|AstroNuclPhysics ® Nuclear Physics - Astrophysics - Cosmology - Philosophy|
The mystery of the origin or creation of the Universe
Space - time - matter - universe - man
RNDr. Vojtech Ullmann, physicist
Anthropic principle and/or cosmic God
- Syllabus of lectures -
Thoughtful people have long been interested not only in the problems of everyday life and local manifestations of nature, but also - at least sometimes - also ask "eternal" questions of a global, even eschatological nature. Some of them relate to the universe :
is the size, shape and structure of the universe? Is it
finite or infinite? How is it evolving?
Is the universe here from eternity to eternity, or was it once created - and will it disappear again?
What is the essence of the universe? Did the universe come into being spontaneously, or was it created by God?
Are there other universes?
This is followed by another group of questions about the relationship between life and the universe :
the origin of life a legal or accidental phenomenon? Did
life originate even elsewhere in the universe? Are there
What is our place in space? - Are we just insignificant local fluctuations in entropy, or is the universe built for us?
Is there a God? - and if so, where and how to look for it?
In our lecture we will try from the physical point of view to think about some of these issues, as well as the philosophical aspects of modern astrophysics and cosmology.
Space and cosmology
About the first group of questions mentioned in the "Introduction", ie the global construction and development of the universe as a whole, deals with cosmology. Cosmology can be considered an interdisciplinary field on the border of astronomy, physics and philosophy.
In antiquity and the Middle Ages, cosmology was based on mystical foundations. Due to her lack of knowledge of nature and the universe, she was made up of naive earthly images that had little to do with reality. A characteristic feature of the science of the time was the chasm separating the laws of terrestrial nature from the "heavenly" laws of the universe. Only the research of Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler and especially Newton bridged this senseless gap and suggested that the world probably holds the universal laws of physics that govern both terrestrial nature and cosmic bodies. Later, spectrometric analysis of radiation coming from the farthest reaches of the universe showed, that natural processes taking place here on Earth and throughout the observation universe are governed by the same physical laws of mechanics, gravity, electrodynamics, atomistics, nuclear physics, thermodynamics, plasma physics, etc.
The classic "instructions" on how to understand the universe can therefore be roughly described by the following scheme :
In order to have a
chance to at least outline such a complex (actually the most
complex) object as the universe, we must resort to far-reaching simplifications
and idealizations, that abstract from the local
structures and peculiarities, but preserve important global
features of the universe: we create the cosmological models.
The simplest models are based on mechanical concepts and Newton's laws of dynamics and gravity, the more complex ones include the effects of the general theory of relativity. They are often represented by our visually accessible one-dimensional or two-dimensional images (eg the surface of an inflatable balloon).
In addition to these general principles, contemporary cosmology is based on two important facts :
By combining the
general theory of relativity and cosmology, relativistic
cosmology is created. The lecture will briefly outline the
basic principles of relativistic cosmology and the properties of
some cosmological models *). The most important of these is
Fridman's model, which, together with Hubble's law of redshifting
the spectra of distant galaxies, leads to the conclusion that the
universe as a whole is expanding.
*) The physical aspects of relativistic cosmology are discussed in more detail in Chapter 5 "Relativistic Cosmology" of the book "Gravity, Black Holes and the Physics of Spacetime".
How did the universe originate ?
Relativistic cosmology in co-production with other physical disciplines (such as atomic and nuclear physics, thermodynamics, hydrodynamics, elementary particle physics) has arrived at the so-called standard cosmological model of the origin of the universe. According to this model, the universe was born about 13-15 billion years ago in a very hot and dense state, with the so-called Big Bang. Since then, the universe has expanded and cooled. The history of the expanding universe is usually divided into 4 significant stages: the hadron era, the lepton era, the radiation era, and the matter era; in the lecture these periods will be briefly characterized (for more details see §5.4 "Standard cosmological model. The Big Bang..." in the same monograph "Gravity, Black Holes..."¨).
The scenario of the standard cosmological model quite convincingly explains the structure and evolution of the universe and is now almost universally accepted. Nevertheless, there are some problems and controversial issues. The first is the problem of the initial singularity and thus the finiteness of the universe in time - the question of the origin or creation of the universe ("what was when there was nothing yet?"). In this context, it should be noted that the idea of an oscillating universe, often featured in popular (sometimes in professional) publications, is a paradigm; it is not in accordance with thermodynamics or with the general theory of relativity: if the Fridman universe is closed, it is unicycle! Furthermore, there is the problem of global homogeneity and isotropy of the universe, which encounters the existence of a horizon of events in Fridman's cosmological model: distant (opposite) regions of the early universe fly apart too fast to "agree" to arranged the universe so that later it exhibits as perfect homogeneity and isotropy as we observe. Another global problem is the mystery of the so-called flatness of the early universe: why was the initial rate of expansion of the universe "tuned" to the escape velocity with immense precision (or the mass density of a very early universe was exactly equal to the critical density)?
cosmological model is able to answer these questions only by the
excuse that the initial conditions during the Big Bang
were - by chance or by God's cause? - just that the
universe now has the structure we observe. Questions of the
origin of the universe and the origin of its properties have
often been referred to in the field of metaphysics and theology.
There are also other "smaller" problems in the standard model, such as the problem of relic magnetic monopolies and other exotic particles (which should persist in the universe in an unacceptable amount from the Big Bang period), the problem of the spectrum of germinal inhomogeneities, etc.
It is recently that physicists dealing with the quantum microphysics of the very early universe have found an elegant way to solve the problems of standard cosmology. This new development of cosmology of the very early universe began in 1981, when the American physicist A.Guth, based on the analysis of phase transitions in grandunification theories, hypothesized the so-called inflationary expansion of the universe, according to which the universe, in the earliest stages of its evolution, expanded for a short time with exponentially increasing speed. After completion of the phase transition processes, the universe then began to expand according to Fridman's law as we know it today. This hypothesis was soon developed by other astrophysicists (eg Linde, Steinhadt, Albrecht, Hawking) who proposed several variants of space inflation expansion scenarios (neo-inflationary models, chaotic inflation) - see §5.5 "Microphysics and Cosmology. Inflation Universe " in book "Gravity, black holes and space - time physics".
Graphical representation of the expansion of the universe according to the inflation model in comparison with the standard model.
The idea of inflationary expansion of a very early universe naturally solves most of the problems of the standard model. Our entire observable universe (metagalaxy) was created by the inflationary expansion of a single very small (and therefore causally continuous) spatial area of the pre-inflationary period. The resulting region of the universe will automatically be homogeneous and isotropic, will be practically planar, and the occurrence of any exotic particles from the pre-inflationary period will be diluted to virtually zero density.
of the size of the universe for different models of
a) Standard model
b) Simple inflation model
The concept of the inflationary universe leads to significant changes in our perceptions of the origin and global structure of the universe. Above all, the universe is probably much larger than previously thought: we live within a metagalaxy that is only a tiny part of the whole created by inflationary (and later Fridman) expansion. Furthermore, phase transitions of the unitary field accompanied by inflationary expansion could have arisen spontaneously in a number of places in the very early universe. The whole Universe would then consist of many separate "mini-universes" (metagalaxies) with different properties - see §5.5., the passage "The Origin of Multiple Universes" in the monograph "Gravity, Black Holes and the Physics of Spacetime".
Some concepts of quantum
cosmology go even further in this direction : according to
them, "new universes" can be created
spontaneously everywhere and constantly, from sufficiently strong
quantum field fluctuations in a vacuum that they succumb to
inflationary expansion. According to quantum theory (in
connection with quantum uncertainty relations), the vacuum in
microscales is filled with chaotic quantum fluctuations
fields as well as of the space-time metrics with various
amplitudes and ranges. In the area of Planck lengths (10-33 cm) the
fluctuations are already so strong, that even the space-time
topology fluctuates ("foamy" vacuum structure). The
vast majority of quantum fluctuations immediately disappear
(during Planck's time). However, there is a certain probability
of a very intense and at the same time sufficiently large
fluctuation, in which the energy density of the considered
(mostly scalar) field is constant in the region exceeding the
causal (de Sitter) horizon, given by the energy density of this
field. In this situation, then, according to the Einstein-Fridman
equations, the scale factor will grow according to the
exponential law - there will be an inflationary expansion of this
area, which will grow into a "new universe".
In this way, "mini-universes" and sometimes by inflationary expansion even the "real universes" could emerge everywhere and constantly. These universes will have a variety of properties, including different number of dimensions of spacetime. The dynamics of field behavior during inflation and during the phase transition, together with the number of dimensions in which inflation took place and the number of dimensions that remained compacted, determines the structure of spacetime, the properties of physical interactions and elementary particles in each such universe.
The entire Universe thus appears as the bubbling "foam" of expanding "bubbles" - separate universes, each governed by its own laws of physics. These parallel universes, moving in the initial manifold, in the so-called hyperspace, live their "own life". Anything that is physically possible, can take place in some parallel universe.
Our universe could be part of a "sea" of an infinite number of other parallel universes. And the whole universe visible to us is just a small area in one of these bubbles. Otherwise, very few bubbles have physical and geometric properties suitable for creating more complex structures - galaxies, stars, planets and ultimately life.
The mechanism of inflationary expansion and its influence on the global structure of the universe is briefly explained in the lecture and illustrated in figures - physical details see again §5.5 "Microphysics and cosmology. Inflationary universe" in monograph "Gravity, black holes and space-time physics".
3. The concept of multiple
The idea of more universes is encountered in astrophysics and cosmology in basically three contexts :
interpretation of quantum laws
There are infinitely many universes in the configuration space of quantum mechanics. During each interaction, not only the final state in our universe is realized, but also all other possible states in individual universes - all "wasted chances" from our universe are realized.
Each historical event takes place differently in all possible variants in different parallel worlds ..?.
Geometric-topological properties of spacetime - black holes
Rotating or electrically charged black holes have a complex geometric and topological structure of spacetime - they can be bridges (tunnels) to other universes. However, a more detailed analysis shows that this possibility is only theoretical. Cauchy horizons inside the black hole, allowing it to penetrate the particles to be causally separate regions of space - another universe, are unstable to perturbations fields outside the black hole and against quantum fluctuations, so in fact probably do not realize.
For a more detailed analysis, see §3.5 and §4.4 in book "Gravity, Black Holes and the Physics of Spacetime", especially the passage "Black Holes - Bridges to Other Universes?".
applications of quantum and unitary theories
Quantum field fluctuations => inflation expansion => spontaneous formation of multiple universes (more specifically "Microphysics and cosmology. Inflationary universe.", passage "Origin of multiple universes").
|A large number of universes can spontaneously be born from the quantum foam of fluctuating fields|
According to some unitary field theories (see "Unification of fundamental interactions. Supergravity. Superstrings.") there may be additional "extra-dimensions" in space-time that are hidden to us - they are rolled (compacted) into tiny sub-microscopic sizes; in our Universe 3 spatial dimensions and 1 temporal dimension are developed. Along with our Universe (macroscopically 3 + 1-dimensional), other "parallel" universes (with our only loosely "ideologically similar") may coexist, with other developed and compacted dimensions (cf. "Anthropic Principle and the Existence of Multiple Universes"). And perhaps countless other "universes", in which it is all completely different..?.. Even if such "universes" existed, they would be beyond our means of space-time knowledge - they would probably be inaccessible and unobservable to us in principle ..?..
meanings of the term "universe"
It is necessary to draw attention to the terminological and philosophical-methodological problems of the concept of multiple universes. The term "universe" is used in several senses, the basic of which are the following three :
4. Anthropic principle and life in the universe
One of the basic questions of astrophysics and cosmology is: Why is the universe built just as (specifically) as is it, and not differently? After all, the laws of physics would allow the existence of a universe even with completely different properties! It turns out that even the fact of our human existence allows us to look at this question, as well as the question of man's place in the universe, from a somewhat unusual angle. What laws and phenomena have made it possible for life to develop here on Earth - and perhaps in many biospheres elsewhere in the universe - and eventually creatures capable of thinking about their origins? This approach is collectively referred to as the anthropic principle.
The beginnings of the anthropic principle were foreshadowed by reflections on the wonderful relationships and ratios between "large numbers" characterizing the physical constants of universe and microworld (eg the ratio of the size of the universe and the atomic nucleus, or the ratio of binding constants of individual types of interactions), which was pointed out by P.Dirac in the 1930s. Are certain conspicuous coincidences in these numbers (differing by tens of orders) random or have a deeper meaning? In the 1960s and 1970s, some experts in astrophysics and cosmology (especially Dicke, Carter, Hawking, Collins, Wheeler, and others) pointed out, that the very fact of our human existence imposes some important limitations on the initial conditions and course of evolution of the universe (see figure), as well as on the values of "constants" and parameters in the laws of physics. The very name Anthropic Principle was first used in 1968 by B.Carter.
After all, the term "principle" is perhaps somewhat unfortunate and misleading - it is not a central principle in physical, astronomical or scientific knowledge in general. The anthropic "principle" is rather a kind of "conglomerate" of specific ideas, concepts and contexts, having something to say to the mystery of the origin and development of our so specific universe. Astrophysical aspects of the anthropic principle are discussed in §5.7 "Anthropic principle and the existence of multiple universes" of the above-cited book "Gravity, black holes ...".
Why is there "something" and not "nothing" ?
Our world is filled with a lot of interesting things - billions of galaxies, nebulae, trillions of stars, planets and other structures in space. On our planet (and perhaps some of it on other planets) are beautiful natural formations - mountains, rivers, sea, trees and countless other plants and animals, we humans. Why do all these interesting and complex things even exist ?: "Why is there 'something' instead of 'nothing'..?.." - this is the most important question of fundamental physics.
The basic laws of physics, including the theory of relativity, quantum and particle physics, suggest that the universe should most likely be a rather boring place - it should be dark, inhospitable, without macroscopic structures and therefore of course without life... We are unable to explain the special properties of the universe. A certain way to understand this would be the hypothesis that we live in a multiverse. In most individual universes there is almost nothing, in complete emptiness and darkness the fluctuating fields incoherently propagate and only a quantum of fields and particles move, without any structures. But we live in one of the few universes where the laws of physics allow 'something' to exist - to enable more complex structures to emerge and evolve (see "Multi-Universe Concepts" below).
The universe exactly " tuned
" for life ?
What happens in nature and the universe, its structure and evolution, take place according to the laws of physics. In addition to the form of functional dependencies between physical quantities, these laws contain a set of basic natural constants - parameters whose values determine the "degree or intensity" of the process. In our nature, these constants are precisely given (measured), but in principle they could take on different values; natural processes would then take place differently. The evolution of nature is very "sensitive" to the values of some parameters. Under "precise tuning" here we mean a situation where small changes in certain parameters could cause large changes in the evolution of the system - in this casea universe, in which life could or could not arise and exist.
From a global-cosmological point of view
In terms of
physical constants :
Similarly, if the physical constants had slightly different values, resp. ratios of values (just a few percent) than it is in our nature, the evolution of the universe would also take place otherwise and would not produce life *) - at least not in our familiar forms - based organic compounds of carbon (about the importance of carbon as a basic biogenic element, see below "Carbon - a basic biogenic element").
*) Truth be told, we reach this conclusion when we change one from the laws of physics, or its parameters, leaving the others unchanged. Then, indeed, only a slight change in one of the laws of physics would change the evolution of the universe so much that it would make life impossible. If we hypothetically change the parameters in the standard model of particle physics, for example, so that the strong nuclear interaction would be somewhat weaker, nuclear nucleosynthesis inside stars would produce too little carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and other biogenic elements (stellar nucleogenesis is discussed in more detail in §4.1 , part "Thermonuclear reactions inside stars" monograph "Gravity, black holes and space - time physics"). Similarly, if the masses of the "u" and "d" quarks were slightly different, for example, a proton could become slightly heavier than a neutron, protons would decay into neutrons, and no atoms would be formed.
Changing the strength of the weak interaction would change the course of the initial nucleosynthesis at the beginning of the universe (and later the thermonuclear reactions inside the stars), which could also change the representation of elements to the detriment of more complex elements of organic chemistry and life. If the strength of the weak interaction were smaller, neutrons would decay more slowly and most of them would merge with helium protons in the lepton-era era (a similar effect would occur if the rate of expansion of the universe were lower at the beginning). This would lead to a proton deficiency- matter in the universe would consist mainly of helium, there would not be enough hydrogen for the later formation of water and hydrocarbons necessary for life (primordial nucleogenesis for the conditions of our universe is discussed in more detail in §5.4 "Standard Cosmological Model. Big Bang. Shaping the structure of the universe."), passage "Primordial nucleosynthesis").
So far, the situation where we would simultaneously change two or more parameters or laws of physics at the same time is not sufficiently explored (this may be the task of future research in nuclear astrophysics and cosmology). We can imagine such "clever" changes in two or more parameters, in which it could happen that their consequences for the chemical development of the universe are in a sense "compensated". In addition to specific physical laws with parameter values, as we observe in our anthropic universe, there may be other "sets" of laws with different parameter values that may result in the evolution of a universe other than ours, but still allowing for complex reactions and life... It is even possible to hypothetically imagine a universe with such a combination of physical laws-constants-parameters, in which the conditions for the origin and evolution of life would be even more suitable than in ours..?!.. And such alternative universes may actually arise and exist ..?..
The physically possible states that the universe can acquire, allow the origin of life only in a very narrow range; just a small deviation is enough and the universe will continue to exist physically, but life will no longer be possible in it. Precise adjustment - fine "tuning" - of all these necessary values and specific conditions seems like a very unlikely coincidence; all the more so when it is necessary to "chain" the individual improbable states into a continuous sequence of conditions, which results in the emergence of life and ultimately an intelligent observer. Or is there something behind it that escapes astrophysics and cosmology? This is exactly what the anthropic principle seeks to answer.
life in space
What is life?
An objective and universal "definition" of life, which would include all the various forms of life (including those that have already disappeared or have not yet been discovered), is by no means easy. If we summarize some basic common properties of hitherto known organisms, then we can simplified say: Life is a self-sustaining and reproducing chemical system in which self-organizing feedback mechanisms work (despite the general tendency in nature to lead to greater disorder - entropy growth ) and is capable of evolution.
An important circumstance for a correct understanding of life was the refutation of so-called vitalism - the assumption that complex "organic" substances are created by the action of some specific "vital forces" which are inherent only in living organisms (they are different from the forces controlling inanimate nature). Careful physicochemical research has shown with absolute certainty that not a single atom in any living organism is any different from that in an inanimate "inorganic" nature. Also all complex "organic" molecules in organisms can be (at least in principle) prepared by synthesis of inorganic atoms hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus and possibly next. What makes an organism alive is not some mysterious "life-vital force", but an amazing combination and interplay of the myriad chemical and biophysical processes that take place in a living organism. This is mainly due to the ability of carbon to form an extraordinary variety of compounds. Carbon atoms can combine with each other and with other atoms not only into simple molecules (linear or cyclic), but also into chains that can have hundreds, thousands to millions of links - to form macromolecules. During the cessation of vital functions - the death of an organism - none of its atoms are "lost", only the coordination of the mentioned complex processes is lost; and many complex "organic" molecules eventually decompose into simpler ones.
The basis of biology is the study of the structure and activity of the cell as a basic building block of organisms. Biological processes in cells and in the whole organism are based on chemical reactions mainly of complex organic compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus and other elements, which take place mainly in the aquatic environment. Only the discovery of cells and the gradual recognition of the complex biochemical reactions that take place in cells at the molecular level, transformed at the end of the 19th and in the 20th century the biology and medicine from descriptive empirical doctrine (description of species, "counting of petals and stamens", external manifestations of diseases, ..., with many unsubstantiated and erroneous assumptions) to real science, enabling to understand on a uniform exact basis the essence and functioning of life, in physiological and pathological situations. Research into complex biochemical processes at the subcellular level will continue for a long time. Cells, their structure and activity are discussed in more detail in §5.2, part "Cells - basic units of living organisms" in monograph "Nuclear physics and physics of ionizing radiation".
Where and how can life arise?
A phenomenon as complex as life, in the universe can hardly develop in any empty space in universe. At the very least, a source of energy and a suitable material carrier of life must be present. The sources of radiant energy in the universe are stars and suitable material carriers capable of providing suitable and long-term stable conditions for the time-consuming process of origin and evolution of life are planets orbiting stars - it is discussed in more detail below in the section "Life-Giving Stars and Planets". On these planets with suitable conditions, life "terrestrial-type" could most likely originate and evolve first in the shallows of warm seas, bathed in light and heat from the parent star. Hypothetically, however, even there is another possibility :
The origin of life in the thermal submarine depths ?
