. XI. Occasional Writings
A. Teilhard 2015: An Affirmation of a Genesis UniVerse with a Human/Earth/Solar Phenomenon
I have written occasional Teilhard Studies pamphlets for the American Teilhard Association, such as Cosmic Genesis (1981) and Teilhard 2000. These are cited on their website at www.teilharddechardin.org. I was Teilhard Studies editor in the 1980s and 1990s, and editor of its Teilhard Perspective newsletter from 1999 to 2012, also posted on the site. With many colleagues, I was co-editor with Donald St. John of a collection of Teilhard Studies as Teilhard in the 21st Century: The Emerging Spirit of Earth, (Orbis Books, 2003), which won a Catholic Press Association spirituality book of the year award. It contains my Teilhard 2000 issue.
This 2015 edition surveys how the prescient evolutionary vision of the priest and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) is now being affirmed by the worldwide natural genesis revolution. As a consequence it goes on to propose a phenomenal cosmic significance for human beings and great Earth.
Once again it is vital to revisit Pierre Teilhard’s unique, prescient vision when we need it most. This 2015 edition covers a 35 year span for me from a 1981 Teilhard Study as Cosmic Genesis: Teilhard de Chardin and the Emerging Scientific Paradigm. At the time, it was an annotated bibliography for early signs of an evolutionary procreation of which human beings have a central significance. Some two decades on, I wrote Teilhard 2000: The Vision of a Cosmic Genesis at the Millennium as a synoptic essay with many references. An organic revolution was more evident but still hesitant and patchy. An historic shift from individuals and groups who publish in paper to a global collaboration with instant posting was just underway.
But the mid 2010s, the present paper can convey that the numinous genesis from universe to human that Teilhard outlined is now confirmed by an integral scientific achievement due to humankind altogether, whose emergent noosphere he foresaw. With a revolutionary ecological uniVerse in place, by virtue of its inherent properties and ascendant evolution, we will then glimpse a phenomenal role and purpose for human beings and great Earth of relevance to the fate and future of the whole cosmos.
I had once thought to cite this placement as “Teilhard 2020.” The Foreword to his The Phenomenon of Man was famously called “Seeing” to summon a mindfulness of a greater genesis cosmos existing on its independent own, of which everything and everyone is an exemplary manifestation. This concept is most distinctive of Teilhard, yet has been absent from and banished by our cultural mindset longer than any living person. 2020 vision can also imply a clear sight of both detail and context, dots and connections, that we need to encounter an ordained, conducive nature, and to achieve a sustainable Earth. And five years hence could be a deadline or a lifeline. We are cutting it much too close and really must get on with this mission.
The Earth Phenomenon subtitle suggests we ought to presently consider a shift to a planetary phase as the unitary center of life, mind and futurity. Around 1940 when Teilhard wrote his Phenomenon, galaxies were just found in the 1920s, a point origin for the universe was many years off. The use of “Man” was standard fare, in the 1970s human and humankind rightly replaced. Today we find or lose ourselves amongst a spatial and temporal expanse of stellar systems, galaxies, onto multiple universes. As Teilhard foresaw, it is now known that orbital worlds are as common as stars. So it seems appropriate, some 75 years on, to propose a Gaiacentric emphasis.
From our late vantage, by virtue of a worldwise humankinder, a planetary progeny coming to her/his own knowledge, we are in the midst of a cosmic revolution from a Ptolemaic material machine to a Copernican organic genesis uniVerse. In this nascent vista, human beings on Earth are not an end goal but a crucial transition to an open viable, co-creative future. The word “UniVerse” with a capital V is suggested as an easy way to convey its heretofore missing narrative script. And we offer “Ecosmos” for an ecological cosmology.
Natural Genesis Sourcebook Website
This composition with its own bibliography can be coordinated with my annotated bibliography and anthology posting (www.naturalgenesis.net). At June 2001 meetings with Mary Evelyn Tucker, John Grim, and Brian Swimme in Berkeley, CA, it was felt that such a resource for a living, numinous uniVerse and Earth community could provide much documentation in support. In 2004, Natural Genesis: A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe came online. With its intention to report from the leading edge of the sciences and into the humanities, it has grown to over 5,000 entries and some 2,000 pages. Any name or topic noted herein can be typed in the home page search box for more info. As journals now do, we cite arXiv addresses for this science ePrint site. A ten year progress report has been entered as Introduction 2014: A Decadal Review with cultural Anthropo Sapiens and scientific Cosmo Sapiens sections.
We will also note items in Teilhard Perspective (TP) issues that I edited from 1999 to 2012, which are available at the ATA website. A Fall 2011 review of biologist David Sloan Wilson’s book The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, had this quote: “As I compare The Phenomenon of Man with current scientific knowledge, I am struck by how often Teilhard gets it right and in some respects is still ahead of his time” (119). This appeared in a chapter We Are Now Entering the Noosphere based on his presentation at the 2009 Vatican International Conference on Biological Evolution, also reviewed therein. The Spring 2008 and Fall 2009 issues report an historic endorsement of Teilhard by Cardinal Schonborn and Pope Benedict XVI. Since I first came upon the ATA in 1967, his scientific, humanist and theological foresight has persistently grown in veracity and timeliness.
A Second Singularity
As readers well know, by any measure a climactic moment of Earth evolution and human history seems to be upon us. After an initial cosmic “singularity,” as the big bang origin is called, over a multi-billion year developmental journey on a special bioplanet, intrepid earthlings seem to have reached a “second singularity” of self-discovery and selection. In this introduction, a view of planetary, discovery, hereditary, nativity, literacy, participatory, and sustainability aspects can help set the scene. As a caveat, these are organic, ecological alternatives to the technological takeover scheme, which we definitely do not intend.
Planetary The Teilhardian premise of this edition, and the Sourcebook website, is that an emergent super-organic personsphere is just now attaining her/his own knowledge. In retrospect, as the 2014 Review notes, the years since 2000 could be seen as a human to humankind transition. As a caveat, such a “Creative Union” can actually foster personal liberty and welfare within a planetary viability.
Discovery By virtue of our Earthkinder, an epic uniVerse, and a Teilhardian vision, we are invited to imagine that it is possible, indeed intended, for human persons to be able to find out what heaven, earth, and themselves are and can become.
Hereditary Such a biological development ought to be suffused with its own immanent genetic code, and it is. This is the crucial quality arising from uniVerse to us that is missing from the machine scheme, and the main thread of this paper.
Literacy By these advances, human intellect can begin to discern, translate, and read nature’s own genome language. Phenomenal people then appear as the way a genesis uniVerse is made and meant to achieve its own self-sequence and recognition.
Nativity As a later section will express, obvious to wise women, Earth’s evolutionary gestation has reached the actual throes of a birth event, with everything that means.
Participatory As the Cosmos Opus section introduces, by a systems physics of cosmology, information, complexity and consciousness, human persons as cognizant observers become crucial not only to the fate of Earth, but to the whole cosmos.
Sustainability But an immediate rite of passage is necessary as a concerted transformation from mindless mechanized growth to a new organic habitation as a self-aware, peaceable, healthy homeostasis.
It is important to affirm the worth of persons and planet, because a popular science media seems bent on claiming the dire opposite. To gloss recent titles, among many, we are “an accidental species on a lucky planet in an accidental universe out of nothing.” From Hollywood, we get Interstellar where humanity’s only hope on a dying planet is to escape through a cosmic wormhole. It’s not meant to end like that, but we need take back a life, people, and future friendly uniVerse to do so.
