If you think of asteroids, meteors and comets as potentially destructive and life-threatening forces, you're correct. After all, the arrivals of these celestial bodies are typically associated with catastrophic impacts on earth, profound environmental changes, impact winters, plagues and famines. But that's not all. Over the last century, a number of scientists have speculated that they might also bring life to the barren outreaches of the galaxy, such as our solar system. Not only that, they may even have positive evolutionary effects on existing flora and fauna.

This week on MindMatters we continue our discussion of near-earth objects as symbolized and alluded to in the Grail legends. Further to this warning from the past - that has been encoded for understanding by future generations - we'll be examining such ideas as directed panspermia, or the "creative" dimension of space rocks. Biological material and other life-seeding elements are the surprise feature of these death-dealing amalgamations.

Running Time: 01:12:07

Download: MP3 — 66 MB

Here's the transcript of the show:

Corey: It really makes you wonder what the heck is going on out there, that there's these celestial bodies with one of their primary functions, as guess you could say, is to just cook and breed genetic material and metals and then come in within a huge, crazy, awe-inspiring, terrifying display delivering it onto a planet.

Harrison: Hi everyone, welcome back to MindMatters. Today we will continue our discussion of the show of a couple of weeks ago on Randall Carlson's work on the Holy Grail, as well as tying together some threads that we've been getting in and out of for the duration of the time we've been on Youtube actually. We're going to bring in some stuff from the first uploads we made to You tube and then some shows that we've done since then, and try to tie together some of those ideas into a bigger picture.

This will include some stuff from last week's show too, a continuation of the stuff on Sufism and Rumi and tying that into the direction we'll go based on Carlson's work. One of the things that we didn't really get into in much detail, or at all, when we discussed Carlson's Grail series, was some of the ideas he brings into the discussion on the Holy Grail and his interpretation of that, relating it to cometary bombardments and things of that sort and that is the idea of directed panspermia.

We did talk about the presence of pre-organic compounds in comets and meteorites that get deposited into earth in those close encounters, or full on encounters with those heavenly bodies, but we didn't really get into this idea of cosmic panspermia. He mentions that until the idea was raised in the twentieth century -- I believe it was the first time it was raised -- no one had really thought of things in that manner before, the idea that the precursors to life could have come from the skies essentially, from space.

But since those ideas were first floated, there's been a lot more research done and a lot more evidence to show that this may in fact be the case, that there are like interstellar clouds of pre-organic materials mixed in with the gases in which come in, which hijack or ride on meteorites and comets they've found. In one of the meteorites that fell in the last several decades, they were able to find the site really quickly and they found something like seventy four different amino acids in the material deposited along with this meteorite, only a certain number of which were actually present in life, so a smorgasbord of amino acids which are one of the fundamental building blocks of life as we know it.

Elan: So just to round that out a little bit, I think it was something like fifty three amino acids or about two-thirds of what was discovered were completely unknown to the scientists who were looking at the material, which suggested to them that there was this whole other wealth of biological life-creating material that, in addition to all of the other substances that are known to exist on asteroids, fireballs and meteors, is biological, is somehow sustained and living within these structures that come and bombard the planet earth from time to time. It was really an amazing discovery.

Harrison: Yeah, and that says something about the nature of the building blocks of life itself. This gets back to some of our discussions on evolution and intelligent design. But if you look at these materials, you've got the same sort of phenomenon with the building blocks of DNA - we have four letters that make up our DNA four of these tiny little chemical compounds that combine in pairs and in sequence to create life as we know it. But those are not the only possible letters, sort to speak, that can make up DNA. In fact, scientists have created an artificial alphabet that they can then inject into DNA to give an extra layer or an extra number of letters to the code, for instance. And those function in DNA. They can fit in there and they can then be programmed to create the amino acid chains that make up proteins and things of that sort.

It's as if there were multiple alphabets out there in the world of chemical compounds, and then life as we know it is a selection of those compounds. It could be an arbitrary or an intelligently chosen set of those compounds. Maybe they were the only ones available, maybe there's something particular about those ones, but for whatever reason the building blocks that compose life on planet earth as we know it, are this kind of delimited set out of the wider set of possible compounds. So there's some kind of mystery involved there.

But getting back to the subject of the actual things that we find in space, I just listened to one of Randall Carlson's latest podcasts, I think it was episode twenty six of the 'kosmographia series'. If you go to his YouTube channel or just search 'kosmographia', with a 'k', you can find this episode where he's talking about these sorts of things, not in relation to the Grail but strictly just the science of these organic and pre-organic compounds that can be found in space and which can hitch a ride on various interplanetary spaceships otherwise known as comets and meteors, and things of that sort.

He does these podcasts with a whole team of guys. One of the things that they said was that the 'Serpent Brothers' - two other guys that have their own podcasts - had interviewed Chandra Wickramasinghe, I can't remember how exactly to pronounce his last name, he was one of the guys that first came out with this idea and developed it. They were talking about a book he wrote, I believe in 1979 which I wasn't familiar with, but I think it's called Diseases From Space or something like that. He was one of the first to propose that a lot of viruses and pandemic materials actually come from outer space. This gets back to the book that we mentioned during our Holy Grail show, New Light on the Black Death by Mike Baillie, where he proposed that the Black Death was a similar phenomenon.