Under specific circumstances, perhaps life could evolve in groundwater and on more distant cold terrestrial planets, or on the moons orbiting large planets far from the parent star. The necessary heat could be supplied by tidal forces arising during orbit (see §1.2, passage "Gravitational gradients - tidal forces" in the book "Gravity, black holes ..."), which dynamically deform - "knead" - the material of the planet or moon, thereby with friction generates thermal energy. Another source of internal thermal energy could be the slow radioactive decay of natural radioisotopes of uranium, thorium and potassium for hundreds of millions and billions of years (see §1.4 "Radionuclides", passage "Geological significance of natural radioactivity" in the book "Nuclear Physics and Ionizing Radiation Physics"). The interior of such a planet or moon could have a temperature of hundreds or thousands of degrees in the long run. If there is more water - the sea, the ocean, there may be hydrothermal vents on the sea floor , through which hot gases spring from the hot interior and bubble water upwards. There may be a reasonable temperature (approx. 10-40 oC) in the vicinity of these places, enough carbon dioxide and dissolved minerals to be able to "boil" prebiotic chemistry and then form precursors to membranes, self-replicating organic molecules and finally metabolism.?.. Such "peaceful" places, protected from adverse events that ravage the planet's surface, can provide nutrients, energy and a safe haven for evolving life. It is all debatable so far, let's also compare the possibilities outlined below in the section "How did life originate?".
Note: Here on Earth, there are geothermal vents in the submarine depths, in the vicinity of which it is full of life. However, this life did not originate here, but the relevant organisms got there from elsewhere and adapted to specific conditions.
One such place where it evolved life, we know intimately, it is a system: [star = Sun] + [planet = Earth]. But there is nothing unique in our solar system that could not arise elsewhere in the universe. Basic physical and chemical processes take place in the same way on Earth and elsewhere in the cosmos (for this natural-scientific knowledge is sometimes used the name uniformity principle). The same mechanisms that led to the emergence of life on our planet, could create living systems even elsewhere in space where the conditions are right. The position of the Earth in space is not exceptional, so perhaps we can expect some forms of life on other suitable planets..?.. In addition, there may be other mechanisms (unknown to us) that may, even under different conditions, result in the formation of complex organized matter functioning as what we call life ?
There are billions of Sun-like stars in the Milky Way alone; the planetary systems around the stars are a natural consequence of their formation from a rotating germ nebula (see §4.1 "The role of gravity in the formation and evolution of stars", passage "Planet" book "Gravity, black holes and the physics of space"). Given that the universe is vast (practically infinite), can be endlessly repeated variations and "experiments" on an assembly of galaxies, stars, planetary systems, so there may be a system ("similar world") like our solar system and planet Earth... Or a little different, on which somewhat different processes could also allow the emergence of life...?..
But let's compare below the somewhat skeptical reflection in the passage "The uniqueness of life? - a series of highly unlikely coincidences"...
Exoplanets , exo-moons
Planets outside the solar system, astronomers called extrasolar planets or abbreviated exoplanets. The performance of current telescopes is not yet sufficient for direct observation of planets around distant stars. However, there are indirect methods for detecting exoplanets (it is also described in the mentioned passage "Planets" §4.1 "The role of gravity in the formation and evolution of stars" of the book "Gravity, black holes ..."). Planetary systems have already been demonstrated around some stars, but most of the time we see large planets larger than Jupiter. There may not be life on the large gaseous planets of the Jupiter type, but rocky moons may orbit around them, on which life may evolve..?.. These terrestrial " exo-moons" may increase "range" of possible life-giving bodies in the universe ...
Recently it was discovered several planets comparable to Earth orbiting probably in the "sphere of life". To prove the existence of life on these planets, however, is extremely difficult. The only option is spectrometric analysis electromagnetic radiation of these exoplanets. Here the question arises as appropriate "biomarker" or "biosignatures" - the kind of atoms and molecules, the increased incidence could be specific to life (discussed below in the passage "Finding life in the universe - biosignatures").
Life-giving stars and planets
In order for life to evolve on a planet orbiting a particular star (a "life-giving" star and planet), the star and the planet must have some specific properties :
of the star
The respective star must have a reasonable mass (in the range of approx. 0.6 ¸ 10 M¤). It must not be too massive, because heavy stars consume their basic fuel, hydrogen, too fast, than that was enough to develop the life on some planet. It must not be too light, because the most important thermonuclear reaction H ® He would not be ignited (such a pseudo-star is called a brown dwarf ) and there would not be enough energy for the processes of life formation in possibly planets. Normally functioning stars with a mass less than 60% of the Sun's mass - red dwarfs - they have a relatively low radiant power, so that the relevant ecosphere (see below) would be very close and occupy a narrow range; the probability of a suitable planet occurring here would be relatively less. On the other hand, such stars have a long-term stable luminosity (many billions of years), so there would be enough time for the origin and evolution of life ...
Stable luminosity of the star
The star must have an almost constant luminosity for a sufficiently long time (min. 109 years). It must not be variable (this property is closely related to the above mass of the star), as large temperature fluctuations on the surrounding planets would not allow the formation and maintenance of a stable life.
In its early stages of evolution, life is very "fragile", little resistant to changing conditions. Evolution is not fast enough to adapt to changing conditions and survive.
1. Star should be "alone" in the sense that it should not be part of the close binary or multiple systems. In such multiple systems, for example. planets are subjected to non-central and variable gravitational forces, so there are no circular and long-term stable orbits of the planets (the condition of the following point "Planetary orbit " is not met) .
2. There should not be too massive stars (with masses higher than about 10 M¤) in the space environment for about tens of light years, which would explode like supernovae, with the emitted high-energy radiation "burning" the evolving life on the planets around nearby stars. This condition is most often met in the outer spiral arms of galaxies, not near the center of galaxies, where there is a high concentration of massive stars (and there is a risk of hard radiation from a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy) .
orbit of the planet
Planet enabling life must circulate at a suitable distance from its star. The temperature on the nearby planets is too high, preventing the formation and duration of any complex compounds. On distant planets, the temperature is too low, so complex biogenic reactions do not take place. Only in a narrow range of distances - in the so-called planetary ecosphere or "habitable zone" *) are suitable temperature conditions of about 10-40 oC. In the solar system, the boundaries of the ecosphere are estimated in the range of about 140-170 million km from the Sun, ie about 20% width. Orbit in the life zone should be close to circular, because a strongly eccentric trajectory would lead to large temperature fluctuations, unfavorable for the origin and development of life.
*) For the forms known to us, the zone of life is considered to be the area where water can be in a liquid state. Although so-called extremophiles are known here on Earth, organisms living in very cold or hot places could not have originated here - they evolved in places with more favorable conditions and they managed to adapt in search of living space.
Planets that are too light will not hold their atmosphere due to their gravity. For planets that are too massive, the vast atmosphere creates too much pressure, which does not allow sufficient mobility of the reagents. The appropriate mass of the planet is between 3/4 and five times the mass of the Earth. Heavier planets could perhaps have more favorable conditions - a denser atmosphere, more intense volcanic activity bringing in large amounts of needed minerals, a stronger and longer-lasting magnetic field more effectively protecting the atmosphere and surface from the stellar wind (see below).
atmosphere of the planet
The planet enabling life should have a gaseous envelope - an atmosphere that maintains a relatively constant surface temperature, protects the surface from the sharp impacts of a large number of tiny cosmic bodies, and contains gases that may be involved in the metabolism of living organisms. The "thermal comfort" required for the origin and development of life also depends on the composition and density of the atmosphere, whether it contains "greenhouse" gases (leading to an increase in temperature) or clouds reflecting back a part of the parent star's radiation.
magnetic field of the planet
"Mother" star supplies nearby planets not only with life-giving light and heat radiation, but also with streams of charged particles of the "stellar wind". In addition, high-energy cosmic rays are constantly coming from outer space. The planet's magnetic field - the magnetosphere - can play an important role in life in two ways :
1. It protects the ecosphere from the harmful effects of ionizing cosmic radiation by deflecting high-energy particles out of the planet.
2. Protects the atmosphere before the destruction by the "stellar wind" - an intense stream of charged particles coming from the parent star.
The magnetic field of terrestrial-type planets is generated in the rotating semi-fluid outer part of the core, which acts as a magnetohydrodynamic "dynamo". In the later stages of the planet's evolution, this nucleus cools and solidifies, causing the planet's magnetic field to disappear *). For possibly life on the planet's surface this has two adverse consequences :
a) A large amount of hard ionizing radiation, which is harmful to living organisms, begins to enter the biosphere from outer space.
b) An intense stream of charged particles emitted by the star destroys the atmosphere and can "spray" it into the surrounding universe. The loss of the atmosphere leads to faster evaporation of water, the steam of which is also carried into space by the stellar wind. The loss of the atmosphere and water is incompatible with the continuation of life (at least in the biochemical forms we know) on such an affected planet.
*) The time for which the liquid core and magnetosphere will persist it is longer the heavier the planet. About 4 billion years ago, Mars had a magnetic field, an atmosphere, and probably liquid water on the surface. However, due to its lower mass, the core of Mars soon cooled and solidified, the planet lost its magnetic field and then the atmosphere and surface water; life there is no longer possible.
A stream of charged particles flies away from the star as a "stellar wind". The stellar wind from the Sun - the solar wind - also flows to our Earth, where the absolute majority of it is deflected by the Earth's magnetic field, goes around the Earth's magnetosphere and does not penetrate the Earth's surface. From the point of view of stellar astrophysics, it is discussed in §4.1, passage "Structure of stars" of the book "Gravity, black holes ...".
Life can only be where biogenic elements are present - hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, calcium, phosphorus, etc. So they must be planets around the stars of the 2nd or next generation. On the planets around the oldest stars of the 1st generation, composed only of hydrogen and helium, life cannot arise - at least not in the forms we know, based on organic carbon compounds *), especially on their macromolecular structures.
*) Carbon - a basic biogenic element
Carbon with four valence electrons has the richest of all elements, easy and stable bonds with other light elements (H, O, N, P, ...), including the possibility of forming long chains and cycles up to macromolecular levels. The binding energy for the formation or decomposition of carbon molecules is of a suitable size to form compounds that are sufficiently stable and reactive. Many carbon chains are readily soluble in water. Chemists and biochemists are very skeptical about the possibility of a silicon- based life (which has similar chemical properties to carbon), although silicon is significantly more abundant in space than carbon. Silicon does not provide nearly as diverse a possibility of easy bonds with other light elements as carbon. More complex silicon macromolecules are insoluble or decomposable in water. No significant amount of more complex silicon compounds was observed in universe, while relatively complex carbon compounds (eg alcohols, amino acids, polycyclic hydrocarbons, ...) a large amount was observed. That is why life know to us is based on carbon.
From a physico-chemical point of view, however, it is possible that life in some places in the universe could arise on quite different principles than our current earthly life. Interesting sci-fi alternative could be the possibility of the origin and evolution of purely electrical processing of information signals on an inorganic basis ..?..
The formation of life based on organic compounds requires the presence of water, as a liquid polar solvent with suitable properties, in which the (bio)chemical processes that life needs and on which it is based, can take place. In addition to this basic life-giving function, water has another meaning - it helps maintain the chemical and thermal homeostasis of the planet's atmosphere.
To summarize briefly,
the conditions for the origin and evolution of life can be
expected on rocky (terrestrial ) planets orbiting almost circular orbits around smaller
stars (2nd or 3rd generation, main
sequence) at appropriate distances - in the
"zone of life". They can be
Earth-like planets at stars like our Sun. But perhaps even more
suitable conditions for long-term evolution can be expected in
somewhat larger planets about 2-5 times more massive than Earth (sometimes referred to in the literature on exoplanets
and astrobiology as "Superearths"),
orbiting smaller stars - red dwarfs. Such stars
have a long-term stable luminosity (for many billions of years) and
heavier terrestrial planets have maintained a strong
magnetic field for a long time (also
for many billions of years), protecting
their atmosphere from being "blown away" by the stellar
wind. So, in general, there would be enough time
for the origin and evolution of life into higher forms, including
intelligent... Other candidates for life bearers could be
the exo-months around large exoplanets.
Even with the very specific requirements mentioned above, there are probably millions of stars in our Galaxy with suitable properties, around which they orbit at appropriate distances from planets of the required sizes. And if life originated about 4 billion years ago from inanimate matter on a tiny cosmic "powder", which is our Earth from the cosmic scale, there is no reason why it could not have originated elsewhere in the universe, albeit at a different time and in a different form. After all, the natural laws by which matter is governed are the same everywhere in the universe. So we can assume that life is perhaps in many places in the distant universe..?.. Nobody knows yet... - see also the following passages on the origin and development of life ("How did life originate?", "Intelligent life in space?").
When could life have appeared in the universe ?
From the temporal point of
view of the cosmological evolution of the universe (§5.4"Standard cosmological model.
The Big Bang. Shaping the structure of the universe." monohraph "Gravity, black holes ...")
it is clear, that in the early universe -
in the infernal hearth of the hadron and lepton eras, or the era
of radiation, life was not possible. Even in the first 200
million years of the era of matter, when there were no heavier
chemical elements other than hydrogen and helium, life could not
exist. Only after the extinction of large stars of the 1st
generation, which thermonuclear "boiled" carbon and
other heavier elements (§4.1 "The
role of gravity in the formation and evolution of stars" same books), 2nd and 3rd
generation stars could form and around them planetary
systems containing biogenic elements. There, under the
other conditions discussed above, life could in principle begin
to evolve, under favorable circumstances. Earlier stars in the
first few billion years were larger, unstable and have a
relatively short life cycle. It can be expected that only in the
3rd generation of stars, after about 5 billion years since the
beginning of the universe, smaller stars have formed that are
able to live for a very long time. Thus, some of their planets
may have long-term stable conditions allowing
for the undisturbed evolution of life. So only in the later
stages of the cosmological evolution of the universe
would there be a higher probability of a wider
"expansion" of life..?..
Note: And in the future very late stages of the universe, when all the stars will burn out and new ones will no longer form - on the threshold of the "thermal death" of the universe (§5.6 "Future of the universe. Arrow of time. Hidden matter.") - life will not be possible again.!..
Global "zones of life" in the universe
In which parts of the vast and diverse universe is the origin, maintenance and development of life likely? A more detailed analysis shows that it is not everywhere. That, from a global point of view, there are only relatively small delimited "zones of life" in the universe, while outside these areas, for astrophysical reasons, the conditions are not suitable for a more complex life. Either there are not enough stars, which makes is less likely that "life - giving" stars and planets will occur. Or, conversely, places with a large accumulation of stars, especially massive stars, which often explode as supernovae, are potentially dangerous to life, because the intense high-energy supenova radiation "sterilizes" a wide area of decades of light years (see "Biological significance of cosmic rays", "Deadly Cosmic radiation"). On the other hand, suitable material for building planets and building life occurs only where enough stars have already exploded and enriched gas clouds with heavier elements ("Astrophysical significance of supernovae"). Thus, in galaxies (at least initially), life will not be able to occur in the central parts, where "every moment" (every thousand years) some supernova explodes devastatingly, not even on the periphery, where there is not enough "building material". But rather somewhere "halfway to the edge", in spiral arms. In our Milky Way galaxy, this "habitable" zone of life is estimated to be in the range of about 20,000-30,000 light-years from the galactic center.
Note: The situation is more complicated in colliding galaxies, where the rapid formation of massive stars exploding like supernovae will probably cancel possible zones of life even at greater distances from the center of the galaxy.
Habitable zones (local in the planetary system around the stars, and global in the outer universe) not static, but how astrophysical situation evolves, the size and location of the habitable zones change. Some disappear, in other places new ones emerge - again only temporary. Whether life really develops there is a matter of the complex interplay of many conditions, coincidences and circumstances. And the complexity to which this life could develop is largely determined by the duration of the given life zone.
did life originate ?
The question "How did
life originate?" (here on
Earth) is one of the oldest questions of
humanity. In the pre-scientific period, generations of
philosophers, theologians and thinkers in various directions
sought an answer to it - at that time with illusory, subjective,
religious and generally unreliable results. From the 19th
century, this question has become a matter of objective
scientific research by biologists, chemists and physicists.
The real "mechanism" of the origin of life as such (so far we mean on our Earth), has not yet been explained in full detail, partly still shrouded in mystery. Three basic hypotheses are discussed :
1. Evolutionary (which already has the character of a well-developed theory); 2. Panspermia - the cosmic origin of life; 3. Creation - religious creationism.
1. Abiogenesis - evolution
From a general scientific point of view, the evolutionary theory of the spontaneous origin of life from inanimate matter by chemical processes here on Earth, called abiogenesis, seems to be the most plausible (A.I.Oparin and J.B.Haldane laid the foundations of this theory in the 1930s, it was further developed by their followers - J.Holdein, S.Miller, L.Orgel, S.Fox, S.Altman, T.Cech and others). Life has gradually evolved into current forms by evolution from the simplest forms to more complex organisms, where random deviations and changes - mutations - under the influence of natural selection led to a preference for positive change. The influence of the environment in which a species lives favors some of its characteristics and abilities, so it gradually begins to change into a form that gives it a better chance of longer survival and development.
Each subsequent stage "builds" on the experience of the previous stage, proven structures, mechanisms and principles are transferred and repeated in the next stages of development. The founder of the theory of evolution was Ch.Darwin (see below).
Although evolutionary abiogenesis is the most sophisticated theory of the origin of life, there are still a number of unresolved questions. According to some biologists, this theory struggles, among other things, e.g. with the problem of time. Natural selection is slow and needs a lot of time to create something truly new and more advanced. Therefore, there appears to be a very small probability of such a complex process of development of many types of life that we observe, because there would not have been enough time for this since the formation and cooling of the Earth (primitive life appeared on Earth relatively soon, about 3.5 billion years ago); the formation of the first cell had to be preceded by a complex and time - consuming "biocosmic preparation" - prebiotic evolution - see below.
Such an extremely small probability could be expected if the original cells were formed by purely random chemical combinations of molecules *). In reality, however, there were probably to be some some regulatory selection effects in this process, that allowed the evolution of more complex molecules. These rectifying selection effects may partly be caused by certain autocatalytic properties of the polymer chains of the macromolecules, as well as may relate to thermodynamically unbalanced processes in complex reaction mixtures. From the thermodynamic poinf of view, such phenomena are the subject of the study of the so-called synergetics, which was dealt with especially by I.Prigogin (see Section 6 below "Physics and God").
* ) It is often said simile that the "spontaneous" formation of a cell, with all the complex molecular-biological "machines" and mechanisms, is as unlikely as the accidental mixing and "shaking" of individual car components to create a vehicle capable of driving. This comparison is misleading, even nonsensical! Evolution worked from the very beginning of life: the first simplest version that allowed reproduction became successful, further development did not start again "from scratch", but by improving the previous best version. That intricacy and complexity was created gradually.
After all, even the mentioned car was not created immediately in a modern complex form with electronic control and a number of refined technologies. The first vehicles were very simple, even here for many decades "evolution" worked (but with the hands of erudite designers - "intelligent designers"...), under the selection pressure of efficiency, perfection and price.
Prebiotic evolution of matter
¨ Origin of the universe, particles and light nuclei
The preparation of "material" for the origin and development of life basically began at the very origin of the universe (for more details see §5.4 "Standard cosmological model. Big Bang" in the already mentioned monograph "Gravity, black holes and the physics of spacetime").
According to the Standard Cosmological Model, the Universe was formed about 13-15 billion years ago in an extremely dense and hot state called the Big Bang. In the first microseconds, at many trillions of degrees, the universe was in a special state called quark-gluon plasma - a stormy mixture of electrons, quarks and gluons, neutrinos and other particles. As the universe expanded rapidly, the temperature and density of matter dropped rapidly. About ten thousandths of a second after the creation of the universe, the temperature dropped below about 10 trillion degrees. Quarks u and d with the action of a strong interaction (mediated by gluons) combined into triplets ( uud ) - protons and ( udd ) - neutrons. Protons have been preserved to this day mainly in the form of hydrogen nuclei, they are also contained in the nuclei of all heavier elements. The neutrons, which were born together with the protons by hadronization of the quark-gluon plasma, faced a double fate. Most of them were converted to protons, electrons and (anti) neutrinos by a weak interaction. Some neutrons fused with protons to form nuclei, mainly helium, as well as small amounts of deuterium and lithium.
¨ Formation of nuclei of atoms and heavier elements
All heavier nuclei was thermonuclear synthesized through the stellar interior (see "The role of gravity as the origin and evolution of stars" or "We are descendants of stars!"), which began to form about 200 million years after the beginning of the universe (after the end of the era of radiation and the period of "cosmic darkness"); in the stars, this nucleosynthesis continues to this day. The first generations of stars were very massive - stellar giants - and lived only relatively short, only a few hundred thousand years. After consuming nuclear "fuel" they exploded like supernovae and ejected clouds of hot gases, enriched with heavy nuclei, which they "boiled" by nucleosynthesis - nuclei of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, calcium, silicon, phosphorus, iron, ... etc, as well as a number of heavier and radioactive elements (including transurans).
