Mind game: Is life a continuous recycling and improving?

After reading "Survival of the quickest" in the Guardian (24.03.2012), written by Ian McEwan about Darwin and Einstein and how they tried to be the first in their field (of course, when there is no competition there is no progress) and how they built further on the work of the giants who lived in the past, I became a little philosophical about how we make progress and learn from our predecessors. At first sight, we always see the same characters and stupidity returning as if everything in life repeats itself in an eternal cycle and never learns. But then, if we never learn, how can we evolve and become better? In this post I will do a mind game about how we may evolve towards a better future by recycling our souls whereby we remember some key moments of the past and so have the time to learn new things in the present life. Hope you enjoy this read.

Eternal life after death? Maybe, but as it is described by religious people, who want to be in that life? If as they claim, only humans will be saved, there will be no grass, flowers or trees, no birds or other animals, not even sunlight as only we will be saved. In that case, I hope I simply will be death, because death will be as dark as a world without sun or even silent as a world without birds.

But, looking to the world, maybe there is another type of eternal life? As I say in my introduction, this is a mind game as I will not be able to proof it unless indirectly. But many parts of the world already know it as reincarnation. It will be a system where we learn from the past. Here I go ...
The cycle of life.

Animals

Let us examine as an example fish. Poisonous spiky fish called Lionfish (also known as Dragonfish) exist. These fish eat small fish although its poison can kill larger creatures. Originally they lived in the warmer waters of the western and central Pacific Ocean but in 1992 some captured ones escaped when hurricane Andrew destroyed their aquarium tank in Florida and now they can be found around the Bahamas and up to Long Island, New York. I ones read that fish, from origin found in the Atlantic Ocean, don't know the Lionfish and as the fish are curious, they have a closer look to the Lionfish and are eaten. (It was this story that started me thinking about what follows.)

But, over time the other fish will know the Lionfish is dangerous and they will try to avoid the deadly fish. How can this be as we consider fish to be stupid? A first possibility is that fish that escaped the attack inform the other fish (meaning they have long-term memory (as science now starts to prove) and are able to communicate with other fish and thus are not as stupid as we always think). But most fish are eaten and thus can't tell their adventure to the others. A second possibility is that other fish see what happened, remember it and tell the others what they saw (this would mean fish are clever enough to observe and remember and communicate). A third possibility is that, after the fish is eaten, its soul returns to another newborn fish and next time this soul may or may not remember it was eaten by the poisonous fish. If this cycle repeats itself a few times, then the fish will certainly remember and the Lionfish will be in the collective memory of the fish; if they don't learn fast enough they go extinct. (Imagine the following: a fish swims and see the Lionfish, thinking: "Where did I see that strange fish before? I have a closer look." Then the fish is eaten and during its last moment, I says to itself: "I remember, I was eaten before by this fish." )

Indeed, animals born in the wild know immediately how to behave to prevent being eaten by carnivores; they even know how the enemy looks like as they do not run away from friendly animals but hide or run away from the "bad guys". Either their mother tells them immediately after their birth that a lion or wolf may eat them. But is this very likely as she will also have to explain how the lion or wolf looks like? Maybe the young animal remembers something from the past and therefore known "instinctively" which animals are dangerous. Most animals know we are dangerous as if they remember we killed them in a previous life. Those who didn't know us in a previous life do not run away and are killed until extinction. Are the surviving animals too stupid to warn the others or do animals develop fear for certain animals and situations because of their past experiences with the other animal?

Humans

Now let us turn our attention to our own lives. Children have nightmares about wolfs, snakes, big spiders, ... when they are still very young, too young even to watch documentaries or there is no television while parents don't warn the children for potential danger that does not even exist in their society (e.g. in almost all of Europe, the wolf is extinct so why should parents scare their children with stories about the bad wolf? And still children often dream of them). How do they know those animals when they never saw them before? Maybe we remember what happened to us in our previous (prehistorical) lives and as the past is much older than the recent history, we have not yet forgotten those things.

