Introduction 2004: A Cosmic Copernican Revolution
This initial section surveys the themes and outline upon which the website is based. Its working premise is that the whole earth through humankind is presently coming to its own cognizance and knowledge. From this perspective, in the first decade of a new millennium, a Copernican Revolution of cosmic proportions seems underway. A 19th and 20th century pointless, expiring, mechanical model is being replaced by a biological universe whose innate qualities develop into life, intelligence and creative persons. Rather than a new Newton or Darwin, today a collaborative discovery by all people seems in occurrence, “in the air” so to speak. At the same time that civilizations clash and climates change, in our midst appears a salutary genesis narrative, if we might just look for it.
Our intent is to respectfully propose, introduce and document this event and achievement. To reflect its planetary occasion, it is posted as an annotated bibliography and anthology, not a long essay. This format can gather, arrange, and report both common, independent principles and their manifest evidence everywhere, which can be situated within a storyline instead of an alphabetic list. From our titles, Natural Genesis implies an embryonic, still-developing cosmos by a synthesis of an incarnate genotype program and emergent phenotype novelty. Worldwide Discovery means the advent of earth’s own cerebral capacity, while a Creative, Organic Universe implies an evolutionary gestation whereof human beings are vital, phenomenal participants.
As a caveat up front, although terms such as genesis, order, progress are unavoidable and appropriate, no “intelligent design” or doctrinal agenda is intended. An effort will be made to show a deep accord between the new cosmology and traditional religion. But its emphasis will be on an identity and value for this earth and all its inhabitants, now and in the future. At a climactic historical hour, we wish to broach an alternative vision based on wide range of print and electronic resources as an integral humanity might be realizing them. While the world seems bent on going back to the dark ages, a grand new Light Age dawns on the horizon.
Natural Genesis: The phrase is chosen to resolve two sequential conceptions of our earthly presence now at odds. Until circa 1859, the world was variously considered an ordained, animate, sympathetic abide. With roots in scripture, this persuasion was known as natural philosophy, essentialism or natural law. In the late 19th century, traditional belief gave way to a Darwinian view of an ancient, capricious evolution by natural selection alone. In the 20th century as a mechanical paradigm took hold, our home planet became a seemingly insignificant speck in a hostile, expanding multiverse.
Natural genesis connotes a rising, composite view of life’s evolution as a nested development that converges on sentient, intelligent beings. No longer an arbitrarily branching bush, an overall direction is traced by a ramifying scale and vector of body, brain, knowledge, individuality and community. Original religion was mostly static in time and hierarchical in space. An evolving cosmos revealed a temporal dimension but banished coherence or purpose. This sourcebook looks toward a 21st century image of a conducive cosmos as its valiant earth life reaches the verge of collective self-awareness. And notably, the website will not only list many works as evidence but go on to show how the recurrent pattern and process they find can advise a much kinder, gentler future.
In 1994, an article of mine, “Environmental Ethics and the Question of Cosmic Purpose,” was published in the journal Environmental Ethics. (16/4) It contended that we cannot have a living planet in a dead universe, that the materialist pessimism whereof life and people are of no account will undercut efforts toward an ecologically sustainable society. We are still beset by this negative, machine model. It is necessary to first get the encompassing cosmos right for all else follows from it. This endeavor is a response some ten years later.
A Worldwide Discovery: A prime reason is that earth’s viable biosphere and noosphere of the mind seems to be reaching its own realm of knowledge, largely unbeknownst to the individual members who accomplished it. Here we touch on its critical moment in time, the mindfulness to imagine such a discovery, a bicameral humankind and a Rosetta cosmos whereby every testament and version can translate into each other.
The Decisive Hour of Earth: The decades before and after the millennium are curiously coincident with a spherical closure of history. The fall of communism circa 1990 initiated a global burst of commerce, travel and communication. But in its wake came environmental impact and weather extremes, along with internecine conflict, disenfranchisement, spreading terror. These interlinked effects increasingly threaten human civility and planetary life support systems. The absence of a cosmological relevance for daily life contributes to fundamentalisms, overconsumption and a cacaphony of economic, political, social and ethical problems. Earth is a finite globe, a fact often lost, upon which humanity is at the threshold of somatic and cognitive unity in diversity. We seem poised between a successful metamorphosis by our own acumen, initiative and self-selection or an irreversible, terminal decline.
