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“advanced a "revolutionary" theory that rocks have been evolving -- much like plants and animals -- throughout the planet's history.”

It appears that the Hindus may be on to something and nature is one huge incubator for the creation and development of consciousness. Now the underlying reality that allows nature to be this incubator there is still much to learn about.

Rumi’s poem kind of sums it all up. The circle of life from rocks to gods to that that is; but oh what a journey between rocks and that that is. Drama drama drama.

I died as a mineral and became a plant.
I died as plant and rose to animal.
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man, to soar
With angels blessed. But even from angelhood
I must pass on. All except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel soul,
I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.
Oh, let me not exist! For non-existence
Proclaims in organ tones, “To Him we shall return.”
Rumi (1207-1273)

But I am feeling a newfound respect for gravel.

That's good, Michael.

Two other minerals we need to respect:

Coal and Oil ;-)

If rocks have been, in some sense, "evolving," does this lend support to the idea that the whole physical cosmos is dynamic and engaged in a process of constant change?

Yes. And as near as I can tell, the real challenge of existence is to discover that which does not change.

Michael, have you read Sheldrake's "The Presence of the Past"? It's one of my favorite books, and explores the idea that the laws of physics themselves are evolving. That being the case, the evolution of rocks is small potatoes. (Which are also evolving.)

Everything's evolving, because it's all a story in the mind of God.


From what I read I think the idea is mostly that life affects the mineral processes. I do know that microbes often have a role in the formation of mineral deposits. So if Earth had never developed life the planet would have a different geology than it does now.

This is a "new" idea only in terms of modern thinking.

The idea that everything is associated with consciousness or "has" consciousness is very old; the idea that minerals constitute an order of being (a "kingdom") is also quite old.

There are some connections, too, between ancient Central Asian "spiritual" traditions and Western alchemy that touch closely on minerals.

The division between organic and inorganic, life and lifelessness, is fairly recent.

Bill I.

"And as near as I can tell, the real challenge of existence is to discover that which does not change."

Like Art's hologram, William's Ignorance, Michael H's changeless reality...like records stuck in grooves, I agree -some things never change.

. . . some things never change

I'd say that there's only one thing that never changes. Everything else is in a constant state of flux. As an analogy that I’m sure has been drawn before, imagine a massive canvas upon which the painting of existence is executed. We become fascinated by the images rendered by the paint, and we interpret those images as reality itself. That’s what fools us: it’s a remarkably realistic painting, in 3D, and even includes properties that cause us to experience pain if we drop a rock on our foot.

The only difference between a mystic and the bulk of humanity is that the mystic sees the canvas as well as the paint. It’s from that moment of insight, the discovery of the canvas, that the spiritual nature of reality is revealed. In a sense, thousands and thousands of volumes have been written simply to say that there’s a canvas beneath the images of reality. The profound feelings of mystical insight don’t arise just from understanding the fact that there’s a canvas, though. The feelings arise from recognizing that although the painted images and even the canvas itself may eventually be replaced with different images on a different canvas, there’s still someone there taking it all in. And that’s what never changes.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

I think Marja is right. Rocks have changed or "evolved" over time because of how living things have affected them. Not because any sort of cosmic consciousness is willing them to change.

The universe is going through entropy, a beginning, growth, decline, end. Our planet is just being a part of the process.

Obviously, the supporters of the theory of evolution are now going to become much boulder.

This reminds me of the life-came-from-clay hypothesis that was reported a few years back:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4702336.stm

The interesting question about evolution is how life got started at all for evolution to take place. I haven't seen an update yet on the attempt to create life from scratch which I think some scientists were supposed to be close to achieving according to a story last year.

But when they do create it, and I'm assuming it will be inevitable, then the only known example of the origins of life we will have will be an example that was intelligently designed by scientists.

Funny.

“But when they do create it, and I'm assuming it will be inevitable, then the only known example of the origins of life we will have will be an example that was intelligently designed by scientists.”

That is an interesting catch 22 for scientists that do not believe in an intelligent universe.

As far as life some day future generations of school children will visit museums and smile in wonderment that our generation believed that the complexity of life was thought to be due to chance and random variation with some natural selection and mutation involved.

These children will probably look at our scientists present day beliefs and put our scientists into the same category as we now put the people and scholars of that time that believed in a flat earth and that the earth was the center of the universe.