In order to gather and arrange much material, there are two main sections. We first show how a worldwide science now confirms Teilhard’s prescient genesis vision. A proposal is next broached that engendered human beings and an egalitarian, habitable Earth are more significant than ever allowed or imagined. Along the way, a suitable Natural Genesis chapter or section may be noted in parentheses. A reference list is appended, but any name or topic can be entered in the Home Page search box for more information. And as common in scientific articles, a link to an arXiv eprint is included here and there.
Teilhard 2015: A Genesis UniVerse Revolution
“I shall try to show how it is possible if we look at things from a sufficiently elevated position, to see the confusions of detail in which we think we are lost, merge into one vast organic, guided, operation, in which each of us has a place.” So opens Man’s Place in Nature (1949/1966, 15) which proceeds from a fertile cosmos to an earthly biosphere, life’s internal pulse, an episodic animation, emergent hominization, and our convergent noosphere. Teilhard’s many books and articles over four decades convey a similar account within scientific and spiritual themes. Here we note how a global brain/mind, organic milieu, prolific worlds, a within of things, complexity and consciousness, evolution as embryogeny, its nested progression, and a ubiquitous creative union are currently being admitted. His lifetime views on the prominence of women as unitive love energy are then cited, which have certainly not been fulfilled. And all this is not so much to tout Teilhard, but as a beacon and guidance going forward.
The Formation of the Noosphere
A 1947 article by this title in The Future of Man is still one on the best descriptions of the cerebral webwork mantle that now envelopes and informs. Wired Magazine has indeed given this credit to Teilhard in this regard. The site section is Mindkind: A Global Knowledge, see also the Anthropo Sapiens update. An obvious planetary brain is cited by the Internet founder Tim Berners-Lee and a collective intelligence by MIT’s Thomas Malone. However, since the main paradigm rules out anything happening on its own, the step to realize that humankind could be learning by itself never occurs. A volume that comes close and mentions Teilhard is The Web’s Awake: An Introduction to the Field of Web Science and the Concept of Web Life (2007) by Philip Tetlow.
But if a noosphere faculty can be allowed, it should have similar bilateral hemispheres. As The Complementarity of Civilizations reports, East and West, along with South and North, have in fact been quantified with right and left brain attributes. For our purposes, it is worthwhile to show how spatial and temporal dysfunctions between them are a reason for conflicting, inadequate worldviews. Two recent works make the case. The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World (2009) by psychologist Iain McGilchrist indicts a left side envoy whom errantly takes leave of holistic right mode bearings. The scientific cosmos, and human condition, is thus flawed and imperiled as based on myriad fragmentary objects devoid of integral communion. The second book cites a gender imbalance, as noted in The Eternal Feminine ahead.
As the Decadal Review observes, since circa 2000 a major transition of human individuals into a super-organic personage seems to be much underway. As a corollary, these past human (left-brain male) and future humanity (whole-brain female) cognitive mindsets will be radically different. Rather than more Big Data, a bilateral synthesis of trees and forest, separate items and relational field, can illuminate a numinous genesis creation.
Active Matter: An Organic Ecosmos
At the heart of matter, Teilhard conceived an innate substantial vitality imbued with creative energies and rising consciousness. As scientific approaches converge within a global systems synthesis, an essential liveliness is now being discerned and proven. The website chapter is Organic Universe: An Animate, Conducive Cosmos, with more citations throughout. A new condensed-matter physics known as Active Matter is quantifying a natural spontaneity which self-assembles into biological form and function. New subject areas of Astrochemistry, Astrobiology, and Systems Chemistry assume a life-breeding universe which seeds itself with autocatalytic, precursor biomolecules.
As these and other endeavors proceed, life’s roots and origins reach ever deeper into atomic realms, which physicist then find to be increasingly fertile. The illogical divide between “inorganic” material and biological phases is at last resolved, as the University of Illinois theorist Nigel Goldenfeld advises. For examples, see Leroy Cronin’s talk The Stuff of Life: Making Matter Come Alive, and From Prelife to Life: How Chemical Kinetics Become Evolutionary Dynamics by Irene Chen and Martin Nowak.
Further confirmation comes from findings that the same complex systems which distinguish organic and ecological systems extend across the galacties. We mention Cosmological Networks in the New Journal of Physics (Marian Boguna, 2014), Markus Aschwanden’s book Self-Organized Criticality in Astrophysics (2011), Principles of Evolution: From the Plank Epoch to Complex Multicellular Life (2011), edited by Hildegard Meyer-Ortmanns and Stefan Thurner (Systems Cosmology: Fractal SpaceTimeMatter).
Life and the Planets
Again this title is from The Future of Man, and is most prescient today with sections on Living Planets in the Universe, and Planet as Vital Centers. To Teilhard, an innate cosmic gestation ought to be filled with biospheres becoming noospheres, which he called “thinking planets.” As ExoEarths Everywhere and Systems Astrobiology documents, an epochal advance, especially after the 2009 Kepler planet-finder satellite launch, is the discovery as many orbital worlds as sunny stars. It is now common in astronomy magazines, and even textbooks, to depict solar systems with a middle, incubator-like “habitable zone.” In October 2014, I heard the Yale astronomer Debra Fischer speak at U Mass about her “100 Earths” search project (Google). And his essay provides an appropriate cover quote for this Study: “We do well to look at it with emotion. Tiny and isolated though it is, it bears clinging to its flanks the destiny and future of the Universe.” (FOM, 114)
The Within of Things
To set the revolutionary scene, Cosmo Sapiens 2014 opens with The Two Infinities of a Particulate Multiverse. But this old school has come to naught since no implicate, vivifying force has been admitted to its purview. A new physics of life’s quickening ascent from matter to mind as Teilhard’s “Third Infinity” can now add this quality. A large Chapter II in The Phenomenon of Man has the above title, and his every writing cites an animating cause. Here is the deep difference between mechanical and organic realities. A machine view is William Blake and Isaac Newton’s single sleep, but living beings are graced by a doubleness of their manifest phenotype selves, and a dynamic instructive genotype.
Into the 21st century, an actual generative drive is being engaged by two main theoretical approaches, more on this in Cosmos Opus. One encounter prefers software-like computational, algorithmic, informational methods. The other interprets nature’s spontaneity by way of complex, self organizing systems and networks. These efforts are also merging with condensed matter physics and statistical mechanics as cosmic nature become alive. Several sections in the Organic Universe chapter cover the movements.
A February 2015 issue of the Journal of Statistical Physics on the topic of Collective Behavior in Biological Systems can illustrate. An editorial by Iain Couzin and Simon Levin of Princeton University has this sentence: “It is our intention to bring together, via the articles, scientists working in related disciplines involving animal swarms, flocking models, quorum sensing, etc. We believe that statistical mechanics can provide a unifying background theme through which to look at these varied cooperative phenomena in biology.” The Princeton ecologist Levin has stressed that these findings can serve a sustainable world. By our worldwide cognizance, within myriad scientific journals fully online, such a mathematical ground is at last gaining validation. Galileo and Teilhard would say “Tell us about it.”
Complexity = Consciousness
This parallel equivalence at the core of Teilhard’s genesis is seen to trace a directional axis, arrow and law of recurrence that served to scaffold and meter life’s episodic, tandem emergence. We consider each in turn.