The Discovery Event: For most prior ages, people dwelt within an organic, variously meaningful realm. But due to a modern indifferent, moribund cosmos, along with world wars, genocide, totalitarian regimes and other horrors, the quest for a knowable reality has been given up. A postmodernism argues that each mythic, religious, literary, philosophical or scientific rendition is culturally relative and incompatible, a grand narrative no longer possible. A reductive, mechanistic science goes on to say there is nothing to know anyway. In a volatile, still nuclear age, we need to affirm that children, women and men are crucial, intended participants in an unfinished creation.
But at this propitious moment, it may be equally possible to decipher what the universe and the human might be and become. A large step is the very idea that such a question can be asked and answered. The cosmos is said to have begun in an instant explosive singularity. Some 14 billion years later, on a special bioplanet, could a second singularity occur through such a discovery? If there is a quality that most distinguishes the human presence it seems an awesome capacity to learn. Surely there should be something to find.
A Learning Planet: In this incendiary post-millennium decade, a new occasion and source of knowledge on earth would be of great service. Rather than due to one individual as earlier, today it is all persons together whom seem to be coming to their own edification. In an evolution which will be seen to proceed as a nest of cellular wholes from microbes to societies, a further advance often predicted is a superorganic global phase of both beneficial unity and liberated diversity. A consequence is an enveloping brain-like faculty able to recognize and explain the genesis universe from which it arose. Please see Mindkind: A Global Knowledge for doucmentation.
The Learning Planet logo might stand for what the multi-billion year ascent of life and mind on earth seems to be about. The worldwide convergence of theory, experiment, and intellect becomes the way the developing, personalizing cosmos can achieve its own self-recognition. From our retrospective vantage, an intended role of human beings is to quantify, transcribe, discover – and complete - sidereal and earthly nature. If our disparate findings and voices might be gathered into a common dispensation, a novel understanding and affinity of universe and human may just now be available.
A Rosetta Cosmos: For millennia stories, myths, testaments, and philosophies have tried to express and justify existence. But many societies are now rent by conflicts between interpretations. Yet should not each testimony reflect the same story, albeit often tragic, and be translateable as languages one into another? Instead of “incommensurable” versions as postmodernism claims, ought not the hero/heroine with a thousand faces, network theory, psychic individuation, the Kabbalah, fractal self-similarity, Sufism, the Bible and so on each reflect one greater reality? And as tradition teaches, their Rosetta code would be the gender complementarity of human life. Once an adult man was the icon, today in an embryonic genesis it would be ones full life course of self-actualization. At a time when so many peoples are beset by poverty, disease, oppression, and violence, when biosphere and climate are overstressed, the rediscovery of a wisdom and identity to complement heritage, wherein one can be both ethnic and earthling, would be of immense value.
A Creative, Organic Universe: From this holistic vista, the over fifteen hundred references posted here can testify to a once and future encounter with an embryonic, numinous universe. Science began by reading nature as a sacred book. The endeavor went on to explore and catalogue atom, cell, species and star. But its necessary method of looking down into matter and back in time reduced and lost life along the way. Earth and human were removed from privileged regard to a rare, contingent blossom not to appear again. This physical agenda, lately in search of a quantum theory of everything, seems almost Ptolemaic in its efforts to shore up an inadequate model and misplaced emphasis.
As the references attest, a growing number of researchers and scholars advocate a quite different scenario. An organically self-organizing universe is increasingly understood which can return life and intelligence to a central significance. In a biological cosmos whose innate properties give rise to sentient beings on cellular planets, its essence is most evident from whom they may become. No longer a random tangent, the manifest emergence of life, mind and informed selves can define a vectorial arrow of cosmogenesis. People are once more of cosmic notice, this time as its leading, creative, spiritual edge.
A Cosmic Code: As the universe takes on an organic quality, a genetic-like source is also being found. Such a feature resided at the heart of wisdom whereby the natural realm was arrayed in a congruent scale and ascent from microcosm to Divine macrocosm. In the East variously as an anthropocosmic vision, Indra’s web, yin and yang, to Thomas Aquinas it was an “analogy of proper proportion.” For Judaism and Islam, such a mirror identity again serves to relate creature and Creator.
This resonance likewise vanished in evolutionary time and celestial space. But new sciences of complex, nonlinear, self-creating systems seem to again reveal an independent, universal pattern and process, this time in a temporal gestation. The same component elements and dynamic relations are perceived to recur over and over at each stage from quarks to molecules, cells, neurons, ecosystems, communities, economies and clusters of galaxies. Once known as emblematic, resonant or correlative, today its scientific terms are fractal, holographic, iterative. The recovery of the realization that the cosmos comes with a transparent code, that everything springs from and exemplies a singular principle and impulse, is a crucial insight. And as ever it is epitomized by procreative human gender. By such an ingrained feature, aware beings on a infinitesimal planet may yet be able to comprehend their supernal niche and august purpose.
