Have you ever stopped and thought about where we got our life from? Often we take it for granted even though sometimes we acknowledge it’s the most important thing we have. Here, I ponder just a little on the wonder of life and from where we could possibly have got it.
The wonder of life, and our life
Saying that life is a “wonder” feels like such an understatement. We can’t create life, we can only help create the conditions for it to be created. What would happen if you went to a scientist and asked her to create a living thing for you? Anything, a person, an animal or a plant. What would she do? If it was a plant, she’d get the appropriate seed and give it the conditions to grow. If it was a person or an animal, she could get a female of the species and inseminate it and wait for the embryo to start growing. Notice that she’s not “creating” life, she’s just putting the known things in place from which new life normally results. Here I use the word “normally” because if new life doesn’t result from these conditions, we have no power to command life to come. The other thing is that the scientist cannot create life instantly, there is always the process of putting things in place and waiting for new life to result.
It’s the part of what happens between “putting things in place” and waiting for “new life” to result that is where the wonder is. Where is this power and this ability coming from? We can’t control it. Sometimes it doesn’t work and sometimes it does. It’s up to some other force.
A thought provoking movie
A few years ago I saw the 2006 movie “Children of Men” (based on the P.D. James book) sort of by accident – I wasn’t meaning to see it and had no idea about the plot, but ended up being fascinated by the story. In this movie it turns out that in a future world, women have stopped giving birth to babies. Doctors have no idea why, just that nobody is giving birth any more and the youngest person in the world (the last one to be born) is something like 18 and extremely famous.
There are lots of subplots in the movie, but what interested me most was the idea that, if something did happen to human fertility, it might be possible that doctors could do nothing about it and our ability to produce new babies could just disappear. It brought it home to me that we’re not really in control of life, we’re just part of the process, and life is controlled by another force.
Now what makes this even more interesting is the July headline from Science Daily “Significant ongoing decline in sperm counts of Western men“. Here, a scientific study has found that the average sperm count of Western men has dropped by over 50% between 1973 and 2011, and it’s still dropping. Hmm. Are we heading for a situation like that in the movie? This is even more chilling when we notice that in the original P.D. James book, the cause of lack of births was actually male infertility.
This scientific study doesn’t examine why the average sperm count is dropping but it makes these comments;
While the current study did not examine causes of the observed declines, sperm count has previously been plausibly associated with environmental and lifestyle influences, including prenatal chemical exposure, adult pesticide exposure, smoking, stress and obesity. Therefore, sperm count may sensitively reflect the impact of the modern environment on male health across the lifespan and serve as a “canary in the coal mine” signaling broader risks to male health.
Interesting isn’t it? Could our choices for how we live our modern lives, with a huge excess of chemical exposure, radiation exposure (from things like mobile phones) and pesticide exposure, be exactly the things that bring an end to the “normal” progress of human life?
Life can be whimsical
We all know how life can turn on a whim. Sometime people live who, by all normal measures, should have died and sometimes people die for almost no reason at all. Doctors can’t always save peoples lives and they know it’s not completely in their power. Often doctors do absolutely amazing things and bring people back from the brink of death, but other times people die in their care who really shouldn’t have. Sometimes there’s just nothing doctors can do. Peoples lives can just slip away without much explanation. Where is the force that’s deciding this?
So who holds the power of our life?
We certainly don’t hold the power of our life. We have life and we seem to play a part in creating new life, but we have no power over it. We can’t command it to come and we can’t stop it from going. But maybe the life of an individual organism is not such a crucial thing as we think it is (because we associate ourselves with a single organism). Think about it for a second. Life doesn’t actually start with a new baby. Step one is that two living people have to provide sperm and an egg (that they were given from somewhere) to begin the formation of a new embryo. So life didn’t come from nowhere, it comes from other life. After one apparent single organism dies, does life disappear? No. The bacteria that are one of the keys to the “life” of the single organism go on being bacteria. The matter of the body goes on to be organic matter that is required for future organisms. Life doesn’t end with an organisms death. Life is much bigger than that. It is only the attachment of consciousness to that apparently individual organism that ends at death.
So life didn’t come from nowhere, it comes from other life.
I propose that Life has always existed and will always exist. It is contained in the whole of everything, not just in the singular instance of one person. The coming and going of “our life” in this body is just one of the infinite parts of Life that are going on all the time. We are all connected by this common force of Life. We are not separate, we are one.
Life is contained in the whole of everything, not just in the singular instance of one person.