Home Forums Deep Time Journey Forum Is the universe a "living system"? Reply To: Is the universe a "living system"?

Duane Elgin

Yes, let’s focus the conversation. Metabolism does seem like a good place to start. David Christian describes “metabolism” as the ability to take in energy from surroundings to keep systems going. In turn, my understanding of current science is that it requires vast amounts of energy for the universe to maintain itself as a flow-through system. I mentioned two scientists who have described aspects of this process. Mathematical cosmologist, Brian Swimme, states that the “universes emerges out of an all-nourishing abyss at every moment.” Physicist David Bohm states that “the universe is a unified whole in flowing movement.” I agree with Jennifer that this is an interpretative understanding of the word “metabolism” because this word is generally identified with biological systems at the earth-scale and the physical and chemical processes which enable those systems to maintain themselves. The question becomes whether it is rational/scientific to expand our description of scale beyond the earth and, in turn, consider the universe as a unified system with physical and chemical processes at work that enable it to maintain itself. Returning to David Christian stating that metabolism is “the ability to take in energy from surroundings to keep systems going,” this view fits with a number of scientists exploring the idea that the universe is not static but is, instead, a dynamically regenerated system maintained by enormous amounts of energy drawn from its surroundings (recall that 73 percent of the known universe is dark energy–and this could be regarded not only as an expansive energy but also as a sustaining energy for a dynamically maintained universe). This seems to align with the views of the distinguished Princeton physicist John Wheeler who stated that material things are “composed of nothing but space itself, pure fluctuating space. . . that is changing, dynamic, altering from moment to moment.” Wheeler goes on to say that, “Of course, what space itself is built out of is the next question. . . . The stage on which the space of the universe moves is certainly not space itself. . . The arena must be larger: superspace. . .” At this larger scale, it does seem scientifically legitimate to consider our unified (non-local) universe as a dynamic system that draws energy from its surroundings to maintain itself.