The Great Chain

The Great Chain

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why I Don't Believe - The Great Chain Part 10 - Tiny Life

Level 14 – Your Cellular Organelles

Even those individual who become extremely agitated over the loss of one particular kind of human cell cannot be bothered with the constituent parts of those cells, despite the fact that the only real difference between a fertilized egg cell and an unfertilized one is that the nucleus of the fertilized egg cell has undergone DNA synthesis, a process involving cellular organelles.

Cellular organelles are to a cell, what our organs are to our bodies.  Just as our organs are only really capable of meaningful associate with our bodies, our cell’s organelles are only really capable of meaningful interactions with the parent cell.

Frankly, even amongst those who have the smallest possible version of God, who view God as nothing more than an interplanetary Santa Claus actively intervening in the lives of people like a teenager playing the Sims do not argue or claim that God cares about cellular organelles – and small wonder, on an individual level, no humans care about individual organelles either.

Level 15 – Your Amino Acids and Other Organic Compounds

Even further down the chain of existential association are amino acids and other organic compounds.  While these compounds are of absolutely critical importance to our actual existence, we really do not care about them very much unless we are in the business of microbiology or genetics.

The most well known example of one of these organic compounds is DNA, which is the great unifying feature of all life on this planet.  Every living thing, indeed every single cell on this planet has a strand of DNA that tells it how to function.  DNA is, in essence, the fundamental building block of life.  Composed of literally billions of pairs of amino acids, DNA forms the blueprint for every living thing on Earth.  While scientists are intensely interested in DNA, and while unpacking and understanding the human genome stands as one of the greatest achievements of the human race, individual strands of DNA are functionally meaningless.  Every single cell in my body has a strand of my DNA.  As little as I care about my individual cells, I care even less for an individual strand of my DNA.

And while I am intensely interested in the potential ways my DNA might combine with that of someone else, I do not normally think of that in terms of what sequence of organic compounds might be created, but in what the aggregate result of that union would be once that DNA has replicated and specialized a few trillion times.

Quite simply the idea that we as human beings would be able to care about individual strands of DNA or other organic compounds, despite their centrality in the formation of life, is simply laughable.  We cannot even be bothered to care about our individual cells, how can we possibly be interested in the individual organic molecules that make up parts of those cell’s constituent parts?  The links in the existential chain are simply too attenuated.  And if WE cannot be bothered to care about such things even at our lowly level of existential association, how can the God of the Great All, possibly be interested in such minutae?


Level 16, 17 and 18 – Molecules, Atoms and Sub-Atomic Particles

Once one enters the atomic realm, all connection to any recognizable human scale world ceases.  Atomic radi are measured in picometers, which are 0.00000000001 meters.  It is difficult to overstate just how truly minute the atomic realm really is.  Atoms exist on such a small level that there are over 200,000,000,000 in the period at the end of this sentence.  It takes billions of large and incredibly complex organic molecules to make a single strand of human DNA.  As stated before, there are 60,200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 water molecules in less than a teaspoon of water.  If you were to take a single drop of water, you would have to make that drop of water larger than all of New York City to see a single atom with the naked eye.  If an atom were the size of a 12 ounce can of soda, the number of atoms in your fingertip would cover the entire surface of the earth three miles high.  The numbers are simply staggering.  They are too large for any human mind to really comprehend.

Atoms do not even have color because color is bequeathed by the reflection of different waves of light and atoms are too small to reflect a single wave of light.  It is only in the aggregate that atoms can have ‘color’ as we would define it.

Few would argue that God has any interest in individual atoms.  Certainly humans have no interest in individual atoms.  While we <i>do<i> have a great interest in aggregations of atoms, specifically in those kind that we can manipulate into harder or stronger materials, or those we can bombard with other kind of atoms to create fission or fusion or exotic materials, our ability to meaningfully associate with individual atoms is utterly non-existent.

Our ability to meaningfully associate with protons, electrons, and neutrons, or sub-sub atomic particles like quarks, bosons, and leptons is utterly impossible.


By now, those of you who aren’t terribly interested in science are probably wondering why I bothered to make such an exhausting inventory not just of the Macroscopic Universe, but the Microscopic and Atomic Universe as well.  For those of you in that boat, I apologize, but it is critically important to understanding where we fit in the great scheme of things and it is the Chain of Existential Association that I personally found most influential in realizing that the existence of the God of the Great All, even assuming that the Big Bang was an act of conscious authorship is irrelevant to our lives.

