We are not alone (to be human is to be part-virus)

We now know that we “humans” are in fact a mixture of lots of species. For instance our DNA is 8% of viral origin. The mitochondria that produce power within all of our cells were originally bacterial species that we absorbed and recruited to work for us.

One way in which Darwin was WRONG – is that evolution happens in leaps and bounds, not gradually. There are long periods of genetic stability within populations, and then there is a huge leap forward. That can be caused by a dramatic shift in environment of course; but the really big moves have been when our DNA has been combined with others.

Since I finished my degree in vertebrate evolution in 1979 – we have discovered so much about where we came from. Take transposons. Heard of these? Well it now seems that big chunks of DNA get passed around between species. That’s LATERAL evolution. Or what about reverse transcriptase. That’s a mechanism by which RNA can be “read back” into the genetic material that codes it; and why can’t that genetic material then be passed down to descendants? In other words Lamarck was right (or at least part right) – what happens in our bodies can and does influence our genes and therefore the next generation.

Anyway – we are not alone. What appears to be the distinct species – Homo Sapiens – is actually a constantly changing and linking melting pot of lives and species.

Who knows maybe Coronavirus is a blessing – and somewhere in the RNA killing machine there’ll be a bit of code that we’ll make use of. And then, perhaps the next Great Leap Forward will be when we – as bits of biology – combine with machines and algorithms to become another wave of recombinant life? The idea of part man- part machine has always seemed terrifying to me. But perhaps this is all part of God’s loving plan? Maybe this is where Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was pointing when he predicted (in the 1950’s) that our invidividual consciousness would merge and emerge as something conscious of love and God – at the Omega point.

Ramblings? Of course – because who actually knows what comes next – ramblings and musings are a way of contouring and contouring what the future may hold.

3 thoughts on “We are not alone (to be human is to be part-virus)

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