Complexity: An increase in bodily, cerebral, and group intricacy from microbes to a metropolis is now widely admitted. Among many references, the 2013 volume Complexity and the Arrow of Time (Lineweaver) is a current survey with this vectorial flight couched in self-organizing and thermodynamic terms. The new field of “Big History,” inaugurated by David Christian in his 2004 Maps of Time, connects human recorded time with a cosmic evolutionary origins. The project often cites The Universe Story (1992) by Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme as an early exemplar. In his book and later writings Christian concludes that complexification and intelligence are the two most evident trends.
Consciousness: While a lively materiality is becoming quantified, the scientific admission of a mental essence was put off and elusive until now. For Teilhard, and every other age and culture, this extant reality is and must be suffused by an indigenous mindfulness. Intrinsic Consciousness and Intelligence, and Conscious Knowledge sections contain many citations, from which we choose three. The NYU philosopher Thomas Nagel felt this rejection was no longer tenable so wrote Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False (2012). Simply put minds such as ours cannot appear from no mind. He goes on to say that a self-organizing teleology must also be at work.
Another witness from theoretical physics was stated by Max Tegmark in his posting Consciousness as a State of Matter (arXiv:1401.1219), and a 2014 book Our Mathematical Universe, more ahead. And it would serve to cite a testimony by a woman scientist, for whom an innate psychic quality is patently there. In Molecular Consciousness: Why the Universe is Aware of Our Presence (2013) the Israeli chemist Francoise Tibika extols nature’s inborn perceptivity, along with affinities to perennial wisdom.
Complexity = Consciousness: We can next report that these aspects do in fact proceed together, as stated by the senior neuroscientists Christof Koch and Giulio Tononi. Koch is Director of the Allen Institute for Brain Science and author of Consciousness, which was reviewed in the Spring 2012 TP for its endorsement of Teilhard. A resource for Tononi, a University of Wisconsin psychologist, is a 2008 paper Consciousness as Integrated Information in the journal Biological Bulletin. The Fall 2009 TP noted this for its view that the occurrence of aware human beings on Earth could have a cosmic significance “brighter than a supernova.” In 2014 they jointly posted Consciousness: Here, There but Not Everywhere (arXiv:1405.7089) which draws a parallel path between relative degrees of cerebral complexity and sentient knowledge. While not a “panpsychism,” by this theory “consciousness is an intrinsic, fundamental property of reality.”
From another perspective, a gradated encephalization of neural architecture, sensory acumen, and informed cognition is becoming realized as a central feature of life’s embryonic gestation from the earliest rudiments. For example, The Custom-Made Brain by Jean-Didier Vincent and Pierre-Marie Lledo (2014) advises that “Behind the Diversity in the Animal Kingdom, A Single Plan.” A similar story of a deep, convergent ancestry is put forth by Gerhard Roth in The Long Evolution of Brains and Minds (2013).
A Genesis Evolutionary Synthesis
For Pierre Teilhard, paleontologist and priest, life’s corporeal and cerebral development is to be perceived as a cosmic and phylogenetic embryogenesis (FOM 78, 171). In the mid 20th century, a common term “orthogenesis” (FOM 164) was used for a definitive orientation toward an intended organism. The Spring 2007 TP had a piece on Orthogenesis and Robert Reid’s book Biological Emergences. Such a teleological aim goes back to Darwin and before, when “universal gestation” was the main metaphor. However any vestige of this has been banished from a 1950s “modern evolutionary synthesis” which (still) claims random selection alone.
A global consensus is presently forming which concludes this is wholly inadequate, and a life and person friendly theory is much overdue. With Teilhard as guide, we enter novel signs of an intrinsic genetic source, major transitions scale, a true embryogeny, and a mutual reciprocity principle. These findings support an imminent genesis synthesis, as covered in Systems Evolution, and the 2014 Review.
A Natural Genotype: As Within of Things introduced, a generative domain which instructs, channels, directs, and shapes a cosmos to community evolution is gaining veracity. But textbooks remain fixed on with skeletons and molecules. While each organism is an interplay of genome and creature, the overall course of speciation has so far been studied without any equivalent genetic complement.
The robust endeavor to recast evolution as a systems science with its own code source, akin to every other field, draws most upon complex dynamic network phenomena. While deniers such as Richard Dawkins rile against it, evolutionary theory has actually moved to a whole new place and scenario. A natural self-organization is widely agreed to be in formative effect. Amongst a large literature, we cite the Nobel laureate physiologist Werner Arber, embryologist Jamie Davies, biologist Bruce Weber, and astrobiologist Sara Imari Walker, search each for writings.
For another instance, the 2014 volume Plant Behavior and Intelligence by the University of Edinburgh botanist Anthony Trewavas assumes an innate fertility whence the same processes of self-organization, complex adaptive systems, modularity, pervasive networks, autopoiesis, and convergence distinguish both flora such as flowering angiosperms from roots to leaves and blossoms and fauna from microbial colonies onto brains and societies. The growth, spread, and prevalence of vegetation is graced by an analogous proactive cognizance, cooperation, quorum sensing, as if personal selves. A century and a half later, Darwin’s tangled bank becomes intelligible as a verdant extravagance of contingent diversity and inherent order.
A Major Evolutionary Transitions Scale: As conveyed throughout his writings such as Centrology in The Activation of Energy, Teilhard saw life’s procession as a nested, oriented recurrence of whole cells, organisms, groupings, along with rising degrees of individuality and sentience. While an old debate goes on whether life has a drive or direction, global evolutionary studies lately confirm just such a stratified emergence. Instead of gradual, aimless drift, a succession or hierarchy of stages from biomolecules to animals and onto human sociality is well in place. Initially conceived by John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary in a 1995 work with the above title, atomic, genetic, cellular, neuronal, organism, primate, and human phases are each accompanied by an information carrier from chemicals to language.
A 2011 collection The Major Transitions in Evolution Revisited (Calcott) reviews its wide acceptance. Another instance is The Major Transitions of Life from a Network Perspective by Boston University’s Bela Suki, which predicts a next noosphere phase. A companion view, Evolution in Four Dimensions (2005/2014) by Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb, cites genetic, epigenetic, behavioral, symbolic stages, now six and more. So Teilhard’s reading of wholes within wholes from prokaryotes to people is quite substantiated.
Embryogeny: Evolution and Development: “Someone, and no longer something, is in gestation in this universe” wrote Teilhard in 1945 (Christianity and Evolution, 184). While intimations of a necessary affinity between embryonic form and life’s long passage were popular in the 19th century, into the 20th century their research parted as separate endeavors. However a concerted reunion of evolutionary phylogeny with developmental ontogeny, aka Evo-Devo, has been underway since the 1990s. Its verification can be sorted into three phases of body, brain, and behavior (see Cosmo Sapiens).
Biologists Sean Carroll, Neil Shubin, and colleagues coined the phrase “Deep Homology” (shared ancestry) to convey how animal anatomies and physiologies ramify continuously from pre-Cambrian rudiments, just as an embryo. After a century apart, it is evident that a basic bodily structure, a common Bauplan, is present from the earliest onset. Life’s evolutionary gestation then proceeds as an “elaboration” of mosaic modules, concerted assemblages, and persistent convergences from the first eons to homo and anthropo sapiens. As I was writing this, in the April 2015 issue of Molecular Biology and Evolution one can find an article Tree of Life Reveals Clock-Like Speciation and Diversification by S. Blair Hedges, et al, of Temple University whence our global retrospective vantage shows how life’s earthly development occurs as a steady temporal unfolding.
