Our evolutionary inheritance

Evolution is blind. So said Richard Dawkins in 1986 in The Blind Watchmaker, driven without design by the blind laws of physics. We can see the results of this blindness in the chaos the world is in today, as few understand our evolutionary inheritance and hence why we behave as we do.

It doesn’t have to be this way, as Julian Huxley pointed out in a five-page essay published in 1957 in New Bottles for New Wine. As the result of fourteen billion years of evolution since the most recent big bang, “the universe is becoming conscious of itself, able to understand something of its past history and its possible future.”

This is a statement that Pierre Teilhard de Chardin particularly liked because he had realized in the 1920s that we can only understand our evolutionary inheritance and our future potential by studying the human phenomenon, principally through self-inquiry.

Looking first at the outer manifestations of evolution, one example of evolution becoming conscious of itself is a comprehensive model of evolution based on the logistic map in non-linear systems dynamics, which Nick Hoggard, a software developer, presented in 2000 at a gathering in Sweden of the Scientific and Medical Network (SMN).

The logistic map—the discrete version of the logistic function, with its familiar S-shape of the learning curve—provides a means of modelling the exponential growth of structures limited by their environment, like populations. By viewing evolution as an accelerating accumulative process under constraint, Nick showed that it can be mapped with a geometric series, whose constant diminishing factor is the reciprocal of the bifurcation velocity constant δ (4.6692…), a universal mathematical constant that Mitchell J. Feigenbaum discovered in the 1970s.

Now, even though a geometric series consists of the sum of an infinite number of terms, it has a finite limit when the ratio between successive terms is less than one. In terms of evolution as a whole, here is a semi-logarithmic chart of major evolutionary turning points, showing this finite limit at around 2004, give or take a couple of years.

In chaos theory, this finite limit is called the accumulation point, after which rapidly increasing complexity degenerates into chaos, as I explain in my 2016 book Through Evolution’s Accumulation Point: Towards Its Glorious Culmination, further clarified in 2019 in Unifying Mysticism and Mathematics. Nick’s mathematical model thus explains why blind evolution is currently degenerating into increasing psychosocial chaos. Likening evolution to a dripping tap being turned on under laboratory conditions, the evolutionary tap is now flowing continuously, with no more distinct turning points to be discerned.

What this means is that no one is to blame for what is often called human-caused climate change. We humans are subject to exactly the same laws as all other beings, with no exceptions for a species that often thinks it is special, capable of defying these laws. So, abrupt climate change and near-term human extinction are the inevitable consequences of these laws: all beings are born to die.

Nevertheless, as we are all the products of these billions of years of evolution, could the creative power of Life bubbling up from the Divine Origin of the Universe turn this evolutionary chaos into universal, transcultural order in the collective consciousness? If it could, we would thereby realize our fullest potential as superintelligent humans, far beyond machines that can beat humans at games like chess or Go, which Nick Bostrom, founding director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, calls superintelligent.

Well, in Huxley’s essay, titled ‘Transhumanism’, Huxley said that we can only transcend the limitations of our machines by first “destroying the ideas and the institutions that stand in the way of our realizing our possibilities”, leading to mystical ecstasy, free from the suffering that has plagued humanity through the millennia, especially during the patriarchal epoch.

For blind evolution has led us into the mess that the world is in today. So, if we are to sort out this mess in as intelligent a way as possible, it is essential to start afresh at the very beginning, demolishing the Tower of Babel that represents the fragmented and deluded world of learning today.

That, essentially, is what has happened to me since the spring of 1980, when I was working in marketing for IBM in London, exploring the essential difference between intelligent humans and machines with so-called artificial intelligence, possibly taking over the workplace, with devastating psychological and economic consequences.

To experience first hand what the invention of the stored-program computer in the late 1940s might mean for future generations, I made the most fundamental change to the work ethic since the invention of money and since our forebears settled in villages to cultivate the land and domesticate animals, some four and ten thousand years ago, respectively

This transdisciplinary experiment in learning began when a big bang erupted in the utmost depths of my psyche. This was a monumental quantum leap or change that led me into a profound understanding of the Universe, and hence of God, unifying Eastern and Western worldviews, with the latter beginning to recognize that Consciousness is all there is. For this apocalyptic awakening revealed the innermost secret of the Universe: the accelerating pace of change in society is being caused by nonphysical mental and psychospiritual synergistic energies.

As David Bohm pointed out to me in November 1980, Einstein’s association of mass and energy is a special case of the general principal that meaningful structure-forming relationships are causal. Together with the revelation that opposites are never separate from each other in Reality, Life has thereby healed my fragmented mind in Wholeness, with a Holoramic ‘Whole-seeing’ view of the Cosmos.

