What is Gaia made of?

God is Change.
Gaia is Life.

In my last post, I said that Gaia’s body is made up of all of the many diverse living organisms on the Earth just as we are made of cells. This concept, that we are part of a hierarchy of nested units, neither the top level unit nor the bottom level unit but instead midway up the hierarchy, is called holonism.

A holon is a part of a parent holon that is made up of sub parts or child holons. This nested relationship extends upward and downward from our scale to a finite degree. There may be a set of smallest holons which don’t technically meet the definition of holon in that they are not made up of smaller parts. However, by virtue of being part of an extensive hierarchy of holons, they would still be considered holons. Likewise, there is a largest level of holon beyond which the strength of holonic relationships diminishes. However, in the top holon case, the potential to build stronger holonic relationships and form a new higher level exists. So the top level holons meet the definition of holon in potentia.

This is clear when we consider the Great Story. Each higher level of holon has appeared more or less one after the other. Where the process began is lost in the first seconds of the Big Bang and the high energies at which the smallest sub-atomic particles bonded together. The process continued with atoms coming together to form molecules and then simple molecules forming polymers. Polymers like DNA and proteins began to interact in cooperative fashions to form complexes capable of replicating themselves. These complexes wrapped themselves in cytoplasm and cell membranes to become cells. Cells invaded other cells feeding on them. But at some point the invaders found that they could work with their hosts to outcompete other single celled creatures. Eukaryotes were born. Then eukaryotic cells began to cluster to form colonies. Cells within the colonies specialized, forming tissues. Tissues organized themselves into organs. Organs chained together for form systems which intermingled to form complex organisms. Complex organisms began to cooperate forming societies. Societies from different species formed relationships which evolved into cooperation. Sometimes that cooperation extended to symbiotic mutualism such as algae living inside lichen and coral.

Each new highest level of holon appeared at first weakly bonded and grew ever more tightly bonded. The relationship of a holon with its children is that it cares for its children while the children contribute to the parent. Each holon is therefore, at once parsing out the resources given by its parent to its various children while organizing the contributions of its children into a product of greater value to its parent. The degree to which a holon gives up its agency to its parent tends to increase over time. sibling holons specialize and cooperate more and more over time. Overall, within holonic systems, the degree of cooperation, specialization, diversity and complexity increases over time. In the future, as species cooperate with each other more and more, we may see continent spanning superorganisms building massive structures that dwarf human creation to date.

Gaia is the top level holon in this hierarchy. There is only one biosphere that we know of. If there are others, they are not connected in any strong way with ours. There must actually be others on distant worlds. But without connection to ours they cannot have a holonic relationship with ours. Gaia is a relatively weak holon. But as the vision of greater cooperation comes into being, she may become more real than she currently is. The Gaia hypothesis may be more of a prophecy than a description of current reality.

But if, as EarthSeed hopes, Gaia spreads to new Earths, taking root and flowering on a trillion other worlds, then over time, she will become herself a child holon. The parent will be a new form of holon; a community of interacting biospheres. These biospheres will trade genetic information and rare resources among each other. Again, as the aeons wear on, these communities of interacting biospheres will become more and more interdependent and cooperative. They will form a communion of biospheres which may eventually span the Galaxy.

The Destiny of EarthSeed is to take root and flower amongst the stars
The Progeny of EarthSeed will form a community of worlds,
Communities of worlds will build bridges between stars,
Galaxy spanning communities of worlds, may commune with each other,
Across the frozen gulfs of intergalactic space.
EarthSeed’s Destiny is a chapter in the Great Story,
May the Great Story have many more chapters.

The Formation of these great Communions of Biospheres is God
God is change
Shape God.

Featured Image Credit:

By Don Davis (Donald Davis’ official site.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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