One day, while strolling along a beach, I got to thinking about silicon, carbon and the anthropic principle. If you’ve ever strolled along the water’s edge and felt “in tune” with it all, I imagine you’ll enjoy reading this article.
Once again I find myself at the beach, strolling at water’s edge enjoying the warm sand beneath my feet. As I am wont to do from time to time, I find myself musing about the wonder of it all and Blake comes to mind. “To see the world in a grain of sand”?
I’m on a beach; a conscious collection of carbon-based molecules strolling along a collection of silicon molecules thinking about how I came to be here and what it all means.
The evidence that you and I are here because of choice rather than chance is overwhelming. Our beingness and becomingness is a matter of evolutionary imperative. This anthropic principle is based on the simple conclusion that because I am here to observe and participate in the universe, it is obvious that universe is here for me (and you) to observe and participate in.
Stated another way, if the universe was not structured exactly as it is, life could not have happened; since life did happen, the universe is specifically structured the way it is so that life could happen.
In other words, life happened on purpose and not by accident. Which means that you are here on purpose and not by accident (even if you were conceived in the back seat of a ’57 Chevy by two passionate and careless teenagers).
Since you are here by design rather than by default, by choice rather than by chance, on purpose rather than by accident, and the universe is the way it is specifically so that you could be here to marvel and wonder at the why and how of it all, you can best fulfill your destiny by attuning yourself to the workings and evolutionary imperative of the universe.
Refusal, either through ignorance or through stupidity, to work in cohort with the purposeful self-evolving universe will result in there being no use or purpose for our continued existence.
In other words, you, I and the rest of us humans either figure out how to be contributory to universe or we will be made redundant, like many other entities have. See any dinosaurs around lately? We either figure out how to make a meaningful difference (a conscious contribution) or we will be made (by our own choice) meaningless.
The universe is ever becoming more. Our job is, likewise, to become more.
Scientists are prone to point out that if the behaviors of the basic building blocks of matter were not EXACTLY like they are, there would be no matter and no universe as we know it and no life as we know it and no us to think about that.
Since I am on the beach, I’d like to use some more germane (and sandy) examples about how things need to have happened the way they did for us to be here and to have the development we have had to be able to even think about it. Call it proof for you of your raison d’etre.
Let’s talk about carbon and silicon, consciousness and society.
All organic life (that we know of or imagine might exist) is based on the carbon molecule. Humans are carbon-based life forms, not just because we have a modern society built on burning fossilized carbons (coal and oil) and thus are busily destroying our atmosphere and ecosphere by dumping billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thus reversing billions of years of work by GAIA, who spent millennia pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it safely underground so we could breathe; but, because like all life forms on earth, the amino acids, proteins, RNA and DNA molecules that make up our bodies are made out of carbon combined with hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and other elements.
All the carbon that exists in the universe was formed within the hearts of stars through the process of nuclear fusion and then spit out into the universe when these stars exploded or went super-nova.
Massive stars had to be born and then had to die in order for you to be born.
Carbon, as common as it is, is an odd molecule. Three helium atoms must fuse together to form carbon. Helium is a completely balanced element and does not naturally combine with other elements or itself to form more complex molecules. In order for helium to be fused into carbon, nuclear fusion must take place. Nuclear fusion means that the nuclei of atoms fuse with others; so 3 helium atoms each with its two protons, two neutrons and two electrons is fused together to create carbon.
Carbon has 6 protons, 6 neutrons and 6 electrons. 2 of those electrons are in the inner shell and 4 are in the second outer shell, which can contain a maximum number of 8. This seemingly insignificant piece of information is what makes it possible for carbon to combine with so many other elements to form more types of molecules (almost 2 million) than any other element and longer molecular chains than any other element (by a factor of 10 over its closest competitor: silicon).
This resulting complexity is what makes life possible and then, makes it possible for the relatively complex forms of consciousness, such as yours, to inhabit this life.
Life did not form accidentally out of carbon because it was conveniently available. Stars created carbon so that GAIA could create life, so that life could create you, so that you can create.
Just as carbon is the crucial element for you to have the gift of life, silicon is the one crucial element for you to have developed the civilization and culture you now have.
Without silicon, you would not be reading this.
Silicon makes up 25% of the earth’s crust (it is exceeded only by oxygen). Examples of silicon, in its molecular composites, are the sand I am standing upon, as well as quartz, amethyst, and other crystals, flint, jasper, opal, granite, asbestos, clay, mica, et cetera.
Without silicon, there would have been no bricks to build dwellings and no clay to build pots and other ceramics. Without dwellings and pots, there would have been no agricultural revolution. Humans would still be living as hunter/gatherers.
Without silicon, there would be no glass to build lenses. Without lenses, there would be no microscopes to observe the microscopic or telescopes to observe the macroscopic aspects of universe. There would have been no scientific revolution. No silicone means no glass, no mirrors, no cameras, no electric light bulbs, no radio, no television, and no bottles. Humans would still be living in ignorance.
Without silicon there would be no computer chips and no websites like this one for you to read. There would have been, without silicon, no information revolution.
Humans did not build their entire civilization and culture around and upon silicon just because it happened to be conveniently there. Silicon was created by stars so that humans could create civilization so that you could become a consciously aware creature so that you could create.
These are but two examples of how the universe needs to be exactly the way it is in order for you to be here/now. To imagine that its is all some fortunate accident that you are right here, right now reading this information is deliberate ignorance. Everything that has ever happened was necessary for this moment to happen. Everything that has ever existed was necessary for you to exist now.
Billions of years of exactly the right things happening at exactly the right time just so that you could be here. Pretty awesome if you think about it.
What is even more awesome is that now, you can actually consciously participate in how the entire future of the universe unfolds.
The science of molecular biology has advanced to the point where DNA manipulation and mutation can now be done by humans. That means that the evolutionary process, which was previously only in the hands of Universe and GAIA is now also in your hands.
The science of nano-technology has also advanced to the point where humans can begin to construct matter at the molecular and atomic levels, something else that was previously only the realm of Universe.
In fact, all the physical sciences are opening up vast areas of potential for humans to create pretty much whatever they can imagine.
And much more significantly, the metaphysical science of consciousness has advanced to the point where we humans now know that it is thought, emotion, intent and belief that are the driving forces behind all creation. We not only know that it is consciousness that creates, but we know how it creates.
Since we can control thought, emotion, intent and belief, we can consciously and actively participate in the process of creation and, together with Universe and its’ built in anthropic principle, go about designing how the future unfolds.
My immediate future entails a cold beer at the beach bar conveniently located just down the beach. Ah yes, the bubbles in my beer are composed of carbon dioxide. The bottle is made from silicon. Its all just too wondrous for words. I can only marvel at it all.