An Integral Gender Complementarity: As many observers note, for centuries science and society have been masculine in kind. Their investigative project has taken the universe apart and it lies mostly in pieces. As Thomas Berry writes, nature is treated more as an insensate collection of objects, rather than a communion of subjects. If fertile Earth is to succeed as a locus of awakening cosmic life, a new phase of holistic reassembly, more feminine in essence, able to connect dots, is required to complete the picture.
A reciprocity of male and female principles imbued tradition and indeed reappears in the new sciences. As a theme to be repeated often, we mention particle and wave, elemental node and relational link, agent and system, gene and genome, left and right brain, animus and anima. A step or leap here taken is to equate the autonomous agents and their relational interaction of complex adaptive systems with these archetypal principles. Part IV, A Universal Code, has much more on this. After ages of exclusion, a woman’s empathic, contextual sensibility is vital to heal, demilitarize and save an imperiled home. A grand accomplishment of a bicameral humankind is to identify in a cosmic genesis an inherent feminine quality, equal and complementary with the masculine.
An Earthkind Future: All the references of theory and evidence are of little avail if they do not prescribe a much better, peaceful, just, healthy world. As whole earth became visible from space, our special, precious planet appears as a center of life, mind and selfhood. In this ovular image, a transition to a successful, cooperative earth community is imperative. Yet in the old mindset, ethnic, racial, political, religious and economic domains increasingly fragment, polarize and implode. If a symbiotic individual/group reciprocity can be observed at each nested stage, this natural theme can be intentionally carried forth as a model for self-organized urban and rural neighborhoods. Please see Part VII, Sustainable Ecovillages for current examples. The rarely used term Earthkind is proposed for all biospheric fauna and flora including human beings.
A Learning Planet Outline: Within our humankind scope are then collected an extensive range of research papers and summary overviews as a representative sample of the literature. Each chapter and section comes with an introduction. An attempt is made to list text citations and websites which contain copious references or links. As a periodical review, new contributions will be posted in the Recent Additions section.
The outline basically follows how a natural genesis might be recognized, encompass and develop. Part I, The Genesis Vision, cites synoptic glimpses of an organic, incomplete universe. A background frame of reference is provided in Part II, A Planetary Learning Experience. This contains Original Wisdom which notes The Book of Nature as a familar metaphor. It goes on to show how the scientific enterprise proceeded to result in a cumulative sphere of knowledge just now emerging.
Part III, An Animate, Amniotic Cosmos, contains resources that testify to an embryonic universe made for life and people. With this supportive milieu in place, Part IV, A Universal Genetic Code, enters its formative, self-organizing source. Part V, A Quickening Evolution, covers a much revised understanding of the course of life and mind via a sequence of nested stages, as informed by complex systems science and many other advances.
The rest of the website, Part VI, Earth Embryogenesis: Developmental Stages of Life, Mind, Self and Knowledge, reports how the independent, creative complements are manifestly evident at every plane. Here is presented life’s earthly course from geology to Gaia, brain’s procession to self-awareness, an ascendent informational quality, enhanced individuality and new parallels between evolutionary phylogeny and personal ontogeny.
In this view, the human phase likewise embodies the cosmic code. Integral Persons spans infant and child development to archetypal psychology. The Phenomenon of Humankind notes its occurrence with regard to language, complex societies, a superorganic globe, east/west and south/north complements and bicameral world religions. From our late vista, a new witness of macrohistory as a process of personal individuation can be compiled.
If we might avail ourselves,these repetitive phases can inform and guide a changed world as suggested in Part VII, An Earthkind Future. The critical condition of life’s support systems is the subject of The Old Earth. At the same moment, A New Earth Creation is apparent, for example, as a webwork of diverse, sustainable villages, cities and bioregions of great benefit to their members. An open future of celestial expanse awaits a successful Earthkind, as noted in The Greening of the Galaxy.
Reader Recommendations: As another caveat, the site is surely an on-going, communal process, as it attempts to glimpse what humankind may be learning on its own. In this regard, please contact us at email@example.com with books, articles, chapters, websites, organizations, movements and so on. A brief annotation would be helpful. Recommendations that find their way into the bibliography will acknowledge whom proposed it. Many thanks in advance.