Philosophical musings of Chic Hollis
And that’s not all the spirit does! Although scientists may vehemently disagree with me, I believe that “the spirit” is that very mysterious, invisible motivating force behind all animal and plant life. Scientists think that the DNA in each molecule propels and governs the cellular action recognized as “life,” which they define as growth and development of some organic material.
Of course none of the human physical senses can observe the spirit in the “launch mode,” even when we augment our senses with the most modern and sophisticated sensor equipment that humans have invented. Nevertheless, I contend that this elusive spirit is in contact with whatever it is that contains the intelligence supervising the infinitesimal and enervating the DNA in every cell.
When the spirit of an organism somehow becomes aware that there is a need for some specific cellular action, it simultaneously triggers all the implicated cell’s DNA. In accomplishing this feat, it first determines the appropriate timing of an action, dictating an instantaneous or delayed response; then, it reasons out the proper sequence of events; and finally, it initiates the necessary impetus that starts the chain reaction that facilitates the observable change in the status of the organism. The accumulated changes in the organism’s status when registered by an observer and traced in space/time are interpreted as the organism’s “life cycle.”
Scientists may not like to call this instigator of life “the spirit.” This name may seem to be too mysterious or religious. Lacking a better name, the spirit acts just like the force of gravity that cannot be avoided or denied. It can be subsequently responded to and over-ridden by other, more dominant forces under certain circumstances. Such responses may cause the “death” of the organism or the termination of the activity of the spirit in that specific, physically observed life form. The spirit has a certain ubiquitous presence like gravity that integrates itself with the reproductive organic material that we call an egg, a seed, or a spore. Once the spirit is united with the proper physical or material constituents of the life form in its initial, primitive seed format, a duplicate copy of the parents’ physical qualities is ready for birth and future evolution.
It certainly isn’t clear to me today whether or not the spirit of either parent or both is transmitted to the seed or ovum in the reproduction process. Perhaps it joins the seed from some external location at the instant before the new life form evolves or takes on a “life of its own.” Regardless of how or when this event actually happens, the intelligent spirit becomes a potent, irresistible life force as soon as all conditions are favorable to the initiation of “life” or to the production of the first evidence of change in the seed.
The continuation of the spirit’s forceful activity may be aborted by adverse environmental conditions or life-terminating accidents. The microscopic beginnings of life frequently are terminated for reasons unknown to us but very likely due to the lack of nutrients, water, proper temperature, or some other essential element absolutely necessary for growth and development of that particular life form.
Botanists may also dispute my hypothesis that the spirit is the spark behind the initiation of a plant’s “life.” They are certain that a plant has no “brain” or nervous system as most animals seem to possess. Consequently, can a plant have a “spirit?” What is its “ignition system?”
The connotations of the word “spirit” trouble us, since a plant isn’t capable of self-propulsion which substantially differentiates it from an animal. Still, a plant seed eventually changes and needs a motivational force to launch a recognizable life history of anticipated growth and development. What unique combination of circumstances causes the seed to germinate? What initiates the first cell division in the seed? What informs the seed that it must begin to duplicate cells? What is it that processes and evaluates the incoming information about the appropriate environmental conditions and triggers the DNA action in the seed cell?
Can we presume that there is some micro-data processor available to the seed that digests the climatic and environmental data and understands when the moment has arrived for the seed to proceed? What should we call that invisible, powerful, and intelligent initiating force? I have no idea what it might be, but it seems to me to be identical to the force that launches the cell division process in any animal. Maybe we need another term than “the spirit” that doesn’t have religious or mysterious connotations. Something like “the primal motivator.” Regardless of what we name it, its function seems to be to “flip the switch” and launch “life” – persisting in stimulating an infant organism to become a creature or plant similar to the parent.
The fantastic characteristics of the spirit require us to use counter-intuitive reasoning to explain its existence. Its ever present ubiquity, its invisibility to the human eye, and its awesome awareness of Nature’s laws cause us to ignore its role and question its involvement with life.
Yet, like the elusive electron, the unseen ultraviolet and infrared waves, and the pull of gravity, it cannot be perceived with any of the human physical senses. Only the observable results of its presence give us a clue to its potential and actual role. From extremely diverse results we can deduce that something not yet perceivable is acting to stimulate all animal and vegetable life: growth, conversion, and employment of organic material.
We cannot isolate the spirit, but we know when it isn’t there any longer or hasn’t put in an appearance yet. We can stop its interaction with some life form by “killing” that creature or plant. We can help its advent to plant life by watering the ground and creating the environmental conditions that we know assist a seed to germinate. Today, we can even clone an animal life form and induce the spirit to enter into the cloned organic material, but we don’t understand why the spirit shows up exactly when it is supposed to in each case. We lack the experience to be sure that the spirit participates similarly in a cloned animal, but we are relatively certain that altered plants don’t lack the spirit’s role in their growth and development.
The spirit seems to have two very important functions. Besides being the prime motivator that initiates all action, it is the defensive mental backbone which resists the challenges of adversity. Scientists identify the second role of the spirit in an animal as an instinct for survival. I think that this role of the spirit in a plant which helps a plant to survive while being “stressed,” is similar.
Where are these instincts buried in the neurons of animals? How does a plant that lacks water know enough to store water and resist fatal excessive growth? Why do plant leaves adjust their positions to acquire more sunlight? What makes it possible for plants and animals to “know” how to defend themselves against the adversities of winter, drought, and heat, and then goads them into taking the most appropriate defensive action?
These two functions of the spirit in managing human behavior offensively and defensively are obvious to us, but more difficult to observe in the behavior of the lesser animals and plants. We think that our human brains are the repositories of the positive and negative behavior patterns we have learned and that our brains control our behavior. But our brains are more like computers in storing data and software programs/applications that the spirit has selected.
Although our brains may monitor our average daily behavior, the diversity of emotions that humans exhibit in their responses to external and internal stimuli demonstrate that human behavior isn’t necessarily “rational,” it is frequently “spirited” or seemingly “irrational.” Sometimes we demonstrate “superhuman” power when challenged, or we achieve unbelievable results when we compete in a sporting event for example. The underlying roles of the spirit are not isolated from those attributed to our brains, but integrated somehow.
Another curious thing about the spirit. It functions under water, beneath the surface of the landmass, and in outer space. Life forms have been discovered in the most amazing places on this planet. Somehow they acquire a living status in what scientists consider to be the most adverse environments. In locations without light like caves, or where there is tremendous pressure like at the bottom of the sea, or in the frigid polar regions under masses of solid ice. These unique life forms may only be microscopic, but they are proof that weird animal creatures or strange members of the plant kingdom can be formed of organic material once they have united with the spirit to exist, grow, and develop themselves somehow.
Scientists once thought that the atom was the basic ingredient of all matter, but now they have discovered “sub-atomic particles.” The investigation into life should be expanded to separate the responses generated by the life force of the spirit from the actions caused by cellular DNA and the action supposedly taken by the conscious and unconscious brain.
This may be a hair-splitting assignment for the next generation of scientists, and a challenge to all honest religiously oriented societies who defend the mysterious with unexamined cliches. Nevertheless, we must identify the life force of the spirit and think about giving it a new identity – a new name that doesn’t close human minds. The truth will be discovered sooner or later. Why wait to proceed?