Bare Bones Biology 051- Levels of Organization

Now that we agree we do have some sort of a problem, maybe we should take a closer look, because I think we have more than one problem, and I think it might be easier to understand all of them if we organize them in terms of their biological levels of organization.

I’ve talked about Levels of Organization before, because obviously, understanding how things function is essential to solving problems. And I think the most important fact about how things work in the whole universe is the relationship among levels of organization and their emergent properties, that I’ll talk about next time.

Oh dear. Now everyone has stopped listening.

But if God made the world to function perfectly just the way it is (which I do not doubt) then that’s how he made it to function. Because that’s how it does function. So the more we understand about it the better off we will be, assuming that we choose to use that information for the benefit of us all.

Levels of organization is one of those ideas that everyone knows, really. It is so obvious that we don’t even have a name for it. But then scientists gave it a fancy name that makes it seem different from what we already understood. I remember reading, and rereading, and rereading, that section of the basic biology textbook, Curtis, love that book, trying to figure out what she was talking about. Because I thought she was trying to tell me something I didn’t already know. She wasn’t. We all know that the universe is organized in levels – like the Russian doll that has a doll inside it and another doll inside that. Only the thing is that each of the levels is different; not identical, smaller dolls, but entities that really are quite different from each other. You are made of organs and tissues, and the organs and tissues are made of cells, and the cells are made of molecules and the molecules are made of atoms. You already knew that. Maybe you didn’t realize that at every level the requirements for survival are a little bit different.

Or maybe you are more of a social person and you knew that countries are made of governments and governments are groups of towns and cities and towns and cities are groups of families and families are made of individual people. Everybody knows that.

So what’s the big deal?

The big deal is that it is really good to understand how all this works if we want to solve problems. Different levels have different problems. They also have some of the same problems, but it’s the different problems that we sometimes don’t recognize. So if you thought your government thinks the way you think. Well, it doesn’t. So who cares?

We all should care about this. If we don’t, then our level will get what it needs, but other levels, that have different needs, may not be getting what they require to maintain the balance of organization of the whole system. For example, if you believe that human compassion can solve all problems – well. There are levels of organization that do not have nor do they respond to human compassion. They need something entirely different. If you try to solve all problems using human compassion, and human compassion is not what’s needed to solve the problems, then you can throw all the compassion on earth at them and it will not solve their problem. It’s kind of like trying to save a starving person with compassion. It would be better first to give him some food.

At least that’s true for the most basic, instinctual compassion of one human heart reaching out. But I think there is another kind of compassion that we need, maybe even more than the heart compassion, and I call that wisdom compassion that understands the needs of others.

Bare Bones Biology 051 – Levels of Organization
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