As noted above, the same trajectories are found to accompany central nervous system and cerebral structures, as if a brain Bauplan. Among these features, bilateral hemispheres with the same left/right proclivities as people are now identified from invertebrates to fish, amphibians, birds, and primates. As our personsphere reconstructs how she and he came to be, relative degrees of animal awareness, intelligence, behavioral personality, and cooperative sociality are similarly traced. A Quickening Encephalization and Sensibility section has many references in regard.
Since his 1918 Writings in Time of War (WTW), Pierre Teilhard extolled a universally recurrent, formative principle by which diverse components join into beneficial wholes such as cells, organisms and colonial groupings. This natural complementarity is now recognized as symbiosis, cooperation, self-organized criticality, cerebral hemispheres noted above, and more. But there is an important observation that Teilhard stressed. Rather than a loss of identity and liberty in such assemblies, entities actually enhance their survival and welfare through a mutual poise of free individuals and supportive community.
Since the 1970s the microbiologist Lynn Margulis (1938-2011) advocated the vital presence of symbiotic mergers throughout biology and evolution. The once unpopular idea that nucleated cells formed as simpler bacteria joined into advantageous, bounded units is well proven. Her mission has been taken up by the senior scientists Scott Gilbert, Jan Sapp and Albert Tauber in their 2012 article A Symbiotic View of Life. I heard Gilbert speak in 2013 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where Margulis taught for decades, about a “symbiont” or “holobiont” version whence every organism including people is an integral, fluid unity of microbiota, organelles and selves. Gilbert also wrote a beautiful paper, Wonder and the Necessary Alliances of Science and Religion, which shows how a living, symbiotic cosmos can have a deep affinity with both western and eastern belief systems.
While standard Darwinism has been long associated with competition, in recent years the mitigating primacy of cooperative behavior has been affirmed. On a communal level, animals succeed and evolve because of beneficial reciprocities between diverse members and relative groups. Altruism more often wins out across biofilms, troops, clans, pods, herds, flocks, allegiances, teams, bands, even genomes. In each instance an interplay of competition and cooperation, entity and empathy, semi-autonomy and viable whole, is nature’s preference.
A third aspect is evidence that these dynamic activities from galaxies to societies are critically balanced between orderly phases and a dynamic disorder. In neuroscience a “metastability” is invoked to explain how brains form and think, see Scott Kelso, Andrew Fingelkurts, and Jiangbo Pu references. As Natural Genesis documents, various phrases describe this creative union. For biologist Vic Norris it is a “competitive coherence,” while bacteriologists Elizabeth Hussa and Heidi Goodrich-Blair cite an “interdependent mutualism,” and biophilosopher Sandra Mitchell poses an “integral pluralism.”
For a companion take, the 2015 work Positive Psychology edited by Shane Lopez, et al, proposes to join Western and Eastern tendencies as “Me + We = US.” But an interesting distinction is noticed. While our individualist bent seeks linear, ordered progress, the interdependent, collectivist way abides a creative nonlinear interplay of harmony and disarray. Here again, as conveyed by the Taoist yin and yang, are the gender archetypes. But the Teilhardian difference would be to identify and orient this complementarity within a greater genesis, which next sections will engage.
The Eternal Feminine
From an early essay by this title (WTW), a constant theme through Teilhard’s writings was the primary place and role of a womanly, maternal principle as the essence of unifying love. An equivalent complement to masculine qualities, femininity embodied the empathic energies that inspire and move isolate subjects into reciprocal communion and organic ascent. Two studies on the importance Teilhard gave to women are The Eternal Feminine (1971) by Henri de Lubac, SJ, and Woman and Cosmos (1974) by Catherine O’Connor, SSJ. We also record the many Teilhardian works by the University of Bristol feminist theologian Ursula King, and lately by the biochemist and theologian Ilia Delio, OSF.
But to follow up Nicholas Kristof’s book Half the Sky (2010), the lot of women on earth, whom Teilhard saw as “half the universe,” mostly remains denigrated and brutalized, denied rights or education, a terminal deficit. Has it been noticed that if the real ISIS goddess of wisdom is so removed, in her stead a barbaric male ISIS rears in violent horror. One cannot state this fatal aberration strongly enough.
A rare book, Truth or Beauty: Science and the Quest for Order (2012) by physicist David Orrell, goes on to say that a root cause of the sterile machine model is just such a feminine exclusion. For example, the index of any science book, as noted above, typically has a ratio of 100 to 1 men to women. And a neuroscience reason can now be given. While male brains use a left side, dot bias only, female brains employ both hemispheres in unison (Rogers), and their neural networks are more intricately connected (Szalkai). As 2020 implies, might a bicameral balance of Fellows and “Mellows,” a Sophia Sapiens, be able to discover and nurture a cosmic children’s garden of verses?
In summary, Teilhard’s essay The Human Rebound of Evolution (FOM) predicted a global advent of “purposive thinking” which could be fed back or “rebound” to heal and foster the fraught persons and imperiled bioplanet it arose from. While a cerebral noosphere does lead and inform as he said it would, such a worldwide knowledge is not being availed. The vested age of nations and tribes worsens as it descends into internecine carnage. By any measure a somatic biosphere lies in a critical condition. One volume that does engage the project is The Human Capacity for Transformational Change: Harnessing the Collective Mind by Australian environmentalists Valerie Brown and John Harris, which turns to Teilhard for guidance. We next consider a once Magnum Opus and future Cosmos, Logos, Sophia, and Solar Opus encounters for their entreaties for a creative code and human/Earth significance.
A Participatory Human, Earth, and Solar Phenomenon
In the imminent cosmic revolution we touched on and Natural Genesis documents, a crucial role and significance for collaborative sapient beings on a special bioplanet to fate and future of the whole uniVerse can in fact be identified. We open with notice of a prior endeavor and dimension known in Latin as the Magnum Opus. By comparison, the nascent worldwise version can gain an accord with historic memory.
Magnum Opus: The Great Work
With 21st century affirmations of Teilhard’s genesis cosmos in place, we turn to earlier glimpses of a phenomenal human role and purpose. At the Living Cosmology: Christian Responses to ‘Journey of the Universe’ conference at Yale University in November 2014 to honor Thomas Berry on his centennial anniversary, with an opening session on Teilhard, the “great work” of a sustainable Ecozoic future from Thomas’ 1999 book title was most cited. Google “National Catholic Reporter” and keywords for a good review. The phrase is fitting for human history is distinguished by a perennial quest for a natural, literate knowledge and consequent worldly transformation. By many names, the metaphysical project involved an initial discernment of a common creative source by which nature moves and persons exemplify.
This past period, more a time of stasis, is entered as a past representation for its fulfillment from a global and uniVerse plane. As a distant portal, ancient wisdom teaches that this mysterium tremendum whereof homo sapiens came to find themselves yet comes with an iconic code by which it can be known and changed. By virtue of its decipherment, a fallen wasteland can be restored to greenery, a dark age turned to light and life. The Original Quest section with Perennial Wisdome: An Anthropocosmic Code has an array of references.
For our theme, these traditions were not foreign to Teilhard. One could find in the Activation of Energy that he saw his modern engagement to align with “Islam and the Florentine Platonists” (157) and the “Vedantists, Taoists, and Sufis” (219). Across the millennia, reflective human beings have tried to express a dual reality of an overt, substantial manifestation with an incarnate cause from which it arises and manifests.
