I have always assumed that we human beings have evolved as far as we can go, that our neo-cortexes are as advanced as they are ever going to be, and that the processes by which our hearts and minds blend to make decisions are completely finished off.
There are some doomsayers out there like Adam Kirsch who are convinced that our very advancement, our “traditional role as earth’s protagonist, the most important being in creation” might be bringing us to well-deserved self- extinction, given that we have used so many of our talents for degrading the very environment that sustains us.
A dear friend of mine has moved to a community for retired clergy, theologians, and missionaries where they improve the shining hour by “hearing each other into speech,” publishing their interesting discussions in a series of paperbacks. In the most recent edition that I have read, William Moreman brings up the idea that we are still evolving in ways that make surviving the chaos of our times quite hopeful. He explores “the notion of evolution as a driving force pressing the human race to take a leap to a new stage, a new consciousness and a new ordering of our life on this planet…to be a fractal part of the larger chaotic, evolutionary thrust.”
According to the paleontologist/theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the entire cosmos is conscious, with human beings as integral elements in its continuing evolution. Tuning into that wider consciousness, we find that we are fractals in the heart of everything – all paradigms aligned. Teilhard’s ideas have led Al Gore to hope that human beings can evolve toward an Omega point where a harmony will be achieved with the inherent balance of the universe.
Surrounded as we are with doomsaying media (if it bleeds, it leads), I think we take the world, and our role within it, far more gloomily than we need to. I certainly felt more optimistic after reading Stephen Pinker’s The Better Angels of our Nature, a data-driven analysis of how violence has actually diminished over human history, And, more recently, I have been cheered by the news that mitigation of carbon emissions has become so economically and technologically effective that we may be able to use these tragic brains of ours to halt our destruction of nature in time to save the human race.
And how about what goes on inside each of us – haven’t we felt some kind of lifetime evolution within ourselves? When I consider my own personal evolution, -not my predictable developmental from child to adult, but the changes in the way I have understood things so much better and act on them far more effectively since my sixties – there is a delightful and significant evolution in my life.
Discernment (seeing how things have gone over and over again when I behave in a certain way) has combined with determination to improve my act until I have got my heart and brain to act in entirely different ways than before. How about you?