But one of the things that they said in relation to this interview that they did with him, was that there were some high altitude balloon studies done where they tested the atmosphere and found what was in there and they came to the conclusion that some huge amount, tons and tons and tons - I believe the figure billion was thrown out there - of viral material is in the atmosphere and comes to earth every year. So there's just this huge amount of viruses in the atmosphere that can stay up there for years but that are regularly deposited onto the earth. For whatever reason, because of the currents in the atmosphere, the way that the atmosphere moves and the process of it, they seem to deposit more in China and that's why a lot of new viruses and pandemics have their origin in China, but not just China.

So not only in the atmosphere, but space seems to be teeming with all of this weird stuff, this pre-organic material that is hitching a ride from here to there. If there's a cometary bombardment or a meteorite bombardment on a planet, it might eject some of the material on that planet into space which then travels and then can find its way to another planet and that's one of the possible means by which fragments of Mars for instance - martian meteorites and martian materials exist on earth. It has made its way here somehow. That's one of the possible ways that it's gotten here, but not only from the inner Solar System but potentially from other solar systems and who knows where. This just seems to be an unacknowledged factor of the makeup of space itself, that there is all this stuff just flitting about and hanging up there and travelling, and that it may play an important role in the origins of life.

And this is what Carlson brings up in his Grail series. In his mind, it seems to me it was probably some kind of bombardment of the planet that brought the necessary ingredients to make the first life forms as we saw a couple of weeks ago in the stories of the 'blood rain', the rains of blood, that there are these actual primitive micro-organisms that seem to be in these 'rains of blood' associated with fireballs and airburst phenomenon, comet fragments or meteorites exploding in the atmosphere and then injecting all of this material, all of these organisms or chemistry into the atmosphere that then rains down onto the earth.

So perhaps the way that life started on earth wasn't as what a lot of theorists propose -- as in like a biogenesis where all the stuff was already there, and then just through some weird chemical process that we don't understand yet, it just kind of magically clumps together to form a cell membrane and DNA and proteins that then manage to work to create this self replicating organism, but that the material had to come from somewhere else.

There are a few questions involved there, and it doesn't answer all the questions. For instance, how is this material put together? Could you just take stuff from space and would that be enough to just get the life process started? Perhaps if there was a viable life form, like a single celled life form that managed to deposit itself onto earth, perhaps that would be able to jump start the process.

But if it was just raw materials, you're still lacking something to actually put them together because like we know from our previous shows on evolution and intelligent design, there's a huge step to jump between those two states of that matter, to go from the raw materials to an actually functioning cell, a functioning organism is just mind bogglingly unlikely and complex.

Elan: Well, just to backtrack a little bit on this whole idea of intelligent design, when we're thinking about cells and the incredible amounts of information that they contain, the intricate workings of these molecular machines that all have to work together, and the high improbability of some randomly mutating happy accident of things converging to just make a functioning cell at the very least, really is a very strong argument for the idea that there is some intelligence, there is some higher injection of information that has been introduced into the world of physical matter.

So I was thinking of Carlson's work in comparison to everything we've been discussing with intelligent design in particular and trying to reconcile the two, as you say Harrison. If there is some element of design, of information being introduced by various asteroids, meteors, and other near earth objects, how do we reconcile that introduction of information into the earth environment with what may have already been existing prior to this introduction of the red rain, of the various viruses that are known to have followed in the raining of the red rain, and all of that? Is it that there's some even more complex question to be asked about how the universe propagates life, and how new life forms are introduced to already created life forms and maybe alter it?

Some of that seems to be answered in the Tunguska event in Russian of 1908, where that gigantic structure created this incredible impact over millions of trees, over large swaths of land...

Harrison: Yeah the size of Atlanta, that was in one of Carlson's .He overlaid some images the size of the affected zone over Tunguska, the size of the damage that was done by the explosion was the size of Atlanta and the ring road that goes around it Atlanta. So if the Tunguska explosion would have happened over Atlanta today, it would have destroyed the entire city.

Elan: Yes and because it was such a remote area that was not well populated, we do have records of it, 'we do have scientists that have looked at the impact, at least in the atmosphere above the region. Something that they've noticed was that there were actual genetic changes to a lot of the plant life in the area -- some of them for good and some of them for bad. In other words, there was some element of degradation in their structure and in some cases there seemed to be some improvement. How they came to that, I can't recall at the moment.

What it does is reinforce this idea that biological material coming from space and introduced into the environment does have this dual effect on human beings. We can have plagues that follow these introductions that wipe out large parts of the population and are highly negative in some ways and there might also be introductions of other positive or constructive elements into our DNA, into our biology. Along those lines, Carlson mentions a discovery that I thought was fascinating because, it's not only biological material that gets brought in, but there are also precious metals like palladium, rhodium and ruthenium. There was a discovery made that I would like to read from his article here because it's just fascinating. What he says is:

"These metals could potentially have a profound impact on the human condition is hinted at in the work of Chemist Thomas J. Meade, and molecular biologist Jon F. Keyyem, whose experiments were described in a May, 1995 article in Scientific American. Their area of interest was in the way electrons move through large, complex molecules, such as chlorophyll, which converts the energy of sunlight into plant food through the proton-stimulated movement of electrons. While investigating the complex molecular structure DNA they inadvertently made a remarkable discovery. I will quote from the Scientific American article."

