A quest in the evolution and purpose of life

This production of matter, life forms and galaxies will keep on happening till the space is “exhausted”, and then the cycle reverses which will finally lead to time and space coming into equilibrium. This is the eternal Brahmakala cycle where all life is destroyed at its end.

Anil K. Rajvanshi Apr 12, 2024
Representational Photo

Charles Darwin in 1860 discovered the theory of evolution and changed the direction of thinking of all scientists. This theory had a profound impact on almost all branches of science since the foundation of how things evolve based upon the forces acting on them was shown for the first time. No wonder Darwin has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history and shares the honors with great scientists like Einstein, Newton, Freud, Kepler, etc.

 Since then, millions of books, articles, etc. have been written about how life evolved and the theory of evolution is now an accepted fact. There is also a major program of NASA looking for life in other parts of Universe.       

 But the basic question of why life evolved in the first place has somehow remained unanswered. Was it an inevitable consequence of the forces that existed in the Universe just after Big Bang phenomenon or was there something else that made life possible?   There are no definitive answers to this riddle and one can only speculate.

Evolution of life

Before we speculate on why life, we should ask why we are interested at all in knowing about this process. Humans are by nature curious. Our brains are wired for maximizing the inputs to it and this gives rise to curiosity. Curiosity in turn helps our brains to expand and gives us happiness. The inherent nature of the brain is such that when it works at full capacity it gives us a high and great joy.  That is a possible reason why meditation is relaxing and enjoyable. Thus, what are our origins are worth exploring and enjoyable.

Two pathways are possible for how life came about. The first relates to the accepted theory of origin of the Universe which started with the Big Bang.

After the Big Bang space-time came out and hence gravity (gravity is the curvature of space-time). Nobody knows how and why.  It seems that the equilibrium of space-time was disturbed which resulted in the separation of space and time.  Later, when things “cooled” off these two again joined to form the space-time continuum that exists today. Scientists speculate that this process started ~ 13-15 billion years ago. 

At that time elementary particles and quarks were formed and gravity helped them coalesce to form atoms and ultimately molecules. The probable time of such formation was ~ 11-12 billion years ago.

We can speculate that life probably evolved when molecules of a certain critical size resonated with the existing gravity field. We are not sure what was the resonance frequency of the gravity field at that time or the critical size of the molecules. This was probably the moment when time also got embedded in those molecules since sensing time is the basis of the first principle of life.

March of time

The arrow of time moves only in one direction, and it is still an enigma. Even the high priest of time, Albert Einstein, did not fully explain it but made the space-time continuum the central theme of his theory of gravitation.  

Our ancients also understood the primacy of time. In chapter 11 when Krishna shows Arjun his “Virat Swaroop” and shows the form which is brighter than 1000 suns, he tells Arjun that he has become the Almighty Time – the destroyer of the worlds.

So, the forming of life was inevitable since it was an outcome of the self-organizing complexity process. This process exists in every complex system where suddenly out of chaos “forms” result. This is also the basis of Prigogine’s theory of dissipative structures. It seems that the “form” templates help in crystallization of the material to produce a life of different shapes. This process may also have instilled the fear of death in all living beings and fueled their perpetuation.

 Another pathway could be that life has always existed!  It forms (the shape and form) and dissolves just like bubbles in the ocean.  So, space-time is the universal ocean that gives rise to particles, galaxies and life and they eventually dissolve back into space-time. This is a continuous process. This process is very close to the remarkable vision that the Indian mystic saint Sri Ramakrishna had in the late 1800s about the formation of the Universe. Nevertheless, this process may be happening only in our galaxy.   Maybe the laws of physics are different in other galaxies.

Life perpetuation

Once life was formed and different forms came into existence what was the motive or the force to perpetuate life?  Some speculate that fear of death helps in perpetuating the form and life. But why is there a fear of death or why is there a desire to perpetuate the life form?  I think the driving force may be happiness and not fear! 

 Happiness is obtained by experiences of different things and places. This is an outcome of a curious mind. As long as curiosity remains, we learn, and it increases our happiness. This also includes galactic travel. We continue this process until we have gained all the knowledge of the Universe. Then the basis of existence comes to an end and a new cycle begins.

Higher life forms

This may explain higher forms of life like humans or in the future superhumans with even bigger brains. But how do we explain the evolutionary forces for the lowest forms of life with rudimentary brains?     

 The interplay of time and space gives rise to the visible world. This is a continuous process and with time more and more space is used up by these visible world structures. The rest of the space remains invisible and could be the basis of dark matter and dark energy that the physicists and astrophysics talk about.

This production of matter, life forms and galaxies will keep on happening till the space is “exhausted”, and then the cycle reverses which will finally lead to time and space coming into equilibrium.  This is the eternal Brahmakala cycle where all life is destroyed at its end.

Just like rainwater starts its journey with many small tributaries and goes through rivers and ultimately to the ocean, space may go through innumerable life forms and may evolve through humans and other more evolved beings. This follows the laws of thermodynamics in which the system tries to maximize the flow of energy and materials through it with minimum resistance. The space minimizes this resistance by going through billions of life forms.  These life forms fill up the space (exhaustion of space?) and evolve till they obtain the power to change space-time fabric so that the closure of space takes place and the cycle continues.      

This exhaustion of space takes place since all life forms have experienced, have become satisfied, and achieved maximum happiness. Similarly, Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras says that the cause of the visible world is to satisfy the Universal Consciousness.

(The writer, an IIT and US-educated engineer,  a 2022 Padma Shri award winner, is Director, Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute, Phaltan, Maharashtra.)   

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