IS LIFE A STRUGGLE?

Prof. Dr. Zekeriya ALTUNER
Gaziosmanpaşa University. Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Biology Department, Tokat.
[email protected]

This perfect order and system in the universe is the result of mutual assistance, solidarity, answering one another’s needs, subjugation and compassionate helping.

Is life a struggle? That is one of the sentences we often hear in the daily flow of life. Most of the time, we use it innocently, without thinking about its meaning. After the introduction of Darwin’s philosophy, this statement was systematically and consciously brought to the agenda because the statement "Life is a struggle" was one of the foundations of that philosophy.

Along with the first beginning of life on earth, it is seen that life has developed in two different ranges as plants and animals.

Is it regarded a struggle to send the water needed by plants, animals and people to the places where it is needed by the clouds, or is it answering the needs of living beings? What kind of a philosophy is that it considers sending of mercy (rain) from heaven a struggle?

There is a very orderly biological balance that astonishes man among those ranges of plants and animals. Is the struggle or solidarity that ensures this balance seen in the realm of the living beings?

This perfect order and system in the universe is the result of mutual assistance, solidarity, answering one another’s needs, subjugation and compassionate helping. If this apparent order and system were a struggle for life, as those who look from the viewpoint of philosophy rather than oneness and belief, we would not be talking about a system because the struggle is a war and there is no such thing as helping the other side in war.Everyone has to destroy someone else in order to survive and become the dominant force. However, everything in the universe supports each other like the wheels in a factory provided thatman’s dirty handdoes not interfere. They help each other by working hand in hand and standing shoulder to shoulder.

Along with the first beginning of life on earth, it is seen that life has developed in two different ranges as plants and animals.

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi explains it in a very concise way:

Look! With little difficulty you can see the seals of the Single, Eternally Besought One on the page of the earth, so raise your head, open your eyes, and look too at the great book of the universe. You will see that on it as a whole a stamp of unity is read out which is as clear as it is big. For like the components of a factory or members of a palace or town, these beings support one another, stretch out their hands to assist one another, and answer the needs and requests of one another, saying: “Here I am, at your service!” Assisting one another, they work together in order. Joining efforts, they serve animate beings. Co-operating and turned a single goal, they obey an All-Wise Disposer. They conform to a rule of mutual assistance which is in force from the sun and moon, night and day, and winter and summer, to plants coming to the assistance of hungry and needy animals, and animals hastening to the assistance of weak, noble men, and even nutritious substances flying to assist delicate, weak infants and fruits, and particles of food passing to the assistance of the cells of the body. They show to anyone who is not altogether blind that they are acting through the strength of a single, most generous Nurturer, and at the command of a single most wise Disposer.

Thus, on the one hand this mutual support and assistance, this answering one another’s needs, this mutual embracing, this subjugation, this order, testify decisively that beings are administered and organized by a single Disposer and are being impelled and directed by a single Nurturer. And on the other hand, this perfect grace within the universal wisdom to be seen plainly in the art of things; and the all-embracing mercy which shines within the providence; and the sustenance spread over that mercy and scattered so as to answer the needs of all living beings needy for sustenance; –these form a stamp of Divine unity so brilliant that anyone whose mind is not altogetherextinguished will understand it and anyone who is not altogether blind will see it”.[1]

The Law of Mutual Help

The Relationship between Animals and Plants

The water that plants take from the soil and the carbon dioxide they get from the air are combined with the help of solar energy. Chlorophyll molecules of green plants have been assigned to fulfill this task. Since this incident occurs in light, it is called photosynthesis or assimilation. Although this amount of the assimilation is expressed even in elementary school books, it is a very complex incident.

100 billion tons of organic matter, namely, carbohydrates such as cellulose, glucose and starch, is produced by using approximately 150 billion tons of carbon dioxide and 120 billion tons of water thanks to photosynthesis every year on our planet. In addition to these nutrients, 110 billion tons of oxygen are produced. According to some calculations, this amount is 200 billion tons. In some sources,it is expressed as approximately 200-500 billion tons,.[2],[3]

Fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, which are the sources of energy we use today, are the products of photosynthesis made by plants that lived on earth thousands of years ago.

Let us forget about years ago and look at the books we read, the doors and floorings of our house, the frames and curtains of our windows. Almost everything, from the clothes we wear to the bread we eat, comes to our aid through plants.

Now let us think a little: carbon dioxide, which is toxic, is converted into useful oxygen by plants. So, the air gets cleaned.

     - What happens if the air does not get cleaned?

     - After a while, the increased carbon dioxide in the air will poison and kill living beings.
It will not stop there. Fruits and foods are also produced from that toxic gas, carbon dioxide.

     - For whom?