And Carlson quotes:

"They devised a way of binding atoms of ruthenium [that's one of the precious metals] to ribose, one of the backbone components of the helical chains of DNA. Ruthenium atoms act like electrical connectors into and out of the molecule; they have the added virtue of neither disrupting nor distorting its overall shape. Remember, a catalyst causes or accelerates a chemical change without, however, being permanently affected by the reaction. Although there has been a long history of using such metals to understand DNA, the ruthenium-ribose combination revealed something extraordinary.

The researchers examined the electrical properties of short lengths of double-helix DNA in which there was a ruthenium atom at each end of the strands. Meade and Keyyem estimated from earlier studies that a short single strand of DNA ought to conduct up to 100 electrons a second. Imagine their astonishment when they measured the rate of flow along the ruthenium-doped double helix: the current was up by a factor of more than 10,000 times - over a million electrons a second. It was as if the double helix was behaving like a piece of molecular wire."

Now I don't know if ruthenium is a naturally found substance on earth that wouldn't be introduced necessarily by an extraterrestrial rock of some kind, but that there would be some measure of this precious metal that comes from without earth, and is somehow part of our physiology, at least opens up more questions to me than would seem to be - you know I'm not satisfied with just that connection -- what does that mean?

Corey: What you just described is just a game changer. You just radically restructure your worldview because you guys are talking about space teeming with strange life forms, and these comets deliver a payload of biological material, all of these amino acids, some that are completely alien, and we don't see any reason why they should exist, they don't make up a part of our physiology.

But then other aspects of the payload are these electromagnetic properties that can induce radiation and genetic changes, and these platinum group materials. Not only that, but Randall Carlson discusses these two different ways that these cometary objects make it in to disturb the planet. One of them was by the theoretical large black sun, the twin sun that moves through the Oort cloud and can bring material with it, a lot of tag along comets, but then another one was the conveyor belt of Jupiter and Saturn, and other planets that will just bring in this material. It's like the earth orders take-out and then here comes the delivery man bringing it, and it's not just a freak accident. It's not just a freak occurrence that happens just once every six hundred and fifty million years but it's something that happens much more frequently. As he points out in the series, it might be necessary for life on earth to continue to evolve, because things wind down and maybe mother earth runs out of juice and runs out of material and you get the devolution, I guess, from random mutations, all the different random mutations that just keep building up building up building up, and you end up with some DNA changes that work better because DNA is breaking down.

Michael Behe wrote an entire book on it called Darwin Devolves and how this process does sometimes induce positive changes so that if you're a human being and you have something break down and then a virus can't get in to attack your cells because it's broken down, you'll keep that, but it doesn't create anything new or novel. It just keeps breaking things. Well maybe nature needs stuff to come in and just mix it up and drop off a payload every now and then. If you deny this aspect of reality of the world we live in then you deny at your own peril, and time and time again that seems to happen.

Harrison: I want to make a few comments on the nature of those genetic changes, those mutations. So, Elan you mentioned the Tunguska and how a situation like that, an event like that, can produce positive or negative changes. And then, Corey you talked about Behe and whose main point in that book that he wrote is that pretty much all of the so called evolutionary changes that we see in life as we experience it now or in lab settings, is actually a loss of function. It is a degradation of the existing genes that then produces an effect, either removing a function that is no longer adaptive for whatever reason, no longer helpful, or changing a function in such a way, degrading it so that in this new environment it now has a positive function. But there's no actual injection of new materials.

So you don't see the creation of brand new gene that creates a new protein that gives another function. It all takes the existing information and degrades it to such a degree that a change happens that may or may not be beneficial. The organism might die, or because its lost that function it may have an advantage now in its environment.

For instance, if it's some kind of bacteria living in a new chemical environment, a previous gene that creates a certain protein at a certain amount might now be harmful in this new environment. So that gene might then get broken or completely disabled so that it can now, without that function that was previously beneficial, survive in this new environment.

So that seems to be the nature of 'natural selection' as we know it and as we observe it. When we look at these changes that happened in the flora and fauna around Tunguska in response to this explosive event, as far as I know, we don't know enough about what actually happened on the molecular level there. So we don't know exactly what went on there. I'd guess that it so radically changed the conditions of life in that segment of the planet, that small portion of the planet, that then these organisms all had to use their existing adaptive capabilities to then change in some manner to then be able to live in this new environment. So he quotes one of the studies where they found that, for instance, some of the insects now grew at a remarkable rate. So they grew either faster or bigger than they were before.

From our other shows and from the books that we've read on this topic, it seems that that's the way that our functions are kind of encoded in our genetics. They're encoded within certain parameters. If you just take something simple like height, within the human genetic code there's the possibility of a range of different heights. You'll have the tallest person and you'll have the shortest person, and you won't have anything above or below that - it will be a range - most will be in the middle, standard distribution. This gets back to Bryant Shiller's book The Fifth Option - I think we briefly discussed on one of our previous shows - how you can look at pretty much any biological trait in that manner and what happens is that when you have radical changes in the environment, you'll have certain segments of all of those probability distributions that get wiped off the map, literally.