Atomic nuclei formed inside stars are originally "bare", without electron shells - gamma radiation and sharp collisions at high temperatures do not allow the formation of a permanent electron shell, electrons are immediately ejected from the atomic shell, atoms are completely ionized. In the ejected clouds, these nuclei enter cold interstellar space, where the nuclei capture their free electrons with their electrical attraction, filling them with electron orbits to form complete atoms of elements. One (or several) stellar giant on the inside of one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way, which exploded as a supernova about 7 billion years ago, was important to our Earth and solar system.and from the cloud ejected by it, enriched with heavier and biogenic elements, the germinal nebula for the Sun and our entire solar system condensed. We don't know where the remnants of this previous star are, it probably ended up as a black hole ...
¨ Formation of molecules in space
The probability of collision and merging of two or more atoms in a sparse gaseous state is very small. Solid dust particles condensed in an ejected nebula are very important for the formation of molecules from atoms in space . There, the atoms are close to each other and can exchange electrons - chemical reactions and the synthesis of molecules from atoms in interstellar space take place on grains of dust .
They can also be stimulated by radiation from surrounding stars and cosmic radiation - photocatalysis. By interacting with radiation , neutral atoms become ions, which, thanks to attractive electric forces, are able to carry out reactions and bonds to molecules even at very low temperatures (at which normal chemical reactions do not take place). Gas envelopes can function as "space chemical laboratories" around some stars, especially around red giants, rich in carbon and oxygen. There are large differences in temperature and pressure in the individual areas of the envelope and there is intense radiation. The kinetic energy of the thermal motion of atoms overcomes the repulsive electric forces, and the atoms can approach by sharing the valence electrons and merging them into molecules. Temperatures are higher in the interior and compounds of silicon, magnesium, aluminum, sodium, etc. may be formed. In extenal parts with lower temperature, compounds with longer carbon chains may be formed. Intense chemical reactions then occur in protoplanetary disks and the planets formed from them around stars, where there is sufficient density and often favorable temperature.
Using radio astronomy spectrometry, a large number of molecules not only inorganic (water, carbon dioxide, ammonia, ...) but also more than 100 different types of "organic" molecules composed of hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen were discovered in interstellar clouds. Some are composed of more than 10 atoms, in addition to methane, there are also polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, aldehydes, alcohols and the like.
¨ Synthesis of more complex molecules on Earth
Thus, simple organic (prebiotic) molecules have been (and still are) in large numbers in space. They were therefore also included in the protoplanetary disk, from which planets, moons, asteroids and comets in the solar system formed; from where they got to the planets. On Earth, other more complex compounds formed spontaneously during the first billion years of its existence. The environment at that time was very stormy with intense volcanic activity, meteor bombardment, storm surges of static electricity, intense ultraviolet radiation. Due to photochemical reactions reactive inorganic molecules as well as smaller organic molecules were formed, including formaldehyde, amino acids, lipids, carbohydrates and other molecules. Chemical processes that produce life-important substances could also have occurred with repeated asteroid impacts. At that time, the atmosphere was almost free of oxygen, but volcanic activity and asteroid impacts contained large amounts of methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, hydrogen cyanide, and more. Hydrolysis of hydrogen cyanide could yield simple organic compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. The most important are amino acids, whose chains form proteins of different species in different orders, and carbohydrates, which could later form RNA bases (see below). Hydrogen cyanide (and its derivatives) was not toxic to the primary emerging precursors of life (on the contrary, oxygen and even water was toxic, which could decompose the primary molecules by hydrolysis). The initial steps of chemical reactions may have formed in volcanic dust. Life could then arise from endless variants of gradual chemical reactions, some of which were irreversible. Only later did water become the basic environment for the functioning of life.
The basic factor enabling the origin of life here on Earth and stimulating its evolution and diversity, was the presence of a sufficient amount of water *) in the liquid state. Water is the basic solvent for complex carbon compounds, which can react chemically here and create other more complex organic substances. With the evaporation of water in shallow lakes, the density of molecules increased, which facilitated chemical reactions and allowed the synthesis of even very complex substances. Cosmic radiation probably also played an important role in the origin and evolution of life - see §1.6 "Ionizing radiation", part "Cosmic radiation", passage "Biological significance of cosmic radiation" in the monograph "Nuclear physics and physics of ionizing radiation".
*) In the first periods after the formation of the Earth, there was no water on its surface. Most of the water came to Earth about 4 billion years ago from the so-called Kuiper Beltice bodies in the outer part of the solar system (these ice bodies form the nuclei of future comets). With their attraction, Jupiter and Saturn pull ice bodies out of the Kuiper belt towards the Sun. Some of them fell on Earth, where about 4 billion years ago there was a "big bombing" lasting about 50-200 million years. This brought water to Earth, water vapor condensed and rained on the Earth's surface. It rained for millions of years, creating the first great oceans in which the water was not salty. Another part of the water, coming from the interior of the Earth from volcanic activity, had dissolved salt.
Volcanic activity, supplying standing water with hot springs containing many different dissolved minerals, may have led to conditions that allowed prebiotic evolution. And later these waters could create a suitable environment for the origin and development of the first cellular organisms.
The theory of life in a suitable aquatic environment is certainly correct in principle, but it has one drawback: in large amounts of water, the necessary molecules can disperse too quickly to interact and form more complex structures (such as cell membranes) and primary metabolism. More favorable conditions in this respect could be in volcanic water lakes, which repeatedly dry out and flood again. In relatively dry periods, they can be made from simpler molecules polymerization to form more complex molecules. In "wet" periods, these complex molecules can migrate between different sites, and in subsequent drying periods they can concentrate and further interact to form even more complex structures. The minerals present there, such as clays, can act as carriers and catalysts for the formation of complex organic molecules.
Origin and evolution of primordial cells on Earth
Every living cell, even the simplest bacteria, contains a large number of ingenious chemical mechanisms - some kind of "molecular machinery", which distribute nutrients and convert them into energy, transmit chemical and electrical signals, transmit and copy information using genetic molecules; and perform a number of other highly organized activities (cells, their structure and activity are discussed in detail in §5.2, monograph "Nuclear physics and physics of ionizing radiation", section "Cells - basic units of living organisms"). It is extremely difficult to imagine how such complex systems could have formed spontaneously from much simpler inanimate matter about 3.5 billion years ago. The most difficult problem is explaining the origin of organizational and an information genetic mechanism based on DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). The direct creation of a structure as complex as DNA does not seem likely. Evolutionary biologists have come to the conclusion that early life could be based on RNA (ribonucleic acid), or their more reactive derivatives, the first simpler molecules of which could have arisen spontaneously from prebiotic molecules - the "RNA world " or the "RNA-peptide world " (suitable combinations of peptides can produce enzymes that catalyze RNA copying and other reactions) . However, RNA molecules may not have been the first, more types of molecules may have competed for the origin of life..?..
Early ancestors of today's cells - protocells - they were probably just a kind of "tufts" of ribose molecules, polymerized into short sections of RNA, coated together with water into a simple phospholipid membrane. Under appropriate conditions, RNA molecules are able to make copies of themselves and thus "multiply". Replicating RNA molecules encoded properties that were "genetically" passed on to the next generation. Mutations that occurred randomly through various influences (ionizing radiation, chemicals, "copying" errors) led to changes, of which the "lucky" ones allowed these early cells to adapt better to the environment and compete with each other by natural selection (Darwinian evolution). Only later did DNA develop into a suitable combination of RNA molecules, has taken on the role of primary genetic molecule for long-term storage of genetic information throughout the life of the organism and for transmission to future generations. RNA began to function as a "bridge" between DNA and proteins (for more details see again "Cells - basic units of living organisms", passage "DNA, RNA, proteins, chromosomes, telomeres"). Thus, prokaryotic cells (without nucleus and without organelles) with cyclically arranged DNA were first formed ; later, more complex eukaryotic cells developed with a linearly arranged DNA in the form of a double helix located in the nucleus and with a series of organelles performing specific functions of cell metabolism.
Evolution of more advanced organisms
Primary life forms, unicellular prokaryotic microorganisms, originally evolved on Earth in an almost oxygen-free environment. However, cyanobacteria and some types of bacteria were capable of photosynthesis *). Over the course of billions of years, they have gradually metabolized methane and carbon dioxide and enriched the atmosphere with oxygen; it had a negative effect on anerobic cells by oxidizing their biogenic molecules. However, due to its high reactivity, oxygen has enabled the evolution of more complex organisms.
*) Growths of cyanobacteria and bacteria lived in large numbers in the shallows of warm seas and enriched the Earth's atmosphere with oxygen. They are found in biogenic sediments called stromatolites (Greek stroma = layer, lithos = stone) from the Precambrian period about 3.5 billion years ago. Remnants of stromatolite colonies still survive in the shallows of warm seas, especially off the coast of Australia.
Under the influence of this change in external conditions in the period about 1.5 billion years ago, a new type of cells developed - eukaryotic (for more details, see again "Cells - the basic units of living organisms"). This so-called eukaryogenesis probably took place by fusion of two or more cell types, which then lived in endosymbiosis . The original anaerobic, hydrogen-metabolizing cell absorbed another smaller cell, capable of processing oxygen with respiration to produce energy, thereby gaining an evolutionary advantage. Following evolution of the entrapped cells developed organelles. The mitochondria of animal cells were probably formed by the uptake (phagocytosis) of bacteria, and the chloroplasts of plant cells evolved from cyanobacteria. At the same time, DNA molecules dispersed in the cytoplasm began to clump together, encapsulate the membrane, and form the cell nucleus.
About 600 million years ago, unicellular eukaryotic microorganisms began to associate to form the first multicellular organisms. The cells in the colony partially retained their individuality, but specialized and interconnected mechanically and functionally, whereby this unit has achieved an improvement and a selection advantage. This allowed for far greater diversification of life and acceleration of evolution.
Unicellular organisms (including early multicellular) have been propagated by division, in which the genetic information is only copied and changes can occur only rarely and accidentally as a result of mutations. An important acceleration of evolution occurred in the emergence of sexual reproduction, in which genes "mix" and create new combinations, which then participate in natural selection - many of which may prove more advantageous in a changing environment.
Evolution to the Homo Sapiens Stage - Intelligent Life
However, how from this great diversity of more advanced organisms - from life so far controlled only by biochemical processes and simple reflexes and instincts, evolved into abstract thinking and "consciousness" that created a species capable of developing complex technologies, learning about nature and the universe, searching for its own origin..?.. It stemmed from the ability to learn, to gain knowledge from others - using this common well of knowledge and experience not only to solve specific life situations, but also finding new solutions, generalizations, innovations. The decisive factor was communication skills , language and writing - to teach carefully and accurately the acquired skills and knowledge of the next generation. For really objective and true knowledge it was important to abandon religious and other superstitions and dogmas from the pre-scientific period and replace them with the results of careful scientific research. It took place in the 17th-19th. century and in a sense it continues so far ...
From the dark periods of the cruel struggle of all against all (where the villains and egoists usually won), a society divided into rich and poor has survived. And in many countries, even completely meaningless religious dogmas, in the name of which stupid people are able to murder their neighbors - instead of cooperating with them for the benefit of a good cause ...
Regularities and coincidences in evolution
For the very evolution of various species - Darwin's theory *) of species evolution based on mutations and natural selection - there is now a great deal of evidence in paleontological findings and biological studies of contemporary life. Understanding the internal mechanisms of inheritance, mutations and evolution is fundamentally refined by molecular biology and genetics.
*) Ch.Darwin arrived at the laws of evolution in an empirical way, based on careful scientific observations and their penetrating analysis. He did not know the essence of these laws, because at that time (1820-1860) only the morphology and external manifestations of organisms were known. This essence is explained only by cellular and molecular biology. Nevertheless, from a global perspective, Darwin correctly explained some of the hitherto mysterious circumstances of living nature, the origin of which was often referred to in the transcendent and religious spheres :
- He showed the biological kinship of all living things as "shoots of an evolutionary tree".
- Explained the existence and origin of purposeful properties of living organisms: More purposeful properties are more likely to prevail and spread because they increase the chances of survival and reproduction of their carriers (while ineffectiveness is not maintained for too long).
- He indicated the evolutionary connection of living and inanimate nature (Darwin also dealt with geology). Every creation of nature is something that has a history of many mechanisms. Admirable and beautiful forms of life, including higher animals and man, have evolved from simple beginnings based on the laws of nature (including the cruel phenomena of struggle, hunger, death) operating all around us. And this history - evolution - still continues now.
Natural selection often took difficult paths, in which chance also played a major role*) - eg whether a newly emerging more viable species gets into suitable conditions and takes over or not. Some more complex structures and mechanisms did not necessarily evolve directly under "selection pressure", but somehow secondarily - by combining previously developed structures that originally performed different and independent functions. When they later merged and began to collaborate, they enabled the emergence of new functions and properties that would be difficult to explain by straightforward evolution and selection.
*) It can be said with some exaggeration that evolution has often behaved like a "bungler" or a do-it-yourselfer - it creates something, then uses it for a long time in many generations and tries it in various places. Only the pressure of the environment or random influences will select the variant that is most suitable for the existing environment at a given time. If this fails, another variant is tried... A thousand or a million times during evolution, life found itself at a "crossroads", from which it could set out in various ways determined by external conditions, internal mechanisms and natural selection. These various paths were mostly "blind", but some of them were successful and led to the diversification of life. The current biological set of life forms (including our human existence) is the work of a huge interplay of coincidences ..!..
The early days of life took place with the help of chemically unstable materials, so no structures from this period have been preserved - we have no fossils similar to those preserved from later life forms. In addition to theoretical models based on molecular biochemistry, the only way to "reconstruct" the origin of life is to experimentally mimic the conditions in the laboratory at the time, in order to create a replicating artificial organism. These attempts are very difficult, but promising partial results are gradually being achieved.
2. Panspermia -
the cosmic origin of life
The problem of "lack of time" needed for the origin of life here on Earth, is partially circumvented (postponed) by a hypothesis called panspermia (this name was introduced in 1901 by the Swedish chemist S.Arrhenius, in connection with somewhat diffrent considerations than those discussed here). According to her, primitive life originated over the past many billions of years somewhere else in the distant universe in a suitable planetary system, after which its germs (spores - panspermia) get into outer space, spread through space and as soon as they reach a planet with favorable conditions, they multiply there ("colonize" the planet) and evolve possibly even into higher forms of life. In this way, about 4 billion years ago, panspermia with meteorite impacts could reach Earth.
The idea of panspermia has some serious pitfalls. It is not clear, for example, how the germs of life could survive long-term irradiation with hard cosmic rays during their long journey through interstellar space (they could perhaps be protected inside bodies the size of meteorites, asteroids or comets..?..; however, such bodies move relatively slowly to overcome interstellar distances in a reasonable amount of time). Furthermore, the age of the solar system is only about three times smaller than the entire universe. The "time advantage" is therefore not so great as to lead to a significantly increased probability that the origin of life took place elsewhere much earlier. But if the idea of panspermia were to be confirmed, then in combination with abiogenesis it could mean that life could be much more widespread in the universe than previously thought ..?..
3. Creation -
creationism - "intelligent design"
The creationist idea, according to which life was created by a higher infinitely intelligent being, God, is the oldest and in the pre-scientific period was actually the only idea. Although newer scientific knowledge has refuted this, it is still sometimes presented from time to time. Due to its metaphysical nature, uncredibility and absence of any real explanation, we will not deal with it in detail.
Creationism usually has a dogmatic-religious subtext: that life and man were created by God directly as they are; with all the details created by the "intelligent designer". Dogmatically oriented theologians and church leaders (as well as many believers) see in evolutionary theory a direct endangering faith in the creation of life and man by God and therefore promoting creationist ideas. However, more enlightened theologians do not see such a sharp contradiction here, they leave the question in the competent hands of naturalists (biologists, chemists, physicists, paleontologists) and in case of confirmation and verification of evolutionary theory they are willing to recognize evolution as "God's method of life creatingn", fully compatible with a more advanced understanding of religious texts.
The occasional name (phrase propagated by creationists) "scientific creationism" or "creationist science" is a contradiction, a combination of two conflicting terms. The basic principle of science is to explain nature and the universe using observable or testable basic mechanisms. Proponents of creationism give no real explanation, all referring to the transcendent, to unsubstantiated and unreliable superstitions and religious legends (such as "Genesis") from the pre-scientific period, which they interpret literally. Real efforts to explain try to attack and question, absolutizing weaknesses and as yet unexplained details. They do not use the scientific method, they only "borrow" from science technical terms and concepts (often without their deeper understanding), which they take out of context and purposefully manipulate in order to challenge evolutionary theory. The most dogmatic creationists even promote the opinion of the "young Earth" only a few thousand years old (when, according to some religious legends, it was created), in complete contradiction with all scientific knowledge ...
search for life in space - "biosignatures"
It is very difficult to prove the existence of life on other planets or moons in the solar system, or even on exoplanets. For solar system planets and their moons, direct missions of space probes equipped with cameras and special analyzers can solve this. For exoplanets, the only option is spectrometric analysis of electromagnetic radiation. This raises the question of a suitable "biomarker" or "biosignature" - a type of molecule that is specific to life. Biomarker or biosignature is a material phenomenon or structure that provides the scientific evidence or indication for life, present or past (a kind of "marks" or "signatures" of life). These are such specific, more complex organic molecules and structures whose abiotic formation is unlikely or impossible without the presence of life. It should be noted that we do not know with certainty which circumstances are universal manifestations of life, and which are given only by peculiarities and coincidences in the origin and development of life on earth ..?..
Such a random caused earthly laws of evolution is, for example L-chirality of amino acids (the discussed in §5.2 of the monograph "Nuclear physics and physics of ionizing radiation", part "Cells - the basic unit of living organisms", passage "Proteins ").
However, we cannot investigate these "subtle" circumstances at a distance. Specific manifestations of intense biological activity could be the chemical composition of the atmosphere of distant planets :
" Organic "substances such as methane, amino acids, are not specific in themselves - they are widely observed in interstellar nebulae, wher they are formed by photocatalytic reactions from inorganic atoms. It is contemplated that suitable molecules for spectroscopic detection possible traces of life - "biosignatures" - could be the simultaneous presence of oxygen and methane, or carbon dioxide and methane, organic nitrogen compounds, more specifically then chlorophyll ..?..
The diametric difference of extraterrestrial life from our earthly life !
Some proponents of the panspermia hypothesis hold the opinion that life elsewhere in the universe should be based on similar biochemical structures and similar principles as we know about our life, so it should be at least partially similar to what we know here on Earth. However, upon deeper reflection, one cannot agree with this. First, panspermia is just an unsubstantiated hypothesis. But even independently of that, extraterrestrial life on another planet developed its own path of evolution with many random influences and under different conditions acting on the organisms. So, possible extraterrestrial life will be completely different from earthly life - both in terms of the shapes and anatomical composition of organisms, as well as in the mechanisms of their functioning. So no naive ideas about aliens like us with bulging eyes or tentacles..!..
The current "folkloric" idea of aliens as green mens arose at the beginning of the 20th century, when many science fiction authors (and some astronomers) believed that there was an extensive network of man-made water channels on Mars. And they believed in life on Mars, including an advanced civilization of "Martians", who are constantly rebuilding that system of water channels. For such extensive activity, the Martians will not have enough food of biological origin (from plants and animals), but they have developed a mechanism for the direct conversion of sunlight into biological energy. Such a transformation takes place here on Earth through the photosynthesis of plants with the help of chlorophyll. They therefore concluded that the Martians would probably be green.
Later it turned out that the observed lines and Mars are not water channels, it was just an optical illusion showing the accumulation of dust by winds. However, some of the smaller structures could be dry riverbeds from transient water currents, and Mars may have had surface water in the ancient past. Now, however, the surface of Mars is dry, devoid of life. However, the idea of Martians and aliens in science fiction literature remained..
Life in space is therefore undoubtedly completely different from our earthly. Knowing extraterrestrial life forms in the future can reveal completely different shapes, compositions, functions, as well as other ways of coding the information of living organisms..?..
of life in space
In such a vast universe, with billions of galaxies and trillions of stars in planetary systems, it is highly likely that all physically possible forms of life have emerged in various places over billions of years. But why is the "universe silent" - why do we not observe any manifestations or signals of extraterrestrial life?
"Where, for all the devils, are all this aliens? " - we may ask along with the prominent nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi. The discrepancy between the expected abundance of extraterrestrial life in space and the absence of any evidence is sometimes called the "Fermi paradox". In terms of time, there can be two variants of the answer: 1. They have not yet been born; 2. They are already extinct. And from the cosmological space-time point of view, there is a third variant: 3. There may be many of them, but huge distances - space-time barriers - make contact practically impossible.
There are plenty of habitable planets in the current universe, the universe may be "teeming" with life, but mostly only at the level of our bacteria or archaea - and we don't get to "talk" much with them... For life to reach higher stages or even intelligent forms, billions of years of evolution are needed even under favorable conditions.
