"If I have seen further it is by standing
on the shoulders of giants"
Slowly, over eons, we evolve.
Darwin was the first to recognize the process of evolution--simple life structures progress to more complex forms. His discovery was monumental, it opened a whole new way of understanding the mystery of life. As a naturalist his focus was on the mechanisms that gave rise to the variety of physical forms. It was not his task to ask ontological questions. It is tragic that the magnitude of his brilliant insight has been overshadowed by an either/or clash about whether or not we humans evolved from apes.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a scientist, theologian and mystic, was one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th Century. He did ask ontological questions and saw wonder, beauty and truth in evolution and through it the wonder of God offering to share His being with humankind. Teilhard authored more than 20 books. (Google him)
Evolution is more than a theory about how new species appeared on the planet--it is the central governing principle of the universe . . . beginning with energy coalescing to matter, matter to simple life forms, life forms increasing in complexity and consciousness until thought was born--therein evolution took a turn inward. Into the hands of the human came the means to shape the world. All else in the universe is acted upon--by forces of nature, circumstances of time and place, random happenstance--but with consciousness the human gained the power to create, still effected by forces of nature and unchosen circumstances, yet possessing the ability to change what is given into what can be imagined.
A long look at history shows a changing reality, a barbaric world slowly advancing toward civilizing itself, over eons we can discern consciousness gradually awakening as choices shape social order: rather than club one's neighbor and take his possessions by force, establish laws to live by; . . . stop invading and plundering those 'not us' and define national boundaries; . . . work to acquire knowledge and skill with which to educate people because education is a 'good' of life; . . . recognize that owning people - slavery - is wrong and should not be supported by a nation even though it presents economic advantages; . . . awaken to the plight of suffering people who lack life's necessities and reach out with help; . . . realize the corrupting effect of discrimination and oppression and seek peaceful means to bring justice.
Thus has civilization advanced--yet still the primitive selfishness that results in violence taints the world we build--and threatens to destroy it. We have yet to realize all life is interconnected and is shaped by our choices . . . but slowly, over eons, we evolve . . . consciousness is only slowly awakening.
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