It is natural for Christians to be threatened by this idea because it harks back to paganism. If they allow Earth to be recognized as a living entity, then trees, mountains, rivers, etc. will all become living beings. And once that happens, then animals would also be living beings. Then they will have to answer the question of why there are many kinds of living beings, which will then bring in karma and reincarnation, the collapse of eternal hell and heaven, and chaos ensues.
On the other hand, if we say that trees and mountains are living entities, then why don’t we acknowledge that tables and chairs are also living beings? How about cars and trucks? So, the question comes down to at what point do we recognize something living vs. non-living?
Let’s take a detour in mathematics, specifically into the idea of sets. A set is a collection of objects, and you can take some marbles and draw an imaginary boundary around those marbles. Factually, it does nothing to the marbles within the boundary as they continue to behave the same as the marbles outside the boundary. We can call this a classical collection.
Now contrast this to a quantum collection where a boundary is called an ensemble. The state of the quantum particle inside and outside the ensemble is different; specifically, within the ensemble, each particle behaves like a dimension rather than an object. If you change one particle’s state, every other particle’s state would be modified at the same time. This curious property of the quantum particles is called their entanglement. The quantum particles are entangled inside the boundary but the classical particles are not entangled.
The classical materialist would like to think that the Earth is a classical collection — i.e. each part is independent of the other. The Gaia claimant is saying that these parts are entangled, due to which we can treat them as a single whole, rather than just a collection of independent parts.
The difference arises simply because in the quantum case, the boundary is real although we cannot see it. In the classical case, the boundary is unreal, and hence we cannot see it. In the case of tables and chairs, the boundary is unreal, but in the case of living things, the boundary is real.
This boundary — which creates an identity or individual body — is produced by the presence of a subtle body. Its result is that the body parts become functional due to the existence of senses, mind, intellect, etc. When this subtle body leaves, the gross body loses its functionality. It becomes pretty much like the collection of marbles rather than a quantum entangled system.
So, is Earth a living system? Yes, it is. And that means it evolves collectively; changes to one part of the system will cause changes to other parts in ways that we cannot predict if we simply think about interaction as the propagation of classical forces from one end to another. Today we don’t understand the true structure of the Earth — i.e. how the different parts are interconnected. We are modeling it like a classical system — a collection of marbles. But there is a more sophisticated understanding of geography in which the Earth is modeled as a single living body.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by Ashish Dalela.