> Obviously, the supporters of the theory of evolution are now going to become much boulder.
Posted by: MarkL <

ROFL! Good one :)

And when it happens there will be more evidence that life was intentional than evidence that it was accidental. Yet you will not see the abandonment of the accidental hypothesis. Which will put them in the somewhat embarrassing paradoxical position of asserting that nature did by accident in a brutal environment what they intentionally accomplished only with very great difficulty, lots of expensive equipment, perfectly serene laboratory conditions, and precision intelligence.

How many of them will get the irony?

“Yet you will not see the abandonment of the accidental hypothesis.”

Yes and there were a lot of “accidents” to put the earth in the condition it is in to support life as we know it. Even the moon apparently is needed right were it is at to help keep the earth stable on it axis.

The abandonment of any hypothesis this deeply ingrained in the human mind will be difficult to overcome and for most scientists this can best be described as paradigm paralysis. This condition is best seen in science, politics, and religion.

The recent melt down in the economic system was interesting to observe as many people advocated more of the same approach in spite of the evidence. Rather than look at the system blaming and judging people was and is rampant. Doing the same thing and expecting different results is an interesting phenomenon.

Also what can have the appearance of working in the short term can have devastating effects in the long term. Short term and long term being relative terms of course. This phenomenon I observed often as a consultant working with organizations.

"and even the canvas itself may eventually be replaced with different images on a different canvas"

Spot the contradiction.
(Clue: The canvas is changeless)

"nature did by accident in a brutal environment what they intentionally accomplished only with very great difficulty"

The answer given is always: Nature had billions of years of trial and error. Get out of that one.

The canvas is changeless

Perhaps, Clegg. I'd agree that the canvas appears to be changeless on this level of existence. What I was implying though, is that subsequent realms may be comprised of an entirely different canvas and paint - a different physics, a different cosmos, a different physiology, etc.

The only thing that I don't expect to change is the capacity of perception - what is perceived can change dramatically, what's doing the perceiving never does. What the mystics have all struggled to communicate is the understanding that, in truth, there's actually no differentiation between what is perceived and what is perceiving. So few recognize it because we tend to focus almost exclusively on our perceptions, rather than what is perceiving. That's the tendency that we can't seem to get out of. Even those who know that it's true.

How many of them will get the irony?

For whatever it's worth, I doubt the scenario dm envisions will occur. I'm more apt to suspect that we will see a dramatic change in our understanding of human psychology - specifically in how everything and everyone is connected to the source consciousness - long before we reach the point where we manage to create what we currently call life from what we currently regard as inorganic matter.

The underlying assumption in dm's scenario is that the dominant western worldview of the current age will continue indefinitely. I think that worldview is already beginning to collapse, and that the future understanding will be that the entire cosmos can be likened to a vast organism that is in a constant state of growth. It’s interesting to imagine what science and technology will look like if and when that age arrives. A science built on the combination of limitless, genuine self-esteem and deep humility would likely be a very helpful science. (Both of those emotions would result from the understanding of “I am That”).

"The answer given is always: Nature had billions of years of trial and error. Get out of that one."

And there's as much faith in that belief as that Jesus was born of a virgin. But in Jesus' defense, there are at least known cases of parthenogenesis, even occurring in higher order animals, as two recently confirmed cases of parthenogenetic shark births demonstrate. Indeed, parthenogenesis DOES occur in humans, but is not known to produce live offspring. Unless Jesus was a true case of it. Makes one wonder. But at least we know that, far from being laughable, parthenogenesis does occur.

There are, however, no demonstrable cases of the accidental generation of life.

So, whose faith actually has more evidence behind it: The believer in accidental beginnings or the believer in Jesus' virgin birth? And since most of us here probably believe in evolution, even those of us who believe in Jesus, the answer must be confined to the question of origins and not run off towards other evolutionary evidence that we all accept, but which does not answer the question of origins.

The billions of years of trial and error argument is unverifiable speculation, and one should try not to conflate unverifiable beliefs and verifiable knowledge. But I do commend those who make that argument for their faith, which is an important quality for all people to have in some measure.

I am not, however, obligated by reason or the evidence that exists to concur with the hypothesis of accidentalism.

Michael H: I just reread the original story:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080515171023.htm

Apparently, even the simplest natural cells are too complicated for them to produce from scratch, so they are going for budget artificial life.