Recognize that the God of the Great All occupies level ZERO.  The God of the Great All, assuming that it exists, on a level ABOVE our Universe as a whole.  Indeed, the God of the Great All may well exist on a level ABOVE an infinite multitude of other Universes floating within some even larger Multiverse.  Such speculation is utterly unnecessary as even if we are to assume that ours is the ONLY Universe, the God of the Great All still exists on a level that is infinitely higher than our own.

Assuming that the Big Bang was an act of conscious authorship, the being that presides over our Universe is separated from us as an entire species by 10 levels of existential association.  This is the same number of levels of existential association that separate us as individual human beings from sub-atomic particles.  Think about that for a moment.

I have often heard adherents of religion use the analogy that trying to understand the mind of God is like asking an Ant to talk to understand a human.  The reality is far more stark.  Ants actually exist on the same level of existence as humans.  To have a closer approximation, one must ask a quark or a lepton or a boson or some other sub-atomic particle that isn’t even visible with the strongest microscope ever made and whose existence can only be inferred mathematically to understand the mind of a human.  In comparison to the God of the Great All, we are far more analogous to sub-atomic particles.  Which leads to the obvious question, do you care about your sub-atomic particles?  If you are even remotely intellectually honest, the answer is quite simply no.  None of us know or care about cells or atoms or sub-atomic particles.  They are simply too small, too numerous and too unimportant to associate with us in any meaningful way.

How arrogant, how egocentric, how narcissistic, how self important, then, is it to assume that the God of the Great All, even if it exists, is interested in or cares about us as a species, when in the Cosmic scheme, we are no more important than a humble atom.  Do you ponder the moral or ethical dilemmas of atoms?  Do you judge them based on adherence to some scale of atomic behavior?  Do you punish or reward individual atoms or even massive aggregations of them for transgressions of the atomic code of conduct?  Of course not.

And the God of the Great All doesn’t do that to us either.  The God of the Great All DOES NOT CARE.  The God of the Great All is not interested in your moral or ethical dilemmas.  The God of the Great All is not judging you.  The God of the Great All is not condemning you.  The God of the Great All is utterly uninterested in your level of adherence to some book written by some man who has been dead for thousands of years.  The God of the Great All quite simply does not care about any of this or any of us because we are utterly and completely irrelevant to it.  We simply do not occupy a level of existence which would concern that kind of being.

You are FREE!  God isn’t judging you.  God isn’t condemning you.  REVEL in the fact that we are free, that we are beneath the notice of the God of the Great All.  REVEL in the fact that we can live lives that are full of joy and light and love and meaning REGARDLESS of whether the God of the Great ALL is even aware of us.  Take Heart in the simple fact that despite our insignificant place in the cosmos, our lives can be full and meaningful and filled with purpose.

God doesn’t need us.

And more importantly, we don’t need him.  Even if God exists, even if he created the Great All, we don’t need him.  As far as we are concerned, His work was done 13,700,000,000 years ago.  While such a being would certainly deserve our gratitude, recognize that we have NOTHING to offer such a being.  Such a being would not notice, desire or require our obedience or adoration any more than we notice, desire or require the obedience of individual atoms or clusters of bacteria.  Indeed, a massive colony of bacteria living in my colon might be profusely praising my name right now, showering me with adoration, pleading with me to intervene on their behalf and save them from the nasty white blood cells that are mercilessly slaughtering them – unfortunately for them, I am blissfully unaware of their please or adoration and utterly disinclined to intervene on their behalf.  And they are only TWO levels of existential association beneath me.  How much more disinclined must God be to answer the pleadings of a pack of whiney monkeys who live TEN levels of existential association beneath him?

We do not require God.  We don’t need him.  We don’t need him to have meaningful lives filled with joy and peace and love and beauty.  We don’t need him to save us.  We don’t need him to remove our faults.  We don’t need him to intercede on our behalf or forgive us for our transgressions, because NOTHING we can possibly do can possibly transgress against the God of the Great All because we are not accountable to him.  We are accountable only to one another and to ourselves.

We don’t need God.  Because we have one another.

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