In the article by Ian McEwan in the Guardian, the author describes how we all stand on the shoulders of giants of the past. Indeed, we understand more and more of our environment and about the world we live in. But is this simply because we learn those things at school? Then nowadays we have to learn very much while starting from zero. Or are we able to study all those new things because we studied some of it in a previous life (some things we learn at school seem so obvious) and we build further on our past knowledge?

We also become more and more human i.e. people become less violent and more and more people even decide to be vegetarian as they don't want to kill other living beings. Maybe we remember the evil that certain people did to others (including to us) in the past (e.g. in the Roman empire people killed each other for the fun while nowadays people protest against e.g. bull fights) and we have an understanding what it is to be killed and we don't want this to happen to others. Further, as most of us are no longer killed by animals, we forget they can be dangerous and we start loving and protecting them. Only people who never experienced evil because they did the evil (e.g. powerful rulers) may continue doing bad things to others as they can't imagine what it feels like to be killed or hurt? Remember, this is a mind game as I can't proof these things but let us think a little further: if a God exist as God claims He does, then maybe one day, when the majority of the humans know what doing good means, a few evil people remain. Those evil people may be taken out of society by the good people as they try to destroy the society and after their death, God may throw them in the fire. Because after all those thousands of years, they still haven't learn and probably will never learn how to become good? E.g. religious fundamentalists who always do evil to others may one day be destroyed as society can't any longer accept they spread poison in society.

Evolution from the beginning to the (near) future

I can even expand this reasoning to inorganic things and the making of the universe. Indeed, after the big bang, there was matter (and anti-matter). The matter became ions, then atoms and molecules. The first molecules were the simplest molecules hydrogen and helium and they were and are the fuel of suns. In these suns the molecules fused to form heavier molecules (as if the molecules started to understand and use the basics of chemistry and physics). After the explosion of suns, the molecules were (and are) scattered throughout the universe. At a certain moment these heavier molecules were able to form planets and other materials. One of the planets was earth and here (and probably elsewhere), some molecules became so "clever" they started to form "living" molecules, first organic molecules and later single cells that later clumped together to form more complex organisms. These organisms became more and more complex and started to form organs with specific functions, as if they learnt from the mistakes they made in the past and they developed into plants and animals. The organisms also became more and more clever with humans at the top (although sometimes I think we are still as intelligent as viruses when I see how we are destroying our environment but even viruses learn and learn how to slowdown so not to kill their host as they learn it also kills them (e.g. aids is less deadly than it was in the early days, it learns to control itself)). When one looks to evolution, it always improves and although sometimes there is a setback when something violent occurs, later even better adapted organisms arise. It will be interested to know how we will develop. I think to a very peaceful herbivorous animal that will rule the world very wise and peaceful. But first we may have to deal with our past before we look to the future. Because, indeed, my reasoning may also explain why some people still hate others, certainly when they are still reminded again and again how they were defeated in the past by those they hate. Sometimes, I think, we should forget the past and look to the future.

In conclusion, we may have an eternal life cycle, improving ourselves so that the world becomes more and more peaceful. Although we should learn from the past, we should be able not to repeat the mistakes we made in the past, forget our hatred for the others and forgive the others for what their society did to ours in the past because probably our society might also have misbehaved towards theirs at one or another period in history.
But as I say before, this was only a mind game that I publish because I found it a nice intellectual exercise (although some people will not understand this because it is often difficult to think differently from what we learnt from our parents and society, certainly when society pushes our behaviour in a certain direction). But maybe one day, maybe, we may be able to see our souls. Indeed, although we can't see the molecules around us and we may think we live in a vacuum, we now know molecules (e.g. O2, O3, H2O (vapour), CO2, NO,...) are all around us because we have the instruments to measure them.

PS. People who believe in homoeopathy also claim that water remembers what was ones in the water and they claim that is how homoeopathy works. Still, I think that, mostly, water is water and something has to be in the water to have an effect, although sometimes a very small quantities is enough as otherwise the drug may kill.

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