    - For plants, animals and people.

    - So, where is struggle in it? Is that a struggle or mutual assistance?

    - Dowe get not the nutrients our bodies need from the food we eat?

    - So, when did we struggle with the nutrients that are beneficial to our bodies and make them beneficial to our bodies? For example, what war did we win against beans or potatoes?

Plants are also the food of animals. Manure, which is the waste material of animals is the food of plants. That is an example of worldwide cooperation.

The need of animals for plants and the need of plants for animal manure and insects in pollination are very clear. Is this a struggle or solidarity?

The Law of Answering One Another’s Needs

In this universe, plants help animals, animals help plants, and they both are assigned to help humans.

The law that is related to answering one another’s needs that occur among living beings, and even non-livingbeings (the cloud and the earth) is called the law of answering one another’s needs.

Is it regarded a struggle to send the water needed by plants, animals and people to the places where it is needed by the clouds, or is it answering the needs of living beings? What kind of a philosophy is that it considers sending of mercy (rain) from heaven a struggle?

However, in this universe, plants help animals, animals help plants, and they both are assigned to help humans.

In a research, it was found that approximately 5,000 herrings were in the stomach of a large whale, 7,000 small shrimps in the stomach of each herring, and 130,000 plankton in each shrimp.

Are the plants that are primary producers not the raw materials of consumer animals, which are like milk and meat factories? As it is understood from it, animals need to move, make efforts and work for feeding. This does not mean their struggle against plants but their efforts and works to survive.

If a man touring a large factory thinks that the wheels of the factory are fighting against each other and that the noise he hears is screaming and asking for help, he will make a big mistake. Can we liken the part of a sugar factory that takes the raw material (sugar beets) inside to the pharynx of a monster and think that it swallows sugar beets? Is it possible to say that animals that eat plants struggle against plants?

The same laws as the ones on the land are valid in the seas.

The source of food for the animals living in the se is algae.  On land, plants are the food of animals; something similar is valid in all aquatic environments (seas that cover 3/4 of the earth). Small photosynthetic organisms, called phytoplankton, which float freely in the water, live in the seas in a large scale. They are algae; they constitute the most important food for the living beings in water. These small organisms in the high seas resemble meadows and pastures of the land. Therefore, they are generally known as "meadow of the sea" and "bread of the sea".

If the big fish did not eat the small fish, these nutrients in the seas, which exist in large quantities, the sea would stink because they were not consumed and life would become unbearable.

Marine life depends on those small organisms because they constitute the main food source of the seas. An average of two trillion tons of small plants (phytoplankton) are produced every year in the seas. Sea creatures should consume this amount. Otherwise, the increasing amount will accumulate there and make the sea, which is a source of life, uninhabitable. Small animals (such as zooplankton and shrimp) and small fish eat those small plants (phytoplankton). And, they are the food source of big fish.

In a research, it was found that approximately 5,000 herrings were in the stomach of a large whale, 7,000 small shrimps in the stomach of each herring, and 130,000 plankton in each shrimp.

To sum up, there is an extremely measured and balanced food chain in the seas. If the big fish did not eat the small fish, these nutrients in the seas, which exist in large quantities, the sea would stink because they were not consumed and life would become unbearable. The eggs of a fish that lays millions of eggs simultaneously (one mullet lays five million eggs at a time) are the offspring of the fish as well as food source for living beings. These phytoplankton (small plantlets) are produced in large quantities for the sustainability of life. There are about 1 million of these living beings in a teaspoon of water. Those unicellular beings constitute the basis of the food source of other living beings; in addition, according to one estimation, they produce about 80% of the oxygen (which constitutes of21% the atmosphere) in the atmosphere,[4],[5]

Who is the being that creates and manages those microscopic organisms and that assigns them the vital task of oxygen production? Can all these wiseand purposeful creations be regarded as a struggle?

The Relationship between Flowers and Insects

We can give the relationship between flowers and insects as an example that the relationship between animals and plants is meetingthe needs of each other, helping each other and hence helping humanity. The abundance of insects and flowers on earth is closely related to the fact that those two living organisms help each other. More than two-thirds (80%) of flowering plants are inseminated by insects and continue living. Insects feed on pollen and honey nectar,.[6],[7]

The insects traveling from flower to flower to collect honey nectar and pollen  are conducive to fertilizing flowers. That is, they mate flowers. Thus, plants can continue their progeny as a result of this mating. There are a wide variety of forms of insects’ help and service toplants and hence humanity through pollination. We would like to draw attention to the fact that the relationship among living beings is not based on struggle, but on solidarity through the example of bees:

Bees have a huge role in pollination. This was proved by a simple experiment. One of the two pear branches fullof flowers was wrapped with thin cheesecloth so that the bees could not enter and the other one was left open. At the time of fruiting, a large amount of pears formed on the branch that was left open but not even a single pear formed on the branch covered with cheesecloth. Doubtlessly, bees do not know about this aid of theirs to plants. However, it is seen that the Law of Mutual Help and Answering One Another’s Needs is effective in the cooperation of those living organisms. We said that bees had a very important duty in pollination. When bees perform this task, they start to collect the nectar of a type of flower in the morning and always visit the same kind of flowers during the day, ensuring pollination among the flowers of this species more easily and safely. In this way, the bees contribute to the increase of fruit yield in orchards thanks to their service to pollination. Thus, their benefit becomes sweeter and more valuable than honey.[8]

Example of Symbiosis: Lichens

There are many kinds of living together on the basis of mutual benefit in the world of living beings. Living together by complementing each other’s missing part and meetingeach other’s needs is called symbiosis. There are many examples of this in the plantand animal kingdom. In the plant kingdom, we see the most beautiful example of this symbiosis in the living group of “Lichens”, which are resistant to all kinds of adverse life conditions. Lichens are symbiotic living beings that some algae and some fungi form differently from their own structures and characteristics. Fungus cells fulfill some duties like obtaining water, carbon dioxide, mineral matter and housing that algae need as their share of partnership and algae cells producenutrients and oxygen through photosynthesis as their share.

This partnership, which was founded by two unconscious beings, continues without any interruption and fighting. They even convey the same feature to their offspring. Isit not interesting that those living beings, who are unaware of cooperation and partnership, start a life to support each other? In fact, their forming a symbiosis that meets the needs of each other is a clear example showing that the beings in the universe help one another, meet the needs of one another and are in solidarity.

Let us give an example related to the Law of Mutual Assistance and Answering One Another’s Needs from the animal kingdom. The partnership between a type of crab (Pagurus) and  sea anemone (Actinia), a crab species, is very interesting. The crab hides its back part in an empty snail shell. A sea anemone is also on the snail shell. The sea anemone poisons and paralyzes the animals approaching them by throwing its burning, poisonous capsules like a skillful hunter. However, it does not prevent the crab from entering the snail shell. The crab functions like feet for the anemone and they travel together. The sea anemone protects the crab from the enemy attack with its burning capsules. The crab shreds the animals that the sea anemone hunts and obtains its food; it leaves some food to the sea anemone. Thus, they hunt, feed and wander together. Both of them continue this partnership gladly without dissolving it..[9]

Biological Struggle or Biological Balance?

As it is understood from the examinations that were made, harmful results occur when the balance that occurs as a result of a delicate plan is disturbed by the human hand. For instance, man encourages the hunting of the birds that he considers harmful. He wages waron insects and uses all kinds of pesticides thinking, "they harm agricultural products".However, when the species that man thinks is harmful is threatened with extinction, he faces great problems. Finally, man realizes his mistake and begins to strive for the maintenance of natural balance. An interesting example of this took place in the continent of Australia in 1835. A type of cactus was brought from America to Australia. This plant proliferated rapidly in a short time and started to invade the continent; it covered an area almost the size of England. As a result of this invasion, daily life was paralyzed in many villages and towns, and migrations started.Thereupon, a research was made andthe reason for the rapid growth of the plant was found out: It was the lack of a butterfly named Cactoblastis cactorum in the places where the cactus proliferated because that insect kept the growth of the cactus under control.Since there was no such insect in Australia, there was no mechanism to control the growth of the cactus.

Thereupon, that butterfly of American origin was taken to the continent of Australia and was reproduced there; after that the cactus was taken under control. Today, humanity takes advantage of such living beings, particularlyto increase agricultural crops, by taking lessons that living things control each other and maintain the natural balance. For this reason, the best measure in destroying harmful plants and living beings is biological measures made with living beings that provide natural control. Rather than a war, it involves controlling pests that produce anarchy in nature with living beings that are the police force of the system in nature. This is also service to life.

The red ants are a good example. It was found that the red forest ants (Formica rufa) destroyed 14 million kg of insects in the Alps in Italy over a period of 200 days.

There are other examples too. For example, studies showed that a bird of swallow species that weigh 100 g feeds on an average 25-30 grams of insects per day. It was found that a colony of 1200 birds consumed 7600 kg of insects together with their youngs over a 180-day period.[10]

If this service of birds and ants against harmful insects were to be carried out by using 3 kg of pesticides per decare, tons of medicine would have to be used in large agricultural and forest areas. In addition, those pesticides would kill many harmless living beings as well as pests, causing more harm to the quality of the soil, destroying animal (fauna) and plant (flora) communities to a large extent.