The difficulty of finding extraterrestrial life is briefly discussed in the following passage, "Intelligent Life in Space" :
life in space? Alien civilizations?
Around a bumber of stars orbit
planets with suitable living conditions, which are millions and
billions of years older than Earth. It is
therefore not excluded, that there eventual life during the
course of evolution has also reached higher forms,
and intelligent creatures have evolved who could
form the respective communities - extraterrestrial
civilizations. However, discovering such hypothetical
extraterrestrial civilizations (and possibly establishing some
communication with them) is extremely difficult. The first major
obstacle here is a huge space-time barrier :
1. Interstellar distances to the nearest potentially possible places of extraterrestrial civilizations even the electromagnetic signal exceed many decades, to more distant many tens or hundreds of thousands of years! The time retardation of communication can be comparable to the very existence of individual civilizations.
2. The huge time scales of stellar evolution mean that potential civilizations in individual systems can "miss in time" even many millions of years.
How many extraterrestrial civilizations are ?
The possibilities of the origin and existence of life in space were dealt with in detail by F.D.Drake, who in 1961 compiled the well-known Drake equation, which determines (or estimates) the number of extraterrestrial intelligent civilizations, capable of interstellar communication, located in our Galaxy :
N = R *. f p . n e . f l . f i . f c . L , where the individual factors are :
N is the resulting expected number of advanced civilizations capable of interstellar communication;
R* - increase in the number of new stars in the galaxy per unit time (approx. 10/year);
f p - proportion of stars that have planetary systems around them (0.1 ¸ 0.5);
n e - the average number of planets in this planetary system on which living conditions are suitable (0.1¸ 2);
f l - the probability that life will actually evolve on these suitable planets (0,01 ¸ 1);
f i - the probability that on these planets with living organisms the life will develop to intelligent forms (10-7 ¸ 1);
f c - share from the previous result of intelligent life forms that have reached the ability of active interstellar communication (0.01 ¸ 1);
L - duration (lifetime) of a civilization capable of interstellar communication (103 ¸ 109 years).
The problem is that we don't know most of these factors exactly, we only make guesses this based on incomplete observations and our opinions. Due to the ignorance of a number of variables, this equation provides only a great deal a rough estimate of how many advanced civilizations could exist in our galaxy. Drake himself estimated N » 10, other authors' estimates range from a very wide range from 10-8 to 109, ie from the practical impossibility of an extraterrestrial civilization to a universe "teeming with" life (see below the skeptical reflection "The Uniqueness of Life? - a series of very unlikely coincidences")...
Energy sources of advanced civilizations. Dyson's spheres.
Every civilization, evolving to the technically advanced stages, has ever-increasing demands on energy consumption (we see this in our civilization as well). Gradually, even energy from thermonuclear fusion of elements present on the planet will no longer be enough. There will come a time when the only option for further development will be to use all the energy emitted by its star. In 1959, the American astronomer F.Dyson designed a hypothetical sci-fi design that would allow the use of all available energy released by the parent star - the creation of the so-called Dyson sphere. It is the construction of a large number of densely spaced sensors (photovaltaic solar panels) orbiting the parent star, which would capture all the radiant energy produced by the star. Part of this energy would be converted into the necessary electricity, the rest would be converted into heat emitted by infrared radiation. Dyson and other "seekers" of advanced extraterrestrial civilizations suggested looking for stars, such as white dwarfs, whose primary radiation would be attenuated but would have an increased proportion of infrared radiation. However, clouds of dust around the star also lead to the same effect ...
Note: In an incomparably more modest version, it is planned to obtain energy from space also near our Earth using photovoltaic solar panels on orbital satellites, with radio frequency or laser transmission of electrical energy to receivers on Earth...
Search for extraterrestrial civilizations
The only known way of effective long - distance communication are electromagnetic waves - radio signals of suitable frequencies or wavelengths (such a suitable wavelength is about 18-21 cm - hydrogen and OH radiation), which penetrate well into space and atmosphere and are detectable by large radio telescopic antennas. Possibly intense directed laser beams. Since the 1960s, some projects (SETI-Search for Extraterrestial Intelligence, FÉNIX, SERENGI) have been running to detect such radio signals from space, that could not be explained by natural astrophysical sources, but would be of "artificial origin" - they came from a possible extraterrestrial civilization. So far without result... And also attempts to actively transmit radio signals (or even messages on material carriers in space probes heading outside the solar system - a kind of space "bottle mail", but on a vastly larger "ocean" of space) to distant stars; here, given our inadequacy and the above-mentioned facts, the negative result is not surprising.
All attempts to capture the signals of extraterrestrial civilizations are implicitly based on the assumption, that such intelligent life has embarked on the path of technical civilization, as has recently happened here on Earth. However, this is not the only way to develop an advanced and intelligent life. An alternative could be the path of purely biological development and improvement of living creatures. We can imagine, for example, the civilization of highly intelligent dolphins meditating quietly in the paradise of tropical seas... On closer reflection, however, even here it can be assumed that if such creatures have enough time and objectively know the fragility and time constraints of the natural conditions of their existence, will eventually lead to the need for such technical development that would allow them to survive even the radical changes in these conditions on a given planet around a certain star (including the final stages of star evolution) that will inevitably occur in the future! Alternatively, moving to another planet at another star..?..
Some advanced civilizations may have reached the stage of non-biological - post-biological evolution and expand into the surrounding universe (as discussed below in the paragraph "Artificial Intelligence and Transhumanism - the lawful outcome of biological evolution?").
A visit to extraterrestrial civilizations, "ufons" ?
In our brief discussion, we have deliberately avoided many unsubstantiated and unreliable assumptions in the science fiction literature and in various conspiracy materials. Alien civilizations are often associated with the phenomenon of UFOs ( Unidentified Flying Object) - reports of sightings of mysterious moving objects in the sky *), disk "flying saucers" or other shapes. Conspiracy reports of contacts with aliens are, of course, fabricated. After all, the "ufological" idea that aliens could visit us in biological bodies is completely unrealistic - if at all, it would necessarily be a robotic electro-mechanical machines ..!..
*) These reports (of which there are already tens of thousands) are mostly based on subjective personal testimonies. Leaving aside intentionally fictional assertions, it could be an optical illusions and meteorological phenomena in the atmosphere, observing satellites, balloons, aircraft, aurora, .... managed to take several photos in which the monitored objects, however, are usually shown only vaguely , blurred, indistinct. A number of technically high-quality photographs with well-visible details were also published - but these were artificially created photomontages ...
With objective sober thinking, "aliens" are probably the last thing that could stand behind a UFO ..!..
Benefits or dangers from alien civilizations ?
What would happen if we made physical contact with a civilization from outer space? In principle, there would be three eventualities of how aliens would treat us :
--> Maybe they would be friendly, share their knowledge with us, help us get technically to their level.
--> Sometimes there is also a warning against the opposite eventuality, that they would be hostile and try to destroy us (especially journalists often draw attention to this). As a physicist, personally oriented progressively, democratic, positive, tolerant, I would not have expected this. A civilization that would reach the cosmic level, long ago had to improve socially as well - to get rid of senseless hatreds, selfishness, arrogance (and maybe other vices specific to them..?..). She had to cultivate her mutual relationships as well as her relationships with living and non-living nature - otherwise she would have already destroyed herself, killed herself!
--> Or they would ignore us. Perhaps because they wouldn't understand us, or that we would be uninteresting to them - something like "primitive insects"..?..
The Uniqueness of Life? - a series of very unlikely coincidences !
considerations outlined above about the possibilities of a
significant occurrence of life in space are based on our
knowledge (and still quite incomplete!) of
a single variant of
development - "our" life here on Earth (briefly discussed above in the passage "How
did life originate?" -
"Abiogesis - evolution").
In addition to universal physical and chemical laws, a large
number of random events and interplay of highly
unlikely circumstances applied. At the beginning of the passage
"Where and how can life arise?" we have
expressed the idea that our solar system and planet Earth are not
unique in terms of space, there may be many similar systems and
planets, so life could have evolved in many places in space. Yes,
there are certainly more suitable planets in the "zone of
life" (however, it is not easy to
discover them). However , the solar system
is characterized by a relatively regular arrangement of planets
with long-term stable almost circular orbits, which is a specific
feature, because in general the protoplanetary disk
around the emerging star can usually develop into a very chaotic
system pathways and thus unstable conditions on the planets.
It found several exoplanets "similar to Earth" in the sense that they are terrestrial planets the size of Earth, orbiting in the habitable zone. But if we compare the situation in our solar system, these properties also have Venus and Mars, on which there is no life (omitting here the hypotheses about the possibility of life in the distant past...). The Earth differs from these planets by several "lucky" circumstances. It has a large metal core which, when rotated, creates a relatively strong magnetic field, protecting the planet's surface from cosmic radiation. A relatively thin moving crust of the Earth with tectonic activity in many places the interface of the plates continuously brings mineral nutrients for organisms to the surface (and into the seas).
These properties are probably largely related to the catastrophic process of formation of the Moon in the early history of the Earth, in which after the collision of a young Earth with the planet Theia (almost the size of Mars), both bodies melted, metallic material fell into the Earth's core and much of the mineral rock material was ejected and formed into the Moon. The Earth itself then had a thinner rocky crust and a massive rotating metal core generating a magnetic field.
This coincidence makes the Earth a very unique planet, which could very rarely form in other planetary systems ..!..
Other questions bring the peculiarities of the process of the very origin and evolution of life. From paleontological findings, it is estimated that life on Earth began to emerge surprisingly early, just 1 billion years after the Earth was formed (after the formation and stabilization of the Earth-Moon system). However, for another 2 billion years it persisted only at the microbial (prokaryotic) level. And basically it could have remained so permanently, these microbial cells were a very successful species and are still the most abundant... Only 1.5 billion years ago, prokaryotic cells of archaea and bacteria fused, endosymbiosis - eukaryotic cells evolved . Bacteria became the inhabitants of new cells, they developed into mitochondria, which performed a specialized function of obtaining chemical energy. It happened undoubtedly a rare coincidence, since it occurred after 2 billion years of evolution, during which innumerable prokaryote cells devour each other... During about one billion years of eukaryotic cells organized themselves into multicellular organisms still undifferentiated. Only about 550 million years ago, the diversity of life began to emerge relatively quickly (the so-called "Cambrian evolutionary explosion").
Thus, evolutionary progress from primitive to advanced species has not been easy at all. A very non-trivial question is the mechanism by which abstract thinking has evolved from a life controlled by biochemical processes and simple reflexes and instincts.and the "consciousness" that created a species capable of evolving complex technologies, recognizing nature and the universe, searching for its own origin ..?..
This skeptical view would mean that in Drake's equation above to estimate the possible occurrence of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy, the coefficients f l , f j and f c may have had significantly lower values than is commonly reported. Thus, life as such may still exist elsewhere in our galaxy, but the probability of an advanced technological civilization would probably be very small... So it is likely that, at the very least in our astronomically close surroundings, we be alone in space..?!..
We could expect a real (non-zero) probability of the existence of life elsewhere in the universe, if life in other places in the space arises on a completely different basis and by different processes than it was here on Earth. Then it might not always be just unlikely coincidences, and the evolution of life could go in a more straightforward way. This would significantly increase the probability of the origin of life and its development into higher forms. But it would be a completely different life forms, entirely different from our familiar earthly...
are cosmic beings !
Man and other living beings can be described with a bit of exaggeration as "cosmic beings" - built of the same cornerstones (quarks and electrons -> atoms and molecules) as all other bodies and objects in the universe. All of our biogenic elements (except hydrogen, which has a primordial origin) were created more than 7 billion years ago in a giant star of the previous generation, of which a neutron star or black hole remains today. Our Sun, planets, including the Earth, and we are created from the "ashes" of this ancient star that exploded like a supernova (see "Cosmic Alchemy - We are the descendants of the stars!"") and left behind a gas-dust nebula, enriched with heavier elements, which it "boiled" thermonuclearly inside. The Earth "lends" us the building material of our organisms, and we return them to the Earth again. We are "children" of stars and our bodies are made of stardust. And it's not just one star, many stars have exploded and ejected atoms have mixed in. Not only the atoms in our left and right hands, but also many neighboring atoms inside the same cell, probably come from other stars...
We are driven by "cosmic energy": thermonuclear reactions inside the Sun release the resting energy of protons as binding energy in a field of strong interactions. The sun's radiant light energy is converted by green plants on Earth into molecules of organic matter used by animals and humans. The universe brings our organisms to life.
are the stewards of our planet Earth
We humans should be not parasites, but "stewards" and good homesteader of that little bluish dot in space - planet Earth. We are able, to a certain extent, to break free from the blind forces of nature and use these forces in a targeted manner for the benefit of the protection and better organization of nature. At present, it is mainly the knowledge and protection of what living and inanimate nature has created here on Earth. In the distant future, however, we will hopefully be the creators of new natural qualities...
Outlined above considerations suggest, that we may be the only intelligent species in the entire Milky Way..?.. And likewise also the immense diversity of species of life is possible unique ... That is why it is important to protect and preserve this unique world which is our home, as well as the home of a huge number of other amazing creatures on Earth..!.. - for our and their descendants.
Artificial intelligence and transhumanism -
the lawful outcome of biological evolution ?
body is a very imperfect, inefficient and vulnerable
"box" of our mental life and intelligence. And it is
also a major obstacle to its improvement and
spread outside the Earth, into space. As mentioned above, radical
changes in our environment, to whose "greenhouse"
conditions we are desperately fixated, would mean the end of the
intelligent creature homo sapiens and the irreversible
loss of all the knowledge it has achieved. However, there are
certain ways to overcome this fundamental
obstacle to further development in the more distant future.
Note: In this context, it is perhaps good to note that the stupid's often ridiculed slogan "We order wind, rain" is probably the most modest act that future generations will have to carry out in the interest of sustainable development ...
Technical progress that began in the late 18th centurynand now has an accelerating tendency, gradually overcoming our physical limitations due to the possibilities of our body. Powerful machines replace and amplify our physical work, means of transport (cars, planes, trains) replace our feet, means of communication transmit our weak voice and sight "from a distance", complex devices help us to see even where we would never be with our biological eye. they did not look - into the microworld and the megasworld. Computer electronics process a huge amount of information for us, completely unmanageable for humans. Scientific and technological methods help maintain health, save and prolong life. If the accelerating pace of technological progress continues uninterrupted, it is likely that at the end of the 21st century there will be an interconnection electronics with our bodies. Three successive stages can be expected :
1. The first stage will be cyborgization (the word "cyborg" means the connection of cybernetic technology and a living organism). We will transform into so-called cyborgs, ie cybernetic organisms representing the synthesis of organic (biological) and electronic (or electromechanical) parts. In a way, this stage has already begun - the application of pacemakers, endoprostheses, hearing aids, eye lenses. Improving people with ingenious techniques may prove to be a better method than genetic manipulation; or both methods will complement each other. This will make it possible to increase or expand one's existing abilities, significantly prolonging life. A brain-computer "interface" will be constructed. Cyborgization is likely to become part of future human evolution.
2. Furthermore could follow the stage of elaboration of the methodology of decoding the structure of information in the neural network of the brain, including human consciousness and the mind, and its transfer to electronic memory in a completely artificial body. This would create a humanoid robot with an artificial human brain. This mind and intelligence would become completely independent of any physical body. The individual physical death of man would be overcome...
3. The last stage would consist in the complete omission of the individual body (even artificial) and the future "human" civilization would become a distributed electronic information network (perhaps based on nanoparticles), which would help remote signals controlled all technological "peripherals" on Earth and in outer space. Complex rocket journeys into space would become unnecessary, they would be replaced by teleportation of informations.
The biological form and random natural evolution thus represent perhaps only a temporary period of development of an advanced intelligent civilization, which will be replaced by postbiological transformation and targeted technical evolution. It is possible that by this stage already reached some alien civilizations ..?..
This is the completed concept of so-called transhumanism, which represents the most courangeous ideals and goals of enlightened humanity, even so far only on a hypothetical level. Perfect material and energy efficiency in the use of natural resources would enable sustainable development, without reckless plundering of nature. It would also allow for the non-aggressive expansion of our future civilization into space and the survival of even the greatest catastrophes (see "Astrophysics and cosmology: - human hopelessness?").
Liberation from the slavery of biology
Our human species Homo sapiens, along with other biological species, arose as a result of countless coincidences in evolution, with many errors and shortcomings, both physical and mental. The concept of transhumanism would be able to free us from this slavery of biology - to completely eliminate our physical shortcomings and limitations and mentally transform us into a state without selfishness, competition, superiority, envy and hatred. With an immanent desire for knowledge and general development of all individuals (everyone would be with all their real gemini).
Ethical issues ?
There are, of course, many debatable questions (including ethical - such as what would be the case with human freedom? *) and conflicting views. We are so closely bound to our bodies that it is so far inconceivable to give (compare with the discussion in the passage "What is the perspective of sex in the distant future - in transhumanism?"). . But perhaps all these (bio) chemical signals can be transformed into a virtual level ..?..
*) Quite real danger is the possibility of misuse certain wealthy groups and individuals who could "afford it", unlike most other people. If the technical means of improving people became a market item, it could lead to a further significant increase in inequality between people. And perhaps with very negative ethical implications - given the well-known experience that the vast majority of rich and influential people have a deficit of moral qualities ("behind every great private wealth is hidden crime", "the path to success, status and power leads through corpses"...). In this situation, transhumanism would be a very dangerous and reprehensible concept! Physical improvement of the body and brain performance should only begin to be introduced when we improve morally.
However, it can be assumed (or hoped) that at a time when it will be technically possible to implement the concept of transhumanism, the current soulless capitalism will no longer be ruled, but will be replaced by democratic and enlightened socialism, or even better by its future improved version. Then perhaps the thesis will apply that increased intelligence will not be misused for the selfish interests of individuals or groups, but will serve the benefit of all, all of humanity... Then perhaps increasing brain performance and intelligence will automatically lead to improved ethics, and in the future enlightened and progressive social climate, abuse does not even occur to anyone ..?..
Improved artificial intelligence and consciousness without decoding brain neural networks ?
Detailed reading of mental information in a hugely complex brain neural network at the molecular-genetic level and its meaningful decoding in an understandable algorithmizable form will probably not be possible in the foreseable future. However, there could be another alternative possibility that this can be partially "bypassed" - by analyzing human ideas, creativity, intuition, formal and social intelligence, to compile heuristic algorithms that could emulate and develop it all. If we succeeded, we would be able to create an artificial intelligence that is perhaps more perfect than our current human one - it and develop would be free from a number of mistakes and illogicalities created in the winding path of evolution (see for example, "The Stupidity of Our Brains" in the essay "Science and Religion", or "The Monstrosity and Misery of Our Brains" in the article "Socialism: Totality or Humanity?").
Our human organism and the computer
From the point of view of our current field of informatics and computer science, our body (and any higher organism) can be considered as a system of a large number of different "hardware" with many thousands of different "software". Here, however, these hardwares are not made up of digital gate elements, but of living cells, interconnected by a complex system of biochemical "signal pathways". The software is closely integrated in these signaling pathways in the form of specific bindings of ligands and receptors. ............. ............
What is the perspective of sex in the distant future - in transhumanism ?
For all higher organisms on Earth, sexual reproduction is a means of preserving the biological species, its extension and, over longer periods of time, its evolution. For us humans, sexuality has also become a source of subjective psychological pleasures - joy, pleasure, delight, personal ties, social coexistence... In recent decades, we have witnessed how these secondary aspects are increasingly exaggerated and commercialized... More and more sophisticated sexual practices (sometimes even dangerous to physical and mental health, eg. BDSM or deepthroat) and erotic aids are being promoted to achieve the most intense momentary pleasure - orgasm.
But what is the long-term perspective of sex? From the point of view of the gradual development of transhumanism, undoubtedly sex will lose its reproductive and evolutionary role. Reproduction will be realized by software duplication, evolution will be realized as an upgrade of the digital system representing the "human" organism. And will psychic processes, including sex, perhaps reach the periphery of humanity, as reminiscences of earlier biological evolution? Or will it be possible to algorithmize them and convert them to the virtual software level - to subroutines capable of exciting some standard stream of information in the digital "organism"? What would such virtual "sex" mean and what would be its further development ..?..
Biological --> transformation --> Virtual
Variants of the
During many discussions about the relationship between the universe, life and human consciousness, several conceptions of the anthropic principle crystallized, which can be divided roughly into 3 groups (+ the other two listed below) :
1. Weak anthropic principle
The physical properties of the universe are such that it is compatible with the origin of life.
