A group of researchers have posed a fascinating — and downright mind bending — thought experiment: If a planet like Earth can be “alive,” can it also have a mind of its own? So – Is the earth intelligent, or is this something else? Maybe we should ask, how can there be an intelligent earth? For that matter, who says the earth is even alive? Or have we changed the meaning of alive?
The opening line is from an article in Futurism, titled Astrobiologists Suggest the Earth Itself May Be an Intelligent Entity.
Where does this idea come from?
The researchers point to evidence that underground networks of fungi can communicate to suggest that large-scale networks of life could form a vast invisible intelligence that profoundly alters the condition of the entire planet.
So we go from fungi that can “communicate” to vast invisible intelligence. And somehow, then there’s a leap to something that profoundly alters the condition of the entire planet.
Exciting stuff. And yet, it does challenge our intelligence, doesn’t it? Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if the goal of some scientists isn’t to essentially prove that we humans are pretty unintelligent.
But it doesn’t stop there.
The researchers believe that such thought experiments can help humans to understand their impact on the Earth and serve as a guide on how to better it. Interestingly, they also believe that it could aid in the search for aliens too.
This is mind bending.
Yes, it is mind bending. But that wasn’t the point of the heading. Rather, it was the subtitle of the article. I’m sure the idea was to say the concept was mind bending – as in it’s an awesome and greatly helpful concept.
But how about this instead?
Are fungi, or anything else in the universe greater than humans?
Are fungi, or anything else in the universe greater than humans? It’s kind of funny, in a way.
If we answer no …
If we answer no, nothing is greater than us, then we’re probably considered arrogant.
If we answer yes …
But, if we answer yes, that doesn’t say much about us, does it?
And yet, who exactly do we think we’re subservient to? Surely, if someone/something else is more intelligent than us, then they’ll be masters over us, won’t they?
If we’re honest with ourselves …
However, like it or not, the view we take of ourselves is a combination of the two answers above. We most certainly live like we are the greatest and therefore we have the right to be masters over everything else.
And yet, the article tries to show something very different. While the goal is to study climate change solutions, they don’t even give us the credit we so sadly deserve for the current condition of the planet.
One of the primary species driving that change at the moment, they point out, are humans — and currently, from the climate to the plastic crisis, we may well be irrevocably changing the environmental balance.
Really? We’re one of the primary species driving that change? Who are the others? What other species harms the planet more than humans? Even the scourge of methane from cows burping and passing gas is so horrible because we humans need/want food, dairy products/animals to revere/whatever other reasons there are. Are we going to blame the cows, when it’s because of us that there are so many of them?
Is the earth intelligent, or is this something else?
Let’s say it’s something else. It’s an explanation that’s been around for, well, about 5,000 years or more. Maybe you’ve heard of it. There’s a good chance you even read it.
First, please, don’t worry about the so-called six literal days problem. There is this Jewish concept of a creation day being a period of unspecified time for related events. For more on that, please see Is evolution a concept from Satan?
Now that we’re beyond that problem, check out the underlined words below.
Ge 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Ge 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
Ge 1:6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
Ge 1:9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
Ge 1:11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
Ge 1:14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
Ge 1:20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
Ge 1:24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Ge 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Ge 1:27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Ge 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Ge 1:29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
Ge 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Ge 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
Ge 2:2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Did you notice, everything was good, up ’til the end. Then it was very good. What made things very good? We were created. Yes – us.
Who/what moved creation from good to very good?
We, people, are what made creation very good. Isn’t that, pardon the pun, a good thing? I mean, think about it. God, who created everything, said we are the ones who moved the needle on creation from good to very good. I ask, why wouldn’t we want that to be true? Why do we want to deny it? And why are we working so hard to try to prove it isn’t the case?
Are we the greatest in all creation?
Are we the greatest in all creation? Some of you probably expect me to say yes. Sorry, but “yes” isn’t forthcoming. Why not? How about because we just aren’t the greatest? But still, we really can accept who we are without having to search for false reasons to put ourselves down.
The passage below is from King David, a man after God’s own heart. As we go through it, just ask yourself – what’s wrong with being what David wrote? What’s the problem with being what God intended us to be? Do we really not want this?
For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of David.
Ps 8:1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earadvanceth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.
As is normally the case, David starts off with something about God. For today’s topic, that’s something about God’s greatness, as opposed to the alleged greatness of networking fungi.
