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Existence Please

WHY WOULD I GO TO SO MUCH TROUBLE that I go back to the beginning of time, to the Grand Singularity in an essay about climate change?

TWO REASONS: 1. The subject here is our home in the cosmos. It is the only place humans have to live. It is a stunning jewel of a planet, and we act as if we (meaning most, but not everyone) don't give a damn. We've wrecked the place that not only was made for us, but as far as we can tell from the study of evolution, made us. And the element that I think is missing is that we don't know ourselves. We don't know who we are, what we are or why we are. And like kids who have run away from home, we forget the gratitude we owe to our place of birth.

CONSEQUENTLY, LIKE DELIQUENTS 2. We don't give a rat's ass about what we have done to the place and what it does to the lives of other people, especially the people who supply our energy. By this I mean not the executives of the energy companies, but the workers who get the energy out of the ground.

THE HIDDEN WORLD OF THE NEARBY is the name of the collection of photographs (see link below) I spent 28 years creating. And like many things it suggests that that which is nearest is the hardest to see. And looking in the mirror is not the "seeing" I am talking about, but doing some serious introspection. There are two functions our brain performs that are beyond the reach of science, at least so far, and they are what make us human. These are consciousness and sentience. Consciousness or awareness is reasonably simple but sentience is not and I think it is even closer than consciousness.

SENTIENCE IS OUR ABILITY TO EXPERIENCE, which refers to all our senses, but I want to focus on seeing.

WHEREVER YOU ARE AT THIS MOMENT there is a scene in your mind. It includes the room or the outdoor space and everything that is in the space. But the only link your brain has to this "space" are two very small upside-down pictures on the retinas inside your eyeballs. Yet your brain synthesizes these two images into your experience of the space you are in, in color and three dimensions and any movement there might be and tells you where everything is and you know from past experience what each thing will feel like when you touch it.

THIS IS A MIRACLE. Science doesn't have a clue how the brain gets from the dendrites, synapses, and neurons in your brain to your "experience." We can watch every cell on a functional MRI machine and see them doing their thing, but how sentience or experience follows is a mystery. And all of this applies to all our senses but especially to seeing and hearing. If I ask myself who or what I am I could say a conscious, sentient being. And from this consciousness and sentience we can perform miracles. We can love, create, experience beauty, create beauty as well as everything else we do. And of all the beauty there is, it begins with the Earth and with other human beings. And you, I and the other 7 billion people on the Earth and the 1022 stars all came from the smallest thing there can be, the Singularity we call the big bang. Without sentience and consciousness, the Earth would be worthless.

A few of the 160 billion brain cells and neurons in our heads.

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Sentience: The Greatest Mystery?

Why is there something rather than nothing? Why is there an Earth?

Why can we experience the Earth? Why can we experience anything?

It seems to me that when the big bang was over and the laws of physics took over that these laws plus gravity and quantum mechanics ran the show. Sort of. (There is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle to throw in a little wiggle room.)

On a macro scale it seems that the laws of physics insist that once one stage happens the next one follows. The math that describes this is pretty good. Once you get helium and hydrogen you get stars and then you get supernovae which make most of the rest of the elements. That plus gravity and sooner or later you get lots and lots of stars (1022 more or less) weighing, all together, about 1044 kilograms.

Well the best I can do is say that sentience is the point of the whole thing, and leave it there.
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