So it may be that the temperature rises and so the portion of the population that can't survive above a certain temperature, will all die. And it can happen on any given trait of a species. So you get this radical reorganization of the species where all of a sudden the probability distribution changes. You still have the same traits, the same overall traits, but the values of those traits have changed. So now the average might be moved up a bit. Now for all the creatures that survive, they will now have a higher toleration of temperature. They'll be able to live in a higher temperature than life a week ago, before this catastrophic event.

So bringing these two ideas together, the question needs to be asked 'what's going on here and then if there is something new that happens, something new that is injected into the genetics of creatures, where is the source of that new information?' Because for any given gene, the amount of information that needs to be injected into that is tremendous, and the intelligent design people would argue it has to come from intelligence. There's just no way you can get a random process that will result in, not only one new protein, but the collection of structures that need to come all together to produce some new form, structure, function or species.

So we need to take into account both of these phenomena, that the events that seem to be associated with these dramatic changes, that seem to be catastrophic in nature and human history, or just in life history, where things are going pretty normally and stably for millions of years perhaps, and then there's some big event, some mass extinction where all of a sudden many of the species previously alive on the planet die, and then all of these new forms suddenly appear.

So we have to look at the cause of that, the conditions that are created by that event, and then the source of the new information that gets injected. Now when you read books by intelligent design proponents or listen to their talks, they often respond to alternative ideas, of course Darwinism. They often phrase it in a pejorative way, of aliens, it's like 'oh so there are people that say that life must have started from aliens, it must have been some other intelligent life that then created life on earth.'

They never really give that idea much... like they never deal with it in-depth. It's usually just a couple sentences or a paragraph that they use to write it off. They have a good reason for writing it off in their context because they say 'well that doesn't explain the origin of the life form that then created life on earth.' Okay, that's valid. So they're looking for the ultimate root cause of life anywhere, not specifically on earth. So I can totally see why they do that.

What I don't like about that is that it doesn't answer how life specifically started on earth. If not aliens, it may be that there might be some kind of directed panspermia event, it may be that micro organisms came from somewhere. Yes that doesn't explain where they originally came from but it might have relevance for us, for what actually happened.

So hopefully one day there will be an intelligent design person - if they already exist I don't know of them, so if someone knows of them give us a comment and let us know - who looks at all of these things kind of equally and takes them all on board and actually deals with them in depth. So far, like I said, I haven't seen anyone that actually does that. Because it may be that whatever the ultimate source of life, that a whole combination of different factors contribute maybe not only to our life, the life that emerged on earth, but on other planets too. The directed panspermia might be an integral part in the whole process. It may not be the ultimate explanation that takes into account everything involved, but it may be an important part of the picture. And it seems that it probably is an important part of the picture, given the kind of stuff that Randall Carlson and Chandra Wickramasinghe talk about and bring up, the fact that there's all this material just floating around in space carried on comets and meteors, there's asteroids, there's a lot that needs to be taken into account.

But then if we want to now go to that bigger picture, what is the ultimate source of life, that's a big question. Of course it's one that Darwinists don't like because when it comes to that question, to be honest, the religious people have a better explanation for it. It may not be satisfying to a lot of people that are either anti religious or not religious or not associated with any religion, or strictly atheist, it's not a satisfying answer to hear ''God did it.' It's not a satisfying scientific answer because it seems like a cop out, right, to just write it off as 'oh God did it' because so much stuff has been written off in the history of human thought and inquiry as just being God, until scientists and people actually discovered what was actually going on, the hidden elements and the intricacies of either chemical processes or celestial mechanics or whatever. There's all kinds of mathematics and things that have been discovered that were just previously simply written off as 'that was just God.'

But, like I said, they really do have a better answer because at least it gives a plausible explanation for it. It may not be totally correct but at least it accounts for the injection of new information - you need a mind to create information, that's what minds do. But just as directed panspermia or aliens creating life might not be the entire answer explaining everything - same thing with the God explanation. It may be true to some degree however we come to understand it, but there's probably a whole lot more we don't understand, and it's a lot more complex than the typical creationist or even the typical intelligent design person would get in to.

Because intelligent design guys, you'll notice if you read their stuff and listen to them, they don't get into it a lot. They want to stick strictly to the science. They say 'okay this means there must be an intelligence. I'm not going to speculate on the nature of this intelligence or how it all gets done, I'm just going to leave it there'. They might say 'I personally am or am not a Christian and believe it was God but that's irrelevant for the science, the science just implies an intelligence. It could be aliens for all we know'.

So that's where they leave it and I understand it. I think that's the right way to approach it for their purposes but I'm interested in more than just their purposes, I want to know what actually happened, right?

Corey: Yeah, you can't blame a hard core scientist for wanting to stick to the work of science and leave the speculation to other people. But it does seem more and more with each passing year that all of the brilliant minds out there, it's hard to find better scientific proof of higher intelligence than the genetic code because that's what it is. It's a code just like we have codes that run our cell phones and all the apps, our computers, our lives, our cars, and if Elon Musk has his way they'll be running our brains, and if Bill Gates has his way we'll all be chipped with them and linked up to the hive mind.

