We all know there is a delicate balance here on Earth from bacteria to people, but can it be said that our planet is one living being made up of “cells”? Certainly our existence has shaped the planet, but every piece of the puzzle is necessary. Are we a microorganism of Earth? Let’s look at the Complexity theory explained by Neil Theise, a Liver Pathologist and Stem Cell Specialist, that may suggest this very thing.
According to his theory, individual interacting parts use feedback to self organize, adapt, and evolve, thereby acting as a whole. Like an ant colony: you need a certain number of ants to make a system, the more ants the more complex their tunnels become, there has to be negative feedback loops for self organization, and a low level of randomness for adaptability.
He has found, “…adult stem cells can sort of be as flexible as embryonic stem cells…bone marrow cells could become liver cells or lung cells or skin cells of virtually any tissue in the body, but very rarely unless there’s a really severe injury of a particular type that would trigger it….this was an example of low level randomness in the system… Cells fulfill all those functions, and that means that our bodies are self-organizing cells, and not just our human cells…”
Only an estimated 1% of the cells in our body are human, the rest being bacteria, which we need to survive. Dr Theise believes that sentience is first found at a cellular level, because cells can process information and react to it. We are a living eco-system, with individually thinking bacteria living off us to keep us alive.
From our perspective our bodies look solid, but through a microscope we see they’re a collection of cells that only appear to be that way. Earth from afar is the same story; the closer you look the more creatures you can see. The cells in our bodies are hard at work, unconcerned with our petty problems, just as we are unaware of what’s happening past the scope of our satellites.
The more we advance the more we find life is so much more complex than we could have imagined. I think of Men In Black, where a planet with life exists the size of a bell. We can’t today grasp how vast the universe is, is it possible our outer space is held in someone’s (or something’s) hand?
We are such a small piece of this planet, and it will survive without us. From her perspective, we are an interchangeable minuscule part of her ecosystem. The difference is of course whose eyes you’re looking from – a person’s life is filled with struggle, sorrow, love, and anxiety, but to an ant you are an irrelevant part of a world they survive in. We believe we are the most important creatures here, but this is from our point of view.
I suggest that every living creature lives their life. Cells maybe feel drawn to what they do, and they do it constantly. We may never know what it’s like to see what they see, to understand what drives them, just as they may never know they created a being that’s destroying the delicate balance. We’re only allowed a snapshot into another’s life, a bird on the wire for a second, but that bird is surviving with what they’ve been given and what they can get, just as we do.
We may think we are living separate lives, but out of the chaos we are creating patterns, forming cities, and shaping the Earth. You and I adapt to the changes we encounter and (hopefully) grow from them, while humanity is evolving as a whole. All the pieces of our planet are acting according to their own motives while forming Earth as we know it. Is there a species we cannot comprehend studying us through a microscope, in the same way we research cells?