Alchemical studies and Taoist insights, among many versions, agree on its gender complementarity and familial trinity, as Eastern and Western seekers converged on a similar summary. Maria the Hebrew or Prophetess was a third century alchemist and Great Work originator to whom this evocation is attributed: “From One there is Two, a Third is then formed, from which a new One arises” (Raphael Patai, Robin Gordon). As cultural studies enter a planetary phase, a 2009 international conference in Beijing on organic Chinese cosmologies advised the same capsule: “The One giveth birth to the Two, the Two to the Three, the Three to the Ten Thousand Beings” (Mineke Schipper).
For another facet, the apt word “anthropocosmic” is advanced by Tu Weiming of Harvard University, and William Chittick at SUNY Stony Brook for an inherent correlation of universe and human. Google the term for their papers. We also mention The Tao of Islam (1992) by Sachiko Murata, Chittick’s wife. These scholars are colleagues of Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, and Tu Weiming received the 2000 Thomas Berry Award. As the ancient axiom “as above, so below; as within, so without” conveys, another intrinsic sign and edification is a mirror relation between parental macrocosm and human microcosm.
A 2014 volume on ecological remediation indeed contends that only by recovering a common archetype can this be achieved. Sustainable Civilization by the Dutch environmentalist Klaas van Egmond notes a 2006 European personal and public values survey which resulted in a yin/yang image at once vertical – materialist/idealist - and horizontal – individual/communal. The book notes instances across the Occident and Orient of eternal reciprocities of feminine/masculine, self/other, earth/heaven, conservative/progressive, and so on. If this egalitarian harmony can be put into practice, it might at last engender a palliative, viable, humane society.
Another 2014 edition, From Modernity to Cosmodernity by the physicist philosopher Basarab Nicolescu, draws a similar conclusion, which might transition to a Cosmos Opus. A self-creating macrocosm requires its microcosmic human epitome to realize this and bring to future fulfillment. To wit he writes: “The most appropriate image for visualizing this autoconsistent dynamic of the universe would be that of the Ouroboros – the snake that bites his tail – an ancient Gnostic symbol and also a symbol of the achievement of the Great Alchemical Work” (109-110). A companion book, Cosmodernism (2013) by Christian Moraru, goes on to extol Teilhard’s vision as a premier exemplar.
From our late retrospect, it would seem that across the ages human beings have been summoned to achieve the conscious perception, decipherment and transcription of nature’s familial generative code. We next consider 21st century global glimpses.
Cosmos Opus: Our Great Earth Work
Pierre Teilhard’s prescient vision of an immanent genesis of which human beings are an intended phenomenon can well illume its nascent discovery by a worldwide humankinder. In regard, we introduce a unique “participatory” scientific cosmology which has become a leading paradigm and explanation.
With the large cosmic and small atomic infinities having run their course, as cited in Cosmo Sapiens, the developmental infinity and course of regnant life, mind, selves and community is engaged by way of a consummate scenario theorized by the Princeton physicist John Archibald Wheeler (1911-2007). A good entry would be Science and Ultimate Reality (Barrow 2004) from conference proceedings upon its aspects from quantum realms to complex self-organization. A popular capsule is “It from Bit” whence an overall arc from universe to human is traced from an original code source which ascends along an evolutionary vector to its own necessary sentient witness. The consequence is that a self-decoding, describing, and co-creating cosmos does not come into full existence until aware “participators” like people activate it by informed recognition.
In support are cited significant endorsements which serve a human genesis uniVerse. The cosmologist and author Paul Davies wrote the lead chapter to the above book, and the closing chapter to Universe or Multiverse? (Bernard Carr, 2007) where he said that the only natural philosophy able to make any sense of this cosmic panorama is Wheeler’s integral account. By this view, life’s teleological evolution augurs for a bio-friendly nature. Observant persons can then bring forth and select our own cosmos out of a vast multitude of vicarious options.
The MIT polymath physicist Max Tegmark spent time with Wheeler at Princeton in the 1990s and has since become a premier advocate culminating in his 2014 Our Mathematical Universe. With acknowledgement of Galileo, the work is a technical treatise on a deeper generative, relational realm from which realities, cosmoses, worlds, life, complexity, and thoughtful beings arise. And as noted earlier, an encompassing, ascendant consciousness (2014) can also be admitted. A 2015 work, It From Bit or Bit From It?: On Physics and Information, Anthony Aguirre, et al, eds, contains frontier explorations on this vista.
A third proponent, the Russian-British physicist Alexei Nesteruk, is not well known but is gaining prominence for theological implications of Wheeler’s model. His 2013 paper, A Participatory Universe of J. A. Wheeler as an Intentional Correlate of Embodied Subjects and an Example of Purposiveness in Physics, (arXiv:1304.2277), describes an ordained physics of meaning by way of emergent observer-participants. As a result, “humanity is the centre of disclosure and manifestation.” It is only by decisive human agency that the universe can brought into successful existence. Search the site for Nesteruk and his University of Portsmouth publication page for more writings.
Another side of Wheeler’s view, however, reflects a current quandary. Along with his proposal of a cosmic trajectory, he sometimes waxed about “Law without Law.” While a self-observing universe circuit goes on, maybe it just makes itself up. This is a prevalent but untenable contradiction that need be faced and resolved, it can’t be both ways. Freeman Dyson (2012) has lamented the absence of “natural philosophy” that once provided coherent guidance. An oriented self-creation has to have an independent phenomenal basis from which it arises and proceeds. And this, of course, was Teilhard’s key claim. The Nobel laureate physicist Gerard ‘t Hooft takes up the issue in his 2014 paper The Cellular Automaton Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (arXiv:1405.1548), where he states that an extant authenticity with “invariable laws” must exist, from which animate complexity then occurs. Neil Turok, director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario, Canada, avows as much in his 2012 book The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos, where he goes on to denounce the “nothingness” conclusion.
As worldwide scientific encounters proceed to reveal a 21st century cosmic genesis, such a temporal uniVerse to humankind pathway is supported and filled in by several features. These include information, computation, emergence, contingent optimization, self-organization, and a ubiquitous complex system. Each allude in their venue to a natural genetic code. After the first big bang singularity, over a multi-billion year journey, on a special bioplanet, curious earthlings may at last arrive at and awaken to a second participatory singularity of self-discovery, selection, and a new creation.
Information As Wheeler also invoked, it is widely agreed that life’s development course is distinguished by an informational quality and its conveyance. After space and time, matter and energy, such a textual basis may be most primary. Website sections are Rosetta Cosmos, Information Computation, Life as Biosemiotics, and A Cultural Code. We mention two volumes. In Information: The New Language of Science, Hans Christian von Baeyer expands on the above conference wherein nature’s narrative as an “infusion of form, flow of relationships and communication of messages” is “…the irreducible seed from which everything else grows.” Human beings are then required to make conscious choices to bring into full actuality. And in his tome, The Information (2011), which chronicles this revolution James Gleick concludes that Teilhard’s noosphere and H. G. Wells’ world brain were the best 20th century appreciations of an intrinsic literacy that rises to our collaborative intellect.
