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Alien Souls: One with Eight Arms and One in Three Persons

Alien Souls: One with Eight Arms and One in Three Persons

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Alien Souls: One with Eight Arms and One in Three Persons

Longitud:
265 página
3 horas
Editorial:
Publicado:
Nov 30, 2020
ISBN:
9781005097486
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

"If evolution really works," asked the comedian Milton Berle, "how come mothers have only two hands?" Evolution does work. It has produced a mother with as many as eight arms. God was having fun! This mother also has as many as fifty outfits in her wardrobe and, rather unlike human females, can change outfits in less than a second! She is a colour-changing spectacle. That creature is, of course, the octopus. If you are a male reader do not get too smug, for, as we will see, the octopus shows up human males in particular.

The octopus turns conventional wisdom on its head. Its body is attached to its head which is attached to its limb. We will see that the octopus turns much of human "wisdom" on its head too. So, you don't have to visit another planet to meet an alien soul with eight arms, three hearts, blue-green blood and a strange wisdom. A rock pool will do it. Since they tend to be solitary creatures there is no collective noun for them, but an oddity of octopuses might work!

We may pride ourselves in being the pinnacle of creation, but perhaps, if we let him, God would speak to us through the lowly position and upside down nature of the octopus. The octopus has features that are superior to ours. For instance, its eye does not have a blind spot. Perhaps our minds have blind spots that are not present in the minds of octopuses. We will see that there is an apparent foolishness about the octopus that, on closer examination, exposes the "wisdom" of humans. If we are prepared to take advice from a mollusc, it can point us towards both the most dangerous organism to humans and the foolhardiest organism in the world. Prepare to be astonished! As we will see, humans cozy up to organisms that are far more dangerous than coronaviruses.

This is going to stick in the throat of some, particularly those with pride issues, but this book suggests that when you consider the alien wisdom of the octopus and that God turns human wisdom upside down especially in Christ and him crucified, then the octopus is, in some faint respects, created more in the image of God than humans!

Editorial:
Publicado:
Nov 30, 2020
ISBN:
9781005097486
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Mike L Anderson, PhD (Philosophy of Evolutionary Biology). Mike develops educational resources and software and plays Starcraft.

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Alien Souls - Mike L Anderson

"As a Christian and philosopher of evolutionary biology, Mike Anderson, in his latest book Alien Souls: One with Eight Arms and One in Three Persons, provides us with a fascinating exposé of the human condition, rampant corporate greed, the incoherence of the New Atheist agenda and an exposition of the counter-intuitive, redemptive power of Christ, all through the multiple brains and sensors of that evolutionary oddity - the humble octopus. Mike combines his philosophical and scientific expertise, deep faith and numerous anecdotes in a somewhat Malcolm Gladwell fashion that captivates and educates the reader. I have known Mike for more than 30 years and am continually amazed at his humble mission to break down the artificial walls that attempt to place science and faith in incompatible domains. In this invalid separation, science alone is considered able to define facts, reality and truth and by inference, faith is relegated to the level of fairy stories. Mike exposes the fallacy and blindness of this position through the sentience and wisdom of the alien octopus. I thoroughly recommend this unusual book which brought me learning, laughter and new insights into how faith and science are integral to effectively deal with the challenges facing humanity."

Tony Bunn

Former Professor of Biomedical Engineering, University of Cape Town

"Thanks a million for allowing me to read this awesome script. I count it an honour

indeed. It is informative, educative, equipping and stirred up my soul to the core. I

endorse the book 100%."

Dr. Molefetsane Jonas Khauoe

Research Associate & Consultant in thePlan, speaker in transformational

leadership, marriage and pre-marriage counselling.

Alien Souls:

One with Eight Arms and One in Three Persons

Mike L Anderson

Published by Smashwords

Copyright 2020 Mike L Anderson

ISBN 9781005097486

Discover other titles by Mike L Anderson at Smashwords.com

http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/mikelanderson

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

Thank you for downloading this ebook. You are welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be reproduced, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the book remains in its complete original form. This ebook is freeware and may not be sold. If you have paid for it, you have been scammed.

