that they possess the physical properties of matter, as described above. This basis brings necessarily with it also the pre-determining laws and forces of nature. (See the following section for the partial exception of human beings from under this pre-determinism).
The brief definition of the essence of biological life: The capability of an animate being to sustain and maintain by self-repairing its bodily functions as required for its existence and reproduction. Philosophy adds the following: Life could not have come into being by itself; otherwise it must have been there before its existence began. It also claims that every life is a product of another life. Furthermore, life encompasses both the essential and existential ‘identity’ of a living being.
Philosophy posits that life transcends physical sciences, which means that sciences alone cannot explain life in our age by the current workings of physical, chemical or biological laws.
a) Biological origin of all life: This enigmatic question sounds analogous to the ‘origin’ of the Universe, where the physical ‘beginning’ was interpreted by cosmologists as the ‘origin’, although its meaning was left unanswered. Similarly, the concept of ‘origin’ of life is explained through the quasi-hypothetical concept of ‘evolution’ of the species (i.e. the ‘life’ of the species).
The following is a summary of the present day hypotheses about the origin of life on Earth:- Evolved from inanimate beings; – Entered into our atmosphere from outer space, (panspermia); – From basic microbes; – First molecules within layers of clay. – Iron-sulfide deposits at ocean vents; – Smaller molecules; – Below deep-frozen oceans; – RNA that can store information like the DNA; – Interaction of amino acids and other chemical with electrical charges; – Interaction of volcanic ash with electrical charges; – The most exotic speculation of all, the ‘Multiverse, where owing to its infinite nature, anything may happen (even life) because it can happen.
As can be seen from the above ideas of ‘origin’, all those answers are either ignorant of the idea of ‘first cause’ or side-step it deliberately.
The present world views of either origin of the Universe or that of life in it go beyond the realm of science; the reason being first, philosophy states that the problem of any singular event in nature belongs to the realm of philosophy, while multiple events are the subject of science. Scientists, however, restrict this axiom even further by stating that science deals only with events that are observable and measurable.
The question is this: How could we resolve single physical events in the Universe without science, and where is the demarcation line in the reality between philosophy and science.
The perennial enigma of physical reality causes a distinct separation throughout the centuries between the mechanistic view of origin and the religious belief of creation. Each side feels threatened by the other, as if they would be enemies, for which phenomenon there appears considerable sympathy by genuinely concerned people.
Our side argue this way: In a certain sense, almost all of the theoretical explanations of science, especially the basic ideas that hold the grand physical theories together, are quasi-hypotheses and human interpretations of observations; we just have to look at the Einstein’s theory of relativity and the quantum mechanics’ interpretations. If we would remove one of these hypotheses, the entire edifice could go tumbling down.
Our principal objection to the hypothetical explanations of certain evolutions and developments in the Universe, (including the origin of life), brought up a suggestion and quite correctly, by the scientist O.Gingrich, that: Just because a certain event would be confirmed satisfactorily by a scientific observation, (such as the origin of species, the theory of general relativity, and quantum mechanics), it does not mean necessarily that some other hypothesis could not equally well be able to confirm that same event. There are other than the above notable examples for this happening in the history of science.
The above comments imply a serious message to philosophy and science; and it also recalls the cautioning made by one of my philosophy professors, that is: Although the use of ‘syllogism’ is a powerful tool for reasoning out a truth in philosophy or science, it could also just as easily be used by the unscrupulous for proving devious conclusions.
In other words, the most common abuse of syllogism is when a reasoning process commits a logical fallacy by affirming the consequent through trying to infer the past from the present. Such an intellectual sleight of hand attempts to prove that a given effect in the present reality could have been caused only by one particular event from among other possible events in the past. Put it in another way, the problem is that there is often more than one probable cause in the past that could equally explain the particular effect occurring in the present.
On the other hand, history shows us also that since Einstein’s theories superseded Newton’ theory, and in turn, Einstein’s theories were superseded by quantum mechanics, it brought the scientific community to the realisation that there was no certainty in knowing when any scientific theory was ‘final’ and therefore true and immutable.
Our adversarial view of the origin of the Universe and life in it is just as hypothetical as the present-day scientific hypothesis, with one important difference, i.e. our view is based on the first principles of philosophy, according to which it is superfluous for us to say that the eye is made for seeing and birds are made for flying; because nature, through its iron-logic of ‘causality’, (which is also the basis of science), and its ‘final cause’ in particular, points us in the direction of a purpose in nature; this in turn, points inevitably to a necessary need for a designer. In other words, this way of reasoning by an adequate mind, ought to result inevitably in a ‘multi-billion-year old, coherent mental picture of the metaphysical creation of everything’.
