Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Evolution, Teleology and the Outer Planets

It’s funny how life often seems to know better than us what the next stage is. Particularly, it seems, if our life is a mission, an unfolding vocation. It can become much harder to plan then, particularly at a time of transition, because we’re letting something work through us – the gods, the outer planets, fate, God, Jesus, Allah (!! :)) whatever you want to call it. But that life force can be ruthless in getting us to where we need to go, and has no hesitation in manoeuvring outer as well as inner events to its purposes. You look back some years later and see how all those painful messy endings were necessary, even though you didn’t think so at the time, and how the hell did that bit of help turn up at just the right time? 

Pluto and Neptune and Uranus have no regard for what is conventionally right or wrong, they are beyond good and evil: these 2 people need to be together to bring this new thing, this new influence, even this new person, into the world, and it’s going to create havoc and mess with their existing lives and all sorts of people are going to gossip and wag their fingers but people love to do that, it’s what makes life interesting, but that’s beside the point, this thing is going to happen and Pluto and Neptune and Uranus are quite prepared to create significant collateral damage along the way. People may even die. Did I really just say that? I’m not sure the outer planets have the same hang-ups about physical death that we have.
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But it makes you wonder, that there is this force that seems to have a direction, and doesn’t seem to make the same distinction between inner and outer that we do. That distinction, of course, is created by the brain: it has this place called ‘out there’ that is divided into up, down and across and hours and minutes that enables it to make sense of its fluctuating experience.

And it also makes me teleological about evolution, i.e. it has a purpose, though I wouldn’t want to speculate on what it is. Because if life is driving me and other people I know somewhere, then surely the same applies to the whole of life. And where life is driving me has nothing to do with ensuring I leave more offspring, or that I am better suited to my material environment, the usual criteria of biological evolution. Which makes me think that ‘survival of the fittest’ is only a very partial explanation of what drives biological evolution.

I think it’s perverse to deny that evolution has occurred. But that’s not the same as saying we know what makes it happen, that we understand the mechanism. Yes, natural selection and random mutation have their place. But what’s really driving it is I think beyond the scope of science, beyond even the scope of our puny minds, it’s something in the life-force itself, which exists outside the notions of time and space that our brains create.

Evolution is always bringing something radically new into being. Humans are a radical new departure for life on earth. But there have been radical new departures all along. That is the nature of something that is essentially creative. The emergence of a bunch of molecules that were self-replicating out of the primordial soup. The emergence of separate organisms that responded to their environment. Their clubbing together to create complexity. Their differentiation into thousands of different species. And so on. 

I know because of what drives me, that is beyond my ken and that keeps pushing me to re-create and deepen who I am, that that same urge has been playing out for a billion years on earth. It probably created matter in the first place. And that humans are therefore not the end of evolution, we are just the latest radical departure that Pluto the life-force, and Neptune the primordial imagination, and Uranus the creative impulse, have taken. They probably kind of know what they’re doing.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dharma...what a wonderful post. I really feel this... the activation is occurring and it has no regard for our petty conventions... I wanted to quote your entire post in my response. :-D