I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
With angels bless’d; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.
Do you believe in evolution? Or do you find it an extremely useful organizing tool for examining life and thinking about our origins, as well as that of the plants and animals that make Earth our home?
Why must we have faith in evolution, as if it were a fact? Charles Darwin conceived of one of the most far-reaching ideas in human history, and provided us highly convincing evidence. Yet, unless we can travel back in time hundreds of millions of years, we can’t be absolutely sure.
Have you ever asked yourself whether the very idea of evolution, itself, might evolve? Is it possible that we might just go beyond that idea, and put both God and the monkey together?
Evolution and creationism matter if you care about such questions as, “Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going?”. If life as we know it is totally a result of random mutations in genes, and there was neither design nor designer, what does that make us? Random flukes in a meaningless universe that couldn’t care less about us.
If creationism is true in any way, then we can safely claim to be made in the image of God. We have a divine spark within us; better yet, we are inherently divine! Even if Adam and Eve in the Garden is a poetic story, it hides a deep truth. Humans may be the first creatures on earth conscious of being conscious, life forms who celebrate the supreme Source of consciousness.
For 150 years, this debate has raged, long before the Scopes Monkey trial in Tennessee that made creationists seem like a joke, and long after. Nothing has really changed. Some people can’t get with the idea that this is all by accident and totally meaningless. Can you blame them?
The Darwinian Theory of Evolution is way out of date, like a vacuum-tubed mainframe from the 1950’s. It was conceived in the middle of the 19th Century during the early phase of industrialization that had children work 12-hour days in factories. It was developed during a period when England and France gained ascendency over most of Africa and Asia, and systematically pillaged resources from both continents to supply their factories with the raw materials necessary for continuous output.
Darwin carefully observed fascinating phenomena in the Galapagos Islands that showed the inherent competition among living systems for life-giving energy and water. He called it “survival of the fittest,” popularly known as the “law of the jungle”: kill, or be killed.
While the fossil evidence to support Darwin has become undeniable, his interpretation of that evidence leads something to be desired. He lived in an industrial era, and so thought in primarily mechanical terms. His concept of God was of a remote deity somewhere “out there” wholly disinterested in human affairs. We might wonder if he ever encountered the God within.
One of the tragic limitations of the early form of evolution was the assumption that the Universe was stupid. It was the era of the steam engine. Everything was thought of in terms of processes. The French Enlightenment had advanced the idea of “the system of nature.” The world was a giant system that could be examined without any reference to God, or even to ourselves.
Every child is filled with wonder. I can still remember how brilliant the Christmas tree bulbs were when I was four-years old. When I look at Yosemite, or the Grand Canyon, or a pristine forest or an alluring tropical island, I am stunned by the exquisite beauty. Beauty is inherent in creation. What is accidental about that?
We no longer think of the world that way, thanks to such scientists as James Lovelock, who developed the Gaia Theory that earth functions as a giant living organism. Even when human beings set about to damage the ecosystem, it has a way of healing itself that no one could have predicted.
Albert Einstein, in his later years, wrestled with an inadmissible question: Is the universe really out there? Could both time and space actually be a mental invention, the software by which we make sense of our experience? An irreplaceable interface to our playing the game full out in this simulation?
With quantum physics, the notion of an “objective” universe “out there” came tumbling down. You can’t make an observation without the observer. The observer, herself, is a participant in it. However you cut it, the universe is inseparable from consciousness.
Not only that, nonlocality was experimentally demonstrated such that particles can communicate with each other faster than the speed of light, even when on opposite sides of the universe. Increasingly, this world came to resemble an immense hologram.
Could it be that our world is inside US? Whenever you have a single perception, idea, thought, memory or dream, YOU are the one with that perception, idea, thought, memory or dream. It is only an assumption that they are totally independent of you.
Dr. Elisabeth Sahtouris is an evolutionary biologist with a deep love for life, who continually asks the big questions, having been deeply influenced by the ecology movement of the 1970’s. She will never make the mistake of seeing the tree for the forest. She has distinguished two different kinds of evolution, one preceding the other.
Early evolution is, indeed, highly competitive, a true competition among the genes for precious sunlight and water. It starts at the bacteria level, then goes to simple one-celled creatures and then multi-celled plants and animals. This is the evolution that haunted Charles Darwin.
Dr. Sahtouris points out that the Soviets honored Peter Kropotkin, who focused on mutual aid and anticipated the environmental revolution. Kropotkin concentrated on mature ecosystems where mutual cooperation is the norm, not the exception. Organisms finally wise up and realize that helping one another is more cost-effective in terms of energy that devouring one another.
According to Dr. Sahtouris, both early and mature evolution are true. Any profound contemporary theory of evolution must honor both.
Having worked in Silicon Valley for over 20 years, I have had the chance to see generation after generation of computer technology evolve, not organically, but by design. Gordon Moore predicted that computers would double their power and cut their cost by half every couple years. That trend has held true for over 50 years!
A human cell evolves from a single fertilized cell to an intricately complex adult with over 10 trillion cells in just 50 divisions. In every cell, a set of instructions allow the total organism to completely fulfill its life cycle. Cracking the human genome revealed that these instructions can be coded as on-off signals into binary language.
By designing advanced technology, we can gain amazing insight into our own genetic makeup. It is now possible to play “creator” with our own genome. However, we have to ask many questions about our relative wisdom before we embark upon such an endeavor.
Can we evolve our consciousness the same way we have evolved our bodies?
Whatever one accepts about biological evolution, social and cultural evolution is hard to deny. Despite the fanaticism of our contemporaries on the world stage, we have grown a lot more humane in the last couple hundred years. Legal slavery is no more. The average lifespan has more than doubled. Literacy worldwide is at the highest ever. While international conflict stubbornly persists, the number of people dying from wars has dramatically dropped.
Dr. Deepak Chopra spoke about “metabiological evolution.” It is less and less about changing our bodies and more and more about transforming our heads and our hearts. If we except the Hindu notion of God as “Being, Consciousness and Bliss,” then expanding our consciousness is the most effective way to evolve.
Consciousness expansion begins by losing all attachment to our egoistic definition of ourselves. We shift from foreground to background. We are not so much the players on the stage as the stage, itself. We are the context out of which the content of our lives occurs.
As the great Jesuit paleontologist put it: “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”