This is so I have a record of elements of my basic (current) worldview, which affects both my stories and the philosophical nonsense I spout on this blog. I briefly covered this in the self-review of Broken Worlds, which is based around the idea (and in dire need of a rewrite), but I’ll try and expand on it here and make it comprehensible.
When does life begin?
Is there a moment at which the cells from the male and female donor aren’t alive? Unless we get into a detailed semantic argument about what constitutes alive (which could be useful, but I’m not sure I have the knowledge base to properly examine) I think its fair to say that no, there is no such point. A life is created by combining cells from multiple living sources, so there isn’t really a point at which it can be said to not be alive.
Therefore what we view as individual entities are merely continuations of earlier entities which have split off from them. We appear separate when viewed from a purely three-dimensional context because we’re not merely three-dimensional.
If you consider a life over the entirety of its existence (taking time as a fourth dimension from which to view it, although referring to it as such may be technically incorrect) we see its links to other life forms.
It’s similar to how viewing a two dimensional cross-section of a tree’s upper levels can show the branches as separate entities. When viewing it three dimensionally, we can see it’s actually a single entity.
So if we take this view of us as humans, it’s logical that all humans (and, going back further, all life on the planet) are a single entity. (It gets prickly when taking into consideration what defines life, so I’ll refer to it as an entity rather than a life form. Reproduction may be possible for this entity when we spore and start colonising other planets (the alternate being staying on this one fragile planet where the human entity eventually dies a spinster), but that’s another topic.)
It raises an interesting (to me), and speculative, question about the nature of the soul. If there is a thing we could call a soul, do we have individual souls? Or do we have a collective soul, possibly with our minds (identity and personality) being a result of this soul’s limited interaction and experience of the world through our individual bodies?
Usefulness in Fiction
This worldview offers a way to explain some of the moderately fantastical elements I use.
If we’re actually a four-dimensional entity experiencing life three dimensionally, then things like déjà vu and precognition could be our minds trying to break out of this restriction by communing with our soul. Religious and spiritual experiences could also be ways to explain such mind-expanding incidents, with our minds filling in the incomprehensible bits with things we can understand.
Non-localised links with other minds could also be explained in a vaguely pseudo-scientific way to allow telepathy and suchlike.