This is a sober physical approach - the anthropic principle is conceived as a selection rule choosing from all possible cosmological models those that correspond to the real state of our universe, ie especially to the universe in which life could have originated. The laws of physics are as they are, because otherwise we simply would not be here and could not observe and investigate them. The existence of life (and specifically of intelligent life - man, observer) is conceived here as a limiting precondition for the selection of all physically possible states of the universe in its past.
The intelligent observer is mentioned here as the resulting circumstance, but his role is not overestimated as in the participatory anthropic principle.
2. A strong anthropogenic principle
At its inception, the universe must have "known" that life (and humans) were to emerge in the future. Resp.: Our universe is the best of all possible universes in the sense that life must necessarily arise in it, while in no other would it arise.
The strong anthropic principle is actually the philosophical antithesis of the Copernican principle. It is in accordance with the theological concept: The universe was created by God so that it would be maximally purposeful and that the ultimate goal would be the origin and development of man.
3. The concept of
There are many different universes, and life arises where the conditions are right.
If we accept the possibility of the existence of more universes, this concept can most naturally explain the apparent uniqueness and specificity of our universe. As mentioned above, inflationary expansion of suitable vacuum fluctuations can create an unlimited number of universes with various properties of physical interactions, elementary particles, structure and distribution of matter, expansion dynamics, even with different numbers of spacetime dimensions. Such parallel universes live "their own lives". Most of them have properties that do not allow the emergence of intelligent life - they are non-anthropic. However, some of them may be 4-dimensional, they will have similar properties of interactions between elementary particles as in our universe, they will be sufficiently homogeneous and isotropic, they will expand at almost a critical rate. One of them is our Universe, which we know to be anthropic; we simply live on an "island that has a suitable climate"... The key to the mystery of the uniqueness of our anthropic universe could be statistical laws in the multiverse. Whether there are other universes in which intelligent life has evolved (or another form of intelligent information processing) can only be speculated..?..
Quantum theory of many worlds may be related to "alternative histories" taking place beyond the horizon of our universe, in other universes ...
representation of the concept of many universes :
God "blows" many
different universes (similar to soap bubbles), some of
which are anthropic.
Note that the anthropic principle in co-production with quantum cosmology and the idea of many universes makes it possible to explain even the problem of the dimension of space-time, ie to answer the question why space-time is just 4-dimensional (or 3 + 1-dimensional)? In spacetime with a dimension smaller than 4, there is no gravitational attraction between bodies, so there are no gravitationally bound systems such as galaxies, stars, planets. In spacetime with more than 4 dimensions, gravity exists, but as Ehrenfest has shown, the law of field intensity versus distance is sharper than the well-known law of inverted squares; this does not allow stable bound systems such as atoms or planetary systems. So we live in one of those (many) universes in which the 4-dimensionality of space-time allowed the emergence of more complex structures and eventually life.
The idea may also arise that, in addition to "branching" and diversifying universes, there could also be "merging" of universes; so far it's just a hypothetical reasoning, the nature of which we have no idea - rather it probably doesn't happen! As for "our" universe, according to the anthropic principle, it is necessary to reflect, what made it possible that a very small component could have formed in it, which makes it possible to understand it ? It is also related to the complexity of the universe. If the universe were too complex, it is unlikely that anything would arise in it that would be able to understand this complexity. And if the universe was too simple, nothing complex enough to be able to understand even this simple structure of the universe could probably have arisen in it. So - a kind of "middle way"..?.. It's just only a philosophical reasoning ...
There are two other speculative variants of the (strong) anthropic principle :
4. The participatory anthropic principle
Intelligent life (observer) must arise in order to give the universe real meaning and real existence by observing (measuring) it and thus participating in its evolution.
From a philosophical point of view, the participatory anthropic principle is justified by the theory of knowledge - gnoseology, noetics. From the physical point of view, it is supported by the so-called Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, according to which a certain state of the physical system arises only by measuring it. General: No phenomenon is a phenomenon until it is observed. And so is the universe. Therefore, if the universe is to be real, its properties must allow the existence of an observer.
However, this overestimation of the subjective role of the observer is physically and philosophically debatable ..!..
5. The final anthropic principle
Intelligent life in the universe not only must necessarily arise, but once it arises, it will never disappear.
The intelligent observer is a goal that makes sense of the existence of the universe. Any scientific justification for the final anthropic principle is currently lacking; it even contradicts current cosmological concepts (according to which no structures in the universe can be eternal - they end in either the collapse of a closed universe, or the infinite dilution and disintegration of structures in the open universe *).
The final anthropic principle is only a product of our faith, resp. pious wishes....
*) Astrophysics and cosmology: human
If we reflect from our human point of view the knowledge of contemporary astrophysics and cosmology about the evolution of the universe, it will inevitably evoke in us a feeling of hopelessness in the final perspective and the meaning of our existence! Even if we can avert the catastrophe of the Earth's collision with an asteroid, devastating wars and various ecological catastrophes, protect the Earth from a massive flash of cosmic radiation from a nearby supernova explosion or neutron star fusion, in about 5 billion years the Sun will reach the final stages of its evolution. As a red giant, it first absorbs and evaporates all the inner planets, including the Earth, creating a "planetary" nebula and becoming a white dwarf itself. Until then, humans may (perhaps?) manage to escape from the Earth and the solar system and populate other suitable objects in space. But what's next? If the universe were closed and collapsed into the "furnace of fire" of the great crunch, we would probably have no hope. If the universe were open, then this fatal end would not threaten us in principle. However, in an expanding and constantly cooling universe, it would be increasingly difficult to find districts of local entropy fluctuations where there would still be available energy sources for the development and maintenance of civilization.
In any case, we can state that the findings and theories of contemporary astrophysics and cosmology unfortunately do not show us any real perspective of the eternal existence and development of human civilization! However, we can be comforted by the fact that our current knowledge is certainly not absolute and definitive. There are many things we do not yet know and perhaps have no idea... And perhaps we can draw some hope from this ignorance of ours..!?..
(It is discussed in more detail in the passage "Astrophysics and Cosmology: - Human Hopelessness?" in §5.6 monograph "Gravity, black holes and space-time physics").
Critical Note: The Anthropic Principle - Maybe Just
Just as every image bears traces of the characteristics of its creator, so our image of the Universe is to some extent anthropocentric, and we humans are probably not even able to create another image. Although science is convinced of the objective existence of natural processes and the universe, our limited knowledge is not able to capture this in full complexity. Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that the anthropic principle is a product of our human subjectivity..?..
Some formulations and reflections of the anthropic principle are to some extent tautological. The anthropic principle makes it possible to do without the question "Why does our universe allow life" - because if it were not so, we would not be here to ask this question... So we live in such a universe that allows life. But this is actually a tautological (non-)explanation, because it tells us nothing about the mechanisms by which this universe was formed. Tautological is not the weak anthropic principle and the hypothetical concept of many universes. But the real scientific content of the anthropic principle is given only by the physical knowledge of nuclear and particle physics, astrophysics and chemistry, which explain the processes enabling, among other things, even the origin and development of life.
The idea that all natural events and human life are controlled by something higher that transcends nature and us, is probably as old as human civilization itself (some reflections on the causes of religious ideas are in the essay "Science and Religion"). From the historical development of religious ideas from animism and demonism ,through polytheism to monotheism, the effort of human thought for unity is evident. So if we limit ourselves to monotheistic concepts, we can divide the concept of God into three groups :
1. God - a being biased and
Theism : God is a being different from the world, he is the creator of the world and he constantly takes care of the world. "Without God's will, not a single hair will fall out!". This conception of God leads to an active religion - to a personal relationship with God, whose favor can be begged through prayer, faith and doing good. Christianity adds another important aspect to this concept: God is loving (for Christianity, see also: "The Spiritual Music of the Christians of Western Europe", "The Orthodox Music of the Eastern Christians").
The decisive question for this concept No.1 is: "Is our world (universe) open to outside interventions - "from above", which cannot be expected in advance (or calculated in principle) and which cannot be controlled?". Most religions assume this, the natural sciences reject it ...
2. God - the first mover - determining the initial
Deism : God is the original cause (creator) of the world, but he is not a force that maintains and controls the world. The world is then already governed only by natural laws.
3. God -
the creator of the laws of behavior of matter
God is a "designer" and the creator of natural laws - they then "work for him", he does not have to do everything constantly "with his hands". This conception of God is fully compatible with scientific knowledge.
Pantheism : God is intrinsically contained in all things. God and the world are the same - there is only one universal God who is present everywhere (=>compatible with atheism).
Taoism : The foundation of the world, the root cause and goal of all being, is "Tao" - a kind of worl reason that acting everywhere and penetrating everything (see the "Taoism" passage below). Today we would say - cosmic intelligence.
- the tool of creation
In the light of contemporary science, it is possible in a way to "reconcile" two opposing conceptions of the origin of the world and life - creation (by God) and evolution. God could proceed in this way :
1. In the beginning he established several universally valid laws of nature ;
2. He inserted certain initial conditions into the originally unstructured "primordial matter" (shows, however, that these initial conditions may not be necessary - see below passage "Synergetics + quantum cosmology --> denial of God?") ;
3. Then the world already could begin to evolve into its present form under the influence of its own dynamics governed by the laws of nature, without the need for further divine intervention .
Evolution would thus be a universal tool for generating new phenomena and structures under the influence of the dynamics of systems themselves - believers could understand it as the "method of God's creation-formation of the world and life".
Soul and Matter
Philosophy often discusses the question of whether there are any hidden connections between the fundamental laws of nature (electrodynamics, elementary particles, quantum physics, or gravity) and human consciousness. When considering the relationship between the terms "soul" and "matter", there are three views :
It is difficult to say whether "matter is made of soul" or "soul is made of matter". With proper foresight and non-dogmatic reflection, for example in pantheism, both of these approaches can be combined ..?..
Man - soul and body
Is man just an
amazingly complex and subtly programmed "machine" that
acts on the basis of chemical reactions taking place in brain
cells and their intricate connections? Or do we have something
more than the body - a "soul", free
and independent of the physical body, a soul that exists even
after death and the demise of the body? There are a large number
of opinions on the conception of the soul and its relationship
with the body, often contradictory; at different times, this or
that aspect of human existence was preferred.
Although "the soul" is one of the central concepts in human thought, its meaning is rather vague and ambiguous. The original meaning is the breath - the breath of life. It now includes a number of human qualities - psyche (perception and feeling), spirit (spiritus - will, thinking, consciousness, self-reflection, wisdom), what one feels and experiences internally, sees in the context of one's personal experience, what comes to mind and what one imagines. All these aspects of the mental state are sometimes referred to in philosophy as the collective Latin name qualia. From our point of view, we can divide the great diversity of the concept of the soul into two groups :
Similarly, in the relationship between soul and body, there is a great diversity of opinions and attitudes; we can summarize them into three groups :
of the relationship between thought and mind, "mental"
and "spiritual," which have been shrouded in mystery
and mysticism in the past, are also complex. Research into brain
activity using devices (such as functional brain imaging
methods - PET positron emission
tomography and NMRI nuclear magnetic
resonance) in recent decades is beginning to shed new light on
this area. The earlier notion (already expressed by Descartes) of
the soul and the body as two different substances,
which cooperate with each other in a complex and mysterious way,
is already abandoned in science. It is becoming
increasingly clear that mental activity probably arises as a combinatorial
outcome biochemical reactions and electrical stimuli
between billions of brain and nerve cells. Simply put:
consciousness "emerges" from physical and chemical
phenomena. And in humans it arose as a result of biological
As far as "mental" spiritual and mystical feelings and experiences, certain indications of their origin were brought about by experiments with psychotropic hallucinogenic substances (such as LSD) as well as monitoring people who experienced clinical death but returned to life. After the application of psychotropic substances, psychedelic experiences, hallucinations, including "religious ecstasy" appeared in an increased number of people. In people after clinical death, the characteristic experiences from the "grave" (light tunnel, feeling of leaving the body and hovering) are explained by the changed activity of the brain due to the interruption of blood flow - transient aperfusion of the brain*). Research using EEG signal analysis has shown that a lack of oxygen (hypoxia) and glucose in brain cells, along with increased levels of carbon dioxide in the blood, stimulates the cells to be more active in the short term; this is likely to cause said hallucinations. Neurologists study which part of the brain (or what signaling pathways) triggers and mediates "transcendental" experiences - where is our "detector of God "?
*) If this state of aperfusion of the brain lasted for a long time (longer than about 5 minutes at normal temperature), there would be irreversible damage to the brain and later to brain death. However, with short-term aperfusion, brain activity also resumes when blood supply is restored, but in the neural network may be recorded the results of altered brain activity during hypoxia, glucose deficiency, and increased CO2 concentrations. This information can then be recalled and interpreted in various ways, including the mystical... Experiences of this kind are sometimes (unjustifiably) related to the hypothesis of a kind of "quantum consciousness" - it is briefly discussed in the passage "Quantum Consciousness" §1.1 of the book "Gravity, Black Holes and the Physics of Spacetime".
There are still many unclear ones, but the basic outlines of the true origin of the "soul" and "mental" (leaning to the last point above in relationship between body and soul) are already beginning to emerge. It turns out that the "divine origin of the soul" must be sought some "floor" deeper than previously thought - God as the creator of the laws of behavior of matter (see the passage "Genius God" below), from whose complex combinations also springs up the mental activity in our brain.
Did God create the universe ? - view of
The laws of nature, controlling matter and energy, triggered the processes that caused the origin and evolution of the universe and eventually created us. There was no time before the Big Bang, so there was no time for God to create the universe. God understood in this way does not exist, no one has created the universe, no one controls our destiny. There is neither "heaven" nor afterlife. We have one life, during which we appreciate such a beautifully created universe. Sensory perceptions, memories, associations - this is the building material of the brain to build an image of reality, what we experience, what we have experienced. And by synthesizing this information, we realize what is happening in space and time ...
This is how look at the universe the contemporary fundamental physics and astrophysics, the leading representative of which is a heroic personality S.Hawking. This person with a severe disability should have every right to use "religious opium" and rave about God and the supernatural. Instead, however, he chose a psychologically courageous and intellectually honest approach to the negation of these fictionals, in favor of objective scientific knowledge.
However, this objective and sober view of science does not mean an absolute negation of the abstract God. Below in the passage "Genius God" it will be shown that God can be understood on a deeper level - as the "creator" of the laws of nature, or even identify it with these natural laws - with atheism...
In connection with the above concepts of God, another fundamental question immediately arises :
and how to seek God?
If God is a being different from the world, then he is outside the world - he is a transcendent being outside our usual space and time. Some philosophers and theologians, inspired by the geometrical-topological methods of relativistic cosmology, place God in the higher dimensions of space-time or in areas formed by the complex topology of our space-time. The possible influence of natural processes by these (inaccessible) structures cannot be explained by natural laws - it has the character of a miracle. The ways of seeking God can be roughly divided into three levels :
a) The phenomenon level
Phenomena that we cannot explain are done directly by God ("with his hands"). This level is a thing of the past. Scientific knowledge of the world explains an ever-increasing group of phenomena and thus drastically narrows the field of action of God.
b) The unifying essence - God as a designer and
God can be known by the analysis of created things. Thus, scientific knowledge of nature is actually a religious act.
This is how some philosophically minded scientists understand God metaforically - such as Einstein or Hawking.
c) Psychological level
Human culture, thinking, feelings, faith, experience, shape the worldview of each person - a personal God can be also a part of it. Spirituality is a kind of personal "conversation" with gods or God, it has the character of subjective individual experiences that cannot be directly communicated, cannot be objectified or "measured" (the neurogical origin of these mental processes has been discussed above).
By systematically developing ideas about supernatural phenomena and beings, religions are created with their cults, written texts and dogmas. The organizational structures are then churches, or sects. An important positive contribution of a religion understood in this way is its moral message - composure, hope, love, humility, doing good. The hopes of overcoming death in salvation or reincarnation can also have a psychological benefit. Unfortunately, the negative effects of intolerance and bigotry in religion are also well known; it was often an abuse of the religious sentiment of primitive people for the greedy and selfish goals of individuals or groups.
Critical note: Can God be found at
Some philosophers are skeptical about the very search for God . E.g. Krishnamurti claims that God cannot be found , there is no way to Him. If we seek God, we will find only our own image. We will not find the truth, but only the result of our wish. According to these analyzes, therefore, the whole religion would be only a way of expressing about some common features of the human mind, a psychic matter, not having a direct origin in the outside world. God or gods exist only in our heads and probably nowhere else.
In this context, we can mention one of Murphy's aphorisms: "To believe is to be convinced of something that is not true". Many events that authoritatively describe religious texts (and which many people believe) did not happen, or took place differently...
A charming Indian legend about the origin of the world:
God as Maha-Vishnu lies in the water of the Ocean of Causes and exhales countless universes during his sleep. These universes then sail for thousands of years scattered throughout the Ocean of Causes. God as Vishnu-Reviver enters each of these universes and lies there on the coiled serpent Ananta. A lotus stem then grows from the navel of Vishna, and Brahma, the Lord of the Universe, is born on the lotus flower. Brahma then creates all the shapes and beings of the Universe.
Physics and God
The task of physics is to objectively examine the fundamental laws of nature, regardless of whether a particular physicist is a believer or an atheist. Nevertheless, the results of physical research have a significant impact on the worldview and understanding of God. Very simply, we can divide this influence into three stages :
Stage 1: Materialism => Denial of God
Mechanics, thermodynamics, electrodynamics and other branches of classical physics celebrated such significant successes in explaining the natural events and the structure of the universe that there was almost no place left for God.
Stage 2: Renaissance of the Transcendent
The advent of quantum physics of the microworld and the general theory of relativity applied in cosmology, in addition to the enormous contribution to understanding the structure of matter and the universe, also led to the discovery of the principal boundaries of scientific knowledge. Together with the general disappointment with the materialistic and consumerist way of life, this has led to a certain temporary renaissance of religious ideas in some people.
3rd phase: Synergetics + quantum cosmology => denial of God ?
The basic unsolved problem of the evolutionary theory of the origin of life is the mystery of the formation of highly organized structures against the background of general chaos. These and other difficulties of evolutionary theory sometimes was lead to efforts to promote creationist ideas of the origin of life. Some hope to solve this problem promises synergetics, which shows that thermodynamically nonequilibrium systems may under certain circumstances, exhibit a kind of "self-organizing" ability ("organized chaos"). Quantum cosmology has recently been trying to solve the mystery of the "miraculous" origin of our anthropic universe (in the spirit of a anthropic principle). The inflationary expansion scenario of the universe shows that the problem of initial conditions is probably irrelevant: the current structure of the universe is not a product of initial conditions in the "creation" of the universe, but solely the work of quantum field theory, general relativity, thermodynamics, electrodynamics, nuclear and atomic physics. These physical laws allow at the beginning the "self-creation" of the universe and later the "self-organization" of matter into more complex structures, and later of life. According to the idea of chaotic inflation, our entire universe (and perhaps besides it an unlimited number of other "universes") would spontaneously arise from practically "nothing" - from a vacuum filled with quantum field fluctuations.
Origin of spacetime, vacuum, laws of physics
Even if we succeed in creating the desired "complete cosmological theory" (however so far it is only at the level of hypotheses), we would still be left open to the two most difficult and fundamental issues of cosmology and perhaps the whole of physics and science :
1. What is the origin of spacetime and "vacuum", the fluctuations of which subsequently led to the creation of the universe ?
2. What is the origin of the basic laws of physics, according to which our universe was created and evolved ?
The basic method of physics and natural sciences is reductionism - trying to convert and explain complex phenomena using simpler and more fundamental phenomena. A typical example is the reductionist scheme of biology Ü chemistry Ü physics: complex biological processes are explained by chemical reactions between organic molecules, chemical reactions are physically explained by electromagnetic interactions between the electron shells of atoms. The ultimate goal of unitary field theory is to explain all 4 interactions using a single unitary field, the manifestation of which would then be all elementary particles and the interactions between them.
The simplest "field" is a vacuum- generally curved spacetime, geometrically characterized by a general theory of relativity which is also the physics of gravity, in which, moreover, the laws of quantum field theory apply. Possibly some more general manifold with more dimensions, within which multidimensional unitary field theories work. Here, quantum fluctuations of metrics or other geometric structures can lead to the formation of a "district", which, according to the laws of field theory, including gravity, can initially expand exponentially (inflation) and then Fridman - a new universe is born. The existence of this initial (or permanent and pervasive) manifold must be postulated, as well as the validity of the basic physical quantum-gravitational laws that "trigger" and control it all. But the origin of these two primary postulated starting points, and thus the origin of the universe in terms of its existence (why did "something" and not "nothing" arise?), we must probably leave in the transcendent plane (on God ..?.) - will be (perhaps forever ?) shrouded in mystery ....
