Tuesday 26 May 2015

Creation and Evolution

This question addresses a topic on which I can't claim any real knowledge and which I have, therefore, so far avoided.  But it is an important topic because it concerns a fundamental truth which has been the object of attack by, I would speculate, forces antagonistic to humanity's spiritual growth over the last century or so. And if I can't claim any definitive knowledge (anymore than anyone living in this world can), I can still have an intuitive stab at what might be the case given what I am quite certain of, which is the reality of the spiritual world.

Q. In your book you make some brief remarks about evolution. Would you be able to elaborate on those a bit? For instance, what would be the Masters' position on the evolution/intelligent design question? Creation or evolution, which is it?

A.  This is a question that can be something of a litmus test for spiritually interested people in that it examines their response to the wisdom of this world plus their ability to remain connected to higher truths when these are not conventionally accepted: indeed, when they are actively rejected by most people. (Naturally I am talking about a sensible response. A retreat into literalism is not that.) Often each side in this debate totally dismisses the position of the other but, for my part, I don't regard evolution and creation to be inherently incompatible though obviously, in that case, neither can be taken in the exclusive way their materialist and fundamentalist religious proponents would take them.

But first of all I must make clear that I can't speak for the Masters as they did not talk about this subject other than to state in passing that the body was designed for beings of a lesser evolution . and was more suited to their needs.  So the words evolution and design are mentioned though evolution is used here to mean spiritual unfoldment rather than in its scientific sense. But it's clear that what is being said is that the human body was intended as a vehicle for a specific purpose which is the growth or expansion of consciousness, and that therefore it hasn't just come about by accident. However I think that's the only sure conclusion we can draw from this brief reference.

Therefore we are on our own, and the way I approach this matter is through a combination of intuition and ordinary thinking, the one supporting the other. However, for me, intuition always takes precedence even if I have to make sure that what I am calling intuition really is that and not just some personal preference dressed up in fancy clothes. I have to say that this is not too difficult if one is able to look at one's thought patterns objectively though that, admittedly, is not always easy! Be that as it may, the point is that human ways of thinking can never know truth by themselves which is why it is a waste of time arguing with an atheist or someone whose approach to reality is based on a strictly mental approach. (Theoretically based, I should say, as often what is claimed to be purely rational is just a rationalisation of an emotional prejudice, but that's another matter). Truth, meaning that which is, is just not accessible to the mind but it can be known intuitively. A perfect example of this is the recent almost universal acceptance of same-sex marriage which to the ordinary mind, reared on (or indoctrinated by) the prevailing belief system of humanism, just seems the natural outcome of the application of fairness and equality, but to the spiritual intuition is seen to be an ontological contradiction in terms if not absurdity, quite contrary to reality which is based on the creative union of complementary opposites. Truth is higher than fairness or equality which doesn't mean that these are to be ignored but that they must be seen in the context of the overall scheme of things, and viewed in tandem with other equally real, or maybe more fundamental, principles. They are not the sole determinants in any particular matter. All that just to say that my main inspiration in working out the evolution/creation question is intuition, though that is checked and balanced by head thinking.

I believe we must start from the position that there has obviously been some sort of evolutionary process at work over the ages. The findings of science leave little room for doubt on that score. From there, though, to conclude that this is just driven by random mutation and survival of the fittest is going way too far and suggests that the wish is father to the thought, which is not to say that these play no part in the process, particularly in the non-human kingdoms. Only that they are not the primary mechanism. Even if we set intuition aside common sense and reason should tell us that natural selection, alone and unaided, simply cannot account for the world and everything in it however long one allows it, and that means that evolution is not blind. It has a purpose and it has a goal. As for mankind, we are not just intelligent apes but a creation that was deliberately brought about to reconcile and integrate the two opposites in the universe of spirit and matter or consciousness and the phenomenal world, the world within and the world out there. Breath and dust as one might say. An animal lives exclusively in its natural environment. It cannot separate itself from that, but our glory (and the source of our short term misery and suffering) is that we live in two worlds. Even though we are part of nature we have an inner life and through that can eventually unite spirit and matter in full consciousness and, in the process of doing so, become fully conscious participants in a creation which is differentiated but one. All this is not the product of a directionless evolution, but an evolutionary process helps to bring it about.

