If we accept that evolution is still in process, and we accept the possibility that it has been directed in some way by a cosmic intelligence, then shouldn’t we assume that that direction is still occurring? The answer to this question really depends on one’s opinion regarding the degree of involvement that has been present. Some believe that the universe was merely set in motion and there has been no other participation from a divine source. From a traditional religious perspective, many believe that God (however they may conceive of Him) is intimately involved in every aspect of our existence. Personally, I tend to view the cosmic involvement as an underlying progression towards order and unity.
The concept of a directed evolution is conveyed in a marvelous book written by
Teilhard de Chardin entitled The Phenomenon of Man.* Teilhard was a Jesuit priest and paleontologist who died in 1955. He was involved in several notable discoveries of prehistoric human fossils. His book, published in 1950, puts forth a remarkable thesis that the entire universe is undergoing a process of “cosmogenesis,” (the progressive guided development of the universe) which is occurring through the mechanism of “complexification.” This latter term perfectly conveys the process that has been going on since the beginning. Pierre
According to current cosmological theory, at the instant of the formation of the universe, it was comprised exclusively of sub-atomic particles. These coalesced into hydrogen atoms, which in turn were compressed into more dense atoms through fusion reaction within stars. Eventually these elements were incorporated into our planet and finally combined into complex DNA molecules which are the building blocks of life and contained millions of atoms in a single molecule. This is precisely the opposite of what one would expect to observe. Over time, matter tends to degrade, not increase in complexity. Nevertheless, it was through complexification that life emerged, thus suggesting the influence of a creative force directing the progression of this phenomenon.
Teilhard presents a somewhat technical but still understandable description of evolution as it has unfolded from the “big bang” through its current manifestation in the earth. He believed that we are currently experiencing one of the primary objectives of the evolutionary process, consciousness. He further believed that the ultimate objective is the “Omega point,” which is God-consciousness. This thesis is especially interesting because it not only provides a link between creation and evolution, but it sets forth an interesting rationale for the process.
Is Teilhard right? Naturally, it is impossible for us to know to what degree this theory reflects reality, but for me it is an idea that definitely resonates with my truth meter. We have no way of knowing why a purely energetic cosmic consciousness would have generated matter, but it is certainly conceivable that if that is what took place, that that entity could also convey an awareness of its existence within the resulting life forms. Perhaps the common aspects of so many of the world religions are due to a progressive awakening that is unfolding in our collective human awareness. If this is what is truly taking place, then we are engaged in a dual evolutionary process, both physical and energetic/spiritual.
Unfortunately, evolution occurs over an extremely long period of time. Therefore, none of us will be able to observe the complete fulfillment of any awakening that may be in progress. Nevertheless, we can attempt to develop a sensitivity that will enable us to perceive the direction of this progression and fulfill whatever role we may have in it.
* For a more thorough understanding of Teilhard’s theory, I would recommend obtaining a copy of his book.