Summary of Our Improbable Universe
Chapter 11: People Are Creators
We have seen how ascending levels of complexity have evolved the raw energy of the Big Bang into the biology and the spirit of humanity. It has also evolved into all that we have created. We are now the primo-creators in this corner of the universe. We even stand at a threshold where humans will soon create biological life in a test tube based on self replicating strands of RNA . The inevitably of this development was foretold by Mary Shelley in the story of the Frankenstein Monster one hundred and fifty years ago. Whether or not these efforts succeed in creating biological replicas of life, people have already created many life like entities. These creations are not made out of biological chemicals but out of human thought. In many cases the things that have come out of the collection of all human minds have assumed a life like character of their own. In this sense we are creators of new forms of life.
Ideas, myths, inventions, cliches, economic systems, political systems, corporations, languages, fashions, religions, scientific theories, jokes, games, states, computer programs, computer virus etc. are entities that evolve and replicate (propagate) in the medium that consists of the collection of all human minds. They shape the human mind and are shaped by it. Individual humans are partly made out of these things and these psychic entities arise from the collection of individuals. Ideally they interact with people in a "symbiotic" (mutually beneficial) relationship. Unfortunately the relationship is often parasitic (e.g. a fascist state). Their totality forms a kind of ecology. Many have suggested that the human collective psyche will ultimately couple to an interstellar network of thinking beings and thus generate yet another level of psychic complexity in which life will evolve for as long as the universe exists.
After fifteen billion years of the evolution of matter and half a billion years of the evolution of mind, the universe has produced a remarkable group of beings whose individual capacities and whose interconnectedness gives them the power to create in unprecedented ways. Not only do we create static objects like buildings and books but we also create things that evolve into more than they were initially like the styles of building buildings or the ideas behind the books. The media in which these entities exist are: the collectivity of interconnected human minds; the chemical media in the test tubes of our laboratories; the memory banks of our computers; and in the individual creative minds of people.
The previous chapter detailed the evolution of human spirit to the point where it could participate in creating itself and all of these other static and dynamic entities. If this universe was created, then we have indeed evolved into an image of the creator even though our achievements have been puny by comparison. If the universe was not created then, we are its god like conscious creativity. In either case, what we create is our responsibility and the act of creating is one of our great joys.