Unless otherwise stated, quotations from the Bible are taken from Holy Bible: New International Version, Copyright © 1978 by the International Bible Society, New York.

Dedication

This book is dedicated to all my prayer and financial supporters.

Acknowledgements

I am indebted to many people, but want to especially mention Dr George Murphy for teaching me the centrality of the cross, Professor Tony Bunn and Dr Molefetsane Khauoe for their reviews and my ever-faithful editor Dr Andrew Potts.

Table of Contents

An Oddity of Octopuses

A Hubris of Humans

A Treachery of Tobacco Tycoons

A Fertility of Foolhardiness

A Sublimity of Soul

About Mike L Anderson

Other titles by Mike L Anderson

Notes

An Oddity of Octopuses

If evolution really works, asked the comedian Milton Berle, how come mothers have only two hands? Evolution does work. It has produced a mother with as many as eight arms. God was having fun! This mother also has as many as fifty outfits in her wardrobe and, rather unlike human females, can change outfits in less than a second! She is a colour-changing spectacle. That creature is, of course, the octopus. If you are a male reader do not get too smug, for, as we will see, the octopus shows up human males in particular. The closely related cuttlefish and squid are also motley, multi-armed marvels. It's extraordinary arms may not, as we will see, be the most remarkable thing about the creature.

The common octopus (Octopus vulgaris)

Evolutionarily, the octopus and the scallop it feeds on have taken very different routes, even though they are both molluscs. We might give our mythical monsters three eyes and our sci-fi extraterrestrials a large brain and forehead. God had more fun with making alien creatures. The scallop has a multitude of eyes, up to as many as 200. It can give one an eerie feeling to imagine being watched by so many eyes, but the scallop cannot actually watch anyone. That requires a brain and the scallop does not have one. The scallop can do little more than detect that a shape is moving, but its motion detection system is extremely sensitive. And it can jet away from a predator at great speed by shutting the two halves of its shell rapidly. From the same original body plan, evolution has produced two rather different creatures, each a curiosity in their own right and each remarkably well adapted to their lifestyle and habitat.

A scallop

The octopus went the extremely impressive intelligence route. As we meet this mind, prepare to have yours blown away! Even that may not be what is most amazing about the octopus. For, the octopus has personality. A consensus is emerging among researchers that the octopus, despite its lowly invertebrate status as cousin to the garden snail, has a sentience of sorts. It is curious, it likes to play, it gets angry, has a strange kind of consciousness and may have an even stranger soul. The Stoics compared the human soul to an octopus, with its eight legs representing the five senses, speech, reproduction and thought with the parts of the human soul stretching through the body like the tentacles of an octopus.¹ Compared to the octopus, the human soul is rather unitary. Researchers are still trying to wrap their heads around it, but there is a strong case that the octopus has a distributed soul, and we will see that this gives it unique wisdom. Bear in mind that our common ancestor with the octopus goes back 500 million years ago to a creature without a brain or eyes. The octopus evolved a body-plan, eyes and mind completely independently of ours. What this suggests is that God is in the business of producing other souls, and when I say other, I mean outlandish.

The convention we are familiar with is the head being attached to the body which is attached to the limbs. Nicholas Husk expressed the octopus’s view of this arrangement:

"A wise and observant cephalopod

Might justly consider humanity odd -

Or really perhaps a trifle obscene -

For growing a torso and hips between

The neck and the knees."²

The octopus turns the conventional wisdom on its head. Its body is joined to its head which is joined to its limbs (hence the group name cephalopod, meaning head-foot, for octopuses, cuttlefish, squid and nautilus). This does not mean it gets its foot stuck in its mouth, for when it moves it is graceful to those who can get past its apparent creepiness. We will see that the octopus turns much of human wisdom on its head too. So, you don’t need to visit another planet to meet an alien soul with eight arms, three hearts, blue-green blood and a strange wisdom. A rock pool will do it. Since they tend to be solitary creatures there is no collective noun for them, but an oddity of octopuses might work!

We may pride ourselves in being the pinnacle of creation, but perhaps, if we let him, God would speak to us through the lowly position and upside down nature of the octopus. The octopus has features that are superior to ours. For instance, its eye does not have a blind spot. Perhaps our minds have blind spots that are not present in the minds of octopuses. We will see that there is an apparent foolishness about the octopus that, on closer examination, exposes the wisdom of humans. As early as 1567 Michel de Montaigne suggested that the octopus might have some insights for us humans. Caspar Henderson says that Montaigne took the octopus as an example of how other animals sometimes far surpass us in certain abilities, … that we consider that our familiar ways of perceiving the world may be stunted, and that we might learn much more if we could sense in new ways.³ Montaigne said, "We have

fashioned a truth by questioning our five senses working together; but perhaps we need to harmonize the contributions of eight or ten senses if we are ever to

know, with certainty, what Truth is in essence." He may have been a tad ambitious, but if we are prepared to take advice from a mollusc, it can point us towards both the most dangerous organism to humans and the foolhardiest organism in the world. Prepare to be astonished! As we will see, humans cozy up to organisms that are far more dangerous than coronaviruses.

This ‘octopomorphism’ is going to stick in the throat of some, particularly those with pride issues, but this book argues that when you consider the alien wisdom of the octopus and that God turns human wisdom upside down especially in Christ and him crucified, then the octopus is, in some faint respects, created more in the image of God than humans! The Apostle Paul directed us towards the lowly in exposing the apparently wise saying, For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him (1 Corinthians 1:18-29).

The wise Solomon said, In a multitude of counsellors there is victory (Proverbs 11:14). Should we include animals amongst our counsellors? Should we include the cephalopods? Perhaps we humans would do well to benefit from this lowly creature, if we are humble enough to be prepared to be instructed by the spineless! Three hundred years before Christ, the Greek philosopher, Clearchus of Soli wrote,

"My son, my excellent Amphilochus,

Copy the shrewd device o’ the polypus [the octopus],

And make yourself as like as possible

To those whose land you chance to visit."

A similar point is echoed by the Apostle Paul, To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law … I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some (1 Corinthians 9:20, 22-23). We will see that octopuses are able to adapt, in real time, to changing circumstances incredibly quickly.

Monster or marvel?

As so often happens with the unconventional, octopuses have been greatly misunderstood. They have been vilified as ogres and adulated as oracles. Aristotle, no less, called it stupid. He misdiagnosed the condition of the octopus. It wasn't stupid, but curious. It was curiosity that killed the sea-cat.⁵ To Victor Hugo, the devil-fish as he called it, was a monster, declaring, A glutinous mass, endowed with a malignant will, what can be more horrible?⁶ and Orpheus, Homer, and Hesiod imagined only the Chimera: Providence has created this terrible creature of the sea. Creation abounds in monstrous forms of life. The wherefore of this perplexes and affrights the religious thinker. If terror were the object of its creation, nothing could be imagined more perfect than the devil-fish.

They can get rather big. The Giant Pacific Octopus can reach almost ten metres arm tip to arm tip and almost 300 kilograms, but it does not attack boats. Even when molested, the first reaction of the octopus is not to bite, but to hide or flee. The Colossal Squid does get monstrous in size (it has been weighed at a whopping half a ton), but is it monstrous in character? It has been lamented that, "Herman Melville's sober description of a live giant squid sighted at sea, in his well-documented novel Moby Dick (1851), passed almost unnoticed, while Victor Hugo's lurid chapters on a sailor's fight with an octopus, in Les travailleurs de la mer (1866), soon became an international success."

Colossal octopus by Pierre Denys de Montfort

Is the malevolence of the octopus not imputed? It seems that we love to loathe the monsters of our fancy. There can be little doubt that the Hydra of Greek mythology is an anthropomorphised embellishment of the octopus. To this day the octopus is used as a metaphor for evil conglomerates. For instance, in The Octopus: A Story of California by Frank Norris, the animal is likened to the Pacific and Southwestern railroad company that destroys the lives of wheat farmers in its pursuit of their land.⁹ The tobacco industry is another sector that has been likened to a giant octopus by, for instance, former smoker Allen Carr in his The Nicotine Conspiracy.¹⁰ His comparison is unfair to the octopus. And there is a great irony, for as we will see, the very foibles that humans do possess have been projected onto the octopus that does not and the octopus can show us reasons why we have failed to recognise the monstrosity that is the tobacco industry. There are peculiarities about the octopus that make it very sensitive to identifying certain monstrous threats to which humans are naturally rather impervious.

Ceramic of Herakles fighting the Lernaean Hydra (500 BC - 450 AD)

Now humans have also foisted skills upon the octopus that it does not have. Paul the Octopus was celebrated as a clairvoyant during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, apparently correctly predicting Spain as the winner. It garnered so much celebrity status that the Spanish Prime Minister José Zapatero even expressed concern for Paul’s safety! Among octopuses, Paul is a celebutante - famous for being famous rather than any actual skills it might have in prognostication. Paris Hilton is considered your classic celebutante.

As we will see, octopuses are neither ogres nor oracles nor otherworldly. These epithets are products of the human imagination, but this in no way diminishes the oddness of these astonishing creatures. There is no need to make bogus claims about the horrors, skills or origins of these animals for they are naturally just fabulous. The sober facts speak for themselves. Cephalopods are marvels in their own right. If anything, the octopus is a sage, not a seer. Of course, strictly speaking it is evolution that has produced the remarkable strategies we find in cephalopods. We will see that this wisdom does suggest something about why humans persist in getting taken in by the likes of Paul the Octopus and human celebrities. Hint - it is not about our having insufficient intelligence. Looked at in appropriate ways, we needn't recoil in horror or fawn at the fables. What we can do delight in difference and possibly learn from the wisdom that surrounds the octopus.

The octopus is caught between a rock and a hard place. If it seeks counsel from another octopus, it could very easily be eaten by it. Many octopus species are cannibalistic. There are some exceptions for interesting reasons, but because of this risk, octopuses are generally solitary creatures. The cowboy loners in the Hollywood Westerns do not know what a real loner looks like! Could evolution find a way for a cannibalistic hermit to appropriate the wisdom of Solomon? We will find that evolution has and in a most remarkable way.

Fast and furious

Unusually for an intelligent species, the octopus is short-lived - just a few years. Why did this odd combination of characters emerge? Hint: when you come across quirkiness, consider a traumatic past. So, to address this we need to look at the severe evolutionary history of its ancestors. Like the land snails, their ancestors had shells as protective devices. Then, during the Ordovician (485 million to 445 million years ago), some cephalopods got a brainwave. They used the shell as a flotation device. This got them towards the ocean surface and abundant food at a time when there were few predators in the open ocean. Very nifty, but it was not going to last. During the Devonian (420 million to 360 million years ago) there was a proliferation of fast jawed fish that put intense selective pressure on these floating cephalopods. They needed to swim more quickly. Some internalised or lost their shells (the Nautilus kept its external shell) and became adept at jet propulsion. These are the so-called coleoid cephalopods - squids, cuttlefish and octopuses. But with no bits to get stuck in the teeth of predators, the coleoid cephalopods became even more delectable and easier to eat. They were the original fast-food. This in turn meant they had to grow and reproduce more quickly. Hence their short lives. And with no shell, they had to come up with other ways to avoid getting eaten.

Later, some squids opted for superlative size, not that this helped much against Liopleurodon,

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