Ps 8:2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
This verse is especially appropriate for a discussion of communicating fungi and living planets. We are born in the image of our creator. Remember – Ge 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him. However, as we get older, as we’re taught other things, we lose that inborn knowledge. Instead of knowing who we are and who we were meant to be, we learn things like this. That even fungi are more advanced than we are! Why do we even want to go along with this?
Ps 8:3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
Ps 8:4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
Even back then. thousands of years ago, just from looking around and without all the scientific education, David had thought like these. But, unlike so many of us today, David didn’t lose sight of what God tells every one of us before we’re even born. Maybe we don’t know why God cares about us at all. Especially with all the violence, the denial of God, the searches for something greater than God, and everything possible that’s greater than us, God still cares. A lot. But we don’t listen to Him.
Ps 8:5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
For those who don’t want to be at the top of the universe, not to worry.
You aren’t. But then, maybe that alone isn’t the issue? Maybe we don’t want to be told who’s at the top. Rather, maybe we want to come up with something that’s obviously not at the top? Then, we can “learn” from it. Copy it. But also somehow improve on it. That allows us to consequently be even greater than the thing we thought was above us. It’s like this. If we can figure out how the fungi communicate, duplicate and then improve on it, then we must be even more intelligent and powerful than the fungi that we previously thought was so wonderful.
However, if we accept God as our creator, as the creator of literally everything, what chance do we have of ever coming out on top? Satan already tried that. And he was one of those heavenly beings that’s already higher than us. And look what happened to him!
Satan’s being cast down from heaven is a mysterious and evocative motif that seems to cover the entire span of salvation history. The most famous account is the war in heaven narrated in Revelation 12:7–17. “Now war arose in heaven,” we read (Rev 12:7 RSV), and in the epic battle that ensues Satan and his followers are defeated by Michael and his angels. The resolution of the battle comes when “that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, … was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (Rev 12:9 RSV). In context, the epic account is a flashback to Christ’s conquest of Satan at Calvary (Rev 12:1–6). But other possibilities seem to converge in the account. The very presence of the story in the Apocalypse carries hints of a final defeat of Satan at the end of history. It has also been common to believe in a fall of Satan from heaven before human history began. Ryken, L., Wilhoit, J., Longman, T., Duriez, C., Penney, D., & Reid, D. G. (2000). In Dictionary of biblical imagery (electronic ed., p. 761). InterVarsity Press.
As I said, if Satan couldn’t rise above God, what chance do we have?
And let’s not forget, the one telling us we actually can rise above God is none other than the one who tried and failed! Why do we believe him?
Ps 8:6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
Ps 8:7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,
Ps 8:8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
We have trouble with this part as well. After all this time, we still haven’t figured out the difference between being a ruler over God’s creation and taking care of God’s creation. I just started a new series titled Rule over the earth to explore this in more detail.
Then, as is his norm, David concludes with more words about God.
After all that, are we the greatest in all of creation? Well, no, we aren’t. We’re not even second. Obviously, we’re after God. We’re also after the heavenly beings. Some translations use the word angels rather than heavenly beings. Not that it’s a make-or-break thing, but there are heavenly beings other than God and the angels. For instance, there are the four living creatures in Revelation 4:6.
In any case though, the fact that the Bible puts us at the peak of creation on our planet should tell us something about ourselves. That’s an honor, given it’s said by our Creator. I can never understand, why don’t we want that honor?
Is the earth intelligent, or is this something else?
Is the earth intelligent? If it is, it’s not in the sense of intelligence the way most of us use the word. And for scientists to use the word in some other manner is, quite literally, demeaning to us. As such, it’s also demeaning to God, since He said we are his crowing creation.
Is it something else? As I kind of alluded to above, yes, I believe it is something else. And I’ll be quite blunt about it.
The Fall of Man
Ge 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
Ge 3:2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
Ge 3:4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Ge 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Ge 3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
Ge 3:10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
Ge 3:11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? ”
Ge 3:12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Ge 3:13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Ge 3:14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all the livestock
and all the wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
Ge 3:15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
Ge 3:16 To the woman he said,
“I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”
Ge 3:17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.
Ge 3:18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
Ge 3:19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
Ge 3:20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.