I thought the next to last paragraph in your link was revealing, dm:

Although Keating and her colleagues plan to continue adding components to their model cell, they don't expect to make a real cell. "We aren't trying to generate life here. Rather, we want to understand the physical principles that govern biological systems," said Keating. "For me the big picture is trying to understand how the staggering complexity observed in biological systems might have arisen from seemingly simple chemical and physical principles."

I added the italics, because that sentence contains both an admirable goal - the desire to understand processes - as well as an obvious premise - that life arose randomly from simple principles. It continues to amaze me that the assumed premise survives with the tenacity it does, given that as complex as cellular activity is, processes far below the cellular level involve a "staggering complexity" themselves.

I also think it's far beyond coincidence that physicists such as James Jeans and Arthur Eddington resorted to mystical parallels in their attempts to describe reality at the quantum level. To quote the former: "The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine."

So here's a question: If the universe itself begins to look like a great thought, what does that suggest about someone that's looking at the universe?

Yes Michael, so bottom line: If it's such a simple process why hasn't it been easily duplicated? That it hasn't been duplicated seems to undercut claims both that it is simple and that they understand how life got started at all.

The proof is in the pudding, and right now at least the pudding is all imaginary, which hasn't stopped lots of people from pretending how good it tastes.

That it hasn't been duplicated seems to undercut claims both that it is simple and that they understand how life got started at all.

Yes it does. It's also true that the very definition of life is pretty tenuous. Another prominent physicist, David Bohm, became so puzzled by the behavior of electrons in certain plasma experiments that he once stated, “The ability of form to be active is the most characteristic feature of mind, and we have something that is mindlike already with the electron.”

Yet the concept that the earth and humanity is an island of living consciousness in a vast sea of dead matter continues to dominate. Who was it that said that paradigms change one funeral at a time?

So it goes. It occurs to me that whoever invented Pet Rocks may have been on to more than they knew.

“Yet the concept that the earth and humanity is an island of living consciousness in a vast sea of dead matter continues to dominate”

The power of paradigms and they can often lead to paradigm paralysis. I personally feel we as a human species have not spent enough time and effort trying to understand the underlying reality of paradigms.

I suspect but don’t know that somehow they are needed during an evolutionary process of consciousness to help stabilize a society. Emmanuel said something that stuck with me many years ago; that the earth as a schoolhouse was perfectly imperfect. What looks very imperfect to us may be a valuable aspect for an evolution of consciousness to occur.

Michael H: I think that it was Max Planck, the founder of modern quantum physics, which said that.

Thanks for that, Øst, although I think I got the paraphrase from http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/aug/17/healthandwellbeing.familyandrelationships>Chopra. Planck said:

A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

While I tend to agree with the observation on a broad cultural level, it does occur to me that someone's personal paradigm can change at any given moment. I think it rarely happens on the personal level simply because most of us don't recognize our personal paradigms as paradigms. I also doubt that we can discover a dramatically different personal paradigm through an active effort. I think we're just sort of stuck until we catch a glimpse of what our current one is up to. If that happens, we're momentarily free to question it, if nothing else.

“I think it rarely happens on the personal level simply because most of us don't recognize our personal paradigms as paradigms”

I suspect this is a valid statement because if we recognize it as a paradigm it would no longer be a paradigm. Paradigms are hidden from our view. I have suspected for quite some time that paradigms are needed to stabilize a society, nations, and maybe even a persons life to some degree.

“I also doubt that we can discover a dramatically different personal paradigm through an active effort. I think we're just sort of stuck until we catch a glimpse of what our current one is up to”

It appears that nations and societies can be “stuck” for centuries even thousands of years with paradigms that don’t even pass a simple logic test. How can a person change something they do not know exists?

The video called the business of paradigms by Joel barker is a worthwhile watch as he discusses and gives examples of the paradigm effect, paradigm paralysis, and paradigm shifts that has occurred in the world.

Even though he made this video and wrote a book about paradigms in my communication with him he had his own interesting Christian paradigm. It appears that even the “guru” in paradigms has paradigms.

Of course it could be my paradigm getting in the way of evaluating the validity of his paradigm that is in error. That is the challenge of doing valid research.

Rocks evolving? Why not, but lets not take each other for granite.

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