An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of November 24, 2002
issued from the woods just south of Natchez, Mississippi, USA

THE SIX MIRACLES OF NATURE

THE SIX MIRACLES OF NATURE
While reading Bill Broder's The Sacred Hoop I was surprised to see his reference to Earth's "three miracles." Those miracles were:
  • that things exist at all
  • that life came out of things
  • that life became conscious of itself

My surprise is that I had believed that I had thought up "The Six Miracles of Nature" all by myself, yet his three miracles were included in my six. Well, more than once in my life what I thought were original ideas (even original tunes) turned out to be old hat.

Here are "my" Six Miracles of Nature:

When something came out of nothing, the Universe could have remained an infinite volume of hydrogen atoms equidistantly suspended in space, but it didn't. Miraculously, matter began coagulating, changing its nature in many ways, engendering stars and planets, antimatter, black holes and all the rest.

Similarly, when life arose it could have remained like a virus, simply replicating itself for eternity. Instead, something charged the spirit of life with the capacity to evolve, so that now we have amphibians, birds, mammals, and whatever may emerge later.

And when life became conscious of itself, it could have remained concerned merely with the pleasures and pains of the body, and it could have restricted its thoughts to the brain's genetically fixed patterns. Instead, now, at least briefly, some of us can sometimes rejoice in the abstract patterns of music and art, we can laugh at the good joke that we are ourselves spiritual beings stuck in animal bodies, and on occasion we can even glimpse the unity of all things.

Maybe the Creator's crowning achievement on Earth so far is that some of us sometimes reflect back on the Creative Force out of which everything has sprung so rambunctiously and elegantly, recognize the beauty in it all, and feel awe and honor to be part of it.

Astronomers, geologists and biologists can tell us approximately how long ago each of the first five miracles occurred. The First Miracle came about approximately 4.8 billion years ago, if I remember correctly the last figures I saw, and the Third maybe 4.3 billion, and then, if self consciousness arose with the first hominids, the Fifth Miracle ignited possibly 35 million years ago.

I think that The Sixth Miracle is occurring just now -- "now" being the last few millennia. This blossoming is taking place as a greater and greater percentage of us Homo sapiens at least sometimes, at least briefly, project our minds beyond thoughts dealing with the daily maintenance and navigation of our bodies -- the hurting feet, the mechanics of acquiring mates, power and status, etc.

The Sixth Miracle flashes into being whenever any one of us reflects on the Cosmos, the selfless and beautiful abstract patterns in music and art, the pale-orange broomsedge field lightly touched with frost at dawn as the White-throated Sparrow sings its "I'm here" song... and is moved to emotion. Facebook Icon.