Wednesday, June 15, 2011 6:04 PM

So the natural world is all there is. The flowers, fruits and vegetables; the animals including humans along with the rocks and fires of our planet, its galaxy and the rest of the universe – what more do you want?

But is that what we mean by nature? It leaves out the detail, and it''s the detail that makes it real – the dust, smoke and ashes, the clouds and the rain, the warm sunshine and crispy cold of the seasons; in fact all the agents of movement and exchange that make it all come alive. All this must be added in to the Big Mix of reality. And add to these the wondrous workings of the brain, our imagination, our art, and the subtle emotional coloring that comes to mean so much in the course of our life, and we have begun to approach the whole story.

But the rough and tumble of reality also includes the questions we ask and the answers we give, the logic or ill-logic of which determines how we behave. One such question is where does it all come from, as if everything has to come from somewhere!  Since everything is energy it has to come from the Big Bang. But where did the Big Bang come from? And so it goes. The same question can turn personal – who made it all? And who made Him, Her or It?  Better to ask, “What made it?”  That is the kind of question that makes sense, at least for us in reality.

The answer to “What made it?” took a relatively long time in coming.  We were given hints by ancient thinkers but only in the 19th century CE and after very much research and experience were we able to  explain the existence first of living things and a hundred years later of everything else in ways better than any that had been argued before: everything living and non-living is made of particles of energy and of living things; whatever works tends to survive, and that goes for colors of flowers,  patterns of wings, and number of limbs, organs and neurons.  What doesn''t survive is recycled.


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