Our Yardsticks for a Human Evolutionary Jump
Some ways it probably won't happen
Consider the catastrophe in the John Wayne-revering USA if all the men woke up tomorrow morning with the reliable ability to access telepathically the full array of unstated emotional material in anyone they were looking at. This is the stuff Steve Martin or Jim Carrey comedy films are made of, but the fun would end quickly the moment one ice-box of a middle-management guy felt the bruising impact of his wife's pent-up resentment about ten years of living in his unfeeling presence.
The above is a simple example of "consciousness evolution", a term often bandied about loosely in "new age" and other circles where the full consequences of such a sudden development have seldom been considered. The kind of chaos and violence such a jump would trigger is clear the second we consider how close we are in time here in the USA to events like witch-burnings. We're still very quick to ridicule and sometimes persecute people who claim paranormal or anomalous experience. So, it would take much more than the simple throwing of a telepathic (or other paranormal) switch somewhere in the DNA if there were any hope we might survive such a jump. More of a broad-based consciousness Revolution would be needed
(Of course, this caveat is no guarantee it won't happen this way. . .with or without any kind of damage control. If you haven't visited already, go to the Evojoke page to get a better sense of how evolution may not care much what we call top-drawer. . .or even whether we survive at all, jump or no jump.)
Also, any single one of the paranormal capabilities listed in Edgelings is not new in our species and thus, strictly speaking, not "evolutionary". And certainly no single one of them, no matter how suddenly widespread it might become, would be evidence of an evolutionary jump such as the one from, say, asexual to sexual reproduction. After a jump, developmental, evolutionary, and many more rules of intra- and inter-species behavior are very different.
So, our best guess is that were an evolutionary leap to be confined only to familiar paranormal capabilities, it'd take at least a handful of them, configured freshly in ways we can't yet even imagine, to make a respectable jump. . .not forgetting, of course, the even larger number of accompanying radical changes -- some possibly physical and/or perceptual -- that would have to occur as well to make such a handful sustainable in a homo noeticus.
So what's new?
A leap like that could happen. . .maybe. You can probably see now why we place it low on the probability list. Many of those talents pre-exist us in other species such as the "miraculous" homing pigeons and the flocking birds and fish schools that turn together as one without leadership. As we roll these prospects over in our minds, our rough-and-ready intuitive/telepathic/psychic investigator sniffers say that evolution won't just turn backward in time and do some kind of inelegant grab-bag operation. Some of that, yes. But there will be more, new, different, exciting. There always seems to have been in the past when evolution pulled a big one. For just one example from the past, re-read Barbara Marx Hubbard's canny observations in the box on the home page.
So, we banged about to try to find what might be new under the sun, or what might be old but be showing new elements or aspects around its edges. What kinds of things about humans might evolution, as we grok it, use as springboards or "royal routes"? The following list varies from hunches to reasoned guesses to more evidential material. In no particular order. Some of it overlaps the Edgelings material:
The UFO is very old in human history, but the way it's currently happening, the squirrely chronicle of the ramping up and complexifying of this phenomenon in just the USA from 1947 to the present, filled with Jungian Trickster pranks and ego-pranging, O'Henry, twist endings, seems decidedly new. That it is ultra-high-tech and baffles, even seems to toy with, the best tech we have. . .that it messes about in rather, er, Freudian ways with some people who report contact (now there's a claxon horn sounding, eh?). . .and best of all, that it confounds any attempt by scientific and/or religious dogma to reduce it to something explainable in terms we already understand. . .all of these say to us, "Wake up and smell the coffee, humans! Somethin' BIG is goin' down! And it's goin' down NOW! Check this out. It may change you so you may never again be able to watch midday TV."
Intimately related to UFOs is the crop glyph phenomenon focused mainly in southern England around man-made structures like Stonehenge, and such as tholus-shaped hills and strange earthworks that have already defied reductionist/materialist explanations for centuries. To get a better feel for the subtle incomprehensibility of these remarkable figures as they appear year after year, go to www.lucypringle.co.uk/photos/2005/aug.shtml and look around at this year's latest. (Yes, there are lots of them!) That these formations, too, resist any reductionist attempts at explanation is one of their most striking features. Their manifest concreteness coupled with their off-the-edge-ness (and the UFO's as well) fairly bellow at us, "Sit down! Listen up! Look closely, but without any internal strain of 'trying to figure it out'. . that won't work, and that's not what this is about! Aaannnd. . .it's not just about how 'things-out-there' are becoming. . .it's also about who you are becoming!!. . .Take a deep breath. . . Another. . ."
Jean Baptiste Lamarck's descendent is alive and well and now living in England. He is Rupert Sheldrake who speaks of "morphic resonance" and that what we call "natural laws" are more accurately described as habits. . .that change through time. Lamarck's idea that organisms learn during their lifetimes and pass some of that learning along to the next generation was stuffed down the tubes by Darwin and his followers who insisted on a "random natural selection" explanation. Sheldrake talks of rats in Edinburgh who can learn mazes faster than rats who learned them in England several rat generations back. And these rats are from the same genetic strains but not descended from the original learners.
