4. Once matter exists and moves, forces of the universe dictate that it must either come together or come apart. As it comes together, it creates order, complexity, and life. As it comes apart, life, complexity, and order are lost; death, disorder, and chaos reign. We have arisen from life and have evolved an intense need to avoid death. All life competes against death. It is by no means a futile fight.
So far, the Standard Model and the General Theory of Relativity provide the best descriptions we have for the basic building blocks of the universe.* From them, we gather definitions of the subatomic elementary particles (quarks, leptons, bosons, etc.) and the four fundamental forces that govern their interactions (electromagnetism, strong nuclear force, electro-weak force, and gravitation). Strong nuclear forces hold the particles together to form atoms. Electro-weak forces cause radiation and decay. These give us ordinary matter. Gravity draws material together. Electromagnetism can make it stick or explode apart. This is highly simplified, but the general picture we get is one of attraction and repulsion, of combination and separation, of construction and destruction. We get a universe that is fluid and changing, but capable of solid stability. We get a universe that comes together into wholes and comes apart into pieces. This is the scientific basis for tenet #4 of Evolutionary Philosophy.**
What does this mean for philosophy? Well it obviously contributes part of the answer to the question, "Where did I come from?" To understand our place in the universe all the way back to the first separation of matter at the Big Bang, through the subsequent cumulative turbulent joining together of matter into our complex selves, grounds our lives in a powerful context. We are not outsiders placed here by an external deity, forever confused about our role and our power. We are instead products of everything we see and understand, and we are at home. We are not independent beings shorn of all duty or obligation. We are the product of matter coming together into life, and we must continue to build and come together if we are to honor the time and the trial and error it took to get here. This has profound implications for the rest of our philosophical questions, as I hope to continue to show.
* We do not know what caused these building blocks, nor what came before the Big Bang where our first evidence of them is found. I don't mean to skip over this ignorance as a way of hiding from something magical (that a god may have caused this universe), but merely to move on to something pragmatic (that we must act based on what we do know). As I said in the post about tenet #1, we see no evidence of supernatural interference in the 13+ billion years of this evidence, so there is no reason to spend time speculating about something supernatural that might have come before this universe.
** Over the history of the universe, we now understand quite clearly the evolution from elementary particles to complex molecules. Physics, chemistry, and astronomy have given us that picture. We also know quite clearly the evolution of single celled organisms to complex life. Biology and archeology have given us that picture. A gap that remains is the clear understanding of how complex chemicals evolved into single celled organisms. This process is known as abiogenesis or the origin of life. Again, I will reiterate that we see no evidence of supernatural intervention in this universe so we do not expect it here either. One of the best leading theories of abiogenesis comes from the work of Nobel-prize-winning Professor of Genetics Dr. Jack Szostak. The video below provides an excellent summary of his work, which ties in beautifully to the thread of this post about matter coming together to create structure, order, and life.