The Evolution of Heaven and Earth
God did not create the Heavens and the Earth and all that is in them. Everything that exists and that ever has existed has been created by the most marvellous process of evolutionary development. This has required no God, no external source of creative power, no foreknowledge of what was to come or pre-determination of what direction evolution might take. The evolutionary process is a blind, natural process of trial and error which creates variation and fills every nook and cranny of the universe with whatever variations can survive in that particular nook and cranny at that particular time. The constant flow of this process means constantly shifting environments into which constantly new forms must adapt. This amazing but un-miraculous process over billions of years has created all the beauties of the natural world, including human beings, our brains, and our abilities to manipulate the natural world and make our own human landscapes and creations, cultures and institutions.
But the evolutionary process, inexorable though it is, is not the only fundamental process at work in the universe. More fundamental than the creative process that constantly creates variety and fills every available niche with varieties most suited to it is the process of decay and destruction – entropy – the winding down and dissipation of the universe. Evolution is by far the more improbable of the two processes. Most of the time the response to variety and new forms is their death, destruction, decay, extinction. Only very rarely do new forms survive to create new possibilities for yet newer forms of existence.
Evolution has succeeded because in the long run, even the most improbable can happen, and over billions of years, it has! But with the advent of human beings onto the scene, the future of evolution is no longer certain. We are conscious agents, created by evolution, but able to consciously direct the evolutionary process from now on. We can choose and we do so at every juncture in our lives, whether to take the creative, evolutionary path forward, of the destructive, entropic path backward.
Human beings learned many thousands of years ago how to hinder and obstruct the evolutionary process in order to sustain a status quo which benefited one or other group within society. So instead of allowing the flowering of thousands of diverse human cultures, each suited to different geographical niches around the world and from whom each might learn for our mutual benefit, humans set about massacring and annihilating each other, enforcing mono-cultural dominance over others and systematically seeking out and destroying all that is new or different.
This pattern of destruction and repression has held back, and continues to hold back, our evolutionary development as a species. With the advent of nuclear weapons, we now have the capability of reversing the evolutionary process not just back to the stone age, but back to the origins of life itself. Nuclear weapons are themselves a destructive force which turns matter back i9nto the energy from whence it came many billions of years ago.
With our capabilities and predilection for destruction, it is hard to see how human beings can regain the evolutionary upper hand, and move forward to the next step in the evolutionary process. It is by no means a given that this will happen, since the course of evolution is now in the hands of human beings and we can choose to destroy ourselves and all that has been created by the evolutionary process thus far. But there is the possibility – the rare hope – that we will forego our entropic tendencies and choose the creative, evolutionary path. Because we are conscious agents we must consciously choose this path. And “we” means the whole human race! For so long as a few are bent on destruction and domination, and are not kept in check by the rest, they will always achieve the upper hand, since in the short term, entropy and destruction are the easier and more effective options. (It is far easier to destroy a civilisation that to create one)
But what if the human race chooses evolution? Chooses cooperation, tolerance, diversity, creativity, each developing according to their own potential into their various niches, in symbiotic relationship with each other? The evolutionary process which has created the universe and all that is in it suggests that the possibilities for future evolution are unlimited! Evolution has reached the point where conscious agents – ourselves – can direct its course. If we choose to work together to further the evolutionary process what might come next? For evolution does not stop of its own accord. It is an unremitting process of constant change, and human consciousness is just one step along the road. The future is unknown and unknowable, but the evolutionary process to date suggests that if human beings were to learn cooperation and symbiosis to a sufficient extent, a new level of evolutionary existence would come into being – a supra-human being with powers a quantum leap beyond what our consciousness has create. That supra-human being would be us – functioning in unison to actually become something beyond us.
Is it justifiable to call that supra-human Being that our cooperative efforts in the evolutionary direction could create – “God”? Would not that Being be very much like the concept of God which religions through the ages have tried to describe? A God who is above and beyond our merely human life, who somehow “knows” and controls our lives just as we control the cells in our bodies? From a careful study of the evolutionary process of “hierarchical integration” which has created our consciousness from a collection of nerves, our bodies from a collection of cells, complex macromolecules from a collection of atoms, and complex atoms from a collection of sub-atomic particles, we may learn a great deal about the possibilities of god and the nature of that God. It is unlikely that such a God would be similar in many details to the God of Jesus or Mohammed or Moses. But it could be that the inspiration for the great religions – and the experiences people have had, and continue to have, of the “spiritual” realm, and of “God” – are in fact glimpses, not of the pre-existent God who created the Heavens and the Earth – but of the God-who-is-to-come, the god that will be created when human beings become one in their endeavours for a cooperative world order, and which perhaps has been created wherever people have become one and sensed a power beyond themselves, binding them together.
But this new god requires a new theology and a new religion, for it is not a God of punishment and retribution, or sin and salvation. It is a God of evolutionary potential – a God which would carry our human possibilities onto the next plane of evolutionary development – which must be interstellar interactions with being on other planets in this vast complex of hundreds of billions of solar systems which make up our universe.
In the meantime, our aim as human beings is clear – we must work for the kingdom of God on Earth – the creation of one world, each person fulfilling their potential in harmony with others, not as automatons in a vast socialist super-state, but as fully conscious, self-aware individuals voluntarily cooperating to reach our own full potential in conjunction with each other.
To create such a world, we need to recognise our oneness and the true meaning of life and our purpose in the grand scheme of evolution. We need to work together to build a world which values tolerance, diversity, creativity and coooperation. And collectively we need to rid the world of despots, dictators, terrorists and every threat that prevents the delicate flowering of the human evolutionary potential.