Track: New Horizons in Science and Cosmology
The remarkable world of microbes and their role in the paradigm shift in science and society
Since the discovery of microbes in the 17th century, the microbes have puzzled mankind. They have caused fear and havoc in our society, but they also possess a remarkable potential for healing and astonishing novel possibilities. Thus, the research in microbes has repeatedly caused different types of paradigm shifts in the natural sciences. Some few examples are:
a) how small cellular based life forms can be,
b) how microbes have shaped the geochemical conditions of Earth and made it habitable,
c) the astonishing capability of microbes to thrive under extreme conditions, which are hostile to other life forms,
d) the remarkable ability of microbes to survive different kinds of destruction attempts (e.g. antibiotic treatment),
e) the amazing symbiotic relationships of microbes with higher life forms (including the human psyche) for the good, or for the worse,
f) the puzzling role of microbes in the discussion about the origin, evolution and future of life on Earth and in the universe.
Today’s research is mainly focused on massive, molecular biological analyses or biotechnological applications of microbes, driven by the society´s materialistic need to control and exploit microbes both on Earth and even in space. Few attempts are made to discuss ethical and philosophical issues around these topics. In contrast to plants and animals, which have been included in all kinds of cultures and myths since ancient times, the microbes represent a novel phenomenon. The compelling challenge is therefore to explore their particular contribution for the current progress of paradigm shifts in science and society. This presentation aims to give an overview of these issues and some examples on how this can lead to an astonishing, broader understanding of life and to other types of creative insights within the research fields of consciousness and spirituality.
Workshop: Integrating modern scientific observations on the unconscious microbiome and the universe with transpersonal philosophy - towards a richer understanding of life on Earth and in cosmos
Today’s scientific worldviews contain several big “unknowns”, which are all regarded as unconscious. For example, in physics it is the vast universe and the dark energy and matter; in our ancestral and collective history it is our “lost” memories; in psychology it is our unconsciousness; and in biology it is the enormous amounts of species that have existed on Earth, in particular the microbes, viruses and other even smaller infectious agents like the prions (mad cow disease). All these apparently unconscious “unknowns” span over a spectrum of next to unimaginable dimensions with regard to size, abundance, time, power and energy. We humans live in the middle of these unconscious “unknowns”. Although we know so little about these, we live in a constant thrill mixture of fear, awe or simply blunt ignorance with regard to these. Most of our efforts of finding a meaning with our existence, to heal ourselves, or to explore through scientific or spiritual approaches, circle around at least some of these “unknowns”.
In this workshop we are going to focus on some of the “unknowns” in biology, based on recent scientific findings with regard to microbes and their role in the origin, evolution and future of life on Earth and in the universe. Historically seen, in contrast to larger organisms, our awareness of the microbes is rather new. Compared to minerals, fungi, plants, animals, special locations (e.g. sacred wells or buildings) and even planets, stars and “divine beings”, which have all been deeply integrated into different worldviews, myths, spiritual and shamanistic traditions, microbes have seldomly, if ever, been implemented into any of these in a deeper sense. According to the traditional scientific worldviews they are simply regarded as primitive, non-intelligent, unconsciousness, and of course unemotional. The current prevailing hypothesis about the evolution of life is that microbes initiated this on Earth, transformed it to make it habitable for complex organisms like humans, and that they still continue to shape our existence on Earth at the very core, for the good or for the worse (physically and even psychologically). Miraculously, human consciousness and intelligence arose gradually somewhere and somehow along this evolutionary path. Today´s scientific exploration on the principles of life has since long given up the search for spiritual or divine energies. Instead, they search for primitive biomolecules or extreme microbes; ways to create artificial intelligence and life; or search for extraterrestrial intelligence, far beyond the current intelligence level of mankind. However in doing so, several different kinds of fundamental philosophical issues arise, for example: what is really our fate and responsibility in the universe, how should we actually define life, intelligence and consciousness, and how should we react if alien life, as imagined today by the mainstream thinkers, is discovered elsewhere?
What do these patterns and deep existential questions and fears reflect with regard to the current evolutionarily level of the collective mankind? How do these, partly paradoxical assumptions fare with the insights and goals of the transpersonal psychological and spiritual movement? Can they inspire each other in their own quests? Is it even possible to build up a creative relation to invisible microscopic beings and the vast, seemingly hostile to human life, dimensions in space - and link that to our other spiritual, transpersonal efforts? Who knows… but welcome to join a discussion on this!
NM Lee, PhD
Studies in natural sciences and different kinds of philosophical and metaphysical subjects for over 30 years. Research interests: Origin, evolution and future of life on Earth and in the universe. Microbiology. Ecology and symbiosis. Space sciences. Integration of science, philosophy, metaphysics and spirituality. Paradigm shifts.