What this means is that I see evolution as a blend of intelligence, purpose and will on the one hand - there is a plan and there is a goal - and what we may call chance on the other as the laws of nature work out in the ways currently envisaged by scientists. That is to say, overall there is direction by a Divine Intelligence but within that there is a good deal of flexibility and room for variation in line with the accepted principles of contemporary evolutionary understanding. Consequently I see the human form as brought to its current state (doubtless from pre-existing material) as a specific vehicle for spiritual beings to gain the experience needed for the growth of their consciousness. It has not come about purely by chance. I see no contradiction between the idea that the forms we use have their prototype on an archetypal level and that they come into being on this physical level through a mixture of natural process and spiritual direction. I also see men and women as descended spiritual beings in human form rather than having ascended up through the animal kingdom – even though the forms they use may have done just that. And I draw a clear distinction between animal and human consciousness, regarding the former as life working its way up through matter alone while the latter is the union of matter and spirit and possesses the divine spark. Of course, all is spirit in the ultimate sense but there is spirit as pure consciousness and spirit as energy substance. Uniting the two, which is what we are for, takes life, always whole and perfect, to higher and higher states of wholeness and perfection. Greater consciousness, love and creativity.

So evolution as we understand it today is a half truth. As an explanation of how life forms change and develop, it has much to recommend it. As an explanation of life itself, of consciousness and of the origin of human beings it is completely wrong if not downright deluded.

Thus we can say that evolution is a good explanation for the profusion and variety of animal forms to be found in nature but does not account for the basic template which exists as something like a Platonic archetype and then manifests in the physical world according to various means, some of which are those described by modern science.  (This is actually hinted at in the Biblical account of creation in Genesis when it says "Let the earth bring forth living creatures" i.e. it is the earth or natural forces that do this not the Creator directly.)  Hence 
I regard evolution principally as an unfolding (which, after all, is what the word actually means) of an intrinsic and always present pattern just as the tree unfolds from the seed and in some way is already present in the seed
. This does not rule out the variations on a theme which would come about in the way we know, but these are the workings out in matter from a pre-existing divine template. They concern substance not essence, outer forms but not Form itself, the inner divine pattern.

To sum up in a sentence, natural selection clearly has a part in the evolutionary process but it is very much secondary to the unfolding from within of pre-existing spiritual pattern.

Despite its insights modern evolutionary theory is a classic circular argument in that it assumes a conclusion, materialism, in order to reach that conclusion. In fact, it has become little more than a creation myth for atheists, materialists and those who don't want to think too seriously about their origin. As seems to be increasingly the case nowadays in many branches of life, it takes an aspect of the truth and makes of it the whole truth. It elevates a part, relatively minor at that, to the whole, but the really interesting question is why does it do that? Why do human beings want to reject spiritual truth? 


Robert said...

I like some of your points. Here's some interesting points from Baha'i Scripture. The essence of man has always existed. Granted some men in this universe might not resemble human beings while others might. Man always existed because the universe would have been imperfect otherwise. Other things always existed too like an elephant. Random forced cannot create man or and elephant. God stacked the natural laws so the IF the right conditions occurred, THEN the natural result would be a man or an elephant. The appearance seems to contain an element of randomness but the laws of nature, of physics, of chemistry, etc. already dictate everything that did exists, exists or can exist.

William Wildblood said...

Only some?(!) I agree. The spiritual form of man is eternal but that works out on the material plane, i.e. in expression, in various ways according to external pressures and influences, though always within pre-existing parameters and according to laws originally set up by the Creator.

Robert said...

Most of what you say is intuitively true but I like to back up my intuition with scriptural text whether the Bible, the Qur'an, or the Baha'i Writings. I just haven't studied the scriptures enough on this topic to agree with everything you said. Intuition is not a perfect tool. Truth should have an intuitive element, but that does not logically imply than something intuitive is true.

William Wildblood said...

You're quite right to do so. My teachers warned me that one must be careful to distinguish between intuition and wishful thinking. Scripture is a good touchstone though even that is not perfect since nothing is in this world