That Which Can't be Named

The nameless was the beginning of
heaven and earth;

The named was the mother of the
myriad creatures.

Tao Tê Ching
D.C. Lau Translation

I've wondered often about the origins of life.  There were some provocative classical experiments demonstrating that amino acids (protein building blocks) could be created in the lab by passing an electrical discharge through a flask containing methane and ammonia - a condition created to model lightning strikes in Earth's primitive atmosphere.  More recently, pantetheine was created by heating a mixture of pantoyl lactone, beta- alanine and cysteamine -- all three believed to have been present on the early Earth. Pantetheine is related to coenzyme A, essential for protein formation and used by every known organism to assist in a variety of chemical reactions.  Extrapolating from such results, it seems plausible that complex organic molecules might thus have evolved from simple molecular building blocks which then might have undergone a molecular evolution into more complex molecules that would ultimately support simple life forms.  From simple life forms evolved more complex life forms.  Further suggestions of the molecular basis for the origins of life include the auto-assembly of viral proteins in vitro and, more recently, the successful transplantation of a synthetic bacterial genome into a recipient cell.  Such experiments have lead to the concept of a "primordial soup" of molecular building blocks that might have given rise to primitive life forms spontaneously.

It's easy to extend the paradigm of evolution back to include inorganic matter.   Evolution at the quantum mechanical level can be observed readily both in nature and in the laboratory.  Nuclear fusion reactions power the stars and produce virtually all elements in a process called nucleosynthesis.  Our physical bodies are composed of stardust.

Evolutionary theories don't attempt to account for intelligence or will and are often offered as an alternative to a theistic concept of god.  Still, they fail to reconcile the requirement for the many extremely rare events that would be needed in tight synchronization with a very large number of other extremely rare events.  How does one reconcile the chicken and the egg paradox?  While there would be lots of time for such events to occur, it's difficult to accept that stochastic events are entirely responsible for the evolution of physical life forms.

Consider a different perspective.  Perhaps, physical forms of life arose via transformation from everything rather than evolution from nothing.  It's more than a semantic distinction.

The primordial universe -- a void without boundaries, without a beginning in time or an end, empty of physical form -- would still be a closed energy system.  The amount of energy per square unit of measure would be very low compared to dense regions in our physical universe.  Yet, this resting universe would still hold infinite energy in infinite space, even in its lowest unperturbed state - the state of zero point energy, postulated by Einstein and Stern.

Zero point energy is the ground state of a quantum mechanical physical system.  Yet, it is not a state without energy.  It is the energy contained within a vacuum.  It is not static as, according to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, the energy state would be in constant flux -- a vibration of enormous magnitude when manifested on an infinite scale of the infinite vacuum.  Such an infinite energy reservoir seems likely to have been the primordial soup from which all manifestations of the physical universe and of life arose.  This primordial universe would be undifferentiated in form and function.  Yet, the infinite wave forms might hold a consciousness.  Each vibration might hold a memory like a vibrating guitar string memorializing that it has been plucked.  Fractal resonant nodes might hold the intelligence of the universe.

Such an intelligence would be as infinite as the energy field from which it arises.   Yet, it would possess few distinguishing features - pure consciousness without definition.  The energy potential for everything we observe manifested in our present universe would be contained within the infinity of this unmanifested state.  In esoteric terms, it was (is) the universal consciousness, the godhead, the One.

Matter would condense from the immense fluctuating energy field of the unmanifested universe - perhaps in an event arising from a singularity to form an entire material universe, as predicted by general relativity.  Perhaps, matter came into existence out intention of consciousness; perhaps it was set in motion by stochastic events evoked by perturbations of energy, as if massive shifts in energy were orchestrated by an algorithm in a manner similar to that of a complex fractal.  Irrespectively, though temporal in space and time, the appearance of matter would provide a basis for distinction within the void - the beginnings of definition within the universe.  From the background zero point energy, darkness was separated from light.

At the crux of the Tao Tê Ching is the concept of opposites.  Darkness must exist in order for there to be light; low must exist in order for there to be high ... ugly for beautiful ... weak for strong.  Those things that can be named exist only in contrast to something else.  Yet, for this primordial consciousness, there would not be such contrasting attributes by which to discern within the void.  In the language of the Tao, it was the essence of what can't be named.  Definition would have evolved only out of points of distinction.  Without distinction, intelligence would not be required or available.

I can only imagine that a universal consciousness would have noticed the physical manifestations and, in some way, preferred them to what may have been the monotony of a nameless existence within the void.  Imagine a great consciousness awakened to experience its own definition.  Perhaps, the realized "mother of the myriad creatures" then chose to experience this brave, new universe more fully by defining further the contrasts within it.