Computation A companion school considers a self-complexifying universe akin to a vast computer in operation. A “new science” of cellular automata due to Stephen Wolfram, which Teilhard Studies editor, physicist Kathleen Duffy, SSJ, drew upon in her The Texture of the Evolutionary Cosmos (TS 43), cites software-like equations which ever run repeatedly as they spawn life’s ramifying intricacy. The Alan Turing 2012 centennial year brought many writings upon his computational innovations, both for machines and biological morphogenesis. The Information Computation Turn is the main repository, while Natural Algorithms contains entries such as The Engine of Complexity: Evolution as Computation by John Mayfield which contends that life appears to emerge by successive, optimizing iterations. In the Journal of Statistical Physics mentioned, the Princeton mathematician Bernard Chazelle explains An Algorithmic Approach to Collective Behavior. This is very deep, still mechanical, but another way that a doubleness of internal agency and manifest presence is being engaged. While the science press may reject, as if a parallel universe due to humankind, these approaches are closing on a radically different answer.
Exemplary Emergence As we continue to flesh out a 2010s cosmos to community vista, not only does some kind of internal program seem to be running, it appears to ascend along with the nested, quickening evolution it generates. As this gestation matures, the complementary gender archetypes become evident at every organismic and behavioral plane and instance. Such a natural revelation was once called sympathetic, emblematic, correlative, Indra’s web, today it is self-similarity, scale invariance, recursion, a universality. Evolution as emergence is often invoked to counter and move beyond an initial stage of reduction to pieces. It is appropriate to ask what quintessence might then be in passage from within? From cosmome to genome to “languagome” and a human epitome, an iterative genetic-like code seems intent to on reading and recognizing itself.
An Evolutionary Spacescape A Universal Darwinism section was added in 2014 for growing perceptions that even the celestial cosmos is characterized by a process of statistical variety from which winnowing selections can be made. Galaxies, stars, planets in habitable zones, along with physical, material, thermal, continental, atmospheric conditions are precarious environments wherein biochemicals may arduously complexify and evolve to microbes and mammals. Awesome and aweful, whatever are we make of it? The Astrobiological Landscape (2012) by the Serbian astronomer Milan Cirkovic muses over an extension of biological “fitness landscapes” onto galactic reaches. Other works such as Probably Approximately Correct: Nature's Algorithms for Learning and Prospering in a Complex World by Leslie Valiant and Nature-Inspired Optimization Algorithms by Yang, Xin-She consider a profligate evolution that ever seems to be trying to optimize and maximize itself, or at least “good enough” so as to survive, reproduce, and carry on.
A Mathematical Materiality This Cosmo Sapiens 2014 section reports on further expressions of a fertile “mathematter” source. Of especial interest are the complex dynamic network system sciences. At the request in 2010 of John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker at Yale University, I went on to post in Chapter IV: Cosmic Code an extensive survey and glossary of some 32 topics from statistical physics and synergetics to fractals and autopoiesis which were sorted into categories. From the 1980s to 2015 each field of study from cosmology and geology to psychology and economics has turned from a reductive partition to systemic integration by way of a common pattern and process.
As this research project grew in breadth and veracity, it became evident that a distinct, independent mathematical depth and cause must be involved. It is now standard for papers to open with “just as everywhere else from microbes to a metropolis,” we likewise find in our work, e.g., columnar vision cells or prairie food webs, the same form and function. By this result, it is newly evident that a separate source must be in creative effect. The great perennial quest, Teilhard’s vision, and the scientific goal of a universal consistency is being achieved by an archetypal correspondence which repeats in kind everywhere, as we note next.
Complex Adaptive Systems This abstract phrase has come into general use for a constant appearance of the same phenomena from quantum to social realms. Two main components are identified – discrete agents or entities and interactive, network relations. By way of tacit rules and cross-communication, a whole self-contained unit such as a bacterial colony or meerkat troop adapts to and evolves in an environment. Genomes are similarly an interplay between nucleotide DNA and gene regulatory nets (AND), while cerebral connectomes are composed of semi-autonomous neurons in layered neural networks. A systems physiology can now evaluate one’s health by how well these reciprocities are critically poised. Much of the Natural Genesis website is an attempt to show how every province from galactic clusters to social media is characterized by this same mutual arrangement. A unique volume from China can serve to connect its Magnum and Cosmos perception.
Among many texts for these often arcane theories, System Science: Methodological Approaches (2012) by Yi Lin, Xiaojun Duan, and Chengli Zhao, offers an accessible, comprehensive coverage. Much content is drawn from Dr. Duan’s courses that she teaches at the National University in Changsha. Along with attractors, automata, self-organization, and so on, complex adaptive systems receive a large chapter. But in the middle of the work is remarkable aside that advises these modern versions can be seen to achieve a 21st century confirmation of ancient Chinese wisdom. From the Tao De Ching, the same eternal sentence is invoked: “Tao breeds one, one breeds two, two breeds three, and three begets all things of the world.” In this view, the discrete element and connective unity become gender complements of male yang agency and feminine yin integrity. Across the ages, a grand closure can be accomplished as a worldwide humanity interprets anew a family cosmos.
A 2015 work with this same conclusion is DNA Information: Laws of Perception by Georgi Muskhelishvili for whom genomes are composed of complementary phases of diverse “digital” nucleotides and integral “analog” networks. We can now consider three more aspects of a human/Earth/solar phenomenon in a genesis uniVerse – Logos Opus as a Literacy Singularity, Sophia Opus as a Nativity Singularity, and Solar Opus as our sun-earth milieu becomes realized as a rare instance of a billion year conducive habitability for intelligence reflection to appear.
Logos Opus: A Literacy Singularity
Into the 1980s, I wrote another Teilhard Study as The New Book of Nature about inklings that this second scripture might again be conceivable. The Two Books trope of God’s Word and Works has a long heritage, but is incompatible with the machine scheme. Each Abrahamic religion holds out hope, for it would seem that only a 21st century creation and world-affirming testament could grant release and resolve. Search Byron Sherwin for Judaism, Seyyed Nasr on Islam, and for Christianity we turn to the Georgetown theologian and Teilhardian scholar John Haught.
His Deeper than Darwin (2003) muses that primates evolve to humans and children learn to read by the same stages of ciphers, phrases, grammar, sentences, onto content and meaning. Since more must be going on than random mutation, we ought to pursue a textual, narrative nature as a “cosmic literalism.” Recently Haught wrote a chapter on Darwin and Catholicism for the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Darwin and Evolutionary Thought (2013) with this grand line: “As Teilhard proposed, an evolution-informed Catholic faith can provide a “fresh incentive” to contribute to the great work of bringing the whole story of life and the universe to fulfillment” (492).
Systems philosopher Susan Oyama provides another entry in her Compromising Positions: The Minding of Matter in Mapping the Future of Biology (2009). She proceeds to join Magnum and Cosmos by way of Logos: Divine Information and Biologos: Genetic Information, whence each is a creative guide “counter to chance.” The “positions” at odds are an old and new evolution theory without or with a natural code. She adds this luminous capsule: “The primal Word, bringer of order and meaning to chaos, introduces a comparison of Divine Logos with what I call Biologos. Both involve notions of direction, guiding agency, creative purpose, and meaning – roughly, intentionality. In addition, saying the “same thing” in several languages implies meanings that are independent of their linguistic vehicles, suggesting another characteristic of Logos and many information concepts in biology.” (27)
In an alternative genesis uniVerse may we at last realize a literacy singularity whence this organic procreation is written in a genetic language? As a result, sola scriptura and cosmo scriptura, a Book of Naturome, can join in providential fulfillment.
