Personal Beliefs : Evolution Is My Religion (Pt. 1)

Posted: August 31, 2011 in Integral Studies, Personal Whining, Philosophical Debris, Religion

It is no secret that in my teenage years I was a devout atheist and a follower of Ayn Rand’s ideas.  As I’ve expressed elsewhere, there were a lot of factors that caused me to modify those beliefs, but the first really clear memory I have of considering a spiritual presence was when I took a university course in Taoism.  Prof. Priestly was a profound, contemplative man who would read aloud a page or two of the Chang-Tzu and then spend the rest of the lecture just expressing his thoughts.  It is the Taoist way that wisdom and understanding are not accumulated through acquiring information, but rather like dust settling on a mirror.

In the context of the other things going on in my life, I began to see the Tao as this mysterious, unknowable, positive, evolutionary force present in the universe.  Just as “entropy” is the destruction of complexity, the Tao (or the Force) is the opposite, -a force moving towards the creation of complexity.  Creative energy is all around us, whether it be demonstrated in the progress of evolution or in the heat of sexual desire.  It was an energy that pushed all aspects of the universe into a becoming of something more complex.  It can be seen in the quantum physical properties which allow atoms to collect into stars, blow up and produce the heavy elements that make up matter.  It can be seen in the chemical predisposition for certain elements to combine into organic chemicals that eventually can form life.  It can be seen in the “Big Bang”, where nothing became something.  It can be seen in Chaos Theory and the emergence of order from chaos.  Traditional religions understood some of this as you can see inklings of modern quantum physics in the old beliefs, in metaphors and myths, presented in a way that people could hope to understand, but the masses had to have their myths and their thunder gods and angels.

You may call it “God”, but it does not need to be a sentience as we define it.  I’ve always felt that if there is a divine entity, the idea that we were made in its image is ridiculous.  It would be beyond our ability to understand it.  I am satisfied with the Native American idea of a “Great Mystery”.

Similarly, I’ve never understood the gap between Creationism and Evolution.  Evolution is Creationism.  Evolution, that powerful, creative force of the universe, can easily be considered “the hand of God”, if not God itself.  I just don’t chose to give it an identity and a will as we know it.  Creative energy is art.  Creative energy is sexual impulse.  Creative energy is evolution.

As I moved through many of my other experiences, I came to recognise that “awareness” was a crucial element in evolution and development.  An amoeba is more aware than a rock; a dog is more aware than an ant.  At the top of the awareness pyramid, in spite of many flaws, is man.  Even amoung humans, there is a spectrum of awareness.  The egocentric child (or adult) is not as aware as the group- or world-centric person.  Compassion, respect, empathy and most other highly held characteristics are a function of the awareness of others.

I believe that awareness is the goal of evolution.  I believe that, ultimately, -although we may never be privy to it-, the universe is striving to become aware of itself and evolution is the series of experiments (successes and failures) that move towards that goal.

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