This same idea is described eminently by an unknown scientist in the following three propositions:-
‘First, there is no a priori principle involved in final cause, which is the result of reasoning through induction; it is a hypothesis, (similarly to scientific method), whose probability depends on the number and the character of the phenomena observed.
The second and fundamental proposition is that the final cause is demonstrable (similarly to science), from the factual experience of incontrovertible combinations, such that the accord within these combinations, independently of the final cause, would be pure chance, and nature as a whole would be the result of an accident.
Finally, the third proposition is that after the concept of final cause has been accepted as being a law of the physical Universe, the only logical hypothesis, which is capable of making sense of that law, is that an intelligent cause must be its origin.
In opposition to the above described ‘final cause’, the hypothesis of physical ‘origin’ of the species, as based in the modern-day scientific belief is the following:
‘The entire world, living and non-living, is the result of the mutual interactions, according to definite laws, of the forces possessed by the molecules of which the primitive nebulosity of the University was composed; it is no less certain that the existing world lay, potentially, in the cosmic vapour, and that a sufficient intellect could, from a knowledge of properties of the molecules of that vapour, have predicted, with as much certainty as one can say what will happen to the vapour of the breath in a cold winter’s day’. (Quoted by Bergson. Oeuvres; p.527).
As illustrated above, we may know enough about the hypothetical details of origin through evolution, and we may even have reached the ultimate boundary of philosophical reasoning through causality, and yet, we still have no credible scientific theory about the true origin, i.e. the ‘first cause’ of the physical Universe with life in it.
b) The biological nature of all living beings: The destiny of all species on Earth, through its physical development in ‘uncertainty’ of randomness changed forever by the direction received in the ‘certainty’ of coded message nature provided by the DNA of biological life. Life had a long and arduous journey ever since from its first light, through a hostile environment in space as well as after its single-cell arrival here on Earth, 3.8 billion years ago, all the way up to the momentous event, when 2.4 million years ago human life became conscious not only of its environment but also by its awareness that it was aware.
All living organisms are astoundingly similar in chemical composition, not only containing atoms of the same elements, but also in similar proportions. All life depends on water and all chemical reactions in life processes occur in a water-containing medium. Every living being either is a cell or made up of cells, proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids. All cellular organisms use DNA to store and transmit information.
According to molecular biology, the information required to produce ordered growth is stored in DNA, which is now known by its double-helix shape and its four chemical bases of A.T.G. and C., by which the genetic messages are conveyed. Another macro-molecule, called the messenger RNA has the task to carrying out the instructions encoded in DNA. Thus, the full process of basic life-mechanism with very few exceptions is from DNA to RNA to protein for structural and other purposes. This protein synthesis based on established chemical principles, the laws of Quantum Mechanics and Electro-magnetism.
Despite the great diversity that exists among animals, including human beings, they all share very similar type genes. Every different animal species, including human beings, have nearly the same number of genes.
“Nearly all biological polymers must be ‘homochiral’ (all its component monomers having the same handedness. Another term used is optically pure or 100 % optically active) to function. All amino acids in proteins are ‘left-handed’, while all sugars in DNA and RNA, and in the metabolic pathways, are ‘right-handed’. In a laboratory-produced ‘life’ chirality does not exist; as if its absence would prove the artificial nature of ‘life’. Every different animal species, including human beings, have nearly the same number of genes. If humans want to understand what distinguishes animals, including ourselves, from one another, we have to look beyond genes.
4) THE QUINTESSENCE OF BEING HUMAN (The Social Animal and Individuality)
a) Our Human Nature as being an Individual: Aristotle defined human beings according to their reasoning faculty, as: “Zoon logon echon”, i.e. Animal having a rational principle. (In Latin: ‘Animal rationale’). It has been shown previously that our human existence is based primarily in the physical world, as being intrinsically enmeshed with the physical building blocks that is energy and matter, of the Universe. Furthermore, we also share our existence with all animate beings in nature through evolution of the species.
Nevertheless, the diverse aspect of our human nature is endowed also with an innate power of its transcendental faculty that makes us excel all animate and inanimate beings on Earth. This brief account will intimate that these uniquely human attributes comprise the quintessence of being human.
‘The history of human development has reached its greatest paradox, when natural selection has produced mind, which is a conscious faculty, for deliberately creating order from disorder. This is to say that what is now blind has, in its blindness, produced what is not blind.’ (Halle.)
The Aristotelian philosophy posits that to be human is to be a person. A person, that is ‘self’, or ‘I’, who reasons and has conscious will, is one undivided ‘identity’. Philosophy insists on the evident impossibility that a composite entity, such as in an inanimate physical matter, the same could exist in a ‘person’. It further distinguishes the irreducible simplicity of human ‘personality’ from any spatial-temporal physical entity or event, such as even that of the analogous simplicity of the mathematical point.