The divine personification
of natural forces and laws was quite common in ancient times,
when people did not know the nature and mechanism of most natural
phenomena. The theistic notion of Almighty God, who "does
his hands" everywhere and constantly, has been at
the heart of most religions in Euro-American territory for
centuries. Even now, we are far from knowing everything. However,
we know enough to make it clear that advances in science are
increasingly "displacing" fantastic and supernatural
explanations of phenomena and replacing them with real, proven
knowledge and natural explanations,
that also reveal the interrelationships between phenomena.
It shows that the world is basically recognizable
(with certain limitations given by quantum
uncertainty relations and primary postulated starting points) and explainable by human reason. The theistic idea is
now completely useless, unbelievable and even absurd. Religious
"knowledge" of this kind is only apparent, empty, and
often false; in fact, it does not explain
anything, it only "patches" our ignorance.
If the above-mentioned bold conceptions of synergetics and cosmology proved to be correct, they would again leave God with only a very reduced role: God would be "only" a designer and lawmaker of matter (these laws also determine the origin of matter in our known forms and its organization into more complex structures). It is a satisfaction for believers, that the magnificence of God thus conceived is not diminished in any way. On the contrary :
|The creation of natural laws, by the action of which the whole universe was originated and kept "running" and which led to the development of the wonderful flower of life, is a work beyond all imagination ingenious !|
And this admiration is justified even when we reflect such making ("creation") of natural laws only in a metaphorical sense, without the concept of God ...
This philosofical-natural-scientific lecture with slides was first given in 1987 in the Astronomical Society at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, in the following years many times for the Czechoslovak Society of mathematicians and physicists, at faculties, grammar schools, observatories and for the public...
Note 1 :
The mathematical side cannot be presented in the semi-popular lecture "Anthropic Principle or Cosmic God". More detailed information on physical and mathematical aspects of the theory of gravity, astrophysics and cosmology can be obtained (except for works in professional journals), eg in the book "Gravity, black holes and space-time physics". Some questions of the relationship between science and faith are discussed in the essay "Science and Religion".
Note 2 - new findings :
Many years have passed since the beginning of this work, so the basic text may not contain some new findings and hypotheses that have emerged since then.
A. These are primarily some new concepts in unitary field theories, especially superstring theories, describing particles as vibrations of elementary one-dimensional objects called strings. A new version of superstring theory, the so-called M-theory, considers our spacetime to be a 4-dimensional membrane that moves in the fifth dimension; other dimensions, used in the 11-dimensional variety of the geometric formulation of supergravity, are compacted: they are enclosed in each other - rolled into micro-dimensions of Planck's length »10-33 cm, in which nothing can move and their manifestations can therefore not be observed. This unitary theory also includes gravity (§B.6 "Unification of fundamental interactions. Supergravity. Superstrings." of the book "Gravity, Black Holes and the Physics of Spacetime").
In these approaches, we imagine the universe as a "network" or "mesh" of vibrating strings that have certain characteristics (voltage, vibration energy, direction). The whole space or cosmos here is composed of one "material", differing only in the nature of the vibration and thus in the energy and mass of the particles, described as hidden strings. The systematics of the structure of vibrating strings in this concept describes unitary theory as the theory of everything - the description of the cosmos as a unified system, which manifests itself only in the dual world by means of various properties.
Superstring theory has some interesting astrophysical and cosmological implications, but at a hypothetical level so far. In the field of black hole physics, some new perspectives on quantum-gravitational effects and thermodynamic connections have emerged. In the field of cosmology of the earliest universe, the hypotheses of the pre-big bang phase of the universe and the not very convincing model of the so-called ecpyrotic origin of the universe are discussed (see the passage "Astrophysical and cosmological consequences of superstring theory" §B.6. books "Gravity, Black Holes and the Physics of Spacetime"), which go beyond the magical frontier of the Big Bang.
B. According to recent astronomical observations of distant supernovae, there have been some indications that the expansion of the universe is currently accelerating , that in addition to dark (non-radiant) matter, there is also so-called dark energy in space , which shows "antigravity". Thus, the evolution of the universe seems to take place under the influence of the cosmological constant L > 0 (see §5.6 "The Future of the Universe. The Arrow of Time.", the passage "Dark Energy and the Accented Expansion of the Universe" in the book "Gravity, Black Holes ..."). This is contrary to previous notions that the universe expanded (exponentially) with increasing speed only during a brief moment of inflationary expansion.just after the "big bang", while the subsequent Fridman expansion of the universe slows down steadily .
All these and other concepts are still somewhat speculative in the nature of hypotheses and are not sufficiently verified. Interestingly, although the work "The Anthropic Principle or the Cosmic God" originated so many years ago, we find almost nothing here that would now need to be fundamentally changed..!..
As new credible findings emerge, we will gradually analyze their physical and philosophical significance for understanding the structure and functioning of our world - the universe.
In the following appendices, some related topics are outlined and discussed in the lecture "The Anthropic Principle or the Cosmic God". These topics are presented on slides during the lecture.
Appendix 1: Unitary field theory
The idea of unitary field theory is extremely deep and beautiful !
Concept of unitary field theory :
There is a single, completely basic and all-encompassing physical field, the manifestation of which are all fields observed in nature - gravitational, electromagnetic, fields of strong and weak nuclear interactions. In the world, there is actually nothing but this field, which is the bearer of all natural phenomena and from which everything is composed - material formations (particles) are a kind of local "condensation" of this unitary field.
Scheme of individual stages and procedures of unification of 4 basic interactions in nature.
Classical approach :
material particles - basic entities;
space - "stage or arena" in which the particles move.
field - particles around themselves fields that spread area and mediates the interaction between particles.
General theory of relativity
Material particles determine the structure of space, particles cannot be separated from the surrounding space.
The dialectic of GTR :
Matter dictates spacetime as it should curve, spacetime dictates matter as it moves.
Particles in unitary field theory
There is no opposite (difference) between material particles and the field. The unitary field is the basic entity - it is a continuous "medium" spread everywhere in space. Particles = local "condensation" of the field - energy concentration.
Particle formation : A
densified field area is formed.
Particle motion : The area of a densified field moves in space and time.
Particle extinction : The area of the compressed field dissolves - the particle "dissolves" into its own field.
All this takes place under the influence of the internal laws of evolution of the unitary field.
The unitary field exists always and everywhere, it can never be removed. He is the bearer of all natural phenomena. It is the "void" from which material particles condense. The origin, existence and extinction of particles are only forms of motion (evolution) of the field.
|"We can look at matter
as being created by such areas of space in which the
field is extremely dense. In this new kind of physics,
there is no room for field or matter, because the only
reality is the field."
The unitary field is the gravitational field, or the geometry of (empty) space-time Ţ all matter is formed from emptiness .
Physical vacuum :
It is not a state of pure nothingness, but it contains the potential of all forms of the particle world. The vacuum is a "living void" pulsating in the endless rhythm of the formation and extinction of structures, virtual and real particles.
Philosophical conclusion : Since even "emptiness" is full of life Ţ there is no exist the nothingness .
Quantum physics: Everything is dynamic Ţ things do
not exist, there are only processes.
Only our mind creates time slots in the stream of evolution and calls them things .
Is the world subjective or objective?
Microworld - quantum physics - impossibility to separate the observer from the observed phenomena Ţ ? Are the structures and phenomena that we observe in nature only the result of our measurement and thinking? Definitely not! - see below.
For more on the concepts of
unitary field theory, see Appendix B: "Unitary
Field Theory and Quantum Gravity"
in the book "Gravity, Black Holes, and the Physics of Spacetime ".
Is the world subjective or objective ?
There are two extreme views on the question of the basic existence and nature of the world and its reflection by us humans :
In favor of view No.1, the only objective world *), not only
the results of scientific research speak convincingly, but also
the very possibility of mutual communication
between people, as well as the existence of literary and fine
art, communicating a common reflection of
objective reality. Looking No.2, this would not be possible, we just wouldn't understand
each other at all !
However, even subjective view No.2 can have its metaphorical significance in the field of art, philosophy, psychology and spiritual directions...
*) The concept of many different universes, mentioned above in the section "Anthropic Principle", is about something else and has nothing to do with the philosophical question discussed here.
From the reflection of the laws of quantum physics and their extrapolation from the microworld to the general level, a third (questionable) view sometimes appears, combining to some extent both of the above views :
3. Do the subject and the
object intersect ?
From the point of view of quantum mechanics, each system can behave according to a number of possibilities, of which just one is realized due to interactions with other systems. Even the act of observation (measurement, cognition) is such an interaction that - at least in the microworld - changes its quantum state and thus reduces the possible states of this system to one "real" observed state. In the microworld, therefore, " things cannot be observed without changing them " - the act of measurement (measuring system, "observer") is "drawn" into the investigated phenomenon and thus "calculated" into the measurement result. There can be a subjective contribution to the image and behavior of the world..?.. - (Probably not , the "observer" can also be a measuring device, or a simple physical interaction, without a subject...). The absolutization of this circumstances and its extrapolation to the macro- and megaworld in natural science leads to participatory anthropic principle mentioned above, in some philosophical speculation then to a subjective - idealistic ideas... (author personally does not share these views - see the section "Mystical quantum physics?" and "Quantum recognizability" in §1.1 of the book "Nuclear physics and physics of ionizing radiation"). It is interesting to think about these aspects of the behavior of complex systems from the point of view of synergetics (it is discussed, for example, in the passage "Determinism - chance - chaos?" §3.1 of the monograph "Gravity, black holes and space-time physics").
Although physical props are used in this view No.3, from the point of view of physics and natural science it is often only a misunderstanding and unsubstantiated speculation..!.. However, the same applies as in the discussion above: view No.3 may have its positive metaphorical meaning in the field of art, philosophy, psychology and spiritual directions ...
Appendix 2: Eastern Philosophy and Religion
appendix, we will make a brief mention of some religious
and philosophical trends that are interesting to relate
to the issues of the universe , our human
existence , ethics, and our place and direction
in the universe . We focus here mainly on the eastern
(or "far-eastern") spiritual directions. To discuss the
issues of Christianity would be, given its spread in our
territory, "carrying wood into the forest." We will not
mention Judaism and Islam here either, because due to their
largely dogmatic nature, they do not bring any interesting or new
views on our relationship to the universe.
Note: Some aspects of Christianity and Islamare mentioned in passages on sacred music : "Catholic", "Orthodox", "Islamic".
The basic dogma of Eastern philosophy :
We are not surrounded by objects that exist independently "on their own" as we perceive them. All the things and events that we perceive are creations of our mind, arising from a certain state of consciousness and disappearing again when that state is transcended. It is only an illusion of man to ascribe a deeper meaning to these structures and phenomena around us. The universe is not a world of objects, but emanations of God's energy ..?..
the phenomena of this world are nothing but a deceptive
manifestation of the mind and have no fact in themselves
" All phenomena are contentless "; " Form is emptiness and emptiness is form "
(Hridaja Sutra - Sutra of the Heart - On the emptiness of all being).
This subjective-philosophical conception is certainly not very plausible in the light of contemporary scientific knowledge, which is based on the opposite platform of the objective reality of natural phenomena. It is due to the pre-scientific period of its creation. Nevertheless, even a naturalist can positively reflect the views of Eastern philosophy (albeit fundamentally incorrect...) - at least in a symbolic or metaphorical sense. It may also be interesting to think about possible connections with the physical concept of unitary field theory (see previous passages) ...
HINDUISM - the eternal order of the cycle in the pantheon of gods and their incarnations; cradle of eastern spirituality
Hinduism - a collective term for spiritual and religious traditions that have developed very diversely for many centuries on the Indian subcontinent. Hinduism is not a single mythology, but a complex conglomeration of various myths and cults originated and evolving in the regions around the Ida and Ganges rivers and adjacent territories.
Basic Religious Writings of Hinduism
V e d a s (Veda = knowing how to properly worship the gods to hear supplications)
- the oldest Hindu writings, collections of hymns, prayers, celebrations and invocations of various gods. The four basic Vedas: Rgved (prayers and religious reflections), Samaved (religious songs), Yajurved (texts on victims), Atharvaved (magical texts and formulas). The Vedas originated around the 13th century BC, initially spread by word of mouth among the brahmanas, later they were written (according to tradition they were written by the sage Vyasa ).
In addition to the basic 4 Vedas, four more so-called upaveds ("additional Vedas") were later created. The most important of these is Ayurveda summarizing ancient Indian medicine.
Brahmanas - explanatory texts for teaching the Vedas in brahmanas families.
Upanishads ( upa = close, ni = down, sad = sit - that is, the doctrine intended for those who "sit close to the Master's feet") "secret teachings" and philosophical interpretations to clarify the hidden meaning and significance of the Vedic texts. They deal with the questions of the origin of the world, the unity of all being, the soul (Atman) and God, karma and reincarnation. For the Upanishads, the collective name of the Vedanta (= end of the Vedas) is sometimes used because it is the culmination of the Vedic teachings.
Puranas (= ancient traditions) - "divinely inspired" myths, legends and epics, describing the miraculous and heroic deeds of gods or kings.
Ramayama is a heroic ballad about prince Rama (who is Vishnu's avatar) who, with the help of the devoted monkey king Hanuman, fights for the liberation of his wife Sita, who was abducted by the demon Ravan on to the island of Lanka. Hanuman jumped over the sea; the monkeys even built a bridge between the Indian coast and Sri Lanka.
The Mahabharata is an extensive epic (numbering more than 100,000 couplets - probably the greatest epic in world literature) about the Bharat dynasty, where a divine message is given in a section called the Bhagavatgita (a song of nobility) against the backdrop of a long struggle between the related Pandus and Kurus; here is the god Krishna, performing in the symbolic role of a chariot driver, in a dialogue with Arjuna (of the Pandus family) preaches selfless deeds (karma yoga) and devotion to the divine principle in unity by the Atman.
330 thousand gods Ţ polytheism
No! There is one God. The various gods are only representatives of the power and functions of one supreme God in the visible world.
of main Hunduistic gods :
Brahma - the supreme creator, the inner essence of all things, the pantheistic principle, the absolute being, which contains and conceives all that is - the embodiment of infinity;
Vishnu - the creator of the universe, the maintainer of life; Shiva - the god of fertility and death;
Sarasvati (wife of Brahma) - goddess of wisdom, knowledge and art;
Sri - Lakshmi (wife of Vishna) - "lotus goddess", goddess of fortune, wealth;
Padma - Ganga (goddess of the river Ganges, Shiva's wife);
Parvati (1st wife of Shiva, mother of Ganesha); Kali - Durga (2nd wife of Shiva) - bloodthirsty goddess of destruction and death;
Krishna (incarnation of Vishna) - the graceful god of love, music, dance, the herald of Bhagavatgita (chanting of the noble) in the epic Mahabharata (against the background of the struggle between the Pandus and the Kurus, Krishna proclaims important requirements of ethics and spirituality).
In many of their sects, Hinduist also worship a whole host of other gods, such as Ganesha (god of success with an elephant's head), Mitra (god of light), Manasa (goddess of snakes), Rama (incarnation of Vishna) with his wife Sita (epic Ramayana), Hanuman (monkey god), Soma (elixir of life), etc ...
All things around us are various manifestations of a single and supreme reality called BRAHMA .
The concept of time :
Linear - life is a chronological series of unique events in running time.
Cyclic - life as an ever-recurring cycle. This is how time and life are conceived in Hinduism.
Creation of the world :
God becomes the world and the world eventually becomes God again. The world is the "stage" of this divine game.
Hinduism - the basis of Eastern spirituality
Enlightened followers of Hinduism around the 6th century BC tried to rid the old religion of some prejudices and pagan practices. Above all, they rejected the ritual sacrifice of animals, which contradicted the then widespread concept of ahinsa - not harming living beings, our neighbors. Some of them also rejected the caste system. Thus, two other important religions developed from the late Vedic tradition - Buddhism and Jainism, which have survived to this day. And Buddhism, enriched with elements of Taoism, gave rise to other important philosophical and spiritual trends of the Chan in China and Zen in Japan. All these directions will be mentioned below in separate passages. Hinduism can be described as the "cradle of Eastern wisdom" in the sense in which we call Greek antiquity the "cradle" of European philosophy and civilization.
Eastern philosophical-religious concepts
We will briefly mention here several philosophical and religious concepts originally originated in Hinduism and derived from the languages Sanskrit and Pálli (the form in Sanskrit is usually given in parentheses). Most of these terms are used in all Eastern religions and philosophical systems that have Indian origins (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and in part, late Taoism - through the Buddhist direction of Qian or Zen ).
A t m á n (atman = breath, breathing ) :
The immortal human soul, the hidden inner "I", the highest part of the divine spirit within us.
Immortality of the human soul Ţ Reincarnation (Latin reincarnation ; in Buddhism also rebirth) : Every personal soul (Atman ) goes through many rebirths into other lives (samsara) with reincarnation - whether human, animal or plant - it is decided by karma. "Just as one gets rid of old worn clothes and puts on new ones, similarly the soul trapped in a body gets rid of old bodies and enters new ones" (Bhagavatgita).
Samsara ( samsara = constant wandering - between
The cycle of life, death and rebirth of each individual ("karmic circulation"). From the cycle of ever new and new lives (often filled with misery) it is possible to escape through knowledge, release of all bonds and desires - it is possible to achieve a state of liberation referred to in Hinduism as moksha, in Buddhism nirvana.
( karma = action ) - the
law of causes and effects in the creation of destiny:
Every human action, in addition to its visible effect, also evokes an invisible action that lasts even though the visible effect has already disappeared. It is not limited to the present life, but is transmitted to subsequent births - it decides both on the form of rebirth and on all the circumstances of life in future existence. Through each of their actions, beings gain certain merit and guilt, whose ratio attained during the life (or even past lives) determines the nature and quality of the future existence of the being into which the Atman has incarnated. There is sometimes talk of a "karmic debt" which, if not repaid, always leads to more and more reincarnations. Thus the reincarnation of the atman on his pilgrimage to other forms of being (samsara) continues - until the final liberation (moksha) from the cycle of lives in nirvana. The current situation is therefore the result of behavior in previous lives - it is therefore "deserved", whether good or bad... The evolution of the soul in human bodies can take place for many incarnations, the right direction is intellectual improvement and the adoption of moral principles.
Whatever is to happen to a person (as a karmic consequence of the law of cause and effect of deeds from his present or previous life) at a certain time, will surely catch up with him that day.
According to some concepts, however, the fate of man in a given earthly life is not predetermined with definitive validity. The "innate destiny" of the karma of previous lives can be significantly changed by choosing a life path. Either for the good - self-improvement in love and wisdom, or for the bad - selfishness and harm to other beings ...
Ahinsa (= non-harm, non-violence)
Respect for all living things, the basic moral-religious principle of all Eastern spiritual directions - Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism (where it is most emphasized).
Dharma (dharma = law, way) :
The doctrine of the path to universal truth and of a way of life in accordance with the divine law that leads to enlightenment and liberation.
o g a ( yoga = connection
- connection with the absolute being, God, the true essence, our
soul - Atman)
A set of teachings on methods of control of bodily and mental functions of man in order to achieve higher spiritual states and liberation from the ego and dependence on material existence. The ultimate goal is permanent identification with absolute being and consciousness, attaining enlightenment and liberation - moksha, nirvana. To achieve these goals, yoga has developed several techniques :
Hatha yoga - yoga physical exercises, including breathing exercises, which revitalize the body and help mental concentration. This type of yoga is most widespread in Euro-American territory, where the "practical" side of physical training is emphasized.
Jnana yoga- yoga of wisdom, knowledge, studies, meditation for self-knowledge and enlightenment.
Mantra Yoga - concentration is achieved by repeating mantras, the acoustic vibrations of which help calm the mind.
Karma yoga - a good work and selfless service to other beings purifies the consciousness and soul of man.
Bhakti Yoga - enlightenment can be attained by devotion and love of Godhead in some of its forms (Vishnu, Shiva) or avatar.
Guru Yoga - by worshiping an already enlightened Master (guru), the disciple attains his own enlightenment under his guidance.
Shakti yoga - work with human energies (so-called shakti), chakras, paths through which "energy" flows (science is skeptical about it ...) .
Raja yoga- the path of self-discipline, firm will, austerities.
The various methods of yoga have much in common and complement each other; yogis usually combine them.
Meditation (Latin Meditatio = meditation, contemplation) :
Meditation involves various spiritual practices and ways of inner contemplation and concentration in order to achieve an altered state of consciousness and knowledge from a different perspective. Meditation helps to induce :
¨ A state where the mind is free of all unnecessary thoughts.
¨ Concentrating the mind on a specific object.
¨ Altered state of consciousness, psychic opening to spiritual and religious ideas.
¨ Intuitive insight into the real essence or religious idea. The rational mind is subdued and we perceive and know reality directly (intuitively, extrasensory, transcendental), without a "filter" of conceptual thinking. In the calmed mind, the intuitive insight appears completely spontaneously: it begins to reflect things as they are. All-pervading inner wisdom of the mind knows things on the basis of being in unity with them.