It's the same thing, it's a code that is so unfathomably complex, and it can be scientifically demonstrated that it would require an intelligence to create this code because the probability of this code existing and multiplying and existing for four billion years is low. Can you imagine an appliance that you have? Do you think your car's going to last four billion years? But there's this code that somehow has survived all that the universe can throw at it, quite literally, and continues to survive and seems to be designed to survive, simply to survive whatever extremes will exist on this planet and apparently, even on comets.

It really makes you wonder what the heck is going on out there that there's just these celestial bodies that one of their primary functions, I guess you could say, is to just cook and breed genetic material and metals, and then just come in within a big huge crazy awe inspiring terrifying display deliver it onto a planet. It boggles the mind, the amount of complexity there.

Like you said, you can't blame these scientists for not wanting to speculate about it but we can. We can have a lot of fun with it until you find in this genetic code where it says like 'Hey my name's John, I'm an alien and I created this one right here', you know what I mean? You find these little commented lines in the code

Elan: Little patents on the side. {laughter}

Corey: Until you find that it's sheer speculation, what kind of the alien species, if there was one. I think another big aspect of the intelligent design is this philosophical desire to understand, in the abstract way through just sheer logic and reason, and science, those things combined. Those are human functions of our psychology that don't work well with sheer speculation. It's 'the seeing is believing' thing.

As soon as you see this line of code that says 'my name's John and I'm an alien', until you get to that point you're like 'well yeah yeah'. It's too complex. There's too much potential - what alien race, what level of alien, is it still around - how are you going to find out what alien race created life four billion years ago? But then you have to start wondering whether there is a higher intelligence than that, that could create an alien race. And then perhaps that is one of alien races' jobs in the cosmos to just have fun. There are different kinds of races maybe that create different kinds of life forms, and there's a higher intelligence above their intelligence? I have no clue. I'm just throwing out things because it's fun to speculate about this kind of stuff because why not have fun, it's fun! It's absolutely astonishing!

If people are reading this and they're not astonished and their minds aren't blown? This is what it means to be a child again, childlike in heart, to look at the cosmos, look at the complexity and to appreciate it for the sheer marvel that it is, warts and all I guess.

Elan: Well that's where pseudo science and authoritarianism comes into play in this whole area, because you can imagine that there are some Darwinists and scientists who've been trained a certain way, to think on all of this in a certain way, and when they do come across ideas that would support the probability for intelligent design, you can imagine them sort of saying 'my professor didn't talk about that and that's not part of the orthodoxy, and if I go there I'm going to lose my job, so for goodness sake, random mutation created us and I'm not going there because only creationists go there and I'm not a bible thumping creationist'.

But I did want to get back to something earlier that you said Corey about code because it reminded me of our discussion of a couple of weeks ago, and how Randall Carlson's exploration into the Grail legend and into the Arthurian mythology and narratives and stories, are this code, or are elements of reality and truth encoded in these stories. One of the stories we discussed was the story of Perceval, and how when he's brought into this castle by the Fisher King, is introduced to this procession of four or five different elements. I think you went through this, Harrison, but I'd like to review it again because it made such a compelling case for me as to how this story is a story of cyclical catastrophe encoded, that it deserves to be looked at. I think that there's a conclusion to it that at least makes sense in my mind.

So a brief review; Perceval goes into this castle, he's a newly made knight - part of Arthur's round circle - he has a mentor, the mentor takes him to this region where the Fisher King boats him over into this castle where Perceval goes inside and is shown these several elements. He's shown candle sticks, He's shown a lance with blood dripping from it. He's shown a blinding plate that's emanating light. He's shown another chalice or object that's got gems and stones on it. Carlson makes a very good argument for how these can be seen as representative of different stages in which a near earth object would be seen, viewed and understood by people who had seen real comets and asteroids enter the atmosphere and what they looked like in their various stages.

So after Perceval notices all these things, he leaves the castle, and the Fisher King, who has this wound in his thigh, this anfortas wound it's called, is still injured. Perceval is approached on a couple of occasions continuing on his journey, and people are saying to him, 'Why didn't you ask what these objects meant? You could have healed the King. You could have restored the blighted lands that we've seen.' Perceval, in not asking the question, in ignoring this information, is now back on the quest for five years to find the Grail which is no longer in the castle, which had imploded on itself, if I remember the story correctly.

So one of the main points of this story would seem to be don't neglect to ask the question because in asking the question 'What is it that I'm being shown here? What is the significance of these symbols? What is the deeper meaning that is spoken to us in the language of the birds, the green language, the angelic language, the language of coded information that has been gifted to us through this series of stories?'

We're not receiving the gift. We're not looking at what may be very pertinent questions that a lot of scientists are asking in their discussions and their research of transpermia, of cometary bombardment and catastrophe, of its effects on biology, its effects on life on earth. I think that these are pretty central questions that we could and should be asking at this time.

Harrison: Just on the subject of that story, the Perceval story, this is an aside. I've been reading, a translation of the original by Chretien de Troyes, translated by Nigel Bryant. This came out five years ago or something. If anyone is interested, I recommend it. It's really entertaining, it's a fun story and easy to read, actually. When you read a lot of classics hundreds of years old, often times the language, the translation can be really dry and not really entertaining, but this skips along.

