Death: It’s all Volvox’s Fault!


Do you know what Volvox is?  According to the Princeton University website “Volvox is a genus of chlorophytes, a type of green algae. It forms spherical colonies of up to 50,000 cells. They live in a variety of freshwater habitats, and were first reported by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek in 1700. Volvox developed its colonial lifestyle 200 million years ago.”  And According to Harold, Volvox is the key to understanding death and the role it plays in life:

The chain of life moves from unsexed, potentially immortal amoeba to multicelled creatures engaging in sexual reproduction and subject to death – so, too, does the Eden legend.  In their beginning, Adam-Eve may be seen as symbol of a multicelled individual which, like Volvox, cannot be decisively placed in the plant kingdom or in the animal kingdom.  In Volvox’s beginning it is more plantlike, but Leeuwenhoek, who first described it, “did not know that after a few generations have been vegetatively reproduced by the process he observed there comes a generation that will produce eggs which must be fertilized by sperm before they can develop.”  Volvox, like Adam-Eve, brought natural death as well as sex into the world.  Apparently, death is the price life must pay to become sexed.


One might ask why this is so.  The great American naturalist, Joseph Wood Krutch, approached this question.  With keen insight he tells us, “Off hand most of us would…say that sex is necessary to reproduction…. But as every biologist knows…it isn’t.   Its biological function is the mixing of heredities, not reproduction.  Indeed, we might say that what it actually does is not permit but prevent ‘reproduction’ – if by that you mean complete duplication.”

 Harold seizes on this quote and goes on to explore what Krutch has to say concerning Volvox:

 Krutch says, “Once you had invented the differentiation of the sexes you had started on the way to poetry as Imagewell as to rich variability…” for only mortal creatures evolved; and “if there had never been any such thing as sexuality evolution would have had so little variation to work with that today we all might still be protozoa – or at least some sort of very simple animal.”  Krutch says he assumes that the biologists are right “when they tell me that Volvox, having got as far as it did, seems to have got no farther.  Perhaps some other creature independently paralleled his inventions – which would make the whole thing at least twice as remarkable.”  One senses that he feels a kindredship between this bit of life and man.  His words, “we might all still be protozoa,” show that man thinks of his ancestral forms in human terms – and in these terms legend tells the story.

Adam is the Genesis legend “code name” for amoeba.  Adam-Eve is the  “code name” for Volvox.  This is how sacred scriptures begged to be approached; poetically and allegorically.  Looking beyond the letter for the spirit. Until next time, peace…


4 thoughts on “Death: It’s all Volvox’s Fault!

  1. I don’t think we were ever protozoan.
    Rather nature reflects us, through our thinking and thoughts.
    Humans have fallen into this lower state….of life and death from a higher state…of conscious immortality. And yes sex…played a part
    when one became two…..feeling and desire in two bodies.
    The goal was to balance the two elements of our one being. Most passed this test and moved on…to govern nature in the slow process where matter as itself becomes matter of itself. In other words self consciousness. Those who failed, (everyone on this outer plain)
    confused their body/temple for their being. And desired and feeling
    cohabited….thus the legend of Adam/Eve.
    I must confess I think your misinterpret what “The Shining Stranger” is all about.
    Yes Jesus did not come as a messiah but to break this cuss of humans.
    And to help us see the inner messiah of our own being. As The Shining Stranger points out Paul used the stubbornness of the Jewish Bible marring it to the parables of Jesus to transport it forward in truth and light. But still the secret teachings of Jesus is addressed by Paul in the fifteenth Chapter of First Corinthians as to our nature and the ultimate goal. As The Shining Stranger points out so wonderfully, messianic madness that we project on to others, is because we refuse to see our…inner messiah.

    1. Nice to hear from you Mo! I completely agree with your understanding of TSS. Where do you think I go wrong? Or how do you think I perceive it different from you? If I understand it differently than you (which I don’t think I do based on your comment above), does that make my understanding wrong? What in this post goes astray for you? I appreciate your thoughts immensely!

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