The word meditation is of Latin origin and is used mainly by European and American authors writing on spiritual issues. In the original eastern directions in this sense to use the term Samadhi (concentration or spiritual ecstasy), dhyana (resting motionless with a single subject, absorption), bhavana (Buddhist cultivation practice of mind), or vipassana (meditation of "clear insight") - see below.
Samadhi (samadhi = attachment, anchoring,
immersion, concentration of the mind on one object) -
spiritual ecstasy, trance
In Hinduism, samadhi is the highest state of mind, attainment of absolute reality, "superconscious state", deepest spiritual immersion, union of the Atman with the deity - Brahma. The state of samadhi is mostly a temporary human experience; when the permanent state of samadhi is attained, it is already the ultimate liberation - moksha, nirvana. In Hindu mythology, Samadhi is sometimes mentioned - the god of knowledge, the protector of sages and scholars. See below for samadhi in Buddhism.
(nirvana = extinguishing of fire)
The end of material life, liberation from the cycle of reincarnations (samsara), rest in the state of eternal absolute peace, bliss, enlightenment, extinction of passions and desires, hatred, blindness, pain, suffering and fear. According to Hinduism, an individual achieves this when he realizes that the Atman - his inner "I" - is identical with the Brahman, the absolute being - he realizes that he himself is a "god".
The term nirvana predominates in Buddhism; in Zen Buddhism, the Japanese word satori is also used in a similar sense. The Hindu religions often used the name moksha (= termination - of samsara, the cycle of life). The highest degree of liberation in perfect love and wisdom is sometimes referred to as mahanirvana.
Mantra ( mantra = liberation of the mind
A short formula - "holy saying" - which has a special divine and magical power and effectiveness for liberation and enlightenment. In addition to the one-syllable mantra "om", multiword mantras are also used, such as "om mani padme hum" (om, jewel in the lotus), "hare Krishna, hare Rama, hare, hare ...", "Sarasvati bhagavathi" (Sarasvati noble ), "Om Sri Lakshmi Narayana" (Om Happy Lakshmi sleeping on the waters), "Om Namah Shivaya" ( Om , Glory to Shiva), "Jaya Devi Mata Namaha" (Goddess Mother Be Greeted ), .... In addition to the pronounced mantras, mantras are also used in meditations recited "silently inward" (ajapa - unspoken).
|The most used mantra is the syllable "Óm" ("aum", "hum"), which is considered a symbol of the Supreme Being (Brahma) and which, when lengthy utterance or singing by its acoustic resonance, helps to calm the mind and induce higher states of consciousness.|
Sútra (sutra = thread, thread, rope ; also
instructive speech ) :
A collection of brief philosophical and religious instructive statements. These brief, concentrated statements, often of the nature of aphorisms, tend to be accompanied by more extensive commentary and interpretation.
Guru (guru = full, heavy - filled with knowledge)
Spiritual teacher and master on the path of enlightenment. Instead of their original names, important gurus adopted spiritual names derived from the names of Hindu gods or their avatars. E.g. Ramakrishna , Brahmananda. These names also include spiritual titles or attributes - such as Swami (one who controls his mind), Sri (lord), Mahatma (great spirit), Satya (true), Maharishi (great sage).
The ashram (= tent, dwelling - where the disciples live)
Under the guidance of the master - the guru - they study and meditate here in order to attain true knowledge and enlightenment.
Avatar (avatar = one who descends -
descends from the spiritual to the material world) :
The divine master (more than the guru), the incarnation of a certain god, most often Vishna, who descends to the world to bring higher knowledge to people, corrected everything bad and arranged order and love. According to Hindu teachings, in certain periods of history, God sends a certain person to earth, incarnates in him, and he is then full of goodness, love, and miraculous abilities.
E.g. Krishna was the eighth avatar of Vishna, and his ninth avatar is sometimes considered to be the Buddha. The 10th Vinu avatar Kalkí is also predicted, who will arrive on a white horse and announce the end of the current era (caljuges); in this cataclysmic period, the all-consuming fire will be replaced by rain, the whole universe will be transformed into an infinite body of water - the "ocean of causes and possibilities" on which Vishnu will lie down for his sleep, in which he will create a new Universe and through Brahma the cycle of creation begins again under the supervision of Vishna-protector :
A charming Indian legend about the origin of the world
Avatars can even "chained" - eg. Indian guru Saji Baba (¶ 1926) was considered an avatar of Krishna. Some followers of the Hare Krishna movement identify Christ with Krishna, arguing that the names are similar. Similar meaning to "avatar" has in Christian terminology the "Messiah" (Christ), in the Buddhist therminology "bodhisattva".
On Hinduism, see also: " Indian Classical Music "
BUDDHISM - awakening and enlightenment (without God)
Siddhártama Gautama (623 - 560 BC)
father: King uddjódama , mother: Queen Marhámája
Path fromGautama to Buddha :
Encouter with the suffering ® Gautama renounced his wealth and status ® rejection of extremes in Hinduism ® finding a path to a state of perfect peace and enlightenment, liberation from desire and suffering ® achieve Nirvana => Gautama became the Buddha.
|According to legend, Gautama attained his perfect enlightenment while meditating under the Bodhi fig tree on the banks of the Nairaijana River.|
The four basic
articles of the Buddha's knowledge - the "four noble
1. Life contains suffering. 2. Suffering is caused by the desire for enjoyment and benefit. 3. Suffering can be overcome by removing lust. 4. Greed can be removed by pilgrimage along the path of eight lessons learned.
This path to the elimination of greed and thus suffering - the path to enlightenment - a noble "eightfold path" includes :
1. The right knowledge, understanding, opinion. 2. Right thinking, intentions, decisions. 3. Correct and true speech. 4. Correct conduct and behavior (avoid especially murder, theft, selfishness, harm). 5. The right way of life that would not cause harm anyone. 6. The right effort and endeavor. 7. Correct awareness, attention, mindfulness. 8. Proper concentration, meditation.
By consistently implementing these principles, we are on the path to enlightenment and nirvana.
Buddhism teaches :
¨ Perfect goodness and wisdom - without a personal God
¨ Supreme knowledge - without God's revelation of "truth"
¨ Possibilities of redemption and salvation - without an external redeemer (each is "his own savior")
Unity, compassion and love for all
creatures - the mantra of " May all creatures
be Happy ! "
The first and highest law: N O N - H A R M
In this the Buddhism coincides with Jainism - a religion which is in northern India has also developed from the Vedic tradition (see below).
Meditation in Buddhism - Bhavana :
The general term meditation (described above in the passage on Hinduism) in Buddhism is primarily "cultivation of the mind" (Bhavana) - cultivation to wisdom and compassion, to realize the unity of all things, beings and events. It usually includes two aspects :
¨ Calming the mind and concentrating it on a certain fact (samatha).
¨ Achieving an intuitive insight (vipassana) into the true essence of reality and thus attaining wisdom.
Samadhi (samadhi = attachment, anchoring, concentration of the
mind on one object) - a clear and peaceful state of mind
In Buddhism, samadhi represents the cultivation of the mind, its calming, concentration and focusing on the true form of reality. This usually happens in the form of meditation. The meaning of samadhi in Buddhism is not as expressive as in Hinduism.
The main ideal of Buddhism: Attain
enlightenment and help all beings
Bodhisattva (bodhi = awakening, satta = devotee): A person who has attained the highest enlightenment but out of love and compassion for his neighbor gives up personal nirvana and remains in the world to help enlightenment and nirvana to others - himself as the last.
Buddhism is not, in
essence, a religion, but a philosophical
attitude towards life and the world.
There is no central authority, no dogmas. No animosity, Buddhism is tolerant of all religions. Those who have already attained knowledge and enlightenment ("Buddhas") are not superior, do not command, rebuke, punish, or threaten "God's punishment" to anyone - but with their knowledge and example, they advise and show the way to others.
|Ulun Danu - Hindu-Buddhist temple on Lake Bratan, Bali|
The Buddha did not consider himself a
God and a savior, but a teacher and counselor. He
" Buddhas only show the way. For enlightenment and salvation, everyone must work out with their diligence. "
However - historical development :
Inculturation, liturgy, temples, sacrifices ... ® worship of the Buddha as God (people want to worship something ...) .
In doing so, they somewhat betrayed the original teachings of the Buddha (but not nearly as the Christian Church, especially the Catholic Church, trampled on God's commandments and Christ's teachings of love of neighbor...!..) .
primary schools (paths) of Buddhism:
¨ Hinayana ( Smaller Chariot )
- gaining wisdom and enlightenment through monastic life, renunciation, study in a monastery; it also includes Theravada (The Way of the Elders). It is a "conservative" school, striving only for its own enlightenment.
¨ Mahayana ( Greater Chariot )
- the path of enlightenment is for everyone, not just those who give up the world. The nature of the Buddha is in all of us, for enlightenment there is no hard self-discipline and austerity, but contemplation and compassion for all living things; this school can be described as "liberal". The Mahayana is emphasized by the ideal of the bodhisattva - a person who, after attaining perfect enlightenment himself, gives up his own nirvana and strives for liberation and enlightenment of other beings.
¨ Vajrayana ( Tantric Buddhism )
- the highest teaching is contained in the so-called tantras, sacred texts (tantra = fabric, warp, substance - woven from the highest wisdom; also teaching, writing). Tantric texts are said to have originated from dialogues between Shiva and Parvati (see also "Tibetan music"). A key role here is played by the initiated teacher, who initiates the disciples and leads them on the right path to enlightenment. In addition to general Buddhist principles, the emphasis here is on reciting mantras and magical texts to invoke deities and occult forces, working with "energies" (with "suggestions", from today's point of view), a number of rituals. There is a tantrism of the right hand, focusing on the male deities, and a tantrism of the left hand - the worship of the goddesses (who, according to tradition, stood on the left hand of the male gods). The goal of these practices is to reach the subconscious and use the spiritual and magical powers that are hidden here. This direction, partly influenced by Hinduism, spread in Tibet where it persisted until now, while in India itself around 1000 it practically disappeared.
Buddhism in China and
Chan = Zen - a school of meditative immersion in (Mahayana) Buddhism.
According to tradition, Buddhism was brought to China by the Indian monk Bodhidharma in the 5th-6th century, who settled in the Shaolin Monastery.
Chan is specifically a Chinese offshoot of Buddhism, influenced by Taoism.
Buddhism came to Japan from China in the 6th century in the form of the Chan Buddhist direction, partially enriched with elements of Taoism. In Japan, it became domesticated as Zen Buddhism , and soon prevailed over the original domestic Shintoism, which, however, did not displace, but with which it coexisted closely for centuries to this day. Buddhist teachings have become one of the fundamental factors shaping Japanese culture.
S a t o r i (jap. = Knowledge, enlightenment, awakening ;
also insight into unity); Chinese Wu
Direction Rinzai (Lin-chi) - koan practice - a paradoxical, rationally unsolvable puzzle that can (but does not have to!) help in the appropriate context to enlightenment (satori) with a sudden flash of mind.
The direction of Sótó (Ts´ao-tung) - zazen (silent meditation in sitting or squatting) - the gradual attainment of enlightenment (satori).
|Coexistence with Shinto in Japan|
|Shinto = the path of the gods (kami)
Shintoism - is the original Japanese religion dating from before the adoption of Buddhism. It is based on polytheism - the worship of numerous strange gods and animism - the worship of ancestral spirits. Shintoists believe that these deities (kami) can temporarily reside in certain objects of worship - such as trees, stones, mountains (especially the sacred Mount Fuji), sacred objects - and their favor can be gained through rituals.
State, national, Shintoism - the emperor is a descendant or representative of the deity and has due obligatory respect.
W a b i (Japanese wabishi = loneliness, loss, poverty)
- the spirit of cultivated poverty, simplicity,
Wabi is a philosophical-aesthetic concept associated with Zen Buddhism. It is a voluntary and noble simplicity and poverty, with which one identifies internally, in the joy and feeling of balanced melancholy over the unstoppable during one's life. It is the search for beauty and goodness in simple things, the search "beneath the surface" of things, the search for wealth in poverty, the beauty in modesty and simplicity. Wabi is also the realization of self-discipline and a view of life from a different angle. In terms of wabi, all people are equal.
Another Japanese aesthetic term, S a b i , has a somewhat related meaning- gathering, maturity, shabby; the beauty and soulfulness gained by age and the deposit (sediment) of time; "patina". The combination of the concept of wabi-sabi has found its beautiful application in the Japanese tea ceremony of chado, in Japanese ceramics and in the art of Japanese gardens (see "Japanese music", "Japanese garden").
A tantric variety of Buddhism. To enlightenment leads the long chanting of mantras and prayers (including the use of prayer wheels, flags or balls), the use of rituals, etc., under the guidance of lamas (monk teachers and leaders) - see "Tibetan music".
JAINISM - non-harm and non-violence against all living things
Founder: Vardhamana Mahavira
(original name Vardhamána, ¶ 540 BC, V 486 BC in
Like Budddha, he came from a wealthy family, but he rejected the position of a respected brahma and set out on the path of a simple teacher.
Jainism (the name is derived from Sanskrit gin = winner - over karma)
teaches that the universe is eternal without beginning and end, it is uncreated (there is no creator). The universe goes through an infinite number of cosmic cycles, ups and downs, during which humanity also develops and declines. The human individual consists of the soulwhich is originally attached to the body. By liberating the soul from matter, one can attain a state of eternal, blissful, omniscient fulfillment - nirvana.
The soul is bound by "karmic matter" as a result of wrongdoing. Selfish and cruel deeds pollute and bind the soul, on the contrary, acts of kind, considerate and unfavorable self-help help the soul to purify itself again and free itself from matter. The basic command is ahinsa - non-harm and non-violence to the living. The worst act is to kill a living being - Janiists are essentially vegetarians. Jainist monks often wear a veil over their mouths so that they cannot swallow and kill even small insects. The basis of the strict promise of these monks is the renunciation of killing, stealing, lying, sexual activities, material possessions.
TAOISM - the search for the divine law governing the universe and the harmonious paths of human life
|T a o - the path, the trail ; figuratively: principle, essence, providence|
Harmony and order in nature and the universe : the manifestation of tao - the divine will or law of the penetrating and governing the Universe.
|Founder of Taoism:
Lao-c´ ( Old Master ) (6th century BC)
The book " Tao-te-ching " ("Book of the Way and Virtues")
The most important successor :
Chuang-c´ (Master Chuang, original name Chuang Chou , circa 369-286 BC, Meng area)
|The concept of "Jin
" and " Jang " - unity and struggle of opposing forces
(dark-light, negative-positive, male-female,
The highest goal of Taoism :
To find the Tao , leave the outside world "behind" and merge with the nature and all being .
|The Taoist ideal of a harmonious peaceful life in harmony with nature is applied in many paintings of traditional Chinese landscape painting with typical symbolism: misty mountains, bizarre trees, calm waters of a lake and sages living and meditating in seclusion.|
Meditation in Taoism :
The general term meditation (described above in the passage on Hinduism) in Taoism focuses primarily on the meditation of "clear insight" (vipassana) - an intuitive insight into the true essence of reality and thus the attainment of the Tao.
The rational mind is subdued and we perceive and know reality directly (intuitively, extrasensory, transcendental), without a "filter" of conceptual thinking. In the calmed mind, the intuitive insight appears completely spontaneously: it begins to reflect things as they are. The pervasive inner wisdom of the mind knows things on the basis of being in oneness with them - in oneness with the Tao.
" By entering into the purity of meditation, one attains an all-pervading vision which enables him to realize the absolute unity of the universe " . (Lao-c´)
Although Taoism is specifically a Chinese spiritual direction, it has occurred since about the 6th century to a certain "fusion" of the ideas of domestic Taoism and Buddhism coming from India. As a result, the Buddhist direction of Chan was born in China, whose Japanese offshoot is known as Zen-Buddhism.
Confucianism - the right way of human life and the functioning of society
Kchung-fu-c´ (Master Kchung ) - Latin Confucius
The moral nature of man
All people have (more or less) a developed sense of good and evil. They are naturally equal (despite social differences), they should strive for perfection.
|L i - rules of conduct
Decency, courtesy, order of things, ceremony, respect
|R e n - inner life :
Humanity, love, cordiality, kindness, nobility
By following " Li "
and " Ren ", we are on the heavenly
path - we perform the Tao .
Confucianism can be considered " Taoism transformed into practical life and governance of society ".
The difference from Taoism: Tao must be practiced actively !
" When everyone tries to live by Li and Ren, everything is fine in personal life, in the family, in the state and in the world " (Confucius)
A small example of Confucian
On one occasion, a disciple asked Confucius, "Master, what is the most appropriate way to serve the Gods?". The teacher replied, "Before you serve the gods, make sure you serve the people around you - to help make them wise, honest, just, and virtuous. Only when you do this, devote yourself to the gods."
On the cultural context of Eastern philosophical trends, see also music: "Chinese", "Japanese", "Tibetan".
Spiritual teachings and religions in the modern
- dialogue and interconnection of cultures and spiritual directions -
Here are just a few incomplete observations and remarks on this topic - rather as topics for reflection and discussion.
end of feudalism in Europe
The Christian Church is losing power and monopoly as an institution providing ideological patronage to feudal dictatorship. However, it contributed to her spiritual revival and gradual retreat from dogmatism.
® Religious freedom, secularization and atheization of society.
Enlightenment, religious relativism :
All religions and spiritual directions - if free from dogmatism - are essentially equal. Religion is no longer necessary, it can be replaced by enlightened and soulful atheism or pantheism .
|The Tree of Faith and
Faith or religion is like a tree with many branches. The trunk of this tree - the universal spiritual principle - is rooted deep in the human psyche. From this universal spiritual principle grow individual churches, sects, denominations - branches of a tree, which are basically equal. "All paths are right !", proclaimed the well-known Indian guru Saja Baba.
However, we know that in the case of a tree, in addition to healthy, vital, fruiting branches, some branches are dry, diseased or infested with pests; such branches not only do not bear fruit, but can jeopardize the successful growth of the whole tree. These dry or infested branches resemble those churches and sects, in which dogmatism, insincerity, fundamentalism and the abuse of religious sentiment for the material and power goals of individuals or groups prevailed, at the expense of other people ...
interconnection of cultures and spiritual directions
Individual cultures, spiritual and philosophical directions should no longer fight hostile, but communicate with each other and enrich each other withthe best they have achieved.
spread of Eastern spirituality in the Euro-American world
The development of democracy and mass media has been stimulated since the end of the 19th century the emergence of a series of spiritual currents and sects, whose founders either wanted to "make themselves visible" (as is often the case with sects) or considered it useful to promote ideas that would help other people to "enlightenment and salvation". If we focus on the directions based on Eastern spirituality, we can generally say that yoga, (Zen) Buddhism, Taoism or the teachings of the gurus (Krishna, Saya Baba, ..) are a kind of counterweight the soulless consumerist way of life of Western society, dominated by the pursuit of success and capital. From a number of newer spiritual and religious directions, we will briefly mention three, which are based on traditional Eastern spirituality and have something to say about the relationship between man, nature and the universe, as well as the ethical issues of our direction.
This religious teaching comes from an Islamic background, but it has become free from all dogmatism. The initial impetus for the emergence of this religious movement dates back to 1844, when a member of the Muslim sect, Sheikh Mulla Hussein, met Sajjid Ali-Muhammad in Shiraz, Iran, whom he considered a messenger of God - named Bab (gate). When Bab was shot in Tabriz in 1850, his disciple Mirza Hussein Ali, who had previously adopted the new name Bahá´ulláh (the power and glory of God), declared himself the promised messenger of God and began teaching new religious ideas :
Unity of God - God is only for the whole world; The unity of religion - all religions originally come from God, God has revealed them through his messengers, Bahá´ism unites them; Equality - all racial, ethnic and religious prejudices are harmful, they must be rejected. Man and woman are equal, they are the two "wings" of humanity, allowing "to take off to heaven"; Possibility of education - everyone (especially all children) should have the same opportunity to get an education; The unity of science and faith - religion and science are two aspects of truth and should not contradict each other; Unification of the world - elected representatives from each country should create a "world parliament" to bring peace. In the interests of understanding, a "world language" should be created, in which, in addition to their mother tongue, each child should be taught at school.
His son, Abdul Bahá, became the successor of Bahá´ullah, who made a significant contribution to the organization and spread of Bahaism. This teaching is one of the purest and most tolerant religions, and its followers profess high moral values comparable to Buddhism - they do not harm or slander anyone, do not gamble, do not use drugs and alcohol, consider marriage as a lifelong connection (both physically and spiritually).
This movement, based on Hindu Vedic traditions, was founded by Indian guru A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, originally named Abhaj Caran De (¶ 1896 in Calcutta,V1977 in the USA), whom his guru in India called for a message of faith spread in America. He began his mission in the West in 1965, where he first taught traditional Hindu religious texts, which he further modified and transformed to appeal primarily to Western intellectuals disappointed with the consumerist way of life. He and his collaborators wrote a number of books that the movement's supporters distribute around the world.
