The Intent of Evolution?

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    [captionpix imgsrc=”” align=”left” captiontext=”To understand our place in the universe, we have to have an insight into the evolution of life in general in the universe.”]The last full rays of a setting sun stream over my shoulder as I stand on the edge of town looking out over the fields toward the foothills. Over a mile away, something flashes in the sunlight.

    It moves toward the east, and then holds steady again for 15 or 20 seconds. That’s the unmistakable flight pattern of a kestrel, a species of falcon. Transfixed, I watch as it arcs across the distant field, at one point flying straight up before holding and hovering again.

    The light refracts with each beat of the kestrel’s wings, twinkling against the shadowed background of the hills like a star blinking on and off. I watch as the bird of prey makes one last sweep across the field, this time from east to west. It hovers, flickering for fully half a minute before disappearing.

    Riding away on the bike, one is strangely moved, beyond the feeling of having just witnessed something rare and beautiful. Later, watching clouds in the western sky blaze and fade to gray, I realize what it is. The arc of life was in that kestrel’s sweeping and stopping, and disappearing.

    The full moon rises quickly in the east from behind a line of wispy clouds hugging the horizon. For a few moments, it feels like one is looking out from another planet toward a strange satellite. Then I see it: beauty is the same everywhere there is life.

    Of course, there’s beauty even looking at a gas giant like Jupiter, a planet as hostile to life as anywhere in this solar system. But life on earth has evolved to the point of being conscious of itself and the cosmos, and there is a special beauty, flowing out of the exquisite balance and fragility of life on this planet.

    Is that fragility and balance, along with tremendous tenacity and drive, the nature of life everywhere in the universe? Yes, I’m pretty sure it is, and within 30 years we may well know.

    All planets are beautiful, but the earth must be among the most beautiful planets of all. Perhaps there are other beings, freed from the constraints of space/time, that know this, but we humans as a species don’t as yet. And so, using thought, driven by self-centeredness and greed, we are destroying the earth before our eyes.

    To understand our place in the universe, we have to have an insight into the evolution of life in general in the universe. Contrary to science fiction, life, as it undoubtedly exists on other planets, cannot be anymore strange than it is and has been on this one.

    Look at some of the sea creatures swimming in the oceans at present. There are giant squid that attack whales; nearly invisible sea anemones that are amongst the most poisonous animals on earth; bioluminescent fish that thrive at incredible depths and unimaginable pressures.

    Surely the drive and diversity of life on earth is the same drive and diversity of life on every planet that has liquid water and a heat source. That doesn’t mean that neural systems as complex as ours (complex enough to ponder and study life) are common. But the direction is the same.

    Does that mean that there is teleology? There are no goals as ends, nor ends as goals. Becoming is an illusion. There is no design or designer, only direction and unfolding.

    But is there meaning and purpose? In the sense that there is a direction in which we can participate, perhaps there is. Based on random selection (God does indeed play dice) is there an intrinsic intent to evolve brains capable of awareness of Mind? Not ‘higher thought,’ the cornerstone of man’s development and the foundation of man’s present consciousness. Symbolic thought is both a necessary condition, and the greatest impediment to realization.

    Realization is not an end, but a perpetual beginning. The universe is in a state of perpetual beginning, and the human brain has the potential to be consciously in contact with the universe’s continuous creation. Indeed, because we have the potential to participate in it, we also have the responsibility.

    It’s astounding to consider the likelihood that everywhere it can, the universe evolves life conscious of itself and of the cosmos. Does all sentient life go through the same crisis that is presently coming to a head in humankind on the earth?

    Probably. But we are still in the incorrigible phase of man, and it is up to each one of us to awaken from our slumber.

    by Martin LeFevre for

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