On the subject of him not asking the question, there's an interesting theme that runs through Perceval's story in the original romance. He starts out as a real dumb kid. He's naïve and pretty stupid and he's kind of like the 'every man'. just a dumb human that doesn't really understand anything, makes the wrong choices, doesn't really listen to what's being told to him, doesn't see the significance of events, does some pretty mean things or just ignorant things in the beginning.

Elan: What better metaphor for humanity, than that.

Harrisson: And so the reason that he didn't ask the question at the procession was that he'd been told by his mentor not to speak, basically 'be silent', because the mentor can kind of see that he says dumb things, he often gives information that isn't needed. He tells people 'I learned this from my mom', and he says 'Don't do that, people won't have a good opinion of you so don't speak. There's a value in silence.' So he takes that extremely literally and he doesn't say anything.

So when he gets to this castle for the first time and he meets this beautiful lady, he just sits there and doesn't say anything, and she's just like 'Okay this is kind of strange' so she doesn't say anything and finally she talks to him, and he gives a really nice answer.

But in that situation he wants to ask, he's like 'I really want to know what that lance is, why it's bleeding and who the Grail is going to because it's feeding someone, they're bringing it to give to someone.' He doesn't ask the question because he's listening to the advice given to him and taking it in the wrong way. This happened before too, so the first instance of someone teaching him was of course his mother who taught him certain things, and so sometimes he listens to her, sometimes he doesn't. So that causes a few problems for him down the line too. He gains some karma for following her advice in ways that he probably shouldn't.

But it seems that one of themes of that story is that not only is there good advice to be had from other people and to listen to the advice given to you, but also that there's a danger in following the advice that's given to you, that it's not your own. As in our discussion of Paul, it's the law versus the spirit. It's the external source of rules that tells you what to do but you haven't internalized it for yourself. It's not coming from you. It's coming from the advice people that have told you.

So in this early stage of Perceval's career, it's his mom that's determining his actions to begin with. Then it's his mentor who's determining his actions. He hasn't found himself yet. He hasn't internalized any of these values for himself. In his journey as a knight that is seemingly what he's going towards, to internalize these things for himself because this romance was his last. The first had dealt with like chivalry and he dealt with other topics, but this was his spiritual romance. So there was a spiritual dimension to it.

But that's just an aside. Getting back to evolution and comets and all that, there are few different angles I want to look at this from. The first is to introduce a new angle that we haven't talked about in our previous discussions of intelligent design, because I wasn't familiar with it at the time. During our show with Joseph Azize, in the last couple of questions, he mentioned John Bennett a student of Gurdjieff. I was reading his last book called Masters of Wisdom, which he never finished. He died while writing one of the final chapters. I hadn't known beforehand that Bennett was so into this kind of stuff, so this first chapter is all about what we would now call intelligent design and what really is evolution. He's very anti Darwinian, thankfully.

The way he sees life is very interesting. He points to four aspects of life that for him are kind of remarkable. The first is the progress that you see in life, the progression from simple to complex and from relatively unintelligent to intelligent and to the intelligence that we see in humanity.

He sees in that progress the sign of what he calls intelligent experimentation, to discover the most suitable forms of life. When you look at life impartially, that's what it appears to be. It's almost like an experiment, a billion year experiment to find the most suitable forms, and that they progress in all kinds of qualities.

The second one was life's interdependence, the level of interdependence of the biosphere, is staggeringly complex. You take one thing out and the whole thing falls to pieces. You put one new thing in and you could destroy the whole system.

On the one hand it's very robust and on the other hand it's very fragile because of these interconnections, the level of which we can't even comprehend. We can understand certain parts of it but it's this one system, this one whole. That level of complexity seems to point to an intelligence that sustains it, that has created it and maintains it.

Then the third is beauty. This you don't find scientists talking about -- the beauty in life. For Bennett, that is one of the purposes of life, that it's not strictly functional, it's not strictly practical. There is an esthetic sense to life that injects beauty into it. One of the purposes of life is the beauty inherent in life.

Then the fourth is again one that everyone ignores -- you do find some intelligent design people talking about the beauty in life as the sign of a creator, of an intelligence - the fourth though is play. He says that for Bennett there's an element of play in the universe, in this progression and in this beauty and the absurdity of it. You see some creatures that are just absurdly strange and funny, humorous. If you look at some aspects of life, they're just pretty damn hilarious, like the platypus. There's a guy on you tube, zefrank I think is his YouTube channel, and he's the guy that does those kind of fake, almost John Attenborough explanations of creatures, insects and animals and mammals, and he finds all the just funny weird things that they do, and in his professional voice, talks about them very seriously but it's just completely ludicrous. So if you want an idea of the playfulness of life, then check out zefrank's videos.

But Bennett's idea, because he's a Gurdjieffian, first of all there's such a distance between humanity and God, the Absolute, whatever that is, whatever God is, whatever the Totality is, the One, whatever - there's such an immense chasm between us at our level and that level. What's in all that space? We've talked about this on a show before.

