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

Ed Lantz

I think it needs to be said that, when I claim that the macroscopic model of a galaxy is governed by relatively simple equations, it is because I am making a differentiation between macroscopic and microscopic scales. Scientists love to divide things into bits. The macroscopic view ignores the many smaller features of galaxies – including us. The only 100% accurate model of a galaxy would have to include everything – planets, atmospheres and biospheres and all species of life. Any attempt to separate these bits (i.e. macroscopic/microscopic) results in an approximation, and approximations can lead us astray if taken too literally.


However, without these conceptual separations there would be no science.


Lowell’s point of view is more holistic. Life is not separate from the universe – separation is a concept. Life is a natural progression of galactic evolution (or at least our galaxy). What the scientist “sees” – the answers we get – depend on the questions we ask and the choices we make in our conceptual differentiations. Big-picture thinking like this is usually relegated to a field called cosmology. So, in a cosmological sense, I do think we can say that the universe is alive because we are not separate from the universe.


Having said that, I still do think that scientists deserve a separate category for biological organisms versus non-biological organisms. The convenient and most common word that makes this differentiation is “life.”  If we want to shift the story, trying to prove that a rock or a galaxy is alive is probably not going to work. I think it may be best to work within the field of cosmology and show that what we call life is inseparable from the rest of the universe and is a natural progression of galactic and planetary evolution (under the right conditions).