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Lewis Thomas

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Lewis Thomas (1913-93) was an American biologist, physician and author of several books.

In The Lives of a Cell (1974) Thomas says that the Earth behaves like a huge single-celled organism.

Often misquoted by New Age enthusiasts, Thomas makes it clear that he doesn’t say the Earth is a living cell. He simply says that, when viewed from space, the Earth seems to behave like one.

I have been trying to think of the earth as a kind of organism, but it is no go. I cannot think of it this way. It is too big, too complex, with too many working parts lacking visible connections. The other night, driving through a hilly, wooded part of southern New England, I wondered about this. If not like an organism, what is it like, what is it most like? Then, satisfactorily for that moment, it came to me: it is most like a single cell.¹

Earth, courtesy Apollo 17

Earth Taken 7 December, 1972 Apollo 17 mission Courtesy: NASA

Despite his using the word “like” instead of “is,” Thomas’ idea has been misappropriated by some trying to support New Age pantheistic beliefs and various end-time prophecies. Many of these end-time prophecies focused on the Mayan Calendar and the year 2012.

Needless to say, these prophecies were false. At least, they were in this universe…

¹ Cited at

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