Bennett thought that there are levels between the ultimate and humanity. And so he saw the direction and the experimentation of life at a level in between - above humanity but below the Absolute. He called this the demiurge, not with any reference to the Gnostics who saw creation and the physical world as the creation of this demiurge, this almost godly figure in opposition to God himself, but demiurge more just in the original definition of the term, which I forget it now. I think it's something to do with working with your hands, a working helper or something like that.

And so he sees the demiurge as the level of intelligence lower than the absolute. It's their role, their job, to create life and to experiment with it, to come up with these new forms, with a purpose though, all leading towards something. That's why you see this progression in life. It's a purpose with an end, or it's an experiment with an end in mind.

Well how do we come to some certain goal? You can see it, on one level, if you look at all of the life on earth for billions of years before there were humans, then you could see a type of intelligence as one of the goals to which all of that life was purposefully striving as one of the end points of that experiment or one of the hopeful results of that experiment is to achieve that level, the main point being that there are these individualized or maybe collective intelligences that are above the level of humanity, but not at the level of the creationists or, as the intelligent design people would say 'God did it, God did all this'. The picture might be more complex than that, as we were saying.

I want to come back to our show last week to read something from Rumi. First of all I'll read a quote from one of Rumi's poems and then a bit from Chittick himself. This is again, from The Sufi Doctrine of Rumi by William C. Chittick. So first of all, here's Rumi's poem. He writes:

"Externally the branch is the origin of the fruit; intrinsically the branch came into existence for the sake of the fruit.

If there had not been desire and hope of the fruit, how should the gardener have planted the root of the tree?

Therefore in reality the tree was born of the fruit, (even) if in appearance it (the fruit) was generated by the tree.

Hence Mustafa (Muhammad) said, "Adam and the (other) prophets are (following) behind me under (my) banner."

For this reason that master of (all) sorts of knowledge [Muhammad] has uttered the allegorical saying "We are the last and the foremost."

(That is to say), "If in appearance I am born of Adam, in reality I am the forefather of (every) forefather,...

"Therefore in reality the father (Adam) was born of me, therefore in reality the tree was born of the fruit."

The thought (idea), which is first, comes last into actuality, in particular the thought that is eternal."

This relates to a quote from a poem by Ali. I'll just read the last bit of it:

"Thou takest thyself to be a small body, but within thee unfolds the macrocosm,

'And thou art the Evident Book (al kitab al-mubin) through whose letters the Hidden (al-mudmar) becomes manifest.'"

So there's of course a spiritual and a mystical meaning to that but it seems relevant or a way of reading something into that is, literally, through whose letters the hidden becomes manifest. What letters? Well through our physical form itself, the idea manifests, that life itself and on a larger scale the physical world, is the evident book of the cosmos, the book of the word of the grand cosmic mind, the greatest intelligence, the source of all conscience and being.

And so if that was kind of obscure, then here's, I'll read Chittick's explanation of all this. He's talking about this idea in Sufism of the universal man who embodies divine qualities. So he writes:

"Universal man has another aspect when seen from the point of view of the spiritual path: he is the perfect human model who has attained all of the possibilities inherent in the human state.

In him the "Names" or essences which man contains in potentiality (bi'l-quwwah) are actualized so that they become the very states of his being (bi'l-fi'l).

For him the human ego with which most men identify themselves is no more than his outer shell, while all other states of existence belong to him internally; his inward reality is identified with the inward reality of the whole universe.

Universal Man is the principle of all manifestation and thus the prototype of the microcosm and the macrocosm. Individual man, or man as we usually understand the term, is the most complete and central reflection of the reality of Universal Man in the manifested universe, and thus he appears as the final being to enter the arena of creation, for what is first in the principal order is last in the manifested order."

So if I were to give my picture at the current time of how this all fits together, to bring all of these threads together is that at a level above humanity there's what the Sufis might call universal man, almost like a cosmic template of life, of a life form, of an actualized being, the epitome of what life could be and that's first. The idea is first. In any creation the idea comes first before it is actualized. When you write a piece of music, it comes first through inspiration through whatever in your mind, before it becomes actualized in the world in the playing of the piece of music, or in the creation of a building, the architectural scheme, you have to think it first before it comes.

So in principal order, the first thing is the thought. The first thing is the ideal. But that is the last to show up in the natural progression of things. The last thing to show up is the final form that you have envisioned. Until you get to that point you have to go through all the intermediate stages, all the intermediate steps to get there. You have to build up to that ideal in actualization. But it comes first.

So to go on your idea Corey, about these levels of intelligence, the way that would make sense to me is that on some level there is a level of existence or creation where this spiritual ethereal ideal exists and the way it manifests in the world, for whatever reason, can only come about through this progression from the very simple to the more complex.

So the way it plays out in the physical universe is this billion of years of long process where you have the raw material that form the stars, the planets, space and all of the gases and metals and everything from the origin of the universe. Now on this level you have planets, you have solar systems, but there's no life on them. The planet has to be prepared.