There's not room here to go into detail about Sheldrake's work (see the Bibliography), but it's clear that despite the Darwinists, learning has something to do with evolution, and very likely to do with an evolutionary jump. Another crisp demonstration of this was John Cairns' work at Harvard in 1988. He showed that bacteria unable to digest lactose, if given no other food, will after a few days develop new mutants that can digest it. Very quick studies in evolution they are, eh?!
Now, let your mind go a little wild: You are a member of a species that doesn't just use tools; it makes them. It is possessed of self-reflexive consciousness (which is rather like having a brain that works with learning the way compound interest does with money). The species has, in only 8000 years of known civilization, accelerated its learning curve and tool-making to the point of being able by 1953 to create a tool powerful enough that only a few badly placed uses of it could spin the entire atmosphere of this species' home planet right off the surface, killing all life there. Yes, the hydrogen bomb.
Just to help give some scale to all of this, consider the famous "movie" of the history of the universe that compresses the whole of it since the supposed Big Bang into a metaphorical single year. In it, human language begins on the 365th day, 1 1/2 minutes before midnight! Farming begins in the last minute; Buddha achieves enlightenment under the Bodhi tree five seconds before the present. Christ appears a second later. The Industrial Revolution in the last second; WWII less than a tenth of a second before midnight. . .To understate it a bit, this is a dramatic acceleration!
Now, just a bit wilder, okay?: Add to all this above the current hyper-exponential growth curves in such as the "information revolution" and the "communications revolution", (when every human has access to a phone, will we all become a "neural network" like unto the "global brain" Peter Russell writes about?) Add the population growth that continues to accelerate; not to mention that humans have survived for months in space capsules, and we've just witnessed the first cloning of two entire animals by genetic engineering. . .
Well, I ask you: Can the homo sapiens we know and love, with all his/her acknowledged limitations and glitches, such as the capacity to repress crippling traumatic memories and not be able to retrieve them without formidable helpers, be expected to thrive and prosper in all the outcomes of all this spectacular quickening?
Or will we go the way of many species, indeed many whole phyla, and disappear into a slag heap, mostly of our own making, to be dug up and footnoted as part of the "fossil record" by archaeology grad students of a different species from a faraway planet in 30,000AD?
Maybe we need to become a "new model" and to learn how to do so . . .P.D.Q.!! -- as Lamarck, Sheldrake and Cairns have hinted strongly is our birthright.
For reasons I hope are clear now, one of our yardsticks is whether our species is learning to evolve as it does so, whether we are evolving into co-architect status with evolution itself. (Of course, how to measure such progress from the inside of it, as it's happening, is no small problem. We're working on it (grin). Here's where some non-human intelligence might help.)
Is the mystical aspect of us involved in the "jump", too? And if so, what might be any sort of "yardstick" for such?. . .Obviously, very much a mine field of a subject, eh? But not to explore this universal and vital dimension of our species in this context would be quite, "unscientific", don't you think?
Above, and in other pages on this site, I've taken swipes at any dogmas or belief systems about evolution and/or homo sapiens whether they be scientific or religious/spiritual/new age/occult/etc. To keep cutting through such stuff -- especially in ourselves! -- is important if we're to call what we do an inquiry and make noises about our "scientific method" and such. So it's with some trepidation that I offer the following conjectures about how we might informally notice an evolutionary jump were it occurring in this arena. . .let alone "measure" it.
In a splendid talk on world peace at the Hawaii Peace Research Conference, 5/94, James C. Loomis simplified the issue in a way I hadn't seen before:
"Where Eastern philosophy asserts that consciousness is fundamental and creates matter; and Western the opposite, that matter is fundamental and creates consciousness, the merging of these philosophies. . ."
The "merging of these philosophies" was the kicker for me. In using the term "philosophies", Loomis steers a careful course around the bottom-busting reefs implicit in terms like "spiritual disciplines", "contemplative traditions", "religious belief systems", and the like. But those are clearly implied.
Imagine who we'd be if that "merging" Loomis speaks of were complete, in our bodies as well as our minds and, well, you know. . .that other part!
In some cultures, persons who have achieved a kindred, possibly better, integration, are sometimes known as "Zen Patriarchs" or "Ascended Masters".
Such a "merging" is, in Shakespeare's gracious language, "a consummation devoutly to be wished."~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Clearly for me, this is more than "just a thought". Consider some of the difficulties here for a moment:: Are there any measures for this that aren't completely subjective and thus automatically hubris-freighted? Is rational process and logical extrapolation really of any use here. . .??
Do reply. We'll have Holy Discourse. Yes. -DP