The evolution of Gaia

J. E Lovelock   regards the surface of Earth   as a kind of super-organism called Gaia. Life has evolved and still evolves as a complex web, "A self-regulating entity with the capacity to keep our planet healthy by controlling the chemical and physical environment". Gaia is a biosphere that controls itself. An ecosystem in which life and its environment are coupled. It was born in the "primitive soup", has been evolving ever since, and we differentiate in it.  

In order to grasp how Gaia, the super-organism evolves, consider for a while how your organism evolves. Imagine yourself living in a growing embryo. It is three months old and you are its brain.  Unlike other embryonic brains you posses a consciousness, remember your past, and observe other organs in the growing body. You are the thinker and theorist. You were born from a gastrula as an elongated hollow tube, as you became older you twisted, convoluted, and now you are proud of being a real brain. Other organs evolved as well. The heart started as a hollow tube, twisting once or twice until its four chambers became visible. The kidney proceeded through somewhat more complex states, and so did other organs.

You wonder, what drives these changes? Since each organ is composed of several cell populations, your body somehow determines which cells will continue dividing and which will cease to exist. Your body selects the best fitting cells and adds them to the different organs. This process of cell selection is called differentiation. 

Did your body evolve (differentiate) by natural selection as Darwin put it?   How does your body select the fittest organs?  The best fitting  heart, has to match the best fitting lung, kidney and other organs. A weak heart will not pump enough blood into an oversized lung.  Thus in order to select the best fitting heart, the organism has to consider all other organs in the body. 

According to the Gaia hypothesis, our evolution is determined by all entities (organs) on earth. Gaia evolution is actually an ongoing differentiation of a super-organism.

When Spinoza searched for God he found Him all over Gaia (pantheism). It seems to me that when he read   Genesis chapter-1, “God said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” Spinoza might have preferred: "Let us make Gaia in our image, after our likeness.”

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