Ge 3:21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
I feel like there’s a lot of things that ask us variations of that fateful question. Did God really say, <fill in the blank>? There’s only one way we can answer this question correctly. That’s to know what God actually did say. Eve got it wrong. Even though she knew the words weren’t quite right, her attempt to state God’s words correctly was wrong.
In this case, the questioning might go like this: “Did God really say you communicate better than fungi? ‘Cause I think they do something you can’t. And God doesn’t want you to be able to do that, otherwise you’ll be better than Him.”
What’s the difference? The difference is huge.
The line of questions above says we can be the best ever, by learning what the fungi know how to do, and then we can take care of our world on our own.
That’s as opposed to God who told us we’re already better than, not just the fungi, but everything else in our world.
Ultimately then, it comes to this. Even in the event there is something about the world that we can learn from fungi, the ability to learn and the ability to use what we learn came from God. Further, the intelligence and the ability to apply what we learned to improve the world also came from God. God gives us the ability to learn how to care for His world. And what better way than to learn things from His world?
So the difference is in knowing whose world this is. We didn’t create it. We can’t create it. We don’t even have a clue, to be honest, how it was created. We have theories, suppositions, unprovable guesses. But nothing more.
It’s God’s world. He created it. He understands how it works. And He, for better or for worse, left us to care for it. Sadly, it appears to be for worse.
There’s a passage in Job that expresses this thought. But too many dismiss it. Let’s read it, then I’ll tell you why we shouldn’t dismiss it.
The LORD Speaks (to Job)
Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
Job 38:2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
with words without knowledge?
Job 38:3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
Job 38:4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Job 38:5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
Job 38:6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
Job 38:7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
Job 38:8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
Job 38:9 when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
Job 38:10 when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
Job 38:11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?
Job 38:12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
Job 38:13 that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
Job 38:14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment.
Job 38:31 “Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades?
Can you loose the cords of Orion?
Job 38:32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
Job 38:33 Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?
Job 38:34 “Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?
Job 38:35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?
Job 38:36 Who endowed the heart with wisdom
or gave understanding to the mind?
Job 40:1 The LORD said to Job:
Job 40:2 “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him!”
Job 40:3 Then Job answered the LORD:
Job 40:4 “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
Job 40:5 I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more.”
Job 40:6 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:
Job 40:7 “Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
Job 40:8 “Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
Job 40:9 Do you have an arm like God’s,
and can your voice thunder like his?
Job 40:10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
Job 40:11 Unleash the fury of your wrath,
look at every proud man and bring him low,
Job 40:12 look at every proud man and humble him,
crush the wicked where they stand.
Job 40:13 Bury them all in the dust together;
shroud their faces in the grave.
Job 40:14 Then I myself will admit to you
that your own right hand can save you.
Conclusion – Is the earth intelligent, or is this something else?
Why should we not dismiss all that so easily?
Consider this. It was written thousands of years ago. It was meant to be understood, as best as possible, by the people at that time.
Now, consider how frequently “knowledge” of our universe changes these days. And I put knowledge in quotes, because it changes so often and so drastically as to prove what I said earlier. We don’t know much. We have theories that change. We have conjectures by some that others immediately claim are nonsense.
Imagine what might have been written even fifty years ago, with the intent to update what’s recorded in Job. And then consider how old-fashioned the concepts would be considered today, only fifty years later.
Or, flip the script. Suppose God actually gave the full answers to us. We couldn’t even begin to understand! It would be like gibberish, nonsense, impossible. We’d ridicule it as useless words and numbers. Formulas we couldn’t decipher would seem foolish.
So what do we want? We want to pretend that God’s answers aren’t correct, because we “know better”. All the while, the real issue is that we wouldn’t be able to understand them if they were correct.
And maybe most sadly of all, too many of us will never know even the tiniest bit of real truth about the answers. Why? Because our refusal to accept and know God, means we also will not accept and know the truth about the world we live in. The world we claim to be so knowledgeable about. And the world we obviously cannot rule over successfully. Because we refuse to know God.
So – as usual, the final questions.
Do you want to know the fungi communications network god?
Or do you want to know the God who truly knows all?
It is our choice. Your choice. Please, choose wisely.
Earth Image by WikiImages from Pixabay
Brain Image by Colleen ODell from Pixabay
Overlay by me
|↑1||Ryken, L., Wilhoit, J., Longman, T., Duriez, C., Penney, D., & Reid, D. G. (2000). In Dictionary of biblical imagery (electronic ed., p. 761). InterVarsity Press.|