Max Scheler identifies a person: “The core of the human person’s nature is in fact his mental movement, this spiritual act of transcending himself”.
How can a composite material entity as our brain, the supposedly ultimate agent of all human actions, activate or initiate by itself’ to think out complex and abstract, conscious reasoning process, How could a material brain perform ‘self-motivation’ and ‘self-motion’; when those abstract events would appear a physical impossibility?
The human mind is reflective, i.e. it knows itself. Knowing thus, it can make itself, its mental states and operations the object of its own observation and consideration. Bodily senses cannot reflect on themselves. (E.g. The eye does not see itself seeing.) The mind, however, can see itself in the physical reality beyond the subjective world; which is the essence of being conscious. Every kind of theory and belief aims at and driven by a kind of magnetic attraction towards the objective truth.
How do we know we know? The answer to this question lies in our understanding awareness of self and of all physical things around us that are knowable in their essence. This awareness becomes evident through the precise, conscious reasoning, which is called the knowledge of an adequate mind. ‘If the mind were so simple we could understand it, but we would be so simple we could not comprehend it’. (Anonymous).
The brains’ functions performed through efficiently encoded growth instructions of the brain cells, these instructions found in the programs of DNA. It is said that the human brain through its massive ‘parallelism’ of neural networks, can easily outdo the abilities of the most sophisticated computers; (excluding chess, perhaps?).
A typical CPU has cca. 5 million transistors; a desktop computer ca. 100 million transistors, while the human brain has One thousand billion (10^11) neurons, each of which is connected to thousands of other neurons, cca 10^14 connections.
The power of the mind must be controlled by reason. The Universe would be utterly meaningless if it could not be intelligible to someone. The human mind can ask questions about the universe in order to understand it and through that knowledge able to reflect upon its conscious self. We know that the brain translates physical sensations of the body, like pain or pleasure, into electrochemical impulses among the neurons of the brain.
‘The mind reasons things out through using logic, which is built up on an absolute conception of objective truth. The language of logic is designed to capture the role of sentences as bearers of truth-values, and to show how the references of the parts of a sentence determine the reference of the whole.’ (Fraassen).
The following section describes three items essential to the Rational Will:-
The Deliberate Will to Act: All sentient beings possess an innate drive towards what is desirable and good. In addition to this drive, human beings have a rational desire to follow what the intellect apprehends as good; called the rational will. As the intellect tends to possess truth about everything that is understandable from the reality, so is the will trying to possess whatever is good for the body and/or for the mind.
However, in addition to having physical aims (or purpose) in life, we also have transcendental aims and desires, whose attainment would determine the nature of our First and Final Causes that could produce their objective end. The objective end is therefore synonymous with the aim at or desire for the attainment of a certain abstract or physical ‘good’, which every living being strives to possess; while the action itself for attainment is the subjective end. We all strive to attain the ultimate, ‘greatest good’, as St. Thomas Aquinas puts it, the ‘Summum Bonum’, (the Greatest Good); the difference is the direction in which we are choosing to go.
The virtuous ones go in one way, the less virtuous ones go the other way; and yet, both could attain their ‘greatest good’ (of a kind), that which would either yield an irresistible attraction for union with the Absolute, or attain only a temporal happiness respectively. Philosophy calls ideally the former metaphysical state of the human spirit the ‘crowning fulfillment’ of all human desire.
The Notion of Freedom: There is a paradox in that we live and act in a physical, law-governed Universe; and where everything is determined to happen as directed with high precision by the laws and the three forces of nature. On the other hand, as Scruton argues: ‘To say that every event has its cause is one thing; to say that every event is determined by its cause is quite another thing.’
The Price of Freedom: We have freedom to act, freedom of choice, freedom of conscience, freedom for human rights, etc. Freedom is necessary for every human act. A person is not responsible for an act over which he has no control; hence, an actual, deliberate choice enters into every human act. Reason cannot act without a will to choose, that is to say, an idea could never materialise. Similarly, will cannot act without the guide of reason, otherwise it would act blindly.
Down through recorded history we are reminded constantly of man’s inhumanity to man. Often it is hard to understand the causes behind human malice, cruelty, the physical and moral evil perpetrated throughout the world, while these deliberate acts are based in our human nature and the results of an abuse of our rational will. Katherine Hepburn said tartly to Humphrey Bogart: ‘Nature, Mr. Alnutt, is what we were put in this world to rise above.’ (“The African Queen”).
Socrates believed, according to Edith Hamilton, in her book: “The Greek Way”, that ‘…goodness and truth were the fundamental virtues, and they were attainable.
No one should pursue evil except through ignorance. Aristotle wanted to awaken in people the realisation of their ignorance regarding the true nature of goodness, which provides a glimpse of the eternal truth beneath life’s confusions and futility. Each one, he was sure, must seek and find it for himself.