So at a certain level, or a certain stage in the planet's development, now it is habitable, it's hospitable. It's a hospitable environment for the creation of life. Whatever those conditions are, they need to be present because a planet can be an endless roiling volcanic mass of something, or it can be a totally sterile dead rock. There needs to be something about that planet that allows for the emergence of life. So whatever those conditions are, now what do you need? You need building blocks. This is where the comets come in. This is where the space and the transfer of materials comes to this planet. Now if those are present, not only do you need the right environment, you need the right conditions and the raw materials. So whatever happens, now you've got these materials. Here's the window of opportunity. We've got everything we need.

What is that window of opportunity? Well maybe it has something to do with the extreme energetic event of a cometary explosion, the EM bursts. Maybe there's some kind of specific state that has to be achieved to create this opening for this intelligence to then work on that material. Now you have this, now you've got the raw materials and you've got this state, maybe it's electromagnetic in nature,

Jumping ahead a bit, maybe with the platinum group metals in later life, there's a similar thing happening when these metals get injected and can have the effect of turning the body into a superconductor that then creates that heightened state where action is now possible on some kind of creative evolutionary level.

But back to this origin of life, you've got the materials, you've got the event, you've got the context - the environment - and now to an outside observer looking at this, it would look like matter out of nothing, creation out of nothing, a self-assembling form coming into shape. All the materials are being intelligently guided to assume the form of that first organism. You've got all the building blocks but they need to be put together. So to that external observer it would look like they just take form and assume shapes. Now you've got your first life.

Something like this may repeat many times throughout history where you need the right conditions, the correct materials, the correct timing, when everything comes together that allows for that intelligence to then acts on that event because it doesn't look like that type of intervention from above, from a higher intelligence, is constantly going on. We don't constantly see new species coming about. We don't constantly see extinctions and radical restructurings of life on the planet. It seems to only come at certain times associated with cometary bombardments. In the times in between, things are pretty static, things just hum along ordinarily. You don't see anything really out of the ordinary happening. We get long stretches of the same species doing their thing and nothing really new coming out of it.

So then, something similar maybe happens to where we get the emergence of human life. But all of these things are in the image of that perfection. It's like you have this perfect form, this perfect genetic being who then -- this is kind of symbolic or metaphorical -- takes pieces of himself to create life. It's like 'Okay I'm this perfect being, I'm all the possible beings in my genetic structure, in my physical form', and then all of those get expressed in life as we see it on the planet with the goal of then coming back to that perfection.

So that's why the first is last. The first shows up last because it's the last to be manifested in this experimental stew of life on - well for us - on planet earth.

This gets back to the criticism that the intelligent design people have of aliens because this type of intelligence would be alien to humanity. It's not what people think of when they think of aliens. People have a very definite image of what they think aliens are like, but this type of intelligence could be called alien because it's not part of our ordinary experience, but this higher intelligence for what the intelligent design people would say 'well who created that intelligence?'

Well it's kind of a non physical thing. Ultimately it comes back to their idea, if we're going with the Sufis - ultimately all things come back to God, to the Absolute. So that ideal form would be the creation perhaps of a higher mind. But then it's now that being's responsibility to get life started and bring it up to its own point. At least that's the way I see it now.

There's one other idea I wanted to bring in. In one of your comments Corey, you said something about higher and lower intelligences. When we're working on something, when we're creating something - this is an idea that for me has resonances with what Gurdjieff talked about, one of Gurdjieff's ideas about the higher working on the lower to actualize the middle -- whenever you're doing something, you're a higher intelligence working on something objectively lower in the scale of creation to create something new.

And you can see this in anything. It could be your higher intelligence working on raw food to create a meal. Well the meal is higher than the raw food because you can't eat the raw food as it is, or if you do you'll get indigestion. You see this in education. You have the person with wisdom who's then instructing the person without wisdom, with the goal that what will be actualized is that person on a higher level, a new 'them', that is greater than what they were before.

So this seems to be a law of the universe and if it's true then it would seem that for the actualization of life on earth, you need a higher intelligence working on a lower material, or a lower intelligence to actualize something greater than the original one, or greater than the material, but still lower than the originator of the idea. You have that constantly going on and that's where you get the progression. It's a constant activity of the higher on the lower to create something a bit higher, which constantly rises up and climbs this ladder of creation.

That's at least how I see it, at this moment. It may change tomorrow. {laughter}

Elan: Well you said a bunch of things there, and we're coming on to the end of this show here. Just a couple of quick thoughts is what if, if there was a designer, if there is something above us that has helped to inform what we are physically, mentally, biologically, who's to say that cyclical catastrophe in the form of near earth objects isn't also a part of the design of the universe in some way.

Now this is kind of difficult to reconcile if you consider the potential for large amounts of suffering in the form of plague that usually comes after some cometary bombardments. But like you were saying Harrison, there's also the potential for the introduction of all of these positive elements. So if that's the case, then maybe by sheer dint of understanding this even greater perspective of intelligent design, not only on this micro scale of human beings and nature and animals and what have you, but also on this grander more cosmic level, something to at least try and get our head around and ponder, and I'm looking forward to looking at those questions in future shows.

Harrison: Maybe as a final thought before we shut down for the week, on what you just said from the Sufis, the faces of God are both beautiful and terrible. Those are both aspects of creation.

Elan: Right.

Harrison: So with that in mind, take care everyone and we'll talk to you later. Bye bye.