The basic articles of faith are based on the traditional Vedic texts of Hinduism and also from "divinely inspired" legends and epics - Ramayama and Mahabharata; therefore, the basic Hindu notions of the soul-atman, karma, reincarnation (mentioned above in the passage "Hinduism") are preserved here. A key role in the teachings of Hare Krishna is played by a part of the Mahabharata called the Bhagavatgita (a song of nobility), where Krishna, acting in the symbolic role of a chariot driver, preaches selfless actions and devotion to the divine principle in Atman unity in dialogue with Arjuna. A characteristic feature of this direction (which places it somewhat among the sects) is the absolutization of Krishna *): Krishna is the supreme God, the Lord, the Absolute Truth. It has many forms (one of them was Jesus Christ). He claims that the Bible and the Qur'an are also based on Vedic texts, but their meaning has been distorted over the centuries by various translations and interpretations.
*) This is different from the usual Hindu concept, in which Krishna is one of the avataras of Vishna ...
Orthodox followers of Krishna, dressed in saffron robes, live in ashrams, where they chant mantras *) under the guidance of a spiritual leader (guru), they study mainly Bhagavatgita, they take care of the statues of Hindu deities (these statues are considered to be the incarnation of Krishna), they observe strict austerities including purity (washing), vegetarianism, work, spreading the faith ...
*) It is mainly mahamantra "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Hare Hare ....".
Transcendental Meditation - TM
This latest spiritual movement, also based on Hindu Vedic traditions, was founded by Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yoga (Maharishi = great sage, Mahesh - original surname, Yoga = practicing yoga who attained oneness with God, the transcendent ); originally named Mahesh Prasad Varma (¶ r.1917 in Jabalpur in Madha Pradesh in northern India). In collaboration with his guru Swami Brahmananda Sarasvati, called guru Dev, Mahesh Yoga developed a meditation method that is accessible to everyone. In 1956, he moved the Maharishi to the United States and then to Great Britain. His movement was then called the Movement for Spiritual Renewal, was later renamed the Science of Creative Intelligence. In London, his popularity was boosted by meeting members of the Beatles.
The basis of transcendental meditation is the utterance of a mantra - a secret phrase or syllable, for 20 minutes in the morning and evening. Each follower receives his mantra (containing the names of Hindu gods and gurus) individually during an initiation festival called puja, which takes place in Sanskrit. Regular meditations should lead to a source of thoughts, to the development of latent creative potential - "creative intelligence", to pure consciousness, enlightenment and even to the acquisition of supernormal abilities of levitation - the art of hovering in spite of gravity, the so-called TM sidhi technique (it is not known if anyone has already succeeded ..?.. - the demonstrated "jumping in a Turkish seat" is a respectable gymnastic performance, but far from real levitation).
One of the "theories" of TM is the so-called Maharishi effect, according to which TM affects not only practitioners but also "others" in the wider environment, leading to an alleged increase in spiritual standards and a reduction in crime, traffic accidents and other negative phenomena ...
The spiritual teaching of transcendental meditation is particularly interesting from our scientific-philosophical point of view . The original scientific education of the founder Maharishi (studied physics at the University of Allahabad) led him and his colleagues to try to find connections between old Vedic religious texts and modern physical theories. There are certainly many apparent and real analogies, especially the spiritual effort for a unified conception of being is quite coherent with the current unitarization concepts of science. But Maharishi and his associates go even further: on the basis of similarity between the characters contained in the Vedas and the mathematical symbols contained in the formulas of modern physical theories, especially the unitary theories of the field, he tries to claim that true physical knowledge was already contained in the divinely inspired Vedas. They claim that all the natural and social sciences, laws and events can be formulated using mathematical formulas, that they have created Vedic science and the technology of unitary field theory to perfectly control nature. He argues that transcendental meditation is not a religion or a philosophy, but a "natural and scientifically proven technique." Such an absolutely conceived concept of TM is undoubtedly wrong - out of random similarity randomly generated features of ancient spiritual texts (however wise and valuable for their time) and equally randomly generated mathematical symbols used in equations expressing the laws of physics, such far-reaching judgments certainly cannot be inferred! TM is not a science, but a religious direction.
Nevertheless, transcendental meditation can help some people to attain the comprehensive development of personality, spiritual self-realization, and the refinement of moral principles without losing interest in practical daily life.
Other Newer Eastern Spiritual Paths
In addition to the three newer Eastern spiritual directions mentioned, there are a number of different teachings and sects, mostly around gurus based (at least in part) on Hindu concepts. We can name, for example :
Swami Vivekananda (original name Narendranath Datta ,¶ 1863,V 1902, disciple of Ramakrishna ) - an Indian guru promoting reformed Hinduism, especially in the West and the USA. He proceeded from Hinduism as the "mother of all religions", but synthesized the ideas of Vedanta and yoga, especially karma yoga, with some concepts of European philosophy. He proclaimed the spiritual unity of all religions, the "world religion" - "Space gospel" and progressive views on the development of society - the future belongs to "government of workers".
Message of St. Grail (founder Abd-Ru-Shin, ¶ 1875, V1941, which proclaimed himself the messiah) - a quirky combination of Eastern and Western concepts. The world is divided into "gross-substance" and "subtle-substance" *) - spiritual.. On the border of the divine level stands the symbolic castle of the Grail, in which is preserved a bowl or chalice, in which the blood of the crucified Christ was allegedly captured - the Holy Grail itself. The path from gross to spiritual levels take place in the form of karma and reincarnations, similar to Hinduism.
*) Around this "gross" and "subtle"-massions, there has been some speculation seeking erroneous (pseudo) physical generalization ...
Mahatma Gandhi (original name Mohandas Kramchand Gandhi,¶ 1869,V 1948) - a prominent Indian thinker based on Hinduism and emphasizing ahinsan - nonviolence and non-harm. He made a decisive contribution to the liberation of India from colonial rule and to the creation of an independent Federal Republic of India in 1947. He sought progressive reforms, the abolition of outdated social prejudices, especially the caste system. Enlightened successor of Gandhi was Javaharlal Nehru (¶ 1889, V1964), which also sought to modernize social conditions in India *) and in the conditions of a divided world for peaceful cooperation of all countries, regardless of political establishment - the concept of "Panchashil" (Sanskrit. = Five principles).
*) Despite significant partial successes, however, unlike neighboring China, India has failed to embark on a path of harmonious development and prosperity, failing to close the abysmal social disparities and catastrophic poverty of a large part of the population. It has not been possible (again, unlike China) to limit the population explosion of unproductive people condemned to backwardness, suffering, disease and misery bordering on famine ...
Osho (Indian guru Bhagwan Sri Rajneesh , originally named Mohan Chandra Rajneesh , ¶ 1931, V 1990)
- teachings based on Hinduism and combining Eastern meditation techniques with elements of psychotherapy, including the release of emotions and sexual satisfaction (arguing, for example, that "orgasm is samadhi"...). He developed the method of "dynamic meditation".
Yoga in daily life (founder of Indian guru Paramhansa Swami Maheshwarananda, ¶ 1946, also called Swamiji)
- is based on the teachings of the Vedas, upanishads and especially on a well-developed system of practicing yoga - combining all yoga practices mentioned above in "Hinduism". It is a tolerant system suitable for today's people in the western territories.
Sri Chinmoy (Indian guru originally named Chinmoy Kumar Ghose ,¶ 1931)
- teaching of "integral yoga" combining Hindu spiritual techniques with art and sport. Sri Chinmoy's activities in promoting peace in the world are remarkable!
Satya Saja Baba (Indian guru by the original name of Sathyanarayana Raju ,¶ 1927, declared himself Krishna's avatar)
- Hindu teaching combined with psychology, where, however, it holds views often contradicting the current distorted Western psychiatry. It announces the control of emotions and impulses, strict suppression of anger and aggression. In religious matters, it promotes tolerance and equivalence of different spiritual paths, churches and denominations - all religions are different paths to a single goal. Sája Bába became famous, among other things, for his art of "materializing objects" (however, it is considered by independent observers to be common escamotaire's trick).
Scientology (Latin scio = knowledge , Greek logos = doctrine )
- is a religious system founded by the American philosopher and psychologist L.Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) in 1950. According to this doctrine, each person consists of body, mind and spirit - the spiritual "I", for which the name thetan is used. Man as an immortal spiritual being has unlimited abilities to solve his problems, to acquire lasting happiness, to attain new higher states of consciousness and abilities. However, these divine abilities are violated in each of us by psychological problems that have "wrapped up" in us during this or past lives. According to Scientology, all these problems can be eliminated by the techniques of so-called dianetics (Greek dia = through, through, nous = soul ; - "through soul to body"). Its main method is auditing - a paid conversation between the client and the therapist (a form of confession) in which he recalls his painful experiences, from which he can free himself and acquire a state of "clear" with the help of the therapist; then nothing prevents him from achieving a perfect life. When auditing, an electrometer is often used (an e-meter to record mental stress - a kind of "lie detector"). Very roughly, the nature of Scientology lies somewhere between Eastern spirituality and Western psychoanalysis (although Hubbard rejected Western psychiatric methods) .
Despite its name, Scientology is not based on any scientific knowledge, it is a psychological-religious direction. It is organized in the Church of Scientology, headquartered in Los Angeles, later relocated to Clearwater, Florida. American origin has given this direction a rather commercial character.
New Age - is a "postmodern" movement trying to find alternatives to almost everything prior lifestyle, culture and knowledge. It can bring new inspiring perspectives in the humanities (new age music is interesting), but in the field of science, especially natural sciences, it often resorts to erroneous and pseudo-scientific concepts (psychotronics, homeopathy, aura, alchemy, ufology, etc.). In the spirit of postmodernism, there is often no distinction between proven and working knowledge, laws and theories (behind which the work of generations of researchers is behind) and between mere opinions and false speculations (unsupported by nothing but the imagination or wishes of incompetent authors)...
newer Western sects and denominations
For completeness, we will briefly mention some newer Western religions, more or less based on Christianity , some with possibly. combined with Eastern directions (such as the aforementioned Holy Grail community ) or African polytheistic traditions.
Jehovah's Witnesses ("Jehovists")
is a large, worldwide religious society or sect that was founded in the 1970s and 1980s. originally as a Bible study society. In 1870, Ch.T.Russel founded an independent Bible study group in Pittsburgh, which began publishing the Watchtower magazine, which is still published today. The successor was J.F.Rutheford (1917-1942), who established an authoritarian and hierarchical organization of the company with its headquarters in Brooklyn. In 1942, he became president of N.H.Knorr, which organized the promotion of learning and the establishment of branches around the world.
The basic dogma of Jehovah's Witnesses is a literal interpretation of the Bible, especially the Old Testament (the folly of this dogma is clear when we realize how distorted these religious texts were first distorted orally and then in a variety of translations). The refusal of a blood transfusion also follows from this literal interpretation: God gave the command "you shall not eat blood!". This certainly meant the ancient pagan custom of drinking the blood of slaughtered animals, which without heat treatment could contain many pathogens (of course, there could be no talk of a transfusion under strict hygienic and hematological conditions!)... Jehovah's Witnesses believe that all Bible prophecies it has either already been fulfilled or will certainly be fulfilled soon. On the basis of their peculiar interpretations of the Bible, the Jehovists have already predicted the "end of the world" - Armageddon (1914, then 1925, the last time it was 1975), and only they will survive and they will have eternal life on a perfect earth. Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas or other holidays, because they do not appear in Scripture but have a historical origin in pagan customs and traditions. A positive feature is the enforcement of a strict moral code and their pacifism - they refuse to take up arms and serve in the military.
Mormons ( The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , founder of J.Smith in the USA in 1830)
- is a peculiar offshoot of Christian teaching, which, in addition to the Old Testament, is based on the so-called Book of Mormon. According to legend, this book describes the fate of the Israelites, who, around 600 BC, after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, allegedly sailed to America - the new Promised Land. Their descendants are the original inhabitants of pre-Columbian America - the Indians. According to this legend, Jesus Christ also went to America, where he passed on his teachings to the Nephite tribe. They were murdered by the Lamanites, and the true teaching of Christ is preserved only in the text of the Book of Mormon, written by the only surviving Nephite, the chronicler of Mormon. The prophet Mormon is through the angel Moroni he revealed to J.Smith, told him the stories, and handed him the gold plates of the book. J. Smith translated (with the help of miracle stones) the Book of Mormon into English and then returned the alleged gold plates with the original text to the angel *). God the Father and Jesus Christ also appeared to him, and they gave him the authority of the prophet and the true priesthood to organize "the church of Jesus Christ in its original form". The main center of the Mormons is in the state of Utah in the Salt Lake Valley in Salt Lake City.
*) It is therefore clear who is the author of the text... No historical or archaeological finds confirm the journey of the Israelites to America according to the Book of Mormon. After all, they do not even confirm the exile of the Israelites in Egypt and their return, which is one of the main stones of the Jewish religion and the Old Testament...
Voodoo (African-American religion originated in Haiti)
- is a special syncretic combination of Christianity (Roman Catholicism) with the polytheism of the natives of West Africa, with elements of religion of the Indian tribes of the Caribbean and Amazon, as well as occult and magical teachings (eg E.Levi). The history of voodoo dates back to the end of the 17th century, when forcibly imported slaves retained their original African traditions and faith, while slavers forced them to baptism and the Christian (Catholic) faith. Voodoo recognizes the only god Bon Dieu - Good God - Bondye. Angels and spirits called Iwa serve this God. The priest of this religion is called houngan, the mambo priestess; in addition to Christian prayers, they lead rituals, singing songs and dancing.
Rastafarians (Ras Tafari is the original name of the Ethiopian emperor Haile Salassia)
- are a religious association of blacks whose ancestors were forcibly abducted from Africa on slave ships, especially to America, where they became the target of racial oppression, persecution and inhuman treatment. M.M.Garvey of Jamaica (1887-1940) founded the General Association to promote blacks, supported their repatriation, and in 1920 predicted the arrival of a black king; from this developed the mentioned religious direction.
The Rastafarians claim that God, Jesus Christ, and the early Christians were not white, but black; whites "robbed" the Christian religion of them. The impetus for their teachings was the coronation of the "black king" Ras Tafari in 1930 under the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, with enlightened and progressive views *), promoting the unification of Africa. The Rastafarians accepted the view that Haile Selassie was the Messiah, a direct descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba; despite his death in 1975, he is still alive spiritually. Blacks will be free when they return to Africa. The Rastafarian religion is tolerant, encouraging universal peace, love, unification, harmony.
*) He tried to reduce the power of the nobility, abolished slavery, introduced the constitution, parliament and the first signs of democracy. However, even he could not "transcend his shadow" of privileged feudal origin and overcome the resistance of rich aristocratic circles. The new government in Ethiopia attempted more rigorous reforms after the founding of the republic in 1974, but also unsuccessfully, partly for president M.H.Mariam's dictatorial policy, which led to violence with many murders and the civil war he lost ...
The Moon Sect ( Holy Spirit Association for unification of world Christianity , founder of the Rev. S.M.Moon (1920-2012))
- is based on Moon's assertion that at Easter 1936, Jesus appeared to him during a prayer on a North Korean mountain, and Jesus chose him as his successor ("3rd Messiah") to complete the work of God's kingdom on earth. Through thoughtful propaganda and "brainwashing", the sect has especially attracted many young people, in Korea, the United States, and elsewhere in the world. He is engaged in commercial business, owns many factories, is also involved in politics (he opposes the UN, supports right-wing extremism *). In 1972, South Korean billionaire Moon moved to the United States.
*) Moon claimed: "Before Eve became Adam's wife, she had an affair with Lucifer (in the form of a serpent). From this union was born Cain, the ancestor of the communists. A second child, Abel (born with Adam), founded a family from which the democracies of South Korea and the United States come". A bizare demonstration of religious-political demagoguery !
Moon held mass weddings for hundreds and thousands of people who had never seen each other before. By establishing an "exemplary family", Christ's spiritual redemption was to be accomplished by "bodily redemption". Every new member of the sect originally had to be cleansed of inherited sin by having sex with the S.Moon...; later it was replaced by spiritual purification.
In addition to these larger and more widespread sects, a number of smaller religions and sects have emerged. Some are relatively enlightened and tolerant, founded with a sincere effort to elevate and deepen the spiritual life. Others are based on bizarre nonsense egocentric psychopaths who claim to be messiahs or gods and try to impose their "only right truth" on others through "brainwashing" or even violence, in order to control them ...
Which religion is "true", or which
is "best" ?
The considerable number and diversity
of different religions and spiritual directions naturally raises
the question: "Which religion is the right one?".
The question posed in this way can be viewed from various
perspectives and can be answered in basically three ways :
¨ None !
Such a harsh answer comes from a strictly scientific point of view. Most religions are based on unsubstantiated legends and unreliable claims, created by complex processes and errors in the long historical periods of the pre-scientific era, when people did not know much about the world. A certain exception is Buddhism, Taoism and Confucionism, which are not based on dogmatic cults and are rather philosophical directions that turn to our inner self and consciousness.
¨ Only my religion !
- others are untrue, false. This is a rather primitive answer of stupid people who often do not know well enough what they believe in and especially why they believe in it; they insist on it all the more fanatically. The same right can be claimed by dogmatic believers of completely different religions, leading to contradictions and religious intolerance.
Note 1: We omit here the purposeful (and often materially conditioned) dogmatism of the representatives of some churches and sects.
¨ All religions are true ,
they are just different ways to a common goal - a psychological understanding of the world and the meaning of our existence in it, a message of good, love and hope. This enlightened approach leads totoleranceand mutual enrichment of different religions, to the suppression of dogmatism.
Note 2: Some believers take as a criterion of the "authenticity" of religion the factor of duration in immutability and uniformity, abundance and prevalence. However, it is a very subjective and historically conditioned criterion..!.. (some sects and churches state the number of their members or supporters even several times larger than the reality...)
If we accept the last mentioned opinion of religious relativism , another question arises: "Which religion is 'the best' "? There is no objective answer to this question, it is a question of individual psychological foundation, which each person has somewhat different. Such a religion, spiritual or philosophical direction (including atheistic) can be considered "best" for a given person, that makes him a better person. Which leads him to greater love and compassion for his neighbors and all creatures, to tolerance and understanding, to ethical behavior, to good in its true sense...
For some it is the traditional "local" religion or ideas instilled in them by their parents, others embark on the path of their own spiritual search. The result of this search may also be "soulful atheism", in which the ethical message stems from a thoughtful and felt knowledge of the objective reality. Personal examples of enlightened and noble people are often an important guide here. The problematic and disorienting criterion may be the opposite examples of bad people, who use religion as a cover for their shameful behavior; such people (sometimes even in important positions in various churches and sects) can falsely discredit even real positive values in the eyes of seekers... And partly also those who, while professing certain positive thoughts and values, which are right, but cannot live and act according to them due to the shortcomings of their personal nature - their excessive ambition or egoism, prejudices they cannot get rid of, irritability and angry nature, domination of instincts and passions (such as sexual).
From the point of view of the relationship between science and faith, these issues are discussed in the essay " Science and Religion ".
Advantages and disadvantages of contemporary
The interconnection of Eastern and Western spiritual directions - if it is meant sincerely - leads to a significant enrichment of inner life .
Even this area does not avoid a certain fashion and commercialization - in stark contrast to the "spirit of Eastern wisdom". If more diligent study and meditation leads us to stop seeing the needs and sufferings of other creatures, then this veil of selfishness will close the gate to true enlightenment, let alone attain "nirvana".
How to believe in the enlightenment of, for example, rich businessmen, bankers or managers who go to ashrams in India to gain energy and "spiritual strength" to make money even more successfully and control their subordinates..?..
Hypocrisy and idolatry × versus × true spirituality
|God's gaze rather would rest on those who do not believe in Him, but do act in the spirit of His commandments, than those who so ostentatiously believe in Him and confess that He does not believe them again.|
|He who does not have God in his heart, let him not take him in his mouth !|
If we do not try to live
in the spirit of our faith or the spiritual direction we profess,
it is only a pose and hypocrisy
that will bring no real benefit to us or our neighbors!
This is true of all faiths, including Christianity: we often encounter "believers" who do shameful things, pray and confess, and think that they are "pure" again without trying to correct the consequences of their injustices to others - and they can continue to commit evil until the next confession ...
True spirituality is not created by blind faith, chanting prayers or mantras, performing religious rituals, breathing and other yoga exercises, or any other movements or manipulations - all this can (but does not have to) only help our spirituality. True spirituality is completed only by our effort to cultivate relationships with people and other nature, compassion, love, honesty, mercy, willingness to help others, work for a good cause. Then our whole life can become a single meditation - constant, conscious or subconscious, wise and joyful attention in each of our activities ...
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