Sophia Opus: A Nativity Singularity
We have already seen how scientific perceptions and consequent realities, or lack thereof, can be equated with gender cognitive attributes. Here we turn to the writings of the Barry University theologian Gloria Schaab, SSJ. Along with an Oxford University Press book and many articles, she is the author of a Teihard Study (Fall 2007) The Divine Welling Up and Showing Through: Teilhard’s Evolutionary Theology in a Trinitarian Panentheistic-Procreative Paradigm. The main title is from Teilhard (DM 83), while the subtitle conveys how a woman scholar familiar with complexity science can just as well view life’s evolution as a developmental gestation. Panentheism (search word and Loriliai Biernacki) is a recent, obvious synthesis of a transcendent Creator and a Maternal immanence.
A resource for her project has been the biochemist and Anglican priest Arthur Peacocke (1924-2006). In similar fashion, he advised that an evident “cosmic becoming” ought to be conceived as a “female procreative experience.” Dr. Schaab then proposes a human co-creator role as “midwife” for this “cosmic child” in embryogeny. Apropos our theme, Peacocke’s 1978 volume Creation and the World of Science opens with the need to revive the Two Books context, and endorses even then “a self-cognizing universe” based on J. A. Wheeler’s theories.
The Fordham University feminist theologian Elizabeth Johnson offers a companion image in her latest book Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love. She was also the 2014 ATA annual meeting speaker in New York on Teilhard’s Thought: Growing the Tradition Forward. An advocate of panentheism and participant people, a middle chapter is All Creation Groaning from St. Paul in Romans 8:22. Across the eons and millennia, a “universal gestation” can be seen to struggle and suffer unto Earth’s natal hour.
From an Eastern heritage, a 2013 volume Situating Sri Aurobindo: A Reader, edited by Peter Heehs, is a latest study of the Indian sage (1872-1950) as he sought to recast eternal cycles of return into an evolutionary ascent from mind and matter to awakened beings, consciousness and global spirit. An affinity has long been recognized with Teilhard’s similar reorientation, and both refer to an internal psychic impulse. For this section, an essay by K. D. Verna notes Aurobindo’s conviction that only women as life’s unifying energy, namely Savitri as the Eternal Feminine, can intercede to restore the profane male world (Ukraine, Syria, Nigeria) to sacred sustainability.
A 1991 paper of mine, The Phenomenon of a Discovery: The Unity of a New Science and the Perennial Wisdom in the Journal of Social and Biological Structures and posted in Occasional Writings, could be an early draft for this essay. The closing section was The Phenomenon of Humanity with this premature conclusion: “The unity of a new science of a cosmic genesis with the perennial wisdom, by virtue of its human image – to remember so as to discover – may offer a providential matrix for Earthkind to divine the cosmos and its own mission. The next decade promises to be unlike all the rest as the hour of nativity is different from yet gives meaning to the long embryonic preparation.” (10)
And we ought to advise of the latest research on the neonate birth event. By non-invasive MRI studies, on sheep of course, it is now known that fetuses both sleep and dream (Karin Schwab). The act of being born is then similar to an awakening into aware consciousness (Largerkrantz, Changeux). At a comparable Earthkinder nativity, will we be able individually and collectively to wake ourselves up in time? A later Sustainability Singularity section continues this theme.
Solar Opus: A Unique Habitable Planetary System
An intent of this 2015 entry is to identify a special cosmic significance for a phenomenal Earth community. If one peruses the astronautical journals, as a result of intense studies after the 2009 Kepler planet-finder satellite it has come to light that our home solar system is an untypical, benign exception. With novel capabilities to reconstruct stellar and planetary histories now available, it is found that as a rule their origins and formations proceed in a wildly chaotic manner. But for our own nine planets all lie in the same plane, with mostly circular orbits. Moreover a relative stability has been in place for several billion years.
This distinction is just dawning, and here may its first usage as an ecological incentive. In an April 2015 special Exoplanet issue of the International Journal of Astrobiology, Elke Pilat-Lohinger, a University of Vienna astronomer, observes that it is quite unusual for worlds to arrange, line up, and rotate as our system. The common state is large and small planets going every which way and into each other. A further exception is a procession from inner rocky objects (Mercury) to a liquid water zone (Earth and Mars), and outward to the gas giants (Jupiter). A March posting at arXiv:1502.05747, with Giovanna Tinetti as lead author, makes the case for an international Exoplanetary Characterization Observatory Mission. Again our solar system is seen as especially orderly and stable. Dr. Tinetti also authored a 2014 paper Galactic Planetary Science, which could be a “Galactic Positioning System” as we Earthlings may encounter our favored situation and promise.
Teilhard imagined an organic cosmos filled with noospheres, which has long been accepted view. But into the 21st century, an opposite surmise has arisen. While a life bearing universe rife with biochemicals and microbes is agreed upon, the presence of a human-like reflective intelligence may be vanishingly rare. The Eerie Silence by Paul Davies, and Alone in the Universe by John Gribbin, for example, reach this conclusion. The contingent extravagance that marks earthly evolution appears to extend across a Darwinian spacescape even onto multiple universes. The formation of galaxies, stars, planets and moons of every possible kind is fraught with chaotic spatial and temporal behavior. It just may be, from our worldwise vantage, that only one world is needed to awaken, witness, read, discover, and therefore choose.
Great Earth: The Fittest People, Planet and Cosmos
We might now begin to broach a central significance for human persons, a special bioplanet, and even the entire cosmos. Here is a recap of reasons. At a consummate moment, an emergent personsphere seems to be coming to her/his own knowledge. By virtue of a holistic mindfulness, a revolutionary family genesis cosmos is revealed. Such an organic vista is then suffused, and made intelligible by, an internal ascendant genome. But a human phase of reflective individuation is necessary for its decipherment, comprehension, and self-selection. What intended role and contribution, by our own inquiry and initiative, might be realized? As an entry, we note a new research field, and a unique scientific work.
In the past years, an endeavor called “paleogenetics” has come into its own. By sophisticated instruments and informatics, it is possible to recover and decipher past genomes not only for present species, but across recent and distant evolution. The project to reconstruct animal lineages is led by the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen. A survey paper Using Ancient DNA to Understand Evolutionary and Ecological Processes by Ludovic Orlando and Alan Cooper in the 2014 Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics is an entry. A first book, Ancestors in Our Genome (2014), by the CCNY anthropologist Eugene Harris considers both living primates and a recast tree from Australopithecus to Neanderthal. An international cerebral faculty thus begins to retrospectively sequence all the creaturely genomes from which it has arisen.
Another take is Arrival of the Fittest (2014) by the University of Zurich evolutionary biologist Andreas Wagner. While Charles Darwin was concerned with the survival of species, to this day his theory cannot explain how they appear in the first place. Once again, an original, spontaneous self-organization is given as the answer. An extraordinary metaphor is invoked for this genesis synthesis. In 1940, the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges mused that the whole universe is like a library of books which do contain knowledge, but without a catalog to find them. By this imagination, peoples are engaged in an effort to search, collate, decode, translate, read, and understand. Wagner then suggests that nature’s textual script must be genetic in kind. Virtual libraries of metabolisms, protein structures, gene networks, and so on, become newly legible by these insights. The work closes with a notice of Galileo, and Max Tegmark, to affirm that the library of cosmos is indeed written in mathematics as a genomic script. We offer these quotes.