Personal ‘dignity’ is a special kind of human value; it goes beyond the terms value or worth as ‘life’, it is an irreducible phenomenon and can only be described as follows:
‘It is an inalienable and inviolable right, it is inseparable from personhood, and therefore respect is owed to every human being in a way, which does not allow us ever to use a human person just as a means.’
b) Our human Nature as being a Social Animal: All the above described human attributes were reflecting on our ‘individuality’. However, in the pre-historic days, human beings tended to gather in social communities for safety and mutual help, so much so, that originally even Aristotle characterised us human beings as ‘zoon politicon’, i.e. Social Animal. But since we became more and more individualistic as well as civilised, our basic desire for socialising is exercised more in the political life of cities and countries.
Modern humans are living in civilised communities, which are not random gatherings any more but governed by the precepts, (as quasi-conditions for civilised human existence), primarily of Natural Law,and secondarily of civil law and civil order. Human history proves that the attainment of these three formidable ideals, to which a civilised nation tends to aspire, in many ways, failed repeatedly. We may find in retrospect that more often than not, the reason for such failures lie primarily in our human frailty of understanding and/or our lack of will to adhere to those conditions of civilised human existence.
Natural Law, which is based on human conscience, the universal rule of reason of truth, freedom and justice, would have no objective essence without the acceptance of moral standards for private conduct and public law. Those standards may be epitomised by the self-evident precept of ‘good is to be done and evil is to be avoided’.
The norm of morality, the basis of natural law, applied by human reason to judge the objective right or wrong of an act or situation, and this reasoning process called conscience. ‘We can choose to do what we do not want and want to do what we do not choose. This is the foundation of morality’ (Scruton.)
Conscience is the basis for a reasoned judgement of the mind; it is therefore, not an instinct, not a prejudice borne of custom or of feeling, nor is it a little voice in the brain.
The following are some of the commonly known human values and their definitions:-
A ‘right’ is a moral power of doing, possessing or exacting something. The effectiveness of a ‘right’ is said to be lying not in the inviolable ‘ownership’ of an individual, instead it emanates from others, who consider themselves under a certain private, civil or religious ‘duty’ towards a quasi- owner of ‘right’.
A ‘duty’ is a ‘correlative’ of right; it is the moral obligation of doing or avoiding something. We have a natural duty to respect the life and property of others.
Civil law, for the upholding of public order, is an ordinance of reason, promulgated for the common good, which unconditionally supersedes private good. (‘Bonum commune prevalet bonum privatum’). Aristotle. Note that any law that is not promulgated, or ambiguous, is not a valid law.
Order as such, is said to be what we perceive as the ‘beautiful’. The complexities of the microcosm and macrocosm of the Universe that evolved from its original chaos epitomise the quintessence of order and beauty in nature. This evolution gives us also a necessary perception, which is the concept of ‘progression’ of any kind must be from disorder to order.
Analogous to the order in nature, it is highly desirable to have order in civil societies as well, which is established and upheld by civil law.
This article intended to demonstrate the following principal ideas:-
a) The physical existence of all animate and inanimate beings shares a common condition of nature, which is set in the pre-determining control by the universal laws and forces of nature. The details explored the physical origin, nature and the ultimate end of all animate and inanimate beings.
b) However, in spite of the shared conditions of all animate and inanimate beings, human beings, by their abstract intellectual power, were enabled to rise above those conditions to develop a new direction of ‘moderate’ philosophical determinism. This section explored the origin and nature of all life in the Universe.
c) The basic concept of ‘pre-determinism’ in physical nature points to an apparent contradiction with the ‘Uncertainty Principle’ of Quantum Mechanics,(Q.M.). The scientific answer is this: The events that occurred in the present were predictable because they were already ‘pre-determined’. However, future events are ‘uncertain’ because they are not yet pre-determined, i.e. the events have not been decided yet. In other words: The prediction of a future event can never be more certain than the future itself.
d) The quintessence of being human was analysed in brief detail. This included the diverse aspects of law and order, with the related principal values of rights and duties. Arthur Eddington remarked: ‘Moral questions are of utmost importance for human existence, and that humanity must create a moral order for the sake of its own survival.’
Finally, I wish to conclude this article with the appropriate words borrowed from the great philosopher, Jacques Maritain: ‘I tried to show that human reason, infirm as it may be, is not, of itself, precluded from the possibility of attaining some day a doctrine essentially grounded in ‘truth’, with respect to the highest problems man may grapple with in his quest for the eternal ‘truth’. And an old peasant like me, who, having not been entrusted with any sacred deposit of the ‘Absolute’, is obliged to no particular prudence, and feels perfectly free to say all he is thinking’.
“If we would do (now), what we could, then we could do (in future), what we would; (wish to achieve)”. (A Dominican saying).