This is the one of the greatest questions which has puzzled humanity for millennia. Where did we come from? What is our origin, our source? PBS Digital Studios and the YouTube channel It’s Okay To Be Smart has put together a great introduction on the topic, a summary of all of our scientific discoveries.
While we continue to work out the details of how life began, I think part of the question we can answer. It seems so obvious that it was not even addressed in this PBS video (or the companion videos below), but it is something which we seem to easily forget or be blind to.
Life came from this universe, this cosmos, the mass-energy that is this reality we find ourselves in, and the quantum fields from which this mass-energy manifests. We did not come from outside of this.
We are of this, from this, in this, as this. We are this universe come alive, the cosmos becoming conscious. As far as we know, there is nothing outside of this, because all things we know of exist here, in this universe.
There is speculation of multiverses, or universes which exist outside this universe, but it seems like it would be impossible for us to detect or discover the certain existence of such, because we are forever bound to this universe, it being the totality of all that is, to us. And whether or not other universes exist, it seems clear that we did not come from another universe, but from this one.
Most importantly, we are not in any way separate from this universe, but continue to be a part of the universe, even one with the universe. We are not living in the universe, but rather we are the universe universing. I think this is the source of most of history’s mystical insights, intuitions, and revelations, which are the origin of the world’s religions. Could this be partly what Jesus was referring to when he said “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30)? I think so.
I like this quote from the video:
Life is not a thing that things have. Life is what living things do.
Life is a process, activity, motion, creation, development, evolution, expansion, emerging, ordering, organization, being. Life is one of the things that this universe does, among a host of other doings. Life is a natural unfolding of this universe, by natural law (see the video below about the physics of life). And through ever-evolving complexity of consciousness, it is the way the universe is becoming aware of itself, as in a mirror, mirrors reflecting mirrors. We might say that “God,” the totality of this universe, is waking up to what it is, in and through us. We are gradually waking up to our identity in and as God, not separate, but at-one with all that is, including all other beings and creation. “When ye do it unto the least of these, ye do it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). And when we realize this directly, and embody it in our Life, we are fulfilling the measure of our creation (D&C 88:19, 25). As Eckhart Tolle has said, we don’t have life, we are Life!
And while we may know some of these things intellectually, it is something quite different to actually experience them directly. This is what happens in the deepest of religious experience, mystical experience, spiritual experience. It is our ego, our psychological self, which often makes us feel separate from our surroundings, isolated beings in a hostile world. By transcending our ego, putting off this “natural man” (Mosiah 3:19), we can perceive our infinite and eternal union with all that is, even God, the One, this Uni-verse (or “One Song“).
These great companion videos from PBS Digital Studios also help to explain life from the scientific viewpoint:
“…any given eddy taken separately has a lower internal entropy than its chaotic surroundings but the source of that local incidence of low entropy is the streamlined flow that it formed in… life appears to be just such an eddy… that makes you a little eddy of order.”
This sounds very much like the mystics who speak of life as a divine dance, and that we are like a droplet in the ocean, an eddy in the flow of Life. What’s important is to realize that we are not the droplet, but the ocean, we are not the eddy, but the stream from which all Life and creation emerges, even the Light-Energy of the universe. The droplet and eddy are local momentary manifestations of the ocean and stream. When our overriding egoic perception of our “small self,” the droplet or eddy, subsides or falls away from our consciousness, we can perceive our true selves, our greater selves, as the ocean or stream from which all things come, the Source of all, the Whole, the One, even God.
Yes, we evolved. All of life on this planet has emerged from a common ancestor, which means that all of life is related to each other. We are not somehow superior to other life just because we are human. Quite the contrary, we being as conscious and aware of this as we are, should be the most compassionate to all other life, recognizing in them the same life that exists within ourselves. They are us, and we are them. We are Life.