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Introduction
& Prolog
Part 1.
Metabolic Metaphysics
Part 2.
Star Larvae
Part 3.
Space Brains
Addenda
Epilog

The Star Larvae HypothesisAstrotheology and Hinduism
Nature's Plan for Humankind
Part 2. Star Larvae

Cosmological Natural Selection

The laws of nature appear to be tuned to provide the universe with reproductive organsblack holes.



Religious critics of evolution theory cite the anthropic coincidences as evidence of nature's purposeful design.

Scientists point out that such issues could not even be raised if natural laws were other than what they are, because in that case nobody would exist to ponder the point. But beyond that glib reply is a more constructive one.

The theory of cosmological natural selection accounts for our universe being the way it is by applying the concept of natural selection to cosmology. The theory does not propose that atoms and their constituent particles evolved during the lifetime of our universe to have their particular properties, but it does propose that they nonetheless possess the properties that they do because of natural selection. According to this model, the fundamental physical constants evolved to become what they are—and give fundamental particles and forces their particular properties—but this evolutionary process took place outside of our universe.

"The Strong Anthropic Principle holds that intelligent beings play some essential role in the Cosmos. However, it is difficult to see how intelligent beings could play an essential role if all such beings are forever restricted to the planet upon which they originally evolve. On the other hand, if intelligent beings eventually develop interstellar travel, it is possible, at least in principle, for them to significantly affect the structure of galaxies and metagalaxies by their activities."

— John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler
The Anthropic Cosmological Principle

Spearheaded by physicist Lee Smolin, who lays out the case in his book, The Life of the Cosmos, the theory of cosmological natural selection proposes that universes evolve through successive generations. In the Darwinian analogy that Smolin draws between universes and organisms, a universe’s black holes are its reproductive organs, and its fundamental physical constants constitute its genotype. According to the model, black holes beget baby universes.

What looks from within this universe to be a giant implosion—a black hole that sucks in matter and energy—is in some other dimension a great explosion—a big bang that pushes out matter and energy into a new universe. Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose laid the foundation for this cosmological symmetry when they demonstrated that big bangs and black holes mirror each other mathematically, that the same equations can be used to describe either process, depending on whether they are read in one direction or the other. Depending on the direction in which you "scan" the math you have an implosion (matter sucked in) or explosion (matter expelled out).

"The fundamental dogma of astrology, as conceived by the Greeks, was that of universal solidarity. The world is a vast organism, all the parts of which are connected through an unceasing exchange of molecules of effluvia. The stars, inexhaustible generators of energy, constantly act upon the earth and man—upon man, the epitome of all nature, a 'microcosm' whose every element corresponds to some part of the starry sky. This was, in a few words, the theory formulated by the Stoic disciples of the Chaldeans."

— Franz Cumont
Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism

Smolin’s theory proposes that our universe was born of a fertile parent universe, one that possessed at least one black hole and, similarly, that black holes in this universe spawn baby universes that develop according to their own physical laws. Black holes and big bangs are complementary aspects of a single cosmogonic process that bears new universes.

This is the major premise of cosmological natural selection as put forth by Smolin and popularized with the help of science writer John Gribbin. But the theory goes further than proposing that black holes and big bangs generate a multi-generational ensemble of universes. The theory gives the reproductive process a Darwinian spin.

When a baby universe explodes into being, the values of its fundamental constants are influenced—but not completely determined—by those of the parent universe. The indeterminacy of quantum physics allows some play in the system of inheritance. According to the quantum theory of black holes the values of the physical constants are likely to differ from parent universe to offspring and among the offspring. Once such variation is introduced into an ensemble of successive generations, the succession evolves according to Darwinian principles. If its capacity to make black holes determines the reproductive fitness of a universe, then Darwinian selection says that those universes that make the most black holes will be most successful at passing the values of their physical constants forward into future generations. The evolution of universes selects for reproductive fitness, and this selection pressure drives the evolution of universes in the direction of increasing fertility—toward an ever-greater capacity to make black holes.As in biology, the more successful reproducers have the greater influence on future generations.

In the theory of cosmological natural selection, the Anthropic Principle becomes the Black Hole Principle. In this model, the values of the fundamental constants of a universe are tuned to maximize black hole production specifically, and any other effects are incidental. This means that the Anthropic Principle, or Black Hole Principle, is more specifically the Stellar Principle, because black holes originate from stars. As it turns out, the constants of our universe predispose nature toward making not only stars that become black holes, but also biological organisms. According to Smolin and Gribbin this side effect has no interesting bearing on cosmological natural selection.

On this point, they are adamant. In In the Beginning: The Birth of the Living Universe, Gribbin writes that, "It is natural for human beings like us to see the coincidences of cosmology as indicating that the Universe has been set up (either by a designer or by evolution) for our benefit" but that this anthropocentric view may be "very wide of the mark." In these comments he is suggesting that biological life, though a byproduct of the mechanics of nature, is inessential for cosmological processes.

Gribbin states the point again:

"That reason [that certain physical properties of the universe are what they are] may have nothing to do with the presence of people in the Universe today; it may indeed be a lucky accident that we are here, because the conditions that have naturally evolved in the Universe for other reasons just happen to favor us. Nevertheless, the extent to which those coincidences of cosmology do favor us is truly astonishing." (Italic in original.)

And later in the same book:

"[T]he fact that our Universe is 'just right' for organic life-forms like ourselves turns out to be no more than a side-effect of the fact that it is 'just right' for the production of black holes and baby universes. [. . . .] Although it is now clear that the Universe has not been set up for our benefit, and that the existence of organic life-forms on Earth is simply a minor side-effect of an evolutionary process involving universes, galaxies and stars which actually favors the production of black holes, nevertheless it is clear that the existence of life-forms like ourselves is an inevitable side effect of those greater evolutionary processes."

Smolin, in The Life of the Cosmos, concurs with this dysanthropic interpretation:

"It seems that at least one way for a universe to make a lot of black holes requires that there be carbon and other organic elements, as well as stars that produce these elements in large quantities. The theory then predicts that our universe has these ingredients for life, not because life is special, but because they are typical of universes found in the collection. [. . . .] A universe in which the conditions and the parameters have been tuned so that it is full of stars is a universe in which many of the conditions required for life to exist are satisfied."

If the theory of cosmological natural selection is right, Smolin continues, then the universe is hospitable to organisms such as human beings, "not because we, in particular, are somehow necessary or important for the universe—but only because living systems exist as a byproduct of a much larger pattern of self-organization and self-structuring . . . ."

The fullness of human life and the intricacies of Earth’s biosphere are serendipitous byproducts of an evolutionary momentum that has to do with the making of black holes and nothing else. This is the implication of the theory of cosmological natural selection as formulated by Smolin and propounded by Gribbin.

The star larvae hypothesis takes issue with this formulation of the theory of cosmological natural selection. The star larvae hypothesis argues that biology is an essential player in the ontogeny of the universe, and hence in its reproductive fitness, and that the "coincidence" of black holes and biological organisms requiring the same values of the fundamental constants is no coincidence at all. The values have to be the same because biology is the larval phase of the stellar life cycle.

NEXT > The Stellar Organism

"BUSY old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

Thy beams so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left'st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, "All here in one bed lay."

She's all states, and all princes I ;
Nothing else is ;
Princes do but play us ; compared to this,
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world's contracted thus ;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere ;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere."

—John Donne
The Sun Rising

 

 

The Star Larvae Hypothesis:

Stars constitute a genus of organism. The stellar life cycle includes a larval phase. Biological life constitutes the larval phase of the stellar life cycle.

Elaboration: The hypothesis presents a teleological model of nature, in which

 

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