2015-03-23

The Crisis Point of Human Evolution



This will probably wind up being one of my more hokey blog posts, and it will probably bear the stamp of staying up too late at night watching videos about aliens on youtube (oh the things we do when insomnia strikes!). But, then again, perhaps this needs to be said. And on the off chance it might need to be said, I guess I will say it.


Late one night over Spring Break, it struck me that sometime in the last half century we as a species crossed a barrier. We became demigods. We grasped the power to destroy our planet (if we wish) or to transform our planet for the better (if we wish). As "Moses" said some three and a half millennia ago: "See! I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Now choose life, that you may live and your offspring after you."

So far we haven't destroyed the planet yet. But we seem to be working hard on it.

Soon we will cross another threshold. We will be able to link every human together instantly and mentally. I'm not sure exactly what form that will take, but surely our world of interconnected communications and the internet of things and people are the precursors to it. Some day soon, we will all instantly be able share in each other's hopes and compassion, or nihilism and sickness. Again, it will be our choice what we use it for.

And sooner or later, perhaps we will learn how to hack the fabric of spacetime, matter and energy so that we can go anywhere we want to nearly instantly, and produce as much energy as we need to in order to do it. That is, if we don't destroy ourselves first.

Because my gut feeling is that we are in the adolescence of our species, at the time right before adulthood, when the brashness and short sightedness of our decisions can easily kill us. We have been given the keys to the car, but we don't know how to drive very well, and we think we are invincible.

And my gut feeling is that we are not alone in this Universe. And I mean this in at least two ways.

First, I think we are the product of an Ultimate Reality of Infinite Love, Rationality and Power, who has made this Universe as a sort of operating system, from which sentient life is programmed to evolve in infinite forms and infinite combinations. And that the reason for this is that this Reality-- this Being which is the very basis of all beings that exist-- desires to share Itself with us so we too may share in its Love.

And I think that in many culturally conditioned ways, this Ultimate Reality has already revealed itself and it's desires for us. These revelations are inscribed within ancient prejudices and limitations, but the outlines are still very clear once the dross is melted away: Eternal Being, Consciousness, Bliss, Infinity, Rationality, Love. And this Being holds us in existence so that we can evolve to become more like It in Love, compassion, justice, wisdom, empathy, altruism and joy.

For millennia we have known this Ultimate Reality under the Names such as El, Yahweh, Theos, Allah, Brahman, God, and Buddha, before it became ultimately embodied in Christ. And in these Names, it has shown us the basic moral outlines for human flourishing. But we always seem to twist it into excuses for selfishness, greed, exclusion, xenophobia, pride, hatred and destruction.

And I think Ultimate Reality is waiting and watching to see if we make the turn that will allow us to thrive. Or if we will go the way of untold numbers of extinct species before us.

Because secondly, I think this universe is teeming with life. Evolving life. Thriving life. Sentient life. And I would guess that many species have come to the place in evolution that we have come to. And I would guess that advancing past this precipice to the next stage of evolution is as precarious as successfully evolving into sentient beings in the first place. And just as there are millions of species that go extinct before they reach sentience, so also there are millions of sentient species that destroy themselves before evolving into the fullness of what they can become. So, the question that faces our species is this: Will we also stay in the footnotes of history as yet another failed species, or will we harness ourselves morally, spiritually, technologically, economically and politically to make it to the next stage.

Because I've got to be honest with you: Most days when I listen to the news, it seems like we are stacking the odds against ourselves. We have a tendency to put immediate profit over long term health, immediate gratification over long term wisdom, and immediate power over long term faithfulness. But we can choose to change that. Ultimately this a moral and spiritual problem, not a technological one. We have the tools to overcome our self caused problems, given by Ultimate Reality and Common Sense through the lips of countless prophets and sages. We just need to listen to them and actually use their messages.

But I also have a gut feeling that there are species who have made it to the next level of evolution. And they may be watching us right now, waiting to see what we do, perhaps even praying for us (or whatever their equivalent might be). And since their technology is to ours like ours is to dolphins or apes, I would imagine we cannot be fully aware of their presence unless they want us to be. And perhaps their version of sociologists are waiting with baited breath to see if we make it through our adolescence to adulthood, so we can share in their fellowship with the Universe and the Ultimate Reality who grounds it.

I claim no certainty for much of what I say here. And surely these are the musings of someone who has dabbled too much in world religions and science fiction. I would say that, based on my experience of the world, it is supremely probable that there is a Universal Moral Law of Altruistic Compassion and an Ultimate Reality of Love, Reason and Being. It is highly probable that life has evolved elsewhere in way analogous to, and in accordance with the same natural laws as, life on this planet. And it is reasonably probable that some of this life has evolved beyond our level and is perhaps watching and waiting right now. And, sadly, it is also unnervingly probable that we may destroy ourselves before we find out if any of this is true.

My prayer is that if this space-opera of an idea does anything, it might spur someone to look past their selfishness to see what lies ahead, and help humanity live into a future where we grow out of the hatred and prejudice and violence and abuse and injustice that characterize so much of our world today. I pray that we would not just strive to become good people, but to become godlike in our love and wisdom and abilities. I pray that we would choose to progress morally as much as we progress technologically, so that we can reflect the image of the One who made us in his image. Because the power of God in the hands of a race of selfish narcissists simply makes us into a horde of demons. But power harnessed by hearts set aflame by Divine Love will make us into the Body of Christ, extending his Mission to heal the world. And it will take Christlikeness to evolve into all that we were made to become.
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This is a bunch of stuff to make us think hard about our incredible love affair with the God of the universe, our astounding infidelities against him, and his incredible grace to heal and restore us through Christ. Everything on this site is copyright © 1996-2015 by Nathan L. Bostian so if you use it, cite me... otherwise you break the 8th commandment, and make God unhappy. You can contact the author by posting a comment.