Thoughts & Insights

Thank Heavens for Imperfection

What we’ve learned so far about the way life was created might lead us to think that – whether by chance or design – this shows the workings of a perfect system because everything that’s been created since the beginning of the universe, and in particular the creation of a solar system with that planet called Earth which we inhabit, seems to point to a state of undeniable and sublime perfection.

Yet the fact is that in the beginning at least it was a state the very opposite of perfection that first set the conditions that led to the existence of life and ultimately to the existence of human life in the gigantic reaches of the cosmos where we have our home. The evidence seems to show that we primarily owe our existence to a state very far from perfection, a state lacking order. This, in any case, is how Stephen Hawking views it in a new series of documentaries he’s made for the Discovery Channel entitled “Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking”.


Matter, he argues, proved stronger than anti-matter and boiling furnaces of hydrogen gas formed thick clouds of fog. Yet if some 13 billion years ago all these clouds of hydrogen gas had formed themselves in a perfect symmetric order at equal distances from one another in the vast spaces of the cosmos, such equilibrium would have been permanent and never changing. But since – for whatever reason – they did not form a perfectly symmetrical order but moved in a state of disequilibrium, this gave rise to gaps. And gaps are not merely the mark of imperfection but are also always free spaces. And as such these free spaces were exposed to the workings of the force of gravity to which we owe the whole of the subsequent development of the cosmos.


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Gravity exerted its immense forces on these gaps creating heat capable of turning hydrogen atoms into helium – the first stage in the creation of stars and galaxies. Over the course of billions of years the dust of dead stars gave birth to the more auspicious conditions of our own solar system under which life emerged. Some 14 billion years after what we call the BIG Bang life made its first appearance on planet Earth. This is where we have come from.


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Now I am in no position to judge whether Stephen Hawking’s views are correct. I can’t even say with any certainty that I’ve given an exact account of what he presents in the documentary. Yet I would venture to say that his viewpoint seems very plausible. And I think that it’s also got a great deal to say about how we are living and acting today on this earth. Order is vital and invaluable when it follows the proper logic at the right time. Yet the lack of order creates room in which new things can develop. Lack of order is not just a characteristic expression of life but the very source from which it springs. Chaos and order are indissolubly linked together and are twins. Lack of order means that room for evolution and development is given. Absence of chaos means stasis, a gridlocked state of standstill. The gaps in order enable emergence of what’s new. And that should give our anxiety-ridden species grounds for hope, I find.