“Gabriel, please consider a few words on the subject of altruism and egoism. How such seemingly opposing human perspectives arose? How both are related to traditional belief of an ongoing battle between the Sources and Forces of Good and Evil.” asked Tristan.
“Sources and Forces, Good and Evil, a most misunderstood subject responsible for the vast majority of unnecessary suffering in the physical worlds.” replied Gabriel. “I will give it a go.
First, we need to discover the most useful definitions for the terms, good and evil, as such terms are highly contextual and are often treated as relative to each other. Second, we need to explain how the concepts of good and evil arose within our biological predecessors. Third, we will need to apply what we have learned to the development of archetypes of the conjoint human mind. Finally, if we are successful therein, we need to address the common human tendency to personify good and evil so to assign the written capitals ‘G’ and capital ‘E’.
The best starting point for beginning our search is found within biology and evolutionary theory. For example, what activities are paramount for the survival of a typical prokaryote? First, our little actor upon the stage of our mental journey must possess a cell membrane separating its inner cytoplasm and genetic material from the outer world. It must be located within a physical environment which is conducive to efficient operations of it’s metabolic and excretory systems. It must be provided with proper nutrients from the outer world which either diffuse or are transported by protein carriers within its cell membrane into its cytoplasm. It needs one or more membrane receptor-motor systems sensitive to nutrients which is activated so to increase its probability of being in a high concentration, say of glucose. Contrarily, it needs one or more membrane receptor-motor systems so to avoid toxins. It needs functional RNA and DNA so to reproduce properly when the time comes to split into two daughter cells.
In truth, not only is each little cell a most amazing creature, its properties are not predictable from its molecular components–life seems to emerge from a lower level system. How this happens remains a miracle in the eyes of many.
If we watch a cluster of these simple cells, we notice that when one is damaged, cell processes are activated to repair such damage. Single cells don’t just die and disintegrate, they seem to be forced to continue to grow, divide, grow, divide forever–or at least until something dangerous happens in the environment, such as dehydration. Even here, may cells do not die, but rather, they experience metamorphosis and change into a quiescent, seemingly inanimate form. Only to revive when water returns. Perhaps, some of you know about land shrimp actively living in watery granite pools during the wet season, dehydrate fully so to stop all metabolism during the dry season, only to revive when the rains come again.
Even though such processes are purely physicochemical, conscious creatures observing the parade of life come away with a deep sense, a gut feeling, a sense of awe, as to how persistent individual life is at the most basic level. Each little creature doing its very best, given its environs, to prosper, grow, and reproduce. This “very best” seemingly arising from the operation of an invisible life energy or life force underlying its particular machinery.
When pondering the life cycle of single cells, one must be cognizant that each and every one functions primarily independently of those surrounding it. I say primarily independent for even single cells sometimes work in unison for a common survival advantage–though with it is still solely physicochemical. Each cell’s food acquiring and poison avoiding membrane receptor-motor systems operate fully oblivious to other surrounding cells. Each cell is truly an island surrounded by a great sea, an island which evolved so to capitalize upon consuming as much of the surrounding nutrients and life factors as its physicochemical systems allow, without any consideration for the life cycle of any surrounding cell.
If you allow me to speak anthropomorphically, at the simplest level of animatism, the consuming drive for the behavior of each single cell is entirely towards assurance of it’s individual survival and reproduction, even at the expense of other similar cells. Each cell hoards and uses whatever nutrients it needs, period. In human terms, we say that each cell is “selfish, greedy, and unconcerned with the needs of others.” It is the monarch and lord of all things revealed by it’s physicochemical processes.
Such “evolutionary hoarding” is easily observed within every form of current marine and terrestrial invertebrates, i.e., complex, multicellular creatures possessing a primitive neural net nervous system interconnecting the skin surface and a simple ganglion controller. Moreover, “evolutionary hoarding’ is found in every reptile, bird, mammal, primate, and drives each one of us in this Temple today!
So the ‘take home message’ for each of you is this. The evolution of life upon a suitable physical planet requires the arising of a prime directive mandating “self-centered attention to one’s survival needs.” This prime mandate is what I call “evolutionary hoarding.”
And the presence of “evolutionary hoarding” in conscious, partially self-aware creatures, is the true source of what has come to be called evil, with a little ‘e’. Let us stop here for a rest.”
Gabriel snapped his fingers and Merlin’s dining table was in the Temple filled with luscious foods to savor. Gabriel laughed, “Time to eat, but remember to share for there is sufficient for all.”
Everyone was most hungry and went to the table.