Tuesday, 17 August 2010

ARE THERE GODS?

Of course there are - but I cannot identify them for the entire cosmos. My limited knowledge must leave that to better-trained minds that continue to probe at the perimeters of human intelligence. My curiosity is aroused when I realize that our current Gods, scattered about the globe but with concentrations here and there, and who bear watching, are using the same old techniques our ancient Gods used on us, but instead of needing an entire universe they are content with small boxes called computers.

Some 13.6 billion years ago, this time around, you and I were in that minute speck of compressed energy into which our Gods inserted a few laws of physics, including the one about changing-yet-indestructible Energy, before exploding the speck, and creating Time, so that we could fly off to find endless new destinies.

It was quite a show for 9 billion years or so. You and I, alternating between energy and matter, inhabited numerous stars, exhilarating as we went super nova, settling down to form planets only to keep repeating the process. Finally we found ourselves on the surface of a new planet later known as Earth. Many of our friends were also here but in the form of numerous elements some making up various depths of the planet. Our only laws were those of physics, but we had no clues about them. Blind trial and error was all we had. One day a couple of us bumped into each other. That was fun! We got a few others to join us, eventually discovering we could entice even more in to permit us to reproduce. This was so much fun we reproduced in great numbers - but there was a catch. We had changed from energy to matter but we needed energy to permit us to remain in our new formats which we rather liked but we were surrounded by masses of matter in their own formats so we had to find, again by trial and error, what we could safely consume to convert to energy. There were now so many of us that we were forced to compete, finding it was often easier to eat each other than to find new sources of food.

This cruel competition grew, forcing us to mutate into better-adapted formats. A few made good choices and went on to continue the mutations. Those that made poor choices were discarded to try again. Mercy was unknown. For 2.3 billion years we kept mutating into innumerable one-celled living beings. Then a couple of us merged and were successful in assigning duties. Did that ever spawn a myriad of new life forms, all competing for food and homes! Survival meant developing a rude form of memory then intelligence. But we found that we could no longer reproduce at random. We had to find mates among those designed like us. So we tended to protect those like us and to prey on those who were not. Greed was paramount. Compassion, mercy, respect, and such values had yet to evolve.

Multi-celled life came with an Achilles’ Heel. As Life had evolved in specific environments, Death was sure with major changes in this environment - land, sea, or air. The interruption of the flow-in and the excretion-out for mere minutes was fatal. Now, most of our current Gods are creating, supposedly with safeguards, new life forms out of current life forms by manipulating genes and DNA instructions.

More intriguing are groups like the Gods at the University of Michigan who are starting from scratch and copying our old Gods by first using a source of energy called electricity and designing DNA laws to insert as computer codes into a matrix concealing cells of energy where they would have to be found. And sat back to watch.

Lo and behold! Just like our ancestors, electronic elements fused, finding they could duplicate themselves, but also were in a highly competitive environment to reach the cells of highest energy. They were then left alone to go where Destiny is taking them.

With hands off, our Michigan Gods can observe these new creatures, called Avidians, evolving just like we did. For thousands of generations now, Avidians have been testing their surroundings and mutating, discarding most mutations as useless but occasionally making dramatic advances towards intelligence. At the Odense, Denmark, August 2010 meeting on artificial life, evidence will show that Avidians have achieved memory, one of the steps needed for intelligence. It took us over 13 billion years to achieve the rudimentary intelligence we now have. It appears our new Gods, in human format, may reach this level faster.

Yet, it can all be ended by pulling the plug - unless these new critters evolve the intelligence to circumvent our life-support systems. We fear the inevitable day when the plug is pulled on us and our trillions of parts return to their separate lives at least for a time. In this universe they cannot be killed. But can our Consciousness? It took so long to build might it not be preserved on some cosmic tape or disc? We can hope that our motto, Per Ardua ad Astra, may contain a truth we never imagined. We do need the help of Gods, but are they us?


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