Inventing Evolution

We're persuaded that something is happening. Fast. Credible signals abound. We have environmental crises coupled with a population explosion. These two are classic precursors of an evolutionary jump. Our numbers have doubled, from 2.5 billion to 5 billion, in only 40 years, and the growth curve continues to accelerate. Then, consider the implications of mushrooming global communication and information. How about the rapid spread of consciousness-expanding techniques? Some scientists claim there are unused functions in the human brain and ductless glands (the pineal, for instance) which could be rapidly activated, given certain stimuli. Not to mention the scary possibilities in genetic engineering.

General systems theorist John Platt offers this exciting prospect: The recent large scale ventures such as rocket projects, atomic bomb projects, and the man-in-space programs involve hundreds of thousands of people working together for many years spending huge chunks of their GNP. Humanity has never done anything on this scale before. Platt observes, "This is a collective thinking process for creating the future by inventing evolutionary jumps, and it may be as big as the original evolution of thought itself." (our italics) We're interested in what happens to individual biologies and psyches if, indeed, they do start "creating the future" in this way.

What's going to happen when every single person on the planet has access to a telephone, and therefore access to every other person on the planet? Will we then, as Peter Russell suggests, come to know ourselves quite differently; no longer as isolated individuals but as "the nerve cells of an awakened global brain"? And what about all those remarkable exceptional human abilities: some ESP modalities, the Siddhis in the Yoga tradition, psychogenic wounds (stigmata, etc.), extraordinary athletic performance, the placebo effect? Might these point to who we could become? Could they and other factors synergize and shift evolutionary processes into overdrive?

Taken individually the items listed above can cause a "Wow!" or two. Taken together, they're astonishing! Maybe we're already in the thick of this transformation. For more on this, see "Edgelings" and/or Evolutionary "Twilight Zones" sidebar on that page.

Apropos of both Platt's "collective thinking process" and Russell's getting us all hooked up, consider this from Kevin Kelly's Out of Control (Addison Wesley, 1994). Kelly is editor of "Wired" magazine:

"My friend Barlow -- a least Barlow's disembodied voice -- has already connected his everything to his everything. He lives and works in a true network economy. He gives away information -- for free -- and he is given money. The more he gives away, the more money he gets. He had something to say about the emerging network in an email to me:

'Computers -- the gizmos themselves -- have far less to do with techie enthusiasm than some half understood resonance to The Great Work: hardwiring collective consciousness, creating the Planetary Mind. Teilhard de Chardin wrote about this enterprise many years ago and would be appalled by the prosaic nature of the tools we will use to bring it about. But I think there is something sweetly ironic that the ladder to his Omega Point might be built by engineers and not mystics.'"