The deepest secrets of nature’s creativity reside in libraries just like this: all-encompassing and hyperastronomically large. Only instead of being written in human language, the texts in these libraries are written in the genetic alphabet of DNA and the molecular functions that DNA encodes. (68-69) For all of those billions of years, nature did not need to know what was around the next corner of the library of evolution to proceed. But if we humans want to understand the library, rather than simply to live in it, we need to have some way to grasp where new and meaningful texts are. And we need a catalog that classifies texts, like the Dewey Decimal System, or the Library of Congress Classification. (93) More than that, the mathematics of biology allowed us to see that these libraries self-organize with a simple principle, as simple as the gravitation that helps mold diffuse matter into enormous galaxies. (219)
In the mid 2010s, may we find a profligate, stochastic, yet directed evolutionary process writ large across solar and galactic expanses? In an organic genesis cosmos, a creative, self-organizing, emergent force can be added to counter the contingencies. On a minute, precious bioplanet amongst trillions, a sapient species coming to her/his own knowledge may finally arise unto self-comprehension. By this vista, it is possible to envision a phenomenal uniVerse to human developmental course so as to achieve its own witness, transcription, choice, and co-creation.
As we begin to ask and see, what might be imagined for a personal and planetary significance. It could appear, if you will, that human beings might be the uniVerse’s way of trying to sequence and read its own genetic code. Just as Magnum Opus pursued this vocation, across the temporal reaches of a Cosmos Opus, a collaborative humankinder may come to the same conclusion.
Great Earth, amongst the ovular multitudes, by virtue of this accomplishment, could aspire to be a fittest planet. It may well be the case, to follow the thread, that only one awakened world is needed to activate the entire cosmic spacescape. This present uniVerse amongst a myriad multiverse would then no longer be “accidental” but a self-chosen cosmos. The May 2, 2015 issue of the popular British weekly The New Scientist, has a cover story “Human Universe” which tries to broach this novel resolve. However an imperative task has to be done first, that of Earth’s deliberate social and environmental Ecozoic rejuvenation.
A Sustainability Singularity
It is important to show how these findings might be put into actual practice. For some examples we look at ecovillage communities, an organic democracy, and a cosmic reference wherein this title event is a birth rite of passage to a successful bioplanet of infinite consequence.
Ecovillage Communities In a greater genesis, if the nested recurrence of symbiotic whole organisms from life’s protocell origins is projected forward, instead of a homogenous globalization, a next phase of ecovillage neighborhoods, both rural and urban, as if “social protocells,” would be more physiologically appropriate. This fledgling movement on every continent of a nominal 100 folks is reviewed in its Genesis Future section. Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community (2014) by Karen Litfin, a University of Washington political scientist, is a good new book. Also called Cohousing, a premier settlement is close-by in Amherst, MA (www.cohousing.com) which for two decades has embodied a beneficial creative union with minimum ecological imprint.
Mutual human abidance has an ancient heritage best known by the African word “ubuntu,” which is Bantu for “human kindness” and also put as “I am because We are.” In the 21st century could “It takes an Ecovillage” offer a way for Africa, Haiti, and everywhere to recover from violent devastation unto a “ubuntu Universe?” The Fall 2005 and Fall 2010 Perspectives had articles and references on A Complementarity of Cultures: Teilhard, (Leopold) Senghor and Africa.
Organic Democracy Apropos and timely, a Biodemocracy and the Earth Charter section appeared in the December 2014 (49/4) issue of Zygon: The Journal of Religion and Science. An article by Mary Evelyn Tucker, The Earth Charter and Journey of the Universe, proceeded to join Great Story and Great Work into “An Integrated Framework for Biodemocracy.” A good instance would be the egalitarian Ecovillages just noted which self-organize and sustain by constant care and shared dialogue.
On governmental scale, this United States could illustrate what a recognition of an innate mutuality could bring. At present, the two party politics ever split in half along conservative or liberal, autonomy or community, male or female, war or peace, lines, as does every country. Since a mechanical nothingness does not allow or contain exemplary propensities, we are blind to their obvious natural reciprocity. As noted earlier, an integral “me + We = US,” as a true “United States,” could readily resolve.
Astropocene Sustainability Environmental activists have gone on to state that we need to situate our anthropocene age within its actual galactic and cosmic setting to adequately grasp the moment. A January 17, 2015 New York Times Op-Ed piece by the University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank entitled Is a Climate Disaster Inevitable? makes this point. As Frank and Woodruff Sullivan explain in Sustainability and the Astrobiological Perspective (arXiv:1310.3851), a crucial requirement for a planetary civilization to avoid terminal collapse and gain long-term viability is a transition to a sustainable habitation. This means that the big three of energy, water, and food must be brought into a metabolic homeostasis. If an intentional revitalization can be accomplished, Earth will then have a relevance to the future and fate of the entire universe.
The website section is Planetary Self-Selection where similar papers by Seth Baum, Francois Forget, Max Tegmark and others can be found, search also for the ecophilosophers Freya Mathews and Paul Raskin. In 2011, a Global Climate as a Complex Dynamical System section was added to report efforts to interpret ultra-intricate world weather by these common theories. As I write on Ash Wednesday it is 10 below in Hadley, MA, surely “global warming” is a serious misnomer. Erratic microclimes of 70 degrees in Denver, record snowfall in Boston, a “polar vortex” dipping to the mid-Atlantic, are signs of an extremely stressed Earth system that classically responds by oscillations toward an abrupt state change. The section Old Earth: Its Critical Life Support Condition has much documentation in regard.
I have just received an ATA announcement for the May 2015 Annual Meeting where the speaker will be John Haught on Teilhard, Religion, and Big History: A Look Inside. His summary says this approach to join human and cosmos (see Systems History) will not achieve a “deep coherence” unless it includes “a vein of subjectivity running through the heart of matter from the earliest moments of the cosmic story.” As “inaccessible to objectifying science,” the absence of an inherent, orienting, within of things will thwart the whole project.
A 1994 paper of mine, Environmental Ethics and the Question of Cosmic Purpose, appeared in the journal Environmental Ethics (16/3). The main referee was the philosopher Holmes Rolston and the title from a 1986 John Haught paper The Emergent Environment and the Problem of Cosmic Purpose in the same journal (8/2). Its point was, even then and John before, that people would not ultimately be moved to achieve a living, habitable Earth in a moribund, pointless universe. By 2015 this despair has blown up to a multiverse whence this local cosmos is an improbable chimera. But as this writing has tried to broach, via a worldwide bicameral humankind, a revolutionary organic genesis graced by an incarnate code is just now coming to the fore. Over three decades later, an aim of this edition is to discern a central significance for Earthkind as an incentive and inspiration to pro-create peaceable, equitable, healthy communities.
Recently on a PBS channel, the life of Martin Luther and a Nova science Making Stuff Colder were shown on the same day. Circa 1515, only by rejection of this world could the young monk earn his way to heaven. In 2015, a German scientist named Martin Zwierlein at the MIT-Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms showed how close to absolute zero they can now get. The moderator said it must be colder in outer space. No, here is the coldest temperature anywhere. Some five centuries on, human beings can do things that the cosmos cannot. This present edition has surveyed a novel worldwide affirmation of a numinous genesis uniVerse with a salient place and role for the human/Earth/solar phenomenon, a fine fulfillment of Teilhard’s promise.
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