Thursday 25 January 2018

What is Evolution?

Years ago I wrote a book (never published) which I called From Savage to Sage. It attempted to outline the unfoldment of human consciousness from its early state of absorption in nature through our current mode of consciousness to an eventual godlike state of active union with the whole of life. The process was summed up as going from unfallen Adam to fallen Adam to risen Christ, otherwise a state of unconscious union to conscious separation and then finally to conscious union.

It is this process, I believe, that is the real meaning of evolution. It is therefore evolution of consciousness, though the form may also evolve, the better to express the more developed consciousness. In complete contradistinction to our current understanding of evolution, this is not a random development but fully purposeful, and the process is like that from a seed to a tree in that the end result is already present, though in an inchoate form, right from the very beginning. This is evolution as in unfoldment of something existing, in potential, at least, at the start.

We have come a long way. We have left behind our spiritual childhood of instinctive union with nature and moved out of that infantile condition, separating ourselves from the natural world which we have then sought to 'conquer' and bring under our will. This is all right and proper, and helps us develop our innate will and intelligence, two things associated with a sense of self. And this is precisely what we have been doing, developing our sense of an individual self. Early man either did not have this at all or else had it in a limited way. His consciousness would have been tribal before it was individual.

So we have made great progress on our evolutionary journey and are now right in the stage of separation, which is the result of our focus on self. But here is the problem. We should have moved on from this. We should have started to re-embrace a spiritual world view and begin the journey back upwards, envisioning this journey in the form of a U where the top left is the start of the journey, the bottom is our current position and the top right is spiritual completion.

We should have done this but we haven't. We have got stuck in what some people describe as a case of arrested adolescence. Since we are basically rebelling against our Creator, our Father, and asserting ourselves and our independence, that is a good description. The rejection of tradition, the sexual revolution, the all-pervasive leftism, the concern with image and the attempts by the old to emulate the young all point to the same conclusion of spiritual immaturity.

In all its details this process is immensely complicated but fundamentally it is very simple. God creates human beings as individual souls with free will. This is a real creation not a semblance of such. He gives them (us) part of himself, his own reality, and we share in his being even to the extent of being potential little gods ourselves. His children, in fact. God does this for two reasons. One, his nature is love so he wants to share, to give. And two, so that his creation may be more interesting to him. Imagine a creation that runs like clockwork. Pretty dull really. But imagine if you create something and that has the potential to create itself from within. Then you can observe the results which might be surprising even to you, the original creator. Of course, this is crudely expressed and might appear to ignore the fact (I don't think it does really) that God sees the whole of time now, in this very moment, but it does, I believe, cover something of God's purpose in creation.

We start as new born spiritual babes, one with our environment and not consciously separated out from that. But then as we grow and start to explore and experience the world we become more aware of ourselves as the inner subject. As time goes by, the inner subject dominates our consciousness more than the outer object though our lives exist as an interaction between the two. But eventually we become wholly identified with the inner subject, and this results in a sense of alienation which is fairly obviously our current position. It's the bottom of the evolutionary arc. Now is the time to ascend, to go back to the understanding and realisation that we are one with life and to become full participants (I'm borrowing this phrase from Bruce Charlton's writings) in the wholeness of being, but this time in an active, conscious mode which includes creativity and will. Thus attempts to revert to the securities of spiritual childhood, which range from fundamentalist religion to neo-paganism along with a whole host of other manifestations of escapism, are not what is required.

The solution is to grow up spiritually, which we do by accepting the transcendent dimension of life and then seeking to attune ourselves to it though a conscious attempt to think and to know according to its reality. We move from the Adamic state of passive oneness with life, or nature, to a self-consciousness in which the sense of separation is primary, but that means that freedom can start to be known and will developed. That, in turn, leads to the prison of the self-enclosed ego. We have to break out of that, and the only way is to seek our true being in God. Not in the sense of being absorbed by him. The aim is to become conscious partners with God in an ever-expanding celebration of creation. Not equal partners, of course, but joined in a relationship of oneness in love.

So much for the path to be trodden, but how, practically speaking, do we tread it? I think the key to it all is Christ. He was the forerunner who showed us the way but he is also, as he said, himself the Way. It is through him that the path is trodden. He cannot be set aside or even regarded as one way amongst many. He is the Way and the Goal.


John Fitzgerald said...

Great post, William. It's really interesting what you say about reaching the nadir of evolution. The only way now should be up, I guess, but that's easier said than done. I've been so rattled in recent years, for instance, by the rise of militant secularism, that I keep on being tempted by the most conservative, traditional brands of Catholicism. But I know deep down that that isn't the way. There are a lot of good things in it, for sure, but I can't believe that a full-on embrace of reaction is the path God wants me to take. I've referred to The Inklings before as the 'heralds of the coming Christian renaissance' and I can't believe that it's their way either. They're forerunners of something much more creative in my view

Bruce Charlton said...

Following from John's comment - it may be this 'things coming to a point aspect' includes that one after another tempting but false/ ineffective possibility gets tried and discarded; until the final choice is single and perfectly clear. (Of course, we can't be compelled to make the *right* choice - but its nature will, by then, be clear.)

William Wildblood said...

Regarding the nadir, John, I'm sure we can, individually or collectively, go further down, but this is the furthest away from God we are supposed to go before turning back.