From chapter "Beauty"
Here is my own informal list of what I think are a few really great innovations, inventions, and creations, this from a perspective that is at least an attempt to not be human supremacist, and that does not take as a given that what humans create has meaning and what anyone else creates does not. I’m not going to claim that these are the most foundational creations, or most important, or anything else other than that they are pretty great.
There is matter, space, and time. Without them there is nothing.
There is nuclear fusion, developed by the sun and other stars. Without it we’d all be very cold.
There is gravity, and other forms of attraction. Without it things would fall apart rather quickly.
There is motion, developed by the first entities who moved.
There is electricity, which was not in fact developed by humans. There is sunshine, which feels really good on a nice fall day. Don’t you love how it warms you all over?
There is homeostasis. How great is that?
There is fire, which also was not developed by humans, but by fire itself.
There is water, and there is ice, and there are clouds. There is rain.
There are oceans. There are rivers. There are springs. I remember as a child marveling at a huge bubbling spring that birthed a river fully formed, and wondering how it never ran out of water. There is the whole hydrologic cycle.
There are rocks, like water their own beings, in many cases long lived. They are foundational.
There is metabolism. Eating is a good thing, is it not?
There is cell division.
There is oxygen combustion.
There is sexual reproduction. There is reproduction without sex. There is sex without reproduction.
There are butterflies. Moths. There are leaf insects. There are grasshoppers who bury their clutches of eggs, like tiny sea turtles.
There are fireflies.
There are the fall colors of trees.
There is that light green of new growth on trees.
There is the sound of feet on dry leaves on a forest floor.
There are feet.
There are cilia.
And there are eyes. Can you imagine anything so brilliant? Who came up with that?
Or what about the sense of touch? Is this more brilliant than vision? Smell. Hearing. Taste. Which is the most brilliant? Don’t ask me; I’m certainly not smart enough to figure it out. They’re all good. And what about other senses unknown to humans?
Fruits and berries. One of the most brilliant ideas ever: putting your seeds in attractive, nourishing packaging which will lead someone to consume your seeds, deliver them elsewhere, and plant them in a bed of manure, which, it ends up, is, in another burst of brilliance, food for your child. Everybody wins! Is this a great idea, or what?
Proprioception. Have you ever wondered how hard life would be if this innovation had never taken place?
And while we’re talking about bodies, isn’t medicine amazing? Of course, humans didn’t invent the practice of the “diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.”
There are anglerfish and whale sharks. There are algae.
Spider silk, echolocation, beaver dams, birds’ nests, flowers.
There are families of wolves, families of baboons, families of elephants, families of chimpanzees, families of bees, families of alligators, families of frogs, families of plants, families of bacteria, multispecies families, like forests, like rivers, like you. There are families.
Friendship is a wonderful innovation.
There are roots to nestle deeply into soil. There are roots who wrap around each other to hold up friends and comrades and lovers.
Wings. There are wings for flying and wings for swimming.
Fat. Isn’t that a marvelous way to store energy and to keep you warm?
Muscle. Who invented muscles? They’re extraordinary.
Blood. Sap. Water.
I could go on and on, but perhaps it’s best if you come up with your own.