To explain how evolution took this radical change in direction within me—changing from the horizontal to the vertical dimension of time in the Eternal Now—I describe it as a thought experiment, not unlike those that Einstein formulated to develop the special and general theories of relativity. In my case, I imagine that I am a computer that turns itself off and on again so that it has no programs within it, not even a bootstrap program to load the operating system.

I had the great advantage in this experiment in learning in that I had almost nothing to unlearn. Having realized as an adolescent that what I was being taught in religion, science, economics, mathematics, and logic made little sense as a coherent whole, I learned the barest minimum at school and university. This was just enough to survive in what I mostly experienced as a hostile cultural environment. I discovered why in 1980 from the insightful works of Erich Fromm: we all live in a dysfunctional, sick society, caused by the psychological confusion of every one of us, inhibiting us from realizing the full potential of human nature.

So, starting with a tabula rasa ‘blank slate’, this ‘computer’ had the task of applying Self-reflective Divine Intelligence to solve the ultimate problem of human learning: integrating all knowledge in all cultures and disciplines into a coherent whole, guided only by what the Greeks and Romans called Daimon and Genius, respectively. Roger and Francis Bacon set out to develop such a megasynthesis in the 1200s and 1600s, respectively, with some others following them in later centuries. I mention a few of these on my ‘Kindred spirits’ page.

The result of this thought experiment, projected from the Divine, is the elusive Theory of Everything, which Ken Wilber says is “a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that we will never reach”, a sentiment echoed by Martin Rees in Our Final Century: Will the Human Race Survive the Twenty-first Century?

Physicists are still searching for the fundamental laws of the Universe, as Dennis Overbye told us in an article in the New York Times on 23rd November 2020, when he asked, ‘Can a Computer Devise a Theory of Everything?’ The answer is no, even with the most advanced quantum computer programmed as a neural network, ‘learning’ to find patterns, as it executes its instructions.

However, we humans can find the simple, elegant pattern or paradigm underlying the complexity of the Cosmos—as an equation explaining everything—by adapting the modelling methods of information systems architects, mapping the interactions of humans and computers in the workplace. Such a comprehensive model naturally includes the creative, evolutionary process of developing such a model in the psyche of the modeller, testing whether machines can think for themselves and hence whether artificial general intelligence in computers is possible or not.

It is thus nonsense for Peter Russell, a leading evolutionary, to suggest in an article titled ‘What if There Were No Future?’ that during this decade machines with artificial intelligence will surpass the human brain in performance and abilities. In this regard, Peter is following Ray Kurzweil and the misnamed transhumanists, mistakenly believing that evolution’s Accumulation Point is a technological singularity, as I explain more fully in an article from March this year titled ‘Demystifying the Mystery of Being’.

We humans are the leading edge of evolution, not algorithmic computers practicing machine learning in neural networks. However, as Teilhard foresaw, we can only realize our fullest potential as superhumans at evolution’s Omega Point—by becoming totally free of our mechanistic conditioning, passed from generation to generation for thousands of years.

This is not just about concepts, ideas, and theories, as insights. Such a Total Revolution—questioning the fundamental assumptions of the cultures we live in—also has a profound effect on human relationships, not the least with our families. For religious, scientific, and economic beliefs provide many with a precarious sense of security and identity in life, which they are most reluctant to release, often defending them to the core.

Therein lies the central dilemma of evolution, as we collectively experience it today. Even though many intuitively already know the truth of human existence deep within themselves, as evolutionary learning has been more divergent than convergent over the years, we live in a world of specialists, whose vision is inevitably severely limited. In my case, I know no one else who has taken the powerful abstractions of algebra and information systems modelling methods to the utmost level of generality, rebuilding the whole of mathematics, and hence all knowledge, on the solid foundation of the Truth, within the Cosmic Context of Wholeness.

In this respect, wishful thinking doesn’t help, even if such an optimistic approach does give a modicum of comfort, for hope and despair and life and death are just two sides of the same coin. To resolve the existential crisis we all face today in Love and Peace, it is essential to engage in a spiritual practice that leads to the psychological death of the sense of a separate self.

For unifying the mystical and mundane—living simultaneously in these two worlds—is the final stage of the spiritual journey, as Joseph Campbell described in his popular book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. However, with most focused on their families and making a living, it is uncertain to what extent we shall be able to compassionately support each other to realize our True Nature, free of our blind evolutionary inheritance, in the few years we have available to us for this Great Awakening.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *