by Michael Hayes.
An Infinity of Harmonies
Richard Dawkins evokes a river of digital information flowing through time in the form of DNA, branching and forking on its way, and giving rise to new species in the process. When one species mutates off a daughter species, the river of genes forks into two; and if the two branches diverge for long enough - perhaps through the influence of geographical variables - the two species eventually develop quite distinct and different characteristics. At one stage, in one of these branches, 'Mitochondrial Eve' was born. This is the name given to the most recent ancestor of all modern humans, a member of the species Homo Sapiens, who probably lived in Africa between one hundred and two hundred and fifty thousand years ago.
Mitochondria are actually tiny, vital, energy-producing particles which exist in the thousands in all our cells. They help to convert energy from food molecules and store it for distribution later. The interesting point about mitochondria is that they have their own DNA. Unlike the main, nuclear DNA, which becomes almost totally scrambled in every generation every time a sex-cell is made, mitochondrial DNA is passed on down relatively unchanged through the female line only. It is therefore a very useful tool for long-term geneologists, who can use it for dating common ancestors within species. This is how 'Mitochondrial' or 'African Eve' has been identified and dated.
Dawkins is particularly fond of Mitochondrial Eve, and he contrasts her, as a scientific hypothesis, with the Eve of Eden. He believes his scientific truth to be of greater interest and, 'more poetically moving' than the myth. I myself, however, having read them both, am left wondering.
The crucial event in human history occurred, I believe, in the Old Kingdom, Egypt, around the time of construction of the Great Pyramid. The Hermetic Code itself, the mysterious conceptual equivalent of the Rosetta Stone, is actually the original 'immaculate conception', an ingenious esoteric symbol designed to express the all-embracing principle of perfect symmetry and absolute harmony. The code is more familiarly known today by its shorthand version, and this is the classical formula, Pi or 22/7, the numerical symmetry of which describes, in essentially musical terms, the two most fundamental laws of nature, namely the law of triple-creation and the law of octaves. These two laws, and the unseen forces they describe, are discussed in some detail in my book: The Infinite Harmony (ch.1), but, briefly, they can be understood like this:
The law of triple-creation asserts simply that there are three fundamental creative forces in nature (say, active, passive and neutral), and that all phenomena are products of them.
The law of octaves states that all phenomena also consist of varying 'degrees of resonance', which are always inwardly composed, and transmute one to another, in sevenfold patterns of formation and sequence. This also applies to each of the creative forces themselves; each one is composed within as a fundamental octave of resonance - hence the musical construct of the formula: pi or 22/7
So Pi is a symbolic expression of a fully resonant 'triple-octave'. But it is also a remarkably accurate working blueprint for all evolutionary development, and so its distinctive inner-symmetry can be identified in the biomolecular and physical structures of all forms of life; not only, for example, in the overall physiology of human beings, with their three nerve-complexes responsible for sensation, emotion and perception and their eight endocrine transformers, but also in the sixty-four/twenty-two note amino-acid 'scale of resonance' employed by DNA in the biochemical synthesis of proteins. All human beings, in other words - indeed all living creatures - are in reality musically, or 'hermetically' composed; they are evolutionary 'triple-octaves' with the inherent potential to achieve within a condition of 'optimum resonance'.
A GREATER SCALE OF BEING
Incidentally the concept of the trinity of creation - a fundamental component of all major religious doctrines - implies that every phenomenon, without exception, is a composite triple-octave, and each of the individual octaves embodied therein are in themselves trinities. So we have a major twenty-two note scale which can be further subdivided into three minor twenty-two note scales, which gives, in total, nine interpenetrating octaves of potential optimum resonance - exactly sixty-four notes, or the square of the constant number, eight.
The living cell, by following the genetic 'code of conduct' laid down at the microcosmic level of existence (ie., the digital instructions encoded within DNA), actually attains this highly-desirable condition of optimum resonance and so acquires the supernatural power to self-replicate. Through a rapid series of exponential growth patterns it then combines with its fellow creatures to create, in the most 'immaculate' of ways, a whole new world for itself, a massive, intricate, conscious organism. Such an organism constitutes a higher dimension for the cell, a greater 'scale of being', as it were.
Now the theory at the root of the hermetic code, which I have called the theory of transcendental evolution, asserts that, at the human level of existence, this condition of optimum resonance, which can be attained by following certain tried and tested 'religious' codes of conduct, endows any given individual with the supernatural power to penetrate an infinitely greater, or macrocosmic scale of existence, to a higher dimension - to 'heaven' if you like.
Each and every one of us, therefore, is - potentially at least - a kind of cosmic messenger, a programmable metaphysical 'chromosome' with the inherent capacity to self-replicate, to successfully disseminate original, 'immaculate' ideas out into the greater conceptual world inhabited by the minds and hearts of humankind.
THE FATHER OF REVELATION
The unravelling of the digital molecular structure of the DNA double helix by Watson and Crick has been hailed by Dawkins as the most revolutionary scientific discovery in history, an achievement for which, he believes, they should be honoured for as many centuries as Plato or Aristotle. Whether or not this will, in the event, turn out to be the case remains to be seen, but it's a tall order. The Athenian adepts, as I have pointed out in my book, were all fully in tune with hermetic philosophy. In fact, Socrates, the first of the great trio and Plato's mentor, received personal instruction from the Pythagorean school on the island of Samos. In addition, all three were known to have respected and familiarised themselves with the traditions of the legendary Persian Magi. After the execution of Socrates in 399 BC, Plato quit Greece, visiting Egypt and Italy, and on his return to Athens some years later, he founded the famous Academy as a school for philosophical and scientific research, which he presided over for the rest of his life. Plato's writings, as one might expect, are permeated throughout with clearly identifiable hermetic data.
The Greeks believed the source of all this musical wisdom to have been the Ibis-headed Egyptian god, Thoth. Known to the Greeks as Hermes Trismegistus (thrice-great Hermes), he later became associated with the Roman god, Mercury, the messenger of the gods. Most of the literature relating to Hermes belongs to the post-Christian era and scholars in general doubt that he ever existed. But of course, someone, somewhere, revealed the hermetic code to the human race, so by whatever name he was then known, we can be sure that the Father of Revelation did, at some remote period in time, walk upon this earth.
As we have seen from the esoteric content of this individual's remarkable ideas, his knowledge of the evolutionary processes of nature mirrors perfectly the sixty-four/twenty-two note structure of the genetic code. But there is actually another very intriguing fact about the mysterious Hermes Trismegistus worthy of note; one which, to me at least, is so fitting as to be at least as 'poetic' as Mr Dawkins's 'Mitochondrial Eve'. The rod of Hermes was known as the 'caduceus' and he is depicted holding it in Botticelli's La Primavera. The wand itself, said to have magical properties, was surmounted with two wings and entwined by two serpents - a perfect double helix.
Mitochondrial, or African Eve, would have been the first Homo Sapiens to successfully copulate and produce descendants. She may have lived as recently as a hundred and fifty thousand years ago. Before her there were more primitive hominids, such as Homo Erectus and its even more remote ancestors, Homo Habilis and Australopithecus, the earliest having been dated to around four million years ago.
So a great deal happened in the development of the hominid over the last hundred and fifty thousand years, for Eve was little more than a savage, a successful fighter and breeder, an unwitting, cut-throat product of DNA's relentless bid for immortality.
Now contrast his hungry, flint-wielding creature with the kind of hominid that lived in the Fertile Crescent about five thousand years ago. From Egypt to Mesopotamia, there occurred, quite suddenly, an unprecedented bout of civilised activity. Great cities and cultures, the likes of which had never been seen before on earth, grew and blossomed in the space of a couple of centuries. The hominid had learned to build - not just any old how, but with an expertise and precision that even today's architects and engineers, using the same kind of tools, would find impossible to match, let alone surpass.
The Great Pyramid of Cheops is undeniably the oldest, most massive and intricate building ever to have been fashioned in stone. Each of its two and a half million blocks or limestone averages two and a half tons in weight, and some of the larger granite blocks featured in the interior weigh between thirty and seventy tons. On top of that, the whole edifice was originally sheathed in an eight-foot thick exterior limestone casing set with joints only a fractions of a millimetre wide! Archaeologists tell us that this remarkable building, the base area of which covers a staggering thirteen acres, was erected around 2700 BC. And what was the hominid doing for a living in the Fertile Crescent, say, a half a millennium before this, circa 3200 BC? Well, apparently, nothing much (except surviving, of course). At least, there is no archaeological evidence of it.
HOMINID FROM A HAT!
One assumes, therefore, that prior to the appearance of the first civilisations, the hominid had barely learned to tame grass, let alone its restless mind. But then, quite suddenly, the natives not only learned to build on an unprecedented scale, to write, and to administrate vast social enterprises, they also, as it were, conjured-up the amazing hermetic code, pulling it out of nowhere, like a rabbit out of a hat,and...well, hallelujah! the hominid finally came of age.
This, I would suggest, is a massive quantum leap. Now, I have a question, one which I am personally still trying to answer, and it is this: Is the hermetic code the chance product of random mutation in the tribal brain of a rather fortunate member of the species Homo Sapiens, or was it purposefully introduced by some universal force, rather like a cosmic kick in the head? (Force, note, not 'God').
Macromutations seldom occur in nature and usually result in chronic deformity and eventual extinction. Yet here we have a true quantum leap in spiritual and cultural activity, a macromutation of the hominid mind that surely breaks one of the most fundamental rules of natural selective evolution.
Scientists now believe that the first biomolecular self-replicators were free-falling bacterial RNA. Exactly what form their self-replicating predecessors had, no one knows. Dawkins has suggested that the precursors to organic self-replicators might have been something like inorganic crystals, growing, say, in clays, constantly being transported every-which-way by ever-changing waterflows.
In fact, crystals do 'grow' in a sense, where the first array of geometrically-aligned atoms and molecules acts as a template for the next. As they grow, crystals also produce, on occasions, flaws (mutations) in their molecular structure, which are then 'copied' by the next developing layer and so on. Crystals also possess right and left-handed properties; that is, two varieties, (two or more kinds being a necessary prerequisite for the phenomenon of heredity, where like begets like). However, as Dawkins himself points out, molecules of crystals only act as templates for the formation of molecules in their mirror-image. So, in this instance, like does not beget like. Chemists have been trying for many years to 'trick' inorganic molecules into 'breeding' other molecules of the same handedness, but the natural forces at work in the inorganic molecular world are seemingly indifferent to such a process. If you start cultivation with a left-hander crystal, you end up with an equal number of left and right-handed molecules. Thus, says the author, "although the function of an earlier, non-organic self-replicator didn't involve 'handedness', a version of this trick was pulled off naturally and spontaneously four thousand million years ago."
Once again, as with the inexplicably swift transition from hunting hominid to civilisation-builder, I personally find the Darwinian notion of a gradual, random mutation from inert matter to evolutionary, self-replicating biomolecules a little hard to swallow. There is another quantum leap involved here, another illogically-successful macromutation.
The analogy Dawkins uses in The Blind Watchmaker is that inorganic crystal growth, producing mutational flaws over billions of years, happened, quite accidentally, to act as a kind of crude scaffolding for the building of a beautifully proportioned and sophisticated biochemical 'arch'. Once the final centre-stone of the arch fell into place (perhaps the last of the four chemical bases), the earlier-formed scaffolding, superseded by its biomolecular successor, involved into extinction. Subsequently the now animated 'arch', the biomolecular descendant of this inorganic cousin, eventually evolved, quite randomly, into entities like Jesus or Einstein, Hermes, Dawkins and you.
According to Dawkins, "the digital revolution at the core of life has dealt the final, killing blow to vitalism" - vitalism being the apparently mistaken notion that living material is deeply distinct from non-living material. This is certainly true in respect of the individual electrons and atoms of which living matter is composed, but when considering the overall symmetrical structure of entire biomolecules, and the harmonious distribution of the electrons and atoms within these beautiful dynamic forms, then the fundamental difference between, for example, a molecule of the protein haemoglobin and a molecule of water is surely glaringly obvious. Ergo, vitalism - my kind at least - is very much alive and kicking.
We thus have two unbelievably propitious macromutations in the otherwise uneventful Darwinian story of the evolution of life on earth; one being the quantum transition from, say, salt crystals or whatever, through something or other, to living, writhing, hermetically-composed bacteria, the other being the incredibly rapid metamorphosis, over a period of time which, by Darwinian standards, is infinitesimally small, of African Eve into Madame Curie, Rosalind Franklin or the Virgin Mary.
Now if, as I suspect is the case, the hermetic code was introduced by a powerful external force into the passive mind of the hominid of the Fertile Crescent, then, perhaps, the first, 'hermetically sealed', biomolecular self-replicators also received, so to speak, an external 'leg-up' to get themselves started. I'm not talking about 'God' here. I'm suggesting that there are very real, unseen forces in nature, undetectable by the crude, subluminal instruments of detection of modern science, which dictate that the creation of DNA-based life-forms must inevitably occur everywhere in the universe, as and when physical conditions permit.
Where this conclusion leaves us, the human race, we can but speculate, but the fact that the genetic code of the microcosmic world of the cell, and the hermetic code in the macrocosmic world of the human mind are absolutely identical is surely significant. It in fact brings to mind the principal dictum of Hermes Trismegistus, which was inscribed on the legendary Emerald Tablet: "As above, so below." The implication one immediately draws from this is that the only difference between the DNA helix and a fully-functional human brain is simply one of scale. And if the human brain is a kind of metaphysical 'helix', then presumably it is also an integral component - a cell-nucleus - in the body of an infinitely greater, multidimensional 'organism' - our own galaxy, perhaps. Remember, "As above..."
And if the galaxy is also a chromosome...
There are limits, of course. And many questions still to be answered. Interested readers may care to delve a little deeper into some of these multidimensional meanderings through 'metaphysical time' by consulting my own, previously mentioned work.