Sunday, April 6, 2014
The Omega Point
A medical doctor introduces himself in his article in the Kyeongyang magazine as having specialized in physiology, the discipline that deals with the principles of life. What we all believe we know about life, the physiologist attempts to explain scientifically, he says. But because of the difficulty of doing this accurately, physiologists have to deal with the constant reminder that they are engaged in trying to solve an ongoing mystery.
We can't define accurately what life is, he says, but we can list its principle characteristics. When he teaches he mentions five or six: reproduction, structure and function, metabolic activity, growth and development, aging, and the ability to interact and adjust to the environment.
Life developed from disorder to order, from a lower form of life to a higher form. Scientists refer to the big bang as the beginning of life as we know it on earth. Scriptures says it all began with the Word. The doctor says that at the beginning of time, there was energy, which developed into atoms, which developed into molecules, which developed into cells and tissues and organs, gradually developing into more complicated matter that filled the earth and the oceans with everything that had existence.
The first elements could reproduce themselves. Before this state, there was the physicochemical processes of evolution; after this there was the beginning of simple life that gradually evolved into complicated life forms. The doctor sees the writers of the Old Testament as being led by the Holy Spirit by the way they described the beginning of life.
The centrality of this evolutionary process is that nature selected the most suitable in fierce competition, which enabled the adapted life forms to survive and to reproduce. Simply put, since there is a limit to what is available for food, the life forms that had an advantage in finding food over others continued to survive and prosper, and these traits were passed on to future generations. When the traits are modified in the genes and not passed on, the life form disappears. When beneficial traits are passed on to future generations, those traits enable them to evolve to a higher form of life.
Wild animals do not have an abundance of nourishment. Therefore, when the living organism is at the stage of starving to death, they are able to assimilate the food that the genes have been metabolically programed to do. What we call adult diseases often come from metabolic dysfunctions when more calories are taken in than are needed. Humans have in certain areas of the world an abundance of nourishment so that the caloric intake is more than is needed, becoming fat in most cases. In Korea over one-third of the population are overweight or obese, which fosters disease. The reason, says the doctor, is that our genetic code has not had time to adapt to the way we have been eating during the last 50 years.
One bonus for the evolutionary trip we are on, says the doctor, is the awareness and self-consciousness humans have developed. We have gone beyond just adapting to our environment. By cooperating with others, we have built societies that further our growth as individuals. With the experience of the past and making plans for the future, we have developed as social animals and have become the governors of our world. We are the only life forms, he says, that depend on others to grow to full maturity, both in body and spirit, and are able to show generosity, communicate with one another and cooperate. Cooperating and mutual understanding is not something organized, among the mammals we closely resemble: the gorillas and chimpanzees.
The doctor stresses that in Korea we have been brainwashed with the Darwinian ideas of the survival of the fittest and natural selection, so we tend to think that the fierceness of our societal competition is natural to our humanity. However, unlike the animal kingdom, we have evolved to cooperate, to understand one another and to share. More than being something we have learned, it comes close, he says, to being innate. The doctor goes on to say this is precisely the image of God in which we have been made.
Humans are the only ones with enough understanding and self-consciousness, he says, to comprehend that we are on the road to complete and perfect order. With cooperation, mutual understanding and sharing, together with the Holy Spirit who is leading us, we are moving closer to God.