The Law of Subjugation and Compassion

Animals being at the disposal of human beings (subjugation) and all mothers being made serve their babies (compassion) are the laws imposed on nature.

If the strong won in life, elephants, horses and similar animals would not be in the service of man, but vice versa.

If the strong won in life, elephants, horses and similar animals would not be in the service of man, but vice versa.

The power that prepares life conditions for all living beings in the world prepares the fetus in the womb for life conditions. The same mercy and power make all the mothers rush to help weak babies, making the predatory lion a servant for her cub.

However, the weakest creature among the created beings is the human being because he is in need of learning, care and protection beginning from the day he is born. However, everything has been put into his service. He was sent to the universe as an honorable guest.                                                         

It is enough for those who say “life is a struggle” to think only of the stages they went through to come to the world to realize that life is solidarity.

All parts, from the smallest screw to the largest wheel, work together for one purpose. There is a perfect order in everything, from atoms to galaxies.

For, everything is made rush to help the helpless baby. Does the prevention of any pressure on the mother’s body to protect the fetus by a solid membrane that is filled with liquid surrounding the fetus and that is cleaned every three hours and every precaution taken for the health of the fetus take place as a result of the struggle of the fetus? The universe works like a very regular factory.

How many days did those who accept life as a struggle manage to extract milk from their mother’s breasts through struggle? Or how many years did they struggle to make the sun serve them?

With what force did they clothe the atmosphere around the world as armor?

The power that prepares life conditions for all living beings in the world prepares the fetus in the womb for life conditions. The same mercy and power make all the mothers rush to help weak babies, making the predatory lion a servant for her cub.

The idea that "life is a struggle" originates from Darwin’s view of "struggle to live" or "natural selection" as noted above.

According to this view, living beings that can find nutrients survive while the weak ones die and disappear. In other words, the diminishing and proliferation of living beings depend only on nutrition. However, recent studies have revealed that the diminishing and proliferation of living beings is not related only to nutrition but especially to climate factors.

Since need and sustenance are not dependent on working with power, the feeding of the young individuals is the best example showing that sustenance is inversely proportional to power. For, the ones that are fed the best among us are babies, who are the weakest.

If everyone benefited from nature in proportion to their power,elephants and rhinos would eat the sweetest baklava and the most wonderful fruits, and the young animals and babies would eat the worst food.

However, the reality is completely the opposite. Even the strongest creatures are in the service and assistance of the most helpless young ones.

Conclusion

That some predators prey on weak animals and that big fish eat small fish is not a struggle and fight, but the natural balance in the universe and a necessity of life.

In conclusion, it is possible to say that the universe works like a very regular factory. All parts, from the smallest screw to the largest wheel, work together for one purpose. There is a perfect order in everything, from atoms to galaxies. An optimal solidarity is seen in everything, from the sun to the eye cells. The most distant thing and the closest thing help each other. All living and non-living beings, whether big or small, were created to meet one another’s needs. Here are the examples in the broadest sense: Light and heat from the sun help all living beings. The rain descending from heaven as mercy meets the needs of all living beings on earth.

In short, life on earth continues with the automatic operation of thefactory of the universe.

That some predators prey on weak animals and that big fish eat small fish is not a struggle and fight, but the natural balance in the universe and a necessity of life.

The following is understood from all this:

     -Life is solidarity.
     -Life is an effort.

     -Life is an activity.
     -Life is a work and action.
     -Life is not a struggle and fight.

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[1] Nursi, Badiuzzaman, S. Sözler. Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı Yayınları-600. 2nd impression, Ankara, 2016.
[2] Boney,A.D.,1976. Phytoplankton, by Edward Arnold (Publishers) Limited, London.
[3] Reece. Urry. Cain. Wasserman. Minorsky Jackson,2011. Campbell Biology. Published by Pearson Education Inc. Benjamin Cummings. USA.
[4] Altuner, Z., 2009.Tohumsuz Bitkiler Sistematiği-I., Aktif Yayınevi, Istanbul.
[5] Tatlı, Â. 1993. Merak Ettiklerimiz I. CihanYayınları. Istanbul.
[6] Reece. Urry. Cain. Wasserman. Minorsky Jackson,2011.ibid.
[7] Ünal,M.,1992. Bitki (Angiosperm) Embriyolojisi. Marmara Üniversitesi Yayını. Istanbul.
[8] Tatlı, Â. 1993. ibid
[9] Tatlı, Â. 1993. ibid
[10] Tatlı, Â. 1993. ibid
[11] Tatlı, Â. 2015. Bilimler Işığında Yaratılış. Üsküdar Üniversitesi Yayınları-2. Istanbul.

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