Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Cog In A Machine

When confronted with the question of the existence of the soul I am forced to first think of what defines a singular entity. A person seems the most obvious solution. But deeper thought raises uncertainty. One should ask, why would a person seem the most prevalent answer?

A person (or animal or even a plant) seems to be the only entity capable of thought. As Descartes so simply stated: “I think, therefore I am.” But are we the smallest thinking organisms? Is it possible that the very cells that we are made of are thinking too? Most people would agree that they are controlled by us, and therefore, can not posses a soul. Cells are simply reactionary, not capable of independent thought. This is what discounts them as living beings.

So, now we have hypothesized that independent thought is the base requisite. But, ask yourself this… (and this is where the open-mindedness comes in); are we capable of independent thought? Well, of course we are, or how else would I be able to write this contemplation without being ordered to do it? Perhaps I wasn’t ordered to write this, but is my writing this an act of independence or a result of my upbringing, livelihood, education, and interaction with others? Now we get to my point. It is this: are we capable of independent thought , or are we just a product of our environments, simply reacting to stimuli, as cells do in a body? The parallel is that people are cells and our environment is the body. In a way, all of Earth is a body. It harbors living organisms that react to each other to form one giant thinking entity.

But Earth can not be an entity. Why is this? It is because each of its pieces are not connected to one another. In a body, cells are connected to each other in order to relay information. With the dawn of the telephone, the television, and the internet, have we not become connected? Perhaps the physical connection escapes us, but the mental one is of greater importance (and perhaps the only important matter). Have you ever heard of six-degrees of separation? It states that if one person were to relay a message to six of his/her friends, and each of them relayed the message to six of their friends, and so on, then the message would reach the whole world. This parallels the brain wanting to move the toe. An electrical pulse (message) begins at the brain, is passed along nerves and cells, and eventually reaches the toe.
We still have much to consider. If we are simply a cog in a machine, then what does the machine do? Simple… it evolves. Its main purpose seems to be technological growth. Just as cells would arrange themselves to create a cure, people have technological growth to ensure their survival. Now, the purpose for that cure would be to use it to save a life or learn from it. Perhaps there are others observing us and seeing how we solve problems. Maybe we are a cell in a Petri dish. That would explain our origin and our meaning of life (as sad as it would be).

Most are quick to dismiss this theory of individual insignificance. This is because we want to feel important. We want to feel like our lives are more than just a sacrifice for the greater good. Believe me, they are. People contribute more than just societal gain. Most produce social benefit as well. Happiness, the love of another, achieving one’s goals- these are the reasons for living. Our social interactions are what make us unique; what give us personality. Maybe along with technological growth, we are also capable of behavioral growth. Imagine being able to observe a group of cells and learn all of the ways that they can interact with each other. By looking at these cells and their interactions, you could learn the limit to the possibilities of their interactions. If you observed these cells for long enough, the mysteries of the living universe would eventually all be solved…and I mean all of them. You would just need to create a life (the big bang), alter it if you messed up or wanted to change scenarios (the dinosaurs), and make sure they survive for long enough.

So, why would any race (or whatever created us) need to observe us if they are advanced enough to create us? Well, who’s to say we aren’t some high-school like lab experiment? Or that we aren’t just one of many ongoing experiments? Who knows!?

No comments: