Anthropology teaches that ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s own culture is the standard by which all others should be judged; that there is a standard way of living and all other variations are simply deviations of the better way. While ethnocentrism deals with human cultures, what is the term used to explore this concept at a larger, perhaps even cosmic scale? What if humans are not just convinced of being part of a superior race, but perhaps we are putting too much reliance on the idea that what we define as life is the only means through which the universe is conscious and, in some way different than ours, alive? Could we call it lifecentrism?
What if the universe is itself evolving? What if we, as living, self aware creatures are the apex of an already self aware universe? What if it is possible that the miracles of our existence are simply reflections of what the universe is already, but in a more articulated variation? In this sense, we are not purely conscious, but more conscious than rocks and pure, elemental material? What if we are not the conclusion of this chain of development but merely a step in a path that leads to a creation that we could not comprehend, but could possibly comprehend more of what the universe is in itself?
We are, it seems on earth at least to be the crowning achievement of biological evolution, a system of change related to organisms comprised of the basic building blocks of the universe. We are deeply connected to the system from which we came, and reliant on a fragile global and cosmic ecosystem. In our fragility we are adaptable. We are aware. We are conscious.
Consciousness is viewed by some to be a function of organic chemistry. Molecules formed in certain ways give rise to the sophisticated systems of our bodies’ internal wiring and structure. We operate because certain constants allowed this to happen. Consciousness is simply a lucky combination of evolved wiring in the brain.
But what if consciousness is separate from our biology, as many quantum physicists are beginning to find? In a sense our biology allows us to become aware of this system and perhaps even tune into consciousness. So it seems, consciousness and awareness are actually two different things. What if not only life as we deem it is conscious but also the very material that are the building blocks of not only life but all material is conscious?
If consciousness is not a function of awareness, than what if then rocks, trees, stars, planets… all aspects of the universe are a part of this remarkable universal connection of pure being that the religions have for centuries reported?
Sometimes I believe I’m becoming more animistic, the ancient belief that all objects contain a life-being. In antiquity, rocks and trees contained spirits, or a life force, that one could connect to or interact with. Though I don’t know if we directly commune with objects on a consciously aware level, I am beginning to think that we just might have more in common with these objects than we think.
If the universe is at some level aware we might just be one solitary manifestation similar to all the rest. One might need a brain or tool of some sort in order to be aware, and this may mean that the stars themselves might in their own way be alive. It is as if the spirit of life, the God or element of pure being alive in us is in all things in the universe, not just what we define as being life.
When we ask if we are the only life in the universe, we might in fact be asking the wrong question. We should be asking two questions: Does organic life exist elsewhere? How else can we define the term life beyond the search for a reflection of what we are in a tangible sense?