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Dark, ocean currents raise quickly through super heated fault lines. Here, vent worms comfortably feed while peculiar, sun-deprived crustaceans move their albino limbs with ease beneath the crushing pressures of these depths. The frozen heights of our greatest mountains glow with reflected starlight, and a lone flock of Siberian cranes traverse this treacherous world en route to the Indian subcontinent. This world, our precious Earth, has been imbued with an unstoppable and undeniably creative power that permeates every crevice and extends to the utmost heights. This power is Life.
Herein dwells an intrinsic force whose ability gives rise to the most ingenious of inventions such as the development of vision, flight and self-awareness. It knows to experiment in the face of calamity and it always finds a way to manifest anew through the lens of continually changing environments. Our shared story of the Earth's Co-evolutionary path is a magnificent saga from which our species can come to great realizations of an ongoing creation that we are directly involved with. This is a creation that has magical beginnings, endings and then new beginnings, again and again. It is a miraculous unfolding of a creation of Now. The essence of its message reinforces the truth of our unity with both lesser and greater systems beyond our bodily experience. It carries a provocative understanding about the eternal nature of life revealed within a perpetually changing Universe. This Greatest of Stories is more than a story. It is the psalm of Nature. It is a planetary chord that strikes harmony with our own intrinsically creative nature as a species. Through this assertion we witness ourselves as part of the super organism that we have come to call Gaia, our world, and then the Cosmos that contains Her.
As individuals who sense the sacred within the Earth, we know that evolution is not humanistic, but it is worth reiterating since the vast majority of our popular cosmologies place humans at the pinnacle of reality. The vast 3.5 billion years of life history on our planet cannot conclude the human condition as the intended crown of creation. It cannot be. According to the latest archeological evidence we are a mere 200,000 years old. The creatures of the Earth are not bound by our mythological precepts and luckily neither are we. Instead, evolution is quite evidently an act of ongoing creation. Most modern scientific explanations, however, ignore a most vital factor in the cause of Evolution; Consciousness. As it turns out, cutting edge science is confirming that Consciousness appears to play a very clear and direct, if not ultimate, role in the evolution of species. That is to say that Consciousness itself is the catalyst by which change is first prompted to manifest into the physical; whether it is a plant that unfurls from a seedling or an animal that is born of a womb.
Some of today's most compelling,
cutting-edge scientific opinions are supporting this assertion which
should make both atheistic Evolutionists and Biblical Creationists uncomfortable,
for this is an alternative that fuses two polarized views and offers
its wealth to the world. This novel explanation might hold the key to
what seems to be the missing element in the story of evolution and the
lack on the part of the scientific community to explain the nature and
role of Consciousness in Nature. This new premise entails an integration
of mechanical modes of evolutionary understanding (Natural Selection,
Random Mutations and Fluctuating Environments) with Consciousness as
the primary responder and creator. Co-creative Evolution or Co-evolution
provides that the Consciousness of a creature be it great or small,
is the fundamental element in initiating the processes that alters physical
biology from one being to the next. Rupert Sheldrake, a leading Vitalist
(or Conscious-first) scientist, explains in his book The Rebirth of
Nature that, "the idea that all mutations are random is only an
assumption.. Some kinds of mutations seem to be purposive. [Certain
experiments have proven that] mutations occur at frequencies far above
chance levels." Like an artist on a canvas, each creature is imbued
with a potential to explore the creative process which may be achieved.
Often times this potential is successful. Often times it is not. This
understanding places direct participation of the creative will of a
species as a primary invocation to evolution.
Consciousness is mostly
explained away as a byproduct of the nervous system. The novel Consciousness-first
view, however, is gaining support by many scientists who regard the
presence of Consciousness as the motor by which matter is altered. This
potential will is expressed by each manifestation of life and is indeed
contained within each cell.
Unlike the traditional view of evolution that implies a hierarchy of the most basic to complex, this co-creative view denotes that the power of creation equally permeates the simplest as well as the most intricate of life forms, even at the cellular level and very likely even to lesser degrees. As above, So Below, Micro to Macro. It is also clear that there is no so-called hierarchical "expected" path in evolution. Most forms tend to move toward complexity, such as fins becoming legs, yet others simplify, such as species' losing vision in light-deprived habitats. One could extrapolate the commonly-held indigenous view of All Life is Sacred from this scientific premise of non-hierarchy and thus derive a primary foundation to Earth ethics.
Through this co-creative view all species are seen as a special creation and thus a conflict with standing Creationist theories that place man at the top. Humans may maintain a sense of the marvel of our species, but can no longer be seen as an end all to reality as suggested by most revelatory religions. We are certainly a novel and astounding being. However we must apply the premise of special creation to all manifestations of life which are likewise supremely complex in their own unique capacity. Let us take another special creation as an example to illustrate that special is applied across the gamut: Thousands of bird species constitute one of the most successful beings on the planet, linked to the dinosaurs and dating back over 80 million years. Just as our cerebral cortex co-evolved from the smaller brain of our primate ancestors, the feathers of a terapod dinosaur were willed into existence through the transformation of scales and hair. Science is mystified by this leap. There is no solid explanation and only speculation as to why and how some dinosaurs made the leap to becoming birds. To one who sees Consciousness as the foundation to evolution, the emergence of feathers arose through no apparent need other than the sheer will of a group of species to take to the skies. One could say that feathers are a creative masterpiece, like a Monet. Our cerebral cortex, which gives us the expanded sense of self-awareness, could be described as a DaVinci. Both paintings are masterpieces. Both our species are sacred journeys of Co-evolution. In this view, birds, just as humans, contain an infinitely, creative ability to alter their form. Both of us, siblings of this world, are masterful Co-creations.
This paradigm of a co-creative process holds many precepts wherewith we can derive powerful, ethical declarations. By embracing the concept of Gaia as coined by James Lovelock to describe the Earth as a "single, living organism," we might begin a serious discussion on wellness for both the greatest and smallest of life systems. We come to realize that we are not just one race and so establish precepts on global cooperation. We realize that we are not a specially-crowned species and thus have strong platforms to discuss care for the biodiversity of the planet. Through the concepts of co-creative evolution and the realization of Gaia as our Greater Being we achieve something that most philosophies deny; declaring us rightly a natural creature that can realistically integrate with the very world that gave us life experience.
The concept of evolution
presented to us as a co-creative process is cast in cutting-edge, scientific
explanations of how biology is affected by the internal will of a being;
just as spontaneous healing,is suspected to occur, just as documented
cases of assisted healing works. This expanded theory may assist us
in our pursuit to shift from cultures that are based on perpetual growth
to those that are more attuned to the procession of regeneration, growth,
fruition, aging, death and then regeneration once again. The undeniable
evidence of life's astounding Co-evolutionary processes provides us
with a magnificent opportunity to enhance our cultures into more symbiotic
flavor with the planet. It delivers into our hearts and minds the knowledge
of our direct participative role in this magnificent unfolding. It opens
before us the sacred in our Mother World and our Universe like never
before. In this light, all things imbued with animate life, and even
chemical or mineral influences, are potential creators, intending change
in opportunistic fashion in a world of malleable reality.
Mark Foley is a park naturalist for the State of Florida and counts the trees and animals an extension of his own being. He has been an op-ed columnist for Spiritual and Earth-centered topics for a number of years. He facilitates one of the most celebrated Seasonal drum circles in South Florida at Birch State Park.